CottonRhetoric's picture
By: CottonRhetoric, Cotton Rhetoric
Mar 13 2023 10:00am

Magic's first nine sets were not meant to be drafted. They were meant for multi-set constructed and are in no way balanced for anything else. So when you draft them, your "spidey senses" of what's good will not be as helpful as they are for conventional draft sets. You'd better keep reading!

We've already covered Antiquities in part one; The Dark, Fallen Empires, and Homelands in in part two; and Legends in part three. Now for Arabian Nights.




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).






Arabian Nights

What a cool set. What a set that's just so cool. What happens when you draft it though?

At 92 cards, it's the smallest expansion in the game's history, so I have room to review every card and major strategy.




        Moorish Cavalry    
    To picture a white deck, picture a lot of these.
  • Camel: 2. The Desert clause is not meaningful. Just think of this as a Death Ward you cast in advance. It's OK to have one or maybe two of these in your deck.
  • Army of Allah: 2. In theory you could go off with this and a bunch of Flying Men but you would need a lot of both to do anything.
  • Piety: 1. Not really seeing the point.
  • Moorish Cavalry: 2.5. Serviceable beater.
  • War Elephant: 2.5. So's this.



  • King Suleiman: 3.5. This kills 9 cards spread nearly evenly across every color but white. All 9 are rares, but all 9 are also good, and in a set this small, you can expect to be seeing any good rare frequently.
  • Repentant Blacksmith: 2.5.
  • Shahrazad: I recommend banning this from your playgroup, but that is up to y'all.
  • (There is a 3-mana white rare banned in all formats I will not be reviewing.)

White is definitely one of the weaker colors in this set. Fortunately its best card is easily splashable.





Serendib Efreet


  • Flying Men: 1.5. I've tried the dream of cramming your deck full of these and Unstable Mutations. It can work but usually doesn't. Most of the time this card just gets outmuscled by Bird Maiden, outmaneuvered by Cuombajj Witches, or outraced by basically anything.
  • Unstable Mutation: 2. Sometimes this can force two chump blocks, or stall on defense for two turns, or deal an extra six damage in the air. For one mana it has a high ceiling, but don't miss how low the floor is. Often it's unproductive to cast at all, and/or encourages bad deckbuilding.
  • Dandan: 3. In most games, Ol' Two-Boats is a defender. View it as a more expensive, weaker Abu Ja'far. In this format, that is perfectly playable! Being able to attack the occasional blue opponent is a minor bonus.
  • Fishliver Oil: 1.5.
  • Giant Tortoise: 3.5. Honestly impressive stats. Very few creatures can break through this, and there's not a ton of p/t boosting running around either.


  • Merchant Ship: 0. Go on. Describe to me a gamestate in which this is useful. You can't. The only way to like this card is by misreading it and thinking it has islandwalk.
  • Sindbad: 0. This card has a lot of neat combos... and none are in the set. The closest you'll get is using its extra 0.425 cards a turn to power up a Jandor's Ring or Bazaar of Baghdad, which is not exactly powerful. There are no ways to manipulate your library, no ways to utilize your graveyard, and no draw or discard triggers in Arabian Nights. Using him at face value is unappealing too since those extra cards are only ones you don't want. I suppose he might help you to reach a 7-card hand for a late game Library of Alexandria, but that feels pretty unlikely.


With two playable commons and three bomb rares, blue is a respectable color.






  • (Black has a one-mana common banned in all formats I will not be reviewing.)
  • Erg Raiders: 2.5. Good stats. A lil risky, but if your deck applies enough pressure, not that risky.
  • Hasran Ogress: 3.5. Excellent stats. A relevant but mild drawback.
  • Cuombajj Witches: 2.5. Respectable body and a nice ability. Not many X/1s in the format are worth playing, but you can of course use the witches' ping to trade your 2/3 for a 3/3. Or even just drain both players' life if your deck is more aggressive than theirs.
  • Oubliette: 4.5. I present to you the crown jewel of this set's removal. Literally take all of these you can. Ten is not too many. (Other players will take them too, so you won't be passed ten, but you see my point. One time I drafted against bots and was passed ten and put all in my deck and never lost a game.) Every single deck you face in Triple Arabian will rely on creatures, and this answers any of them cleanly. In the whole set, there is only one way to destroy it, and it costs six mana (Desert Twister).

Some quick math: 10 commons per pack times 8 players with 3 packs each is 240 commons... divided by the 26 commons in the set means an average of 9.2 Oubliettes will be at each table. That's enough for three players to get three Oubliettes. (Assuming you're drafting with 14 card online packs and not the 8-card physical packs this was originally sold in.)



