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Armies of Myth – Limited Curve Review

I feel like I learned a great deal in my use of Quadrant Theory to evaluate Shattered Destiny limited. I found it to be a great tool for understanding the role of a card when drafting it and by being forced to rate the card four times over I found that it helped create an accuracy in the evaluations that otherwise would have been difficult to achieve. However, it also meant that I was rating each card four times, which led to the review itself becoming a enormous task to deal with as it resulted in four times the work to create. In the end, that amount of work for a single person buried me and I am not likely to try using that format anytime in the near future.

Instead, for Armies of Myth I’ll be going back to trying a method I used with Shards of Fate limited and whose credit I can best give to Magic’s Ari Lax for initially putting to paper. Our goal will be to look at the commons from each shard from a curve perspective, to evaluate what each shard will likely look like when you try and build a deck around it.

Keep in mind that we will have 11 commons in each of the 3 packs from all 8 drafts, so with 264 commons being opened and spread among the 99 Armies of Myth commons, on average there will be just slightly north of two and a half of any given common in the draft.

A quick aside on notation: the first column will be the categories we are trying to separate our cards into, either by troop cost or by function. The second column will be the number of cards in that row, for easier viewing at a glance when looking for trends. For troops, each following row will be the stat of the troop followed by important keywords or abilities. For other categories, I will just list the name of the card followed by its cost (in case you want to use these tables for reference on what tricks or removal an opponent might be holding at a point in time).

First up: Blood!

 

Blood Commons
1-cost10/2
2-cost31/12/1 Can’t Block1/2 flight
3-cost22/2 lifedrain shift1/4
4-cost34/23/2 Each Player Sac3/3 lethal shift
5-cost23/3 “flight3/5
6-cost14/5
7+0
Removal3Taint (1)Vampiric Kiss (3)Parriphagy (5)
Trick1Sudden Awakening (2)
Other3Incubate (1)Abominate (2)Touch of Xentoth (2)

Average Troop Cost – 3.4

Average Troop Size – 2.3/2.7

Not a lot of evasion here—and what we do have is on some fairly inept troops. Combine that with 5 troops with a larger defense than attack compared to 3 troops with the opposite and we have a shard that is often going to be looking to sit more in the defensive role than pushing forward in the attack phase. The only big caveat to that is that both Abominate and Touch of Xentoth have the ability to help push forward some huge damage potentials—at the cost of leaving yourself open to the “eggs in one basket” problem from stacking too many of your cards in the corner of a single troop. Sudden Awakening is likely going to be more important to an archetype like that; not just because you can protect your own troop but also the “combo” of Abominate and Sudden Awakening will let you reuse any powerful enters play effects with ease while providing a substantial attack boost.

Looking at the removal, Taint is likely more a reserves card as only Diamond and Ruby have a strong suite of X/1s at common; you can certainly justify starting Taint as a conditional removal/sketchy combat trick but it is likely to be incredibly matchup-dependent as it does close to nothing against Wild’s great 5-drops but is going to be clutch for shutting down Spiritbound Spy. After that, we have some pretty stock stuff in the conditional but solid Vampiric Kiss and the catch-all but expensive Parriphagy. The key thing to note is that none of these removal options really overlap a ton with each other, so if your deck needs to fill a gap then you can’t really rely upon just seeing any removal option as a valid one.

 

Diamond Commons
1-cost21/11/1
2-cost22/12/1
3-cost22/2 “shiftstrike1/2 flight + 1/1 flight
4-cost33/3 steadfast shift3/2 flight0/7 quick
5-cost14/3 Revert
6-cost13/7
7+0
Removal2Pride’s Fall (2)Etherealize (4)
Trick4Starshield (1)Smoke Signals (2)Invigorating Breeze (2)Cry of Adamanth – 5
Other2Mettle (1)Shardcall (1)

Average Troop Cost – 3.2

Average Troop Size – 2.1/2.8

Loads of tricks and a number of solid, cheap troops at each slot is a great indication that Diamond is going to have some good options for putting together an aggressive deck. The other way to view things is that with multiple flight troops and some Sir-Mix-a-Lot approved X/7s we have Diamond as a natural starting place to transform into the foil for any ground-pounder decks. I very much doubt that a 6-cost 3/7 is going to be the lynchpin of your next 3-0 draft, but do keep Diamond’s potential strategic shift in mind when grabbing your later picks. From just glancing at the shard in an overview like this, Diamond appears to be a great second shard option for many archetypes as it has something to offer for many different strategies.

