In between playing rounds of Magic, I watch a lot of MTGO on Over the winter holiday, one of my favorite streamers, NumotTheNummy, played an interesting variation of Holiday Cube titled “Pretty Draft.” He recruited a random friend with no MTG experience and tasked her with building a deck out of the prettiest cards in every pack.

I thought this sounded pretty fun. And I needed a break from the rigors of building my budget Orzhov Aggro deck: religiously browsing TCGplayer, bothering friends for their extra Guildgates, and calculating how many Mutavaults I could buy if I sold my old textbooks (answer: about 1.86).

Compared to Holiday Cube, BNG-THS-THS is a whole different animal. While Cube is a festival of unfair cards, past favorites, and ridiculous legendaries, drafting competitive BNG is a back-alley brawl where a turn two Ordeal is the equivalent of getting a pool cue to the back of the head, and everyone except you seems to be packing heat.

Pictured: the definition of bringing a gun to a knife-fight.

I wasn’t really optimistic, although when I comes to my Magic-playing ability, I rarely am. Firing up a MTGO Swiss draft, I enlisted my friend Christina, and let the fates (and her sense of aesthetic) dictate my deck. Her comments are in italics.


Pack 1 pick 1:

“Always pick the horse.”

Pack one, pick one Loyal Pegasus. You heard it here first.

My Pick:

Pack 1 pick 2:

“Every girl wants to be radiant.”

My Pick:

Pack 1 pick 3:

Oracle’s Insight has always seemed like a really interesting card. I guess I have no problems with playing it, or picking it this early.

My Pick:

Pack 1 pick 4:

I guess we really like horses. But I heard a lot of good things about Noble Quarry, and figure this would be a pretty good time to test out everyone’s favorite Limited unicorn (sorry, Opaline Unicorn) in a more relaxed setting.

My Pick:

Pack 1 pick 5:

“This would be a good place for a picnic.”

My Pick:

Pack 1 pick 6:

To be fair, the entire cycle of Bestow commons are pretty gorgeous. A foil Nyxborn Eidolon is my favorite bookmark.

My Pick:

Pack 1 pick 7:

“I can imagine this design on leggings.”

At this point, the deck was headed toward a pretty standard UG tempo brew. No complaints.

My Pick:

Pack 1 pick 8:

Packs are running pretty thin on good playables. There is, however, no shortage of pretty cards.

My Pick:

Pack 1 pick 9:

I guess I have to admit the art for Griffin Dreamfinder is pretty gorgeous. Passing the ninth-pick Archetype of Endurance kind of hurt my heart, though. I guess the humble pig can’t compare to the griffin in looks.

My Pick:

Pack 1 pick 10:

The honey badger comes trampling into my deck.

My Pick:

Pack 1 pick 11:

Apparently, Ephara’s Radiance would also make for a good pair of leggings. I can see that.

My Pick:

Pack 1 pick 12:

My Pick:

Pack 1 pick 13:

My Pick:

Pack 1 pick 14:

My Pick:

Pack 1 pick 15:

My Pick:

Pack 2 pick 1:

After opening this pack, I’m very aggressively hovering my mouse over the Daxos.

“I don’t want this guy. He’s so ugly. Wouldn’t you want someone in nice armor, wooing you on his flying pegasus horse?”

I guess that does sound nice. And nobody ever complained about a first pick Wingsteed.

My Pick:

Pack 2 pick 2:

This pack seemed to be filled with beautiful cards. My friend was choosing between the Nylea’s Emissary and the Island. I’m glad she picked the former.

My Pick:

Pack 2 pick 3:

“Is this even a question?”

My Pick:

Pack 2 pick 4:

So, maybe GW fliers? That’s a thing, right?

My Pick:

Pack 2 pick 5:

“Always go for the unicorn. Or flying mammals.”

Maybe a better player than me can comment on the validity of this draft strategy. I kind of like it.

My Pick:

Pack 2 pick 6:

This was a pretty tough contest between the foil Plains and Vaporkin.

My Pick:

Pack 2 pick 7:

My Pick:

Pack 2 pick 8:

“Doesn’t she look so scandalous? Almost like Katy Perry.”

I suppose, although I have to admit I never really saw Artisan of Forms that way.

