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Can Lorehold Be Aggressive In Strixhaven Limited?

Ryan Saxe continues his early exploration of Strixhaven Limited with a look at Lorehold. Will the red and white cottage prove too slow for Draft?

Lorehold Pledgemage, illustrated by Jake Murray

I was originally a bit confused regarding Lorehold. The synergies placed at common and uncommon are a bit all over the place. This isn’t uncommon in the red-white color pair, but usually it just reverts to a low-to-the-ground aggressive deck. However, In Strixhaven, the classically aggressive color pair is said to be a grindy deck. There are lots of expensive cards available, and many are situated to use the graveyard as a resource in the late-game. But Ari Lax above points out two particular commons that go very well together — Enthusiastic Study and Twinscroll Shaman. This excites me, and gives me hope for Lorehold as an explosive aggressive deck situated around magecraft. Specifically, I expect the common creatures below to be very important for helping this archetype dole out bursts of damage without access to Twinscroll Shaman.

Furthermore, I expect this archetype to utilize a combination of commons similar to Silverquill. Guiding Voice and Expanded Anatomy are great ways to trigger magecraft and augment Twinscroll Shaman. Because of this, I expect this to be the proper archetype to pursue with a white aggressive start when Silverquill is not open but red cards flow. This also means that I expect this archetype to be much heavier white than red, so Prismari Pledgemage likely isn’t at home here even though it is a two-drop with magecraft.

The following draft has a possible path to drafting a Lorehold deck like I’ve described. But there are also a variety of other good options in the packs. What do you think is correct?

Pack 1, Pick 1

The Pack:

Hall of Oracles Academic Dispute Mage Hunter Closing Statement Cram Session Stonebound Mentor Blood Researcher Biomathematician Lash of Malice Silverquill Campus Reject Defend the Campus Archway Commons Environmental Sciences Adventurous Impulse

The Pick:

Lash of Malice is currently in my top ten commons, but I’m not absolutely certain if that is how the format will settle. Dead Weight has historically ranged from a mediocre common to the best common in the set. Lash of Malice has pros and cons in comparison to Dead Weight, as the instant speed and magecraft trigger aspects are incredibly nice, but the lack of permanence in the effect means it’s only applicable in combat to larger creatures. Furthermore, because it’s +2/-2 instead of -2/-2, killing a larger creature in combat is almost always going to be a card-disadvantageous move. All this leads to a card that I believe will be good, and first-pickable out of many packs, but not one I think can tango with the options here. It’s probably better than Mage Hunter, because four mana is still relatively inefficient, but not the other options.

Closing Statement is a really powerful effect. An instant-speed hard removal spell that’s splashable, and can even yield a two-for-one in some combat scenarios, is the definition of a premium gold card. The fact that it has a cheaper mode as well makes it all the more exciting. This is the safe pick from this pack, and I wouldn’t fault anybody for taking it. However, I think both Hall of Oracles and Academic Dispute have the potential to be more powerful and can teach me more about the format.

I loved drafting Gaea’s Protector and Warlord’s Fury as a combo in Dominaria Draft. Now that little combo is basically on a single card in Academic Dispute. Academic Dispute triggers magecraft, and is card advantage as long as you have a Lesson. If it turns out that this card is easy to set up in combat where it cantrips and kills a creature for a single mana, it will be the correct pick out of this pack. However, there’s enough stuff going on in this format with creature sizing and instant-speed interaction where I can’t say for certain how often that will happen. I believe it’s the second-best card in this pack, and better than probably every common. But at the moment, I’m taking Hall of Oracles.

Take the rare.

At the beginning of a format, I first-pick basically any rare that I can’t just dismiss as likely bad. It’s so hard to play enough games to see a rare in action with a large enough sample size to be confident in your evaluation. Because of this, opinions on rares propagate through the community very quickly, as most people won’t have enough experience with them yet. This is why it’s so important to pick them, get data on them, and share that data with others.

On top of that, I think Hall of Oracles is extremely good. Unknown Shores is a bad card, but an Unknown Shores that can spread around +1/+1 counters? Sign me up. This card seems like Guildmage’s Forum, but better (and Guildmage’s Forum was quite good). Prismari can trigger magecraft so many times, it’s hard to imagine this isn’t premium there. In the aggressive variant of Lorehold and most variants of Silverquill, this card will be an impressive engine as well. I love the idea of casting a Star Pupil on Turn 1, and Guiding Voice with Hall of Oracles on Turn 2. Finally, I still expect this card to be solid in Quandrix and Witherbloom, but not particularly premium.

