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The Archetypes of MOM Limited

-- Mike Sigrist

With the Pro Tour coming up, I’ve been asked a lot of questions about various archetypes and cards. I’ll be playing PTQs in Minn, and the Arena Championship Qualifier is next weekend, so there’s plenty of MOM Limited left to be played.

This week, I’m going to go over more MOM Limited, including archetypes, key cards, and how I end up in these spots.

Boros Backup

Boros is designed to back up creatures in the set. The key uncommon of the archetype is the two-drop gold creature, Mirror-Shield Hoplite. Boros isn’t a popular archetype for good reason. Red and white are two of the weakest, if not the weakest, colors in MOM Limited. For this reason, people bias themselves away from the colors and often don’t start early in Boros.

I typically find myself here after taking a strong rare or uncommon in one of the colors first and taking a few cards of that color. White or red is so underdrafted I get pushed in, or I get past a late-pack-one Mirror-Shield Hoplite, which I’m more than willing to speculate on and dive right in if it’s open. Ideally, I get at least two two-drops that pay off for being in backup, which is either two Mirror-Shield Hoplites, or one of those and the rare Dusk Legion Duelist, a card that goes around fairly late because it doesn’t fit well into many decks.

Boros typically doesn’t want to splash or play expensive bombs like Etali. I’ll take it if I get a dry pack with an Etali, but I’d rather take a card like Sigiled Sentinel or Realmbreaker’s Grasp instead.

Speaking of Realm Breaker’s Grasp, Boros isn’t a deck that needs much removal. It's nice to get two or three pieces of good removal, but it's not necessary. The goal of the deck is to win fast and outsize your opponent’s creatures and make blocking difficult to impossible.

As a side note, Boros’s theme can be “equipment matters,” but it's based off the unreliable Multiverse Legends. The equipment is generally weak in the set, and while I’ve seen the deck come together, you want to focus on backup unless you’re able to wheel a late Reyav, Master Smith, or Valduk, and then find more copies of them in pack two to focus on that strategy. I’ve never accomplished this myself, but some of the better decks I’ve seen in the format have had three Reyav and two Valduk amongst equipment like Kor Halberd and Mirran Banespliter.

Key commons: Sigiled Veteran, Angelic Intervention, Bolas Slinger, Volcanic Spite, Realmbreaker’s Grasp

Sleepers: Kite Sail, Golden-Scale Aeronaut

Azorius Knights

Azorious Knight is one of the best archetypes in the format, but I’ve had a tough time getting into this lane because it requires an early commitment to the archetype. Knights make great use of cards other decks can’t use, like Swordsword Cavalier and Protocol Knight.

I typically end up here after taking white cards early rather than blue and filling my deck with the blue cards I can get. It’s no secret that blue cards have been in high demand, so when I start in blue I tend to stay there rather than speculate on white with a Knight theme. Knight archetype cards are unique to the archetype, and the cards that play well in blue in Knights don’t play well in other archetypes like Dimir.

You want to be permanent heavy in this archetype, be able to curve Swordsworn Cavalier into a Knight every turn to make blocking difficult early, and close by either going so wide your opponent can’t keep up, or close with fliers like Preening Knight and Xerex Strobe-Knight. This deck plays battles well, as it’s easy to get on board early and use cards like Invasion of Kamigawa or Invasion of Xerex to push the tempo and get more threats on board.

Interaction for Knights is much like Boros in that it doesn’t need too much and the interaction type doesn’t matter. Realmbreaker’s Grasp, Temporal Cleansing, and Ephara’s Dispersal are great in the deck, and you only need a couple of ways to interact thanks to how fast the deck i and the built-in version in Protocol-Knight.

Azorius, much like Boros, doesn't want to splash, as it’s focused on getting ahead and staying there. It’s not looking to play a long game and get stuck with a spell it can’t cast. You can splash cards like Zurgo and Ojutai if you get enough lands, but you typically don’t want to play a card like Skittering Surveyor. You need an onboard advantage early.

