So the other night in Team Draft League I did very dumb thing. I drafted a good blue/green deck, first-picking a Courser of Kruphix over Bile Blight and Fall of the Hammer, and then second- or third-picking a Shrike Harpy before getting cemented into green with a third- or fourth-pick Fated Intervention and late-ish good blue, including Divination and Retraction Helix. Here’s the deck:

UG Intervention

Creatures (14)
Courser of Kruphix
Nessian Courser
Agent of Horizon
Satyr Wayfinder
Nimbus Naiad
Nessian Asp
Nemesis of Mortals
Prescient Chimera
Opaline Unicorn
Setessan Starbreaker
Sedge Scorpion
Sphinx's Disciple

Spells (9)
Fated Intervention
Oracle's Insight
Mortal's Resolve
Sea God's Revenge
Retraction Helix
Savage Surge
Lands (17)
10 Forest

Sideboard (11)
Guardians of Meletis
Breaching Hippocamp
Fate Foretold
Aspect of Hydra
Nylea's Presence
Feral Invocation
Satyr Piper
Shredding Winds
Commune with the Gods
Lost in the Labyrinth

Good deck, right? And it was a shit-ton of fun to play. A few quotable notables, as it were:

I honestly really liked the Satyr Wayfinders. It was the first time I’d played with them, but this deck really wanted to hit its land drops, and I was also happy for the speed-bump blocker or additional double-blocker later. I never whiffed, which is great, although one of my opponent’s did at one point and man does that suck.

Sphinx’s Disciple was a little disappointing. I guess this deck didn’t really need him (or her?), given the serious beef at the top end, and I don’t ever remember activating his inspired ability.

Oracle’s Insight was interesting. I picked it pretty highly, and was psyched to try it out, but honestly this deck didn’t want to durdle around that much. The way I won was basically just relentlessly ramping up to Nessian Asp and Nemesis of Mortals, with of course Nessian Coursers in the mid-game, and backing it all up with combat tricks. That was just huge chunks of damage coming in at my opponents.

Nemesis of Mortals was, at it’s always been, amazing. This deck made particularly good use of it, though, as I was happy to chump with my Satyr Wayfinders—who usually had milled a creature or two into the graveyard as well—or trade with Sedge Scorpion early, and then drop Nemesis for a big discount. At one point I even cast Nemesis on turn six for two green mana, leaving up enough mana for Griptide—amazing.

Courser of Kruphix only came out to play in one game, but when he did—against mono-red—he was absolutely bonkah. “Courser just brings my deck to a screeching halt,” lamented my opponent Alex. And he did, allowing me to tear through my deck and gaining me probably six life in the process, plus of course holding off all Alex’s smaller red creatures with his 2/4 body.

So now we get to my really stupid mistake, against this fine dude, Jon:


Jon was on a green/black brew, very grindy, with Spiteful Returned, Baleful Eidolon, Pharika’s Mender, Centaur Battlemaster, and so on. It’s game three and my hand is Fated Intervention and Sea God’s Revenge. I’ve got Nessian Asp and Nemesis of Mortals on the table, with seven lands up. Jon has Centaur Battlemaster out (no counters, after I bounced it with Griptide), alongside Nyxborn Eidolon (bounced off of Battlemaster), and a Blood-Toll Harpy. I had recently just crashed in with both creaturs, and Jon chumped one with a Satyr Wayfinder, dropping him to 10 life. It’s my turn, post-combat, and I’m making my plan, which is:

Cast Fated Intervention to block Battlemaster and Nyxborn Eidolon (if need be), and then on the next turn bounce all of his guys with Sea God’s Revenge and crash in for the win. So in my second main phase I do … nothing, right? Just wait to cast Fated Intervention for the surprise, because it’s an instant?

Nope. I wanted that scry 2, and I cast it in my second main phase. And even when I was scrying my cards, which were a Sphinx’s Disciple and a Satyr Wayfinder, I was like … what do I even care about these cards? I couldn’t even decide whether to top or bottom them, and that should have been a sign that I had made the wrong decision. I thought I was still safe, though, after a moment of panic in which I worried Jon could have Bile Blight for the ultimate blowouts, as he’d done to me in game one (he didn’t, though; it was in his graveyard).

So I pass the turn, and Jon drops … a Mountain … and then casts Portent of Betrayal on one of my centaurs … and that was all she wrote. GGs.

I was so pissed—not at Jon, of course, who played a great game, but at myself. Why did I do that? Why didn’t I play it safe and cast Sea God’s Revenge instead, as I had considered doing on that turn? And then, in discussion with Hugh Kramer, Grade Nine, afterwards, I realized that what I *really* should have done was cast Fated Intervention as an instant, in midcombat, on Jon’s turn. Sure, he still might have stolen my Nemesis with Portent, forcing me to chump with one centaur and probably trade another with his Battlemaster, dropping me to four life and leaving me yet again with only the Nemesis and Asp—but I’m alive, and I still have Sea God’s in hand. Instead, the way I played it left me dead with a very powerful spell in hand—not how you want to die, when you know it could have been different.

All in all, it’s just an object lesson in never getting too confident, and doing something to try and eke out extra value when really you ought to be playing it somewhat conservatively, preserving your options, and respecting the fact that your opponents has cards in hand that you don’t know about, and may not even be able to envision. In this case, I certainly didn’t put Jon on Portent, as I’d only ever seen one Mountain out of him, in game one, and hadn’t seen hide nor hair of a red card (or even a Mountain) in games two or three. So you can’t really blame me for not expecting Threaten. But you can blame me for getting ahead of myself and risking it all for slight extra value that theoretically, if my Fated Intervention > Sea God’s Revenge plan had worked, I never would have even realized, as I was only going to draw one of those cards, and would not have even been able to cast it (as I only had seven mana).

It’s a good lesson. You learn more from your failures, as Mark Rosewater likes to say. And after the burn of the self-inflicted loss wore off, I was actually glad that that had happened in Team Draft League rather than at a GP. You can be damn sure I’m never jumping the gun on a Fated Intervention (or a similar card) again. And I did end up winning out after that, finishing 2-1. My team wasn’t able to manage a full team win, though, unfortunately, which made my mistake smart even more, as a 3-0 record from me would have gotten the job done. But that’s all water under the bridge.

That’s all from me for this week. Hey, and everybody: Good luck at GP Richmond this weekend! Four thousand-plus players … that’s insane. Maybe it will even surpass GP Vegas!

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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