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.
When we first visited this archetype, I talked a lot about how the UR spells deck had improved from Shadows Over Innistrad. It had become less narrow in its focus and less reliant on a few key cards. That made the deck play much better than the UR lists I played in just Shadows, but it does still have a few issues. While it is less reliant on key cards, it can still get punished hard by missing out on spells or the pay-off cards for those spells (Pyre Hound, Shreds of Sanity, Thermo-Alchemist, etc.). With how necessary it is to have a decent number of spells to pay off the creatures, I find it can lead to some train-wreck drafts. Don’t go in too early on a card like Curious Homunculus, because if you lose out on the spells you’ll get burned bad. The reverse can also be true; taking mediocre spells early in hope of a payday later can end up with a deck that has little synergy or finishers.
The end result of this is that the decks that come together tend to be fantastic and the decks that don’t are truly awful. The key to drafting this archetype successfully is to properly follow signals and not be afraid of jumping ship if things look ugly, much like the UG emerge archetype. The draw to the deck is that if you maneuver into it when it’s open you’re going to be handsomely rewarded. Some of the most powerful (and fun) lists I’ve had in Eldritch Moon were Red/Blue.
It’s hard to give really good advice on how to get into the deck because some of the most powerful interactions require a bit of forcing, but that can end up as a trainwreck. Cards like Shreds of Sanity are fantastic in the right deck, but then require you to have a healthy number of targets and taking it early can punish you. The worst offender is Take Inventory. It’s incredibly fun when it works and I advocate snapping up copies in packs with little else in them, because having four copies feels amazing. The power level is exceptional so it’s very tempting to jump in on an early Take Inventory over real cards and hope to get two more copies (I know, I did it in the first draft video!), but the problem comes from spending real picks on the cards because if you have less than three it’s basically unplayable and you ended up wasting all those slots.
So how much did my view of the deck change from first impressions? Well, it ended up to not be as flexible as I had thought at first but it’s still much less rigid than the Shadows only version and the deck is vastly more playable. My list of the top five commons also changed, but only slightly. The original list was:
1. Galvanic Bombardment
3. Ingenious Skaab
4. Drag Under
5. Brazen Wolves
To update the list, I’d definitely move Brazen Wolves up to #4, in close contention with Ingenious Skaab. The last slot ends up being really contentious. Drag Under is still quite good, but I’ve never wanted more than one, really. Sorcery speed hurts the card a lot in a format full of tricks and fight cards like Prey Upon. I think it clings to the final spot in the list, but it is very arguable that Spontaneous Mutation should replace it. Mutation moves up in a lot value if you’re missing removal, but have a lot of spells. The card is deceptively powerful and I’ve constantly underrated it. The main points against it in this archetype are that it doesn’t trigger any of your spells-matters cards like Thermo-Alchemist, Weaver of Lightning, or Pyre Hound. Having a lot of Prowess can cover up that gap a bit, so think about how much Prowess and removal you have if you are stuck picking between the two.
In all, the UR Spells list is a ton of fun. Forcing a draft off of Take Inventory especially can be a blast. It’s a high-risk high-reward strategy and if you’re looking to enjoy yourself in a Eldritch Moon draft, I highly recommend it. Unfortunately if you’re trying to grind out wins on Magic Online, I think it’s better to be cautious.
That’s the end of Eldritch Moon! Next week, I’ll go over a Legacy Cube archetype of your choosing, so send me a comment below or on Twitter! I’d also like to announce our winner from last week’s GP Louisville article, @Jaspervdvaart. The builds that got submitted were very tough to choose from and the pool itself was not easy. I liked how Jasper covered up the deficiency of removal by splitting all the removal between two others and creating one UR list that used evasion, tempo, and tricks to push through for a win. @MaxMitchell3000 had a very similar idea with his three decks and it was tough to make the choice but I ultimately felt that Jasper’s UR list was a little more focused on stealing wins through aggression, which I believe is necessary for the deck as its power level late game is too low even with the changes. Thanks everyone for their submissions and congratulations to our winner!