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Drafting with Kyle - RTR/RTR/RTR #2

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Kyle Boggemes
Kyle Boggemes

About Kyle Boggemes

Kyle is a tournament Magic player who enjoys writing about the game and Drafting is his favorite format. He has a number of high-profile finishes under his belt:

  • Second place finish at Pro Tour San Diego
  • 4th place GP: Washington DC
  • Two Limited GP top 16s

Drafting with Kyle - RTR/RTR/RTR #2

Booster 1 - Return to Ravnica

Pack 1 pick 1:

Crosstown Courier Daggerdrome Imp Terrus Wurm Dynacharge Trestle Troll Rakdos Guildgate Golgari Guildgate Syncopate Frostburn Weird Doorkeeper Stonefare Crocodile Thoughtflare Rogue's Passage Jarad's Orders

My Pick: Frostburn Weird

I prefer to be aggressive in this format so I think it’s better to take the weird over Thoughtflare.  It was still a close call because Thoughtflare is  such a powerful effect and works well in the 3-4 color decks.  The other consideration was Jarad's Orders, but it’s slow as well.  The verdict is to be aggro if it’s available.  The Weird is also good in control decks as a way to stem early bleeding from Rakdos.

Pack 1 pick 2:

Avenging Arrow Inaction Injunction Cremate Launch Party Drudge Beetle Vassal Soul Rakdos Guildgate Fall of the Gavel Treasured Find Bellows Lizard Batterhorn Sundering Growth Oak Street Innkeeper

My Pick: Vassal Soul

I love this card in Azorius because it goes well with Frostborn Weird.  The most awkward hands involve double blue two drops (Frostborn Weird) and double white three drops (Sunspire Griffin).

Pack 1 pick 3:

Azorius Arrester Sewer Shambler Gatecreeper Vine Pithing Needle Paralyzing Grasp Catacomb Slug Gore-House Chainwalker Axebane Stag Common Bond Hussar Patrol Archweaver Izzet Guildgate

My Pick: Hussar Patrol

This creature is crucial to holding the fort while you attack with flyers.  Azorius Arrester is a good card, too, but replaceable as a two drop.  The replacements for defensive 4 drops are fewer and far between.

Pack 1 pick 4:

Concordia Pegasus Swift Justice Crosstown Courier Downsize Vandalblast Teleportal Cancel Cobblebrute Axebane Guardian Druid's Deliverance Transguild Promenade

My Pick: Teleportal

This card is extremely powerful.  I will consider splashing it if the mana works out.  It’s a fine gamble since I’m only missing out on a Concordia Pegasus and Swift Justice.

Pack 1 pick 5:

Trained Caracal Survey the Wreckage Korozda Monitor Aerial Predation Skull Rend Selesnya Guildgate Zanikev Locust Hussar Patrol Soulsworn Spirit Slum Reaper

My Pick: Soulsworn Spirit

Although I love me a Hussar Patrol, I don’t think this is close.

Pack 1 pick 6:

Sunspire Griffin Armory Guard Deviant Glee Korozda Monitor Grisly Salvage Selesnya Guildgate Golgari Guildgate Dispel Heroes' Reunion

My Pick: Sunspire Griffin

Even though it’s awkward with Frostborn Weird, I like it more than Armory Guard.  UW can get a glut of 4 drops so I don’t want to blow the picks early.

Pack 1 pick 7:

Inspiration Search Warrant Ethereal Armor Mind Rot Racecourse Fury Druid's Deliverance Golgari Longlegs Rites of Reaping

My Pick: Inspiration

I’m not crazy about Ethereal Armor.

Pack 1 pick 8:

Cancel Bellows Lizard Stonefare Crocodile Axebane Guardian Horncaller's Chant Sundering Growth Street Sweeper

My Pick: Cancel

Pack 1 pick 9:

Crosstown Courier Terrus Wurm Dynacharge Trestle Troll Rakdos Guildgate Stonefare Crocodile

My Pick: Crosstown Courier

I hate playing this card, but you just gotta do it sometimes.

