A long time ago at a Nationals far, far away…

No, this isn’t the beginning of a certain sweeping space saga set some millennia past. This preamble hearkens back to Nats 2015 in TN. It was a tournament I hadn’t planned on attending at the start, but Nats booster is always appealing so I was drawn to it as the date got closer. The combination of drafting with new cards among such a large pool of players from everywhere makes for quite an enticing draw. So, after a win in MN Nats ‘14 the year before, I thought I’d brave the waters and make the journey south, to play once more.

That year, not only did you get to draft with the new cards, there was a possibility of winning and making your own card! I’ve always enjoyed coming up with new card ideas so this was like a bonus for doing well in my favorite category- something I didn’t want to pass up. My hopes were high, the stakes were higher. I hitched a ride with the good folks from IA and made it to TN.

Still, it wasn’t meant to be. Though it was a lot of fun, as always, my draft was average and I ended up tying for 3rd. Not bad, but not good enough to make a card. Fortunately for everyone (or not, depending on your PoV), Daniel came through with a stellar creation for winning booster. My hat was off to the winners and things slowed down again as I put Redemption on the top shelf to focus on other things.

Flash forward to this year. Where the Persecuted Church set didn’t impress me much Cloud of Witnesses seemed like an ideal set to play booster with, having so many high-value cards in and outside of constructed categories. Not only that, but the offer from last year stood again: the winner could create a card! I couldn’t wait to play booster again so I went to NC Regionals for practice. That draft was entertaining but not as exciting as I’d anticipated. Knowing better what to expect I went to this Nats with only one thing in mind: have fun. And fun was had.

The packs drafted were Kings, Priests, Texp, Di, EC, PC, and CoW; daunting packs loaded with powerful cards. I won’t lie, those seemed to me like they would make the draft too easy. And, true to form, there were some amazing draft pulls. Even at our own table, the person across from me pulled Shipwreck while the person to my right -who eventually took 2nd- drafted a KoT (war). That doesn’t even begin to cover some of the shenanigans I saw at other tables.

Needless to say, things could get pretty crazy. The competition was some of the tightest it’s ever been with over 75 people drafting that Thursday. There were 6 rounds and there was hardly a game that didn’t go down to the wire. In a fortunate twist, even after losing in the last two rounds and anticipating 2nd, I somehow placed first overall just barely holding on with a 4-2 record. Close doesn’t begin to do it justice.

But enough of that, on to the draft! Since I only brought 50 sleeves, as I believe that to be the best size for booster, I had no choice but to limit myself. I had to cut great cards (Benaiah, another Abraham’s Servant to Ur, etc) to make it fit in 50. My final list was as follows:

50 cards

Lost Souls: 7
Generic Lost Soul x6
Anti-Angel Lost Soul

Arts: 1
I Am Creator

Forts: 1
The Throne of Grace

Silver Heroes: 3
Angel of Might

Silver Enh: 5
Death of Firstborn
Stronger than Men
Stronger Than Men
Angel’s Sword
Flaming Sword

Gold Heroes: 1

Blue Heroes: 4
Bartholomew (Nathaniel)

Blue Enh: 5
Courage x2
Trapped in Cleverness x2
Abraham’s Servant to Ur

Teal Heroes: 3
Hilkiah the High Priest
Azariah the High Priest
Phinehas, son of Eleazar

Teal Enh: 3
Burning Incense
Trumpet Blast

Clay Heroes: 3
Messengers of Joppa

Clay Enh: 3
Miracle at the Gate
Peter’s Sermon
Snake into the Fire

Gray EC: 2
Antiochus IV Epiphanes
Porcius Festus

Gray EE: 1
Uproar in Jerusalem

Pale Green EC: 4
The Rabshakeh
King Shalmaneser V

Pale Green EE: 4
Death of Unrighteous
Achan’s Sin
Glittering Spear
Disturbing Samuel’s Spirit

I knew it was going to be a good draft when we opened the first pack and, lo and behold, a Michael! One of my favorite Heroes was my first pick! I smiled, attributed it to luck and proceeded. At the end of the Kings pack I was solidly in silver with a foot in the door to blue brigade with Courage x2.

Just when I thought it couldn’t get much better, it did. Priests gave me Phinehas, one of the best cards for booster. I took him without a second thought. To my surprise, immediately afterward I was passed a Trumpet Blast! Thank you very much. I was in teal, taking a Scapegoat near the end that had gone around a few times.

The other packs provided some things I needed greatly. Maybe one other person at our table decided to start drafting silver and clay later, some time after I had already gotten what I needed from those brigades. The blue came to me naturally, along with far more silver than I have listed here. At the end there was a stack of silver cards that I ended up cutting; added up, the silver Enhancements would have easily made up as much as I put in from the other brigades. There was only one card from CoW set that I drafted at all: my first pick of the pack, The Throne of Grace.

At some point, you begin to realize why some people are at a top table. “Oh, you got Captain. Oh, you got Barnabas. Two Generous Givers? Really?” It makes sense- these cards are some of the best in booster. For me, that card was The Throne of Grace. It saved me numerous times. As long as I had that, there was almost nothing my offense couldn’t get through. It was the soul of this deck, and a constant reminder that with God grace is a simply a gift to accept, as often as required (which is often).

The only thing this deck sorely needed was soul gen. Sadly, it was something that was unavailable to me. The last two games were lost simply because of how the souls came up (or, in my case, didn’t show up). Other than that, I would see this as a very solid draft, and I couldn’t be more grateful for how things turned out. The tables I played were some of the best I’d ever played, with some of the best opponents you could face. Look forward to the card I create- I plan to put this opportunity to good use! In the meantime, happy drafting!

To buy singles, sealed product, and other gaming supplies mentioned, please visit Three Lions Gaming!

2 thoughts on “If At First You Don’t Succeed (Two Out o’ Three Is Not Disagreeable)

  1. Gabe

    Thanks for sharing your experience, Josh. I enjoy your writing style and can’t wait to see what you come up with for your card!

  2. Jesse

    Awesome job! The Throne of Grace is one of the very best cards for Booster- the ability to turn any single brigade good enhancement into a negate is amazing! I noticed that you took it over a rare in your CoW pack and don’t blame you- in my opinion there are very few cards, even rares (or URs), that I would take over it in booster!

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