You may have heard the term “forcing” a draft. What does it mean? Generally, it’s a negative term, as it suggests you’re pushing too hard for a certain type of deck to work instead of following the signals given to you by what is being passed. It doesn’t have to be negative though. Forcing an archetype can be fun! More than that, it can teach some valuable lessons on what types of decks or archetypes work in drafts, which is very important if you’re going to big tournament and want to know what to look for or avoid. In the Full Force series I want to force these archetypes for you, to learn with you what archetypes work (and what don’t!) in the latest limited formats.

 After some polling, this week we’re going to dig into UR Spells in Shadows over Innistrad. I’m also shaking up the video format, with multiple drafts and edited rounds, to highlight key moments. My initial thoughts going into this draft were that it would probably be a giant disaster. I felt the deck was often too dependent on uncommons Reckless Scholar, Mad Prophet, Rise from the Tides and rares/mythics (Thing in the Ice, Startled Awake, Geralf’s Masterpiece) but it seems like I might have been wrong. I found the deck was more resilient than I thought, although still not my favorite, and that there is flexibility to move into different UR spells decks, one that’s aggressive and a more controlling second version.

So what cards are you looking for? It depends on which version of the deck you’re building, but both versions will have overlap. Probably the biggest overlapping cards are spells like Geistblast and Fiery Temper or creatures like Pyre Hound, Reckless Scholar, Stitched Mangler, and Mad Prophet. The aggressive version will want to play out in typical tempo fashion. You want bounce/tap effects like Press the Advantage, Just the Wind, Stitched Mangler, and Compelling Deterrence to push through big damage from creatures like Blood-mad Vampire, Niblis of Dusk, Sanguinary Mage and Pyre Hound. This version is pretty straightforward aggro and tempo so I won’t go further into it.

The more controlling (and more interesting) version typically happens when you find an early Rise from the Tides. A lot of other decks won’t want Rise , but I’d advise against passing it hoping it will wheel if you are in the deck. It’s too important to leave to chance if your deck is already in on being a controlling UR deck as it’s just fantastic at closing out a long game. Once you have a copy or two of Rise, you want a lot of ways to draw cards and stall the game, so you can come over the top late in the game with your big finishers. Reckless Scholar and Mad Prophet are your big cards, but Tormenting Voice and Pore over the Pages are still good here. If absolutely necessary you can fill in a bit of draw with Nagging Thoughts and Catalog, but they’re not as good as the others.

To stall, you can use cards like Sleep Paralysis, Inner Struggle, Press the Advantage, and Just the Wind, but you really want Stitched Mangler. Mangler has been fantastic for me in the format when you just need extra time. It blocks well as a 2/3 while buying you an extra turn against larger threats/fliers as well. Silent Observer is also a tough to deal with wall. Fiery Temper doesn’t kill it, Rabid Bite needs something beefy, and Throttle isn’t enough alone for the 1/5 so it tends to just block turn after turn as you churn through your deck. One last card to keep an eye out for is Epitaph Golem. If you have Reckless Scholar/Mad Prophet and think you can just rip through your deck, a Golem as insurance against milling yourself out in a slow match-up is definitely worth it. Not to mention there’s no better way to win a match than putting Rise back into your deck as the last card every turn and making a million Zombies.

Last point, if get stuck in a controlling blue red deck, with a lot of spells and some walls but can’t find Rise from the Tides make sure to replace it with some big top-end beef. It won’t be as effective, but you might steal a few games with Nephalia Moondrakes, Pyre Hound, or Gatstaf Arsonists if you have enough removal to back them up. The worst thing you can do is get a deck full of sweet value and no way to close out a game.

I hope you enjoyed the video and article! Hopefully UR next draft spells disaster for your opponents.