Pack 1 pick 10:

Cremate Treasured Find Bellows Lizard Sundering Growth Oak Street Innkeeper

My Pick: Sundering Growth

Pack 1 pick 11:

Catacomb Slug Axebane Stag Common Bond Archweaver

My Pick: Common Bond

This is one of the best cards for centaur tokens to get through walls; take this card earlier.

Pack 1 pick 12:

Concordia Pegasus Downsize Vandalblast

My Pick: Concordia Pegasus

This is a great creature for the deck; I’m happy to get one so late.

Pack 1 pick 13:

Survey the Wreckage Aerial Predation

My Pick: Aerial Predation

I don’t want to face this.

Pack 1 pick 14:

Grisly Salvage

My Pick: Grisly Salvage

Booster 2 - Return to Ravnica

Pack 2 pick 1:

Trained Caracal Selesnya Sentry Inaction Injunction Inspiration Drudge Beetle Goblin Electromancer Rakdos Guildgate Golgari Charm Tablet of the Guilds Voidwielder Urban Burgeoning Sundering Growth Thoughtflare Chaos Imps

My Pick: Voidwielder

I can splash Thoughtflare or take the on-color tempo card.  Azorius doesn’t get too many opportunities to get bounce/removal so I need to prioritize it accordingly.

Pack 2 pick 2:

Concordia Pegasus Downsize Launch Party Centaur Healer Rakdos Guildgate Izzet Charm Doorkeeper Catacomb Slug Axebane Guardian Axebane Stag Essence Backlash Hover Barrier Street Spasm

My Pick: Centaur Healer

There isn’t much for me in this pack.  I could take the 0/6 wall, but I could get a couple Selesnya Guildgates and splash this.

Pack 2 pick 3:

Rootborn Defenses Mizzium Skin Splatter Thug Hellhole Flailer Knightly Valor Stealer of Secrets Dead Reveler Racecourse Fury Centaur's Herald Urban Burgeoning Sundering Growth Heroes' Reunion

My Pick: Knightly Valor

The jig is up with this card; it’s very good and I want one (maybe two) in every white deck.

Pack 2 pick 4:

Keening Apparition Avenging Arrow Sewer Shambler Viashino Racketeer Drudge Beetle Judge's Familiar Bellows Lizard Axebane Guardian Sundering Growth Security Blockade Faerie Impostor

My Pick: Keening Apparition

I really like the versatility of this card.  Not only is it a grizzly bear, but it takes out key enchantments that pump up creatures.  Security Blockade is a fine card, but much better in control.  The land ability doesn’t come up all that often so you need to be able to take advantage of populate with the knight token.  I want my three drops to fly if possible.  I also considered taking Faerie Impostor and might do that if I could redraft.

Pack 2 pick 5:

Tenement Crasher Swift Justice Centaur Healer Selesnya Keyrune Trostani's Judgment Perilous Shadow Centaur's Herald Druid's Deliverance Azorius Justiciar Skymark Roc

My Pick: Skymark Roc

What’s going on here?  I think the roc is better than justiciar, but it’s close.

Pack 2 pick 6:

Trained Caracal Selesnya Sentry Downsize Cremate Viashino Racketeer Seek the Horizon Giant Growth Chronic Flooding Coursers' Accord

My Pick: Selesnya Sentry

I’m not a fan of playing this, but you gotta do it sometimes.

Pack 2 pick 7:

Rootborn Defenses Daggerdrome Imp Syncopate Dryad Militant Doorkeeper Dispel Stonefare Crocodile Essence Backlash

My Pick: Dryad Militant

I really like Syncopate, but I can certainly have too many counters.  There have been a string of drafts where I lose games with counters in hand.  This is a decent offensive creature.  I think I overrated this card at first since it doesn’t do much after a few turns.

Pack 2 pick 8:

Tenement Crasher Electrickery Runewing Paralyzing Grasp Perilous Shadow Chorus of Might Search the City

My Pick: Runewing

I certainly don’t mind some extra flyers.

