Sorry to have missed you last week, kids, but I was on a river cruise in the Netherlands with my wife, and, suffice it to say, the generally much older (but very nice and welcoming) folks on the boat didn’t have such great draft skillz.

Here’s one picture from our trip, to give you an idea of where we were:


Whoops—that’s not the one (but hey, whatever floats your boat). Here’s a better shot:


Pretty crazy, right? It was the first sailing of this new river cruise ship, the S.S. Maria Theresa. At any rate, as a result I didn’t play Magic for more than a week. So when I got home, I was champing at the bit to get some Dragons of Tarkir drafts in. Conveniently, last weekend was the online prerelease, so this past Sunday, after killing the worst of my jet lag with some much-needed sleep on Saturday night, I fired up my Windows laptop and MTGO.

Here’s deck No. 1:

4-5-2015 BGw Dragons draft #1

And here’s a perhaps more readable decklist:

BGw Dragons

Creatures (16)
Foe-Razer Regent
Arashin Sovereign
Rakshasa Gravecrawler
Stampeding Elk Herd
Wandering Tombshell
Salt Road Ambushers
Circle of Elders
Mardu Strike Leader
Ainok Artillerist
Dragon-Scarred Bear
Guardian Shield-Bearer
Glade Watcher
Sultai Emissary

Spells (6)
Sudden Reclamation
Butcher's Glee
Map the Wastes
Ruthless Instincts
Tread Upon
Coat with Venom
Lands (18)
Crucible of the Spirit Dragon
Blossoming Sands
Scoured Barrens
Jungle Hollow

Sideboard (11)
Archers of Qarsi
Foul-Tongue Shriek
Grave Strength
Diplomacy of the Wastes
Sultai Runemark
Virulent Plague
Sandstorm Charger
Great-Horn Krushok
Fate Forgotten

My first pick had me choosing between Foe-Razer Regent and Roast, which are about as far apart in terms of mana costs as two cards can be. I know Roast is good, but I wasn’t totally sold on the Regent, as this format seems like it can be very fast, and seven mana is a lot. Foe-Razer is a finisher, though, whereas Roast is not—and plus, early in the format it’s good to pick rares and see how they handle, so that you will know what the right pick is on, say, Day 2 of Grand Prix Atlantic City, which I and a bunch of other Hipsters and Team Draft Leaguers will be attending.

This deck looks good to me, and there are not many cards I’d change, perhaps with the exception of Ainok Artillerist, which is kind of crappy. Other typically marginal cards like Map the Wastes and Sudden Reclamation were actually good for me here, as I was looking to both ramp and find my bomb-rare dragons.

I got lucky in pack three, getting passed both a Soulflayer and a Mardu Strike Leader, which I snapped up after getting solidified into black (early on I was hedging between pairing green with black or white, as you can see from my sideboard) thanks to a relatively late Rakshasa Gravecrawler, the premier mythic uncommon of the set. And let me tell you: You’ve haven’t lived until you’ve sacrificed a Sultai Emissary to Rakshasa Gravecrawler.

This deck went 2-1, losing in the middle round (this was a prerelease swiss draft) to a RG deck with Atarka Efreets, Sabertooth Outriders, and (at one point) a devastating Dromoka’s Gift on the latter, which allowed it to eat my blocking Arashin Sovereign. A few notes on individual cards:

  • Coat with Venom and Butcher’s Glee are as great as they have been reported to be.
  • I quite like Glade Watcher, and I think would be happy to pick up multiples of him. There’s nothing better for holding down the ground early and turning the jets on later (and actually not that much later, as it turns out).
  • I like Dragon-Scarred Bears a lot, too, especially in combo with bolster (which this deck didn’t have, but my next one did). In any case, a three-power regenerator is or can be big game.
  • Circle of Elders and Crucible of the Spirit Dragon were so good in this deck, allowing me to ramp into my seven-drops with ease.
  • Foe-Razer Regent is very good, and I would happily first-pick him in the future. Prioritize a bit of mana ramp and go to town. Arashin Sovereign was also very good, but—as I indicated above—he can be beaten.
  • The Stampeding Elk Herds were always good, but their formidable ability never really was a factor; in the games where I had formidable turned on, I was kind of already winning, trample or no. Still, a 5/5 for five is excellent regardless.

