Bamboozled by Wizards’ multiplayer draft set? Here are the best-supported strategies and key cards for each color combo.
Conspiracy is a little ridiculous. Peep the spoiler and you’ll see a ridiculous list of ridiculous cards. Even if you weren’t trying to draft a multiplayer deck (!) it’s a challenge just trying to get the lay of the land! The strategies and synergies are much more subtle than in Modern Masters or a standard set.
Wizards tends to deliberately design archetypes into each set, Conspiracy included. If you draft along those lines, your cards will become more powerful due to your deck’s synergy. I’ve become a little obsessed with this set, and put some serious thought into sussing out the deck archetypes.
While forcing a color combo or starting with bombs is usually how we settle on our colors, I suspect that the best early-pick strategy in Conspiracy is different. I recommend picking a high-priority archetype enabler card very highly and going deep on it. Not only do the enablers take the deck from good to excellent, you’ll need redundancy to recover after one of three opponents zaps one.
If you’re focused, you’ll pick up synergetic tools while opponents waste high picks on conspiracies and gimmicky artifact creatures. Because this is a multiplayer format, I recommend evaluating cards like Sealed, prioritizing late-game blowouts.
Let’s check the archetypes. You’ll notice that they seem disproportionately influenced by Innistrad and Zendikar Limited
White-Blue: Flying Tokens. Azorius is an aggressive deck that uses buffing enchantments to keep a small army of smallish creatures relevant into the late game.
The most critical cards are Doomed Traveler and Rousing of Souls to bring the creatures, and Intangible Virtue and Favorable Winds to boost them. The deck is strongest with Custodi Soulbinders, which I believe is windmill-slam material. Pick up a bunch of white and blue’s flyers and go over enemies’ heads. Azorius’ gold uncommon, Sky Spirit, is good, but only great if you have a few Favorable Winds.
The Azorius drafter should keep an eye on green, which also generates lots of tokens. It’s likely that green-white Parley drafters will cut Intangible Virtue, so draft it highly if you think you’ll go down this path. If you didn’t plan to already, draft Swords to Plowshares at maximum priority because it’s the only removal this color combo gets.
White-Black: Everyone But Me. The Orzhov drafter won’t make many friends – this color combo has a very high concentration of cards that hurt all opponents and help you. There’s also a voting theme, which will make opponents hate you even more.
Infectious Horror, Grudge Keeper, and especially Syphon Soul lower the totals. Bite of the Black Rose and Liliana’s Specter increase the odds of an opponent getting mana-screwed. You’ll pick up Ajani’s Sunstriker and Moment of Heroism late, because they’re weak to Dethrone. Custodi Squire gives you a long game, because opponents will destroy a lot of your stuff. Council Guardian is a key tool to finish off the last one or two opponents, and Vow of Duty turns a key opposing attacker into a helpful buddy.
If you’re doing Orzhov, pick up some of white’s big fat Defender creatures to cover that ginormous target you painted on your head. White-black also has the strongest creature control, which you need to abuse to survive – Kor Chant and Assassinate become especially strong when players gang up on you. If you’re going to end up playing everyone in your pod, rage-draft Dethrone cards or prepare to get attacked. Orzhov’s gold uncommon, Mortify, is the only unconditional all-upside creature kill in the format and one of only four feasible ways to destroy enchantments.
White-black has solid synergy with red’s Defender creatures and rares, and is a good fallback if your white-red Defender deck goes pear-shaped.
White-Red: Defender. Whaaa?! Boros is playing D? You better believe it! Zendikar veterans giggled a bit when they saw Vent Sentinel on the list, and he brought his friends. Red-white gets lots of high-powered pain-in-the-ass creatures that have the minor downside of not being able to attack.
