I resisted last week writing about why I hate Avacyn Restored for Sealed. For those of you disappointed by the absence of this article in short there is no removal and it genuinely felt like he who played the biggest, dumbest creature won (or the creature with Intimidate). Instead I reserved judgement on the set as a whole for Limited until I had some Draft experience. It is, afterall, what I will spend most of the next three months doing rather than Sealed.
So, now that I have Drafted the set how do I feel?
I still have reservations (mostly due to the continued lack of removal) but I can see a number of different Draft archetypes available which kinda reminds me of Rise of the Eldrazi. In Rise Draft you could go with UW levellers, Ramp, BW tokens, Auras etc. All of which felt very different but were all satisfying and powerful when done correctly.
Today I am going to look at some of the Draft strategies that are available in Avacyn Restored. I’m sure others will arise as the set develops, I don’t think anyone saw [card]Spider Spawning[/card] coming, but this should get us off to a flying start.
I think this is probably the most aggressive deck available if you can get ahold of the relevant pieces. This deck makes use of a number of Red cards that work well with a Human theme:[draft]Riot Ringleader
I’m sure you can see why these cards would work well together. [card]Riot Ringleader[/card] is an incredibly strong card and the real powerhouse in the archetype. [card]Kruin Striker[/card] provides a solid two drop that really likes to hang out with [card]Thatcher Revolt[/card]. [card]Vigilante Justice[/card] provides reach and allows blockers to be removed before combat. [card]Kessig Malcontents[/card] is probably the least exciting in this collection but again provides reach and is a Human to synthesise with the Ringleader.
To give you an idea of the potential speed of this deck imagine this sequence of turns:
Turn 2: Striker Turn 3: Ringleader attack for three with the Striker Turn 4: Thatcher Revolt attack for 15!
Shouldn’t be too difficult to finish them of from there.
This deck plans to finish the job before large blockers appear. One particularly problematic creature at Common is [card]Seraph of Dawn[/card]. Four toughness and Lifelink will put a serious dampner on your attack plans. However, [card]Thunderbolt[/card] provides a wonderful removal spell that doubles as a finisher. The other removal/burn spell that should be picked very highly is [card]Thunderous Wrath[/card]–an incredible powerful miracle that in this aggressive shell which will mostly just be used as a cheap [card]Lava Axe[/card] but the ability to remove pesky blockers is definitely a plus.
The rest of the deck wants to be composed of aggressively costed Humans such as [card]Lightning Mauler[/card] and [card]Fervent Cathar[/card] (both of which also have handy abilities for an aggressive deck).
If you are lucky enough there are some tasty rares to compliment this strategy. [card]Zealous Conscripts[/card] is definitely the crème de la crème in this category–don’t forget it can steal Planeswalkers too! Additionally, although I haven’t yet seen the card in action, I can’t imagine [card]Burn at the Stake[/card] will not be ridiculous in this deck even if it does cost five mana.
Mono-Red is an unlikely dream. For aggressive Humans the best colour to marry this deck up with is either White or Green. Green provides access to the Soulbond creatures that grant power and toughness bonuses, which are very strong. However, I think White is the better choice. There are three Humans with two power for two mana. Additionally there is [card]Midvast Protector[/card] for some reach.
In addition to providing more low cost Humans, White also give access to Blink effects that work well with a number of permanents in the deck especially [card]Kessig Malcontents[/card] and [card]Vigilante Justice[/card].
Speaking of Blink effects onto the next archetype…
Yeah, that name is not going to stick. Still the purpose of this deck is to Blink and Bounce your way to victory.
How to Blink/Bounce (not at rare):[draft]Ghostly Flicker
Into the Void
Peel from Reality
As you can see there are many cards that can cause your permanents to Blink or any permanent to Bounce. The key question now is why do we want to do this?
There are many reasons but they all boil down to tempo plays. Blinking allows creatures to block larger threats and then disappear out of combat. When combined with creatures that have ETB effects we get to prevent damage and net some sort of advantage.
Tasty ETB effects available in UW include drawing a card of [card]Gryff Vanguard[/card], bouncing an opposing creature with [card]Mist Raven[/card], granting Pro-Colour with [card]Midvast Protector[/card], gaining life with [card]Goldnight Redeemer[/card], pumping our creatures with [card]Goldnight Commander[/card] and the list goes on.
These sorts of tempo plays combine well with the usual assortment of Flying creatures available in UW to allow us to attack in the skies for victory while our opponent’s attacks are continual thwarted.
The Bounce effects allow the removal of pesky blockers or to allow more gain from ETB triggers. For example I saw one deck [card]Peel from Reality[/card] their opponent’s attacker and their own [card]Goldnight Redeemer[/card] three times in one game netting about 8 life each time it was replayed. Oddly enough they won that game.
