Return to Ravnica Draft: Selesnya

by Steve DDT Giannopoulos

Today’s article is one I am not accustomed to writing. You guessed it: it’s a Limited one!

After playtesting a bit of Modern with Xavier Biron a few days before he had to leave for Pro Tour: Seattle, we decided we should run a few drafts with some of the local players at a nearby local store. One of the guys who works there, Chris, was nice enough to gather up some peeps and we were set.

I’m usually greedy to a fault when I draft. I hate the 2-color decks but I was trying to help out a friend, so I drafted properly for a change.

Pack 1, pick 1: I went with a Pack Rat. I am sure you have read up on or played enough Limited to know that this card is rather insane.

Pack 1, pick 2:  Nabbed a Gatecreeper Vine , setting myself up for a Golgari build. However, Rats is pretty splash-able. So I thought it would be an auto-include if I could get enough fixers.

Pack 1, pick 3: It was a tough pack, but I decided on a Golgari Keyrune. Again, staying somewhat flexible in my manabase and colors. At worse, it would be an accelerator and at best … it would be a nice little Deathtouch creature that could nullify one of their big ground guys.

Pack 1, other picks: mostly 2 Guildgates because of the mana stability. In case I go 3 colors, maybe more. I feel more Greedy T than DDT.

Pack 2, pick 1: Supreme  Verdict. Now this was not for ‘value’. I was realistically able to play this card as I had a way to fetch my lands in Gatecreeper Vine and I had a Azorious Guildgate as well. I wasn’t going to really draft anything else that was blue just because i can splash this.

I think this is a common mistake a lot of players, including myself make. My deck was mostly Selsnyan with an odd Golgari card or two. Trying to now switch colors or add one in at this point is probably a major no-no. A bigger mistkae would be to grab cards that require 2 blue mana and further mana-screw my deck in the process.

As Zac Clark stated before: ” a so-so two-color deck > than a mana-struggling 3-color one”.

Pack 2, pick 2: I go with a Transguild Promenade. Yep! I am probably for sure playing Supreme Verdict now.

Pack 2, pick 3: Selesnya Charm?

Selesnya Charm

is this normal? Not really, but it’s somewhat clear that the 2 people to my left were not playing Selesnya. Unless of course, there was something insane, like an Armada Wurm in the pack or mayyyybe Trostani?

This card does many things as all the other charms do. However, it’s the one that has the best removal potential. It can also save one of your guys or create a surprise attacker at the end of your turn. It’s the non-rare I want to see most when playing Selesnya.

Pack 2, the rest: Some mediocre stuff: Giant Growth, Keening Apparition, Sluiceway Scorpion and Courser’s Accord (aka. how to also multiply Pack Rat tokens without discarding.

Pack 3, Pick 1: Angel of Serenity for the value/ bomb I need to stay in the late game.

Angel of Serenity

A small anecdote, if I may:

Prior to the draft, Xavier grabbed my packs and tossed me his. I was kind of having a bad premonition that this ‘trade’ would bite me in the you-know-what I had these disturbing images of him laughing in my face and saying: “Best trade ever!” So I went with my gut feeling and grabbed the packs back from him. I then proceeded to triple pack slap him.

For those of you who don’t know what it is, the name says it all. You stack the 3 packs, grab them by the edges, wave them a bit and slap the other player in the face. The sound of each pack clapping into the other one as you connect with the slap is quite priceless.

Yeah, it’s childish. However, if a part of me wasn’t a child, I probably would not be playing this fabulous game.

Pack 3, pick 2: Remember when I said I wanted Selesnya Charm more than anything? Well, this is #2 on the list of selesnya non-rares. Centaur Glade on Legs with another random upside.

Vitu-Ghazi Guildmage

All the Guildmages are decent picks, but I have a soft spot for one that can flood the field. If it meets an untimely demise later on, it will have a least left a Centaur or other token behind…well, usually.

Pack 3, pick 3: Not much in my colors, so I grab a Dark Revenant. It might kill a few small fliers on defense or break a ground stalemate later in the game. It’s probably not something I will definitely play maindeck. I’m 50/50 on where it will end up.

Pack 3, pick 4: Treasure Find. Again, it was not a great selesnya pack. Seems I’m seeing an decent amount of black…maybe …nah…

Pack 3, pick 5: Rites of Reaping? Yeah, sure, why not? Removal is pretty good even in this form. I don’t have any Trostani’s Judgments yet ( I know right?), so I pick this up in its stead.

Pack 3, pick 6: Bazaar Krovod. What is a Krovod? This thing, I guess.

Not a card I think highly of, but it’s sizeable enough to block well. I thought of a few scenarios that it can come in handy, like if I had to give pseudo-vigilace to my deathtouch dudes. In the end, it just seemed like the best playable card in the pack.

Pack 3, the rest of the 14: I get a couple of Sewer Shamblers that I think I mostly cut so that i don’t lose to those. They are deceivingly good. Something I discovered will boarding them in versus black-based deck or decks that could out aggro me. He usually dies then Scavenges on the cheap. This makes him rather decent.

