This week I’m covering the other big aggressive strategy in triple Shadowmoor draft: the GW archetype.
As I’m sure you’ve realized out by now, the way I’m approaching each of these archetypes is to figure out the overall plan or goals of the deck and then structure my drafting strategy around that entirely. With GW, the plan is pretty simple: bash face as quickly as possible. You’d be surprised how easy it is to get sidetracked from this plan, and there are a number of cards that look like they’d be good but end up going against the grain.
At the prerelease, a friend of mine suggested that GW might just be the best guild because it was very aggressive and Shield of the Oversoul was just game over in so many situations. After playing a lot more of the format I have to say that GW is still one of the top contenders and something I’m very happy drafting, though I still think UW is best.
Drafting the Deck
As with UW, two-drops are of paramount importance in an aggressive strategy. To prevent overlapping with my UW article, I’m going to spend time talking about the cards that are specific to GW. Obviously Ballynock Cohort, Safehold Elite, and all of the other aggressive guys are excellent, and high picks in GW. I want to instead focus on the nuances of GW rather than simply reiterate what I’ve said about all of the great common creatures you can draft for this deck. If you want to read specific comments on certain cards that should also apply to this archetype, check out my UW article from a few weeks ago.
I’m switching things up a bit this week by starting on a down note.
If you take a look at this card in a vacuum and then think about it in a GW deck, you’re probably pretty excited. Removal isn’t normally something GW gets enough of, and this is cheap and pretty effective at what it does.
If you now take a look at Last Breath in the GW archetype in Shadowmoor, you probably want to vomit. I know I do. Seriously, good GW decks do not play this card, and they certainly don’t draft it highly. Maybe they board it in against an annoying utility guy, but they sure as hell don’t maindeck it. Why? Because the opponent gains four life, and this is usually another turn for him to get the board stabilized!
Maybe that was a bit extreme. I’ve played with the card in GW plenty of times now, and every time I have it I wish that I didn’t. Sure, killing a guy is great and all, but the life really is a huge drawback in this deck, and this is best avoided when possible.
The nuts in GR is barely even playable in GW. I’ll still run this sometimes if I have a lot of four-drops, but my curve is always pretty low and I’m looking to just crush my opponent with aggression. Spending my second turn casting a 0/2 instead of a Safehold Elite, Medicine Runner, or Safehold Sentry is not my idea of aggression.
Niveous Wisps and Somnomancer
I know this is overlapping, but I really have to mention them again because both cards are excellent in this type of strategy.
Shield of the Oversoul
This is another card I’ve talked about in random columns, and this is the ideal example of what an Aura should be. The main reason creature enchantments are frowned upon is that they are relatively easy to deal with, through the use of bounce or removal or whatever, and they cause card disadvantage. When my Auras are Shield of the Oversoul, the last thing on my mind is losing a card because if the Shield sticks the game is over nine out of ten times. Pick this and pick it highly.
This would be perfectly fine in the format as just a Gather Courage. A nice benefit here is that GW has some guys with Vigilance, as well as cheap guys overall that you can cast before combat, so you just may be Conspiring this more than you initially thought. Of course, the big thing here is tempo, and since we’re trying to bury the opponent in a mound of it, I like having multiples of this card.
This guy is one of the best common reasons to go GW instead of UW. In the mid-late game this thing becomes incredibly difficult to contain. This is one of the better four mana 2/2 fliers we’ve seen for Limited in a while.
The fact that this costs four bothers me, as usually I’d want more out of a four-drop in an aggressive deck. This is still pretty playable and combos well with Barkshell Blessing, so I guess I can’t complain too much.
Inquisitor’s Snare and Curse of Chains
If you want removal in your GW decks, this is what you should be looking for instead of Last Breath.
If this guy was made for one specific archetype, it’s certainly GW. It sucks that he dies to Scar, Power of Fire, and all of this other stuff, but the fact that he’ll be a 4/4 trampler attacking on turn 4 is exactly what this deck wants and well worth the added vulnerability to a card like Power of Fire.
