Limited Lessons – Updating Existing Archetypes in Shadowmoor / Eventide Draft

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Tuesday, July 22nd – With 180 fresh new cards entering the Limited cardpool this coming weekend, Nick Eisel is here to help! Eventide is nearly upon us, and the existing Draft archetypes in triple-Shadowmoor need updating with new tech. Let Nick lead the way…

This week I managed to play a couple of drafts, and I also spent a good deal of time thinking about the new format and how Eventide will shake things up. I’ve definitely come to some conclusions that I plan on testing out in the coming weeks, hopefully sharing here whether I end up being right or wrong.

I’m of the opinion that the best place to start covering the new SSE format is to go back and see how the existing archetypes will evolve with the addition of Eventide. Once I’ve done that I plan on going over new archetypes created by the new set, and from there, who knows?

I’ll start with my favorite archetype, which I believe got much stronger with Eventide. Sure, there’s one less pack of Burn Trails and Intimidator Initiates, but in exchange there are plenty of new toys.

Obviously Puncture Blast is totally insane, and I’m not going to spend any time explaining further.

Flame Jab
This one is absolutely huge for the archetype.

One of the biggest problems with drafting a deck like this is that you will inevitably get mana flooded some games and just lose. For this reason I preferred drafting a lower curve in SSS and playing 16 or even 15 lands. With the Jab around, flooding should be a non-issue as you can turn those late game lands into the final few points of damage. This also can trigger Initiate a few times in the same turn, so you can set up a Falter while also going to the head for a few points. This combination can catch someone totally off guard, especially if you have the Flame Jab in your hand and they don’t know it’s a possibility yet.

Heartlash Cinder
While I haven’t had the chance to try this card out yet, it seems awesome in theory. This archetype thrives on playing a bunch of cheap guys and then finishing someone off with burn. The Cinder is both a cheap guy and burn since it will get through and deal a ton of damage thanks to Ember Gale or Intimidator Initiate. Getting to six land and firing off this guy and Ember Gale in the same turn is not even that unreasonable unless you have multiple Flame Jabs or something. Nobody else wants this card and I would be happy running multiples of it in this archetype, as it should easily be 4/1 or larger.

Hotheaded Giant
Yet another awesome card that seems to be built specifically for this archetype. This guy should come out powered up on turn 5 quite often, thanks to the Red one-drops as well as cheap spells like Crimson Wisps or Scar. I wouldn’t want more than two of this in a deck, but 4/4 is huge in a deck full of 1/1s so it’s definitely a welcome addition. It doesn’t work so well with Intimidator, but that’s not a huge deal since they’ll need a large man to stop the Giant anyway.

Noggle Bandit
Evasion in a deck that doesn’t really deserve it. Red already has plenty of reach and surprise factor with burn spells and Haste. This guy is just sick in the archetype because even if they somehow had a defender you could turn it off with Initiate anyway. This is probably the 3rd best common behind Puncture Blast and Flame Jab.

Stream Hopper
Goblin Balloon Brigade, anyone?

Definitely sign me up. This guy is awesome, and far better than the one-drops in Shadowmoor, with the exception of Initiate of course. This set seems to be all about helping this archetype deal even more damage through evasion, which doesn’t seem fair if you ask me.

Cinder Pyromancer
If there’s any archetype where this guy is playable, it’s certainly this one. The best way to evaluate it is as two unblockable damage per turn, and occasionally more if you have a few cheap spells (like, say, if you have Flame Jab). I definitely think this guy will be very good in Mono-Red, but you don’t have to go out of your way picking it because nobody else will take it from you. The only part I don’t like is the fragile 0/1 body. The fact that it can’t hit creatures isn’t a huge deal here because this archetype would probably rather go to the head anyway.

Riverfall Mimic
This guy is fine because it’s a 2/1, but the main reason you’d want this in your Mono-Red deck is if you picked up some Noggle Bandits, Stream Hoppers, or Noggle Bridgebreakers. If you have about four other UR spells, I’d say this is worth running because it turns those spells into three to the nugget in the late game, which fits the goal of the archetype perfectly.

One other comment about Noggle Bridgebreaker is that it combos well with Flame Jab on the later turns for a free shot.

Unfortunately, none of the RW Commons are really that great for the archetype. As far as Uncommons go, I’ll do a brief summary. Chaotic Backlash should be a super strong sideboard option that can just kill UW or GW out of nowhere. Hatchet Bully is an insane bomb even in a deck full of 1/1s. Impelled Giant seems a bit slow for the archetype. Outrage Shaman is obviously very good. Unwilling Recruit should be at its best here and win plenty of games, especially in combination with Initiate.

As far as guild mana cards go I want to only mention the ones that are specific here. It should go without saying that both Hatchlings are insane in this deck, as well as Crag Puca (just like Ram-Gang and Ashenmoor Gouger were both awesome). I’m somewhat intrigued by Noggle Ransacker simply because of the whole mana flood issue, and he could be a good mid-game play when you have some extra land in hand. Spitemare is also especially good in this deck. Nucklavee should be able to return Burn Trail or Ember Gale, and is definitely worth the spot at the top of your curve.

