Deconstructing U/W in Betrayers Limited Part 2 – The Betrayers Pick Order

When Ken messaged me last week to tell me he thought he had written one of his best Limited articles ever, I was skeptical. He’s been semi-retired for some time, so I didn’t know what to expect. Friday’s article proved his case however, and part 2 just continues it by delivering the complete common-through-rares pick order for Betrayers in this powerful archetype.

I hope Geordie appreciates this homage to him. His Red/Blue draft article from Onslaught Block was likely the best Limited article I had ever seen not written by a pro. I hope when he sees this it will inspire him back into the writing game and the Magic game. Magic is so vastly superior to Vs. it drives me nuts when people play that game and not this one. I can take losing people to poker; there is more money in it. When we lose them to Vs. it’s more than I can stand.

Okay, Part 1 had more than enough foreplay so I’ll get right to everyone’s favorite, the pick order! Here are the commons.

1. Waxmane Baku

This is the best common in the set. While it isn’t as impressive in this deck as in an aggressive deck, it is still pretty awesome and can help you win the game several turns earlier than you might otherwise be able.

2. Split-Tail Miko

I am tempted to put this card at number 1 for the purposes of this deck. That is a bit bolder than I am ready to be since I know how good the Baku is. This card is a bit more in keeping with the theme of the deck, but not so much so that I’d encourage you to pass the Baku. I don’t believe these come in the same pack so I wouldn’t worry too much. On the off chance you see both, either card will be a boon to your deck. If you can’t decide, look at your curve.

3. Ninja of the Deep Hours

Blue and White have all the tools to make this guy a bomb. Cheap creatures, creature enhancement, the ability to make him unblockable or nearly unblockable.

4. Mistblade Shinobi

Same as above. The reason he is slightly lower on my list is that if you don’t have one of the enablers he is a lot worse than Deep Hours. It is possible these two are in the wrong spot on the list, but again, I don’t believe they normally come together.

5. Moonlit Strider

I’m not entirely sure what Nick was smoking when he badmouthed this guy, but he is really awesome. He is my favorite blocker for this deck. Soulshift, for some reason, is still insanely underrated. This card is a great blocker in the midgame and is incredibly versatile at all times. You really want this guy in your deck.

6. Shimmering Glasskite

I wasn’t sure how good this guy would be at first. He seemed good on paper, but I had this feeling he’d be unimpressive in play. I was wrong – this guy is pretty unstoppable. Even when they do stop him, they sometimes need to two-for-one him and others you get a favorable trade. I like his 3 toughness as much as his ability. A great addition to the deck.

7. Kami of Tattered Shoji

This was another card that I like that seemed to underwhelm Nick. In this deck, this card can serve double duty. While he is not a consistent attacker, he will always be able to block, and he’ll be able to block well.

8. Heart of Light

People talk about Sandskin when they talk about this card. This is what Sandskin needed to be to give White a fighting chance in triple Onslaught draft. With the number of fliers you have in this deck, you shouldn’t need to worry about attacking through the creature with this on it. And don’t forget the old trick with this card… If damage is on the stack and you get rid of the Heart or even the Creature it is on, the damage will not be prevented.

9. Quillmane Baku

At five mana, a Baku isn’t that exciting. By the time he is out, you have already cast most of your Spirits, so you are now just hoping to draw more. If your deck is bursting with spirits this guy is really good, but if you are short on them like I normally am, he’s merely playable.

10. Phantom Wings

This is a card that is almost exclusively for Ninjas, so if you haven’t got any, you probably won’t need it in this deck. It is amazing in the mirror though. Your Moonlit Striders can now block nearly everything. [This is one of the few areas I think KK vastly underrated a card – I think Wing Dings is a strong card, though I suspect it won’t get much credit. – Knut]

11. Hundred-Talon Strike

This card is very good in the early game. For one mana you can potentially kill a creature that will give you a headache. You won’t be splicing it too much, but it is one of the better spells you can play in the deck.

12. Silverstorm Samurai

It’s not Silverstorm Samurai, it’s Uncontrollably Obvious. See Tim, inside jokes don’t translate well in print. You aren’t going to trick a good player with this, so don’t try. The best plan with him is to just wait on him. If you don’t need him, and you have other plays on turn 6 just wait. The longer you wait, the more your opponent will be willing to believe you don’t have it.