Vent Sentinel and Wakestone Gargoyle are the MVP’s, and Guardian Zendikon works overtime in a format with very few six-power ground-pounders. Heckling Fiends makes opposing creatures beef it against your walls and opens them up against other opponents. Late-pick Pride Guardians and Cinder Walls boost your numbers. Uncontrollable Anger is actually pretty strong here, making your defenders better and forcing opponents’ hands. Because of the odd sweeper and removal distribution, Flamewright, Boros’ gold uncommon, will probably lock up your turf until she and her robot army are swept off the field at once.
Even if you get 4+ Sentinels and/or Gargoyles, this deck will need a stronger win condition. Boldwyr Intimidator, Apex Hawks, and even Barbed Shocker get the job done at uncommon, but nearly all red or white rares are insane with this archetype. You’ll get a lot of mileage from red’s Dethrone cards, since you’ll be able to protect your life total well.
White-Green: Tokens/Stompy. Selesnya gets the Parley keyword ability and goes all the way with it. This color combo is for the gambling man, since your Parley cards can brick or explode. Expect to brick and be able to defend yourself!
Selvala’s Charge is the reason to go into this strategy – even two 3/3’s will stabilize you against multiple opponents. Echoing Courage and Intangible Virtue boosts your token army, though you’ll fight for both. Explorer’s Scope is a killer here, stripping lands from the top of your library and giving you extra value from expired 1/1 tokens. Selesnya’s gold uncommon, Woodvine Elemental, brings it all home, boosting your army to stupid size and smashing in with trample damage.
Remember to prepare for drawing Parley cards by amassing lots of mana, especially with Elvish Aberration. The most powerful combo for Selesnya is probably Secrets of Paradise naming Pride Guardian, which allows you to play with a massively reduced number of lands, hit Parley more often, and play more cards each turn. Splash Brainstorm to guarantee a Parley of at least one.
Blue-Black: Reanimator. Dimir’s cards have a higher-than-average power level and subtle synergies that can be quite powerful. I’d view black-blue as a support combo for a three-color deck that adds heavy card-advantage and reanimator options.
Dimir’s most powerful cards are landcycling creatures, especially Twisted Abomination and Shoreline Ranger. They max out Brainstorm’s power and are damn good targets for Victimize and Extract from Darkness, Dimir’s gold uncommon. You get Reckless Scholar, Fact or Fiction, Breakthrough, and Compulsive Research to fill up your graveyard, and Morkrut Banshee is a nice reanimator target.
You’ll need to lean on off-color cards to bring the deck together. If you were lucky enough to get a beefy Cogwork Grinder or Lurking Automaton, or enough discard to get a Pelakka Wurm into your graveyard, you can go hard on the reanimation. If you cut white, you pick up the strongest vote cards and enablers and can do some silly stuff. Red gives you Brimstone Volley and Boldwyr Intimidator, and splashing green for fatty creatures is so satisfying, man.
Blue-Red: Aggro Tempo. Izzet likes to attack like it’s going out of style. Dethrone creatures, Falter effects, flyers, and sweet, sweet removal let you turn your gentlemen sideways and smash some face. That’s nice, because many of them rely on the Dethrone counters to reach competitive size.
Grenzo’s Cutthroat is your go-to foot soldier; Marchesa’s Emissary and Marchesa’s Infiltrator continue the assault. Orcish Cannonade is a key card that turns on your Dethrone creatures, finishes blockers, and keeps the cards flowing. Wind Dancer, Traveler’s Cloak, Aether Tradewinds, and Wrap in Flames tie up blockers, and Stasis Cell is industrial-strength removal. Flaring Flame-Kin is also one to grab if you nabbed some Traveler’s Cloaks, Flowstone Blades, or Uncontrollable Angers. The gold card, Marchesa’s Smuggler, ties it off with a bow by teleporting your creatures straight to the face and is a key card in the deck.
Be on the lookout for high-quality black and white removal, as well as green Naturalize effects. Izzet’s removal is clunky and awkward, and the color combo has literally no way to deal with a noncreature permanent except countering it with Dream Fracture or Shattering it with Torch Fiend.
