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By: kelvinmai, Kelvin Mai
Jun 13 2013 6:31am
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Today I finally step out of standard and write about a different format and its limited! But before we start I have to preface that limited is definitely bad on limited funds. This is because it just like gambling, going in you don't know if you're going to make your money back or even if you would break even. So keep in mind that playing is only for the experience. Now that we've gotten that out of the way, I love limited, it is my vice in magic and the cost of it is not going to keep me away from it. I believe the allure of limited is because of the deckbuilding and the added challenge of building the deck on the spot is so much fun. Specifically I enjoy drafting the most while sealed not so much. What's the difference between the two? Well, sealed is much more based on chance and luck: everyone starts off on uneven footing because having a better sealed pool can easily boost your chances of winning. And drafting is a much more skill and knowledge intensive. Yes, the battlefield is still the same and you still need to know the combat tricks in both, but while drafting you have a chance of seeing what you're up against and know what to expect while at the same time actively creating a card pool where you can craft a deck that is fit to battle your opponents.

First and foremost the thing you want to be aware of cards that can help you pay for the draft. When I see an expensive I almost always pick them regardless of what I'm trying to build. This act has a name and it's called "rare drafting" and it's somewhat a bad idea because it hurts our deck in most cases though. Nonetheless it is one of the things that helps keep our heads afloat in funds. So it's a good idea before going into to research and study the prices of the set. PureMTGO offers some great articles that can help you out in this area so you can be prepared while drafting. This isn't something you need to worry about in sealed because you aren't making a decision of taking or not taking cards that are basically money. 

The Basics
Most people know the basics of limited as the acronym BREAK or BREAD which is a pretty good way to get started. In drafting it is much more important because it applys to our picks instead of just the cards that go into the deck. 

B is for Bombs
Bombs are just any card that can win you the game. They're either finishers or cards that you want to build your deck around. They are very important because even if you follow the rest of the following BREAK and skip this you'll have no way to finish off your opponent. The big creatures are the most obvious ones like Axebane Stag but there are some little guys like Guttersnipe with strong effects that can easily do the same and win.

R is for Removal
Removal is also a high priority. It's good to have bombs but your opponents will also have some too, so it's best you deal with them. Now removal is not just cards that have the word "destroy" in their text, although these are usually very good removal cards, removal comes in all shapes and sizes. Black usually has the straightforward destroy effects and red has the damage dealing type. Blue and white is a bit more tricky, both of these colors have enchantments like (Oblivion) and Ice Cage that stops your opponent's creatures from doing anything, they may not be off the battlefield but they aren't a threat to you either. But blue also has access to Counterspells that can get rid of threats before they even land on the battlefield. Now we come full circle to green, and unfortunately they are a bit weaker here. Green relies on their creatures as removal, forcing your opponents to block wrong with Lure or using their strength with cards like Prey Upon.

E is for Evasion
Evasion is very important because while having a big bomb is good it's worthless when you can push damage through. Fliers and unblockable dudes are good here because no matter how many creatures they have if you can attack over them you'll easily be able to defeat them. In Return to Ravnica limited a strong contender here is Daggerdrome Imp which often times couldn't be blocked and attacked twenty times if it had to.

A is for Aggression
Now you don't actually have to be aggressive in your drafting, I'm not asking you to growl at the table to scare people into passing you good cards. Aggression here actually means to think about your curve. What is a curve you may ask? Well it's the idea that you want to play something every turn and each turn you play something bigger than the last one. So while drafting as well as creating your deck you should try to have more lower mana cost creatures to raise the chance of playing them earlier. It's important to have the bulk of your deck to be two and three drops for this to work out. In addition drafting is a very creature heavy format so ideally you'll want at least 13 of your 40 card deck to be creatures.

D and K is for Dead cards and Krap
Personally enjoy K as the ending of the acronym just for the name. Both of course means the same thing, it depicts all the bad cards that you glance over in each pack as well as the ones you pick up when nothing else is in the pack is for you. Things like Angel's Mercy and Contaminated Ground fit in this category because they basically do nothing and don't advance you further in the game. For example if you spend a turn to waste 4 mana on Angel's Mercy you'll gain 7 life, but then your opponent will attack in and chances are it'll be more than 7 so you wasted a turn. And Contaminated Ground is bad because life is a resource in the game so taking 2 for mana is nothing when it means they'll be able to play something huge like Duskdale Wurm. But there are always a case where bad cards are actually good, like our friend Contaminated Ground is great in Return to Ravnica block draft even though it's not so good in Gatecrash. This is because RTR block everyone is playing at least three colors on average and mana fixing is higher here, so making a gate into a swamp means that you're potentially cutting them off of 2 colors. 

Now you know the acronym BREAK, the last thing you need to know is that a balanced deck should be something along the lines of 13 creatures, 10 spells and 17 lands. Of course all of these rules and tips can be broken once you know what and how to do things, this of course comes with experience. 

Tips on drafting Modern Masters

Now for the moment you've all been waiting for and the reason you trudge through the basics. I know all of you have only one limited set in mind and it's Modern Masters. Not to worry it's all I've been thinking about as well and that's the reason I decided to step outside of standard for this article. So many of you are already familiar with me always trying the unorthodox so I'll write about how you should go about drafting some fun archetypes. Yes you can still do blue white Affinity, blue black Faeries or even black white Rebels but you're not going to get those tips out of me as it's too simple for my taste.


