Draft Simulator Walkthrough #1

This will be my first draft walkthrough in what I intend to be a regularly occurring feature on this blog.  Even though the weekly booster draft simulator will probably keep using M13 all year and I will probably never draft that format again, I think it’s a useful exercise for becoming a better drafter.  I will do this like I usually have seen it done: list the cards, explain my decision process, and announce my picks, with a final decklist at the end.

DailyMTG Draft Simulator 10/1/12


Cathedral Of War, Elixir of Immortality, Ring of Valkos
Healer of the Pride, Safe Passage
Archeomancer, Hydrosurge, Index
Murder, Mind Rot
Chandra’s Fury, Turn to Slag, Rummaging Goblin

UGH.  What a terrible pack.  I think the only contenders are Murder or Cathedral of War.  Murder is double black, but Cathedral is weak outside Exalted decks.  I’m taking the Cathedral to keep my options open.

P2: Boundless Realms, Sleep, Farseek, Chandra’s Fury, Servant of Nefaraox, Essense Scatter, Mind Sculpt, Sign In Blood, Naturalize, Revive

Not going to mention the total chaff cards.  I think the descision is Farseek vs Sleep.  Sleep is a great card, but is double blue and I don’t think I’ve ever played blue in M13 (number of Talrand’s Summons I’ve ever seen in M13 draft is also zero) whereas I play green alot.  Farseek wins.

P3: Pacifism, Cower in Fear, Encrust, Captain’s Call, Rumaging Goblin, Ravenous Rats, Ring of Kalonia, Duty-Bound Dead

Three packs, three Exalted cards.  If I’d gone Murder for my first pick I might be tempted by Cower here or if I’d taken the Sleep maybe Encrust.  But free of those temptations, I’ll take Pacifism which may be the second best removal spell in M13.

P4: Redirect, Augur of Bolas, Timberpack Wolf, Mind Rot, Goblin Battle Jester, Vile Rebirth, Negate, Unsummon, Plummet, Pillarfield Ox

Wolf without hesitation.

P5: Giant Scorpion, Arbor Elf, Reckless Brute, Aven Squire, Guardians of Akrasa, Negate, Tricks of the Trade, Wild Guess

Squire has some merit, but at this point I like Arbor Elf more.

P6: Mwonvuli Beast Tracker, Augur of Bolas, Spiked Baloth, Goblin Battle Jester, Tricks of the Trade, Krenko’s Command, Erase, War Falcon

I love me some Spiked Baloth.

P7: Timberpack Wolf, Canyon Minotaur, Silvercoat Lion, Jace’s Phantasm, Mindsculpt, Ring of Evos Isle

Wolf #2

P8: RANCOR, Glacial Fortress, Wind Drake


P9: Fog, Ring of Valkas, Safe Passage

Safe Passage, the only card I might consider playing since I don’t look to be in red.

P10: Warclamp Mastif, Naturalize, Mind Sculpt

Not quite sure about the Mastif’s value and he’d be cute with Rancor, but I’ve never seen one on the battlefield and the Naturalize might be important out of the sideboard.

P11: Ring of Kalonia
P12: Plummet
P13: Negate
P14: Hydrosurge

Relevant Pool After Pack 1
Arbor Elf, 2 Timberpack Wolf, Spiked Baloth, Rancor, Farseek, Naturalize, Plummet
Cathedral Of War, Ring of Kalonia

Solidly in green, but no commitment to a second color yet.


Jayemdae Tome
Aven Squire, Show of Valor
Wind Drake, Downpour
Duskmantle Prowler, Vile Rebirth
Reverberate, Canyon Minotaur, Arms Dealer, Volcanic Strength
Primal Huntbeast, Vastwood Gorger

Not an exciting pack.  Huntbeast seems mighty good with Hexproof.

P2: Touch of the Eternal, Rise from the Grave, Murder, Crusader of Odric, Elvish Visionary, Divine Verdict

As I’m still not at all committed to a second color and Farseek helps fix me so I could go Murder or Rise but either of those is likely to go next so I’d rather signal black.  I like Crusader.

