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By: one million words, Pete Jahn
Aug 10 2007 9:48am
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Ten Packs of Tenth Edition
Tenth Edition is in play in the paper world, and in late beta on MODO. The Xth release events are starting today, and draft is coming soon. Here’s an overview, to give you a leg up on the format.
I busted ten packs of Tenth and listed the contents. I’ll look at the first five packs one at a time, as if for a draft. I’ll look at the last five as if it were a Tenth Edition sealed pool.
Pack One:
(Molimo, Maro Sorceror)
Air Elemental
Aura Graft
Elvish Berserker
Looming Shade
Counsel of the Soratami
Festering Goblin
Let’s start with the rare. Molimo is a big, expensive monster. Surprisingly enough, the format can be slow enough that this works as a finisher.  If you decide to go green here, aim to pair it with either blue, for fliers, or black // red for ways to remove fliers. Molimo is only a finisher if you live long enough to cast it.  
For white, Pacifism is as good as it ever was. Something that effectively removes a creature from consideration is always playable, but the rest of white have suffered a fall in quality. The main attraction to white is that fewer players are likely to fight over it. 
For blue, the clear pick here is Air Elemental. A 4/4 flier is huge, and a four toughness is large enough to dodge most removal. At common, only Terror and Pacifism stop it, while the uncommon add only Blaze, Hail of Arrows and Nekrataal.  Air Elemental is very fast, very good, and the best blue card in the pack. Counsel and Cancel are nowhere near as good.
(Speaking of Hail of Arrows, the interface to use it is wonky. If I remember, if you want to do 3 damage to one creature and two to another, you have to target the first creature three times, and the second twice. It is quite easy to accidentally target each creature for one damage, which is a huge oops. If you are playing Hail in a league, save your deck, then play a few solo practice games in the casual play room until you have a feel for it. Hail of Arrows is an amazingly good card, if you cast it correctly.)
Black gets Looming Shade – which is fine if you expect to be nearly mono-black. It also gets Uncle Fester – which has fallen in value since Tenth has fewer x/1 creatures that Uncle Fester can off.   Black’s overall quality has fallen since Ninth, so unless you have a very strong preference for forcing black, avoid it in this pack.
Red has Shock. Shock is every bit as good as it always has been.   The other advantage of taking Shock is that you are cutting off red in this pack. If you don’t pass any red, your right hand neighbor will probably not draft the color, and this will increase the number of red cards you will be passed in the second pack. 
Pack 2
Denizen of the Deep
Guerrilla Tactics
Hate Weaver
Raging Goblin
Cloud Sprite
Viashino Sandscout
Dross Crocodile
Severed Legion
Llanowar Elves
Loxodon Mystic
High Ground FOIL
White gets a very good common, here, in Loxodon Mystic. This is the new Master Decoy. It is less splashable, and more expensive, but still one of white’s two best commons. (The other is Pacifism.)   The other possibly-playable white card is High Ground. I have not played this, and only played against it once.   In that match, my opponent had cards like Wall of Swords – which is great with High Ground. However, if High Ground allows just one chump blocker to kill two attackers (the blocker deals full damage to each), then it may be worthwhile. I’m undecided about High Ground: my opponent had High Ground turn one both games, and some Vigilance dudes, but I still won.
Blue gets Boomerang, which is almost as good as Unsummon. It is a combat trick (block one of two chump blockers before damage, no trade for you.) It rescues creatures that would die. It kill auras (by bouncing the underlying permanent.)   It is playable, which is more than can be said for the other blue cards. Cloud Sprite is just too little – even if you drop it turn one, it is unlikely to have a serious impact. Denizen of the Deep, on the other hand, is too big. It takes forever to cast it, and if you do, the loss of all your other creatures often means that the opponent runs you over anyway. 
Black has a couple creatures. Severed Legion is just fine, albeit not splashable. Evasion is everything in limited, and fear is a fine evasive skill.   Cards like this are big plus if you are in black, but if I opened this pack, Severed Legion would never be worth a first pick.    The other black creatures are even worse. Hate Weaver is a 2/1 for two mana. That sort of tempo can work, but the format has way too many common 3/3s to rely on it, making Hate Weaver really only playable if he boosts one of your other colors – he’s a 23rd card in my book. Dross Crocodile is even worse. If he’s my 23rd card, I’m not very happy. The Crocodile dies to almost everything in the format (some Wall being the very few exceptions.)   However, the fact that Dross Crocodile does often make the deck shows just how bad black’s creatures are in this set.   Great removal, sucky creatures.
The red in this pack is fine – Guerrilla Tactics is removal.   It is a cheap, playable burn spell. That’s about it for red. Viashino Sandscout is a weak burn spell that may be able to hit players, but is poor. Raging Goblin is just bad.   If you draw him in your opening seven, he may do 2 points of damage. Late game, he may chump.   Almost anything else is better.
In this pack, green got the shaft. Llanowar Elves is fine, and you can be happy to take him.   Elves do help accelerate out Green’s fatties. The other plus is that, by taking the elves, you signal your downstream neighbors that green is taken. With the elves gone, the pack has no playable green. Regeneration is not playable – the format has far too much bounce to make bad Auras playable. Even the really good ones are not bombs. Besides, the new art for Regeneration sucks.
Pack 3Might of Oaks
Knight of Dusk
(Warrior’s Honor)
Scathe Zombies
Horseshoe Crab
Skyshroud Ranger
Samite Healer
Craw Wurm
