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Modern Masters 2015 Draft Archetypes


The complete Modern Masters 2015 set has finally been fully spoiled and people are getting excited. I'll let others calculate booster pack and booster box EVs and exclaim about what cards should have been included (*cough* Serum Visions *cough*) because I want to get right into investigating how the Limited environment is going to behave. The set releases on May 22, 2015 (May 29 for Magic Online) with multiple Grand Prix kicking off the event. The sooner you start thinking about archetype evaluations, the better prepared you'll be for a Grand Prix or just a casual draft with friends.

In this article we'll be discussing the mechanics and ins and outs of 5 out of the 10 two-color archetypes in the set (with the other five being covered in a later article). For each pair we'll talk about some of the key commons and uncommons for the deck and what its game plan looks like. Let's get into it!

White/Blue - Affinity/Metalcraft

Enablers

Blinding Souleater [MM2] Glint Hawk Idol [MM2] Gust-Skimmer [MM2] Darksteel Citadel [MM2]

Court Homunculus is a card that could be classified as an enabler and a payoff card, but its cheap cost makes it closer to the former.

Payoff

Dispatch [MM2] Thoughtcast [MM2] Myr Enforcer [MM2] Cranial Plating [MM2]

Although splashing double black for Cranial Plating's instant speed attach is not very realistic, this card can still be good in the White/Blue archetype with just the normal equip option.

Rares and mythics that might pull you into this archetype include Tezzeret the Seeker and Etched Champion. I've excluded Indomitable Archangel and Argent Sphinx since they'll be played in any deck that can cast them and don't need the Metalcraft bonus to be good.

White/Blue's shared multicolored cards are Ethercaste Knight and Glassdust Hulk which fit great into the archetype, and Swans of Bryn Argoll which fits into any white or blue deck so long as your opponent isn't playing Red.

Overall the archetype looks like an aggressive one, but you'll probably still want to have removal and other interactive effects. If you don't play a good density of artifacts quickly, your deck could get off to a slow start and you don't want to get run over.

Blue/Black - Proliferate

Engine Starters

Helium Squirter [MM2] Scavenger Drake [MM2] Sickle Ripper [MM2] Instill Infection [MM2]

Any type of counter that you want to make more of is a good start for Proliferate. +1/+1 counters, -1/-1 counters, charge counters all do the trick. Blue's Graft creatures and black's Bloodthirst creatures work great as engine starters. If you're exceptionally lucky, Planeswalker loyalty counters can also be manipulated in this manner. 

Engine Manipulators

Thrummingbird [MM2] Tezzeret's Gambit [MM2] Grim Affliction [MM2] Spread the Sickness [MM2]

While Grim Affliction gets you started with a counter, a lot of these effects require preexisting counters to manipulate. For that reason, you need to pay attention to the order of your spells to maximize the value you can get from each instance of Proliferate.

Rares and mythics that will make you want to try this archetype include Surrakar SpellbladeInexorable Tide, Midnight Banshee and Necroskitter.

Blue/Black's multicolored cards are Agony WarpDimir Guildmage, and Shadowmage Infiltrator. Oddly enough, none of them directly contribute to a Proliferate deck's game plan, although they're each good enough at supporting the deck's overall controlling gameplan to warrant an include.

This archetype looks well supported, but I doubt there will usually be an all-in Proliferate deck at the table. However, these colors have good control elements and simply drafting a Blue/Black deck with disruption, a bomb or two, and some bonus counter-manipulating value sounds like a ton of fun.

Black/Red - Bloodthirst

Bloodthirst Creatures

Duskhunter Bat [MM2] Vampire Outcasts [MM2] Blood Ogre [MM2] Stormblood Berserker [MM2]

There's really not an in-between with these creatures: Without the extra Bloodthirst counters, they're all pretty underwhelming. With the extra counters, they're all pretty intimidating.

Triggering Bloodthirst

Vampire Lacerator [MM2] Burst Lightning [MM2] Goblin Fireslinger [MM2] Gut Shot [MM2]

One of the great things about this mechanic is that if you can get one Bloodthirst creature triggered, you now have a very aggressive creature you can send into the red zone to force chump blocks or trigger your next Bloodthirst creature.

Rares and mythics that pair nicely with this color combination are Profane Command, Banefire, Comet Storm, and Hellkite Charger. Basically any card that helps provide those last few points of damage will be useful to this aggressive archetype.

