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Drafting WU in ACR

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PostPosted: Wed May 27, 2009 11:14 pm    Post subject: Drafting WU in ACR Reply with quote

Drafting WU in ACR

The release of Alara Reborn has changed the way this block is drafted. Since the fixing in the last pack only provides two colours, decks with three or more colours become less stable. Also, turn 1 is now used to fix sometimes(approximately one third of the time)as opposed to turn 2, which helps aggro decks that want to be dropping beaters on turn 2. I find that in this format there is often no reason to be drafting a fully 3 colour deck, you generally should be 2 colours with a small-medium splash or the full 5 colours with a solid 2-3 colour base. 2 colours smooths your draws while allowing you to take good cards over fixing. The loss in power is especially worth it for aggro decks, and in my opinion if you're going to be spending your second and maybe third turn fixing you should just be playing the most powerful cards in all the colors.

That being said, I personally have had by and far the most success with WG and WU based aggro decks(Toshi is writing the WG article). This may be a result of the blocks synergy or card quality, or just my style of drafting/playing, but either way I'll be discussing how to draft WU today.

There are three(well sort of two and half, but I'll get into that later) basic WU decks that you can draft: fliers/tempo, exalted, and control. For all three of these decks I have found very little reason to splash green, in fact of my fifteen or so times drafting this archetype I have only splashed green once. I'd say I splash black 90% of the time, rarely having enough solid playable to make straight WU worth while. I won't be talking about black cards because in all three archetypes you'll be splashing essentially the same cards: bombs and removal. In aggro your splash should be a max of 5 cards if you have great fixing, but usually it will be 3 cards with 2 or 3 fixers.

Fliers/tempo: This is my favourite of the three archetypes to draft, and it can often end up as a mix of the other two, with some exalted and control aspects. The basic idea is to have a low curve(1-3 one drops, 4-6 two drops, and 5 max four-and-above drops) running as many fliers as possible. This enables you to out tempo your opponent from the start, then as they play bigger threats you start racing them in the air. The key here is not letting them get too much damage in, as sometimes their fatties can be hard to deal with later and the last thing you want to do is start chumping with your fliers. All of this means that bounce and lifegain are both better than usual in this archetype.

Exalted: Essentially this archetype is very similar to fliers/tempo, except you're looking to pick up as many exalted guys as possible and don't need as many fliers. Usually I find you're not so much racing with this deck as swinging with one guy each turn while making favourable blocks and controlling the board. This means bounce and counterspells aren't nearly as good as in fliers/tempo. Instead you want to put most of your energy into playing as much exalted as possible.

Control: This deck usually ends up heavier on black, as you can afford to wait a little longer for your colours and you're looking to get more esper synergy. You don't need any one drops, few two drops and little exalted. You are looking for as much removal and card advantage as possible, and some guys with large back-ends to hold the ground while you start swinging in the air.

I'm not going to talk about the obviously awesome cards in Shards and Conflux(O-ring, Sanctum Gargoyle etc) since most people have enough experience to know what's what. However, here are some cards that are either important or misvalued for each archetype:

Fixing: Fixing is a lot harder to come by in ACR than it was in AAA, and usually I advocate taking it very highly. While its still crucial to have 2-3 fixers in WU, since you are only splashing a few cards you can actually take good cards over fixing. Obelisks are unplayable in aggro, but decent in control as they work well with a few esper cards. Also I have been noticing that lots of people play panoramas when they only have 2 colours to search for. Never do this in aggro as you want to be playing a guy turn 2, and only do so if you're desperate for fixing in control. I would never, ever play an obelisk that only tapped for two relevant colours. The borderposts are slightly better than in other archetypes due to esper synergy.

Call to Heel/Unsummon: Conflux and Reborn both brought lots of great 187 creatures, and in a tight race Call to Heel can be used on your opponent's creature. Painful, but often game-winning. I wouldn't play unsummon in control but call to heel is still solid.

Cancel/Lapse of Certainty/Offering to Asha: Counters are good at staying ahead in any aggro deck, and this one is no different. I especially like Offering to Asha since its huge in a race. Lapse is not really playable in control.

Jhessian Lookout: A 2/1 for 2 is never ideal, but don't immediately pass this guy off as unplayable. You never know if you'll end up short on 2 drops which makes him worth picking over a hatedraft or mediocre sideboard card.

Excommunicate: Great in the aggro decks, close to unplayable in control.

