A couple of weeks ago, after crashing out of day two at Grand Prix Oklahoma City with a 6-3 record, I had a leisurely breakfast with the boys at Flint before heading over to the Cox Convention Center for some pre-flight Theros drafting.

A quick note on Grand Prix Sundays: I’m not sure when the switch occurred, but at the first Grand Prix I ever went to, GP Toronto back in the fall of 2010, I also bombed out of the main event at 6-2-1, or something like that—but then on Sunday we had a full-fledged PTQ to look forward to! I was win-and-in for top 8 of that event, and tragically lost to a scary heavy-red Scars of Mirrodin Limited deck with Koth of the Hammer and Spikeshot Elder—but hey, a PTQ on Sunday of a Grand Prix was awesome.

Now they’ve got this Super Sealed/Standard Series thing, and man I just can’t abide it. Basically, for those not in the know, it breaks down like this: A sealed tournament starts at 9am, and a Standard tourney starts at 11am. Each tourney plays as many swiss rounds as needed, and then the top four from each event meet in the top 8 for a draft. The winner gets a trip to Wizards, I think? And to compete in some other tournament?

I dunno, it never seemed like a big enough deal to warrant (at least for sealed) getting up damn early on Sunday morning, going through a billion hours of deck-reg and deck-swap yet again. And I’ve never done well on these rebound Sunday tourneys, either, except for that first PTQ. So for the past number of GPs at which I haven’t made day two, I’ve been happy to sleep in a bit (after an exhausting Saturday) and just jam as many drafts as possible on Sunday. Drafting is just the balls, basically, and I rarely get to do it back-to-back-to-back.

So like I said—on Sunday at GP OKC I drafted two times, and just straight-up buzzsawed through all six of my opponents with a pair of really fun and powerful UW heroic builds, with the exact same manabases. Prior to the GP, I’d published an article talking about my experience with green in Theros sealed, and how I thought it was one of the best—if not the best—color. Friend of Hipsters Kadar Brock commented on that article, and said that he felt UW heroic was the strongest archetype, and that it wasn’t close. By the time of OKC, I’d only drafted—what, once? Maybe not even. So I couldn’t speak to draft. But now I can, and boy, is UW strong. Here are the decks:

U-Dub FTW

Creatures (14)
Cavalry Pegasus
Vaporkin
Daxos of Meletis
Nimbus Naiad
Setessan Battle Priest
Phalanx Leader
Omenspeaker
Leonin Snarecaster
Coastline Chimera
Lagonna-Band Elder
Thassa's Emissary

Spells (9)
Sea God's Revenge
Stymied Hopes
Voyage's End
Triton Tactics
Gods Willing
Dauntless Onslaught
Ordeal of Thassa
Bident of Thassa
Lands (17)
Plains
Island

On-color sideboard (11)
Leonin Snarecaster
Sealock Monster
Last Breath
Triton Tactics
Fate Foretold
Aqueous Form
Ray of Dissolution
Benthic Giant
Yoked Ox
Witches' Eye

U-Dub Buzzsaw

Creatures (14)
Lagonna-Band Elder
Triton Fortune Hunter
Setessan Battle Priest
Wingsteed Rider
Evangel of Heliod
Battlewise Hoplite
Celestial Archon
Favored Hoplite
Hopeful Eidolon
Nimbus Naiad
Mnemonic Wall
Prescient Chimera

Spells (9)
Voyage's End
Ordeal of Thassa
Dauntless Onslaught
Griptide
Chosen by Heliod
Gods Willing
Triton Tactics
Dissolve
Sea God's Revenge
Lands (17)
Plains
Island

On-color sideboard (16)
Coastline Chimera
Annul
Ray of Dissolution
Leonin Snarecaster
Fate Foretold
Thassa's Bounty
Sealock Monster
Silent Artisan
Breaching Hippocamp
Yoked Ox
Opaline Unicorn
Pyxis of Pandemonium
Guardians of Meletis

I’m not even sure I dropped a game throughout both drafts (although I probably did). Anyway, it felt like that. I’m fairly certain that in both drafts I first-picked a Nimbus Naiad, which is just a stupid-powerful common. So much flexibility for so little (meaning exactly zero) downside.