13. Kami of False Hope

I have already expressed my affinity for one-drops in this deck. This card can dissuade attacks for several turns just by being on the table. If they are going to kill him they still need to plan ahead to do so. He isn’t awesome, but he usually makes the cut.

I feel like I've seen this card before...

14. Floodbringer

Sorry guys, not impressed, and it is going to take a hell of a lot of work to change my mind on this guy. If you have a lot of Ninjas and few small evasion creatures, go ahead and play this, but you don’t really want to make a habit out of playing Storm Crow. You don’t want to be bouncing land for such a poor effect with this deck.

15. Veil of Secrecy

These effects have existed separately on cards before, and I never really liked those cards. Putting both on one doesn’t really make it much more appealing to me. However if you have 3 or more Ninjas, it is at a minimum worth considering, and it is a good sideboard card against decks with a lot of removal.

16. Teardrop Kami

Another one-drop Spirit. You don’t want to be playing him, but he’s a one-drop and he can “chump block” Moss Kami.

17. Terashi’s Grasp

A solid sideboard card, but there are usually better options. It never hurts to have one in your sideboard, but you should be able to pick these up late.

18. Takeno’s Cavalry

I’m not sure what formula they used to come up with his casting cost. None of the other cards are two-mana for Bushido. While the abilities are somewhat synergistic, not enough to warrant the price tag.

19. Mending Hands

This card is situationally quite good. The problem is a lot of the time its effect is unnecessary. With this deck your combat situations are almost always favorable to begin with. Siding it in against red to protect your fliers is more than reasonable.

x. Toils of Night and Day

x. Ribbons of the Reikai

x. Minamo’s Meddling

Not bad, only 3 cards that I consider unplayable, and in truth they aren’t that bad in the board. With so many playables for an already powerful deck, you can see why this archetype only got stronger with the new set. What you need to keep in mind is that Betrayers augmented the defensive parts of the deck. This means that getting attacking fliers in the first set becomes even more important.

Let’s see what the uncommons have in store for us.

0.1. Faithful Squire

This card is incredibly powerful. While he may be somewhat difficult to flip in this deck, once he does he is likely going to be your best card on the table.

0.2. Jetting Glasskite

“And that’s… the ball game.” – anyone who has ever cast this card (though it was made famous by Bill Stead). When this card hits the board in this deck, the game just isn’t going to last much longer. Most of you probably don’t remember how good Zephyd was and I think this guy is way better.

1.1. Shuriken

No deck exploits this card better than Blue/White, except maybe Blue/Black. For those of you that don’t know the trick, it requires a creature of toughness greater than 2. The card has to start off Equipped to a creature without summoning sickness. You then activate the Equip ability targeting another creature without summoning sickness. In response to the Equip, shoot one of your opponent’s creatures. When that resolves he gains control of it. Then the Equip resolves Equipping your creature with the Shuriken, then you shoot your own creature (preferably of toughness greater than 2) and you keep the Shuriken. Not the most flavorful use of this card, but it does work, and makes it a bomb in this deck.

4.1. Genju of the Fields

I don’t like the Genju in this deck all that much. They are fine cards, don’t get me wrong, but I’d hesitate to call them great. I don’t like having to leave mana open in this deck, and I don’t like spending it on the same thing turn after turn. That said, this card certainly discourages attacking and with the trick we all learned about on this site recently it can really get you through a mana flood.

4.2. Genju of the Falls

The fact that there is no “trick” with this one puts it slightly lower on the list. I do like the hard-to-kill attacker thing, I can dig that, but my mana is really valuable to me.

4.3. Soratami Mindsweeper

A 1/4 for 4 that flies and has a great ability! Big fan of this one. I wish I had gotten to play with him more because I have a feeling he may be higher on the list if I had.

4.4. Callow Jushi

The ability here isn’t quite as powerful as that of his White brother, at least not in this deck. If you can reliably flip him in your W/U deck then by all means take him higher, but if your decks look like the Human haven mine do, this guy doesn’t top the charts

4.5. Ronin Warclub

Like a blessing from heaven. This is what this deck wants in an Equipment card, a free Equip. It doesn’t matter much what it is attached to. The great part of this is if you are casting a creature and you get to use it on both attack and defense.

