Argothian Treehouse
Andy Van Zandt



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Argothian Treehouse

with Andy Van Zandt

8th Edition Drafting

This week I'm aiming at a couple of things-  first off, in drafting 888, 
you're doing a triple base set draft- which i'll go over in more detail in a
future article,  it's my preferred type of draft.  Moreover, it's the "base
set" of base sets at the moment,  and as such,  a lot of the concepts in
drafting it are some of the most simplistic ones you can use-  that sounds
bad, but the fact is that a lot of people miss out on these basic issues, 
so this gives you the building blocks for understanding other limited
formats.  Add to this the fact that this is something you can play any time
of day on magic online (and maybe open up some Birds of Paradise or Wrath of
Gods for your online collection along the way),  and thus should hopefully
be useful to more than just beginners.

What To Draft:

Black, White, or Blue.  Select at least one of these colors- probably
determined by what you open or are passed early.   Selecting multiple colors
(or even all three of them) is just fine.  Drafting priority goes to
removal, since very often, when people don't know the value of particular
creatures in a format, they snag the removal first...  this has particularly
been my experience online,  I rarely see dark banishings, for instance, 
past first and second pick.  Burn spells I rarely see past what I might

Beyond Removal, you're looking for flying/evasion creatures-  the bigger the
better, in general,  though angelic page and sage owl are still quite
useful.   Air assaulters are optimal, because they can block other flighty
men (phantom warrior is better than a 2/2 or 2/1 flyer, but not the bigger
ones) ,  but fear creatures, and to a lesser degree, landwalkers, will suit
your purpose.  Grabbing extra swampwalking beetles and rushwood dryads for
your sideboard is reasonable too, when there's nothing else there.

When neither removal nor a solid air dude are available, look for something
to generate card advantage.  In general that will mean one of the several
available card-drawing bits... Inspiration, Concentrate, Ambition's Cost,
Treasure Trove, Jayemdae Tome, Phyrexian Arena.   Also keep in mind the
existence of more indirect forms... Mind Rot, Thieving Magpie, Curiosity,
and Abyssal Spectre, for instance.  In case you didn't guess, since the
Magpie and spectre are both flyers and advantage, I favor them very highly. 
Redeem can be an amazing advantage-generating combat trick...  more often
than not, it only nets you a 1-for-1 though.  Same with Solidarity.

Remember that that prioritization is just "in general",  if you open a bomb
in red or green, such as a dragon (or perhaps a money rare like birds), 
don't hesitate to scoop it up.  Aside from that, once you've got the meat
and potatoes of your deck selected, start eyeballing for your second (or
maybe splash third) color.  Burn is a good selection, and I almost never
pass a Blaze or Pyrotechnics,  with shock troops being very utilitous as
well (sizzle is bad).  In green, there are fewer picks that I value. 
Nantuko Disciple is probably my number 1 green pick; aside from that, I look
at the mana fixers/accelerators, like rampant growth, fertile ground, vine
trellis, and wood elves.  They aren't amazing,  but they're ok if you're
green.  Yes, Craw Wurm is a fatty... no, he doesn't win many games.  Also
good are the nice ground-stall-enforcers (THAT is what craw wurm does)...
standing troops, wall of air, horned turtle, black regenerators, and sea
serpent all do this quite nicely.  Usually your flying men will also help
out your ground stall, but having some back up for them while they pummel
your opponent is usually preferable and faster.

How To Play

Honestly, there's not much to say here that's not basic strategy...  as
mentioned previously, the ground stalls.  Usually, whether you want it to or
not.  Very few games are won based on a tempo-ground strategy.  Very few. 
And unless you're ramping up to a turn 4 craw wurm, followed by another one,
followed by a spined wurm,  ground fatties will probably not rule the day. 
Even then, a good blocker and a piece of removal will still usually shut you
down with either of those routes.  As the smart player sporting evasion
creatures,  that's what your goal is.  It's a good goal, too, since it's
usually so easy to accomplish.  Now get your aerial squad on-line and start
smashing heads.  Remove overly troublesome flying blockers only if they will
kill off your attackers (aven flock is often the culprit here).  Generate
card advantage to make sure you've got air superiority with either more
flyers or more removal.  Want to know why Nantuko Disciple is so good from
green?  Not only does he speed up your clock, he can also hold the ground
(pumping smaller dudes to take on the opposing bad hill giants and whatnot),
  and most importantly, he makes you win the air war.  Hopefully you're
careful with your Aven Cloudchasers and remove your opponent's
Pacifisms/Dehydrates and not your own...  it's a "must" ability, not a

Side in landwalkers and circles of protection/other color hosers as
appropriate.  If you see 2 strong artifacts or 3 weaker ones, bring in
artifact removal if available... ditto enchantment removal.  Counter magic
is not so optimal unless you don't have other removal available,  or you're
worried about a nasty spell you couldn't otherwise deal with... blaze,
worship, etc.

Got it?  Good.  Don't got it?  Send me an email.

You can reach Andy at:

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