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By: Felorin, Dr. Cat
Nov 20 2013 12:02pm
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So, we don't know how viable 5-color drafting is in Theros. Probably not nearly as much as in Return to Ravnica block, Alara block, Invasion, etc. But it might be a lot of fun, so let's give it a try! Drafting 5 colors in sets where it's viable (or where you get too dang lucky) lets you take & play more bomb cards, which is fun. You get more variety of experience from one game to the next, you get the most variety of potential ways to answer your opponent's strategy or push your attackers through it, which can lead to more challenging and interesting decisions, and more chances that at least one line of play open to you could lead to a win.

On the downside, you can end up with draws that aren't more powerful than your opponent's, but have much worse tempo, you can lose card advantage because you're devoting multiple slots to fixing where their deck is all threats and answers, or you can just plain get color-screwed in multiple games and die with good cards in your hand you couldn't cast. Color fixing will be a high priority in this deck, if we're going to make it work.

Also big priorities in my mind are removal that "kills all sizes", whether we're needing to take out a Monstrosity or a voltroned-together guy with one or more enchantments on. Then we want some bombs and fatties, and just plain above average quality cards like Bestow creatures, etc. Also we'll want to gravitate to base green if we can get it, since green has the best mana-fixing and acceleration & can usually throw out enough solid-sized creatures on the board to stay alive as well till we can reach our (hopefully) more powerful late game. Also it's got Nessian Asp, I love that card.

  Pack 1 pick 1:

  My Pick:

Hundred Handed One is decent, but he's just a 6/8 and not really a bomb. Also his Monstrosity cost has triple-white, we want to be careful with double colors and avoid triple colors since that'll be a strain on the manabase. Evangel is really nice, but at its worst in a five color deck where devotion to any one color will be low. Destructive Revelry seems good, we want our removal to be instant speed and costing only 2 is nice, though the 2 damage isn't too important to us. Guardians seems ok but not a first-pick power level. I like the Cavern Lampad, Prescient Chimera, and Sealock Monster best here. I decided to go for the one that starts biggest and gets biggest, an 8/8 can certainly be a solid finisher for the deck.

  Pack 1 pick 2:

  My Pick:

This is a variety of playable but not exciting cards, many of which are better for quicker, more aggressive decks, heroic decks, etc. But a draw three spell is always strong, and if we have to abandon the 5 color plan we're in blue two picks in a row. If we stay five color, this is a good fit too. The evasion on the Agent isn't what we're looking for, I could see taking the Leafcrown Dryad. The black devotion card, again, would be at its weakest in this deck.

  Pack 1 pick 3:

  My Pick:

We don't necessarily want TWO draw 3 cards, since it costs 6 and all. The black draw card is very good, but lookie there's an Asp! We want to be in green if we can, and it's the best green common. If we end up two color I don't mind being green/blue either, I made day 2 of Grand Prix Oakland with a green/blue sealed deck. It's a fun color combo. Gimme dat snake. Chronicler might not have enough enablers to get value, Shredding Winds and Ephara's Warden are ok, but not as good as the Asp.

  Pack 1 pick 4:

  My Pick:

I'd like a white bestow card here. But the Mnemonic Wall could be good with all the removal I intend to snag. Having none so far it's a little speculative, but it's also in our one color we are getting to be significantly committed to. At least we are now! If it fetches back a Griptide instead of an awesome kill spell, that's still good value.

  Pack 1 pick 5:

  My Pick:

I like Nessian Courser and Benthic Giant, and I think March of the Returned might be a strong card for this deck to get card advantage and/or recur bombs. Aqueous Form is interesting to turn a fattie (or a bear) into a clock and provide tons of scry, and the bestow creature gives First Strike to make a powerful defender or enable more attacking options. But I have fixing that takes up only a land slot, a 5 color deck will easily have more than 23 playables. While the land is a BAD fixer, we have none so far and we don't know how desperate for fixing we may end up. Spending an earlyish pick on fixing for our land slots seems right here, none of the spell options are bombs or removal.

  Pack 1 pick 6:

  My Pick:

Blue seems open. Burnished Hart is one of the best cards you could have for a deck like this. "Yes please". Fixes two colors, requires none, accelerates you to the big spells, thins the deck significantly and provides a little card advantage. Don't pass these if you want to be five color, just don't.

  Pack 1 pick 7:

  My Pick:

Hoplite seems bad in this deck, we might not have many enablers for him. Let's make sure we have some powerful late-game card advantaging removal plays like Boulderfall. Shredding Winds would probably be my second choice here. We could be a blue/green deck still, the Unknown Shores was our first pick we wouldn't make for that deck, here we're still keeping that 5 color dream alive.

