Last week, Full Force looked at the changing shape of AKH limited; the massive shift from a mid-range or slower format to a hyper-aggressive one. This week I’m going to see if the shift is entirely warranted. Keeping in mind that most decks will be focused on aggression, can an incredibly defense deck still work?
While this deck wasn’t as all-in on the slow strategy as I wanted, it performed surprisingly well.
Approach of the Second Sun was actually a viable finisher, if a very slow one. It felt in many ways like Oracle’s Vault. It takes a long time to work, but if you’re in a board stall (and thus have a lot of time to set up) when you land it it will give you incredible inevitability. A lot of board stalls end up in states where the person that pulls the trigger first and attacks loses and Second Sun forces them to kill you (and thus make awful attacks) before it comes back. In general I’d probably still leave it in the sideboard, but if you find you’re just grinding out against a particular opponent the card can be quite useful.
Second, Luxa River Shrine impressed me more than it should have, again. I’ve played with Luxa a lot more than I should on stream, often as stipulation drafts and while I freely admit the card isn’t good, it has its uses. In game two of the second round, if I didn’t have the Shrine I would have definitely died to the Cut//Ribbons my opponent had. This is hardly a glowing endorsement, but I think this card can actually come in from the sideboard, much like the Approach when a match tends to go long. It gives so much extra space over the course of a long game to draw outs I would at least consider it in some cases. Good examples have been when I have board stall games with any kind of discrepancy from my opponent in air power. In a game where you can stall the ground, but your opponent has a couple of problem fliers it buys you time to answer the fliers instead of just dying over several turns; or if your creatures on the ground are better, it allows you to race back where you normally couldn’t. The same goes for the opposite situation. If you are trying to grind your opponent down with a Shimmerscale Drake but you have some pressure in the form of tough-to-block creatures like Soulstinger or Wasteland Scorpion it can help the race.
These aren’t strategies I would regularly endorse and it is important to note that this particular draft didn’t come across any really fast decks. However, I think it’s very useful to highlight where cards that are “unplayable” can actually be utilized. Very good players tend to make draft choices that other drafters scratch their heads at (Six Slither Blades??!), because they understand where those “bad” cards can be maximized. It’s not ideal to have a Luxa River Shrine, but if your opponent has a bunch of fliers and you’re stuck racing with no way to deal with them? Shrine may just buy you the time you need to close out a game.
Finding out when and where these traditionally bad cards can work can really level up your game and it’s something to stay introspective about as you learn a format.