The 6-0 Drafters

Posted in PRO TOUR DRAGONS OF TARKIR on April 11, 2015

By Craig Jones

Hmm…another draft article. People do know I'm not very good at the Limited side of Magic, right? I guess that's why they're sending me out to talk to the people that are good. You might learn something.

Three players managed to come out of the Draft portion of Pro Tour Dragons of Tarkir with perfect 6-0 records. I tracked them down and talked to them about what had gone right in their Drafts.

Steve Rubin, a Top 32 finisher from Pro Tour Khans of Tarkir, drafted green both times: the first time with red, and the second time with white. He identified aggression as the key. He said it was a format where he liked to put people on the back foot, and then keep up the pressure until they were eventually overpowered. He mentioned it was hard to pick up the more obvious spells, but had found cards like Dromoka's Gift and Pinion Feast to be useful. Dromoka's Gift often surprised him at how late it came in the draft.

Steve Rubin has made a name for himself this season, and he approached the current Draft format with a set plan.

His preparation for this Pro Tour was six or seven drafts with his team. From those drafts, he decided he didn't like blue. He said it had strong cards in Fate Reforged, but the commons in Dragons of Tarkir are weak. For previous draft formats, he normally liked to stay open. For this format, he changed this and tried to actively avoid blue if he could.

In contrast, Kyle Boggemes went 6-0, and his deck was blue-back both times. He credits his success to drafting decks that always remain pro-active. In the first draft, he had a lot of dash cards, and in the second, a lot of fliers. That way, he could punish players that forced him to go first. He also drafts a lot of countermagic. I saw him use cards like Contradict to good effect in his Round 11 match.

Kyle Boggemes found his 6-0 success in Booster Draft with blue-black strategies.

Boggemes did around ten drafts in preparation for this tournament. From this, he decided blue-black was the best archetype. While he wouldn't necessarily force it (white-blue aggression with rebound is another archetype he doesn't mind playing), he was fortunate enough to open a Necromaster Dragon in the second draft to make it an easy decision.

Another 6-0 player is Adrian Sullivan, who likes red. He couldn't get it in the first draft, as he opened Sunscorch Regent and fell into white-black with a splash of blue. However, his second deck was what he described as the "platonic ideal" of the red-white archetype.

Adrian Sullivan bucked the common perception that blue-black was best, and instead found consistent success with red, thanks to powerful creatures like Sabertooth Outrider.

Sullivan is here as part of team Ultra PRO, and he did some extensive preparation for the tournament. He mentioned that his home area of Madison, Wisconsin runs intensive "boot camps" for drafting the moment a new set comes out. He managed to get 20 live drafts under his belt before the tournament. For the draft weekends, they had around 30 players show up, with twelve or thirteen of them qualified for this Pro Tour and plenty of players with Pro Tour experience. He described the standard of play as being high. "It was almost like a top table at a Pro Tour," he commented.

He said this was a format where you never wanted to be blocking. You either need to be attacking, or—as he fell back on with his first draft—killing their creatures. His favorite common from this set is Sabertooth Outrider. It hits hard for the right mana cost, and is very difficult to block once formidable is turned on. He'd even take it over cards like Draconic Roar.

Three different perfect-record players presented some very different strategies. Maybe it will take a few more tournaments to fully figure out Dragons of Tarkir booster draft.