I was alone.
Not the morose kind of alone, wishing to be in the presence of loved ones. The sudden, inspired type of alone, when, for the first time in weeks, maybe months, I'm the only person in the room.
I looked over to the desk next to mine, expecting to see Kenny, excitedly waiting for three rounds to tell him that I just 3-0'd a draft with only 10 creatures in my deck. I had forgotten he wasn't there - it was 5am and he was sleeping, as I probably should have been. I had been playing Magic Online for almost 12 hours straight at this point, and I don't think I had eaten since yesterday.
Is this healthy? I ask myself. I'm a smoker. My go-to defense mechanism against convincing myself that I should take the healthier choice on a matter. I've already made a terrible decision once, I shouldn't use that to validate more bad decisions. Is playing another draft even a bad decision? I should be playing more Standard so I can have a decklist that can win a match in my next article...
Double Click.2 Event Tickets, 1 Theros Booster, 1 Born of the Gods Booster, 1 Journey into Nyx BoosterClick.
The crackle of virtual packs opening.
The next double click will shape how my next two or three hours go.
Temple of MaladyBlinding FlareGolden HindHubris
There are 11 other cards in the pack, but I wasn't picking any of them here. Already today, I've started a draft by first picking each of these cards. I won each of those drafts except the one where I first picked Blinding Flare.Draft A:
2 Sigiled Skink7 Swamp1 Coordinated Assault1 Fearsome Temper1 Keepsake Gorgon1 Blinding Flare1 Bladetusk Boar1 Satyr Hoplite1 Prophetic Flamespeaker10 Mountain1 Reckless Reveler2 Fall of the Hammer1 Blood-Toll Harpy1 Dragon Mantle1 Baleful Eidolon1 Borderland Minotaur1 Rise to the Challenge1 Archetype of Finality1 Underworld Cerberus1 Felhide Minotaur1 Aspect of Gorgon1 Pharika's Chosen1 Spiteful Returned
Sideboard2 Impetuous Sunchaser2 Lightning Diadem1 Swamp1 Asphodel Wanderer1 Gods Willing1 Forest1 Commune with the Gods1 Aspect of Gorgon1 Acolyte's Reward1 Loathsome Catoblepas1 Cruel Feeding1 Island1 Mortal's Ardor1 Ephara's Radiance1 Pinnacle of Rage1 Cruel Feeding1 Scourgemark1 Font of Ire1 Epiphany Storm1 Boulderfall
The second pick Prophetic Flamespeaker came as quite a surprise, as the card is both good and worth a reasonable amount of tickets.
I lost in the finals with this deck, to a U/b Control deck with plenty of 1/3s, removal, and high-toughness fliers. They say you learn more when you lose than when you win, and I agree with whoever "they" are. When I lose, I try to think of the interactions that led my loss, at the very least the ones under my control. Of course it's easy to lose to mana issues, but if your lasting thought is "I never drew my third land" more than "I could've mulliganed," then you're not really learning anything.
This deck had a reasonable curve and some powerful spells, but I really needed to save my Fall of the Hammers for important targets.
I won the die roll and played a Pharika's Chosen. My turn two was a Sigiled Skink and his was a Disciple of Deceit. I had a Fall of the Hammer in my hand, as well as a Blinding Flare and a Borderland Minotaur. If I used my Fall, I could kill his creature, get some damage through, scry, and still play my creature on four. It seemed like a reasonable plan - but I wasn't considering what my opponent was likely to have.
Once I had cast that Fall of the Hammer, I only had two cards left in my deck to kill his creatures with. Additionally, I had a creature with Deathtouch in play already, so I could have waited until he played a card I wasn't already able to outclass in a turn. Instead of fighting to get a couple of points through, I could have played for a longer game in which we both amassed some board presence. This would've led to the Blinding Flare I had in my hand being game-winning.
I should have considered that I had far more threats that could attack past his Disciple of Deceit than I had ways of answering Prescient Chimera (I knew he had two) or Siren of the Fanged Coast.
