Sullivan Library - 2C5C: The Two-Color/Five-Color Shards Draft
Last week was pretty cool. Leading into Seattle I was sitting at Ben Rasmussen’s house helping a bunch of the Madison crew prepare for the Grand Prix. I wasn’t going to make the trip but I definitely had my opinions on what might be good for Standard. Things got sidetracked pretty fast though because of a surprise visitor: Gabriel Nassif.
Nassif was in town because of the influence of someone else: Michigan’s Liz Lempicki. Liz had a lead on a great job here in town and Nassif was here with her on a quick stop before Seattle. Players who have been around a while might remember Liz from her Top 16 finish at Grand Prix: Milwaukee where she was knocked out of contention for Top 8 by her friend and then Pro Player Mike Turian playing the exact same deck. And while there was Seattle prep to be done our visitors were far more interested in a draft.
I was fortunate enough to end up on Nassif’s team but collectively we weren’t able to get enough match wins to take the draft even though I pulled a 4-0. Later when Sam Black and Brian Kowal brought up the topic of drafting Kowal was a clear advocate for aggressively pursuing Esper very much in league with the common wisdom. I however continued to advocate for my preferred archetype: Two-Color/Five-Color.
The debate largely began as a bunch of us looked over Matt Severa’s shoulder as he drafted a deck. I agreed with Kowal that Esper was an incredible archetype and it might actually be the best archetype but I was sold on Five-Color in general.
“What’s so good about it?” asked Severa as he tried to decide between a first pick Vein Drinker (advocated by me) and Deft Duelist (advocated by Kowal).
“Well after that draft with Nassif I’ve had a 19 match winning streak with it.”
“What?” asked Sam.
“I’ve won the last 19 matches I’ve played with it.”
It was clear as Sam and I voiced our opinions to Matt that Sam and I had very different visions of Five-Color. Sam’s vision it seemed clear to me is the conventional one: bombs and fixers and filler. The clear pick that separated Sam and I was my insistence that Jhessian Lookout was correct. In the end Matt didn’t play the card (something I think was incredibly wrong) but he still won the draft. In many ways Sam’s version of this draft archetype is reminiscent to me of the Mike Hron approach to Invasion/Planeshift/Apocalypse. My version of Five-Color though is basically the update to my old version from IPA: draft for a curve as best as you can.
The constant refrain from Randy Buehler this weekend in Honolulu was “Yeah I think cards like Armillary Sphere are just to slow now. Everyone is casting 3/2s for 2. The format is just too fast.”
He said as much in his interview with Zac Hill.
Zac Hill was so wonderfully articulate especially in advocating cards like Wild Nacatl in a Five-Color deck.
Randy’s opinion can be summed up at about minute 2:45 of the video.
“Reborn sped the format up so much that most people don’t have time for Armillary Sphere any more. They are two busy playing Blades!”
Zac as always said things in response to this that was just perfect including:
“Are you willing to try and make your nut draws better or are you willing to play a more consistent deck?”
Again and again he said some version of this refrain and I kept saying “Well why not also be a deck with access to those cheap good guys?”
And that’s just exactly it.
I finished my stream out at 23-1 losing a match finally in the second round of a Magic Online queue largely because I was tired and failed to realize just how good the Quietus Spike was on my Apocalypse Hydra. Oops. Oops. Oops.
I lost in the first round of my next draft and then the second round of my next putting the current count at 24-3. Still pretty good.
Understanding the Archetype
The key to the archetype is harnessing the two powerful aspects that go on in this block at the same time:
1 – The power of bombs of all colors.
2 – The power of “Blades” – or any aggressive cards for that matter
This is a format in which you can be aggressive largely as a result of the power that that third pack supplies. You can’t simply shirk this potential off. You pretty much have to let it happen.
On the other hand this is also a format that has a shocking amount of powerful cards that just get shipped along. My MTGO account is chock full of handfuls of Violent Ultimatum and Cruel Ultimatum. In one week I got three or four Cruel Ultimatum (out of not that many drafts). Why? Because people just pass them. When they’ve decided that they are best of drafting say Naya or Esper or what-have-you an Ultimatum will just move along. Being able to harness these is fantastic.
