Magic: The Gathering‘s newest expansion set, Wilds of Eldraine, will unleash the power of fairy tales and eternal slumber when it releases on September 8th. Wilds of Eldraine takes place on the post-Phyrexian invasion plane of Eldraine, a world besieged by wicked witches and the nightmarish horrors of Ashiok the planeswalker. All the fairy tale action will unfold not just in Standard when this set releases, but also in Limited formats like draft and sealed.
Wilds of Eldraine is a large, complicated expansion set that brings back the best elements of Throne of Eldraine, like Adventures, Food tokens, and “enchantments matter” themes, while also adding exciting new effects like Bargain, Celebration, and even token enchantments called Roles. There’s a lot to unpack in Wilds of Eldraine for Limited, including the inner workings of its 10 two-color draft archetypes and the fairy tales that they represent. Knowing all this can give any draft player a serious edge at their local game store’s Limited events.
The White-Blue Limited Archetype: Tapping Enemy Creatures
The white-blue draft archetype is based on a “snow queen” theme, since Magic often represents ice and cold by tapping creatures and not letting them untap on the next untap step. By now, this effect can be represented with stun counters, which appear on cards like Freeze in Place as a convenient reminder for when a frozen creature finally untaps. Wilds of Eldraine‘s white-blue “tap enemy creatures” draft archeytpe is a break from this color pair’s typical “fliers” or “artifacts matter” themes found in other draft sets, though WU still has plenty of efficient fliers for more aggressive builds. Tricky archetypes like “tapping matters” aren’t easy to build in draft, so this color pair needs a more generic plan B.
Many of this archetype’s cards will either tap the opponent’s creatures, have a bonus effect from seeing tapped enemy creatures, or both. In this archetype, “tapped” is almost like a keyword like Raid or Metalcraft, with a simple setup and a wide variety of payoffs. Some payoffs are typical white-blue fare such as drawing cards, but this archetype also uses “tapping matters” to destroy creatures, get +1/+1 counters, and power/toughness boosts, giving this archetype some much-needed aggressive pressure. The white-blue archetype’s theme doesn’t just slow the opponent down — it creates a path to victory on offense on the ground. Also, this archetype makes heavy use of enchantments, such as Constellation effects to tap enemy creatures or enchantments themselves doing the tapping. Overall, this may be one of Wilds of Eldraine‘s strongest draft archetypes since Limited focuses heavily on creatures, and tapping them takes them out of combat as semi-removal.
The Blue-Black Limited Archetype: Fairie Control
Wilds of Eldraine‘s blue-black draft archetype taps into this set’s main story, where most people on the entire Eldraine plane fall into a cursed slumber and Ashiok profits greatly from it, creating a “Sleeping Beauty” theme. Overall, it’s the Fairie creature type that best defines this draft archetype, since typal decks are highly cohesive by nature and their creatures can greatly enhance one another if they build up critical mass. Wilds of Eldraine‘s many blue and/or black Fairies derive a wide variety of benefits from one another, combining classic control elements like hand control and counterspells with evasive aggro. These fairies don’t hit hard individually, but this control deck can disrupt the opponent enough so the Fairies’ slow and steady aerial assault will win in the end. Like many blue-black archetypes, this Fairie control deck is best for patient players who accrue gradual value from their cards.
Aside from Fairie typal builds, this archetype has some of everything that Dimir colors can offer, which is both a strength and a weakness. On the plus side, this archetype can attack the opponent from unexpected angles and is difficult to defend against, but it also means this deck’s control aspect has little focus. If the player can’t stick enough Fairies for offense, this deck may stall out and fail to capitalize on its control aspects, so good Fairie creatures are a must and are this deck’s true assets. This archetype also has a mill subtheme, but in draft, players shouldn’t rely too heavily on that, even with small 40-card decks being the norm. Mill needs efficient builds in Constructed to work.
The Black-Red Limited Archetype: Rat Token Aggro
Wilds of Eldraine‘s black-red archetype focuses on the Rat creature type and their opportunistic attacks all over the slumber-cursed plane of Eldraine, all with the Piped Piper-themed Totentanz, Swarm Piper to lead them on. Gameplay-wise, this black-red archetype is a classic example of Rakdos colors being equally adept at aggressively going wide and sacrificing their own permanents for powerful bonuses. Archetypes like this tend to make lots of small, disposable creature tokens that can be either pumped to attack en masse, or sacrificed to “aristocrat” creatures, or even both. In addition the black-red draft archetype in Wilds of Eldraine makes good use of Food tokens and Role enchantment tokens, since the powerful Bargain effect accepts creatures, enchantments, and artifacts. That makes it more flexible than creature-only sacrifice builds found in other sets.
