The Compleat U/R Drafter’s Guide

How do U/R decks win? Sometimes the cards just go on autopilot, moreso than with any other color combination. When the cards come your way, you’ll find yourself stealing wins with a second-turn Sparksmith or fourth-turn Mistform Wall with Lavamancer’s Skill. Let me give you some advice to go by – it might help you improve your game with regards to this color combo.

Writing strategy articles is like riding a bike – you never really forget how. This cosmic rule is a fortunate one for me, constant reader, because I’ve turned an eye away from the actual mechanics of our fair game for months… Writing-wise, that is. Sure, I’ve told the story of Pro Tour: Chicago, I’ve spent entire columns complaining, I’ve come out of the closet as a savage cheater, and we’ve started a wondrous trip through Magic Online together, you and I… But none of those efforts could really be classified as a”strategy article” now, would they?

My qualifications for writing a Limited strategy article are hopefully sufficient for the task ahead – my one Pro Tour qualification was attained at a Limited PTQ, my Limited rating has been as high as 1910, and my Magic Online Limited rating has been as high as 1870, just a hair’s breadth away (well… about thirty points!) from the coveted Hall Of Champions. I draft about twice a week in gaming shops and ten times per week online, so it’s with excitement, and not reluctance, that I embark upon this new project – a guide to drafting Blue-Red in Onslaught/Onslaught/Legions draft!

That’s my thesis, my mission (should I choose to accept it). I’m here to provide some helpful hints for those of you who want to draft U/R without that third pack of sweet, sweet Skill goodness. With pack three of Onslaught out the window and Legions climbing in like a Peeping Tom gone one step too far, things change… But not so much that a savvy player can’t make the adjustment much trouble. The already-established tenets of U/R drafting will serve you well as a base, and for U/R drafters of early-season vintage, going back through these theories may be like returning to the arms of an old lover.

How do U/R decks win? Sometimes the cards just go on autopilot, moreso than with any other color combination. When the cards come your way, you’ll find yourself stealing wins with a second-turn Sparksmith or fourth-turn Mistform Wall with Lavamancer’s Skill. These crushing preliminary turns serve to keep the board clean while your troops mop up the enemy. U/R decks also win by combining excellent defensive cards with spot removal and hard-hitting fliers – Keeneye Aven, Ascending Aven, Mistform Dreamer, and Mistform Seaswift are substantial clocks when backed by temporiffic tactical ‘tings like Choking Tethers, Echo Tracer, and ground-gummers like Mistform Wall and Wall of Deceit.

Finally, sometimes U/R decks just play Lightning Rift on turn 2 and just win, or Future Sight on turn 5 and just win, or Rorix on turn 6 and just win. Like any other cool combo in the format, you have your pick of excellent anchor cards that can sometimes pop up and just win games.

Drafting U/R – Setting Up The Right Seat!

The key cards for U/R are still the same in the first few packs, and the emphasis is still on Lavamancer’s Skill – the signature common of this archetype. Everyone knows this, but it still bears repeating simply because it is so important. Before we get into exhaustive lists, including pick orders and analysis of key cards, we have to examine an oft-overlooked piece of the puzzle – setting yourself up to get fed the goods!

Even though a solid U/R deck is probably still the strongest archetype in Onslaught/Onslaught/Legions draft, you can’t force it. You have to read the situation and fall into U/R if the time is right. Let me give you some advice to go by – it might help you improve your game with regards to this color combo.

1. Getting passed Lavamancer’s Skill is much better than opening it.

No other color combination has a common that so completely defines the deck – and for this reason, Lavamancer’s Skill is easy to signal with, and to read. If you get passed the Skill and there is a missing common from the pack, feel free to go U/R. The chances of you getting cut off are slim.

The reason for this is easy to understand if you look closely and put yourself in your neighbors’ shoes. If they took another common over the Skill, it was probably either Cruel Revival or Sparksmith. In the case of a ‘Smith, you can share Red without too thoroughly destroying your deck. In the case of a Revival, the coast is clear. If they took something else, like Snarling Undorak, Nantuko Husk, or Pacifism, the coast is likewise clear.

