by Tony Mei

For my very first Theros draft at a new game store, I wanted to make a good impression. No longer would I be the “Lava Axe guy” or be asked, “Why are you running more than four Seacoast Drakes?” And I’d rather not remember that one incident where I passed a Mutavault.

M14 was the first set I ever played and has haunted me ever since. At my first draft, my friend gave me a two minute primer, mumbled something about bread, and disappeared. I went 0-4 and played more than 40 cards on several occasions. I liked to think I was championing a new era of Lava Axe domination, but at the end of the day, my friend examined my picks and gently asked if I had chosen cards at random.

Suitably chastened, I turned to the Internet. I watched the World Championships and pretended to understand what was happening. I made an account on Magic Online. I drafted until my eyes were red and saw Divinations in my dreams. A few weeks later, I realized that MODO is a very efficient way to spend a lot of money and promptly quit.

But September brought me to a new school in a new city. I was ready to win.

P1P1: Spear of Heliod

My friends tell me I’m a very smiley drafter. I think it’s a kind of defense mechanism because it hides the fact that I rarely know what I’m doing. But this card made me especially happy.

I did a lot of research beforehand. Hipster’s articles. Podcasts. Set reviews. Aggressive white is a good color to be in, especially if you’re being passed cards like Phalanx Leader and Akroan Crusader on a fairly regular basis.

By the end of the pack, I have a fairly functional assemblage of shirtless humanoids and the spells that trigger them. My neighbor is giving me strange glances. Hey, I may have given up a Read the Bones or two (or three). But RW armies win, right?

P2P1: Titan of Eternal Fire

The wheels in my head are turning. My deck has a lot of humans. And, as far as I’m concerned, this guy turns them into mini-flamethrowers. Late game, I imagined dismantling my opponents with a barrage of unstoppable one-damage pokes. In retrospect, this pick was probably the height of my strategic decision making.

I distinctly remember a few articles talking about how Voyage’s End is first-pick worthy. I also remember ignoring them.

Also notable was a third-pick Ember Swallower. Somewhere along the line I get passed the R/W scryland, Temple of Triumph. At this point, I’m positively giddy. This was it. I was going to redeem myself from a summer a of $15 0-4’s and the sad drives home.

P3P1: Polis Crusher

At this point, I figured I could comfortably splash a third color (I couldn’t) and wanted to pick a rare that was worth some money (he isn’t). I passed up a Burnished Hart. In retrospect, that was a pretty big mistake. A lot of my games came down to not having enough lands to fire off a clutch monstrosity or bestow. But, during deck building, I wasn’t too worried.


RW Armies

Land (17)
Temple of Triumph

Creatures (16)
Favored Hoplite
Akroan Crusader
Arena Athlete
Wingsteed Rider
Phalanx Leader
Setessan Battle Priest
Spearpoint Oread
Titan of Eternal Fire
Ember Swallower
Purphoros’s Emissary
Leonin Snarecaster
Priest of Iroas
Observant Alseid
Akroan Hoplite
Ill-Tempered Cyclops

Other Spells (7)
Messenger’s Speed
Spark Jolt
Dragon Mantle
Portent of Betrayal
Ordeal of Purphoros
Spear of Heliod

My first game started strong: Favored Hoplite into Phalanx Leader. After every draw, my opponent released a long sigh, watching helplessly as the duo swings in for more damage. He’s been at three islands for a while now. I can’t stop smiling, and the few people watching us from across the table are shaking their heads. At turn six, he’s down to one life.

Somewhere along the line, he gets a Vaporkin and a few other creatures onto the field. And then he bestows them. Progress immediately halts. I imagine my soldiers milling about, watching as a flying cloud woman reduces their general to tears.

After I admit defeat, my enemy offers me a conciliatory smile. He knows I’m shaken. I start game two strong. And ordeal-ed Favored Hoplite is about to finish him off before he gets sent back to my hand, precious counters gone. From then on, my soldiers find themselves ramming into Omenspeakers while birds and other flying things peck away. Occasionally, someone gets deported to the top of my deck. On more than one occasion, I’m left with zero cards in hand.

I surrendered.

Game two was a much smoother defeat. Apparently, Greek mythology’s version of stormtroopers don’t hold up so well against woodland creatures. After stabilizing from my early rush, my enemy slowly deployed a menagerie of centaurs, foxes, and snake things.

You can see the exact moment he draws an Asp and breaks my heart

You can see the exact moment he draws an Asp and breaks my heart

“That’s a very ambitious deck,” he said after we shook hands.

My last opponent was nowhere to be found, leaving me to contemplate my swift defeat in silence. Things should have gone well. I was pissed. I didn’t draw Heliod’s Spear once. However, I also failed to draw a card after playing Dragon Mantle on more than six separate occasions so I should probably make reading comprehension a priority before next week’s draft. Priest of Iroas, on the other hand, was a sleeper assassin. Her confirmed kills included several nasty bestow creatures, the errant trident or two, and a God. My covert agent did more work than the rest of my army combined.

Until next time, I’m retiring aggressive draft decks. Too much bounce, and not enough ways to kill your opponent before Sea God’s Revenge makes you contemplate walking into traffic. But I’m not too angry. I had fun and I’m better prepared for next time. I hear blue decks are especially nice this time of year.

Tony is a college kid living in Philadelphia. He started playing Magic after M14’s release and hasn’t improved much since. When he isn’t making bad plays, he enjoys writing about them.

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