Your deck if it’s working properly should be drafted as an aggressive two-to-three color deck that is planning on splashing heavily anything it wants. One of the great things about this plan is that if things don’t end up working out with your fixers you still usually have a solid (if not good) two or three-color deck. Generally this has tended for me to be Red/Green Red/Black or Black/Blue – the colors that are most likely to pack the heavy removal counts.
What are the things to which you need to pay attention?
The keys to the deck are Curve Bombs Fixing and Elimination.
The key to the deck is a curve especially being heavy on the two and three drop. These cards can even be crappy. You don’t really care. What you want is a two-fold approach:
A – Be able to be aggressive so that your opponent might actually be on the defensive before your bombs get online.
B – Since fast draws are one of the primary ways that you can lose with a “traditional” Five-Color deck playing a fast curve yourself can let you keep pace and just trade trade trade with the knowledge that your power cards are likely to overwhelm theirs.
Two-drops can be crappier than three-drops and still be a card worthy of your deck.. Jhessian Lookout is not a good card but it will trade with a ton of good aggro creatures and if you pair it with any other random cheap bears and ogres you can actually force your opponent to use resources on it that they’ll wish they’d saved once your Bull Cerodons or other funness come online.
You need to not lie to yourself about where to place cards on your curve. If you are a base Black/Blue deck then your Path to Exile is not a one-drop. Put it higher. Use your discretion. If White is difficult to get make it a four- or five-drop. If it is easier consider it a three-drop. Many of your “five-pluses” are not five through seven-drops; they are twos. If your plan with a card is to cycle it put it there in the curve. Ridge Rannet is a two-drop not a seven.
You want to make sure that your choices let you keep a portion of your deck in a tight curve but that doesn’t mean you should ignore the bombs.
Here is the whole reason to choose to play the archetype instead of simply drafting Red/Green or Esper or Bant or what-have-you. Your goal is to have a higher percentage of bombs so that long games are going to be yours to dominate. While you can’t necessarily expect to dominate early games your curve can help you to at least not be pushed out of it. The bombs are what make turns 5 on up much more likely to shift heavily in your favor.
Bombs are off all stripes. A part of what generally doesn’t matter about a true bomb is how expensive it is. Inkwell Leviathan is crazy expensive. But it doesn’t matter. If it gets into play it is going to change the game unless you’re in a position where you’ve already lost. This is much like the situation that Brian Kowal was able to take advantage of to qualify for the last Pro Tour with Viashino Skeleton: yes a card might be overcosted but it doesn’t matter once it is in play. Some of the cyclers fit into this thought quite well; a Ridge Rannet isn’t that hot in-and-of itself but being a potential threat that can simply flow through your hands is quite relevant.
The thing that is limiting factor on bombs is actually just color. This ties pretty sharply to just how good your fixing is as well as what it is your primary two-color pair. The most incredible of bombs can absolutely be taken regardless. The less powerful bombs have to be weighed against the other considerations. Choosing the right card to put in your deck is a different question entirely. The best bombs should make you consider abandoning the color-pair you were in already if they can’t easily be splashed.
Mini-bombs are a real thing too. If you are a base Black/Blue deck splashing into Zealous Persecution is completely reasonable or even a card like Putrid Leech. Neither is a true bomb but as long as you keep your splash minimal they can definitely end up serving a great purpose. Even counterspells can be mini-bombs in limited amounts.
When you’re actually-factually playing Five-Color a ton of cards actually open up as bombs. The “WUBRG”-activated cards like Paragon of the Amesha are truly game-swinging even if they require a fair amount of time to get on line. Their ability to fit into the curve also can be a huge boon allowing you to just get in a couple of grizzly-ish beats and opening up the late game to a massive threat or even the ability to simply put multiple relevant cards into play at once by double-threating.
There is a lot of fixing in this format. Nearly all of it is playable. I’m not a huge fan of Unstable Frontier but it does the work that you need it to. If you think about each of the packs they all supply something to think about. Shards gives you Obelisks and Tri-Lands as well as tri-sack-lands. Conflux gives you Armillary Sphere and Rupture Spire as well as the basic land cyclers. Alara Reborn gives you Borderposts and the land cycling creatures (as well as a host of other cyclers).
What this means is that you’re going to have a whole slew of options for fixing. But what is the “proper” amount?
