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By: TheWolf, Shane Garvey
Oct 26 2017 11:00am
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Last week, I decided to try a new strategy for Ixalan draft, after struggling to find my feet up until then. That strategy was to draft aggressive decks, which had been beating me consistently. The strategy paid off, with a 3-0 finish with a red/white deck that loaded up on two-drops and spells to make them bigger.

I have decided to try the same thing this time. Essentially, my strategy is this:

  • For the first few picks, pick strong cards that can go in any deck of that colour (like removal spells)
  • Pick cheap, evasive creatures (like two-mana flyers) if the first point isn't relevant;
  • Pick auras/equipment/combat tricks to make these threats bigger;
  • See what archetype cards are getting passed to me by about pick five and try to move into that archetype.

So far, this strategy has been working well. Let's see how it goes this time around.

 

THE DRAFT

  Pack 1 pick 1:

  My Pick:

Keeping my strategy in mind, let's see what we have in this pack. Treasure Map was a consideration, and it has worked well for me before. But it doesn't quite fit into the strategy I had in mind. The cards that do fit are Fire Shrine Keeper, Blight Keeper and River Sneak. River Sneak is straight-up unblockable, so that was my pick.


  Pack 1 pick 2:

  My Pick:

This pack has quite a few cards I'd be happy to run in the type of deck I'll be looking to draft, but Pirate's Cutlass stands out above all of them. It goes in any deck due to being colourless, and while is has obvious upside in Pirates, it is honestly just good in most decks.


  Pack 1 pick 3:

  My Pick:

Skyblade of the Legion may seem like a strange choice over Kopala, Warden of Waves and Deadeye Plunderers, but it is another card that I will run in almost every white deck no matter the archetype I end up in, and also fits my criteria of being a cheap evasive creature.


  Pack 1 pick 4:

  My Pick:

There are three black cards in this pack that are all quite good and that I would have been happy to take: Dire Fleet Hoarder, Fathom Fleet Cutthroat and Skittering Heartstopper. One thing I have learned is that Dire Fleet Hoarder has a pseudo-evasion ability, as people are scared to give you the treasure if it means you might be able to ramp a turn earlier. That was the reason I took it here.


  Pack 1 pick 5:

  My Pick:

Skymarch Bloodletter has been a very solid performer for me so far, and I felt it was the right choice in this pack. I haven't been as impressed with Dire Fleet Interloper.


  Pack 1 pick 6:

  My Pick:

This was a pretty easy pick, and at this point I decide I am Vampires. I am still going to be drafting the evasive/aggro deck if possible, but will be on the lookout for Vampire synergy cards now.


  Pack 1 pick 7:

  My Pick:

And immediately get one with Call of the Feast. I am reasonably confident that Vampires is open at this point.


  Pack 1 pick 8:

  My Pick:

Blight Keeper is cheap and it flies, so I took it. I may not play it, but if I don't get enough Vampires (and if I pick up enough auras/equipment) it might make the cut.


  Pack 1 pick 9:

  My Pick:

Same as the last pick.


  Pack 1 pick 10:

  My Pick:

Seeing a tenth pick Skymarch Bloodletter indicates that Vampires is indeed open. At this point I am pretty happy, and the draft is coming along nicely.


  Pack 1 pick 11:

  My Pick:

Queen's Bay Soldier is surprisingly playable, and it is Vampire, so it will likely make my deck.


  Pack 1 pick 12:

  My Pick:

Not as good as Pirate's Cutlass, but equipping Prying Blade to a flyer can generate a surprising amount of Treasure.


  Pack 1 pick 13:

  My Pick:

This will be a sideboard card against any control decks I might come up against.


  Pack 1 pick 14:

  My Pick:

I haven't played with Costly Plunder yet; however, with the amount of Vampire tokens I might end up with (or even Treasure tokens if I play Prying Blade) it might make the deck.


  Pack 1 pick 15:

  My Pick:

At this point I realise that pack one went very well for me, with even my 14th pick being a card I might end up playing in the deck. This is probably the happiest I've been in an Ixalan draft so far at this stage of the draft, though I haven't managed to pick up any Anointed Deacons to really make the Vampire deck tick.


  Pack 2 pick 1:

  My Pick:

Pirates and Merfolk players are going to love this pack, but I was more interested in Walk the Plank. Obviously this gets sideboarded out versus Merfolk, but I had zero removal so far and this is one of the better ones.


  Pack 2 pick 2:

  My Pick:

This was a tough pick, and I'm still not sure which one was correct. I've got two cheap flyers in Skyblade of the Legion and Skymarch Bloodletter, as well as a Vampire pay off card in Glorifier of Dusk and a good rare in Kinjalli's Sunwing. Sunwing is stronger than the two commons, and Glorifier hasn't been as good as I'd like, so I took Sunwing.