Key commons: Swordsworn Cavalier, Preening Knight, Sigiled Sentinel, Knight of the New Coalition, Realmbreaker’s Grasp, Ephara’s Dispersal

Sleeper: Status Field

Orzhov Phyrexians

There are a lot of ways to draft Orzhov in this set. You can draft a focused Phyrexian theme with the themed uncommons, like Sculpted Perfection, Phyrexian Awakening, and Gift of Completion. Additionally, you can play a good-stuff deck. Black is deep and has tons of removal, Phyrexians, and bombs. White can be your support color for it’s solid creatures like Norn’s Inquisitor, Tiller of Flesh, and Alabaster Host Intercessor. This is likely the best home for all of those creatures.

Unlike other white archetypes, combat tricks like Angelic Intervention are at their weakest regardless of how the Orzhov build because you’re generally able to get a lot of removal in this archetype from both black and white, as both colors have a lot of removal. Even white has some good uncommons like Seal from Existence and Elspeth’s Smite.

Generally, this deck wants to play a grindy game and finish with powerful cards, so splashing is quite alright here. Skittering Surveyor even fits in fine in addition to duals you may get because the crappy body can be sacrificed to a Final Flourish or Invasion of New Capenna.

Overall, this is an archetype that’s common and one I like quite a bit. This deck gets much more from the rare and uncommon slot than it does from the common slot, as a lot of the white commons don’t suit it well but a majority of the uncommons do suit the deck.

Key commons: Deadly Derision, Final Flourish, Alabaster Host Intercessor Realmbreaker’s Grasp

Sleeper: Traumatic Revelation

Selesnya Counters

By far this is the most difficult archetype in the format for me to get into. The support isn’t very deep. This is mostly supposed to be a backup deck, but the payoffs aren’t plentiful, so it's just a deck to me. You can just play a go-wide, curve-out strategy and use cards like Invasion of Moag and Shanna, Sissy’s Legacy to great use, but mostly it’s hard to get into this archetype unless starting with a card like The Ozolith and finding a Botanical Brawler early.

These colors tend to not have the best two-drops that can take advantage of the backup counters as both Wary Thespian and Swordswon Cavalier won’t be able to push through many blocks with only one more toughness.

Much like Boros and Azorious, this archetype doesn’t need tons of removal but does want some. You generally want removal that stops blocks, so not cards like Cut Short, but Tandem Takedown, Seal from Existence, Cosmic Hunger, and Realmbreaker’s Grasp all play well here.

Key commons: Sigiled Sentinel, Angelic Intervention, Bolas Slinger, Realmbreaker’s Grasp

Sleepers: Golden-Scale Aeronaut, Kite Sail

Dimir Control

Dimir is my favorite archetype in the format, but it’s also one of the hardest to get into. Dimir has the two deepest colors at common and can play most of the cards from both colors quite well.

I get into Dimir regularly, and if I’m not first picking a rare or uncommon, I’m almost always looking to take Preening Knight, Deadly Derision, Final Flourish, or Ephara’s Dispersal out of my pack. These are four of the best commons in the set, and I often get them early.

While Dimir is incredibly deep at common, it's also very rich in gold cards at uncommon and higher rarity, which makes it irresistible sometimes. Halo Forager and Invasion of Amonkhet are two of the best uncommons in the set. Dimir is one of the rare archetypes that can compete with even the best rares because of the archetype’s availability of tools. Between Traumatic Revelation and Assimilate Essence amongst all the archetype’s removal, you can handle almost any bomb or amount of bombs an opponent could reasonably possess. Additionally, Assimilate Essence is a crucial card given the bomb-heavy format, and people are too low on this card.

While there are many bombs to be had in this color combination, it doesn’t need anything more than commons and uncommons to be a fantastic deck, which is incredibly rare in this format since the power level is very high.

I’ll spoil my sleepers because I believe Expedition Lookout and Disturbing Conversion are underrated and almost always wheel. They have great synergy together and are excellent to fill holes in your deck. Milling opponents out is often an underlooked win con in this archetype and can be done fairly easily with the commons and uncommons that mill both players. You just need to time the last of the spells correctly. One of my Favorite Splinter Twin combos of the format is Breach the Multiverse and Halo-Charged Skaab.