Depending on what cards they find during draft sessions, a player will likely build a Rakdos deck to be aggro-oriented or sacrifice-oriented, with one effect being dominant and the other being splashed in for flexibility. This archetype can only pump the team with a few specific cards like Gnawing Crescendo and Totentanz, so if they’re missing, this Rakdos deck is likely to stall out after the first few turns of constant attacks. From there, in the absence of good “lord” effects, this Limited deck can finish the job with burn spells to the opponent’s face or powerful removal effects to clear enemy blockers just long enough for one final attack.
The Red-Green Limited Archetype: Ferocious
Wilds of Eldraine‘s red-green draft archetype puts a more action-oriented spin on the “Little Red Riding Hood” fable, giving Little Red Riding Hood the strength and courage to fight back against wolves and monsters on more equal terms as Ruby, Daring Tracker. In gameplay, this translates to Humans and monsters alike who are all about savage beatdowns and creature-based removal, from the “fight” effect to power 4 or greater mattering. This archetype has the Khans of Tarkir ability Ferocious in all but name, and this simple mechanical theme can be used in creative ways in Wilds of Eldraine. This set doesn’t just have creatures with 4+ power for the red-green archetype — it also uses Food token sacrifice and the Monster Role to make any creature truly ferocious.
This archetype needs a smooth mana curve like any other, so it starts with smaller, cheaper creatures with 3 or less power. Those creatures will soon become relevant when this deck uses Monster Role enchantment tokens to make a 3-power creature into a 4-power beater, and with the benefit of trample, too. This archetype’s creatures can also sacrifice Food tokens to get power/toughness boosts to become temporarily large enough for Ferocious-style effects, and of course, become powerful attackers as well. This archetype also makes moderate use of the Bargain effect with those Food and Monster Role tokens if necessary. As for removal, the red-green archetype uses the Fight mechanic, and one-sided “bite” effects, to destroy almost any creature the opponent can put onto the battlefield.
The Green-White Limited Archetype: Enchanted Creatures
Some sets’ green-white draft archetypes focus on making lots of creature tokens and pumping them into huge beaters, but Wilds of Eldraine took a different route with its “Beauty and the Beast” theme for Selesnya Limited decks. Ironically, while green and white are both effective at destroying enchantments, this archetype focuses more on using enchantments to bolster its creatures and potentially turn any modest 1/1 or 2/2 into a game-winning threat, or turn a larger creature into an unstoppable juggernaut. This is accomplished not just with traditional Aura cards, but also Monster and Young Hero enchantment Roles, hence “Beauty and the Beast.”
Green-white draft decks avoid the inherent 2-for-1 risk with enchantment Auras by using cards that make Roles. Even if a creature enchanted with a Role is destroyed, the Role’s creator remains, making Auras a much more appealing strategy than it normally would be in other draft environments. Some of Wilds of Eldraine‘s normal Aura cards address the 2-for-1 issue with their own effects, such as Bestial Bloodline, though Roles will still likely be this deck’s main focus in booster draft Limited games. Aside from pumping creatures via enchantments, the green-white archetype can also sacrifice its own enchantments for Bargain cards or the likes of Dutiful Griffin, making Roles even more flexible. As for removal, this archetype can borrow the red-green archetype’s fight and bite cards to take advantage of its tough enchanted creatures or borrow tap-based effects from white-blue if necessary.
The White-Black Limited Archetype: Bargain & Sacrifice
Wilds of Eldraine‘s white-black draft archetype, based on “Snow White,” is an aristocrats build, drawing on the sacrifice of black mana, the token creation of white mana, and the reanimation of both. This archetype borrows many of the best black Rat-themed cards from the black-red archetype without the typal support, and it also borrows the Role enchantment theme of green-white, but without the “go tall” theme. The white-black archetype will regularly sacrifice its own Roles and small creature tokens to accrue constant value over the course of a medium-paced to slow game, aiming to outlast the opponent with so much value from aristocrat sources. These colors grant access to the Young Hero and Royal Roles to pump an attacker, but if the enchanted creature is about to die or get bounced, sacrificing the Role and/or creature for value is an optimal response with instant-speed sacrifice effects.
The Orzhov draft archetype needs more than aristocrat effects to win, however, since these effects merely keep it in the game. Ideally, this deck will include a few hard-hitting finishers who tie into the aristocrat theme, and removal effects in both colors can clear the way for those hard-hitting finishers. Ideally, the aristocrat deck will stall out the board and slowly get ahead, then finish the opponent with those giant beaters to close out the game. Reanimation effects in both colors can get those beaters back into the fray if they’re destroyed or countered.
The Blue-Red Limited Archetype: Instants/Sorceries & Adventures
Blue and red mana combine to make “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” a spell-heavy archetype that also makes good use of adventures. Plenty of cards in this archetype care about all three of them, adding much-needed Eldraine flavor to an otherwise predictable draft archetype. This deck’s instants and sorceries are best used to disrupt the opponent, such as with burn spells, counterspells, and tap effects, while this actually relying on creatures to advance toward victory. Draft gameplay is heavy on creatures, and even creature-light color combos like blue/red need good creatures to win. By contrast, instants/sorceries are merely tools and should be treated as such.
