Drafting a new set can be a bit of a daunting prospect. Although many drafts guide exist out there, (and you should check out my fellow Master, Chris Warrington’s super serious guide to the format), there can be a ton of conflicting view points on the best way to tackle such a task. However, there is one rule that has always served me well, even when new and possibly better ideas come to light, and that my friends, is B.R.E.A.D.
For the uninitiated of you out there, B.R.E.A.D, is a device to help you focus on what you should be looking for in your games of limited magic. It stands for Bombs, Removal, Evasion, Attacker/Aggro, and Duds (sometimes called Defence). By having the right number of these in your card pool, you can increase the chances of coming out on top when strand out into an uncertain new format. So, with Amonkhet soon to hit the shelves of your local hobby centre, let’s have a look at where the cards of this set line up with B.R.E.A.D.
Bombs are your win conditions, the way you will finish out the game. When one of these hits the table, your opponent should be put on a clock, or even force a scoop. Depending on the archetypes of the set, there could be multiple cards that will fulfil the desired role. It goes without saying, the planeswalkers such as Gideon of the Trials are some of the best limited bombs going. In terms of our man gids, we get a planeswalker that can shut down your opponent’s bombs, beat down face, or even stop you from losing the game. But not everyone has luck on their side, so pulling a powerful mythic may not be on the cards. Luck for you, we have some great choices in the rare slot. Powerful flyers such as Archfiend Ifnir and Glorybringer, not only hit like a freight trains, but can control the board by removing other threats you might be facing. A special mention has to go to the gods of this plane. Though they may have clauses meaning they can’t attack or block unless you fulfil them, these indestructible power houses can, in the right deck, prove to be the win-con you need.
Having a way to win the game is all well and good, but what if your opponent finds their bombs first, or you are facing a board full of opposing creatures? Well, that’s when removal is key. Simply put, anything that can kills, exiles, bounces or slows a threat to your life total should be considered for your removal slots. Ideally, you should focus on spells and abilities that permanently remove creatures, as they are the biggest threat you will face. We have a few cards that should be high on your list, such as Cast Out and Cut/Pieces. These examples both deal with threats, in their own way, and are efficient ways to disrupt your enemies plans. But not all removal is the same, and bounce effects like Floodwaters, as well disruption cards such as Lay Bare the Heart, can be effective at slowing down your opponent until you can get the board stable. If you are more control minded, you may want to keep an eye out for sweepers and counterspells, such as Rags/Riches and Essence Scatter, to help you keep control of the game.
Some people refer to this slot as Efficient Spells, but the basic premise are cards that allow you to get in damage, or creatures able to worm their way past opposing blockers. Flyers, creatures with Menace and Trample all belong in this category. Flameblade Adept and Tah-Crop Elite, give you an idea of the kind of creatures we want to put in this slot. You want to be on the look out to pick up a good number of these creatures, and if you can pick up more powerful examples such as Angler Drake, then all the better. It is also important to pick up some spells that give your less efficient creatures the ability to play with the big boys. Cards like Mighty Leap and Cartouche of Strength, can help turn a small one or two drop, in to a more menacing threat. Don’t focus to much on picking up a vast number of these. Too many times I have filled my deck with a ton of pump effects, only for me to run out of creatures to cast them upon. Pick up creatures first, then spell after.
This is where we fill out the rest of our curve with creatures and damage spell, aimed at getting our opponents life total down low. Bombs are great and all, but you can’t rely on them alone to win you the game. When we look at the slot, we want to fill it out with creatures and spells that have a good damage to cost ratio. Creatures such as Pouncing Cheetah, Ahn-Crop Crasher and Trueheart Duelist, all fall happily into this category. This is where the heart of your deck will reside, and if you do it right, will do most of the work in winning you the game. A good chuck to these slots will be made up of Commons, with a few Uncommon sprinkled in for good measure. Therefore, picking these in draft is not a high priority, as there should be a healthy number of them in all colours going around the table. In sealed, these will help you know which colours are viable, as a lack of them in any colour, will let you know to avoid them.
These are the cards that will not help you in your goal to win the game. They may be less efficient creatures, draw spells, or life gain effects. The word ‘Dud’ makes these cards sound like trash, but this is not always the case. These cards simple can’t or won’t win games, even if they have a positive effect on your deck construction. Some players like to refer to this slot as Defence, due to it been home to life gain spells like Renewed Faith, and blockers such as Ancient Crab. As such, these should be low down in the pecking order, and should only make the cut if you need a twenty-third card. It is important to note, that some cards make it into this section, even if they are powerful cards. They might be constructed worthy, but draft and sealed have their own meta, and don’t always find a use for such cards.
And there you have it, our helpful guide to conquering Amonkhet limited. I hope it has been useful to you, and that you find success with Magics new set. Do you have another system you employ when facing your friends, or have you got any stories of how B.R.E.A.D. has helped you? Why don’t you get in touch and let us hear about it. Until then, draw well.