I just asked Ormus about a tool to convert the text-based Magic Online draft files into a pictured walkthrough, and he sent me this link. Had I known such a thing existed, I would’ve used it a lot already!
For a test ballot, I will cover a draft I did yesterday. Tell me how you like this format, and if you’re interested in lowly Swiss-winning decks at all!
–> Pack 1 pick 1:
This was a choice between the rare and the two Emissaries. I guess many will value the bestow creatures higher, but these two are actually the ones I like least. This is because, if bestow costs more than five mana, I treat it merely as a bonus on the creature. 4 mana for a 3/3 with trample is fine, but not spectacular, while the black Emissary, on the other hand, is not a worse card than Anthousa, but doesn’t synergize too well with the cards which I want to see the most if trying to get into black (short version: I want my creatures on the board, not in hand; and I want the game to go a little longer, not to end it faster). Triggering Anthousa for profit is actually not too easy to do, but the card’s stats are pretty solid by itself, and the threat alone can change the dynamics of a game completely.
Pack 1 pick 2:
Simply the best card.
Pack 1 pick 3:
My choices in U/G are Aqueous Form and Vulpine Goliath – a solid card, and a somehow playable one (the aura is the solid one, if you wonder), but I’m certainly not set in either color yet, and I will not miss the opportunity to try out a much stronger third pick. The Oread and the Disciple are both a bit stronger, but not strong enough to be really appealing as picks in a new color, so I go for a multicolor card. Here, the Singer is probably the strongest, and it goes at least with the Naiad I already have, so I’ll have an eye out on U/B.
Pack 1 pick 4:
Not a good pack to choose from in my situation. Best single-colored card is Battlewise Valor, but it is not so good that I will now take my first white card. I had to decide if I wanted the Horse, which actually not many decks really want, or take another double-colored card and see if I’ll end up playing it. If I already had had something of a clue which colors I wanted to end up in, I might have just taken the Harpy or the Form, but since these are in the end replacable, I preferred to commit to keeping my options open a little longer.
Pack 1 pick 5:
This might not have been the best choice. I looked at the contents of this booster, saw several cards which a U/B deck would want, subconsciously decided I had to go for these colors, and took the best card for that type of deck. However, both the Cure and Omenspeaker are nearly as good in U/B, but a lot stronger in other decks, so Phalanx is actually only the third-best pick here. (Triton Tactics would be another contender in a vacuum, but it makes sense to priorize options for Dimir when you see such a booster, and the Tactics are at their worst in that guild, although still quite useful.) In hindsight, Omenspeaker would have been correct.
Pack 1 pick 6:
Since I was clearly not on track for a deck where Boon of Erebos shines, this is the logical pick.
Pack 1 pick 7:
I already debated Scourgemark vs Coastline Chimera when I realized I was about to make the mistake of deciding on my colors too early. If I take the Warrior here, I miss out on a card which in the end may or may not make a U/B deck; but if I don’t, I miss out on the option to craft a synergetic U/G deck if the following boosters allow for it. Theros boosters are usually deep enough in quality that I can afford to postpone the decision which colors I want for another pack.
Pack 1 pick 8:
Aaaaaaaaand here comes the pick which makes me look like a genius! So maybe I SHOULD be in Green. At this point, a good enabler was a tad more important than another strong, but clumsy creature which needed to be enabled. Also, Feral Invocation is great with 2-drops, and I always try to run enough of those.
Pack 1 pick 9:
So why did I take the Hoplite here? Because I could see there wasn’t a single card in this pack I’d end up playing, not only because they were unexciting, but because they did not even fit the direction my decks were going. I have enough experience drafting Theros that I can usually judge if I desperately need cards to fill out my decks, and that was not yet the case here. Hoplite, however, can be instrumental in beating me if I have a slow draw, so I hate it.
Pack 1 pick 10:
If you followed the flow of the packs in this booster round, you might have noticed how each color seemed to be open at different times. Here, it’s Red’s turn. This is a good lesson in not interpreting too much into weak signals. Now, I know I will play some combination of Blue, Green and Black, so the Minotaur is the easy pick. It’s not much more exciting than my on-color options in the previous pack, but I know I might actually play it if I end up Dimir, since it fits in there.
Pack 1 pick 11:
Same logic again, but this time looking at U/G. I’m not a big fan of the fox at all, but in this deck it can have a place.
Pack 1 pick 12:
Although it is unlikely to make the cut in Dimir, in Simic the Form is better than the Minotaur is in U/B, and it actually has strong synergy with my former picks in that guild.
Pack 1 pick 13:
The instant goes better with the picks I already have, but it is unlikely to make the cut, and I might pick up a couple [card]Nemesis of Mortals[/card] later.
Pack 1 pick 14:
Pack 1 pick 15:
Pack 2 pick 1:
If I’d already had a good number of cheaper creatures in my pool, I would have grabbed the Revenge, but the opposite was the case. Also, the Dryad really goes excellently with my other U/G picks so far, both as a bestow creature and as a creature to be enhanced with an aura. Finally, in a vacuum, it is a simply a better pick than the Revenge. Yes, it is. No, I’m not kidding. Oh, and both cards are better than a second Singer for a Dimir deck would be, and Chimera and Read the Bones follow a little further behind.
Pack 2 pick 2:
I’d LOVED to pick up Vaporkin here, but the only thing my U/G deck is missing more than good 2-drops is good bounce. (No, Sea God’s Revenge is NOT „bounce“ in deckbuilding terms – it’s a lategame card.) Also, at this point I no longer doubt that I’m drafting the U/G tempo deck.
