Welcome back to Very Limited. Born of the Gods release events are happening all over the world this weekend. We’ll need to learn more than our opponents and hone our card-power-level identification skills if we want to maximize our chances at victory this weekend. We should also revisit my Limited strategy guide before the event. Today, we’ll be discussing the strategy behind drafting G/U decks with Born of the Gods thrown into the mix.
Nimbus Naiad. We were able to curve out with undercosted green commons such as Voyaging Satyr and practically-unbeatable board-presence commons such as Nessian Asp. Born of the Gods shakes up the Limited environment, but the G/U deck is still among the very best Limited archetypes there is.
We’ll be taking a look at the best cards for the archetype. Remember that we need our deck to have a good curve. Following a strict pick order when we move in on an archetype is fine in the first pack—and even at the start of the second pack—but as a Draft winds down, we’ll need to make sure we have a good number of 2- and 3-mana creatures if we want the deck to function properly.
We usually want to be playing eighteen lands in our G/U deck, especially if we’re packing multiple creatures with monstrosity. The G/U archetype encourages us to take cards that function as mana dumps in the mid-to-late periods of a game. The number of lands we play can easily fall to seventeen if we have more than one Voyaging Satyr or Kiora's Follower or a deck without monstrous creatures.
Let’s start by taking a look at the new rares in Born of the Gods that might encourage us to move in on this particular archetype.
Kiora, the Crashing Wave is a Planeswalker. Planeswalkers are very good in Limited. I haven’t had the chance to play with this card yet, but I’m confident that it warrants a first pick. As long as we can effectively protect it for three of our opponent’s turns, we get a 9/9 every turn thereafter. It’s nice that Kiora locks down one threat by itself in addition to ticking down a doomsday clock. There are situations in which we’ll want to be ticking down our Kiora, the Crashing Wave, but we should be aiming for the ultimate right away in Limited if we have interactive plays for the coming turns.
Arbiter of the Ideal is a dragon that lets us put cards into play off the top of our library. This is an obvious bomb, and while it may not be as insane as something like Consecrated Sphinx, it’s still a flying 6-drop that forces the opponent to have a very good removal spell if he or she doesn’t want it to take over the game.
Courser of Kruphix is really unfair. We can use this card to play lands off the top of our deck, thus accruing card advantage while increasing the quality of each draw step. Gaining life passively for putting lands into play allows us to have an edge against the decks that want to be racing us. We should be very happy to first-pick this card when the option is available.
Fated Intervention can swing the tides of a game very quickly. The ability to throw two surprise 3/3s onto the battlefield will usually accrue some amount of card advantage, and scrying 2 when we draw this off the top in the later stages of the game should set us up for victory in most spots.
Nessian Wilds Ravager is very strong, especially in a deck that has access to things like Nimbus Naiad, Flitterstep Eidolon, Stratus Walk, and Noble Quarry. The card is essentially a 6/6 Shriekmaw for 6 mana unless the opponent has something that deals with a 12/12. An opponent with good race math and enough chump-blocking fodder may also allow this to enter the battlefield as a 12/12 with the intention of blocking and trading blows, but the G/U deck offers up a lot in the way of punishing opponents for making that play.
Hunter's Prowess draws us an actual ton of cards in most spots in which we aren’t already losing. We should think of this card as a slightly worse Sea God's Revenge because it’s almost unbeatable when we’re winning, but it’s often unexciting when we’re falling behind.
Whelming Wave can pull us out of a problem situation pretty well. I like that we can recast things the turn we play our Whelming Wave, and I also enjoy that fact that we can value sea monsters a little bit higher once we’ve drafted this. The game will usually become a race when we pull the trigger on Whelming Wave. We can use it as an “EMERGENCY” red button, but that’s often like throwing a card away. The card becomes absolutely absurd if we can replay a threat and follow it up with something like Griptide.
Let’s move on to the most powerful uncommons we should be looking for when drafting the G/U deck.