P3: Quiron Dryad, Flinthoof Boar, Vastwood Gorger, Aven Squire

Flinthoof Boar is really tempting, but now I’m tilting white for my second color.  Yet another Gorger, but I’ve see those table alot.  I think I finally pick up a Squire here.

P4: Searing Spear, Bloodbound Crag, Deadly Recluse, Kittesail

Ouch.  I just passed that Boar and now I wish I didn’t.  Searing Spear should be gone, but I have zero red cards at this point.  If this pack and the last pack are reveresed then I go Spear-Boar, but now?  Kitesail is pretty tempting, but Deadly Recluse isn’t too shabby.  I’m going to grab the Equipment, but I’m not sure how good that choice is.

P5: Slumbering Dragon, Pacifism, Titanic Growth

I’m not sure about the Dragon, but if I’d gone red the last two picks that’s who I’d grab.  But I went white and I’m loving that late Pacifism which would clearly suggest the player to my left is NOT in white.

P6: Crusader of Odric, Rancor, Pacifism

OMGWTFBBQ?!  I HATE packs like this because this is an excruciating choice.  None of those cards feel like they should still be there at this point and I want them all.  I’m going to go Rancor, but I’m really not certain.

P7: Attended Knight, Yeva’s Forcemage, Spiked Baloth, War Priest of Thune

More choices.  Knight seems the best, especially with Rancor and Crusader.

P8: Naturalize, Pillarfield Ox, Safe Passage, Bond Beetle

I consider Bettle unplayable unless you have Roaring Primadox.  I have a Passage and Naturalize so I’m going with the Ox to ensure I have enough creatures.

P9: Reverberate, Vastwood Gorger, Plummet, Show of Valor

Did I mention Gorgers tend to table?

P10: Elvish Visionary (over Prey Upon)
P11: Flinthoof Boar (waaaay late – over Plummet)
P12: Mind Sculpt (hate draft over Fog)
P13: Smelt
P14: Smelt

Relevant Pool After Pack 2
Arbor Elf, Elvish Visionary, 2 Timberpack Wolf, Flinthoof Boar, Primal Huntbeast, Spiked Baloth, Vastwood Gorger, 2 Rancor, Farseek, Naturalize, Plummet
Aven Squire, Attended Knight, Crusader of Odric, Pillarfield Ox, 2 Pacifism
Cathedral Of War, Ring of Kalonia, Kitesail


Odric Master Tactician, Attended Knight, War Priest Of Thume
Scroll Thief, Rewind, Watercourser
Essence Drain, Giant Scorpion
Turn To Slag, Fire Elemental, Torch Fiend, Reckless Brute
Centaur Courser, Arbor Elf

Odric without hesitation.

P2: Planar Cleansing, Searing Spear, Timberpack Wolf, Attended Knight, Griffin Protector

I can see some merit in Cleansing, but I want Wolf #3.

P3: Titanic Growth, Divine Verdict, Guardians of Akrasa

Nothing exciting.  I have some pump already with Rancor and Ring, but only the Pacifisms for removal.  My curve is fairly low and I’m not really hitting the Exalted theme so Guardians doesn’t seem imporant.

P4: Timberpack Wolf #4

P5: Farseek, Guardian Lions, Plummet, Angel’s Mercy, Bladetusk Boar, Rewind

I’d normally take Farseek here, but I don’t think my deck needs it.  I guess I’ll take Plummet as sideboard.  I think Lions is pretty bad.

P6: Ring of Thune
P7: Yeva’s Forcemage (over Show of Valor)
P8: Ajani’s Sunstriker (over Ring of Kalonia #2)
P9: War Priest Of Thune (over Arbor Elf)
P10: Erase
P11: Door To Nothingness
P12: Naturalize #2 (over Safe Passage #2)
P13: Angel’s Mercy
P14: Serpent’s Gift

Relevant Pool After Pack 3
Arbor Elf, 4 Timberpack Wolf, Elvish Visionary, Flinthoof Boar, Yeva’s Forcemage, Primal Huntbeast, Spiked Baloth, Vastwood Gorger
2 Rancor, Farseek, 2 Naturalize, 2 Plummet
Ajani’s Sunstriker, Aven Squire, War Priest Of Thune, Attended Knight, Crusader of Odric, Odric, Pillarfield Ox
2 Pacifism, Divine Verdict, Erase
Cathedral Of War, Ring of Kalonia, Ring of Thune, Kitesail

The Simulator tells me the bot to my left drafted W/B and the bot to my right went G/B (with Nefarox, Thragtusk, and Nighthawk – sick!)


