When asked what the iconic card in a set is, most players choose a powerful or flashy Mythic. In many cases, these cards are game-changing in limited and often lead to one-sided gameplay. Rares and Mythics with such a huge impact on gameplay often are easy picks, with little controversy or discussion. If you can play these cards, you will. With this in mind, my philosophy for this Draft Guide is to ignore the Rares and Mythics. Instead, I’ll be focusing on the commons and uncommons that form the backbone of each guild. In addition, each guild has an underlying philosophy for this Draft format. I’ll also be covering the Gates archetype, and finish off with Traps of the format.
Azorious is a tempo-oriented guild in this set. With most of its removal encouraging you to attack, Azorious utilizes flying better than any other guild. Prioritizing hard to remove flying creatures is an important aspect to success with Azorious, with special attention paid to cheap interaction.
Orzhov is a midrange guild, using a variety of removal and evasion to win games. As you draft Orzhov, focusing less on synergy and more on individual power level is important. Creatures with afterlife are hard to block or trade with profitably, so tempo is easy to maintain. Removing opposing blockers is better than removing their attackers, as ending the game as early as you can is important. With few ways to remove large creatures, Orzhov relies on deathtouch to contest big threats.
Rakdos is the most aggressive guild in the set. With many early creatures and a combination of burn and evasion, spectacle is almost trivial to enable. Most removal in Rakdos is ill-suited for reactive play, due to high cost or narrow application. Prioritizing good two and three drops is important to success with Rakdos. Picking these cheap creatures is often better than removal, due to the wide range of removal spells available.
Gruul is an aggressive guild, relying on tempo in the early turns to push its advantage. By replacing the strong black removal with efficient creatures, Gruul tries to win board states with cumulative advantage. Every turn an opponent has to spend to answer your board is another turn you have to attack. Prioritizing threats over removal is important to drafting Gruul.
Simic is a tempo-oriented guild, using cheap interaction to snowball its advantage. Simic replaces evasive creatures with large bodies and late game scaling, so prioritizing cheap interaction and synergy is often more important than efficient bodies. Simic is exceptional at punishing opponents who fall behind but relies on creatures to control most board states. Using interaction offensively is better than defensively for Simic.
Gates is the predominant four or five color strategy in the set. With high power payoffs for drafting gates, the goal of this archetype is to play the most individually powerful cards available. Unlike most Draft decks, the Gates archetype cares less about color requirements as it does about power. Having early payoffs is important for establishing your color base, but relying on enablers to set up can be quite powerful. Perhaps the hardest part of drafting Gates is having a balance of removal, bombs, enablers, and payoffs. To some degree, this is out of your control, but staying open as you draft and prioritizing gates over medium power level cards can be crucial.
Traps are not just weak cards to draft — they’re often the cards with the least amount of support. High Alert offers a great advantage when it works, but suffers from consistency issues. You should stay away from these cards, and only take them if you have to.
That wraps up our Week 1 Draft Guide. I’ll be drafting all week, fine-tuning my understanding of the Limited format in preparation for our Kingslayer Games Invitational this weekend. If you have any comments or suggestions, let me know in the section below.
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