Pack 2 pick 9:

Trained Caracal Selesnya Sentry Goblin Electromancer Tablet of the Guilds Urban Burgeoning Sundering Growth

My Pick: Selesnya Sentry

Pack 2 pick 10:

Downsize Doorkeeper Catacomb Slug Axebane Stag Essence Backlash

My Pick: Doorkeeper

I don’t like to maindeck this card, but I like it against Rakdos.

Pack 2 pick 11:

Mizzium Skin Racecourse Fury Urban Burgeoning Sundering Growth

My Pick: Mizzium Skin

I like this as a sideboard option against control decks with 6 drop removal.

Pack 2 pick 12:

Judge's Familiar Bellows Lizard Sundering Growth

My Pick: Judge's Familiar

If Concordia Pegasus can crash in, then this is also an acceptable beater.

Pack 2 pick 13:

Swift Justice Druid's Deliverance

My Pick: Swift Justice

There aren’t many removal spells in Azorius so combat tricks are important.  I can’t win long games easily so this also helps in inevitable racing situations.

Pack 2 pick 14:

Chronic Flooding

My Pick: Chronic Flooding

Booster 3 - Return to Ravnica

Pack 3 pick 1:

Selesnya Sentry Crosstown Courier Downsize Cremate Viashino Racketeer Electrickery Gatecreeper Vine Goblin Electromancer Syncopate Selesnya Charm Corpsejack Menace Cobblebrute Druid's Deliverance Gobbling Ooze

My Pick: Syncopate

When you stick with two colors, you certainly run the risk of opening packs with flashy stuff in every guild but your own.  This happened here as Syncopate was by far the best card for me.  Whoever got the Jarad's Orders has a nice creature in Corpsejack Menace.

Pack 3 pick 2:

Concordia Pegasus Avenging Arrow Terrus Wurm Deviant Glee Blistercoil Weird Isperia's Skywatch Stonefare Crocodile Common Bond Auger Spree Shrieking Affliction Destroy the Evidence Lobber Crew Azor's Elocutors

My Pick: Azor's Elocutors

This was a tough pick between Siege Mastodon and Isperia Skywatch.  I figured there would be more chances to get 6 drops later in the pack.  I have been pleasantly surprised with the Elocutors so far playing with and against it.

Pack 3 pick 3:

Seller of Songbirds Sewer Shambler Survey the Wreckage Rubbleback Rhino Aerial Predation Grisly Salvage Golgari Decoy Chronic Flooding Ogre Jailbreaker Batterhorn Transguild Promenade Pyroconvergence

My Pick: Seller of Songbirds

Although this is a pretty weak pack, I don’t mind the songbirds.  It’s not a nice feeling trading with these marginal creatures so it ends up working better than it appears at first.

Pack 3 pick 4:

Keening Apparition Inspiration Sewer Shambler Viashino Racketeer Drudge Beetle Grisly Salvage Ethereal Armor Axebane Guardian Druid's Deliverance Slum Reaper Risen Sanctuary

My Pick: Keening Apparition

This is the 2 drop of choice for this deck and I’m happy to get more.  There are plenty of articles spewing hate for 2 drops that get blanked by walls, but the apparition has added utility (and survives Electrickery).  Killing a Deviant Glee/Pursuit of Flight is very important because it’s the difference between a Rakdos creature killing your Hussar Patrol.

Pack 3 pick 5:

Grim Roustabout Towering Indrik Search Warrant Selesnya Guildgate Golgari Keyrune Runewing Traitorous Instinct Chorus of Might Psychic Spiral

My Pick: Selesnya Guildgate

If I get another one of these, I’ll splash Centaur Healer.  The green splash gets the added bonus of regenerating Selesnya Sentry.  Passing up Runewing is fine as I already have plenty of 4 drops.

Pack 3 pick 6:

Keening Apparition Swift Justice Terrus Wurm Dynacharge Skull Rend Golgari Guildgate Civic Saber Oak Street Innkeeper Rites of Reaping

My Pick: Civic Saber

This was a tough decision as Swift Justice is exactly what I want here.  The reason I try something new in the saber is because I had a decent amount of multicolor creatures (Judge's Familiar, Dryad Militant, Skymark Roc, Hussar Patrol, Frostborn Weird).

