To get you ready for Amonkhet Draft, I’m breaking down each of the format’s archetype by color pair. You can read my article from last week on the allied pairs, and today I’ll cover the enemy ones!
Wayward Servant represents the best thing you can do with white-black decks. There is no real trick to this archetype. Find out if the Zombies are open—if they are, jump in and pick up the most important card, Binding Mummy. Evasion is very good in Amonkhet Limited, which makes Blighted Bat especially useful outside of being a Zombie.
Winged Shepherd and Pitiless Vizier made their way to the key cards because I wanted to tell you about one unusual archetype: white-black cycling. It is definitely not a reason to go into these colors, but on rare occasions you’ll start with a ton of black cycling-related cards such as Pitiless Vizier, Horror of the Broken Lands, Wander in Death, and Ruthless Sniper, but without seeing blue cards because a neighbor is in that color. You can still salvage your Draft by picking up Winged Shepherd, Oketra’s Attendant and Renewed Faith! Get Those Who Serve, Compulsory Rest, and Impeccable Timing to round out your deck and it’ll do the trick.
Hands down my favorite archetype in this format. Likely the best one as well.
The strategy is very simple: you attack. When you can’t? You exert. 2-drops are incredibly important and your best ones are Gust Walker and Nef-Crop Entangler. Battlefield Scavenger is also a great way to let you play a low curve so that you can get rid of all those excess lands.
This deck is so good because all of your creatures are high quality. There need to be an astonishing number of red and white drafters at the table for you to not get what you need. Removal such as Electrify and Compulsory Rest are high picks of course, but they are not necessary since you’re always attacking. Tricks like Brute Strength (which combines absurdly well with Rhet-Crop Spearmaster, by the way) will essentially have the same result. Ahn-Crop Crasher, for instance, will let you ignore blockers as well.
Trial of Solidarity and Trial of Zeal are the best Trials. Not only are Cartouche of Solidarity and Cartouche of Zeal nice role-players in your deck, but because you’re picking them highly, if you’re lucky enough to open or get passed one of those insane Trials, your deck will be unreal.
With all the above explained, one of the reasons this archetype is so powerful is that the failure rate is very low. I’ve seen Drafts where 2, even 3 players were all white-red and they all had decent decks.
This is perhaps the most enjoyable color combination to play. Who doesn’t want to immediately build a deck once they see Enigma Drake?
I have only drafted this archetype once, and a Drake Haven that I opened in pack 2 derailed me from the original blue-red spells theme—yet, it still had some elements of it. In this spell-centric strategy, you’re going to want most of the spells that cycle, especially Hieroglyphic Illumination, Censor, Floodwaters, and Deem Worthy. If you cycle them early, you’ll enable Warfire Javelineer and Cryptic Serpent to be cast on curve.
The triggered ability on cards like Flameblade Adept or Hekma Sentinels is particularly sweet with Tormenting Voice, Trial of Knowledge, and Bloodrage Brawler, which also enable putting instant and sorceries in the graveyard.
Blue-green is all about ramp. The multicolor card, Weaver of Currents, is required for the complete ramp theme. Rhonas’s Monument can also be a way to ramp, and if your creature curve happens to be on the lower end, then getting in for tons of trample damage is also great. Shefet Monitor, Oashra’s Cultivator, and to some extent Gift of Paradise allow you to splash while ramping. Electrify and Final Reward are the cards you most frequently splash for.
If you’re not seeing all the pieces of this strategy, you can always fall back to a tempo/beatdown deck with Hooded Brawler, Colossapede, and Crocodile of the Crossing, forcing them through by using Cartouche of Knowledge and Open into Wonder.
I haven’t been playing a ton of black-green, but when I did it was because I opened or got passed a Decimator Beetle. This guy is the best multicolored card—in fact, it’s one of the only cards that really makes me want to play this color combination.
As much as this is technically a -1/-1 counter-based archetype, Nest of Scarabs rarely works the way you want it to. That’s unfortunate, because the card is very powerful. The issue lies in the -1/-1 counter enablers—none of them are recurring and there aren’t that many of them. This makes Nest of Scarabs extremely high variance, because drawing it late in the game will do nothing, and drawing it early means delaying your curve. The upside of delaying your curve is what? 3 or 4 tokens? And even then, only if you draw the few cards that add counters. In the end, it has a high ceiling, as there will be times where your Soulstinger and Exemplar of Strength deliver, but those cards are all good on their own—no need to play a card that is terrible when you don’t have them.
The theme is more about finding creatures to put your counters on. High-toughness creatures like Dune Beetle and Oashra Cultivator would do it, but Doomed Dissenter really is the best target if you don’t want to fall behind.