Odyssey Limited: What Cards To Look For When Drafting The Allied Color Combinations

I have the fever – draft fever, that is, and it’s the worst case that I have ever encountered in my time in the game. I spend insane amounts of time and money drafting Odyssey, mostly because I consider it to be a true skill test of a Limited set – with many combinations viable,…

I have the fever – draft fever, that is, and it’s the worst case that I have ever encountered in my time in the game. I spend insane amounts of time and money drafting Odyssey, mostly because I consider it to be a true skill test of a Limited set – with many combinations viable, but only if you draft the right cards and build your deck properly.

A good place to start my discussion of Odyssey limited is to evaluate the various color combinations and what card choices make them good, bad, or ugly. I’ll start with the allied color combinations.

Note: Two colors is the norm in Odyssey limited, and I only advise splashing for a third color if you open something like Iridescent Angel or Mystic Enforcer and you have drafted a couple of the sacrifice lands – which I advise anyway, to make the splash manageable. The lack of true”bomb” rares makes this a set where the overall card quality of your deck will win out most of the time, and therefore, I will not discuss the impact of the rares on a draft deck. So, on to evaluating the color combinations, as well as listing some cards to pick early, some signals to play a color combination, and cards to watch out for if you play those colors. The lists are of course, subjective and anything but definitive… And sometimes, a great card may be left off of a list to make room for something less obvious.


I chose to evaluate blue-white first because I consider it to be one of the strongest color combinations in Odyssey draft. Blue-White’s primary goal should be to establish a ground stall while dealing damage with flyers.

White creatures are excellent in creating a ground stall, with Hallowed Healer, Angelic Wall, Mystic Zealot, and Patrol Hound being strong commons to choose for this color combination. The uncommons are even better, with Resilient Wanderer, Luminous Guardian, Beloved Chaplain (which is awesome against green or in the mirror), Blessed Orator (Lashknife Barrier + creature with big butt = good), and the board dominator, Nomad Decoy making up a sizable ground stalling force, each card making it more and more difficult to break through on the ground. Blue provides some help here too, in the form of Puppeteer and Dreamwinder, which acts as a large wall against most decks, along with the always-good Cephalid Looter and Cephalid Broker, which are simply broken in any deck, giving you the best cards and getting threshold quickly, as well as providing the alternate win condition of decking your opponent if necessary.

On the spell side of things, white brings excellent spells such as Kirtar’s Desire, Shelter, Second Thoughts, and Embolden to this deck – and they can save you in a pinch or cause an aggressive deck’s alpha strike to go totally awry and leaving you with the superior board position. Blue provides bounce in the form of Repel and Aether Burst and more control in the amazing Chamber of Manipulation and Deluge. Blue also brings Syncopate and Fervent Denial to the table, giving the deck an answer to Iridescent Angel and other bombs that could spell doom.

So now that we have a ground stall, what do we do with it? Fly over it, of course! Blue brings the strongest flyers to the table, with Cephalid Scout, Aven Fisher and Aven Windreader in the common slots, and white chips in to the common Air Force with Aven Cloudchaser (perfect for the land enchantments) and Aven Flock, along with the amazing Mystic Zealot. Further up the scale, blue continues to bash with Balshan Griffin, Aven Smokeweaver, and Treetop Sentinel to complete the Air Force.

The rares are amazing here as well, with Kirtar’s Wrath, Amugaba, Cephalid Retainer, Aboshan, Cephalid Emperor, Iridescent Angel, and Wayward Angel provide unneeded extra incentive to play this color combination. A monkey could draft a good deck of these two colors and win. One thing, though, is that this color combination is quite boring to play with all the damage prevention and inactive spells – meaning you’ll face plenty of long games if you want to win.

Strengths: The best ground stalling color (white) combines with the best color for air superiority, throw in a dash of tricks and control spells, and you have a rock solid deck.

Weaknesses: Cards that do not depend on attacking to be effective such as Painbringer and Chainflinger are nearly impossible to get rid of, and can single-handedly win the game against a blue/white deck.

