Hey everyone! We’ve already went over all the individual cards of Alchemy Horizons: Baldur’s Gate so now we’re going to discuss all of the mechanics and archetypes. Knowing these will help you to have a game plan going into a draft and be prepared for the best options to pivot into if things start to go off the rails.
We have our usual batch of ten archetypes to go over. One of the best ways to start is to look at the signpost uncommon to get an idea of what Wizards intends you to do because it will probably be well supported. Another key step is to look for any sub archetypes that might not be as obvious.
I’m going to provide you with a skeleton of each archetype so you have an idea what they look like. For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, it’s basically an example draft deck where you only use one rare, five uncommons, and not more than two of any common. Mythics aren’t used for this exercise because they are usually either overpowered or extremely niche, besides it’s much rarer that you run into them. This is a great way to be able to set expectations for what a solid, but not overpowering version of these decks would look like.
If you are already familiar with all of the mechanics, feel free to skip ahead to the archetypes section. I promise I won’t be offended after I worked so hard on it…
This is a classic flashback to Throne of Eldraine with the new twist that the second half can now be a permanent besides a creature. These cards allow you to play the adventure half and then place it in the adventure zone. You can then later play the second half from the adventure zone. You can also just raw dog out the second half, but then you lose access to the first part.
A great example is Young Blue Dragon which lets you use the first part to draw a card and then later on you get a 3/3 flyer. If you’re looking for a non-creature example, then Horn of Valhalla fits the bill.
One of the biggest things to remember is that if the adventure part is countered or fizzles, then the whole card goes to your graveyard. Don’t target something that they can sacrifice with the Adventure on Sword Coast Serpent or else you are going to be losing the creature too.
This is just a keywording of an already existing mechanic as seen on Tenacious Pup. It’s similar to an emblem in that the boon cannot be interacted with. However, once it goes on the stack as a trigger, it is subject to the same rules as any other normal triggered ability which can be countered by Stifle or similar effects. A very basic example of the boon is Flaming Fist Duskguard which gives the next creature you play +1 to power perpetually.
When you attack with a creature with Double Team, you conjure a copy into your hand and both of them perpetually lose Double Team. Perpetual means that even if you reanimate it, blink it, or bounce it, you still don’t get Double Team back on the creature unless you have another way to add it such as Liara of the Flaming Fist. Soldiers of the Watch is a fine example for Double Team since it’s a creature you wouldn’t want to play otherwise, but you might since you get two for the price of one.
The secrets of Specialize may never be fully known. It is an activated ability that requires you to pay the cost and discard a card. You may choose a specialization based off of the color of the discarded card or the color that the discarded land can produce.
Are you still with me on this one? Contrary to the letter of the law, discarding a card the same color as the front only lets you choose the mono-colored version. While that works thematically, this would have been much less confusing if they made all of the specializations mono colored for the different choices.
If you discard a Plains or White card to Klement, Novice Acolyte you can only choose the mono white version. If you discard an Island or Blue card to then you can only choose Klement, Knowledge Acolyte.
Specialize is, thankfully, only at sorcery speed or it would be an absolute nightmare to make combat decisions both with and against it. I actually love the idea of utilizing the digital aspect to have more than one choice, but this was too many.
The theme is blinking creatures for profit which is a big change from the usual Azorius flyers plan. You want to make sure you have enablers such as Blur and Pegasus Guardian. You also need to have payoffs like Priest of Ancient Lore and Air-Cult Elemental. If you’re missing either half of the equation, you’re gonna have a bad time.
For the rare I choose Displacer Kitten because it is a great build around and it’s freaking adorable. Turning every spell you play into an additional blink effect allows you to play around removal spells and build an insane amount of value.
Orzhov doesn’t really have an in your face theme so much as the long term goal of winning an attrition battle. Minthara of the Absolute really incentivizes playing treasures so you can use them to continue to increase the power of all of your creatures. Of course, that also makes Skullport Merchant and Shambling Ghast a natural fit in there.
For the rare I went with The Hourglass Coven because it is absurd and fits perfectly into the grind your opponent into dust plan. Seriously, how are they supposed to answer that card without a sweeper.
Boros is all about that beatdown life. It loves double teaming while keeping a constant flow of pressure on your opponent. Dragon's Fire is a key card in clearing the way while still having enough mana to keep playing creatures.
Liara of the Flaming Fist really rewards playing cards with double team or having multiple copies of creatures in your deck. You want to stay low to the ground while dropping down to sixteen lands to maximize effectiveness.
I choose Ulder Ravengard, Marshal for the rare because it was designed for exactly what this deck wants to do. It just keeps tossing more creatures at the opponents face until they die.
