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By: walkerdog, Tyler Walker
Jun 02 2015 11:00am
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Modern Masters was a pretty sweet drafting experience - you had multiple viable decks, and in a given draft, you were typically not committing to your specific strategy until partway through pack two. It took a decent amount of skill, and it was a lot of fun playing with, storm, domain, dredge, metalcraft, etc, trying to balance the synergy picks with the power picks. I've been looking at the MMA2 spoiler, and I'm not sure we're in for quite the same experience.

MMA had a few archetypes that were very reliant on a few key cards, but otherwise were fine with almost any mixture of reasonable cards in the colors. For example, the storm decks (and I'm including decks that relied on Grapeshot, Empty the Warrens, and Lava Spike/Glacial Ray/Dampen Thought) could end up with a pretty controlling deck or very aggressive deck, but just happen to have a finisher that was a nice combo. If UR was open, and you got an early Empty the Warrens, you were probably a storm deck, but it typically was not that hard to get a sufficient amount of "storm cards" to have a good deck.

The deck that did seem to struggle occasionally was the metalcraft/affinity/esper artifacts/whatever you want to call it decks. Sometimes you'd get a few powerful cards, like Esperzoa, Faerie Mechanist, or Court Homunculus, cards that in a format with lots of artifacts are very powerful for their cost, but then you'd end up with a bunch of good cards, in your colors... that just weren't artifacts. And so you'd probably play Esperzoa in the sideboard, and the other two might get into your deck because you were a little short on playables. Bad times.

When I have looked at MMA2 spoilers, it feels like you might end up with more decks like the metalcraft deck in the previous paragraph than you will with the "lots of great cards and they complement our build-around cards really well!" sort of deck like Storm. With that in mind, I'm going to rate the cards from the set, with draft as my focus. I know some folks will play it in sealed, but most of us will be drafting it, either right away when we draft at our local stores, or on Magic Online.  

I'm going to use the LSV-style 1-5 rating, where 1 is a card you never want in your maindeck, and 5 is a card I'd always splash for - cards with triple-colored casting costs, like Cryptic Command, for example, won't likely pull a 5, as it could be hard to splash for it, and even a double-colored cost might be too high to splash and be a 5. I'm also going to use the half-point system to denote that if you're in the archetype, then it's a notably better card - so I'll rate Frogmite around a 2 as a base - it's a grey ogre, or worse, in many decks, but you might just be playing Affinity and want it real bad, so it'd probably get a 2.5. That's not to say it is better than most other 2s, just to acknowledge that it is a lot better at times. So 1 is pretty bad, or at least we hope to not play it, 2 is solid playables (a 2/2 for two with some sort of keyword is probably the starting point here), 3 is above average, not quite a bomb, but strong - think solid removal, but not to the point that it is overwhelming, like Galvanic Blast, or a card that has a lot of power, but that is not ending the game immediately, such as Shadowmage Infiltrator. Once we get to 4, we're talking bombs with multiple color requirements, or just very good cards, such as Mulldrifter, Lightning Bolt, or Nameless Inversion. 5s are probably just Karn in this set.

I'm also ignoring card values - if you're not re-drafting the rares at the end, such as on MODO or at some stores, just take the $$ card for anything over the pack price, and some things that are bombs that are near the pack price. 

As my first-glance impression of power, the colors are roughly like this:

Green is nuts - the color works nicely with each color, can help support a five-color/domain deck (not always the same thing!), and you can just go mono/mostly-green.

Black is just packed with glorious amounts of removal. I don't think you could very easily go mono-black, as there are almost certainly going to be people splashing at least, just to get those removal spells, but it's a sweet color as well. Plus, you get some somewhat exclusive cards for certain archetypes, like Thief of Hope, Vampire Lacerator, Scavenger Drake, Reassembling Skeleton, and so on - all of those cards CAN make your deck, but they're going to be a lot better when you have a solid amount of synergy for them in the rest of the deck, so you'll probably get archetype-specific cards that are pretty sick later than you might otherwise.  Thief of Hope is going to be highly picked in environments that have a lot of spirits, but in MMA2, you don't have a ton of spirits in Red, Green, and Blue, so unless everyone at the table is trying to draft Black/x spirits, you'll likely get these later than you might in Kamigawa block draft.

Red, similarly to black, has a ton of great removal, aggressive cards, and archetype-specific cards that you'll get nice and late.

Blue shouldn't be this low, based on historical evidence where it is basically most of the time. In my mind, I struggle to find as much of the traditional sources of blue's power - efficient bounce on legs, card draw, Mind Control effects, and so on. It's not that blue is bad, at all, it just has a relative lack of the broken commons/uncommons (other than Mulldrifter, yeesh! that card is bonkers obviously) that frequently make it a silly color in Magic. Blue's load of flyers, counters, and complementary effects are present, so it's still fine. It just seems to be a bit behind the first 3 colors I've listed.

White is in a similar boat to Blue, and there is a pretty good reason for it. Metalcraft and affinity.

