Hope Eternal—Full-Block Draft

These Dragon’s Maze Spoilers are really something, are they not? It seems like there are a lot of strong cards that have already been spoiled, and there have even been a couple of strong contenders for the cube.

Nivix CyclopsViashino FirstbladeDeputy of Acquittals

But today I want to walk through packs two and three of this new draft format. We know these packs, we’ve been drafting them for a while now, and from the context it’s not a leap to suggest that full block draft is going to be all about the three-color decks. So let’s look at those three-color combinations, and try to work out what those decks are going to look like.

BantGWU – Tempo or Swarm

Pack two gets us Simic cards, which tend to fall into evasive threats or evolving beats. Pack three gives us access to both Azorius and Selesnya, which again allow us to pick up either a bunch of evasive creatures or some swarming ground-pounders.

EsperWUB – Control or Evasion

Pack two gets Orzhov and Dimir, which tend to intersect with a bunch of evasive threats and control cards. Pack three gets Azorius, which can help the control side of things with Voidwielder and friends, and go evasive with its many fliers.

GrixisUBR – Tempo or Control

Pack two gets Dimir cards, the better ones of which tend to be evasive low-drops or removal. Pack three gets access to both Rakdos and Izzet, which can support the tempo plan with Rakdos low drops and Pursuit of Flight, or help with some more control elements.

JundBRG – Midrange or Aggro

Pack two is your Gruul pack, which gets you either the bloodrush dudes for an aggro deck or the mana-ramp and six drops for a more midrange gameplan. You can follow that up in pack three with Golgari or Rakdos, with the Golgari cards generally being better for a midrange strategy that maximizes the Scavenge and the Rakdos cards being perfect targets for your bloodrush.

NayaRGW – Aggro or Swarm

Pack two is your deep pack for this combination, giving you access to Gruul bloodrush and mana and Boros aggressive drops. Pack three is Selesnya, which does give you the potential for a swarm strategy, but also gives you a bunch of pump effects that provide a nice continuation of the bloodrush theme.

OrosWBR – Aggro

I don’t think there’s a solid control deck here. Pack two is deep, with access to the Boros aggro drops and the Orzhov extort cards, but pack three only gives you access to Rakdos. Rakdos, in some ways, always felt like the least complicated of the guilds because it’s really good at being an aggro deck and less good in the long game. So maybe there’s a control deck here that uses the Borzhov shell with Rakdos removal? But I don’t think it’s going to be the main thrust of this wedge.

RockWBG – Midrange

Again, I don’t think this wedge offers as many options. Pack two is your Orzhov pack, and that’s probably going to land you with a bunch of slower cards with extort and removal. Then Selesnya and Golgari in pack three are going to give you their midrange cards, since those were never the fastest guilds in the format.

AmericanRWU – Tempo

I tried to draft this deck a lot when it was just RtR, but it’s going to be a deeper strategy in full block. Pack two brings you Boros cards, which tend to be more aggressive. Pack three gets you access to Azorius and Izzet, both of which have strong tempo cards and mechanics. Basically, it should be evasive threats and detain/removal/tap effects.

RugRUG – Midrange or Evasive

Gruul and Simic in pack two lead to Izzet in pack three. I don’t think this combination is going to support aggro starts particularly well, but pack two gives you a chance to either pick up some Simic fliers or some Gruul/evolve beef. Depending on what you end up with, the Izzet cards in pack three will either allow you to break through your opponent’s lines with overrun effects or go over them with flying threats.

BugBUG – Evasive Voltron

Pack two gives you access to Simic and Dimir, both of which cross over in the evasive category. Pack three gives you access to Golgari’s scavenge and support staff (like Daggerdrome Imp). I think the winning strategy here is to take some evasive creatures and put counters or cipher on them to keep your opponent pinned down or to kill them that much faster.

So those are your paths through the guild. Like Ravnica Prime, RtR block is going to involve having a plan and charting your way through the guilds. Unlike Ravnica Prime, though, I think this is going to be a lot more forgiving a format so long as you stick to a specific three colors.

That’s one of the things I think I like about the way this format is shaping up: it looks like each triple combination allows for a few ways of approaching it. Will they be equally good? Probably not, but it seems like they’re allowing for both more combinations than drafters in a typical pod, and more ways of handling a combination if you find that someone else is in your colors.

Anyway, I am looking forward to this format! I feel like I have a solid hold on drafting Gatecrash at this point, and would like to apply the lessons I’ve learned in this set to one that involves RtR cards as well. What do you think the format is going to look like? Should we still be as worried about Pack Rat and his friends in the bomb rare department, or will having a full block of tools give us more outs?

6 Responses to “Hope Eternal—Full-Block Draft”
  1. danaflops says:

    I think Bant Tempo looks really strong with detain, a fairly low curve, and instant speed tokens. Also, Faerie imposter is going to be a SUPER strong first pick in a bunch of archetypes in full block. Don’t expect them to wheel!

  2. Josh Kaufman says:

    You have the packs in reverse order.

    You open rtr first then GTC then DGZ. That’s why Bant will be nuts, and jund might actually be playable.

    But yeah, so that’s that. And the new cards are alright but there hasn’t been a card yet that made me say WOW. The only cards I like are the UW flash guy that bounces creatures and the BW dude that exiles target sphinxs revelation from your opponents hand.

    Just one last thing. It almost seems like every card in the set are either pro-revelation or anti-revelation. WotC was like hey, let’s make an entire set based entirely around sphinxs revelation.

    • Jess Stirba says:


      It’s easy to forget since it’s been a while since we’ve had a proper block, but they did actually change around the draft order to start with the newest set first. Honestly, it seems like a good move, because I remember drafting ZZW and it was a pain in the ass trying to make a deck that would work with cards you may or may not see in the small pack in the end.

      • Zach B. says:

        You point out a tendency which I am inclined to agree with: that the format is going to be primarily composed of aggressive decks. It will be slower than either triple RtR or triple Gatecrash, but there don’t seem to be many strong control decks available.

      • Jess Stirba says:

        Yeah, I was expecting to see a playable UWR control deck, since it always seemed on the cusp in RtR, but it doesn’t seem to have gotten the right tools to be successful.

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  1. […] Zach Barash did a great run-down earlier this week of the common Gatekeeper cycle, and Jess Stirba broke down yesterday what drafting the full block is going to look […]

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