Time Spiral Draft - Green/Red
What I want to talk about this week isn't exactly “new” information. You see, once everyone realized how good Blue was, I had to find something else to draft, and I turned to my old standby: in G/R. Now, there are many ways to draft G/R in this format, but what I've found is that most of them are pretty mediocre unless you go for the combo version.
This archetype was first introduced by Bastien Perez at Pro Tour: Kobe, and he used it to get into the Top 8 there. Despite his good performance with it, I haven't really seen anyone else advocating it and there definitely hasn't been anything written about it. I've been drafting this deck quite a lot since I'm rarely able to get into U/R anymore, and I've had a great deal of success with it. It's gotten to the point where Empty the Warrens gets hate drafted on the first lap in team drafts because everyone knows I will go into the deck if given the chance.
Hopefully this drafting guide will help you to recognize which commons are the most important in the G/R archetype and how you should go about drafting it.
The Key Commons
Empty the Warrens
Some may disagree with me on this, but this is far and away the best way to draft the G/R deck. Drafting around Empty requires that you get at least two copies usually, but that isn't hard to do in an eight-man, and the cards that work well with Empty are also good on their own in most cases. I don't think I have to explain that the way to exploit this card is through cheap spells and Suspend.
Strength in Numbers
If Empty is the most important card, Strength is not far behind. Strength is the only real pump spell you'll want in your deck, and I wouldn't worry about having too many as that is really hard to do. It's still okay to play Aether Web from time to time, or Thrill of the Hunt if you can facilitate the Flashback, but honestly the only trick I want in this deck is as many Strength in Numbers - as I can get my hands on. Oh, and yes, it's far better than Might of Old Krosa.
Search for Tomorrow
I could never really understand why anyone would rather have Durkwood Baloth than this card in Draft, but maybe that just means I'm in the minority. In this archetype, Search enables a turn 3 Empty for four guys as well as providing acceleration for a later Empty or helping to facilitate a splash, such as Strangling Soot or Flashback on Thrill of the Hunt. In a nutshell, I love this card and the only Green common I think is close to it in value is Penumbra Spider. As far as the choice between those two, I believe it is deck dependent, but would usually rather have the first Search than the first Spider unless it is late in the draft and my deck is shaping up differently.
Before you ask... yes, I still advocate taking Lightning Axe over this card despite the obvious synergy the Suspend 1 adds to the deck. I don't know what else to say, except that you should take this over every non-Axe common.
As anyone who plays in the regular CMU crowd will probably tell you, this is my favorite card in the set besides Fathom Seer. Suspending this guy and then casting Empty the turn afterwards is just awesome, especially if you can also play another spell or suspend him at the same time as a Rift Bolt or another card getting ready to unsuspend. I wonder if “unsuspend” is even appropriate terminology or not? Hmm..
The only real problem here is that everyone is fully aware how good this guy is, and so it is hard to get multiples nowadays. He does work wonders with Empty though, and you should certainly be picking him high.
I still like this card more in U/R than I do here, and I'm not sure why that is exactly. Regardless, this is cheap removal that also benefits from the fact that you're building around a different Storm card, so sometimes things can get really out of hand.
Back at PT: Kobe this card was the highlight of most of Bastien Perez's decks in the coverage. The card is definitely great in this archetype, but it is nowhere near as valuable as Strength in Number or Empty the Warrens. That said, I'll definitely run a couple if my four-slot isn't too crowded (which can be a problem sometimes), and Penumbra Spider is miles better.
I know this is the Key Commons section, and while I will play this guy, I am never really that happy about it. I know, call me completely insane in the forums since I know everyone else loves this card, but he really just doesn't do it for me. In Sealed Deck he is an absolute powerhouse since the format is slower, but Suspend 5 usually happens too late to really change a game in my favor. The only reason I'll really play this card is because it can help power up a later game Empty, though you usually want to do it on turn 4 or 5 if you can.
Whenever I'm U/R or U/B, this is the one card I really don't want my opponents to play against me. Man, is this thing ever annoying and hard to deal with. On a purely theoretical level I would say that this guy is the best Green common in the set, especially for the straight G/R archetype.
Acceleration is a good thing when you're trying to build up for a big Storm turn. When I say “big” turn too, I'm talking about making six or eight goblins. You'll find it's very difficult for most normal decks to deal with that, especially if you have a Strength in Numbers thrown in.
This guy serves the same function as Penumbra Spider, which is flying defense. Sadly, he doesn't do the job nearly as well, but he is also a two-drop which can start the pressure early. Don't forget too that you can also dip into a Sliver theme if you get enough of them and a couple of their Might / Bonesplitter / Fury cousins to power them up.