Pack 3 pick 7:

Treasured Find Slaughter Games Giant Growth Tower Drake Perilous Shadow Pursuit of Flight Essence Backlash Destroy the Evidence

My Pick: Tower Drake

I would like a decent amount of 3 drop flyers as they’re the engine in the Azorius aggro decks.

Pack 3 pick 8:

Keening Apparition Mizzium Skin Viashino Racketeer Catacomb Slug Mind Rot Shrieking Affliction Risen Sanctuary

My Pick: Keening Apparition

I’ll gladly play three of this creature.

Pack 3 pick 9:

Downsize Cremate Viashino Racketeer Electrickery Druid's Deliverance Gobbling Ooze

My Pick: Electrickery

Pack 3 pick 10:

Concordia Pegasus Deviant Glee Blistercoil Weird Stonefare Crocodile Destroy the Evidence

My Pick: Concordia Pegasus

Pack 3 pick 11:

Survey the Wreckage Grisly Salvage Chronic Flooding Pyroconvergence

My Pick: Grisly Salvage

Pack 3 pick 12:

Viashino Racketeer Druid's Deliverance Slum Reaper

My Pick: Slum Reaper

Pack 3 pick 13:

Search Warrant Psychic Spiral

My Pick: Psychic Spiral

Pack 3 pick 14:

Terrus Wurm

My Pick: Terrus Wurm

Notable exclusions:

This deck had some nice things going for it, but also lacked removal.  The closest thing I had to it was a single Voidwielder.  I didn’t get enough gates to justify splashing since there were enough cards I could play instead.  There seems to be a large following for 3-5 color control decks which means the gates go very high and I want to avoid worrying about them.

I chose Syncopate over Cancel because I had enough three drops.  It’s also nice to be able to land a 2 drop and counter their 4 drop on the fourth turn.  I didn’t want both due to the lack of instant speed bounce.  The second counter will certainly be a strong consideration after board versus the 3-5 color control decks.

I boarded in Inspiration enough times to make me want it in the maindeck.  It’s not an amazing card, but it’s something you want in most games.

I have 7 creatures that turn Civic Saber into a Bonesplitter which is enough for me to think it’s a great card here.  In most cases, the card only belongs in a Rakdos deck to have your 3 drops swing through an x/4, but don’t rule it out completely for other strategies.

Match 1 Game 1

I win the die roll, play first, and keep 7 while he takes a mulligan.

My deck did a decent job of applying pressure here as Civic Saber plowed through many of his blockers.  It’s worth noting that my opponent played a Palisade Giant when I had 3 power of creatures in play.  At the end of turn, I flashed in Hussar Patrol and then enchanted a creature with Knightly Valor to deal 7.  This becomes a common theme as I think the card is less of a bomb than I initially expected.

It looked like I was going to win from the screenshot, but he played Supreme Verdict and Azorius Elocutors the following turn which killed me.

Sideboard in: Cancel and Inspiration

Sideboard out: Syncopate and Judge's Familiar

Due to his mana acceleration, I had a good chance of Syncopate not countering anything if I draw it later.  The only bomb I saw at the time was Supreme Verdict which can’t be countered anyway.  The Judge's Familiar will likely be threatened by Concordia Pegasus and Towering Indrik.

Match 1 Game 2

I choose to play first and we both keep 7.

His large number of defensive creatures that block flyers (Concordia Pegasus and Towering Indrik) made me have to overextend into Supreme Verdict which he never ended up drawing.  Soulsworn Spirit allowed a turn of dealing 5 damage in the air thanks to detain and the unblockable ability helped finish him off.

This game also involved me pumping up my team to deal 7 damage to Palisade Giant the first turn it came into play.  Rather than pumping with Knightly Valor, I gave a creature +1+0 with Swift JusticePalisade Giant doesn’t seem like a great card when you fill a deck with defensive creatures since it allows me to accumulate power.

Match 1 Game 3

I’m on the draw and mulligan to 6 while he keeps 7.

