Guilds of Ravnica Draft Archetypes and Strategy – Tier 1 Guilds
In this article I will be breaking down the three best guilds in GRN (in my opinion). Even though I am going to continue ranking the top 3, I do consider them all Tier 1 and do not think they are drastically different in power level. The most important thing is identifying the key cards in your drafts and building your decks in a way that plays to the strengths of your chosen archetype. My objective in these guides is to help you select these key cards and understand how they work together to maximize synergy.
3. Selesnya (GW)
Selesnya has some truly outstanding cards, and there is really strong synergy through the convoke mechanic. In a format with relatively awful removal Selesnya can shine with swarms of creatures flanking fatty threats. Selesnya is a creature archetype, and I recommend drafting at least 17. However, it once again feels like wizards just missed a few beats when flushing out each guild. Where are the tokens that are typically in a convoke set? Especially on the low end of the curve, it just feels like there are cards missing that should have been printed. Complaints of this set aside, drafting Green/White is still a solid option and should not be overlooked, especially if you are seeing the cards below as you crack open your packs.
Okay, so I struggled the most selecting these out of all the guilds, but I think these three best exemplify Selesnya. Beast Whisperer felt a little wrong to include, but he is incredible in a deck that likely includes 18 creatures. This archetype is very good at emptying its hand onto the battlefield via convoke, and Beast Whisperer is the best way to throw fuel on that fire. Nullhide Ferox is at home in this deck more than Golgari, because why should we play anything but creatures? Even if we have 6-7 noncreatures in the deck, paying a tax on them is well worth a 4 mana 6/6. Plus, most black decks are going to be running Burglar Rats so that extra text on the bottom of the card can and will get you easy wins. Trostani Discordant is the best bomb you can hope for in these colors, though, and is my pick for the most powerful card in the entire set.
Conclave Cavalier and Ledev Champion are great reasons to be in Selesnya, while the rest are happy to be slotted into Boros as well. Conclave Tribunal is one of the few noncreature spells that you should absolutely reach on in this archetype, and the Inspiring Unicorn is better here than in Boros. I am glad they realized Pegasus Courser was a broken common, but having access to it at uncommon (Roc Charger) is still great for Selesnya. Sunhome Stalwart has a lot of potential targets in this archetype and 2 mana for a 2/2 first strike is a solid deal on its own. Not bad all around!
Similar to Lurcher in Golgari, Rosemane Centaur is the MVP common for Selesnya. You want about 3 of him. He will usually come down on turn 4, but sometimes turn three if you curve out. 4/4 and vigilance are great stats in GRN, and this guy can make life miserable for your opponents. Also similar to Golgari, cantrip creatures have good synergy here. Instead of sending them to an early grave, Selesnya wants to use them to convoke or buff them with mentor creatures such as Parhelion Patrol. Healer’s Hawk is excellent in this archetype. Early on he can leech some life from your opponent, and then act like a Llanowar Elf later on via convoke. I am a fan of Intrusive Packbeast. Tapping down two blockers can allow your small creatures to get through for a turn (or allow your fatties through without dying), and getting a 3/3 vigilance out of the deal is nice. Outside of Luminous Bonds (which is great), Prey Upon is Selesnya’s only other option for removal at common. Sworn Companions is another card that isn’t very exciting, but it does play well with convoke and mentor so it’s playable. Overall, I hope this illustrates the archetype and even though I have it slightly lower than my top 2, I still consider them all Tier 1.
2. Dimir (UB)
The last two are a bit of a coinflip, but overall I think Dimir belongs here on average. There are certain cards (see below) that Dimir is dependent on to really go off. But, the average power level is still very high because Blue and Black have some of the best commons in the entire set.
Connive // Concoct isn’t a bomb in the traditional sense, but it provides fantastic utility in a format that doesn’t have much of it. Doom Whisperer is a traditional bomb, and being able to pay some life to power up most of your extra cards is an ability this deck loves. Thief of Sanity is unbelievably powerful, though. Even stealing one card is a great advantage, and this thing can win the game all by itself unchecked.
More than any other guild, Dimir needs uncommons to tick. Dimir Spybug, Disinformation Campaign, Nightveil Sprite, and Thoughtbound Phantasm are the most important, and it is necessary to obtain some of them to have a successful draft of this archetype. If the cards are there this archetype is extremely powerful. Disinformation Campaign is particularly devastating as the game goes on, and is the single most important card for this archetype. House guildmage is the best guildmage in this set, and both abilities are relevant to the archetype. I think the card designers missed some opportunities with the other guildmages, although they did a bit better with the Ravnica Allegiance ones. Nightveil Predator is a great pickup pack 2 or 3 if you are building a Dimir deck, but I wouldn’t draft it just because I saw him p1p1.
