By Gabe R. aka Doc

I was lucky enough to get an invite to Wizards’ second “Preview Stream” event—this one for Fate Reforged—on Magic Online. The first one I did was for Legacy Cube, a format which was less than familiar to me, but I 2-1’d that eight-person pod, losing only to Limited Resources’ Marshall Sutcliffe. This time I was on even ground with the other players: Fate-Khans-Khans draft.

Once again, I was up against a pod full of household names in the MTG community:

Frank Lepore (Recent GP Orlando Top 8-er)
Tom Martell (PT Gatecrash Champion)
Thomas Delia (MTGRadio)
Paul Pires (Lookinglasself)
Cameron Aldous (IlyonTV)
Noah Sandler (Modogrinder1)
Randy Buehler (Pro Tour Hall of Famer)
Yours Truly, the Doc

Needless to say, I was not the most decorated player at the Fate Reforged Preview Stream digital table. I’m some guy people like to watch and listen to on secondary monitors while they drift off late at night. Sure, I’m infinite on Magic Online, but I’m definitely the David to some of these guys’ Goliath. Time to draft a slingshot:

P1P1: In this new format, you can reasonably hope for a rare from the FRF pack. There are so many mono- or two-color bombs to choose from, so you’re nearly a cinch to have an easy time of this pick. Not me. Not this time. I immediately started biting my nails (on camera) as I stared down at the mess you see below.


No rare or uncommon first picks there. The two commons that jumped out at me were [casthaven]Sandsteppe Outcast[/casthaven] and [casthaven]Douse in Gloom[/casthaven], since I didn’t want to commit to [casthaven]Harsh Sustenance[/casthaven] right away. I took the Outcast, and I felt I had made the best pick of a very mediocre pack.

My next few picks were obvious, and then I got the payoff: a FIFTH-pick [casthaven]Elite Scaleguard[/casthaven]. I was thrilled. I ended pack one with a solid BW core with the door ajar to both Abzan and Esper.

P2P1: My luck turned around, and I slammed a [casthaven]Sorin, Solemn Visitor[/casthaven] amidst cheers from the chat and my own fist-pumping. I then drafted obvious picks (see [casthaven]Raiders’ Spoils[/casthaven]) until I saw a fifth-pick [casthaven]Mardu Charm[/casthaven]. I took it as a sign, and moved towards a splash of red.

P3P1: [casthaven]Necropolis Fiend[/casthaven]. It was a short debate between this and [casthaven]Highspire Mantis[/casthaven], resulting in “let’s take the bomb.” The rest of the deck pretty much drafted itself, and I ended up with the following 40:



Spells (9)
Sorin, Solemn Visitor
Soul Summons
Valorous Stance
Mardu Charm
Mardu Banner
Rush of Battle
Bitter Revelation
Raiders' Spoils
Reach of Shadows

Creatures (14)
Mardu Hateblade
Sultai Emissary
Mardu Hordechief
Sandsteppe Outcast
Sidisi's Pet
Unyielding Krumar
Mardu Warshrieker
Elite Scaleguard
Krumar Bond-Kin
Canyon Lurkers
Sultai Scavenger
Gurmag Angler
Necropolis Fiend

Land (17)
Bloodfell Caves
Scoured Barrens

I decided to play 17 lands and a banner, a strategy at which I might have guffawed before FRF, but I’m now more inclined to embrace it in aggressive decks like these. This deck was solid, if not P good. I may be a “spike” first, but I’m an aggro player at heart, and boy is this my kind of slingshot. My first round opponent? Goliath himself: Tom Martell.


Tom and I have a funny relationship; I know him through his girlfriend, Colette (known online as Suzy the Gnat). They watch my stream relatively often, and Tom loves to jump into queues with me. He stops watching me, and we trash talk each other on Twitter and through Colette the entire time. My lifetime record against him before this event was 3-0, and I had no intention of giving up my bragging rights.

I had heard through chat and Tom’s twitter that he had a helping hand with the draft from the likes of two-time World Champion Shahar Shenhar and Canadian juggernaut Alexander Hayne.

