Greetings, duelists! This week I'll be talking about how Dragonstrike Infernus translates to Limited play rather than Constructed; specifically, the booster draft! I figured this week was the perfect time to do an article like this, since starting next week, I'll be doing a few articles to help everyone prepare for the quickly approaching Kaijudo Master Challenges. Anyway, we had a Dragonstrike Infernus booster draft at my local this past weekend, and I'll be going over some of my experiences in the tournament and some of the different strategies that proved effective.
As I've mentioned before, power is extremely important in a Limited event, and Dragonstrike Infernus is a set with a LOT of power packed in its 60 cards. There are many things to choose from if you want to use some creatures with high power. For starters, a lot of the Dragons are pretty obvious choices. The level 9 dragons like [ccProd]Infernus the Awakened[/ccProd] might be hard to summon in the fast-paced Limited environment, but cards like [ccProd]Lyra, the Blazing Sun[/ccProd], [ccProd]Spellbane Dragon[/ccProd], and [ccProd]Treetop Dragon[/ccProd] are all relatively easy to play. A card like Treetop, which probably won't see any play in a competitive Constructed tournament, becomes infinitely better in this kind of tournament because of the absence of removal. There are no Terror Pits or Death Smokes to worry about, and the closest things we have in this set to those cards are Devouring Smog and Ensnare, which are very underwhelming by comparison.
In addition to the obvious choices, there are also numerous evolutions in this set which can do quite a bit of damage. [ccProd]Aurora Valkyrie[/ccProd], [ccProd]Ancient Grave Worm[/ccProd], [ccProd]The Swarmleader[/ccProd], and [ccProd]Burnclaw the Relentless[/ccProd] are all cards that don't seem like they'd be good with the limited amount of creatures of their races in the set, but are surprisingly draftable. Since you can run however many copies of a card you want in a booster draft, it's possible to stalk up on a ton of Evo-bait and Evolutions and have a very solid deck. For example, even though there's only one Drakon in the set to evolve into Burnclaw ([ccProd]Branca the Treacherous[/ccProd]), the guy next to me was able to run six Brancas and three Burnclaws.
The limited amount of removal in this set makes it all the more important to stock up on whatever you can get. In addition to [ccProd]Devouring Smog[/ccProd] and [ccProd]Ensnare[/ccProd], which are at their most effective in Shields or when your opponent only has one or two big creatures out, [ccProd]Dragon's Breath[/ccProd] is another great choice. There was one point in the draft that I went first and summoned a turn two [ccProd]Manapod Beetle[/ccProd] and a turn three [ccProd]Vectro Scout[/ccProd], trying to take advantage of my fast-paced opening hand, and upon attacking with the Beetle ran straight into a Dragon's Breath in the first shield. Needless to say, it stopped me in my tracks by wiping out my field and I was on a losing path for that game.
Anything that can consistently get rid of big threats is a definite consideration in Limited, which is why there was a lot of hype over the Rot Worm evolution, Ancient Grave Worm going into this tournament. I bypassed that strategy in favor of other evolutions that I'll talk about a little later, but Nate Bond from our local was able to draft 9 Toothed Grublings and 5 Ancient Grave Worms, effectively forming a mono-Darkness deck that made it to the top four with relative ease. It was fast, had a ton of solid early-game creatures, and had a powerful evolution that could double as removal; what more could a booster draft deck ask for?
What I Drafted
I didn't really have an idea of what I wanted to draft going into the event, but upon talking to my friend and teammate Gorby, he expressed interest in the Megabug lineup. He couldn't make it, so I decided to just stick with his plan and see how it panned out. In the first pack, I picked a [ccProd]Canyon Skimmer[/ccProd], which seemed like a solid removal option for after I had a few big creatures out, as well as coming with a pretty solid 3000 power. In the first pack passed to me, I actually saw [ccProd]The Swarmleader[/ccProd], so that's when I knew I'd have to go in that direction. When it was all done, I had a pretty decent amount of bugs; 5 of [ccProd]Manapod Beetle[/ccProd] and 2 of [ccProd]Copper Locust[/ccProd] along with two of the evolution. My Light section fared pretty well too, getting me a playset each of [ccProd]Spark Cage[/ccProd] and [ccProd]Canyon Skimmer[/ccProd] as well as some Vectro Scouts and a small Skyforce Champion lineup with an [ccProd]Aurora Valkyrie[/ccProd].