Deck:

1 x Supreme Verdict
1 x Dark Revenant
1 x Vitu-Ghazi Guildmage
1 x Gatecreeper Vine
1 x Golgari Keyrune
1 x Angel of Serenity
2 x Armory Guard
1 x Eyes in the Skies
1 x Courser’s Accord
1 x Centaur Healer
1 x Giant Growth
1 x Rites of Reaping
1 x Treasure Find
1 x Keening Apparition
1 x Seller of Songbirds
1 x Sluiceway Scorpion
1 x Sunspire Griffin
1 x Trostani’s Judgment
1 x Selesnya Charm
1 x Seek the Horizon
1 x Thrill-kill Assassin
1 x Pack Rat

1 x Azorius Guildgate
1 x Selesnya Guildgate
1 x Golgari Guildgate

1 x Island
3 x Swamp
5 x Forest
5 x Plains

2 x Sewer Shambler
1 x Giant Growth 

vs. Nicolas

Both games were similar. We traded a bit here and there, I Scavenged on fliers and eventually got there. Nothing too scientific. In the end, it’s knowing how to make the right trades when you have to.

1-0

vs. Xavier 

We have played many many times over the years. He usually has the edge in limited versus yours truly.

He has the typical Azorius deck and knows that I am splashing for Supreme Verdict.

Game 1

It’s a close one and it becomes a race until the end. He gets the tempo edge with a Dramatic Rescue and then lands Seller of Songbirds to   get a small flier and peck away at my remaining 5 health. In the final few turns I had cast a Dark Revenant, but he was Detained twice over.

Game 2

He start off with a swarm of weenies which I have trouble containing. I had Verdict the whole time but was down on the blue mana. A few turns later, facing a possible loss, I draw Gatecreeper Vine to tutor up an Island. I then cast Supreme Verdict and come back to eventually win that game (after I Treasure Find it and cast it again later).

Game 3

A tight one that wet long. On turn 4, I cast a Seek the Horizon. This card is mainly in my deck for Angel of Serenity which I eventually drew . Obviously, this immediately turned the tide in my favor. With not real way to remove the Angel, Xavier was not left with many answers in his deck. (He had used his one Arrest on a Centaur Healer in the previous turns).

He drew dead for a while and then muttered something about how ‘Unfair’ this particular Angel was.

2-0

vs. Yann

He offered me the split, but the guy working at the store mentioned something about it being preferable if people did not split at the more casual FNM-style events. I have no problem with that at all. 1st place was 6 packs to second place’s 4.

And…we’re off…

Game 1

He comes out of the gates with his team of unleashed dudes. I immediately make a memo to myself to side in my Sewer Shamblers for Game 2. At one point he has a Desecration Demon in play and I cannot let him actually attack or I lose. I brain farted a turn and chose to sacrifice my Dark Revenant, forgetting that I HAD to put it back on top. This would have been an OK play provided I could attack him on my turn to push through some damage. Alas, this was not the case. I put the Revenant back on top of my deck, only to re-draw it. Yay!

Game 2

His deck was all about speed and I had stabilized pretty early with Armory Guards and Centaur Healer. I later was beating down with the Guards and a Bazaar Krovod giving Vigilance to a Golgari Keyrune. None of these are particularly appealing to block. Other than the Demon, the biggest creature in his deck is a Perilous Shadow. The rest of the ‘fatties’ being 4/4s and thus ineffective vs 2/5s.

Game 3

We trade a few creatures here and there until I cast a Pack Rat on turn 5. The amazing thing about the Rats is that it works well with things like Trostani’s Judgment and Eyes in the Skies. Things get out of hand quickly.

Pack Rat

The final nail in the coffin was a Angel of Serenity taking away his 3 potential blockers.

Note: i did play the Sewer Shamblers in Game 3, but he never played actual Swamps. He played 2 Guildgates and one Promenade as his black mana sources.

3-0

I have to say that I never regretted the Black splash in this deck. While I didn’t grab enough actual removal, the Sluiceway Scorpion and the Golgari Keyrune did a great job at deterring some aggro. The Supreme Verdict seemed fine in this deck as it forced some people to try and play around it as soon as they saw I had the available mana.

The deck played more of a ‘grindy’ game than a regular Selesnya deck, making it truly more of a Junk deck. I had enough good removal plus the Angel to warrant the inclusion of Treasure Find. It wasn’t anywhere near the best Return to Ravnica deck I made, but its mix of good utility cards and bombs cam through in the end.

Return to Ravnica: Top 5

by Zac Clark

Here’s an RTR preview of top 5’s. (Limited and Constructed)

In the past (WAAAAAAY in the past), I was sort of averse to spoilers. I liked being surprised by the new cards and I wanted to experience a set in a face to face kind of way. Things change (I’m still not using a freaking playmat!), though, and I really dig the way the MTG community uses the weeks before a set’s release to generate interest, speculate and brew on SH*T THAT’S NOT EVEN REAL YET! It’s genius, really. So, I’ll back it up. I’d like to talk about my favorite 5 cards from the Return to Ravnica and their various applications. 5 for Contructed and 5 for Limited.

Here goes nothing…

Constructed

5. Epic Experiment

Right, I know what you’re thinking. JOHNNY!

