Decathlon Event 10: Strixhaven Turbo Draft Guide

Escape Velocity Art by Mathias Kollros
Escape Velocity Art by Mathias Kollros

Hey everyone! We’re entering the fifth and final leg of the Decathlon where we will be traveling back to the campus of Strixhaven: School of Mages. My advanced course on turbo drafting will have you prepared to quickly destroy the competition.


Event Details

  • Duration: December 30, 2021 @ 8:00 AM PST to January 2, 2022 @ 8:00 AM PST
  • Format: Phantom Strixhaven: School of Mages Turbo Draft
  • Entry Fee: 2,000 Gold or 400 Gems
  • Ends After: 7 wins or 3 losses, whichever comes first
  • Match Structure: Best-of-one matches (BO1)

Turbo Magic Emblem

All spells cost [5] less to cast.

Rewards

WinsReward
7 wins3,000 Gold + Decathlon token
6 wins3 packs
5 wins2 packs
3–4 wins1 pack
0–2 winsNo rewards
Entry RewardArena Decathlete Sleeve
Decathlete sleeve with armored gladiator leaping into a fight
Arena Decathlete Sleeve

Packs awarded during Decathlon events can be from sets legal in Historic, Standard, and can even include the new Alchemy: Innistrad packs:

  • Alchemy: Innistrad pack: 20%
  • Standard set pack: 40%
  • Historic set pack: 40%

A reminder that you can enter the Decathlon events as many times as you want, but you can only get one Decathlon token from each event. You need three different tokens to be able to enter the finals so make plans to play other events if you want to get your hands on some of those sweet finals prizes.

Turbo draft was designed as a more casual experience, but we’ll be trying to spike this event to grab that last medal.


What’s a Turbo draft?

Turbo draft is a format where every card costs up to 5 colorless mana less than it normally does. This obviously makes expensive colorless cards such as lessons insanely better than they were when you had to pay for them. Similar to Omniscience Draft, you have to throw out your evaluations for every card in the format and look at it in the context of the new rules.


Cards that you actively want to be drafting

Colorless

Cogwork Archivist is a one mana 4/5 with reach. Highly efficient beater for this format with no colored mana requirement. This seems like the most common card you will run into during your drafts.

Environmental Sciences is the first lesson we’re going to be talking about. You should just replace a land with it and play it in the main board. It’s a free cast so you can even get away with keeping the zero land hand and just fetch the land of your choice with this.

Introduction to Annihilation is another free spell that removes their best nonland permanent at the cost of them drawing a card. While still solid, the replacement card is going to have a higher average value with lower land counts and cheaper high end spells. This is balanced out by being free to cast and should still probably just be in your main board.

Introduction to Prophecy is actually amazing in this format and you should main board as many of them as you can possibly get. Free scry two and draw a card will just churn through your deck to hit your high end spells. 

Letter of Acceptance is the card with the largest increase in value compared to regular draft. Have you ever wanted to play a mox in limited? How about a mox that produces all colors and can even be cashed in for a card later. I don’t think the bots will be picking these highly, but you should.

Mascot Exhibition was a game warping bomb at seven mana and now it only costs two. I actually think it might not be as good because you are less likely to be playing cheap learn cards. Another knock is that while it’s still better than Elemental Masterpiece, it doesn’t outclass it by enough to make it the end all be all that it was in normal draft. Still most likely an easy first pick, just slightly less insane.

Wandering Archaic is a huge bomb as a free 4/4 that makes a mana choked opponent give you free spells. This will win the award for “I’d rather be doing literally anything else than play against this card”.

Multicolored

Beledros Witherbloom is a two mana dragon that keeps providing value. Do you need to know anymore?

Blot Out the Sky is somehow even more ridiculous in this format as two mana make five two power flyers will just end the game in a hurry. Now imagine doing that on turn one off of a Letter of Acceptance.

Elemental Masterpiece really shines in this format since a two mana make two 4/4s is a huge swing in the game. It’s not quite Blot Out the Sky, but still puts a quick clock on the board. The only drawback is that I expect to see plenty of Cogwork Archivist clogging up the board.

Magma Opus is another spell that instantly turns the game in your favor and now it only costs three mana. This card gets played in historic so I don’t think I need to talk you into drafting it.

