With Grand Prix Indianapolis and Grand Prix Metz on the horizon, the sights of competitive players such as myself are set on the Limited format. I find Sealed too boring to do any practice ones, but I quite like this Draft format. Because of that, I decided to take a page out of Mike Sigrist’s book and do a Draft recap. If you want to see how I approach Hour of Devastation Draft, you can check out my format breakdown from two weeks ago. I really like how everyone has a different opinions about Draft so I hope my recap can start a discussion in the comments. Let’s get to it.
Pack 1 pick 1
My Pick: Hope Tender
As always, I was hoping to open some busted rare. Even though I don’t consider Imminent Doom unplayable, it still doesn’t fit my qualifications for busted rare. Therefore, I have to look elsewhere. The choice boils down to two cards: Hope Tender and Ifnir Deadlands. Hope Tender is probably the 2nd best green uncommon after Sifter Wurm. I like how versatile it is because it’s going to be great in both fast and slow decks.
Ifnir Deadlands is also great—it’s the best of the uncommon Deserts and it creates a lot of value while not costing you an extra space in your deck. To me this pick comes down to a color preference, and I think green is better than black, so I went with the creature.
Pack 1 pick 2
My Pick: Desert’s Hold
The rare is missing, so I have a choice between two uncommons again. This one is pretty easy for me. While I think Burning-First Minotaur is great, Desert’s Hold is a premium removal spell. It also goes slightly better with my first pick as I can now aim to be in either G/W or the green ramp deck. It’s worth noting that I’ve already passed two Rhonas’s Stalwarts. This isn’t a big deal to me though, as I think it’s better to concentrate on what you’re getting passed than what cards you’re passing.
Pack 1 pick 3
My Pick: Rhonas’s Stalwart
The 3rd Rhonas’s Stalwart in a row, and this time I’m going to pick it. This pack is decent, with Frontline Devastator, Desert of the True, and Rampaging Hippo as my other options. But Stalwart is an efficient, aggressive 2-drop. Plus, I like drafting G/W, and Stalwart is a key card in that archetype. After these 3 picks I already have my sights set on that archetype, but things can always change quickly.
Pack 1 pick 4
My Pick: Desert of the Indomitable
This was a very close pick for me between Desert of the Indomitable and Aven of Enduring Hope. At the start of the format, I’d pick Sandblast, but my opinion of that card dropped significantly over time. The opposite goes for Aven of Enduring Hope. I didn’t think much of that card at first, but it overperformed. Still, I think the Desert is a bit better, leaving me more flexible. I already have two green cards to one white, so I chose to go with another green card.
Pack 1 pick 5
My Pick: Khenra Scrapper
This pack was pretty weak for me. Rampaging Hippo and Gideon’s Defeat are the only two on-color cards. While I like Gideon’s Defeat, I don’t want to take it this highly. Instead I chose to go with one of the better red commons in Khenra Scrapper. It’s still early in the Draft, so I’m fine with picking the strongest card out of the pack, which I think Khenra is. It also shows me that red might be open.
Pack 1 pick 6
My Pick: Resolute Survivors
The draft is getting interesting. Again, there isn’t much in green or white. Beneath the Sands is okay in the ramp deck, but I’m actively trying to avoid playing with Steadfast Sentinel and Dutiful Servants. The best cards in this pack are Frontline Devastator, Desert of the Fervent, and Resolute Survivors. I chose to go with the most powerful card yet again in Resolute Survivors. It’s pretty clear that red is open at this point, which kind of sucks because I’ve passed bunch of decent cards to my left. Still, like I said, it’s much better to find out what color is open in pack 1, and I think red might be it.
Pack 1 pick 7
My Pick: Dauntless Aven
Green dried up pretty badly at this point so I’m left with choosing between Dauntless Aven and the red Desert. I don’t have any Desert synergies at this point so I went with the creature. I’m actually a big fan of the Aven, and I already have two exert creatures. At this point I’m still not sure what color I’ll end up but I think one of them will be white as I consider both R/W and G/W better than R/G.
Pack 1 pick 8
My Pick: Gideon’s Defeat
Not much in this pack but a solid sideboard card. I’m always happy picking up one of the Defeat cards, and the white one is best because of how it interacts with embalm and eternalize creatures. I’m content with this pick, as it cements my position in white.