LANDS (17)
8 Forest
8 Plains
1 Cathedral of War

Arbor Elf
4 Timberpack Wolf
Elvish Visionary
Aven Squire
Ajani’s Sunstriker
Yeva’s Forcemage
War Priest Of Thune
Attended Knight
Crusader of Odric
Odric, Master Tactician
Spiked Baloth
Primal Huntbeast
Vastwood Gorger

Ring of Kalonia
Ring of Thune
2 Rancor
2 Pacifism
Divine Verdict

2 Naturalize
2 Plummet

Let me know if you disagree with any of my choices.


Return To Ravnica – Sunday Prerelease

After yesterday’s prerelease I was sorely tempted to play Azorious again, but I wanted to experience the format from another perspective via one of my other favorite guilds so Izzet it was.  As expected, today’s sealed pool was not as nutty as yesterday’s.

My Deck (Grixis)

LANDS (17)
1 Izzet Guildgate
7 Mountain
5 Island
4 Swamp
1 Grim Roustabout
1 Frostburn Weird
1 Nivix Guildmage
1 Goblin Electromancer
2 Stealer of Secrets
2 Dead Reveler
2 Splatter Thug
1 Viashino Racketeer
1 Voidwielder
1 Hypersonic Dragon (promo)
2 Spawn of Rix Maadi
1 Tenement Crasher
1 Skyline Predator
1 Dynacharge
2 Annihilating Fire
1 Paralyzing Grasp
1 Essence Backlash
1 Street Spasm


Round 1: 2-0 vs GWu

Multiple mulligans Game 1.  Game 2 I was looking good until he dropped Isperia while I was tapped out.  I forgot about Backlash in my hand and almost blew the game when he played  Isperia’s Skywatch, but I nailed a second Skywatch to win.

Round 2: 2-0 vs GB

Stab Wound is nasty.

Round 3: 0-2 vs UW Auras

My opponent had an odd  deck with lots of Auras, but they added up to big creatures that crushed me both games.  Game 1 it was T4 Skymark Roc T5 Righteous Authority.  Game 2 I got stuck on five land with no blue mana and got chewed up by Trained Caracal with Ethereal Armor and Knightly Valor.

I seriously considered switching out black for white for Game 2, but did not.

Round 4: 2-1 vs UWg

Game 1 I lost 4 of 5 Islands to Constant Flooding and nearly lost the game because of it.  Hover Barrier is a nasty wall.

Round 5: 0-2 vs RB

Got dominated by removal Game 1.  Rakdos himself came down T4 in Game 2 and was followed by 3 creatures and a removal spell to kill me on Turn 5.  I don’t know if my deck was capable of winning this match, but in retrospect I think I sideboarded inadequately.

Final Standings: 3-2 (8 of 21)

MVP:  Spawn of Rix Maadi.  6/4 beats hard.

Street Spasm:  It had to get sideboarded for Rounds 3 and 4 because my opponents played almost zero non-Flyers.

Paralyzing Grasp : Grasp was significant on a couple occasions, but more often seemed desperately needed against a creature with Vigilance or an untapped creature who either hadn’t attacked yet or was being held back to block.  I wouldn’t consider it unplayable, but it is frustrating as hell.

Dynacharge: I think I cast it exactly once, to kill off a Trestle Troll when the opponent was tapped out.  It was a 23rd card because I thought the deck would be more aggressive and thus I didn’t want another maindeck Predator.  I think that was a mistake as my deck was usually not as aggressive as hoped.

Changes & Sideboarding

I had a second Skyline Predator that came in when Spasm went out.  I also removed Backlash for Catacomb Slug against Rakdos.

