Hello everyone and welcome back to Limited Concepts with me Dylan Tracy (aGangofHippies)! I hope everyone had a blast last weekend playing in all the great prerelease events going on. Whether you made it out to your LGS to play in a paper event or stayed at home and played on Arena or even watched on Twitch, I am sure it was fun because I know I have been really enjoying this set. Today I wanted to touch on a strategy I recently discovered after watching Marshall Sutcliffe do a draft on stream the other day and trying it myself in the Arena Ravnica Allegiance Traditional Drafts. The deck I am talking about is the Gates Deck.
Back in Guilds of Ravnica there existed the opportunity to draft a gates deck and while some thought it was decent most thought it was not something you really had big payoffs for. Guild Summit was not the most impressive payoff and Glaive of the Guildpact was decent but not enough and was usually just used in a Golgari deck.
Gatekeeper Gargoyle was the other payoff and was actually pretty good but you just too often got punished by a Boros deck for your enter the battlefield tapped lands and no real ways to get back in the game once they started to snowball. In the end the gates deck was something that you could do if your draft took a wrong turn and sometimes it was actually great but generally not something you actively wanted to do. Which brings us Ravnica Allegiance.
One the main differences I see between RNA and GRN as far as the gates decks go are the number of payoffs. In Ravnica Allegiance we have 5 payoffs for the gates deck as opposed to the 3 in Guilds of Ravnica. I had noticed this when the set was revealed but didn’t think much of it due to the disappointing gates deck last time around. Then I tune into Marshall drafting this deck and it is just insane and gets him 5 wins and looks like a blast. Everyone is talking about how the bots on Arena don’t pick gates highly at all so you can just get a ton of gates and really make these payoffs worth it so I decide to try it and sure enough 5-0 with my first deck.
My favorite payoff is probably the Gate Colossus which I like a lot more than the Gatekeeper Gargoyle. It can just keep coming back over and over and can not be blocked by a lot of creatures often just ending games.
Gatebreaker Ram is also just amazing in the gates deck and is often a 3 mana 6/6 on turn 4 or a 5/5 on turn 3. This allows for some devastating double spell turns.
Gateway Sneak is also very impressive here helping you find your bombs or removal and is a decent little blocker not to mention chips away your opponent’s life total.
Gateway Angel is also great to help you catch back up and stabilize the game so you can start taking over with more powerful cards but this is probably the least important for your gates deck as long as you have some way to catch back up in the game.
What I think may be the most powerful card for the deck and will help you catch back up and land a bomb is Gates Ablaze. This is the best way this deck can get back into the game and can destroy huge threats. Wait until your opponent has played out most of their hand and just wipe the field with this spell.
As you are drafting the gates deck your pick order should be something along the lines of bombs, removal, gates. Most picks will be gates but it is important to remember you will get gates late so if you see a decent other card maybe pick it over a gate but most of the time a gate is right.
The idea of the deck is that you can play whatever bombs you see and have these other payoffs for being able to play all the colors. You just need to be able to survive long enough to interact with your opponent’s creatures and slam some bombs. Which means cards like Vizkopa Vampire fit nicely in the deck to help you gain back some life and maybe trade with a creature.
Sentinel’s Mark is another fantastic card to help you survive into and in the late game. You use it during your Main Phase to get the Lifelink bonus and gain a large chunk of life back while also granting vigilance to your creature to keep back a blocker.
Sauroform Hybrid is a great 2 drop for the deck since if you can play it early it will attack and block for you but later in the game is just another threat for your opponent to have to deal with and you are often going late with this deck.
Lockets have seemed to be pretty great to help you cast your spells but really just offer an extra means of card advantage going into the late game and make a significant difference there.
Grasping Thrull is another card that has saved me a few times by coming down and gaining back just a little life and helping to keep pressure on my opponent.
Basically any good removal spells go in this deck and I like to pick up others for the sideboard to just have options against your different opponents. Like maybe not playing a Scorchmark in the main but keeping one for the sideboard.
In the future the Arena bots may be fixed to pick gates a little higher but even then I’m not sure this deck will get much worse but keep that in mind if you notice you are not seeing that many gates anymore. I will continue to have fun drafting this deck and trying new cards in it. Curious if Ill-Gotten Inheritance would work well in this sort of deck myself. As far as drafting this deck in paper it is definelty doable but be aware that if you end up fightning over this deck you will have a trainwreck most liekly but if people are unawre of this deck than I think it is very powerful and could spike you some drafts and draft weekend this week. So get on Arena and head out to Draft Weekend and pick some Gates.
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