by Francis Toussaint

Hello and welcome Mana Deprived readers! My name is Francis Toussaint, and I’m here to give you a Limited article. But first, a little about myself. I’ve been playing Magic competitively for about 5 years now, and up to this point the only major accomplishments I’ve managed are top 8 at Canadian Nationals in 2008 & 2009, and losing the ‘win and in’ round for top 8 at GP Oakland, finishing in the top 20.

Usually Limited is not my strong suit, but Rise of Eldrazi limited is without a doubt one of my favorite limited formats. Even after playing over a hundred drafts the format somehow manages to serve up new archetypes all the time, and there are still a few hidden gems. Today I’m going to share with you one of my favorite draft archetypes in Rise limited, and that archetype is GW Auras. GW usually isn’t the most powerful color combination, but when drafted correctly, and if the colors are open, the synergy that can come together in this archetype can be overwhelming.

The three main cards I’m after when drafting this archetype are Aura Gnarlid, Totem-Guide Hartebeest and Mammoth Umbra. In my eyes these cards are the core of the deck, and without them it won’t be nearly as powerful. It’s possible to draft the deck without Mammoth Umbra, but the card is just ridiculous, and will win games on its own when left unanswered. Aura Gnarlid will obviously get absurd with Totem Armor and a large number of auras, but it can also be downright filthy with Ogre’s Cleaver. When I’m going for this deck I will even go as far as to pick Totem-Guide Hartebeest over Oust, Puncturing Light and Smite. Obviously, it will be dependent on the situation, like if you have zero removal and 3 Hartebeest, you’re going to want the removal. In this deck, Hartebeest is great and he is almost always going to be a 2 for 1, and sometimes even pseudo removal with Guard Duty.

Here are the top uncommon and common creatures that I’m after when drafting this archetype in order:

Pelakka Wurm
Joraga Treespeaker
Beastbreaker of Bala Ged
Aura Gnarlid
Totem-Guide Hartebeest
Overgrown Battlement
Dawnglare Invoker
Knight of Cliffhaven
Wildheart Invoker
Makindi Griffin

The only card that I’m not too sure about here is the Overgrown Battlement. The card is really good, but I’m not sure whether it’s good enough to pick over the key cards for the deck. I placed the white cards a little lower than what they would normally be because these days white is relatively under drafted because the pros like to stay out of white.

Here are the top common and uncommon Auras for this archetype:

Mammoth Umbra
Boar Umbra
Guard Duty
Snake Umbra
Hyena Umbra
Spider Umbra

As I said before Mammoth Umbra is really nice in this archetype, and especially with Totem-Guide Hartebeest. I will usually first pick Mammoth Umbra over almost anything when I’m going for this archetype. I like Boar Umbra more than Snake Umbra mainly because Boar Umbra is much better at breaking stalemates and such because your creature gets so large.

Here are some of the rares that are good in this archetype:

Bear Umbra – This card is absurd. I first pick this card every time. It’s essentially free to play, gives a creature +2/+2 and Totem Armor, and then generates even more mana later on. If I open one of these, it would be one of the cards that would make me want to draft the archetype.

Kor Spiritdancer – This card can go from awful to excellent depending on how many auras you have. I wouldn’t want to pick it too early, but they can usually come late if they’re opened. If you’re dedicated to the archetype this card can be really nice.

One very important aspect of this deck is to know when to play your Totem Armor auras. When played correctly they are usually extremely powerful, but like any aura they are an easy two for one waiting to happen. Ideally you should just play them when an opponent is completely tapped out. If they aren’t tapped out it’s important to know which tricks are out there to play around. It’s also important to deduce whether or not an opponent has removal when possible. For example, lets say my opponent missed an important land drop the previous turn, and I play a pump spell on a creature of mine to kill an important creature of my opponents, because my opponent allowed this to happen I’m able to deduce my opponent doesn’t have a removal spell at that point. On the next turn the opponent plays a land, so he most likely drew that land, and therefore, still doesn’t have a removal spell so it’s safe to play a Totem Armor aura. It sounds fairly very simple, and it is, to an extent, but having this mindset can greatly improve one’s game.

Another direction the deck can go is to draft the white core of the deck, mainly the Mammoth Umbra and Totem-Guided Hartebeest, and then use pretty much any other color for support. A lot of pros have said that white isn’t very strong in this format, and because of this white is open a lot more often. This deck is a lot of fun to draft and I would definitely recommend giving it a try if you haven’t already. That’s all for today and hopefully you’ll be hearing from me soon!

Francis Toussaint