Dream Trawler Art by Jesper Ejsing

Theros Beyond Death Premier Draft Guide

A guide for the Theros Beyond Death Premier Draft event featuring archetype breakdowns along with tips and tricks.

Hey everyone! Theros is truly beyond death as it is rising from the grave for Premier Drafts for the first time this week! That’s right, we’re getting actual, factual people drafts and not those despicable bot drafts. This might be just the refresher we need to tide us over until we can get away from the mean Streets of New Capenna to the safety of Baldur’s Gate where I’m sure nothing bad could possibly happen.

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Event Details

  • Event start: June 17th at 8 a.m. PT (UTC-7)
  • Event end: June 24th at 8 a.m. PT (UTC-7)
  • Format: Theros Beyond Death Premier Draft
  • Entry fee: 10,000 gold or 1,500 gems or 1 Draft Token
  • Best-of-One: 7 wins or 3 losses

Rewards

This is the normal Premier Draft prize structure which gets you close to breaking even at four wins and puts you up on anything above that. This is a great opportunity to fill up your THB collection for Explorer and Historic if you missed out the first time because human drafters are less likely to be rare drafting than those nasty bots.

  • 0 Wins: 50 gems and 1 Theros Beyond Death Pack
  • 1 Win: 100 gems and 1 Theros Beyond Death Pack
  • 2 Wins: 250 gems and 2 Theros Beyond Death Packs
  • 3 Wins: 1,000 gems and 2 Theros Beyond Death Packs
  • 4 Wins: 1,400 gems and 3 Theros Beyond Death Packs
  • 5 Wins: 1,600 gems and 4 Theros Beyond Death Packs
  • 6 Wins: 1,800 gems and 5 Theros Beyond Death Packs
  • 7 Wins: 2,200 gems and 6 Theros Beyond Death Packs

Archetypes

Azorius

The normal Azorius flying strategy where you clog up the ground with Riptide Turtle and enchantment removal while pounding away in the skies with Daybreak Chimera and Witness of Tomorrows. Since you were planning on winning in the air anyway, they don’t even get a free chump blocker when you Ichthyomorphosis their biggest threat into a fish.

You can even run the scam on your opponent with Staggering Insight giving you an unraceable card advantage machine.

Orzhov

Do you prefer Magic as a zero-sum game where you have all of the fun? Then Orzhov is right up your alley with piles of efficient removal including both Final Death and Dreadful Apathy so your opponent doesn’t even get to think about escaping anything.

You can magnificently glare down upon your opponent after using Rise to Glory bringing back both your best creature and an aura like Mire's Grasp to kill an opposing monster. There are tons of enjoyable lines with this deck, just not many that your opponent will like.

Boros

The Boros heroic strategy is all about going wide with early drops and using combat tricks to annihilate your opponent. Hero of the Pride, Hero of the Games, and Hero of the Nyxborn are keys to being able to push enough damage through. Phalanx Tactics is insane in this this archetype, but you can get away with most of the tricks in these colors as long as you have the heroes to back them up.

One of the cooler tricks is using Wrap in Flames on your own heroic creatures to create more triggers while still clearing the way. The math can get pretty tricksy so you might have to break out the ol reliable TI-82 calculator (Boomer Alert: we used to use things other than our phones) to figure out if you won.

Selesnya

This is the constellation archetype where you get triggers for enchantments coming into play. You can even have a cross over with the heroic mechanic with Indomitable Will and Sentinel's Eyes pulling double duty with both a constellation and heroic trigger.

Heliod's Pilgrim provides a pretty sick tutor effect for Dreadful Apathy or Warbriar Blessing. If you have Nessian Wanderer or especially Setessan Champion it can almost feel like a combo deck as you churn through your deck.

Dimir

A slow control deck that stalls the board out, but can have a big problem dealing with escape if you don’t have removal that exiles like Final Death and Deny the Divine. Tymaret, Chosen from Death or a Cling to Dust are also ways to get around the problems with recurring creatures.

While you can pull ahead on cards, you might struggle to close out the game if you don’t have enough ways to get across the finish line. Pharika's Spawn or Devourer of Memory can do some pretty heavy lifting in this regard.

Izzet

Vroom…vroom…You’re off to the races with this tempo heavy deck. It uses instant speed spells like Fateful End and Omen of the Forge on your opponent’s turn to ping away with Dreamstalker Manticore and Mischievous Chimera.

Another card that keeps the beats coming is Stinging Lionfish and you can usually get it later since this is the only deck that it is premium in. This is also the only deck that’s going to play a Sleep of the Dead, but feel free to pick it around pick 12-15 because you only want one and no one else will pick it.

