Amonkhet Draft – A Failure to Agree on Reality

I just don’t see it. I mean, I hear it everywhere, and I read it everywhere, but I just do not see it: Amonkhet draft being fast. It just isn’t.

Yes, there are fast decks, mainly red/white ones. They have the tools to succeed, but they are not quite as fast as the fastest decks in other formats, and there are tools to stop them. Yes, there is the blue/white Slither Blade deck which can catch people off-guard, but that is just the type of strategy which usually thrives in slow environments, as a reaction to too much durdling around. (Remember original Ravnica block draft? Of course you do. Was that a fast environment? Most certainly not. Did people start having success with hyperaggro R/G crap decks once everyone started to spend their early turns returning lands to their hands and then discarding? Hell yes!)

I admit that may personal experience with this format sums up to a meager four draft leagues. But in addition to that, I watched about a dozen draft videos, and several additional hours of draft streaming. I watched a lot of coverage from GP Richmond, and all of the draft coverage from PT Amonkhet. I looked at the top 8 deck lists of all three Amonkhet limited Grand Prixs on that weekend, and at the collected 3-0 deck lists from the first draft round of GP Bologna. I read the features about successful drafters in all those coverages. I took an especially close look at Frank Karsten’s list of most-played commons in day 1’s draft. Oh, and I also always take notice of the screenshots of winning draft decks which players like Andreas Reling post in my timeline.

And I do not see a fast format. There is a heck of a lot of midrange decks, some controllish builds and some aggro. Creatures with exert heavily encourage you to attack, and players have begun to figure out that giving haste or vigilance to or untapping those creatures is powerful. But the games still go long, often even very long. And aggro is by no means king of the format if you just look at the results. It can be good, but it is not as good as people were led to believe during the first weeks, when Red was an underdrafted color and removal was valued criminally lowly (both of which I witnessed shockingly often).

You see, it is unlikely that draft formats will ever return to the days when you actually could spend the first couple of turns adding nothing to the board without risking to get overrun by an opponent who curved out. That is not the measurement of a slow draft format today. So forget the silly mantra that every new draft format is “great” in its first week, but “tempobased” after that. All formats are tempobased (and that is an important aspect of making them great)! Being slow or fast is about the number of lategame cards you can get away with running, not about a guaranteed number of turns you can survive while playing goldfish.

Done with my rant, I will now present you with my first winning Amonkhet draft deck after three failed attempts with a 2-1 score. I neither forced those colors nor that strategy, I just happened to end up there; and I do not even think that this is an especially great example of U/B control, but it did the trick.

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