I have fond memories of this block. Although I had been playing for a while, this block was my first introduction to Limited - specifically, through regional pre-releases. I have fond memories of beating my opponents down with a green/white Armadillo Cloak deck, as well as a blue/black/red (no fancy Grixis term back then!) double Phyrexian Scuta deck.
However, I never drafted the format and, being that it was released 16 years ago, I am very, very rusty on it. I do remember that mana fixing was important. It is also a time where creatures were not as good (though I remember very much liking the Battlemage cycle). I also remember hearing that you should attempt to draft a "wedge" or Khans of Tarkir clan colour deck; I believe the thinking goes you start in the first two packs with an allied colour pair and them move into the enemy colour of that pair in Apocalypse, due to it being focused on enemy pairs.
So, join me as, for the first time in 16 years, I play this format. I am going in completely blind, with just my memories to help me - I'm positive I will make mistakes, so please let me know in the comments!
Pack 1 pick 1:
Removal is super important in most draft decks, and here we have a decent one with Tribal Flames. Sometimes a 2 mana shock, sometimes a 2 mana deal 4-5, it is a good card in this format I think. Other than that, Quirion Trailblazer is fixing (though it is expensive), and Urborg Volcano is also fixing. But here I am taking the removal spell.
Pack 1 pick 2:
Let's see what we have here. Faerie Squadron is only good if you play it with kicker, as it then has flying. Kavu Climber is not bad; it the day and age of Invasion, 3/3s generally cost 4 mana, so you are paying 1 mana to draw a card, which seems good. I remember Ardent Soldier being playable, and Savage Offensive can be a pretty brutal blow out. Then there is Pulse of Llanowar, which fixes all your mana.
It was hard to pass up a good creature in an age of bad ones, so I took Kavu Climber.
Pack 1 pick 3:
Pack 3... Soul Burn is decent removal, though requires very specific mana. Llanowar Knight is okay, though really just a Bear; Irrigation Ditch is good, and Chromatic Sphere is very good. However, I couldn't pass up Meteor Storm. Now, I don't know actually how good this is; it could be very bad for all I know. But it seems powerful enough that I want to try it.
Pack 1 pick 4:
I've picked a red, a green, and a red/green card so far, so I am certainly leaning in that direction. There is also no card in this pack that makes me want to look at any other colours. So, what do we have? Explosive Growth seems fine, it'll be a mini Giant Growth most of the time but can be a good late game card too. Verduran Emissary seems just okay, while Hunting Kavu seems like it could be a good card. Hunting Kavu it is, firmly cementing me in red/green.
Pack 1 pick 5:
And then we get this pack, where none of the red or green cards excite me. I ended up taking Darigaaz's Attendant as it's a body that can actually ramp me if I pick up an expensive card.
Pack 1 pick 6:
Again, nothing thrilling here. It was out of Llanowar Cavalry and Maniacal Rage, and the Cavalry won by virtue of not being an aura.
Pack 1 pick 7:
I really tossed up between Viashino Grappler, Quirion Sentinel and Scouting Trek here, none of which seemed particularly good. Trek in particular seems like bad fixing but I was painfully aware I had not seen much, so took it anyway.
Pack 1 pick 8:
Much like pick 6, Grappler won out by being a creature.
Pack 1 pick 9:
Slimy Kavu is a type of fixing and it actually goes well with Tribal Flames by adding an additional point of damage. I also didn't want any of the other on-colour cards, so the Slimy one it is.
Pack 1 pick 10:
As I mentioned earlier, this could potentially be a blow out, and now that I was firmly in those colours I happily snapped it up here.
The rest of pack one was filler and dregs:
Pack 1 pick 11:
Pack 1 pick 12:
Pack 1 pick 13:
Pack 1 pick 14:
Pack 1 pick 15:
Here's how I am looking after the first pack:
I'm happy enough here, though I am unsure how good that looks in reality. Still, I think I have done okay.
Pack 2 pick 1:
Flametongue Kavu is a beast in Limited and there is no way I was passing it here. A high-powered body with a removal spell tacked on is very good. Other than that, Terminate is the best card in the pack and splashable for me, but I went with the Kavu.
Pack 2 pick 2:
I'm still painfully short on fixing, and Quirion Explorer kind of does it some of the time, so I picked it up here. There was nothing else that really interested me here anyway.
Pack 2 pick 3:
Once again I contemplated Terminate here, but it splashes me into a shard instead of a wedge, and I had very little good fixing. Instead I took Gaea's Might. At worst this is usually a +2/+2, but that is still good.
Pack 2 pick 4:
I like cost reduction effects, and here I had both Thunderscape Familiar and Thornscape Familiar to pick from. In the end I decided that a 2/1 was better than a first striking 1/1.
Pack 2 pick 5:
This was a choice between Primal Growth and Sparkcaster, and I was torn. On the one hand, I wanted the beefy creature, but I really needed the fixing. I took Primal Growth.
Pack 2 pick 6:
I'm really not sure what the correct pick was here. None of the cards in green or red seem overly powerful, but in the end I figured Amphibious Kavu is probably the one that has the highest chance of being better.
Pack 2 pick 7:
I do like a 3/4 for 2 mana, so I was not passing Horned Kavu. If I can bounce his Flametongue kin, so much the better!
Pack 2 pick 8:
This was a pack full of nothing.
Pack 2 pick 9:
So this pick was close between a second Gaea's Might, Kavu Recluse and Mirrorwood Treefolk. The reason I took the Treefolk is that, if I can get a white mana source, your opponent can never really attack into it. It really, really makes combat awkward for your opponent.