  Pack 1 pick 8:

  My Pick:

Returned Phalanx seems decent here. The Catoblepas can get a two for one, has a sometimes useful ability, and can be fun to recur and do it again if we get some March of the Returned or Rescue from the Underworld later.

  Pack 1 pick 9:

  My Pick:

Here I like Destructive Revelry best. But I need some early defense, and if this one wheeled, maybe the one in the next pack wheeled too! This is a good solid roadblock - I should probably have maindecked it, I ended in sideboarding it in a lot.

  Pack 1 pick 10:

  My Pick:

Sure enough, here's some artifact/enchantment removal! With so many enchantments in this set it could be viable to maindeck two, certainly one is fine.

  Pack 1 pick 11:

  My Pick:

I love the tapper with restrictions, maybe too much. But I have no white so far, and passed two good white cards from the first pack, so I don't mind leaning away from one of the five colors. Also I have no two drops, and a "works with any color" creature that's mana efficient (power = mana cost) is a nice pickup here to keep the deck more consistent and more able to have blockers/traders in the early game. This guy's a fine curve filler for 5 color, I think.


  Pack 1 pick 12:

  My Pick:

The red spells are very non-controllish. I probably won't run this fog either, but it certainly matches the spirit of the deck better than the red cards do.

  Pack 1 pick 13:

  My Pick:

The March is tempting. But Hexproof is very nice to throw Bestow creatures onto and having a blocker they can't tap or remove can be important sometimes too. I like Benthic Giant a lot, and it seems maybe blue is my main color. So I'll take him.

  Pack 1 pick 14:

  My Pick:

I probably won't play two, though there might be matchups where I want to side in another? Certainly it's a nice sign that blue is indeed quite open.


  Pack 1 pick 15:

  My Pick:


  Pack 2 pick 1:

  My Pick:

I want Thassa's Emissary for the card draw, and because Bestow is awesome and I don't have any yet. But I don't think a 5 color deck can pass a Burnished Hart very often, I only have one so far an I want this one. It's an uncommon, can't count on it wheeling, can't count on one appearing in pack 3. Wish I could get both. If I were blue/green or even blue/green with a splash, I'd grab the Emissary in a heartbeat.


  Pack 2 pick 2:

  My Pick:

Lightning Strike is decent, Griptide is pretty good. Ordeal might not be so good in my deck in particular. Here's mana-fixing for all five colors plus acceleration. Can't pass this up, we'll see some other removal later. Now we have 4 fixers and this might be getting viable.


  Pack 2 pick 3:

  My Pick:

Three bestow creatures, another color fixer. Don't want two Boulderfall since it costs 8 mana. And we have a crazy rare that takes out multiple giant dudes? The 2/2s should be blockable for most of our stuff, this is a good card that I'm happy to get.

  Pack 2 pick 4:

  My Pick:

I like Vulpine Goliath, Annul, and Baleful Eidolon blocks and kills any huge dude, or does it twice if you bestow it on something. But I love love love the Horse, and it's great for this deck! Churning out a zillion little blockers, coming down no matter how color-screwed I am, buying me tons of time and once the board's stabilized, it even provides inevitability for the long game. Yoink!

  Pack 2 pick 5:

  My Pick:

Vanquish the Foul seems like the best spell to pick here. Crackling Triton, Last Breath and Read the Bones are next, the Staunch-Hearted Warrior is good in most decks but not in ours. But we can get more fixing in for zero spell slots so sure, I'll take it. Since white is my "maybe" color. The Vanquish may have been the correct pick here.

  Pack 2 pick 6:

  My Pick:

This was an easy pick, none of the other choices seem as good, and any scry I get out of this will really help with consistency or just better late-game topdecks than my opponent is getting.

  Pack 2 pick 7:

  My Pick:

This is a super late Sip of Hemlock! With the amount of fixing I have now, I'm willing to embrace at least four colors, and things like double-black mana requirements. Kill anything spells are something I want, as mentioned at the start, and this fills the bill.

  Pack 2 pick 8:

  My Pick:

This could be a blocker, a time-buyer with lifegain, and a way to start wearing down the opponent while we're stalled. Maybe I'll try white too. The red spells don't seem to be the best fits here, Annul could be a solid pickup though. The Chimera is also just a blocker, other than blocking flyers I like this guy's activated ability way better.

  Pack 2 pick 9:

  My Pick:

It's expensive, but it's removal that needs no color-fixing ever. The other consideration here is the Wanderer to block any non-flying non-trampler forever.