This is hard. In terms of total amounts of mana I know that I generally am looking for 19 to 20 mana with land Obelisks Borderposts and Armillary Sphere counting as mana. My usual goal is 15-16 actual land (not counting Borderposts). Especially as you are pressing your land count (particularly if you are blessed with Spires and tri-lands) lower Borderposts can actually not act like a normal land.
The first thing I think about are my mana goals. I know that I want to have permanents that make several colors at once. Preferably I tend to want 3 to 4 cards that make multiple colors by themselves minimum. This means a tri-land two Obelisks and a Borderpost. Tri-lands are the best of these. They give multiple colors of mana unobtrusively and are reasonably fast.
Of the others though I actually prefer Obelisks. Not only do Obelisks provide three whole colors of mana but they also speed you up to your more powerful cards. That six through eight (or more) drop can come down all the earlier and your WUBRG spells are even easier to satisfy. It doesn’t just help out the top of the curve though. On the bottom end it can be quite easy to get a curve that starts on turn 2 of two-drop three-drop Obelisk plus two-drop (followed by a six-drop). As good as Borderposts are if you top deck one you often can’t get that top-side acceleration (though you can also often fix your mana immediately by returning a basic land to get your second colored mana for the turn).
Cards like Rupture Spire and Armillary Sphere are totally fantastic and really need to be considered high picks falling behind on True Bombs and the best of removal but otherwise trumping a lot of other choices you might make unless your mana is incredibly well developed. Similarly the rest of the mana fixing is handled much the same way but with a much less high priority falling behind solid in-color threats and answers.
When you get to the land-cyclers in the second and third packs these are cards that you would often take over “merely” solid cards. Take a card like Esper Cormorants; this card is quite solid certainly but it also places you as likely a UW-based Five-Color deck making you fight the fight for one of the most popular color combinations in the format. If you’re splashing into it the card simply isn’t powerful enough unless you’re making an economic consideration based upon the need to shore up flying defense in a base-Blue-x or base-White-x deck. A cycler from Conflux like Absorb Vis can help your long-term stability. Fiery Fall and Absorb Vis are worth playing even if they are your splashes. Traumatic Visions is worth considering if you can reasonably expect to include two easily accessed Blue sources. Sylvan Bounty is worth considering if Green is a primary or secondary color. Gleam of Resistance is only worth considering if White is a primary color. In Alara Reborn creatures that are merely solid are much less worth considering unless they are bombs or aggressive in your semi-shard. Sanctum Plowbeast on the other hand can help you fix your colors or succeed in being a body if you need it to be. Whichever card you view as the “worst” of the land-cyclers they are all better than a “solid” card unless you are desperate for something that the solid card does.
Don’t be afraid of going a little crazy here. The Alara Reborn cards will do just fine cycling for two earlier and are often very relevant in the late game when opponents are often starved for answers depleted of what they’ve gotten thus far. You might not play all of your cyclers (I’ve tended to play on average between four and six) but they can all be relevant plays at numerous stages in the game.
One of the more controversial cards to considering taking or not is Shard Convergence. This card can be incredibly powerful especially in the thinning of a deck. But it can also be occasionally anemic stealing away an entire turn (or most of a turn) and not necessarily being all that reliable in providing significant card advantage. In many decks you’ll often only have a single land of numerous colors and a Shard Convergence will return only a Plains or only a Mountain. This is a rough investment for four mana. Further its cost means that you can’t count on it to be able to fix your plays until turn five or six. Many times this can simply be too slow. In more aggressive decks Explosive Borders can be a great choice. The Red-Green based list typically packing Rip Clan Crashers and Jund Hackblades (among other aggressive drops) can do very well by plugging three to five damage in with its mana fixing but it is not a high pick. In non-Red/Green this card is only really playable if you’re at least using those colors as secondary colors. Still these cards are worth thinking about if you’re particularly hungry for mana fixing.
A large amount of elimination can increase the power of any deck even if some of the elimination is actually not all that good. If you’re capable of cast Bant Charm and Grixis Charm and Crystallization having a deck that can play all of these cards means that it will often be a rare deck that can manage to kill you. Since you rarely have to actually kill every creature your opponent can often simply be bled out of their relevant cards.
Especially if you find yourself low on elimination even a buildup of crappy elimination can get the job done. Winged Coatl will usually be just as good as any other removal spell even if it is a little ugly. Pestilent Kathari also serves this same purpose. A lot of players poo-poo Resounding Silence but in a deck that is going to be capable of getting to that eight-mana mark it can be quite damning.
Much of the situational elimination is also worth considering. Volcanic Submersion is not a great card but when you’re playing against Esper it is a totally acceptable removal as is Molten Frame. Playing these cards as filler can be great even if you only end up cycling them the vast majority of the time.
One of the things that you might often find yourself lacking is bombs. A solution to that problem is to simply have a copious amount of elimination. If you are able to put down your random small creatures to trade sometime you can almost get an aggro-control like draw by dropping a bear and an ogre and then just blowing everything up that gets in the way. The Two-Color-Five-Color deck with heavy removal can be either a very aggressive deck or a very controlling deck depending on the build and the draw but it often means that you don’t necessarily need bombs (even if you want them).
Get the Balance Right
Unlike previous “Good Stuff” style drafts you really have to be just feeling out what your deck needs. A curve is important. The bombs are important. The elimination is important. The fixing is important. Privileging the correct one is difficult to pin down. All of the elements are important.
It’s almost as though you are walking on a tight wire. I’ve had decks that ran RRBBBUUUGGW. And I’ve had decks that ran RRGGWUB. The thing to gauge is where your strengths lie. If you’re a hyper-aggressive GW deck playing Cruel Ultimatum doesn’t make sense. On the other hand that Cruel Ultimatum could make you abandon all (or nearly all) of the first two to four picks you’ve thought were going to be your primary color. Thankfully the later bombs are not nearly so demanding.
Again don’t be afraid to be a little crazy here. Even a Blue/White based Five-Color deck can support a Lavalanche and when you have access to a card of that power level don’t sell your potential short. Only cards that require a double (or *shudder* triple) color are actually things to take pause on. Typically these bombs are going to be earlier picks in a pack. If you know that you’re going to have an off-color bomb like this all this means is that you need to get a few more cards that can help make that mana requirement easier.
Always remember the economics of scarcity: any of the four elements of which you don’t have much gives you all the more reason to aggressively go for that element. It is particularly important to privilege enough mana-fixing. There is nothing worse than a “Five-Color” deck whose fixing is hope and the draw phase.
In general the make-up of a typical Two-Color-Five-Color list will look something like this:
19-21 mana producers
Typically 15-16 lands and 4+ sources of 3+ mana (Panorama and other searching cards do not count)
4-6 land cyclers
16 “other” spells
1 Jund Panorama
1 Crumbling Necropolis
1 Armillary Sphere
1 Obelisk of Jund
1 Obelisk of Esper
1 Fieldmist Borderpost
1 Fiery Fall
1 Absorb Vis
1 Pale Recluse
1 Jhessian Zombie
1 Sanctum Plowbeast
Plus sixteen spells.
“Early” mana sources below are those that are fully accessible on turn 3 regularly (like those supplied by a Panorama).
“White” sources: EIGHT (five early)
“Blue” sources: NINE (six early)
“Black” sources: NINE (five early)
“Red” sources: TEN (six early)
“Green” sources: TWELVE (nine early)
If this is a primarily heavy Red/Green deck it is probably that something needs to go away to fit in a Mountain. Depending on the needs of the deck this might be a spell or one of the less necessary land-cyclers.
Drafting your 2c-5c
The thing that is exciting about this kind of draft is that you can actually generally perform the archetype wherever you sit in a draft. I’m not sure what the threshold for drafters in an 8-person draft is before the archetype bogs down but I’m going to imagine it is somewhere around three. I know that for IPA you could easily support five Five-Color drafters but this format seems less mana-resilient than that rich format.
Let’s take an example from the most recent Pro Tour. Conley Woods drafted the archetype but it could well have been drafted anywhere at the table. (As a quick aside: While I was clearly a huge Zac Hill booster practically jumping out of my seat at the thought of him becoming the champ I’m incredibly happy for Kazuya Mitamura. While I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting him his joy in his victory seemed so heartfelt and genuine it was exciting to watch.) Let’s take it from the perspective most covered in the coverage from Brian Kibler’s seat. (The 33.6 megabyte file can be found viewed courtesy of Wizards.)