5 Commons to Get Early

  1. Aven Windreader (rules the common skies)

  2. Hallowed Healer (key to the ground stall)

  3. Second Thoughts(helps to stabilize the board)

  4. Mystic Zealot (big butt, then flies)

  5. Cephalid Looter (great in black/blue, better in green/blue, still great here)

Signals to Play this Color Combination

  1. Cephalid Broker (You know how some people seem to always have the card they need? You can be that guy.)

  2. Resilient Wanderer (This guy simply dominates the ground, and almost never dies)

  3. Nomad Decoy (This is simply ridiculous after threshold, holding off armies while you build up in the air.)

  4. Beloved Chaplain (Against Green, unbelievable; in the mirror, he blocks every non-flier)

  5. Balshan Griffin, Treetop Sentinel, Aven Smokeweaver (You need high-quality flying to play blue/white)

Cards to Watch Out for on the Other Side of the Table:

  1. Painbringer (unless you have active Psionic Gift, that’s the ballgame, folks.)

  2. Chainflinger (unless you have double-active Psionic Gift, this guy is trouble.)

  3. Psionic Gift (get the point yet? Any recurring damage that doesn’t require attacking can give blue/white fits.)

  4. Caustic Tar/Squirrels Nest (ways to break the seemingly airtight defenses are few and far between)

  5. Afflict (kills Looter, Healer, Chaplain, and Scout early on, while drawing them a card)


While not nearly as powerful as Blue/White, White/Green can still be a winning combination, but the drafter must be very particular in his/her card choices when drafting and building the deck. For the deck to work, one must play green fat while clearing the way with white spells, or dominating combat with the large creatures and using Hallowed Healer to ensure the safe return of the green/white creatures.

It is of utmost importance in this color combo to draft Hallowed Healer, and hopefully in multiples. Kirtar’s Desire is good here if you can get threshold and keep them from blocking, and Shelter is an MVP, keeping your large creatures safe while killing theirs. Embolden can also be great for this deck, as it wins through constant pressure and board control, and Embolden allows for the winning of combat twice. Nomad Decoy also allows for board control, and Refresh allows for the transformation of a”trade” into a win for the green player.

The problem in this color combination is the lack of evasion in its win conditions and the lack of flexibility in Green’s spells. All green can do is make creatures, and most of the spells do just that. The positive is the depth of Green’s creatures, which allows for a varied assault from weenie to fat, all the way up the mana curve. Creatures to keep an eye out for in Green are Springing Tiger, Rabid Elephant, Elephant Ambush, Wild Mongrel, Diligent Farmhand, and Werebear in the common slots. Crashing Centaur, Skyshooter, and Metamorphic Wurm are fine in the uncommon slots, although expensive for what they do.

The absolute key in the green/white deck is to draft some of green’s few tricks – namely, Overrun if possible, but Muscle Burst, Sylvan Might, or Seton’s Desire do just fine as well. Squirrel Nest is also excellent in this deck; more so then other green builds.

Remember, when playing this color combination, you simply cannot kill anything at all with a spell, so you need to have card advantage generating tricks like Shelter, Embolden, and Refresh to get pesky attackers off the board.

Strengths: A versatile arsenal of tricks to save your creatures along with the two most flexible creature bases can make for a dominating ground and pound game. Plus, you have access to Overrun.

Weaknesses: Not a single way to even temporarily take a non-attacking creature out of play means that you better win before your opponent’s Hallowed Healer/Painbringer/Dirty Wererat/etc becomes effective.

5 Commons to Get Early

  1. Embolden (can be a huge card advantage, three-for-one many times)

  2. Seton’s Desire (a gamebreaking finisher in a color combo with very few of them)

  3. Hallowed Healer (makes your guys tough to block)

  4. Rabid Elephant (who blocks this guy?)

  5. Shelter (generates card advantage)

Signals to Play this Color Combination

  1. Overrun (never better then here, where you play so many creatures)

  2. Squirrel’s Nest (lets your large groundpounders go on offense while squirrels block, then finishes late game with overwhelming numbers. If your opponent has no answer to this, they probably cannot win a game when you play it.)

