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Red Aggro in Eldritch Moon Draft

Eldritch Moon Draft is shaping up to be a memorable format. I’ve done half a dozen drafts and I’m excited to do more, which bodes well for my enjoyment with the format—notable since I was done with Shadows over Innistrad from day 1. I didn’t need to practice the format for any particular event and didn’t find it compelling enough to hold my attention. And on the other hand, I loved Oath of the Gatewatch so much that every time I could have played SOI, I found myself registering for an OGW draft instead.

Today I’m going to talk about why I’m excited for Eldritch Moon draft and my take on drafting red aggro.

Eldritch Moon Limited Positives

There is a lot going on in Eldritch Moon Limited.

I like formats where there are a lot of options available, as long as it doesn’t come across as heavy-handed. Shadows had options but the majority of the “best decks” involved assembling combinations. I strongly disliked the emphasis on “Clue engine” decks:

Both cards are obnoxious because they bury the opponent under a wave of card advantage. At uncommon, these cards turn too many games into match-deciding blowouts. Don’t get me wrong, I like Clues. I just don’t like Honden of the Seeing Winds Clues cards.

In Moon, Clues and delirium matter, but the emphasis doesn’t fall squarely on their shoulders. You can now do other things and be rewarded. For example: beat down.

The Molten Core of the Red Deck

Good draft archetypes are always a derivative of the commons and uncommons. You cannot accurately predict the rares you’ll see, but commons will show up dependably.

The archetype I’m most interested in drafting is red aggro. The typical build is base red, splashing exactly one color, playing 17 land (9-8 split), with a focus on curving out with combat tricks.

First and foremost, red is deep and the cards are good but there are certain commons I key on. The fact that these commons are still in a pack past the first few picks is a good sign that red aggro is open.

The most important common for red aggro is Brazen Wolves.

It always trades up in combat and ends the game quickly if it isn’t dealt with. There are a lot of 4-toughness blockers and having a 3-drop that can attack through these defensive creatures is important. Otherwise, you will often need to use a combat trick to break through these ground stalls, which costs you a card and tempo.

The other tell-tale card that signals red aggro is available is Galvanic Bombardment. The Wolves are more important, but Shock is still a hot red commodity. Don’t fall for the old “monkey see shock; monkey take shock” here. As bizarre as it sounds, the Wolves are the backbone of the red decks.

Borrowed Hostility has impressed me beyond expectation. One of the reasons that I like Wolves over Shock is that the Wolves are the perfect candidate to gain first strike.

Both modes are great, and don’t underestimate how saucy it is to give one creature first strike and a different one +3/+0. I love the flexibility and cost here.

Nothing to get excited, about but it’s always good to have depth at the 2-drop spot. I’m never excited to play Grizzly Bears but I’m always glad to have it in my opening hand. Reaver is important curve filler and does enable some Vampires-matter synergy in the BR aggro deck.

Yo, I’ll Tell You What Uncommons I Want, What I Really Really Want

Red has a few great commons and several interchangeable ones, but the real strength of red aggro is the quality and depth of the uncommons.

There are a slew of high-quality aggressive uncommons in EMN and if you are seeing them beyond the first 4 picks, chances are you’ve hit the sweet spot and are in the right color.

Both of these cards are insane in aggressive red decks. I don’t think a 2/1 menace for 2 needs much explanation. STATS!

Furyblade needs madness spells, but when it comes together, you get a great engine.

8 power attacking on turn 3? The pressure is real. RB craves madness spells and these are the high-quality options.

Volcanic Hammer with upside. Yes please.

The format is ripe with 4cc 3/3s that are good at blocking. Lighting one on fire on curve can swing a game hard.

One of the best cards you can have, period. The card often breaks a game open by nailing multiple creatures. It also punishes opponents for boarding in 2/1 creatures to try to trade with you. Keep in mind you can also attack and play the Smoldering Werewolf post-combat to finish off 2 bigger creatures.

I’ve drafted Mist three times and each opponent has commented that the card was insane in our match. One of the challenges smaller decks face is when the opponent stabilizes the board with slightly bigger creatures. For instance, two 3/3 creatures holding off four 2/2 creatures.

Blood Mist allows aggressive decks a way to trade up their smaller creatures against an opponent trying to stabilize. It is also formidable with flyers, pump spells, and tramplers.

Colors to Pair with Red Aggro

One thing to keep in mind is that you need to prioritize 2-drops. Aside from the insane uncommons, red is weak in the 2-drop department and so you need to look elsewhere to fill that need.

Boros Beatdowns

While I think white is the weakest color in Eldritch Moon, it does have a lot of 2-drops you can borrow for your red deck.

White actually has depth at the 2 spot, which makes it an ideal pairing with red. You also typically won’t have many people clamoring to fight you for white! Of all the red decks, Boros is the best straight weenie rush deck.

A Boros beatdown deck? What a shocker.

Gruul Midrange Werewolves

Until you leave Innistrad, Gruul is synonymous with Werewolf.

I only look to go Werewolf if it is very open—i.e., “I’m getting EVERYTHING.”

My issue is that the deck is midrange and has poor aggressive 2-drops. Typically, Werewolves is better as a midrange deck than an aggressive one.

Ramping into bigger threats is more what RG is looking to do. If you do find yourself in Wolf territory, be sure to prioritize the 2-drops in the SOI pack!

Rakdos Vampire Madness

Rakdos puts us into Vampire territory. Rakdosylvania!

Prioritize madness spells and outlets. There are a lot of incidental outlets and you need to make sure pick them up at some point. There is no worse feeling than getting to the end and only having one discard outlet!

Black also has a nice mix of aggressive uncommons that play nicely in a beatdown deck. I’ve had the most success in EMN draft with both RW and RB. Both colors are built to beat down.

UR “Izzet Even Aggro?”

I’m not going to lie. I haven’t actually drafted an Izzet aggro deck yet and truth be told, I probably won’t anytime soon.

UR Spells Control is already one of the consensus best archetypes and if I’m those colors, I’d want to build that deck. That isn’t to say that UR spells can’t be aggressive, but I tend to think of it as one of the more defensively postured decks.

I’m looking forward to getting a chance to do a lot more Eldritch Moon drafts on MTGO this week and I’m sure I’ll be bringing the beats a fair amount of the time. I’ll be playing throughout the week on my Twitch stream, so be sure to follow me on Twitter for updates.

So far I’ve been very impressed with the Eldritch Moon draft format. I highly recommend giving it a try if you haven’t already. While you’re at it, be sure to look for signals to move into red aggro!

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