In this series, walking through each archetype in Core Set 2019 Limited, I’ll cover what’s important to think about when trying to construct your deck for each archetype, how to pace your game, which cards to look for, etc. For a full explanation, take a look at part 1.

One last reminder before we jump in. The list of cards for each archetype highlights what performs better within the archetype, but not necessarily the best card to pick up or which card is best in a vacuum, even if you’re in that archetype.

U/B Control

U/B Control is a reactive deck that tries to outpace your opponent on card advantage. U/B has tons of options for removal and only needs to have a healthy amount of 2-for-1s in order to finally run away with the game, like Divination, Gravedigger, Bone to Ash, and Salvager of Secrets. Its multicolor uncommon—Psychic Symbiont—really speaks to what the archetype wants to accomplish: have card advantage and a good way to finish the game.

In U/B, the creatures are weaker than in other colors. Sure, they have effects, but it puts you on the backfoot early, meaning that your noncreature spells need to pull more weight. If you’re able to get creatures with good stats, at least defensively, that can fill an important role.

Another problem is, if you only have 10 creatures, that gives your removal spells diminishing returns. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe there’s a minimum or maximum number of creatures in Limited—that’s contextual.

In the context of U/B Control in Core Set 2019, these creatures need to provide a few things. First and foremost, you need finishers, such as Frilled Sea Serpent or Horizon Scholar. You also need early creatures that trade or block well, because otherwise your removal will have to do too much of the legwork. Like a good wine, the longer you get to save your removal, the better it gets. If I don’t have ways to trade or block those 2- and 3-drops, I will at some point have to point a removal at them, meaning that I won’t have it when the real troublemakers arrive later in the game. For example, while Wall of Mist might be close to unplayable in other archetypes, with enough removal and value, it can serve a fine role in U/B.

Cards that become better in U/B Control:

Mythic/Rare

Uncommon

Common

Cards that become worse:

U/R Spells

For those who’ve drafted Amonkhet, you’re well versed in U/R Spells, one of the better archetypes in the format both before and after the second set. U/R Spells in Core Set 2019 is similar. Even Enigma Drake is a reprint from Amonkhet. But the big difference in Core Set 2019 Limited is that the archetype has a much harder time being aggressive. Why? Because the blue cards have close to no proactive cards. At common, the only real aggressive card is Aven Wind Mage. Arguments can be made for Disperse and Enigma Drake to be proactive enough. The real proactive cards come from red.

Once you consider the uncommons, however, you can find the really good proactive blue cards, like Sleep or Exclusion Mage. That also means that depending on how open U/R is, the more good uncommons you’ll be able to get and the easier it will become to be proactive, even with the red options like Guttersnipe.

Since blue is mostly reactive and red is mostly proactive, there will be a lot of flexibility in how U/R decks look. If blue is more open than ready, it’s more likely that you’ll take a controlling route, whereas if red is more open, you’re more likely to be proactive.

Since the two different routes vary so much, I’ll create a separate list for both.

Cards that become better in U/R Spells Aggro:

Mythic/Rare

Uncommon

Common

Cards that become worse:

Cards that become better in U/R Spells Control:

Mythic/Rare

Uncommon

Common

Cards that become worse:

U/G Ramp

U/G Ramp is one of the least synergistic archetypes. It tries to defend itself in the early turns to ramp into larger threats. Then it uses its blue card draw and attrition cards to not flood out on green ramp cards and mana. That’s basically it! Sounds simple enough, but it actually works wonders. A card like Omenspeaker is perfect here since it helps you hit your land drops early, blocks well so you survive to your late game, and helps you avoid flood later in the game.

In other Limited formats, it’s important not to durdle around too much since the archetype usually doesn’t have a ton of actual removal. But Rabid Bite is a powerful Shadows over Innistrad reprint and deals with tons of annoying creatures. Supported by Dwindle and Essence Scatter, you can actually go pretty late, hiding behind Giant Spiders. Remember that it’s not U/B Control, so while ramping up, try to have enough big threats to close out the game at a reasonable pace.

Since U/G Ramp has so much fixing built into the ramp in itself, and sees so many cards with its card draw, it’s the best archetype to splash. Removal like Electrify or powerful multicolor cards like Psychic Symbiont are perfect cards to splash, an upside not to be underestimated. They allow you to use the most of your options both in Sealed and Draft. You can go even deeper if you have enough Rupture Spires and Gift of Paradise to play up to 4 or 5 colors.

Since you’ll have access to so much mana, mana sinks get better in this archetype in particular, much like card draw.

Cards that become better in U/G Ramp:

Mythic/Rare

Uncommon

Common

Cards that become worse:

R/B Sacrifice

Act of Treason with a sacrifice outlet. Seen it before? Yep, it’s back. R/B Sacrifice, as the name suggests, is about playing cards with powerful effects, but forces you to sacrifice a creature to get it. This means you are looking for sacrifice outlets, but primarily cards that makes it less of a sacrifice to well, sacrifice them, or cards with an upside to do so. Act of Treason can be used for its traditional use—pushing through damage—but becomes a fantastic card when paired with, say, Thud. Blood Divination is really powerful, but is a bit too much of a tempo disadvantage if you don’t lessen the effect with, say, a Dragon Egg. That’s what the archetype is all about.

When it comes to how to pace your gameplay, the deck is most often a proactive aggro deck, given that the most powerful sacrifice synergies are with Act of Treason. Since your deck is filled with synergies, hopefully, and sometimes you won’t draw your synergies together in the right order, you want to make the cards as good as possible when drawn separately, preventing everything from falling apart when you do. Act of Treason sometimes looks fantastic when you’re ahead and need to push through damage, but atrocious when you’re behind. So you want to put yourself in the aggressive situation as many times as possible when drafting R/B Sacrifice.

But if you don’t have Act of Treason, and instead have cards like Dragon Egg or Doomed Dissenter, it’s perfectly fine to go a bit slower and take a more midrange approach.

Cards that become better in R/B Sacrifice:

Mythic/Rare

Uncommon

Common

Cards that become worse:

For the last article in the series, I’ll go through black-green, red-green, any potential miscellaneous archetypes, and a conclusion of the format as a whole. See you then!