Dynamic Archetype Drafting

You want Champions draft strategy? You got it! Random inside jokes and random anecdotes? Done! Breasts? Oh hell yeah!
I really liked Mr. Krouner’s ideas on dynamic pick orders, but I don’t think he took it far enough. Too often people just ignore the other half of the combination when doing pick orders. So here is my shot into dynamic archetype drafting bullseye. As a lot of people have said before, when drafting you have to look at the whole picture.

You want Champions draft strategy? You got it! Random inside jokes and random anecdotes? Done! Breasts? Oh hell yeah!

I really liked Mr. Krouner’s ideas on dynamic pick orders, but I don’t think he took it far enough. Too often people just ignore the other half of the combination when doing pick orders. So here is my shot into dynamic archetype drafting bullseye. As a lot of people have said before, when drafting you have to look at the whole picture.

**Random Inside Joke**

I hear Monita is going to spend the next twenty years Gushing in a Mexican prison. Did Krazy Kraig drive him to it? Break a leg!


Note that any card I don’t mention in the list is either terrible for that archetype, or I forgot its existence. Hopefully the former.


We’ll start with the color that has the least amount of flexibility in how it works with the other colors. Red’s pick orders in the common slot always start with:

1. Glacial Ray

2. Yamabushi’s Flame

Ray is savagely good, two-mana removal, splice, dome etc. Flame is similar, worse, and still amazing. After that things can branch out a bit:


[author name="Michael Clair"]Michael Clair[/author] wrote an excellent article on how to draft R/W, which is aggressive as all can get out. Possibly no other archetype except R/B is more dependent on your mana curve than R/W. Strictly speaking, Ronin Houndmaster is the strongest Red common after Flame. However, if you already have a ton of three-drops, then Hearth Kami or over Ember-fist Zubera can go above it. The two-drop, three-drop, double two-drop opening is just great for R/W. Note that taking a Red creature above Houndmaster is unlikely, but not impossible. Brutal Deceiver is on par with Frostwielder, and may go higher or lower depending on curve and spirit requirements.

At the 4s, Frostwielder is solid as the higher end and they get somewhat better in multiples. Kami of the Fire’s Roar is really excellent, but often R/W decks are short on spiritcraft triggers. Uncontrolled Anger is just a far worse Indomitable Will in this archetype. Devouring Rage hopefully won’t make the cut, as you’ll often find yourself short on saccables and/or mana.

3. Ronin Houndmaster

4. Hearth Kami

5. Ember-Fist Zubera

6. Kami of the Fire’s Roar

7. Frostwielder

8. Brutal Deceiver

9. Akki Avalanchers

10. Uncontrolled Anger

11. Battle-Mad Ronin

12. Lava Spike/Unearthly Blizzard

Creatures are the most important part of R/W. The last spells are just ways to finish off an opponent who’s been weakened by the cheap guys attacking.


This is my favorite archetype in Champions draft right now. Excellent creatures and excellent removal, R/B has everything. You also have the choice of drafting a controlling version or an aggressive version, depending on your early picks.

The control version revolves around a ton of removal. Pain Kami is gigantic in this type of deck, due to Soulless Revival and the soulshift Black creatures. Houndmaster is still the best common Red three-drop, but after that it gets tough. Brutal Deceiver is fairly strong on defense and soulshifts well, so it goes up somewhat. B/R can often have too many 3s and 4s however, so that can make things fluctuate greatly.

3. Ronin Houndmaster

4. Ember-Fist Zubera

5. Kami of the Fire’s Roar

6. Brutal Deceiver

7. Hearth Kami

8. Frostwielder

9. Soul of Magma

On the flip side is the hyper-aggressive R/B version. Two-drops are gigantic here, even more so than the controlling type. Uncontrolled Anger, while being nigh-unplayable in controlling builds, works pretty well in this type. Devouring Rage is also a great finisher, with Kami of the Fire’s Roar and Kami of the Waning Moon making great targets that are easier to get through. Occasionally you won’t be playing enough Mountains to make the Hearth Kami a reliable two-drop, e.g. you have a lot of Wicked Akuba you want on turn 2. However, the reliance this archetype has on the two-drop makes Hearth Kami very useful to pick up when you can. It might table, which Houndmaster will never do, so go with your gut.

3. Hearth Kami

4. Ronin Houndmaster

5. Ember-fist Zubera

6. Kami of the Fire’s Roar

7. Brutal Deceiver

8. Uncontrolled Anger (good on Gibbering Kamis and Nezumi Cutthroat)/ Devouring Rage (good with aforementioned unblockable makers).

