Ultimate Guide for UMA Draft

Petr Sochurek

Petr Sochurek

Introduction

Hello everyone, initially I was planning to write a constructed article about the new set, but a lot of people have messaged me whether I could help them with Ultimate Masters (Magic Fest Prague is coming up) and I figured that given that I played a lot with it I should might as well share my knowledge with everyone.

I have mainly focused on Drafting rather than playing Sealed so that is what I am going to focus on today. The format is extremely deep and I was postponing writing this for a long time, because my opinion about a lot of things was changing drastically and I was exploring so many new things every day – I just knew that I would write something that I would not even believe was the case anymore by the time the article would get published so I decided to wait. I am sure that it is still going to happen to a certain extent, but I have played enough that I firmly believe that it’s not going to be that drastically.

My thoughts of UMA Draft

I think that there are MANY options and viable strategies in Ultimate Masters Draft and you can 3-0 with anything assuming you know what you are doing and the strategy is open in your seat.

Thermo-AlchemistKodama's ReachWingsteed Rider

It is really difficult to say what is the best approach because things change as people adapt during the Draft format and having an idea about on what level the other players at your table are is very important. For example; when I started Drafting the set just right after it came out, it was very easy to get these busted U/R decks and especially the good-stuff U/Gish ramp decks playing all the powerful cards, but it’s way harder now – I would even say that it has reversed – it almost feels like people sort of discovered that you can do crazy stuff in this format and it’s the only thing they want to be doing (it’s very refreshing from regular Draft formats where you are just forced to Draft a 2-Color creature deck with curve) and “less smart” archetypes like R/W Heroic Aggro seem way more open nowadays, whereas it was almost impossible to Draft it at the beginning when people were just first picking 《Wingsteed Rider》.

The Archetype which I Want to Avoid

I am not a huge fan of “regular” black decks – when I say regular I mean decks like B/W creature decks with maybe a small 《Reanimate》 theme, U/B Control, R/B Madness and B/G Graveyard Shenanigans. These strategies can obviously still be successful, but I usually need a push in form of a rare to do that. Black has a lot of fine cards, but those decks usually just don’t end up being as powerful as other options – you are just too fair, while your opponent is doing unfair stuff.

I used the word “regular” on purpose because then there are the busted black decks which I think are good and it sort of shows the way I think the format should be approached as a whole. Look at these decks to have an idea:

These decks are “using” black cards, but these decks are trying to do some powerful thing and the black cards just so happened to be good there as well and these decks are obviously fine, I would just try to avoid trying to attack people with random black creatures.

Golgari ThugGolgari BrownscaleLife from the Loam

A lot of people I talked to (and frankly I agree) told me that they really don’t like BG as a strategy – the problem is that the Dredge cards in the set just aren’t a very good cards – 《2 mana 1/1》, 《3 mana 2/3》, 《Life from the Loam》 etc. And the payoff usually isn’t good enough to make up for it.

Spider SpawningGolgari Grave-TrollLaboratory Maniac

I know that if everything falls into the place and you get like 2 《Spider Spawning》s, your deck can turn out fine, but unless I open a 《Golgari Grave-Troll》 I will try to avoid it – I think the right approach is using 《Laboratory Maniac》 in combination with either 《Pulse of Murasa》 or a 《Reanimate》 spells and just use Dredge cards as a way to quickly mill your entire deck, but I don’t like just using Dredge to generate value.

The Best Archetype

Kodama's Reach

I think that if open or at least “reasonably” open best decks are the 《Kodama's Reach》 decks – it’s really difficult to call it some other way, because they can all look very different but there is always the same centerpiece – 《Kodama's Reach》. Your deck is usually some sort of a rampish deck with all the best cards.

ReanimateSatyr WayfinderGurmag Angler

Sometimes you have a small 《Reanimate》 sub-theme but not always. Cards like 《Satyr Wayfinder》 are naturally good in these types of decks so you are setup for Delve cards quite well also, but I would advise against taking those too highly – you really don’t want to play that many – usually 1 or 2 is a good number and your deck will likely be filled with some number of very expensive cards and or cards with a challenging color requirements so you don’t want to add additional clunky cards that might rot in your hand.

Ulamog's CrusherPenumbra Wurm

The 3rd deck/picture above is a great example of a deck that I am talking about. Rares are of course especially great in a strategy like this, but it’s possible to have a good deck even without those – cards like 《Ulamog's Crusher》 or 《Penumbra Wurm》 are good supplements but it’s very important to have a critical mass of powerful effects – even if you don’t need the ramp effect you will almost always want to play the ramp cards anyways because of color requirements and if your deck doesn’t have enough power you will just end up flooding out so keep an eye on that.

Learning More U/G Strategies Other than Ramp

Both green and blue are so deep with so many good cards that ramp isn’t the only approach these colors can take – you can be aggressive as well (this is less true for blue). Look at these decks:

Now, decks like these are not what I am aiming for when I delve into green, but it’s certainly important to be aware of the option and the important cards for the more aggressive green strategies in case you are not seeing the cards for the ramp deck.