As mentioned, I think I needed to sideboard more against Rakdos.  Other options:

Mizzium Skin, 2 Downsize, Chemister’s Trick

He had enough removal that I think Skin would have been significant.  I’m not sure about the Downsize and ChemTrick.  Right now I’m thinking I should have gone…
Out: Tenement Crasher, Dynacharge, Viashino Rackateer, Essence Backlash
In: Catacomb Slug, Mizzium Skin, 2 Downsize

Alternative Build (URW)

LANDS (18)
1 Izzet Guildgate
6 Mountain
7 Island
4 Plains
1 Frostburn Weird
1 Nivix Guildmage
1 New Prahv Guildmage
1 Goblin Electromancer
2 Stealer of Secrets
1 Vassal Soul
2 Splatter Thug
1 Viashino Racketeer
1 Skymark Roc
1 Voidwielder
1 Hypersonic Dragon (promo)
2 Skyline Predator
2 Annihilating Fire
1 Avenging Arrow
1 Paralyzing Grasp
1 Essence Backlash
1 Fall of the Gavel
1 Street Spasm

This deck doesn’t try to be aggressive and makes better use of Nivix Guildmage and Electromancer.

Rest Of My Sealed Pool

White (9): 2 Trostani’s Judgement, Palisade Giant, Bazaar Krovod, Selesnya Sentry, 2 Eyes in the Sky, Etheral Armor, Knightly Valor

I’m not sure about Judgement and if 6 mana to exile a creature is worth it.  Against the Auras deck I think they would have been worth it, but probably just sideboard.

Blue (2): Psychic Spiral, Crosstown Courier

Izzet (1): Firemind’s Foresight

Black (7): Pack Rat, Zanikev Locust, 2 Terrus Wurm, Cremate, Drainpipe Vermin, Deviant Glee

Red (6): Cobblebrute, Electrickery, Dynacharge (2nd), Bellows Lizard, Pursuit of Flight, Survey the Wreckage

Selesyna (6): Dryad Militant, Armada Wurm, 2 Centaur Healer, Call of the Conclave, Growing Ranks

Green (9): Gatecreeper Vine, Towering Indrik, Giant Growth, Chorus of Might, Savage Surge, Seek the Horizon, Axebane Stag, 2 Centaur’s Herald

Golgari (5): Dreg Mangler, Korozda Guildmage, 2 Grisly Salvage, Slitherhead

Other (6): Golgari Guildgate, 2 Selesyna Guildgate, Pithing Needle, Civic Saber, foil Plains

Upon Further Review

Looking over my pool now, I think I need to reconsider whether GWB was an option.  I certain had the mana (3 Guildgates), some bombs (Armada Wurm, Palisade Giant, some removal, and a good number of cards.

LANDS (17)
1 Golgari Guildgate
2 Selesyna Guildgate
5 Forest
5 Plains
4 Swamp
1 Dryad Militant
1 Gatekeeper Vine
1 Call of the Conclave
1 Grim Roustabout
2 Dead Reveler
1 Vassal Soul
1 Korozda Guildmage
1 Dreg Mangler
1 Selesnya Sentry
1 Towering Indrik
2 Centaur Healer
1 Bazaar Krovod
1 Palisade Giant
1 Armada Wurm
1 Giant Growth
1 Savage Surge
1 Avenging Arrow
2 Trostani’s Judgement

I’m not real sure about the exact cards here.  This seems more like a ‘good stuff’ deck that a Populate deck, hence the Centaur’s Heralds, Eyes in the Sky, and Growing Ranks not making the cut.  It does seem like the overall card quality here might be better.

I’d be interested to hear thoughts on which of the 3 builds I’ve posted seems best.

Return To Ravnica – Saturday Prerelease

Blame Brad Nelson.

I was surprised to find the first part of a RTR set review by Evan Erwin and Brad Nelson on YouTube this morning.  I thought Detain was a neat and appropriate mechanic, but until watching that video I hadn’t really grasped that the cards with Detain are all pretty good too.  I audibled to Azorious for the RTR prerelease today and went 3-0-1 (draw was not intentional) with a strong pool and some good luck.

