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Drafting Black/Green

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Welcome back to Very Limited. Last week, we talked about drafting U/B, arguably the best deck in Theros Limited. Unfortunately, cards such as Sudden Storm and Retraction Helix have risen significantly in most players’ pick orders, and it seems blue is finally being given the respect it deserves in this format. It isn’t odd to see the same players forcing W/U in every Draft. Today, we’re going to be discussing the perfect counterstrategy to the W/U drafter. Being sandwiched between two, three, or even four players who favor W/X Heroic decks is a gift. A powerful B/G deck looms in the shadows, and it’s ready to take on any amount of heroism.

What Does the B/G Deck Want to Do?

The B/G deck looks to trade aggressively in the early game and dominate the midgame with large, undercosted monsters that blank the opponent’s board presence. Large monsters coupled with removal, tricks, and disruption is very strong in a format where many are trying to force aggressive strategies.

When Do We Draft B/G?

It’s best to stay very open in the first pack, but there are situations in which we can adjust our color preferences based on the players around us. Many of us have been drafting with the same group of local players, and we have solid understandings of what each player likes to be drafting. We can lean on black and green if we know we’re sitting between players who prefer W/U Heroic. In most situations, though, we’ll simply be taking the best card out of the pack throughout Born of the Gods and move into B/G if the opportunity presents itself.

Nyxborn Wolf
Spiteful Returned
Snake of the Golden Grove

Pick Orders

Born of the Gods

Herald of Torment
Let’s take a look at our B/G pick orders for Born of the Gods. We’ll start with the best and discuss all the cards we’re willing to play:

Herald of Torment is still the best black card we can hope to open in Born of the Gods.

Courser of Kruphix offers up a better-than-respectable 2/4 body for 3 mana and completely dominates most games in which it’s able to sit in play for a few turns. Free cards are always good, but gaining them in the form of lands off the top of our library is even better. The card improves the quality of our draws, gains us life, gives us a great defensive body, and, most importantly, essentially lets us draw a free card every turn we’re lucky enough to find a land on top.

Gild is an unconditional removal spell that helps us ramp into big monstrous activations or 6-drops.

Hunter's Prowess can win a game by itself. It’s obviously bad when we don’t have a board, but the B/G deck is usually playing seventeen to nineteen creatures, so not having a guy isn’t usually a problem. Connecting for full value with this card usually wins the game if it was remotely close.

Hunter's Prowess
Next is Fate Unraveler. This card has steadily risen in a lot of players’ pick orders. It’s strong in any deck, but it’s particularly strong in a deck like B/G, for which the board is easy to stall. It’s nice to have a way to force action on the opponent, and punishing him or her for his or her draw step is very nice. Also, 3/4s are well-positioned in the format in general.

Bile Blight is a great Instant-speed spot removal spell in a format in which such things are few and far between. We should be snapping this up over everything except the best rares when drafting B/G.

We all know that Raised by Wolves is a high-quality uncommon, but a lot of people tend to complain about it leading to blowouts in their opponents’ favor. We can play around whatever our opponent plans on doing to overcome the 6 power we gain across three bodies with this card. I like attacking aggressively with my creature that’s been Raised by Wolves, forcing my opponent to deal with the large threat I’ve created while threatening a backbreaking Pharika's Mender when he or she uses more than one card to deal with it.

Nessian Wilds Ravager is a big boy, and a lot of the time, our opponent is going to let us fight to deal with the impending abyss that a 12/12 could embody. Be careful when the opponent lets us have a 12/12. This means one of two things: He or she is either attempting a race with evasion or he or she has a removal spell that actually deals with the 12/12. We can play around things like Divine Verdict if we are able to untap with the 12/12, and we can manipulate race math accordingly if the opponent starts going all-in on a Wingsteed Rider.

Graverobber Spider
Graverobber Spider is a great way for the B/G deck to deal with flyers, and its board presence in the endgame is often unbeatable.

Fated Intervention may be difficult to cast, but it’s often a blowout. This card has steadily declined in our pick orders as we’ve seen it become stranded in hand time after time.

Spiteful Returned is quickly becoming among the most sought-after uncommons in Born of the Gods Limited. The card is best in a U/B or W/B strategy with a decent amount of evasion, but it’s going to be good in any deck.

Noble Quarry is at its best in the B/G deck, where it has a lot of deathtouch to play with. Bestowing Baleful Eidolon on turn five and then Noble Quarry on turn six is among of the most appealing combos available in the format, and it’s pretty easy to pick up both cards if we’re B/G.

Nyxborn Wolf is an efficient bestow creature, which means it’s going to be very good in any deck that can cast it.

