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How to Beat the Best Draft Deck on Arena


Early detractors of the Throne of Eldraine Draft format - especially the Arena crowd, myself gently included - believed in the power of the mill deck. The AI gives an unseeming number of Merfolk Secretkeepers, and that means the mid and high rank queues are loaded with plenty of the most obnoxious Limited mill deck in forever. Shriekhorn wishes it could roll like this.

Run Away Together
Merfolk Secretkeeper
Didn't Say Please

If she's a secretkeeper, how come everyone knows about this deck? Nice flavor, WotC.

Anyway, the deck is over. Like, go ahead and do it. I'm not here to tell you what to do.

Wait a tick... that's exactly what I'm here to do!

Here are two archetypes that beat the mill deck's brains in. Play them.

Danny West Plays the Hits

Long time readers will know that I am a Selesnya boy in heart and Worldsoul. So it thrilled me to no end when I chewed the throat right out of the mill deck a few drafts in a row with the latest incarnation of my all-time favorite archetype: Green and White midrange goofs with just the right amount of rate.

Keeper of Fables
Mysterious Pathlighter
Oakhame Ranger

That's right, gang. It's not exactly as simple as dropping Overrun or Glorious Anthem, but it's not that far away once you pull far enough ahead. If they're blowing every turn chump blocking and eating a Food, you're on the right track.

Key Uncommons

It's actually faster to list the uncommons that don't work that well. This also has the advantage of punishing "readers" that only scroll through and look at pictures. What a blowout.

Venerable Knight
Deafening Silence
All That Glitters

That's about it. Once and Future isn't the worst, but it's also rarely going to give you better results than another adventure creature. Trail of Crumbs is way more for the Black deck, but if you end up with a ton of Curious Pairs, see what you can weave.

The absolute top tier of the uncommons are the ones that revolve around adventures. Lucky Clover is fine if you're absolutely packed with creatures, but don't get so overloaded with combo that you forget you're supposed to be attacking to win.

If you see Edgewall Innkeeper a few picks in, pack your crap: we're going on adventures.

Key Commons

Again, adventuring is the love.

Faerie Guidemother
Lonesome Unicorn
Ardenvale Tactician

Here's how Eldraine works, dork: Every card you have that has an adventure is a mulligan from your opponent. Having 4 adventure cards and 3 lands is literally Library of Alexandria.

I don't like Garenbrig Carver or Tuinvale Treefolk, but that doesn't mean I won't start them if they've got enough synergy. They're not in the ideal 24, though.

That's right: 24. The three Faerie Guidemother deck doesn't need 17 lands.

The Rare Lottery

Lovestruck Beast
Gilded Goose
Wicked Wolf

Lovestruck Beast is going to have infinite 1/1s to work with. And the thing is, it really doesn't have to be fast. Magic players overvalue having a fast start too often. Limited ain't Vintage. Settle down.

Fortunately, this Limited format is sized to the point very few cards interact well with The Beast® at any point in the game.

Foulmire Knight

Other than a few deathtouchers, Beast-o runs through everything. Kiora's Dambreaker isn't walking through that door.

Gilded Goose runs wild. It's honestly so borderline bomb that it cracks me up.

Hoard-Smelter Dragon
Flameblast Dragon
Shivan Dragon

Look at these.

Now look at this.

Gilded Goose

Eldraine is a strange place.

Naturally, Wicked Wolf is a value animal.

Not pictured is Faeburrow Elder, which isn't a trap per se, but it is also not worthy of a rare slot in strict terms of Limited Magic. The format with adamant does not want Bloom Tender, fam.

Joust, Damn You!

That's right. The most obvious deck in the format somehow beats the most surprising one. The key is that you need to go hard into Black and White instead of Black and Red or Red and White.

Reave Soul
Trapped in the Tower
Glass Casket

The basic idea is that Black and White has the best tools to deal with the annoying stuff out of the mill deck, especially Secretkeeper. With Red, not only do you have less of a critical mass of removal to run through two or three Queen of Ice but your creatures also just matchup way worse.

Ogre Errant
Raging Redcap
Rimrock Knight

This is not the crew you want if you're wanting to get through four points of toughness. On the other hand...

Foulmire Knight
Wintermoor Commander
Locthwain Paladin

These get through just fine.

Key Uncommons

In addition to the above, look out for Syr Konrad, the Grim (proud graduate of the Portal: Three Kingdoms School for Card Naming) and Belle of the Brawl.

Revenge of Ravens

While Revenge of Ravens should be at an all-time low because of the prevalence of mill and All-in Rimrock, people still play against it with all the tunnel vision determination of an ape running into a wall with a banana painted on it. So enjoy the free wins, critical thinkers. Hint: Pretend they're attacking you for one and your life total is the one under siege. You can't control + Z this after you've screwed it up, so be conservative if you're someone that just can't help but attack all the time.

If you wind up with some weird Food hybrid you think you can make work with Bog Naughty or Cauldron Familiar, help yourself, but I'd rather just have another few Knights at any rarity (except Knight of the Keep, who is a complete and utter geek).

Key Commons

I don't want to spoil it for you, but generally, you should consider cards that are "Knight" cards.

If you're starting Knight of the Keep, something went wrong, but it does happen.

Here are less humiliating cards to play:

Smitten Swordmaster
Lost Legion
Forever Young

Ding ding ding.

You might expect a third Knight in that last slot, but this is where the rubber meets the road in playing against the mill deck: If you have a critical mass of creatures and cast Forever Young in any kind of reasonable time frame, your pressure will kill them. The tension comes because you want enough creatures (Knights), a few kill spells, and only a single copy of Forever Young. If it gets milled, it gets milled, but in best-of-three you can board in another one and really put yourself out of range.

Eye Collector

Although you're rolling some baby dice against the mill deck in terms of your Forever Young getting self-milled, a handful of these in Orzhov Knights act as excellent little Delvers, "flipping" in the presence of a live Syr Konrad.

The Rare Lottery

Murderous Rider
Piper of the Swarm
Worthy Knight

Piper of the Swarm isn't really anything special in terms of synergies, but it goes better in an aggro deck that wants to run better than most the other rares. I've had four drafts now with Clackbridge Troll, including two bw Knights decks, and I mean, they went well.

Clackbridge Troll

What do you want me to say? I drew five lands and handed out some Goats. Synergy isn't everything.

Blacklance Paragon

I haven't been amazed with any of my three runs with Blacklance Paragon. Gaining three life in a format where half the cards give you three life plus more stuff is just this side of garbage day.

Witch's Vengeance

Over on the defensive end, I'm not sure I would bother playing around Witch's Vengeance even if I knew they had it. You're playing tribal aggro in the format with Food; what did you expect would happen? You're playing this to run over the mill deck, not solve the format.

That will have to wait until I've run a few dozen more drafts over the next week.

Put the coffee on. The Rascal is back in the Arena queue.


The Rascal

The Indestructible Danny West

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