Draft Archetypes in Avacyn Restored, Part 2

Hello, everyone, and welcome to my second installment of Avacyn Restored Draft archetypes. Last week, I went over some of the common decks you are likely to see in an Avacyn Restored Draft. This week, I'm going to discuss some of the more interesting decks of the new Limited format and talk about some of the overrated and underrated cards I‘ve seen so far.

Five-Color Green

Abundant Growth
I love drafting five-color green. I first discovered it back in Invasion block, and every time a new set comes out, I look for ways to draft the deck. The concept of the deck is simple. You need to draft mana-fixing cards very aggressively—even over the better cards. Once your mana is set up, your deck will be capable of casting any bomb or removal spell you pick up.

Avacyn Restored gives us two great mana fixers at common: Abundant Growth and Borderland Ranger. At uncommon, Vessel of Endless Rest is another excellent fixer.

I think Abundant Growth is an amazing card, not only in the five-color green archetype, but in any deck that is capable of casting it. It can target any land, it allows you to play fewer lands of your splash color. You also receive the added bonus of drawing a card when it enters the battlefield.

This deck works well in this format because there are a lot of good, splashable removal spells in Avacyn Restored. Pillar of Flame, Death Wind, Thunderbolt, Into the Void, Human Frailty, Lightning Prowess, and Peel from Reality are just a few of the removal spells you should be looking for when drafting this deck.

This deck allows you to remain incredibly open throughout the Draft. You will usually have a second color and splash a third or even fourth color. Chances are your neighbor will open a bomb not in his colors and have to pass it. Because this deck allows you to be so open, you will be able to take the bomb and play it.

Here is one of the more fun five-color green decks I was able to draft:

I started out by first-picking a Death Wind, and then I picked up a few Borderland Rangers and an Abundant Growth. At the end of pack one, I was mostly green. In pack two, I was ecstatic to be passed Sigarda, Host of Herons. I immediately switched into white but because of the mana fixing I had, and I knew that the deck was capable of playing anything. After that, I picked up some removal and more creatures to round out the deck.

You need to be careful when drafting this deck because any green drafter will be looking for Borderland Ranger and Abundant Growth. Without these two important cards, you won't be able to draft this deck and will have to play only two colors.

W/U Defensive Mill

This deck is all about playing a fourteenth pick in draft: Dreadwaters. This card is very bad, but it’s actually good in this deck. To make this deck work, you need to have a Stern Mentor. Once you have that, you should be able to pick up a few Dreadwaters at picks twelve through fourteen.

Dreadwaters
Your plan is to get the Stern Mentor going and mill your opponent for four a turn, then finish him off with a Dreadwaters for seven or eight. The deck is mostly defensive creatures, such as Angelic Wall.

Elgaud Shieldmate is also very important to this deck because when paired with Stern Mentor, it is very hard to beat. Galvanic Alchemist is also a good pair with Stern Mentor. With enough mana, you can mill your opponent for six to eight cards in one turn!

White gives you the removal and tricks you need, such as Righteous Blow, Defang, and Zealous Strike. Cards such as Cathedral Sanctifier and Goldnight Redeemer gain you enough life to stay alive while you set up. The blue gives you more good creatures and bounce to stall the game out. If the Stern Mentor plan falls through, you can still win with flyers.

This deck is really fun, and it's awesome to see the look on your opponent's face when you ask him how many cards he has in his library—and then cast Dreadwaters to end the game.

One thing to note is that you don’t want to be playing more than two Dreadwaters in your deck. The last thing you want to do is be stuck with them in your hand with only six lands in play. What actually needs to happen is for the game to go very long before casting Dreadwaters for ten or more. You never want to draw this card early.

Here's what this type of deck looks like:

My Picks for Underrated Draft Cards

Here are my choices for underrated cards in Draft in no particular order.

Defang

Removal is removal, but this enchantment is pretty mediocre at first glance. The creature can still block all day, and there are many combat tricks such as Cloudshift to get rid of the Defang.

However, in the right deck, this card can be amazing. For example, a W/U flyers deck may have a hard time with big, green creatures such as Wildwood Geist. Defang can buy you enough time to win in the air.

Ghostly Flicker

Ghostly Flicker
This card is similar to Cloudshift, but the applications of Ghostly Flicker are much greater. Ghostly Flicker is in the color that gives you Mist Raven and Gryff Vanguard, two excellent targets for the spell. In addition, this card works incredibly well with soulbond. You can repair soulbond creatures to pump them up, save them from combat damage, and the like.

For example, if your opponent tries to Death Wind your Wildwood Geist, you can respond by casting Ghostly Flicker targeting your Elgaud Shieldmate and Gryff Vanguard. Elgaud Shieldmate and Gryff Vanguard return to play, and the soulbond ability triggers. You pair it with the Wildwood Geist. Now the Wildwood Geist has hexproof, which causes the Death Wind to be countered on resolution—not to mention you just drew a card a card with the Gryff Vanguard!