Hero of Leina Tower
Hero of Leina Tower is best in the G/W or G/U Heroic strategies, but it can still end up being very strong in a deck like this if we’re playing three or four pump spells and a few creatures with bestow.

Scourge of Skola Vale is a great way for the B/G deck to break through and win a race. I like leaving this guy untapped so it can gobble up a creature that falls victim to a combat trick.

Asphyxiate lets us deal with the bomb flyer our opponent plays on his or her sixth turn quite nicely. It’s hard to commit an early pick to this card, and it’s difficult to find it late, but it’s always comforting when we see one of these around fourth or fifth pick.

Swordwise Centaur comes down and starts hacking away at the opponent’s life total right away. Having 3 power for 2 mana is a hell of a deal, and being on the offensive is important in this Limited format.

Shrike Harpy can be an Edict surprisingly often here. Players often assume that their random 3/3s are useless when we have a few 4/5s or 5/5s in play, but the creeping board presence we accrue through a card like Shrike Harpy is quite good.

Pheres-Band Tromper is a very reasonable 4-drop that’s going to be making the cut in just about every B/G deck.

Nessian Demolok is a fine body, but we shouldn’t be grabbing it too early when there are so many cards competing for our 5 slot.

Snake of the Golden Grove is similarly good, but again, our 5 slot is going to be crowded, and we should be looking to pick these up in our middle picks.

Ashiok's Adept
Mortal's Resolve is a great trick in the B/G deck: It works nicely with Sedge Scorpion, Baleful Eidolon, and giant monsters.

Setessan Starbreaker does consistent good work and becomes a lot better in a deck that needs to minimize the size of opposing flyers to contain them with Snakes and Spiders.

Ashiok's Adept is a fine defensive body that’s a good building block for our bestow creatures.

Pheres-Band Raiders can be a fine top end to an aggressive B/G build.

Aspect of Hydra can range from absolutely awesome to miserably unplayable. I wouldn’t bother taking this over something worthwhile unless I had a Swordwise Centaur and some other green cards already. We should be trying to wheel these to pick them up late.

Having one copy of Unravel the Aether in our main deck is fine, but we shouldn’t be using an early pick on it.

Drown in Sorrow is a very strong sideboard card in the B/G deck, but we shouldn’t take it early. It might make our main deck depending on how our deck shakes out, but we’ll usually want our copies of Voyaging Satyr and Blood-Toll Harpy to stick around.

I wouldn’t be thrilled to be playing any of the other black or green cards from Born of the Gods in the B/G deck.

Theros

Polukranos, World Eater
Now let’s take a look at our pick orders for Theros. Again, we’ll start with the strong cards:

Polukranos, World Eater offers up an insane 5/5 body for 4 mana that grows even bigger while blowing up some portion of the opponent’s board on the following turn. This is definitely the best card in Theros for the B/G deck.

Arbor Colossus may be difficult to cast, but having a 6/6 for 5 with reach that can snipe any flyer out of the air is pretty impressive.

Abhorrent Overlord wins games.

Agent of the Fates is among the best rares in Theros. It’s often weaker in B/G than in other strategies, but we’ll still be very happy to first-pick it.

Keepsake Gorgon is a beating. In most cases, it dominates the board when we cast it, and it clears the way for our giant monsters to finish off an opponent in the late game.

Boon Satyr can be used as a removal spell or it can swing a race drastically in our favor by flashing it onto an attacker. Definitely worth a first pick.

Hero's Downfall is unconditional and inexpensive spot removal in a format in which that can’t be overlooked.

Nighthowler
Nighthowler is among the best midgame top-decks in the format. We should be very happy to pick this up as early as first pick.

Bow of Nylea can dominate a game. It’s not great when we’re behind, but if the game is close or we’re already winning, it makes things near impossible for our opponent.

Hythonia the Cruel is just plain mean. We gain a giant deathtouch body that can blow up the whole board while growing huge if things get out of hand.

Erebos's Emissary is the best bestow creature for the B/G deck.

We’re going to list Gray Merchant of Asphodel very high here because it’s often worth it to grab these early and try to pick up multiples. The card is obviously better if we’re heavier black than green with our permanents, but it’s always worth the pick in this deck.

Whip of Erebos is great when combined with fatties. The lifelink often pushes the game out of reach for our opponents, and the constant barrage of zombie monsters will probably be enough to close an endgame.

Nessian Asp
Nessian Asp is a necessary piece of the B/G puzzle. The card gives us tremendous game against opposing flyers while offering the ability to end a game in a pinch when it goes monstrous.

