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Non-Tribal Archetypes in Ixalan Draft

2017/10/23 00:00 

    • Grzegorz Kowalski
    • Hareruya Pros Blog

Hello again! Grzegorz Kowalski here, and today I'll be talking about Ixalan limited!

It's almost month since set released, so probably everyone knows how to properly build the most common (tribal) archetypes. If not, there is a lot of articles about it and you can easily find something for you.

Today I'll try to focus on something that Wizards didn't really have in mind while making set, or at least didn't want it to be obvious at first glance. I'll show you my five best non-tribal archetypes in Ixalan limited with short explanation, tips how to build it and sample 3-0 decklists.

But first, few general thoughts about this format. We're living in a very aggressive world, tempo oriented, where the best way to win is just curving out with some cheap tricks in the meantime. It doesn't mean that every deck has to look like this, it only means that if you want to build some fancy control deck, you need to keep it in mind, and be sure that you can answer those.

Next thing that is worth to remember while drafting - removal is way worse than usual, on the other hand, tricks are very good. In good aggressive deck I can imagine picking 《Vampire's Zeal》 or 《Skulduggery》 over 《Vanquish the Weak》 or even 《Contract Killing》. Because of that, auras are better than usual. I would never play 《Swashbuckling》 in regular limited format, but here I believe it's a decent common, that you can easily build 3-0 deck around it. Let's talk about top5 hidden Ixalan archetypes.

#5 BG Explore

It's not exactly hidden archetype, as most of the explore creatures, and every explore payoff card are green or black. You say explore, you think BG. On the other hand it doesn't belong to any tribal, so I believe it's worth to write about it.

Wildgrowth WalkerLurking ChupacabraMerfolk Branchwalker

Personally I think it's the most powerful strategy in the whole format. You can ask, why only 5th place? Answer is simple. It's incredible hard to build. Almost every green and black creature with "explore" keyword on it is good in general. Everyone will be happy to play 《Tishana's Wayfinder》, 《Merfolk Branchwalker》 or 《Seekers' Squire》 even if they don't care about explore at all, and you have to get critical mass of them if you want your deck to be good.

How I want to build my BG Explore:






When do I draft BG Explore?

It's almost impossible to force draft this archetype, as it's very hard to get. For me drafting BG usually happens, when I start with decent green or black cards and I get 《Wildgrowth Walker》 pick 4-8. Even after pick like this I'm not committing to explore deck, and just draft normally, maybe just prioritize explore cards a little bit more. Then if I see both black and green open or I can pick second 《Walker》, I want to focus on guide above and draft my deck this way.

Sample 3-0 list:


BG Explore

8 《Swamp》
8 《Forest》

-Lands (16)-

1 《Skittering Heartstopper》
2 《Seekers' Squire》
2 《Wildgrowth Walker》
2 《Ixalli's Diviner》
1 《Kitesail Freebooter》
1 《Merfolk Branchwalker》
3 《Tishana's Wayfinder》
1 《Ranging Raptors》
1 《Lurking Chupacabra》
1 《Emperor's Vanguard》
1 《Deathless Ancient》
1 《Colossal Dreadmaw》
1 《Thundering Spineback》

-Creatures (18)-
1 《Skulduggery》
1 《Vanquish the Weak》
1 《Contract Killing》
1 《Mark of the Vampire》
1 《Cobbled Wings》
1 《Treasure Map》

-Spells (6)-
hareruya

BG Explore

Click to enlarge

#4 Multicolor Blue Control

It's very similar to 5 color green ramps from previous set. Here, instead of green ramp spells we are using blue treasure makers that allow us to splash whatever we want from different colors.

Sailor of MeansProsperous PiratesPirate's Prize

The best way to build this archetype is to focus on two main colors and splash whatever is worth it. One of them obviously should be blue, the second color doesn't really matter, but from my experience the best are white or green. Both have good defensive early creatures that can help us survive till the moment, when we can win the game by casting our broken mythics.

How I want to build my blue control:




When do I draft Blue Control?

All my blue control decks started in the same way. I opened great rare, then got passed solid rares/uncommons in different colors. I tried to stay open and read signals and at some points I realized that blue is open.

Blue cards that you need to make this archetype viable are not great in general, so you can expect to pick them late and focus on picking best card in each pack without taking care about the color early. It is a great insurance when you want to stay open for a long time and you don't get any clear signals. This way you don't lose your early pick.

Sample 3-0 list:


Multicolor Blue Control

7 《Plains》
7 《Island》
1 《Mountain》
1 《Swamp》
1 《Unknown Shores》

-Lands (17)-

2 《Bishop's Soldier》
1 《Skyblade of the Legion》
2 《Emissary of Sunrise》
2 《Sailor of Means》
1 《Inspiring Cleric》
2 《Air Elemental》
1 《Prosperous Pirates》
1 《Vona, Butcher of Magan》

-Creatures (12)-
1 《Slash of Talons》
1 《River's Rebuke》
1 《Lightning Strike》
1 《Lookout's Dispersal》
1 《Chart a Course》
1 《Pirate's Prize》
1 《Settle the Wreckage》
1 《Ixalan's Binding》
1 《Pious Interdiction》
1 《Vance's Blasting Cannons》
1 《Vraska, Relic Seeker》

-Spells (11)-
hareruya

Multicolor Blue Control

Click to enlarge

#3 WB Midrange

A lot of players, including me, at the beginning of the format thought WB = vampires. Obviously if you can get enough vampires, you can easily build your deck around this tribal, and abuse synergy, but I've found out that Black and White have both great removal and powerful creatures, so you don't really have to care about synergy to build good WB deck.