This actually happened to me at Grand Prix: Malmo. My opponent cast Nightshade Peddler. In response to soulbond, I activated my Ulvenwald Tracker targeting my big creature and the Peddler. My opponent then Ghostly Flickered his Nightfall Predator and Mist Raven. When they returned to play, soulbond triggered again, and he paired the Peddler with something, giving it deathtouch and therefore killing my guy. Then, Mist Raven bounced one of my other creatures. Needless to say, I lost that game.

Geist Snatch

This card is very slow, and it's usually obvious when your opponent is holding one. However, in this removal-light format that revolves around creatures, this card can actually be very good. This format has so many bomb creatures, and Geist Snatch is pretty good at stopping them. At worst, if your opponent plays around it, he won't be playing the creature that will probably kill you, thus giving you extra time to find more answers.

Bloodflow Connoisseur

This little guy seems pretty underwhelming. A 1/1 for 3 just isn't good enough. However, this creature can do some great things. The most obvious thing is sacrificing creatures that are about to die to removal; however, this card has some other applications as well.

Bloodflow Connoisseur
First, you can instantly sacrifice your undying creatures, giving you surprise, slightly bigger blockers.

Second, this card works very well with the black theme of one creature in play mattering. Homicidal Seclusion and Demonic Rising both want you to have only one creature in play. If you are forced to play more guys to chump-block, the Bloodflow Connoisseur gives you the option to sacrifice them if your opponent decides not to attack.

Third, there are some creatures in this set that you actually want to sacrifice. Maalfeld Twins, Polluted Dead, Soulcage Fiend, and Undead Executioner are some good examples. Having a way to sacrifice them at instant speed is very good in this format.

Overall, I really like this guy, and I always play at least one in my black decks. There aren't many interesting synergies in this block, so having this card can actually give you some decisions to make.

Essence Harvest

Usually, direct damage to only a player is unplayable in Limited. However, in black, there are some guys that can grow very large. Evernight Shade and Renegade Demon are just a few examples. Essence Harvest can be a 10-point life swing that can make racing difficult for your opponent. This card also works extremely well in B/G decks.

Dangerous Wager

Dangerous Wager
This card looks pretty terrible because it states, "Discard your hand." Obviously, if you have any more than one card in your hand, this card is straight-up card disadvantage. However, in the right deck, this card can be great.

R/W and B/R aggressive decks, for example, have very cheap cards, and you will usually empty your hand quickly. Dangerous Wager is a great way to dig to some extra spells. I usually won't play more than one of these in a deck, but if my deck is aggressive, I always try to draft one. I also try to look for a Mad Prophet as well, so in case I have a full hand, I can at least discard it to the Prophet.

Terrifying Presence

Fogs are generally unplayable in Limited, but this one is actually pretty good. Instead of trading, you can cast Terrifying Presence on your guy and save him from damage while still killing your opponent's creature. That doesn't sound particularly exciting, but remember that this format is very removal- and instant-light. Having more combat tricks is good, and therefore, Terrifying Presence is a great card.

My Picks for Overrated Draft Cards

In general, I don't feel that there are too many cards that are overrated in this format. Avacyn Restored Limited is pretty self-explanatory. However, there are some cards in this format that I feel are overrated, and those cards are miracles.

Banishing Stroke
I don't like the miracles very much, and here's why: When you draw a miracle, you usually feel obligated to cast it for its miracle cost even if it's not the right play at the time.

Take Banishing Stroke for example. If you draw it early in the game, there usually aren't many good targets for it. However, it only costs {W}, so players usually just cast it on an opponent’s creature just to cast it. I think that this play is usually incorrect. Holding the Banishing Stroke and casting it as an instant can be much more valuable even though it costs so much more mana.

At Grand Prix: Malmo this weekend, I had Revenge of the Hunted in my Sealed deck. In one game, I drew it on turn three. I could have miracled it for 1 mana and attacked my opponent for 8 damage, but what did that actually do?

Instead, I held the card in my hand and tapped out to play a creature on that turn. On turn six, I hard-cast the Revenge of the Hunted, and it was so much better. I was able to kill a few of my opponent's creatures and deal him around 10 extra damage. That play put me in a winning position, and I was able to close out the game the next turn.

I'm not saying that miracles are bad; I am saying that most of the time, it is incorrect to cast them when you draw them. Of course, there are exceptions. Obviously, it is much better to cast Bonfire of the Damned and Temporal Mastery for their miracle costs.

Going Forward

Some people have said that this is the worst Limited format that we have seen in a long time. I'm not sure if that's true, but this format is among the most removal-light and instant-light formats in a while, making it not as interesting and fun as previous formats.

However, I don't think that Avacyn Restored Limited is a lost cause. The format is still new, and we are still trying new things and figure things out. I'm sure that the format will shape up as we become more experienced in it.

As always, thanks for reading. I'll be at Grand Prix: Anaheim this weekend, so feel free to say “hi!” Don't forget to follow me on Twitter at @AllWeDoIsWinMTG!

Melissa DeTora