  3. Beast Attack (one 4/4 is hard enough to deal with, much less two at instant speed)

  4. Crashing Centaur (yes, it costs a ton – but with threshold, nothing stops it)

  5. Roar of the Wurm (with Patrol Hound and Mongrel in the two-drop spot, chances are you can make a 6/6 on turn 4.)

Cards to Watch Out for on the Other Side of the Table

  1. Painbringer (can kill even the biggest beasts)

  2. Deluge (when you go for the Alpha Strike, having it turned to nothing is bad times)

  3. Shower of Coals (can clear a large army into nothing)

  4. Treetop Sentinel (not a single thing you can do, other than hope they attack into a Second Thoughts)

  5. Chamber of Manipulation (you need to kill this right away, or you are not winning)


In my opinion, green/red is overrated in Odyssey Limited – but even so, that does not stop it from being one of the two best color combinations that you can draft if you have the right cards. The key to this deck is to be turning guys sideways every turn, and to do that, you have to choose both the right guys and the right spells. In my opinion, the best way to maintain pressure is to use green as the aggressive creature base and the red for burn almost exclusively.

A card like Chainflinger, while powerful, loses a bit in the red-green build in comparison to other red builds because it is simply too slow. That is not to say,”Don’t pick Chainflinger” – but rather, do not pick it too early. Instead, focus on aggressive creatures. A card like Scorching Missile, while seemingly terrible, really is not, as it acts as a finisher if and when you run out of gas (although it is still a 23rd card at best). Blazing Salvo probably has no place in any other builds in Draft, but here, it can be quite good, as a Lava Axe for one (which it usually is) can spell doom when facing a deck packing Overrun or Rites of Initiation, or even something like Sylvan Might.

However, in my experience, getting the quality burn is difficult in draft, while finding green creatures of different shapes and sizes is not – unless your local metagame is stinted heavily towards green. So when given the choice between Wild Mongrel and Firebolt, take the Bolt, because after the first three picks, you will not see any more quality burn and will have to settle for Acceptable Losses, Thermal Blast, or other junk… But there will still be Krosan Archers, Avengers, and things like Springing Tiger, and Werebear floating around. Simply put, look at the list of playable creatures compared to the list of playable burn and you’ll understand why I value the burn so highly. Remember to get creatures though, as the key here is to be explosive, using the burn as a supplement.

Strengths: Can be blisteringly fast and effective, sometimes ending the game before turn 5 or 6. Also capable of having a monster turn where you can attain threshold with something like Rites of Initiation for four and attack with a whole bunch of 9/5 (a.k.a. Springing Tiger) and 8/4 (a.k.a. Werebear) creatures. Can play the solid removal of red along with the extremely excellent green creature base and back it up with Overrun.

Weaknesses: Simply loses to a well-built blue/white or blue/black deck, since the variety of cards that you cannot deal with is too much to handle.

5 Commons to Pick Up Early

  1. Firebolt (my favorite card in the format-never a bad card to draw, and clears the way early and late)

  2. Wild Mongrel (this guy simply cannot be killed early game, and later, he boosts threshold and is awesome no matter when you draw him)

  3. Flame Burst (hey, it’s instant-speed burn. I hear that’s good)

  4. Werebear (ramping up to four mana turn three is a deceivingly huge boost here in this format, and later, this guy becomes another large man to turn sideways)

  5. Reckless Charge (makes you faster then they can handle much of the time. Other times, this acts as six damage for 2RR)

Signals to Play this Color Combination

  1. Overrun (obviously – it is the best card in Odyssey Limited)

  2. Shower of Coals (obviously – it is the second-best card in Odyssey Limited)

  3. Sylvan Might (great for pushing through unexpected damage – the trample ability is huge)

  4. Beast Attack (of course this is always amazing, but is best here, since playing it turn 5 after your opponent is already below ten life, usually means game)

  5. Anarchist (yeah, its nothing special, but it does shine here; providing a second Overrun, Shower, or third Firebolt is nothing to sneeze at.)

