For the next three months we will be drafting BNG THS THS(Born of the Gods/Theros), which means the archetypes will stay relatively constant. Some of them will be stronger, and some weaker. Today, I’m going to review the top archetypes of triple Theros and see what the commons and uncommons in Born of the Gods has to offer for each one of them.
The aggressive red white deck running 14-15 lands was the scariest deck to get paired up against, partly because I’m usually running some slow, durdle deck that gets punished by fast draws, but also because the nut draws from RW were just impossible to beat. While most of the cards themselves were pretty replaceable, just being creatures and pump spells, the spells that made differentiated a mediocre RW deck to an excellent deck were both Ordeals, Akroan Hoplite, Favored Hoplite, Wingsteed Rider, and Phalanx Leader. Besides Wingsteed Rider, all of these were uncommon. Pump spells were more replaceable and pretty easy to get enough of. There’s Titan’s Strength and Battlewise Valor at common and Dauntless Onslaught and Coordinated Assault at uncommon.
Let’s take a look at what RW gains.
- 1 Drops: Loyal Pegasus
- 2 Drops: Akroan Skyguard, Oreskos Sun Guide, Reckless Reveler, Vanguard of Brimaz, Nyxborn Rollicker
- 3 Drops: Archetype of Aggression, Archetype of Courage, Elite Skirmisher, Kragma Butcher, Satyr Nyx-Smith, Stormcaller of Keranos, Nyxborn Shieldmate, Everflame Eidolon
- Tricks: Glimpse the Sun God, Acolyte’s Reward, Rise to the Challenge
- Other notable cards: Akroan Phalanx, Akroan Conscriptor, Ornitharch
Loyal Pegasus is much worse than it may look. One of the easiest ways to win in this format is to play a turn 1 Favored Hoplite into turn 2 Ordeal, which doesn’t work as well with the Pegasus. Unless your opponent just doesn’t do anything (in which case you probably would have won with any one drop) getting the Pegasus to attack safely will be difficult. I wouldn’t consider getting passed this a very big sign that white is open. Of the rest of the cards, only Akroan Skyguard and Acolyte’s Reward are cards that I would be interested in. Ornitharch is fine, but not great in an aggressive deck, and everything else is filler. Since there’s so few game changing cards, RW will probably be weaker in BNG draft than it was in THS.
While the pump spells are also important, there were plenty of pump spells to go around in Theros, so a lack of good pump spells in BNG is not too relevant.
Another thing to note is that Akroan Skyguard, being a common in a small set, will be opened and probably first picked by a lot of drafters. Unlike Wingsteed Rider who is good in any white deck, Akroan Skyguard really prefers to be in an aggressive strategy. This could potentially lead to a lot of trainwreck drafts if the drafters all stick to their guns and force the RW aggro strategy—just something to keep in mind.
Blue white was more of a tempo deck. Like most formats, playing UW in THS meant drafting flyers, clogging up the ground, and squeezing in incremental damage. Key cards included Voyage’s End, Battlewise Hoplite, Wingsteed Rider, Griptide, Nimbus Naiad, Phalanx Leader, and Seagod’s Revenge. Wavecrash Triton was another star player in this deck, holding the ground against small creatures while tapping down big ones. The two mana white creatures in THS weren’t as good in UW as they were in RW, so we won’t consider similar cards in BNG.
Let’s take a look at the UW curve in BNG:
- 1 Drop: Vortex Elemental
- 2 Drop: Akroan Skyguard, Deepwater Hypnotist, Meletis Astronomer, Oreskos Sun Guide, Vanguard of Brimaz
- 3 Drop: Nyxborn Shieldmate, Archetype of Courage,
- 4 Drop:Aerie Worshippers, Chorus of the Tides
- 5 Drop: Nyxborn Triton, Ornitharch, Siren of the Fanged Coast
- 6 Drop: Archetype of Imagination
- Tricks: Retraction Helix, Acolyte’s Reward, Crypsis, Stratus Walk, Ephara’s Enlightenment, Sudden Storm
- Removal: Revoke Existence, Nullify, Excoriate
- Other: Divination, Oracle’s Insight
Of these cards, I would first pick Ornitharch, Siren of the Fanged Coast, and Aerie Worshippers (and Divination of course) for this archetype. One issue with this UW in THS was that there sometimes wasn’t enough quality cards for your deck, and you ended up having to play crappy 2 mana 2 power creatures. Fortunately, BNG provides us with plenty of creatures and spells that I would be happy to put in my UW deck.
Archetype of Courage is actually very good specifically in this archetype, much better than it is in RW. The flyers in BNG and THS are sized to trade with one another quite often; having first strike forces your opponent to wait and get two flyers on the field in order to double block, which risks getting blown out by a pump spell. Archetype even provides you with a wall of first strikers to dissuade your opponent from swinging back.
BNG provides a lot of sweet spells. One danger that I see new players run into is drafting a lot of spells in their blue-based aggressive deck. Spells are sweet, but most of them require a board presence to make them work, and you really only need a handful of spells in your deck. Pick creatures higher than you normally would when drafting UW (that could mean taking a 2 drop over Divination).
UB was the control deck of the format. The best cards for this archetype are Shipwreck Singer, Thassa’s Emissary, Erebos’s Emissary, and Keepsake Gorgon. Grey Merchant is fine too but it only really shines in decks with a lot of black permanents. Otherwise I would pick the other cards for this archetype. The deck usually lacks cheap removal, defensive two drops, and better two for ones. Luckily, BNG provides us with all of these.
