CottonRhetoric's picture
By: CottonRhetoric, Cotton Rhetoric
Feb 20 2023 12:00pm

Last time I covered how to draft 1996's Antiquities... now it's three sets instead of one! Why 3? They're a little bigger, much less focused, and there's less to say about each.

The main thing I'll stress is the golden principle from the Antiquities article: Do not draft toward a curve. Draft toward quality. It's still true for all three of these sets. Games are going to late game board stalls. You don't need to worry about tempo, but about breaking through the stall. Before taking a card, ask yourself: "is this good on turn 5?"

The one other thing I'll repeat is...




How to draft a non-sanctioned format (click to expand).
  1. Find people who will draft with you. Discord and Reddit can help.
  2. Set up the draft portion on
  3. Coordinate a time for everyone to draft together. (For groups smaller than eight, bot drafters can fill in the gaps.)
  4. Buy the necessary singles for your decks, and play 1:1 freeform games on the MtGO client!

If buying them sounds daunting, keep in mind: with very few exceptions, these cards are only cents each.

As for cards that don't exist online, that is up to your group's house rules to determine. Common solutions are using substitutions (Goblin Cannon instead of Rocket Launcher) or banning the cards outright (Tempest Efreet).





The Dark (1994)

122 cards—and how many are playable in the unintended format of triple Dark?

    Ghost Ship  Carnivorous Plant


  • White: Pikemen are OK. Holy Light I guess out of the sideboard. The rest: 1/5 rating or less.
  • Blue: Drowned and Giant Shark are respectable defenders. Ghost Ship is the best card in the entire set. The others are unplayable.
  • Black: Ashes to Ashes is great. The rest are nothing.
  • Red: Fissure is playable. Goblin Rock Sled is a medium defender. The rest are junk. I wouldn't try to make Goblin tribal happen.
  • Green: Carnivorous Plant is the best defense in the set. The rest are odious.
  • Multicolored: No to all three.

Yes, I'm being sincere about Ghost Ship—more on that later. The short version is you would be happy to play four of them, seven of them, twenty three of them, really any number you can get your hands on.



And that's The Dark! So why is Ghost Ship so good? Look back over all the playable cards I mentioned: the whole set has only three cards with flying, and Ghost Ship is by far the biggest. Its regeneration rarely even comes up, because so little can kill it. It's just Fissure or double Fire Drake block, really. Banshee can do it, but for 8 mana, so if your opponent doesn't have Maze of Ith or Ashes to Ashes, they're getting grinded out pretty inevitably. Ghost Ship is even great on defense when needed! Only a few creatures have a power of 4 or greater, and fewer still are reliable attackers.

Imagine Darksteel Colossus costing four mana. That is Ghost Ship in triple Dark limited.


Fallen Empires (1994)

A famously weak set... but what happens when you have three packs of it??

    Order of Leitbur Order of the Ebon Hand
If these don't look strong, you've never seen them in play.



  • White: Icatian Phalanx puts in a lot of work. Farrel's Mantle doesn't have much evasion to go with it (besides landwalk from the sideboard), but it's surprisingly strong on an Order of Leitbur—anything that blocks it dies to first strike damage, or if they don't block it dies anyway.
  • Blue: Deep Spawn plops on basically everything. Seasinger is a sideboard bomb.
  • Black: No.
  • Red: Dwarven Catapult is a bomb. Dwarven Lieutenant is better than you'd think.
  • Green: Both uncommon Thallids are playable. You maaaay consider one Thelonite Druid for a late game Overrun-type effect.
  • Lands: NO to the sac lands.
    Deep Spawn Hand of Justice
What bombs looked like in 1994.


So evaluating everything: what wins the day in triple FEM is banding, first strike, and Deep Spawn. Other than Fungal Bloom, there's not much to build around. Just find the open two colors and draft cards with raw power.

One more set!



THE famously weak set. Homelands is funny because it's full of cards that look like buildarounds but aren't. It's just a sea of underpowered/overcosted blobs. Take the highest stats you can find, along with whatever of the meager removal is available, and hope your opponent's deck is even worse than yours.

     Anaba Shaman
What defense looked like in 1995.


  • White: Oof. Abbey Matron is the best white common, and that should say a lot about how bad the others are.
  • Blue: Dark Maze is a HOUSE. Almost nothing gets through it. Draft 10 of them if you can. (Its attacking ability can be nice on the last turn, but mostly look at these as permanent defenders.) Memory Lapse obviously gives the opponent some problems, but when possible it's better to draft cards affecting the board.
  • Black: Greater Werewolf and Torture are mediocre but the others are worse.
  • Red: Collect as many Anaba Shamans as you can—with 2 or 3 out at the same time, they take over the whole board. Joven and Chandler can flesh out your deck. A 3/3 is honestly large in this format, and their abilities both have some relevant targets.
  • Green: Leaping Lizard is legit. It's bigger than all those 1/1s and 1/2s to natively have flying.
  • Artifacts: Serrated Arrows. Trust me: you cannot have too many of these. Ebony Rhino is also decent but Arrows are where it's at.


  • White: Abbey Gargoyles is enormous and hard to deal with. Its biggest strike is those three white pips, as white doesn't have enough cards to fill a heavy-white deck.
  • Black: Ihsan's Shade is SO good. (Ironically it's worse in triple Homelands than in standard, perhaps the only card to make that claim. Its biggest selling points were it was immune to the best three removal spells at the time—Swords to Plowshares, Lightning Bolt, and Terror—but none of those are in Homelands. Instead we have Roots, which Ihsan's Shade is indeed vulnerable to. But that's about all that beats it! It's still one of the best cards in the set.)
  • Red: Eron the Relentless plays. Retribution looks amazing but always seems to underperform.
  • Green: Roots is premium removal, in a set with very little removal. Gobble them up. Root Spider is fine.
  •     Reveka, Wizard Savant Broken Visage
  • Artifacts: No.
  • Lands: I'm not convinced these are the best way to splash.



Four down, five to go!