I always end up maindecking one of these, since it’s a one-drop to start the curve early, it triggers both colors for whatever effects you have or Shields of the Oversoul, and it also kills opposing Auras which is of pretty big importance in this format.
Presence of Gond
This is pretty good in the archetype, even though you only have access to Pili-Pala and Silkbind Faerie for good untapping options. Still, making a guy a turn is always pretty strong in Limited, and this can give you some mid-late game options if your initial rush fails.
I realize I’ve covered more individual cards in my other strategy guides, but I think it’s kind of silly to overlap them and I’d rather just give you general things to think about when drafting these colors. The main thing is that it is very easy to stray into defensive options, with cards like Juvenile Gloomwidow or Last Breath available at common. Don’t get me wrong, these are both great cards in the right circumstances, but GW doesn’t care about that. GW just wants to play aggressive guys and get in there, not dilly dally around and let the opponent gain four life. If you want to get defensive, look to Silkbind Faerie or Curse of Chains since both of those cards are good on offense as well.
The best versions of GW are also very specific about the cards they want. You won’t see a stray Foxfire Oak or Kithkin Shielddare in an otherwise well-oiled GW aggressive build. Take those two-drops and Ballynock Cohorts super highly too, and just focus on pounding your opponent before he can even get his game started. Another thing is that this archetype is usually focused in both colors since they both offer good mono-colored commons to the deck. This has almost always been the case, whereas other decks are usually tilted strongly towards one color and have the other as a splash.
Again, I’ll try and remain specific to GW in this section.
This card is certainly very strong in an archetype like this, because all too often the opponent will find a way to stabilize and you’ll need to squeeze in those last few points. You can do it with Rune-Cervin Rider usually, but if you really want to get the job done you’re better off with this.
Turn to Mist
I hated this card initially because it didn’t seem like it did anything. As I’ve played more with the set, I realize that this card is amazing for so many reasons. You can save a guy after combat, reuse a 187, or (more importantly for GW) kill an annoying opposing Aura like Power of Fire.
Oracle of Nectars
I realize this is Rare, but I need to mention it since it is an exception to the overall rule. This is one card you definitely don’t want to pass if you can cast it, even though it is defensive and this is GW. This thing is sick when the board stalls out and will win you lots of games.
I dunno, maybe it’s just me and I don’t get it, but I don’t see how this card is any good at all. A friend of mine messaged me on AIM the other day bragging about a deck he just drafted. Included in the “highlights” of said deck were two Mercy Killings, to which I instantly questioned why he would ever play that card, let alone brag about it.
If I’m missing something please alert me to it in the forums, because as far as I can tell this card just sucks.
These guys are just huge for the cost, and very difficult to stop that early in the game. Again, they have Vigilance for doubling up on Barkshell Blessing.
A witch is a bomb in Limited? No way, really?
This one is also a one-drop, which is nice, and of course the ability is pretty insane.
Overall, GW isn’t too tough of a nut to crack, as long as you remember to pick the aggressive cards and stay away from controlling ones whenever possible. I’ve had very little success with GW control or mid-range in this format, unless I had lots of acceleration and Rune-Cervin Riders, and that is a pretty rare situation.
2 Barkshell Blessing
Curse of Chains
2 Wilt-Leaf Cavaliers
2 Hungry Spriggan
Shield of the Oversoul
Raven’s Run Dragoon
2 Safehold Duo
Oversoul of Dusk
Unfortunately I didn’t get to cast Shield on the Oversoul of Dusk, but such is life, right? I did manage to 3-0 with this deck, thanks to brutally fast starts as well as bombs like Oversoul and Seedcradle Witch if the game went long.
I’ll be happy to answer any questions in the forums, but do realize that I didn’t list a lot of cards because they were either a) very obvious, or b) would be overlapping too much into archetypes previously covered.
See you next week!