Born of the Gods is finally available for drafting on Magic Online. Now is when we’ll start to see which archetypes become the favorites of the most successful drafters. Today, we’ll discuss the evolution of the Theros Draft environment with the introduction of Born of the Gods. Our focus will shift into a discussion of W/B control, a Limited strategy that I feel has drastically improved with the introduction of Born of the Gods.
Fall of the Hammer is among the very best commons, and the cards printed for aggressive red strategies are, in general, quite good in Born of the Gods. That being said, we’re seeing archetypes of all color combinations become more aggressive. We can take advantage of this by taking cards like Ordeal of Heliod higher or by building Draft decks that are designed to beat the most aggressive strategies.
Drafting W/B Control gives us exactly the type of deck we need to beat the most aggressive strategies. The deck makes board positions that are extremely difficult to attack. The combination of white and black gives us outs to any gigantic monsters while providing inevitability in the form of Sentry of the Underworld and Scholar of Athreos. It’s easy to pick up a lot of Auras in a deck that’s able to value them above common and uncommon heroic creatures. Hopeful Eidolon is especially good here. The card combos nicely with regenerators and evasive bodies. Also, Hopeful Eidolon is part of one of the deck’s most important combos. Sentry of the Underworld in conjunction with Hopeful Eidolon is a natural curve into a creature that’s impossible for nonblue decks to beat without some tremendous advantage already.
Lash of the Whip or Sip of Hemlock when drafting a black control strategy, but it’s best to focus on picking up bestow creatures over basically everything, especially Hopeful Eidolon. This deck is very much about building a Baneslayer Angel, and picking up every Hopeful Eidolon and Insatiable Harpy that isn’t sitting next to a bomb rare or uncommon is definitely how we’re going to achieve that.
I’ve always been a huge fan of this Draft strategy. In fact, I went into Pro Tour Theros planning to all but force W/B or B/G control. I had a 5–1 Draft record with two W/B decks (one of which was also green), only losing a single match because of mana issues in the third game. I feel that the W/B strategy improves with Born of the Gods and will continue to be an underdrafted strategy with incredible win potential.
When do we want to be drafting the W/B Control deck? Simply put, we can reliably force the archetype because we’re generally looking to take different cards than other people. That being said, it’s generally a good idea to draft what’s open, and I wouldn’t recommend forcing the W/B deck if you open a very good rare of another color.
Let’s take a look at our Born of the Gods pick orders for the W/B Control deck.
Hero of Iroas rewards us for valuing all of the creatures with bestow much higher than the other people at the table. After having witnessed the card in action a few times, I can confidently say that this is among the stronger rares in the set, especially for a deck like this.
Silent Sentinel gives the W/B control deck the kind of top end it’s looking for. We are able to apply a lot of pressure, and we are able to make aggressive trades with our bestow creatures with assurance that our gas will keep on coming.
Herald of Torment is very powerful as a 3/3 flyer for 3, and it becomes a very huge problem if it’s able to pick up a Hopeful Eidolon. I would take this card over any uncommon in the set in the first pick of the first pack.
Gild is a great removal spell that’s very easy to cast. Additionally, the card ramps us into some really nice bestow plays.
Champion of Stray Souls takes over the game if we are able to untap with it. It’s definitely a bomb, but the W/B deck already has a late-game mana dump in the form of Scholar of Athreos, but having a wealth of options isn’t necessarily a bad thing—it’s just unnecessary a lot of the time.
Fated Retribution is an instant-speed, board-sweeping effect. This card provides a controllable reset button that can usually be set up to win a game. We can hold a nice threat or two in our hands and let our opponent play his or her whole hand before blowing up the board on his or her end step and having first dibs at board presence.
Eater of Hope is a nice big monster that can dominate a board if left unchecked.
Plea for Guidance might be worth an early pick if we don’t have many other strong options. We’ll be playing as many Auras as possible, and this card provides a nice two-card tutor that’s especially strong in a deck with one or two copies of Hopeful Eidolon.
Archetype of Courage, Ornitharch, Archetype of Finality, Odunos River Trawler, Bile Blight, Glimpse the Sun God, Drown in Sorrow, Ashiok's Adept, God-Favored General, Ghostblade Eidolon, Shrike Harpy, Acolyte's Reward, Forlorn Pseudamma
Archetype of Courage is a great uncommon that lets the W/B Control deck build a huge board, especially if we have some deathtouch in our deck. It’s not hard to imagine a situation where simply playing creatures with Archetype of Courage is enough to draw the game out to a point that a Scholar of Athreos could easily clean up. This is my pick for the best uncommon for the W/B deck in Born of the Gods.