Simic

Simic doesn’t really have a direct theme so much as being an amalgam of all of the themes these colors touch. Just mix some constellation and escape while Eutropia the Twice-Favored flies your monsters over the top to come crashing down on your opponent.

It’s not really a ramp deck, but it still kind of plays like one. It wants to play big creatures to go over the top of the opponent and Deny the Divine can be really important in getting to that point in the game.

Rakdos

Do you like stealing your opponents’ creatures and sacrificing them for profit? Well, Rakdos is definitely down to do your opponent dirty like that. Portent of Betrayal is a great threaten variant and there are a ton of cheap sacrifice outlets like Lampad of Death's Vigil and Slaughter-Priest of Mogis floating around to make life miserable if your opponent is trying to play a fair game of Magic.

You also have the option to be a long term grindy deck that leverages removal and escape to slowly grind your opponent into dust. Underworld Rage-Hound and Underworld Charger play big parts in this version.

Golgari

This archetype uses the escape mechanic to win the long-term attrition battle. Voracious Typhon and Loathsome Chimera are the key commons that keep the pressure on. Flying critters can be a real problem if you don’t have enough removal, so grab a Chainweb Aracnir to put a huge hurting on them.

I hear a lot of complaints from people who have decked themselves in this archetype. That leads to the big argument of whether you should play over forty cards to combat this. To actively want to do this, you need to have a flat power level of cards. That means that you aren’t putting in cards that you normally wouldn’t play and don’t have any game changing bombs in your deck. Even if you meet these conditions, I wouldn’t go above fifty and that is really pushing it.

Gruul

I was going to make a joke about how much this deck enjoys big butts, but since it actually cares about how big it is in the front, I’ll save my editor the time and not say anything about that.

Dropping large, cheap beaters is what this archetype does best. Nessian Hornbeetle and Furious Rise are great payoffs for having a cheap four-power creature out like Loathsome Chimera. Iroas's Blessing can be a great way to push your monsters through and sometimes can give them that last little bump up to four power.

Tips and Tricks

Black is the best and deepest color. It can support multiple drafters and to be perfectly honest I am usually disappointed if I don’t have it in my deck.

A lot of the sacrifice outlets are onboard so don’t miss the opportunity to kill your opponent’s outlet in response to them stealing your creature. In the opposite position, you can try to hold your sac outlet in hand until after you steal their creature to ensure a smooth sacrifice.

This set was from a time when pacifism effects were still good so feel free to grab Dreadful Apathy early. It’s also amazing with blink effects since you can put the exile ability on the stack and blink it to another creature.

Don’t get blown out by Starlit Mantle. Sure, there are times you can’t do anything about it, but it’s usually telegraphed pretty hard.

Did you think some of the bombs in Crimson Vow were bad? Well let me introduce you to Dream Trawler and Kiora Bests the Sea God. They are both “well this was a game of Magic” cards that are nearly impossible to beat.

Exile removal puts in real work here as a way to prevent escape.

Don’t underestimate how great Labyrinth of Skophos is. It removes your opponent’s ability to use tricks in combat or even double block. It’s a huge threat of activation problem that will continually put them in bad positions.

Entrancing Lyre is another card that plays much better than it looks. It’s a removal spell that can choose to be replayed on a better creature if you want. It also can do the tap one creature end step, tap one on my turn Icy Manipulator impression.

It may look like a meme, but Nessian Boar is a real card. Just watch out for removal after they block.

Playing a main deck enchantment removal spell isn’t as crazy as you think. There are a lot of targets with most of them being creatures. The first one is usually premium, but don’t go nuts on them.

It is possible to have fast games, but most games will be long and involve a lot of decisions.

One of the keys is planning out how you are going to be using escape to pull ahead while preventing your opponent from doing the same. Escaping is the same as drawing an extra card so treat it in a similar manner when deciding your plays.

Be really careful of the math with Lampad of Death's Vigil on either side of the field. It can add up to a sneaky lethal really quick.

Wrap Up

That ends our trip down memory lane and I hope it has prepared you for this trip into the underworld. Personally I think it’ll be pretty interesting to see how people are drafting this format without all the 17Lands data to back them up.

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j2sjosh

Josh is a member of the elite limited team The Draft Lab as well as the host of The Draft Lab Podcast. He was qualifying for Pro Tours, Nationals, and Worlds literally before some of you were born. After a Magic hiatus to play poker and go to medical school, he has been dominating Arena with over an 80% win percentage in Bo3 as well as making #1 rank in Mythic.

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