I probably haven’t done enough AVR drafts yet to write about this (goodbye the 87% of you who just stopped reading) but I thought I’d write about some of the key AVR draft archetypes.
Initially I was very worried about the format; it seemed swingy and unfun on paper. Then I started playing and became very worried about the format, largely because I kept on losing.
However, the more I play, the more I notice how smart it is, and how much it rewards smart drafters and players. The signals are very hard to read, largely because the first 3-6 packs usually seem insane, but the rest are generally dreck. That means if you’ve read the signals wrong, you’ve wasted a pack, no matter if it comes around twice. This creates sub-standard decks amongst the weaker players, and therefore unfun game situations where one player dominates. Hopefully, as people learn the format, these things will slowly disappear and signaling will become a lot stronger.
Below I’ve noted key commons/uncommons that you’ll find in any draft, and the rares you open that might push you in that direction.
I’ll also note that many decks will end up containing elements of a number of these archetypes, as they end up sharing a number of cards across the builds.
This a very aggressive strategy that can put a lot of early pressure on, then finish things with Lumberknots soulbonded to Wingcrafters. Can blow out oppontents with Joint Assault and gets serious benefit out of Tandem Lookouts and Nightshade Peddlers.
Blue/Green Aggro Tempo-Control
Yes, it has a healthy overlap with Soulbond, but it’s more a straight bash-face strategy, both in the air and on the ground, with a healthy amount of tempo-based ‘bounce’ cards, such as Mist Raven, Into the Void and Vanishment. Smushing Blessings of Nature onto a Wandering Wolf or Latch Seeker forces your opponent to come up with answers, fast.
A high varience strategy based around the ‘loner’ mechanic, this strategy feels somewhat bizarre to draft, however can be very brutal when done right. You don’t even need to be getting full value out of your Bone Splinters to keep the pressure on from Demonic Taskmaster or any creature with Homicidal Seclusion.
The best under-the-radar archetype, it relies on attacking your opponent’s life total from alternate angles than just combat damage. It’s well supported by direct damage from red (eg. Thunderous Wrath) and can appear to win out of nowhere.
Attrition Black plays a long game, grinding out wins by slowly and carefully neutering opponents. It’s another high-risk strategy as there are so many swingy cards in AVR (Entreat the Angels, I’m looking at you) that you can still find a loss even after locking down a board. The deck seeks out as many two-for-ones as possible. This is one deck that Nephalia Smuggler works very well in, as it resets all the undying creatures.
The Boros deck you’re probably most familiar with, it simply tries to out-aggro everything else. This deck has a lot of supporting cards, and if you can get Riot Ringleader + Goldnight Commander + Thatcher Revolt on the table, you’ve near guaranteed a win. Can have a little trouble in the late game, or against an opponent with a hand full of Ghoulflesh’s, but is generally too fast to stop.
Key Commons/Uncommons: Fervant Cathar, Goldnight Commander, Hanweir Lancer, Kessig Malcontents, Kruin Striker, Lightning Mauler, Moorland Inquisitor, Riot Ringleader, Somberwald Vigilante, Thatcher Revolt, Thraben Valiant, Vigilante Justice
The archetype isn’t that great, but it gets the job done (Update: I’ve had feedback on Twitter that people are having success with R/G). One of the better cards in the archetype is actually a vampire, Falkenrath Exterminator, largely because you can pair it with Nightshade Peddler. Usually needs a high impact rare finisher, such as Bonfire of the Damned or Burn at the Stake. The fact that it’s cards get stolen by WR Humans and UG Whatever often makes it the poorer cousin.
Ye Olde Archetype returns in AVR draft and is as good as usual. Control the ground, rule the skys, push through damage while your opponent stalls. Generally wins once it survives the early rush of the aggro decks as only black has the tools to deal with everything it has to offer.
Angels aims to go big or go home. It effectively needs to ramp to it’s 6CMC+ flyers that eventually dominate the game. There’s always someone in Angels, or at the very least fighting for them with UW Fliers, so you often need to take sub-par cards to help you survive to the early turns (such as Catherdral Sanctifier).
Suggestive Rares: Herald of War, Restoration Angel, Divine Deflection, Terminus, Avacyn, Angel of Hope, Divine Deflection, Entreat the Angels, Bruna, Light of Alabaster, Gisela, Blade of Goldnight, Sigarda, Host of Herons
Yes, Mill is an Archetype, and it works. Naturally you’ll have to go blue, then choose what you’re going to do to support your mill cards (eg. black/red removal, white lifegain/defenders, green durdles). But it really does work, and not just in Sealed. Stern Mentor is a surprising clock, especially when paired with a Elgaud Shieldmate.
A few people have a had success with fast Blue/Red aggro builds, generally built around humans. T1 Wingcrafter, T2 Falkenrath Exterminator (given flying), T3 Tandem Lookout seems like a dream draw that few other decks could beat. You get to bounce things with Mist Raven while continuing to smash in, but I’m not sure it’s better than going straight Blue/Green. At least in Blue/Red you get a little range with Thunderous Wrath and Pillar of Flame.
There’s a few colour combinations not discussed here: Black/White, Blue/Black, Black/Red, Black/Green (which are usually mono-black spashing the other colour) and White/Green, but I haven’t seen a great archetype for them yet. No doubt they will appear, in time, though usually they will end up as goodstuff.decs, rather than archetypes.