9. Frostwielder


Another fun archetype, there aren’t a ton of ways to build it. Certain cards do go up quite a bit however. Uncontrolled Anger is great on one of the Soratami, and on Teller of Tales, it’s just like building your own Archangel. R/U is about stabilizing the ground and winning with burn or fliers or some other kind of difficult to stop damage. Ember-fist Zubera is much more useful, than say, Hearth Kami here. Brutal Deceiver is trashy, while Forstwielder is often excellent in a Teller/Puppetry kind of deck. The defensive and offensive capabilities of the Houndmaster still can’t be ignored though.

3. Houndmaster

4. Ember-fist Zubera

5. Frostwielder

6. Kami of the Fire’s Roar

7. Hearth Kami

8. Uncontrolled Anger

9. Devouring Rage (solid on a flier, but often very risky due to low toughness or whatever else. Good, but often not needed in R/U)

10. Soul of Magma

11. Brutal Deceiver


I find this archetype to be rather poor unless you go Ray/Might crazy. Since going Ray/anything crazy is good anytime, that’s not saying much. Green itself is pretty complicated, but it doesn’t really play well with the curve or quality of red’s semi-aggressive creature base. Generally speaking, if you’re paring Red with Green, you’re playing a couple of Mountains and one or two burn spells.

However if you have to run hard R/G for whatever reason, you’re definitely leaning towards the Kami of the Hunt branch instead of the Order of the Sacred Bell branch (to be explained below). Spiritcraft triggers are important, as is sneaking damage in when possible, since your late game will be kind of blah. Thus:

3. Ronin Houndmaster

4. Kami of the Fire’s Roar

5. Hearth Kami

6. Ember-fist Zubera

7. Frostwielder

8. Brutal Deceiver

9. Sokenzan Bruiser


Green is a really interesting, complex color in Champions Limited. The potential is amazing, but it’s also the least unforgiving if something goes wrong. As I see it, Green branches out into one of two ways.

The first is cheaper guys, less reliant on mana acceleration. This makes green the less dominant of whatever color it’s paired with. Going from the other color’s two-drop to Kami of the Hunt and Burr Grafter or Feral Deceiver is a great way to look at how this style plays out. Sometimes you play it for the spirit/arcane stuff available. In this type, Kodama’s Reach is better than Sakura-Tribe Elder, since you already have lots of 2s and are trying to get to 3-5 at all costs.

The other style of Green has two aspects. One is the goal of getting out a turn 3 Order of the Sacred Bell. No opening is greater than that start, hopefully off a Sakura-Tribe Elder. You either plow through two of their early drops or start beating face. If you’ve got the Serpent Skin or Kodama’s Might backup, it’s over.

After that opening, you use your acceleration to put out bigger cards, as well as your splashes. Moss Kami comes out quicker, and even Vine Kami is playable.

Green’s odd weakness is a lack of a five-mana creature with power three or higher. Your five-drops will almost always be in your other color, which is why Sakura-Tribe Elder is usually better than Reach.

1. Kodama’s Might

No matter how you draft Green, this is the best first pick. Insanely cheap and very useful, you always feel better having it available. It’s even fine as a splash.

Now as for the rest, let’s assume you’re drafting G/U, where you’re more interested in sprits and smooth progression. This is the perfect time to go with that first style of drafting green.


2. Kami of the Hunt

3. Kodama’s Reach

4. Burr Grafter/Feral Deceiver

5. Moss Kami

6. Sakura-Tribe Elder

7. Order of the Sacred Bell

8. Orochi Sustainer

9. Serpent Skin

10. Matsu-Tribe Decoy

11. Humble Budoka

12. Orochi Ranger

This is a fine list for G/U, which ramps up to Teller of Tales and Moss Kami. It also works well for R/G, which needs that Kami of the Fire’s Roar to get through with the bigger guys.

However, I prefer the more flexible approach. I like taking the mana acceleration earlier, and I’m still always looking for that turn 3 Order of the Taco Bell (steak soft tacos please). Also note how much higher Serpent Skin is in this type. With all that mana flying around, its use barely slows you down.

