For the past few years, groups of pros have held regular Draft camps on release weekend of new sets. East/West Bowl, now known as Massdrop East/West, hosted three different Draft camps across North America.
My own was in Quebec City. Weeks in advance, I reached out to players in the area that are qualified for the Pro Tour, as well as other good players. I sent them a schedule consisting of 12 Drafts over Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and asked them to register for the ones they were able to attend.
It translates to 3 days of non-stop Drafting. Needless to say, it’s both amazing and draining. Most importantly, it’s extremely useful to prepare for the upcoming Grand Prix and Pro Tour.
One of our other camps was in D.C., where literally over 50 players showed up and they fired 30 Drafts during the weekend. A good portion of these players are qualified for the Pro Tour too!
The third camp was in California and it has been a tradition for years—they had a set 16 players, including 9 from our team.
Now what did I learn from drafting 12 times so far? Mainly, how the archetypes should be drafted and which cards from Kaladesh gained in value.
You could look at a spoiler or read Neal Oliver’s great articles and have a solid grasp of what each color does, but without drafting them or seeing them in action, you’re missing out on a few things.
My first Draft on Friday was a total train wreck. I had 4 Ghirapur Osprey and 1 Wind Drake. I didn’t take them highly or anything, but in the end I had very little good cards and I thought, well, might as well know if Wind Drake got better in this format!
The answer is no. The white one is definitely better, mostly because white is more aggressive, but it’s still a filler card. I also ran into an opponent that had 3 Hinterland Drakes… that made it a little hard to get through.
U/W Flyers is almost always a reasonable archetype in Draft, but since Kaladesh it seems like they don’t want to give us good flyers, so the color combination is just bad. I’ve seen a blue-white deck 3-0 that had Spire Patrol, Fumigate, Aethersquall Ancient, and other good cards—it was mostly a control deck and it seemed fine. That’s probably the way to go if you’re stuck with this color combination and want to succeed.
There’s not much more to do here than make tokens, sacrifice permanents, and trigger revolt. But that’s not a bad strategy. Hidden Stockpile is super sweet and quite good—not as good as Maverick Thopterist in that I would go out of my way to pick it, but if you happen to already have a few black-white cards, take it and you might even get passed a 2nd or 3rd to go all-in on the theme.
I had a Draft with 2 of them and my deck was excellent. These decks tend to be struggle at winning the game because they durdle too much and their creature sizes are too small, but with Dawnfeather Eagle at common and Inspired Charge in Kaladesh, you should be able to close a game.
Drum roll… aggro! Who knew? White and red combined makes for an aggressive deck. Shocking.
It’s still good. It’s pretty much the same deck that it was, but with slightly different cards, and sometimes a subtheme of artifacts with Vehicles and improvise (mainly Enraged Giant).
Irontread Crusher is better than it looks. Compared to Sky Skiff and Renegade Freighter from Kaladesh, Vehicles in took a huge drop, but the creature size in general also dropped, which makes a 6/6 enormous and hard to deal with.
I’ve never learned so slowly than against white-green. I tanked so many times about blocking—I decided to block and got blown out about 7 different times.
Between combat tricks and revolt, never again will I block against them.
I did get to play the deck though, and it is quite good. You can be full-on revolt and take Unbridled Growth highly to turn Renegade Rallier into a super Elvish Visionary, or build a midrange/beatdown deck. Implement of Ferocity impressed me, particularly in this deck because, it’s a revolt enabler and lets you beat down.
Green is extremely deep and there are a ton of really good commons. For that reason, I would not be surprised if any green combination wasn’t just always great.
Unlike blue-red, this archetype can’t go deep on improvise since its on-color Implements cost 2 and 3, which by default makes the strategy a little slower and more midrange/control slanted.
But you also gain Defiant Salvager and Sly Requisitioner, which let you play an artifact sacrifice theme with Servo Schematic serving as both mana through improvise and a weigh to buff your pseudo-Nantuko-Husk later.
That’s it for today, but stay tuned as next week I will go over the next 5 archetypes, as well as the cards from Kaladesh that became better with the introduction of Aether Revolt!