Welcome back everyone!  I wish I could say I am excited about Xenan’s turn in this series.  The truth is that I’ve been struggling how to approach a faction pair that I’ve personally had a hard time finding success with.  I have had managed a couple 7 wins with Xenan and I’ve also had MANY Xenan drafts with 2 or fewer wins.  I think I’ve finally got a handle on why.

The reality of the Omens/Throne draft format is that it’s very deep.  I know this will be an unpopular opinion with many in the community.  For those of you coming from Magic: The Gathering it might be helpful to think of The Empty Throne draft format as a Core set style format and the Omens/Throne format as an expert level set.

Omens/Throne rewards players who have spent time with the format and started to discover that there are multiple archetypes that exist outside of the traditional color pair mechanics.  Eventually, you might not even see the color pairs anymore.

The Gameplan

There are two distinct Xenan decks.  The first plays the biggest baddest undercosted Time creatures at every point on the curve, and backs them up with Shadow removal spells.

The second is the Lifeforce deck which wants to leverage life gain to gain incremental advantage and win with inevitability in the late stages of the game.

How do you get into the Xenan deck?

Don’t tell anyone, but this is secretly a Mono-time deck.  Approach the deck by picking really good Time cards and seeing quality Shadowcards go later than normal in the 1st pack.

How do you get into the Lifeforce deck?

Besides my simple first piece of advice, “You probably shouldn’t be in the Lifeforce deck,” there are a few ways to find yourself on the deck.  First:  You’ve got Gems to burn from buying your founder’s packs.  Second: Picking Extract is a great start.  Follow that up with solid defensive time units.  If there is nothing else playable in the pack take a lifeforce card.

What to prioritize in Pack 2 – Xenan Deck

This is the first pack where you will not encounter any Xenan dual cards.  The Empty Throne was focused on the allied color pairs (Rakano, Elysian, Feln, Stonescar and Combrei) and you will need to focus on individual Time and Shadow cards.  Continue to pick up under-costed time units.  Xenan as a color pair has a terrible time dealing with flyers so cards like Dune Phantom and Towertop Patrol are good pickups.  Time is great at splashing so keep an eye out for splashable bombs!

What to prioritize in Pack 2 – Lifeforce

The first major breakthrough I had in regards to the lifeforce deck was coming to the realization that you don’t get into the deck until pack 2.  Here we need Shadow-based removal, Lifesteal units, defensive time units, and fixing.  Also pack presents some ways to gain life that are stapled to playable cards.  Cards like Healer’s Cloak, Lumen Defender and Refresh.  If there is an Amaran Camel in the pack and there is nothing else playable, take it.

Ageless_Mentor

Packs 3 & 4 – Xenan

The last packs should be focused on filling your curve and fleshing out your splashes.  Thats all there is to the basic Xenan deck.  The rest of this article will be devoted to the Lifeforce deck.

Pack 3 – Lifeforce

Pack 3 is critical in a Lifeforce draft because you figure out which type of Lifeforce deck you are. . . because there are two different flavors.  If you made it this far and decided to stop reading and never draft Lifeforce I wouldn’t hold it against you.  I would love to have been a fly on the wall for those design meetings.

Half of the Lifeforce cards care about many instances of gaining life. This deck ends up looking a bit like a go wide token deck if you have cheap repeatable sources of lifegain.  Hopefully you’ve picked up some Feln and Elysian strangers to splash those camels.

The other half want you to gain large amounts of life at once.  This deck wants to make lifesteal units unblockable and pump them with combat tricks.  Hopefully you picked up some Argenport and Combrei strangers because the best lifesteal units are in Justice.

Pack 4 – Lifeforce

Pack 4 is where we come to terms with our life decisions.  If you have cards that care about incremental lifegain pick cards like Sanctuary Priest and Amaren Camel.  If you have more of the burst variety you’ll want combat tricks to pump your lifesteal units and instant speed cards that gain life like Excavate and Refresh.  Other than that fill out your curve as best you can.

Subthemes – Strangers

There is a strong Stranger subtheme in Xenan.  If you’ve wanted to build a stranger deck in draft Xenan is by far the best color pair for it.