Here’s the next deck:

4-5-2015 WG Dragons draft #2

And a decklist:

GW Beatdown

Creatures (16)
Surrak, the Hunt Caller
Stampeding Elk Herd
Aerie Bowmasters
Conifer Strider
Abzan Skycaptain
Dragon-Scarred Bear
Sandcrafter Mage
Dragon Bell Monk
Atarka Beastbreaker
Territorial Roc
Dromoka Warrior
Servant of the Scale
Mardu Woe-Reaper

Spells (7)
Great Teacher's Decree
Scale Blessing
Hunt the Weak
Center Soul
Soul Summons
Tread Upon
Lands (17)
Blossoming Sands

Sideboard (13)
Shape the Sands
Scaleguard Sentinels
Temur Runemark
Sudden Reclamation
Spidersilk Net
Ancestral Statue
Aven Skirmisher
Abzan Advantage
Center Soul
Abzan Runemark
Dragon Bell Monk
Student of Ojutai

Here I first-picked Pacifism over I think one of the crappy/weird blue rares, Mirror Something-or-Other, and not long after grabbed an Atarka Beastbreaker, a card I dig for its ability to be good both early and late. I solidified pretty early into GW, with a bit of a hedge toward black, in the form of Coat with Venom and some other, marginal cards. This deck, too, went 2-1, losing in the finals to a very powerful dash-y RB deck. A few notes on individual cards:

  • Sandcrafter Mage is excellent in a deck like this, and in general I just really like that card. LSV said on a recent Limited Resources that, while he thought it was a good card, he wouldn’t be happy to first-pick it—and honestly, while I wouldn’t be thrilled to P1P1 a Sandcrafter Mage, I wouldn’t be super-bummed, either.
  • I felt like this was a decent deck in which to try out Servent of the Scale, and honestly it wasn’t terrible, with so many good follow-up plays that would benefit from its +1/+1 counter if it died.
  • Dragon Bell Monk might be the card from Fate Reforged that has gotten the most better in Dragons of Tarkir. In Fate, I never wanted to play this card, but it’s been doing great work for me thus far. I even debated about playing the third Monk, but decided to leave that decision for the board.
  • Great Teacher’s Decree was backbreaking/game-ending every time I played it.
  • Scale Blessing was somewhat of a speculative pick, and I almost cut it from the deck, but I wanted to try it out. Unfortunately I literally never drew the card in any of my three matches. Is it good? It seems OK.
  • Surrak, the Hunt Caller was FUCKING BONKERS. Seriously, playing him as an invariably hasty 5/4 on turn four—who each turn after that gives whatever other creature you play haste—was, again, backbreaking. Backed up with a bit of pump or protection to blank my opponent’s highly necessary next double block or kill spell, Surrak quickly elicited GGs.
  • I didn’t play Scaleguard Sentinels, and maybe that was wrong—but given that I had zero dragons, and that casting a double-green spell on turn two would have been awkward for my deck, I just didn’t feel like the upside was there for a 2/3. I did play against this card in the prerelease, though, and a couple of times my opponent cast it on T2 as a 3/4, and that felt insane. Without dragons, though, I dunno.

That’s all I’ve got for this week. As you can tell from the title of this story, I think green’s pretty good in Dragons, and I’ve liked GW in particular a lot. It’s not sexy, but it gets the job done. (That said, I’ve seen some comments on the Limited Resources subreddit where more than a few folks mentioned being unimpressed by GW—that it seemed like a lot of dicking around with +1/+1 counters that didn’t really get anywhere.) Curious to hear what you all think of these decks and my card evaluations and, in general, what’s been working for you and what hasn’t thus far in Dragons of Tarkir draft.

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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