Dateline Wednesday. I’ve played a handful of sealed daily events on Magic Online over the last few days to understand the metagame before Grand Prix Montreal this weekend. This article was mostly written, but I wanted to run one more event this afternoon to test my ideas. Unfortunately, I logged on too late and the daily event was already full. I still wanted to play, however, so I jumped in an 8-4 draft. Well guess what? That draft was so fantastic I had to write about it instead.

I really enjoy brewing new decks in draft. When you sit down at the table you never know what the packs will bring your way. Sometimes a well-known archetype will be there for the taking, but you can build some great decks by assembling innovative combinations of cards. Plus, it’s a ton of fun to see your creativity succeed.

Artisan of Forms is an awkward but powerful card. It’s not the sort of rare you first pick and build around, but when it ends up on your team it can be the crucial piece in a winning strategy. Repeatedly cloning the best creature on the board is a nice ability to have. The O.G. Vesuvan Doppelganger doesn’t command the respect it did in the Nineties, but it’s pal Vesuvan Shapeshifter still finds a home in many cubes. Artisan of Forms changes up the formula by requiring a spell to target it. In context, that usually means you are making the Artisan a little better than the card it copies. I won a game at Grand Prix Toronto by repeatedly bestowing my Artisan, so I have seen it do good work.

UG cantrips

Just your usual sixteen-land-eight-drop deck.

The draft started innocently enough. I first picked Hero of Leina Tower and followed it with Karametra’s Favor from a weak pack. Next came a Meletis Astronomer, a card I love, and a great friend of old Leina. I generally want to stay in one color early in the draft, but these cards make a blue-green heroic deck quite enticing. Pack one went decently enough, and I was happy to pick up my old friend Archetype of Endurance on the wheel. I came out of Born of the Gods with three cantrip auras, so I had a good start.

Pack two provided the standard fare: Nessian Asp, Thassa’s Emissary, Voyaging Satyr, along with more cantrip auras. The colors did not seem incredibly open, as things dried up mid-pack. I had the telltale feeling that someone on the other side of the table was drafting the same deck, but I was getting enough strong early picks and enough cantrip filler to stay on track. The final pack gave me a Polis Crusher, which is a bit awkward in the all auras deck, but splashing is easy and it’s a powerful card that rewards drawing lands. I took a Reverent Hunter over Griptide, because I needed the bodies. And when I saw Artisan of Forms come to me mid-pack, I was stoked to add it to my pile. I wish I saw more bestow, but the final deck came together quite well.

Ancient Greek Art

Creatures (13)
Hero of Leina Tower
Artisan of Forms
Meletis Astronomer
Voyaging Satyr
Deepwater Hypnotist
Burnished Hart
Reverent Hunter
Polis Crusher
Thassa’s Emissary
Nessian Asp
Snake of the Golden Grove
Archetype of Endurance

Spells (11)
Aqueous Form
Karametra’s Favor
Fate Foretold
Stratus Walk
Nylea’s Presence
Ordeal of Nylea
Feral Invocation
Time to Feed
Sudden Storm
Lands (16)
Forest
Island
Mountain

Sideboard (10)
Coastline Chimera
Crypsis
Pheres-Band Centaurs
Satyr Wayfinder
Savage Surge
Defend the Hearth
Commune with the Gods
Guardians of Meletis
Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx

This is what happens when you fight over a color combination: you end up with thirteen creatures and weak sideboard options. The lack of bestow is most troubling. Heroic decks need bestow to fill both creature and aura slots with one card. Meletis Astronomer and Artisan of Forms desperately want a deck full of enchantment creatures. I only got two, and one is an eight drop that doesn’t bestow. But I do have tons of auras, cantrip and otherwise. This meant the Astronomer would hit an enchantment often, and Artisan would be able to change almost at will. Plus, Hero of Leina Tower rewards cheap auras. I hoped that with all the extra card drawing that I’d dig to enough creatures to feel like I had more reasonable number like fifteen.

I love when a draft deck makes me reconsider how many lands to play. Some of my favorite decks play less than 17 lands, and they aren’t aggressive decks. This one is incredibly mana-hungry. But it has five cantrips, two cards that fetch two lands, and a Voyaging Satyr. If I were greedy I’d have played fifteen lands! As constructed, it felt like an eighteen land deck. I loved it.