Calm down I’m not brewing with this yet, I’m simply saying this: someone will break this. It might not be until the next set or maybe the set after, but it’ll get some play. You’ll groan like you do now when you loose to infect, it’ll be second tier likely, but man! when this card gets cast you’ll be sorry. It’s a real good thing Overload won’t work with this. I expect this to be a set-up for Grixis tap-out or a one of in a Delver variant (which will need a mid and late game strategy with a lack of free spells). I don’t know, I think it’ll be important eventually. Mark my words! (shakes cane in the air).

4. Cyclonic Rift

I remember Boomerang… man I loved Boomerang. So many great applications. Turn 2 bounce a land and TIME WALK. All sorts of cool stuff… You could save your Air Elemental from dying. You could bounce a potential blocker, and you could bounce an attacker. Nothing was safe from, well, bouncing. Cyclonic Rift can’t target your stuff to save it, but it does have another application… AND THE BOARD IS CLEAR! and by “THE”, I mean “YOUR”. OH, I don’t not look forward to being on the business end of a C-Rift. It’s got the early game thing down, the mid game thing it’s still very important, and the late game it just wins games. Mizzium Mortars doesn’t do this as well. Sure it kills things dead but if your deck is built right, you shouldn’t have a problem making the next untap count.

3. Rakdos Return

Can you say late game Combos?

C-rift End of Turn… Rakdos Return during my main phase… RESPONSES?! Mike Flores said it first, but I’ll repeat. DON’T C- Rift a Snapcaster with open counter mana and a Dissipate or Syncopate or other counters without PATE in them, … (You will be laughed at). But like C-Rift (yea I’m gonna keep calling it C-Rift), it deals with Planeswalkers. It’s a mid-game phase 2 kinda card and it doesn’t affect the board, so stop crying and build around it, you baby.

2. Angel of Serenity

Did you read the part about when your opponent inevitably deals with this creature (ala Ultimate Price) the things you chose go to hands, AND NOT BACK INTO PLAY? SHEEEIT! wait you can target things in Graveyards? And ANGELS? Just sayin’ bro. She’s even easy on the eyes without making me feel all pervy (I’m looking at you Liliana of the Veil).

1. Jace, Architect of Thought

The Magic: The Gathering version of Batman, Jace is in full Dark Knight Returns mode here (He’s not the Planeswalker this city wants, but he’ll be the Planeswalker this city needs).

Plus, look at that sweet cape flair. I bet he conjured a large fan to blow that breeze. He’s got a defense, and a sweet a$% -2 ability. You’ll be card advantaging the willies out of you opponent. I’m not really thinking the Ultimate will see much action (You’ll be too busy drawing to want to build him up) but if that goes off I bet you’ll figure out a way to make it good.

Limited

5. Lyev Skyknight

It’s an Uncommon so i bet you can find this guy in the draft. NO! I don’t know what # pick. But he’s good.

I remember night unto a day when (gset up from rocking chair) 3/1 blue fliers for 3 mana couldn’t block non-fliers. AND WE LIKED THEM JUST FINE! This guy can block if you need him to. And he’s a Twiddle (for all intended purposes) at his least effective. You won’t always wanna throw him down the second you draw him.

4. Dramatic Rescue

I like tempo strategies in draft. This card helps. It saves your guy, it stops his, it buys you a turn, it gains you 2 life. It has a sexual joke between a man and a fat Hawkman in the flavor text. Did you know that in Ravnica they use the American system of measurement? TONS. 4000lbs of Pure HAWKMAN LOVE!

3. The Charms

  

 

Duh! Options are good – taste the rainbow.

I think Izzet is the best in Limited then Selesnya, Azorius and then Gogari and Rakdos are tied.

2. The Guildmages

  

 

Mid and late-game mana sinks, expect to lose if your opponent gets to produce 3/3 centaurs each turn while you draw another land.

1. Mercurial Chemister

The John Wayne Gacy of the set, in that he’s goofy looking but deadly. Pogo the Clown here draws two cards then he kills things. Untapping with this guy twice should win you games. With 3 toughness though, he’s a lightning rod. Mostly he’ll trade 1 for 1. When he gets going, look out! I’m playing Izzet at the prerelease based on Hypersonic Dragon and maybe maybe opening up this guy.

Special SUPER SECRET TECH

0. Pack Rat

After playing some online sealed with a friend, we both immediately notice the raw power of this card in limited. What’s that you say? Never draw a land and wish it was something else.

If you play this card on curve its good. But even though I believe this set is removal poor I’d suggest waiting until you can copy him. Once copied nothing short of two removal spells or a detention sphere can stop you. If you play this turn 5 and copy it. On turn six with a land drop you have 2 2/2’s. Not bad but nothing to write home about. You attack and create (with the land you dropped) two 4/4’s with two 4/4’s blocking from there it just gets insane. I’d switch to splash black in the third pack for this card. It won the board each time I untapped with it. It’s my favorite card in limited and it’s power might just be good enough for constructed.

So that’s my take on the RTR scene. What’s your favorite card for Limited/Constructed?

Disagree with me? You’re probably not correct but I’ll read your rants in the comment section.