Subthemes – Sacrifice

Sacrifice is a pretty easy subtheme to include, although it will never be as strong as the Stonescar variety.  Revenge creatures are good here, but don’t go out of your way to play cards like Swear Vengeance or Tock Tick.

Underdrafted and Underutilized

Snapping Brushstalker is a nightmare to deal with if you can give it Killer.  Every time it comes back to your hand it regains killer.

Excavate is great with Warp cards and the lifegain is actually relevant in this deck.

Bolster is just an absolute blowout if your opponent decides to attack into your boardstall.

If there is a deck that wants Camp Physician it’s the Lifeforce deck.  It digs you one card deeper to your synergy cards, it blocks and it gains life.  It is undersized but fits in well with the board stall inevitability plan.

Common Traps

I feel like we’ve covered many of the traps involved with Xenan so heres a list of cards you shouldn’t play:

Oasis Seeker (Set2 #41) *
Oasis Sanctuary (Set0 #15)
Sorrow’s Shroud (Set2 #151)
Trigger-Happy (Set2 #153)
Viper’s Bite (Set2 #55)

Some of these cards ARE playable, just not in Xenan.  Feel free to tell me why I’m incredibly wrong in the comments.

Deck Structure

Units: 17-20

Attachments: 0-1

Removal:  5-6.

Power:  18

7-win Example Decklists

7-1 Lifeforce

1 Cult Aspirant
1 Initiate of the Sands
1 Sanctuary Priest
1 Argenport Stranger
1 Bloodcall Invocation
1 Combrei Stranger
1 Feln Stranger
1 Longshot Marksman
1 Rapid Shot
1 Sand Viper
1 Xenan Initiation
1 Amethyst Acolyte
1 Beastcaller’s Amulet
1 Blackguard Sidearm
2 Cabal Slasher
1 Execute
1 Ravenous Thornbeast
2 Skeeter
2 Xenan Destroyer
1 Banish
1 Deathstrike
2 Savage Stranger
1 Xenan Cupbearer
1 Beckoning Lumen
8 Time Sigil
9 Shadow Sigil

7-1 Lifeforce

1 Excavate
1 Bold Adventurer
1 Cabal Cutthroat
1 Devour
1 Sand Viper
1 Sauropod Wrangler
1 Synchronized Strike
1 Amaran Camel
1 Amethyst Ring
1 Blackguard Sidearm
2 Cabal Slasher
1 Disciplined Amanera
1 Dispel
1 Lifedrinker
1 Ravenous Thornbeast
1 Unlock Potential
1 Xenan Destroyer
1 Lethrai Falchion
1 Striped Araktodon
1 Towertop Patrol
1 Xenan Augury
1 Bloodcall Invoker
1 Reliquary Raider
1 Towering Terrazon
1 Umbren Thirster
1 Horsesnatcher Bat
1 Voyaging Lumen
1 Inspire Obedience
1 Belching Behemoth
8 Time Sigil
4 Primal Sigil
8 Shadow Sigil

7-1 Xenan

1 Blood Beetle
1 Knifejack
1 Seek Power
1 Temper
1 Argenport Instigator
2 Piercing Grief
1 Sand Viper
1 Sandstorm
2 Ageless Mentor
1 Alchemical Blast
1 Amber Acolyte
1 Amethyst Acolyte
1 Extract
1 Granite Acolyte
1 Journeyman Armorer
1 Lifedrinker
3 Purify
1 Shadowlands Bonepicker
1 Archive Curator
1 Xenan Guardian
1 Amaran Archaeologist
1 Gun Down
1 Shatterglass Mage
1 Direwood Prowler
5 Fire Sigil
6 Time Sigil
6 Shadow Sigil

Cards I’m happy to play in this archetype:

Common

Uncommon

Rare and Legendary

1 Bloodcall Invocation (Set2 #203)
1 Dark Return (Set1 #250)
1 Direfang Spider (Set1 #256)
1 Excavation Assistant (Set2 #37)
1 Initiate of the Sands (Set1 #74)
1 Sanctuary Priest (Set1 #73)
1 Water of Life (Set1 #68)
1 Argenport Stranger (Set2 #246)
1 Bold Adventurer (Set1 #77)
1 Combrei Stranger (Set1 #410)
1 Dark Wisp (Set1 #264)
1 Devour (Set1 #261)
1 Feln Stranger (Set1 #409)
1 Lethrai Ranger (Set1 #270)
1 Rapid Shot (Set1 #259)
1 Refresh (Set1 #501)
1 Sand Viper (Set2 #42)
1 Sauropod Wrangler (Set1 #83)
1 Synchronized Strike (Set1 #88)
1 Teleport (Set1 #80)
1 Trail Runner (Set2 #39)
1 Vara’s Favor (Set0 #35)
1 Xenan Stranger (Set2 #251)
1 Amber Acolyte (Set1 #93)
1 Amethyst Acolyte (Set1 #276)
1 Avirax Familiar (Set2 #46)
1 Blackguard Sidearm (Set1 #266)
1 Cabal Slasher (Set2 #147)
1 Decay (Set1 #95)
1 Disciplined Amanera (Set2 #47)
1 Dispel (Set1 #91)
1 Execute (Set1 #277)
1 Extract (Set2 #155)
1 Ravenous Thornbeast (Set1 #278)
1 Scheme (Set1 #213)
1 Skeeter (Set2 #150)
1 Xenan Destroyer (Set1 #281)
1 Archive Curator (Set2 #50)
1 Horned Vorlunk (Set1 #503)
1 Stonescar Magus (Set1 #288)
1 Striped Araktodon (Set2 #54)
1 Towertop Patrol (Set1 #101)
1 Xenan Augury (Set2 #209)
1 Xenan Cupbearer (Set2 #210)
1 Xenan Guardian (Set1 #102)
1 Amaran Archaeologist (Set2 #56)
1 Awakened Sentinel (Set2 #57)
1 Towering Terrazon (Set1 #114)
1 Umbren Thirster (Set2 #165)
1 Pack Hunt (Set2 #61)
1 Voyaging Lumen (Set2 #66)
1 Dormant Sentinel (Set1 #120)
1 Inspire Obedience (Set2 #169)
1 Belching Behemoth (Set2 #68)

1 Cult Aspirant (Set2 #35)
1 Excavate (Set1 #71)
1 Ghostform (Set1 #258)
1 Slow (Set1 #70)
1 Slumbering Stone (Set1 #255)
1 Annihilate (Set1 #269)
1 Blistersting Wasp (Set2 #202)
1 Cabal Cutthroat (Set1 #297)
1 Piercing Grief (Set2 #143)
1 Sandstorm (Set2 #43)
1 Temple Scribe (Set1 #502)
1 Xenan Initiation (Set2 #44)
1 Ageless Mentor (Set1 #90)
1 Amber Ring (Set2 #45)
1 Amethyst Ring (Set2 #146)
1 Desperado (Set1 #273)
1 Determined Stranger (Set1 #92)
1 Dune Phantom (Set1 #89)
1 Forsworn Stranger (Set1 #416)
1 Lethrai Nightblade (Set1 #279)
1 Lifedrinker (Set1 #275)
1 Madness (Set1 #267)
1 Plague (Set1 #274)
1 Scorpion Wasp (Set1 #96)
1 Secret Pages (Set1 #81)
1 Shadowlands Bonepicker (Set2 #205)
1 Unlock Potential (Set1 #76)
1 Vara’s Choice (Set2 #206)
1 Xenan Cultist (Set1 #516)
1 Ancient Lore (Set1 #105)
1 Bolster (Set2 #51)
1 Camp Physician (Set2 #52)
1 Deathstrike (Set1 #290)
1 Healer’s Cloak (Set1 #98)
1 Minotaur Lighthoof (Set2 #163)
1 Praxis Displacer (Set1 #100)
1 Savage Stranger (Set2 #161)
1 Snapping Brushstalker (Set2 #53)
1 Soul Collector (Set1 #291)
1 Xenan Fanatic (Set2 #162)
1 Battle-Tested Stranger (Set2 #58)
1 Bloodcall Invoker (Set2 #211)
1 Elysian Pathfinder (Set1 #108)
1 Humbug Swarm (Set2 #60)
1 Lumen Defender (Set1 #115)
1 Merciless Stranger (Set1 #111)
1 Time Weaver (Set2 #62)
1 Twinbrood Sauropod (Set1 #113)
1 Direwood Prowler (Set2 #166)
1 Horsesnatcher Bat (Set1 #304)
1 Lumen Shepherd (Set1 #117)
1 Plated Goliath (Set2 #64)
1 Pillar of Amar (Set1 #122)
1 Amber Monument (Set1 #420)
1 Amethyst Monument (Set1 #426)