R1G1: I got a running start, while Tom and his army of pros got briefly stuck on two Plains in what appeared to be a trainwreck.dek. Late-game, Tom had morph, seven open mana, two cards, and two life. It was his EOT, and I had [casthaven]Mardu Charm[/casthaven]. Despite Chris Manning’s best efforts in chat, I was unconvinced that I should play around [casthaven]Thousand Winds[/casthaven], and instead of going for the morph while my creatures were untapped, I made 1/1 warriors to play around [casthaven]Waterwhirl[/casthaven] (I had out [casthaven]Raiders’ Spoils[/casthaven] so they were each lethal). As is often the case, Chris was right and I was wrong. Tom stabilized briefly, forcing me to show him the Sorin I had been sandbagging, but I got there.

R1G2: I kept a greedy two-Swamp hand on the draw. Tom and I each missed land three for one turn, then he started beating down with a [casthaven]Lightform[/casthaven] and a [casthaven]Highspire Mantis[/casthaven]. After I got rid of his lifelinker, he played an [casthaven]Abzan Skycaptain[/casthaven] and [casthaven]Warflare[/casthaven]’d me to one life. There is a reason I have the following subscriber emote:


I had been sandbagging Sorin in favor of playing [casthaven]Elite Scaleguard[/casthaven], and attacked for 12 lifelink, tapping his Skycaptain and forcing an awkward block. I mistakenly passed the turn without casting [casthaven]Sultai Scavenger[/casthaven], but it was already curtains for Tom. Make that 4-0 lifetime, Mr. Martell.

R2G1: Great, another pro: Frank Lepore. I curved out perfectly and drew a bunch of free cards with [casthaven]Raiders’ Spoils[/casthaven] while he played tap-lands. He stuck a [casthaven]Temur Sabertooth[/casthaven], so I mised a [casthaven]Mardu Charm[/casthaven] off the top to respond to his activation. The was no recovery from that.

R2G2: [casthaven]Mardu Warshrieker[/casthaven] is a hell of a drug. I went wide, cast [casthaven]Rush of Battle[/casthaven], then [casthaven]Elite Scaleguard[/casthaven] for the win on turn seven. Frank got a bit flooded, unfortunately.

2-0, 4-0. Heading to the finals.

R3G1: I faced the Hall of Famer to round out the gauntlet of pros. My reads were so accurate on Randy’s plays that I was told his chat accused me of watching his stream. I couldn’t find his replay, but I was told Randy dismissed it, and I took it as a compliment as I protected my lethal [casthaven]Necropolis Fiend[/casthaven] with my wisely sandbagged [casthaven]Valorous Stance[/casthaven].

R3G2: We wound up in a similar boardstate to G1: I with a [casthaven]Necropolis Fiend[/casthaven] and 1W permanently held up for [casthaven]Valorous Stance[/casthaven], he with a [casthaven]Dragonscale Boon[/casthaven] play that got blown out by said Stance.

3-0, 6-0. My slingshot had done its job, and I was ecstatic. Worth Wollpert even stopped by to express his feelings on my matches:


So there you have it. I had an amazing time drafting this set with all these players, and an even better time winning! I can’t express enough gratitude to Wizards for inviting streamers like me to be a part of these awesome events. Possibly what blew me away the most about this experience, though, was that not a single person in my chat or any other players’ chats revealed any information about hands, decks, or anything else shady. The MTG community continues to impress me by being classy in places where most high view-count event audiences would fail.

Stay classy, San Diego.

Gabe R. aka Doc is an Upper West Side keyboard cage fighter. He began his training at age six with Visions and Tempest under the tutelage of his older cousin, and was taught the wax-on, wax-off of card interaction at an impressionable age. He has been a Limited hound since Limited first came to the competitive Magic scene, and he polished his drafting chops as a high-schooler at Neutral Ground. After spiking an unhealthy number of FNMs and other local events, he took a break from the cardboard crack for college, and has since made a return as a law-school punk. He began streaming on Twitch about a year ago as “The Doc” (based on a childhood nickname), and has grown his channel into the largest non-professional stream on Twitch’s Magic: The Gathering page. He has had little time to play in PTQs or travel to Grand Prix due to schoolwork, so he channels all his run-goods into MTGO 8-4s and Team Draft League matches.

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