If I opened this pack, I’d have a real problem deciding between the rare (because I love to rare-draft) Tidings, Terror and Incinerate.   This is a strong indication of just how good Tenth packs typically are – the first four picks are all top notch. Tenth has so many better cards that Ninth.   For those of you with long memories – compare Tenth with Fifth.    Remember all the dreck that was in Fifth? Tenth – now with 90% less dreck!
Actually, white got nothing in this pack.   I have never been a fan of Samite Healer, and although Warrior’s Honor is a combat trick and has won me games, I will always play a decent creature or splashed removal spell over it.   White has fallen since Ninth. In Ninth, drafting blue white was almost automatic. In Tenth, I still tend to force blue, but I don’t snag white cards unless I see Pacifism, followed by some solid white stuff.   In short, almost anything signals me to go blue, but the signals have to be pretty clear before I play white.
Blue has Tidings.   Tidings = more cards. Counsel of the Soratami is nice, but Tidings is a thumping. I have had people concede to Tidings – and rightly so. Blue has card drawing and fliers – some of my favorite things.   If I first pick Tidings, I can cut off blue and make sure my close neighbors stay out of my color. That should reward me in pack two, when my neighbors may ship me good stuff.   (One example of that working insanely well – I was once shipped 2 Air Elementals, a Puppeteer and a Aven Windreader, all in pack two of the same draft. Yeah, I 3-0ed that one.)
This pack did have one other blue card – Horseshoe Crab. Yes, I have lived the dream, and stuck an Arcane Teachings on Horseshoe Crab, when I had six untapped Islands. I won that game. On the other hand, I have seen it fizzle often – the Crab gets bounced or burned or Terrored in response to the Teachings, and the Crabbie player takes a two-for-one to the face.   It’s never worthwhile trying to draft Crab & Teachings, but it is nice when it happens.
Black gets Terror – a cheaper version of Dark Banishing.   Terror is the best black common, and certainly a fine pick here. I will often splash for Terror, especially if I have some green mana fixing.    Black also has Knight of Dusk, which is almost always unblockable. Knight’s ability triggers on blocking, meaning it kills most blockers long before damage. 
Red gets Incinerate, which was such a good burn spell that Wizards refused to print it for years. Volcanic Hammer was a “fixed” / “fair” Incinerate. Now we have the good stuff back. Even in this pack, Incinerate should never go more than third pick, because it is worth splashing for.    After Incinerate, the picks go downhill fast. Cryoclasm might be sideboard material, and may be worth picking if you are looking for it in constructed, but I would never take it. I would take Demolish, if it returned, as a ninth pick. Demolish is a card I want in my sideboard in every red deck, because this format has a lot of bomb artifacts. In just the last few days of the beta, I saw Icy Manipulator, Juggernaut, Loxodon Warhammer, Platinum Angel and Razormane Masticore. All of those need to die.
Green gets a pair of good cards.   Might of Oaks can flat out win games. Craw Wurm is also quite good in this format – better than it has been in the past. I don’t think the green cards are better than the other three I mentioned in the first paragraph after the pack, but the green is decent.  If I’m already heavily green, I’m happy with these cards, but even then I’m probably shipping both.
Pack 4
Lord of the Pit
Leonin Scimitar
Lumengrid Warden
Viashino Sandscout
Honor Guard
Dusk Imp
Bloodrock Cyclops
Sea Monster
Benalish Knight
(Civic Wayfarer)
There’s no white in this pack. It happens. Moving along.
What? Honor Guard? Like I said, there’s no white in this pack.
Actually, I missed Benalish Knight on the first read through.   Benalish Knight is actually quite playable. I really like flash, and I like suckering in opponents. I have often slaughtered an unsuspecting x/2 by leaving an open board, then flashing out the first striker after attackers are declared. Benalish Knight is a playable white card: worth having if I am already that color, but not good enough to pull me into white if this is pack one.
Blue has two creatures in this pack. I am perfectly happy to take either one of these – the second time I see them. Both Sea Monster and Lumengrid Warden are mainly defensive creatures – things to gum up the ground while I win through the air.   If I am blue, and have a couple fliers, I am windmill slamming the Leonid Scimitar. The Scimitar is not quite Vulshok Morningstar, but it is still excellent at ensuring that your fliers are bigger and badder than anything your opponent has.
Okay, no little Scimitar is going to make any blue flier bigger and badder than the Lord of the Pit. Lord is very expensive, and a pain if you don’t have other creatures, but it is still almost impossible for an opponent to stop this monster.   Lord of the Pit reminds me of (Tidal Kracken) – a huge, unstoppable creature that cost way too much but breaks creature stalls. Just make sure that the opponent does not have Icy Manipulator or, god forbid, Pacifism. Personally, I would prefer Dusk Imp, with may well the game long before Lord of the Pit enters play. I also like Afflict, which is a cantrip, occasional combat trick and sometime removal.
Red gets Bloodrock Cyclops. The Cyclops is actually a fine creature – and a couple can smash many decks that are not prepared. The loss of cards like Horned Turtle has a huge impact – white and blue decks can no longer drop dudes that can chump 3/3s all day.   In Tenth, Bloodrock Cyclops will require a decent trade, or a removal spell, to take care of. 
Finally, green gets Civic Wayfarer – one of three color fixing green non-rares. Wayfarer is a fine card, if for no other reason than he lets you splash the Terrors and Incinerates.   Wayfarer, Rampant Growth and even (Sylvan Scying) are high picks – don’t pass them too often, or you will not see them late.   This mana ramping helps with splashes, and also helps accelerate out green’s fat. Surprisingly enough, that works. I have found myself being successful with green beats far more other then every worked in NO