There are limitations of course to pretending you are in Brian Kibler’s seat in the Top 8 draft and drafting the cards differently. Obviously you set up permutations in the draft that are going to pervade throughout it warping it away from the draft that actually ended up happening. As such an exercise such as the one I’m doing here is hugely limited. Picks after the first few decline in value certainly. It does however despite this limitation show what kind of deck you could theoretically end up with. It is not to be confused with what a deck would look like if you were to actually replace the drafter. It does however give a sense of what is roughly possible. Further often the deck will actually be stronger than the one you would receive employing this exercise. This is because your actions will tend to actually push the people around you out of your two-color combination and signals even more powerful cards of your chosen combination. It my experience in practice the archetype is even stronger in a real draft than it is represented by in these exercises.
With that said here is a full walkthrough of how I would have drafted in Kibler’s seat. I initially crafted my picks as best as I could in watching the video of the draft live but seeing the entire pack was not always possible. After figuring out my picks I went through the draft viewer to:
Kibler wowed Buehler and BDM with his pick of Oblivion Ring over Mycoloth here. The reasons were simple: Kibler’s plan was to aggressively force Esper. This kind of play is exactly the kind of reason that you want to be drafting 2c5c – you can actually expect to get picks like this regularly. In the fight between elimination and a bomb you will tend to head towards the bomb. Mycoloth is one of those spells that is scarily powerful and often deeply overwhelms an opponent that doesn’t deal with it immediately.
Mycoloth has a two-colored mana requirement and pushes you into thinking about it as one of your two primary colors. This fairly weak pack really only has the Iguanar and the Screecher as reasonable three drops to consider and then the fight between Steward and Duelist for the twos. Steward maintains the green primary color and sets you up nicely to just become a White/Green deck if it pans out that way.
The Crumbling Necropolis and Goblin Assault are tempting but the solid removal afforded by the Executioner’s Capsule makes it the easy choice.
If you weren’t already planning on being Green you might look to Ridge Rannet or Blightning as your option here (Black/Red-5c is a great archetype) but as it is your plan it really is between Elvish Visionary and Mosstodon. The Mosstodon is risky because you might end up too top heavy but still powerful enough for me to select it.
At this point in the draft the clear pick is the second Steward. You could easily be a very aggressive deck if the cards come and the White/Green Blades in the final have the potential to make you very much a beatdown deck if this keeps up.
This was a truly interesting pack for the archetype. It is definitely possible that the Kiss won’t even up being played but really it’s only competing against Elvish Visionary or some reasonable (but unexciting) mana fixing. Kiss is a card that sometimes acts like a huge bomb and gets the nod here for that possibility. Even if it doesn’t get maindecked it has great potential for a potent sideboard card especially against Black/Red based aggro decks or heavily controlling decks.
Obelisk of Jund gets the easy nod here. It’s possible later in the draft it might be worth picking the Coma Veil if you had poor elimination and just try to pick up fixing more aggressively in the next two packs but thankfully you aren’t in that situation.
This is one of the harder choices thus far. Grixis Battlemage is a very solid spell and could set you up for a GWb-based Wedge in your “2”c5c. However even though I am a big fan of the Battlemage its abilities are also in the off colors. This makes using him very awkward. This makes the easy pick Obelisk of Grixis.
At this point in the draft none of the packs you’ve picked from have come back to you under the corrupting influence of Not Being Brian Kibler. This means that these eight picks are actually pure: Mycoloth Steward of Valeron Executioner’s Capsule Mosstodon Steward of Valeron Kiss of the Amesha Obelisk of Jund Obelisk of Grixis. I have to say this looks like a potentially great start. You have the capability of being the aggro White/Green deck if you can’t make the 2c5c and you are well on your way to the deck you’re aiming for. From here on in we have to acknowledge that only two picks will continue to be pure: the first picks from the second and third packs.
Waveskimmer Aven is a nod to the fact that you might end up simply becoming a Bant deck. Aside from the Executioner’s Capsule you could easily still fit in that archetype. While unlikely to be played it is a reasonable option for the full growth of where the deck might go.
The question here is between Dispeller’s Capsule a potential sideboard card and Savage Hunger a potentially useful cycler. Choosing the potential elim spell though is the way I prefer to go here. Against some decks you’ll just need to have a disenchant effect.