  Pack 2 pick 10:

  My Pick:

Sweet, I kinda wanted one of these as an option. The rest of these are "bears & blanks" to me.


  Pack 2 pick 11:

  My Pick:

Finally a bestow card without something better to tempt me away from it! Wish I had more bestow in this draft.

  Pack 2 pick 12:

  My Pick:

Now we have a second answer to artifacts an enchantments, and one that's easy to leave mana open for. This is a very strong spell in this block.

  Pack 2 pick 13:

  My Pick:

An overcosted bear we can't usually power up, or a great blocker. Easy choice.

  Pack 2 pick 14:

  My Pick:

More fog. We don't have much green overall, this card doesn't even count. We might actually be a Grixis deck, let's see how pack 3 goes!


  Pack 2 pick 15:

  My Pick:


  Pack 3 pick 1:

  My Pick:

This is a pretty junky rare, I had it at my pre-release. Its ability is rarely useful. Divine Verdict can kill anything when they want to give you a shot at it, Sip of Hemlock kills anything, when YOU decide to kill it. No contest. The other cards are all far weaker here.

  Pack 3 pick 2:

  My Pick:

I'm mightily tempted by the Hopeful Eidolon. But the lifegain only matters when you're racing, and it only gives +1/+1 which may not make your guy big enough to swing in. The hammer is a bomby rare or something, I'll take that thank you. Lash, Course, Phalanx and the bestow creature are all solid.

  Pack 3 pick 3:

  My Pick:

Lightning Strike and the Emissary are the best spells here - all the Emissaries are quite good. Fade into Antiquity is ok, but a sorcery. Viper's Kiss shuts off Monstrosity and other good activated abilities. But again we have fixing that doesn't eat a spell slot, and gets me a rare for my collection that's worth a couple bucks. Plus hey, scry. I won't expect to get these in every 5 color deck, but I'm happy to take any that come my way.

  Pack 3 pick 4:

  My Pick:

There's a lot of useful cards here. A lifelink flyer buys time, or a 3/4 that's better at blocking, clocking, and scrying. Guardian's ok too. But the Giant is kind of a bomb, as often hitting 8 mana just means "I win and there's nothing you can do about it". Also he's a fattie. I like this guy, I'm sold. Our curve is a little high, but this is such a good card.
  Pack 3 pick 5:

  My Pick:

A quite solid removal spell, let's have some more of that. None of the other choices seem stronger here.

  Pack 3 pick 6:

  My Pick:

Lash of the Whip is still good, here's another bestow we're gonna miss out on. A first striking flyer with no color requirements is quite solid. But Magma Jet is one of the best burn spells of all time, the scry 2 adds a ton of value. And it's cheap, great for killing their early bear in response to an Ordeal going on the stack, turning a blowout for them into a blowout for you. This is way too late for Magma Jet to still be here, happy to snap it up.

  Pack 3 pick 7:

  My Pick:

Artisan of Forms is weak with so few ways to profitably target it in my deck. Aqueous Form might be good, let's take it.

  Pack 3 pick 8:

  My Pick:

NOW we have some spells worth recurring, Mnemonic Wall seems good!

  Pack 3 pick 9:

  My Pick:

Shredding Winds might be better here, but we're short on early creature drops and this helps fill out our curve a little better.

  Pack 3 pick 10:

  My Pick:

I think this spell might do something good, which is more than I can say for the others in this pack.

  Pack 3 pick 11:

  My Pick:

This answers some powerful spells, it might be sideboard material but that's better than nothing.

  Pack 3 pick 12:

  My Pick:

I've always thought this might be a good card and always seen something to pick over it. I'll grab this one & maybe squeeze it into the deck or sideboard it in.


  Pack 3 pick 13:

  My Pick:

Another bear option. Thanks!

  Pack 3 pick 14:

  My Pick:

Wow, nobody but me thinks 8 mana will happen often enough. Ok, second one's for the sideboard.

  Pack 3 pick 15:

  My Pick:


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I built the deck with more of a focus on fighting big things, leaving the damage based removal mostly in the sideboard (except for the exceptional Magma Jet), along with the 0/6 blocker, keeping in both Sip of Hemlocks. I left out white and green to get more consistency, then brought in Nessian Asp and Destructive Revelry, and finally took out the Revelry again. Hammer of Purphoros didn't make the cut because I don't need haste, and sacrificing lands seems contrary to what the deck's trying to do, with a high curve and some monstrous creatures. I also didn't start Curse of the Swine, which I think was a big mistake. It's great against any kind of deck, and it was a blowout in one of the sideboarded games where I played it. I ran 18 lands and 22 spells because of the importance of getting to the 5 and 6 drops in this deck.

