Forcing a Draft archetype is rarely a great idea, but identifying the best color combinations and looking to dive into them is just a good strategy.
For Pro Tour Shadows over Innistrad, I had the chance to have on my team two players who are among the best drafters at the moment: Jason Chung and Christian Calcano. They helped me find the winning strategy that let me reach the finals of Pro Tour Shadows over Innistrad.
In our Limited meeting we quickly determined that green, red, and white were the best colors, followed by a distant blue and black.
With boosters being sleeved, though, green loses a lot of power, since you can’t send clear signals via its Werewolves. Just to let you know how important sending a signal is: Jason Chung at GP Barcelona first picked Town Gossipmonger over Burn from Within. On top of that, everybody knows that green is great so it’s heavily overdrafted.
Green/white and green/red are two very aggressive strategies—the first is based on Humans and equipment and the second is based on Wolves and Werewolves. Green/black is based on delirium, a strategy that was rarely successful but had a high ceiling—when drafting green/black, you will most likely 3-0 or 0-3 based on how synergistic your deck is.
Green/blue is based on investigate and the best card by far is Ongoing Investigation. First-picking this card is a dream because then you just pick flyers, Stormrider Spirit the best among them because it lets you transform your green Werewolves while keeping the pressure up. Stitched Mangler is another card that you want to look for while drafting UG Tempo.
At this point, we were left with the other 2 colors that we believed were the best, and not as high on the radar as green: red and white.
Red has the best common in the format: Fiery Temper, but isn’t that deep otherwise. In fact, it only has two 2-drops: Ember-Eye Wolf and Sanguinary Mage, and since red is mostly an aggressive color, you have to prioritize them. Voldaren Duelist is an amazing card that you need to have among your 40 cards if you’re attacking.
We figured out that the best white common was Thraben Inspector—you want plenty of early creatures and getting a card later in the game is great. Dauntless Cathar is probably on the same level as Thraben Inspector even though it has a higher power level, because there are plenty of 3-drops while there aren’t many good 1-drops. Hence, you have to prioritize those.
Finally Angelic Purge is another great common—the best white spell—but you don’t want to have more than 2 of them.
Why am I pointing this out? Because Rush of Adrenaline is a very underrated card, but in a format where there is a lot of creature-trading, it’s very important because it could be a removal spell that also gets in for some damage. Fabrizio also had Uncaged Fury among his tricks, which provided a Fireball effect in combination with Rush.
When drafting red/white, you have to look very carefully at the curve. You want to have:
- 7-8 one- or two-drops
- 4-5 three-drops
- 3-4 four-drops
- 1 five-drop
- 4-5 tricks
- 2-3 removal spells
- 16-17 lands
This deck isn’t a difficult deck to draft—you only have to keep your mana curve and draft in order to make it look similar to the one above.
This is the deck I drafted in the 6-2 bracket at #PTSOI, with which I went 2-1:
There are several tricks at common/uncommon in red and white. I’ll show you how I rate them. Bear in mind that the cheaper they are, the better.
Cards like Malevolent Whispers, Stensia Masquerade, and Senseless Rage depend a lot on how many discard outlets you have (Lightning Axe, Ravenous Bloodseeker, Mad Prophet, Insolent Neonate). While Whispers is always playable since Threaten is always a decent card in a red aggressive deck, Stensia Masquerade is unplayable if you don’t have plenty of ways to discard it. Senseless Rage is a great trick when it’s discarded, on the same level as Spiteful Motives, but when it’s not it’s just a mediocre Aura.
Ethereal Guidance is another card that I thought was bad, but that Calcano kept winning with. I listened to him during my 2nd draft at the Pro Tour and I managed to play it profitably multiple times.
Shadows over Innistrad Draft feels slow and full of synergy, but you can be the aggressor and kill your opponent while they’re assembling delirium or cracking their Clues.