Worm Harvest

This is my favorite archetype and the one I'm most comfortable going into, and don't worry people are always fighting over the more usual archetypes so you'll be passed all the common dredgers. In the higher rarities, both Life from the Loam and Dakmor Salvage are very important in this deck. The reason why is that you'll be taking Worm Harvest above almost any other uncommon as it's the best win condition if you're going full on dredge. However you don't have to be 100% invested in the dredge plan, I tend to have it as a sub theme and my deck is mainly a grindy control deck where you are an immovable rock. Cards like Eternal Witness, Death Denied are somewhat high picks for the recursion and this goes the same for Terramorphic Expanse because it works so well with Worm Harvest. Whatever your choice you'll have to be based black and green, and you can easily splash a third color. It doesn't matter what you splash, but blue and white are the easiest ones. Blue gives you bounce in the form of Echoing Truth and Aethersnipe, not to mention the ability to hard cast Narcomoeba when you can't dredge it onto the battlefield. White gives some good removal like Bound in Silence and Path to Exile as well as artifact recursion, Sanctum Gargoyle, and hate, Dispeller's Capsule. In addition because your grave will be so stacked the Delve cards will be great to you. This is a sample dredge deck that I drafted.




I'm sure many of you will think that I'm the guy that would force storm in MM draft. Well sorry to disappoint you but it's not really my thing, but I will say that I tried to do it and it is pretty damn hard. Well you have three storm cards to work with, Dragonstorm, Grapeshot and Empty the Warrens. There aren't enough dragons in the set for Dragonstorm to work effectively. With Grapeshot you usually expect to have in the deck, the Manamorphose, Desperate Ritual, and even (Grinning Ingus) but all three of them are at uncommon and Pyromancer's Swath is at rare so the pieces of this deck will come to you much less than normal. So that leaves us with Empty the Warrens which is actually a pretty decent finisher. This is because your usual storm count is at three or four, that’s enough tokens to do something but not enough damage with a burn spell. Ok now that we've made the decision on what storm card to use, how do we actually storm out? Well usually the storming requires making a lot of mana and drawing lots of cards and casting all your spells. But if you end up doing that you'll have a very fragile draft and a glass cannon of a deck, instead we have to do something creative. And the answer is to look at the suspend cards! Green has great suspend cards like Durkwood Baloth and Nantuko Shaman and then red has cards to manipulate time counters with Rift Elemental and Fury Charm. This way you can ideally manipulate the time counters so that all the suspend cards come into play on the same turn triggering your storm count to tick up and still with open mana on board for your final Empty the Warrens. The only problem with this is that you'll need to hate draft the (Rift Sweeper) pretty often because they can hose your strategy. Just like the dredge deck, here's a sample storm deck.


Other Decks

There are a couple of other interesting decks that I like, but I haven't actually tried drafting them as much as I should to talk about it, but I'll give you my thoughts on them. 

Drag Down Tribal Flames Skyreach Manta

5 color Domain/Sunburst: You can draft 5 color good stuff in a set with domain and sunburst cause it'll obviously support it. This is where the basic landcyclers are taken up because you need them and can't rely on the vivid lands for domain. You'll want the Search for Tomorrow and Kodama's Reach as well as the cyclers to ramp up and finally when you have all five basic lands you can do things like Tribal Flames for 5 damage at only a cost of 2 mana. Vivid lands however are great with sunburst and sunburst offers some great creatures such as Skyreach Manta which is virtually a 5/5 flier for 5. And because there is so much to pack into your deck you are best as a control deck and thankfully this archetype has the best removal, in my opinion, in the form of Drag Down

Glacial Ray Reach Through Mists Electrolyze

Izzet Arcane: Modern Masters has a lot of arcane spells and even those with splice so of course you can make this deck happen. It's the usual blue red counter burn deck. Glacial Ray is the high pick in this archetype so that you can splice it onto cards like Lava Spike for 5 total damage or Reach Through Mists to turn it into an Electrolyze. Speaking of which Electrolyze is also a great card for this deck too.

Dampen Thought Vedalken Dismisser Mind Funeral

Arcane Mill: Because no one wants Dampen Thought so if there's enough of them opened up Arcane Mill can randomly become a deck at the table. You should definitely not go into the draft planning on this happening as you will need at least a play set of Dampen Thought just to make the deck playable. However if you do get pushed into this archetype you're open to some great synergistic spells Vedalken Dismisser, the original Totally Lost, and Careful Consideration, yes they'll net 1 card off of it but at the very least you are burning through their deck. Not surprisingly the best matchup for this deck is Dredge as you'll have less to mill through. Black is an obvious splash so that you can have access to Mind Funeral and the kill spell Horobi's Whisper but you should consider splashing green for Hana Kami as your arcane spells are pretty precious because you'll need them for splicing.


I just want to note that by kelvinmai at Thu, 06/13/2013 - 11:59
kelvinmai's picture

I just want to note that since writing this storm has beaten dredge as my favorite archetype. It's synergy with suspend made it much easier and so much more fun.