Pack 5
Mind Bend
Goblin Lore
Hidden Horror
Flamewave Invoker
(Fists of Anvil)
Unholy Strength
Goblin Elite Infantry
Counsel of the Soratami
Llanowar Sentinel
Kavu Climber
Festering Goblin
White has Pacifism. It does not need anything else. Pacifism deals with every bad creature: Rhox, Lord of the Pit, Mahamoti Djinn, Platinum Angel, Razormane Masticore – Pacifism neuters them all. Terror does not. Incinerate does not. Unsummon is temporary. Pacifism is amazing.
Blue is underwhelming in this pack. If you are mono-blue, Counsel is certainly welcome, but it is never to late to chose a splash color.   Splash the Pacifism. 
Black gets Hidden Horror. Early on Hidden Horror is a monster. Yes, you have to pitch a card, but a 4/4 is tough to deal with in this format.   Of all the common removal spells, only Pacifism and Boomerang / Unsummon can deal with it. Festering Goblin is the other playable black card, but it is far worse than it was even in Ninth. There are fewer annoying x/1s in Tenth for Uncle Fester to remove.. 
Red gets Shock, which has always been great in draft. It also get Flamewave Invoker, which can be a great finisher, but not a first pick. It would be sweet if Flamewave Invoker would make it back around, and give a red mage a great ninth pick, but the card is too strong to make it around the table.
The green is all playable, but not special. Llanowar Sentinel is great if you have one already. Rootwalla is always playable, but I prefer Kavu Climber if I have anything worth digging for. However, if I’m in green, and I have any color fixing at all, I’m splashing Pacifism.
Pack 5
Goblin King
Cone of Flame
Wall of Fire
(Wurm’s Tooth)
Aven Fisher
Youthful Knight
Mass of Ghouls
(Plague Beetles)
Lumengrid Warden
Pincher Beetles
Terramorphic Expanse
Spitting earth
Aggressive Urge
(Fairie Conclave) FOIL
This pack is sad. It has only a couple decent cards – although I would love to the foil Conclave for constructed purposes. 
White gets only the Youthful Knight. Youthful Knight is a nice, aggressive card that is even better with any pump. The First Strike makes blocking difficult, but I have had no problem chewing it up, when played by opponents, using cards like Prodigal Pyromancer and Afflict.   Unless you have a very fast deck with some nice tricks, white might be better off taking the Terramorphic Expanse.   Non-green mana fixing is rare, and should be picked highly.   Nothing white is better.
Blue gets the Conclave and Aven Fisher. Both are fine picks for blue, but not first pick quality.  They are in a league with the Expanse, depending on what you deck needs more.   If you are long on fliers, and splashing a third color removal spell, the expanse might be the right pick.
Black sucks. Terramorphic Expanse tops Mass of Ghouls, possibly even if the deck is mono-black.
Red gets Cone of Flame and Spitting Earth. Neither is splashable, but both are fine cards. Cone of Flame is better. Come people call it a bomb, but I have never found it to be quite that good. It is not Flame Wave – but it is clearly the best card in the pack. Spitting Earth is good removal if you play at least 6-7 Mountains.
Green gets Aggressive Urge, which is an excellent combat trick. If I already committed to green, I’m happy with it.   Pincer Beetles could well make it around, and I would be okay with them ninth pick. Wurm’s Tooth, OTOH, sux. It will never, ever make my deck, even if I am sideboarding for a mono-green on mono-green matchup. It is just bad lifegain – it does nothing except slows your death by a turn or so. The same could be said of any random chump blocker – even Wall of <anything tiny>.    It is not impossible to have playable Lifegain in limited. Essence Warden and Soul Warden can be playable, and Sun Droplet was worth playing, but Wurm’s Tooth is not Sun Droplet.
Let’s move on to a sealed pool.   I’ve taken the liberty of dividing my pool by color, and each color is divided into the great cards, then decent cards, then marginal stuff, then trash.   I included the (Forbidden Watchtower) in the white cards, because it is clearly only going into a white deck.
WHITEVoice of All
Loxodon Mystic
Reya Dawnbringer

