I’m writing this on Friday, the night before Nationals. I’ve spent what feels like every waking hour of the past few weeks trying to get ready for this event. Hopefully that will have been enough, because I have no more time left to prepare. But whatever happens tomorrow I want to talk about how I prepared for this event. Those of you who know and follow me know that I play almost exclusively Legacy, so signing up to play Draft and Standard meant I had to go outside my comfort zone. More importantly, it meant that I needed to do a lot more testing than I’m used to if I wanted to do well.

My experience with Hour of Devastation Draft was quite limited. In order to familiarize myself with the format I started watching every draft video and reading every draft article I came across. I spent approximately a day watching draft videos at twice the normal speed before I felt prepared to join a draft. I joined a friendly draft league and to my surprise I started winning right away. After twenty or so drafts in the friendly leagues I had managed a consistently high win percentage, but felt I needed to test my skills against some tougher competition. I entered my first competitive draft league and was immediately paired against none other than Joel Larsson. He was kind enough to get stuck on two lands in the first game but promptly beat me in the other two.

After my match against Joel I continued with the competitive leagues, but I wasn’t winning anymore. Previously my drafting strategy had been to read the table and then draft whichever color combination was open. It had been working well up until this point, but against my new fiercer opponents it suddenly wasn’t enough. The decks I had liked before were no longer open, and I was forced to venture into unexplored territory. I discovered that the aggressive red white deck was both powerful and underdrafted. The archetype overperformed even when I felt that my deck was bad, and I started to get better at evaluating my picks. The key to drafting a successful RW aggro deck I found was to focus on being as aggressive as possible and valuing two drops highly.


Towards the end of my draft testing I played almost exclusively red white, but as we got closer and closer to Nationals I started to get more worried about Standard. Getting a deck wouldn’t be a problem (one of the many perks of working at your local game store and having generous friends), but I still needed to decide on a deck and learn it before the tournament. There was also the issue of testing. I didn’t have a testing team for Standard, and I wouldn’t be able to play enough matches in local tournaments. Thankfully my boss offered to lend me the cards for Four Color Energy online, a deck he also had in paper.

We put together a list and I jumped into a friendly Standard league. I quickly learned that the deck had many powerful cards that could swing games in my favor, but it was also surprisingly easy to make mistakes with it. Sequencing in particular was both tricky and important, and I still feel like sequencing correctly with this deck is the key to winning with it. I don’t have much more to say about my Standard testing other than that I made a lot of mistakes. But I also learned a lot from those mistakes, and I discovered what worked and what didn’t in various matchups. I made some changes to the original list, tweaking it and trying new things between leagues, but ultimately the following is what I ended up with.

Four Color Energy

Creatures (22)
Longtusk Cub
Servant of the Conduit
Rogue Refiner
Whirler Virtuoso
Bristling Hydra
The Scarab God

Spells (15)
Attune with Aether
Chandra, Torch of Defiance
Magma Spray
Harnessed Lightning
Lands (23)
Lumbering Falls
Sheltered Thicket
Botanical Sanctum
Spirebluff Canal
Blooming Marsh
Aether Hub

Sideboard (14)
Invasive Surgery
Tireless Tracker
Magma Spray
Radiant Flames
Confiscation Coup

The maindeck is very similar to what I started with. The only change I made was to cut the singleton Aethersphere Harvester for a second copy of Magma Spray. Harvester was really only good against Ramunap Red, and I wasn’t fond of the miser’s copy with no way to search for it.

The Sideboard

The sideboard underwent more changes as I tried different configurations. My current sideboard is one I’m very happy with, although I have no idea what the fifteenth sideboard card should be. The countermagic is exactly what you need against control. Countering a Fumigate or Approach of the Second Sun is often enough to win the game. Confiscation Coup I found was the best card against other midrange decks. Having enough energy was rarely if ever a problem, and getting to steal their best creature could swing even very unfavorable games in your favor.

Radiant Flames was a good card, and a necessity against Zombies. My issue with it is that there are a lot of transformational sideboards in the current Standard metagame, and it’s often difficult to guess where on the aggro/control spectrum your opponent is going to be after sideboard. I think two is a good number to play right now.

Tireless Tracker is mainly there against control, but is good in any matchup where games go long. The fact that they’re only three mana also means that you maintain a better mana curve after sideboard compared to if you were to play more expensive cards like Skysovereign, Consul Flagship or Chandra, Flamecaller. I used to play two copies of Dispossess in the sideboard, but after realizing I only really wanted them against the God-Pharaoh’s Gift deck I decided to just play another Abrade instead. The third Magma Spray was a late addition, but it helps against Mono Red, and is one of the few ways we can answer Relentless Dead out of Zombies.

The Matchups


Zombies has a few must answer threats that can all run away with the game if left unchecked, but if you can deal with those you are usually a favorite to win.

Ramunap Red

The key in this matchup is to put pressure on them quickly. You can’t hope to run them out of cards or stabilize. Instead you want to curve out early to stop them from getting in for too much damage and then quickly turn the corner.

UW Control

Game one is tricky because we have a lot of dead cards, but for game two we get to replace those with Tireless Trackers and counterspells. We want to put pressure on them and not give them a turn of breathing room. If we can counter their Fumigate they usually fall behind while we get on for a lot of damage.

Temur Energy

Sequencing is key in this matchup. Bristling Hydra is very difficult to deal with, so I’ll trade with it when I can. We have the better long game in the form of The Scarab God, but can still lose easily to an opposing hydra or Glorybringer. Rhonas the Indomitable is a real problem as he clogs up the ground and can attack for a lot. He’s also indestructible, so our only way to answer him is with Confiscation Coup.

God-Pharaoh’s Gift

Our first priority in this matchup is to keep their namesake card from getting active. After sideboarding we have access to the full set of Abrade as well as three copies of Negate for their Gate to the Afterlife. Invasive Surgery is at its best if they’re playing a version with Refurbish, but can also be used to great effect against Tormenting Voice. Magma Spray also helps in this matchup as it’s a mana-efficient way of removing their blockers while simultaneously keeping their graveyard clear. Be sure to pay attention to which version of the deck you’re up against, as the various builds play differently from each other, and you want to sideboard accordingly.


Ramp is an unfavorable matchup for us. It’s is a race with us trying to get them to zero life before they can start casting Ulamog. We bring in counterspells to stop their Hour of Promise and Fumigate if they have them. Confiscation Coup can steal a Worldbreaker or Oblivion Sower that would be a problem otherwise.


As you read this, Swedish Nationals will be over. Hopefully I made the national team!

Sandro is a Magic player from Stockholm, Sweden. He’s been playing Goblins in Legacy for years. Follow him on Twitter @SandroRajalin

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