Pack 1 pick 9:
My Pick: Gideon’s Defeat
And another one. My matchup against other white decks keeps getting better.
Pack 1 pick 10:
My Pick: Kindled Fury
I have a choice between Sandwalla and Kindled Fury. I don’t like Sandwalla very much as you often don’t want to spend mana on it in the early turns and it’s an abysmal topdeck. Kindled Fury isn’t much better, but I like having a cheap trick or two in my R/W decks. At this point, I think I’m more likely to end up in R/W, so I take the trick. I don’t like Granitic Titan, so I stay away from it.
Pack 1 pick 11
My Pick: Defiant Khenra
I don’t love the idea of playing Defiant Khenra, but as of right now I don’t have any 2-drops if I end up in a R/W. In that archetype, you usually just want to curve out, and while I’d prefer to have slightly more powerful 2-drops, I’m fine with playing Grizzly Bears. Aside on Grizzly Bears: I’ve seen someone mention that they wished WotC wouldn’t just print random bears. For example, in this set, it would be super easy to make Defiant Khenra a Zombie and the card would be slightly better. I wholeheartedly agree with this and wish WotC changed their Grizzly Bears policy #makethebearsbetter
Pack 1 pick 12
My Pick: Act of Heroism
Another solid combat trick that I might end up playing. Not exciting, but I don’t expect much more from my 12th pick.
Pack 1 pick 13
My Pick: Solemnity
In the Czech Republic I can afford a McDonald’s cheeseburger for selling this, so you can imagine how happy this pick made me.
Pack 1 pick 14
My Pick: Dutiful Servants
Really hoping this won’t make my deck.
Pack 1 pick 15
My Pick: Island
I got the best basic, so things are clearly going well.
After pack 1, I’m still undecided on what my colors are. I started off green but it dried up, and now it looks like I might end up R/W. With that said, if I randomly get passed a bunch of great green cards pack 2, I could still see myself playing green, as I have three decent cards from pack 1.
Pack 2 pick 1
My Pick: Dauntless Aven
My hopes of getting a great rare are destroyed once again. I’m actually a fan of Torment of Hailfire, but it gets a bit worse if you’re not playing black. This pack is bleak. My choice comes down to Inferno Jet or a 2nd Dauntless Aven. I think Inferno Jet is supposed to be a good card, because it should either win the game or cycle. So far my experience with that has been pretty bad though, and I think I’ve only cast it once. I still might be wrong about it— I know a bunch of my teammates have liked it before the PT, but I stay away from it. The only problem with Aven is that my 3-drop slot if getting crowded, so that’s something to keep in mind for the future.
Pack 2 pick 2
My Pick: Sunscourge Champion
I just talked about it, yet I pick a 3-drop here. What gives? Well there basically aren’t any better options. I don’t like Hashep Oasis that much and Firebrand Archer is much worse than the Champion. All the other options are blue (Obstructionist, Thirst, Consign), which is a color I’m not interested in. I really have to be mindful of my curve now. I can’t stress enough how important a great curve is in a deck like R/W.
Pack 2 pick 3
My Pick: Puncturing Blow
This pick was pretty easy for me and it cements me in R/W. No good white cards, but Puncturing Blow is a great common removal that deals neatly with embalm shenanigans. It also deals with those pesky Gods Andrea Mengucci is complaining about all the time. I like it more than Rhonas’s Stalwart, which is the only other option for me. I mentioned that I could have ended up green if I got some great card passed to me, but that hasn’t been the case, so I’m happy sticking to R/W.
Pack 2 pick 4
My Pick: Ambuscade
This pack was a big disappointment and doubts are starting to creep in. Nothing in my colors except for Thorned Moloch, which is a) another 3-drop and b) not very good outside of U/R. I went with Ambuscade even though I still don’t think I’ll end up green. This pack is a bit worrying but I expected it to be a bit rough as I’ve passed a bunch of red cards this way.
Pack 2 pick 5
My Pick: Shefet Dunes
This was quite a close pick between Shefet Dunes and Blur of Blades. I went with the land and it might have been a mistake. I don’t have any Desert synergies and I might be lacking playables because I switched colors mid pack. Having to pick Ambuscade in the last pack is also a warning sign. Still, on power level Dunes are better than Blur. Just like with Ifnir Deadlands, the effect is quite strong here and can be often game-winning.
Pack 2 pick 6
My Pick: Wall of Forgotten Pharaohs
Super weak pack. I’m taking the strongest card in Wall, but I don’t think I’ll end up playing it. Something miraculous would have to happen as I don’t like this card in R/W and I have only 1 Desert so far. With that said, there are really no other options. I already have 1 Kindled Fury and I don’t want to play 2.
Pack 2 pick 7
My Pick: Granitic Titan
I don’t like Granitic Titan but I like Thorned Moloch even less. This pack isn’t going well so far for me. The only consolation is that the packs seem quite bad overall so I can blame the MTGO Gods instead of blaming myself for poor drafting.
Pack 2 pick 8
My Pick: Defiant Khenra
I have to admit I’m actually kind of excited about Defiant Khenra at this point. I desperately need creatures, especially 2-drops. So far I have only 2 Khenras and that’s not a great place to be. But hey, at least it’s something. I’m noticing that blue is super open from this side, which is understandable because I hadn’t seen any good cards in pack 1. Still, I wish I could be the guy picking all these sweet cards.
Pack 2 pick 9
My Pick: Frontline Devastator
Finally some good news. I like Frontline Devastator quite a bit. I don’t have any 4-drops yet and this is one of the strongest options out there. It hits pretty hard as you usually have 2 or more extra mana to pump and the afflict ability is pretty great here. I’m surprised to wheel it because I thought my original pack was quite weak. This probably means that red is pretty open at the table, which is good news for me.
Pack 2 pick 10
My Pick: Consign // Oblivion
Good news is obviously followed by bad news. Here I pick Consign // Oblivion. I know this is a League, so hate drafting is useless. But first, I might be a bad person but I enjoy making people’s deck worse. Second, I try to simulate the conditions at a GP. There I would definitely pick Consign as it’s much, much better than Dutiful Servants. I already have one of those anyway and I’m still hoping I don’t have to play it. There is also always the chance you’ll actually end up playing someone within your pod. Also worth noting is that this is pack 2, so everyone should be settled into their colors. Therefore you don’t lose on the value of sending someone who’s on the fence about U/B a strong signal.
Pack 2 pick 11
My Pick: Scrounger of Souls
Nothing for me, so I’m hate drafting the card I’d like to play against the least.
Pack 2 pick 12
My Pick: Fraying Sanity
Wow another rare. I’m going to be rich in no time.
Pack 2 pick 13
My Pick: Oketra’s Last Mercy
I think I can officially buy a Happy Meal. At this point the result of the Draft stops mattering as I’m starting to fantasize about all the great stuff I’m going to buy.
Pack 2 pick 14
My Pick: Seer of the Last Tomorrow
Pack 2 pick 15
My Pick: Forest
Well, pack 2 didn’t go as I hoped. I’m kind of struggling for a playable at this point. But if I’m reading this draft correctly I should get rewarded in pack 3 so I’m still hoping.
Pack 3 pick 1
My Pick: Bloodrage Brawler
Not a bad start, though I failed to open a busted rare yet again, so I have to complain a bit. Still, Bloodrage Brawler is a great card, and I’m missing a good 2-drop. There are other cards to consider like Fan Bearer and Electrify, but I think those are a bit weaker than the Brawler. Don’t get me wrong—they’re still great, but I’d rather have the more powerful card that can win games on its own. Brawler definitely qualifies, as if you play it on turn 2 it’s really hard for your opponent to win. There are a bunch of red and white cards, so I’m looking to wheel something.
Pack 3 pick 2
My Pick: Bloodrage Brawler
Here I am faced with the same decision as in pack 1. My opinion hasn’t changed. It might be a bit awkward if you draw both Brawlers, but in that case you can just discard one to the other. I might be overrating Brawler as it’s possible it got worse in Hour of Devastation. It was great before, especially in combination with Thresher Lizard. I haven’t played enough with it to be sure how much worse. Still, I already have two good removal spells while I’m lacking in the 2-drop department. I think my pick was correct.
Pack 3 pick 3
My Pick: Dusk // Dawn
Finally got a rare. If I’m not going to open it at least someone will pass it to me. We actually had a debate before this PT about how good this card is. I don’t think it’s busted, but it’s still a decent card that I’m happy first picking. So getting it 3rd pick is pretty delightful. It kind of sucks that about half of my creatures at this point have 3+ power, but I can still pick some 2-power critters in the future.
