Drafting With Siggy: Guilds of Ravnica

Since Guilds of Ravnica has been out on Magic Online and available to Booster Draft, I’ve been spending all my Magic time drafting. With GP Denver around the corner, and Pro Tour Guilds of Ravnica a little farther out, I wanted to be as fresh as possible. I’ve also enjoyed this format quite a bit. I love how the games tend to go long because of all the great removal and card draw in the format.

Pick 1 Pack 1

My Pick: Capture Sphere

At first I stayed away from Capture Sphere. I generally dislike blue-based “keep a creature tapped” removal because there are usually a lot of ways to punish it. In this format, there are fewer ways, and it’s an instant.

Boros Challenger is a reasonable pick here, and is the strongest card in the pack by a hair. Problem is, it’s not a splashable card, and blue is by far and away the best color. It’s hard to put Boros Challenger into anything but a Boros deck, though I’ve had it in straight Naya decks that have had eight-or-so Guildgates to fix mana, but that’s more of a corner-case situation. Here I’ll take Capture Sphere and see if I get a signal to be either Dimir or Izzet, the two best guilds in Guilds of Ravnica.

Pack 1 Pick 2

My PickDeadly Visit

The strongest card in this pack is Status // Statue, but Deadly Visit is comparable. Status // Statue is also in what most players consider the worst guild, Golgari. Deadly Visit leaves me open to playing Dimir, with wiggle room to move into Golgari if it’s wide open. I think this is a pretty straightforward pick.

Pack 1 Pick 3

My Pick: Whisper Agent

This pack has three reasonable choices, in my opinion. I end up taking Whisper Agent, staying with both my color cards, and it leaves me the option to branch into Izzet as a blue card or Golgari as a black card. I love how Whisper Agent plays with counterspells in the format, which I value highly in this format because of how slow it is.

I considered Rampaging Monument, as Dimir can sometimes have a difficult time closing games. Rampaging Monument can close out games in a hurry if you have enough gold cards, but I prefer the flash threat with surveil to trigger cards like Disinformation Campaign and Darkblade Agent.

I like Radical Idea a lot more than most players as well. It essentially gives a land cycling, and plays well with “spells-matters” cards like Piston-Fist Cyclops and what might be the best uncommon in the set, Murmuring Mystic.

Pack 1 Pick 4

My Pick: Capture Sphere

The best card in the pack is the Swarm Guildmage, but Capture Sphere is basically on par with it. This will give me a third solid removal spell, and with a Whisper Agent and two Capture Spheres I can already start playing at instant speed, making counterspells excellent. If I see a clear signal that Izzet is open, I can still move off my one Deadly Visit with no issues as well.

Pack 1 Pick 5

My Pick: Darkblade Agent

This pack has yet another Capture Sphere I can take, a Necrotic Wound as a cheaper, less reliable removal spell, or Darkblade Agent. Darkblade Agent is great when you can reliably trigger surveil and I already have a couple of surveil cards. Darkblade Agent plays excellently with Whisper Agent, triggering it at instant speed. At this point I want to commit a little to Dimir and respect my mana curve. Capture Sphere still leaves Izzet available to me, but my deck would be clunky as a result, and I’d much prefer to start to pick up creatures, as Dimir can occasionally have trouble closing out games.

Pack 1 Pick 6

My Pick: Watcher in the Mist

This is definitely the latest I’ve seen a Watcher in the Mist. Cloudreader Sphinx because the consensus best blue common relatively quickly, and Watcher in the Mist is every bit as good. It’s safe to say that blue is extremely open. If this was pod play, I’d be worried about the two Drowned Secrets I’ve passed, as they’re excellent sideboard cards in control mirrors. With any luck I’ll be able to wheel one, but it’s unlikely.

Pack 1 Pick 7

My Pick: Wall of Mist

This is a conservative pick as I’m unlikely to start the Wall of Mist and I’ll board it in rarely. I basically want to make sure I have a 2-drop to put in my deck when I need to lower my curve.

Gateway Plaza is a reasonable pick here, as it can enable a potential splash, but I don’t like having more than one in any deck as paying mana for a tapped land is incredibly clunky. Severed Strands is a fine pick, but I never play it in Dimir outside of extreme circumstances.

Lastly, Veiled Shade is potentially the correct pick here. I don’t mind having one in my deck when I’m short on win conditions, but they’re easy to pick up. I think I stand by my Wall of Mist pick here but any of these choices are reasonable as they’re all sideboard or replacement-level cards.