4.6. Walker of Secret Ways

If you have Ninjas, this guy is pretty unfair. If you are Black/Blue I’d take him first. Here you need to tread a little more lightly. If you first pick a Ninja, I think this guy moves way up, but when you crack that pack, you won’t want this as your first pick.

4.7. Tallowisp

This card can be incredibly powerful. The ability to search out your “kill” spells is a great one. He also isn’t too bad at stalling the board early.

Terashi's Verdict gets an Aaaaaay!

4.8. Terashi’s Verdict

Now here’s an Arcane spell I can get behind. This is a legitimate removal spell. I know many of the “destroy target attacking creature” spells leave much to be desired, but this one does its job.

4.9. Indebted Samurai

Well this beats the heck out of any 1/4 for four. This will discourage a lot of attacks the 1/4’s can’t. On top of that he can be a powerful attacker and later on he becomes nearly unstoppable.

7.1. Kaijin of the Vanishing Touch

I loved Wall of Tears. While this is slightly powered down, it is a Spirit and does a fine job of early ground stalling.

8.1. Minamo Sightbender

Great with Ninjas, good in a deck that didn’t find the fliers. This card isn’t much if everything you were trying for came together and you don’t have Ninjas. By the time you’ll want to decide how good he is for you, it’ll be right around the time he should be taken.

8.2. Ward of Piety

Late in the game this card is better than Phantom Wings for getting your Ninjas through. I don’t like it much as a defensive card since it forces you to keep a lot of mana up on their turn, but it can certainly be used that way in a pinch.

8.3. Blinding Powder

Very similar to Ward of Piety, I like that this is cheaper and can switch creatures, but I don’t like that it is weaker in the late game. I doubt you’ll have to choose between the two, but it is a close call. I personally prefer the Ward.

11.1. Kami of the Honored Dead

Playable, but very cumbersome mana-wise. I have certainly played him before, but I wasn’t exactly proud of it. God, I love Soulshift.

11.2 Empty-Shrine Kannushi

While this card isn’t bad out of the board, it isn’t great either. Realistically it won’t deal with any of the problem cards in the mirror. What it will do is be a 1/1 unblockable for 1. That means a lot to those of you who, like me, have sided in Jukai Messenger and Plague Beetle.

x.x. Heed the Mists

x.x. Shuko

x.x. Quash

x.x. Stream of Consciousness

x.x. Scour

The number of cards in the four-slot shows you the breadth of the gap between 4 and 5 on the commons list. If you have hung with me this long, we are in the home stretch. Just gotta take care of these Betrayers rares and we are all set!

0.0.1 Umezawa’s Jitte

This is one of the most powerful cards in the set and definitely the most powerful card in this particular deck. There are people calling this card Skullclamp, but I am not ready to go that far. I am ready to pick this over any other card though. [It’s not Clamp in Constructed, but I think it may be better than ‘Clamp in Limited. It’s certainly one of the most annoying cards you will play against in the April PTQ season. – Knut, still feeling the last Jitte beating]

0.0.2. Patron of the Kitsune

I really, really, really did not pass this card, but I do appreciate the mention Mr. Aten. You have to keep in mind that when dealing with Tim Aten you are dealing with a man on the verge. I’m not sure what he is on the verge of, but when he gets there I’m sure we’ll all know.

0.0.3. Patron of the Moon

I’m not entirely sure that this is worse than the White Patron, but as I have discussed before, who really cares. You’ll never have to make the draft choice and you’ll never have to cut one from your deck.

0.2.1. Final Judgment

I put this below the Glasskite because of how much less exciting this card is if your opponent knows you have it. The great part about this card in this deck is that you can force your opponents to over commit. You may remember (yeah, right) me putting down Akroma’s Vengeance in Limited. Well this is a different format, and White is a lot more controlling than it was in Onslaught block.

0.2.2. Kira, Great Glass-Spinner

This card would be pretty high on the list if it were just a 2/2 flier for three. Its ability can be annoying at times, but more often than not it will aid you.