Archetype of Imagination is absolutely ridiculous in the G/U deck. All of our giant monsters will be thrown up in the winds of awesomeness and shred our opponent’s life total to pieces. It’s not rocket science—I’ve been a fan of Levitation effects in G/U decks for the last decade or so. Attaching that and an anti-Levitation for the opponent onto a 3-power flyer is extremely impressive.
Raised by Wolves is another huge uncommon here. For 5 mana, we gain at least 6 points of power spread across three different bodies—sometimes, we’ll find ourselves gaining 7 or 8 points of power. At least 2 points of this power are headed for the red zone the turn we cast this spell. We trigger heroic and complicate race math a lot when we play this card. This is definitely worth our first pick.
Kiora's Follower is very good in Limited, essentially giving our best creature vigilance in a pinch, triggering inspired, or ramping us into our 4- and 5-drops as a Voyaging Satyr would, all while offering up a 2/2 body for 2 mana.
Let’s take a look at the best commons in Born of the Gods for the G/U deck.
Chorus of the Tides gives us a very efficient, evasive body for 4 mana, conveniently hitting the board on turn three if we have a Voyaging Satyr on the second turn. We’ll probably end up with a few pump spells, bestow creatures, and tricks at the end of the Draft. That being said, this is a very solid Limited card, and we should be happy to take it very high.
Nyxborn Triton may not be as good as Nimbus Naiad, but filling our 5-mana slot with bestow creatures, Nessian Asp, Raised by Wolves, Centaur Battlemaster, and rares is what we want to be doing when playing the G/U deck. The other available 5-mana creatures are fine, but it’s really not worth using them as early picks.
Pheres-Band Tromper is great in the G/U deck. It carries—and curves into—a bestowed Nimbus Naiad better than any other common in either set. We can value pump spells and tricks slightly higher when we have Pheres-Band Tromper in our deck because our opponent will always be looking to trade with it before it starts growing huge.
Let’s examine our pick orders for Theros and Born of the Gods when drafting the G/U deck. We should be trying to make a strong curve, but the bestow creatures let us fill multiple spots on our curve at the same time and allow us to be less rigid with our picks. As an aside, many readers were surprised that I ranked Sea God's Revenge below Thassa's Emissary two weeks ago. I stand firmly by this assessment and believe the blue Emissary to be the best uncommon in either set that isn’t Keepsake Gorgon.
Our pick orders for Born of the Gods (in descending order of power level):
Kiora, the Crashing Wave, Arbiter of the Ideals, Courser of Kruphix, Fated Intervention, Nessian Wilds Ravager, Hunter's Prowess, Whelming Wave
Uncommons: Archetype of Imagination, Raised by Wolves, Kiora's Follower, Aerie Worshippers, Flitterstep Eidolon, Graverobber Spider, Unravel the Aether, Pheres-Band Raiders, Noble Quarry, Eternity Snare, Oracle's Insight
Our pick orders for Theros (in descending order of power level):
Polukranos, World Eater, Prognostic Sphinx, Arbor Colossus, Bow of Nylea, Shipbreaker Kraken, Boon Satyr, Master of Waves, Bident of Thassa, Sylvan Caryatid, Curse of the Swine, Thassa, God of the Sea, Mistcutter Hydra
Commons: Nessian Asp, Voyaging Satyr, Griptide, Voyage's End, Nimbus Naiad, Leafcrown Dryad, Time to Feed, Nessian Courser, Prescient Chimera, Sedge Scorpion, Nylea's Disciple, Agent of Horizons, Aqueous Form, Omenspeaker, Vulpine Goliath, Pheres-Band Centaurs, Fade into Antiquity, Savage Surge
G/U is among the most powerful Draft archetypes in the new Draft format. Our early knowledge of the archetype gives us a big advantage going into the release weekend’s Draft events. Play tight, and pick smart; the crashing wave will deliver.