Pack 3 pick 4
My Pick: Emberhorn Minotaur
Another clear pick here. Emeberhorn Minotaur is much better than Winged Shepherd in my opinion. It’s gotten a bit worse than it was in Amonkhet as the format is less aggressive. That said, I have only one other 4-drop, so this is a more than acceptable addition.
Pack 3 pick 5
My Pick: Electrify
Great news for me! I could do with extra removal and Electrify is a solid option. After the first two picks that were kind of tough, this pack has been easy enough to draft so far. I also got a great red card, so reading the Draft has paid off.
Pack 3 pick 6
My Pick: Binding Mummy
This pick is a bit of a disappointment. I have only one other Zombie and one eternalize card. Curve is important though, so picking up another solid 2-drop isn’t the end of the world. Plus, it’s not like there are other great options. Start // Finish is an awesome card, but it isn’t worth splashing black for, especially in an aggro deck.
Pack 3 pick 7
My Pick: Compulsory Rest
And back to happiness. Another removal spell, another solid pick. Compulsory Rest isn’t the greatest removal spell out there because of how poor it is against embalm and eternalize creatures. Still, this is 7th pick, and a removal spell this late is something to celebrate.
Pack 3 pick 8
My Pick: Emberhorn Minotaur
The choice here is between the Minotaur and the Manticore. Manticore hits pretty hard and can help you burn out the opponent. Minotaur is kind of the same, but 1 mana cheaper, so I went with that. At this point, my deck is shaping up nicely. I’m still lacking playable cards so I actually need to wheel some good ones, which I’m a bit worried about.
Pack 3 pick 9
My Pick: Binding Mummy
This was a pretty tough decision for me. I love Cartouche of Zeal so I was very tempted to pick it. But I think Cartouche got worse with Hour of Devastation in the picture. For curve considerations, I went with the Mummy. Plus, it makes my first Mummy a bit better. I can also live the dream of going Mummy into Mummy and then finding one of my other Zombies to tap my opponent’s team.
Pack 3 pick 10
My Pick: Slither Blade
I have a friendly competition going with Jason Chung to see who can get the most Slither Blades on their MTGO account. Suffice to say, I’m losing this one pretty hard—he’s already in triple digits. Gotta get ’em where I can. I have to play some triple-Amonkhet drafts at some point.
Pack 3 pick 11
My Pick: Those Who Serve
Not exciting, but it’s another Zombie. With 2 Binding Mummies those get much, much better. Usually I wouldn’t want to play this in my R/W deck, but it might make my main deck here as I’m running low on playables.
Pack 3 pick 12
My Pick: Nimble-Blade Khenra
I don’t have anywhere near enough spells to make this playable and I already have 6 other 2-drops, so I’m covered there.
Pack 3 pick 13
My Pick: Naga Oracle
Pack 3 pick 14
My Pick: Violent Impact
Pack 3 pick 15
My Pick: Pursue Glory
Pretty sweet last pick and a card I was definitely considering playing. In the end, it didn’t make the cut, but it was close.
Here’s the final product.
Not much to say here when it came to deckbuilding. I had to play 17 lands, mostly because I’m lacking playables. I’m wishing I had been able to pick up some cycling Deserts, but oh well. I was a bit worried about this deck after pack 2. But luckily, my prediction came through, and I was handsomely rewarded in pack 3. It saved my deck.
As far as R/W decks go, this is how their curve should look. Even though my creatures are weaker than I would have liked, I have some solid tricks, good removal suite, and one decent rare. My expectation for this deck was 2-1, or 3-0 if I got lucky. Unfortunately, this didn’t come to fruition as I lost both games in round 1 to the combination of Sunscourge Champion, a bunch of other creatures, and a turn-7 God-Pharaoh’s Gift. I won the game where my opponent didn’t have it, but stumbled in the games he did, and that card is quite punishing when you get it going. This was a competitive single-elimination Draft, thus ended my journey with this deck. I think it deserved better results, but it’s Magic, and sometimes you lose.
I thought this Draft was a good exercise, as I switched colors pretty late, although the picks were pretty clear once I settled into R/W. Let me know in the comments if you have any questions or any picks you disagree with. I don’t think my drafting is perfect, and I’m always looking to learn!