jcf's picture
By: jcf, Jose Freitas
Jul 14 2020 12:00pm

Hello my friends, today I would like to write a bit about limited.

Core Set 2021 BoosterCore Set 2021 is here and it sure is an exciting limited environment. While it isn't perfectly leveled, it surely feels more balanced than Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths. Ikoria was a strange set for limited, with cycling decks being way more powerful than they should and also grabbing off-color cards just for cycling.

Drafting Core Set 2021 feels more traditional. As long as you find an open path, you should have a reasonable deck most of the time.

There is one aspect of 2021 limited I like a lot: three color archetypes.

While Wizards strongly designed Core Set 2021 around the ten duo-colored archetypes, I love how some of the two color themes or cards overlap with each other, giving us more possibilities in our picks if we try a three color strategy. Also, there is a reasonable amount of fixing, with ten dual lands and Prismite at common. Also, Cultivate and Meteorite at uncommon not to mention the rare scry lands and Fabled Passage that could help eventually.

There isn't much reward for playing monocolored decks in Core Set 2021 limited. The vast majority of decks should be two or more colors. You probably shouldn't be trying to build a three color deck most of the time (like me), but if you find fixing is open, sometimes it is really worth it, specially if you feel your two color deck is missing something.

First, for reference, let's list the instant classic two color archetypes:

Izzet Spells

How it works:

Mix a bunch of cantrips and cheap removal spells with creatures and cards that pays you off for casting non-creature spells.

Some cards that could represent this archetype:

Experimental Overload, Spellgorger Weird, Jeskay Elder, Opt, Shock, Riddleform, Frantic Inventory, Crash Through, Mistral Singer, Kinetic Augur.

Simic Card Draw:

How it works:

Mix spells and creatures that draw cards and creatures that pay you off for each card you draw. 

Some cards that could represent this archetype:

Lorescale Coatl, Burlfist Oak, Rousing Read, Opt, Teferi's Protege, Rain of Revelation, Track Down.

Boros Aggro:

How it works:

Cast a lot of cheap aggressive creatures. Try to kill the opponent as quickly as possible. Use a low land count and cheap removal or combat tricks to dominate the early game.

Some cards that could represent this archetype:

Alpine Houndmaster, Alpine Watchdog, Igneous Cur, Burn Bright, Furor of the Bitten, Bolt Hound, Makeshift Battalion, Daybreak Charger, Sure Strike.

Gruul Power Matters:

How it works:

Combine some ramp, creatures with power four or more and spells that give you bonuses for having those fatties in play.

Some desirable cards in this archetype:

Leafkin Avenger, Drowsing Tyrannodon, Turret Ogre, Onakke Ogre, Colossal Dreadmaw, Furious Rise, Garruk's Uprising.

Selesnya +1/+1 Counters:

How it works:

Combine cards that give +1/+1 counters to creatures and cards that give bonuses when that happens.

Some cards you should see in this archetype:

Conclave Mentor, Wildwood Scourge, Tempered Veteran, Basri's Solidarity, Pridemalkin, Trufflesnout, Invigorating Surge.

Azorius Flyers:

How it works:

Fill the deck with as many flyers you can and cards that become more powerful when you have flyer in play.

Some cards that could represent this archetype:

Watcher of the Spheres, Celestial Enforcer, Lofty Denial, Worded Battlements.

Dimir Reanimator:

How it works:

Discard big or hard to deal with creatures and reanimate them with Rise Again.

Some cards fit for this archetype:

Obsessive Stitcher, Rise Again, Gloom Sower, Crypt Lurker, Goremand, Spined Megalodon, Carrion Grub, Waker of Waves, Rain of Revelation.

Golgari Morbid:

How it works

Take advantage of spells that sacrifice or kill creatures, combined with cards that pay off when creatures die.

Cards you might see in it:

Twinblade Assassins, Caged Zombie, Grasp of Darkness, Witch's Cauldron, Liliana's Devotee, Canopy Stalker, Goremand, Sabertooth Mauler, Fierce Empath.

Orzhov Life Gain Matters:

How it works:

Try to gain life using spells, lands and creatures with lifelink. Combine those with cards that give you bonuses for gaining life, often three or more life. 

Cards you should often see in that strategy:

Indulging Patrician, Griffin Aerie, Revitalize, Faith's Fetters, Tavern Swindler, Blood Glutton, Silversmote Ghoul, Light of Promise.