He’s running low on time which makes me hold Cancel in my hand until there’s something threatening placed on the stack.  This strategy pays off as I get to stop a Righteous AuthorityKeening Apparition played an important role here as he was forced to use Trostani's Judgment on it to protect his powerful enchantment.

I ended up winning the game with Azorius Elocutors thanks to a stalled board.  I made sure to play around Azorius Charm by chump blocking everything, but never attacking or blocking with the elocutors.  The game ends in a filibuster.

Match 2 Game 1

I win the die roll and go first and we both keep 7.

I had a fast draw with flyers and Keening Apparition while he doesn’t do much of anything.  His early plays of multiple Sewer Shamblers are stopped by Concordia Pegasus.  It feels like he was a Rakdos deck, but I could be wrong.  I didn’t watch the replay to make it feel more like a real life event.

Sideboard in: Doorkeeper, Mizzium Skin, Selesnya Sentry, and Inspiration

Out: Dryad Militant, Judge's Familiar, and Civic Saber

I wanted to play around his Electrickery by taking out some 1 toughness creatures.  Since I expected to be on defense, I also took out the saber.  I boarded up to 41 cards because I expected to be on the draw which gives me more turns to find lands.  It’s not like I had a bomb to draw to anyway (typically the deciding factor for this strategy).

Match 2 Game 2

I’m on the draw and mulligan while he keeps 7.

It’s obvious that he isn’t Rakdos or even aggressive as there is a maximum amount of durdling on his part.  The reason he wasn’t casting any spells game one is because he probably had a ton of green cards in his hand.  This deck presents the dangers of drafting too many colors as it appears to be a popular strategy.  If you’re going to try it, make sure to take the lands over basically everything.  If you draft all of the colors first, the risk is high you won’t be able to cast everything consistently.

Match 3 Game 1

I decide to play out the last round without a split so I have more on the line.  Regardless, I was going to play it out for the article so I may as well make it interesting.

He wins the die roll and goes first and we both keep 7.

The only way he can come back from my flying assault is to win two flips off of Volatile Rig so I let it hit me to avoid that random chance factor.  This is a card that seems very difficult to evaluate, but it’s very strong.  Even if it dies to a chump block, it still dealt 4 damage and has trample.  It’s also a difficult decision to block it with a larger creature because of the exploding effect happening 50% of the time.  My best play was to let this gigantic monster hit me because I don’t know what will happen (so flavorful!).

Sideboard in: Cancel and Inspiration

Sideboard out: Dryad Militant (he has Axebane Guardian to block so I want to take out at least one bear)

I go up to 41 cards again because I expect him to go first.  I think it’s crucial to have a high threat density while being on the draw.  This is a risky strategy on the play because you need enough lands in your opening 7 and this decreases that chance. 

Match 3 Game 2

He goes first and we both keep 7.

The game starts out with me having a ton of flyers and his draw is relatively weak.  An Eyes in the Skies “trades” with my Runewing, but gets another token from Trostani's Judgment before they die.

Civic Saber is once again very impressive as it makes Tower Drake start attacking for 3 on turn 4 while I continue to play spells because of the low equip cost.  Azorius Elocutors also showed up to the party to threaten a win from multiple angles.  I like this creature in an aggressive deck because it forces the opponent to get aggressive while still having to hold down the fort from your aerial assault. 

We are victorious!

I stick by my original draft thesis of playing 2 colors and avoiding a splash if possible.  My plan can involve splashing, but some things have to go right for me to do so (getting multiple guildgates).  I had Frostborn Weird and Sunspire Griffin which means my mana had to be good to cast my spells already.

My only chance to get blue or white removal was the Trostani's Judgment in the pack that had a Skymark Roc (so basically no chance).  The aggressive strategy was very effective at compensating for this lack of removal.  Flyers are very good at dealing with most of the defensive creatures (Towering Indrik and Concordia Pegasus are problematic) such as Hussar Patrol, Voidweilder, and Armory Guard.

Azorius is definitely my favorite guild because it provides the most resilient aggressive deck.  The other colors have a larger number of creatures that get stopped by the walls which are becoming more popular thanks to the increase in 3-5 color control decks.

Thanks for reading and remember to be aggressive!

-Kyle

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