Blinking and Bouncing also allows you to avoid the scant removal that is in the set by dodging out of the way. This definitely looks like a fun archetype I can’t wait to try out.
This deck is all about Soulbond and fatties. With such little removal in the set if you can survive the early game then big fatties will win the day. Whilst I didn’t enjoy my Sealed deck experience I did leave with a healthy respect for the raw power of the Green creatures in the set, particularly the Soulbond ones. Going [card]Trusted Forcemage[/card] into [card]Druid’s Familiar[/card] and joining them in holy matrimony does give you two 5/5’s on turn 4. Yikes!
Those two are probably the best non-rare Soulbond creatures in Green. The extra power is just so good and so often relevant. However, if you are playing with multiple flyers there is nothing more annoying than Geist Trappers which can shut down a whole fleet of little flapping creatures all on its own (well, as long as it’s married).
If you go all out on the Soulbond plan you can incorporate [card]Flowering Lumberknot[/card] into your scheme. I suspect you need about eight creatures with Soulbond to make him good enough to play as he is just a dead card otherwise. But when he is good, he is really good.
The overall quality of creatures in Green is very strong but do tend to be a bit top heavy and unlike in Rise there is very little ramp. As such, be sure to pick up [card]Borderland Ranger[/card]s, [card]Wolfir Avenger[/card]s and [card]Timberland Guide[/card]s to survive the early game. I think I would most like to pair this deck with Blue for Bounce spells and tap effects to get my creatures through. It can also be used to delay your opponent while you establish your oversized army.
One really nice synergy in Green that is worth looking out for is combining [card]Howlgeist[/card] with [card]Blessings of Nature[/card] or (if you are lucky) [card]Revenge of the Hunted[/card]. This makes for one scary beast that will finish the game for you.
As an aside [card]Revenge of the Hunted[/card] is just absurd! I have no idea who thought it was a good idea to print it. If it was just +6/+6 it would be fine. Giving the creature Trample is fair enough, I mean the cards a rare it should do something powerful. But making all creatures have to block it means it will basically instantly win you the game whenever you cast it. I saw people get 5 for 1’ed with it. That’s pretty dumb. Again, it would be a fine card if there was enough removal that you had a chance to kill the creature in response to the targeting of the spell. But there isn’t so you will likely die.
Anyway, that concluded my tour of Green Marriage. Remember Marriage is until death do they part (or bounce or blink or turn traitor).
The Darkest Sacrifice
This is the final potential archetype I’m going to cover today.
Black kind of feels at odds with the rest of the set but it does provide cards for a very different archetype of it’s own. Unlike Blue and White that want to cause their permanents to re-enter the battlefield Black wants their permanents to enter the graveyard. As such it makes use of a number of sacrifice outlets to edge ahead of their opponent.
One of the cornerstones of this deck is [card]Blood Artist[/card]. Already making an appearance in Constructed, this unassuming little creature is actually the main win condition of the deck. It sits their happily draining your opponent for life while stuff dies and resurrects around it.
Other cards the appreciate death are [card]Driver of the Dead[/card], [card]Maalfeld Twins[/card] and [card]Undead Executioner[/card]. These can be combined with [card]Barter in Blood[/card] and [card]Bone Splinters[/card] to remove your opponent’s creatures for your own profit. I’m not yet sure what colour to combine the deck with. If you have an idea let me know but other cards that appreciate dying (or other creatures dying) can be found in Red in the form of [card]Gang of Devils[/card] and [card]Havengul Vampire[/card].
Another advantage to playing in Black is that you get access to most of the removal in the set. In addition to [card]Barter in Blood[/card] and [card]Bone Splinters[/card] you can also play [card]Human Frailty[/card], [card]Necrobite[/card] and [card]Death Wind[/card]. [card]Grave Exchange[/card] seems like it should work in this deck but I have yet to be impressed. At 6 mana it is a heavy investment. You normally can’t afford to recast the creature you returned this turn and you opponent often has an easy sacrifice target. Still, may be it will prove itself in time.
Two other creatures in Black worth mentioning are [card]Evernight Shade[/card] (something else that doesn’t mind dying once for a greater cause) and [card]Marrow Bats[/card] that are incredible annoying to deal with.
I’m not sure if there is enough in the set to make the archetype work in every Draft, but I have already personally seen it meet with some success so I suspect it simply needs some refinement. Have you tried to Draft this archetype yet? How did you find it? What is the secret to its success?
I’m going to leave it there this week. Have you found a Draft strategy in Avacyn Restored I haven’t talked about here? Feel free to share it with everyone in the comments below. Until next time.