A Lesson in Drafting (A Chaos Draft)

Yesterday, I went to draft Dragons-Dragons-Fate. However, the judge asked us whether we’d be interested in a Chaos Draft instead. I wasn’t that into the idea, but I went along… and here’s what happened.

The store is pretty new, so they didn’t have anything older than Return to Ravnica, so I was fairly familiar with most of the cards, having drafted plenty since Theros. RTR block was pretty unknown to me from limited point of view, but I’ve gone through the cards a number of times for constructed, so I wasn’t completely in the dark.

But… what do you do when you don’t really know the set you are drafting? You go for a very generic archetype. After all, each set has its own very strong themes, but they don’t necessarily work very well with other set. For example, Theros had a strong heroic theme, but since other sets don’t usually have as powerful ways for targetting your creatures, in this environment its not going to work out.

So, what kind of archetypes can you go for? Probably quite a few, but when I heard what we were going to do, the first one that came to mind is the so called UW Skies. Simply, blue and white creatures with flying, supported by creatures gumming up the ground so that your opponent can’t attack profitably. This is always present in some way in all sets, so it can actually be pretty strong.

After I opened a Dawnbringer Charioteers in my first Journey into Nyx pack, it just strenghtened my resolve to go for it. After I opened an Icefall Regent in the second pack (Dragons of Tarkir), I was pretty elated.

Here’s the list.

I actually had cards from each set besides M15 in the deck (Divination was printed in that set, but mine was from Born of the Gods).

I went 2-0-1. Lack of removal resulted in the draw. It was a tight fight as both players had ways of gaining life, but there were also things like Carnage Gladiator making things complicated. Actually, that’s the card that lead into the draw. It was the fifth additional round. My opponent had two creatures, I had two creatures and I had two life. One of my opponent’s creatures was the Gladiator, so that was it. It was a very grindy match.

The Charioteers did work in a pretty interesting way. It was a huge bomb in its own format, but that’s because it had plenty of support to trigger the heroic. Here my opponents either couldn’t destroy it, and it would gain me plenty of life, or they destroyed despite better targets, because they didn’t know it wasn’t as good here.

My best card, however, was Aetherize. How can you play around 11 sets worth of cards? No way is that possible. So, I would maneuver the game in such a way as to entice my opponents to make an alpha attack and then get rid of their board and swing back with the whole team. Won me each game. I’m not sure I would have dared to do it against better players, because they would have seen something wrong (sorry guys, you play well, just not well enough) and would have been more careful (except if they would have underestimated me).

There’s a good chance I misbuilt my deck somehow, but in an environment like this, you have to go with your gut and this felt the best to me. Not sure about all my choices. Cloudfin Raptor can be horrible if you draw it late. Quarry Colossus can be a real bomb if you draw it late. Plenty of room to make changes. I didn’t do any sideboarding, however. That might have been a mistake as well, but I didn’t see any need to. My curve was somewhat off, as I didn’t have many three-drops, but plenty of fours. Couldn’t help that though, because I just didn’t see that many. I did pass a Wingsteed Rider at some point, but I thought the double white wasn’t going to be very good in my deck. I would have loved another Misthoof Kirin, as I was ready to play an inferior version (Eagle of the Watch).

This whole thing was a fun experiment, but I don’t think people get what they want out of this format. Good chaos drafters are going to go for this deck or for monored aggro or some other well known archetype. In that sense, Chaos Drafting is actually more predictable than regular drafting. Sure, there’s going to be bombs from plenty of sets, but they aren’t going to change the basic decks that much.

Well, at least we had both Dragon’s Maze and Fate Reforged boosters in the mix, so there was plenty of fixing to go around. Not many three colored decks however. I saw only one.

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