In this series, similar to what I did with Ixalan block Limited, I will go through each color combination and archetype. I will dissect what kind of game plan you should try to draft, whether there’s a good backup plan, and what the archetype is all about. I will also list a few commons, uncommons, and rares that perform better in the archetype and some that get slightly worse.

Remember that it doesn’t mean that those are the best cards, even in that archetype. For example, even if Ajani’s Pridemate gets a lot better in W/B Life Gain, I wouldn’t take it over fantastic removal, such as Hieromancer’s Cage, even if I list Ajani’s Pridemate but not Hieromancer’s Cage.

I’ve chosen cards not only for synergies with other cards, but also because of how they benefit each other depending on how the archetype plays out. For example, Daybreak Chaplain works well with Aven Wind Mage in W/U, while it doesn’t synergize as well with Boggart Brute in R/W. Anticipate works well in U/B because it wants instant spells to go with Essence Scatter and Cancel, and plays worse with W/U because it wants to play to the board at sorcery speed.

Got it? All right, let’s jump in!

W/U Artifacts

W/U is all about the artifact synergy. But what makes it interesting is that some cards synergize in different ways with artifacts. Aviation Pioneer and Aethershield Artificer work together, while Aviation Pioneer and Trusty Packbeast don’t benefit from each other at all, even though we’re talking about an artifact plus payoff.

I like that the payoff cards are medium when you’re not getting their full value and great when you are. That means it’s best to get the artifacts first and then the payoff. The artifacts, such as Aviation Pioneer, Skyscanner, or Gargoyle Sentinel are all pretty good even without payoff. If you make sure to cut these early, you’ll see a lot payoff later in the Draft and set yourself up to be heavily rewarded.

W/U Artifacts plays a proactive game, but it’s not all-in aggro, similar to a regular W/U flyers archetype. That means both Daybreak Chaplain and Oreskos Swiftclaw can be good in the deck! The flexibility is what I like about W/U, since it gives you so many more options both in Sealed and Draft.

Cards that become better in W/U Artifacts:

Mythic/Rare

Uncommon

Common

Cards that become worse:

W/B Life Gain

Similar to W/U, Life Gain is one of the most synergy-based archetypes. Much like the name suggests, it tries to use gaining life to trigger different cards, such as Ajani’s Pridemate or Regal Bloodlord. What that means is that the archetype is fantastic at racing your opponent for the obvious reason that gaining life makes it harder to kill you! What that also does is make more games go longer than usual, and if your deck isn’t slanted aggressively enough, you have to be wary of flooding out.

An easy way to flood out is to try to go too hard on synergy by having too many narrow cards. By narrow cards, I mean cards that basically only gain life, like Ajani’s Welcome or Sovereign’s Bite. To play these cards, you’d need a lot of payoff, and I mean a lot. Like 3+ Regal Bloodlord. That’s why one of my favorite cards in the archetype is Nightmare’s Thirst, because it both works as a payoff and an enabler.

The possibility of flooding out is decently high regardless, given the nature of the deck. You sacrifice power from your cards to gain life, so make sure to pick up a few cards to make it easier to grind, like Macabre Waltz, Blood Divination, or Meteor Golem. Another way to combat flooding out is to combine your life gain with tons of evasion, making it easier to create a race, where you excel.

Cards that become better in W/B Life Gain:

Mythic/Rare

Uncommon

Common

What’s cool about this archetype in particular is that there are far more enablers and payoff than I listed, meaning that there are a lot of go-to cardss.

Cards that become worse:

Cards that trade easily for little or no value, like:

W/R Go Wide

W/R Go Wide is an aggressive R/W deck that uses aggressive creatures and removal to get early damage in, tokens to go wide, and then finish the game with cards like Inspired Charge or Trumpet Blast.

The trick is to get a solid number of enablers to these “overrun” effects before you choose to include more than a few, because they are quite narrow and inefficient if you’re not actually going to have a large board. They are also terrible once you’re behind. Trumpet Blast literally reads “attacking creatures.” I’ll confess that I’ve won more than once from my opponent casting it defensively in previous Limited formats. So make sure that you have a good enough curve with plenty of 2-drops.

Since the ceiling is high from the payoff cards but the floor is so low, it’s important to not only make sure to stay proactive and have the right pacing, but also to have tons and tons of creatures. Playing 18 is definitely not out of the question.

Cards that become better in W/R Go Wide:

Mythic/Rare

Uncommon

Common

Cards that become worse:

Anything too reactive or defensive, like:

W/G Auras

W/G Auras is one of the least synergistic archetypes because there are just not a lot of options for the color combination. The few things it does have combine with Auras, but most of them are green, with white offering only a few additions.

Satyr Enchanter and Druid of Horns both grant you some pretty great value whenever you enchant them. Knightly Valor even makes its own value. Vine Mare has hexproof, making it a safe place to build your own mythic rare. Those are all obvious. But there are slightly more subtle ways to synergize with Auras like Oakenform or Blanchwood Armor.

One of them is to put it on an early vigilance creature like Greenwood Sentinel or Militia Bugler. That way, it’s not only hard to block, but your opponent can’t attack back and may create enough value in sheer life total difference to offset the potential downside of being dealt with later. The same goes for lifelink.

Another way to make Auras more valuable is if you have enough creatures that require dealing with, like creatures evasion or a powerful ability, like Mentor of the Meek. Not only can you slam it on an evasive creature to close game faster, but enchanting a 2-drop that stopped being relevant can put more pressure on their removal.

Ways to create card advantage are also pretty good in this archetype, like Rhox Oracle or Militia Bugler, because there’s a good chance you’ll get 2-for-1’d a couple of times, and being able to rebuild is important. Also, it helps you come back from mulligans, given the awkwardness of Auras in a six-card hand.

Cards that become better in W/G Auras:

Mythic/Rare

Uncommon

Common

Cards that become worse:

Creatures with low toughness, defensive creatures, ramp spells, or cards trying to go wide, such as:

In the upcoming article series, I’ll continue to go through each archetype, bit by bit, and I hope you enjoy it and that it helps you become prepared for the upcoming GPs and online tournaments to come!