Resounding Silence: Obviously much better in WU control, but it can still be tough even for an opponent that puts the read on your four untapped mana, as usually if they skip attacking that just helps you win the race. Don't forget to play that Obelisk of Bant if you have one of these in control.

Resounding Wave: Close to unplayable in aggro WU, even if you're splashing black. Its too expensive for a bounce spell as you want to playing both a guy and bouncing their guy in the same turn, and getting to eight mana is not what this deck is looking to do. In control its solid.

Welkin Guide: Much better in the exalted archetype but still solid as a curve-topper in this deck.

Metallurgeon: He obviously gets better the more artifact guys you have, but even as a drudge skeleton he blocks their fatty while you swing away in the air.

Brackwater Elemental: Solid in all three of these archetypes, he can get in for 8 for serve blocking duty until you mana up for four free damage later.

Court Homunculus: This guy is great in both aggro decks and he only got better with borderposts in the last pack.

Darklit Gargoyle: I think this card is very overrated in general, sure he's amazing when you have exalted and two black mana but that doesn't come up very often. He's still solid in the exalted archetype for this reason, but in the other two decks he's a low pick for me, although he pretty much always makes the deck.

Faerie Mechanist: The top conflux common if you have a decent amount of artifacts in fliers/tempo and control.

Parasitic Strix: Even though you usually won't have many black permanents, he's still a 2 power flier for three and you'll still hit his lifedrain late game, not to mention his synergy with esperzoa and call to heel.

Celestial Purge/Controlled Instincts: These have gone way up with Reborn, Celestial Purge is now first pickable, and although much worse Controlled Instincts goes around way later than it should. I maindeck it in control and sometimes it makes the cut in aggro.

Arsenal Thrasher: This card goes from unplayable to pretty good depending on how many artifacts you have. If you have 13+ artifacts I start taking this guy pretty highly, as he's at least a 4/4 on a regular basis.

The blades: They are awesome in every archetype, but better in aggro. Esper is better than Bant if it wasn't obvious.

Esper Sojourners: I was never a fan of twiddle and a 2/3 for WUB is not exactly ideal. However, in this deck twiddle can play a role in tapping down a key attacker in a tight race without spending any cards. Still a 21-23rd card filler, but not as bad as in the other two decks.

Ethersworn Shieldmage: Almost the top Reborn common for all three archetypes, with Crystallization winning out and Esper Stormblade barely being better. Severely underrated right now, he 1 for 0s attacking X/2's, he fogs fatties, he protects your guys from burn spells, and sometimes he just slays combat.

Glassdust Hulk: Again, great in all three archetypes as he can block or go unblockable. Also remember that he can be cycled early to hit that fourth turn Sanctum Gargoyle, as can Sanctum Plowbeast.

Vectis Dominator: Almost unplayable, a 23rd card if you're desperate. Any card that let's your opponent choose for you is generally bad.

Messenger Falcons: Great in all three archetypes, he goes a little later than he should. A four mana 2/2 flier is playable, and anytime you add a cantrip to a playable card you get a great card.

Wall of Denial: Pretty underrated it seems, this is best in this deck and control, although its still solid in exalted. It holds off their best attacker, and since you're attacking in the air that basically makes it a shroud tapper for three mana.

Zealous Persecution: Amazing in all three decks. This is passed around far, far later than it should.

For the other two archetypes I'll just talk about cards I haven't already gone over, since there is a lot of overlap and I tried to mention it if a card was also good in one of the other two archetypes.

Deft Duelist: He's slightly better in exalted than the other two decks, but almost as good in control. He can swing without fear of instant removal with exalted on the stack, and he's very difficult to double or triple block. In control he is amazing defence against BR decks or decks running a lot of X/2's without exalted.

Guardians of Akrasa: Best in exalted for obvious reasons, but still decent in the other two decks.

Outrider of Jhess: Similar to his Lookout friend, another card often overlooked but one that can squeak into a very heavy exalted deck.

Angelic Benediction: Pretty good in this deck, unplayable in the other two.

Bant Battlemage: Only playable in this deck if you are very low on fliers, as he can send an exalted guy to the skies.

Aven Squire: The top conflux common in this archetype.

Frontline Sage: Underrated. Mostly unplayable in the other two decks, but in this one he has that namesake keyword while looting, which is always good and even better in a cheap deck.

Vedalken Outlander: These guys all got better with Reborn, and this one is the second best(behind Zombie) since its also an artifact creature.

Ethercaste Knight: Unlike most exalted guys it can actually block, which makes it a step above most of them.