One card in particular to call out for its potential to create an archetype is Cry of Adamanth. If you can swarm the board quickly (which Diamond appears prone to doing with both solid cheap troops and common troops that give you more than one body) then Cry becomes an excellent finisher. Especially since most of Diamond’s other expensive options are relatively poor for an aggressive deck, Cry seems to be able to easily fit in as the top end of your curve.

Pride’s Fall and Etherealize continue to push Diamond’s strength of nullifying large troops, with Etherealize being especially interesting for getting around things like Sudden Awakening, Spiritbound Spy, Ethereal Caller, and other cards that look to support “buff-stacking” on a single troop with a way of creating resiliency for that plan.

 

Ruby Commons
1-cost21/1 Acceleration1/1 speed shift
2-cost32/1 Evasion shift2/1 “Swiftstrike”“X”/3
3-cost21/1 speed x24/1
4-cost13/2 “Pump ATK”
5-cost14/3 crush
6-cost14/4 rage 1, speed
7+0
Removal4Fiery Indignation (2)Skewer (3)Staggering Blast (4)Volley of Arrows (5)
Trick1Lunge (2)
Other3Vandalize (1)Swordplay (4)Ember Tears (5)

Average Troop Cost – 2.9

Average Troop Size – 2.3/1.9

Three really good two-drops and bunch of decent removal point out immediately where Ruby wants to be in Armies of Myth limited. There is really no identity crisis happening here either; if you are taking Ruby cards you do not want to be on the back foot at any point of the game as many of the Ruby cards are geared towards enhancing your attack phase or creating ways of dealing damage through speed or pseudo-evasive abilities.

I wish I had deeper strategy to offer other than “Take the two-drops and the removal”, but those two-drops are so great compared to the rest of the cards in the shard (who are all really just role-players in most match-ups) that you need to try and acquire a critical mass of them. We’ll talk about shard pairs a bit later, but you really want to be trying to pair Ruby with another shard that has decent, aggressive two-drops because the deck is going to live and die on its ability to swarm the board.

 

Sapphire Commons
1-cost11/1
2-cost21/41/1 flight
3-cost22/32/2 flight shift
4-cost23/2 flight quick2/3
5-cost22/53/4 Allegiance
6-cost14/5
7+0
Removal1Cripple (3)
Trick4Arcane Zephyr (1)Entangling Webs (2)Throwback (2)Suffocate (4)
Other4Arcane Focus (1)Lunacy (2)Spider Nest (2)Epiphany (4)

Average Troop Cost – 3.5

Average Troop Size – 2.1/3.0

Lots of undersized troops populate Sapphire again, but the emphasis on high-defense troops combined with flight troops is fairly obvious. It is likely important to note that if you aren’t using alternative ways to win outside combat (i.e. burying), then you only have a couple flight troops that can realistically kill someone—so make your picks accordingly. What remains to be seen for effectiveness is how powerful all the Spiderling-creation tools can be for Sapphire. Many of Sapphire’s cards are either single-minded in their pursuit of this strategy or are costed on the high end with the obvious intent that you are paying real resources to go down the path of 1/1 unblockable dominance.

Note also the extreme lack of removal (not a new thing for Sapphire, although there are cases to be made for Throwback to be treated as removal in certain cases). Cripple isn’t great removal in the first place, but it is about the only option you get without moving into a second shard so don’t go leaving your ability to deal with a potential bomb down to hoping to see another Cripple in the last pack because there just aren’t many substitutes available.