Cards to Watch Out for on the Other Side of the Table

  1. Hallowed Healer (you better kill it now, or it’s going to slow you down a ton)

  2. Squirrels Nest (infinite Chump blockers is some bad)

  3. Treetop Sentinel/Aven Smokeweaver (both can present major problems)

  4. Aven Flock (you will not be able to kill this in the hands of a skilled player)

  5. Aether Burst/Repel/Syncopate (kills tokens, which kills you)


Red/Black is what I call a”redundant” color combination – that is, it features too much of one thing and too little of another, leaving the decks that are built quite unbalanced. Green/White is also redundant, in that all it really can do is play creatures and try to dominate combat with tricks. Red/Black has another problem: It has all of the reliable permanent creature removal in the format; however, it has very few actual creatures to win the game with. That is not to say that an effective red/black deck cannot be built; it just means that you have to be extra-careful with your drafting and card choices when building the deck.

Another problem is that neither red nor black has a single creature which you want to play turn three or earlier – and even that is stretching it, with Barbarian Lunatic and Crypt Keeper being the only standouts that cost three or less, and even they would rather not stay on the board, instead gaining some means of card advantage by either killing two creatures or chump blocking and removing an early card from the graveyard. There are ways around this problem, and the most important one is a single common card: Innocent Blood. Since you are not going to be playing anything that isn’t expendable (Crypt Creeper, Lunatic, etc) early in the game, Innocent Blood provides a way to kill creatures such as Wild Mongrel where Firebolt, Flame Burst, and Ghastly Demise simply will not do the job. In the late game, it allows you to sacrifice a now-worthless Creeper to kill something good on the other side when coupled with a burn spell/removal spell to kill their lesser creatures.

Speaking of removal, boy does black/red have a lot… And the selection is quite versatile, from the weenie-killing Afflict, to the swiss army knife Firebolt, to the Kindle reprint Flame Burst, to the”Terror” of the set, Ghastly Demise, to the”Drain Life,” Morbid Hunger, and on and on. Good creatures for this deck include Chainflinger, Painbringer, Crypt Creeper, Rotting Giant, and Gravedigger, all of which can help you get the most of a mostly terrible creature base. Opening a bomb creature rare such as Kamahl, Pit Fighter, Savage Firecat, or Stalking Bloodsucker makes playing this combination much easier, as you can kill your opponent’s creatures and swing for large amounts of damage without worrying about the repercussions. That is the goal here, despite the below-average choices in creatures – if they have none on the board, then a 2/2 can go the distance.

Strengths: Your opponent will have a hard time keeping a creature on the board.

Weaknesses: You will have a hard time finding a creature you want to keep on the board.