I'm fairly down on Metalcraft and Affinity in this set. It seems like the enablers are either nearly-garbage, like Darksteel Citadel (which is a cool card, but man, do you REALLY want colorless lands?), or are just good in general, like Darksteel Axe. There are certainly enough payoff cards, such as Cranial Plating, Faerie Mechanist, and Dispatch, but the set has felt too light on the enablers that are good-but-not-great. There needed to be a few more cards like Vault Skirge, Signal Pest, and Springleaf Drum that are fine in any deck, but get very good when they are giving you cheap things to turn on Metalcraft and increase your Affinity count.

If I'm wrong, and I have underestimated the artifacts, feel free to invert these ratings. We'll head into the card-by-card version next.


Algae Gharial - 2.5

The gator is a sweet one when you have a lot of tokens, removal, and/or sacrificial effects in your deck. Otherwise, it tends to be pretty bad. If your opponent has a lot of deathtouch, sacrificing, sweepers, regeneration, and so on, he probably is not as good for your deck, and you may want to side him out for something that doesn't get stonewalled by those sorts of things.

All Suns' Dawn - 1.5

Pretty bad... unless you're legit five colors, in which case this can get back 3+ cards, such as a blue card draw spell, black removal, and red removal.

Ant Queen - 4

This card is fine on its own. It will be even better with any sort of synergy, but that's true of many bombs, so just grab it out of any pack that doesn't have a foil rare or mythic of note.

Aquastrand Spider - 2.5

Fine on its own, pretty good if you end up with a graft-heavy deck or an aggressive green deck that wants a lot of 1-4 drops along with the ability to grow their later drops.

Bestial Menace - 3

Cone of Dudes (named after Cone of Flame, per Goodgamery) is a real nice one.

Commune with Nature - .5

I'd only want to play this if I had a few bomby creatures that I REALLY wanted to find.

Cytoplast Root-Kin - 4.5

Yea, the graft ability is really nice, but you don't really need to be proliferating or grafting for a 4/4 for 4 with these add-ons to be great.

Gnarlid Pack - 2

Generic dude with a little upside.

Karplusan Strider - 2

It's not unplayable, but you'd much rather be playing this in the side and only bringing it in against black decks. It really should be a 4/4 or have protection from those colors.

Kavu Primarch - 2.5

Okay if you're not convoking with a bunch of tokens, great if you are.

Kozilek's Predator - 2.5

Great if you want the tokens or ramp, and fine if you don't. It won't ever be awful.

Matca Rioters - .5

Trash in most decks, even 5-color decks. The problem with this guy is that of the fixing available, Rampant Growth and Wayfarer's Bauble will get you basics, but Karoos and Sphere of the Sun won't, so even if you are playing 3+ colors, you may only have 2-3 ways to get this guy past a 2/2 for 3 in your whole deck. If you can consistently get a 3/3+, he's more of a 2.

Mutagenic Growth - 1.5

Mostly you'll sideboard this, but if you're aggressive, this is a fine card to squeeze in.

Nest Invader - 2.5

Similar to Predator above, except this dude is better in aggressive decks while contributing less to ramp decks.

Noble Hierarch - 3

Good fixing, nice for aggressive decks too, and worth a few bucks. Enjoy!

Overwhelm - 4.5

I'm not sure that it's worth haggling over how much better this card is in token decks than it is in other green decks, but I'm going to emphasize it a little bit - it's going to end games on turn 5-6 if you cast a Scatter the Seeds or two.

Overwhelming Stampede - 4.5

This one is odd because it is a bit the inverse of Overwhelm. It will be killer for non-token decks, but if all you have is a bunch of 1/1s in play, Overwhelm will serve you better. It's still fine for tokens though!

Pelakka Wurm - 3.5

A nice finisher, but unless you're ramping, it's not going to be insane. If you are ramping, it's a great effect to drop into play.

Plummet - 1

Fine in the sideboard, not real exciting in the maindeck.

Primeval Titan - 4

Yep, he's a great finisher, great at fixing mana, and thinning your deck out.

Rampant Growth - 2.5

You don't want this in every deck, but if you are trying to ramp or play 3+ colors, this gets a lot better.

Root-Kin Ally - 2.5

Great if you play a lot of tokens or as a finisher for an aggro deck. Only okay if you're not dropping a lot of dudes in play to precede him.

Scatter the Seeds - 3.5

This card is generally going to be nice if you're not heavily invested in synergy for it, and when you do have a lot of synergy, it'll be fantastic.

Scion of the Wild - 1.5

You almost don't want to play this unless you're playing tokens, or if your curve tops out at 4-5. If you can make this dude a 4/4+ frequently on the turn it attacks, he's going to do a lot of heavy lifting, but otherwise, he's not that efficient, and you may end up walking into some blowouts trying to make him work.

Scute Mob - 2

It's great when you start using it, but before that he's not that exciting.

Simic Initiate - 1.5

Most of the time you're just siding him in against aggressive decks where he can either trade with an early play, or grow one of your later plays. Occasionally though, he'll be in a graft deck that really wants this effect.