G/B and G/W

2. Order of the Sacred Bell

3. Sakura-Tribe Elder

4 Orochi Sustainer

5. Serpent Skin

6. Feral Deceiver

7. Kodama’s Reach

8. Moss Kami

9. Kami of the Hunt

10. Commune with Nature

11. Burr Grafter

12. Matsu-Tribe Decoy

13. Orochi Ranger

14. Humble Budoka

This is the list I would use for G/B, G/W and any 3-4-5 color deck you might draft. Commune with Nature is okay for getting to that critical turn 2 elf, but certainly don’t feel bad if you need to cut it. The other two-drop creatures are just pretty weak, which is why the goal is to get to the mid game as quick as possible. Ranger is good with a Serpent Skin on it, Budoka doesn’t make bad trades with Zubera or River Kaijin. Hopefully you can do better than either one.

**Random personal anecdote**

I was on a game show one time called Mall Masters. It was a really short-lived show on the Game Show Network. My entry came when my girlfriend and I were walking down the Mall of America one time. We saw some people doing a mic/camera test for a game show they’d be taping later that week. I asked if I could be a contestant and the person in charge told me to show up for an interview the next morning, in the bowels of the mall.

The next morning, bright and early, I was in a room with some other well dressed folk waiting to get called up for an interview with the producer. I was right next to the door leading to the interview room, so I could hear most of the questions and answers. After each brief interview, the producer would come walking out with the contestant and say she was looking forward to seeming them at Tuesday at 9:00AM or Wednesday at 10:00, or something. In fact, every person that went before me got a confirmed spot on the show.

When I went in, she asked me some questions about myself, what I did, etc. I smiled and gave energetic answers. Afterwards, she thanked me for coming in and said she would call if they needed me. Big frown.

But they did call, the night before a taping. I was quite surprised, but very excited. The next morning I went in bright and early, when only mall walkers roamed. We were taken into a large boardroom in the amusement park complex inside the mall. We were given a large amount of rules and regulations, of which there are many for being on a game show. We also signed a lot of waivers, and ate a pretty good breakfast.

Each half-day was a group of 21 contestants. Three people would be called up and they would tape a show. I was in the second set of three called up, and was pretty keyed up since I had just seen the guy before me win $5,000, the big jackpot.

**Random aside in the aside**

We were also instructed that every time the host or whomever said “$5,000 dollars” we were supposed to clap and scream like monkeys. I’m told this is pretty common. I know they do it on Family Feud. Whoever’s hosting will say “$20,000 dollars” and the entire family will start having grand mal seizures. Skinner would be proud.

Anyhoo, I did make it to the bonus round, but I did not win the $5,000 (yeah, wooo!). It was a fun experience and one I recommend to everybody at least once, if only to see what you look like on TV.


Blue is a strong color that doesn’t get its due respect. I thought it was awful when I first saw the spoiler too. All the creatures died to a common Red spell or an uncommon Green one, and the splice cost on Consuming Vortex is so high. But I think we’re all learning that Blue is actually quite solid. The trick is getting enough of it. You can still go Black behind a Black drafter, but for Blue, that’s suicide.

If you’re solid Blue, I can’t imagine taking any Blue common over Teller of Tales. A gigantic flier with a useful ability, if it’s on the table they’re probably in trouble. Vortex, despite having an obscene splice cost, is still probably the best next pick for almost any deck. After that, Soratami Mirror-Guard always seems better than any alternatives. You could take it over Vortex in the right circumstances, in fact.

1. Teller of Tales

2. Consuming Vortex

3. Soratami Mirror-Guard


I’ll skip the Dampen deck, since it’s been done to death by now, and the pick orders are all kind of messed up. U/W in its creature form seems fragile, and I hardly ever draft it. I hear good things about it, so maybe it’s better than I’m giving it credit for. This one is obviously about speedy, difficult to stop fliers (Blue), efficient creatures (White), and useful tricks (both). The Reach Through Mists is the wild card here, being great with Blessed Breaths and Candle’s Glows, and pretty meaningless otherwise. I’d still lean towards having more creatures.

4. Soratami Rainshaper

5. Soratami Cloudskater

6. Mystic Restraints

7. River Kaijin

8. Hisoka’s Defiance

9. Callous Deceiver

10. Reach Through Mists

11. Floating-Dream Zubera

I really hate Mystic Restraints by the way, but I see their need. River Kaijin is higher almost anywhere else, but White has a lot of commons and uncommons that can do similar things here. If I’m U/W, I’m looking for a cheap, evasive edge with Indomitable Will on a flier eventually.


