Wisdom Fae Under the Bridge – Theros Draft Part 1
A few weeks ago I played a Theros sealed PTQ in Sheffield in which I had a pretty good deck and lost my win and in round, and the one after it to end up on 5-3 after having been 5-1. This was a little disappointing; it used to be that I wouldn’t have needed to play round 6 because 4-1-1 would comfortably have placed me in the top 8m but PTQs are huge now.
On the positive side, I really enjoyed playing the format, and I think there is a lot too it. The bombs more like they used to be (e.g. you can sometimes beat them without having a removal spell right away, unlike [card]Angel of Serenity[/card] or [card]Grave Titan[/card] from which you can rarely recover should they resolve), the creatures are often higher toughness than power, leading to stalled boards and the mechanics are interesting and lend to cards which are difficult to evaluate.
I got home at 3am or so, after the four and half hour drive, and immediately drafted. Other than obsessively playing the new Grand Theft Auto game for 10 days or so, I’ve done little other than draft since. After 50 drafts or so, and a pretty decent amount of success, I have some thoughts about the format on the whole, and what I think the best draft decks are, and I thought I might share those. The article will be in two parts, the first of which looks at blue/x decks.
This deck is orientated around the heroic mechanic. Evasive creatures, bounce spells, good bestow creatures, some nice tricks and a good curve are what this deck wants.
[card]Gods Willing[/card], [card]Wingsteed Rider[/card], [card]Phalanx Leader[/card], [card]Observant Alseid[/card], [card]Favored Hoplite[/card], [card]Dauntless Onslaught[/card] , [card]Ordeal of Heliod[/card] , [card]Griptide[/card], [card]Nimbus Naiad[/card], [card]Ordeal of Thassa[/card], [card]Triton Tactics[/card], [card]Wavecrash Triton[/card] , [card]Voyage’s End[/card], [card]Vaporkin[/card] and [card]Battlewise Hoplite[/card].
A solid curve of 4, 4, 3, 2, 1 from casting cost 2 through 6, some bounce spells to get rid of blockers and help you race, 4-5 fliers to put the game away. The best heroic creatures are good enough that you’re going to play as many as you get, and I would want around 6 was to target them.
This deck is pretty sick, and I’m happy to draft it when I get it. Trying to draft it when it isn’t open is asking for trouble, though, because it has a lot of parts which it needs to assemble. If you get passed a [card]Wingsteed Rider[/card] or [card]Phalanx Leader[/card] relatively early, though, you should consider drafting them. The deck is a bit vulnerable to [card]Nessian Asp[/card]. It’s difficult to find good 4 drops for this deck, too.
The deck aims to control the game and then win with fliers and large red ground guys. Evasive creatures, bounce and burn spells, a reasonable curve and some good late effects are what this deck wants.
[card]Rage of Purphoros[/card], [card]Magma Jet[/card], [card]Lightning strike[/card], [card]ill-tempered Cyclops[/card], [card]Wavecrash trition[/card], [card]Triton tactics[/card], [card]Voyage’s end[/card], [card]Griptide[/card], [card]Vaporkin[/card], [card]Thassa’s emissary[/card], [card]Sea god’s revenge[/card], [card]Prescience chimera[/card], [card]Dissolve[/card], [card]Crackling trition[/card],[card]Omenspeaker [/card] and [card]Coastline chimera[/card]
Defensive creatures early doors will save you from casting valuable removal spells to deal with an onslaught of heroes or minotaurs, so 3, 4, 4, 2, 2 from turns 2 through 6, with an emphasis on high toughness on the lower casting cost creatures. Removal can then be spared for serious threats.
Rage is a good card, and it ought to be unproblematic drafting 2, and playing one [card]Thassa’s Bounty[/card] is fine too, but playing more of either is going to cut into the space you have for threats, and it’s cards in these casting costs which will likely win you the game. For obvious reasons you can’t stack your deck with loads of 5 and 6 casting cost cards.
This deck is pretty decent, with cheap removal and some good fliers, it does everything a control deck wants to be doing. The bounce spells can be very potent in disrupting proactive decks, and the overall quality of the creatures ought to be high. However, some of the red creatures on the low end of the curve are too aggressive to be useful in this deck, and as such it is imperative that suitable two and three casting cost creatures are drafted relatively early.
This deck is vulnerable to black/white decks full of [card]Grey merchant of asphodel[/card] and [card]Scholar of Athreos[/card], and on occasion a high end monstrosity creature will get you.
Typical control deck, like the blue/red deck only with better early blockers, and slightly worse high end creatures.
[card]Coastline Chimera[/card], [card]Dissolve[/card], [card]Griptide[/card], [card]Horizon Scholar[/card], [card]Omenspeaker[/card], [card]Prescience Chimera[/card], [card]Voyage’s End[/card], [card]Triton Tactics[/card], [card]Baleful eidolon[/card], [card]Disciple of phenax [/card], [card]Lash of the whip[/card], [card]Pharika’s Cure[/card], [card]Returned Phalanx[/card], [card]Sip of Hemlock[/card] and [card]Shipwreck singer[/card].
This deck, much like the Blue/Red deck, isn’t trying to do anything remarkable. It simply wants to cast creatures which stop the other guys creatures from attacking, kill the ones that are a problem, and win the game through small advantages, trading one for one as appropriate and then casting one of two common card draw spells to find either sufficient average threats or one particularly good one.
The black devotion cards in this deck don’t need to be built around; they do enough off their own double black casting cost to make them decent, anything else is just a bonus.
I’m more than happy to play this colour combination but I am reluctant to take black cards early, as I don’t particularly like black with anything other than blue in this format, while I am happy to pair red with any other colour, including black at a pinch (although the times when I have committed early to black red have led to unimpressive decks).
However, I think if you can be in this colour combination without getting cut or messed around, then it will likely result in a better deck than a comparable blue red deck. This deck is also a bit vulnerable to [card]Grey merchant of asphodel[/card] based decks.
This is a tempo deck which can ramp into some nice late game threats.
[card]Vaporkin[/card], [card]Agent of horizons[/card], [card]Triton Tactics[/card], [card]Sea god’s revenge[/card], [card]Nimbus Naiad[/card], [card]Griptide[/card], [card]Voyage’s End[/card], [card]Wavecrash triton[/card], [card]Leafcrown dryad[/card], [card]Nessian Asp[/card], [card]Nessian Courser[/card], [card]Sedge Scorpion[/card], [card]Time to feed[/card], [card]Voyaging satyr[/card] and [card]Horrison chimera[/card].
This deck will often have a lot of creatures in it because it wants 1 casting cost creatures and bestow guys as well as a reasonably full late curve. That’s fine because the deck doesn’t need to make space for removal; there isn’t much in this colour combination. So, a high density of threats, some big guys to keep pressure on both offensively and to block where requires, while the decks range of evasive creatures win the game for you.
This deck can be pretty powerful because it has access to a lot of good creatures, as well as card draw and bounce spells. However, it does struggle in that it is very unlikely to have much removal. [card]Time to feed[/card] is good, but often you can’t make best use of it aggressively in this deck, which is unfortunate. This deck is fine when it’s open, but I am in no particular rush to be in it.
So, that’s it for part 1
If anyone has any questions about particular cards and how they fit into decks, then I would be happy to discuss this in the comments. I avoided discussing each card in turn as this would likely read a lot like a set review and as such duplicate content on the site.