Sundering Vitae - 1

Great when it has targets, so side it in!

Sylvan Bounty - 1.5

Another situation where you'll be happy when you need to find multiple colors, and where you'll mostly hate having it around otherwise.

Tarmogoyf - 2.5

Fine in general, great if you can grow him with little effort.

Thrive - 2.5

Great in tokens and aggro, not so much elsewhere.

Tukatongue Thallid - 1.5

Very similar to Simic Initiate

Vines of Vastwood - 2.5

Solid if you want to be aggressive, merely "okay" otherwise.

Wolfbriar Elemental - 4

Woo, what a bomb. If you're in Green, this might be even better than one of the Overrun effects. 

Next let's head into Black:

Bitterblossom - 4

It's going to be great most of the time. Slamming it on turn 2 is really hard to beat.

Bloodthrone Vampire - 2.5

Okay if you just need a card, but it can end the game very quickly if you're playing it in a tokens or sacrifice-friendly deck.

Bone Splinters - 2.5

It is the removal version of Bloodthorne Vampire

Daggerclaw Imp - 2.5

Ugg, this one is awkward - if you're aggressive, this guy is very solid. If you're not though, he can almost be unplayable. You'd still squeeze him into some non-aggro decks, but he's not nearly as good there.

Dark Confidant - 2.5

Great if you have a low curve, pretty dangerous otherwise.

Death Denied - 2

This is a 2, but a STRONG 2 - you just don't really want more than one of it, and you'll probably see a few. In spirits it is BONKERS, but you still probably only want 1.

Deathmark - 1.5

Great vs green and white, obviously. Side it in greedily.

Devouring Greed - 1.5

This is pretty bad if you don't expect to be able to use it for 4-6 life as a finisher, basically, if you're playing a lot of spirits. If you are playing a lot of spirits, this is more like a 3.

Dismember - 4

This is a bit conditional, but it's "colorless" and you basically always love getting it. The higher end rares that are on-color are the only 4s I'd feel would trump it.

Dread Drone - 2.5

Similar to its green brethren - great if you're some sort of tokens, ramp, or sacrifice-heavy deck, not exciting otherwise.

Duskhunter Bat - 2.5

Another card that's nice if you can turn it on, bad otherwise.

Endrek Sahr, Master Breeder - 4

Ghostly Changeling - 2.5

It's going to be solid for your most of the time, due to Changeling... but then again, it's still a grey ogre+

Grim Affliction - 2.5

You certainly don't want this as your only removal, but it's efficient, and it'll be great when you have a few counters in play you want to increase.

Instill Infection - 2

You're almost never happy to start this, but it's fine in some matchups.

Midnight Banshee - 4

Just a generic color-intensive bomb. Enjoy.

Nameless Inversion - 3.5

Inversion is... wow. It might be better in this format than it was in Lorwyn, due to Spirits being some BS if you're getting this back.

Necroskitter - 3

You'll never been excited for this dude, and you'll almost always play him as a decent controlling creature.

Plagued Rusalka - 2.5

Okay as a cheap creature, great if you're playing a bunch of Spirits, tokens, etc.

Profane Command - 5

I lied. Karn is amazing, but so in Profane Command. This is the relatively rare double-colored card you'd probably want to consider splashing.

Puppeteer Clique - 3

Pretty solid. Usually it's just a nice flyer + a few points of damage, but occasionally it'll be a great finisher in aggro, or get back Mulldrifter, etc.

Reassembling Skeleton - 2.5

Fine if you're just blocking a ton, GREAT once you start getting to combo him with things.

Scavenger Drake - 1.5

See Algae Gharial

Scuttling Death 2.5

A fine playable if you don't have a lot of Spirits, a CRAZY effect if you do.

Shrivel - 1.5 

GREAT against aggressive or token-heavy decks.

Sickle Ripper - 2

Generic nice 2-drop.

Sign in Blood - 2

Generic card advantage with some downside.

Spread the Sickness - 3

Nearly unconditional removal with upside? Sure, the cost is a bit high, but this makes your Grim Affliction, Sickle Ripper, etc all better, while comboing with various graft cards and other effects.

Surgical Extraction - 0 

Unplayable fecal matter. Yuck.

Thief of Hope - 2.5

Again, if you have a nice volume of Spirits, he's great. Otherwise, he's a good grey ogre.

Vampire Lacerator - 2.5

The aggro version of Thief of Hope!

Vampire Outcasts - 2.5

If you can trigger this reliably, it will be almost a bomb. If you can't, it's just okay. 

Waking Nightmare - 2

A mediocre discard spell with a touch of upside. Usually you'll side this, but it's fine to maindeck it, and it gets a touch better if you're wanting Arcane spells.

So far, Green and Black seem like a lot of really solid cards that get much better in the right deck. We'll see that trend continue in Red:

Banefire - 4

A nice splashable X-spell is always a good thing to have.

Blades of Velis Vel - 2

This card isn't exciting, and you generally aren't really glad to start it, but in an aggressive deck, or any sort of WR or BR deck with some spiritcraft, this card is fine.