Round one my opponent had a strong red-green deck splashing white for the Fleecemane Lion I passed in pack two. We split two normal games to start the match. In game three, the Artisan came to play.

artisan one

Why yes I would like some mana fixing.

I was on the play and the game started well. I had turn two Satyr into turn three Deepwater Hypnotist plus Artisan of Forms. Polis Crusher languished in my hand without a red source. Then my opponent played a turn three Opaline Unicorn, which I promptly copied using Fate Foretold, then tapped for red and cast the gold cyclops. This is Artisan at her best: the opponent never knows how you can use any random creature they play, and they can’t just stop playing creatures.

artisan two

I think we can put our differences behind us, for science. You monster.

I was able to copy the Fleecemane Lion in response to the monstrosity activation. It took a while to win from here, but eventually the Stratus Walk on my lion outraced the Noble Quarry on my opponent’s lion.

Round two I met up with the other blue-green drafter. We had an epic first game that used over half my clock. He opened with Swordwise Centaur into Courser of Kruphix into Time to Feed killing my Burnished Hart. I commented in chat (which I rarely do) that it would be hard for me to overcome that start. But then things started to even up.

artisan three

Go ahead, draw that Retraction Helix.

Dueling Coursers evened up the card advantage while creating the weird dynamic where we could see each other’s draws. Archetype of Endurance showed up right on time, protecting my creatures from the Retraction Helix my opponent was about to draw, along with the second Time to Feed I had seen drawn earlier. The game stalled out and I wondered if it would come down to decking. But no.

artisan four

Hero of Infinite Mana Tower.

Centaur Battlemaster plus Nimbus Naiad relegated my Nessian Asp to chump block duty and I was drawing thin. I knew my opponent had a Crypsis in hand, so even though I was able to make my Hero of Leina Tower into a 22/22 thanks to tons of mana, he was able to counter the removal spell and I was dead a turn later. I still had Stratus Walk in my deck, and another Asp, so I could have won with a huge Hero, but I came up short. Interesting to note that Retraction Helix can bounce other permanents that don’t have hexproof from the Archetype, but my opponent never went there. That could have made Stratus Walk awkward if I had drawn it.

Anyway, this was one of the most fun and incredible games of Magic I’ve played, and my opponent shared that sentiment as we went to sideboarding. At this point I was down a game with eleven minutes on my clock. I was able to take a quick game two off Artisan of Forms plus Stratus Walk even after my opponent blew out my Astronomer with Ordeal of Nylea using Retraction Helix the turn the ordeal would have popped.

Game three I played a turn two Artisan and won on turn six.

artisan five

Artisan of Efficiency

After my opponent played Setessan Oathsworn on turn three, I was able to copy it using Karametra’s Favor, which drew Ordeal of Nylea that I cast using the mana from the Favor, netting two counters. I couldn’t attack after tapping for mana, but Sedge Scorpion blocked my way anyway. On turn four I used Sudden Storm to lock down the scorpion and the newly-summoned Agent of Horizons, popped the ordeal and got in for four. Then on turn five I used Time to Feed to remove the naiad-bestowed Oathsworn, turning my Artisan into an 8/7 Agent, then used my other three mana to make it unblockable and take my opponent to eight life. When my opponent tapped out for Horizon Scholar, the win was mine, with two minutes to spare.

Artisan of Forms!!! My finals opponent offered the split, which I accepted. I wanted to play the deck another round, but I needed to rewrite this article so gladly took the time to do so. I hope you enjoyed seeing and reading this deck as much as I enjoyed drafting and playing it!

On Friday Hunter and I head up north to Montreal for the limited Grand Prix! Come back next week for my tournament report. Hopefully it will be part one of two, like my last one. Thanks for reading!

Brendan McNamara (MTGO: eestlinc, Twitter: @brendanistan) used to play Magic in the old days. His favorite combo was Armageddon plus Zuran Orb. After running out of money to buy cards and friends who were willing to put up with that combo, he left the game. But like disco, he was bound to come back eventually. Now he’s a lawyer by day and a Dimir agent by night.

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