Zero Rare Cards, 100% Gas – My First 7-Win Ranked Draft

I did it! After a few attempts at Ranked Draft, I managed to secure my first 7-win victory, two M20 packs, a fancy card style, and one healthy pile of gems. Pics or it didn’t happen:

Total Record: 7-1

This win is exhilarating as I have historically been a terrible paper-limited player. I never got good at the format because of the $15 cost of entry, my terrible draft pick skills, and an incredibly talented pool of players drafting at my LGS. Not to make an excuse for my skill (or lack thereof), but when I say talented people were drafting around me, here is a quick rundown of just a few of the people I regularly ran up against while trying to learn this format: Pierre & Marc Lalague, Jeff Psyhos, Simon Kim, Alex & Matt Sperling, Doug Lunn, and others. Suffice it to say, the field was stacked. But thanks to MTG Arena, after 16 years of playing this game, I finally have a place to practice my drafting skills, all at zero actual cost to my pocketbook. Bravo WotC.

The Deck

My first pick was Lightning Stormkin and it only went uphill from there. I wish I could say that this deck was the culmination of years of hard work, sweat, and tears, but in truth, the packs I opened were nothing but gas. Check out this pile of nonsense:


As you’ll notice, there are absolutely no rares or mythic rare cards in this list. Favoring strategy over value has always been a tricky part of drafting: do I rare-draft, so I get value for my money spent, or do I draft properly and build a stronger deck in hopes that I win out and get my money’s worth that way? While I usually fail, this time, I feel like I passed the test by committing hard to a red/blue flying strategy early. I ignored all irrelevant rares that came my way (and believe me, it was tough to watch some desirable off-color rares/mythics get sent to the shadow realm by the computer).

You’ll also notice that out of the 17 creatures in the list, 14 of them have Flying (or conditional-Flying). I managed to draft 3 Faerie Miscreant (a 4th came around that I had to pass on), as well as 3 Boreal Elemental and 3 Winged Words (though I only ended up playing 2 of them). Having eight total Elemental creatures made playing Lavakin Brawler and Scampering Scorcher an easy choice, while Diamond Knight is just a universally good value card. If you are new to drafting, the (average) ideal breakdown for a draft deck is 17 creatures, 17 lands, and six other spells, which this deck met perfectly.

I am not a cocky player by nature, but after drafting this list, I can admit that I said out loud to the vast emptiness of my room, “this deck is going to 7 wins, guaranteed.” After steam-rolling the first two games, I realized I was playing with the equivalent of a finely tuned constructed deck. My opponents seemed to be piloting the equivalent one of those free starter decks you get at your local game shop to introduce your friends to magic.

The plan was simple: curve out lots of cheap flyers and go over their head. Things went swimmingly as I went on a 4-0 streak before hitting a speed-bump in the form of a Red/Green mid-range deck. I got jammed up on turn two by Chandra’s Spitfire. That 3-point booty was too big for my little flyers to get past, which bought my opponent enough time to land a Mammoth Spider, which put a kink in my plans. He eventually built a board big enough to overwhelm me and gave me my only loss of the draft. After that, I flew right over any opposition straight to the winner’s circle. Final Record 7-1.

Gratitude

I learned a lot playing this draft, and my success was not all my own. I have to give a special shout-out and thanks Frank Karsten’s article on drafting M20 and the handy searchable pick order sheet. In combination with the BREAD theory, that sheet was a natural 1-2 punch knockout for me. I can’t recommend these highly enough for new drafters.

Here’s wishing you the best in your future M20 drafts! May your packs be on fire like mine were, unless, of course, you get paired against me.