Full Force drafting is a series dedicated to forcing archetypes in draft formats. Join me every Thursday as we learn the ins and outs of the most recent Magic draft formats. (But not this week!)
This week we’re exploring older formats now that most of the depths of Kaladesh have been plunged and as usual, the viewers picked a real challenge for me: Gatecrash Dimir
Gatecrash as a format was known for it’s speed and aggression. As the second set in the Return to Ravnica block, it focused on the Boros (WR), Gruul (GR), Simic (GU), Orzhov (BW), and Dimir (UB) guilds and with the heavy emphasis on at least two (I’d say three, Simic was quite fast) very aggressive guilds in Boros and Gruul the format has an often blistering pace. This speed requires a lot of early interaction to slow the game down if you need to go a more conrtrolling route like with Orzhov or Dimir. If you can’t answer an early Cloudfin Raptor, Wojek Halberdiers, or Disciple of the Old Ways, you’re sunk before you can get close to your late game plans. This makes trying to draft Dimir very tricky since it has a distinct lack of two-drop commons. Basilica Screecher and Cloudfin Raptor don’t defend well, and Frilled Oculus is excellent… If you have access to Green. Because of this, you’ll find you should probably take more Gutter Skulk than you normally would like just to plug the hole. Luckily these deficiencies also mean Dimir is often a little more open than some of the other colour pairings and with the Guildgates and Prophetic Prism, you can also splash if necessary.
With Dimir often being more open than other colours this gives a small advantage to certain cards and strategies. Death’s Approach is an awkward card without other removal or mill strategies to back it up, but it’s very powerful if you can run it and Dimir has the tools to do this with Balustrade Spy, Sage’s Row Denizen, and Grisly Spectacle so pay attention to where they are in the packs and try to wheel one or two. With the incidental mill on some of the good Dimir cards you also want to look out for the uncommon Wight of Precinct Six. It isn’t great on turn two as a 1/1, but if you have the mill and removal to back it up it will snowball out of control later in the game.
Last, but not least, while most Cipher cards were a little overcosted for what they actually did, if you are in Dimir you should pick up every Call of the Nightwing you can. The card can win games all on its own, producing an evasive token every turn if unanswered and comboing with cards like Sage’s Row Denizen and Corpse Blockade.
Next week, we will be looking at the draft strategies for the newest iteration of the Magic Online Vintage Cube! I’ve previously covered both Storm and Green Ramp strategies in the Vintage Cube, but there are a lot more to vote for in this week’s poll!