Hi! My name is Case, and I have a problem. You see, when I’m in a draft, I’ll think “oh, I wonder if this will work?” Normally, this wouldn’t be a problem but that thought usually happens about 3 seconds after I’ve chosen to select the card. After that, well…we’ve just gone too far by then. In for a penny, in for a pound and all that. Naturally, this leads me into some trainwreck drafts (like this one http://imgur.com/a/6kDay) but it also lets me try out a lot of different strategies. I often get a chance to audible into some of these decks pretty late and having the option and the experience to make the most of it comes in handy. So without further ado, here are three of my favorite “ugh my deck is awful going into pack 2” archetypes for Kaladesh.
Number 3: Night Market Lookout
Probably the most known of the three decks but the most flexible as well. Night Market Lookout (from here on referred to as NML) is a card that often wheels so the opportunity cost of taking one or two is usually fairly low. The beauty of the deck is you’re getting the card you most want from a pack in the 9th through 12th pick range while using early picks on things like Sky Skiff (NML’s best friend) and efficient beatdown creatures.
Often you’ll be able to get 4-6 damage from a turn 1 NML and if the board stalls you can drain your opponent out by crewing and re-crewing your vehicles. This deck is also the easiest to audible out of since you’re not investing lots of early picks and you’re not taking weaker cards to fit better into your deck over premium cards. This is a deck that’s been drafted a number of times by prominent streamers so it might not be available for long but it’s also very easy to swap out of it-again, you’re looking to pick up late NML’s not spend early picks on them.
When you “get there” with this deck it’s a very strong hyper aggro deck, just be sure that you have enough ways to tap your NML’s without attacking with them if the board stalls. This is my go-to for salvaging awful drafts when it’s available as the deck is usually quite strong when it gets there. I will often snap up a NML late in pack one jusssssst in case things go sideways in pack two over an on-color card that I’m 99.9% not playing (like Demolish or Larger than Life).
Number 2: Accelerated Serpent
As the name suggests, this deck revolves around Gearseeker Serpent. Getting a 5/6 out on turn 4 isn’t unreasonable, and on turn 5 you can often drop a second PLUS another card!
Just like the NML deck, this deck can pick up late gems that really drive your gameplan like Cogworker’s Puzzleknot, Eager Construct, Inventor’s Goggles, and Glassblower’s Puzzleknot. The problem this deck runs into is Gearseeker Serpent being a relatively high pick: for the first few weeks, I frequently got 6th, 7th, and 8th pick Gearseekers. Now, I don’t frequently see them much later than 5th pick. The deck is still fun to draft though and most often I’ll back into this deck when the draft has a kind of weak set of packs or if I’m already in a white based servo type deck or start with a couple serpents and pick up a couple Cogworker’s Puzzleknots late in the first pack.
This deck revolves around the serpent but can also be combined with a go-wide, Inspired Charge strategy as a backup. I’ve had a decent amount of success with this deck but it’s somewhat inconsistent; I’ve had a lot of games where I drew multiple serpents but no artifacts and vice versa. Overall this deck can end up with a ton of mediocre cards but it one of my favorite ways to salvage a poor draft.
Number 1: Energy!
Now, you might be thinking “wait, isn’t green/blue energy a pretty common archetype?” and you’d be right. The decks with Whirler Virtuoso, Era of Innovation, multiple other energy generators, Aethersquall Ancient, etc etc etc…those decks are great and one of LSV’s favorites. The deck I’m talking about is the super ultra train wreck when you’re in pack 2, have three Woodweaver’s Puzzleknots, two Thriving Turtles, and your best card is Attune with Aether because you’ve got cards in four colors. Then, you get passed a pack 2,pick 2 Dynavolt Tower and start looking reallllllllllllllly hard at those two Consulate Surveillance that you 13th and 14th picked from pack 1.
This is that deck.
This deck is not something you can target or plan for since it’s fairly reliant on opening or getting passed a good energy outlet like Dynavolt Tower or Aetherworks Marvel. Once you have a sweet energy sink, the basic strategy is to go all-in on energy with multiple blue and green puzzleknots, as many thriving creatures as you can, and anything else you can find that uses energy advantageously. These decks play a ton of normally horrendous cards to reasonable effect and can get playables all the way down to 14th pick. Usually these decks end up base blue or green but they almost always end up three color.
The core of this deck is “use bad cards to find your good ones and win the game with those,” as you’ll often just be short on playables for a normal deck. Most of the time, this is something you should only attempt when your deck is a train wreck to end all train wrecks but it can have phenomenal returns as well.
Salvaging bad drafts is something that’s an important skill to have. Anyone can win when you first pick Skysovereign and follow it up with Snare Thopter into Renegade Freighter, draft the open colors, and cruise to 3-0, but it’s just as important to be able to turn a 0-x draft into something that can scrape out a 2-1. So next time you get disconnected for pack 1, go for a strategy that maximizes a couple of cards and figure out how to support those. It’s better to use 10 cards to make your other 13 great than it is to play 20 mediocre cards. (And yes, I 3-0’d with the deck above. No, I’m not sure how.)