Slither Blade is the new hotness in Amonkhet draft. As the format has gone on, the opinion has evolved on how aggressive the format is and what cards are viable. Nowhere is this more apparent that in the recent performance of Slither Blade
Popularized on the Pro Tour by Christian Calcano and then later in article form at Channel Fireball Andrea Mengucci, this deck was gaining an underground following on Magic Online just prior to PT Amonkhet. I was asked to try it several times on stream and drafted a version of it during the Pickle Challenge that easily cruised to a 3-0 victory.
The deck we drafted this week was a lot less successful, but there are some good lessons to be learned here. I don’t want to delve too deeply into how to draft the deck, as Mengucci already did an excellent job in the aforementioned article; instead, I want to focus on how Amonkhet limited has changed and I think this draft was a pretty good example of the shift in the meta. Our own hyper-aggressive plans didn’t pan out perfectly. We didn’t get many Slither Blades and other one-drops, or ways to power up the ones we did, but the decks we played against still showed the power of the new aggressive meta.
Every deck we played against this week was focused heavily on the early game and early stumbles often led to a quick death. Gustwalker, which I always valued highly, has somehow gone up even from it’s original lofty placing and Nef-Crop Entangler is quickly joining it. Early in the format I liked cards like Cartouche of Strength and Final Reward, but as the speed of the format seems to increase almost weekly I’ve come to realize I’d rather have a Magma Spray or even Splendid Agony so I can survive the early game, or change a race in my favor.
Another indication of the change in format is how we didn’t manage to get many Slither Blades, and cards like Sacred Cat didn’t wheel. I wouldn’t want to put too much stock in any one draft or event, but with the recent buzz about Calcano’s Slither Blade deck and the articles popping up around it, expect to have the pick order in draft change. People will absolutely be taking Slither Blades and other hyper-aggro cards earlier. Either to play them or to just hate them away from other players and it’s something you need to keep in the back of your mind. In the Mengucci article he talks about not needing to take Slither Blade early because it can wheel the majority of the time. That hasn’t changed… Yet. But with a draft like this one as a barometer, it’s important to pay attention and see if they’re coming back around still and maybe adjust your pick order with the changing meta.
Next week, we’ll continue Amonkhet drafts with some new craziness. Aggro is the new flavor of the week, but can Luxa River Shrine turn your opponents early creatures into bricks? Can the Hekma protect your win rate? Be ready for the next Full Force!