Drafting Tips for War of the Spark on MTG Arena

Tzu-Mainn Chen
May 13, 2019
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The War of the Spark draft format is shaping up to be one of the best in Magic’s recent history. I’ve already drafted a ton, playing multiple Best-of-3 drafts on Arena and participating in four paper drafts this past weekend alone. There are a ton of different directions to go and a multitude of viable powerful strategies.


So what to do during a draft? I asked one of my friends that question and he gave me a very simple answer: look to do the most busted thing possible. And what’s that? Let’s go through each of the two-color archetypes and see!

Bad Archetypes: Orzhov, Azorius and Boros

War of the Spark has a lot of power. That power is not contained within these three color pairs. Sure, there may be individually good cards here; however, there’s no overarching strategy that will dominate your opponent.


That being said, these color pairs do have a way to win. Here’s what to do if you find yourself trapped in these archetypes:

Black/White (Orzhov): Decided to go all-in on your P1P1 Sorin? Take the great removal and creatures that almost work well together and hope that an Oath of Kaya or two are passed your way.

Boros (Red/White): I assume that you first picked Feather. Congratulations! Draft aggressive low drops and lots of combat tricks. Then draw the right part of your deck at the right time, and pray your opponent has no removal.

Azorius (Blue/White): Sometimes you first pick a great blue or white card, go deep on the color, and then realize you’re being cut from the better color pairings. What to do? Draft every single flier you can, and then hope that your evasive 2/2s and 1/3s can peck your opponents to death. Maybe Rally of Wings can help!

But seriously - try and stay away from these colors.

 

Selesnya (Green/White)

There’s a dream Green/White deck out there, full of Evolution Sages and Mowus and even an Ajani to go really over the top. If you get the high-end Green/White rares and uncommons, then you can make that deck! Grab high-impact counter commons to round things out - Bloom Hulks, Pollenbright Druids, Battlefield Promotions - and rampage through your games.

  
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However, it’s more likely that your rares aren’t quite as nutty as you’d like. If that happens, then your Green/White deck will have a tragic tendency to sag after the first few turns. Maybe your opponent bounces your one creature loaded up with counters, or maybe they play a five-drop creature that outclasses all your 2/1s and 1/3s.


In order to prepare for that contingency, make sure to draft plenty of evasive threats: white flyers such as War Screecher and Enforcer Griffin. Sometimes they’ll be enough to close out a seemingly lost game.


Black/Red (Rakdos)

I haven’t played this archetype much, but I’ve watched streamers wreak havoc with their collection of aggressive low drops. The presumptive theme of this archetype is self-sacrifice, and sacrificing cards like Grim Initiate and TIbalt’s Rager to Ahn-Crop Invader certainly feels good.

   

However, don’t get too fixated on the belief that the creatures you sacrifice have to generate value. The real goal is simply to push through as much damage as you can, and then finish your opponent off with a Heartfire or two.

Red/Green (Gruul)

In War of the Spark, Red/Green decks have the same taste that they almost always do: the flavor of beatdown on a curve. This is emphasized by the key card of this archetype: Raging Kronch.

   

This powerful three-drop encourages you to play with reasonable two-drops that enable you to attack with the Kronch. Naturally, the ideal one is Kronch Wrangler, which benefits from the Raging Kronch’s high power. Beyond that cute trick, there’s really nothing all that flashy about drafting Red/Green. Just keep an eye out for Turret Ogres: their direct damage is great at pressuring life totals, and sometimes a careless opponent will forget that the ogre has reach and swing a small flier right into its waiting fists.

Splashy Archetypes: Blue/Green, Black/Green

Green is traditionally the color that allows for splashing shenanigans, and that holds true in War of the Spark as well. Centaur Nurturer and New Horizons enable you to play a third or even fourth color, and after drafting a couple of these you can delight in grabbing whatever bombs you’d like!

   

It is worth noting, however, that Blue/Green and Black/Green decks encourage slightly different styles of play. Black/Green is slow and grindy, and emphasizes removal and two-for-ones such as Aid the Fallen and Tithebearer Giant.


On the other hand, Blue/Green converges on the Proliferate mechanic. These decks aren’t as aggressive as Green/White decks, but have the potential for explosively exponential power in the mid-to-late game: double or even triple Proliferate turns that grow three creatures while enabling additional uncommon Planeswalker activations.


Blue/Red

The “non-creature spells matter” color pair has heavy support in War of the Spark due to the abundance of Planeswalkers and non-creature spells that Amass. My favorite iteration of this archetype is highly aggressive, using strong two drops such as Burning Prophet and Sky Theater Strix to crash in damage early before turning to spells such as Stealth Mission and Heartfire to finish things off.

Blue/Black

Blue/Black is typically a control archetype; however, Amass turns the color pair into something that supports more tempo-based play. Lazotep Reaver and Aven Eternal provide early threats that can grow through either Proliferate effects or additional Amass cards. Careful use of removal and bounce spells will allow you to deal with any threat you can’t block, and card draw will give you long-term inevitability.


This archetype is slow and grindy, so it’s important to make sure you have a few fast win conditions. Broken rares and mythics are obviously good, but uncommons such as Thunder Drake or Eternal Skylord are also great at allowing you to win quickly.

Miscellaneous Notes

  • Although War of the Spark is not a super-aggressive format, it’s still important to try and apply early pressure - if not at your opponent’s life total, then at their Planeswalkers. Make sure you draft a reasonable curve.
  • It’s critical for every deck to be able to deal with Planeswalkers. There’s flyers  of course, but there’s also cards such as Stealth Mission, Price of Betrayal, and Sarkhan’s Catharsis that are perfectly good sideboard cards.
  
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  • Ugin’s Conjurant is an amazing card. It fills any spot in your curve, supports multiple archetypes, and its drawback can be considered negligible if it manages to take out an opponent’s creature before sitting back to chump-block.


Good luck in your drafts!

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