Gatecrash holds a special place in my heart. Having started my well-documented Magic career with Return to Ravnica, I began seeing my first steps of improvement in GTC. I recorded my first 2-1 in a draft, I built my first (semi-competitive) deck during Gatecrash, and I began dabbling with casual Magic formats. So what does a scrub like me think about the set as we slowly ride off into the Dragon’s Maze?


This was an extremely fun set to draft. I know many people, who have the luxury of drafting multiple times a week, have begun to grow tired of the set. But I don’t understand why this set would be any more or less tedious to draft in repetition than any other set. I admit, I still have some playfulness left in me, and I don’t always draft the best guilds. I can see how drafting Boros or Orzhov over and over again can grow tiring. Personally, I found those two guilds to be the most boring to play with.

Now Simic, there’s a weird guild! I’m a huge fan of flavor and was immediately drawn to the bio-engineers of the Simic Combine. You mean to tell me I can cast a little dude and then evolve him, larger and larger, on the fly? I’m in. Sounds great. And Gruul, those big, sweet, dumb creatures. As you can guess (if you’ve been reading my column) I love to play creatures and turn them sideways. That’s my favorite way to play the game and Gruul presented me with so many wonderful opportunities to do so.

But now I find myself in a strange (or, unfortunately not so strange) dilemma. I continue to draft sub-optimal decks. This past weekend, when I played my last GTC draft, I drafted a deck I wasn’t very into, and I played sloppily. Why does Orzhov evoke a sort of malaise in my play style? As soon as I drop a creature with extort I think to myself good god, here we go. I know it’s a powerful guild, and I know if I build it properly it will reward me, but I find drafting and playing as Orzhov to be such a damned poor experience. Am I really destined to repeat, “Drain for one, gain one; drain for one, gain one; drain for one…” Yawn! Maybe I’m just bitter because I got beat by two different children, but hey, they’ve been playing longer than I have!


Two cards made it into my “Mondo Green” standard deck from Gatecrash: Gyre Sage and Experiment One. Experiment One did so much to stabilize and help curve out a deck that was destined to be top-heavy. I’ve learned now that a good deck can constantly deal with varying degrees of threats, and without Experiment One my semi-competitive standard deck would have been strictly garbage. But, Experiment One also really defined how I thought about my curve. Predator Ooze was such a powerful card, and in mono-green one doesn’t have to worry about the mana requirements, but it doesn’t evolve Experiment One. Hmm…

Gyre Sage is a bit more playful. Yes, it ramps, but I know I was playing it solely because I love the mechanic. Orlando had some good advice for me when he said, “Don’t forget to swing with her, too.” Of course. Although it’s alluring to tap the card when it has four +1/+1 counters on it to generate four mana, I can’t overlook the power of swinging with a 5/6.

Looking Ahead

I have some lofty goals for myself when I step into the Dragon’s Maze. I want to 3-0 a draft. I’ll be heading to Las Vegas for Modern Masters (nope, I have no idea what I’ve gotten myself into). And I want to build a competitive, non-goofy standard deck. Dragon’s Maze is the set where I get serious, where I hone my skills, and where I scrub a little of the scrub off of me! See you in the Maze, friends.

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