When I started playing Magic, I thought drafting would be easy. Pick the best card, jam them into a deck, take a few lands from the community land box, and start collecting the tears of your opponents. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. While my unfinished Orzhov Aggro deck is able to achieve some amount of consistency (losing a lot is still consistent, I guess), my drafting record is all over the place. I’m about seven months in my MTG adventure, and still trying to get a hang of this elusive format.

On a rainy Sunday, I decided to make an evening trek to my game shop for Draft.


You’ll find that parts of Philadelphia are always under construction.


Gamer haven. Conveniently located a few blocks from two college campuses.

As we settled down and prepared to open the first pack, the person sitting left to me asked everyone around if we knew what we were doing. I felt that warning him was the right thing to do. “So I should ignore all the signals coming from this side of the table, right?” Right, sir.

Pack one didn’t treat me well. I grabbed a first pick foil Hunter’s Prowess and a second pick Akroan Skyguard, maneuvering toward an aggressive GW deck that curved out at 5. Unfortunately, white dried up over the next few picks, and I I tried to cut my losses with a few mediocre black cards.

Apparently, the whole signalling thing didn’t go too badly. I noticed that I passed some decent blue in the first pack. And when cards started coming the other way, I managed to nab 2 Gray Merchant of Asphodel, and later on a Sedge Scorpian. A late Nemesis of Mortals got my hopes up for sweet GB graveyard deck, and I was happy to complement them with Commune with the Gods. An Asp and Voyaging Satyr rounded out my third pack, making for a respectable, if vanilla, GB deck. I’d rate it a solid B, one Nemesis or Pharika’s Mender away from an A.

GB Almost There, I Guess

Creatures (17)
Disciple of Phenax
Nemesis of Mortals
Nessian Demolok
Leafcrown Dryad
Setessan Starbreaker
Nyxborn Eidolon
Forlorn Pseudamma
Sedge Scorpian
Agent of Horizons
Gray Merchant of Asphodel
Sylvan Caryatid
Voyaging Satyr
Returned Phalanx
Fleshmad Steed
Nessian Asp

Spells (6)
Commune with the Gods
Springleaf Drum
Lash of the Whip
Hunter’s Prowess
Read the Bones
Savage Surge

Land (17)
Sideboard/Maybes (2)
Commune with the Gods
Vulpine Goliath

Match 1 vs. Russ (2-0):

Russ was running a straight RBW three-color split. I don’t remember much of the specifics, besides the fact that he always seemed to have at least two Returned Phalanx on the board at all times. It didn’t bother me too much. And his slow, defensive starts helped me ramp and dig into my major threats.

Game one was a messy ground stall. Phalanxes on either side gummed up the board, and prevented our Intimidate and Inspired creatures from mobilizing. A bestowed Nimbus Naiad on his Warchanter of Mogis threatened to run me over, but I stabilized after zapping it with Setessan Starbreaker. That card is a straight beast. I’ve never been disappointed to cast it, and even a spectator commented on how much value it delivered. I end up breaking the stall after resolving consecutive Gray Merchants. He gets drained for 14 life over two turns, and that’s the end.

Game two: he’s on the play and mulls to six. Thanks to some ramp from Sylvan Caryatid, I played a turn four Nemesis of Mortals. Next turn I draw an absolutely devastating Hunter’s Prowess and swing in for 8 cards. He concedes a turn later, and I’m pretty happy.

Match 2 vs. Chase (0-2):


“Hey, I think I played this guy on Pro Tour Philly,” he said as he examined my Hipsters’ business card. “I was super mad when I lost his Grixis deck.”

Chase was on RB aggro and had the capacity to dismantle my deck in about three turns. Turn one Springleaf -> turn two Caryatid doesn’t match up well against Ordeal of Purphoros, especially since I didn’t have anything relevant to ramp into. And the turn one Tormented Hero (both games!) didn’t exactly help me out.

“This would be a sick Chromanticore deck,” noted an observer. And I did have access to five colors at turn four, but not the fatties I needed to gum up the board and prevent Chase’s army from overrunning me.


Pictured: holy trifecta of mana-fixing.

I’m sad that my double Sedge Scorpian never came into play. They would have held the ground war long enough for me to resolve a Nemesis or Asp and get some action going. But that’s variance for you—one game you curve out perfectly, and the next you’re beat into submission by tw0 drops.

Afterwards, I hung around and asked Chase and some other players for drafting and deck-building tips. Comments and advice ranged from “prioritize more removal” to “always run Vulpine Goliath.”


The eyes of a stone-cold killer.

I talked to a lot of experienced players. Opinions were split on my P1P1 Hunter’s Prowess. Russ suggested that I cut it and replace the 5-drop slot with Lash of the Whip. A reasonable choice given that I didn’t have the tools to deal with Bestowed creatures. Others said that it was an absolute bomb, and definitely playable in most decks. I decided to keep it in. I like to think I’m savvy enough to play obvious bounce and removal spells. And if the card actually connects, it’s probably game over. Not bad.

Despite the rain’s attempt to delay it, spring is on the horizon. And with that comes Pro Tour Philly, Journey into Nyx, and a lot of exciting changes to the world of Magic. It’s a good time to be a scrub. Even if you lose every draft you play.

Tony is the Hipsters’ resident scrub, and Scrub Report is a chronicle of his misadventures in the world of Magic. Find him @holophr.

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