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I finally got a chance to do a paper draft of the new Ravnica set, although it was bittersweet as the LGS (Core Games in Richmond, BC) is closing. It isn’t THAT close to me (25-30 mins away), but my friend plays there almost every week. Thanks to rising rents and another LGS pilfering players away, the store is closing as of Feb 1st. 12 of us were there for the final draft, split into two pods of 6. I took Forbidding Spirit (Hey @MTGZuby ) with my first pack, as the rare was rubbish. For most of pack 1, I could not get a clear signal on what was open. I waffled between Orzhov and Simic (seeing both open), but also seeing solid blue spells. It wasn’t until pack 2 when I got the clear signal that Azorius was where I should be. I ended up with this deck, which was a little light on playable dudes. I ended up 2-1 with this deck, despite my first pack basically being wasted. The idea was to utilize some control elements and win via the flyers. Round 1 was against a Rakdos/Orzhov blend. They had 2 of the 3/3 life-drain thrulls, Electrodominance, the spell that makes you sacrifice the highest-power creature (Amazingly good against the Azorius 4/3 flyers), as well as a Rakdos Guildmage and the usual ground pounders. I was trounced in Game 1, especially after he returned 2 thrulls from his graveyard to his hand and slurped my lifeforce. Game 2 was quite close, as I barely got there with the remaining 4/3 flyer that didn’t die, plus the 2/5 unblockable beater. I sided out the Bring to Trial and something else for 2 Quenches. Game 3 wasn’t too close as I curved out with both 4/3 flyers and he draw no removal. Round 2 was against a very good Simic deck. He had Chillbringer, Sharktocrab, the rare druid, plus lots of other beef. He also had the clone spell to copy Chillbringer. Yuck. Although I won the match 2-0, I won both games by the slimmest of margins. Again, the flyers and unblockable did just enough, and Dovin’s Acuity was drawing me enough cards and giving me JUST enough life to get me over the edge. Getting acuity down on Turn 3 pretty much assured that I would keep drawing enough gas. Round 3 was against a brutal Jund deck. He had the mythic dragon, lots of riot creatures, and just enough removal. Giving green haste makes these decks hard to fight, especially if Azorius wants to cast spells on the main phase. I did manage to get the opponent down to 3 life in game 2, but I still felt like I was always on the defense. Once the dragon came down, I had no answer other than Bring to Trial, which was hiding in my library. All in all, I love how balanced this set is for draft. I just wish I had decided on my guild/deck earlier in Pack 1, although the signals were very muddy. If I could watch the draft on replay, maybe I could learn how to pick up things earlier.
I actually got a chance to draft Masters 25 (A25) last night. A generous fellow let us draft from his box, although we had to give the cards back. No Jaces cracked, but I saw an Ensnaring bridge. I ended up with a fairly aggressive black-green deck, although I waffled and had picked some early blue cards. The signals were hard to read, and both of my colours were being picked a lot. Still, I managed to get enough cheap beaters, removal, and pump spells, to cobble together a decent curve. I ended up going 2-1, losing the first match by just 2 life and quickly dispatching the next two. Aggro decks seem to work well when I draft, rather than cute things. That said, I didn’t get multiple Timberwatch Wolves, nor did I think my deck was great. The cool story bro moment happened when I attacked with My Kavu Predator, the 2/2 that gets +1/+1 counters for each life an opponent gains. Thanks to playing the two Invigorates for ‘free’, I had a 16/16 trampler on a single attack FORMAT THOUGHTS: From what I’ve watched on stream, and from playing it once, I think A25 is a pretty good draft format. Not many solid archetypes, but some good 2-card combos and lots of depth and playables. It’s just a shame that paper drafts are twice as expensive as they should be.