Solving the Limited Puzzle - Magic Origins Draft, Prep for Grand Prix Dallas 2015 [Joel Labrada]
Alright guys, I've got a spicy one for you guys this time. I’ve had the pleasure of participating in a number of Magic Origins Sealed and Draft events in the weeks since the Prerelease to prepare for #GPDFW. I’m not claiming to be a Limited metagame genius. I’d just like to share some of my drafts with all of you, and what my teammates and me have learned about the format and articulate that into something hopefully useful for anyone attending the GP this weekend. Let’s get into it.
Draft One: B-/B
I think this is probably the best draft I’ve had which makes no sense considering it was my first time drafting the set. It’s no surprise to anyone that knows me when I say that red is my favorite color on the color wheel. And any time red is as open as it was this fateful day, I just can’t help myself.
Pack one pick one was Kytheon, Hero of Akros (Gideon, Battle-Forged), which almost immediately locked me into drafting an aggressive deck. I was seated in a corner seat; the person across from me was on BW, and the person to my left was on U/B. We were a little bottlenecked on white considering the person passing to me pack one was cutting us off, but it wasn’t that big of a deal because red was wide open going both ways and the white cards that we did manage to scoop up were decent. Mighty Leap and Enshrouding Mist are great, and in an aggressive shell I don’t mind having these cards even in multiple numbers. This deck only had one of each but that’s enough. Mighty Leap in combination with Iroas’s Champion is 8 damage in the air, and Enshrouding Mist is a borderline removal spell since it prevents all damage to our creature while it still deals damage to whatever blocked it, or whatever our creature is blocking.
This deck was living in super fun removal/thopter wonderful magic land. Double Lightning Javelin and double Fiery Impulse is sweet, not to mention the quadruple thopter makers including the Thopter Engineer that makes a thopter on top of giving my artifact creatures haste. Can you say combo deck? The best cards in the deck were Sentinel of the Eternal Watch, Seismic Elemental, and my personal favorite card in the deck, Rogue’s Passage. Sentinel is such a sweet card it isn’t even funny; it stabilizes the board incredibly well even when behind. Seismic Elemental was bonkers in this deck considering my cards weren’t renown guys or really that big at all so being able to swing past pesky ground blockers while putting a 4/4 into play seemed good.
Rogue’s Passage is in fact ‘the nuts’. I obviously don’t think it’s pack one pick one-able or anything crazy, but you can almost hedge that it will wheel if you see it in a pack with decent picks remaining in the pack. I think Rogue’s Passage is something like an 8th or 9th pick in a pack. The games where you draw it with an established board end up allowing you to put a significant clock on your opponent. Making something like Prickleboar unblockable is pretty good, if my math is correct (please check) that’s a quarter of your opponents starting life.
The more aggressive your deck, the better this card is. I probably wouldn’t recommend playing multiple copies of this card but it can definitely be a beating, especially if we can spell mastery it to gain vigilance.
I’m partial to this card; it’s not a ‘good’ card but sometimes it’s exactly what you need.
This is one of my pet cards. My friend/teammate, Kyle Skelton, and I talked about it and his words were, “People just see a 5-drop 3/3, quiver, and pass that thing. But in all reality, it’s a 5/3 first striker which is actually pretty nice.” I don’t think that one should draft the third or fourth Prickleboar but having one, maybe two is more than acceptable at the top end of your curve.
Draft Two: C+ on a good day
Welcome to two-drop city. I definitely don’t recommend drafting the 22-creature, singleton Celestial Flare deck. I could’ve had five — count them five — Timberpack Wolves, but the first wolf I saw was in a pack with the chance to pick up my first Topan Freeblade, which is arguably “the best white 2-drop common in the format” as stated by my other friend/teammate Minh “The Master” Tran. Hence, I picked the Freeblade.
The next wolf I saw was immediately after the pick mentioned beforehand, but this pick was between my first wolf or my second Citadel Castellan, which is a no brainer. Slam Castellan; a 2/3 for 3 with vigilance and renown 2 is definitely as good as it sounds, especially when you’re playing two. The next three picks were awful; no playable white cards and no exciting green cards, but they all provided me with Timberpack Wolves. I obviously chose the better card over the first and second wolf I saw, but imagine the possibilities of the quintuple Timberpack Wolf deck. 7/7s for 2 mana; how awesome!
The deck wasn’t too awful though. It was probably the worst of the decks I’ve had the pleasure of drafting so far. But the potential of being able to cheese slower decks by swarming them with two-drops before they could set up was definitely real. Somberwald Alpha is a great card, buffing creatures that are blocked on offense and defense by 1 can make blocking tricky for your opponent. Plus the flavor text on this card giving target creature trample makes our 5/6 Vastwood Gorger seem slightly better.
Problems with This Deck
Where are your spells, Bro? One removal spell/trick is actually incorrect and another one of my friends/teammates, Kyle Horn, told me after evaluating my draft that if I could have managed to pick up two more decent tricks or removal spells like Mighty Leap, Suppression Bonds, or Swift Reckoning that this deck could have easily been a B-/B. I went too hard on the 2 drops. We live. We learn.
Draft Three: B-
This was a sketchy draft. It seemed like everyone was fighting for white. Luckily for me once again, I was able to scoop up red removal as opposed to white removal while managing to pick up essential white 2-drops. It was rough; this deck was rough. 11 creatures (13 if you count the 2 thopters that can be produced). On the bright side, our removal suite was sweet. Access to Fiery Impulse, Swift Reckoning, double Lightning Javelin, and our potential boardwipe in Chandra’s Ignition was enough to at least give us a fighting chance. Access to tricks like Mighty Leap and Titan’s Strength gave our creatures the potential to profitably block one of our opponents creatures without trading which can be extremely relevant especially in this deck that only has access to such a low number of creatures. The creatures I had access too were pretty good. Being able to pick up three Topan Freeblade in a draft is really nice. And if they live long enough for our Patron of the Valiant to land, we get to put extra counters on them. If you’re lucky and get to renown Scab-Clan Berserker, the Eidolon of the Great Revel-esque effect (2 damage when ever an opponent casts a noncreature spell) can actually be relevant.
Probably doesn’t need to be in an 11-creature deck. We’ll leave it at that.
I think this card is good, but I could be completely wrong. It’s removal in the form a Shock when you need it to be. You can equip it to a Charging Griffin and swing for 5 in the air after triggers. It was probably incorrect to play in this specific deck. But I still think the card is playable.
I was definitely not excited about playing Cobblebrute, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. It’s not great, but it’s not terrible either.
Hopefully this gives some insight as to what some drafts could potentially look like. Comment if you think I missed something of if y’all want to let me know how awful my drafts are. As always, I greatly appreciate the support. Thank you so much for taking the time to read this. Major shoutouts to my teammates Kyle Skelton, Kyle Horn, and Minh Tran for not letting me play bad cards.