Rakdos Sacrifice:

How it works:

Steal creatures and sacrifice them or sacrifice creatures that give you bonuses when they die and combine those with spells that pay off for sacrificing permanents or when creatures die.

Some cards that could be in that archetype:

Direfleet Warmonger, Traitorous Greed, Hobblefiend, Havoc Jester, Pitchburn Devils, Witch's Cauldron, Goblin Arsonist, Caged Zombie.

Now let's talk about some of my favorite three color archetypes:

1) Temur Spells and Draw:

This one is probably the strongest of the three color archetypes when it comes together. There is a lot of synergy among Izzet Spells and Simic Card Draw, because many of the non-creature spells that pump Spellgorger Weird will also draw extra cards anyway, helping to pump both Lorescale Coatl and Burlfist Oak. Also, Quirion Dryad becomes potentially very strong since you should be playing a lot of red and blue spells. Both Rousing Read and Thrill of Possibility become powerful enablers, capable of pumping every payoff creature in our deck.

Another interesting aspect is that if Izzet isn't 100% open, green offers alternate spells that can draw you cards in Track Down and Setessan Training. They won't work with Quirion Dryad but they will pump all the other teammates. It is nice to have a bit more flexibility in your picks in case you don't see enough blue and red enablers.

2) Bant +1/+1 Counters and Card draw:

This one is super fun when it comes together, we are basically trying to put together cards that pays off for adding +1/+1 counters, like Conclave Mentor and Wildwood Scourge with Lorescale Coatl and Quirion Dryad. This deck can get very explosive when you manage to put the pieces on the board. White can also offer some extra cantrip spells to help pump our team in Defiant Strike and Revitalize.

3) Mardu Lifegain Power Pump:

Orzhov Life Gain really pays you off for gaining three or more life each turn. The problem is that it isn't so easy to do that consistently. Sure, you could enchant your lifelink creatures, but that makes the strategy quite vulnerable to removal.

Splashing some red offers one card that could help a lot achieving that goal: Battle-Rattle Shaman. Suddenly we have a Bonesplitter on legs, making every one of our Anointed Choristers a potential 3/1 that could enable our Griffin Aerie. I also have to say Indulging Patrician looks insanely better with Battle-Rattle Shaman in play. 

If they kill your Battle-Rattle Shaman, don't worry: Black offers Sanguine Indulgence to get it back and maybe gain some value while doing it.

If you have enough enablers, another cool aspect of adding red is including one copy of Furious Rise. It sure is a powerful card and Orzhov Life Gain could benefit from some extra card draw sometimes.

4) Sultai Reanimator and Card Draw Matters:

Simic wants to draw cards and Dimir wants to loot big creatures to graveyard. The synergy is naturally there. Both Obsessive Stitcher and Teferi's Protege look quite nice with Lorescale Coatl. Quirion Dryad doesn't look so bad either if the deck happens to have a lot of black and blue spells. 

Another interesting synergy is between Garruk's Gorehorn and Carrion Grub. Opponents can't let your 7/3 keep hitting them, so it is really easy to have it going to graveyard just blocking or attacking. That means Garruk's Gorehorn easily becomes a 7/5 if you have a couple Gorehorns in your deck.

If you can, add a couple Epitaph Golem to your sideboard, because with all this looting and auto mill, emptying your library is quite possible in longer games.

I love how this deck can combine a bit of ramp and reanimation, giving two paths to reliably put our fatties in play.

Also don't forget Garruk's Uprising works with reanimated creatures as well, since it is an ETB effect. Depending on the mix of creatures you get, it can be a nice fit in that strategy.

5) Jeskai Spells Control:

Izzet spells can be really aggressive sometimes, but there is another side to it: combining a lot of counter spells like Cancel and Rewind, cheap removal, instant card draw and a couple Goblin Wizardry to add some board presence.

Often it is a risky strategy to add counter spells to your limited deck, because if you fall behind on tempo you can't really hold lands untapped and those counters become dead cards. But Goblin Wizardry allows us to add to the board at end of turn if opponent doesn't cast a relevant spell on their turn, and cheap instant removal helps to not fall behind on tempo very much. So, Cancel can be an awesome card in the right context. Mixing that deck with white gives us some interesting extra options. First, we have white cantrips that can power up both Spellgorger Weird and Experimental Overload in Revitalize and Defiant Strike. Also, we have access to Swift Response, an efficient removal spell that fits very well in a defensive deck.

That's it my friends, those are my favorite three color archetypes. Is there any three color archetype you like and I didn't mention ? Let me know in the comments!

See you next time, battle well and have fun!