New Limited Archetypes Ascending

Posted in Event Coverage on February 10, 2012

By Steve Sadin

In every Limited format, there are going to be color combinations that work really well together. Sometimes color combinations will soar to the top thanks to cards like Travel Preparations and Stromkirk Captain, which give you an incentive for playing two (or more) colors. While other times, you will find decks like Blue-Green Mill Yourself and Blue-Red Burning Vengeance which excel because of synergies between colors that go beyond merely having good multi-colored cards.

There's still a lot of time for players to discover new archetypes in Dark Ascension Booster Draft, but even with the format in its infancy, players have found consistent success with decks that were scarcely playable in Innistrad.

For example: werewolves have finally clawed their way into the spotlight.


Werewolves made out like thieves in this set, with powerful new archetype staples like Immerwolf.

After a rough start in Standard, four-time Pro Tour Top 8 competitor Patrick Chapin 3-0'd his pod with an aggressive Red-Green Werewolf deck.

Patrick Chapin's Red-Green Werewolves

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While it was certainly possible to draft a good Red-Green Werewolf deck in Innistrad, it's gotten a lot easier since the release of Dark Ascension. The introduction of Wild Hunger and Hinterland Hermit at the common slot, as well as Immerwolf at uncommon, have been huge boons for the archetype as they are premium cards for the deck that werewolf drafters can reliably get late because they are unappealing for players who aren't howling at the moon.

Don't be surprised if you see werewolf decks winning a lot of your drafts in the coming weeks. They're the real deal.


Stromkirk Captain
Vampires, anyone?

Black has gotten a lot better in Limited since the release of Dark Ascension, and red has gotten a bit better as well, so it shouldn't come as a huge surprise to people that black-red draft decks also tend to be quite a bit better now than they are in triple Innistrad drafts.

Four-time Grand Prix Top 8 competitor Matthias Kunzler went 3-0 in his first draft of the weekend with a black-red deck that might not look fantastic at first glance, but actually has quite a bit of play thanks to his abundance of removal spells.

Matthias Kunzler's Black-Red

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Unless you happen to get a bunch of Vampires that work well together and/or a ton of aggressive, evasive, creatures like Highborn Ghoul, you shouldn't expect your black-red deck to match the creature quality of the other decks at your table. But even though black and red don't have the best creatures, the relative ease with which you can fill your deck with removal spells makes black-red a force to be reckoned with in Dark Ascenion.


Lingering Souls
White and black may not have a lot of synergies, but its hard to argue with sheer power.

Outside of a couple of sets that have had a bunch of good white-black gold cards or explicit tribal synergies (such as Clerics in the long-ago Onslaught block), white-black tends to be one of the weakest color pairs in Limited.

But between white's incredible depth in Innistrad and the abundance of high quality black cards in Dark Ascension, white-black has established itself as one of the go-to draft archetypes amongst the pro community.

Jon Finkel went 3-0 to end Day One with a white-black deck that he had been less than optimistic about throughout the draft.

Jon Finkel's White-Black

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And at the same time, Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa found himself 3-0ing with a white-black deck splashing green that also fell seemed a bit underwhelming.

Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa's White-Black-Green

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While white and black might not have a ton of good synergies in Dark Ascension Limited, the raw power of these two colors allows players to put together some pretty impressive decks.

So if you find yourself getting passed a bunch of good black removal spells in Dark Ascension along with a bunch of good white fliers, don't be afraid to play them together. As long as you don't fill your deck up with too many conflicting mana costs (Highborn Ghouls, and Chapel Geists should stick to separate corners whenever possible), your deck should be pretty good.


Markov Warlord
Blue and red have the ability to go aggressive or go long, depending on how the cards in the draft flow.

For years, blue-red has been a pet deck of mine in just about every draft format, but it's very rare that the color combination is good enough for it to gain universal appeal.

The ability to mix red burn with blue evasion creatures, or aggressive red creatures with blue bounce spells, allows me to put together decks that I can scratch out a lot of wins with. I tend to be able to win with these decks not because the archetype itself is particularly powerful, but because it isn't that powerful. When few other players are looking to draft blue-red, I am typically able to get the pieces that I want with relative ease.

But the release of Dark Ascension has made blue-red into a certifiable powerhouse that I would recommend even to players who don't have an affinity for the color combination.

Adam Yurchick and Michael Jacob were two of many players who 3-0'd their first draft pods with blue-red concoctions, and they did so with two very different looking decks.

Adam Yurchick's Blue-Red Control

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Adam Yurchick went undefeated with a somewhat controlling blue-red deck that looked to close out the game with Balefire Dragon, Instigator Gang, or a well timed Markov Warlord, while Michael Jacob went 3-0 with a aggressive deck that looked to get a ton of mileage out of its two copies of Silent Departure.

Michael Jacob's Blue-Red Aggro

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So if you find yourself with an opportunity to put together a good black-red, white-black, or blue-red deck in your next Dark Ascension Booster Draft. you should go for it! They're a lot better now than they were a few weeks ago.

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