This week I’m going to do something a little different. I’ve played a good amount of SNC Limited, most of which was on MTGO in Leagues. I’ve saved almost all my trophy decks, and I’m going to go through some of these decks and analyze what makes them tick.
SNC – Trophy Deck 1
This was my first trophy of the format, so it’s a bit dated as it’s from the first or second day of release, but this was one of the sweetest decks I’ve drafted thus far.
This was an Obscura Reanimator deck, and it’s full of high value picks and rares, with some late Graveyard Shifts to glue it together. I started this draft with a pick-one-pack-one (p1p1) Soul of Emancipation, and while the Brokers cards dried up, Obscura was still flowing. This deck was designed to get on the board early with a Brokers Initiate to pad the life total, get one of the seven-drops into the graveyard with connive, and then put them into play at a discount with the Graveyard Shift. This deck’s mana was far from ideal, but stumbling wasn’t a huge deal as it had enough powerful cards to catch up in games I fell behind. Lagrella and Mysterious Limousine both did a terrific job in those instances to stabilize. I like the way I built with the pool I had, and the only improvements I could make are a couple more dual lands. Otherwise, I’d still be happy with this deck.
SNC Trophy Deck 2
My second trophy deck is the epitome of how I like to currently draft this format. I stayed within the Rakdos colors for the majority of the draft and left myself outs to get into both Riveteers and Maestros. Ideally you’re able to do this for as long as possible in this format. If the opportunity presents itself, you pick up a powerful rare or uncommon in a family to splash, and you may pick up some incidental fixing with later picks. I find that the power level of commons and uncommons is fairly flat all the way through, which makes it possible to do this regularly without giving up too much power.
The one-drop was quite bad for me, and in retrospect, I should have played the Pyre-Sledge Arsonist in that spot.
SNC Trophy Decks 4 and 10
I’m going to look at these two decks together, as they came about in similar ways.
Both of these decks were results of me forcing an archetype—sort of. In the first deck, I opened Falco p1p1. In the second pack, I took Lagrella first pick in a very weak pack. It’s not that Lagrella isn’t a first-pickable card—it certainly is—it’s that committing so early to a family isn’t ideal. My power level is through the roof in both instances. I was able to cut off my family early, and I got rewarded with tons of powerful gold cards because of it.
While this is certainly a strategy, it can backfire easily. If you go this route, it’s not as bad as it may have been in other sets as you end up in a base two-color deck with a splash while other players in this same family may focus on a different color pair with a splash. For example, I may end up in a heavily GW build, while someone near me at the table is in the same family but is much more interested in the Celestial Regulators than I would be.
SNC Trophy Deck 5
This, again, is how I like to draft if there aren’t any bombs present. I vividly remember this draft because I had the pick of Inspiring Overseer vs Faerie Vandal in p1p1, and I took Fairie Vandal. My logic was that the format has limited powerful two-drops and Fairie Vandal is one of them.
The format is, however, flooded with good three- and four-mana cards. I wouldn’t fault anyone for making either of these picks. I also strongly prefer blue families to, say, Cabaretti. Cabaretti is the weakest family by a good amount, so I’d rather hedge myself in close calls toward the decks I like to draft.
This is an example of my biases being a tiebreaker in a close situation. I know people want to say draft picks are absolute and there’s always a correct decision, but there’s way too much context in booster draft to view it as such. A card may have more value to me, than it would for you if your later picks are going to steer you in a different direction than me.
SNC Trophy Deck 7
Sometimes, you don’t get the right mana fixing. I took an early Maestros Diabolist and ran heavy into Dimir colors throughout the entire draft, hoping to pick up some fixing. What happened was I didn’t see more than an Ominous Parcel, so I had to cut one of, if not the strongest, card in my deck in exchange for some very late pick commons in Security Bypass and Brokers Veterans. The deck was very scrappy and tactical by having to maximize my Majestic Metamorphosis and Security Bypasses to get in chunks of damage when I could. My biggest advantage with this deck was playing both cheap cards and having great mana while other decks were clunky. I could capitalize and get on board and push tempo.
This is an example of how good some of the lower end commons can be. Majestic Metamorphosis is pretty free. I regularly get them close to last pick and while not every deck can utilize them effectively, decks with low curves can.
SNC Trophy Deck 8
This is the draft I realized I was seriously underrating Big Score. Big Score can set up some huge turns with the additional mana boost. I played a couple of turn-five Dusk Manglers in this draft, and I probably could have pushed into a blue splash here for Cormela and a Run out of Town. I had a Dimir Dual and enough treasure to play my best cards instead of filling out my deck with cards like Caldaia Strongarm and potentially the Suspicious Bookcase. I don’t hate the Bookcase as it can keep me alive for a long time then turn into a nice way to close, especially with Mr. Orfeo.
