This week I’m going to take a break from Standard and talk about Drafts and Drafts–a weekly event run by Pandemonium Books in Cambridge. Drafts and Drafts is a sanctioned draft held down the street from my LGS  at Tavern in the Square. While Tavern is a sports bar, and a pretty bro-y one at that, the draft is held in a function room in the back so that us magic players are quarantined away from the Red Sox nation, clapping and cursing in the bar.

(A few people I’ve talked to about Drafts and Drafts have questioned whether holding a sanctioned event at the Tavern goes against the rules for tournament magic or have suggested that my LGS could get in trouble if some higher-ups found out about it. This is definitely not the case, as explained below.)

While I relish the fact that I can have a Green Flash IPA and a veggie burger while tearing into a Theros booster, Drafts and Drafts attracts a lot of people because of the atmosphere. Though Pandemonium has a clean and well-lit basement for Magic events, it’s still a basement, and it’s nice to have a change of scenery once a week for a sanctioned event. Tavern provides a space where you can drink and order food, but moreover a space with comfortable seating, soft lighting, and a big streetside window with a view of…outside. The atmosphere in turn affects the way people play, and though the event is held at regular REL, just like Friday Night Magic, I find that in general the mood is a bit more relaxed. Casual players who never make it to FNM, nevermind a PTQ, come out to the Tavern draft and competitive players seem more willing to tolerate their presence in this setting.

While I am fascinated by draft videos that analyze a draft pick by pick, I haven’t found a good way of replicating this in real life. My P1P1 was Purphoros, God of the Forge. The pick was motivated in part by money–Purphoros is $12 as we speak–but also because Purphoros is actually ridiculous. While most of the other gods are mana intensive and aren’t all that impressive without the proper devotion, Purphoros is fine as a less restrictive Aether Charge or one-sided Sulfuric Vortex (as if Sulfuric Vortex isn’t always one-sided). I never once got to five devotion in any of my games but Purphoros was an all-star. Afterwards I picked up some red cards–Minotaur Skullcleaver, Magma Jet, and Ill-Tempered Cyclops–and started snagging late Voyaging Satyrs, thinking I could go into green based ramp/monstrous.

P2P1, I took a lacklust Borderland Minotaur or something of the like and then was passed a Xenagos, the Reveler. Now I realize that Xenagos isn’t actually unbeatable in draft like so many other planeswalkers, but it’s still a planeswalker, and a $15 one at that. The fact that it was passed to me says that the person to my left either isn’t aware of card values and/or is just pro-drafting and decidedly not in red-green, both of these scenarios work out pretty well for me. In the rest of the pack, I found two Time to Feed, Purphoros’s Emissary, and another Voyaging Satyr among some other stuff. My P3P1 was a Mistcutter Hydra, which turned out to be even more insane than I had realized. This card blanks all blue bounce spells, charges past Omenspeakers and Prognostic Sphinxs alike, and even has haste to instantly swing races in your favor. As a blue mage, I am upset cards like this exist; Scragnoth and Great-Sable Stags were fine but this is an entirely different beast hydra.

At the end of the draft my deck looked like this:


Shawn’s Stupid RG Draft Deck

Lands (17)

Creatures (18)
Borderland Minotaur
Voyaging Satyr
Satyr Hedonist
Wild Celebrants
Nylea's Emissary
Ill-Tempered Cyclops
Nessian Asp
Satyr Piper
Purphoros, God of the Forge
Mistcutter Hydra
Vulpine Goliath
Spearpoint Oread
Minotaur Skullcleaver
Leafcrown Dryad
Purphoros's Emissary

Spells (5)
Time to Feed
Destructive Revelry
Magma Jet
Xenagos, the Reveler
Relevant Sideboard (8)
Shredding Winds
Peak Eruption
Portent of Betrayal
Artisan's Sorrow
Wild Celbrants
Anvilwrought Raptor

There are some cards here I wasn’t too excited about playing; Satyr Hedonist is mostly just a Goblin Piker even in red/green, Satyr Piper is overcosted, and Borderland Minotaur is markedly unremarkable. Overall though, I felt that my bombs more than made up for the fact that I had some meh cards in the maindeck.