Unfortunately, Lavamancer’s Skill is also frequently a wasted first pick, for the simple reason that it isn’t any good in any color combination besides U/R. This is why opening a Skill is sometimes disastrous. You need to know when you lay down U/R, because it isn’t going to happen at your table. If I can draw a poker analogy (Texas Hold’em, specifically), sometimes you have to lay down those pocket kings, and with U/R it is the same way. If the flop is Ad7d7h and two guys raise before you bet, you have to fold those kings. And if you get passed a Venomprout Brackus or a Cruel Revival or – God forbid – something like Death Match in a pack with a common missing, sometimes you have to bite the bullet, take the Brackus/Revival/Death Match, and leave the Skill in the sideboard. It isn’t fun, but sticking to your guns can be worse. Let me illustrate:

Pack 1, pick 1: You take Lavamancer’s Skill, passing Daru Lancer, Erratic Explosion, Swat, Explosive Vegetation and Mistform Wall as the only cards of note. You hope the Wall or Explosion will table (it happens) and mentally set yourself in U/R.

Pack 1, pick 2: There is a common missing from the pack. The best Red card is Spurred Wolverine, the best Blue card is Mistform Dreamer. However, there is a Cruel Revival. Still hoping for U/R, you take the Mistform Dreamer, passing the Revival and knowing that at the very least, the guy on your left is going to be black due to your strong signal.

Pack 1, pick 3: The rare is missing and so is a common. There is a Choking Tethers in this pack for you (the best red card is Flamestick Courier; blech), but also a Death Pulse! Having just passed a Revival, though, you hesitate to take the Death Pulse on the logic that you’ll get cut off in Pack 2, since the player on your left is already in Black. You concentrate on cutting off Blue and Red in order to score big in Pack 2, and take the Choking Tethers.

Pack 1, pick 4: You bury your head in your hands – there is almost nothing for you in this pack – unless you want to take an Imagecrafter or Nosy Goblin as your fourth pick. The rare is Dream Chisel, and there is an uncommon missing, but the pack is missing two commons and there is a Snarling Undorak still in there, along with Severed Legion, Festering Goblin, and Vitality Charm.

At this point, you’re in trouble. The two guys on your left are likely U/R and R/x (most likely white) and the door is wide open for you to go B/G. But you’ve most likely screwed yourself out of the choice black in Pack 2, and you have three wasted picks – two Blue cards and the Skill.

The lesson here is not to let a first-pick Skill dominate your draft. The right choice for Pick 2 is the Cruel Revival – you have to hedge your bets.

2. Don’t be afraid to pass the Skill (and you can still go U/R!).

Lavamancer’s Skill, because it so severely limits your options when picked first, should be passed if you see a better Red card (there isn’t really a better Blue card, except Quicksilver Dragon – I usually even take the Skill over Arcanis). If you open a pack with Lavamancer’s Skill, but also a card that is even better in U/R, don’t be afraid to pass the Skill and go U/R anyway. You might suffer a little in Pack 2 for it, but it’s nothing you can’t handle.

Two cards where this situation comes up are Sparksmith and Lightning Rift. Both are insane in U/R (the Smith because of Mistforms and the Rift because Blue has the most numerous and the best cycling cards), and you should take them over Lavamancer’s Skill because they also fit well into other color combinations where the Skill would flounder. In both cases, you can take a second-pick Pacifism and go White, or second-pick Wirewood Savage and go Green, and you haven’t wasted a pick. Yes, U/R is generally stronger than W/R or G/R if you get the cards, but you can’t pigeonhole yourself like that as early as Pick 1.

That being said, if the cards do come, you can take the Smith or the Rift and still play U/R, even having passed the Skill. Don’t shy away from the correct color combination for your seat simply because you sent one questionable signal – that sort of thing happens all the time and you can’t let it sway you from the most productive course of action. In the worst-case scenario, where the player on your left takes the Skill and goes U/R, you’re still getting the best of it for all of Pack 1, and also the best Blue and Red cards from the Legions pack. If you miss out on a Shock or a Solar Blast in Pack 2, it isn’t going to kill you. On the other hand, if your neighbor doesn’t read the writing on the wall and get out of U/R before he gets cut off in both colors 66% of the time, you can stick a fork in him – he’s done. His 16th through 23rd cards will be some combination of Imagecrafter/Shaleskin Plower/Bloodstoke Howler/Nosy Goblin/Glintwing Invoker or the like, and the table will bid him a fond adieu at the conclusion of Round 1.