Sylvan Caryatid ramps us, blocks well, and fixes our mana. This card is consistently impressive when we pick it up.

Voyaging Satyr is like a slightly worse Sylvan Caryatid that can attack for 1 or trade with some things.

Leafcrown Dryad is an inexpensive bestow creature that helps us against flyers while being very mana-efficient in every regard.

Nylea's Emissary lets us trample over the competition.

Mistcutter Hydra gives us a nice mana dump that is able to attack right away. Against blue opponents, it happens to just win the game in a lot of spots. We can usually expect at least three blue drafters—usually four or five—at any given Draft table. This makes this card pretty absurd.

Insatiable Harpy is a very high pick for us. We want to be bestowing stuff onto this aggressively for free wins.

Nemesis of Mortals is very big and often cost not so much mana. It’s very easy to trick people into thinking we don’t have monstrous mana with this in the midgame.

Mogis's Marauder
Mogis's Marauder is a great way for the B/G deck to close a game when it stalls up the board.

Baleful Eidolon is always very good in a deck like this, but I would take it even higher if I had been able to acquire a Noble Quarry or two.

Sedge Scorpion is a great early bestow target that can trade with anything on the opposing side of the table. Having a few of these makes the game nearly unwinnable for opponents without a sufficient number of flyers.

Pharika's Mender is a 4/3 Gravedigger for 5 mana. It combos especially well with Raised by Wolves, Sedge Scorpion, and Baleful Eidolon.

Anthousa, Setessan Hero makes attacking very dangerous for our opponent. It’s also a very nice 4/5 body. Try slow-rolling tricks if we’re able to survive with Anthousa and a lot of lands. Actually using the heroic on this for value will often win the game.

Time to Feed is a great spot-removal spell in a deck like this.

Nessian Courser is a very respectable 3/3 for 3 mana.

Hopeful Eidolon
Hopeful Eidolon may not be black or green, but it’s among the best splashes in this type of deck. We need ways to win the race against decks with a lot of evasion, and Hopeful Eidolon breaks serve in decisive fashion. We can usually splash for this off things like Nylea's Presence, Traveler's Amulet, or Sylvan Caryatid or Temple of Plenty if we’re lucky.

Pharika's Cure is a decent spot-removal spell that helps us deal with early evasive threats like Vaporkin.

Sip of Hemlock may cost 6 mana, but it deals with our opponent’s best threat while sneaking in a little extra damage.

Nylea's Disciple is good at winning races and offers up a very reasonable body for its mana cost.

Feral Invocation is a great trick that becomes better if we’re packing heroic creatures.

Boon of Erebos is another incredible combat trick.

Blood-Toll Harpy gives us some much-needed evasion.

Read the Bones
Read the Bones is worse here than it is in a deck that has access to cards like Griptide and Voyage's End, but it’s still among the best card-advantage or library-manipulation tools, and it’s a very nice midgame top-deck.

Thoughtseize is a good Limited card. We don’t want this to be affecting our curve, so try saving it for a turn when it doesn’t affect what we’d be playing.

Disciple of Phenax lets us rip apart the opponent’s hand and leaves him or her dead to our gigantic monsters.

Savage Surge is a nice combat trick that can be used as a great spot-removal spell in the late game, when we’re mostly sure our opponent doesn’t have a trick.

Karametra's Acolyte can bring us in range to monstrous things very quickly; it’s great in the midgame, but often bad early and late.

The Gods Erebos, God of the Dead and Nylea, God of the Hunt aren’t great in most Limited decks and probably shouldn’t make the cut. There are certainly exceptions, though, and we should be happy to grab a Nylea, God of the Hunt very early if we’re packing a bunch of Swordwise Centaurs.

Staunch-Hearted Warrior
Staunch-Hearted Warrior, Centaur Battlemaster, and the Ordeals are all strong cards, especially when played alongside each other, but that’s usually not what the B/G deck is trying to do. There are exceptions, though, and we shouldn’t be afraid to take these cards if our deck is going in that direction.

Felhide Minotaur, Artisan's Sorrow, and Vulpine Goliath are all defensible main-deck inclusions, but we shouldn’t be taking them over the cards listed above.

Nylea's Presence is a fine inclusion here that can help us splash things like Hopeful Eidolon if we need to.

Commune with the Gods can be very strong if we have a few Pharika's Mender or a bomb of some variety, but we shouldn’t bother taking it unless there’s absolutely nothing else for us.




B/G is among the best controlling strategies in BTT. The deck is particularly well-positioned against groups of players who overvalue the W/U deck. I strongly recommend giving this strategy a try the next time you’re sitting to the left of the W/U-every-time guy.


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