Drafting Dominaria: Part Two

by Tobi Henke on 01 June 2018, Friday

DOM  Limited 
Tobi Henke

Drafting Dominaria

For the past couple of weeks, I've been enjoying Dominaria Booster Draft immensely, and I've been enjoying quite a bit of success with it too. I also noticed that my strategy differs noticeably from what I've seen/heard/read others propose. That's why I want to go into more detail regarding my take on the format.

For one thing, I don't consider this to be a slow format at all. Decks that don't impact the board by turn two, or at least impact it in relevant fashion by turn three, rarely go all the way to a 3-0 record. Decks which begin doing something meaningful on turn one, in contrast, will win a certain amount of matches on this virtue alone.

More important than anything else is synergy, especially the kind of synergy that demands a stringent curve. Focusing on the quality of one's cards in isolation, not having any bad cards, just isn't a good way to approach the format.

I have no qualms to fill a hole with Cabal Evangel or Keldon Warcaller for example if what the deck is missing is another 2-drop. Possibly the one card for which my appreciation has increased the most since I started drafting with expectations of a value-oriented format is Corrosive Ooze.



My Strategy in Two Words



Aim high!

By this I mean: go for the best deck possible, be aware that some truly broken stuff is in fact possible, and stay open for as long as possible to pounce on such an opportunity. Don't settle too quickly.



Two archetypes in particular stand out. Green-based Saproling decks are most likely to break the glass ceiling of the greenhouse, so to say, and the easiest way to transcend the bounds of the mundane is to sing the Song of Freyalise. Some mythics should probably rank higher, but so far I never once felt compelled to take anything first pick, first pack over it.

Song of Freyalise

The green common curve of Saproling Migration, Yavimaya Sapherd, Baloth Gorger even leaves convenient room for a Song in the middle. Then of course, the turn-four Baloth will be kicked and the game might as well end on turn five.

That Sporecrown Thallid and even the mighty Slimefoot, the Stowaway are disappointing stand-ins in comparison says less about them than it says about Song of Freyalise. An unsung hero, on the other hand, is Wild Onslaught. This card often goes late, and often isn't great, but when it is great, it really is.

Saprolings usually default to black-green, but it's a partnership built on convenience rather than necessity. Most of the broken stuff is green, and all colors can work with a green base. White is an interesting case because it isn't suited as well to go wide as it's been in past environments, although it still offers some nice additions.

As great as green is, the synergies and power are both pretty obvious, so it's quite likely you'd need to fight other drafters for it. Next up on my personal list of favorites is Mono-Red or Mostly-Red, which I may have drafted more than anyone else. Like Song-powered green, this can end up looking, and playing, almost like a combo deck.

It even is to be drafted somewhat like a combo deck! Meaning, it's important to hit some key notes. For instance, this one draft I started with Shivan Fire and Ghitu Journeymage. Then I couldn't believe my luck, when I was passed the following:

Not only could I take Warlord's Fury here, I was vaguely optimistic too about my chances to table Ghitu Lavarunner. I got it and then some.

At the end of the first pack, I already had all of these:

A little below specs on instants and sorceries, but I was headed in the right direction. The draft continued in similar fashion. People let me have all of the underrated red cards, and I finished with a fine specimen of the archetype.

At the same time, it was nothing out of the ordinary. I have literally drafted decks like this dozens of times, getting decks like these with startling consistency. You want screenshots? I got those!

I recorded this draft in full. If I were to do it all over again now, I wouldn't repeat every pick, but that's just Captain Obvious talking. Or Captain Hindsight? Some superhero/literary device/meme anyway.

It's also kind of embarrassing how easy my co-drafters made things for me. If you're still interested, you should be able to see all of it here. 

When the Proverbial Waste Matter Hits the Fan.....


Going for a broken green or broken red deck gives by far the highest probability for a 3-0 record in my experience. This in itself is worthwhile insight, since Magic tournament structures from PPTQs to GPs value excellence rather than consistency. It doesn't help in any given draft though. Sometimes, neither of the two options will be open enough to carry a complete deck.

Yet I can recommend this approach in good conscience anyway, because a strong fall-back option exists. This I discovered when I dithered between red and green for too long once, assuming that I had to go all-in on one or the other. The resulting red-green deck combined vital elements of both, and it demonstrated that there are cross synergies here as well as brand new synergies.

For example, Adventurous Impulse, Saproling Migration, and Grow from the Ashes can provide the fuel to turn on Ghitu Lavarunner just as well as Warlord's Fury, sometimes better. Warlord's Fury meanwhile forms a natural combo with Gaea's Protector.

I never cared much for Jousting Lance in most green decks, but Gaea's Protector loves carrying it. And since it's easy to get Ghitu Lavarunner one will often have more 1-drops to carry the tune of Song of Freyalise.

Not to mention that red-green comes ready-made with its own intended theme. Hallar, the Firefletcher isn't exactly subtle about it. Bloodstone Goblin, Ghitu Chronicler, and Keldon Overseer have always been fine in Mono-Red, but they'll never be as good as when they're paired with Elfhame Druid, Gift of Growth, et cetera.

I recorded one such draft too. 

Granted, it looks like madness, or a short trailer on why one should not be drafting drunk. By pick two I was certain to draft red, by pick five I was equally certain I needed to switch to green, yet I hedged with my sixth pick. After the first pack, things looked very red, but I continued to go back and forth, and in the end I somehow had another 3-0.



What Does This All Mean?


So my point stands: Take green, or take red, or, failing that, both. I'd certainly do that again. In fact, I did.

Thanks for reading! Until next time, I hope you'll have as much fun drafting Dominaria as I have.



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