Territorial HammerskullSkulduggeryPious Interdiction

You have all tools needed to build good midrange deck in general. Powerful bombs, hard removal, lifegain, card advantage. Everything on commons and uncommons.

How I want to build my WB midrange:




When do I draft WB Midrange?

Nothing special here. When both colors are open. I don't really need any synergy here, so I can decide to draft it relatively late.

It's also easy to switch from other colors, because you don't care about creature types in your deck and you don't have to focus on getting enough pirates for 《Dire Fleet Captain》 or dinosaurs for 《Tilonalli's Knight》.

Sample 3-0 list:


WB Midrange

9 《Swamp》
8 《Plains》

-Lands (17)-

1 《Skittering Heartstopper》
2 《Seekers' Squire》
1 《Bishop's Soldier》
1 《Wanted Scoundrels》
1 《Dire Fleet Hoarder》
2 《Emissary of Sunrise》
2 《Skymarch Bloodletter》
1 《Ruthless Knave》
1 《Imperial Aerosaur》
1 《Shining Aerosaur》
1 《Glorifier of Dusk》
1 《Deathless Ancient》

-Creatures (15)-
1 《Skulduggery》
1 《Vanquish the Weak》
1 《Vraska's Contempt》
1 《Call to the Feast》
1 《Contract Killing》
1 《Ixalan's Binding》
1 《Pious Interdiction》
1 《Treasure Map》

-Spells (8)-
hareruya

WB Midrange

Click to enlarge

#2 WU Air Force

I love to draft this archetype. Idea is simple, protect the ground with high toughness creatures and kill our opponent from the air.

Imperial AerosaurAir ElementalShining Aerosaur

Focus on good mana curve, tricks, and evasion early and you get your ground blockers late, as they are not very useful in other decks. Even 《Looming Altisaur》 is fine here, and I got him at 14th pick multiple times.

How I want to build my UW air force:





When do I draft WU Air Force?

I like to be aggressive in general, so I'm willing to pick 2 drops higher than average player. Because of that I often start my drafts with 《Adanto Vanguard》 or some other aggressive white stuff. Then if I see 《One With the Wind》 in the middle of pack one, I know that my pod is underestimating enchantments and I'm happy to go this way.

Sample 3-0 list:


WU Air Force

8 《Plains》
8 《Island》

-Lands (16)-

1 《Siren Stormtamer》
2 《Bishop's Soldier》
1 《Adanto Vanguard》
1 《Raptor Companion》
1 《Storm Fleet Aerialist》
2 《Territorial Hammerskull》
1 《Emissary of Sunrise》
1 《Watertrap Weaver》
1 《Siren Lookout》
1 《Sailor of Means》
1 《Imperial Aerosaur》
1 《Looming Altisaur》
1 《Tempest Caller》
1 《Air Elemental》

-Creatures (16)-
2 《Dive Down》
1 《Vampire's Zeal》
1 《Depths of Desire》
3 《One With the Wind》
1 《Pious Interdiction》

-Spells (8)-
hareruya

WU Air Force

Click to enlarge

Note that I didn't have a single rare here.

#1 BR Aggro

My favorite hidden archetype. It was super easy to draft on MODO, because all this deck needs are just picks 10-14.

Blight KeeperSwashbucklingSkittering Heartstopper

After Christian Calcano made 3-0 with this strategy on World Championships it's probably not a case anymore and people won't pass 《Swashbuckling》 that late but it is the real archetype anyway, even if you have to pick your one mana guys and enchantments a little bit higher.

How I want to build my BR Aggro:




When do I draft BR Aggro?

Same as with WU Air Force, I like to start a draft with good aggressive creatures, but if I have few of them (black or red) and get 《Swashbuckling》 and/or random one drops late in pack one I'll prioritize hyper aggressive cards in pack 2 and 3.

Sample 3-0 list:

Obviously there is only one possible sample list. All credits to Christian Calcano:


Christian Calcano - BR Aggro
World Championship 2017

9 《Swamp》
7 《Mountain》

-Lands (16)-

3 《Blight Keeper》
1 《Skittering Heartstopper》
1 《Kitesail Freebooter》
1 《Queen's Bay Soldier》
1 《Fathom Fleet Firebrand》
1 《Tilonalli's Knight》
1 《Dire Fleet Captain》
2 《Deadeye Tormentor》
1 《Skymarch Bloodletter》
1 《Headstrong Brute》
1 《Fathom Fleet Cutthroat》
1 《Sanctum Seeker》

-Creatures (15)-
2 《Skulduggery》
1 《Duress》
1 《Walk the Plank》
1 《Contract Killing》
4 《Swashbuckling》

-Spells (9)-
hareruya

BR Aggro

Click to enlarge


Thank you everyone for reading! I hope you enjoy this article. If you have any questions, feel free to ask me on twitter. I'll try to answer every single one!

See you next time!

Grzegorz.

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