Reigning Worlds Captain Marcelino Freeman is a popular guy. While it would be stretching the truth to say I had to get in line to speak with him, there were plenty of handshakes and well-wishing done before I managed to steal him away. First up, I asked him about the biggest changes that Fate Reforged has brought to the draft format.
"Most importantly, green is a lot better. People didn't like Temur in all-Khans, but now it's very playable. Red-Green, too. You have access to more quality big creatures."
Freeman's draft kicked off with Mistfire Adept. "A very powerful card that makes your spells even better. Gives you another way to push through damage." He followed this with Bathe in Dragonfire, solid removal, then had his choice of Write Into Being or Frost Walker. He chose the latter, saying "On turn two it is so good, it gives you ferocious, and it doesn't die for free as much as you might think." He got a gift on the following pack, a Goblin Heelcutter. "It's a good signal, I've taken this card as high as first-pick."
Fifth pick he decided to spread out, taking Whisperer of the Wilds over Cunning Strike. "This was another signal. I was blue-red, and hoping to just be straight blue-red or with a small splash, but it was still early in the draft and if green was open I wanted to be green. Next up came Hunt the Weak. "It's a better trick than people think, especially in Temur." Destructor Dragon was proof enough that green was where Freeman wanted to be. "It's expensive but it's still a 4/4 flier." He finished the pack off with a Feral Krushok and a Mardu Scout.
"Here I was still open to going either Temur or even just red-green. I didn't have any mana fix yet, so that was a concern."
Pack two started with disappointment. It fanned out into a wealth of Abzan goodies, but had only an Arrow Storm to offer Freeman. Second pick he had his choice of spells between Force Away, Bring Low, and Master the Way. He chose the cheapest option. He followed that up with a Swiftwater Cliffs, seeming to settle on being Temur. "I'd say I wasn't 100% committed yet, not really until the start of Pack 3."
The middle of the pack gave him a pair of Alpine Grizzlies and a Longshot Squad, solid playables but nothing spectacular. He had to take Thornwood Falls over Temur Charm out of respect for his stretched mana base. There was one glimmer of hope – an eighth-pick Savage Punch. His deck would take as many of those as he could get. "That was crazy, getting it so late. And with two Alpine Grizzly already."
Pack three started with another Arrow Storm ("I love that card") and then Temur Ascendancy, over Pine Walker. "Ascendancy is obviously a powerful effect when it works, drawing cards and haste for your creatures. In all-Khans you really had to force it, though, get it early and make sure you had enough ferocious guys. It's much better now."
Third pick had a dilemma for him: Swiftwater Cliffs, Glacial Stalker or Canyon Lurkers. Freeman surprised me by taking the Lurkers. "At this point I knew I needed creatures, and especially ones with high power. Also I was only really looking at playing two or three blue cards, so taking the Lurkers helped the mana." The rest of the pack gave him a late Snowhorn Rider, a second Thornwood Falls, and third copies of Arrow Storm and Alpine Grizzly.
"It's a good deck, not really a 3-0 though, probably 2-1. I don't have a lot of 2's, I'd love another Whisperer or a Rattleclaw Mystic. The mana worked out very well, though, all my dual lands are blue, so I didn't need many islands."