Heroic Strategies

U/W

Daybreak CoronetHeliod's Pilgrim

I already briefly mentioned the Heroic strategies – as I said I wasn’t a huge fan at the beginning, but I am now – any of the 3 color combinations (R/W, G/W, U/W) can be successful but they all play out a little differently – a dedicated UW Heroic is rare – UW is usually just a midrange deck that sometimes so happens to play some Auras with one exception – when you open 《Daybreak Coronet》. 《Coronet》 is so powerful that if you open it you can just start taking all 《Heliod's Pilgrim》s and Hexproof guys very highly and you should end up with a very powerful deck – just make sure to not completely rely on 《Coronet》, because there are quite a few ways to destroy it (especially postboard).

G/W

GW and RW are more similar to each other but there are still differences – GW is usually slower and it’s what I would call a “true” Heroic deck. When you say Heroic most people imagine a huge monster with bunch of things on it that is beating down your opponent and that is what GW is all about, whereas the correctly Drafted RW decks are more of a low curve hyper-aggressive swarm decks that just so happen to play good Heroic cards. Here are examples of these strategies that I have Drafted:

Honorable Mention

Angelic Renewal

One card I would like to mention when talking about GW is 《Angelic Renewal》 – I don’t think that it is great (I usually play 0-1), but it’s a very high variance card with a very strong upside so if your deck isn’t going well you can just pick couple of those up and try to make it work with Evoke creatures, 《Lotus-Eye Mystics》 etc. – it is not a strategy that you are going to salvage a 3-0 with but it’s a nice option how to save yourself from a trainwreck – at least you can get lucky!

R/W

As for the RW decks – I think that many people make the mistake of Drafting it the way you would Draft GW – taking cards like 《Conviction》, 《Wingsteed Rider》, 《Heliod's Pilgrim》 etc. Too highly and they end up with a slower more clunky deck and I think that those decks are just inferior to the 《Akroan Crusader》 “all-in” RW decks – it feels wrong to take crusader over wingsteed but I would in a heartbeat – this format is so powerful with so many playables that you should be picking cards to build “decks” and not cards that just look more powerful on their own.

Mono-Red

Even though you will end up in white most of the time – there are occasions when being only Mono-Red is better – you want to play a low land count in these decks so having a good mana base is extremely valuable – if you think that red is extremely open and you don’t need a second color, you should definitely go for it!

U/R Various

Last strategy that I really like and end up Drafting really often is U/R spells. The main problem with UR is that there are many different versions of it and even though a lot of cards overlap and are going to be good in any given iteration some cards aren’t and picking/playing a wrong set of cards can be extremely punishing – these UR decks play infinite card draw/card selection spells and you see most of your deck a lot of the games so any small misstep can matter.

Thermo-AlchemistYoung PyromancerTalrand, Sky Summoner
Laboratory ManiacRise from the Tides

For the most part UR decks divide either into the good-stuff value decks trying to win with cards like 《Thermo-Alchemist》, 《Young Pyromancer》, 《Talrand, Sky Summoner》 etc. or you have the more combo oriented UR decks that are just trying to buy time to eventually win with either 《Laboratory Maniac》 or 《Rise from the Tides》.

Pulse of MurasaArchaeomancerMystic Retrieval

The 《Maniac》 version can look kind of crazy sometimes and it’s not unreasonable to consider splashing green for 《Pulse of Murasa》. That is more of an exception and you should consider it only when you don’t have many other ways besides 《Maniac》 to win a game and there is a real danger of it getting milled – by playing 《Pulse》, 《Archaeomancer》 and 《Mystic Retrieval》 you make sure that that should not be an issue.

Example of an UR deck:

Top 5 Draft Archetypes and Top 5 Commons

This is my current top 5 Draft strategies with top 5 commons for them:

1st: UG/x Ramp

Kodama's ReachTerramorphic ExpanseFaith's Fetters
Satyr WayfinderTreasure Cruise

2nd: R/W Aggro

Akroan CrusaderGods WillingSoul's Fire
Arena AthleteReckless Charge

Maybe there should be 《Fiery Temper》, but double red mana can be difficult sometimes.

3rd: U/R

Fiery TemperThermo-AlchemistJust the Wind
Treasure CruiseMad Prophet

4th: Esper(W/U/B) Reanimate/Control

Terramorphic ExpanseLast GaspFaith's Fetters
Frantic SearchDeranged Assistant

5th: G/W Heroic

Faith's FettersGods WillingWild Mongrel
Wingsteed RiderConviction

Conclusion

This is going to be all for today and I hope my article was helpful to you.

Thanks for reading,

Petr Sochurek@PetrKikac

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Petr Sochurek

Petr Sochurek His prowess in reading the meta and taking advantage of it with flawless plays is among the reasons he is considered to be one of top European players right now. Having played Grixis Control to a magnificent victory at GP Paris 2016. He is most assuredly one of the top players to keep an eye on right now! Read more articles by Petr Sochurek