0.2.3. Shining Shoal

Captain’s Maneuver never looked so good. I remember a time when I wanted to open Captain’s Maneuver more than anything. This card is strictly better. It is in one color and has an alternate casting cost. I can’t really see passing this card very often.

2.0.1. Threads of Disloyalty

Don’t let its restriction fool you, this is a good card. The swing in the early game is often too much for your opponent to recover from.

2.0.2. Neko-Te

Think your 1/4’s discourage attacks now? Wait until you have one of these on them. They can’t ever effectively attack you and later on it aids your offense as well making the creature nearly unblockable and deal an extra point.

2.0.3. Higure, The Still Wind

This is not an automatic first pick, but it is a great card. Obviously if you do wind up taking him first out of the third pack you’ll want to move the other Ninjas slightly higher in the ranking.

2.0.4. Opal-Eye, Konda’s Yojimbo

The granddaddy of all 1/4’s. This is probably the best 1/4 to see print since Teroh’s Faithful. In a deck that is greedy for defensive cards this is one of the best. Once again, you shouldn’t be taking too many cards over this.

4.4.1. Oyobi, Who Split the Heavens

It doesn’t matter how much it costs once it is on the table. This is a great finisher for this deck. Tough to kill and has an ability that if used even once will probably end the game.

6.0.1. Tomorrow, Azami’s Familiar

The 1/5 body on this makes him a really respectable card. I’d never call a card like this a bomb, but you want him in your deck if you pick him up.

7.1.1. Slumbering Tora

I need to level with you guys. I have never actually drafted or played with this guy. I think in the right deck he can be awesome, but you need to be aware of how good he is in your deck. It isn’t just a matter of having Spirit and Arcane spells, but ones that are good with this guy. You’ll need at least 6 of cards of the proper type that cost 4 or more before I’d consider this guy.

7.1.2. Kentaro, the Smiling Cat

Yawn. Don’t be fooled, he doesn’t have any game text besides Bushido 1. That said, he’s still a fine two-drop that can trade with a Houndmaster. Not the best, but definitely playable.

11.1.1. Baku Altar

There always seems to be a huge gap in rare power. They don’t make many “meh” rares. This is a “meh” rare. In the right deck it can be good, I wouldn’t go out of your way for this card though.

11.2.1. Hokori, Dust Drinker

I am really afraid I’m putting this card too low. It seems that this might be one of those great cards that doesn’t seem that great at first. Though if I had to guess, I’d say its greatness is probably in aggressive decks. I’d avoid it in this deck.

13.0.1. Day of Destiny

Once again, this card is very deck dependent. I think you know what you need in a deck to make this good. The number I use is four. Four Legends and you are good to go.

13.0.2. Ornate Kanzashi

You really want to start this card in your sideboard. The investment is too high to risk flipping cards you can’t use. Even in a mirror match, I’m not entirely sure how good this card is.

x.x.x. That Which Was Taken

x.x.x. Yojimbo, Who Bars the Way

x.x.x. Disrupting Shoal

x.x.x. Chisei, Heart of Oceans

x.x.x. Mirror Gallery

x.x.x. Orb of Dreams

x.x.x. Reduce to Dreams

x.x.x. Sway the Stars

Wow, that was a mouthful. You are going to have to wait a while for part 3 of this one since Saviors isn’t out yet, but I can’t imagine the archetype getting much weaker with that set. This deck, when properly drafted, is by far the hardest to defeat in this block. I hope you can use this article as a guide to help you discover that fact for yourself.

Type 2 Bannings

This article took me long enough to write that I am now able to throw in my two cents about the bannings. Yes, it was overkill, but man, I’d so much rather have overkill than underkill. That said, I am a little nervous about Aether Vial being left in. I can’t really see a great use for it now. I’d be lying if I said Flores’ WW deck struck fear in my heart, but with a card as potentially powerful as Vial, its omission from the bannings has me a bit concerned.

I am sort of surprised Ravager was taken out. I would think they would have tried harder not to ban a rare, but at least it has value in Extended. Ravager is competitive now, and after the rotation will more than likely be the best deck. Unless they manage to nerf it before then. Time will tell…

Anyway, thanks for hanging in there. I know this is longer than my usual 2000 words of wisdom, but I’d like to think it was well worth it. Good luck in all your drafts!

To Be Concluded! (in 3 months)


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