U/R Wizards isn’t an aggro deck, despite being somewhat aggressive. I think of an aggro deck as one that wants the cheapest reasonable creatures it can get, with pump and removal to make sure that they can keep attacking. U/R Wizards is more of a value deck. You wouldn’t play Divination or Vodalian Arcanist in an aggro deck and these are both good cards in U/R Wizards. Ghitu Chronicler costs 6 and is one of your best cards. This doesn’t mean that something like Ghitu Lavarunner isn’t a good card. A 1-mana 2/2 haste is still valuable in a deck planning to win by dealing 20 damage. Pure control decks generally win through finisher that U/R Wizards doesn’t use. So I wouldn’t call it a control deck either.
What do I mean when I say value deck? I mean that you win by going up in cards with Ghitu Chronicler and Divination, as well as getting great rates on cards like Academy Journeymage and Ghitu Lavarunner. I’m generally looking for these undercosted Wizard synergy cards and the cards that make them better, as well as removal and card drawing when I’m drafting U/R Wizards.
Here is the list of commons I look for, roughly in order of how highly I take them once I’ve settled into the archetype. This is not the order for pick 1 pack 1. For example, Cloudreader Sphinx is one of the best commons in the set to take pick 1 pack 1 because it’s easy to splash and good in every deck type. Once I’m in this archetype, Cloudreader Sphinx is still an optimal common that I will play virtually any number of, but I will take it substantially lower than I would pick 1 pack 1. Synergy is important in this deck and a solid flying finisher isn’t. But it’s a good enough card that I would still always play it. So exactly how high to take it depends on how much Wizard and spell synergy you have from Vodalian Arcanists, Ghitu Chroniclers, Ghitu Lavarunners, Adeliz, and so on. This guide is written assuming that you are already heavily settled into this archetype with almost your whole deck consisting of the cards below.
These are all the commons that I’d play virtually any number of in this deck and consider optimal commons. In addition, I consider these commons to be playable if you are a few cards short on optimal options.
Now for the uncommons and rares that I look for. Once again, I’m going to list the cards assuming that you are already in this deck. For example, Fight with Fire is still a windmill slam because it’s great with Divination, Chronicler, and Arcanist. But Icy goes down in value a little bit (though it’s still an early pick and a great card—once in this archetype I will draft it less aggressively than I would p1p1). This is a new approach I’m taking for the archetype guides. I’m going to basically list everything I always play in the order I draft them regardless of whether they go up or down in this archetype. I think this will be more valuable since it tells you how I rate the card once I’m settled into this archetype.
Card values always change based on what you have. For example, I consider Jhoira to be playable but not great in this deck. But if you happen to have five copies of the few historic cards listed, then it will be much better for your deck than in an average U/R Wizards Draft deck.
As you get more and more of the cards that are optimal for this deck, move the synergistic cards up further and further. Remember when drafting this deck that you are looking to put together what could be a borderline Constructed Wizards deck but don’t expect that to happen every time. This deck wants to see a lot of cards, use removal and bounce to avoid falling behind and deal with problems, and win with incidental damage. If I have Shivan Fires, Vodalian Arcanists, and Ghitu Chroniclers I usually choose to draw first with this deck.
I consider U/R Wizards to be the second-best archetype in the format. Next week I’m going to look at B/R Grindy, the third-best archetype in Dominaria Limited.