As soon as they announced that we would be visiting Ravnica for three sets in a row, I was determined to have a draft involving every set. This past week, I was able to do it, and today I want to talk about how it went and whether you should try to do it yourself.
There are many different ways to draft this format, but I believe that the best way to do it is to start with War of the Spark and then alternate between Ravnica Allegiance and Guilds of Ravnica. For example player 1 will have a pile that is WAR, RNA, and then GRN. Player 2 will have a pile that is WAR, GRN, and then RNA. Drafting this way ensures that all 10 guilds are available to draft from the very beginning, whereas if you started with Guilds of Ravnica as pack 1, a lot more players would be forced into those 5 guilds first.
If you want to try out this draft format for you and your friends, I would recommend buying 3 bundles as opposed to 3 booster boxes.
8th Izzet Control
The goal of the deck was to live as long as possible until you could land a huge bomb like Ral or Mass Manipulation. Ral can copy any removal spells you have and wipe your opponent’s board, while Mass Manipulation can make their board presence your board presence. This deck ended up not performing the best as 4 people drafted Izzet colors, and by the end of the night, the player of the deck was literally falling asleep at the table. Regardless, it was still a cool deck and was fun to watch in action.
This deck aimed to get as large of a board presence as possible, and then swing out after tapping everything with Bond of Discipline. Whenever I would look at this decks board state, I would often see huge creatures such as a 7/7 Worldsoul Colossus, and the player would be using Wilderness Reclamation to tap their Arkbow for twice the mana. However, there were some turns where even when she could tap all of their creatures and swing with a bunch of lifelinkers her opponent would still survive and be able to come back.
6th Naya 4 Power
One recurring theme in the past few sets has been focusing on creatures with power 4 or greater. This deck tried to take advantage of that strategy using cards like Bolt Bend, and by also playing huge creatures. When I looked over one time, I saw a Krenko with 4 +1/+1 counters on it which looked unbeatable. Angel of Grace also was there to save him against a Bond of Discipline that opened up a huge swing for the opponent.
5th Izzet Aggro
This was one of the fastest decks at the table and aimed to kill people using spell based aggro. Risk Factor combined with Neheb could lead to scary clocks, and growing Spellgorger Weird and Erratic Cyclops was always a dangerous proposition. This deck lacked a lot of good spells, however, and I believe that is because of all the Izzet players at the table. Had this player drafted Boros they might have been able to perform better, due to there being little competition over white cards. Still, the deck is extremely synergistic this way, and if fewer people had been in the colors, it would have performed wonderfully.
4th Naya Stompy
This deck tried to trample over its competition by playing the biggest creatures and making them bigger through powerful enter the battlefield effects. Cards like Rubblebelt Boar and Hasda Officer allowed his already big creatures to grow even larger and win combat. Ilharg was the undisputed all-star of the deck, showing up in multiple games, and being cast multiple times. The God clause really allowed Ilharg to be a pain in every matchup he showed up.
3rd Grixis Discard
This deck played a ton of discard spells. With multiple Drill Bits and Toll of the Invasions, it could easily pick apart the opponents hand. Then after amassing a few times, he would equip it with a Glaive of the Guildpact and swing in unopposed. The combination of vigilance and menace was worth the card, even if he would only ever have 1 guildgate out at a time. Bontu also allowed him to win the attrition war, after tearing their hand apart, he could land a 5/6 that would draw him 5 cards.
2nd Grixis Combo
This is the deck I drafted, so I have a lot more to say about it. I started with a pack 1 Nissa, Who Shakes the World and then to keep my picks open I chose Invade the City. As far as I could tell Izzet was open so I went into it. (Little did I know the person sitting to my left was also drafting Izzet). I ended up drafting a lot of gold cards, and only 1 rare in my colors. (Precognitive Perception). My deck ended up turning into a control deck that could turn the corner in a single turn, burning my opponents for 12-15 damage out of nowhere. Some highlights include:
- Going down to 1 life against the Grixis discard deck, only to turn it around with Dimir Guildmage and Sonic Assault tapping down his creatures over and over while an Ill-Gotten Inheritance padded my life total.
- Casting a Notion Rain when I was at 4, putting me down to 2 life, and giving me the cards I needed to win the game.
- Stealth Missioning my Goblin Electromancer to swing for 4 damage, and then on their end step ping them for 1 using Cult Guildmage, casting Heartfire to deal 4 to their face, untap and sacrifice Spellkeeper Weird to buy back Heartfire and then cast it again sacrificing my Electromancer.
- Stealing their Neheb with an Act of Treason, swing with Goblin Electromancer and Neheb to deal 7, draw 2 cards, and then cast Skewer the Critics and sacrificing their Neheb with Heartfire to deal 14 damage in one turn.
The deck was an absolute blast to play and was worth drafting even though there were so many different Izzet players at the table. I didn’t start to notice how many Izzet players there were until in pack 2 where I had to move into Rakdos to get playables. A bunch of gold cards and a couple of guildgates can still make for a good deck, even without a bunch of rares to back it up.
1st Bant Defenders
With a pick 2 Huatli, this deck was laser focused from the very beginning. By drafting a bunch of big butts this player was able to stall the game long enough for him to land either Huatli or High Alert and crash in for a ton of damage. Screaming Shield also served as a great way to end the game if he couldn’t find his enablers. This deck performed very well and showed how you could take advantage of the synergies across sets.
General Thoughts on the Format
The first thing that came to mind is just how many people were drafting Izzet. 4 people were able to successfully draft Izzet based decks and still succeed with them. We have everything from aggro to control to combo and all still felt like viable decks. This speaks volumes to the strength of blue and red cards in the 3 sets, but with such a small sample size I don’t think that this single draft is definitive to what all drafts of these sets would look like. If you do draft this set though, be wary of everyone hopping on the Izzet train.
Another problem that I noticed is that there are lots of cards that scream “draft multiples of me!” Those cards include Charmed Stray, Goblin Gathering, and Persistent Petitioners to name a few. When you go down to one pack of each set these cards become terrible picks and are often seen at the end of each pack. Cards such as Price of Betrayal also become worse in an environment without as many +1/+1 counters and Planeswalkers.
Despite these issues, I still found this format incredibly fun to draft. Finding synergies across sets is extremely satisfying and led to some powerful decks such as Bant Defenders and Naya 4 power. The fixing was great and enabled tons of decks, even if our group ended up drafting similar decks. Personally, I find this format to be more enjoyable than traditional draft as you get to see much more of Ravnica, and you have to think harder to find ways for them to combine. Thank you all for reading I hope you all have a great week and an amazing Tuesday!