Rise of Extus is really going to swing its value based on how many lessons you have that you’re willing to leave in the sideboard. A two mana exile removal is still perfectly fine, but it goes way up if you get another free card off of it.

Rowan, Scholar of Sparks will almost exclusively be played on the Will side. Draw two for one mana is a very playable card in this format and will require some form of action on your opponents behalf to not let it keep accumulating value.

Velomachus Lorehold is probably the card I most want to open just for the absurd things it can pull off. It’s a great card made even better by only costing two mana and with a lower land count you are more likely to hit a relevant spell. Bonus points if you manage to hit Time Warp off of it. 

White

Approach of the Second Sun only costs two mana and if you build your deck right, you can probably dig it up quickly enough to replay it for the easy win. Playing this turn one off of Letter of Acceptance followed up by Solve the Equation gives you the turn two victory.

Combat Professor is one of the ways that aggressive decks can still compete in this format as a one mana flying beat stick can still get the job done. The evasion and pumping abilities are pretty key in a format where huge creatures are being tossed around for nothing.

Defend the Campus is much better than in regular Strixhaven draft due to only costing one mana and because your opponent is almost assuredly playing something with power four or greater to kill.

Blue

Bury in Books is always going to cost one mana and is just a hyper efficient way to deal with the large creatures your opponent is sure to be dropping.

Ingenious Mastery is just Ancestral Recall. That’s right, one blue mana draws three cards with no drawbacks. Plus it has the ability to scale up. Yes please.

Multiple Choice leaves very little choice for your opponent when you can get the whole shebang on turn one.

Pop Quiz is one of the few Learn spells that encourages me to keep a couple lessons in my side board. The card advantage really matters in a format of low land counts and cheap spells. 

Serpentine Curve will be a great way to end the game after playing a pile of spells. By the time you cast it, it should be going over the top of every other creature out there.

Tezzeret's Gambit is straight busted in turbo draft. The option to pay two life and zero mana to turn one card into two cards would be banned in vintage so just think about that before you consider passing this card.

Black

Baleful Mastery becomes a strictly better Swords to Plowshares that can hit Planeswalkers too. If that doesn’t get you excited, then I don’t know what type of unrealistic removal you are hoping for.

Crushing Disappointment is one mana card advantage in a format where you’ll be able to play all your cards. Not as insane as some of the other card draw spells, but still a solid card for your deck.

Professor Onyx is an obvious inclusion. The big thing on “Totally Not Liliana” is that outside of only costing two mana, you can probably pop off a couple instants and sorceries the next turn to stack those drains up fast.

Red

Crackle with Power scales up quickly with three mana to deal ten damage to two targets. KABOOM!!!

Explosive Welcome becomes a free spell as it replaces it’s three mana while sometimes killing two creatures. The value of this swings wildly on whether or not they have something you can kill for three damage, but killing one creature while doing three to the face is an acceptable fail case.

Green

Bookwurm provides a life cushion, replaces itself, and is usually the biggest thing on the field for three mana. Being able to bring itself back lets the big wurm take over the game unless they have a way to exile it.

Exponential Growth gets exponentially better in a format where the first two doublings are on the house. Playing this for three mana turns a five power trampler into a forty power game ender.

Field Trip is another learn card that makes keeping lessons in your sideboard worth it. That extra land being on the field instead of your deck is worth much more in turbo draft.

Verdant Mastery was a total scam in normal Strixhaven draft, but for only one mana you get a double ramp and fish out two more lands from your deck leaving your deck filled with mostly gas. I would almost rate this as a bomb here.


Cards that go down in value

  • Anything with more than one pip in the casting cost is going to be worth a lot less unless they have a really powerful effect like some of the ones above. The other thing to avoid is cheap cards because they don’t improve as much in comparison to more expensive cards.
  • All of the scry lands (e.g. Lorehold Campus) can be looked at as just a comes into play tapped dual land. You are very rarely going to get to the point where 5 mana scry is going to be relevant. It’s the opposite of normal Strixhaven draft because the rare dual lands are better than the scry lands in turbo draft.
  • Leyline Invocation is a trap card that a lot of people will think sounds great for one mana. In reality, you are never going to have that many lands out and playing a 3/3 isn’t going to move the needle much.