 

Wild Commons
1-cost11/1
2-cost21/2 Acceleration2/2
3-cost22/3 Allegiance3/2 quick
4-cost32/3 Revert4/33/3
5-cost24/4 Lifegain3/5 skyguard steadfast
6-cost15/5 crush
7+0
Removal2Vine Lash (1)Predatory Prey (5)
Trick3Stinkhorn Soup (1)Lullaby (2)Stirring Oration (2)
Other3Return to the Soil (4)Sylvan Duet (4)Gossamer Tears (5)

Average Troop Cost – 3.5

Average Troop Size – 2.7/3.0

In addition to there being a sub-theme in Wild of “5-cost matters”, the two five-drops we have here are quite good even by themselves. What that means is that Lithe Lyricist is going to be pivotal in most Wild decks as while the difference between Wild’s 5- and 6-drops isn’t that high, there is no replacement for a Lyricist in your deck. Merry Minstrels likely deserves special call-out as an incredibly powerful option for Wild decks, but after that there are a ton of troops that all really fill the same “moderate cost, slightly above-average size” role.

While it looks like Wild has a lot of utility and tricks, in reality most of those cards are role-players at best. Stirring Oration is likely going to make the cut most of the time and Sylvan Duet is going to be an underrated common at first until people realize how perfectly it slots with Alyndra—outside of that you need to be prepared to explain your thought process based upon what your deck is doing and weak against.

 

Shardless Commons
1-cost11/1
2-cost0
3-cost1X/X
4-cost0
5-cost0
6-cost14/6 Revert
7+0
Removal0
Trick0
Other2Resource Optimizing Infusion Device (1)Rootforge Regalia (2)

If you can hit even just tri-shard, Sepulchra Bonewalker immediately becomes the best A/D value of any three-drop in the format. Obviously you’ll know if you are gunning for a FiveShards deck, but do keep in mind that all you really need is ways to get to three different shards and Bonewalker is going to do work in this environment. The other troop to point out is how Mecha Filk Ape further devalues the other 6 drops each shard has—since anyone can pick him up and arguably his One-Shot reversion ability is going to be stronger in many matchups that what the actual shard-requiring troops can do.

“Do you know what a Resource Optimizing Infusion Device gives you, Carl?”

“Please don’t”

“ROIDs Carl! It gives you ROIDs!”

In all seriousness though, ROID is a particularly interesting card that solves multiple problems in the format. First, threshold-fixing is obviously important to the necrotic decks who potentially can lean on their other threshold-fixers and easily play between 3-5 shards. The other big thing is that ROIDs ramp ability goes right in line with the elven “5-cost matters” by getting you there on turn 4. To no one’s surprise, the demand for ROIDs is going to be much higher than the demand was for AIDs.

 

Shard Combinations

Another place we can get further insight using curve analysis is by examining some of the more obvious shard combinations and what those types of decks might look like. I’ll be cutting out the options that don’t exactly fit for these archetypes (for instance, BD doesn’t want an 0/2 that makes Spiderling Eggs except in the rarest of circumstances), so that we can get a hopefully better idea of what to expect when playing with or against these decks. Do remember that this is still early in the format, so it is completely possible I miss something sweet here by cutting some cards, but hopefully our first pass has helped us identify a good foundation of what each shard is capable of.

 

Blood/Diamond

1-cost21/11/1
2-cost42/12/11/12/2 Can’t Block
3-cost32/2 “shiftstrike”1/2 flight + 1/1 flight2/2 lifedrain shift
4-cost43/3 steadfast shift3/2 flight3/3 lethal shift3/2 “Sac”
5-cost24/3 Revert3/3 “flight
6-cost14/6 “Revert”
7+0
Removal5Taint (1)Pride’s Fall (2)Vampiric Kiss (3)Etherealize (4)Parriphagy (5)- 5
Trick4Starshield (1)Invigorating Breeze (2)Sudden Awakening (2)Cry of Adamanth (5)
Other2Shardcall (1)Abominate (2)

Total “Playable” commons – 27

One of the first “shift” archetypes, BD is typically going to use and abuse Anana to do some serious work when combined with all the various sacrifice and recursion methods available to it. Creepy Conspirators and Mecha Filk Ape get consideration here primarily due to how powerful shift can be when you get to reset it and put it on something else, but also don’t discount using Ethereal Caller to turn your deceased bomb into a Phantom and “rebuy” it with a reversion effect. There is a lot of depth in this archetype, many moving parts, and a suite of potential removal to tap from so I expect it to be a player in the draft format throughout 3-3-3.