1 Wandering Wisp (Set2 #38)
1 Copper Conduit (Set1 #66)
1 Ephemeral Wisp (Set1 #84)
1 Voice of the Speaker (Set1 #78)
1 Ayan, the Abductor (Set2 #204)
1 Banish (Set2 #207)
1 Cat Burglar (Set2 #148)
1 Dawnwalker (Set1 #86)
1 Torrent of Spiders (Set1 #272)
1 Hatecleaver (Set2 #158)
1 Impending Doom (Set1 #286)
1 Katra, the Devoted (Set2 #208)
1 Lethrai Falchion (Set1 #285)
1 Marisen’s Disciple (Set1 #104)
1 Memory Dredger (Set2 #159)
1 Sandstorm Titan (Set1 #99)
1 Steward of Prophecy (Set1 #97)
1 Steward of the Past (Set1 #287)
1 Vault of the Praxis (Set1 #480)
1 Xenan Obelisk (Set1 #103)
1 Beckoning Lumen (Set2 #59)
1 Lurking Sanguar (Set1 #293)
1 Obrak, the Feaster (Set2 #164)
1 Reliquary Raider (Set1 #110)
1 Striking Snake Formation (Set1 #112)
1 Umbren Reaper (Set1 #299)
1 Waystone Infuser (Set2 #63)
1 Champion of Mystery (Set2 #213)
1 Mystic Ascendant (Set1 #116)
1 Predatory Carnosaur (Set1 #118)
1 Sentinel’s Might (Set2 #65)
1 Slimespitter Slug (Set2 #167)
1 Hall of Lost Kings (Set1 #121)
1 Hibernating Behemoth (Set1001 #4)
1 Prophetic Stranger (Set2 #214)
1 Rhinarc Huntpack (Set2 #67)
1 Marisen, the Eldest (Set1 #123)
1 Sleepless Night (Set2 #170)
1 Touch of the Umbren (Set1 #308)
1 Worldjoiner (Set2 #215)

That’s it for Xenan!  Think I got something wrong, or didn’t mention something important?  Comment below and let me know!  Be sure to check out our other Draft Guides and Draft Snaps.

BONUS:  This is a deck where I tried to force Lifeforce from the very first pack.  I somehow picked up very few actual lifeforce cards.  3-3

1 Cult Aspirant (Set2 #35)
1 Sanctuary Priest (Set1 #73)
1 Blistersting Wasp (Set2 #202)
1 Bold Adventurer (Set1 #77)
1 Longshot Marksman (Set2 #142)
1 Sandstorm (Set2 #43)
1 Sauropod Wrangler (Set1 #83)
2 Amber Acolyte (Set1 #93)
1 Beastcaller’s Amulet (Set1 #282)
1 Blackguard Sidearm (Set1 #266)
1 Desperado (Set1 #273)
1 Execute (Set1 #277)
1 Shadowlands Bonepicker (Set2 #205)
2 Skeeter (Set2 #150)
1 Trickster’s Cloak (Set1 #369)
1 Ancient Lore (Set1 #105)
1 Archive Curator (Set2 #50)
1 Cabal Bludgeoner (Set2 #156)
1 Hatecleaver (Set2 #158)
2 Towertop Patrol (Set1 #101)
1 Lumen Defender (Set1 #115)
2 Plated Goliath (Set2 #64)
2 Voyaging Lumen (Set2 #66)
1 Pillar of Amar (Set1 #122)
7 Time Sigil (Set1 #63)
1 Primal Sigil (Set1 #187)
7 Shadow Sigil (Set1 #249)
1 Elysian Banner (Set1 #421)

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