The rest of pack 2 went like this:
Pack 2 pick 10:
Pack 2 pick 11:
Pack 2 pick 12:
Pack 2 pick 13:
Pretty happy to get this back here.
Pack 2 pick 14:
Pack 2 pick 15:
Here, after pack two, is what I would be looking to play, with possible cuts depending on pack three:
Pack 3 pick 1:
Here we'll be looking for more fixing to support blue/red and green/blue cards. Urborg Elf and Fire/Ice are both good examples of this, and I would have been happy with either.
However, I think Illuminate was just the better card here. I did not have a lot of good removal, and Illuminate fills that role nicely. I'm unlikely to get any of three back, I think, so I took Illuminate.
Pack 3 pick 2:
This pick was out of Razorfin Hunter and Ceta Disciple. Again, it's another pick where I am not sure I made the right decision, but I like pingers so took the Hunter.
Pack 3 pick 3:
I really wanted to take Temporal Spring here as it kind of Time Walks your opponent. But I think Kavu Mauler might be close to a bomb in this deck, especially considering it has trample.
Pack 3 pick 4:
Tundra Kavu fixes my mana for blue, and also helps me with my white splash for Mirrorwood Treefolk. There was nothing else here anyway, so another Kavu it is.
Pack 3 pick 5:
I think picking Glade Gnarr was a mistake and I should have taken Ceta Disciple.
Pack 3 pick 6:
A bit more fixing in Lay of the Land, which is like a non-energy version of Attune with Aether. I need the fixing, so was happy to take it.
Pack 3 pick 7:
Sylvan Messenger is a fine card, but I have no Elf-synergy at all. Kavu Glider is not great but it's better than other options.
The rest of pack 3 picked itself:
Pack 3 pick 8:
Pack 3 pick 9:
Pack 3 pick 10:
Pack 3 pick 11:
Pack 3 pick 12:
Pack 3 pick 13:
Pack 3 pick 14:
Pack 3 pick 15:
I have no idea how good this is. I'm not even sure I got the mana base right. In the end I turned out to be red/green splashing blue and white. Hopefully it works well enough!
I kept a 5 land hand that included a Quirion Explorer and Illuminate, and then of course proceeded to draw more lands. Funny how that seems to happen. I do eventually manage to get a Kavu Climber and a Llanowar Cavalry out, while my opponent played two copies of Llanowar Dead, Phyrexian Rager and a kicked Duskwalker. I Illuminated the Duskwalker, then used Flametongue Kavu on a Doomsday Specter they cast. I then thought I was being clever, as I used Sparkcaster to return the Kavu to my hand, but my opponent forced me to discard it with a kicked Probe. This led to a stalled board, but I then drew 3 land in a row while my opponent drew creatures and removal, and it was soon over.
Game 2 was horrible, with my opponent casting Ravenous Rats followed by a kicked Bog Down to strip me of my hand! I could not recover and was quickly overrun.
I was able to get out an early Razorfin Hunter in this game, which set about picking off the Hate Weaver and Coastal Drake my opponent had played. My opponent then durdled for a bit while I played out more creatures; a Tribal Flames took care of their Zombie Boa and I was able to hit them down to 11. The tide began to turn (pun very much intended) when my opponent played a kicked Waterspout Elemental, which made things a bit difficult. However, I was able to recover and with a kicked Savage Offensive I closed the game out.
Game 2 started with us developing our boards, and my opponent casting Death Bomb on my Amphibious Kavu. We both played out more creatures, until my opponent cast a kicked Rushing River, followed by a second one, to clear my board! I was able to play out the creatures again, trading with my opponent until all they had left was a Hate Weaver and I was on 1 life point. And then I drew Meteor Swarm. I killed the Hate Weaver and began re-developing my board, killing anything my opponent played (they were top-decking), and eventually won a close one.
Versus: Red/Green splashing Blue
Good old mirror match. The blue splash in my opponent's deck was for Temporal Spring, which they used effectively in this game to tempo me out. Not a lot to say about this game except we did what green and red decks do, played out our creatures and looked for good attacks. The board stalled, but my opponent had a Thunderscape Apprentice slowly whittling away at my life total. I was eventually able to kill it, but my opponent was able to turn all of their lands into 1/1s with Life/Death and overwhelm me.
Game 2 was a lot of fun for me, as I was able to cast Flametongue Kavu three times thanks to Horned Kavu and Sparkcaster, and controlled the board whilst attacking for lots of damage. The game was very quickly over.
Game 3 was much, much closer. Despite me playing an early Meteor Storm, my opponent was able to gradually gain dominance over the board. When they played a Kavu Howler and enchanted it with Quicksilver Dagger, I thought I might be in trouble. And indeed I was; the card advantage they generated from it meant they were quickly going to overwhelm me with creatures. I started throwing Meteor Storms at their face, and got them down to 4 life, before they used Temporal Spring to bounce it to my library. I drew it again but, with only one card in hand, I needed another turn. Meanwhile, my opponent had attacked me down to 1 life and, if they found another answer for the Storm, they would win. Thankfully they didn't and I was able to take a very close game and the match.
Meteor Storm is a great card in limited. Whenever I played it I didn't feel like I could lose. The highlight for me, though, was casting the same Flametongue Kavu three times in one game. Talk about value!
I enjoyed going back to Invasion block, and I hope you did too. Join me next week as we head into the new Modern Cube. In the meantime, tell me if I drafted this format correctly in the comments.