U/R is still a controlling type deck, but you do have to win somehow. Again, depending on your Ray quota, Reach Through Mists could be a first pick. It’s pretty obvious when it’s needed, and it will table often enough. For a regular U/R, my picks would look something like:

4. River Kaijin

5. Floating-Dream Zubera

6. Soratami Rainshaper

7. Mystic Restraints

8. Soratami Cloudskater

9. Counsel of the Soratami

10. Reach Through Mists

11. Hisoka’s Defiance

12. Callous Deceiver

R/U generally has a strong late game, so getting there is quite important. The Zubera is higher because it’s great in multiples, triggers a lot of cards, and is very good with the Devouring Rage potential. Defiance can go up if you’re short on Zubera or Hearth Kami or other two-drops.


U/G has turbo Kami of the Hunt/Reach Through Mists/Kodama’s Might going, and some other fun interactions. It seems to be the combination that splashes the most often, since Reach is fairly highly prized. River Kaijin goes up based on how many colors you’re playing, since theoretically you shouldn’t lose with all your gold bombs. But in straight G/U, you’re looking for some card advantage with the efficient blue and green creatures.

4. River Kaijin

5. Mystic Restraints

6. Reach Through Mists

7. Soratami Rainshaper

8. Soratami Cloudskater

9. Floating Dream Zubera

10. Counsel of the Soratami

11 Hisoka’s Defiance

12. Callous Deceiver


Now personally, I like U/B. It has a lot of potential and can have really aggressive draws. Unfortunately, it can sputter out too. Generally I like to draft this with a quick aggro/evasion bit, and Greed to finish things off. Defense is less interesting, because your late game is generally poor. With that in mind:

4. Soratami Rainshaper

5. River Kaijin

6. Floating Dream Zubera

7. Soratami Cloudskater

8. Mystic Restraints

9. Callous Deceiver

10. Hisoka’s Defiance

11. Council of the Soratami

12. Reach Through Mists.

**True, delicious story.

In between writing Blue and White, I ate an Italian Sausage/Roasted Garlic/Goat Cheese Calzone. Yum!



I believe White to be the most overrated color in ChK. It has depth, but 90% of the cards do the same thing. It’s good, I suppose, but it doesn’t give me the flexibility of deck design that other draft archetypes seem to. As such:

1. Kabuto Moth

2. Cage of Hands

3. Kitsune Blademaster

4. Kami of the Ancient Law

Once in a while I could possible conceive of taking Cage over Moth, but not very often, and certainly nothing else. The effect the Moth has on a game is incredible, not to mention the lovely creature type. I’ve heard it said that Blademaster is more aggressive, and picking that over Cage could be possible. However, in comparison to Moth, it just lets more of your guys come through unblocked. Moth is too amazing. Kami of the Ancient Law is also excellent for p/t and ability and creature type. It’s quite strong, but usually the cards above it will get you back any lost tempo, and than some.


Now G/W is a deck I hate, hate to draft, whatever the block. Anytime I end up with Green cards alongside White cards, I just think of myself as a big fat failure. It’s not a good feeling, and that’s why I avoid G/W, even when it’s good. But if someone were disconnected during a MTGO draft and found themselves with the G/W by accident, here’s the rundown of the white picks I’d strive for:

5. Mothrider Samurai

6. Blessed Breath

7. Kitsune Diviner

8. Indomitable Will

9. Hundred-Talon Kami

10. Kami of the Painted Road

11. Lantern Kami

Green pumps on White fliers is a start. White tricks on Green fat men is also good. I like Will an awful lot, but Green’s options are usually better. Diviner goes higher here, cause what else you got? I’ll dislike this archetype until my dying day.

W/R and W/U

W/R and W/U are roughly the same: the need for aggression and a semi-poor late game. I like Will a lot to shore up the weaknesses in Red or Blue. Painted Road is a little better in Red to go along with Kami of the Fire’s Roar, but it still seems too slow. Blue hopefully has Tellers at the five-spot. W/R and W/U are both solid enough to win with.

5. Indomitable Will

6. Mothrider Samurai

7. Blessed Breath

8. Hundred-Talon Kami

9. Lantern Kami

10. Kitsune Diviner

11. Kami of the Painted Road

Harsh Deceiver is somewhat playable in U/W, but horrendous in G/W. It’s pretty awful in R/W unless you’re playing the Soul of Magma/Earthshaker deal. But it’s still pretty eh.


