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.
This week, by popular demand, we are evaluating five colour decks. I was excited to record this weeks’ episode, because the five colour deck is different than a lot of the archetypes I showcase on the series. Most drafts the recommended strategy is to stay open and wait to see what archetype is being passed. When drafting five colour, you need to commit a lot earlier or the deck won’t work. The best strategy may be to force the draft, so to speak.
The reason you need to force the draft is your mana base. You have to be willing to pass a lot of decent cards to take mana fixing early so you can get rewarded later. The deck wants to have access to all the colours so it has the most powerful spells available to it, but the power level of your spells doesn’t matter if you can’t cast them. Cards like Pilgrim’s Eye, Civic Wayfinder, and Abundant Growth become high picks, and you should be willing to take the tap lands early, until your mana base is secure, even over good playable cards. You can find a lot of very powerful cards in the set when you can pick from any colour, take them when you can’t find fixing or once you feel like your mana is secure. Your main problem shouldn’t be finding powerful cards, it should be making sure your manabase can support that cards you get.
So what is a suitable manabase? Obviously this depends a lot on what you’re trying to do. Even if you get a lot of fixing, it’s generally a bad idea to have a lot of double colour-cost cards (Beetleback Chief, Nekrataal, etc.) unless they’re your main colour. A better way to look at this is to decide when it’s OK to start prioritizing powerful cards over mana fixing. Personally, I think a manabase of around six tap lands, with two or three copies of the other mana fixers (Pilgrim’s Eye, Prismatic Lens, Wayfinder, and Growth) is generally sufficient to let you take what you like – Within reason. Even if you get a lot of fixing, it’s generally a bad idea to have a lot of double colour-cost cards (Beetleback Chief, Nekrataal, etc.) unless they’re your main colour.
A fun advantage of drafting five colours is that you throw off the game plan of every other drafter. You can take the most powerful spells from every colour so the signals you send are muddled and you can take the powerful cards other archetypes want. It’s hard to put a number on how much of a difference it makes, but it is far from irrelevant.
Some last things to be aware of when drafting five colours is that you will almost always end up being mainly green, because of the mana fixing, so I would lean towards taking green cards on any relatively close power level picks. It’s also good to value card draw a little more than normal. The hope in a good five colour list is that your spells will generally be more impactful than your opponents’, which makes having extra cards even more valuable. Card draw also has the major advantage of being pseudo-mana fixing, drawing you into your splash colours. So as usual, you need to respect the value of cards like Merfolk Looter.
I’m glad to have coloured your opinions on drafting EMA, but unfortunately it’s left Magic Online. I’ll be back in two weeks with some Vintage Cube!