Overall, Hall of Oracles should make my deck almost always and has a pretty high ceiling. And even if it’s not achieving that ceiling, it’s still a land that can produce colored mana.

Pack 1, Pick 2

The Picks So Far:

Hall of Oracles

The Pack:

Rushed Rebirth Clever Lumimancer Dueling Coach Access Tunnel Mage Duel Pillardrop Warden Burrog Befuddler Dragon's Approach Twinscroll Shaman Star Pupil Prismari Pledgemage Silverquill Campus Eager First-Year Elemental Summoning

The Pick:

The options in this pack can go one of two directions. Prismari Pledgemage and Elemental Summoning are arguably the best cards in the pack, with Mage Duel maybe in the discussion. Once you adjust for a preference for nongreen decks given Hall of Oracles, I think Mage Duel is no longer an option. Between Pledgemage and Summoning, I think the first Pledgemage takes the edge, as the second copy of any Lesson is a lot worse than the first. Because of this, I de-prioritize Lessons in the early parts of Pack 1. While I think Summoning is one of the Lessons you can pick early, I’m not taking it over a premium two-drop.

How does Prismari Pledgemage compare to the white creatures, which also go very well with Hall of Oracles? Dueling Coach and Star Pupil are the stars for Silverquill, but I’m expecting my deck to end up focused more on triggering magecraft than anything else. I think that brings Clever Lumimancer and Eager First-Year into the discussion. Initially I disliked Lumimancer, as an 0/1 is just too poor, but now that I’m excited about Guiding Voice and Expanded Anatomy, I may be augmenting the Lumimancer to a more impressive base body. While I’m not sure which white creature is best, I’m most interested in learning if I can make Clever Lumimancer work.

But will I take Lumimancer over Prismari Pledgemage? Yes! I do believe that Pledgemage is possibly the correct pick, but again, the beginning of the format is about exploring. It’s about trying to find the rewarding synergies and archetypes that other people haven’t yet. This leads to a significant edge because cards that go later than they should always land in your lap.

I think taking Clever Lumimancer is in my best interest.

Pack 1, Pick 3

The Picks So Far:

Hall of Oracles Clever Lumimancer

The Pack:

Maelstrom Muse Tend the Pests Tenured Inkcaster Witherbloom Pledgemage Leech Fanatic Fuming Effigy Eureka Moment Lorehold Campus Quandrix Pledgemage Prismari Campus Enthusiastic Study Waterfall Aerialist Regrowth

The Pick:

It’s important to recognize that, while I just picked Clever Lumimancer and would love to draft Lorehold or Silverquill aggro, my start is still flexible.

Quandrix Pledgemage is an interesting option. If I were to draft Prismari, Maelstrom Muse would probably be a better pickup than the Pledgemage, but I see a world where Quandrix Pledgemage is just too insane (Spellgorger Weird has been a Top 10 common before). Another really nice secret to taking the Pledgemage here is that if there turns out to be an aggressive green-white or blue-white deck, I expect Quandrix Pledgemage to be important. That being said, I still think it’s hard to justify taking it over Maelstrom Muse without more experience in the format.

Tenured Inkcaster is a card I expect to be overrated. I went in detail earlier this week on why I believe this isn’t where Silverquill wants to be, and the synopsis of that logic is that Silverquill wants to go tall with counters, not wide, and it also just isn’t in the market for a five-mana card. Add in that this particular Silverquill start is magecraft-heavy and I’m not taking the Inkcaster. The only logic I can see pushing me to take it is that Hall of Oracles makes it easy to spread around +1/+1 counters (which is pretty powerful with the Inkcaster).

Like the last pick, I expect the correct thing to do is to take the Muse, but I’m not going to do it. Again, I want to explore. Recalling that there was a Twinscroll Shaman in Pack 1, Pick 2 that could wheel, I decided to see if I could take Enthusiastic Study and wheel the Twinscroll Shaman so I could put together something aggressive in Lorehold.

And let me tell you, it looks pretty good.