3. You can play U/R without Lavamancer’s Skill!

You don’t need a Skill to have a great U/R deck. With the inclusion of Legions, U/R has a great many tools and effective finishers. If you don’t see a Skill or Sparksmith (reusable, table-dominating removal being the usual path to victory for more traditional U/R decks) it isn’t the end of the world. A deck full of efficient fliers is still quite capable of taking it downtown. Look on the bright side – you don’t have to play those damn Sage Avens anymore. Instead, you can spend turn 4 unmorphing Skirk Marauder and bashing in, or playing Keeneye Aven, or doing any one of a hundred more aggressive things.

Anyhow, don’t go on tilt just because you can’t find a Lavamancer’s Skill. Keep it tight and get all the fast fliers and efficient groundpounders you can. Mistform Wall is still an amazing goalie even without a Skill to sail her by, and Wall of Deceit is even better, holding back the hordes while your army of Ascending and Keeneye Avens does the dirty work. Enemy fliers get tapped or burned out, and eventually you win. Choking Tethers may or may not make an appearance as you strike the final blow.

Lavamancer’s Skill is a common, but it’s part of a large set and there is a possibility that you won’t see one during any given draft, even if the guy on your right isn’t U/R. Don’t take this lack of Skill as a sign that you should automatically start grabbing Daru Lancers – take a good, accurate read of what you are getting passed. If you’re seeing second- or third-pick Shock/Solar Blast, fourth-pick Mistform Shriekers and 5th-8th pick Ascending Avens, you’re in business.

Drafting U/R: Changing Card Values With Legions!

Some classic Onslaught U/R cards have changed in value now that Legions has arrived. Let me give you a rundown of the new and improved!


Because of the way this card interacts with provoke, it is now a maindeck card and a higher pick than it was. Previously, it was seen maindeck only in aggressive B/R decks with Nantuko Husk – now it can find a place in your U/R deck – running a pesky enemy Deftblade Elite right into a freshly-cast Pearlspear Courier is one of the true joys of Magic.

Flamestick Courier

This guy is still a 23rd card in most cases – but don’t overlook how he interacts with the new Legions common, Goblin Grappler! Together, the two form a formidable team that can take out any opposing 3/3 as early as turn 4. For this reason, you might consider getting your hands on a Grappler or two (they come late) when the time comes to bust and pass Pack 3.

Crown Of Fury

An underrated card even before Legions, the Crown is much better than before with the addition of Provoke creatures to the environment. I have won numerous games on the strength of first-turn Grappler, second-turn Crown, and though that situation doesn’t always come up, it happens often enough to qualify as a legitimate strategy. Previously mediocre in U/R, the Crown is now good enough to make your deck, especially if you’re packing such cards as Crested Craghorn, Goblin Grappler, and even Hunter Sliver (a card that I sometimes play when I have two Crowns).

Custody Battle

Another very underrated card. Custody Battle is great in aggressive decks – and with the addition of provoke and manahogging Invokers, it now qualifies as a sleeper powerhouse that you’ll get late, and almost always play. Custody Battle is a combination Pacifism/Control Magic for only two mana, and it’s even better than it should be because so many players make poor decisions when it hits the table. Prior to Legions, the Battle lost a lot of utility in the late game, but with the addition of the Invokers (especially Smokepew) it has applications after turn 7 as well.

This means that Custody Battle has gone from a part-time sideboard specialist (again, usually played in aggressive B/R) to a well-rounded card that makes a lot of my maindecks. Custody Battle on your provoke guy? Pay a land or lose two creatures. Custody Battle on your bomb? Pay a land or I get the bomb. Custody Battle on your second-turn Stonewood Invoker? No one in their right mind is going to sacrifice a land starting on turn 2. That means your opponent gives up the Invoker at the start of every turn, and you can then block with it!


Previously a 23rd card that saw cycling duty more often than the organizers of the Tour de France, Backslide now has genuine in-game uses. In particular, it is excellent with new Limited all-stars like Echo Tracer and Skirk Marauder. It’s not amazing, and it still won’t make your deck more often than not, but it is a far stronger 23rd card than in months previous, and the”Mage’s Guile vs. Backslide” argument for the 23rd card slot is much closer. If you have cards like the Tracer and Marauder, along with Willbender or maybe even Chromeshell Crab, Backslide probably gets the nod.

