I had been meaning to get out to a Friday Night Magic since The Nerdy first launched, but circumstances had not allowed me to do so until this past week. Now with the experience under my belt, I’m finally able to write about a night out on the town… drafting.
For those who don’t play Magic, Friday Night Magic is one of the best ways to get into the game. Your local game shop should be hosting one of these events every Friday night, and there, you’ll meet players who play various forms of the game. Whether you want to make your own deck or draft from packs, you’ll find players willing and able to help you understand.
A little warning, depending on the store, it might be a bit more hardcore than a casual Open House night, but those are only held once every few months when a new set comes out. Friday Night Magic occurs far more frequently.
Some stores are different, but you’ll usually be allowed to play rounds of Standard Magic, using cards from the latest few sets, or take part in a Draft in an official capacity. No doubt, you’ll also find games of Commander going on somewhere in the store, but I wouldn’t recommend that for new players. Learn about the actual mechanics and style of the game before jumping down that rabbit hole.
Most of the time, you’ll find me playing a Draft at Friday Night Magic. It’s my favorite style of the game, and I’ll only dip into Standard if I have a deck I really want to try or don’t feel like spending any money that night. I don’t play Commander.
I usually stay on top of all the trends on Draft, but I’ve been having a hard time keeping up with Core 2019. With that, I think I did pretty well for myself, and I’m very confident I ended up in the right colors for my spot at the table.
My first pick of the night was a common card, just so you know where I’m coming from here. All night, the players were complaining about the power of the cards going around the table, but that’s not entirely unheard of at a Draft of Magic.
I can’t remember the uncommons, but I don’t think it’s the wrong choice at all to take Star-Crowned Stag over Remorseful Cleric. It’s a bit slower, but that tap ability is just too powerful in a game of Limited Magic. Remorseful Cleric is a sideboard card for Constructed Magic, and not that great in Limited unless you’re playing a hyper-aggressive deck.
Pack 1, Pick 1: Star-Crowned Stag
As the draft rolled on, I got passed more solid White cards, and Red and Green also kept flowing, so I took a bit from both while still focusing on White. It wasn’t until about Pick 6 or Pick 7 that I landed this brilliant card and solidified my colors in Pack 1.
Heroic Reinforcements is an amazing card in an aggressive White and Red creatures deck. It pumps your entire team and creates two additional creatures to attack with, essentially creating anywhere from four to about seven extra damage on top of what your board already has. With the proper creatures in play, you’re looking at about 15 to 18 damage total on turn-4 or turn-5.
Appearing so late in Pack 1 also showed me nobody was playing the color combination, so White/Red was my choice throughout the rest of the first two packs.
Pack 1, Pick 6 or 7: Heroic Reinforcements
In Pack 2, I had multiple rares thanks to a foil, and it became a choice between the right card, a foil Spit Fire, or a goofy card I really wanted to try, Transmogrifying Wand.
I made the right choice and went with the removal spell, which I was still lacking at this point in the draft. Even if I didn’t have any dragons, which wasn’t the case since I already had at least one Sparktongue Dragon, I would take this powerful card. Four damage for three mana is already great, and the ability to buy it back is busted.
Pack 2, Pick 1 – Spit Fire
I also attempted to and successfully wheeled two of my alternate win conditions in Pack 2.
What a stupid, janky card! However, it works like a charm if your opponent is down to low health by turn 4 and is suddenly staring down 7 power on a trample creature. I wouldn’t recommend this card in a Green/Red ramp deck or a Blue/Red control deck, but in White/Red, when your opponent is already under immense pressure, it provides an early threat that must be dealt with.
In combination with Auras like Knight’s Pledge or pump spells like Mighty Leap, it can really do some damage… especially when closed off with Thud. I drafted this combination and dreamed of pulling it off to win a game at least once.
Spoilers: I came within one turn of doing so… TWICE.
In Pack 3, I decided to take this first since I already had some strong Green cards from Pack 1 and thought a splash might be handy, especially since this is one of the best uncommons in the set. With this card, you’re essentially filtering out your deck, taking lands off the top and getting to more spells than your opponent. They can’t really win if you’re casting twice as many cards, can they?
However, I ultimately didn’t go with the splash.
Pack 3, Pick 1: Dryad Greenseeker
The rest of the deck?
Nice little combination here, and with two Knight’s Pledge, I hoped to get some offensive value out of Novice Knight at least once. A 4/5 on turn-2 is a sick play.
When Pegasus Courser is played alongside Star-Crowned Stag, your creatures essentially become unblockable after turn-4. One of your creatures gains flying, one of their creatures becomes tapped, they’re totally defenseless. At least three creatures are getting through, maybe more. Not a bad way to win a game.
A nice finisher if the Inferno Hellion doesn’t get the job done. I even got to cast the kicker ability in one game, which I hadn’t gotten to do yet. During the draft, I had to pass on a foil one of these, and boy oh boy, was it pretty!
Gets a creature over enemy lines, usually to win a game. I used this as a defensive spell in one game, and it totally saved my bacon.
How much vanilla can you handle? These efficient beaters kept up the pressure and made sure opponents never left a clear attack open.
I eventually found a bit more removal and felt protected against threats, both big and small.
Overall, this was a solid deck. Every game I played in was exciting and had a ton of twists, and only once or twice did it come down to flooding or getting mana screwed. My record for the night was 2-1 in matches, going 3-3 in games overall. My final opponent dropped for the night and went home, so I never got the chance to play my third match.
Hate it when that happens, especially when I don’t get to play Magic so often anymore.
Match 1, Game 1, LOSS but easily one of my best matches of the night. I took a ton of damage, going down to 1 life total before dropping a Heroic Reinforcements on my opponent, dealing 18 damage and taking them down to 2 life and zero creatures on the board. Perfect timing, perfect patience, perfect use of the card… and he top-decked a Sovereign’s Bite, which won him the game.
Match 1, Game 2, WON thanks to my opponent flooding and me getting my 4/5 Novice Knight on turn-2.
Match 1, Game 3, LOSS but another exciting match. We came to a board stall, and I was staring down not one but TWO huge creatures powered by Blanchwood Armor. I held them back with a pair of Inferno Hellions pumped with Knight’s Pledge, but one got Murdered and I needed the other one to pull off the victory combo. Eventually, my opponent’s big Green dummies started over my smaller creatures, and I came one draw away from Thud with a Mighty Leap ready in my hand, both of which would have won me the game.
Match 2, Game 1, WON in strange fashion by dropping two Knight’s Pledges on an Onakke Ogre, taking a risk with removal. I had no choice starring down a Colossal Dreadmaw and was clearly at a disadvantage had I not powered him up. Charged in for 10 damage the next turn with a Mighty Leap.
Match 2, Game 2, LOSS with mana screw. Three mana on the board and my entire Inferno Hellion combo in my hand. One more mana would have allowed for 18 damage, which was exactly what I needed.
Match 2, Game 3, WON by outpacing my opponent and threatening with an Inferno Hellion against an empty board. Opponent couldn’t come back.
Final opponent dropped, I got two packs as a prize for my record, and I traded them in for an Overgrown Tomb. Great night in general, and I have to admit, Core 2019 is a lot of fun for a basic core set. It’s no Dominaria, but my brief experiences with it have been a blast. I hope to get out to at least one more.