Drafting Ravnica Allegiance has been a treat and a big change from Guilds of Ravnica. While I liked Guilds of Ravnica for the games, I thought the guilds were lame and the Draft process uninteresting.
This new set is a lot different. While games are still intricate, the drafting process is very in-depth despite technically only having five color combinations (or six if you count the Gates deck). That was an issue with Guilds of Ravnica, but here, the format is slower and that results in more 3-color decks. That makes for a lot more different possible archetypes.
I’ve been practicing a fair amount through MTG Arena for the recent Mythic Championship and it certainly is not the best outlet to see how a Draft process goes, but if you play a high volume, you should still get a good grasp of the format as long as you don’t try to abuse the bot’s algorithms.
Let’s get started with each guild.
This one took a while for everyone to master. The obvious way to Draft it is the usual blue-white flyers deck, but that happens to be awful because the payoffs (Windstorm Drake and Spirit of the Spires) don’t make up for the fact that your other flyers are all very underwhelming on their own. Senate Courier, Senate Griffin, and Faerie Duelist are not bad, but don’t constitute what we call a “skies deck” since they’re not aggressive.
As it turns out, one of the best archetypes altogether is blue-white “play the least amount of creatures possible” deck. Here’s a beautiful deck that Reid Duke used to 3-0 at the Mythic Championship.
It’s a Clear the Mind deck, simple as that. You loop them together, kill, bounce, counter everything you see, and mill out your opponent. You can draft that deck in more colors than just blue-white as well. Humongulus plus Screaming Shield is a real win condition to keep in mind too.
Another way to draft Azorius involves High Alert. Wall of Lost Thoughts, Senate Courier, Azorius Knight-Arbiter, and Resolute Watchdog should be your creature base. That’s going to buy you time to play counterspells against their threatening cards until you find the High Alert and kill them.
I find that Azorius splashes black more often than green. Grotesque Demise, Consign to the Pit, Final Payment, Mortify, Grasping Thrull, and various rares. Green does not really have anything interesting to splash outside of Hydroid Krasis.
Orzhov is the strongest guild based on the commons it has. That means the average Orzhov deck is usually better than any other guild’s average deck.
These are all amazing commons and that fit what black-white is trying to do: grind, accumulate value, and kill everything threatening.
It is fairly easy to draft as well since the fail rate is almost nonexistent. You rarely run out of playables. Just keep in mind that your deck will likely be bad against Azorius control decks like the Clear the Mind version above. The strategy of killing everything and accumulating value just does not match what they’re doing. With that in mind, you want to dedicate your last few slots to cards like Drill Bit and Screaming Shield since they’re amazing in this matchup and not totally awful everywhere else.
I’m a big fan of running this card if you have at least 3-4 afterlife creatures. That way, you can make sure you’ll have a token laying around. The 5/5 is valuable in these colors since you lack power. It’s also incidentally great against Slimebind and Lawmage’s Binding. Undercity Scavenger alongside Debtors’ Transport is a good reason to start playing Clear the Stage in Orzhov!
I specifically like sets where the Draft archetypes are not obvious and entirely dictated by the mechanics. Simic is a great example. If you try to draft a +1/+1 counters and adapt deck, you will fail miserably.
Most of the cards can be added to a Simic deck, but if you try to go deep with Galloping Lizfrog and Combine Guildmage by building your deck entirely with adapt creatures, you’re going to find that you never have enough mana to do all of that.
These are the actual key cards in your Simic deck. Your deck should be tempo and prey on slow decks like Orzhov, Azorius, and to some extent Gruul, since they’re rarely casting more than one spell a turn and that’s where bounce spells shine the most.
Sauroform Hybrid should be your number one priority. It does everything your deck wants to. To be fair, everyone wants it too, but here, you don’t have that many other 2-drops you can play.
You’ll likely play adapt creatures like Skitter Eel, Aeromunculus and such. All that matters is that you can throw creatures on the board in the early turns and then once you’ve got tempo achieved with your bounce spells, you can start adapting and taking over the game for good.
In my opinion Rakdos is the worst guild because your average deck is full of Feral Maaka, Rakdos Trumpeter, Spikewheel Acrobat, and Rakdos Roustabout. But the great Rakdos decks are full of Rakdos Firewheeler, Hackrobat, Fireblade Artist, Skewer the Critics, and Blade Juggler.
The issue is that the cards you want are either uncommons or two of the best commons in the set, which are highly prized in Orzhov and Gruul too. This means that your average Draft won’t see them very often.
Rakdos’s strong suit is aggression. It has a remarkable ability to reach for the last points of damage necessary to win the game. That’s welcome, since the creatures you have access to are quite mediocre and get outclassed quickly.
Thanks to cards like Skewer the Critics, Ill-Gotten Inheritance, Fireblade Artist, Cult Guildmage, Rakdos Firewheeler, Consign to the Pit, and Carnival // Carnage, dealing the last few points of damage is a lot easier.
You can always draft the deck as a slower plan and utilize Debtors’ Transport as top end and Get the Point as your premium removal, but I find that to be a much worse version of your usual Orzhov deck.
While I understand that good Gruul draws are powerful, I find the archetype to be dull, linear, and not at all skill testing.
No one can argue with that curve though. Red-green has tons of heavy hitters, but not a lot of versatility. If you’re unable to curve out, or fall behind, it’s hard to make a comeback when all you have are fight cards, 4/4s for 4, and 5/5s for five.
Gruul is my least favorite archetype, but I still think on average it’ll make a better deck than Rakdos.
With that said, I’m eagerly awaiting the moment RNA Ranked Drafts come back to MTG Arena.