Nosy Goblin

As a 23rd card, the Goblin is better than it was in triple-Onslaught due to the existence of Skinthinner, an unwieldy but powerful morph-trigger card that nearly always stays on the board for one turn before it goes to work. For this reason, the Goblin makes my U/R deck more often than it used to.

Drafting U/R: Changing Card Values In U/R!

No card has an absolute value in a Limited environment. The Symbiotic Elf that the 2x Husk B/G player yanks is just a mediocre 4cc 2/2 to the R/G Beasts drafter. This phenomenon applies to U/R more than any other archetype – there are many cards that change in value when you are a Blue/Red drafter.

Lavamancer’s Skill

The quintessential example of fluctuating value, this card is a first-pick for you and a sideboard card for any other R/x deck. The reason is obvious – you have the Wizards!

Goblin Taskmaster

Better in U/R than in any other deck because your Mistform creatures – most notably Mistform Dreamer and Mistform Seaswift, can turn into Goblins and start hitting harder in the air.

Flamestick Courier

Far better in U/R than in any other combination, again due to Mistforms. The Courier’s ability only checks once (during resolution) and as a result you can give your Mistform Dreamer that +2/+2 bonus and have it stay even after the Dreamer reverts back to being an Illusion.

Goblin Sledder

Once again, this fine card becomes even better in U/R because of Mistform creatures and Imagecrafter. Combinations like that aren’t strong enough to out and out win games, but they do make combat difficult for the enemy.

Charging Slateback

You’ll find that the Slateback makes the cut a lot more often in your U/R decks than it does in your R/G decks. This is because your U/R decks need a beater like this guy – a 4/3 who comes late in the pack after you’ve used up your early U/R picks on burn spells and 1/1 and 2/2 tricksters with good abilities. I used to hate the Slateback with a passion, but I now know that it is a necessary evil – it’s hard to win the game with nothing but 1/1s and 2/2s. Don’t be afraid to play one or even two of them.

Erratic Explosion

Erratic Explosion better than usual in U/R because of Sage Aven – a card that will usually make your deck since it is an excellent Lavamancer’s Skill target.

Skirk Commando

Better in U/R than you might think because of the existence of Choking Tethers. Having two Skirk Commandos, in my opinion, makes the much-maligned Crafty Pathmage playable.

Snapping Thragg

Better in U/R for the same card that Skirk Commando is – Choking Tethers. The U/R deck isn’t exactly heavy on turn 5 plays, either, so plug up that hole with this guy.

Thoughtbound Primoc

Obviously playable in any deck, the Primoc is best in U/R because you will almost never lose control of it. Since you’ll often have numerous Wizards in your U/R deck, you are well-insulated against any opposing Primocs, as well – they’ll usually get boarded out.

Skittish Valesk

A fine addition to any U/R deck for the same reason that Charging Slateback makes the deck – you get it late, and it’s a big beater that you need. The G/R player, inundated already with big beaters, will pass you this guy more often than not. In Legions, this role is also filled by…

Frenetic Raptor

The Slateback/Valesk of Legions, and it’s better than both of those. A U/R usually has few Beasts and even fewer large beaters, and for that reason, you’re probably in great position to avoid the Raptor’s drawback while taking advantage of his massive size. With Imagecrafter, things get very tricky – you can disable any opposing blocker for a turn, or temporarily give blocking abilities to your own Raptor – a 6/6 defender is a formidable foe indeed. The Raptor is best suited to the U/R archetype, no question.

Blade Sliver

Playable in any deck, the Blade Sliver is best in U/R because of Mistforms – especially the fliers! Don’t be afraid to add it to your pile when nothing else stands out.

Gempalm Incinerator

Again, this fine card is best in U/R because of the existence of Mistforms. I have played it even when my deck only had one other Goblin – at worst, it cycles. At best, you’re wiping out Barkhide Maulers and drawing a card.

Magma Sliver

This card goes from a strong Hill Giant to a”surprise, you’re dead!” card when you put it into a U/R deck. Combined with a few Mistforms, Imagecrafter, or even just a Mistform Wakecaster, you can fly over for twenty damage in a snap, or trade your Mistform Wall for an enemy Krosan Colossus without batting an eye. Pretty savage. This card should always make your deck, and you have no business taking Covert Operative or Goblin Clearcutter or Flamewave Invoker or something of that nature over it.