Blood Ogre - 3

Great when you are attacking, still fine if you're not as aggressive. He's probably on the bottom end of the 3 rating curve, but he is a nice card.

Bloodshot Trainee - 1.5

This is a card you don't want to start, but if you end up with 3+ permanent ways to upgrade him, along with a few pump spells, I wouldn't be too upset to maindeck him. Heck, I'd be excited to maindeck just because little combos make me happy.

Brute Force - 2

A nice pump spell, Brute Force probably won't blow people out that much, but it will do the job you have in mind for it most of the time, and once in a while you'll get a huge blowout when they have to go all in on one of your creatures.

Burst Lightning - 3

This is a borderline four due to the combination of being cheap efficient removal, or a big removal, and both modes going to the face. Great card.

Combust - 1.5

Another fine sideboard option.

Comet Storm - 5

This is one of the strongest cards in the set, and you might argue for it alongside Profane Command in terms of power level. Again, I'm breaking the "5s are easy-to-cast bombs" mold to include a double-color card you'd still at least consider splashing.

Dragonsoul Knight - 2.5

This did is similar to Blood Ogre as a 2/2 first striker with upside, however his upside is harder to access.

Fiery Fall - 3

Fixing, removal, a nice flexible card.

Goblin Fireslinger - 2.5

You don't really want many of these in a controlling deck, but luckily, many of the Red decks you may draft will be aggressive. As a 1-drop with reach, he's good for aggro decks, but he gets better as your bloodthirsters go up.

Goblin War Paint - 2

You're not excited to start these, but they're fine, and if you end up with a couple of combos, these become really neat.

Gorehorn Minotaurs - 3

A 3/3 for 4 isn't exciting, but with the upside he has, he is very exciting.

Gut Shot - 1.5

I'd prefer to not start this, but you can side it in in any deck against decks that give you a few targets.

Hellkite Charger - 4

A nice, expensive game-ending bomb.

Incandescent Soulstoke - 2.5

Not great in general, but as you get 6+ other elementals to pump, and maybe a few to cheat into play, he gets better.

Inner-Flame Igniter -2.5

Fine alone, great in elementals. Plus he has a cute combo that can end games occasionally.

Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker - 3

He's powerful, but lacks the game-ending plays needed to make him a bomb.

Lightning Bolt - 3

Another removal spell that pushes about as close to a 4 as it gets. Still, it's just three damage, so it'll have to settle for being another great removal spell/finisher.

Skarrgan Firebird - 4

A bomb, but a weak one. You're not going to be super-excited to take the Firebird, but it is a solid card for the cost, and it will probably win quite a few games.

Smash to Smithereens - 1.5

Side it in if your opponent has targets, and possibly maindeck it if you want to try to really "get" people who rely too heavily on artifact mana-fixing.

Smokebraider - 1.5

This really isn't good until you have quite a few ways to use it, and then it is really good. Basically a 3 in elemental-heavy decks.

Soulbright Flamekin - 2.5

Fine in general, and the other half of the Inner-Flame Igniter combo when he becomes a pretty powerful card.

Spikeshot Elder - 3

This is a nice way to ping stuff, and gets bonkers if you have permanent pump effects. Still, it is pretty fragile, so don't go putting all of your gas in the one vehicle.

Spitebellows - 3

Removal on a stick that can be abused by elemental decks to some extent. A nice one.

Splinter Twin - 2

Just not a lot of ways to get there, and it's going to open up a 2-for-1 for the other guy.

Stormblood Berserker - 2.5

Great when you are aggressive, not so much otherwise.

Thunderblust - 3

Same as above!

Tribal Flames - 2

Generally it's going to be 2 damage for 2. You'll be able to get 3 fairly regularly in domain decks, but don't count on 4-5 damage. As discussed above in Matca Rioters, a decent chunk of fixing doesn't help you get different basics.

Viashino Slaughtermaster - 2.5

Yadda, yadda, better in aggro.

Wildfire - 3

You'll probably need to get this fairly early to take advantage of it, but if you do, this can be an unfair, nearly-one-sided Geddon/Wrath hybrid.

Worldheart Phoenix - 2.5


Keep in mind that this is generally a 2/2 flyer for 4, with a solid amount of upside late for a five-color deck.

Wrap in Flames - 2

This can clear out tokens, stun blockers, and generally do a little work if you play to set it up.

Red's cards are generally pretty aggressive or elemental-centric. This would be fine, but it seems like the red burn spells will be snapped up by players splashing them as removal/finishers. Let's check out Blue next:

AEthersnipe - 2.5

A fine man generally, and great if you're doing stuff like Smokebraiding it out.

Air Servant - 4

Okay, this is one of the all-timers. A fat flyer that mashes you while stopping your flyers.

Argent Sphinx - 4

Another fine flyer that is really efficient for its cost.

Cloud Elemental - 2

A nice flyer. Nothing too exciting... unless you're interested in the part where it's an Elemental. 

