Today I’m headed to Grand Prix Oklahoma City with Hipsters’ very own “Two Bye Crew,” which Matt Jones said was the funniest thing I’ve ever said: me, Dave “Bones” McCoy, Matt “The Obliterator” Jones, and the newest Hipster, None Shall Pass Bombs’ Limited master Carrie O’Hara.

Yet I don’t feel super prepared for the GP. Life and work have conspired to be super busy lately, as I work on closing the first issue of my new print magazine, Rhapsody—United Airlines’ new first- and business-class mag. Instead of power and toughnesses, bestow and heroicism, I’ve been immersed in proofs and photo research, and writing and editing stories about everything from Andy Spade’s new pajama company to Boardwalk Empire’s master tailor, an Auschwitz survivor named Martin Greenfield.

Crazy shit. And fun. But I miss the cards.

That’s not to say I haven’t played a bit. I did one prerelease sealed, where I went 3-1 (choosing white as my hero’s path), and then another release sealed, where I only managed 2-2. Finally, a four-man sealed practice at Carrie’s place yielded a 2-1 record.

What’s the one consistent thing I’ve learned? Green is good, as Gordon Gekko’s dorky, Magic-playing brother might say. Here Matt Jones would say I watch a billion movies and TV shows, such is my pop-culture-referencing powers—but I remind you that this comes from a man who watches Judge Dredd and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine on a daily basis, so you be the judge (ahem, Dredd).

But seriously—at the prerelease I played white/green splashing red; at the release, red/green splashing black; and at the practice sesh, black/green splashing blue. I think green is by far the best color on Theros—with the caveat being that blue, if you get a nut pool with a billion Griptides and Voyage’s Ends, is probably stronger. Those two cards in particular are just such an intense beating—they really are the “paper” for green’s “rock,” in the form of unending big, monstrous, often-trampling beaters.

So what I wanted to do, rather than go through all my matches from the past couple of weeks, is touch on a few “slops and props” I’ve discerned in my brief outing on Theros.

This is a card I’ve been quite happy to maindeck at least one of—and I’d love to have access to more than one (or, even better, one of its instant-speed variants) in my sideboard, especially in sealed. Bestow in general is just so powerful, especially the “naiad” cycle at common and the “emissary” cycle at uncommon, that it seems as though nearly every deck with have multiple juicy targets.

Speaking of bestow—it’s super-powerful. If memory serves, I was relatively high on most of the “naiad” cycle in my initial review of Theros, and I would put them all even higher now. Nimbus Naiad is still the best of them, although in my prerelease pool I had two Leafcrown Dryads, and that card just did work. One thing to keep in mind: When you bestow onto a creature, and attack with it—do not tap the enchantment. If your enchanted creature dies mid-combat, the bestow guy will fall off, untapped and ready to block. My buddy Dom did that with his Hopeful Eidolon’ed guy during our release-event match, and having the untapped Eidolon could have saved him a few life, perhaps. Maybe I should have told him, mid-match, “Hey, that guy’s untapped,” given that we were at casual REL—but Dom’s a good player and I felt like he could handle it. If it was spiky of me, I apologize.

Ill-Tempered Cyclops and his monstrous ilk are really good—including Nessian Asp, a creature which I hereby renounce my previous somewhat-negative review of. Asp is pretty great, and is just a huge roadblock.

Oh, and here’s the secret to using monstrous properly: Never activate it.

I’m only half kidding. There were several points during my RGb release sealed matches when I swung into much open mana from my opponent with a guy who could become monstrous, such as the Cyclops or Stoneshock Giant. “No blocks,” they’d say, perhaps hoping to entice me to go for the jugular by activating monstrous and (in many cases) doubling my damage, to which they would respond with Lash of the Whip or a bounce spell. No dice. I’m already winning that race, so why would I get greedy?

“No effects,” I’d say. And they would sit there for a second—perhaps with the trick in hand, perhaps not; but on more than one occasion I got the sense that my declining to go monstrous suddenly recalibrated what my opponent planned to do, given that burn or the -4/-4 effect is suddenly useless when I have the option to activate monstrous in response. “OK,” they’d say somewhat reluctantly. “Damage?” I’d ask, both of us now having passed priority. “Take [three or five].” And then happily proceed with my turn.

It’s a basic principle of instant-speed abilities, but it bears repeating because monstrosity makes you want so badly to use it in the combat step: If you can do something at any time, you should in most cases wait until the last possible second to do so. Not always, of course—but the risk of activating a full turn’s worth of mana to go monstrous, only to lose your guy permanently to a kill spell or for a full turn cycle (because you now no longer have mana to recast him) to bounce is just far too risky. That’s how games get flipped, and I don’t want any part of that.

This card is honestly just bonkers. I ran her in my release sealed, on the splash and alongside Pharika’s Mender, who is also a great card in her own right, and wow—was I ever impressed with Reaper. I had a lot of good ramp in that deck, and at least once I was able to cast her on turn three. Then, if I was able to untap—and I pretty much always was, given that very little in this set takes down a five-toughness creature—I felt like I couldn’t lose the game. The basic plan was just to sit back behind Reaper, who pretty much holds everything by her lonesome, and wait until I had enough mana to bestow onto her with hexproof mana up. Next step: Win game. I just don’t know what your opponent is ever going to do against a bestowed Reaper. I really want to see this card on Friday, as I definitely think that black/green is one of the stronger color combos.

That’s all I’ve got for now, kids. I hope to have a triumphant day two report for everyone next Friday, but man if I’m ever unprepared for draft. I hope to jam a ton of drafts on Friday at the venue. Keep an eye out for me and my fellow Hipsters, and follow our exploits on @hotcblog. Oh, and before I go, I hate to take pics of opponents and not talk about them, so here are my opponents from the prerelease, and one—my ultimate mirror match—from the release:


This is Wes. He beat me in three, finishing me off twice—two times—with Messenger’s Speed. I still don’t think it’s a good card, but giving something big trample and haste for one red mana isn’t an irrelevant ability.


This is Michael. At one point in our game I had out Fabled Hero, and was waiting to bestow Celestial Archon onto it, fearful of a blowout—and then I thought, “Wait, what the hell am I thinking?” Even if he kills Hero in response I still have a 4/4 first-striking flier.


This is Neil, who was on R/W heroic. We didn’t have much of a match, unfortunately. Neil had a couple of really bad hands, and my big dudes rolled over him.


This is Billy. He was on a super-grindy B/W deck with TWO copies of Lash or Erebos and some very scary Grey Merchants. I was able to grind him out eventually, though.


And this is my ultimate mirror match: Hunter O’Kelly Rodriguez. Before our match we were joking around and I totally called us playing. Hunter won the day, though, in three games. Nice work, man! Also note Hugh in the background, playing 1/2s for one to his heart’s content.

23/17 is a Hipsters of the Coast column focused on Limited play—primarily draft and sealed, but also cubing, 2HG, and anything else we can come up with. The name refers to the “Golden Ratio” of a Limited deck: 23 spells and 17 lands. Follow Hunter (Slaton), not O’Kelly Rodriguez, at @hrslaton.

Don't Miss Out!

Sign up for the Hipsters Newsletter for weekly updates.