WHAT IS BETTER THAN AJANI, MENTOR OF HEROES?

Posted in NEWS on May 10, 2014

By Tim Willoughby

This is a multiple choice question.

Within the space of about 15 seconds into the second draft of the day at Grand Prix Warsaw, I got a chance to see all three of these options play out.

Tomoharu Saito, the Japanese phenom who is one of the great thinkers of the game is someone I knew I wanted to watch draft at some point in the weekend. When I saw him open a pack with Ajani in, my immediate reaction was option A. I'm sure that many of you would feel the same way.

Saito, it seemed, had different ideas. He looked at the pack and elected to take a journey in a different direction. Seeing a fair spread of other cards, knowing that he didn't want to commit to two colours early (especially those two), he took Sigiled Starfish instead. Saito considers both white and green to be 'main' colours, rather than support colours, and was concerned that he'd find himself fighting over more picks by taking Ajani, and potentially getting stuck in a difficult colour combination for the powerful mythic rare. Meanwhile, he rates the fish as the third best common in the set (after Akroan Mastiff and Supply-Line Cranes).

So we've seen option A and option C. What about option B? Well as it turns out, the player to the left of Saito also opened Ajani, Mentor of Heroes. He initially went with option A, and then got passed another copy of Ajani, causing him to hastily adjust his answer. For comic effect, he also took Ajani's Presence third.

So what happens once you take the Saito route of pick one Sigiled Starfish? Well, as it turns out, things seem to go really rather well. In total Saito ended up with three copies of the starfish, along with two copies of Akroan Mastiff. He snagged sixth pick Daring Thief, who plays rather well with a couple of incidental tappers. Saito had a game-plan, and while it wouldn't let him steal any planeswalkers, it would likely work on most other things. If you are looking to tap creatures for fun and profit, tapping your own Aerie Worshippers is not the worst choice, and using Retraction Helix to get value is also not a bad choice. Oreskos Sun Guide inspires a little bit of life gain, while Sphinx's Disciple inspires a touch of card drawing.

Speaking of card drawing, Saito picked up a Bident of Thassa over Sea God's Revenge in pack 3. For honest to goodness winning the game, Saito had some nice ones too. Thassa's Emissary and Nimbus Naiad were very workable bestow options, with the likes of Tromokratis as a massive monster to finish things.

It would appear you don't need a planeswalker to have a great deck in this format. This is convenient, as most of us simply don't have the option. Some of us that do have the option, choose not to use it.