Mogg War Marshal
I know this guy is far down on the list, but I promise you that it doesn't coincide with his worth. I'd much rather have this guy than Ashcoat Bear or some of the other weenies that are available, as he too powers up the Strength theme.
If you get a chance later in the packs, especially if this is a team draft, you should try to hate draft as many of these as you can. I shouldn't have to tell you why they completely screw over the deck if you've built around Empty correctly.
I realize there are lots of other good commons available like Keldon Halberdier, Thallid Germinator, Flamecore Elemental, Flowstone Channeler and others, but I didn't really have anything special to mention about those. This doesn't mean they aren't playable (though I really don't like Flamecore in this deck)... it just means that anything I'd say would already be obvious.
Oh, and if you do get three or more copies of Empty the Warrens, I'd recommend playing Sprout or other cheap spells to help power them even more. Sprout also goes up in value with multiple Herd Gnarrs or Primal Forcemages.
Notable Uncommons and Rares
Tromp the Domains
This is as good as it gets, boys. Nothing is more satisfying than casting Empty and then trampling your opponent's face the turn afterwards. Search for Tomorrow helps here to make sure it's at least +3/+3, but usually +2/+2 will work as well. Another card to keep in mind is Kher Keep, as it will go late and is awesome with Tromp and Strength in Numbers. I'd definitely play it.
This is like Tromp on a stick for any deck with multiple Empty or just a lot of War Marshals. This is a very high pick for the deck, and works well with the existing synergies in the archetype.
Nantuko Shaman, Keldon Halberdier, and Ashcoat Bear all love this guy. I had a deck with four Shamans and three of this guy one time, and it was quite insane to say the least. Scryb Ranger even packs a punch here. This is a card that nobody really thinks much of, but can be really powerful if you get the right set of cards to go with it. Don't just push him aside... he has feelings too.
Speaking of which, this guy does it all. I take this over all of the Green commons, and it really isn't very close. This guy does it all, from adding extra mana to abusing tap abilities, to simply giving your whole side pseudo-vigilance so that it is very hard for your opponent to fight back. Protection from Blue is a nice touch I might add, as that is this deck's weakness.
Stonebrow, Krosan Hero
Anyone who says this card isn't a bomb hasn't been on the opposing end of it nearly enough. This guy is an absolute house and is made better by the fact that you can make another guy go super large with Strength in Numbers. On his own he's more than up to handling the job though, and the only things I'd consider taking over him are Tromp and Firemaw Kavu.
Ib Halfheart, Goblin Tactician
This guy is a total bomb in the archetype, and it shouldn't be hard to see why as your goal is to amass a ton of Goblin tokens. I've first picked this before in pack 1, and gone straight into the deck and done well. While I don't exactly advise this type of forcing, since the key commons aren't particularly high picks, you can actually do it relatively consistently if nobody knows. If I wasn't too lazy I'd try forcing it on MTGO for a few drafts, just to see what happened.
We all know that this guy is completely insane just by himself. Now I want you to imagine how good he can be when you have a bunch of extra Goblin tokens lying around waiting to swarm and be sacrificed for a “greater” cause.
This card is at its best in this archetype where there is no shortage of tokens or dorks to suit up and get in there with. The fact that it comes back makes it so good when you're putting it on Goblin tokens.
There are too many bomb rares in these colors for me to list, and it really wouldn't do much good any way. It's pretty obvious what Jaya and Bogardan Hellkite do, and I'm not going to waste more bandwidth on that. Instead, I have a couple of sample decklists to show you what this archetype is all about.
Yes, that's an actual draft deck from one of our Friday night drafts. No, I didn't lose any games with it. I realize this is also a highly unusual list and won't happen very often so I've included another more “standard” looking GR deck.
- 1 Durkwood Baloth
- 1 Fortune Thief
- 1 Goblin Skycutter
- 1 Herd Gnarr
- 1 Keldon Halberdier
- 1 Mogg War Marshal
- 1 Nantuko Shaman
- 1 Penumbra Spider
- 1 Primal Forcemage
- 1 Scryb Ranger
- 2 Spinneret Sliver
- 1 Thallid Germinator
The main thing to keep in mind when you're drafting these colors is that you need to get one of the two dominant themes: Goblins or Slivers. I haven't had a lot of success with G/R builds that are just all over the place, and have found focusing in on a theme will make your deck that much stronger. I didn't really cover the Slivers plan here today because it should be fairly obvious how to draft for it, and that you should splash for bomb Slivers if you have the mana fixers. The other reason I didn't write about Slivers is because I feel that the Goblin version of the archetype is stronger and also less known.
Good luck in your drafts, and I encourage you to give this deck a try. I'll also be answering any questions in the forums.
Soooooo on MTGO