Cryptic Command - 4

Cryptic is just silly. It isn't always apparent how to use it correctly, and it tends to lack much of an easy mode (I guess maybe counter + draw?) since it doesn't have a "kill a dude" mode, but it will usually get you at least 1 extra card, and if you play it well, you'll probably win the games you draw it in.

Faerie Mechanist 2.5

A 2/2 flyer for four is okay. If you end up with 10+ artifacts, this gets pretty dang good.

Flashfreeze - 1.5

See the other hosers.

Guile - 4

Yea, you're not going to get to abuse the "counter" part of his text very often... but still, he's an unblockable fat creature. You'll block with it if you need to, then eat people up once you've got a stable board situation.

Helium Squirter - 3

A nice flyer that has a touch of a tax on it in exchange for getting to make other things flyers.

Hurkyl's Recall - .5

MAAAYYYBBEEE side it in against an artifact deck, I guess.

Inexorable Tide - 2.5

Bad unless you can abuse it, in which case it will be broken.

Mana Leak - 3

A nice removal spell.

Mulldrifter - 4

Yea, it's not winning the game by itself, but it really does a lot to put your wins together.

Narcolepsy - 2

Okay removal, but not real exciting.

Novijen Sages - 3.5

A 4/4 for six isn't super-impressive, but being able to turn counters into cards, and go nuts with proliferated counters sure can be.

Qumulox - 2.5

Obviously this isn't very good at retail or near-return, however, it can be great if you're paying, say, 5 or less for a 5/4 flyer.

Remand - 2

Okay, but it's not the same as it is in constructed.

Repeal - 2

Similar to Remand.

Somber Hoverguard - 2.5

Much like Qumulox, it's nice when you get a 3/2 for 2-3, but otherwise, it's just a 3/2 flyer at a rate that isn't exciting.

Steady Progress - 1.5

You don't really want to play this unless you're getting a lot of value with the proliferation.

Stoic Rebuttal - 2

I struggle to figure out if I should have this at more of a 3, but it's a nice one, but not an amazing one.

Surrakar Spellblade - 2.5

If you get a decent amount of graft/proliferation, go nuts with this guy. Otherwise, he's probably a 2/1 that your opponent will block with a big ol' grin each time.

Telling Time - 2

Just fine, not very exciting.

Tezzeret the Seeker - 4

A sweet planeswalker. If you have no artifacts, he won't do much for you, but if you have even 3-4, he'll do some good things for you.

Tezzeret's Gambit - 3

A fine colorless draw spell.

Thoughtcast - 2.5

See Qumulox/Somber Hoverguard

Thrummingbird - 2.5

If you only have a few things to play with, it's okay, but if you get the cards to abuse this with, it's also very cool.

Vapor Snag - 2

Fine as a bounce spell.

Vendilion Clique - 3

Yay, you've opened an expensive mythic that is relevant for your deck, if you're playing blue!

Vigean Graftmage - 2.5

What a dumb card. A grey ogre with some counter manipulation at worst, but if things are going well, he'll be great as a pseudo-vigilance/pinger enabler. If you're really going big, get a couple of counters on the Trainee, and machinegun the opponent.

Water Servant  - 2

He'll do a solid job of holding the ground. He probably won't ever fill you with joy, but he probably won't be the reason you lost either.

Blue is not amazing, but it does have some great cards. White is more of the same, although it has a little bit more aggression as well.

Apostle's Blessing - 2

Fine as a 23rd card. You might be in trouble if you're getting 2-3 in the maindeck.

Arrest - 3

One of the sweeter removal spells in the set.

Battlegrace Angel - 4

This is almost a 5 in my mind. It is really hard to beat the swing this thing can enable, even on the turn it comes down.

Celestial Purge - 1.5

Yay, more sideboards!

Conclave Phalanx - 2.5

You'll be pretty sad if you're starting this in some decks, but if you're token heavy, you probably won't mind. It can also be a worthy sideboard option against aggressive decks.

Court Homunculus - 2.5

Bad if you can't turn it on a decent percent of the time. Just remember, best-case scenario, you're getting... a 2/2.

Daybreak Coronet - 1.5

Yuck, unless you somehow get 4-5 Goblin War Paint, and if you're playing that many auras, it's going to be hard to have a good deck...

Dispatch - 1.5

Yuck right up until you're firing off Swords to Plowshares.

Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite - 5

Okay, we have one more double-color bomb I'd be fine with splashing for. It is similar to Comet Storm as a hybrid "sweeper/finisher"

Fortify - 2

Sometimes it will be a blowout. Most of the time it will be okay.

Hikari, Twilight Guardian - 4

Big Hik will get the job done either way. He/She/It will get the job done similarly to a Serra Angel, but the blink/Spirit upside is there.

Indomitable Archangel - 4

Another nice flying chunk of love. Sure, it'll be amazing with metalcraft, but it'll be a source of happiness anyway.

Iona, Shield of Emeria - 3

Sure, she's huge, but, uh, I'm not sure if it's reasonable to expect to cast her most of the time.

Kami of Ancient Law - 2

A nice spirit with some upside.

Kor Duelist - 1.5

Kind of awful if you're not getting to turn him on, and kind of awe-inspiring if you do.

