War of the Spark Traditional Draft has been live on MTG Arena for a week, and we’ve already had a few opportunities to try out the new format. War draft is more complex than usual, with high-powered cards and complicated interactions in seemingly every game.
If you’re still trying to wrap your head around the draft format, we wanted to give you a quick primer on the major archetypes. Like most draft formats, War has ten major Limited archetypes, aligned with the ten color pairs. Five of these archetypes are synergy-based decks built around the set mechanics; the other five are much looser.
Let’s start with the synergy-based decks:
The Amass Decks
Amass decks come in three not-so-distinct flavors. Think of these decks like the Grixis-aligned pirates decks in Ixalan, but with less reliable fixing: they share a core mechanic, but they all play slightly differently.
Blue-Black is a grindy, controlling deck looking to play the long game and win with a huge zombie army. It also has access to some of the most powerful uncommon planeswalkers, including Ashiok, Dream Render and Kasmina, Enigmatic Mentor.
Black-Red is much more aggressive and has a minor creature-sacrifice theme. Angrath, Captain of Chaos is an especially good pick-up for this deck, as many of its creatures lack the necessary evasion to kill planeswalkers on their own.
Blue-Red is a “spells-matter” deck that utilizes both the amass and proliferate mechanics. This deck wants to cast as many cheap spells as possible to build up creatures like Spellgorger Weird and Thunder Drake. Spellkeeper Weird, Flux Channeler, and Saheeli are also great inclusions here.
These decks have access to some of the best removal in the format, which allows them to pressure planeswalkers. Plus, these decks have access to plenty of planeswalkers themselves, so they can play the long game better than many other decks in the format.
Since they have so much overlap and such powerful spells available to them, the amass decks are among the most likely to splash a third color. Fortunately, Gateway Plazas do tend to go late on MTG Arena, so you may be able to snap one up.
The +1/+1 Counters Decks
There are also two distinct +1/+1 counters decks in WAR Limited: Blue-Green and Green-White.
Like the Blue-Red Amass deck, the Blue-Green deck has access to both the amass and proliferate mechanics. That means it has plenty of ways to put +1/+1 counters on creatures – especially zombie army tokens. Blue-Green also has access to a handful of flyers, which can get huge with the right combination of support spells.
Green-White, meanwhile, has plenty of ways to proliferate, but needs some help getting +1/+1 counters on its creatures. Ajani, Arlinn, and Jiang Yanggu are therefore the best planeswalkers for this strategy, which is often looking to go wide with creatures. There are also plenty of common spells that distribute +1/+1 counters, such as Battlefield Promotion and New Horizons.
Of course, there’s also Pollenbright Druid, a premier common for both archetypes. Druid gives you the flexibility to proliferate all your permanents or put a +1/+1 counter on a creature that sorely needs it. You also get a cheap creature that can chump-block for one of your planeswalkers, which isn’t a bad deal.
Evolution Sage is also a powerful uncommon for these strategies, but unlike Pollenbright Druid, its effect isn’t immediate. If you jam Evolution Sage on turn three, you’re unlikely to untap with it; best to hold off until you have a land to play after you cast it.
The Usual Suspects
The remaining five archetypes are variations on classic Limited Magic themes. But like all War of the Spark archetypes, they contain some powerful cards, as well as ways to deal with opposing planeswalkers.
Black-Green is the “multicolor green” deck of the format, which is flexible enough to splash for off-color threats and removal spells. Key cards include Paradise Druid, Leyline Prowler, and New Horizons; Deathsprout can also find an off-color basic land, but requires a stricter color commitment.
Blue-White is the flyers deck of the format, as is tradition. Good news for drafters of this archetype: flyers are even better than usual in War of the Spark, since they can take out planeswalkers and bypass board stalls.
Red-White is an aggressive deck, full of cheap creatures and combat tricks. Feather, the Redeemed and Tenth District Legionnaire are the poster-children for this archetype, as they give your Defiant Strikes and Battlefield Promotions even more utility.
Red-Green is a beatdown deck featuring some of the beefiest creatures in the format. While this deck may be low on removal, it has more than enough raw power.
Black-White doesn’t appear to have a strict theme, but the power level of its removal is high enough to pull you into these colors. Ob Nixilis’s Cruelty is likely the best common removal spell in the set (very few creatures have more than five toughness), and Law-Rune Enforcer can tap just about anything that isn’t a zombie army token. If you open a Sorin, it’s worth it to go into this archetype.
While all these decks have their merits, Blue-White and Black-White have seemed the most impressive from the outset. Even the most aggressively-costed creatures can be outclassed by planeswalkers, and the white decks have enough flyers and removal to keep the ’walkers in check.
Which decks have you enjoyed drafting in War of the Spark? Share your favorites with us on Twitter at @Card_Kingdom!