Stormcaller's Boon: This card is unplayable in many UW decks since they usually have mostly flying creatures anyway, but if you're aggro and light on fliers this is a great finisher, since you don't lose any cards even if you don't need ever use it.

Ardent Plea: A very good card for this deck, most people see it as paying one more mana to get exalted onto one of your bears, but its actually quite a bit better as when the creature dies the exalted hangs around. As with any cascade spell, it can be better or worse depending on your 2 drops. As a bonus it goes quite late right now so you don't have to pick it up early.

Etherium Sculptor: This card has never been good for me. Even in a dedicated artifact deck you need to hit the right colours of mana since it only helps colourless, and a 1/2 body is nothing more than a chump. Blocker, that is.

Courier's Capsule: I find it a little underrated due to Sanctum Gargoyle craze. Yes its an amazing combo, but without the Gargoyle this is a mediocre draw spell. That being said, its still great in this deck and a middle pick in the other two.

Windwright Mage: I really him if you can get him into play early, but since you should be WUb you're gonna have a hard time doing that in a timely manner, and on turn 6-7 he's less than impressive. Still makes the cut once in a while though.

Etherium Astrolobe: While its gone down in value with two less packs of Puppet Conjurers, this card is still fine with enough artifact creatures, making combat difficult for your opponent and sacrificing extra borderposts and obelisks in the lategame. At the very worst it cycles itself.

Filigree Sages: I have never seen this card be good to anyone who played it, including myself. Sure with it combos well with Esper Battlemage, but that's it.

Kiss of Amesha: This card is good in the other two decks, especially fliers/tempo, but it really shines in this archetype, catching you up in life while putting you ahead on cards.

Traumatic Visions: Great as a fixer and still good in the lategame, a very high pick in Conflux.

Cumberstone: This card shuts down some decks hard, while being mediocre against others. Overall this makes it a good card for control, and better than most Conflux commons for this archetype.

Sludge Strider: If you can work the mana its a high pick in the other two archetypes, and even higher in this deck. The best Conflux common/uncommon if you have enough artifacts and fixing.

Etherwrought Page: Unplayable. Its very hard to cast for very little reward.

Thopter Foundry: Another card that depends on having enough artifacts, but if you do its quite strong.

Hopefully this article was useful, or at least made you re-evaluate some of the cards you auto-picked or ignored before. Let me know if you want more of the same, a different topic, or for me to shut the hell up already. Thanks for reading, and remember to check out Toshi's article on how to draft WG!

Dylan Pratt (Jester123 on magic-league)
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PostPosted: Wed May 27, 2009 11:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There is a problem I have with the term "Archtypes" when it comes to drafting. There are few, if any, opportunities to choose one archtype in a shard that a different one. For the first 2-4 picks in each pack, there could be a variance in what types of cards are there, but after that you have to take what you can get, and more often than not it won't fit your exact "Archtype". You play the good cards and you try to have as much synergy in your deck as possible, but in the end you have to have a few components...

1. Good curve (more for aggro)
2. Appropriate fixing (More for control)
3. Removal (Scoop if you don't have any in this format, barring the times you have 5 wild nactals and 3 arkosian squires etc...)
4. Sideboard options. You have to have outs to everything in one form or another.

Also, Your analysis on Courier's Capsule is flawed in my opinion. Regardless of how "Mediocre" it is, it's the ONLY draw spell in that set at the common slot, and it is a very good one.
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PostPosted: Thu May 28, 2009 10:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Your wrong about fixing getting worse with acr it in fact got much better. aaa was the worst of the three formats for fixing, it is the largest set and has panorama's and obelisks at common but the obelisks were almost unplayable (the main problem of the format) and panorama's were not much better, at uncommon the tri lands were very good but this is an uncommon in the largest set.

With Conflux a smaller set at common you gained both rupture spire armillary sphere which are both excellent plus the cyclers all this common fixing is better than any of the common fixing in ala and it comes up more often as its a smaller set.