Leyline of Sanctity - 0

Don't. Please don't.

Mighty Leap - 2

Okay pump spell.

Mirran Crusader - 4

Dude's protection abilities are wonderful, but he's also hitting for 4 as a three-drop! Like, a double-striker for 3 is generally really nice, and we get double-protection!!!!!

Mirror Entity - 4.5

This is splashable, and it'll end the game if you have a lot of dudes in one turn, or it'll end the game by itself over 2-3 turns.

Moonlit Strider - 2.5

1/4s are not real exciting, but 1/4s with a nice ability AND a great soulshift is really good... if you have the spirits to go a-shiftin'

Myrsmith - 2.5

This'n will do some glorious things, and can help turn on metalcraft/affinity. IF!

if, if we can get enough artifacts, at a rate we want to pay, to poop out a few more dudes. If you have those things, this is a GREAT early drop. Otherwise, this is a 2/1 that occasionally will let you pop out 1-2 extra 1/1s for playing equipment off-curve.

Oblivion Ring - 3

Nice removal.

Otherworldly Journey - 2

Fine in most decks. Arcane alert!

Raise the Alarm - 2

Fine for most decks. Token alert!

Skyhunter Skirmisher - 2.5

Fine without pump, but if you get to pump it, oh my!

Spectral Procession - 4

This is on the low end of the 4 range, but it's still great. It's splashable (and I guess you could just pay 6 if you want to), so it's great as an early pick, and not terrible even if it's not "in your colors" late in the draft. It'll be great as a tokens all-star, it will attack for 3 with evasion in an aggro deck, and it'll fog stuff in a pinch for a slower deck.

Sunlance - 2

It's conditional, but it's not that hard to use, and it is pretty efficient. Be happy to have it most of the time.

Sunspear Shikari - 2.5

Fine if you're playing it as a 2/2, nice if you're getting to turn it up.

Taj-Nar Swordsmith - 2

This is a pretty cool card, especially if you really need to dig up equipment. At the same time, it's awkward! The 4 mana for a 2/3, plus, say, 3 more for a Sickleslicer, is quite a bit to pay. Still, sometimes it's going to be a key way to break up a ground stall, and you'll be happy to have it.

Terashi's Grasp - 2

There are enough solid auras and artifacts to maindeck this in my mind.

Waxmane Baku  - 3.5

If you're only one 5-6 spirits, Baku will still be useful, but if you get beyond that, Baku will make you lunch, push through 20 damage, and then shuffle your deck and cut the opponent's for the next game.

Okay, now let's look at the colorless cards. They're a lot more a matter of fit than colored mana cost, obviously.

All Is Dust - 4

Niceeee nice sweeper.

Artisan of Kozilek - 2

It costs near-infinite without quite being out of casting range.

Emrakul, the Aeons Torn - 1

I guess if you somehow get a bunch of Eldrazi Temple?

Karn Liberated - 10

Nuff said.

Kozilek, Butcher of Truth - 2

See Artisan, but a better card that is 1 more mana to cast.

Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre - 1

See Emrakul.

Ulamog's Crusher - 3

Now we're talking! Crusher is big enough to be worth 8 mana, easy on the mana for an 8 mana card, and it will probably annihilate an opponent.

Alloy Myr - 2.5

It's probably fine in almost any deck, but if you want the ramp and colors, it's going to be very nice.

Blinding Souleater - 3

Great whether or not you're playing much/any white.

Cathodion - 2

Eh. Maybe you can do something cute with it.

Chimeric Mass - 4

A nice mana-sink that doubles as a good way to turn on artifact mechanics.

Copper Carapace - 3

Nice size increase, and at a relatively low cost. It only costs 1 to put it in play, so you can get the affinity/'craftiness going quickly.

Cranial Plating - 2.5

It's not great unless you're playing a ton of artifact, and then it gets very powerful.

Culling Dais - 2

Fine. Slightly better if you're proliferating or eating your Eldrazi Spawn.

Darksteel Axe - 3

This is a very solid card. It's better in an aggressive deck, but still fine.

Etched Champion - 1.5

Crappy Grey Ogre or Unstoppable Hero.

Etched Monstrosity - 4

Very nice. A 5/5 for 5 is still a respectable rate, but if you are firing it off at times, sweet!

Etched Oracle

You're probably not taking this unless you can get it out as a 4/4, but even if you can't, it's probably fine assuming you have a few proliferation effects going.

Everflowing Chalice - 3

Great for ramping, poopy otherwise.

Expedition Map - 2 

Good for fixing, and maybe a little better if you're relying on a particular karoo.

Flayer Husk - 2

It's a fine piece of equipment with a free body.

Frogmite - 2.5

Either good with artifact-heavy decks, or poop without.

Glint Hawk Idol - 2.5

Fine if you're turning it on with mana, really good and aggressive when it activates for free. 

Gust-Skimmer - 2.5

It's fine in any deck as an "always castable 2/1" but it gets good if it's an enabler and a flyer.