Izzet decks in Wilds of Eldraine can use a variety of blue Fairies to attack the opponent in the air and grind down their life total, all while using spells to slow the enemy down and buy those Fairies some time. If those Fairies get removed or face large blockers, then this deck must find and use large, curve-topping beaters to finish the job, all while protecting them with counterspells and removing blockers via burn and tap effects. Running a draft deck like this will be tricky even with the right creatures on hand, so it’s best left to experienced players who can balance their spells and creatures correctly. This archetype also makes limited use of other Wilds of Eldraine effects like Bargain and Food compared to other archetypes, so draft players shouldn’t focus too much on them.
The Black-Green Limited Archetype: Food
Wilds of Eldraine‘s black-green archetype draws inspiration from the “Hansel & Gretel” fairy tale, except Hansel is in trouble and his sister, Greta, Sweettooth Scourge, must rescue him from the evil, food-loving witches. In gameplay, this results in an aristocrats build that has some overlap with the white-black archetype, but with an emphasis on Food tokens. Many cards in this archetype make a Food token as a bonus effect, creating efficient gameplay that can quickly fuel this deck’s endgame. The black-green deck can attack the opponent from several angles once it has enough Food tokens, such as sacrificing permanents to make the opponent lose life. This is essential if the board has stalled out, giving the deck reach.
The black-green Food deck can also pump up huge beaters to finish off the opponent, usually by sacrificing Food tokens and using +1/+1 counters, along with evasive effects like trample. If these huge beaters are destroyed somehow, black and green have ample reanimator effects to bring them back, making this a grindy deck that’s difficult to outlast. As a bonus effect, this deck can run cards with Bargain to eat those disposable Food tokens if the player doesn’t have a better use for them, powering up cards like Agatha’s Champion or powering out Hamlet Glutton early. In a pinch, actual Food creature cards can also be sacrificed if they’re not immediately useful for attacking or blocking.
The Red-White Limited Archetype: Celebration Aggro
Many red-white draft decks focus on equipment and aggro, but Wilds of Eldraine shook things up by swapping out powerful equipment cards for Role enchantment tokens instead. This helps make the “Cinderella” themed Boros archetype feel fresher and more relevant in the context of Wilds of Eldraine‘s setting, while also giving it overlap with other draft archetypes. The red-white archetype can borrow some ideas from the green-white enchantment deck, for example, but with a more aggressive strategy in mind. While green-white aims to go tall with game-ending beaters, red-white has a “now or never” approach to combat and uses cheap Role-producing cards to push damage early. All this is boosted with red-white’s signature effect, Celebration.
Creatures with Celebration get all kinds of bonuses, such as power/toughness boosts and double strike, and Celebration is easy to enable with permanents that make Roles or creature tokens. In this deck, Roles aren’t just creature buffs — they also make Bargain much stronger, though players must use discretion to decide which Roles are worth keeping and which should be sacrificed to Bargain. Also, this deck has relatively few evasive attackers, so cheap burn spells and white tap-based spells are essential for pushing damage after the first few turns. Going wide in Boros colors comes at the cost of having rather few beaters that can easily destroy large blockers on their own, so shutting down large blockers entirely via spells/abilities is a must.
The Green-Blue Limited Archetype: Mana Value 5+
Green and blue mana have very little mechanical overlap according to the color pie in MTG, so Simic draft decks tend to have straightforward strategies. In Wilds of Eldraine, Simic draft decks are like “Jack and the Beanstalk” decks, featuring mana ramp and giant spells, along with smaller creatures that care about spells with mana value 5+ being cast. These draft decks rely heavily on those latter creatures, since the rest of the deck feels like two different decks jammed together with little to connect them. The green-blue archetype doesn’t have much of a plan B in case the mana value 5+ strategy fizzles out, but in return, this deck can pull from a diverse range of effects so it can at least try something.
These Simic decks might get ahead if they can resolve some flying threats in blue and protect them with counterspells, and this deck can also pursue a Food subtheme. Those Food tokens are ideal for Bargain effects in both colors, accruing value over time to keep this deck in the game until a giant beater can be resolved. Even off-color cards like Gingerbread Hunter can be used, regardless of their off-color Adventure modes, and this deck can borrow tap-based effects from blue, including stun counters, from the white-blue deck to clear the way for giant finishers on the ground. Still, this archetype seems to struggle to make a strategically cohesive deck, and skilled draft players may be better off drafting something with a clearer identity. By contrast, novice draft players could have an easy time putting together a Simic deck, without having to worry too much about nuanced synergy to get some value in gameplay.
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