- 2 Drops: Meletis Astronomer
- 3 Drops: Ashiok’s Adept, Black Oak of Odunos, Nyxborn Triton, Pillar of War
- 4 Drops: Aerie Worshippers
- 5 Drops: Floodtide Serpent, Shrike Harpy, Siren of the Fanged Coast
- 6 Drops: Archetype of Finality
- Removal: Retraction Helix, Vortex Elemental, Bile Blight, Nullify, Asphyxiate, Drown in Sorrow, Necrobite, Weight of the Underworld, Eternity Snare
- Two for Ones: Drown in Sorrow, Divination, Oracle’s Insight, Eternity Snare
BNG gives us a boon of cards for this archetype. Of these cards, I like first picking Siren of the Fanged Coast and Aerie Worshippers. Besides removal, the black cards in BNG aren’t too exciting, but are all playable. The creatures are over-costed and under-powered. Keep in mind, though, that having fewer first pick cards, but a deeper selection of cards usually leads to an archetype being under drafted and more powerful, so I’ll be looking to draft UB in BNG.
BNG gives us some great removal, and while none of them are at the power level of Doomblade, they help us make it to the late game against the aggressive strategies. The biggest problem with UB was the possibility of losing to a quick ordeal, but along with Voyage’s End, we get Vortex Elemental, Retraction Helix, and Bile Blight to provide us with cheap ways to deal with those threats.
I really like Meletis Astronomer. Fate Foretold frequently wheels in THS, and in conjunction with Stratus Walk and Retraction Helix, the Astronomer is a body that gains us card advantage. As long as you’re running enough enchantments, Astronomer is just a cheaper Triton Fortune Hunter with better stats.
Drown in Sorrow will be anywhere from average to excellent in the UB deck. Almost all of the UB creatures have 3 or more toughness, so Drown in Sorrow will frequently net 2 for 1s. However, don’t be afraid to side it out in the mirror match or against a big green deck. In these matchups, it’s the big spells and creatures that control the game, and clearing a few two toughness creatures in the late game usually won’t amount to much.
Another way to lose with UB control is to be overwhelmed by big creatures such as Nessian Asp. Archetype of Finality allows all of your cheap creatures to trade with your opponents expensive fatties, making it one of the best cards in the matchup. Eventually you’ll be able to take over the game with your card advantage.
5 Color Green
Green midrange was my deck of choice in triple Theros. I paired green with black or blue (or sometimes both) since those colors lent themselves to a better midrange strategy than red or white. The deck relies on resilient threats that also do a good job blocking the aggressive creatures. The most important cards are Voyaging Satyr, Leafcrown Dryad, and Nessian Asp. Nessian Courser and Nylea’s Disciple were also fine cards to stabilize against aggro decks. As long as you have enough of those, any other value BUG cards filled out the rest of the deck. The best thing about drafting green in THS was the ability to play the best cards in each color. Nylea’s Presence is the perfect mana fixer: green doesn’t have very many two drops so it gave you something to do on turn 2, the presence is a fine top deck since it cycles, and it even helps our devotion. Things to look out for in BNG for this archetype are mana fixing, ramp, and good splashes in either red or white. The UB cards we covered are all great cards to play in this archetype, so I’ll just cover the green cards here.
- 2 Drops: Kiora’s Follower, Swordwise Centaur
- 3 Drops:
- 4 Drops: Graverobber Spider, Setessan Starbreaker
- 5 Drops: Raised by Wolves, Snake of the Golden Grove
- Removal: Unravel the Aether
- Fixing/Ramp: Karametra’s Favor, Kiora’s Follower, Satyr Wayfinder, Peregrination
Green is lacking a lot of fat. Snake of the Golden Grove is a decent, but what we’re really looking for is something to replace Nessian Asp and Keepsake Gorgon. Most of the green cards in BNG fit better in an aggressive strategy. Fortunately, the ramp and fixing is great in the form of Peregrination and Kiora’s Follower, so we can look at other colors for our top end.
I really don’t like Karametra’s Favor. Even though it cycles and ramps, it’s worse than Nylea’s Presence. Not only do you open yourself up to instant speed removal, but losing your creature to sorcery speed removal on the following turn and leaving your off colored card stuck in your hand might as well count as a 2 for 1. Even though Karametra’s Favor a 2 mana spell, most of the time it won’t ramp to a 4 drop on turn 3. If you happen to have a 2 drop that’s not Kiora’s Follower or Voyaging Satyr on turn 2, then at best you could ramp from 3 to 5, turning your Favor into a more expensive Opaline Unicorn (effectively costing 5 mana).
I left off the three drops in green because they’re not cards you actively want in this archetype. They’re better for the GW aggressive decks that were always overshadowed by the better UW and RW decks. Perhaps cards like Aspect of Hydra, Noble Quarry, Setessan Oathsworn, and Reap What Is Sown will be enough to push GW over the top. If not in BNG, definitely look out for GW aggro in the final set of the cycle.
The format looks like it’ll slow down a bit with BNG. There is still the potential to win by enchanting a cheap creature with a couple of Ordeals, but with 2/3 as many Ordeals and more removal from BNG, running away with the game like that won’t happen as often. As a result, UB and green midrange decks will likely be better choices. Of course, I’m sure BNG will introduce more archetypes for us to explore, but I’ll let you guys figure what that will be. Thanks for checkout out my content and have fun drafting the new set!