So I’m slowly working my way through Theros, testing out various archetypes. Last week I documented my 6-0 run with UW heroic—super fun—and this week, at 20 Sided Store, I found myself drafting RW heroic, after first-picking a Stormbreath Dragon, and thus paying for my draft in one shot, win or lose.

The draft was a little weird—the white was flowing in pack one, but it was getting cut hard from my left in pack two. There was also a ton of good blue going around—a Thassa’s Emissary even came around on the wheel, plus a super-late Sea God’s Revenge that I hate-drafted—but I’ve heard that UR is the worst color combo, so I was reluctant to jump in the pool.

Here’s what I drafted:

RW Heroic?

Creatures (15)
Stormbreath Dragon
Celestial Archon
Spearpoint Oread
Silent Artisan
Favored Hoplite
Arena Athlete
Akroan Crusader
Borderland Minotaur
Setessan Battle Priest
Hopeful Eidolon
Evangel of Heliod
Satyr Rambler

Spells (8)
Chosen by Heliod
Titan's Strength
Dragon Mantle
Ordeal of Heliod
Divine Verdict
Rage of Purphoros
Battlewise Valor
Lands (17)

Sideboard (11)
Vanquish the Foul
Ray of Dissolution
Ephara's Warden
Spark Jolt
Last Breath
Yoked Ox
Priest of Iroas
Glare of Heresy
Scholar of Athreos

A few notes on the card choices. The mix of spells is interesting; I debated putting in the Vanquish the Foul and one Ray of Dissolution, and maybe even a Spark Jolt, which in a pinch can be used to target Favored Hoplite or the two Setessan Battle Priests—or, hell, the two Akroan Crusaders, even though that’s not so great. It’s just worth keeping mind those interactions.

In the end, though, I wanted to keep the curve down as low as possible, so I cut Vanquish, thinking that ideally (if things were going according to plan) I’d have won by the time I hit six mana. In retrospect, and along that same line of thinking, I maybe should have put Spark Jolt in there instead of Rage of Purphoros, because nothing ruins RW heroic’s day more than a Sedge Scorpion or Baleful Eidolon.

As for the creatures, I didn’t have much choice, although perhaps I could have gotten a Yoked Ox in there—since I had the two Dragon Mantles and the Ordeal of Heliod—instead of maybe one of the Akroan Crusders, who I’ve come to fully realize is just a huge turkey. The reason why? There’s no Glorious Charge effect to do anything with whatever extra 1/1s you generate. I’m not sure where I chose the Crusaders—I don’t think it was very highly—but they really underperformed. My kingdom for another Favored Hoplite!

The Celestial Archon was a late third- or maybe even fourth-pick gift in pack three. Evangel of Heliod was stellar, as always, and Hopeful Eidolon was excellent. I really wish Spearpoint Oread cost five and not six to bestow: Is first strike really worth a full mana more than flying, on Nimbus Naiad? I don’t feel like it is; if anything, it’s worth less.

Of course, Stormbreath Dragon is straight bonkah. And the Battle Priests I surprisingly don’t hate. They are a good target for an Ordeal or Mantle, and the random two to four life they can gain you in a game is not irrelevant. I think I like them more than Akroan Crusader, anyway, who often does just stone nothing.

So how’d the games go? In round one I faced Gene, who was on RG monsters, and I won in a tight three games—the last when I stacked up Chosen by Heliod, Hopeful Eidolon, Spearpoint Oread, and a Dragon Mantle on Favored Hoplite, allowing me to gain pretty much unlimited life each turn, after I came back from a pretty scarily low life total. “I don’t have anything that can beat that,” said Gene, and scooped up his cards.


In round two I faced the handsome Nicholas Forker, who was on UR with lots of powerful spells and Meletis Charlatan, who blew me out a couple of times with a copied Lightning Strike and a copied Voyage’s End. Forker expertly played around Divine Verdict, as well, when I tried to tempt him into attacking with Meletis Charlatan by attacking for one point of damage with a Setessan Battle Priest. I manged to eke out a victory in three games.


In round three I faced D., who was on UB control, and who just ruined my day with aforementioned Baleful Eidolons as well as at least two Vaporkins and Returned Phalanxes. As Ari Lax recently wrote on StarCity, there are many decks in Theros that just straight-up fold to 3/3s, and this was one of them. I boarded in Spark Jolt and Last Breath to deal with those problem cards of D.’s, but unfortunately I didn’t see either of them in game two, when I needed to. A turn-three Ordeal of Thassa on Vaporkin quickly ratcheted up the pressure, and though I was hitting back for a fair amount of damage, a Gray Merchant of Asphodel draining me for seven put me at two and dead the following turn to his Cavern Lampad. My only hope was to crash in with the team and hope D. blocked with the Lampad, as I’d drawn (and could cast) Celestial Archon, which could hold off his 5/4 Vaporkin—but D. made smart blocks and I scooped ‘em up after making him attack to kill me. I rarely ever concede a match before lethal damage has been done.


All in all, a fun draft. I don’t love RW heroic, though—it just feels way more fragile than UW heroic, and with less high-impact cards. I suppose a Two-Headed Cerberus or two is what I needed, but I saw nary a one of the doggies. I never saw an Akroan Hoplite, either, although I don’t think that card is very good. RW heroic in general just seems much less focused and raw-powerful than its UW cousin. Next week maybe I’ll try out the GW version and see how that runs. The Selesnya uncommon, Chronicler of Heroes, doesn’t excite me near as much as Battlewise Hoplite, but a 3/3 for three isn’t embarrassing by any means. In the meantime, good luck and have fun!

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 at @hrslaton.

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