Deck No. 1 was certainly the weaker of the two. Daxos of Meletis was an all-star in this deck, since if you can protect him with Gods Willing or bestow onto him with Nimbus Naiad or Thassa’s Emissary, the game is basically over, because he can never again be blocked. The pair of Voyage’s Ends and the Sea God’s Revenge basically ensured that whatever quick start I got out to—and I always did—would be able to go the distance.

I’ll tell you this, though—leave the Bident of Thassa in the board. I started it, but I boarded it out pretty much permanently after the first game or two. It just doesn’t really do anything in most matchups; or, rather, you’d much rather just get another beater down and beating. I’m sure there are matchups wherein it shines—if you are facing down Sedge Scorpions and Baleful Eidolons, for example, which I think are really the bane of UW heroic—but I managed to miss those 1/1 deathtouchers in draft No. 1. You might look askance at the two Setessan Battle Priests, but I actually quite liked them. They wear an Ordeal of Thassa well, and they can get in there an ping for little bits of life—without fear of dying—decently, too. You might also look askance at the second Triton Tactics in the board—but in general, I like to have a range of spells rather than concentrating on any one card, no matter how good it is, so that I can have a range of tools to handle opposing decks. Maybe that’s wrong, but I feel like the first Triton Tactics is way better than the second.

Draft No. 2, meanwhile, was just bonkah, as we say in the business. Again I think I first-picked a Naiad, and also managed to load up on two Wingsteed Riders, a Favored Hoplite, and two-count-’em-two Battlewise Hoplites, which is a damn fine card. I also opened a late Celestial Archon in pack three, so hey—value. The Evangel of Heliod is a bit of an interesting inclusion, but I was really glad to have him. Sure, he’s a six-drop, and this deck is trying to burn fast and hot for the most part—but as I found in draft No. 1, sometimes you were able to do a ton of damage early on and then your opponent would be able to stabilize the board. I wanted Evangel to break that stalemate, and he did, to great effect.

As you can see, I have a ton of sideboard options in my colors, and I’m curious as to what—if anything—you guys would have done differently. I did board in the Ray of Dissolution from time to time, as well as one Annul—but for the most part I felt like I had the correct build. It’s possible that I should have gotten one of the Fate Foretolds in there, which is a card I like a fair amount—but without any Triton Fortune Hunters in the deck, making Fate Foretold a two-mana Divination (more or less) I felt like it was right to leave it in the board. Also, with the killer spell nine-spell lineup I had, I just couldn’t see anything I’d like to cut. I really like having a Dissolve to handle late-game bombs.

And late-game bombs, in match three of draft No. 2, is exactly what I was dealing with, in the form of a scary BW deck with Abhorrent Overlord and Whip of Erebos, plus an unspecified number of Gray Merchants. I knew my opponent had these cards, so in game two, when I had out a couple of smallish beaters and had a Naiad in hand with mana to bestow it, I declined to do so, choosing instead to keep Dissolve in hand, as I knew that was basically my only out to Operation Overlord. Eventually I hit enough mana to be able to continue developing my board and keep up Dissolve, but at some point my opponent was able to stick Whip anyway. I had Archon and some other flier out, and was getting in there for six or so a turn—but he was subsequently crashing back in with his team, gaining shit-tons of life from the Whip.

Somehow he ended up at 15 life, and I had a key turn wherein I drew Ray of Dissolution. (Oh, and this was after I cast Evangel for like six tokens, I think.) I did my math and cracked in with my whole team for 20-something damage, counting my Dauntless Onslaught in hand. He blocked exactly one of my guys, a 3/3 Hoplite, and then—thinking that I needed to save Ray to protect against his bestowed Erebos’ Emissary, I didn’t even think about destroying the Whip, thus preventing his lifelink and winning me the game. (Brendan McNamara was freaking out behind me on that punt.) But I still won the next turn, scooping up another eight packs of Theros (making 16 total on the day) and running out the door with the boys to catch a flight.

Anyway, great stuff, UW heroic is super-powerful and fun, and Sea God’s Revenge is not even remotely a fair card. I must have made about 50 people insta-scoop from casting that against them. Somewhere I could hear Matt Jones howling in rage and pain.

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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