Yoked Plowbeast is not particularly exciting (it is definitely the worst of the big cycling creatures from Shards) but since you aren’t heavily into the other colors it is a better option than a mediocre potential splash. Also reasonable hear is Dregscape Zombie if you want to hedge your bet on a potential shifting into a different two-color pair.
These final picks are largely unremarkable.
The picks here are largely between Wild Leotau Soul’s Majesty and Fiery Fall. The Fiery Fall is a somewhat mediocre pick given that the deck is so far likely to be just splashing into Red. It’s still an removal spell that can take something out but that does mean that you are deciding to largely make this card a definitive late game spell. As such I’m leaning to the other two cards. Soul’s Majesty wins out here just out of the potential power to be completely ridiculous.
This is an easy pick. Scepter of Dominance is a very powerful bomb in your primary colors.
The only real options here are Drag Down and Armillary Sphere. While I love Valeron Outlander Armillary Sphere is just so incredibly powerful in this archetype that it even outpowers the solid removal in Drag Down.
Lapse of Certainty is definitely worth considering but in my own experience since you’re not 100% sure that you’ll be able to guarantee a true beatdown deck Lapse of Certainty like Excommunicate can simply be underwhelming. Gleam might be unlikely to actually provide use as a spell but it is a reliable fixer.
In this archetype you can generally expect to get your WUBRG. Further simply as a three-drop the Paragon helps contribute to your potential aggro deck. Easy pick.
Esperzoa is strong enough to warrant a second look even as splash (remember you’ll be aggressively drafting random artifact mana fixing) but with the Paragon in the pack it easily gets shunted aside.
Here is a pack with a number of cards to think about. Shard Convergence has the potential to be a powerful mana fixer but it works best in a Green-based deck that is land-heavy – not likely to be the deck we’re drafting here. Traumatic Visions is both a fixer and a semi-bomb (in that it can cancel an opponent’s bomb but doesn’t slough up your hand too much). Wretched Banquet is often reasonable removal. Spore Burst in 5c is a solid beatdown/defense card. This is so far one of the hardest picks in the draft. I would end up leaning to Spore Burst in this deck which helps take up numerous potential roles in a deck that is still trying to figure out what it will look like. (Wretched Banquet would be my next choice here.)
This is a pretty weak pack for us. Kaleidostone is “okay” but not incredibly exciting even with two Paragons. Skyward Eye Prophets on the other hand can be a solid card advantage engine. While we already have two other card draw it does feel like we might be weak on spells. This will help.
While a 3/3 Flier for 5 isn’t particularly exciting in the format this card might make the cut in the main. More importantly it might end up being a huge bomb as a sideboard card against a removal-heavy opponent. Everything else in the pack doesn’t play a strong enough potential role to warrant consideration.
Making sure that you pick enough finishers is critical in a deck like this. The Plowbeasts are certainly good at that job.
Here we get a gift: Aven Trailblazer. This card will tend to quickly be a Talon Trooper (if it doesn’t start as one) and quickly outpace the owl. This card often shows up a fair amount later in the draft.
A ton of people seem to love Cumber Stone in this archetype. When I’m drafting 2c5c I just don’t feel that the effect is good enough to splash into. I’d rather run a Constricting Tendrils which might be able to act as elimination or could otherwise be run as a cycler. Hate-drafting the Scornful Aether-Lich isn’t unreasonable this late in the pack.
And these finals choices are pretty simple…
There are three major considerations here: Crystallization a powerful elimination spell; Knight of New Alara a critter with the potential to become a huge bomb; Naya Hushblade a very strong Blade. I lean to the Knight of New Alara here. Its potential for craziness is just incredible.
And now we get a second one. This could get sick.
This is a hard pick actually. Wall of Denial is an incredible spell almost akin to pseudo-elimination or a semi-bomb. On the other hand our fixing seems a little light and a Fieldmight Borderpost could be a great pick. Wall of Denial’s dual role gives it the nod.
Here is another difficult choice. Crystallization is just an amazing elimination spell. Jhessian Zombies is solid mana fixing. Wall of Denial is still a great pick like it was last pick. Naya Sojourners in a deck with two Knight of New Alara also seems like it could be ridiculous – add to that the Mosstodon and Soul’s Majesty. In the end this hard pick gets won out by Crystallization joining Executioner’s Capsule as our only elimination.