After this draft I started picking up Big Scores a little more aggressively in my slower red decks.
SNC Trophy Deck 9
This was a sweet Rakdos aggro deck that got more controlling as the draft progressed. I started leaning into my Rakdos aggro deck and was passed a Hostile Takeover in pack two. Devilish Valet was horrible in this deck. I thought it might be good enough with a couple of Exhibition Magicians and some Mayhem Patrols to dash in, but I shouldn’t have started the Valet. In retrospect, I should have played Sticky Fingers in this deck. Sticky Fingers is a solid card if you have enough two-drops to make sure it’s free on turn four. You’d think Hostile Takeover did a lot of work in this draft, but the contrary is true. I won maybe a single game with it, but I mostly won because I had a good curve and cheap removal.
I was rewarded with potentially the best card in the set by finding and cutting colors in pack one and then being rewarded handsomely.
SNC Trophy Deck 12
This was a really fun draft. I opened Maestros Diabolist in a moderately weak pack, and something like a Mayhem Patrol was the next card I’d have taken. I really like Maestros as is, so I took it since I end up there enough that it’s worth speculating on. Three picks later, I was passed a pick-four Rabble Rousing, one of the top rares in the set. From here on out I tried to toe the line between Obscura and Maestros, not really anticipating playing everything, but I felt in the end I had enough to play both.
Rabble Rousing only requires some medium creatures in play, and then it instantly can stabilize the game while you hit attacks every turn until they’re dead. This sparked a discussion about Angelic Overseer vs. Rabble Rousing in a p1p1 scenario. 17lands had Angelic Overseer with a higher win percentage when drawn than Rabble Rousing, which led some people to believe it’s the stronger card. This makes sense, right? Well, I strongly disagree.
Rabble Rousing has some disadvantages in that its sample is significantly smaller at rare and it likely gets splashed more than it should with little to no fixing causing the surrounding cards to be worse. This doesn’t mean the card itself is worse in your good decks compared to Angelic Overseers, it’s that it’s being played in basically every deck.
On the other hand Angelic Overseer is rarely being splashed in this manner. In general, if you don’t get there, you don’t play your first-pick Overseer, and it doesn’t get added to the sample. When you do play it, it’s because your colors are open, and your deck is probably good because you have a premium common and because you have a solid deck around it.
If you open Rabble Rousing, take it over any non-rare and it’s not remotely close.
SNC Trophy Deck 13
This deck was a typical Maestros value engine deck. Tons of value tacked onto basically every card, and I just ground my opponent’s into oblivion. Cormela is amazing with three- and four-mana removal that it can help cast, and it pairs nicely with Join the Maestros as it can cast it on the cheap while also being sacrificed to it. I absolutely love Grisly Sigil in these decks since it’s a huge tempo positive play and between Expendable Lacky and Corrupt Court Official, you get a nice core of creatures to sacrifice that you picked up with later picks.
SNC Trophy Deck 17
Last but not least, this is my latest trophy deck. I took Corpse Expulsion p1p1 and ended up locking into Rakdos for all of pack one. In pack two, I opened Vivien on the Hunt and tried to end up in Riveteers, but it just wasn’t there. I didn’t get there and had to switch into Maestros halfway through the pack when no red or green cards were coming, and I could only take Snooping Newsies and an Endless Detour in a pack that had no red black or blue cards.
Pack three brought me an Angel of Suffering, which I hadn’t had before but doesn’t seem particularly great outside of just being a solid stat flier at five mana. The bottom of your deck can come quickly, and while it can stabilize you at a low life total, it’s mostly just flavor text in my experience playing against it. The rest of pack three was really dry, and I had to play four colors to have what I’d consider a reasonable power level deck.
Sticky Fingers did some good work in this deck by enabling me to play my clunkier cards earlier than usual while also fixing my mana. I’m kind of into trying more decks with low curve creatures with Sticky Fingers and Big Score while just gobbling up the good cards.
As you can see, there’s zero Cabaretti decks in this collection of decks. I believe I have zero trophies with the archetype and it’s not from lack of trying. I find the archetype insists on having a solid curve and fixing, but it also has few ways of generating consistent value as games progress.
Hopefully, looking through these decks can give you some inspiration on how to approach the format. If not, at least you got to look at some sweet SNC Limited decks.