Pack 1 Pick 8

My Pick: Izzet Guildgate

While I don’t have anything to splash at the moment, getting Izzet Guildgate allows me to splash cards like Hypothesizzle or Ral, Izzet Viceroy. Taking Guildgates in this spot is much better than randomly hate drafting a card like Electrostatic Field. Even if I somehow end up in Izzet, I’ll still get value out of the Guildgate.

Pack 1 Pick 9

My Pick: Izzet Guildgate

While there are some replacement level cards for me, getting a second Izzet Guildgate makes splashing incredibly easy. I can happily take a Hypothesizzle now and easily play it.

Pack 1 Pick 10

My Pick: Severed Strands

While I almost never bring in Severed Strands out of Dimir, I like having access to another removal spell when necessary. If this was pod play, I’d strongly consider the Enhanced Surveillance to protect against the two Drowned Secrets I passed.

Pack 1 Pick 11

My Pick: Bartizan Bats

Replacement level flyer but it gets sideboarded in against decks like Golgari or Selesnya that are particularly soft to flyers. It could also be handy if I don’t end up with enough ways to close the game out.

Pack 1 Pick 12

My Pick: Guild Summit

Guild Summit is sometimes a bomb when circumstances line up properly. I already have a pair of Guildgates, and if I get up to seven or eight, it’s just fantastic.

Never Happened is the card I’m looking at next and a card I love to board in for slower blue mirrors. The fact that it exiles jump-start cards gives it a lot of extra value in these matchups. They’re generally pretty easy to pick up so I’ll speculate on the Guild Summit here.

Pack 1 Pick 13

My Pick: Moodmark Painter

Not going to play it but I’ll take the on-color card.

Pack 1 Pick 14

My Pick: Moodmark Painter

Same here.

Last Pick: Vicious Rumors

Here’s what my deck looks like after Pack 1:

The deck has plenty of removal, but I’d like to pick up one or two more. I’d like to pick up some quality threats and obviously would love a bomb or two.

I’m not planning on going hard on Guild Summit but if it happens to pan out I’ll be happy to play it, which will likely mean that I can splash.

Pack 2 Pick 1

My Pick: Dead Weight

While Notion Rain is solid, I don’t like playing too many copies, and Kraul Swarm is perfectly fine but clunky. Dead Weight is a great cheap removal spell that deals well with a bunch of threats. It kills all the Guildmages and cards like Skyknight Legionnaire, while also shutting off or crippling a lot of other threats like Darkblade Agent. My deck needs some cheap spells to keep pace with Boros.

While I have two Izzet Guildgates, I’m not considering Izzet Guildmage as it’s not an ideal splash—it doesn’t block well later in the game, and it’s too hard to cast early. Also, Dimir doesn’t have too many spells I want to copy consistently.

Pack 2 Pick 2

My Pick: Expansion // Explosion

This is a tough pick, but if I’ve learned one thing about this format, it’s that greed is good. Expansion // Explosion makes it nearly impossible for me to get decked as I can simply Braingeyser or Fireball my opponent. The biggest problem is that Explosion is a double splash. While Expansion can be hard to pull off in Limited, you can generally make use of it and the game closing ability of this card is just too good to pass up. Also, being passed this with a Crackling Drake in the pack indicates to me it’s possible I get hooked up in Izzet this pack, especially after feeding a fair amount of Golgari cards this direction.

Pack 2 Pick 3

My Pick: Whisper Agent

This pick was a bit tough for me as I strongly considered taking Guildmages’ Forum. Whisper Agent plays well with my instant-speed cards, but having an extra mana fixer, especially after taking that Expansion // Explosion, would be nice, though Explosion is already incredibly clunky. Adding an extra mana to it isn’t great. If I had more gold creatures already, I’d likely take Guildmage’s Forum.

Pack 2 Pick 4

My Pick: Thought Erasure

I’ve loved counterspells and Thought Erasure has overperformed for me as well. There’s a lot of card draw and setup cards in this format, so it feels like Thought Erasure is almost never a bad topdeck. The fact that it also triggers surveil-matters cards and digs you to a third land on turn 2 is icing on the cake.

Capture Sphere would be a consideration if I needed removal, but as is I’m happy to take Thought Erasure.

Pack 2 Pick 5

My Pick: Never Happened

Not much for me here, and I don’t particularly want more Wall of Mists. Never Happened is a nice sideboard card in grindy matchups, especially against jump-start. I’m not happy to take it this early, but I’m happy to get one for the sideboard.