5 Commons to Get Early

  1. Ghastly Demise (when has”destroy target creature” not been great in Limited?)

  2. Firebolt (if you are playing red, you want this)

  3. Gravedigger (lets you replay your cheap guys early, lets you play your bombs again late)

  4. Chainflinger (Ping!)

  5. Innocent Blood (explained above)

Signs to Play this Color Combination

  1. Shower of Coals (kills three guys, which is simply insane in this deck)

  2. Any Red or Black Big Creature Rare (this deck almost requires one)

  3. Skeletal Scrying (if you see this late, it’s very, very good in this deck)

  4. Volcanic Spray (even more ammo for this removal machine)

  5. Painbringer (instant death for some combinations)

Cards to Watch Out for on the Other Side of the Table

  1. Squirrel’s Nest (hope you have Earth Rift in the sideboard; otherwise, you lose)

  2. Pilgrim of Etc. (turns even the mighty Shower useless)

  3. Shelter (fizzle + draw a card = formula for disaster)

  4. Second Thoughts (if you can’t bring back your big creatures, you don’t win)

  5. Aven Fisher (turns your removal into a card disadvantage situation)


Balanced combinations with good card continuity and smart card interactions always make for the best draft decks, and blue/black provides all that and more. Blue is adept at putting cards in the graveyard; great for fueling things such as Painbringer and Ghastly Demise. Black is great at removing things and providing a stabilizing force on the ground, making the skies safe for the blue air force to bash. As far as spells go, the removal choices are almost as varied as in red/black, but with the added idea of bounce in the mix as well. Repel, Demise, Afflict, Syncopate (another form of foiling an opponent’s plan), and Aether Burst are insane instant-speed disruption. Note the key word there: Instant. That means that Scrivener (or Big Scrivs, as is the local lingo) can return those spells to your hand for another usage. There are few things that are more satisfying than returning Repel to your hand, and few things more frustrating to be on the receiving end of.

Not only does blue/black have quality spells, it has the best ways of maximizing your hand and your graveyard to full effect. Both Cephalid Looter and Cephalid Broker give you a better hand while fueling the graveyard for the many effects that can take place. Concentrate lets you draw three cards, which is always good. Gravedigger and the aforementioned Scrivener are the two best of the”return target spell of X type to your hand,” and in combination, they produce sickening results, sometimes allowing for a third use of a Demise or a Repel, all the while putting two 2/2 bodies on the table.

Speaking of bodies, the creature base here is very strong, with black bringing the stable presence of the Dirty Wererat (which also has some neat tricks with the threshold mechanic) and the Childhood Horror, which in blue/black is generally an Air Elemental that cannot block. The idea here is to stabilize the board with removal, bounce, and countermagic, then use the fliers of blue combined with the now larger Wererat, Horror, and Frightcrawler to end the game in a hurry. Another card of special note is Psychatog – by far the best of the Atogs, and a card that can simply win the game on its own and will always stabilize the early game if played turn three.

Strengths: Beautiful card interactions, a solid ground stall, and versatile removal, along with Air Superiority makes this an especially strong build. Blue/Black has something for almost every situation.

Weaknesses: A deck packing lots of removal can be a problem, as with all the quality spells, you probably are not playing that many creatures, and things like Innocent Blood can be irritating if you are lacking in early drops. Also, decks with lots of larger creatures can be a problem.

5 Commons to Get Early

  1. Cephalid Looter (as far as commons go, definitely your first pick)

  2. Dirty Wererat (it shuts down the ground, then goes on offense)

  3. Repel (sets your opponent back, many times too far for them to recover)

  4. Scrivener (so many insane instants coupled with the Looter; also, putting some instants in the graveyard makes for some brutal card advantage)

  5. Morbid Hunger (if they damage you early, this takes you out of range and kills something, and the flashback comes into play more often then you would expect)

5 Signs to Play this Color Combination

  1. Cephalid Broker (Looter’s big bro means double the brokenness in this deck)

  2. Uncommon Blue Flyers (they are all good here)

  3. Chamber of Manipulation (can make for nastiness with Innocent Blood or Sadistic Hypnotist)

  4. Psychatog (Best. Atog. Ever.)

  5. Fervent Denial (Often times, this is the icing on the cake to insure victory)

Cards to Watch Out for on the Other Side of the Table

  1. Resilient Wanderer (if you do not counter it, it never dies)

  2. Nimble Mongoose with threshold (this deck hates 3/3s enough as it is, but a 3/3 untargetable means trouble)

  3. Reckless Charge (six extra damage isn’t good)

  4. Wild Mongrel (Patriarch’s Desire is the only reliable way to kill this pesky guy)

  5. Shelter (it’s like Confound, only better)

Well, that does it for the allied color strategies. I’ll be back to finish this lengthy pair of articles when I explore the enemy color combinations in detail, as well as my choice for best color combination in Odyssey Draft.

Signing Off for Now,

Joe”JoeyBags” Gagliardi