In my experience, Eldritch Moon draft is a format that focuses heavily on synergy. You’re not just choosing two colors and picking the best cards in those colors, each color pair has a specific playstyle. In this article I’ll go over three of my favorite archetypes to draft, and go into a little bit of detail about how you should draft each one.
Note that these aren’t the best archetypes in the format (ok, except Blue/Green emerge). These are just the ones I enjoy the most, although I do feel they are all competitive.
Red/Black Madness Aggro
Why it’s good: Red is a very strong color with good aggressive cards. Black is probably the weakest color in Eldritch Moon, but it synergizes well with Red since both colors use the madness mechanic. After Pro Tour Sydney, a lot of articles were written about the limited format, and the professional players seemed to agree that the format was slower than Shadows Over Innistrad. If black is underdrafted and the other players in the draft are expecting slow games, an aggressive R/B deck can become a strong metagame choice.
How to draft it: Start off with picking solid red cards. Red it a great color to start your draft out with in Eldritch Moon since it pairs well with any other color. For the most part R/B wants the standard aggro cards:** cheap creatures that attack well, a few combat tricks, and some removal to get blockers out of the way. On top of that, look for madness synergy cards. Olivia’s Dragoon is great in an aggressive R/B deck, you can cast a card for its madness cost while letting the Dragoon fly in for two damage.
Also Look For: Thermo-Alchemist might not seem like what an aggro deck wants, since it’s a 0/3 that can’t attack, but over the course of the game it will probably do more damage than a Falkenrath Reaver will. Alchemist is nice because it gives your aggro deck “reach”. Even if your opponent gets enough blockers out that you can no longer attack well, the Alchemist can keep pinging away for those last few points of damage. Cryptolith Fragment is another card that might not seem like what your deck wants, but it’s another way to finish an opponent off once they find some blockers.
Vidlin-Pack Outcast is a little expensive for an aggro deck, but it’s strong enough to make up for it’s heavy mana cost.
I left out rares and uncommons because they’re a lot less necessary in R/B madness then they are in some of the other archetypes. If you do see a rare or uncommon that is good at killing creatures, killing your opponent,or both, you should definitely take it.
Less Important Commons:
Spells get much better if you already have a couple Thermo-Alchemists. Note that I left Falkenrath Reaver out of the list. While a 2/2 for 2 mana is usually a fine card in aggro decks, I really dislike it in the format. There’s a lot of 2/3s in the format, and the synergy decks are doing very powerful things that a vanilla 2/2 just can’t compete with. Play it if you have to, but keeps your expectations very low.
Why it’s good: Emerge is by far the most powerful archetype in Eldritch Moon. The emerge creatures are big, and have nice upsides beyond their stats. The only downside is you have to sacrifice your own creature to cast them, but when you have the good enablers that are meant to be sacrificed, it is no longer a downside.
How to draft it: It’s kind of hard to ease your way into the deck like you can with some of the other archetypes. The deck wants a lot of cards like Foul Emissary and Mockery of Nature, which the other decks don’t want at all. If you want to draft the emerge deck, you’re going to have to force it pretty early on. Look for a powerful uncommon or rare in the first few picks that makes you want to start drafting emerge. In the middle of the pack, aim for the solid commons and uncommons that the other drafters at the table might also want. After that, there are a few cards you can usually find very late, since they aren’t good in any of the other archetypes.
Also look out for:** Anything that gives you card selection is quite good in the emerge deck. You need to find both an emerge creature and sacrifice fodder, so cards like Grapple With The Past and Vessel Of Nascency are great to help you dig for combo pieces if you’re missing them. Once you have a few of those, you can consider having a small delirium subtheme. Cheap blockers are nice as well since it takes a few turns for the emerge deck to get rolling.
Powerful Uncommons and Rares:
Solid Commons and Uncommons That Other Drafters Also Want:
I left out a lot of cards here, but these are the cards that improve the most in the emerge deck. Like I said before about R/B cards: If you see something sweet, go ahead and take it. While Prey Upon is a great common that any green deck wants to play, G/U makes the best use of it since your big eldrazis can beat most anything in a fight.
Medium Commons That Other Drafters Might Want:
Crop Sigil only good when you have some other self-mill and delirium, but casting one of your emerge creatures a second time can be very powerful. Bloodbriar is a nice curve-filler because it gets a +1/+1 counter whenever you emerge something, and it can also be sacrificed if you’re desperate.
Late cards that nobody else wants:
Why it’s good: While it’s not the strongest archetype in Eldritch Moon, it’s still decent, and I’ve always loved the flyers deck no matter what set I’m drafting. The gameplan is always the same, play a bunch of creature that your opponent can’t block, and look for controlling or tempo-oriented cards that make sure your opponent’s ground creatures can’t win the game before your flyers do.
How to draft it: Since U/W flyers isn’t the strongest archetype, I would not recommend forcing it or committing to it early. It’s a deck you want to start off by drafting only blue or white, and only dive in once the other color looks open as well.
The flyers deck in Eldritch Moon is more on the defensive control side. There are not very many strong flyers in the set, so you’re not able to consistently flood the board with them. Look to shut down your opponent’s attacks with a bunch of high-toughness creatures, then slowly close out the game by attacking for a small amount of damage each turn. The most important thing is finding a balance of both offense and defense. If you have too many flyers, then it’s easy to lose a race to your opponent’s bigger ground creatures. If you have too much defense, then it gives your opponent a lot of time to draw into a bomb that can break through. As the draft goes on, you should start drafting towards what your deck needs instead of picking the best card in the pack.
Also Look Out For: Flyers that don’t die to spirit tokens. Those 1/1 flyers are a nightmare for the flyers deck. Most cards that make spirit tokens also give you some additional upside, so if a token trades with your 1-toughness flyers, then it’s like they traded half of their card for one full card of yours. Because of this, cards like Tattered Haunter and Nebelgast Herald play worse than they look. They are still fine cards that you should play in your flyers deck, but make sure you don’t automatically lose if your opponent casts Spectral Reserves. Green also has access to a 2/3 and a 2/5 creature with reach, and both of them are commons so you’ll run into those pretty often.
These are the dreams. Don’t feel like you need to be in a flyers deck just because you opened one of these; you can put them in any archetype and they’ll still be the best cards in your deck.
I’m a lot lower on the final row, as all of those cards fail the “dies to a spirit token” test. Wharf Infiltrator and Selfless Spirit have a big enough upside to make up for that.
Strong Defensive Cards: