Hello everyone, I’m Ekil from the Draft Lab and I’m excited to tell you about how I won thousands of dollars in the Arena Open. This past weekend we finally had a draft Arena Open and I’m going to walk you through my draft while explaining the logic behind my picks for you. Without further ado, let’s dive into the draft.
Ulvenwald Oddity: Looking at the first pack, I was really excited about the rare I opened. Ulvenwald Oddity is a clear bomb and you are always happy about taking it P1 P1 since it applies pressure really great in the early game while still being really amazing in the late game as a finisher after it transforms.
Overall the pack seemed weak, so If there wasn’t Ulvenwald Oddity, most likely I would be looking at Blood Fountain as my p1 p1. That may sound odd, but I want to try to end up in black if I can and you are always happy about playing one blood fountain in almost every black deck. The Problem with picking Ancient Lumberknot as a P1 P1 is that you don’t know if both colors are going to be open so in general it’s always best to stay disciplined and go for a single color pick if you can.
Abrade: So the first thing you always do when you get a pack passed to you is check what is missing. Seeing that the rare was picked, I didn’t have any information on what my neighbour’s color is, so we’re looking at the pack as it is. Two cards that we are looking into are Abrade and Flame-Blessed Bolt, since there really isn’t a good green card I would like to follow up my rare with.
That brings up the classic debate of this set, the first Abrade or the first Flame-blast bolt. I personally prefer the first Abrade since 3 damage deals with more creatures plus destroying artifacts sometimes can be important (For example dealing with Dollhouse of Horrors). While I don’t think picking a Flame-Blessed Bolt would be a mistake, personally I am going with my first abrade here.
Lacerate Flesh: This was a tough one and a lot of people won’t agree with it. After some thinking I wasn’t really looking at going for a third color by taking Lantern Bearer or Restless Bloodseeker even though they are considered premium picks early on in the draft. Instead of staying open, I wanted to find my lane as fast as possible so I could start cutting my colors and send a clear signal to the left.
One big reason for picking Lacerate Flesh was that in the past I was always lacking interaction in Gruul. I think it’s super important to have enough interaction in this set even though it might not be as good as Abrade or Wolf Strike.
Reclusive Taxidermist: This is the moment that it felt like I am going to end up getting to play my bomb rare. Reclusive Taxidermist is one of the best green 2 drops you might open in this set, and it allows me to be more flexible, since green is the best color for splashing. Having the option to splash whatever bomb I open or get passed is really a key in this set, since this set is full of game changing bombs.
Weaver of Blossoms: Weaver of Blossoms puts me deeper into green and performs the same functions as Reclusive Taxidermist. It allows me to stay open for my second color while enabling me to splash whatever I want. Sure Strike is a fine card in, but I already had two interactive spells and I didn’t want to either miss out on Weaver of Blossoms or send a potential green signal.
Spore Crawler: Great three drop that does replace itself when it dies. I just love it except when it gets Flame-Blessed Bolted.
Note: This was the first real signal I could read from the pod. The Black and White commons were gone so that gives me a good sign that I am in the right color pair so far.
Hungry Ridgewolf: This is an amazing two drop in red and green since most of the creature types are wolf and werewolf. I also remembered that there was one more in my opening pack so I was hoping to see it wheel.
Note: The Blue and Black commons are gone, good sign again that my colors are open.
Voldaren Epicure: I think this is the first “mistake” I made in this draft when I picked Voldaren Epicure over Fearful Villager or another Spore Crawler. The reason I think this is a mistake is that Voldaren Epicure doesn’t have as much synergy as it does in other color pairs.
Hungry Ridgewolf: Yesss, at least one did wheel. Awesome!
Sanguine Statuette: Really good card if I end up with a lot of blood production in my deck. I’m not missing out on much by taking it here and it’s a higher upside pick if I do get a decent amount of blood production.
End the Festivities: Awesome sideboard card against some matches especially blue/white.
Sure Strike: I was really happy about grabbing this one late.
Anje, Maid of Dishonor: I was faced with a huge decision after a pretty on rails pack 1. Should I splash the bomb or pick a really good five drop in Falkenrath Celebrants? Luckily I had already picked Reclusive Taxidermist and Weaver of Blossoms so splashing should be easy. I want to be on the lookout for an Evolving Wilds since it would make splashing basically free.
Anje is really absurd and it closes out the game really fast if it stays on board for even a few turns. I grabbed my second bomb here and everything was really looking up at this point.
Note: I’m hoping that Falkenrath Celebrants will wheel, but I doubt I am that lucky.
Blood Petal Celebrant: There wasn’t much for me in this pack so I went for a really solid two drop. While Magma Pummeler is decent in some red/green decks, I already have two bombs and wanted to fill out the lower end of my curve.
Dormant Grove is an amazing Green card, but I felt like with the 4 drops I already have I just really wanted a good cheap interaction spell. Similar to the Lacerate Flesh pick, it’s really important to prioritize interaction over other good cards in this set.
Flourishing Hunter: I happily grabbed this great six drop for my top end. Sawblade Slinger is really good against some matches, but I wanted to prioritize my main deck over the sideboard at this point. I also already have an Abrade to deal with troublesome artifacts.
Fearful Villager: Bloodtithe Harvester is an amazing two drop in the colors I am playing, but I am not a fan of splashing two drops unless they are a game changer or I am missing playable cards. Fearful Villager goes well with the two Hungry Ridgewolf we have and lets me keep my splash to one card.
Voldaren Epicure: I think this was another mistake and if I could go back I would take
Hungry Ridgewolf: Continues with the theme.
Apprentice Sharpshooter: Great sideboard card against flying creatures or 3/x creatures that can’t pass it. Really glad I got the first one.
End the Festivities: Really happy about having two of these in my sideboard as an option.
Honored Heirloom: Awesome mana rock that helps even more with splashing Anje. As a bonus, it’s really great against disturb decks or recursion.
Unhallowed Phalanx: Not Relevant.
Supernatural Rescue: Even less relevant.
Dormant Grove: This made me really happy that I took the Flame-Blessed Bolt over the first Dormant Grove. Even though it’s a great card, I would most likely only end up playing one. One of the reasons is that my 4 drop slot is already pretty full. Yet again I am hopeful, but doubtful that Falkenrath Celebrants will wheel.
Volatile Arsonist: Yep this happened, hurrah! Easy decision to slam my third bomb.
Bramble Wurm: Torens, Fist of the Angels seems tempting to pick here for another splash, but I think that might be too greedy. Torens is also at it’s best on curve and it’s not very likely that would ever happen on a splash. Bramble Wurm seems like a great top end for my given deck because it will stop aggressive decks that try to race with me and I should be able to play it early with all of my mana acceleration.
Note: The Red common is gone. It seems like the person two seats away from me took a red card, luckily the Volatile Arsonist didn’t have to get through them.
Reclusive Taxidermist: Let’s splash everything now! 😀
Ballista Watcher: This got me debating if it’s true that the person two seats from my right is actually drafting red. It’s possible they just took a red removal spell or a rare over this. I’m glad I ended up with this late powerful addition to my deck.
Sanctify: None of the other cards were going to make my deck so I took a decent sideboard card against enchantments and artifacts. Splashing any single pip card will be really easy with my deck.
Witch's Web: Well now we have the web we missed out on earlier. Sundown Pass would have been a great pick if I had taken the Torens, fist of Angels or maybe for Sanctify splash. Since I didn’t have any Witch’s Webs, I’m happy about picking it now for the reasons I discussed earlier.
Fearful Villager: Most likely even the first Blood Petal Celebrants won’t be making the cut with all the on theme two drops I have. I snatched up the second Fearful Villager because as I said earlier, it’s an amazing follow up to Hungry Ridgewolf.
Bloody Betrayal: For AFR fans.
Bloodcrazed Socialite: Best card available.
Lacerate Flesh: Great late pick, one more piece of interaction.
Moldgraf Millipede: Not relevant.
Into the Night: Into the cash!
This was the final version of the deck I played that managed to go 7/2 on day 2 to earn $2,000!
Thanks for reading and if you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comment section.
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