My Pick:

Pack 2 pick 9:

My Pick:

Pack 2 pick 10:

My Pick:

Pack 2 pick 11:

My Pick:

Pack 2 pick 12:

Somehow, the double Thassa’s Bounty I picked up here ended up being a major part of my deck. Some people heap praise on this card. And after playing three matches with it, I can kind of see why.

My Pick:

Pack 2 pick 13:

Legend says it that if you stare at Gainsay long enough, you end up with some pretty messed up nightmares.

My Pick:

Pack 2 pick 14:

Foil Plains! It’s all coming together.

My Pick:

Pack 2 pick 15:

My Pick:

Pack 3 pick 1:

“Look at how majestic he is.”

My Pick:

Pack 3 pick 2:

“Hey, is that a Loyal Pegasus flying around?

Unfortunately, shipwrecks and sentient ocean waves aren’t very pretty. Also, I think our strategy is devolving into “draft anything with a horse.”

My Pick:

Pack 3 pick 3:

If you look really closely at Chosen by Heliod, there’s a horse in the background.

Also, on Anthoussa: “Is that a metaphor for feminism?”

My Pick:

Pack 3 pick 4:

At least mana fixing is pretty. I’ll need all that I can get.

My Pick:

Pack 3 pick 5:

This pack is kind of unfortunate. But rules are rules, and I guess me and the Battlewise Hoplite just weren’t meant to be.

My Pick:

Pack 3 pick 6:

I like this card a lot. The prettiness is an extra bonus.

My Pick:

Pack 3 pick 7:

More horses.

My Pick:

Pack 3 pick 8:

A centaur is half of a horse.

My Pick:

Pack 3 pick 9:

My Pick:

Pack 3 pick 10:

On the Hedonist: “Paint me like one of your French girls.”

My Pick:

Pack 3 pick 11:

My Pick:

Pack 3 pick 12:

My Pick:

Pack 3 pick 13:

My Pick:

Pack 3 pick 14:

My Pick:

Pack 3 pick 15:

My Pick:

After I lot of hand wringing, I present you with Bant (WGU) Pretty.


Except for one, all of our non-creature cards offer card draw, which is pretty good. I don’t really know how I plan on ending games, though. But even if I lose, I can rest assured that nobody in my pod has a better looking assortment of Magic cards.

Match one, game one:

This game was the most fun I’ve had playing Magic in a while.


I’m on the play against a fast RW aggro deck. Nothing of interest happens in the early turns. I get a Vaporkin on the field, and he Jets it immediately.


Pictured: extreme value.

He straps an Ordeal onto the Setessan Battle Priest. Setessan Starbreaker says no, and looks absolutely gorgeous while doing so.

In the next few turns, I fire off two Thassa’s Bounty, milling some of his crucial cards. Things take a turn for the worse when he attaches a Dragon’s Mantle and Ghostblade Eidolon to his Akroan Skyguard. I have a flier in the air and can chump for one turn, but after that it’s lights out.

Instead of mounting a hopeless defense, I examine my aggressive options. I have fourteen points of damage on board, and a Noble Quarry in hand.

The gears in my head are turning.

I attach the Quarry to my Griffin Dreamfinder and bid him farewell.


Noble Quarry falls off. I attack with everything and take the win.


I didn’t really have any viable sideboard options. My opponent, however, seemed to take the hint: end the game before I start my three-color shenanigans.


I was not a happy camper.

Game one was the apex of the pretty deck’s career, as in the next rounds I proceeded to lose in spectacular fashion to a UB and mono-G devotion deck. Mana fixing was my biggest problem. And, aside from all being very pretty, my cards didn’t have the baseline level of synergy needed to succeed in BNG Draft.

Not all was lost, though. I learned some pretty valuable lessons about cards that, frankly, I would have never picked in a real Draft scenario. Noble Quarry, Thassa’s Bounty, and Oracle’s Insight were sleeper hits. And Setessan Starbreaker deserves a medal for repeatedly smashing Ordeals and Bestow creatures with his pretty, pretty sword.

Lessons learned? Looks aren’t everything, unless you really want to draft a horse-themed deck. Then fire away.


Tony is the Hipsters’ resident scrub. He lives and studies in Philadelphia. Find him @holophr.

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