Overall I think the Mono-Red archetype got a lot better with the addition of Eventide. In addition to everything I’ve talked about here, there are a ton of bomb rares in the new set for this deck. I’m looking forward to trying out some new ideas in the archetype and I think Flame Jab fills a very important role that was lacking in SSS.

This was originally touted by many pros as the best archetype in SSS. I shared this opinion for a while before being seduced by Mono-Red, but nevertheless this is a strong color combination.

Recumbent Bliss is probably the best Common for this archetype, though it is indeed very arguable. Peebles said in his article last week that he prefers Unmake, which makes sense if you can cast it regularly. Ballynock Trapper is also very close and could easily prove to be better than the two removal spells after a few weeks of drafting. For now I’d take Unmake if you can cast it, and Bliss otherwise as the Trapper is obviously more fragile than either of the other two. Snakeform is also huge here, but I think in general the White cards will be better.

Banishing Knack
This card is at the top of its potential in this archetype due to the high number of creatures with the Untap ability. I would value it as a medium pick since it’s not in high demand and move it up the pecking order if I had a bunch of Untap guys. This is yet another reason to take that Pili-Pala even if you don’t grab a Power of Fire in the first two boosters.

Kithkin Spellduster
This guy is expensive for what he does but still likely playable here. He’s still a decent flier for the cost and they will have to kill him twice or he will take out an Aura or Recumbent Bliss, which isn’t the worst deal ever at five mana.

Merrow Levitator
So far, I’m not really a huge fan of this guy. He’s very slow at four mana and UW is trying to be super aggressive. Most of the guys in the archetype already have flying or can gain flying relatively easily (Thistledown Duo).

Oona’s Grace has been pretty good for me so far in the few drafts I’ve done. I’m still not sure about Wilderness Hypnotist. I got flamed a little for saying I liked it in my article last week, but I think the format has to play out a touch more before we’ll really know the actual value of the card. Dream Thief is obviously fine, but not really anything to get excited about.

The key question on a lot of players’ minds has to be what guild from Eventide will mesh best with the archetype. I think it depends quite a bit on the makeup of your deck from packs one and two. More often than not you’ll be more focused in White than Blue, and in those cases BW or RW will probably offer the best choices for you. When you’re more focused in Blue you probably want to look towards UG, as most of the UR stuff doesn’t fit as well with the UW deck. The beauty is that you can take cards from any of the guilds and you don’t really have to pick one over another.

Beckon Apparition
I really liked this on the spoiler, and it has performed well for me so far (in a BW deck). There are so many applications for it now with Persist, Retrace, and any kind of return from graveyard mechanic. It’s a cheap flier as well, which is great for this archetype, or if nothing else it’s a pump spell for Thistledown Duo.

Harvest Gwyllion
This guy is one of the best Turtles ever, even though he costs four. Since this deck usually plans on winning through the air, this is a great way to gum up the ground while you’re racing. The only problem here is that other people will take these pretty highly in Black-based decks, and you need to focus your early picks on White removal or Snakeforms so I’m not sure how often you’ll actually get a chance at one of these where you can realistically take it.

As for the rest of the guild mana stuff, there isn’t anything that excites me terribly for this archetype in particular. It’s hard to say whether this deck gets better or worse with the inclusion of Eventide, because there is so much good removal now but one less pack of Duos and Silkbind Faeries. Only time will tell.

Of course, there are a lot of similarities between this archetype and Mono-Red. The difference is that this deck is more focused on acceleration from Scuttlemutt, Farhaven Elf, and Devoted Druid. The first and most important thing is that Devoted Druid has gained even more value than in SSS simply because Quillspike is in Eventide. Pick him super highly and be happy about it.

I’ve already covered the new Red stuff so I want to mainly focus on Green here, unless there are specific instances where a card is good here and wasn’t in Mono-Red.

Aerie Ouphes
Speaking of accelerating to powerful cards, this guy is a total house. GR’s weakness is usually dealing with fliers, and even though there are a lot of good solutions available in Shadowmoor, this guy is the best yet. I’m not sure what else to say, except that this guy looks awesome on paper and is even better in practice.

In general this card is pretty bad. I think it just may have a place in GR, because of Trample. If you have multiple Scuzzback Marauders or Roughshod Mentor it’s worth considering this card as a nice finisher. Don’t just throw it in any GR deck because I featured it in this article, but on the flip side don’t automatically dismiss it because it’s a Sorcery and bad in theory. Don’t forget that if the board stalls out you can build up, cast it twice in the same turn, and alpha strike.

Tilling Treefolk
With Flame Jab, Monstrify, and other goodies like Savage Conception, this guy could find a home in GR. Definitely a niche card like Monstrify, but something to keep an eye on.

Wickerbough Elder
Enough people have already written about this card, but it needs to be mentioned again here because it fits the game plan of GR perfectly and also fills a hole for free. You get a cheap fatty and also a free Naturalize, all for 3G, which is quite the deal.

