It’s no secret that I’ve been bored to tears with Theros and that I wasn’t excited for Born of the Gods. I’m three drafts in and the wind is shifting, however. The format feels fresh enough… for insanity!

I had time for one draft on Saturday, and when my first pack had a Chromanticore staring back at me, its starry eyes the size of saucers, begging me to pick it and not the Bile Blight (or whatever else was in the pack—I couldn’t see past those colossal rainbow puppy dog eyes), I knew that it was Fate Fortetold. I slammed it, announced to the room at large I was doing the silliest thing I could, and didn’t look back.

I was in a ten person pod, so there were no signals, nothing tabled (except a Pinnacle of Rage, strangely enough), and I think I passed six Divinations in a row before giving up on green fixing that simply wasn’t coming and going into blue. I toyed with some kind of Bant heroic deck as fixing continued not to come (I passed an Opaline Unicorn P2P3 when it looked like I was going to be UW heroic, but that was all the fixing I didn’t take—I saw zero Traveler’s Amulets, zero Nylea’s Presences, and zero Karametra’s Favors). In the end, I had plenty of game-winning creatures and sufficient ways to stay alive, so I opted to play all five colors. Here’s my forty:


Lands (19)
Unknown Shores

Creatures (14)
Hopeful Eidolon
Oreskos Sun Guide
Burnished Hart
Noble Quarry
Observant Alseid
Opaline Unicorn
Polis Crusher
Thassa’s Emissary
Nessian Asp
Silent Sentinel
Mistcutter Hydra

Spells (7)
Gods Willing
Triton Tactics
Last Breath
Revoke Existence
Voyage’s End
Oracle’s Insight
Whelming Wave
Sideboard (20)
Pheres-Band Centaurs
Time to Feed
Coastline Chimera
Revoke Existence
Akroan Skyguard
Favored Hoplite
Benthic Giant
Setessan Griffin
Sphinx’s Disciple
Siren Song Lyre
Agent of Horizons
Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx
Spellheart Chimera
Disciple of Phenax
Reckless Reveler
Fearsome Temper
Pinnacle of Rage
March of the Returned
Messenger’s Speed

Yup, nineteen lands. It was glorious. All I needed to do was stay alive long enough to resolve Mistcutter Hydra, Nessian Asp, Polis Crusher, Silent Sentinel, a voltron with my array of bestow creatures, or even the fabled hero, Chromanticore. Normally Whelming Wave is much worse than Griptide, since the tempo you gain from bouncing your opponent’s stuff is undone by losing your board presence and your opponent gets to untap and recast first. However, it did exactly what I wanted it to do—buy me time and life. I’d trade my cheap creatures off, keep my life total high, and use it as Sea God’s Revenge (since I had nothing on board), sometimes followed by a fattie (since I never missed a land drop).

Oracle’s Insight was slightly less terrible than I expected it to be. While Ocular Halo was great in a slower format like RGD with more awkward removal (and with Simic Ragworm), spending four mana and not affecting the board is horrible in the plane of Theros. It was cute on Observant Alseid and Oreskos Sun Guide but would have been much better were it a Divination or a Peregrination. I enjoyed the card flow it offered, but I found if I was ever drawing more than a single card off of it, I was already winning the game because I wasn’t under pressure.

So… did I ever cast Chromanticore? I saw it three times. I cast it R1G1 (though it was just for vanity’s sake, since I was winning that turn). I bestowed it R1G2 (when I was already ahead). I drew it R2G1 when I’d just traded off my Opaline Unicorn and it rotted in my hand as I outlasted and beat Boros aggro. Then, it disappeared into the wilds of my deck, refusing to return and watching as Mistcutter Hydra kept getting the job done. In the end, I split the finals. We played it out, I made a poor mulligan choice, and lost to RG monsters.

I can’t express just how fun it was to finally play a greedy gimmick deck. There’ve been so few of them lately. I’d argue there were none in Theros, none in M14 (since Angelic Accord and Bubbling Cauldron were powerful cards in a durdly format), and none in Dragon’s Maze (which was all over the place). The last time there was an against-the-grain challenge was Gatecrash’s gates deck (which was hard to make work, considering the blistering speed of the Boros Legion). Chromanticore fits the bill as a deckbuilding and drafting challenge which, if met, provides enough raw power to win the game by itself. I heartily recommend slamming it once and trying to make it work. It probably won’t, but it’s worth a try.

—Zachary Barash — Join the livestream!

Magic Online username: Zennith

Zachary Barash has been playing Magic on and off since 1994. He loves Limited and drafts every available format (including several that aren’t entirely meant to be drafted). He’s a proud Cube owner and performer, improvising entire musicals every week with his team, Petting Zoo. Zach has an obsession with Indian food that borders on being unhealthy.

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