How to Eight-Man Draft in Conspiracy: Take the Crown
By Dante Boey
26th August 2016
Hail Due... I mean hello, fellow Conspirators!
Election season is upon us again as we determine who will take office as the undisputed Champion of the realms. Yes, it's that warm wholesome time of the year as we engage in backstabbing and skullduggery, negotiate alliances and just as quickly break them, all in the name of being the last man standing (or woman, or Goblin, or Zombie, or Eldrazi, etc). Itching to prove your superiority as the most masterful drafter in the upcoming self-contained Conspiracy: Take the Crown (C:TtC) set? Well, Dueller's Point is offering you the chance to do just that! Come this Friday night, and the entirety of this Saturday, we will be organising eight-man drafts to demand. You heard that right: 8 different players will participate in a gladiatorial battle royale, a free-for-all where only the most cunning and devious will survive. And to reflect the Darwinist nature of our draft (and the theme of the featured set), every player will win one Conspiracy booster for every opponent killed in the game as a result of his/her creature's attack, spell effects or ability of a permanent he/she controls. Which means that the last remaining player will receive a staggering 7 booster packs.
It makes sense to start making preparations if you wish to sign up for our drafts, or any draft of similar magnitude. What would be good picks and strategies? To this end, this article was written to offer suggestions. My approach is to focus on the commons and uncommons of the set, since the power level of most Mythics and Rares should be apparent.
Not every player will be fortunate enough to obtain powerful creature finishers as his/her pack rare. As such, you have to be able to get the best out of the common creatures in C:TtC, the ones you see most often. Fortunately, the Melee mechanic introduced in this set makes humble creatures dangerous beaters, especially in a game with multiple players.
Wings of the Guard is a good pick if you're choosing White. At 1W, it's a 1/1 Bird with Flying and Melee. Even when you attack just one opponent, it functions as a 2/2 flyer. Very efficient. If you attack 4 different opponents at the same time with different creatures, it becomes a 5/5 Bird!
Menagerie Liberator is Green's Melee common. If you attack just one opponent with him, he's a 4/3 with Trample for 3G. If you attack 4 opponents with 4 different creatures, he becomes a 7/6 trampler! Deputized Protester functions as Red's common beater. At 2R, he has Melee and Menace, meaning he can only be blocked by two or more creatures.
Wings of the Guard, Menagerie Liberator and Deputized Protester
Melee is a mechanic usually found in White, Green or Red creatures. It supports an aggressive playing style that summons multiple moderately costed but efficient creatures to overwhelm opponents. Support your Melee creatures with spells that let you go wide like Raise the Alarm.
Monstrosity is a returning mechanic that lets your creatures grow to titanic stature once you have enough mana. It is a good mechanic to use because you can scale the usage of available mana. Early game you cast a creature for 2 or 3 mana. Then later once you have enough lands and are in top-decking mode, you can activate the Monstrosity ability of your creature, making it a game-ender. Skittering Crustacean (for Blue), Nessian Asp (Green) and Sinuous Vermin (Black) are all very decent picks. The latter can even be reanimated by his vampiric friend, Driver of the Dead, also a common card.
Top: Skittering Crustacean, Nessian Asp
Bottom: Sinuous Vermin and Driver of the Dead
Being the Monarch has its perks. You draw a card at your end step if you're the Monarch. However, your authority becomes usurped if an opponent successfully damages you with his/her creature. There's always a danger of you being attacked when it's not your turn, so it's better to play safe, become the Monarch and enjoy sweet card advantage when it's your turn. There are a few common creatures that make you the Monarch when they enter the battlefield. They are Palace Sentinels in White (which synergises with Throne Warden), Entourage of Trest in Green, Canal Courier in Blue, Thorn of the Black Rose in Black (the best of the cycle in my opinion) and Crown-Hunter Hireling in Red (which unfortunately limits your options when attacking).
Palace Sentinels, Throne Warden and Entourage of Trest
Canal Courier, Thorn of the Black Rose and Crown-Hunter Hireling
There is a Chinese saying, "borrowing another's knife to commit murder". The Goad mechanic represents this philosophy. Why sully your hands when you can make another player's creature do your dirty work? When you successfully goad a creature during your turn, until your next turn, this creature must attack another player other than you if possible. Only Blue and Red creatures are blessed with this ability, like Jeering Homunculus and Goblin Racketeer. Use these creatures to seed unrest and cause havoc.