The Battles

Unfortunately, after building to face the bigger stuff, I ran into Heroic decks two of the three rounds. First round I mulled a 2 land hand into another 2 land hand, and after the 3rd land the rest were too slow in coming. A Burnished Hart got me in position to cast all my spells finally, but my life total was too low by then. Game two I sideboarded in smaller removal spells and changed my creature mix, and had an exciting, nailbiter of a game I was able to stabilize at 3 life. From there my superior card quality was taking over the game, but unfortunately he got down a Fleecemane Lion, made it hexproof and indestructible, and got a Hopeful Eidolon on it for lifelink. My Akroan Horse gave me endless blockers, but the lifegain made it hard to finish him off. I was two cards deeper into my deck than him thanks to my Burnished Harts and would deck first. At a couple points I got close to having a plan that could still outrace, but he got a bestow onto the lion, and another, and had a couple of spells to disrupt my plans. The Witches' Eye along with other scry spells let me go through my whole deck, and dump a bunch of lands to the bottom, when I was literally out of spells I knew it was over. If I had sided in the Destructive Revelry I would have gotten to it and could have won. Some enchantments and artifacts just NEED to be answered. The deck performed very nicely, but that one building/sideboarding choice killed me.

Round 2 I ran into a blue/white heroic deck, and the first game he got out a Phalanx Leader and a Fabled Hero, and my removal and blockers weren't nearly fast enough to save me. The second game I sided similarly to round 1, and swaped a couple good of his good creatures including Phalanx Leader for piggies with Curse of the Swine. But he got the white Ordeal onto a 1/4 and got my life low, then got a 1/1 flyer and Fabled Hero again, and I died with a couple five drops in hand. My opponent told me his deck wasn't normally that fast but he drew well. Still, the appropriate build of five-color Theros needs to be better prepared for aggressive decks - some people build red/white weenie, which I didn't even face this draft. More 2, 3 and 4 drops are needed, and/or more of the cheap removal.

Round 3 the deck got a better chance to show what it could do. I faced a blue/green deck that had some monstrous dudes, a couple naturalize effects, and at least one bounce spell. He got in some good damage before we got into a groundstall and both got out matching Sphinxes, but I used one of my kill spells for his and beat down in the air. My Akroan Horse kept churning out tokens, and eventually I made my Stoneshock Giant monstrous and did an alpha-strike while still holding back multiple tokens to block. He had Divine Verdict for the giant and only fell to 4 life, but my Sphinx finished the game quickly after that. Game 2 I put in the Curse of the Swine again, and after his Nessian Courser he dropped his 3/4 Sphinx, and I was a little tempted to piggie them both. But I made my own sphinx again and waited, and got rewarded when he dropped Nemesis of Mortals. My next turn I turned 3 better creatures into piggies (love the art on that token), and then just kept dropping 5 drops on him until it was all over.

Conclusions

The deck really needed more early action. It probably would make sense to put a better blend of early blockers/answers plus some strong late game plays in the initial build, and skew it more to fight Monstrous or more to fight weenie rush / heroic for game 2, rather than start at one extreme and sideboard only for the other. If we were more green and had more acceleration, it might have worked better to be as 5 and 6 drop heavy. As it was, a few of the higher picks should have been sacrificed to take weaker 2-4 drop cards to have a better curve.

Overall though, there seemed enough potential here to keep refining the archetype. Not knowing the perfect approach yet, plus the possibility this wasn't the best pool for it, suggests it may be possible to do better & it's worth trying again. Burnished Harts were quite good, though slow. The amount of scrying in the deck made it more consistent than you might expect - Magma Jet is an all-star, and the Witches' Eye I've always wanted to try turned out to be quite decent in longer games, which is what this deck aims for. Putting it on tokens from the Akroan Horse was particularly nice, since they rarely want to attack anyway. The small-creature removal spells should probably be prioritized a bit higher, and the deck should definitely try to have 2-3 answers to enchantments and artifacts between maindeck & sideboard - just having one was not enough, the one game I did cast my enchantment removal he had ANOTHER good enchantment the next turn! Mnemonic Walls were pretty good too by the way, sometimes getting Magma Jet back and casting it in the same turn, other times getting back Sip of Hemlock and then casting it the next turn. They were quite good in Rise of the Eldrazi, and they don't disappoint here, the 5 color deck has the best chances to draft powerful spells worth recurring.

Stay tuned and I'll do this some more, and we'll see if it's possible to build a strong, winning deck this way. At least I'll have some more fun trying!