  • El-Hajjaj: 0. Lol no.
  • Junún Efreet: 4. Excellent stats, and will dominate the sky in most games. Hopefully your opponent doesn't have a Serendib Efreet or Rukh token... but even if they do, you are the color with access to Oubliette so you should win that faceoff.
  • Guardian Beast: 2. Giving your Flying Carpet protection from Desert Twister is an interesting proposition but I think you're just playing this creature for its body, which is honestly decent but not great. Like yeah it can block a Moorish Cavalry but not when that cavalry is banded with a (War Elephant).
  • Juzam Djinn: 4.5. Oh yeah. Ohhhh yeah. This dominates combat against almost anything. Its biggest nemesis is Abu Ja'far, but black has two ways to kill that and both are common.

Five good cards plus four bombs! Black is easily the best color in Triple Arabian.





    Rukh Egg


    Ali from Cairo

  • Hurr Jackal: 0. This card makes more sense when you're mixing and matching sets, which was Arabian Nights' intent. In Arabian-only formats, it stops exactly one card, Elephant Graveyard, which is not a high-frequency threat.
  • Kird Ape: 3.5. Solid body at an obviously great rate in an already good color combination. (More on red-green decks in a moment.)
  • Bird Maiden: 1.5. Unlikely to accomplish much. But technically can.
  • Desert Nomads: 2. Many players will throw 1–3 Deserts into their deck—usually players less familiar with the format—and this punishes them pretty hard. Usually it's just a mediocre body.
  • Rukh Egg: 4. Used on its own without any combos, it's fantastic. No large ground creature can attack you, because the threat of a 4/4 flier is so overwhelming in this format. It can even soak up a small creature if the opponent is relying on those. And when you start using combos, which there are a surprising number of, its true power comes out. Metamorphosis is the easiest to assemble at common, and if you're thinking that looks like card disadvantage, I can only repeat how formidable a 4/4 flier is in this format. It's worth that cost and more. Other combos are Drop of Honey and Diamond Valley at rare, or the slow/clunky/hilarious Cyclone at uncommon. But look back over those four cards: you can see why red-green is such a good pair! It unlocks two of red's best cards.



  • Mijae Djinn: 3. As an unreliable attacker: medium. Deals as much damage over time as a regular 3/3. As a reliable blocker: still medium. Probably just trading with a white or black common. And the RRR cost is surprisingly difficult in a format with no fixing.
  • Ydwen Efreet: 3.5. Slightly better but still not great. I like that it's harder to kill.
  • Aladdin: 2. Would be great elsewhere, but this is not an artifact-heavy set.
  • Ali from Cairo: 5 against nonblack, 2 against black. Outside of black, only Cyclone, Desert Twister, and Aladdin's Ring can kill this 0/1, none of which get played often, meaning you'll probably win by decking. Against black, its only use is to get an Oubliette out of their hand. Which is decent, honestly. That's one less Oubliette they have for your Rukh token.

Respectable color. Not the best, not the worst.





    Ghazban Ogre

  • Ghazban Ogre: 2.5. Few decks in this format have one drops. If you cast this on turn one, you could easily be ahead in life points the whole game. It's risky when you're on the draw of course, if a Flying Men comes down first, or an Erg Raiders comes down second. If everyone at the table is fighting over black, or scoffing at this card's drawback, and you get like 8 of them plus some other aggro cards to go with it, you could have decent chances.
  • Metamorphosis: 0 in most decks, 4 in the Rukh Egg deck.
  • Nafs Asp: 1.5.
  • Sandstorm: 1. Of the few meaningful X/1s in the format, even fewer attack. Maybe you can Jedi Mind Trick your opponent into attacking with their Ali From Cairo, but I can't. I guess there's always the dream of sandbagging three of these and dumping them all at once to obliterate an alpha strike....
  • Wyluli Wolf: 2.5. They're OK. Not the worst way to fill up your last 2 playable slots in a format light on playables.


  • Cyclone: 2.5. Sometimes....
  • Desert Twister: 2.5. Obviously a lot of mana, with no ramp to help you get there, but this set is so light on removal you have to take what you can get. When your opponent plops down a Juzam Djinn, it's better to have a Desert Twister than not to have one. (It's also the only way in the format to kill enchantments, like a certain black one I've mentioned a few times.)


