Hey guys! A couple of weeks ago I was at GP Orlando with Day 2 Master Carrie O’Hara, and unfortunately I lost my own win-and-in for Day 2. Ah well! You can’t win ’em all.

To be honest, I was happy to make it that far, as my deck wasn’t a blockbuster and I had literally played one Khans of Tarkir draft and six rounds of sealed prior to Day 1 of GP Orlando. And, though I was bummed not to be drafting stamped cards on Sunday, one of my favorite things ever is actually to just jam back-to-back drafts at a GP—one of the few places where you can do so. It’s a great opportunity to go deep and really dig into a format with people outside of your normal playgroup.

At any rate, I drafted a pair of super-aggro decks to start, the first of which an RB monstrosity with a copy of Molting Snakeskin and zero splash cards, and the second … I forget what.

It’s the third draft I want to talk about. Early in the draft I picked a copy of Quiet Contemplation, and tried to put together a Jeskai version of the deck based around that build-around-me uncommon. Here’s the final list:

Everybody Was Kung-Fu Fighting

Creatures (13)
Mantis Rider
Efreet Weaponmaster
Mardu Heart-Piercer
Mystic of the Hidden Way
Leaping Master
Wetland Sambar
Monastery Flock
Scion of Glaciers
Glacial Stalker
Dragon’s Eye Savants
Riverwheel Aerialists

Spells (10)
Jeskai Charm
Treasure Cruise
Arrow Storm
Act of Treason
Bring Low
Force Away
Crippling Chill
Weave Fate
Lands (17)
Tranquil Cove
Wind-Scarred Crag

Sideboard (4)
Quiet Contemplation
Singing Bell Strike

As you can see, the Quiet Contemplation and the two Singing Bell Strikes didn’t make it into the main—or, at least, they didn’t stay in the main after G1 of R1. Singing Bell Strike is a frustrating card if the game goes long, and these games went long. Additionally, I had just totally wrongly assessed the speed or tempo of this deck beforehand. It wasn’t at all a fast Jeskai build, lacking any of the low-drop prowess evasion guys. Instead this was in many ways a hardcore control deck, as I realized after G1.

But man this deck was fun to play. Like I said, the games were super long, and there were many turns where I was just playing draw-go, sitting back on a ton of options—unflipped Efreet Weaponmasters, Waterwhirl, Bring Low—and eventually working the game into a state where I could kill my opponent quickly with Riverwheel Aerialists (such a house) or an unblockable Mystic of the Hidden Way, or bury him or her in card advantage from Treasure Cruise. Oh, and the Mardu Heart-Piercers weren’t half bad, either (understatement of the year).

Like I said in my headline, I really felt like a powerful kung-fu wizard (to ape a great quote from Reid Duke) while playing this deck. I don’t often play Constructed, but I imagine that I felt like what a UW (or, now, UB) Control player might feel: basically never doing anything, and just waiting for the opponent to make a move that you will then react to and punish him or her for—kung fu!

It took a toll on me, though, with each round going to time (if not beyond), even though I was playing pretty quickly. And the deck was clearly suboptimal, lacking early pressure in particular. Oh, and Mantis Rider is a dumb card—almost to the point of being boring, actually; there’s just never any decision to make with it: Do I hold it back, or attack? No, nevermind—you just get in there for three each and every turn.

I won R1, and in R2 I faced a madman.

I’ve called people this before, and people have asked me what I mean, so I’ll explain it now. It’s really not a bad thing! When I say “madman,” I just mean a guy or girl who doesn’t play according to the rules—often unspoken—I’ve grown accustomed to. Usually these folks are not the best players, but the simple fact that they are playing according to an entirely different set of internal rules and regulations (or none at all!) can really rattle or unsettle me, and often open the door to a victory for my opponent. I played one of these guys on Day 1 of the GP, for example: He was Temur colors, and out of the blue in G1 he snap-cast Stubborn Denial—go ahead, read the card—on some spell of mine, I forget what, and I was like, what the fuck? And in general the guy just played hell-for-leather in G1, beating me on like T5 after playing Mardu Blazebringer on T3 and doing like 18 to me with Trumpet Blast. Crazy!

So anyway, in R2 of this draft I faced another madman. Not the best player, but a super nice guy, who was clearly having a good time. He was on Sultai colors, and at one point he played some card selection spell, maybe Scout the Borders, and said, “Well, this probably isn’t the card I should take, but I really want to play it.”

The next turn, my opponent taps out and casts—Villainous Wealth, for like X = 8. Holy shit. He snags a burn spell, a bounce spell, a Mardu Heart-Piercer, and a Riverwheel Aerialists. Not good.

But here’s where it gets cool: I had been sandbagging Waterwhirl (stupidest name ever) in my hand all game, and so on the end of his turn, after he cast both of my guys, I bounced them back to *my* hand! Build your own Divination!

The next turn I was able to swing in for a ton of damage with some guys who were already on the field, and then play the Mardu Heart-Piercer to deal the final two to my opponent. Pretty cool.

R3 my luck ran out, though, against an Abzan opponent who was just too OP: Twice in two games he cast See the Unwritten with the ferocious kicker, and I seriously think he flipped double Abzan Guides both times. My deck just couldn’t deal with that, though I put up a fight.

Anyway, though, it was a great time, even though I couldn’t get the 3-0 (and the “Command Tower” pin). Soon after me and Carrie left for the airport and, as he has recounted, got some tasty enchiladas at the Orlando airport before flying back to New York.

What are some of the most fun decks you’ve drafted, win or lose? Another one of my other faves is a 3-0 Vent Sentinel deck from the Rise of Eldrazi days. And, of course, Spider Spawning! In the meantime, good luck and have fun—and don’t be afraid to be a madman every once in a while!

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.

Don't Miss Out!

Sign up for the Hipsters Newsletter for weekly updates.