Ornitharch provides us with a lot of flying power. This card is always going to do something awesome when we cast it on 5, and it’s very easily the second-best uncommon in the set. It works toward our goal of building a Baneslayer Angel quite nicely, too.
Archetype of Finality lets us trade anything for anything. Our deck loves a good trade with its endgame power, and Archetype of Finality lets us gum up a board very well. It also combos nicely with any first strike we’re able to pick up.
Odunos River Trawler is a super-efficiently-costed Gravedigger in a deck like this. We obviously want this card more than anyone else, but that doesn’t mean other people won’t be trying to grab it. I like taking this card aggressively early because it could easily bait another player at the table into dipping into W/B. The middle-pick Odunos River Trawler is the perfect signal telling us we should be drafting the W/B deck.
Bile Blight is an extremely efficient spot removal spell. It’s actually pretty absurd that it’s this far down on the list, but that just illustrates how strong uncommons are for the W/B deck in the first pack.
Glimpse the Sun God lets us win out of nowhere, wins races, and is generally a very strong card. Glimpse the Sun God is among the very best cards against the W/B deck, and it’s a nice card to take from other people. That being said, it’s still pretty busted in this deck, and we should still be taking it.
Drown in Sorrow is designed for a deck like this. A lot of players will be wary of the card because they’re so hellbent on drafting an aggressive strategy. This makes Drown in Sorrow stronger against our opponents while we’re not really trying to play much that dies to the big spell.
Ashiok's Adept is great for us. Other people may let the card go a bit later, but we can value this card very highly. It’s very nice to continually drop bestow creatures on this and watch the opponent’s hand dwindle while we’re blocking to our heart’s content.
Black Oak of Odunos is a card we can pick up very late that’s super-strong in our controlling strategy.
God-Favored General is a fine card, but it’s not the best thing in the world for a deck like this. We’re not very aggressive. We want to be building a board to control the game so we can take over the game with our mana sinks and bestowed flyers. This is the type of card that we can let the other white players fight over while we’re taking the more controlling cards.
Ghostblade Eidolon lets us close games quickly once we’ve established control. This card is at its best in R/W or G/W decks, and those players will be valuing this higher than we are.
Shrike Harpy is a fine card that’s good at the attrition war we’re playing to; that being said, the card is only an Air Elemental when the opponent has a very good threat in play, presumably one that can battle through our wall of creatures. It’s never bad to play this card, but I wouldn’t be taking it over the cards already mentioned.
Acolyte's Reward is a card we can take that has the potential for a lot of upside if our deck ends up being mostly white. This card has a lot of two-for-one potential in the right deck, but it becomes pretty unplayable if we have fewer than eight white creatures. We really want more like ten or eleven white creatures—and having a few with double-white costs makes this truly awesome.
Nyxborn Shieldmates can give us an opening to take Ordeal of Heliod or Ordeal of Erebos. The card is great value: It works very nicely with regenerators, first strikers, flyers, and lifelinkers. We can gain a lot of value out of this little guy, and it’s probably the best common in the set for this archetype.
Asphyxiate is a removal spell that’s not always good as a top-deck when the game progresses. I would always play every Asphyxiate I was able to draft. The card is a bit stronger in a deck like ours because we can strongly convince our opponent not to attack us.
Servant of Tymaret is a very nice card for a deck like this. The fact that it taps when we block and regenerate means that we won’t be missing Scholar of Athreos activations when blocking our opponent’s gigantic Centaur Battlemaster.
Griffin Dreamfinder is at its best in a deck like this. It’s not difficult to pick up this card late when everyone wants an aggressive deck. We can use this with Baleful Eidolon to grind the game to a halt, and the big toughness here means we only need to care about a small percentage of our opponent’s creatures.
Now let’s take a look at our pick orders for Theros. These haven’t changed much since we spoke about the W/B Control strategy before Born of the Gods came out. Hopeful Eidolon moves above Gray Merchant of Asphodel as the first-pick common of choice; this can be different if we’re mostly black after the first pack. Baleful Eidolon also moves up the pick order list as we gain access to Griffin Dreamfinder and more first strike and regenerate.
W/B Control is currently my favorite Draft archetype in BNG/THS/THS. The deck does a tremendous job of dismantling aggressive strategies, and cards such as Griffin Dreamfinder, Odunos River Trawler, Disciple of Phenax, and Ashiok's Adept can grind down other controlling decks very well. I strongly suggest you try drafting W/B Control the next time it seems that nothing else is open. The deck values a lot of underdrafted cards very highly, and it seems to be a great archetype in the current Limited metagame.