Round 1–Boaz with Five Color Green (2-1)


Boaz is one of my favorite people to play at Pandemonium. He is a good player but also has a good sense of humor about the game. Also, he is from the Netherlands and has a pretty awesome accent, especially in contrast to the Boston accent I hear on a daily basis from people who say stuff like “kehd”, “cah”, and “pissah”.

Anyway, Boaz was trying out a new draft strategy in Theros: five color green. Boaz prioritized Voyaging Satyrs and Nylea’s Presences in order to play stuff like Ill-Tempered Cyclops, Voyage’s End, Lightning Strike, and Lash of the Whip. When removal is so sparse in Theros draft, being able to play a variety of different colors allows you to splash a bunch of different removal options. I’m not sure if this is a legitimate strategy or not, but it’s certainly worth looking into.

Game one, Boaz durdled around for the first few turns, playing Nylea’s Presences on his lands, while I curved Voyaging Satyr into Purphoros. I just continued to play creatures, triggering Purphoros’s ability, and ended the game in short order while he just played Omenspeakers.

Game two, Boaz played two Ill-Tempered Cyclops while I ran out Voyaging Satyr, Satyr Hedonist, and a Purphoros’s Emissary. I ended up getting completely blown out when I tried to block his cyclopes and he had a Triton’s Tactics to effectively Plague Wind my board.

Game three, I used Satyr Hedonist to put a 5/5 Mistcutter Hydra into play which waltzed right past his Omenspeaker and Nimbus Naiad. When he played a Cyclops to potentially stop the Hydra, I played Time to Feed and made them fight. My boardstate at the end of the game looked like this:


Round 2–Brian with UG Evasion (2-1)


Brian doesn’t usually come to the Tavern Draft but had a night off from his poker game and came on a whim . Brian built a pretty reasonable UG deck with some fliers (Nimbus Naiad and Horizon Chimera), Agent of Horizons, and bounce spells (Voyage’s End and Griptide).

Game one, I kept a four land hand with Satyr Hedonist, Voyaging Satyr, and Time to Feed. The hand seemed pretty average and would reward me if I drew into any of the bigger creatures or bestow guys. Instead I drew four lands in a row and watched  Brian kill me with Agent of Horizons and a Nylea’s Disciple with a Nimbus Naiad bestowed onto it.

-1 Satyr Piper
-1 Satyr Hedonist
+2 Shredding Winds

I just wanted to make sure I didn’t die to his fliers.

Game two went like this:

T2Voyaging Satyr.
T3Xenagos, the Reveler make a token and attack for two.
T4–Play Borderland Minotaur, make a token, and attack for five.
T5–Play Vulpine Goliath, make a token, and attack. Brian scoops.


Game three, I was able to Magma Jet a Leafcrown Dryad in response to Order of Thassa. From there, I played a Spearpoint Oread into Purphoros and Brian played an end of turn Horizon Chimera and bestowed a Nimbus Naiad onto it during his turn. I was on a four turn clock. I ended up edging out the game on the turn before Brian was going to kill me. He was at nine life when I bestowed an emissary onto Borderland Minotaur to put him at negative two. The final boardstate looked like this:



Round 3–Ben with RW Heroic (2-1)


Ben was just getting back into the game when he came out to Drafts and Drafts. Despite not knowing that mana-burn wasn’t a thing anymore or that damage didn’t go on the stack, Ben put together a pretty spicy deck:

Ben’s Ridiculous Heroic Deck

Lands (16)

Creatures (14)
Fabled Hero
Minotaur Skullcleaver
Observant Alseid
Akroan Hoplite
Leonin Snarecaster
Setessan Battle Priest
Flamespeaker Adept
Wingsteed Rider
Akroan Crusader
Cavalry Pegasus
Borderland Minotaur

Spells (10)
Spear of Heliod
Chained to the Rocks
Portent of Betrayal
Dragon Mantle
Rage of Purphoros
Gods Willing
Titan's Strength
Dauntless Onslaught

If you’re wondering why I have Ben’s decklist, it’s because after the game he handed me the deck and said, “I basically live in a closet right now and have no storage space…do you want these?”  There isn’t anything super valuable in here or anything, but I was still taken aback by the generous offer. Thanks again Ben!