On a basic level, I learned to save my removal spell until I really needed to use it.Draft B:
1 Pharika's Chosen1 Spiteful Blow1 Cavern Lampad2 Prescient Chimera1 Hubris1 War-Wing Siren2 Divination1 Nightmarish End1 Nullify1 Aspect of Gorgon1 Pin to the Earth1 Shipwreck Singer1 Blood-Toll Harpy1 Baleful Eidolon1 Eternity Snare1 Omenspeaker1 Disciple of Deceit1 Crypsis1 Chorus of the Tides7 Swamp11 Island1 Sealock Monster
Sideboard1 Eye Gouge1 Fleshmad Steed1 Boulderfall1 Felhide Brawler1 Nullify1 Evanescent Intellect1 Pull from the Deep1 Guardians of Meletis1 Lightning Diadem1 Reap What Is Sown1 Lost in a Labyrinth1 Benthic Giant1 Satyr Wayfinder1 Triton Shorethief1 Kiora's Dismissal1 Satyr Hoplite1 Crypsis1 Countermand1 Forest1 Market Festival1 Swamp1 Font of Ire1 Thunderous Might
I first picked Hubris, and when a Disciple of Deceit came as my second pick, I figured now was as good of a time as ever to try drafting UB control, which seems to have gotten better with the addition of Journey into Nyx.
Notably, I picked Pin to the Earth over Squelching Leeches and Dreadbringer Lampads. At the time, my only creatures were Disciple of Deceit, Pharika's Chosen and War-Wing Siren. Cards like Pin to the Earth (referring here to blue auras that only reduce a creature's power) are usually pretty underwhelming. In this format, Pin to the Earth is actually one of the better blue commons in JOU. It's an effective, cheap answer to bestowed creatures and unblockable creatures, which are the primary ways of winning games in this format. I wouldn't take it over Hubris, but both of those cards being comparable isn't something I would've ever expected.
Notably, I boarded in Guardians of Meletis against a monored deck, and won because Pin to the Earth and Guardians of Meletis answered both of his Bladetusk Boars, for which I would've otherwise been completely unable to race.
In this draft I tabled Kiora's Dismissal, and didn't play it main, but boarded it in almost every game, and it was the deciding factor more than once. Of course, playing enchantment removal main in the enchantment block makes sense, but with 18 lands, double Divination and so few creatures, I thought I needed the slot to be a card that actively did something. Turns out, I boarded out Cavern Lampad most often, as it was by far the least impressive card in the deck.
This draft, I learned that UB control seems a lot stronger than UB tempo, which I was a fan of in BRN-THS-THS. I also learned that Kiora's Dismissal is quite good.
1 Tormented Hero1 Aerial Formation1 Gild1 Servant of Tymaret1 Hubris1 Felhide Brawler1 War-Wing Siren1 Thassa's Emissary1 Flitterstep Eidolon1 Retraction Helix1 Sip of Hemlock1 Spiteful Returned1 Nyxborn Triton1 Returned Phalanx1 Omenspeaker1 Ordeal of Thassa1 Sudden Storm1 Crypsis1 Chorus of the Tides7 Swamp2 Triton Shorestalker10 Island1 Polymorphous Rush1 King Macar, the Gold-Cursed
