Posted in PRO TOUR MAGIC 2015 - COVERAGE - EVENTS on August 2, 2014

By Adam Styborski

Stybs has played Magic the world over, writing and drafting as part of the event coverage team and slinging Commander everywhere his decks will fit.

What sets up a solid Draft deck? Is it removal? Is it the creatures? Is it base deck color? Is it the combination of colors? While these questions are broad they're also critical to have answers for. With six rounds of Magic 2015 Draft in the book for this Pro Tour, it makes sense to take a moment and look at what so many matches of Limited can tell us.

Our blush is going big: What are the colors and archetypes most represented at 3-0 records?

Color Combination 3-0 in Draft 1 3-0 in Draft 2 Total % of All 3-0's
White-Blue 4 5 9 12.9%
White-Black 7 2 9 12.9%
White-Red 6 4 10 14.3%
White-Green 9 5 14 20.0%
Blue-Black 2 1 3 4.3%
Blue-Red 3 4 7 10.0%
Blue-Green 4 0 4 5.7%
Black-Red 3 4 7 10.0%
Black-Green 0 0 0 0.0%
Red-Green 3 3 6 8.6%
Mono-White 1 0 1 1.4%
Mono-Blue 0 0 0 0.0%
Mono-Black 0 0 0 0.0%
Mono-Red 0 0 0 0.0%
Mono-Green 0 0 0 0.0%
Total 42 28 70 100.0%

In the first Draft there was a clear skew towards white-based decks. White-Green was a fifth of all 3-0 decks, and all white-inclusive decks together were a whopping 64% of 3-0's. The next closest standout colors were green and red at 38% and 35% respectively. Given what the white-green combination helped green stand out so much one can deduce that red itself must be a strong color as well to have an effect outside of white.

The second Draft held a similar tale: White-equipped decks were 57% of the 3-0 decklists.

Combined, it's clear that white is far an away the color of value for these drafts. While individual construction will always vary, several cards were frequent fliers across the white-based decks:

Sanctified Charge: As No. 20 Ranked Player William Jensen showed in his Round 10 match against No. 5 Ranked Player Owen Turtenwald, turning relatively small creatures into big hits ends games quickly. The ability to overwhelm an opponent quickly and break a stalemate soundly meant this card saw plenty of play, and it's a threat that wasn't necessarily on everyone's mind when facing down a white deck. In the popular white-green draft decks, Sanctified Charge was as good as Overrun thanks to the ability for the deck to convoke out far more creatures than anyone else.

Triplicate Spirits: Powering out early, evasive creatures meant white decks could both be defensive and offensive with the same card. Going wide wasn't always the plan for white decks, but it was rare to see Spirits passed at any point throughout the weekend. White-green decks benefited the most from the ability to both convoke it out early and chain the tokens into even more creatures.

Geist of the Moors: Unlike Oreskos Swiftclaw, which often met its end at the hands of something like Bile Blight or Satyr Wayfinder, Geist of the Moors came down later in the game and flew over the cadre of small creatures that could trade with it. With a little early pressure backed up by removal to set the tone by the time Geist of the Moors would show up it was time for it to finish the job. One deck in the second Draft rounds even featured four of the uncommon.

Raise the Alarm: With or without Sanctified Charge to go with it, Raise the Alarm was among the most common commons to see in a white deck. As an instant it means the tokens have a pseudo form of flash, appearing either to surprise an opponent during combat, at the end of their turn, or to leave mana up for a removal spell instead should it be needed. It's an unusual form of flexibility and potency players were eager to make use of.

The story isn't all about white though. Red was the next most popular color to find in 3-0 decks, at just over 40% of them. Red, too, had some running themes throughout the decks:

Kird Chieftain: While the decks seemed fairly split on the card it makes sense why as without any Forests around Kird Chieftain is "just" a Hill Giant. But those decks that could afford its wooded home often found themselves with two or even three copies of it. With pressure from already aggressive creatures, Kird Chieftain supercharged the armies they backed, helping to slam in more damage than opponents could predict.

Forge Devil: Despite the price of dealing its own player damage, Forge Devil served to double up its role by both killing something small when it entered the battlefield and when it blocked something else later. Even if it couldn't be effective early, paired with something like Inferno Fist or Kird Chieftain, Forge Devil's usefulness could be extended even late in the game.

Krenko's Enforcer: The modern descendent of Skirk Shaman, Krenko's Enforcer hasn't seen the same sort of attention as Borderland Marauder. But looking through the Day 2 3-0 Draft decklists revealed a startling truth: 15 Krenko's Enforcers appeared in 3-0 decks compared to the count of 11 for the Marauders. Evasion is one of the pillars of Limited, and unlike Marauder which could get gummed up by powerful commons in Rotfeast Maggot or Raise the Alarm, Krenko's Enforcer cut right through to force opponents into having removal. Often enough, they didn't.

Why focus on red and white so much? The most powerful stat is this: Just 10% of all 3-0 decklists didn't involve one of those two colors.

Take that for what you will, and tread carefully at your next Magic2015 draft.