 

Blood/Ruby

1-cost21/1 Acceleration1/1 speed shift
2-cost42/1 Can’t Block2/1 Evasion shift2/1 “swiftstrike“X”/3
3-cost32/2 lifedrain shift1/1 speed x24/1
4-cost33/2 Each Player Sac3/3 lethal shift3/2 “Pump ATK”
5-cost0
6-cost24/4 rage 1, speed4/6 “Revert”
7+0
Removal7Taint (1)Fiery Indignation (2)Skewer (3)Vampiric Kiss (3)Staggering Blast (4)Volley of Arrows (5)Parriphagy (5)
Trick2Sudden Awakening (2)Lunge (2)
Other2Abominate (2)Swordplay (4)

Total “Playable” Commons – 25

Blood/Ruby, while technically another necrotic archetype, is going to require some careful navigating to create a worthwhile deck. Part of the problem will be the “too much of a good thing” issue where you have access to removal for days, but if you overload your deck with it you need to be sure to have a deck built to capitalize upon that. BR’s strength is really Ruby’s strength, in that you want to load up on two-drops and then back them up with removal. Blood doesn’t contribute much in the way of aggressive troops so you need to value a strong troop base and understand that you likely will have more opportunities down the line to pick up additional removal. Filling your deck to the brim with removal by way of your early picks might leave you filling out the rest of your 23 cards with BR’s 4-drops which, while playable, are not going to provide enough pressure or large enough bodies to threaten most opponents.

 

Blood/Sapphire

1-cost20/21/1
2-cost41/12/1 Can’t Block1/41/1 flight
3-cost21/42/2 flight shift
4-cost43/2 Each Player Sac3/3 lethal shift3/2 flight quick2/3
5-cost23/52/5
6-cost14/5
7+0
Removal4Taint (1)Vampiric Kiss (3)Cripple (3)Parriphagy (5)
Trick3Arcane Zephyr (1)Throwback (2)Sudden Awakening (2)
Other3Arcane Focus (1)Touch of Xentoth (2)Epiphany (4)

Total “Playable” Commons – 25

vennen share at least one quality with dwarves from 1-1-1 draft—nobody else wants your key cards. What will remain to be seen then is exactly how many vennen drafters a table can still support and if key uncommons like Painbreeder end up being signals to jump all-in or not. There also is a lot of room to explore the exact configurations of these decks that produce the best results; we have to figure out how many bury cards the deck style wants, what combination of Spiderling producers give the best results, and what balance you need between vennen cards and outright defensive catchalls.

 

Blood/Wild

I’ll be honest, I’m not totally sure what an “average” Blood/Wild deck will ever look like. Normally a Blood/Wild deck looks to exploit Blood’s removal and early game options combined with Wild’s large troops to survive the early game and then ensure the you have the biggest threat on the board. Unfortunately, that encompasses all the premium cards from both shards in Armies of Myth limited, so barring opening up Heart of the Wrathwood and being passed Demon of the Dusk you won’t find yourself here very often.

The caveat is, if the format proves to be a slow one, that Blood/Wild has a large concentration of powerful but slightly over-costed cards which can Voltron together if given time. My initial thought is that the necrotic cards are too aggressive and spiders too overbearing already in a long game for the format to be too slow, but only time will tell. There are lots of little combos too that are cute and potentially devastating—for example when running Mightsinger Alyndra, Sylvan Duet can give you a turn-5 Gigantisaur off your champion power and then Gemsoul Feeder can come down the next turn for a huge lifedraining threat that is probably going to wear down the opponent all by itself—but likely Blood/Wild won’t be represented in every 3-3-3 draft.