Ala reborn the smallest set has 4 sets of fixing at common for each shard the borderposts and the creature cyclers once again more of it and better than any of the common fixing in ala.
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PostPosted: Thu May 28, 2009 11:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

honestly, i think for the exalted and the aggressive fliers deck, arkasan squire is probably the best common you could ever hope to open. granted you'll pick an o-ring over it because you don't know the other 41 cards you're going to draft... but, while strong and versatile, o-ring is probably only the 5th best removal spell for the hyper aggressive decks. 3 mana, sorcery speed is just a huge hindrance, compared to 1 mana for 6+ damage, easily. of course, the real reason squire is so strong is not simply because of how good it is, but because of how bad your other options are. as Jester mentioned, you want 1 to 3 1 drops.

well, lets list the 1 drops this deck can and will play:
arkasan squire, court homonculous, full stop

white/green at least gets isamaru, hound of nactl, or whatever it's called. if you're extra lucky, you might even get an executioner's capsule, but you can hardly expect to play that turn 1 (and it hardly ever swings for 2 or more damage on turn 2).

fortunetly, at least for the time being, picking up homonculi isn't too hard, and i've even seen them wheel. i'm going to go out on a limb and say there is no upper bound on the one drops i'd be willing to play, and seeing someone draft a deck with 3 homonculi and ranger of eos made me laugh more than a tiny bit.

entering pack 3, you know exactly how many one drops you have (barring borderposts), and i think this should affect how you rate ethercaste knight a lot. he's by no means a bad man, but he's a bit underwhelming as your first creature in the game. however, he's basically the best card you could ever want to play the turn after an arkasan squire or court homonculous.

as far as common removal goes, cyrstalize is basically the bee's knees! o-ring for 1 less mana that gives your creatures +1/+1 and flying or first strike? agony warp is the card i'm happiest to splash for (excepting tower gargoyle). instant speed, 2 mana removal that acts as branching bolt half the time... celestial purge is also super amazing , as you mentioned. . you're going to have a hard time not having targets (green/white aggro prehaps, because their only 'red' card has shroud).

i also think you're spot on with counters. if you have 2 creatures out by turn 3, it's not terrible holding mana open for their spell (especially if you have an alternate play). if they don't play anything, they are just digging themself further into a hole, and your counter can just push them one turn further back. the only think you're really worried about at that point is if they say land-go, then use removal on your turn.

i'd also like to say controlled instincts is weaker in the exalted deck, because your opponent is leaving a lot of threats untapped. the controlled deck loves it, and the flier deck is racing, giving your opponent insentive to tap something nasty out. (also 1 mana removal is awesome both with obelisks and 2 drops).

Last edited by psymunn on Thu May 28, 2009 1:21 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Thu May 28, 2009 11:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Trotsky1 wrote:
Ala reborn the smallest set has 4 sets of fixing at common for each shard the borderposts and the creature cyclers once again more of it and better than any of the common fixing in ala.

while strong and plentiful, reborns fixing is only 2 coloured, and there's the problem.

i see a lot of aggro decks trying to splash two (or even 3 colours). with reborn whic makes zero sense to me. a green/white deck has zero access to black fixing. also, i think you're heavily over rating the land cyclers and, furthermore, lumping them together does a huge diservice to the one that's actually good. this is especially relevant to the WUb decks where you basically have ZERO playable land cyclers. In a more controlling build, sanctum plowbeast acts as a decent man, and lets you get a bit crazier with mana, so it'll makes the cut, and it's a 22nd or 23d card for an exalted deck. however, seeing as black is your splash, you presumably would rather have a land cycler that fetches a swamp. well, how much worse is jhessian zombies than esper panorama?

lets see:
they both cost you 2 mana. but esper panorama:
a. lets you find plains
b. lets you tap for colourless mana the turn it comes into play
c. takes a land slot, instead of a spell slot in your deck (land cyclers are half a land, in my eyes)
d. has better artwork
e. only requires one other land, not 2 (hence being only half a land).

for all the reasons people dislike panoramas, they should consider zombies 10 times worse. at least panorma has a payment plan option so it makes a fine 3rd land to play.

basically, as far as land cyclers go:
pale recluse is awesome (though, green/white bears deck wouldn't draft it). naya decks would happily 1st pick this
sanctum plowbeast/rannet/haste guy are all 4th pick or worse
zombie is worse than a basic land, and so should be 15th pick.

gleam of resistance is the only land cycler i'd feel comfortable playing in an aggro deck

border posts, on the other hand, are where it is at. mistvein is slightly better, if you had to choose, but field mist lets you run an extra swamp anyway, if it's needed.
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PostPosted: Thu May 28, 2009 11:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

people who try to splash a 4th colour in aggro decks are idiots who deserve to lose, fixing that is a relevant spell even if it is not a good deal for its mana, it still alot better top deck than a panorama late game and just as good early game. The two colour thing makes little difference I find as it still drastically improves your mana requirements and they are so much more frequent than the panorama's plus you generally have 2 two core colours and a splash colour once again if you have showed some colour discipline through out the rest of the draft regardless of how many colours you are in these cards are all very good.
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