In a recent interview, Richard Garfield said, “Games provide you a set of rules for interacting with people, and I pride myself to this day on no matter who is visiting, or what company is around, I can find a game that will entertain everybody.” Despite the overwhelming white male-ness of most of the Magic community, I am perpetually appreciative of the way in which it can bring disparate groups of people together. I have met some of my best friends through playing Magic, but, perhaps more importantly, I have enjoyed playing against people I perhaps have nothing in common with otherwise. It’s weird, but figuratively trying to kill an opponent across the table has a way of bringing you closer to them.

Last week I got this message from my friend Stewart:

Hello Erica & Shawn! I’m hosting a draft on Friday, June 6th, for a ten-year old girl who is obsessed with Magic (and pretty good at it too). Frank Lepore and Melissa DeTora will be here also, and we need two more good-natured players to draft Conspiracy with us. Any interest?

Of course I was interested. Not only would I get to play a new set geared towards multiplayer madness, but I would get to play it with a really amazing group of people; A close friend, a ten year old girl, her dad (originally from Sweden), a Magic pro, the editor of a popular Magic site, a level two judge, and one really nice dude who I knew through Drafts and Drafts. Unfortunately, Erica was in California and couldn’t make it, so I would have to do my best to be twice as good-natured.

The night started off with falafel and Stewart mixing up some mocktails. A quick aside on Stewart, he is probably the most accommodating host/mixologist of all time and regularly hosts an alternative Friday Night Magic, referred to as FN-Ulm. Stewart was so accommodating though that his apartment is regularly filled to the brim with Magic players who were more than happen to abandon their LGS’s for the night.

After everyone was full, Mia, my new ten year old friend, handed out pig tokens she made for a custom Magic set she is creating. I think it’s called Attack of the Pigs, which in all honesty I think is a better name than Khans of Tarkir. Mia even signed the tokens for us:


The draft itself took a long time. Conspiracy adds so many components to the drafting experience, that the already daunting task of drafting a new set became even more involved. When should I use Cogwork Librarian? How good are the voting cards exactly? How highly do I pick hidden conspiracies? It felt like we sat around Stewart’s table for the better part of an hour while I agonized over my unfocused three color deck.  I ended up drafting this:


Junk Draft

Creatures (9)
Sakura-Tribe Elder
Custodi Soulbinders
Selvala’s Enforcer
Woodvine Elemental
Noble Templar
Elvish Aberration
Twisted Abomination

Spells (14)
Tragic Slip
Squirrel’s Nest
Spectral Searchlight
Reckless Spite
Council’s Judgment
Predator’s Howl
Selvala’s Charge
Skeletal Scrying

Land (17)

My plan was to take every removal spell I saw and take it from there. The deck could have definitely used a bomb or two in terms of win conditions, as my plan going into the games was to grind out a win via squirrel tokens.

Game one, I played against Frank, Melissa, and Sam:


Frank drafted a BW deck with Magister of Worth and Rout, Melissa was on RG “Dudes” with a ton of creatures and Lead the Stampedes, and Sam was playing a UB Control deck with Misdirection, Brainstorms, and Reign of the Pit. The game started off pretty friendly with a bunch of us not really sure as to who we should be attacking in the early stages of the game. Melissa ended up rolling a dice to determine the recipient of her Gnarlid Pack attacks. I tried to act as the mediator of the board, sitting back and killing any threat that looked to take over the game. The game did end up going pretty long, so much so that I had to keep counting my deck to make sure I wasn’t in imminent danger of being decked. Melissa ended up sending her squad at Sam, which knocked him out of the game, and then was able to Brimstone Volley me the same turn for exactsies. Despite her commanding board presence, Frank had a Rout, and Melissa had no outs since she knew the contents of her deck thanks to Lead the Stampede.

Game two, Sam and I went to play with the first two people eliminated from the other game; Mia and her dad, Joakim:


Mia destroyed us this game. For the record, this was not one of those, “let’s let the little girl win this one” things. I am 100% certain that Mia had the best deck at the table. I meant to get a picture of the RW concoction but I do remember it having 2 Basandra, Battle Seraph, Ignition Team, a bunch of Flamewrights, and a full playset of Brago’s Representatives which was named with Secrets of Paradise. I managed to kill off Joakim, who was playing a mono black deck, but was the next to go after Sam played Tyrant’s Choice with Grudge Keeper which left me with no good votes since I was at one life. Mia was able to finish off the game shortly after with her horde of creatures.

After playing a few games of this amazing draft format, I came to a few rudimentary conclusions:

  • Life is at a premium when you have three opponents looking to kill you off in one swing. In my draft I picked Skeletal Scrying and Reckless Spite pretty highly but don’t think it was right to do so.I regretted casting the Spite nearly every game and was never at a point where I could use Skeletal Scrying without basically just putting myself dead on the board. Of course those who actively seek to preserve their life totals may find themselves being the target of dethrone creatures, I still think it’s ok to expend resources early to make sure you don’t drop too low.
  • Red seems really awesome in this format. Cards like Brimstone Volley, Pitchburn Devils, and Deathforge Shaman offer up ways to burn out a player without ever having to swing into a crowded board. Having the ability to sit back and pick off a player who drops too low seems like one of the best ways to ensure that you are the last person standing at the end of the game.
  • Curve and mana cost considerations aren’t as big of a deal in this format where games tend to go a little on the long side. While you can’t durdle around forever without expecting people to kill you at some point, fast aggro decks certainly aren’t where you want to be in a format where you have three opponents at a combined 60 life.
  • If you open Worldknit in your pack one…go deep.


At age 15, while standing in a record store with his high school bandmates, Shawn Massak made the uncool decision to spend the last of his money on a 7th edition starter deck (the one with foil Thorn Elemental). Since that fateful day 11 years ago, Shawn has decorated rooms of his apartment with MTG posters, cosplayed as Jace, the Mindsculptor, and competes with LSV for the record of most islands played (lifetime). When he’s not playing Magic, Shawn works as a job coach for people with disabilities, plays guitar in an indie-pop band, and keeps a blog about pro-wrestling.



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