Tips and Tricks

  • Your land count should be fairly low, usually around twelve. Your deck can typically function off of two to three mana and the hand smoother will save you.
  • Don’t fall for the Strixhaven Stadium trap, it’s not remotely similar to Letter of Acceptance. Adding an extra colorless does basically nothing when everything costs five colorless less.
  • Cheap, efficient creatures shouldn’t be in your deck because they are outclassed by huge chonky critters that cost the same amount.
  • Avoid cards that have an expensive activation, they are still full cost and you’re never going to have that much mana.

Wrap Up

Thanks for reading and I hope you really enjoyed this quick trip back to school! I’ll be returning soon to help you all prepare for the Decathlon Finals.

If you have any questions, let me know in the comments below.

You can find me at:

j2sjosh

Josh is a member of the elite limited team The Draft Lab as well as the host of The Draft Lab Podcast. He was qualifying for Pro Tours, Nationals, and Worlds literally before some of you were born. After a Magic hiatus to play poker and go to medical school, he has been dominating Arena with over an 80% win percentage in Bo3 as well as making #1 rank in Mythic.

3 Responses

  1. nerdbrained says:

    Went 7-1 first try – 3x Letter of Acceptance + 3x Cogwork Archivist helped. First Day of Class was a reluctant pick for me but it did a ton of work- make your big cheap creatures even bigger, give them haste, and learn too!

  2. EtherealUK says:

    7-1 first try here too. Great guide, especially since I didn’t draft Strixhaven, so had no idea what to expect.

  3. ratkorga says:

    Played this a bunch even after getting my token, super fun at first but it has started to get old unfortunately. It felt like you were pretty much forced into Izzet colors every single time, sometimes splashing green or black or white or all three depending on how the packs shook out. (Most commonly green for me, since Field Trip and some of the Quandrix cards were quite good, but again it depends on what the packs revealed.) I tried some Golgari and Orzhov stuff for fun and it was just never as good, and I always felt like I was actively hampering myself any time I left Izzet colors.

    Some general thoughts:
    –>Absolutely insane card that didn’t get mentioned was Storm-Kiln Artist. Just incredibly explosive, especially when you can chain learns into Intro to Prophecies into more draw spells into bombs… both a major threat and a major enabler. Only got it twice but it was incredible both times.
    –>Crushing Disappointment was mentioned in the article but it was even better than expected; my last 7 win run was Grixis where I splashed black more or less solely for three Crushing Disappointments and they did not, erm, disappoint.
    –>Exponential Growth and Crackle With Power are probably the two most busted wincons in the format. Like seriously insanely good. Had a turn 2 kill with turn one Biblioplex + Letter of Acceptance into turn two Explosive Welcome + Exponential Growth for 3 to swing in for 16. I also once lost to a 256 power Bookwurm on a game I thought I had won. They also make Grinning Ignus a lot better (especially Crackle With Power, which needs a bit more investment to turn into an instant kill-shot).
    –>On the other hand, I kept expecting Urza’s Rage to be great, and twice managed to draft Urza’s Rage + Grinning Ignus + Teach By Example for some explosive wins and… it just never came together. 7 mana is just not easy even with 0 cost Letters of Acceptance and Grinning Ignus and the like.
    –>Echoing the above poster that First Day of Class was way better than expected. Especially nice in the late game when you have some mana built up and can tutor for a Fractal Summoning. Enthusiastic Study was also excellent for the Learn board and giving trample to your massive Fractal Summons or Exponential Growth-boosted monsters or Serpentine Curve critters or whatever to close out the game.
    –>Actually in general, Learn was just really really good. My first couple of tries I mostly maindecked my good lessons like Intro to Prophecy and Environmental Sciences because they seemed good enough on their own, and only really stuck the more situational stuff like Intro to Annihilation in the sideboard. Once I started focusing on picking up a good number of Learn cards and keeping all of my lessons in the board, I started consistently hitting 5-7 wins. Being able to chain a cheap learn card into Intro to Prophecy/Environmental Sciences was just so much value.

    Great guide and fun format, even if the novelty has already started to wear off.