Sideboard1 Claim of Erebos1 Swamp1 Forsaken Drifters1 Returned Reveler1 Evanescent Intellect1 Crackling Triton1 Nyx Weaver1 Breaching Hippocamp1 Font of Fortunes1 Kruphix's Insight1 Annul1 Benthic Giant1 Horizon Chimera1 Satyr Wayfinder1 Countermand1 Sigiled Skink1 Island1 Island1 Bronze Sable1 Pin to the Earth1 Stymied Hopes1 Asphodel Wanderer
This was a draft I did much earlier in the pre-release, taking Polymorphous Rush and Triton Shorestalker too highly. As you can see, I had Pin to the Earth in the sideboard of this deck , and my biggest creatures were 2/3s and 3/3s. I don't want to say I picked removal in this draft too highly, but Hubris, Sudden Storm, and Retraction Helix are a lot less impressive if you're only attacking for one or two a turn.Draft C + D:
1 Ill-Tempered Cyclops1 Everflame Eidolon1 Satyr Rambler1 Reckless Reveler1 Flamespeaker Adept1 Spearpoint Oread1 War-Wing Siren1 Flame-Wreathed Phoenix1 Steam Augury1 Stormchaser Chimera1 Aqueous Form1 Nyxborn Rollicker1 Voyage's End1 Spite of Mogis1 Omenspeaker10 Mountain1 Ordeal of Purphoros2 Fall of the Hammer1 Bolt of Keranos1 Rise to the Challenge1 Satyr Hoplite1 Sigiled Skink1 Magma Spray7 Island
Sideboard1 Marshmist Titan1 Last Breath1 Colossus of Akros1 Flamecast Wheel1 Starfall1 Pharagax Giant1 Lightning Diadem1 Culling Mark1 Rouse the Mob1 Mortal's Ardor1 Mountain2 Flurry of Horns1 Forest1 Omenspeaker1 Staunch-Hearted Warrior1 Crypsis1 Countermand1 Island1 Plains1 Acolyte's Reward1 Bloodcrazed Hoplite1 Font of Ire
1 Magma Spray1 Hubris1 Temple of Epiphany1 Knowledge and Power4 Sigiled Skink2 Vaporkin1 Sudden Storm6 Island1 Triton Tactics1 Triton Fortune Hunter10 Mountain1 Rise to the Challenge1 Fall of the Hammer1 Bolt of Keranos1 Titan's Strength1 Lightning Strike1 Dakra Mystic1 Fearsome Temper1 Stormcaller of Keranos1 Griptide1 Satyr Nyx-Smith1 Kragma Butcher
Sideboard1 Triton Shorestalker1 Flamespeaker's Will1 Satyr Rambler1 Mindreaver1 Two-Headed Cerberus1 Blinding Flare1 Dissolve1 Plains1 Mountain1 Cyclops of One-Eyed Pass1 Rise to the Challenge1 Charging Badger1 Nyxborn Rollicker1 Silent Artisan1 Unknown Shores1 Plains1 Benthic Giant1 Ashiok's Adept1 Brain Maggot1 Tormented Thoughts1 Triton Shorethief
I like R/u a lot in this format, mostly for abundance of red two-drops and their synergy with blue bounce spells. This archetype also has access to a lot of scry, which is almost the equivalent of drawing a card when you put a land on the bottom in the mid/late game. In the first deck, I picked Satyr Hoplite and Magma Spray early, and was rewarded in packs two and three with rares, mythics, and Fall of the Hammers.
The latter deck was more interesting. I first picked Temple of Epiphany out of an unexciting pack, then picked Hubris, and then took Sigiled Skink over Spite of Mogis and Knowledge and Power. I wasn't even sure if Knowledge and Power was playable, but I kept it in mind as I already had two scry cards.
