Shards of Alara is defined by the five shards, which are comprised of each color and its two allied colors. Drafting the set revolves around finding a position within these shards. Each allied color combination slots into two different shards, so a typical draft strategy is to focus on an allied color pair, which provides the flexibility to move into one of two shards as the draft develops. Splashing mana to access the second shard can sometimes be done with ease, so four-color decks that touch into two shards are a possibility.

Another way to approach Shards of Alara is with a five-color control strategy. The set contains a plethora of mana fixing, specifically a cycle of three-color trilands, land-searching panoramas, and mana-producing obelisks for each shard. Mana-fixing comes easily if drafted high enough, and it's possible to have such a high density of quality mana fixing that you can play the best cards in all five colors. The appeal of this strategy is the ability to draft and play all of the great cards you see, including bomb win conditions, creature removal spells, and powerful multicolor cards like the cycle of Charms and uncommon three-mana shard creatures. Access to these cards relies on mana fixing, so this deck typically will include four to six obelisks along with seventeen or eighteen land, ideally with four or more panoramas, and any trilands it can get its hands on. Some fixing will be better than others depending on the specific deck, but generally mana sources can be perfected in deckbuilding with access to more panoramas and obelisks than are necessary. When it comes together, the average card quality in the five-color deck will dwarf that of its opponents and inevitably overpower them.

The key to Shards of Alara draft is to stay flexible. It's why I started out my recorded draft with a Magma Spray, which gave me the option to move into three different shards, so I was more than likely to put the card to use. It's also why I like to start out drafts with tri-lands, which are likely to make the deck because they are useful even if their third color goes unused. Reading what is being taken from the packs and what is being passed to you is the key to putting together a successful deck.

Some decks will not have have a lot of fixing, or cards to splash, so they will be focused in two colors, while others may be squarely set into a three-color shard with an even three-way split on their number of mana sources. Splashes can move a typical shard deck into the realm of a four- or five-color deck, and sometimes a deck intended to be a true five-color deck will find itself settling into a base shard. The important thing is to adapt to the realities of your specific draft table.

How do you approach triple-Shards of Alara draft? Share your thoughts in the comments, and I'll answer any questions!

-Adam