Drafting Green, Black in Amonkhet
I originally intended to write an article on the BW Zombies deck with which I went 9-1 in the Swiss of Pro Tour Amonkhet, however, with the evolving metagame and the length of time between then and now I feel it would be a bit antiquated. As such, I decided to write about what I know best: Limited.
Something that I feel is important to state is that I formulated the vast majority of these opinions myself. I did not attend a draft camp and I did not sit down with a large group of professionals and do several eight man drafts like I used to. Unfortunately, as I have aged and my priorities have shifted I cannot afford to give that kind of time to the game any longer. Therefore, the information contained within has been derived only from my own experiences.
Amonkhet Limited is a one of the most skill rewarding draft formats I have had the pleasure of playing. This is because the packs are deep, nearly all the cards are playable, they differ greatly in power depending on archetype, and you have the ability to manipulate your draws through cycling. I have spoken with many professionals that are cutting lands and playing 16 or even as few as 15 lands in the majority of their decks simply due to the draw manipulation that you can achieve with cycling. Additionally, I have witnessed that many decks are relying on large amounts of early drops combined with low land counts to increase their spell density.
As the age-old saying goes “everything comes at a price.” When you reduce the number of mana sources in your deck you inevitably have to reduce the number of expensive cards in your decks. Otherwise, you will have insufficient mana to play your larger threats consistently. The problem that I have with these decks is that the expensive cards in this format are really good. The disparity between a Colossapede, a Greater Sandwurm, or a Scaled Behemoth compared to any 2/3 mana, non-God spell is immense. For this reason, I implore you to try a new strategy. Rather than build your deck to run your cheap exert creatures into your opponent’s cheap exert creatures, build your deck to outlast them and cast cards that they cannot reasonably beat without trading off massive amounts of resources.
For this reason I find that BG has evolved into the best archetype in this format by a wide margin. I drafted it in my first draft at the PT and went 3-0, 6-0. Thereafter, on Magic Online I have drafted BG four consecutive times in competitive leagues and went 12-0 in matches. During one of these drafts my laptop even died and I missed 6-7 picks early in pack three. The reasons that I feel this is the best deck is as follows:
- You have excellent early defensive creatures such as Festering Mummy, Doomed Dissenter, and Dune Beetle.
- You have Splendid Agony which decimates the all-in aggressive decks especially when combined with Quarry Hauler.
- You have sufficient flying defense in the form of Giant Spider, removal, and Spidery Grasp.
- You have enormous creatures such as: Colossapede, Greater Sandwurm, and Scaled Behemoth.
- You have an absolutely absurd uncommon that is only really good in GB in Destined to Lead. (Note: Destined in a deck that cannot cast lead is still a playable combat trick but not really good)
- You have the ability to put games away with Black Cartouche on any of the aforementioned giant monsters.
- You have Wander in Death to return your toolbox or creatures which let you outlast the opponent.
- You have a diverse sideboard that can attack both aggressive and control decks using cards like Unburden, Stinging Shot, Festering Mummy, and Lay Bare the Heart.
How to Draft, Build, and Play It
- Draft Cartouche of Ambition over virtually all non-bombs.
- Make sure to take note of synergies while drafting if you have Baleful Ammits and Defiant Greatmaws make sure to look for Doomed Dissenters.
- Play 17 lands and cards that use the mana; you want 5-6 cards that cost between 5 and 7 mana. Ideally, you would have 6-7 and a couple would have cycling. Perhaps even beneficial cycling such as Shefet Monitor. (Note: when you have Shefet Monitor look out for Grasping Dunes. This deck actively wants to play a Dunes as its 17th Also, if you are attacking on turn three with an undisturbed Initiate’s Companion please be aware that you can cycle your Monitor if you add mana with the trigger on the stack.)
- Make sure to have at least one Wander in Death in your deck. Often these decks want two.
- Never use your tricks first if at all avoidable. Make them trade resources with you. The whole reason we’re playing this deck is to outlast them.
- Do not pass Scaled Behemoth. I have beaten several control decks that were way ahead in cards and resources by putting a Cartouche of Ambition on a Scaled Behemoth and playing the whole game as “Protect the Queen”.
- Do not cycle expensive cards to find lands when you can trade one for one and draw them.
- Actively draft and look to play Rhonas’s Monument if your expensive creatures are green. (Note: This is grammatically incorrect and it pains me to write this as Rhonas’s instead of Rhonas’ but I am correctly citing the name of the card.)
While everything contained above I wholeheartedly believe, I would be remiss to not state something that I find to be of the utmost importance in draft: You must find the colors and archetype you’re supposed to be in consistently in order to be a long-term successful drafter. As such, I do not advise you go into the next eight-man on Magic Online and force GB. If it’s open, however, don’t be afraid to move in as you now have the tools you need to draft a powerful deck comfortably.
Finally, this article is atypical for me because I rarely write about such a specific strategy and rather I generally prefer to address overarching concepts. It has been a while since there has been a format in which I evaluated the cards and strategies so differently from my peers. I hope that you find this article informative and give the deck a try. Good luck and happy drafting.