Nine of the top 25 ranked players came to battle yesterday, only two remain. Ivan Floch had the best record with 8-1 and was hoping to start the day with a strong draft and be set for a smooth sailing to yet another top 8.
When it comes to strategy in Khans of Tarkir draft the top players seem to be divided into two camps. One who thinks that the best strategy is to aim for four or five colors, drafting dual- and trilands very high, and then never having to pass a strong rare in any color. The other favors two color aggressive decks, filled with two-drops to put as much pressure on the board as possible and hopefully never having to worry about the more powerful late game cards or expensive morphs.
Ivan Floch, and Czechs and Slovaks he's been testing with, have been known to be part of the latter. And his first draft in Strasbourg was a fine display of this preference.
The first thing that stood out in the first pack, was the rare. Crater's Claw is both a good card to splash in a multicolored deck, but also a lethal finisher if he would end up with the two color aggressive deck he was hoping for. Floch quickly flickered through the rest of the pack, taking the rare over an Arc Lightning and a Mardu Hordechief as the two only other options. Meanwhile, his right hand neighbor, American/Latvian Andrej Prost had opened a Wingmate Roc, which hopefully would set up the Monastary Floch to get good red passed.
"Crater's Claw was of course a really good card to open. It's a strong rare, and only one color, which makes it one of the best options to open," Floch explained after the draft.
His second pick didn't really have that many options to match well with the Crater's Claw. The best cards being Bitter Revelations, Disowned Ancestors, Glacial Stalker and a Woolly Loxodon. Floch had obviously gone Red/Green before, as he was quick to pick the Loxodon. A Horde Ambusher followed and it was clear what path he was on.
The rest of the pack panned out as follows:
|Bring Low||Snowhorn Rider, Crippling Chill, Monastary Swiftspear|
|Roar of Challenge||Crippling Chill, Smoke Teller|
|Rugged Highlands||Smoke Teller|
|Thornwood Falls||Leaping Master|
|Kin-Tree Warden||Tusked Colossus|
|Swift Kick||Kin-Tree Warden|
|Singing Bell Strike|
|Feed the Clan|
Floch now seemed set on Red/Green, but picked up a Thornwood Falls in case he wouldn't get enough strong cards in just two colors. Which is often the gamble with the two color strategy. Without the gold cards, it's sometimes hard to get enough playables. But Floch sure would try, hoping to pick up as many Alpine Grizzly and Savage Punch he could get his hands on.
Pack two however, greeted him with pretty much nothing, and Floch instantly had to widen his color preference, digging into Blue already with his first pick in a Master of the Way.
All the pack two picks:
To say that the pack was a disappointment would almost be an understatement. No Alpine Grizzlys, no Savage Punches, no red removal spells and only a few on color creatures. But perhaps the archetype needs just these cards? And the two color decks simply look a bit worse since they don't contain the fancy morphs and rares that makes the multicolor decks so strong.
"I actually don't mind adding Blue when I'm in the Red/Green archetype, and I would say it happens at least 50 per cent of the time. It's pretty rare to get a really strong deck without a small splash," Floch said when asked about the splash.
Pack three made the Blue splash even clearer, as Ivan picked up his deck's strongest card, next to Crater's Claw in a first pick Bear's Companion. Taking the Temur uncommon over an Alpine Grizzly and a Snowhorn Rider. A second Horde Ambusher was joined by a third pick Savage Punch, and Ivan let out a sigh of relief when he got the drafts first and really only gift with an eight pick Alpine Grizzly.
Pack three went as follows:
After the draft I sat down with Ivan Floch to talk to him about his deck and the strategy coming into the draft. It turns out he wasn't as set on a two color deck as I first suspected.
"I'll draft it if the cards are there of course, but I don't mind drafting a three color deck. For example I like the big Temur decks too, with good fixing and an even spread between the colors," he said.
When asked how he thinks the draft went, Floch was actually happy, and a little surprised that the deck turned out alright after all.
"I haven't really drafted Khans of Tarkir since the Pro Tour in Hawaii, since I've had so many other formats to test to prepare for the World Championships and the World Magic Cup. So it could have gone a lot worse."
In detail, he was worried that Temur might not be open after passing a few good Red and Blue cards in pack one, and especially an early Snowhorn Rider, which he thinks is really strong in the archetype.
"That might have been a questionable pick, to take Bring Low over Snowhorn Rider, but since it was early in the draft I wanted to keep my options open for Jeskai as well. In the end I think my deck turned out good. It looked bad for a while, but there are some cards, like Barrage of Boulders and Roar of Challenge that aren't good in any other decks, so you can get them late and never have to worry about getting enough playables," he said.