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Careful Consideration – Drafting W/x in Worldwake

 

Whenever a new set comes out, certain drafting archetypes change, get better, get worse, or become bad altogether. For example, in triple Time Spiral draft, you could aggressively draft Empty the Warrens a bunch of suspend cards and set up some sweet storms. As Planar Chaos was released, then subsequently Future Sight, that became more and more unlikely to have as an archetype; there were fewer suspend cards overall and you didn’t have the big storm cards.

I am probably in the minority on the best archetype in triple Zendikar draft, but for the most part, I want a million bears, maybe some three or four casting cost dudes, and ways to make my attacks profitable every turn. That’s it. That’s all I want. Other archetypes may be more powerful, but in my opinion this is the most consistent.

My best draft decks end up white/red, red/black, or white/blue. White is often the way I go because black is drafted heavily, while white tends to be underdrafted. Also, white requires a heavy color commitment with some of the WW spells they have, so people tend to shy away from marginal cards like Kor Outfitters, which is fine with me. I love me a good Kor Outfitters even if I have no relevant equipment, because it’s a bear. Even cards like Kor Aeronauts and Kazandu Blademaster tend to come later than their card quality would indicate because of their mana, which can set up some pretty sweet decks.

A typical draft deck without any bombs but would look something like:

With a blue suite of something along the lines of:

 

or

 

It doesn’t look like anything special, and in a way it’s not. But it’s consistent, it puts pressure on the opponent, and most importantly, it lets me attack most turns. All the creatures are guys that can come down early and turn sideways, and all the spells allow me to push their guys out of the way or make blocking bad for them. Sure, I’d prefer not to have to play Hedron Scrabbler and if I’m lucky I’ll pick up a second Kor Hookmaster or even an awesome equipment like Trusty Machete, but this is an example of the low end of this archetype. It’s usually not a whole lot worse than this (and is quite often better), and depending on how the draft goes, you can easily do the same thing, but with better card quality.

Jon Loucks drafted this archetype in the top 8 of the PTQ he won, and everyone thought he was done for when they looked at his deck. Not me! I saw all his bears and Bold Defenses and I had a pretty good feeling about his chances.

The biggest problem I have with this archetype is Marsh Casualties, which is a huge beating. You can play around it a little with Bold Defense or if you’re playing blue, you can board in Spell Pierce to nab them, but that card’s just bad for me, and is the biggest source of my losses in Zendikar draft. And obviously I’m not going to force this archetype if I don’t have to; if I open Vampire Nighthawk and Kor Skyfisher, the uncommon is going into my pile without a whole lot of thought.

So how does white/x change heading into Worldwake?

Well, there’s one fewer pack of Marsh Casualties, for one. Get out of there, you stupid card! That’s not insignificant.

Let’s look at white. Also, I’m looking at the commons and uncommons only; there are some pretty nifty rares and mythics, but those aren’t likely to be seen in a draft, so I’m focusing solely on the cards that will see on a regular basis.

Apex Hawks is a three drop that fits in nicely, and it provides some reach in the late game. I’m madly madly madly in love with this card.

Fledgling Griffin is exactly the kind of card I want. It’s cheap, it comes down on turn two, and if I hit my land drop, it makes for a profitable attack. Get in the deck!

Hada Freeblade is another card that I’m going to look at pretty strongly. It’s pretty bad by itself obviously, but it’s not hard to pick up some Umara Raptors or Highland Berserkers, then get these guys aggressively. You don’t need that many allies to make this card nuts. You also get to call him “Hada Freebird” if you want, which I always do. It’s the little things.

Join the Ranks can be ridiculous if you’ve gotten the allies you need.

Kor Firewalker is another two drop, and a pretty nutty one against red. Slap this down against a red player and watch their hopes and dreams get shattered.