Round one I had to play against Carl Miciotto right off the bat, and I had no idea what he drafted since we were in different pods (with ten people who entered, five people drafted in one pod and five in the other). As it turned out, he attempted to draft both Bugs and Worms at different points but whenever he settled on one, he stopped seeing the creatures to make it possible; someone else was always picking up what he was going after. His deck wasn't bad, but mine had much more consistency since I wasn't really fighting for any of the civilizations with the other people at my table, so I took the 2-0.
Rounds two and three I was actually paired up against two people who drafted Dragons with relative success. Getting hit with turn two Lux, turn three Nix, and turn four Treetop Dragon is pretty devastating in a format where I don't have access to my Terror Pits or Death Smoke. I did suffer one game loss to Theo when Kindrix the Psionic hit the board; if that creature is summoned in Limited, it's pretty much game over. However, games two and three saw me taking the comeback. Against Phil, who drafted 5-civ Dragons, I took the 2-0, although he was almost able to come back game two. I had to topdeck one of my Cages or Skimmers at just the right time, and as luck would have it, I was able to.
In round four, I had to play against the other undefeated player, my teammate Spencer Swan. He was able to draft a pretty crazy deck that had enough Cyber Lords for [ccProd]Emperor Dendrite[/ccProd] as well as a few gigantic Dragons such as [ccProd]Issyl of the Frozen Wastes[/ccProd]. I was able to hand him his first game loss of the day, but ultimately lost to Emperor Dendrite in game three after I had all but forgotten that card existed. Issyl was a definite threat all three games, and it basically necessitated getting into a position to where I had multiple creatures and [ccProd]The Swarmleader[/ccProd] so I could use its power boost to attack over it. His deck also proved how powerful any solid blocker can be in Limited, too. Copies of [ccProd]Coral Claw[/ccProd] and Man o' Warden were on the field for him almost constantly, and they really set me back.
When the top four came around, I was paired up against Nate, who drafted mono-Darkness. I was actually dreading this matchup because his Double Breakers were faster than mine and if he drew them at the right time, he could neutralize pretty much anything I put on board. I was lucky in that I had decent hands both games and he sometimes drew all his [ccProd]Ancient Grave Worm[/ccProd]s with no Grublings, so I was able to take a 2-0 victory a lot easier than I was expecting. On the other side of the table, Spencer had actually lost to Theo after going 4-0 in swiss (thanks to Theo's [ccProd]Kindrix the Psionic[/ccProd], from what it looked like), meaning I was in a matchup I knew I could win in the finals. Through using [ccProd]The Swarmleader[/ccProd]'s effect at the right times, I was able to take care of his big finishers and take this match as well.
Overall, a lot of the things I knew about drafting were further cemented by this event. Power sill played a huge role, and even a difference of 500 power could dictate how a game went. I summoned a turn two [ccProd]Manapod Beetle[/ccProd] against a turn two [ccProd]Lux[/ccProd] numerous times and just wasn't able to attack. Cards like [ccProd]Spark Cage[/ccProd] and [ccProd]Canyon Skimmer[/ccProd] in conjunction with those bigger creatures were another reason I was successful. The set was definitely fun to draft though, and I encourage experimenting with a tournament like this if you have local players who are interested.
That about sums it up for the Dragonstrike Infernus booster draft! Make sure you leave a comment down below with your thoughts, and stay tuned until next week, when I'll be starting a sort of mini-series in which I talk about ways to prepare for the Kaijudo Master Challenges. They're only a month away, and I personally can't wait to get back into the competitive swing of things! Until then, Play Hard or Go Home and I'll see you all next week.