Pack 2 Pick 6

My Pick: Disdainful Stroke

I was extremely high on Disdainful Stroke in the beginning of the format. It’s come down for me a little as it’s awkward against Boros but I almost always play my first copy. With a pair of Whisper Agents and Capture Sphere I love to have some permission to capitalize on playing at instant speed.

I underrated Sonic Assault at first, and while I like it now, I’m still lower on it than a lot of people. It’s not a card I’d splash in Dimir, as you have to capitalize by having high-powered creatures to push through with it, so I won’t be considering it here.

Pack 2 Pick 7

My Pick: Devious Cover-Up

Devious Cover-Up has grown on me. Initially I never thought I’d play 4-mana counterspells in Limited outside of extreme circumstances, but all of its modes are incredibly relevant: shuffling back threats, exiling jump-start spells, and having counterspells for bombs. Devious Cover-Up plays nicely with Whisper Agent and Capture Sphere, but it’s important to emphasize that giving yourself options to play a threat, removal spell, or counterspell on any given turn puts your opponent in an incredibly difficult position.

Pack 2 Pick 8

My Pick: Vedalken Mesmerist

Vedalken Mesmerist is not a card I typically play in Dimir, but I’m currently short on 2-drops and I might want one with power instead of Wall of Mist. Veiled Shade is a possibility as a late-game closer but when I already have Expansion // Explosion for inevitability, I no longer need a weak closer like Veiled Shade.

Pack 2 Pick 9

My Pick: Dimir Guildgate

Kraul Swarm is a possibility here but with all of my top-end instant-speed spells I don’t want to play a fragile win condition like Kraul Swarm. Kraul Swarm also doesn’t block small creatures well, which is not something you want out of a 5-drop in a control deck. I’d much prefer to pick up a piece of mana fixing here.

Pack 2 Pick 10

My Pick: Pitiless Gorgon

This is not a Leapfrog deck, and Pitiless Gorgon is a nice sideboard card against big green creatures.

Pack 2 Pick 11

My Pick: Book Devourer

Wishcoin Crab is a little better than it looks, but I may get desperate for a big creature to win with as there are very few in Grixis. This seems like a low cost opportunity to have access to one.

Pack 2 Pick 12

My Pick: Dazzling Lights

This is actually a close pick between Izzet Locket and Dazzling Lights. Dazzling Lights is a solid card against Boros and if I pick up another Darkblade Agent or two it will be great with them. I can see playing Izzet Locket right now as an additional red source for Expansion // Explosion and to play the Book Devourer I picked up. There’s more time for some mana fixing and Izzet Locket is on the low end of what I want for fixing anyway, so I’ll pick up the low end playable instead and wait to see if I can get better fixing next pack.

Pack 2 Pick 13

My Pick: Urban Utopia

Pack 2 Pick 14

My Pick: Golgari Guildgate

Last Pick: Wishcoin Crab

Here’s a refresh of my picks after two packs:

Pack #1

Pack #2

Not a great pack for me as Dimir seemed to dry up pretty quickly. I’m hoping to rebound nicely this pack as Dimir was quite open pack 1. I would really like some more creatures to fill out my curve.

Pack 3 Pick 1

My Pick: Darkblade Agent

March of the Multitudes is quite the bomb, but unfortunately for me I’m nowhere close to it. Darkblade Agent fits in my deck perfectly with the pair of Whisper Agents, Deadly Visit, Dazzling Lights, and Watcher in the Mists. While it’s not an exciting first pick, my deck needs more 2- and 3-drop creatures so I’m not too sad about it.

Pack 3 Pick 2

My Pick: Chamber Sentry

Tough pick here. There are a lot of strong options for me. My deck can definitely support Hypothesizzle, an instant-speed removal spell that plays great with my counterspells, Capture Spheres, and Whisper Agents. I even picked up a Golgari Guildgate if I want to take Status // Statue here. But what I’m looking at is Chamber Sentry. Chamber Sentry is a great 2-drop in a 2-color deck, and as a 3-drop is just great. It can usually get you 2-for-1. With a Golgari Guildgate already I’ll be looking for a card like Gateway Plaza so that I can play one source of all 5 colors to bring it back when I grind through my deck. The fact that Chamber Sentry is a solid 2-drop really pushes it over the top for me. I’m often surprised at how late I see this card because of how good and flexible it is.