Pick 4: Sigiled Skink, not much thoughtPick 5: Sigiled Skink, I wonder if Knowledge and Power is playablePick 6: Sigiled Skink, I really hope I table Knowledge and Power
I was so excited when I tabled that Knowledge and Power. I probably took Stormcaller of Keranos over something better, but I was really excited to play with the expensive Lightning Rift variant. As it turns out, I drew Knowledge and Power often, and only activated it a single time across three rounds. I boarded it out game three of round two, and then as soon as I could in the finals. In some ways, it was saddening that in a deck with so much scry, it was still very overcosted. In another way, I was proud of myself for realizing that it was the worst card in my deck, despite the Johnny in me.Draft E + F:
1 Oakheart Dryads1 Gnarled Scarhide1 Kruphix's Insight2 Strength from the Fallen1 Sedge Scorpion8 Swamp1 Golden Hind1 Karametra's Favor1 Mortal's Resolve2 Commune with the Gods9 Forest1 Returned Reveler1 Nyxborn Wolf1 Bile Blight1 Setessan Oathsworn1 Feral Invocation2 Dreadbringer Lampads1 Insatiable Harpy1 Pharika's Cure1 Nylea's Emissary2 Fleshmad Steed
Sideboard1 Gray Merchant of Asphodel1 Impetuous Sunchaser1 Gluttonous Cyclops1 Bronze Sable1 Stymied Hopes1 Tormented Thoughts1 Forsaken Drifters1 Plains1 Portent of Betrayal1 Mountain1 Archetype of Aggression1 Mortal's Resolve1 Market Festival1 Skyreaping1 Font of Return1 Swamp1 Returned Reveler1 Rise to the Challenge1 Great Hart1 Ashiok's Adept1 Setessan Starbreaker1 Fleetfeather Sandals
2 Gray Merchant of Asphodel1 Oakheart Dryads1 Cast into Darkness1 Unravel the AEther1 Shrike Harpy1 Courser of Kruphix1 Nylea's Disciple1 Marshmist Titan8 Forest10 Swamp1 Mortal's Resolve1 Mogis's Marauder2 Mogis's Marauder1 Disciple of Phenax1 Read the Bones1 Bile Blight1 Feral Invocation1 Baleful Eidolon1 Bloodcrazed Hoplite1 Brain Maggot1 Pharika, God of Affliction1 Pharika's Chosen
Sideboard1 Returned Phalanx1 Culling Mark1 Weight of the Underworld1 Temple of Enlightenment2 Eye Gouge1 Goldenhide Ox1 Font of Fertility1 Setessan Starbreaker1 Swamp1 Font of Vigor1 Plains1 Forest1 Rotted Hulk1 Swamp1 Loathsome Catoblepas1 Cutthroat Maneuver1 Charging Badger1 Mortal's Ardor1 Fade into Antiquity2 Triton Shorestalker2 Nature's Panoply
The first draft here seemed like a really sweet constellation combo deck. I had two copies each of Strength from the Fallen, and Dreadbringer Lampads. The goal, then, was to fill my graveyard and with each enchantment make a huge intimidating creature. This is why I played double Fleshmad Steed and didn't play Gray Merchant of Asphodel. Strength from the Fallen wasn't going to do anything if I didn't have creatures to trade early, and I figured even an enchantment like Karametra's Favor was going to essentially deal more damage than Gray Merchant's trigger.
I lost because I kept this hand:
2 Strength from the Fallen1 Dreadbringer Lampads2 Forest2 Swamp
I was excited - I had my combo pieces!I was ignorant - I kept a hand that did absolutely nothing.
The very logic I used when building my deck, I did not use when choosing to keep my hand. My deck wasn't going to be very good if I couldn't trade or put cards in my graveyard. Staying focused on synergy when building your deck is important, but I forgot the bigger picture when I kept this hand.
The other G/B deck drafted itself, I opened Pharika, God of Affliction, who seemed ridiculously powerful. Not only do his Snakes have deathtouch, but they also are enchantments to trigger constellation at instant speed. This is a format where I'll take Pharika's Chosen, Baleful Eidolon and Sedge Scorpion over most other cards.
I can confirm that Pharika is a bomb, and wins games without even becoming a creature. Of course, in pack three I opened a Gray Merchant, got passed a Gray Merchant, and then triple Mogis's Marauder, putting any primarily black deck into a really good position to win the draft. This was the first draft where I had less two-drops than any other slot on the curve, but the power level of most of the cards in the deck more than made up for it.Attacking in Standard
As I alluded to earlier, acquiring some Battlefield Thaumaturges was not in my best interest for winning matches of Standard. I tried the list I posted, as well as the lists in the comments, and I