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Magic Origins Limited Archetypes: Ally Pairs


Reviewing individual cards and how good they are in Limited is extremely important, but it's also useful to know what types of decks exist in the format. In this article, I'll be going over five of the ten two-color archetypes in the set. These first five discussed will be the ally color pairs: White/Blue, Blue/Black, Black/Red, Red/Green, and Green/White.

When I provide examples of cards in each section, I will limit myself to talking about Commons and Uncommons since Rares and Mythics show up too infrequently to be available every draft. I will, however, mention which Rares and Mythics match up well with which two-color archetypes.

White/Blue - Skies

Sky Superiority

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As with most sets, white and blue have the highest density of flying creatures at Common and Uncommon. While some are less exciting (such as Aven Battle Priest), there are many good options. Given that Blue has Claustrophobia and the less exciting Stratus Walk, White/Blue can even steal White/Black's Blessed Spirits and make good use of it.

Ground Control

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Additionally, both White and Blue have a mix of removal and ways to defend from ground creatures. I could even see the merit in playing cards like Yoked Ox or Maritime Guard as a way to neutralize smaller creatures while building to the 3-5 mana needed to deploy flying threats. When I have the choice, I would certainly prefer more efficient creatures for that job such as Cleric of the Forward Order or Sigiled Starfish.

While the flyers approach is a good one, there are also game plans that are more proactive. These would likely utilize aggressive ground creatures such as Topan Freeblade and Jhessian Thief and behave similarly to the Green/White Renown archetype.

Rares and Mythics that might pull you into this archetype include Alhammarret, High Arbiter, Archangel of Tithes, and Soulblade Djinn.

Here's an example White/Blue deck I've drafted. I'd rate this 8/10. It can't close out a game very quickly, but playing an effective six copies of Suppression Bonds felt incredible.

Blue/Black - Graveyard

Graveyard Fillers

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This is a list of all playable graveyard-filling cards at Common or Uncommon in Magic Origins. Notice that Dreadwaters is not pictured here. Please do yourself a favor and never cast Dreadwaters. It's sort of like Tome Scour except it costs four times as much.

As you can see, the number of cards one can use to fill the graveyard is a very short list. In addition to these cards, you'll also want your deck to have ways to make the game go longer so that your creatures trade off in combat and naturally fill the graveyard. A card like Fleshbag Marauder also does a nice job of putting a creature card into your graveyard. If you don't pay attention to your enablers, you won't have enough creature cards in your graveyard to fuel the payoff cards in the next section.

Graveyard Interactions

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Another side benefit of milling oneself is that it makes Spell mastery much easier to achieve. In addition to these cards, there is also Macabre Waltz, but I'm not a fan since it eats up your graveyard while only providing card selection. Remember that most of these payoff cards are fighting for the same resources. You must have enough self-mill in your deck or you'll wind up with cards like Revenant and Undead Servant underperforming.

Some Rares and Mythics you could open that would encourage you to draft Blue/Black are Disciple of the Ring, Erebos's Titan, and Graveblade Marauder.

Here's a Blue/Black deck I've drafted. I'd rate it 5/10. It has both good graveyard enablers and payoff, but the overall card quality is a bit low and I'm very light on removal (which is crucial for a slow grindy deck).

Black/Red - Sacrifice

Sacrifice Fodder

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As with the Blue/Black archetype, there are fewer sacrifice enablers than payoff cards. In this archetype, all the good ones are centered in Red. There's some argument for Undead Servant as a good sacrifice target, but a 3/2 is fairly easy to trade off in combat without needing help. Despite being an aggressive card, Act of Treason is actually one of the best enablers since it lets you sacrifice a creature you don't own. 

Sacrifice Outlets

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Missing from this list are Tormented Thoughts and Consecrated by BloodTormented Thoughts is basically unplayable and Consecrated by Blood requires the right kind of situation to be great. Even Act of Treason doesn't work perfectly with Consecrated by Blood since you also have to sacrifice one of your own creatures if you want to sacrifice the one stolen from your opponent.

Rares and Mythic rares that point toward Black/Red include Priest of the Blood Rite and Liliana, Heretical HealerFlameshadow Conjuring might also work but I'm not sure about it yet. It works great with Fleshbag Marauder and it makes tokens for sacrificing, but it might be too slow.

Here's a great Black/Red deck I drafted. I'd rate it 9/10. It has all the best sacrifice fodder and outlets available and fits them all into a fairly aggressive shell. Sixteen lands may have been greedy, but with only three 5-drops, it was a risk I wanted to take.

Red/Green - Midrange

Mark Rosewater claimed that Red/Green's archetype in Magic Origins is "Midrange beatdown/creature ramp" and the lack of direction really shows. Red/Green's main pull seems to be that it has aggressively costed creatures and has some especially powerful expensive creatures.

Ramp

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Outside of Rares and Mythics, these are the only ramp spells playable in Red/Green. While Leaf Gilder is first pickable in some packs, Meteorite is only decent, and Nissa's Pilgrimage is pretty mediocre.

Expensive Threats

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Note the rarity of the payoff cards here. If you want to find anything good at Common, you'll have to use Prickleboar or Vastwood Gorger which are much less exciting than the options available at Uncommon. Rhox Maulers, however, is a very high quality Common that I would take over Zendikar's Roil and probably over Seismic Elemental.

Some expensive Rares and Mythics that reward you for moving into this archetype are Gaea's Revenge and Mage-Ring ResponderNissa's Revelation is passable but you really want at least six creatures that are 4 power or greater to make it work.

Here's a Red/Green deck I drafted that I'd rate a solid 7/10. It needs more 2-drop creatures and/or removal for early defense, but once it gets to four mana, Zendikar Incarnates are going to start taking over the game. Because it was so important to get to four mana on turn four, I played 18 lands.

Green/White - Renown

Renown Creatures

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This archetype is absurdly good and completely overloaded. Every single one of these creatures is a good card that I would play in a deck with zero combat tricks. The fact that combat tricks exist makes it even more incredible. And this is all at Common or Uncommon! In addition, White gets the uncommon creature Patron of the Valiant that powers up your Renowned creatures.

Pump Spells

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Once again we see the sheer volume of cards available for this archetype to choose from. Grasp of the Hieromancer is a card with which I've been very impressed. It's generally easy to find a spot where you can cast it, tap down the only blocker, and trigger at least one Renown creature. Once that creature is Renowned and taps down a creature when it attacks, it becomes very difficult for your opponent to handle.

Cards that work better than usual in this archetype are Akroan Jailer and Alchemist's Vial. While neither is efficient, the threat of activating them means your opponent has to leave back multiple blockers or risk letting your Renown creatures through unblocked. The absolute bottom of the barrel pump spells that I wouldn't be happy to run include Mantle of Webs and Valor in Akros.

Rares and Mythics that draw me toward Green/White are Outland Colossus, Managorger Hydra, and Relic Seeker. I could see a situation where I wouldn't hate playing Honored Hierarch in my deck, but I'm not coming anywhere close to first picking it.

Below is a good Green/White deck I drafted. It's a tad creature-light, but the creatures it does have are great and the removal spells are great as well. While Joraga Invocation is good in any green deck, it especially shines in Green/White due to the high volume of efficient creatures.

Conclusion

Green/White Renown seems to be far-and-away the best archetype we've discussed so far. The only "downside" is that the Renown creatures are so good that most other decks will be clamoring to take them as well, which means that Green/White decks won't be getting those creatures all to themselves.

That's all for now. Look for my next article where I'll finish up the archetypes discussion by discussing the enemy color pairs.


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