Drafting U/R: Cards That Change The Way You Draft!

This section will be short and sweet. You can’t draft in a vacuum, poring over dusty old pick orders like they were the Dead Sea Scrolls. You have to adjust as the draft goes on, and earlier picks will influence your later ones. Here are some of the cards in U/R that have synergy with other cards, and thus affect your pick orders:

Riptide Shapeshifter

Once the Shapeshifter is in your pile, you can do two things: Pick Slipstream Eel over other marginal 23rd cards, and look for that one big creature that you’ll want to ‘shift into. I’ve found that an ideal choice that you have a reasonably good chance of seeing is Goblin Dynamo. It’s easy to ‘shift into (name”Mutant”) and is part of a small set. Of course, if you find yourself able to name”Dragon” or”Gorgon” or”Angel,” so much the better.

Lightning Rift

This isn’t news, but an early Rift means you always take the cycling card when it is reasonably convenient. When you’re playing Blue, this is easy – there are always ample copies of Mage’s Guile, Backslide, and Slipstream Eel going around. Make sure you take any cycling land you see (even if it means passing up one of the above marginal cards, or even a middling pick like Goblin Taskmaster). The Rift is, simply put,”a deck” – and by that I mean that by building around it, you can manufacture yourself a forty-carder that finds it hard to lose if the Rift is in play. If you see a Rift sometime in Pack 2 (perhaps third or fourth pick), count your cycling cards. If you already have three to five, you should take the Rift and concentrate on grabbling more cyclers – Keeneye Aven and Primoc Escapee will be there for you in Legions.

Crown Of Fury

Having one or more copies of Crown of Fury will influence how you draft your Legions pack. With a Crown, you want to pick up a Goblin Grappler and value Crested Craghorn even higher. With two Crowns, you’ll want to make Craghorns, Grapplers, and even Hunter Sliver a big priority (obviously, you’ll get the Hunter Sliver late). It sounds bad, but try it and see! Second-turn Hunter Sliver, third-turn Crown is so strong that you can’t overlook it.

Erratic Explosion

If you have an Explosion, and especially if you have two, you’ll want to make a conscious decision to avoid drafting one-drops. This means that the value of Goblin Sledder goes down – look for alternatives if he shows up in the pack. You’ll likewise want to grab yourself enough playables to make sure Imagecrafter stays in the sideboard. That being said, sometimes you just have to take Shock, and don’t hesitate to do so when that opportunity arises – in no way am I advocating that you avoid Shock. I’m simply saying that if you pack has Goblin Sledder and cycling land, you should grab the land if you have two Explosions. The game is about tempo, and if your third-turn Explosion fails to remove the morph you aim it at? Game over.

Drafting U/R: Important Cards From Onslaught!

The important cards for U/R in Onslaught remain the same. Since we’ll be looking at Legions in just a moment, I want to give you a quick refresher.

Top 5 Red Commons:

1. Sparksmith

2. Lavamancer’s Skill

3. Shock

4. Solar Blast

5. Erratic Explosion

Pinpoint Avalanche is just off the list at #6 here – grab it when you can. These five common cards are the foundation of a good U/R deck, though the power differential between #s 1-4 and #5 is a big gap. Get as many of these as you can, in multiples.

Top 5 Blue Commons

1. Ascending Aven

2. Choking Tethers

3. Mistform Wall

4. Mistform Dreamer

5. Riptide Biologist

Notes: As much as you might be tempted to do so, don’t take the Mistform Dreamer over the Wall unless you know what you are doing. The Wall is great on defense and an amazing Lavamancer’s Skill target. Mistform Dreamer gets killed by almost everything – it drops if someone passes wind too loud back in the third row of the audience.

Top 5 Red Uncommons

1. Slice and Dice

2. Lightning Rift

3. Chain Of Plasma

4. Thoughtbound Primoc

5. Avarax

Again, the first four are the big four, Avarax gets the nod over such cards as Searing Flesh and Snapping Thragg mostly because it can shuffle your library when it comes into play – useful when Sage Aven reveals four land on the top. These cards are all excellent fits for your U/R deck – so pick ’em when you can get ’em!

