In Richmond, Virgina this weekend is Mythic Championship VI! This is exciting on its own, but particularly so because this is the first time we get to see Throne of Eldraine Draft on the biggest stage.
Throne of Eldraine has been out for a while now, but essentially all of the professional level tournaments have been Standard. Normally, the pros are forced to jam as much Draft practice as possible, alongside their Constructed testing, to get a grip on the format as quickly as possible. But for this event, the feeling I get is that many of them are scrambling back to the draft tables to try to get up to speed now that the tournament is looming close.
After they get through a number of drafts, how does the format shake out?
Blue Is Good
Admittedly "Blue is good." is somewhat a lifestyle choice for me more than a general statement, but in this case it holds up.
Normally when we think of blue for Limited we think of card draw, some flying creatures, and maybe some bounce spells or counterspells of varying sorts. Removal, however, is often not high on that list. Often blue will get one medium-powered removal spell per set, the kind of removal you would put in the "necessary evil" category.
But in Throne of Eldraine we get not one but two common pieces of removal.
Charmed Sleep is a functional reprint of Claustrophobia, and any time an effect like this gets printed it sees heavy play. Charmed Sleep has the benefit of shutting off both big creatures and utility creatures as well.
But the card that I really love in this format for blue is So Tiny. This is exactly the type of card slow, controlling decks want. It's a super cheap, instant speed play to make sure your life total stays high in the early game, but also has utility against much bigger creatures in the late game. It's my favorite blue common.
Bake into a Pie is just an incredible card for this environment. Even if you only use the food token to gain 3 life, it's excellent. If you happen to have a food deck going, you'll be extra happy about that bonus.
Overall, this deck has everything you need to win: Early interaction, great late game inevitability, powerful card draw, and answers for basically everything your opponent can throw at you.
The downside to the strategy is that the cards it wants are also the cards everyone wants, and you could end up fighting for your key cards with people in multiple overlapping archetypes. That said, when it's open it's where I want to be.
The Mill Deck
If you talk to anyone who plays a lot of Throne of Eldraine Draft on MTG Arena they'll bring up the Merfolk Secretkeeper deck for sure. The MTG Arena bots don't pay much attention to Merfolk Secretkeeper, so you can reliably end up with four to six copies of it if you want them. And generally you do.
But this strategy doesn't translate to real life drafting as directly as you might think. The deck absolutely exists, and if you are person at your table drafting it, you'll be happy. It's a strong deck in this format. However, the table will likely only support one drafter going for it, so the pros will have to be careful about committing too early.
The interesting part about the mill deck is that you don't have to be all in on Merfolk Secretkeepers to make it work. You can have two or maybe three in a deck, and just buy them back or bounce them to your hand with cards like Forever Young and Run Away Together.
I've heard from top players saying that they just used one copy of Merfolk Secretkeeper over and over again to get far enough ahead on the mill plan to finish the game.
But then there is also the kind of turbo-mill variant where you do get a bunch of Secretkeepers and maybe a Lucky Clover and some Didn't Say Pleases with a few ways to run it all back again. Folio of Fancies is the pack one pick one of choice for this deck as well.
What About Mono-Colored Decks?
For the first time in a long time, you may see a mono-colored deck drafted at a Mythic Championship!
There are interesting tradeoffs at play when you draft mono-colored decks. On one hand you get the ultimate in on-color mana bases, never having to worry about quality of mana, only quantity. On the other hand, you severely limit your choices each pick in the draft, and could easily find yourself a few playables short.
The payoffs that you get in Throne of Eldraine for being mono-colored range from "nice to have" to "pretty dang sweet" though. First, you'll get full access to any cards in your color that have adamant, and you'll never cast them without adamant. These are rarely game breaking, but the bonuses are real.
But even better than most of the adamant payoffs are the big four mana hybrid uncommons.
This is a full cycle of cards, which means that if you were, say, mono white, you would be able to play any of the four cards in the cycle that were white.
While these are potentially a big payoff for being mono-colored, the interesting part is that you are actually more likely to get them since the only players who can take them during the draft are either in exactly that color pair or are also mono-colored.
Picking up an Arcanist's Owl sixth pick in pack three feels fantastic, let me tell you.
Mono-colored decks aren't rampant in the format, but they do exist and I wouldn't be surprised to see someone draft it at the Mythic Championship.
What About Aggressive Decks?
Early in the format it felt like the aggressive decks weren't powered up enough to compete with the cheap removal and card draw of the slower decks, but that worry seems to have subsided now.
The best aggressive decks center around the three Knight colors: Black, red, and white.
You can pick any color pair here and come out with a playable aggressive deck, and you can even splash into a third color if you'd like. I've had more success with two-colored decks as a splash can have a critical impact on your curve-out prospects, but there are decks where it is appropriate. The Knight subtheme comes up often, and most of these decks would be described as Knight-centric, though that does vary from fully dedicated to vaguely a subtheme.
One particularly impressive card is Ardenvale Tactician. This is the card that the defensive decks live in fear of. It can be responsible for a ton of extra damage via its adventure Dizzying Swoop, but also close out a game as a solid 2/3 flyer. I have this ranked as the best white common, even above more traditional choices like Trapped in the Tower.
Faerie Guidemother is another card that can get in for a ton of damage. Gift of the Fae looks clunky, but well timed it can represent a race-changing amount of damage, and in the case that you need to just cast a Guidemother on turn one she'll usually be good for four or five points of damage without any help.
Real Life Experience
For those who want to see these principles in action, here are a couple of decks that I drafted myself. Admittedly these were recorded early in the format—during the first week of its release—so I was still figuring it all out, but they give you a glimpse of a few possibilities.
This first draft shows what a nearly mono-colored deck looks like, how it plays out, and what concessions you need to make to play a deck like this.
This next draft is similar, but with a totally different archetype and look at the format.
See You There?
Standard has been fleshed out very well at this point, and the top players will look to get their edge wherever they can get it. For Mythic Championship VI, it looks like Draft is the place with the most upside.
Now that the format has developed further, the competitors at Richmond are going to have dedicated a lot of time to Limited and will certainly be bringing their best to the tables as the Draft rounds carry a ton of weight for the tournament.
I'll be in the booth doing coverage, and I certainly hope you'll come along for the ride. Watch all of Mythic Championship VI on twitch.tv/magic beginning Friday, November 8 at 9 a.m. EST / 6 a.m PST / 2 p.m. UTC.
See you there!