The life gain beatdown deck that focuses around having large creatures either through growing them like Celestial Unicorn or just big bois like Hill Giant Herdgorger. Prosperous Innkeeper is a HUGE deal for this deck both for ramping and giving a steady flow of life gain triggers.
Trelasarra, Moon Dancer is soooo good in this deck since it offers a growing threat while smoothing your draws. It’s also only really great in the life gain deck so you should be able to pick them up if they are opened.
I went with Basilisk Collar for this one because even though it goes in every deck, it is especially nice with large creatures because it punishes gang blocks while providing a massive life cushion.
The Dimir deck is supposed to be built around the rogue mechanic of getting a benefit for connecting with your opponent. Krydle of Baldur's Gate can fuel that plan by slipping Soulknife Spy in to keep the card train rolling. There is also a reanimator deck floating around there too if you wanna get cray cray.
I went with Jon Irenicus, the Exile as the rare because I didn’t want to put The Hourglass Coven in every black deck for this exercise. A personal Howling Mine on a solid body a great way to win a long control game.
Looking at this, apparently Izzet wants you to play Adventure spells and more dragons. I love Breath Weapon in this deck as a way to not be overwhelmed early.
Sword Coast Serpent is premium here as another way to stall the game early and a huge finisher later with both sides triggering Lozhan, Dragons' Legacy. It’s also important to have Dragon's Fire which gets even better with all the dragons that can pump it up.
For the rare, I choose Wrathful Red Dragon because it makes all of your other dragons insane. I just question whether it is powerful enough to make up for some of the decks other short comings.
This is the archetype I am least likely to ever play. If I am doing this, it is going to be a mostly green deck with a small amount of blue. It looks disappointing even when trying to follow the theme for Korlessa, Scale Singer.
It’s designed to durdle around until you win the late game with large monsters. You need to prioritize Band Together because there isn’t a lot of other interaction available. I also want to pick up ALL of the Owlbears because you can supplement it with blink effects or just use it as a card advantage beat stick.
I went with Alaundo the Seer as the rare because it’s a nice way to keep building an advantage that eventually drops a wave of monsters if left unchecked. I really wouldn’t recommend this color combo unless it is the only thing open.
The theme of Rakdos is Treasures and the many ways to take advantage of them. The most obvious one is just using them to ramp out a huge monster ahead of schedule and it’s not like it even has to be in your colors. There are tons of high-quality cards here including what I believe to be the three best commons in the set with Dragon's Fire, Grim Bounty, and Guildsworn Prowler.
There is always the Rakdos sub theme of stealing your opponent’s creatures and sacrificing them for profit. It will probably be much easier to pick up Incessant Provocation than it was Price of Loyalty and there are plenty of sacrifice outlets floating around.
For the Rare, I choose Grim Hireling for even more absurd treasure shenanigans. As if making a pile of treasures wasn’t enough, now you get to pick off their creatures with them too.
Golgari just wants to do self-mill shenanigans. That lets you play all of the strong Black cards along with some of the chonky Green creatures with a bit of reanimation thrown in the mix to keep it interesting.
Shambling Ghast does some work here in both ramping or preventing you from being run over while you’re setting up. I like Summon Undead here because it plays with the theme and plans to bring something like an Owlbear back for more value.
For the rare I included Altar of Bhaal as a way to continually cycle back your relevant creatures. I wanted to use Baba Lysaga, Night Witch, but it would have required adding a decent number of artifacts to use its ability.
Gruul got the beats, Gruul got the beats, Yeah, Gruul got the beats!
This may come as a shock to everyone, but Gruul wants to beat the face in with creatures while clearing the way with burn and tricks.
It really loves turning on pack tactics with early Gnoll Hunters and Hobgoblin Captains putting an immense amount of pressure on your opponent. Once your opponent is in the position where they are forced to block, you can blow them out with Arcane Archery or Dragon's Fire.
The signpost uncommon Thrakkus the Butcher is surprisingly weak and I would have left it out if I wasn’t putting them all in on principle. It does basically nothing in this deck.
I choose Kardum, Patron of Flames because it fits the theme of swinging at your opponent until they stop moving. It even provides some card advantage on it’s way out.
As you can tell, I think red and black are the best colors and almost every deck I want to be in has at least one of them if not both. I am also planning to avoid blue at all costs until someone makes me do it in a stipulation draft.
Thanks for Reading! I hope this gives you a great head start on your adventures into Baldur’s Gate.
I’ll have my instants guide up tomorrow and check back later this week for my HBG draft guide!
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