Kitesail - 1.5

You'd really prefer not to start it, but it could do some things if you really need the artifacts or evasion.

Lodestone Golem - 2.5

It's just a 5/3, but that's a reasonably aggressive body in some matchups, and it's possible that the tax effect ends up being good at times.

Lodestone Myr - 2.5

Blah blah good with artifacts bad otherwise.

Long-Forgotten Gohei - 1.5

If you're almost exclusively Spirits and Arcane spells, play it.

Mortarpod - 3

Really solid ping-o-matic

Mox Opal .5

Only if you're playing a billion artifacts.

Myr Enforcer 1.5

Almost unplayable right up to the point that you really want it.

Precursor Golem - 4

9/9 for 5 is nice.

Runed Servitor - 2

This thing is fine almost all of the time. The only real downside is occasionally it will help an opponent find a third land when they would have missed a land drop, and so on.

Rusted Relic - 1.5

Similar to Myr Enforcer in terms of being unplayable until it is.

Sickleslicer - 3

This is a nice, solid piece of equipment that gives you a grey ogre for the cost as well.

Skyreach Manta - 2.5

Fine as a 3/3 flyer for 5, bad for less, and great when it's a 4/4+

Spellskite - 2

Fine as a wall/removal blank.

Sphere of the Suns - 2.5

In general, this is a nice fixer. If you have a specific need to get 5 colors though, this gets a lot better.

Sunforger - 4

Fine with or without much in the way of targets to find.

Tumble Magnet - 2.5

Decent if you're just playing it fair. Pretty stinking good if you get unfair with it!

Wayfarer's Bauble  - 3

Great colorless fixing.

The artifacts are an odd mix of colorless stuff that everyone may want and stuff that you'd only want if you're getting enough of the artifacts and enablers that... everyone wants. The gold cards are similar - some insane bombs, some things that you only want if you're really in on that color already:

Agony Warp - 3

Very nice removal. Keep in mind that sometimes it's better to just use the -3 on the front to save you some damage, and giving it the "better Lightning Helix" tag that LSV once tied to it.

Apocalypse Hydra - 4

Really solid. If you cast it at x=5+, you're going to be in great shape to end the game.

Ashenmoor Gouger - 2.5

If you're aggressive, this fella is very generous to you. If you're a little slower, the total inability to block might seal your doom.

Boros Swiftblade - 2.5

See above, but you can block, while he's only a 1/2...

Creakwood Liege - 4

This is a lower-end anthem/bomb effect. He can end a game if you have a few creatures already in play, or turn the tide of a grindy matchup.

Dimir Guildmage - 3

A nice effect, and he's fine to play in a deck that can't use one half or the other half.

Drooling Groodion - 3

A really nice way to break up board stalls, get rid of problematic permanents like Pillory of the Sleepless, and so on. He isn't a great size for the cost, but, again, if you untap with him, he's going to make it hard for the opponent.

Electrolyze - 3

A nice source of card advantage, removal, and burn.

Ethercaste Knight - 2.5

Only great if you need the artifact, the 1/3 body, AND the vigiliance, and if you're already solidly in the colors.

Fulminator Mage - 3

In my mind, blowing up a karoo will be so devastating that he's actually a powerful effect.

Ghost Council of Orzhova - 4

Generic, hard-to-splash bomb.

Glassdust Hulk - 3

This one is a nice one. At worst you can just cycle him, but if you get even a few other solid artifacts, play him as an unblockable dude that will kill them in 5 hits, given the artifacts the get him going.

Hearthfire Hobgoblin - 3

Basically a baseline 3.

Horde of Notions - 4

Let's assume you're 5c for that rating. He's a dumb "1.5 because he's useless unless..." situation.

Lorescale Coatl - 2

Fine, not amazing. Obviously combos well with Sages and most of the other graft effects.

Mystic Snake - 3

A nice tempo swing if you can support the mana cost, plus, hey, card-advantage.

Necrogenesis - 3.5

If you can get much use from the tokens, this becomes a borderline bomb. Otherwise, it's still very good.

Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind - 4

Eh. He's nice.

Nobilis of War - 4

Eh. It's nice.

Pillory of the Sleepless - 4

Okay, so now we've drafted our win condition. We just need 5-6 draw spells, 15 or so removal spells, and maybe something with hexproof as a backup win-con.

Plaxcaster Frogling - 2

Nice rate for a 3/3 with protection, but not an amazing one.

Restless Apparition - 3

Obviously great due to the various shenanigans you can achieve due to Spirit creature type.

Savage Twister - 4

This is another one of the rare sweepers. It is worth splashing for one of the colors.

Selesnya Guildmage - 3.5

If you're able to support both abilities and you have other relevant synergies, this thing will be closer to a bomb than not.

Shadowmage Infiltrator - 3

Yay, Finkle!

Shrewd Hatchling - 3

Dude is nice, but there is a bit of tension between you stripping away counters in a timely manner and the opponent piling them right back on with persist.

Sigil Blessing - 3

Mini-instant-speed-Overrun is still good.