This is an easy pick: Zealous Persecution. This card can just swing games all to hell for an opponent. Pale Recluse is a close second here.
Sanctum Plowbeast gets the easy nod here over Putrid Leech Sigil Captain and Bant Sojourners. At this point we only have a little bit of land-cycling so getting more will be important.
With the paucity of elim so far in this deck getting the anemic Winged Coatl is actually deeply important. The economics of scarcity win out here with Valley Rannet and Veinfire Borderpost frowning but your deck sadly nodding.
Stun Sniper is a great splash here. Tappers are always great as are pingers but adding this on to your Persecution and Scepter makes the Sniper even better.
Gloryscale Viashino is not powerful enough to dip into as a splash. Grabbing a Sigil of the Nayan Gods for its potential power and its cycling is good even if it doesn’t necessarily make the cut.
This is really a call between the two Cascade Cards; neither is likely to make this deck. Violent Outburst might be the call if you are hoping to hate draft but I see Stormcaller’s Boon as being a potential sideboard card against a deadlocked ground state.
Here we’re just hate-drafting from a potentially aggressive Esper deck.
Again another hate-draft just taking a 20th card from some other deck potentially.
Another hate draft.
And we’ve wrapped up the draft.
--- Building the deck is actually a pretty difficult process. In the end we get the following:
2 Steward of Valeron
Gleam of Resistance
Wall of Denial
2 Paragon of the Amesha
Scepter of Dominance
Obelisk of Grixis
Obelisk of Jund
2 Knight of New Alara
Skyward Eye Prophets
This deck has a solid curve is a little light on bombs for my taste (only four true bombs for this archetype) and only marginal on removal (counting semi-removal seven).
Here are our mana counts:
“White” sources: EIGHT (six early)
“Blue” sources: FIVE (three early)
“Black” sources: FIVE (two early)
“Red” sources: FIVE (two early)
“Green” sources: TEN (seven early)
The deck could easily have benefited from perhaps a single fixer more but it looks pretty damn good too. We can do the same exercise in two other drafts.
Take the second draft for example with Zac Hill drafting Five-Color. His deck ends up quite different than mine. Here are my picks:
Covenant of Mind
Obelisk of Jund
Prince of Thralls
Obelisk of Bant
Obelisk of Bant
Path to Exile
Lapse of Certainty
Architects of Will
Offering to Asha
Here the deck ends up being a much more controlling deck with a Jund base with six solid removal and three semi-removal.
Prince of Thralls
Path to Exile
2 Wretched Banquet
2 Armillary Sphere
Obelisk of Jund
Obelisk of Bant
Covenant of the Mind
1 Rupture Spire
1 Arcane Sanctum
This deck doesn’t end up being the same aggressive style that I’d like to have but it makes up for that by being fully capable of setting up an excellent defense against most comers. The mana especially with two Armillary Spheres is quite excellent and the elimination package is going to be awesome against any deck not packing Wall of Denial.
I’ve just had so much success with this archetype I felt like I had to speak up after listening to Randy Buehler in his coverage of Honolulu. His insistence that the format had changed and left 5c behind seemed to be hinged completely on a belief that 5c couldn’t also change in response. Personally I feel like the archetype has gotten even stronger than it ever was before.
Overall I had a great time watching the coverage. I was sad that Zac didn’t end up winning the whole thing but it was still exciting to watch the progress of my friends. I paid especial attention to Owen Turtenwald and DJ Kastner the two people who outplayed me in the Top 8 of a pair of PTQs to qualify for Honolulu. Congrats to DJ for his excellent finish.
Otherwise I was deeply disappointed in Wizards decision to hold a major Block event the week before Pro Tour. Yes the Pro Tour can absolutely evolve to handle an understood threat but what about all of the people who might have worked very hard on their Jund Cascade deck only to have a target suddenly painted on it. Scheduling such things in this way just smacks of either irresponsibility or cruelty. Either way it was a real shame.
I hope you enjoy drafting this style of deck on your own. It’s brought me a great many successes. Good luck with it and good luck in joining me on a quest for Austin.