Happy new year! Over the holidays, everything kind of slows down, and thankfully you usually get a few days off work. Oftentimes those extra days get taken up by family visits and holiday parties, but I also try to fit in a little extra-credit drafting—which I did this past weekend, on Saturday when I team-drafted with some of my Brooklynite Magic-playing compatriots, and cube-drafted online on Sunday.

Saturday was at Nick Forker’s art studio/Magic den, in Bushwick. First we did an eight-person French Theros team draft, and cracked up at all the weird French names in the set. For instance, Dernier Souffle … what the hell? No, it’s not some random egg-dish Magic card: Rather it’s Last Breath. I guess maybe that’s the etymology of the dish known as a souffle, that it’s, like, light and airy?

Even better, though, was Catoblépas répugnant, which is guess who:


Just try saying it, especially with a dramatic French accent: Catoblépas répugnant. Gets me every time.

French Theros incoming!

French Theros incoming!

Anyway, I drafted a decent but not sick UW Héroïque deck, and won two out of my three matches, losing only to The Kadar Brock, who was on a pretty sick RB Minotauro plan. I didn’t keep my deck together, though, as our team lost, so sorry about that.

Next up we lost a Monique and a Dominic, who were replaced by an Alex Owen. This awkward seven-person pod was remedied by having Alex and Hugh “Draftasaurus Rex” Kramer co-draft, and then trade off playing games. At first they tried to literally hold the pack and look through it using one hand each, but I told them I would kill them if they kept it up.

For this draft we did Return to Ravnica block, aka DGR, after a second round of Theros (this time English) got voted down. Some people sort of hate on DGR—and I, too, have found it frustrating at times, and maybe sort of clunkily concepted, once you arrived at the full-block plan—but in general I like the format. I think it really suffered from having Modern Masters come out almost like a month after DGR dropped, making full-block RTR quickly a lame-duck format.

But anyway, in my first pack of Dragon’s Maze I saw a Pontiff of Blight staring out at me and, being a longtime BW devotee, and a big fan of extort—you don’t *ever* have to do anything, and your opponent’s life total just keeps going down!—I snapped him or her up. I never did see any Tithe Drinkers, but I did snag 2X Maw of the Obzedats, and in pack two, Gatecrash, I got a couple of key Basilica Guards. I also picked up 2X Warped Physiques in Dragon’s Maze and a Dimir Charm in Gatecrash, but as I was sitting just to the left of confessed Gate-lover The Kadar Brock, I was nearly guaranteed never to lay eyes on a dual land, and sure enough I didn’t and had to keep the Dimir cards benched. Pack three, Ravnica, gifted me with a probably first-pick Desecration Demon, as well as a Slum Reaper. Here’s the deck’s final build, with four notable sideboard cards up at the top right:


If you can’t see the cards clearly (sorry about that), here ’tis:


Creatures (16)
Gutter Skulk
Boros Mastiff
Wight of Precinct Six
Basilica Guards
Dead Reveler
Haazda Snare Squad
Zarichi Tiger
Desecration Demon
Slum Reaper
Balustrade Spy
Maw of the Obzedat
Bazaar Krovod
Pontiff of Blight

Spells (7)
Death's Approach
Swift Justice
Avenging Arrow
Toil // Trouble
Grisly Spectacle
Launch Party
Knightly Valor
Sideboard (4)
Debt to the Deathless
Catacomb Slug
Death's Approach
Armory Guard

Round 1 I was paired up against host extraordinaire Nick Forker. My Orzhov legions held his UG creatures at bay, extorting him out in G1 and draining him for 12 with a boarded-in Debt to the Deathless in G2.

Round 2 was a rematch against The Kadar Brock, who was predictably on the Crazy-Eyes Killa all-the-Gates and all-the-colors deck. We had a really good and tight three games, my one win coming when I got out Pontiff of Blight with four or five other creatures in play, rapidly turning any spell I drew into an eight-point life swing. But I had a bit of bad luck, Kadar played well, and maybe I misplayed, too—I forget. But KB took the match.

Round 3 was against Zach “Drawing Live” Barash, who was on the bloodrush plan. He got me in one game with something like an 11-point hit over two turns, helped by three big dudes, a Zhur-Taa Druid, and a bloodrushed Zhur-Taa Swine—goddamn Zhur-Taa, wherever the hell that is! But I played (well enough, anyway) around his combat tricks and actually managed to hit and drain him down to a low enough life total that I was able to finish him off in both games by pointing Toil at his dome, extorting for the last point of damage each time. That felt good *and* a little cheap, but hey, the card says “target player.”

I left with a 4-2 record, losing only to Kadar—two times!—and having a lot of fun.


Alex Owen (left) and Hugh “Draftasaurus” Kramer.

On Sunday I dove back into the holiday cube, drafting this monster in a swiss draft:

Team America triple moxen holiday cube draft

Damn this deck was fun to play. I just had all the answers at all the right times, and it hummed like a real beauty. Once I got my opponent into a rapid near-lock with Winter Orb, and he just conceded at 20 life:

Am I bad person?

Am I bad person?

I guess that card is frustrating to play against. Anyway, I ended up 3-0-ing that draft, winning me a whopping some-fucking-amount of Phantom Points, which I still don’t really understand how they work. Jason Chan tried to explain it to me once and I honestly think the figure “5/6ths” came into play at some point. Go figure.

It’s not too late to enjoy the cube! Get in there and jam some holiday drafts before it disappears on Jan. 8, and then we get ready for Born of the Gods, previews for which start I think in a week or so! Woo hoo, new set time! Makes me want to do this:


Oh, and one last thing. I made some resolutions for the new year. Not all of them have to do with Magic, but one does, so I’ll share them with you here:

1. Most of the time, only drink water with lunch.

I have a bad habit of always buying an Aranciata or a Diet Coke with lunch, and I need to knock that off. Last year I resolved to stop eating potato chips with lunch, and I’ve actually been really successful with that, so I figured I would run it back this year.

2. Start drinking black coffee only—no half-and-half.

This I am somewhat less committed to, but it’s a worthy goal, I think. It’s just better for you, and less expensive, too. A few years ago I quit putting sugar into my coffee and now I don’t even think about it; I figure it’ll be the same with creamer.

3. Get back on the exercise train.

At my last job I worked very close to a gym I liked a lot, and so it was much easier to get to the gym a couple of days every week after work. Now, I work at a new job, in DUMBO, and I’ve been working a lot more, too—so the gym’s been falling by the wayside. I gotta start running home or something again.

4. Play more Magic!

Like I said, my job since August, at the awesome new magazine Rhapsody—a luxury lifestyle magazine for United Airlines’ first- and business-class cabins—has been really busy. We launched the magazine in November, and launching a magazine is always a really stressful and busy affair—and this one has been no exception. So, I’ve found myself on a random Friday night kind of less wanting to drop by FNM and get into a competitive situation; and, during the week, I often can’t make a 7:30 draft start time at Twenty-Sided Store.

But I don’t want to lose my edge, such as it is. And so I want to resolve to play Magic at least 2X a week, once in real life and once online (ideally 2X IRL, but that’s not always possible). It’s also great to see my friends and fellow Hipsters at 20SS or someplace like Nick Forker’s studio, and I don’t want to let that aspect of my life slip. So hold me to that, guys and gals! Invite me out to 20SS and make sure I come! 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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