And as far as tricks go, Veteran’s Reflexes is a pretty sweet trick. In addition, Marsh Threader is a better card than Cliff Threader most of the time. The two drops you get from pack three that replace the commons and uncommons from Zendikar are on the whole a little better. One fewer pack of Kor Skyfisher is sad, but Apex Hawks and Fledgling Griffin are taking slots that would otherwise be filled by Kor Sanctifiers and Kor Outfitter, which is much better.

On the other hand, you also have one fewer pack of Journey to Nowhere, Bold Defense, and Windborne Charge, so you’ll need to rely on your secondary color more to fill the “make sure your attacks are profitable every turn” requirement you want to meet.

Which brings us to the two complementary colors, blue and red. Let’s look at blue:

Horizon Drake is a possibility and will usually make the cut. Often my decks are white heavy because I’ve drafted late Kor Aeronauts and the like, but sometimes you get a Living Tsunami and you’re playing more blue sources anyway. Obviously if you’ve got this guy and can cast him, he’s a beater. One toughness? Pshaw. He’s flying over anyway. I’m not scared of no blocking.

Seijiri Merfolk is just ridiculous in blue/white for obvious reasons. A two drop with first strike and lifelink is insane.

[card]Tideforce Elemental[/card] can beat for two and make your attacks profitable.

[card]Wind Zendikon[/card] is sort of a two drop; it gets to attack through the air, it has haste, and it’s efficient. Fits the archetype pretty well.

Cards that let you push through:

[card]Aether Tradewinds[/card] gets their guy out of the way, and can enable landfall to turn on your Adventuring Gear or Fledgling Griffin. You can even bounce a ground-based ally (who might not be able to attack anyway due to some stupid blocker) and replay it to make your Umara Raptors get bigger.

[card]Permafrost Trap[/card] is the other card that makes me all tingly inside. If they’re playing green, enjoy the discount. But even if not, tapping two of their guys and letting your forces attack through is exactly the card you want for these decks.

Heading to red, we have in the creature department:

[card]Crusher Zendikon[/card] is a solid, hasty guy that crushes opponents. He’s really a four drop, but it’s a reasonable card for sure.

[card]Cunning Sparkmage[/card] is a must in all cards playing red.

[card]Goblin Roughrider[/card] is a little boring, but is a reasonable filler card. He’s going to make the deck for sure, but I’m never going to be saying, “Woohoo, I have three Roughriders!” (I want to make a Canadian Football League joke about another card named Goblin Rough Rider, but that’s probably a little too esoteric. For the two of you who found this funny, I’m winking and nodding at you right now.)

[card]Slavering Nulls[/card] is just going to be a 2/1 for 2 here. You’d rather just have more [card]Plated Geopede[/card] or [card]Goblin Shortcutter[/card]s in white/red.

Cards that let you push through:
[card]Claws of Valakut[/card] may make the cut if you’re a heavier red deck. If you are already running enough red sources that this is playable, then fine. But don’t get too happy about it, mister.

[card]Searing Blaze[/card] is removal. Duh. And domes your opponent, to boot!

Overall, red looks to be significantly weaker for what we want to do here. One fewer pack of Burst Lightning, Plated Geopede, Goblin Shortcutter, Goblin Bushwhacker, and Highland Berserker, plus higher end cards like Shatterskull Giant isn’t made up for by the mediocre creatures that take their place.

But if your base color is white, you’re better off than you were in Zendikar overall, even if red is your secondary color. You’ll want to be a little more aggressive in taking red cards in the first two packs because pack three is pretty mediocre.

Remember: Just attack every turn and make sure you can do so profitably, and you’ll win a lot of games. Oh, and make sure your opponent doesn’t draw Marsh Casualties.

I’ll see you all in a couple of weeks; I leave this weekend for the Magic Cruise (and sadly, will be missing GP: Oakland as a result) and will be on a boat or on a tropical island all week, which should hopefully bring some great stories.

Good luck to everyone during their release events, and good luck to those playing in Oakland!

Yours cruisingly,
-Zaiem

zaiemb at gmail dot com
zbeg on Magic Online
zbeg on Twitter

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