That’s right, boys and girls: From worst to first, the Clockwork Bea(s)ts aka Hail Slaton!—comprised of me, Dave McCoy, and Carrie O’Hara (pictured above, from left to right)—rocketed back from a last- or near-enough-to-last-place finish in season one of Team Draft League to run the table undefeated in season two, winning on Sunday against Her Big Shister—consisting of Joe Shi, Mike Herbig, and Dylan Hiester—to make a perfect 6-0 run.

Oh, the glory! Oh, the fame! Oh, the prize money! And the adoration of our fans!

Also during our match the U.S. soccer team suffered a heartbreaking tying goal by Portugal in extra time, so that was a bummer. Everything else was the nuts, though, including my deck. Here ’tis:


If you can’t tell from the pic, here’s the list:

RW Mid-Range

Creatures (16)
Spawn of Thraxes
Gold-Forged Sentinel
Pharagax Giant
Akroan Phalanx
Ill-Tempered Cyclops
Borderland Minotaur
Lagonna Band Elder
Pensive Minotaur
Tethmos High Priest
Kragma Butcher
Akroan Hoplite
Sigiled Skink
Cavalry Pegasus
Reckless Reveler
Nyxborn Shieldmate

Spells (7)
Magma Spray
Fall of the Hammer
Revoke Existence
Portent of Betrayal
Riddle of Lightning
Lands (17)
10 Mountain

And here’s the board:


I first-picked the Magma Spray and got passed the Spawn of Thraxes, which I snapped up and dove into red, with a few white cards along the way, as well as a Gold-Forged Sentinel, which I actually quite like, both as a pick in my pool, and a card. In pack two I was still unsettled on my second color, and in truth hadn’t seen much white from Dylan, to my right, but I got passed two Akroan Phalanxes from Joe, to my left—both in strong white packs, and both with Vanguard of Brimazes alongside them—and so moved firmly into white. I also was rewarded with two relatively late Fall of the Hammers. The Theros pack was much less exciting, but I filled out my playables.

The one thing you’ll see I didn’t get was combat tricks. I just didn’t see a one of them. Sometimes you just have drafts like that—I honestly don’t think many tricks were opened—but it still made me nervous, given that I was in RW.

I wasn’t in a hyper-aggro version of RW, though. After the draft, Dylan—who had passed me the Spawn of Thraxes—commented that my build of RW wasn’t super traditional, and that he didn’t like Spawn in an RW deck. And he’s right: In an RW deck that’s trying to go off with Satyr Hoplites and Akroan Skyguards and the like, Spawn isn’t what you want. But it is a very powerful card, and it opens you up to playing a different style of RW, which is what I had: RW mid-range.

That’s not to say I can’t, with this deck, get off to a quick start and win—but I sort of hedge my bets a bit by having a couple of strong high-drops, which, if my early rush gets stalled out, means that I still am drawing live in the late game, as a Gold-Forged Sentinel, Pharagax Giant, or Spawn off the top can just win. That’s a strategy I like—which Limited Resources‘ Brian Wong has termed “flood insurance,” as it makes you able to survive flooding out on lands—and one that I’ve kind of turned to a lot in recent weeks, with Journey Into Nyx. One reason is that the format is slower, and you are just less likely to get those super-quick and -powerful heroic starts. Another reason is just, well—RW doesn’t *have* to be 16 lands and nothing above a three-drop; Akroan Phalanx is a card, and a very good one at that. I think sometimes people get locked into thinking of the *best* version of any two-color combo, and forget that there can be other ways to play with those colors that are very different.

Take BW. You can play this two-color combo in the traditional way of Theros, with Scholar of Athreos and Odunos River Trawler and other super-grindy cards—or you can go a more aggro route, with Bloodcrazed Hoplites, Tormented Heroes (if you’re lucky enough to see those in pack three), Oreskos Swiftclaws, and so on, backed up by combat tricks. The latter version is certainly less popular (and arguably less strong, if you compare it to the “perfect” version of BW Scholar), but that grindy deck isn’t always available; or, rather, sometimes the BW aggro deck is *highly* available, and that’s what you should be picking. That’s what I felt like was open for me, even though I was sitting right next to Dylan, who ended up in RW hyper-aggro.

At any rate, it wasn’t a cake walk. (What is a cake walk, anyway? It’s an easy walk where you get cake? I don’t get it.) Her Big Shister didn’t go down without a fight—far from it. They swept us in R1, with me losing in three games to Joe’s UB King Macar, the Gold-Cursed deck—in games two and three I ran out of gas, probably misplayed to my outs, and died to the King—but then we swept back in R2, evening up the series at 3-3. I managed to beat Dylan in R3, and Dave brought it all home against Herbig. It was a hell of a lot of fun, and I honestly had some of the best times I’ve had playing Magic with those boys this seasons. 6-0! Anybody out there in TV Land who is reading and is thinking about forming (or joining—our league is still taking applications for the third, M15 season, which starts after the core set prerelease weekend, July 13) a team draft league should certainly do so. Much kudos to Matt and Hugh for organizing it, and to all of our opponents over the course of the season for roundly being cool, fun, and smart people.

In the meantime, I’m off to Grand Prix D.C. today, so if you’re at the event, tweet at me at either @hrslaton or @hotcblog, and say hello! We’ve got some sweet new Hipsters business cards/blank tokens to give out, and we’d love to meet all our readers. I’ll also (unless I make day two) be doing some coverage for Wizards on Sunday, so that’s awesome! Wish me luck on both counts!

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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