Magic Online is dead; long live Magic Online! As everyone by now knows, Magic Online V3 is dead as a doornail—and, while I won’t be writing about that transition this week, I highly encourage everyone to check out Brendan McNamara’s wistful, funny, and honestly kind of weirdly poignant and beautiful farewell-to-MTGO-V3-post from yesterday. It’s a great read, and now feaures 200% more Simpsons screen grabs.

My last weekend was all about Pro Tour M15 prep: Namely, playing Standard at 20SS on Friday night, and participating in the sealed prerelease of Magic 2015 on Saturday, followed by an if-we-can-win-enough-packs team draft at The Kadar Brock’s art studio. (Thanks for hosting!)

I had a good weekend, 4-0-ing Standard with Jund Monsters—against Mono-Blue Devotion, Esper Control, White Weenie, and BW Midrange—3-1’ing my sealed flight (I chose green somewhat randomly just because I wanted to get Plummets in my pool, since 3/5ths of the prerelease promos were fliers, and of course I pulled zero Plummets), and 3-0-ing the draft, carrying my team to victory.

Standard

The Standard was relatively straightforward, if challenging. My deck kind of did what it did, and I was able to win. I made one big mistake, trying to cast a Dreadbore on end step (the card seems like it should be instant, no?) and, perhaps more importantly, not really knowing what to do against Esper Control when he had five mana up, I had Stormbreath Dragons in hand, and so on. Do you just cast your guys into their countermagic, or do you hold back (as I did) and try to find an opening (which I did)? It seems like if you hold back, you’re just giving them more and more Sphinx’s Revelation equity, so I dunno. What’s the right play? In any case, Four Mistcutter Hydras out of the board helped me win, as they are wont to do against blue.

Sealed

Bright and early the next morning I sat and cracked packs across from a guy who was lucky enough to snag two-count-’em-two Soul of Zendikars, which—holy Jesus: That’s a real card, especially doubled up. I had decent if unexciting green and red cards, plus a foil Ob Nixilis, Unshackled, which I really wanted to play, but the black just wasn’t there. And I had another really strange rare in the form of Aggressive Mining, which I was waffling on whether or not to play—but, it’s the prerelease, and during that time (as well as in early drafts) it’s a best practice to just run those weird rares and see how they play out, as you don’t want to be staring at a pack one pick one Aggressive Mining during the first draft of a Grand Prix Day 2 and not knowing whether or not it’s worth it.

Long story short: I think it is. On two separate occasions I got myself to seven mana, cast Aggressive Mining, and proceeded to draw seven cards over the course of one turn cycle, with five mana available (one floating after sac’ing it for the last two cards) to work with, and four thereafter. That’s just broken. And I did build some ways into my deck to get Mining off the table if I needed to get rid of it, including Reclamation Sage and (even better) Invasive Species. Here’s my deck:

RG Mining

Creatures (16)
Goblin Kaboomist
Roaring Primadox
Bronze Sable
Borderland Marauder
Scrapyard Mongrel
Phytotitan
Will-Forged Golem
Netcaster Spider
Reclamation Sage
Siege Wurm
Runeclaw Bear
Invasive Species
Kalonian Twingrove
Krenko’s Enforcer
Satyr Wayfinder
Forge Devil

Spells (7)
 Lightning Strike
Titanic Growth
Hunt the Weak
Heat Ray
Aggressive Mining
Lands (17)
Forest
Mountain
Evolving Wilds
Darksteel Citadel

Sideboard (9)
Inferno Fist
Shrapnel Blast
Torch Fiend
Brood Keeper
Lava Axe
Sacred Armory
Hammerhand
Miner’s Bane
Runeclaw Bear

I had other cards in my board, of course, but those were the relevant ones. And I think my build was off by a couple cards, namely the Satyr Wayfinder and the Hunt the Weak, the latter of which has just never impressed me, and still didn’t. I should have had the Inferno Fist in over the Hunt, and maybe the Torch Fiend or Shrapnel Blast or Lava Axe over the Wayfinder. Not sure on that last one, but Inferno Fist—whether or not I have Brood Keeper in the deck, which I didn’t, because I didn’t think I had enough support for it—does *work.*

Like I said, I went 3-1, losing a match I probably could have won if I hadn’t Lightning Striked a Nightfire Giant when a Mountain was on the field (read the cards, kids, and read them again), and winning a match I probably should have lost, against the guy with three (no fucking kidding) Cone of Flames, which is even stupider than it sounds. In G1 of that match he literally Coned me three turns running—but I managed to stay un-tilted and pull out the W. That shit felt good.

Team Draft

Next up was the team draft, which saw me first-pick an Avacyn, Guardian Angel and (mostly) never look back, although I did have a tough time deciding between pairing white with black or red (the Inferno Fists were flowing) before settling on the former. I went 3-0, but lord it was a pyhrric victory, as my last match against The Kadar Brock (on UB control) saw me win in G1 basically to Kadar decking himself, as Avacyn had the game neutered. I was super sweaty and frazzled by the time it was over, due in part to being half-awake all the night before after an ill-advised 8pm Sudafed.

BW seemed like a good archetype, and Triplicate Spirits + Sanctified Charge is the absolute stone nuts. At one point I got out Spirit Bonds early and made a few more tokens before Triplicate Spirits-ing and swinging in for a one-shot, 16-point win in the air, thanks to the Sanctified Charge I’d had in hand all game and was just waiting on a fifth land to cast.

I had a ton of fun! M15 seems like a really intricate and more complex format than recent Core Sets, perhaps due to the presence of weird cards like my new pet card, Aggressive Mining. Let’s get those drill bits working!

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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