  • Drop of Honey: 3. Slow and unreliable but potentially powerful.
  • Erhnam Djinn: 4.5. One of the best creatures in the format. Its drawback matters less often than you'd expect.
  • Ifh-Biff Efreet: 4.5. Great body, and its ability to ping Bird Maidens, trade with Rukh tokens, or just drain both players for two is legit. Obviously it's bad against a green opponent, who can just kill it whenever they want to.
  • Singing Tree: 2.5. Blanking up to two attackers is decent. I'd rather have Plummet, but Plummet isn't in the set!

Another OK color.




  • Desert: 2.5. By itself, one Desert does not accomplish much. 3 out at once can take over a game, but with 9.2 in each draft pod, and all 8 players able to run them, it's hard to get 3 in your deck, let alone 3 out at once. Most limited formats would be ruined with Desert at common, but Triple Arabian isn't their place to shine.
  • Mountain: So this actually does have one use in the set. Normally while drafting, Mountain is the last pick in each pack. But someone can send a signal by picking this earlier. For instance, if I'm drafting BW, and my end of a pack has a green common, a blue common, and a Mountain, I'm taking the Mountain to tell my neighbors they can move into green or blue.

Library of Alexandria

City in a Bottle


  • Bazaar of Baghdad: 1. Sadly, this set lacks any meaningful combos for Bazaar to go off. I guess in the late late game you can burn through excess basics in your hand.
  • City of Brass: 2. It does help with splashes. In fact, it's the only mana fixing in the whole set. The problem is, of the best cards in the set, nearly all have double pips and cannot be readily splashed.
  • Library of Alexandria5. People can debate this card's power in Vintage Cube. They absolutely cannot in Triple Arabians. This format gives you plenty of time to grind out huge advantages with this card, and no ways for the opponent to catch up. Something has to go seriously wrong for you to lose if you have one of these going and your opponent doesn't.
  • Oasis: 2.
  • Brass Man: 1.5
  • Jeweled Bird: 0.5. Pointless unless you're playing with actual paper cards, but I doubt any readers are rich enough for that.
  • Flying Carpet: 2.5.
  • Sandals of Abdallah: 1.5.


  • Diamond Valley: 1 normally, 4 in Rukh Egg decks.
  • Elephant Graveyard: 0 normally, 3.5 with War Elephant. It's a nice combo! Band some creatures together, take down something big, put all the damage on your 2/2, then regenerate it.
  • Island of Wak-Wak: 3.
  • City in a Bottle: 5. Yes, a card somehow more powerful than Library of Alexandria. For 2 mana, whoever has more cards in their library wins. Just run 42 cards and you're invincible. Not even Desert Twister can destroy this, since you can't cast Desert Twister while it's out. I'm assuming your playgroup is OK with banning this one.
  • Jandor's Saddlebags: 1.5.
  • Ebony Horse: 1.5. With modern templating and timing rules, you can activate it during combat after damage is already dealt to essentially give your creature vigilance... but that's still not great for the mana.
  • Bottle of Suleiman: 4. High risk. HUUUUGE reward. Sadly there are no combos in the set to scrape out extra value, so you truly are at the mercy of the coin. (In a mixed set format with Arabians and Antiquities, you can get this going with Argivian Archaeologist and Circle of Protection: Artifacts... man oh man.)
  • Dancing Scimitar: 3. Blocks almost every creature in the set.
  • Ring of Ma'ruf: 0 with oracle templating, 5 with its original templating. This is up to your playgroup's house rules. Does it allow you to fetch any card from your sideboard, or any card in your collection? If the latter, that is worth the ten mana, yes. Your opponent can have fun trying to fend off the Akroma, Angel of Wrath or whatever else you just fetched.
  • Jandor's Ring: 2.5. The looting is great. The problem is the 6 mana cost, not only for the obvious reason, but because it means you had to play all those basics you wanted to loot away.
  • Pyramids: 0. There are no enchant lands in this set. There are no manlands in this set. There are no Stone Rains or Strip Mines in this set. The absolute only card this stops is Desert Twister, which is unlikely to target your land in the first place. The only high-value land is Library of Alexandria, which by turn six has already gotten all of its value.
  • Aladdin's Ring: 2.5. Yeah you can dominate the late game. I just hope you can reach the late game. This format isn't THAT slow, you know.
  • Aladdin's Lamp: 1.5. I didn't expect to say this, but I think I just found an even less efficient Jandor's Ring.

And that's Arabian Nights! Only three sets remain: Alliances, Ice Age, and Beta. Which will I review next?