Key commons: Final Flourish, Deadly Derision, Ephara’s Dispersal, Assimilate Essence, Preening Knight

Sleepers: Disturbing Conversion, Expedition Lookout, Traumatic Revelation, Unseal the Necropolis

Izzet Convoke

Izzet Convoke is one of those archetypes where I’ve had polarized results. This deck became worse since the word got out that Preening Knight is the best common in the format. This deck needs cheap bodies and cards that produce multiple bodies. Ral’s Reinforcements is one of the best cards in the archetype but never seems to get enough bodies to make the deck tick.

There’s plenty of payoff for convoke, but the bodies that get you there are too underpowered. We end up playing cards like Omen Hawker with few ways to spend mana or Akki Scrapchomper. Without enough payoff, these cards are way too bad on their own.

There’s plenty of convoke, though some much better than others. Ideally, you can curve Ral’s Reinforcements into Preening Knight and immediately cast a Meeting of the Minds, Stoke the Flames, or in desperate times, a Halo Hopper.

I get into Izzet when I take Preening Knights early, find a dry pack with a Ral’s Reinforcements or Volcanic Spite, and continuously get fed Red. All of the niche convoke stuff like Ramosian Greatsword, Transcendent Message, Shivan Branch-Burner, and especially City on Fire have looked great in good versions of this deck. While Joyful Stormsculptor is excellent in focused versions, a lot of the gold uncommons are mediocre and prevent the archetype from being a huge draw early.

Key commons: Preening Knight, Volcanic Spite, Ral’s Reinforcements, Ephara’s Dispersal

Sleepers: Shatter the Source

Simic Transform

Simic is an underrated archetype that gets value from the abundance of good rares in the set. Simic gets to play a lot of smoothing and fixing and splash tons of bombs. While it's supposed to be a transform theme with cards like Invasion of Pyrulea and Mutagen Connoisseur at uncommon, I mostly play it planning to splash either black or red for some other powerful mythics, rares, or uncommons.

I generally get into Simic taking blue cards early and then in packs without quality removal getting passed green’s best common, Portent Tracker, early and can build on that. Blue’s ability to control creatures and green’s ability to fix mana and ramp makes it a prime spot to play a rampy control-style deck that wins by out-powering the opponent. This archetype can also play into the Incubate theme with cards like Converter Beast, Covenant of Towashi, and Tangled Skyline. Alternatively, I get into Simic when I take blue or green cards early, pick up a bomb of another color that’s clearly not open or a gold card, and want to find an open lane that will also allow me to play Glissa or Borborygmos and Fblthp.

Blighting Burgeoning is one of the highest value late pickups for this deck, as it fits into the theme with transforming matters and the theme of wanting to splash. Mutagen Connoisseur is sneaky good in that it slows the game down a lot early and eventually turns into a real threat with transforms. It also carries counters well with 5 toughness and flying and vigilance. It threatens to flip battles once it gets any amount of power, then it continues to grow itself. A couple of Mutagen Connoisseurs makes Fertilid’s Favor an attractive card for a deck.

Key commons: Portant Tracker, Preening Knight, Ephara’s Dispersal, Converter Beast, Overgrown Pest

Sleepers: Blighted Burgeoning, Fertild’s' Favor

Rakdos Sacrifice

Rakdos has a small Sacrifice theme with cards like Stormclaw Rager and Juri, Master of the Revue, but there aren’t much payoffs for sacrificing. This deck benefits from Furnace Reigns, an Act of Treason variant that you can pick up late and make great use of in a format where an Act of Treason can affect enormous creatures like Yargle and Multani, Ghalta and Mavren, or Ancient Imperiosaur.

I got into Rakdos a lot by taking the good removal spells in both colors early, and/or getting a card like Stormclaw Rager or even Rankle and Torban later in pack one. Rankle is underrated likely because of it’s very committing and unsplashable.

Rakdos makes use of leftover artifacts and creatures well with Stormclaw Rager and Compleated Huntmaster, so cards like Ral’s Reinforcements also get value. It’s worth noting that Rakdos gets great uncommon two-drops between Khenra Spellspear, which is one of the best uncommons in the whole set, and Blightreaper Thallid, which are potentially the two best creatures of that transform cycle.

