I have, as of the writing of this, played two small drafts of Conspiracy: Take The Crown, with four people drafting 4 boosters each, a format that is very forgiving to newer drafters… and I lost. I lost all of our games, and in some cases, I lost them spectacularly. But the thing I took away from every part of it was the joy of how these games and cards felt to play, and most amazingly, Monarch.
I love Monarch. I love the different ways Monarch shows up in cards. There are green cards that care about Monarch but are better in combat when you are the monarch. There are red cards that care about being the Monarch but get vengeful and petty if someone else takes it off you. There’s white, making monarch blockers and putting creatures on the board that make you choose between recovering the crown or preventing ever losing it. And in amongst it all, in both drafts, I wound up drafting but never seeing a card that has somehow become my favourite Monarch card of all.
The Knights of the Black Rose are beautifully petty. They’re good on their own, effectively being a 4/4 creature that both draws you a card and leeches an opponent for a card. They’re disgusting if you can get them in numbers, which is a thing about monarch cards that tended to work badly: Often becoming and re-becoming the monarch on the same turn felt like a waste, encouraging you to slow-play a hand (and get killed by players who had no such qualms and were coming for the crown). I had one deck which, with Hymn of the Wilds, had a pair of these creatures, and the mere concept of dropping them as 4 drops – on turn three, thanks to Opaline Unicorn –
What I loved about this entire play experience was that the problems of multiplayer magic were reduced without being rendered meaningless. Board stalls did still happen, but just by dint of drawing more cards, players could see the stall breaking eventually. The card you get as a Monarch happens after you can play it in a main phase, meaning you don’t plan for it or hope to draw something amazing off it. There’s no way to become the Monarch off-turn, so the Monarch card becomes part of your plan for the next turn, which, thanks to the actions of other players gunning for the Monarch status, is also often a plan for getting back the crown.
If you can get your paws on some Conspiracy: Take The Crown boosters, I heartily recommend it as a draft format, and if you’re a new drafter or you’re not used to drafting, go to 4 boosters to give you a lot of chances to correct mistakes. A smaller draft pod means you’ll see the same cards more often and you’ll be more likely to wind up with enough creatures and get used to having to make hard choices without being paralysed by the indecision.
I really owe the friend who bought these cards and our next plan, going forwards is to implement these Conspiracy cards into a cube so we can do this fun all over again. Any recommendations for what to add to a cube that starts out with a box of Conspiracy?