Out of all the formats that the World Championship competitors have to tackle this week, Magic 2014 Limited is the newest one. Allow me to introduce all ten two-color combinations for this brand new draft format.
Being familiar with all the two-color combinations is important because, contrary to Modern Masters and Return to Ravnica block draft, it is very difficult to draft a deck with three or more colors in M14. According to Limited genius and newly minted Hall of Famer Ben Stark, who posted a Top 8 finish in the M14 Limited Grand Prix in Rimini just last weekend, most of the M14 drafts will lead to a two-color deck. "There is not enough mana fixing to draft a Five-color green deck. Sure, there's Lay of the Land, but that's not enough, especially with all double-colored cards," he explained. "As for going mono-color, there's hardly any reward for doing so. I remember that back in Kamigawa draft, you could get rewarded for going mono-color with cards like Charge Across the Araba. That was an insane payoff. In M14, the only real reward at common is a flimsy 0/1 with firebreathing, and that's not enough," he said, referring to Dragon Hatchling.
"I consider blue to be the best color, followed by green, but the Scroll Thiefs and Archeomancers in blue are best when paired with the removal colors, not green." Stark was hinting at the fact that in almost all of the two-color combinations, there are cards that shoot or down in up in value, as well as interesting synergies. To highlight those, I picked two cards for each color combination that showcase a color combination's identity and/or synergy.
Together with Pitchborn Devils, Altar's Reap, Dragon Egg, Gnawing Zombie, and many, many other cards, there's a strong sacrifice theme in Black-Red. If you have both Act of Treason and Blood Bairn in play, the red sorcery turns into a removal spell that additionally damages your opponent with a free attack, all for the low price of three mana. Likewise, if you sacrifice a Dragon Egg to an Altar's Reap, you turn the drawback of Altar's Reap into an advantage. These plays are awesome! With synergies like these, it is not surprising that many players touted Black-Red Sacrifice as their favorite archetype in M14.
Compared to Black-Red, there's not a whole lot of synergy to be found in Black-Green. Like the classic Rock decks of old, Black-Green is just a collection of solid, stand-alone cards: efficient green creatures and powerful black removal. One thing to note is that many black cards (such as Corpse Hauler and Nightwing Shade) are mana hungry, so the green acceleration (such as Elvish Mystic and Verdant Haven) can help out.
Along with Mark of the Vampire, Pacifism, Blightcaster, and Ajani's Chosen, the enchantment theme is one that should not be underestimated. Not many other players at the table will be interested in Auramancer, but if it can return a solid removal spell in Quag Sickness upon entering the graveyard, it shoots up in value.
Black and Blue try to fill the same role, both containing flying creatures, removal, and card advantage. There's a lot of overlap in the functionality of black-blue: take Accursed Spirit and Nephalia Seakite, Divination and Mind Rot, and Claustrophobia and Quag Sickness, for instance. These are all very similar cards, which means that the colors do not shore up each other's weaknesses. Nevertheless, there are some synergies to be found: there's the wombo-combo of Disperse followed up by Mind Rot, as well as Archeomancer bringing back Doom Blade.
Gruul smash! Beefy beast, attack! Literally everyone makes Marauding Maulhorn angry. I am not entirely sure how Advocate of the Beast manages to calm it down, but then again, do you even want to keep it leashed? Grrr...ATTACK!
Red-White doesn't give the opponent many chances to block. The synergy between red's token machines (Young Pyromancer and Molten Birth) and the +2/+0 part of Fortify is also quite powerful. It solidifies Red/White as an aggressive archetype.
Red creatures typically have high power but low toughness. In M14, Regathan Firecat and Marauding Maulhorn are prime examples. When paired with blue, these creatures turn Time Ebb, a solid card by itself, into a Lava Axe. That's a good path to victory. In similar vein, pairing Scroll Thief with Shock can clear the way for massive card advantage as well.
Blue-green is very tempo-oriented, and Trained Condor is at its best when it gives wings to big green creatures. The same holds for tempo cards like Frost Breath. By the way, have you ever enchanted Scroll Thief with Trollhide? Ding!
Green/White has no shortage of solid creatures, including some of the best Slivers. One of the weakness of this color combination, however, is that it lacks ways to deal with opposing bombs. Hence, Green-White drafters have to place an even bigger premium on the situational removal spells like Hunt the Weak and Celestial Flare.
Blue-white is all about the old-school strategy of gumming up the ground with huge blockers and flying over for the win. This has been a solid strategy for decades, and it is still perfectly viable in M14 Limited.
So there you have it: all the ten two-color combinations in M14. With knowledge of all the synergies and card valuations under your belt, be sure to try out the format by firing up a draft on Magic Online!