Top 4 Blue Uncommons

1. Riptide Shapeshifter

2. Mistform Shrieker

3. Complicate

4. Aven Fateshaper

There’s only really four good Blue uncommons – the rest are marginal and sometimes don’t even make your maindeck. Of these four, it’s important to note that Riptide Shapeshifter can change how your picks go for the rest of the draft. Large, uncastable monsters suddenly become viable inclusions. When you pick the Shapeshifter, file it away in the back of your mind that if you open Visara, you probably want to pick and play her. Other cards get better, too – most notably Slipstream Eel.

Anchor Rares

Now we get to the anchor cards – rares that you can build a U/R deck around. The tier 1 cards are absolute bombs that always make your deck and will often win you the game by themselves. The tier 2 cards are rares that are still very good, but not on par with the power level of the true bombs.

Tier 1, BlueCallous Oppressor (THE HOOK!), Future Sight, Quicksilver Dragon

Tier 2, Blue – Arcanis The Omnipotent, Read The Runes, Riptide Entrancer, Blatant Thievery, Mistform Skyreaver

Arcanis is close to Tier 1, but I’d still take Sparksmith or Skill over him – which is not true for any of the Tier 1 cards listed above.

Tier 1, RedRorix Bladewing, Starstorm, Goblin Sharpshooter

Tier 2, RedButcher Orgg, Dragon Roost, Blistering Firecat, Words Of War, Tephraderm, Insurrection, Menacing Ogre, Gratuitous Violence

The red rares are amazing, but there are still two distinct tiers. The Tier 1 cards I would take a bullet for. The Tier 2 cards are either amazingly slow (Roost, Orgg, Insurrection) or not as powerful as the Tier 1 cards. Of these, Insurrection is closest to being Tier 1. Don’t raise your eyebrows at Goblin Sharpshooter, either. It is amazing – maybe not as good as Starstorm and Rorix, but still worthy of being called Tier 1. Gratuitous Violence is a toss-up. Sometimes it is better than any other card in the set, sometimes it sits in your hand, uncastable, or just doesn’t do anything.

Drafting U/R – Important Cards From Legions!

Now we look at the important Legions cards. In U/R, you don’t really have any”super bombs” to hope for when you crack your pack, so you hope for something solid.

The Blue Commons

Echo Tracer


Keeneye Aven

Mistform Seaswift


Covert Operative

—23rd CARDS—

Glintwing Invoker

Voidmage Apprentice


Mistform Sliver

Aven Envoy

Fugitive Wizard

Merchant Of Secrets

Cephalid Pathmage

You really only want to see one thing when you open your pack – Echo Tracers, and many of them. The card is far and away the best Blue common in Legions. Keeneye Aven and Mistform Seaswift are both good as well, and Covert Operative is fine as a 20th-23rd card, but…You don’t want any of the other commons in your deck. In fact, I usually leave the Operative in the sideboard as well, if at all possible.

A note to you hopefuls out there – when I say”Unplayable,” I mean it. Do not play any of those five cards. Ever. I don’t care if you have five Lavamancer’s Skills, do not play Fugitive Wizard. No exceptions. The first thing you have to do if you want to become a better drafter is just say to yourself”Okay, these five cards will never make one of my decks” and leave it at that.

The Red Commons

Skirk Marauder


Crested Craghorn


Flamewave Invoker

—23rd CARDS—

Shaleskin Plower

Macetail Hystrodon

Bloodstoke Howler

Goblin Grappler

Skirk Outrider


Hunter Sliver


Goblin Lookout

Goblin Firebug

Skirk Marauder is far and away the best of these, though the competition isn’t exactly stiff. Skirk Outrider, a fine card in R/G, is awful in U/R. The Grappler is only good with a Crown (and amazing with two Crowns) and the Hunter Sliver is only playable with two Crowns. Bloodstoke Howler is filler and Macetail Hystrodon is better, but the same. Flamewave Invoker, as a 2/2 with a nice late-game ability, always makes my deck. When you’re U/R, don’t overlook the fact that Crested Craghorn can serve as removal or, after a Tethers, as four points of beatdown.

Once again, I am not joking about Goblin Lookout or Goblin Firebug. Do not play these cards. They are terrible. Utterly, completely and in all other ways terrible. No excuses!

“Yeah, but I have a Reckless One-“


“But my Gempalm-“


But I-“

“WWW-dot-SHHH!-dot-com. Dot-org.”

“But if you just-“

“Let me tell you a story about a boy named ‘SHHH!'”