Most popular guild at my LGS?  Izzet, by far.  The midnight prerelease wiped out the entire stock of Izzet guild decks; 12 out of 24 people chose it!  And those 24 at the Midnight Prerelease?  Only 14 at the 1pm prerelease, about half of them chugging Red Bull and playing for the second time.  MTG players are apparently impatient zombies…

My Deck

LANDS (17)
3 Azorious Guildgate
1 Transguild Promenade
8 Island
7 Plains 
1 New Prahv Guildmage
1 Azorious Arrester
1 Frostburn Weird
1 Keening Apparition
1 Vassal Soul
1 Loxodon Smiter
2 Tower Drake
2 Armory Guard
1 Soulsworn Spirit
1 Hussar Patrol
1 Isperia’s Skywatch
1 Archon of the Triumvirate (promo)
1 Inactin Injunction
2 Dramatic Rescue
2 Azorious Keyrune
1 Cancel
1 Paralyzing Grasp
1 Security Blockade
1 Supreme Verdict 

Round 1: 2-0 vs GWu
Round 2: 1-1-1 vs GW
Round 3: 2-0 vs GB
Round 4: 2-0 vs UW

The draw was time limit and nearly a loss.  I had a slim chance to win and went for it instead of playing for the draw and using my Guildmage’s detain ability.  My opponent attacked with two small creatures when I was at 12…then played 3 pump spells!  Fortunately, it added up to only 11 damage.

The last round was potentially very interesting as I was facing a more aggressive Azorious deck.  Instead, it was pretty bizarre as both games I mulliganed a 5 land hand into a 1 land hand on the draw.  My opponent got a bit flooded Game 1 then a bit stuck on mana Game 2.

MVPs: Archon, Verdict, Smiter, Guildmage

No real surprise on the MVPs, except maybe Supreme Verdict.  Wrath effects are good of course, but it was repeatedly vital against Selesyna decks that could otherwise overwhelm with tokens.

Relevant Sideboard: Sundering Growth & Dispel

Naturalize effects tend to be hit or miss; I’d expect them to hit a little more in RTR Limited because of several strong Enchantments like Marshal Law and the Keyrunes, but it relevant in 2 of 4 matches.  The other 2 matches had zero targets.

Dispel came in against the Selesnya player with a ton of combat tricks.

Nombo: Paralyzing Grasp.  Doesn’t play well with Detain.

Rest Of My Sealed Pool

Izzet (4) – Firemind’s Foresight, Blistercore Weird, Chemister’s Trick, Frostburn Weird (2nd)

Frostburn Weird was my 23rd card, going out when I sideboarded.  Being a 1/4 seems more relevant than usual with lots of Centaur tokens running around.

Blue (4) – Mizzium Skin, Aquus Steed, Crosstown Courier, Doorkeeper

Mizzium Skin seems like a playable trick depending on your opponent’s deck.  It might be relevant in the Azorious Mirror.  I considered it, but never missed it.

U/W (3) – Judge’s Familiar, 2 Search Warrant

Familiar seems far more Constructed relevant than Limited.  Search Warrant seems unplayable.

White (5) – Avenging Arrow, 2 Swift Justice, Knightly Valor, Rootborn Defenses

I’m really not sure how good Avenging Arrow is.

Selesyna (4) – Vitu-Ghazi Guildmage, 2 Coursers’ Accord, Heroes’ Reunion

I considered splashing beyond the Loxodon Smiter, but decided not to since I had no other token generators.

Green (9) – 3 Urban Burgeoning [1 foil], Death’s Prescence, Aerial Predation, Golgari Decoy, Oak Street Innkeeper, Korozda Monitor, Druid’s Deliverance

I forgot about Predation when sideboard in the Azorious mirror when it would have been relevant.  I’m not sure about Prescence in a deck like mine.

Golgari (4) – Sluiceway Scorpion, Trestle Troll, Dreg Mangler, Grisly Salvage

Black (10) – Desecration Demon, Ultimate Price, Launch Party, Ogre Jailbreaker, Grim Roustabout, Tavern Swindler, Destroy the Evidence, 2 Catacomb Slug, Deviant Glee

Quantity, but not quality.

