I've been playing Magic: The Gathering for some time, and today I want to share my tricks.
Strixhaven: School of Mages
Strixhaven: School of Mages is the 87th Magic expansion and is based on Arcavios, specifically in the northeast of the continent of Orrithia.
Strixhaven is the largest university for magicians in all Arcavios and is renowned throughout the plane, those who want to reach it must follow the braziers which, from the top of imposing columns, indicate the way with their inextinguishable magical flames.
Once inside the school we find the five Colleges which correspond to five pairs of enemy colors and which constitute the archetypes of the Draft of the expansion.
This does not mean that it is not possible to Draft Allied Colors or opt for a Tricolor deck but that they may be less thematically related or may have less support in terms of Mana fixing or mana curve.
The five Colleges
Silverquill is the College based on Black and White.
Mascot: 2/1 White and Black Inkling creature token with Flying.
This draft archetype focuses mainly on the Aggro role and uses the mechanics of the expansion to create flying tokens that are difficult to block and to temporarily enhance your creatures in combat.
Usually the size of its creatures is not impressive and therefore they will try to swarm in numbers against the opponent.
Witherbloom is the College based on Black and Green
Mascot: 1/1 Black and Green Pest creature token with "When this creature dies, you gain 1 life."
This archetype focuses mainly on playing a Midrange role, where Green is mainly concerned with gaining Life Points that can be used by Black to acquire new skills or cards to use.
Usually the size of his creatures tends to be above average with some rather massive single card, in these cases, however, there are important drawbacks to balance everything.
Quandrix is the College based on Green and Blue
Mascot: 0/0 Green and Blue Fractal creature token. (Starting with at least a + 1 / + 1 Counter on it).
This archetype focuses mainly on playing a Tempo Deck role, where Green is used for the ramp while Blue is in charge of interfering with the opponent's plays until our creatures are big enough to guarantee victory in a few attacks. , even Fractal creatures with cards that add + 1 / + 1 counters can become a threat if allowed to grow over time.
In this Archetype there is also a secondary mechanic on the control of eight or more lands that can provide additional bonuses to our creatures.
Prismari is the College based on Blue and Red
Mascot: 4/4 Blue and Red Elemental creature token.
This archetype focuses mainly on playing the largest possible spells to impact the game, in order to do so it uses various means such as the reduction of casting costs and the temporary ramp provided by the treasure tokens while in order not to run out of spells to cast it uses the draw through exile provided by red or the card advantage provided by blue.
In this Archetype there is also a secondary mechanic present in a "vertical cycle" (consisting of a Mythic Rare Card + an Uncommon card + a Common card) where you can discard the card to get a Treasure token.
Lorehold is the College based on Red and White
Mascot: 3/2 Red and White Spirit creature token.
This archetype focuses mainly on using the graveyard to obtain additional effects and resources, there are in fact cards that get additional bonuses when the graveyard reaches a certain size or that can provide token creatures when cards are removed from the graveyard.
Generally this type of deck can function as Board Control with the removal of Red and White, neutralizing the opponent's possible threats and then giving the final blow with the 3/2 creature tokens.
Don't forget the Mystical Archive!
The Mystical Archive is a secret section of the Biblioplex that contains some of the most powerful and iconic spells from the past of Magic: The Gathering and which will be present within the Boosters.
These cards will occupy an additional slot and will have the following rarity:
- Uncommon 67%
- Rare 24.6%
- Mythic Rare 6.6%
This means that in some cases some boosters may feature two rare or mythic rare cards.
The Mystical archive can offer new cards that you would not normally have access to and could lead to unexpected events during the Draft.
These cards will also be usable for deck building and, depending on how many powerful cards we find, they can really give our deck a considerable boost.
Among the best we can mention for example: Day of Judgment, Swords to Plowshares, Time Warp, Mind's Desire, Demonic Tutor, Tendrils of Agony and many more.
Other useful tips
Now that we have seen the general characteristics of the different Strixhaven Colleges it is time to delve into the other useful information for the Draft in detail.
Strixhaven is the first set to use an "Instant and Sorcery Matters" mechanic, until now in fact, this type of mechanic was only used for certain archetypes (such as the Blue-Red one) but had never been used as a backbone of a whole expansion.
In order to make this mechanic effective, some changes have been made to the structure of the Set by increasing the number of Sorceries and Instants compared to the average, therefore the other types of cards have been reduced.
As a result, the overall number of creatures is slightly lower than normal, while Sorcery that generates creature tokens has been slightly increased (this is a trick used in set design to balance card types). This leads to a disadvantage in the variety of creatures as tokens will usually always be the same size (barring combat tricks or other effects), which leads to a consideration of average power and toughness values.
Given similar creatures, the variance of average power and toughness per color fluctuates in a smaller range and therefore it will be easier for creatures that exceed these thresholds to be considered much better than average.
For example, if we are up against a Lorehold deck (with 3/2 token creatures) all of our creatures that have a toughness greater than three will gain an important competitive advantage (such as 4/4 Elemental tokens). Similarly all of our creatures with Strength 2 or greater can be useful for destroying their tokens which could be a problem for 1/1 Pest tokens or small Fractals, 2/1 Inkling tokens could instead be useful.
Many non-token cards hover on 2/2 so all X / 3 creatures tend to have a slight advantage.
Another important point for the Draft is to be able to start with a pair of colors and to be able to change it during the picks in order to adapt to the "signals" that come to us from nearby players.
Since the five colleges are contested by as many as eight players in the Draft it is normal that there is some competition to grab the best cards for these colleges, so understand the signals in the correct way and understand if we are an open combination or if we have to compete with the other players can be very important.
With signals in the draft we mean all the boosters that come to us from previous players where cards of a specific color are missing or where the best cards have already been taken. For example, if we think of Drafting Silverquill (Black - White) and we realize that there could be another player nearby interested in this combination of colors (for example we are not handed White or Black cards) we could think of moving to Witherbloom (dropping White for Green) or Lorehold (dropping Black for Red) with relative ease or if we find something really interesting we could move on to the tricolor.
This also allows us to be able to draft cards with hybrid mana costs to be able to fill the holes in our mana curve or we could also take the Deans from neighboring colleges and add a simple splash of color to the deck or play the half we need.
If the deck we have in mind can already be outlined we could try to take some additional lessons or some cards with Magecraft in our colors to improve the overall performance of the deck or to have more options for our cards with learn but this does not have to be the main purpose in order not to risk throwing away too many useful picks. To be done only towards the end of the Draft and only when the relief cards begin to lack.
© 2021 Christian Allasia