Never. Ever. Play those cards. You have no excuse. A 19th land is better.

The Blue Uncommons

There are two marquee blue uncommons in Legions – they are an excellent fit for any U/R deck. Those two uncommons are Willbender and Wall Of Deceit. As far as relative power goes, the chart is something like this as you look through the Legions uncommons:

Tier 1 – Wall of Deceit, Willbender

Tier 2 – Warped Researcher, Primoc Escapee

Tier 3 (23rd card junk) – Mistform Wakecaster, Gempalm Sorcerer, Shifting Sliver, Master Of The Veil, Crookclaw Elder

The Wall and the Willbender are the real prizes – everything else just sort of falls where it falls. Most of the Tier 3 cards are playable only under certain circumstances. Do you have Synapse Sliver? Shifting Sliver is much better, then. Lightning Rift? Gempalm Sorcerer finds a home. Magma Sliver? The Wakecaster goes in. Birds aplenty? Crookclaw Elder might come off the bench.

The Red Uncommons

Tier 1 – Gempalm Incinerator

Tier 2 – Frenetic Raptor, Goblin Dynamo, Goblin Clearcutter, Blade Sliver, Skirk Drill Sergeant

Tier 3 (23rd card junk) – Ridgetop Raptor

Tier 4 (NEVER PLAY THIS CARD) – Goblin Assassin

Gempalm Incinerator is a great card, and it gets better the more Goblins you have. Of course, if you have no Goblins, it is very marginal – but with many, it is nothing short of a beating. Of the Tier 2 cards, Frenetic Raptor is the best, but the others are easy inclusions as well. Skirk Drill Sergeant fills a hole in the mana curve that U/R decks always have, and Goblin Dynamo, while expensive, is a turn 7 play on par with Aven Fateshaper and similar high-curve beaters. Ridgetop Raptor is much more playable in R/W or R/G, where Timberwatch Elf can turn it into something extremely unfair. U/R can’t do much with it.

And as I said before, I am not joking about Goblin Assassin. Don’t play it. Ever.

Anchor Rares

The rares from Legions aren’t as strong as those from Onslaught, but there are still some nice anchors, cards that say “Aren’t you glad you’re in these colors?”

Tier 1, BlueChromeshell Crab

Tier 2, Blue – Weaver Of Lies, Riptide Mangler

These are the three that stand out as automatic inclusions, though Mistform Ultimus will always make your deck as well, mostly because it is a 3/3 for four mana. The Chromeshell Crab is the only one that could conceivably be called a bomb – just yesterday, I used it to take Rorix Bladewing. Weaver Of Lies is, believe it or not, best in other color combinations like B/U or G/U. Players, don’t forget the very basic tenets of playing Chromeshell Crab – you stack damage, then switch your own dying creature for one of their healthy ones.

Tier 1, RedImperial Hellkite, Lavaborn Muse

Tier 2, RedKilnmouth Dragon, Clickslither, Rockshard Elemental, Goblin Goon, Magma Sliver

Goblin Goon really isn’t that good in Limited, so I hesitate to include it here. Likewise, Clickslither is tough on the mana in U/R for the simple reason that your deck will, nine times out of ten, contain more Blue cards than Red cards. This is because every table will have more Red drafters than Blue drafters. Nonetheless, if it does make it into play, no deck can use the Clickslither better – with Imagecrafter and Mistforms and legit Goblins providing no shortage of fuel. Lavaborn Muse and Imperial Hellkite are listed as Tier 1 because I take them over Skirk Marauder – this is not true for the Tier 2 rares. Don’t underestimate the power of Lavaborn Muse in particular – it is an amazing card.

So There You Have It!

Constant reader, you’re all set. Sit down at that draft table, crack some packs, and get to work! You now know how to set yourself up as a U/R drafter, when to follow through in those colors and when to get out, and you know what cards are key to the archetype. If the response is favorable, I might write one of these for every major color combination – if nothing else, it will keep me busy. I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I did writing it – it was nice to actually write a strategy article after months of storytelling and goofing off.

Have a good day, I’ll see you guys next week – either with another one of these puppies, or maybe the next leg of our little Magic: Online tour. Or hey, maybe I’ll just complain for fifteen paragraphs like last week – that was a lot of fun! In the meantime, go out there and give this U/R stuff a try – I think you’ll be pleased with the results!

Geordie Tait

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