Rakdos (4) – Rakdos Ragemutt, Spawn of Rix Maadi, Skull Rend, Auger Spree

I have a R/B multiplayer deck that really wants it some Skull Rend.

Red (5) – Electrickery, Gore-House Chainwalker, Annihilating Fire, Cobblebrute, Vandalbast

Other (4) – Izzet Guildgate, Golgari Guildgate, Civic Saber, foil Swamp

Saber seems deceptive as despite the multicolor block there are a lot of monocolored creatures played.  It might have a home in the right kind of aggressive deck.

I didn’t have any doubt about playing U/W; the only question was what third color splash, if any.  Reviewing my pool, I think UWg was correct.

Misc Thoughts On The Format and RTR

I think there is an interesting rock-paper-scissors metagame in RTR Limited:

Scavenge < Detain < Populate < Overload < Unleash < Scavenge

General, Azorious can keep Golgari locked down, but get overwhelmed by Selesyna (unless they have Supreme Verdict).  Izzet can negate Selesyna’s numbers advantage, but gets run over by Rakdos’ speed.  Golgari can trade with Rakdos early drops and recycles those creatures to make a better late game.

Detain seems like it could be insane in draft.

I need to see it in action more to be sure, but I think my local players seriously misvalue Unleash.  They seem inclined to use it without hesitation when I think there are some serious questions to be asked, especially for creatures that also have Deathtouch or First Strike.

Scavenge + Unleashed = Nombo.

The Play Your Guild idea is really cool, but not a complete success.  Despite 1 of 6 packs being only cards of your chosen guild, several players still ended up with card pools that made their chosen Guild unplayable.

M13 Sealed Deck Pools

The Daily MTG website (the official Magic website aka The Mothership) frequently posts sealed deck pools and draft simulators.  I’ll be posted my builds here.


This is a frustrating pool with 2 rare lands.  White seems easy to discard as not having anything good.  I think the other color to be written off is Green.  It has 2 bombs in Silklash Spider and the Hydra, but little else including almost no creatures.

Blue is intriguing with Stormtide Leviathan, lots of blue removal, and 2 blue rings.  With more mill effects I’d seriously be tempted to build a deck that tries to stall and mill with Stormtide backup.  Black offers goodies like 2 Nighthawk and removal.  Red offers alot of cards including 2 Searing Spears, but no “wow” factor.  I think you either go U/B or U/R here and the decks are two different styles: very aggressive or very slow.

Ultimately, I can’t build a U/B deck out of this that doesn’t feel clunky.  There aren’t really enough blue creatures for the rings.  The Entrancers work with the stall and could wear rings while they mill, but the deck feels like it really needs more mill to be viable enough.  All the flying and Harbor Serpent plays well with Stormtide, but the creature count is low with about 10 non-creature spells.  I just don’t feel comfortable with this deck.

LANDS (17)
9 Mountain
7 Swamp
1 Hellion Crucible

2 Goblin Arsonist
1 Bloodthrone Vampire
1 Krenko’s Command (technically a spell, but since it just makes tokens I count it here)
1 Dragon’s Hatchling
1 Torch Fiend
1 Rummaging Goblin
2 Giant Scorpion
2 Vampire Nighthawk
1 Crimson Muckwader
2 Goblin Battle Jester
2 Bloodhunter Bat
1 Canyon Minotaur

1 Kitesail
2 Searing Spear
1 Cower In Fear
1 Turn To Slag
1 Essence Drain

Fire Elemental is the odd man out here.



Green is first to go due to sheer lack of cards and Red goes fast behind it with no cards of note including zero burn spells.  I’d say that is the first thing you should do in a sealed pool after sorting your cards and removing unplayable cards: find 2 colors that are just bad due to quality and/or quantity.

Lots of cards in the remaining colors so what do we go with?  Ajani is a big bomb and we’ve got Stormtide Leviathan again.  Cathedral of War is good and I see alot of other Exalt cards so lets see what we can do with that angle.  White is definitely in with Ajani, lots of Exalted, and the syngergy of Faithmender with 3 Sunstrikers.  I normally hate Guardian Lions but this seems like a deck that would actually like them.

