Last weekend I played no Magic. Instead I hung out in Long Beach, Washington for four days with my friends while two of them got married. It was a real sacrifice to give up release weekend PPTQs and new set drafts. But totally worth it. Long Beach is amazingly undeveloped and pristine. You should definitely check it out if you have the chance.

I’ve been hungry to play Magic Origins, though, and I need practice for Grand Prix Dallas this weekend. Thankfully local store Game Heroes hosts a Tuesday night draft so I went out and gave the draft format a whirl.

Going in to the draft, I felt that early interaction is essential. I didn’t want to draft blue, but otherwise I would take what seemed good. I started off by opening [casthaven]Priest of the Blood Rite[/casthaven] followed by Kothophed, Soul Hoarder. Good start. My next three picks were [casthaven]Thopter Engineer[/casthaven] and two [casthaven]Ghirapur Gearcrafter[/casthaven]s. From there I figured I could easily assemble a strong Rakdos deck, and sure enough, here it is:

Rakdos Value Train

Creatures (16)
Subterranean Scout
Ghirapur Gearcrafter
Deadbridge Shaman
Thopter Engineer
Eyeblight Assassin
Nantuko Husk
Boggart Brute
Firefiend Elemental
Blazing Hellhound
Priest of the Blood Rite
Seismic Elemental
Kothophed, Soul Hoarder

Spells (7)
Fiery Impulse
Ravaging Blaze
Chandra’s Ignition
Eyeblight Massacre
Weight of the Underworld
Dark Dabbling
Lands (17)
Mountain
Swamp

Sideboard (19)
Chief of the Foundry
Subterranean Scout
Mage-Ring Bully
Cobblebrute
Volcanic Rambler
Chandra’s Fury
Infectious Bloodlust
Magmatic Insight
Demolish
Rabid Bloodsucker
Undead Servant
Nightsnare
Battlefield Forge
Wild Instincts
Timberpack Wolf
Ringwarden Owl
Nivix Barrier
Aven Battle Priest
Akroan Jailer

This format has a lot of great three drops. I played eight, and the worst one is probably [casthaven]Boggart Brute[/casthaven]. Six of them are potential two-for-ones, and [casthaven]Nantuko Husk[/casthaven] is a former constructed all star. I never saw an [casthaven]Act of Treason[/casthaven] in the draft, but my deck had a few ways to use the sacrifice outlet. Your opponent always has to worry about its potential to get huge, and unlike [casthaven]Bloodthrone Vampire[/casthaven], [casthaven]Nantuko Husk[/casthaven] is a solid threat as a 2/2.

[casthaven]Deadbridge Shaman[/casthaven] continues to blow me away. It is amazing. I took one third pick pack two over [casthaven]Unholy Hunger[/casthaven], and I am more confident in that pick after playing the deck than I was when I made it. One opponent attacked a 3/3 into my shaman. I blocked and he used [casthaven]Enshrouding Mist[/casthaven]. Still a two-for-one! In another match, my buddy Keane put [casthaven]Claustrophobia[/casthaven] on a shaman. I untapped and cast [casthaven]Blazing Hellhound[/casthaven]. Being able to sacrifice [casthaven]Deadbridge Shaman[/casthaven] at instant speed is great even if you aren’t also beating [casthaven]Claustrophobia[/casthaven] at the same time.

cove

A scenic view from the inaccurately-named Cape Disappointment.

I went 2-0, beating Boros aggro and Dimir control before splitting the finals with an amazing Simic deck. We played five games for fun and he won 3-2, mostly off [casthaven]Joraga Invocation[/casthaven]. (That card is a bomb.) Overall the Rakdos deck really impressed. I really wanted a [casthaven]Reave Soul[/casthaven], but Keane snapped all of them up in the draft. Very smart of him.

All of my creatures were great. [casthaven]Subterranean Scout[/casthaven] is meh but I had to have something to play early. I boarded in the third against the aggro deck. [casthaven]Weight of the Underworld[/casthaven] really sucks, but I didn’t have much removal and it does some work. [casthaven]Dark Dabbling[/casthaven] is a neat trick that cycles. I like to have at least one tricky card if I can, and it filled the role this time. It might actually be pretty good.

From the sideboard, I got use of [casthaven]Nightsnare[/casthaven] and [casthaven]Chief of the Foundry[/casthaven] along with the third [casthaven]Subterranean Scout[/casthaven]. Chandra’s Fury is also a solid sideboard card, but I never faced a deck it was good against. The artifact lord is solid with my three thopter-makers, but it felt weaker than my threes, of which I had plenty. I brought it in against aggro, as a 2/3 you can cast with any three mana is a nice defensive card. It seemed especially good against Iroas’s Champion, which I had to face down, while [casthaven]Ghirapur Gearcrafter[/casthaven] is pathetic against a 2/2 double striker. I brought in [casthaven]Nightsnare[/casthaven] against both Keane (Dimir Control) and the Simic deck (mostly for [casthaven]Joraga Invocation[/casthaven]).

sunset

Sunset or nuclear war? You decide!

Keane was unfortunately (for him) the victim of my most savage play of the day. He was at 12 life with three creatures on board and two mana untapped, one each of blue and black. My board was [casthaven]Nantuko Husk[/casthaven], [casthaven]Subterranean Scout[/casthaven], and [casthaven]Deadbridge Shaman[/casthaven]. He had two cards in hand. I drew my fifth land finally, and then I tanked. In my hand were Chandra’s Ignition and [casthaven]Priest of the Blood Rite[/casthaven].

What do you do here? I can kill him on the spot by making my husk a 6/6 and using Chandra’s Ignition, taking him down to six and wrathing his board, followed by a lethal 6/6 husk attack. But if he has [casthaven]Disperse[/casthaven] or [casthaven]Negate[/casthaven] I pretty much lose. I could make him discard one of his two cards, but he would probably not discard either of those once I start making my husk big. It was game one, so there is slightly less chance Keane has either [casthaven]Disperse[/casthaven] or [casthaven]Negate[/casthaven] in his deck. Playing [casthaven]Priest of the Blood Rite[/casthaven] was strong, as I was at 20 life, but it felt a little too cautious.

After thinking a while, I decided that I was more likely to lose by being cautious than by getting blown out going for the instant win. And sure enough, I won. It was a very sweet play, too, so the style points have to count for something. Especially in a practice draft. But I think even in the top 8 of a Grand Prix, my choice was correct. What do you think?

Say hello if you are at Grand Prix Dallas. And watch for me on coverage if you aren’t—I plan to win this one!

Brendan McNamara (MTGO: eestlinc, Twitter: @brendanistan) used to play Magic in the old days. His favorite combo was Armageddon plus Zuran Orb. After running out of money to buy cards and friends who were willing to put up with that combo, he left the game. But like disco, he was bound to come back eventually. Now he’s a lawyer by day and a Dimir agent by night.

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