Pack 2 pick 3:
I nearly despaired when I saw that pack. The only cards here which I really like to maindeck need red or white mana. I didn’t need another expensive creature, I didn’t want the Piper, which is just not good, and I did not want Dissolve, which just doesn’t go well with building up board presence, which is crucial in Theros draft, and especially in U/G tempo. I would’ve snapdrafted Bronze Sable over everything in this pack, but it wasn’t in there. Just a second before time ran out, I took the Centaurs, which were most likely (read: least unlikely) to make my deck.
Pack 2 pick 4:
Seeing that I only have one bounce spell so far to deal with opposing creatures, that my curve is rather high, and that Time to Feed can profitably target Staunch-Hearted Warrior or Anthousa, this is an easy pick. Wavecrash Triton isn’t bad, but not the kind of card I had to be afraid to have too few of. Sable IS that kind of card, but the removal is still more important.
Pack 2 pick 5:
This fits the deck perfectly. At this point, I am mainly concerned about my curve.
Pack 2 pick 6:
Shredding Winds is a solid sideboard card, but I preferred to hate a card which sometimes just wins.
Pack 2 pick 7:
This is about the best card I could have wished for to make my deck tick. I realized, though, that I might miss the Omenspeaker later.
Pack 2 pick 8:
Slam down the 2-drop, obviously!
Pack 2 pick 9:
Now this card is what Pheres-Band Centaurs wish they were.
Pack 2 pick 10:
Okay, I’ll find room in my deck for another one.
Pack 2 pick 11:
Once again, instead of picking something I KNOW I don’t need, I rather hate a strong card.
Pack 2 pick 12:
Pack 2 pick 13:
Yes, it’s the better card.
Pack 2 pick 14:
Pack 2 pick 15:
Pack 3 pick 1:
Can you believe I was actually HAPPY to firstpick that Scorpion? It helped to fill a gaping hole in my deck. Never forget that in draft, you’re building your deck as you go.
Pack 3 pick 2:
I was way more disappointed with my second pick, especially seeing how good cards in other colors were. The Warrior is fine, of course, but a good 2-drop or 3-drop would have helped me more.
Pack 3 pick 3:
Now that a have another Warrior, and those 2 chimeras, a second of these is certainly not too many.
Pack 3 pick 4:
It’s all about not just picking the best cards, but what your deck needs most. Both green creatures are stronger, of course, but Omenspeaker is not just a 2-drop I desperately need; it’s a 2-drop which sets up all those mini-comboes I have, helps against both flood and screw in a deck with a rather high curve, and becomes big enough with Feral Instinct that neither Lash of the Whip nor Rage of Purphoros can kill it. If you do not understand why this pick is crucially correct, you are still struggling with understanding Theros draft, and the fundamentals of good drafting in general.
Pack 3 pick 5:
In a deck with the perfect curve, I would have taken the Ordeal, but I was far from that. I wasn’t unhappy at all to take one of the best commons in the set, though.
Pack 3 pick 6:
Nessian Asp! Time to Feed! Two excellent cards I’d love to run in my deck. But once again, I take the card I NEED instead.
Pack 3 pick 7:
Pack 3 pick 8:
At this point, I realize that I will actually manage to complete a focussed deck, albeit barely.
Pack 3 pick 9:
When I saw this aura, I knew it would make the cut.
Pack 3 pick 10:
No, I will NOT run another fox, thank you.
Pack 3 pick 11:
Nothing in here for me.
Pack 3 pick 12:
Nice to get a late copy of that sideboard card.
Pack 3 pick 13:
Pack 3 pick 14:
Pack 3 pick 15:
(This draft converter was created by Benjamin Peebles-Mundy.)
This led to the following deck:
[cardlist]2 Prescient Chimera
1 Fate Foretold
1 Bronze Sable
1 Vulpine Goliath
1 Satyr Hedonist
1 Sedge Scorpion
1 Anthousa, Setessan Hero
1 Triton Tactics
2 Voyaging Satyr
1 Leafcrown Dryad
2 Feral Invocation
2 Time to Feed
1 Aqueous Form
2 Staunch-Hearted Warrior
2 Nimbus Naiad
1 Returned Phalanx
1 Pyxis of Pandemonium
1 Daxos of Meletis
1 Nylea’s Presence
1 Pheres-Band Centaurs
1 Pharika’s Mender
1 Akroan Hoplite
1 Kragma Warcaller
1 Shredding Winds
1 Shipwreck Singer
1 Commune with the Gods
1 Priest of Iroas
1 Witches‘ Eye
I ran the fox as an impact card, since I realized that I wanted 16 lands to go with my Voyaging Satyrs. In a better world, the fox would have been a [card]Nessian Asp[/card], and the Annul sitting in the sideboard and replaced by, say, a [card]Voyage’s End[/card], but seeing how late I settled in my colors, and how many picks I spent on off-color cards, I cannot complain.
Strangely, I never encountered a deck where Gainsay or Shredding Winds would have helped me, so I never sideboarded anything.
My matches went mostly as planned. I got on the board early and relentlessly, creating huge threats and tempo swings with my auras and bestow creatures. One game, I used Triton Tactics to ambush a 5/5 [card]Nessian Courser[/card] by untapping two Staunch-Hearted Warrior – that was fun! Omenspeaker really helped me out in almost any situation. The fox was okay, but unnervingly slow. I’ll never understand why so many drafters immediately hide any Bronze Sable in their card pool, but treat the clumsy 6-drop like something precious.
So, I won a tournament – although only a swiss – with a rather mediocre deck. Two lessons can be learned here:
1) Theros offers enough playables that you do not need to panic if you go into the second booster round without a clear direction.
2) Don’t just pick cards, DRAFT A DECK. It cannot be said often enough. A heap of impressive-looking, expensive cards is not a deck. A deck has a curve. Bronze Sable is your friend.