Game one, Ben and I had a good old fashioned board stall. He had out six creatures, including a Fabled Hero, and a Spear of Heliod and I also had out six creatures but had the life advantage. The stall was broken by a Cavalry Pegasus which was able to levitate his entire team over my blockers. Here’s a picture of me taking 19 damage:


-1 Satyr Piper
-2 Satyr Hedonist
+2 Shredding Winds
+1 Anvilwrought Wrapter

I brought in the anti-fliers plan to kill off  Wingsteed Riders, Cavalry Pegasus, or creatures granted flight by said pegasus.

Game two, Ben was stuck on mana while I did this:

T2Voyaging Satyr.
T3Borderland Minotaur.
T4–Bestow Leafcrown Dryad onto Borderland Minotaur.
T5–Play Vulpine Goliath.
T6–Bestow Purphoros’s Emissary onto the giant Minotaur.

Game three, was a tight game where Ben was able to knock me to three life before I could play a Nessian Asp to block his firebreathing flier. He managed to kill my Asp with a combination of God’s Willing and Titan’s Strength. Luckily, I was able to make a giant Mistcutter Hydra and do exactly lethal with this hit:


It had been a while since I had ran the tables a draft and it felt good to 3-0 the pod. While I think I played reasonably well, the quality of my draft deck was certainly dependent on the stupid stuff I opened and not necessarily my drafting skill. Having said that, I do like G/x ramp in Theros and will continue to snag Voyaging Satyrs at every opportunity in hopes to ramp into Ill-Fated Cyclops, Keepsake Gorgon, or Wrath of God Sea God’s Revenge.

Before I go, I want to throw out my most recent spec target: Underworld Cerberus. This card has recently doubled in value on MODO and has started to see some play in a Standard Jund list floating around online. Cerberus is low risk because of how cheap it is currently ($2), but has a lot of room to go up since it’s a Mythic with a splashy and powerful ability that has both casual and constructed appeal. If the card finds a home in a tier one deck it could easily end up hitting $10 but even if the card only sees fringe play, it is extremely unlikely to go any lower than it is currently. I bought two playsets today on TCG for just under $20 and feel really good about this buy.

At age 15, while standing in a record store with his high school bandmates, Shawn Massak made the uncool decision to spend the last of his money on a 7th edition starter deck (the one with foil Thorn Elemental). Since that fateful day 10 years ago, Shawn has decorated rooms of his apartment with MTG posters, cosplayed as Jace, the Mindsculptor at PAX, and competes with LSV for the record of most islands played (lifetime). When he’s not playing Magic, Shawn works as a job coach for people with disabilities, plays guitar in an indie-pop band, and keeps a blog about pro-wrestling.  

On Sanctioned Events at a Bar:

The Magic Tournament Rules handbook understandably contains a lot of rules; the 45 page PDF breaks down tournament fundamentals, mechanics, violations, and format specific rules and modifications. However, nowhere in the handbook is alcohol ever mentioned. There are no rules about venues not being able to serve alcohol or violations against players who are sipping a beer while jamming games. I don’t think this was an oversight either, at most venues that Magic is played competitively, alcohol is not allowed in the first place and doesn’t need to be specifically addressed in the rules. If an event is held in a location where drinking is permitted, it’s up to the tournament organizer as to whether this would be allowed in the tournament area.  Regardless of the fact that alcohol is not mentioned in the handbook, I wanted to make sure I wasn’t missing anything and decided to check in with local level three judge, Casey Brefka, about Drafts and Drafts and whether it was acceptable to drink at a sanctioned event. Casey wrote this to me, “After talking to people in Organized Play, their official line is that as long as the event is open to the general public without limits except for space, then they don’t care whether it’s at a venue that can serve alcohol. Tavern is not 18+ or 21+, so anyone who wants to play in the event will be allowed in the door, so there’s no problem there. We don’t even require purchase of a beer to play; the $5 gift card to the Tavern is good for anything there.” So yeah, anyone can play at Drafts and Drafts, you obviously have to be 21 to drink but I’ve seen plenty of younger people there happy to be slinging sodas and truffle tots.

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