While the uncommons are important for going off, great commons is where Dimir gets its consistency. Artful Takedown, Deadly Visit, and Watcher in the Mist are the most important, so make sure you are mindful about leaving the high end of your curve open to slot in those. After that, Dimir Informant is extremely necessary as the 1/4 body is imperative to surviving early aggression from Boros/Selesnya. The Surveil on Notion Rain makes it very solid (especially paired with Disinformation Campaign), although losing 2 life can be frustrating in some matchups. The rest are just tools to stay alive/enable surveil cards. In terms of ‘agents’ I actually prefer Whisper to Darkblade, because they are often just used to trade 1-for-1 and you at least get a surveil out of Whisper Agent. It is rare that you get aggressive enough with this archetype to draw cards with Darkblade Agent, but it still isn’t a bad pick by any means. Overall, I really like drafting Dimir, and even after wizards patched the bots in arena to stop wrapping disinformation campaign it is still a powerful archetype.
1. Boros (RW)
Yeah, my pick for #1 is Boros. I just think it is ridiculously consistent and doesn’t require many rares/uncommons to go off. The mentor mechanic is insanely powerful in limited, blowout out unprepared opponents and keeping them on a timer even if they stabilize with defensive creatures. There are also multiple ways at common to prevent your opponents from blocking, so even if they stabilize completely you still have outs. I do not think Boros is so broken that it should be forced over everything else, but it is a deck that can be built relatively easily and still find success with.
Aurelia is nuts and a surefire reason to draft Boros. Legion Warboss is a great snowball card and Boros has a lot of ways to take advantage of him. Venerated Loxodon is a bomb here or in Selesnya, but I actually think it is better in this archetype. The +1/+1 counters work really well with mentor creatures, and you will often be able to cast him as a 4/4 on turn 3 while buffing your 1 and 2 drops.
Keep in mind the white cards I placed in Selesnya’s best uncommons still apply here, and you can see that Boros has a suite of awesome cards to choose from at this rarity. Oddly enough I tend to get most excited about drafting Boros Challenger, because one of the bottlenecks Boros tends to face is getting stuck with multiple 2/2 mentor creatures and not having a way to buff them. Paying 4 mana for +1/+1 may seem like a lot, but having that option provides an essential tool for the archetype. Goblin Banneret also helps with that problem as you will typically use him to get your mentor creatures up to 3 power and then he will trade, which is well worth it! Boros has two of the best removal spells in Intervention and Justice Strike. Truefire Captain is a bomb but the casting cost can be prohibitive sometimes in an archetype where you don’t want gates and often cut down to 16 lands. Of the six I am lowest on the Guildmage and wouldn’t take him over Sunhome Stalwart, but both abilities are relevant to the game plan.
You truly get the complete Boros package at common in this set. Healer’s Hawk, Skyknight Legionnaire, and Wojek Bodyguard are the creatures you should prioritize drafting. Direct Current, Luminous Bonds, Intrusive Packbeast, and Sure Strike are all great tools for keeping your creatures alive and attacking. Sure Strike is much better in GRN than usual due to the mentor mechanic. Sometimes you will use it in your main phase to get an extra +1/+1 counter while other times you will get 2-for-1’s when opponents stack block to take down your mentor creatures. Cosmotronic Wave is something a card I always want one of in my Boros decks. The damage isn’t always relevant but shutting down blockers for a turn wins many games in this format. You will occasionally draw it when you would rather see a creature, but it has the ability to win games out of nowhere when your opponent has stabilized and you are in top deck mode, and that is something aggro decks are always looking for. One final note is no 2-drop creatures made my list of commons. In order of preference I like Ornery Goblin, Fresh-Faced Recruit, and Skyline Scout to fill out my curve.
I hope you found this write up helpful! Guilds of Ravnica will certainly not go down in history as a good limited set with its overall poor execution and underdeveloped card interactions. But, while there are only a few archetypes to choose from, I hope my guide will help you make better card choices on your path to Mythic. Speaking of path to Mythic, I still need to grind through Diamond again this season and will be doing some Guilds of Ravnica Drafts to do it. If you want to check those out I will be streaming them at http://twitch.tv/compulsion02