Over the past week I was able to draft M15 five times: thrice on Saturday at Bones McCoy’s place, as part of an all-day draftathon, and once each on Sunday and Wednesday as part of Team Draft League. Suffice it to say, I’ve been crushing it. Adding my 3-0 draft on the day of the prerelease into the mix, I’m 13-4 in the format, with four 2-1 records and one 2-0 (that draft ended early because our team virtually swept the other team).

What I wanted to do today was simply present my five M15 draft decks from the last week, so all of you out there in TV Land can see what’s been successful for me.

First up is a nearly mono-red build we’ll call …

Barely Rakdos

Creatures (16)
Hoarding Dragon
Bronze Sable
Torch Fiend
Kurkesh, Onakke Ancient
Goblin Rabblemaster
Altac Bloodseeker
Gargoyle Sentinel
Nightfire Giant
Forge Devil
Goblin Roughrider
Kird Chieftan
Thundering Giant
Rummaging Goblin

Spells (7)
Inferno Fist
Heat Ray
Blastfire Bolt
Covenant of Blood
Avarice Amulet
Crowd's Favor
Lands (17)
12 Mountain
Swamp

This deck was fantastic. Oddly enough, until very late in the third pack I was thinking I was Gruul, with the Kird Chieftain and a few other green cards in my pile. But then I got passed an extremely late Nightfire Giant and snapped it up. When I was laying out my deck, I saw that I could essentially be mono-red and choose from a light green or black splash. Along with the Covenant of Blood, I felt like black was stronger (and in general I feel like Nightfire Giant is stronger than a turned-on Kird Chieftain), so I went with the Barely Rakdos build. I went 2-1 in this draft, losing only to James Bathurst’s BW hordes.

Next up is another nearly mono-color build:

Barely Azorius

Creatures (15)
Heliod's Pilgrim
Kinsbaile Skirmisher
Constricting Sliver
Sungrace Pegasus
Selfless Cathar
Oreskos Swiftclaw
Ajani's Pridemate
Dauntless River Marshal
Preeminent Captain
Frost Lynx

Spells (8)
Sanctified Charge
Raise the Alarm
Spectra Ward
Marked by Honor
Triplicate Spirits
Pillar of Light
Lands (17)
11 Plains
Island
Radiant Fountain

I first-picked Spectra Ward for this deck—and yes, it’s as strong as you’ve heard—so much so that Zac Hill, who was playing with us that day and was on my team, convinced me to put the third Heliod’s Pilgrim into the deck. The Spectra Ward was essentially unbeatable—and, given my three Pilgrims, virtually always findable; it was like I had a playset of the powerful aura in my deck. I also really liked the Constricting Slivers, and even had a third in my pile that I boarded in once. This deck also had the tokens + Sanctified Charge package, which was a whole ‘nother angle of devastating. This deck went 2-0, and I’m sure it would have easily gone 3-0 had the draft continued.

Following the mono-white menace, I drafted a color combo that some folks, including Hipsters’ own BMac, are kind of down on in M15 Limited:

UB Control

Creatures (14)
Indulgent Tormentor
Frost Lynx
Amphin Pathmage
Illusory Angel
Nimbus of the Isles
Jorubai Murk Lurker
Paragon of Gathering Mists
Shadowcloak Vampire
Research Assistant
Quickling
Aeronaut Tinkerer

Spells (9)
Peel from Reality
Ulcerate
Caustic Tar
Flesh to Dust
Jace's Ingenuity
Divination
Dissipate
Crippling Blight
Lands (17)
10 Island
Swamp

Here I first-picked Indulgent Tormentor over Triplicate Spirits, which I wasn’t sure was correct, but I wanted to try out Son of Bloodgift Demon while I had a chance to do so—and he proved very good. This deck was strong, and ended up going 2-1, but I felt like I was up against it a little more than I had been in the two previous drafts. I lost a very nutso match against an RG deck with two (two!) Siege Dragons, a Hoarding Dragon, and a Hornet Queen that could be bounced and replayed via Invasive Species—so sick. The Amphin Pathmages I found to be very key cards in that—in the late game, with six mana out—you can reliably deal five or six unblockable damage easy, which will close out a game quick. The Illusory Angels I was less impressed with—I was frustrated by them being stuck in my hand more than I would have liked.