Blue or Black for the second color?  Neither color is offering many creatures.  Black helps with the Exalted, but as a splash the early drops are a little awkward (Knight and Tormented Soul, plus 2 removal).  Blue has Stormtide and Sleep, and bunch of counter and draw.  The mana works better though and the splash would be for more than 4 cards.

LANDS (17)
6 Island
10 Plains
1 Cathedral of War

3 Ajani’s Sunstriker
1 Aven Squire
1 Attended Knight
1 Scroll Thief
1 Wind Drake
3 Guardians of Akrasa
1 Griffin Protector
1 Rhox Faithmender
1 Captain’s Call
1 Stormtide Leviathan

2 Negate
1 Pacifism
1 Ajani, Caller of the Pride
1 Sleep
2 Divine Verdict
2 Angelic Benediction

I feel fairly good about going U/W here, but the exact 40 cards seem hard to determine.  Do I want an 18th land?  Do I skip Captain’s Call because of Exalted?  Divination or Tome?  Maybe even Essence Scatter?  (I pretty much always like Negate to stop removal more than Scatter to stop their bombs.)

Off to my last M13 draft at tonight’s FNM…

RTR Reviews: Mana Fixing

Return to Ravnica prerelease is a week away and we have the entire spoiler so let’s see what we can tell about the set.  I will probably do some kind of full set review, but I wanted to start by examining what the set brings us in terms of certain types of cards.  The presence or absence of these cards can have a significant impact on a set, especially in Limited.

Rare: Shocklands (5), Chromatic Lantern
Uncommon: Keyrunes (5)
Common: Guidgates (5), Transguild Promenade

For comparison: in the original Ravnica there were 4 Shocklands at rare, 4 karoos at common, and 4 signets at common.  It was also a larger set (286 cards in Ravnica, 249 in RTR – excluding basic land).   More recently, Shards of Alara gave us 5 TriLands at uncommon, 5 Panoramas at common, and 5 Obelisks at common.

If those past sets are any indication, I would expect playing 3 colors in Ravnica will be commonplace and splashing for a 4th color not unreasonable.  Colorless manfixing should be valued higher than it would be in a normal set like Innistrad or M13.  Shocklands are first-pickable (especially given their dollar value) and probably Lantern too.  I’d probably take Keyrunes after bombs and good removal then Guildgates around mid-pack (5th-8th).  Promenade is a function reprint of Rupture Spire (from Conflux) and should probably be valued accordingly; I don’t care for the card, but it’s certainly playable especially if you go 4 colors.

Rare: Mana Bloom, Deathrite Shaman
Uncommon: Seek The Horizon
Common: Gatecreeper Vine, Axebane Guardian , Grisly Salvage, Urban Burgeoning

Gatecreeper seems very playable in any green deck, especially if you have some Gates.

Seek The Horizon is probably much better here than its original printing (SOK).

Axebane is effectively a BOP even if he is your only Defender, but that effect on a 3-drop isn’t too impressive.  It’s main use would seem to be in conjunction with a mass of Doorkeepers for a Defender Mill deck in Limited, or as a cute casual card in conjunction with cards from ROE.

Mana Bloom is a very interesting card, but between the initial mana investment and the limitation of removing only one counter per turn it seems purely a color fixer.

Deathrite seems unreliable in Limited, though may still be useful.  It would love a format with Fetchlands.

Burgeoning seems too cute unless you have a lot of Guildmages or other activated abilities.

Grisly Salvage fits nicely in Golgari decks (and 4 Salvage + 4 Mulch in a deck could be very interesting…)

By comparison, the original Ravnica: City Of Guilds set had Birds of Paradise at rare and Farseek, Civic Wayfinder, and Elves of Deep Shadow at common (and Stone-Seeder Hierophant plus Perilous Forays at uncommon, but I don’t think those latter two were relevant at all).

Overall, there seems to be more an emphasis on color-fixing rather than accelerating which should be good thing for the format.

Join me next time when I talk about removal spell.  I think the full Official Spoiler goes live on Monday on the mothership.

(In the meantime, I am using the unofficial spoiler on MTGSalvation as my source.)