Juri works well with some niche cards like Beamtown Beatstick and Captain Lannery Storm, but it’s often hard to get too big, so it’s not a high pick. It can be strong when you pick it up late. Typically, I try and wheel, but I don’t worry if I’m not able.

Key commons: Volcanic Spite, Deadly Derision, Final Flourish

Sleepers: Dreg Recycler, Ichor Drinker

Golgari Incubate

I get into Golari somewhat regularly but not as much as Dimir, Orzhov, or Rakdos. Golgari has a strong gold uncommon in Elvish Vatkeeper. Elvish Vatkeeper is how I mostly get into this archetype, but it could be starting with black cards and getting a late Portent tracker or Blighting Burgeoning that sets me up to go more rampy and bomb heavy with black’s efficient removal.

Golgari has an incubate theme, but it's largely ancillary to just playing the good cards and splashing your rares. It’s a green archetype that’s not trying to win fast, so splashing is reasonable. Usually, you’ll see a blue splash for cards like Invasion of Amonkhet, Halo Forager, or Yarok, The Desecrated.

You want to generate value and play to the board as much as possible and avoid getting overrun since the deck can be slow. Trying to flip incubate tokens can leave you out tempoed.

Glissa, Herald of Predation is one of the best rares in the entire set. I’m keen to lock into green to ensure I can play it early if I pick it up, but that usually leads me into black since it’s the deepest color for high-pick commons.

Key commons: Deadly Derision Portent Tracker, Final Flourish Overgrown Pest

Sleepers: Traumatic Revelation, Blighting Burgeoning

Gruul Battles

The last archetype, and one I actually like more than most, is Gruul Battles.

Fundamentally, the deck can play a lot of cards that interact favorably with battles. Rampaging Geoderm is the primary reason I get into this archetype, and I’ve got the beast as late as last pick. Yes, the actual last pick. For some reason, 4/4 haste trample isn’t a desirable draw to the archetype. Many people think red and green are the weakest colors in the set, so maybe that’s why the archetype seems open.

It’s important to get battles in this archetype because it makes a lot of cards you’re going to want to play much better.

Cards like War Historian, Trashing Frontliner, and the Geoderm benefit greatly if you have a battle in play to overwhelm in combat to get a tempo advantage. It’s easy to pick up some of the battles, but battles like Invasion of Zendikar and Invasion of Mercadia can be hard to pick up. The on-color rare battles are also nice for this archetype but hard to pick up. The easier battles to get, Invasion of Ergamon, Invasion of Muraganda, and Invasion of Regatha are playable but not quite as nice to set up and flip early, which is a big benefit to this deck.

You can still play this deck with few or no battles, but ideally you’d like to get three or four to focus on the creature base that gets better with battles. Either way, Rampaging Geoderm is going much later than it should in my drafts, as it’s a gold card that needs little to no support to be above rate. Four-drops are a dime a dozen in this archetype between Ramping Geoderm, Converter Beast, Chomping Kavu, and War-Trained Slasher, so it’s best not to prioritize any but the best of them, Rampaging Geoderm, because you can pick up the others late.

Key commons: Volcanic Spite, Portent Tracker

Sleepers: Trashing Frontliner, War Historian,

This is the archetypes and a few notes on how to get into them and their quality. I’ll power rank them based on just the decks and their base colors. There are a lot of splashes, so I’ll assume the slower decks can splash a card or two, but the faster ones aren’t able.

  1. Dimir Control

  2. Azorious Knights

  3. Orzhov Phyrexians

  4. SImic Transform (almost always splashing)

  5. Boros Backup

  6. Golgari Incubate

  7. Izzet Convoke

  8. Rakdos Sacrifice

  9. Gruul Battles

  10. Selesnya Counters

While these are my approximate power rankings, the set is very well-balanced and only green white is a clear archetype I never play. I have the most success with Dimir when it's open by a substantial amount, but it gets trickier when it's not. I have no problem getting into another of the other nine archetypes. That’ll be it for this week. See you next time.

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