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Mastering Auramancy


Welcome back to Very Limited, GatheringMagic.com’s exclusive Limited column. At this point, we’ve all grown accustomed to the Magic 2015 Limited format. Today, I’d like to talk about my new favorite archetype in Magic 2015 Drafts, specifically focusing on one of the most underrated cards in M15 Limited, Brood Keeper.

Brood Keeper
Brood Keeper has a pretty huge range in terms of its effect on a game. If we’re unable to find an Aura, Brood Keeper is generally quite bad as a 2/3 for 4 mana. However, if we make one Dragon, the card suddenly skyrockets to first-pick quality. If we’re able to make two Dragons, the card approaches the power level of the best cards in the set. Let’s talk about drafting Brood Keeper.

When should we be picking Brood Keeper?

We need to take Brood Keeper early. Sure, there are cards like Cone of Flame, Triplicate Spirits, and Lightning Strike that we’ll be taking earlier, but Brood Keeper is the kind of card that has a lot of potential if we snap it up early in the first pack, as it lets us value cards like Hammerhand and Inferno Fist much higher. Sometimes, we’ll find ourselves in the second pack with no Auras and see a late Brood Keeper; there’s no harm in grabbing these, but they shouldn’t be prioritized over other playables. Generally speaking, if I have two Auras early in pack two, I’m likely to take Brood Keeper over everything except the absolute tier-one cards. The same is true if I have three Auras in pack three.

What colors should we be pairing with our Brood Keeper?

Green is the best second color if we’re lucky enough to grab multiple Brood Keepers early. Vineweft becomes a ridiculously powerful card that we can let take a lap around the table. Invasive Species lets us reset Hammerhand for extra Dragons and free attacks. It’s really hard for nongreen decks to beat the green decks on the ground. Players need flyers, and Brood Keeper wins the air war against just about everything when it’s triggered more than once. Normally, we’d fear cards like Accursed Spirit, but firebreathing Dragons are very difficult to race, even with a 3-power intimidate creature. The nice thing about the green version of the deck is that any random body we pick up is usually going to be pretty good in our deck. Forge Devil gives our Invasive Species more action, while Generator Servant and Borderland Marauder provide strong early plays.

Heliod's Pilgrim
White is also a reasonable pairing with Brood Keeper because of Heliod's Pilgrim, Divine Favor, and rares like Spectra Ward. Spectra Ward is obviously absurd and should be taken over every nonmythic in the set in my opinion. Heliod's Pilgrim may seem great with Brood Keeper (it is), but sometimes, chaining a 1/2 into a 2/3 on turns three and four isn’t good enough, especially when we don’t have a 1- or 2-drop. As the white deck, we really want to be convoking and ending games with Sanctified Charge a good portion of the time. Throwing Brood Keeper into the mix can be powerful, but we need to make sure that our deck actually has enough bodies to make our other cards relevant. The white Brood Keeper decks lose to the white Triplicate Spirit decks, but the Triplicate Spirit decks lose to the B/G decks that the Brood Keeper decks tend to beat. It’s easy to end up in red or white or both when drafting M15, but we need to identify which part of the red and white cards we’re looking for.

Okay, it’s pack one, and we just first-picked Brood Keeper. When should we be picking up the Auras to go with it?

After first-picking Brood Keeper, I’d be taking Inferno Fist over every common in the set except Lightning Strike. Hammerhand is very strong, too, but it’s good to prioritize the better creature cards over the filler Aura cards. I like taking Borderland Marauder and Forge Devil over Hammerhand, at least in pack one. Once we have a second color, we should prioritize the chase cards from that color: Elvish Mystic, Living Totem, Siege Wurm, and Invasive Species in green and Triplicate Spirits, Raise the Alarm, and Sungrace Pegasus in white. From here, it’s about striking a balance. We really want four or five Auras and fifteen or sixteen creatures in our final deck when we’re on the Brood Keeper plan. It’s okay for these numbers to be a bit higher or lower on either end, but it’s good to grab the cards that everyone wants early while letting the Divine Favors and Vinewefts of the world go around the table before we need to spend picks on them.

Ajani, Mentor of Heroes
Using this strategy, you’ll find that Brood Keeper is one of the strongest nonrare routes to victory in Magic 2015. It’s not quite as blockbuster-powerful as Raise the Alarm, Triplicate Spirits, or Sanctified Charge, but it gets the job done, and it’s much less drafted than the aforementioned strategy.

Drafting Auras is exciting. There’s a thrill about the massive upside and potential downside of the plays we’re making. Recently, Auras have been overlooked in Standard. All of my Brood Keeper Drafts have me thinking about a Standard deck that takes advantage of the potential card advantage power offered up by Heliod's Pilgrim.

I’ve been playing Naya Heliod's Pilgrim control on and off since the release of Magic 2015, and I’ve found the deck to be incredibly strong for the current metagame. Let’s explore auramancy in the current Standard format.

A lot of people want to go very deep on the enchantment plan when playing Heliod's Pilgrim. But I just want to find Chained to the Rocks and the occasional Unflinching Courage when my opponent is out of removal spells. I feel there’s a lot of power available to the midrange Naya strategy and that the more aggressive decks would be slowed down too much by including a 1/2 for 3 mana.

Ajani, Mentor of Heroes is perfect in a deck like this. It makes our Heliod's Pilgrim into a relevant body. It finds us Chained to the Rocks or Heliod's Pilgrim, which can find another Chained to the Rocks. It’s generally exactly the card we want to be playing in a deck like this.

Fleecemane Lion is another awesome inclusion here. If we’re ever able to activate the monstrosity ability, we can suit it up with Unflinching Courage and take over games very easily. As a 3/3 for 2 mana, the card provides the deck with a lot of the early pressure and defense that it needs to make it to the midgame, where it’s most powerful.

Voice of Resurgence
Voice of Resurgence is similarly awesome at taking us into the midgame, and it’s exceptionally strong against midrange black decks and W/U control decks that seem to be everywhere in the current format. It’s also a lot safer to put Unflinching Courage or Spectra Ward out when we’re hiding behind a Voice of Resurgence, forcing the opponent to give us a ton of power if he or she wants to interact.

Selesnya Charm deals with Obzedat, Ghost Council and Polukranos, World Eater. It lets our Voice of Resurgence, Courser of Kruphix, and Fleecemane Lion attack into opposing copies of Courser of Kruphix, and it often gives us a 2/2 vigilance on our opponent’s end step only to make it into a 5/5 attacker on the following turn with Ajani, Mentor of Heroes. It’s absolutely the perfect card for this deck.

Xenagos, the Reveler is another powerhouse against midrange black and W/U control. The card lets us ramp into huge turns and gives us a hasty creature to go along with Ajani’s +3/+3 ability. Again, the card is perfect for what the deck is trying to do.

I want a nice 6-drop one-of here. Originally, I was trying to make Elspeth, Sun's Champion work, but I’ve been extremely impressed with Aurelia, the Warleader. Two attack steps is a lot, especially when we’re activating Ajani, Mentor of Heroes. It’s more important to kill enemy Elspeths than to play our own with this deck.

Here’s the final list I settled on:

Playing with Auras is fun in every format. We don’t need to be going for hexproof cheese to win with Auras these days. Brood Keeper provides an excellent route to victory in Magic 2015 Limited while Heliod's Pilgrim and Ajani, Mentor of Heroes team up to crush the current Standard metagame. Long live auramancy!

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