Red White Allies is one of the “premier” archetypes of Oath of the Gatewatch draft. If you go back to Pro Tour Atlanta, many of the 6-0 Drafters recommended or actively pursued drafting RW. I tend to agree that RW is one of the stronger archetypes. It is pretty straightforward, which can make RW become weaker as people develop the more intricate strategies of a format. RW can only be effectively drafted by one player per table, as medium and insane RW decks are determined by the strong rally creatures out of pack 3, which include Firemantle Mage, Resolute Blademaster, and Hero of Goma Fada. As an avid limited beatdown player, I greatly enjoy RW allies. Normally RW is all about aggression, but in OGW you utilize a combination of aggression and ally synergy to achieve a powerful RW deck.
The core of a good RW deck lies in the aggressive ally creatures from Red and White from Oath. Quite a surprise I know, but note that cards like Zada’s Commando, Goblin Freerunner, Kor Scythemaster, and Kor Aeronaught are all incredibly strong common options-and they are at their best in Red White. Many other Ally Archetypes like Black/White, or other non-ally specific aggro Archetypes like Black/Red devoid don’t necessarily pick these cards as high as you should in Red/White. Finding these in the middle of the first two packs can greatly increase the power level of your deck, while many of the other archetypes might pass on them. It’s important that a majority of your creatures be allies. This isn’t hard as most of your options will be, but the heavier you are into allies, the more powerful the cohort and rally payoffs become.
Support is a strong mechanic to help out any RW ally deck in the midgame, so try to draft support cards as well as creatures that take support +1/+1 counters well. Essentially, if you fail to run over your opponent, RW has a few viable board stall options outside support or cohort. Similarly to the aggressive white ally creatures, cards like Expedition Raptor and Shoulder to Shoulder are not that strong in some of the other more controlly or more ally combo (think Spawnbinder Mage into Tajuru Warcaller or Tajuru Beastmaster), but are excellent pickups in RW. You can build up pressure and often supporting can prevent your opponent from ever stabilizing. Or, if the board gets bogged down, a few support effects in a topdeck war can easily push the game in your favor.
Removal and pump spells work out the same way in RW allies as it does in RG Midrange. To briefly recap, don’t pass premium removal unless you are taking a bomb. Removal helps you break through, maintain tempo, punish bad draws, and deal with problematic creatures. If you don’t end up with much removal, prioritize getting pump spells so that you can keep attacking and gain mana advantages. Hierarchy of the common pump spells is as follows: Lithomancer’s Focus>Sure Strike(better with menace)/Tandem Tactics(better with low toughness creatures)>Brute Strength(better with first strikers)>Mighty Leap. As much as I hate “pick orders”, most of these cards are quite similar to each other so this is a helpful guide of which tricks are playable and in what order.
While one of the advantages of RW is that most of your creatures are allies, I have found that some of the slower cohort creatures aren’t as good since you always want to be attacking. For instance, Spawnbinder Mage, Ondu War Cleric(always good but not as good here) and Akoum Flameseeker are fine cards to play, but don’t take them too highly. You very often want to be in situations where you are attacking with as many creatures as you can, and activating these creatures essentially means you are not getting in with them and the creature you are using to cohort. Sometimes this is inevitable, and using these is strong a decent amount of the time-but know your role. Draft a deck that will be able to keep the pressure on or just overrun your opponent.
Let’s talk about equipment, it’s important to note that other than Stoneforge Masterwork, Captain’s Claws, and Slab Hammer, most of the equipment is bad. You do sometimes pickup Stone Haven Outfitter or Weapons Trainer and it can incentivize you to draft equipment. I don’t pick equipments or these equipment allies very highly as it rarely pans out. If you do end up with a few of these cards, it can be right to play some of the lesser equipment such as Strider Harness, Bone Saw, or Chitinous Cloak. Just because you have the equipment allies, doesn’t mean you should go overboard. Playing 2 bad equipment because you have a Weapons Trainer is likely worse than just playing the Trainer as a 3/2 and playing 2 more powerful spells instead. The problem with equipment in this format is that you don’t want to invest in something that isn’t an ally, and potentially cuts you off from having mana during combat. They also don’t necessarily play well in board stalls or other aggressive or tempo decks, which is why they are mostly poor in the format.
-Try to have almost all of your creatures be allies, as your best cards will be even better. Take payoffs such as powerful rally or cohort creatures highly.
-Support creatures and spells are quite strong in RW allies. Supporting gives you a powerful midgame and potential tool for adding pressure by adding “haste” power and toughness into your deck. Expedition Raptors, Shoulder to Shoulder, and if you’re lucky Relief Captain are great draws in topdeck wars/board stalls and give you a powerful lategame in RW.
-Don’t pass removal. If you end up low, supplement the lack of removal with combat tricks.
-Slow Cohort options are playable, but not great. You are not W/B after all, and those decks will beat you in the late game if you try to slow down the game with them. Most likely they are better than you at it. Draft a powerful curve that is as aggressive as you can get without losing power level of individual cards (i.e just because we are super aggressive doesn’t mean we want Kitesail Scout or Bone Saw, keep all of our cards strong)
-Equipment’s are usually only good outside the apparent powerful ones as equipment if fundamentally bad in a world where you are getting paid to have as many permanents that are allies as possible. Feel free to pick some up if you end up with Weapons Trainer or Stone Haven Outfitter. Keep in mind that you don’t need equipment for RW, and try not to go overboard in decks where you have Equipment Allies.