Face-Up Your Guys! Drafting U/W Aggro To Win
This is the complete guide to drafting the most underrated archetype in Onslaught-Legions-Scourge: U/W Aggro.
With the addition of Scourge, the average casting cost in most decks has increased. U/W Aggro can take advantage of this by playing small, fast evasion creatures. Often, the game will be over before your opponent can cast whatever bombs they opened in the draft! Although the archetype has no common bombs in Onslaught, the power of U/W lies in its synergy and the good cards it gains in Legions and Scourge.
Red and Black are the only colors with good removal, but they are so overdrafted that you lose a lot of depth by playing them. You will only get red removal in the first three picks. (If you're drafting with people who give you seventh-pick Shocks, you don't need my advice to win.) After that, you may see three or four good red cards before getting cut off entirely. This means that you have to rely on getting plenty of good cards in your secondary color. If the second color gets cut off in either direction, you will end up with a poor deck. Sure, you might have a Shock and a Sparksmith, but the rest of your deck will most likely be suboptimal.
The advantage to drafting Blue and White is that most people underrate them, so you can draft strong, consistent decks. In Onslaught, White has no common bombs, so people rarely first-pick white cards. Pacifism, Piety Charm, and Glory Seeker are the three best white commons. Blue has Ascending Aven, Mistform Dreamer, and Choking Tethers, none of which are first-picked often. The flashy commons send people into Red, Black, and Green. Players will pick Sparksmith, Shock, Solar Blast, Lavamancer's Skill, Wellwisher, Snarling Undorak, Wirewood Savage, Krosan Tusker, Nantuko Husk, Cruel Revival, Swat, and other power cards over white or blue commons all day. There isn't a single common that really makes people want to go White or Blue in their first picks.
Many people acknowledge the power of U/W, but refuse to play it because of the potential that they will lose to Sparksmith or Wellwisher. These people are trying too hard to not lose, rather than playing to win. This goes to the fundamental question in Magic: Do you want to be the one asking the questions or trying to answer them? U/W has enough good threats that you will be asking questions all day.
I am going to tell you what cards to take and how to play them. But first, to satisfy all the tentative drafters, I will begin by showing you exactly how unlikely it is that you will lose to Sparksmith in OLS draft.
Sparksmith And Wellwisher: False Messiahs
People drastically overestimate Sparksmith and Wellwisher. They value them so highly that they will plan an entire draft around the fear that they will see one of these commons across the table... And yes, they are powerful. I agree that Sparksmith is the best common in the set. But the fact that it exists should not single-handedly convince you to draft a certain archetype.
Sure, U/W scoops to Sparksmith... If they draft it, draw it, play it in conjunction with another goblin, and you don't have an answer. The chance of all four of these conditions happening is so small these days that you shouldn't worry about it.
Most people will never see a Sparksmith in their booster. There are 110 commons in Onslaught. With eleven commons in a pack, there is a 10% chance that any given opponent will ever open one. (They will rarely get passed a Sparksmith, since there is no common that is better and there are only about five or six rares and uncommons that are better.)
They have to draw their Sparksmith. With only one pack of Onslaught, it's highly unlikely that they will manage to draft two... So with a forty-card deck, they have somewhere around a 20% chance that they will draw him in the first eight cards.
Solo Sparksmith is no problem for you. Many people first-pick a Sparksmith and then their red gets cut off before they have the opportunity to draft four or five goblins. Even if they draft the goblins, they might not draw them with Sparky.
If you're still really nervous about Sparksmith, don't worry - Scourge gives you enough answers! Frozen Solid and Pemmin's Aura deal with Sparksmith (as well as Timberwatch Elf and Wellwisher). Of course, they're not as good as Shock, but they'll do the trick. Guilty Conscience will kill a Sparksmith, but should stay in the sideboard otherwise. Deftblade Elite kills Sparksmith if he comes down on turn 1, and it's usually not hard to get two Elites. You might splash black or red for Shock, Skill, Solar Blast, Smother, or Cruel Revival if you can draft them... But they are very hard to draft because they are the first cards that get taken. That's why you're playing U/W in the first place, remember?
So to recap: The 10% chance of drafting a 'Smith combined with the 20% chance they will draw it means there is only a 2% chance that you will see a Sparksmith across the table on turn 2 of any given game these days. If you have three of the above-mentioned answers in your deck, you will have a 75% chance of drawing your answer to Sparksmith by the third turn. That means that there is a 0.5% chance that a turn 2 Sparksmith will wreck you.
I'm not scared.
The Cards to Draft in U/W
Your deck is based on cheap guys that fly. Make sure to draft them, but you probably don't have to pick them too high because there are so many and they often keep coming in Legions and Scourge.
Pacifisms, Piety Charms, and Choking Tethers should be picked high in Onslaught. The only creatures that approach the quality of these three cards are Ascending Aven and Glory Seeker. I'm happy taking any of the five as a first or second pick when there's not a bomb rare in the pack. None of these cards are flashy, but that's what gives this archetype an edge: Most people would never even consider first-picking a Piety Charm or Choking Tethers. When you do, you will get passed some great support.
There are a bunch of other commons to take early as well. Gustcloak Harrier, Mistform Dreamer, and Dive Bomber are good for your deck. Daru Lancer should still be taken highly - but in this deck, it's better to play fliers on turn 3 and 4, rather than spending seven mana for a 3/4. I'll talk about this in depth later.
You might want to pick up a Renewed Faith and a Mage's Guile, but don't try too hard. Go for the cycling lands over these. Take Unified Strikes late to side in against other white decks. A Demystify is nice for the sideboard as well.
You might get lucky and pick up some good uncommons, but I won't go into all the possibilities there. Just remember: the cheaper, the better in this deck.
The commons in Legions and Scourge are the true strength of U/W. Echo Tracer is good because it fulfils a unique role: Aside from Essence Fracture and a couple cards in Scourge, bounce isn't available in this format. Echo Tracer gives you a huge advantage in tempo.
Aven Redeemer, Mistform Seaswift, Daru Stinger, Wingbeat Warrior, Deftblade Elite, and Covert Operative are all great cards. Consider what you have already drafted when deciding which of these to take: Daru Stinger could be first pick if you already have three or four soldiers, while Wingbeat Warrior goes down in value if you picked three Gustcloak Harriers or Mistform Dreamers in Onslaught.
Gempalm Avenger and Keeneye Aven are good too, and obviously there are nice uncommons that fit well in U/W Aggro. By the end of Legions, you want good spells; thankfully, Scourge will give them to you.
Rush of Knowledge is first-pick quality. Even though you don't have cards that are as expensive as most decks, casting it to draw three or four cards is still awesome. It ensures that you won't run out of gas if the game goes late.
Frozen Solid is amazing because it takes care of Sparksmith, Wellwisher, and Timberwatch. Zombie Cutthroat and Frontline Strategist are really great in this archetype. (But what archetype can't use the Cutthroat? - The Ferrett) Aven Liberator, Zealous Inquisitor, Shoreline Ranger, and Noble Templar are all good, too.
Raven Guild Initiates are cool tricks because they can save your birds after damage is on the stack and act as a 2/4, but the loss of tempo usually isn't worth it; Dispersal Shield is nice for the sideboard and will come late. Play it if you won the first game and are on the draw in order to counter their turn 3 morph.
Enough about what to take. Here's how you play it.
Face-Up Your Guys!
The thing about this deck is that you have to play it aggro. Put out some guys and start attacking ASAP. Don't waste your time playing fliers face-down. If you do, you have to spend mana to un-morph them next turn, which wastes valuable time and completely undermines the best quality of your deck - the efficient mana curve.
For example, Ascending Aven and Mistform Seaswift are almost always better when played face-up. It is smarter to play a 2/x flier on turn 3 and then play Aven or Seaswift face-up on turn 4. This way, you attack for two damage on turn 4 and five damage on turn 5, for a total of seven damage. If you would have morphed the Aven on 3 and spent turn 4 turning him over, you would have only done six total damage by turn 5. Every point counts, and you want to get as many fliers in play as possible (but be wary of Infest and Slice and Dice).
Wingbeat Warrior should usually be played face-up in this deck also. If you're on the draw, definitely play him face-up. Your opponent might be able to lay something like a 2/3, 3/3, or whatever on turn 4, so that you would be forced to flip the Warrior before attacking. This is a waste of your turn 4 and gets you way behind in tempo, which you desperately need.
If you're playing first, it's probably a good idea to face-up the Warrior also. The advantage of playing him as a morph is that your opponent might block with their morph, and you could flip the Warrior to kill the opposing morph for free... But the problem is that nobody blocks. You won't have to spend your mana to flip him in order to get two damage in, but once they play a 3/3 or something, you'll have to waste the mana on the Warrior before attacking with him. This archetype is all about speed and efficiency, and paying six for a 2/1 flier is almost never a good deal.
But don't play Echo Tracer or Frontline Strategist face-up. Ever.
Summary of the Archetype
U/W Aggro is great. It's the Sligh of OLS draft because of the fast and effective mana curve. It has answers to Spitting Gourna in the form of Pacifism, Piety Charm, Echo Tracer, and Deftblade Elite. It will rarely lose to Sparksmith or Wellwisher, since there is only one pack of Onslaught. Timberwatch Elf is not as big a problem for you since they won't be blocking anyway and you can play fog effects to outrace them.
Playing U/W Aggro minimizes the effect of luck on your draft. You can win without opening bombs and you can beat opponents that did open bombs before they are able to play them. Don't fear an opponent's Akroma, Angel of Wrath because if they have the mana to play it, you would have lost anyway.