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By: MarcosPMA, Marcos Rodriguez
Feb 18 2014 1:00pm
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The Magic Online Prerelease was this past weekend, and while I told myself I wouldn't participate, I just couldn't get away from the drafts.  I do like to draft, and figured I might as well draft and see how the format would be online.  Prior to the Magic Online Prerelease, I had done 2 BNG/THS drafts and went 3-0 in the first and 2-1 in the second.  It's a pretty good start to the format but I knew that things would a bit different online since the drafts would all be Swiss, so instead of just getting the usual players that draft Swiss, you might also get "grinders" that want to open/earn BNG packs.  As such, it's hard to get any definitive findings on the format since the skill of each player may vary and signals aren't fully established yet.  With that said, let's talk about what Born of the Gods brings to the draft environment, what it takes out and the red dilemma.

Born of the Gods brings tribute, inspired, and good red cards.

With a new set comes new mechanics, and so we get both Tribute and Inspired.  Since we are only drafting 1 pack of Born of the Gods, there isn't a "Tribute" deck or an "Inspired" deck.  For the most part, the creatures with these mechanics will be drafted based on how good they are in the worst case scenario with hopes of getting the better card more than 50% of the time.  The Tribute creatures are hard to evaluate since they can be good or bad in any given board state, and your opponent will always give you the card that is best for them/worst for you.  With Inspired, a lot of the creatures are vanilla in nature with some upside if you can get them going.  I think the best ones are the ones that can generate virtual card advantage for you, generally these will be the ones that can make tokens.  Red gets a huge power boost in Born of the Gods with good red commons such as Fall of the Hammer, Bolt of Keranos, Pharagax Giant, and stellar uncommons such as Thunder Brute, Searing Blood, Everflame Eidolon, and Satyr-Nyx Smith.  With also get some cheaper removal in Asphyxiate and Excoriate even if they are somewhat conditional.  It also brings the Archetype cycle, which are all pretty great and can change the complexity of the game once they hit the board (I'm still iffy on the green one though).

Born of the Gods takes out one pack of Theros

While this might seem like an obvious statement to make, most people don't realize how important that pack of Theros is.  That's one less pack of Wingsteed Rider, Nessian Asp, Gray Merchant of Asphodel, Nimbus Naiad, Gods Willing, etc.  Your good commons from Theros will show up less, so you have to prioritize them far more than you did in triple Theros because there aren't as many to go around.  This is contrasted by Born of the Gods, where even though you only get one pack, you're more likely to see multiples of any common throughout that pack simply because it is a smaller set.  By taking out one pack of Theros, you're making the decks that you could draft in triple Theros a little less consistent.  The Ordeal cycle is not in Born of the Gods, so Ordeals, along with Emissaries, get better now because they're much harder to get.  Because there are now less Theros cards in the card pool, the Born of the Gods cards have to pull more weight than usual if you want to draft decks that were possible in triple Theros.

Is Red Open?  Should I draft Red?  The Red dilemma

I think it's common knowledge that Red is really good in Born of the Gods.  I've done drafts and I keep seeing good red cards go by, but does that mean Red is open?  Born of the Gods is a small set, so you're more likely to see a common twice from BNG than you are from THS.  So it could be that Red I'm just seeing more Red than I'm used to in Theros and could be a trap, but it could also just be good and open.  If Red is open, should you draft it?  While Red is good in BNG, it is mediocre to bad in THS.  Your best red common is Lightning Strike, then Ill-Tempered Cyclops and that's about it.  Red is usually open in Theros, but that's because the red cards are lackluster and aren't worth high picks.  At the moment your draft decks will contain more Theros cards than Born of the Gods, which means 2/3rd of your deck will probably be lackluster (assuming you go mono red).  Of course, you're unlikely to go mono red and will have another color to your deck, which will on average be better than the red cards you have.  In Theros red was an okay support color, but you weren't happy to be in red unless you had some good uncommons/rares.  With Born of the Gods, red becomes a playable color, but you need to prioritize the red creatures highly in pack 1 because they get worse in packs 2 and 3.  I'm sure in the coming weeks the format will get shaken out and we'll find out where red stands in BNG/THS draft, but for now I expect any red decks I draft to have the other color be the main color.

