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Gatecrash Limited

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Hey there! I hope you found some of the thoughts I had on generating ideas helpful. There are many ways you can refine your own process of creating decks, and the ones I presented were just a few of them. This week, I will be taking more of a practical approach to Magic, looking at some of the strategies available in Gatecrash Limited. I will be presenting some of the strategies that I have found to be good and discuss which commons you should be keeping your eyes on while drafting.

London

Homing Lightning
This past weekend, I was able to play a lot of Magic at Grand Prix: London. Most of this was Limited, and it greatly helped me form a better understanding of the format than the two prerelease Sealed events and two Drafts I had done before the weekend. The tournament went badly for me, partially because the Sealed pool I received was very bad, and five of the six rares were unplayable. I did try my best, but I succumbed to a series of mulligans and just superior decks, and I dropped after picking up my third loss in the eighth round.

I ended up building a Simic deck that awkwardly enough had to splash for Molten Primordial, Homing Lightning, and Zhur-Taa Swine. I’m normally against splashing, in particular cards with two colored mana symbols. I think that it is often a very bad idea, and you set yourself up for some very bad draws, but sometimes, the best shot you have is to get plain lucky. This was the case for me at Grand Prix: London, as my pool was not deep enough to play a solid two-colored deck, so I had to be creative. The red cards were the most powerful I had available, and I had three fixers in Gruul Guildgate, Verdant Haven, and Prophetic Prism. One thing I noticed during the weekend is that Greenside Watcher combined with Gates can greatly help you to cast splash cards, as drawing a single Gate of the correct color along with the Watcher means you have access to two of that mana.

I had a certain confidence in the deck, even though I realized I had next to no answers to opposing bombs. What the deck had going for it, however, was that it had quite a lot of good creatures that were not instantly outclassed when the game dragged on. I see this as a problem for mediocre aggro decks in Sealed. Several games I played ended up with both of us just playing creature after creature, and some of my better guys such as Sapphire Drake and Nimbus Swimmer allowed me to win the long game. If I had a mediocre Boros deck, these games would surely have ended with me losing due to trading in the early game and then becoming stuck with inferior creatures past turn five.

I also liked that the deck had a certain degree of trickiness to it, with various bloodrush creatures, Burst of Strength, and some other tricks. This allowed me to sometimes outplay the opponent and win games in which my overall power level was lower than that of my opponent.

Getting in There

Mugging
Playing Boros in Gatecrash Limited is a lot like this song, with battalion knocking down the door. I really don’t think the Boros guild offers anything other than aggression, and in a way, the same is true for Gruul. Simic is a bit slower, but many of the cards are aggressive as well. Dimir can also excel in the aggro department, with the creatures making up for what they lack in sheer power with some good evasion. Of all the five guilds, Orzhov is the only one that doesn’t really work as an aggro deck at all.

For Boros, I think the most important thing is to pick up quality creatures early, especially 2-drops. The deck needs quite a lot of creatures to be good, preferably around sixteen to eighteen. The only noncreature common I like picking over the 2-drops is Mugging, as it allows for very big tempo swings in the midgame. The best commons in my opinion are Wojek Halberdiers, Daring Skyjek, Skyknight Legionnaire, Mugging, and Court Street Denizen, with a lot of other solid commons and some very good uncommons available.

Gruul is a bit similar, as you really want to play a lot of creatures. The bloodrush mechanic helps make excess creatures good as pump spells, so cards like Zhur-Taa Swine and Slaughterhorn that are good as both creatures and pump spells should be picked early. The best Gruul commons are Mugging, Ember Beast, Zhur-Taa Swine, Slaughterhorn, and Disciple of the Old Ways.

Shadow Slice
Drafting an aggressive Dimir deck can be quite a challenge, and it is not as straightforward as drafting a good Boros or Gruul deck. You need a good balance of evasion guys, defensive guys, and removal, as you can’t really compete with the pure speed of Boros. Deathcult Rogue is perhaps the best evasion creature, as in most matchups, it’s an unblockable 2/2 for 3, and the mana cost is very easy for a pure Dimir deck. You can then start all kinds of cipher shenanigans with the Deathcult Rogue. Shadow Slice is very good in this kind of archetype, as it puts a very fast clock on your opponent, and it can be compared to Madcap Skills in a way, as both essentially offer 3 additional power to the creature. The best commons for an aggressive Dimir deck are Deathcult Rogue, Grisly Spectacle, Hands of Binding, Basilica Screecher, and Shadow Slice.

Simic is a tough guild to draft, as you need a very strict mana curve to make the most of your evolve creatures. You should keep a close eye on the power and toughness of the creatures you have so that you don’t end up in a situation where you won’t be able to evolve your creatures because too many of them share the same power or toughness. This is one of the reasons I like the evolve creatures that are decent on their own, such as Shambleshark and Crocanura. The best commons for Simic are Shambleshark, Ivy Lane Denizen, Drakewing Krasis, Frilled Oculus, and Pit Fight. The reason I like Pit Fight in Simic compared to the other guilds that could play it is that Simic’s creatures grow quite large, and you don’t have access to any other removal, so picking up the removal offered to you is important.

Staying in Control

Basilica Screecher
Orzhov’s is the premier control strategy in Gatecrash Limited. The extort mechanic is very powerful, especially when you control two or three creatures with extort. Once every spell you play drains for 2, there are not very many cards that you will lose to unless you are very behind on the board. The best commons for Orzhov are Grisly Spectacle, Basilica Guards, Basilica Screecher, Kingpin's Pet, and Executioner's Swing. Orzhov’s is a deck that needs a bit more removal than the other decks, so just as in any Draft format, you should be picking removal very high.

As I mentioned earlier, Dimir is also well suited for a more controlling role, and I’ve drafted it successfully as few times. Putting the deck together can be difficult, and it is one of those archetypes that relies a lot on uncommons and rares to make it actually good. You most often want some finisher like a Primordial to be able to actually win games.

I think a controlling Orzhov deck is the best archetype in this format, along with an aggressive Boros. These two archetypes have some very good commons along with powerful uncommons and rares, and the general game plan is super-solid. The other guilds are not quite as stable, even though they have potential.

Going for Gold

In just a few days, Pro Tour: Gatecrash in Montreal will begin. I’m looking for a solid finish to help me get that much closer to reaching Gold this season. We have had a few good decks so far, but I’m not yet sure what I’m actually playing. Next week, I’ll most likely talk about the Pro Tour and what I learned about the new Standard format.

As always, any ideas, questions, and comments are welcome. You can get in touch either via Twitter or through the comments section below.

Thanks for reading,

Max

@thebloom_ on Twitter

Maxx on Magic Online

You can find my music on: http://soundcloud.com/bloomlive

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