 

Diamond/Ruby

1-cost41/11/11/1 Acceleration1/1 speed shift
2-cost52/12/12/1 Evasion shift2/1 “swiftstrike“X”/3
3-cost32/2 “shiftstrike”1/2 flight + 1/1 flight1/1 speed x2
4-cost33/3 steadfast shift3/2 flight3/2 “Pump ATK”
5-cost14/3 Revert
6-cost24/4 rage 1, speed4/6
“Revert”
7+0
Removal6Pride’s Fall (2)Fiery Indignation (2)Skewer (3)Staggering Blast (4)Etherealize (4)Volley of Arrows (5)
Trick4Starshield (1)Invigorating Breeze (2)Lunge (2)Cry of Adamanth (5)
Other1Shardcall (1)

Total “Playable” Commons – 29

Likely the deepest archetype, DR operates well because so many of its cards do similar things. It is the deepest combination of two-drops by far, has multiple ways to generate multiple bodies, is knee-deep in removal, and has the best common finishers between Staggering Blast and Cry of Adamanth. It isn’t quite a complex as BD can get with its shift and other shenanigans but it has ample opportunity for tactical play and interesting synergies.

 

Diamond/Sapphire

1-cost21/11/1
2-cost42/12/11/41/1 flight
3-cost32/2 “shiftstrike”1/2 flight + 1/1 flight2/2 flight shift
4-cost43/3 steadfast shift3/2 flight0/7 quick3/2 flight quick
5-cost24/3 Revert3/4 Allegiance
6-cost0
7+0
Removal3Pride’s Fall (2)Cripple (3)Etherealize (4)
Trick5Starshield (1)Arcane Zephyr (1)Invigorating Breeze (2)Throwback (2)Entangling Webs (2)
Other3Shardcall (1)Arcane Focus (1)Epiphany (4)

Total “Playable” Commons – 26

I might be underestimating the ability of vennen in this archetype to produce the occasional Spiderling, because the basis of Diamond Sapphire is going to be similar to Blood Sapphire—butts on the ground and then win with some evasive threat. The glaring weakness is the archetype’s lack of removal, so especially large troops and opposing evasive troops are likely going to be an issue. I’m not sure this is an archetype you will be seeing every draft as it crosses many tribal lines by relying upon vennen, necrotic, and coyotle synergies with not a lot of payoff in the common slots. Still, 2- and 3-attack flight troops have always done work in HEX limited and I see little reason why they would stop now.

 

Diamond/Wild

1-cost21/11/1
2-cost42/12/11/2 Acceleration2/2
3-cost32/2 “shiftstrike”1/2 flight + 1/1 flight2/3 Allegiance
4-cost43/3 steadfast shift3/2 flight4/33/3
5-cost34/3 Revert4/4 Lifegain3/5 skyguard steadfast
6-cost25/5 crush4/6 “Revert”
7+0
Removal4Vine Lash (1)Pride’s Fall (2)Etherealize (4)Predatory Prey (5)
Trick3Starshield (1)Stirring Oration (2)Invigorating Breeze (2)
Other2Shardcall (1)Sylvan Duet (4)

Total “Playable” Commons – 27

Diamond/Wild is likely the best limited “prophecy” deck, which in itself can be a bit of a gamble; running out one- and two-drop coyotle only to find that your payoff is now a 2/3 crush Lithe Lyricist can be rough while instead drawing a 4/3 lifedrain Spirit Eagle is probably going to win the game for you. The one thing I find most interesting personally is the extreme lack of combat tricks that normally have helped define a Diamond/Wild deck. That means that if you want them, those tricks are at a premium to pick up because you might not have many chances. In the end though, this likely is a Kismet deck—roll the dice that you hit your prophecy triggers on a good troop and hopefully you’ll get paid.

 

Ruby/Sapphire

1-cost31/1 Acceleration1/1 speed shift1/1
2-cost32/1 Evasion shift2/1 “swiftstrike“X”/3
3-cost31/1 speed x24/12/2 flight shift
4-cost23/2 “Pump ATK”3/2 flight quick
5-cost0
6-cost14/4 rage 1, speed
7+0
Removal4Fiery Indignation (2)Skewer (3)Staggering Blast (4)Volley of Arrows (5)
Trick4Lunge (2)Entangling Webs (2)Throwback (2)Cripple (3)
Other1Arcane Focus (1)

Total “Playable” Commons – 21

As you can likely tell from the low “Playables” count, this isn’t going to be a premier archetype running around the format. Instead, this is likely going to be the outcome of those times where you veer hard into Ruby and then get stuck midway through the draft figuring out what shard to actually pair with it. The key to this archetype is the power of Entangling Webs—normally a fairly defensive card since Sapphire can’t provide much firepower to back it up but Ruby is the one deck that can actually bring the heat with its commons all by itself. The combination of Entangling Webs and Staggering Blast likely can give you multiple free attack phases in which to get in for damage, but the key—as with all other Ruby archetypes—are those all too important Ruby two-drops. Without them, you are left with basically Scraptooth Cackler as your threat for turning Webs and Blast into big damage—and Cackler doesn’t even make the cut in most other decks so that should give you an idea of how janky your 23 cards will look.

 

Ruby/Wild

1-cost11/1 Acceleration
2-cost32/1 Evasion shift1/2 Acceleration2/2
3-cost34/12/3 Allegiance3/2 quick
4-cost24/33/3
5-cost24/4 Lifegain3/5 skyguard steadfast
6-cost34/4 rage 1, speed5/5 crush4/6 “Revert”
7+0
Removal6Vine Lash (1)Fiery Indignation (2)Skewer (3)Staggering Blast (4)Volley of Arrows (5)Predatory Prey (5)
Trick2Lunge (2)Stirring Oration (2)
Other1Sylvan Duet (4)

Total “Playable” Commons – 23

A low playable common total indicates that this archetype probably can’t support 3+ players, but the appeal of running Ruby Wild is undeniable. With multiple cheap acceleration options, all it takes is one of them and then suddenly with Cressida’s power you have a turn 3 Rotroot Enchanter. At that point, your opponent either has real removal or curls up into a ball awaiting your eventual Smashadons and Furyseekers to bash their heads in.

Note that you have ample removal options available in the archetype, so instead of focusing on picking Skewers highly (likely one of the best cards in a vacuum in the entire set) be sure to grab your acceleration options as durdling along with no plays until turn 5 is not how this deck will win most games. While I’ve tried to shy away from evaluating uncommons here, be aware that Wild especially has a ton of solid 5- and 6-drops at the uncommon slot so it isn’t the end of the world if you pass one to take something like Skewer.

 

 

Sapphire/Wild

1-cost11/1
2-cost31/41/2 Acceleration2/2
3-cost22/2 flight shift2/3 Allegiance
4-cost33/2 flight quick4/33/3
5-cost33/4 Allegiance4/4 Lifegain3/5 skyguard steadfast
6-cost25/5 crush4/6 “Revert”
7+0
Removal3Vine Lash (1)Cripple (3)Predatory Prey (5)
Trick4Arcane Zephyr (1)Entangling Webs (2)Throwback (2)Stirring Oration (2)
Other3Arcane Focus (1)Epiphany (4)Sylvan Duet (4)

Total “Playable” Commons – 24

Giant flyers is once again the order of the day for the SW combination. While Boris is no Feather Drifting, it doesn’t take many hits with a 4/4 or 5/5 to end the game so the results should remain somewhat similar. One big synergy worth noting is that between Boris and Vine Lash; paying 2 charges and 1 resource to deal 4 to anything is a big deal, especially since once WS gets going with its card selection and fatties it can be difficult to stop. Lithe Lyricist again is a pressure point in that you can’t replicate its effects from any other card, and Windborne Disciple is also going to likely be a key card in the archetype as it can get some initial hits in on its own before transferring flight over to something more menacing.

 

And that’s it! With a tribal theme again being prominent for Set 3 we have a number of archetypes that don’t look to be too difficult to initially grasp; yet at the same time there are lots of unexplored combinations that promise to be exciting to try out. Until next time, may you never run afoul of any High Efficiency Mechanically Rotating Ornate Infusion Devices…

 

BONUS SECTION: RANDOM STATS

Average one-cost troop size — .9/1.1

Average two-cost troop size — 1.4/1.7

Average three-cost troop size — 2.2/2.4

Average four-cost troop size — 2.8/2.9

Average five-cost troop size — 3.25/4

Average six-cost troop size — 4/5.3

 

Number of common one-drops —7

Number of common two-drops —12

Number of common three-drops —10

Number of common four-drops —12

Number of common five-drops —8

Number of common six-drops —6

1 Comment on Armies of Myth – Limited Curve Review

  1. I know you were shying away from mentioning uncommons, but my God has the X green pump card been doing some serious work for me.

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