Swans of Bryn Argoll - 3

It isn't always easy to get great value with this card, but if you get it early, you can likely abuse it with your later picks, randomly pinging it with Wrap in Flame, things like that.

Vengeful Rebirth - 3

It costs a ton, but a burn spell that is also a 2-for-1 in GR is a rare quantity.

Wilt-Leaf Liege - 4


What a great card. Generally puts clown-pants on the other Lieges.

Wrecking Ball - 3

Good removal. A little pricey, but getting to randomly smash a key karoo is a sweet throw in as well.


The karoos as a whole are roughly a 3. They're almost always really good, both as card advantage and fixing, plus being able to shave your land count a little bit.

Eye of Ugin - 1.5

Fine if you're five colors and you need a way to shave your land-count down.

Blinkmoth Nexus - 3

A nice little man-land.

Eldrazi Temple - 1.5

A nice way to cheat out your Eldrazi, if you have a lot of them. Otherwise... no thanks!

My first draft was a mid-night release draft. I went with my buddy Dan. We ended up in the same pod, next to each other. I cracked an Emrakul, and raredrafted. I was passing some great playables, including, I believe, a Nameless Inversion. I was passed a pack with Leyline of Sanctity, so mise, raredrafted again. After that, I was passed a pack with no clear direction, and a Dimir Aqueduct, so I took it. The next pack has a couple of nice black removal spells and an Azorious Chancery, so I took a Chance, and figured I'd be settled solidly into B/x at this point.

I picked up a Wayfarer's Bauble, and fairly late Scatter the Seeds and Spread the Sickness. In pack two, I opened something crappy, rarewise, but took a Tezzeret's Gambit. I grabbed another Bauble, a Sphere of the Suns, and an Overwhelm. Selesnya Guildmage (swap the g and the m and he's GAME! for a reason), 2 more Scatters, Necroskitter, Golgari Rotfarm, Orzhov Basilica, and Sickle Slicer were notable in this pack.

In the last pack, I opened a nice lil Spellskite. I was pretty happy to have raredrafted and still have the decent start of a deck. Then I was passed something decent, possibly Cone of Dudes, for my 2nd pick, then got a Splinter Twin and a Noble Hierarch as my next two picks.

No big deal.

The story goes like this: Guy to my right and lady to his right were father and daughter. They apparently had been playing magic like 6 months. The Hierarch (yes, fourth pick!) came from the guy to HER right who cracked a foil hierarch, and she had taken Vendillion Clique, or something, out of the Twin pack. They also apparently did not realize some of the random cards that had good value.

Anyway, at this point I'm pretty happy. I get a late Creakwood Liege, I think from this pack, and some more removal. Here is the pool I had to work with:


It was late, so this probably wasn't optimal, but here is what I started. I think the biggest problem is the Phoenix over the 2nd Fiery Fall.



In round one, I was paired with the nice lady who had passed me Twin/Hierarch, and she explained that they were relatively new, and had just stopped in while travelling away from Georgia. She was mono-Blue flyers/affinity. I was able to drop tokens and Overwhelm for fairly easy wins in both games.

In round two, I was paired against RW aggro. In game one, he dropped a turn 1 Spikeshot Elder, then Goblin War Paint. He beat me down and shot my Hierarch. On turn 6 I tried to Fiery Fall his now-6/3, but his open Mountain gave him the Giant Growth to keep it up and kill me the next turn.

I cut one Sign in Blood for an Instill Infection. In game two, he also had the turn 1 Elder, but a few turns later, traded it for the 3/3 part of my Cone of Dudes. At that point, I Scattered tokens over the board and ran him over. For game three, he didn't have the turn 1 Elder, and got stuck with no 5th land and no second Plains, stranding at least 2 cards in his hand. My Necrogenesis made me some tokens, and I was able to hit him for large amounts with Scion to end the game.

In round three, I was paired with Dan, who I had been sitting next to. He had indeed drafted a nuts BW Spirits deck:


He had more Changelings in his SB, along with at least one Bone Splinters, and a Journey too. In game one, I Baubled up a nice mana-base, then drew not-much to do with it. In the meantime, he plopped out a bunch of Spirits and killed me easily.

In game two, it was a bit of a flipped game. I fired on all cylinders, while he was a little slower, and I had Scattered twice, then Overwhelmed him before he could turn things around.

For game three, things started well, with Scatter being ready to start the threatening, but then he Shriveled them.

Oh my.

I was able to set up a nice Savage Twister for his 4 or so creatures, but he had me at 7 life at that point. He had a Pillory on a random creature I had in play, and that was a pretty bad deal too. Then Mirran Crusader cleaned me up, I think. The games were pretty fun though, and finishing as the top two in the pod was cool. 

I hope you guys get lucky in your packs, and I would love to hear your views on the ratings and how I built my deck!


Nice article- though after by Bartimäus at Thu, 06/04/2015 - 11:41
Bartimäus's picture

Nice article- though after loosing several times miserably against the tiny plaxcaster I cannot agree with your 2 :-) and will surely hatedraft the beast if there is no Karn or something around.