Jeering Homunculus and Goblin Racketeer
In C:TtC, Black is given the most direct creature removal. Murder is an instant that gets rid of any pesky creature for 1BB, no conditions attached. Regicide is another efficient removal at Common. At a single B, it will kill a creature belonging to 3 of Magic's 5 colours. If you draft 2 Regicides, you can deal with 4 colours. If you draft 3 Regicides, you can deal with creatures of all colours, but beware, Regicide has nothing against colourless artifact creatures. Finally, Deadly Designs is a cute enchantment that helps form alliances besides killing a common threat.
Murder, Regicide and Deadly Designs
White's removal comes in the form of enchantments preventing opposing creatures from attacking or dealing combat damage to you: Spectral Grasp, Ghostly Possession and Ghostly Prison. The latter requires a "tax" of 2 mana for every creature its owner sends to attack you, and is a snap pick.
Spectral Grasp , Ghostly Possession and Ghostly Prison
Red has Flame Slash, a very efficient sorcery that deals 4 damage to a target creature for just R. C:TtC introduces us to Garbage Fire, an instant at 2R that deals more damage to a target creature the later you pick it in your draft round. Pick it as your fifth card or later to get the best out of it.
Flame Slash and Garbage Fire
Green has access to the silver bullet Beast Within, a very versatile instant that eliminates any offending permanent for 2G (even lands). The flipside is your affected opponent gets to put a 3/3 Beast token into play. Lace with Moonglove can be played as a murderous combat trick during another player's turn. This 2G instant even replaces itself. Green's creatures tend to be bigger than the rest, so Prey Upon can help you get rid of smaller creatures if you have a large one in play.
Blue traditionally has no removal and this set has kept true to the colour pie.
C:TtC introduces us to the Council's Dilemma mechanic, a variant of the original Conspiracy's "Will of the Council" rule. With Council's Dilemma, each player chooses either to give you something good, or give you something else that is good. Blue has what is possibly the most broken creature at common to feature this mechanic at an 8-man draft -- Messenger Jays. At the very least, it becomes a 9/8 flyer at 4U that draws you a card, but you can politick and negotiate with fellow players to get a more desired result. Combo the Jays with Illusion of Choice to draw up to nine cards.
Messenger Jays and Illusion of Choice
Only White and Green have creatures at Common that possess the Council's Dilemma trigger:
Lieutenants of the Guard
(White; becomes bigger or brings 1/1 Soldier tokens into play)
Orchard Elemental (Green; becomes bigger or gains you lots of life)
At Uncommon rarity comes the Smuggler Captain for Black. Cast him and tutor a pre-selected useful card directly into your hand. And since he's in the Uncommon slot, there is a distinct possibility of you drafting multiple copies of him.
Some Final Words of Advice
Don't appear too prominent until a clear opportunity presents itself to let you defeat all your enemies in one swoop. For example, if you cast Guttersnipe or Grenzo's Ruffians too early, you run the risk of being "aimed at" by multiple opponents because you've become the main threat.
Guttersnipe and Grenzo's Ruffians
As Marshall Sutcliffe notes in Wizard's website (provide link http://magic.wizards.com/en/articles/archive/how-play-limited/first-look-drafting-conspiracy-take-crown-2016-08-22), "draft exactly enough playables for a deck, with every other card (you) draft being a conspiracy".
If you wish to money draft, here are the 10 most expensive cards currently on display in the StarCityGames webstore, ranked in descending order of cost:
Number 1) Berserk (Price: US$59.99)
Number 2) Show and Tell (Price: US$49.99)
Number 3) Recruiter of the Guard (Price: US$29.99)
Number 4) Sanctum Prelate (US$29.99)
Number 5) Daretti, Ingenious Iconoclast (US$19.99)
Number 6) Kaya, Ghost Assassin (US$19.99)
Number 7) Burgeoning (US$14.99)
Number 8) Leovold, Emissary of Trest (US$11.99)
Number 9) Inquisition of Kozilek (US$9.99)
Number 10) Birds of Paradise (US$7.99)
That's all the time I can give today. Remember, politics is dirty; do not settle for a lesser evil than yourself. Conspire away!