Black/Red's shared multicolored cards are Ashenmoor Gouger, which is great for beating down; Wrecking Ball, which is great for clearing the way; and Fulminator Mage, which is great if you like picking extremely valuable money rares.

As would be expected with a mechanic like Bloodthirst, Black/Red is looking to be an assertive color pair combining aggressive creatures with cheap black and red removal spells. Turn 1 Goblin Fireslinger may not scare your opponent by itself, but they'll be terrified of Stormblood Berserker being the turn 2 play to follow it.

Red/Green - Domain

Enablers

Fiery Fall [MM2] Rampant Growth [MM2] Sphere of the Suns [MM2] Evolving Wilds [MM2]

The uncommon bounce lands (such as Gruul Turf) are also good for getting to all five colors of mana since they can provide two different colors with a single land.

Payoff

Dragonsoul Knight [MM2] Tribal Flames [MM2] Matca Rioters [MM2] Etched Oracle [MM2]

Another obvious payoff for building a deck that can generate any color of mana is that you can splash bombs in any color with relative ease. This lets you make up for a less consistent manabase with a very high average power level of cards once you're able to cast them.

Rares and mythics that make you want to try five-color include Noble Hierarch, Primeval Titan, and Etched Monstrosity. If you're more ambitious, All Suns' Dawn and Horde of Notions take more work but can be quite strong. If you focus on the ramp aspect more than the 5-color aspect, the Eldrazi titans can be a good reason to go into this color combination.

Red/Green's multicolored cards are Apocalypse HydraSavage Twister, and Vengeful Rebirth, which each benefit from ramp but not 5-color specifically.

This deck is hard to evaluate without drafting it once or twice. If you're doing a ton of work just to turn Tribal Flames into Lightning Strike, you're not that happy. On the other hand, if you manage to return five cards with All Suns' Dawn, it will be hard to lose from that point. This looks like a great strategy for people who want to "go deep" in the format and just take mana fixing and the best card in each pack regardless of color. I'm sure there will be more conservative versions of this deck, but if I'm drafting five-color I tend to throw common sense out the window.

Green/White - Tokens/Convoke

Enablers

Bestial Menace [MM2] Kozilek's Predator [MM2] Raise the Alarm [MM2] Spectral Procession [MM2]

Scatter the Seeds is another one of the interesting cards that falls into both the enabler and payoff category. It also combos with additional copies of itself extremely well.

Payoff

Overwhelm [MM2] Thrive [MM2] Scion of the Wild [MM2] Conclave Phalanx [MM2]

Thrive is an interesting payoff card for this archetype: it does require a good amount of mana, but it's still good and becomes great if you manage to sneak a Tezzeret's Gambit into your deck. The best part about this is the fact that the +1/+1 counters effectively have haste since you can put them on old creatures and attack with them the same turn.

Green/White's rares and mythics that make you want to go the tokens route include: Ant Queen, Overwhelming Stampede, Wolfbriar Elemental, Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite, and Mirror Entity.

The multicolored cards for this color pair are Selesnya Guildmage, which fulfills the roles of both enabler and payoff; Sigil Blessing, which is a great smaller Overrun effect; and Wilt-Leaf Liege, which does a great job of beefing up your team.

In general, Tokens seems like it has the potential to be a strong archetype but not particularly fast. I think it will be especially important to make sure you have a way to pump your team in your deck. The only common spell that does that is Thrive so it's important to look out for the good ones at uncommon and higher rarity. Without this effect, you may find yourself with a bunch of 1/1s and have nothing to do with them besides chump block.

Wrap-Up

So far the set is looking like it's going to be a blast to draft. If I had to rank these 5 archetypes in order of which I'm most excited to draft, my list would looks something like this:

  1. Blue/Black Proliferate
  2. Black/Red Bloodthirst
  3. White/Blue Affinity/Metalcraft
  4. Red/Green Domain
  5. Green/White Tokens/Convoke

Join me in a few days when I write about the remaining 5 two-color archetypes (White/Black Soulshift, Blue/Red Elementals, Black/Green Sacrifice, Red/White Voltron, and Green/Blue Graft). Reach out to me in the comments below or on Twitter @JakeStilesMTG with your thoughts.


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