  Pack 2 pick 3:

  My Pick:

I obviously missed the Pirate's Cutlass in this pack, or I would have taken it. 


  Pack 2 pick 4:

  My Pick:

Queen's Commission is good in a Vampires deck and nowhere else. I did think about taking Legion's Judgment but stuck with the Vampires.


  Pack 2 pick 5:

  My Pick:

Probably one of, if not the most important card for a Vampires deck, Anointed Deacon was an easy pick up here. 


  Pack 2 pick 6:

  My Pick:

This was a pretty average pack, and my choices were between Raptor Companion and Sleek Schooner. Having picked up two token generators so far, I took Sleek Schooner; I figured the 1/1s can crew this if nothing else.


  Pack 2 pick 7:

  My Pick:

Bishop's Soldier is a solid two-drop and can swing games, especially in combination with Anointed Deacon.


  Pack 2 pick 8:

  My Pick:

Another Skymarch Bloodletter to add to the air force I was amassing.


  Pack 2 pick 9:

  My Pick:

While Legion Conquistador is a Vampire, I really would prefer not to run it. I might not run Dire Fleet Hoarder, either, but it is better than Conquistador.


  Pack 2 pick 10:

  My Pick:

I'll take as many of these as I can get.


  Pack 2 pick 11:

  My Pick:


  Pack 2 pick 12:

  My Pick:


  Pack 2 pick 13:

  My Pick:


  Pack 2 pick 14:

  My Pick:


  Pack 2 pick 15:

  My Pick:


  Pack 3 pick 1:

  My Pick:

There are three good cards here, with Pirate's Cutlass, Territorial Hammerskull and Vanquisher's Banner. While I was wary of including too many five-drops, I couldn't resist trying out the Banner.


  Pack 3 pick 2:

  My Pick:

I actually did think about taking Paladin of the Bloodstained here, as the two bodies are better with Vanquisher's Banner. However, I stuck to my plan of cheap evasive creatures and took another Skyblade of the Legion.


  Pack 3 pick 3:

  My Pick:

Another five drop, but I was light on removal and this is better than Legion's Judgment by quite a lot.


  Pack 3 pick 4:

  My Pick:

For this pick, I looked long and hard at Legion's Landing. I could see how powerful this could be, especially with Vanquisher's Banner, and in hindsight I should have taken it (one of my opponents actually played it against me in a match and I learnt how powerful it can be). 


  Pack 3 pick 5:

  My Pick:

This is a nothing pick; I could have taken a second Duress for the sideboard here, and probably should have.


  Pack 3 pick 6:

  My Pick:

As I said before, I'll take as many Skymarch Bloodletters as possible.


  Pack 3 pick 7:

  My Pick:

A second Anointed Deacon makes me happy about this deck.


  Pack 3 pick 8:

  My Pick:


  Pack 3 pick 9:

  My Pick:


  Pack 3 pick 10:

  My Pick:


  Pack 3 pick 11:

  My Pick:


  Pack 3 pick 12:

  My Pick:


  Pack 3 pick 13:

  My Pick:


  Pack 3 pick 14:

  My Pick:


  Pack 3 pick 15:

  My Pick:

 

THE DECK

I'm quite happy with how the deck turned out. It is heavy on the five drops, though each of those five drops are extremely high quality, and with the amount of lifegain in the deck I should be able to cast them. Eight flyers that cost three or less mana is exactly what I wanted to do, and with Pirate's Cutless, Vanquisher's Banner and two copies of Anointed Deacon to pump them I'm pretty happy. It's no where near as aggressive as last week's deck, but I feel this deck certainly can go the distance.

 

RESULTS

The deck finished with a 2-1 record (4-3 in games). And I know it sounds like a cop out, but the match I lost was due to mana issues (seriously; I drew 14 of my 17 land out of 20 cards in one of the games, and it wasn't much better in the other). One of the wins was pretty close, and was against another white/black Vampires deck, while the other was pretty easy.

The flyers were the all stars of the deck, chipping away for damage. I kept what little removal I had to remove anything that threatened to prevent them from attacking (in other words, other flyers) and in some cases even deliberately traded off flyers for their flyers when I knew I had more. Vanquisher's Banner was amazing; against the mirror match, the game went extremely long at one point; we were both top decking, and in one turn I was able to draw four cards off of the Banner which let me go on to win the game. I also learnt of the power of Legion's Landing, which I declined to take during the draft. My second round opponent played it and it helped them to grind out the game they won against me, though ultimately they lost the match.

Vampires is quite a fun deck and my be my favourite archetype of the format. What do you think of it?

 

FIRST PICK, FIRST PACK

Here is a booster of Ixalan I opened on Magic Online. What would you take from this pack?