Prerelease Draft #1

 

 

Prerelease Draft #2

I recorded the first draft but I didn't get the chance to record the second one, and it probably was a good thing since I felt the draft was a bit of a train wreck from start to finish.  I opened a Champion of Stray Souls and it was between that and Archetype of Courage.  The Champion can get nutty at times, it can let you use your graveyard as a resource for blocking and attacking.  You can make blocks and sac to bring back your dead creatures, attack with those, then sacrifice them to bring back your other creatures and block with them.  It is mana intensive though and I had just gotten done with the U/W deck, so I decided to take Archetype of Courage and see how it would play out.  It felt like white was slightly open but the rest of the colors were all over the place.  It might have just been that the packs were weak, but I left pack one not knowing what I was drafting.  Luckily I opened a Wingsteed Rider and got passed another one and settled into B/W after seeing a late Baleful Eidolon and Gray Merchant of Asphodel.  Unfortunately for me, black was not open in Pack 1 so I got kinda cut in Pack 3.  This is what I ended up with:

And I managed to 3-0 with this.  I feel like this is a worse deck than the previous one, but Wingsteed Rider still just wins games.  I do like that I had 2 Wingsteed Riders, it lets you commit enough to the first one so that they have to answer it or lose, but if they do then you can just play the 2nd one and suit that one up to finish the job.  As far as BNG cards go, I was happier than expected with Glimpse.  It can be used offensively or defensively and it can also target your Heroic creatures to give them a +1/+1 counter.  Every time I cast the card I always targeted either my Hoplite or Rider and got some pretty sweet value on top of getting to scry 1.  Mortal's Ardor I like a lot, lifelink is very good and it's cheap enough that you can always have it up. Gorgon's Head + Archetype of Courage is just sick.  Speaking of Archetype, I was very impressed with it.  It pretty much forces your opponent to have either removal or a trick, and it becomes obvious that they have a trick if they attack so you can act accordingly when that happens.  Funny thing to note, I never drafted a rare this draft:

Conclusion

It'll be interesting to see how BNG truly shakes up BNG/THS Sealed, but I have a feeling that it makes the Heroic decks less punishing since a lot of what makes the Heroic decks tick is in Theros, not Born of the Gods.  Born of the Gods itself is not an incredibly fast set, so it's possible that the format slows down a little bit because of that.  As far as draft is concerned, I think the speed is about the same, you're just more liable to stall games out since your deck isn't as focused as it used to be (compared to triple Theros).  Cards that go up in pick order from Theros would be: Nessian Asp, Voyaging Satyr, Voyage's End, Gray Merchant of Asphodel, Griptide, Wingsteed Rider, Gods Willing, the Ordeals and the Emmissaries.  It goes without saying that these are already high pick cards but now that a pack of Theros is gone, it's even more important to pick them up early than to risk not getting them at all.  What do you think?  How have you seen BNG/THS draft?  Next week I'll be back with our first Sealed pool and my first impression of the format.  As always, if you have any comments, questions, or concerns, leave them in the comments section below.  If you like, you can view my Tumblr where I'll post Magic related stuff, or follow my YouTube channel to see when I post videos.  And if you need any advice on your sealed pool, you can always message me on MTGO if I'm online.

Thanks for reading/watching!

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2 Comments

Good article! I actually by IYankemDDS at Wed, 02/19/2014 - 21:43
IYankemDDS's picture

Good article! I actually think that the badness of Red is somewhat over-stated. I've had a bit of success with Red in Triple Theros. In addition to Lightning Strike at the Cyclops, I also like to stock up on Borderland Minotaurs (who often wheel), and a copy or two of Dragon Mantle in a heavy red deck can be quite good. At least early on, I won't be afraid to go in on Red if it seems open!

Thank you! Red has fine by MarcosPMA at Thu, 02/20/2014 - 07:45
MarcosPMA's picture

Thank you! Red has fine cards, but the problem is it really can't go big. Nessian Asp and Wingsteed Rider are cards that can go big, while Sip of Hemlock and Voyage's End/Griptide can bring things back down. Once Red goes into the late game, it really can't keep up with the threats/answers in the other colors. Red is stuck drawing 1/2s, 3/3s, and 4/3s when everybody else can easily beat those cards. What Red does well is put pressure on early, but sometimes lacks the punch to finish the job, which allows the other colors to just take over