Pack 3 Pick 3

My Pick: Nightveil Predator

Dimir often has issues closing out games. When it has Nightveil Predator, it becomes much easier. While hexproof usually is super annoying, I actually don’t mind it as much in this format. There are very few Auras and none in blue or black, which makes Nightveil Predator a good but beatable creature. I’m really happy to pick up Nightveil Predator here as it’s one of the best cards I could get, and it signals that Dimir might keep flowing this pack.

Pack 3 Pick 4

My Pick: Artful Takedown

Yet another Status // Statue and I’m taking an equally great card in Artful Takedown. Artful Takedown is in the running for highest power level common and I’m ecstatic to take it here. I’m eyeing the Gateway Plaza and Izzet Guildgate as potential wheels to enable my Expansion // Explosion.

Pack 3 Pick 5

My Pick: Dimir Informant

Dimir Informant is a solid, low-end Dimir playable. It blocks against Boros fairly well and can smooth out your draws some. 4 toughness is great in the format as a lot of the common mentor creatures have 3 power, which means that it blocks them and anything they mentored onto.

Pack 3 Pick 6

My Pick: Sinister Sabotage

More counterspells to go with my flash cards. Sinister Sabotage is the best of the bunch as I can leave up exactly 3 for it or Whisper Agent. While I’d like another Whisper Agent, I’m definitely much more interested in Sinister Sabotage.

Pack 3 Pick 7

My Pick: Dimir Informant

Another curve filler I’ll likely play that triggers my Darkblade Agents.

Pack 3 Pick 8

My Pick: Devious Cover-Up

This is an interesting pick here. Child of Night is a solid 2-drop playable. It’s not great but I’ll play it happily here. Devious Cover-Up number two has a ton of value because I can now loop the two of them and never run out of cards. I think having access to the second Devious Cover-Up has too much upside for a small improvement on a mediocre 2-drop.

Pack 3 Pick 9

My Pick: Izzet Locket

While I’m not excited about playing Izzet Locket, I’ll do so if necessary to get Expansion // Explosion to be castable. I don’t mind the Lockets as 1-ofs in a lot of decks as the games can often be slow and grindy, so getting two cards for one later in the game is still valuable.

Pack 3 Pick 10

My Pick: Dimir Guildgate

With a Nightveil Predator now Guildgates have a lot more value. I’m happy to pick up a solid piece of fixing over another Disdainful Stroke or Dimir Informant.

Pack 3 Pick 11

My Pick: Unexplained Disappearance

I like this card in almost every blue deck as a 1-of. It triggers surveil cards and in a deck with so much countermagic sometimes something can slip through the cracks.

Pack 3 Pick 12

My Pick: Severed Strands

I could see taking Crushing Canopy here as a sideboard option since I have a Golgari Guildgate but it’s unlikely to come in.

Pack 3 Pick 13

My Pick: Never Happened

Pack 3 Pick 14

My Pick: Spinal Centipede

I like bringing this in against decks with Darkblade Agents, Wojek Bodyguards, and Piston-Fist Cyclops.

Last Pick: Tenth District Guard

Here’s the final product:

I ended up fitting the Expansion // Explosion in my deck off of the two Guildgates, the Izzet Locket, and a single Mountain. Mountain is a bit awkward with Nightveil Predator, but I often don’t want to slam Nightveil Predator on 4 anyway and wait until I get control over the battlefield first with my countermagic and Capture Spheres while trading off Whisper Agents with my opponent’s early creatures.

Four sources is low for a double-colored card, but Expansion // Explosion can copy Thought Erasure, Artful Takedown, and my opponent’s removal in some spots while also being an incredible closer, eventually winning me almost every game.

I neglected to play the second Devious Cover-Up as I didn’t think I’d need it in all of my matchups but boarded into it against the two other grindy decks I played against.

The deck performed well and I managed to win a trophy and go 3-0. Getting to play with so many instants is a true delight and gives you a lot of play in tight games.

I’m truly enjoying Guilds of Ravnica Draft. The Drafts can be simplistic, as you don’t get a lot of options, but the choice of taking cards to splash and lands to splash those cards keeps the Drafts interesting to me. In addition to that, I really like the game play in this format. There’s truly something for everyone as you can play true control decks with Dimir or Izzet, and extremely aggressive decks with Boros or Selesnya. There are also 4- and 5-color midrange decks. To top it all off, when you find a guild that no one at your table is in, you often get rewarded with what looks like a full booster box Sealed deck. I’ve done a bunch of Drafts and I’m still enjoying the format as much as my first day.

How do you think I drafted? Are there any picks you would have made differently? Are you enjoying Guilds of Ravnica Booster Draft? Let me know in the comments!

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