Inside Out
Of all of the old archetypes, this trick fits best here in GR. The reason is that GR is all about guys with big power and doesn’t really care about toughness. Scuzzback Marauder is extremely annoying on his own, but if you combine him with an Inside Out after damage is assigned it should be game over in most situations. If you think that’s sick, Foxfire Oak is essentially invincible in combat when combined with this and lots of mana. This can also be used to get your smaller guys past an annoying defender. On top of all that, it draws a card. I think this will be a backbreaker very often in GR.

The most important aspect of Eventide for this archetype is that the BG cards fit the overall plan very well, and should be kept in focus when drafting.

Desecrator Hag
This guy is awesome, and gives the deck even more staying power than it already had. I’d continue to give examples about how silly it is if you return a Scuzzback with this, but I’m sure I already sound like a broken record so I’ll just quit while I’m ahead.

Gift of the Deity
This is the main reason for the focus on GB. It’s obviously nice if you end up with a bunch of GB guys and can get the full value out of this card. It’s even nicer that it’s not necessary, because the Lure effect is plenty good enough on its own. There are some meaty guys in this block, and when you give them a Lure they should be able to plow entire teams away. This card is far better than Runes of the Deus in this archetype, and if you get multiples it even makes Ember Gale unnecessary.

Rendclaw Trow
Wow, is this guy annoying to play against! He comes back for a second go at it, and also shrinks anything that gets in his way. While GR isn’t totally looking for three-drops, this guy is really hard to pass up on, and he’ll also buy you time to get to your bigger men. This is also a great Gift of the Deity target, which is just gravy.

Double Cleave
This could certainly see play in this archetype, but I haven’t seen it yet and it feels a bit narrow to me. I like my big men to be Foxfire Oaks and other Green monsters, and so I think this will only make the cut in specific builds with more Red guys than normal.

Snakeform is obviously at a premium here, and I could potentially see Trapjaw Kelpie in some decks that were light on high end cards. The only problem with the Trapjaw is that it’s not that great an ambush card, and Gravelgill Axeshark is never really anything to get excited about.

Overall, GR did okay with the new set. It got some new toys in Desecrator Hag and Gift of the Deity, some really good burn in Puncture Blast and Flame Jab, some good new creatures to diversify with, and the potential at an infinite combo.

I realize I covered some Uncommons back in Mono-Red and I considered going back and deleting all of that. I decided instead to just let it go and not really go into too much depth on Uncommons since this is getting really long already and I want to cover some other stuff. If you have specific questions regarding an Uncommon in a particular archetype, feel free to pose those in the forums and I’ll definitely post my thoughts.

As you can see, this format of covering archetypes starts to overlap very quickly. This is only the fourth archetype in this article and I’ve already talked about the majority of good Green and White cards. What I’m going to do is only focus on things that are specific to this archetype and assume you guys can look back at the UW section if you want thoughts on the top commons or anything else.

One thing that might be different here is that Ballynock Trapper could be the best White common for this archetype, since the idea is to swarm as fast as possible and he can serve double duty on tapping guys on key turns. I’d definitely rather have Recumbent Bliss than Unmake in this deck, unless I was near Mono-White with a Green splash.

Another thing is that obviously all of the Green cards that are good in GR are strong here. Gift of the Deity may be better in that deck but it’s still a nice finisher in this archetype, and Desecrator Hag could easily be better in this deck since the smaller guys will trade off early and you can bring down Hag on turn 4 to keep the pressure rolling.

Cenn’s Enlistment
I think this card definitely has potential here, and could also make Tilling Treefolk desirable in this archetype. GW is all about the swarm, and while this card isn’t anywhere near as good as Sprout Swarm, it’s still pretty strong. I would try to pick up a Duergar Mine-Captain to go with this.

Nettle Sentinel
Getting multiples of this guy is a great reason to center your strategy around Green cards. A start of turn 1 Sentinel, turn 2 Safehold Elite, turn 3 Ballynock Cohort is essentially unbeatable if you can untap the Sentinel on turn 4. I think this is the best place for this guy, as GR is more concerned with powering out big men or going large with a five-mana god enchantment.

Anything else regarding this guild should be rather self-explanatory, or I’ve covered it in another archetype and you can just use common sense and apply it here if the decks are similar. Overall, I’m not as excited about GW’s future prospects as I am about other decks after Eventide enters the format.

I initially planned on doing BR and possibly Mono-Blue in this article as well, but it’s already very long. I could still do a little on those two guilds if anyone is terribly interested, but I was planning on covering the new Black stuff next week when I’ve had more time to draft. I don’t really consider BR to be a huge player in SSS, and while I personally like Mono-Blue I don’t think it’s overly necessary to cover it here as most of the options are pretty self-explanatory.

Hopefully this was informative, and feel free to ask anything in the forums, especially if you have a question about an Uncommon or just something I didn’t cover. One big thing that’s important to know about SSE is that Corrupt and Gloomlance are now actual cards, and not just traps that sucker you into a mediocre Black deck. Eventide did an excellent job filling the Black guilds with strong cards, and I believe the color is now a very major player in the format. Because of this, a lot of pack one and two decisions will be different than those in SSS, and it may be worth doing an entire article just on that subject.

Again, any thoughts or questions are well appreciated in the forums, and I’ll see you all there.

Nick Eisel
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