Archtypes in Theros Limited

March 11, 2016

Samuele Estratti

26 year old
Italian player
Studies economy
PT Philadelphia winner
4 GP top 8s
Italian nationals top 4.

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Hi everybody,

for a great Limited deck you should not pick cards only on individual perceived value, because you will obtain a deck full of strong cards with little synergies among them.
Synergy is something that links cards of your deck increasing the actual power of those linked cards.
You can feel that a limited deck is strong once there is efficiency among cards, making all of your deck work together and optimizing each card thanks to the right context.
This is the theory that supports draft archetypes, making this draft strategy better over a “good stuff” one.
Drafting archetypes still involves signals, you need to have your combination of colors open to get enough cards to create the right synergies.
There are archetypes that really need some cards to obtain this strong link, so you must be sure that the player next over doesn’t need the same if you want to succeed.
To win your next draft you should follow these basic rules.
Now I’m going to analyze my three favorite draft archetypes in Theros, focusing on the cards that you truly need to make good synergy.


This is the most aggressive archetype you can find in Theros.
The strategy is playing a lot of low drops, some with heroic, and triggering this ability with a lot of tricks, ensuring extra effects to your spells such as pumping, disabling a guy from blocking etc.
In this deck you need both tricks and creatures with heroic, this means that the pick order always changes depending if you are short of tricks or creatures.
Considering the first pack I suggest to pick heroic creatures over tricks, in this color combination there are a lot of common tricks and it will be easy to pick them a bit later.
Among heroic triggers the best ones grant +1/+1 counters once the creature is targeted.
Those are the best common/uncommon creatures you can pick:

Phalanx Leader is a bomb in this archetype ensuring the enlargement bonus to all of your board, including your non-hero creatures (that you still need to put pressure on your opponent from early turns, such as Traveling Philosopher);
Wingsteed Rider is a flyer and that’s pretty good in an archetype that wants to win quickly, granting some evasive damage once the ground race is stalled;
Favored Hoplite is the perfect one drop for the deck, it allows crazy starts and it is quite difficult to block with benefit until you have tricks in your hand, and that’s pretty cool if you manage to enlarge it with an Ordeal, for example.

Among tricks there are some that shines more than others:

Dauntless Onslaught and Coordinated Assault are the best tricks you could have in this deck; even without considering the heroic upside, which is impressive, you have two solid tricks for your aggressive deck to push some extra damage while you are overwhelming the opponent’s creatures;
Gods Willing is a cool card in this archetype, protecting your heroes once they become really big and your board presence with just one mana. It can take care of the final damage too, giving unblockability in some boards.
-Ordeals are extremely sweet in a deck with a low curve, granting a higher % to get the reward, if you enchant an early guy with heroic. Thanks to Gods Willing you should be able to create a big threat from the really first turns, and it will be difficult to handle for your opponent.
There is one more card that isn’t a creature nor a trick: Lightning Strike
It’s probably the best common of the set but in this deck it is pretty difficult to understand how important it is.
Considering the first pack you should pick it over any trick and over some heroic guys, I still prefer Phalanx Leader and Wingsteed Rider over this burn spell if you want to build this archetype.

Remember to pick as many early drops as you can , your final deck should provide 15/16 creatures and 8/9 tricks to support them.
Depending on your curve you can easily play 16 or even 15 lands!


In this set there aren,t many cards that allow you to ramp.
If you are planning to build a deck around this strategy you must consider the importance of the ramp spells, picking them high.
In Theros there a lot of big guys among commons, Nessian Asp or Vulpine Goliath, so you can pick them later.

The best ramp cards:

Karametra’s Acolyte is the key card for this archetype, recovering in 2 turns all the time you lose in the early ones. If you have a lot of mana sinks, such as monstrous dudes, this card is even more impressive;
Voyaging Satyr is the second best ramp card, ramping just for one mana is not that impressive, anyway playing this creature on the 2nd turn feels sweet, granting crazy starts for a ramp deck.

Once you pick your mana ramp dudes you need the big ones, otherwise you are ramping into nothing:

Nessian Asp is incredibly good, granting a big blocker able to stop evasive guys too;
Nemesis of Mortals is simply enormous, it is an all-star if you are facing a ramp deck;
Ill-Tempered Cyclops is the other top common among mana sink creatures;

This deck must be short on tricks, once you have your ramp dudes and your fatty guys, you need to pick something useful to stabilize the board:

Nylea’s Disciple is really impressive against aggressive decks and it helps a lot in almost any kind of race, it grants some life and sometimes a lot of life attached to a good body;
Time to Feed is a good removal spell, even if it will be enabled a bit late, it ensures a removal for a menace granting 3 life to recover from your slow race.


This is a tempo deck, it’s pretty hard to type an actual pick order for this strategy so I will explain how it should work.
White is the aggressive part of the deck, granting low drops and some flying dudes.
Blue works on the Tempo aspect, ensuring bounce spells and even more evasive guys.
The first thing you need are the evasive beaters, such as Vaporkin, Nimbus Naiad, Wingsteed Rider. You can even pick Aqueous Form to enchant ground heroic guys like Battlewise Hoplite to assure your offensive plan. The problem to create an exhaustive pick order here is that there are some creatures that you still pick over those evasive ones, such as Phalanx Leader

Once you have the attackers you need to pick bouncers to get the Tempo aspect:

Sea God’s Revenge is a complete blowout once you cast it, there aren’t many cards that you want to pick over this kind of Overrun, among common and uncommon cards only Phalanx Leader comes close;
Voyage’s End is a typical bouncer to stop threats that are difficult to handle, such as bestowed or monstrous creatures;
Griptide is really good but I slightly prefer the previous cards.

Now it is time to win the race.
While we are beating from the skies you can’t use your bouncers on the early drops of your opponent, you must have something useful to stop ground attackers to win the current race.
All you need is stoppers, such as Omenspeaker or Wavecrash Triton or any other creature capable of blocking and killing early aggressive drops, against big dudes we have bounce spells!
Hopeful Eidolon to enchant a flyer is a cool move to fulfill the blocker’s job, obtaining a similar effect on the race.

Those archetypes are all strong but RW is at the top.
The real matter with that deck is that it is overdrafted, so you should be out of picks in a short time; anyway there are a lot of playable RW commons so it will not be that difficult to end up with an average deck.
UW flyers is really cool and it is fun to play, if you like Tempo strategies you will get a cool time…….
I recommend it for your next draft!

That’s all folks,
Samuele Estratti

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