Over the past few weeks, during the pre-release and release of Dragon’s Maze, a storm has been brewing. It started with a lucky Gruul pre-release sealed deck, and grew with each smart play or complicated block. The storm is my slow improvement, and though it can dissipate at any moment, broken apart by some random cold front, for now I’m finally beginning to feel the satisfaction of a positive record.


As mentioned above, the pre-release blessed me with some very lucky pulls in my pack. My chosen guild was Gruul, and my secret guild was Izzet. Okay, weird, but I could work with that. I evaluated my deck, splashed white for a few nice three drops, and then thought hard about my pool. My brain is beginning to make these connections that it wasn’t making before. I began thinking about card synergy, about land drops, and about tempo. Did I really need to splash white? I decided the answer was no, and went with a quick, well-curved Gruul deck.

Highlights of the deck included the Zhur-Taa Ancient doubling all the mana, all the time. While expressing my excitement for this card I was often met with the critique of, “But he doubles your opponent’s mana, too.” My answer’s were: A.) Duh, I know how to read, and B.) That’s fine. I don’t care. Because I’m not playing him unless I’ve got a plan for my mana next turn. Most of the time I doubled the mana, my opponent didn’t have enough resources to do anything with it. Whereas I would play something like Turn Five Zhur-Taa Ancient, Turn Six Maze Behemoth and Madcap Skills on Zhur-Taa. That’s insane, and a lot of power to face off against.

I quickly ousted my first opponent. My second opponent beat me swiftly with what I consider one of the only weak points of my deck… a slow early game. Going up against a perfectly on-curve Rakdos deck is just so hard to deal with. Turn One Rakdos Cackler, Turn Two Spike Jester, Turn Three Rakdos Drake, Turn Four Rakdos, Lord of Riots. How does anyone keep up with that? My third opponent got some unlucky draws and I was able to win by turn six both games. And my fourth opponent and I went to time… at six in the morning. Final Record 2-1-1, and I went home sleepy and with four prize packs which is the most I’ve ever won at once.


The weekend of the release I jumped into a sealed and draft. During the sealed I was struck with confusion. All of these great cards in great colors! And there was so much to process and look at, so many decisions to make. It made my head swirl. Also, I had everyone suggesting different types of decks. Some people thought I should build a solid three color deck, others thought my cards were too good not to go four colors. I fall into the camp of “less-is-more.” It’s my dream experiment (yes, dream experiment) to try to force a mono-colored deck in a Dragon’s Maze draft. I hate having to worry about my mana base. I think a player’s mana base should be the least of their worries (in a perfect world).

But I ended up with an okay four color deck that I changed completely in between rounds one and two. Completely rebuilt, full of good white cards I was ignoring like Keening Apparition and Precinct Captain, I eventually went 2-2 in the sealed event. Not bad for having no idea what type of deck I should build.

In the draft I built another quick, hard-hitting Gruul deck, and I’ve realized that may be my favorite archetype. Pick up good Gruul cards early and then just scoop up Madcap Skills and Pit Fight if you can. The question is, what do I want from the Return to Ravnica pack? The games played out okay. I got blown out by Traitorous Instinct two games in a row and I believe I felt real “tilt” for a moment. In the end I went 2-1 and earned another two packs (one of which I shared with the little young dude I played against round three).

In the end, I’ve taken home seven packs over two weekends. That’s quite a bit better than when I began less than a year ago. It’s only been eight months with this strange, headache-inducing, collectible card game you all love. But I’m beginning to see progress… and it’s addicting.

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