Blue-Green: “Caw-Blade”. Simic abuses Howling Wolf and Screaming Seahawk to deliver a continuous stream of creatures and buff them up, similar to the classic Caw-Blade archetype but with higher casting costs.
The crux of this deck is Howling Wolf, Screaming Seahawk, or Secret Summoning. Draft as many as possible, dig them out with Gamekeeper, Lead the Stampede, gold uncommon Wood Sage, or blue’s many drawing cards, and go to town. Buff the team with Echoing Courage, protect it with Wrap in Vigor, boost it with Fireshrieker, and bounce with Aether Tradewinds in a pinch. If you get a Reito Lantern, this deck goes completely insane, giving you a never-ending stream of dudes as long as you hold one in hand.
If you think you’re going all-in on Conspiracies, this is your color combo. All the creature-oriented Hidden Agenda cards go bonkers when your deck is stacked with copies of the same creature.
Black-Red: Creature Control and “Evil” Morbid. Rakdos likes killin’ stuff, combining the best breadth and depth of creature removal with morbid cards that give you extra value from that killin’. This is more a bunch of good cards than a real strategy, but the cards are quite good!
High-quality kill spells like Tragic Slip, Reckless Spite, and Brimstone Volley bring the pain. You get the only nonrare sweepers in the format, Volcanic Fallout and Rakdos’ gold uncommon, the classic Spontaneous Combustion, which mop up the board at instant speed. Necromantic Thirst gives you some long game and is especially good on a Flaring Flame-Kin. Twisted Abomination, Deathforge Shaman, and Chartooth Cougar take down opponents after you fry their dudes. Pitchburn Devils and Wakedancer give extra value to your kill spells.
This deck has implicit advantages against most other strategies – you can fry Simic’s 2/2 army, get max value from Parleyed cards, ignore Dethrone, and deconstruct tokens. Watch out for black-green Morbid, which will completely eat Rakdos’ lunch.
Black-Green: “Good” Morbid. Golgari does its usual thing and kills its own creatures for fun and profit. This is a very powerful color combo with high-octane spells, a wide buffet of enablers, and many synergies with Conspiracies and artifact creatures. In addition, only green gets Naturalize, and black has the best removal, giving you plenty of control options.
Altar’s Reap, Smallpox, and Plagued Rusalka are the key enablers that rev up the engine. Morkrut Banshee and Predator’s Howl turn it into serious value. Hunger of the Howlpack, Predator’s Howl, and Tragic Slip are stupid-good once a dude dies. Vampire Hexmage and Sakura-Tribe Elder give you more on-demand Morbid-enabling options. Don’t forget Elephant Guide and Gamekeeper, which love being sacrificed, and Victimize to give you long game. Deathreap Ritual, Golgari’s gold uncommon, is massive card advantage, possibly enough to put yourself in danger of decking out.
Red-Green: Stompy! Gruul brings good old-fashioned beatdowns, just like Grandpa used to make. Play big-ass dudes, make their asses bigger, and rumble in. The more dudes, the merrier. Subtlety has no place in multiplayer.
Honestly, there’s not a lot of strategy here. Play lots and lots of awesome creatures and hope that your consistency outperforms the opponents’ synergy and card advantage. Gruul gets creatures that scale with your mana – Skitter of Lizards, Gnarlid Pack, Elvish Aberration, and Chartooth Cougar have roles in both the early and late game. Use Howling Wolf, Lead the Stampede, Provoke, and Gamekeeper to squeak out some card advantage, and drop Trumpet Blast to increase the face-smashage.
Pelakka Wurm is probably the bombiest nonrare and is a must-have. Cogwork Spy is especially good in Gruul to provide some flying defense, most likely against opposing Cogwork Spies. As the colors with Relic Crush, Torch Fiend, and Nature’s Claim, you alone will determine which Lurking Automata live and die. Fires of Yavimaya, Gruul’s gold uncommon, is the bow that ties it all together.
So that’s Conspiracy in a nutshell. Which archetypes do you want to draft?