That was the last deck of the draftathon. Next up was Sunday’s Team Draft League match, against the Brendexian Mobliterators. I first-picked Burning Anger and ended up with this Rakdos build:

RB Aggro

Creatures (13)
Brood Keeper
Scrapyard Mongrel
Torch Fiend
Juggernaut
Typhoid Rats
Forge Devil
Necromancer's Assistant
Bronze Sable
 Borderland Marauder
Gargoyle Sentinel
Kurkesh, Onakke Ancient

Spells (10)
Burning Anger
Cone of Flame
Hammerhand
Hot Soup
Blastfire Bolt
Eternal Thirst
Flesh to Dust
Inferno Fist
Crowd's Favor
Lands (17)
10 Mountain
Swamp

In pack two I was faced with a tough choice between Cone of Flame (which is utterly ridiculous) and Scuttling Doom Engine, which I hadn’t yet been able to play with. I took the Cone, but in retrospect I think I was wrong to do so, at least in team draft; because while there’s a chance that the player to my right (Monique) isn’t in red (as she wasn’t) and doesn’t take the Cone, she is never going to pass the Doom Engine (which she didn’t). And while Cone is very good for me, the 6/6 also would have been.

At any rate, I smashed Brendan in R1 with my trampling Scrapyard Mongrels (a card which I’ve really grown to love)—”Your deck is very good,” he marveled—and beat Matt in R3 with Burning Anger + Typhoid Rats.

But in R2 I lost to Monique, who had an utterly insane deck with Chord of Calling, Resolute Archangel, Scuttling Doom Engine (ahem), and—lord god have mercy—Soul of New Phyrexia, which at one point in game two blew out my Cone of Flame from the ‘yard. In game one, I nearly beat Monique—three times, that is. I literally did approximately 59 damage to her over the course of an intense, drawn-out game, but she kept coming back from the edge by first Chording for Resolute Archangel and then bouncing it with Invasive Species and replaying it. I probably could have still gotten the W if I had played smarter, but I was just kind of wrecked and not thinking optimally at the end of that insane game. Kudos to Monique for a very strong and awesome deck!

And finally we have my most recent Team Draft League deck, which saw my first-pick (somewhat hesitantly) Genesis Hydra:

RG Beats

Creatures (16)
Genesis Hydra
Borderland Marauder
Krenko's Enforcer
Charging Rhino
Paragon of Fierce Defiance
Generator Servant
Altac Bloodseeker
Runeclaw Bear
Thundering Giant
Elvish Mystic
Invasive Species
Kird Chieftain
Netcaster Spider
Torch Fiend

Spells (7)
Hammerhand
Inferno Fist
Hunt the Weak
Crowd's Favor
Feral Incarnation
Lands (17)
10 Mountain
Forest

You want to know what’s really fun? Generator Servant-ing into a Genesis Hydra for six, hitting I think a Kird Chieftain and getting six power of hasty damage (thanks the Servant) in. This deck went 2-1, losing a very close middle match against Alex’s BW Spectra Ward deck, and I very nearly got there with a boarded-in Perilous Vault to deal with the Ward-ed up creature.

And while it was certainly lacking removal (Zac was snapping it up for this UR deck, with two Lightning Strikes), it did have great ways to blank blockers and increase damage in the early game (3X Hammerhand) and just an insane amount of power in the late game, thanks to Feral Incarnation, the Hydra, Kird Chieftain, and various other beefy beaters. I really enjoyed getting an extra activation out of my Hammerhand thanks to Invasive Species, which is increasingly striking me as a very strong card. It was awesome to play a bear on turn two; another bear + Hammerhand on that bear on T3 (swinging in for five damage); and Invasive Species on T4, bouncing the Hammerhand and replaying it on the Species, granting it haste and +1/+1, and swinging in for eight more damage. Hammerhand just does so, so much as a card, for so little mana—that’s *three* very relevant abilities for just R! That’s crazy!

All in all, I’m feeling very good about the M15 portion of next week’s upcoming Pro Tour. Of course, I worry about running hot now and hitting the skids when it counts, but I know that’s not the way variance works, so I’m going to try and put it out of my mind. Regardless, I feel like I know what I’m doing now when I open a pack of M15, which is not something I could confidently say two weeks ago. Practice makes perfect!

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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