In W/B, on the other hand, it can be quite good. Besides the obvious Green scenarios, it’s picked up easily with the Scuttling Death and provides good defense with a Cutthroat deck, or some other evasive combination. I will also often play 18 lands in B/W (more so in that combination than any other) so the + ability hits a touch more. My White pick order for W/B generally is:

5. Indomitable Will

6. Mothrider Samurai

7. Blessed Breath

8. Harsh Deceiver

9. Hundred-Talon Kami

10. Kami of the Painted Road

11. Lantern Kami

12. Kitsune Diviner

**Who doesn’t like nice breasts?

Here they are. [Warning: This is not what you are expecting, even if, like me, you were expecting the unexpected. – Knut]


And then we come to Black. Definitely the best, deepest color, it’s also the hardest to make an accurate rating list for. Honestly, the top 6 can shift into any other placing depending on your needs.


Two-drops, two-drops, two-drops.

1. Nezumi Cutthroat

2. Wicked Akuba

3. Befoul

4. Devouring Greed

5. Rend Flesh

6. Rend Spirit

7. Cruel Deceiver

8. Scuttling Death

9. Gibbering Kami

10. Kami of the Waning Moon

11. Soulless Revival

12. Nezumi Ronin

13. Villainous Ogre

14. Waking Nightmare

15. Distress

16. Pull Under

I’ll take a tip from Team Ziegler and say the Rends are somewhat overrated. Removal is removal, but I like cards that do the same thing all the time. Scuttling can be above Cruel Deceiver sometimes, and the three-drops are needed too. Ogre goes up with Oni, etc. Pretty obvious stuff.

And if you do go the control route, Scuttling goes way up and Greed goes way down. Turbo Pain Kami makes Revival and Gibbering higher, etc. Speaking on a spectrum level, my pleasure with B/R is proportionate to my distaste for G/W.

Greed is a really tough card to rate in this or any build. You want at least one, but three is too many. It’s a great finisher, but it’s pretty irrelevant if you’re loaded up with removal. I know a lot of people take them first pick every time, but I think you can end up with some poor concoctions that way.

B/G and B/W

B/G and B/W have roughly the same list. B/G’s excellence comes from ramping up to Scuttling Death, that 3+ power creature that was missing in the five-drop in other Green builds. As I said before, B/W often plays 18 and lots of spirits, so Scuttling is consistently good on turn 5 there as well, especially with an Indomitable Will of course (good on Cutthroats too). B/G in particular doesn’t need Greed to win, but it doesn’t hurt. B/W can go two-drop/three-drop heavy, but I’ve often drafted them with an eye towards the late game, using Thief of Hope or Cursed Ronin or something of that nature. Greed is quite strong in the often spirit heavy B/W, but you still need something else to do consistent damage.

1. Befoul

2. Nezumi Cutthroat

3. Rend Flesh

4. Devouring Greed

5. Rend Spirit

6. Wicked Akuba

7. Scuttling Death

8. Cruel Deceiver

9. Gibbering Kami

10. Kami of the Waning Moon

11. Pull Under

12. Nezumi Ronin

13 Villainous Ogre

14. Distress

15. Waking Nightmare

16. Soulless Revival


B/U as I said above, can be pretty good in aggro settings. Your late game is Scuttlings or Tellers, hopefully with no pause betweens turn 2 and turn 5. While I generally don’t recommend it, D-ing up the Yamabushi’s Storms at some point will be helpful. It’s why Callous Deceiver is pretty high in this archetype.

1. Nezumi Cutthroat

2. Wicked Akuba

3. Devouring Greed

4. Rend Flesh

5. Befoul

6. Rend Spirit

7. Gibbering Kami

8. Scuttling Death

9. Cruel Deceiver

10 Villainous Ogre

11. Kami of the Waning Moon

12. Nezumi Ronin

13. Soulless Revival

14. Distress

15. Waking Nightmare

16. Pull Under

Now these lists are guidelines. The truth is, any card at any place can become number one based on the needs of your deck. The trick is to figure out what you’re hoping to do with your deck as you’re drafting it. Don’t ever box yourself in a corner on how “good” one card is and how “bad” another is. Good luck.

Noah Weil

You know, like anything can be great, anything can be great. I don’t care – brick-laying can be great if a guy knows. If he knows what he’s doin’ and why.

-Eddie Felson, The Hustler

Any questions or comments, I can be reached at

NWeil _at_ hot – mail- dot com

Noastic on Magic Online

**Bonus Section**

Warning Forever is a space shooter that consists only of boss battles. The enemy evolves after each fight depending on how you kill it in the previous ones. It’s fun and free here: http://www18.big.or.jp/~hikoza/Prod/index_e.html

I found the link in Brian Clevinger’s excellent 8-Bit Theater. If you’re any kind of dork (Hint: reading this = you are), than you’ll enjoy this web comic. It can be found here: