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Andy Van Zandt



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Argothian Treehouse

with Andy Van Zandt

Onslaught - Legions Limited

To preface this article,  I am not the one you should be listening to about
Onslaught limited.  I've been performing horribly throughout the limited
formats that it has encompassed so far.  I would like to say it's all
because the format is way too random, too luck driven, too bomb driven,
etc... which may be true.  But it may also be true that I just don't
understand it well enough.  So I'll share what little I have learned so far.

First off,  as is often the case, onslaught block sealed is FAR more luck
driven than the draft is.  I will concede that I am apparently clueless
about both,  but the fact of the matter is that you see the same types of
decks at the top tables,  and more specifically the same types of bombs. 
Sparksmiths and Slice and Dice decks being the most common thing to point
at,  then some of the absurd cards like Exalted Angel.  But this is to be
expected, as it always is in sealed.  There's the same luck in the draw, but
the bad part comes in the luck of what you open.  Skill is still and always
will be a factor, both in deck building and in playing.  But with fate
swirling her hand a bit heavier than other formats,  it can be frustrating
to play in limited in general, much less in onslaught limited.

In draft,  I can't hide behind the luck factor as much,  there's just too
much skill in the format, and even more so when even the creature types
matter.  And they do matter.  As good as the cards separately in your
sliver-beast-zombie-elf black/green draft deck may be,  if you pay more
attention to what your drafting your deck will end up stronger overall.  All
the tribal influences really do encourage cutting down on your creature
types.  Amplify being very notable,  since it's pretty good to lay a 4 drop
and amplify it for 3 or 4,  rather than 1 or 2.  But that's still only one
of many of the tribal influences.  Too many cards simply want you to have
lots of something in play or available in your deck.  A large profane
prayers or the fact that you have 4 elves in play for your gempalm to pump
are game-swinging factors.  And it's not something just to pay attention to
while drafting,  but also while building.  Deathmark Prelate is a strong
card,  but if you've only got 4 other zombies and under normal circumstances
would only consider playing 2 of them,  perhaps he won't make the final cut,
  in favor of greater overall card strength.

Next up-  2 toughness.  I'm starting to be of the opinion that I should
almost invariably play anything I draft/open with three toughness, 
excluding absurdly overcosted things and perhaps wall of hope.  It's just
that important,  not only because of all the morph critters out there,  but
because of the critters in general.  Add in 2 or greater power,  and I'm
almost drooling.  Elvish warrior is an amazing vanilla creature.  He's cheap
and a 2/3 AND an elf.  He comes down at least a turn before their morph
creature does,  and gets to confidently swing into it anyways if you want
him to.  And of course block if you like that kind of thing.  Daru
Sanctifier is underrated I think.  Just because you don't get to kill an
enchantment doesn't mean you shouldn't unmorph this dude.  Damage on the
stack and unmorph him is as decent a combat trick as most of the non-green
ones provide,  and he takes on hill giants and vorines all day.  The fact
that he might kill an enchantment for you is an added bonus.  By the same
token,  Wall of Deceit is one of my favorite blue critters,  and certainly
one of its better ground-pounders.

Don't be afraid to cycle cards.  Yeah, Scion of Darkness wins games,  but if
you're about to miss your fourth land drop for the third turn in the row, 
he probably won't pull you out of your current tailspin by sitting in your

Don't be afraid to trade off your good unmorphed dudes for theirs. 
Obviously you shouldn't chump off your skinthinner to what is probably their
snarling undorak,  but you shouldn't be afraid to sacrifice a potential
combat-tricker for something that might be a skirk commando or even
something that might be a bigger combat trick in their favor later on.  on
the 4th turn you may want to trade your gravel slinger for what will very
likely be their treespring lorian in a few turns.

Blue usually won't support more than a couple drafters at the table very
well.  The 5/3 black horror is usually not as good as he may first appear, 
and neither is echo tracer.  The rare 1/2 red guy who can unmorph one of
your critters but kills it at the end of the turn is better than it may
look,  and wingbeat warrior is twice as good as it looks to start with,  and
it looks good to start with so that's saying something.

And yeah,  any or all of my assertations may be in error,  and I know for
sure I'm missing huge portions of onslaught-legions limited strategy.  If
you'd care to let me in on anything you know, feel free to email me.

You can reach Andy at:

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