(Wild Grifffin)
Aven Cloudchaser
Ghost Warden
Benalish Knight
Forbidding Watchtower
Field Marshal
Steadfast Guard
Angelic Wall
Starlight Invoker

Heart of Light
Icatian Priest
Reviving Dose

Holy Day
Honor Guard


Aven Windreader
Cloud Elemental
Aven Fisher
Phantom Warrior
Counsel of the Soratami

2 * Horseshoe Crab
Sky Weaver
Robe of Mirrors

Fugitive Wizard
Crafty Pathmage

Essence Drain
Looming Shade

Cruel Edict
Mass of Ghouls

Spineless Thug
2 * Scathe Zombies
Contaminated Bond
No Rest for the Wicked

REDShivan Dragon
Spitting Earth
Bogardan Firefiend
Prodigal Pyromancer

Rock Badger
Arcane Teachings
Anaba Bodyguard
Goblin Piker

Relentless Assault
Raging Goblin
Sudden Impact


2 * Giant Growth
Spined Wurm
(Rushwod Dryad)
Elven Riders

Canopy Spider
Pincher Beetles
Grizzly Bears
Skyshroud Ranger

(no trash – sweet!)

ARTIFACT2 * Phyrexian Vault

(Dragon’s Claw)
This pool has some great cards. These are all bombs – or close to it.
Overrun Voice of All Shivan Dragon Reya Dawnbringer
 Heck, even Aven Windreader and Looming Shade are very good cards. 
What do they all have in common? 
They all have double or triple mana symbols in their casting cost. (Okay, Looking Shade does not, but to make it work, you need at least BBB.)
And how much mana fixing does this deck have?
This is a hard build.
Let’s rank the colors by playable cards. These are the cards that I would want in my deck if I were this color – but I may actually add a couple more when I actually build.
White: 12-13
Blue: 7-8
Black: 7-8
Red: 7-8
Green: 9-10
If I figure I am going to be playing 18 lands (given my high mana costs for many cards), then I need 22 playables. I am going three colors no matter what.   Actually, I could play the two Phyrexian Vaults, since they are actually decent cards, but I’m not sure I have the creatures to support them.
I’ll break down the colors by splash – meaning that nothing can have double mana costs, here’s what I woud splash for:
White: Cloudchaser Eagle? not worth it
Blue: Sift, Cloud Elemental, Aven Fisher
Black: Terror, Essence Drain, maybe Cruel Edict & Afflict
Red: Arcane Teachings, Prodigal Pyromancer, Bogradan Firefiend – seems weak
Green: Spined Wurm? Naturalize? no
To start, I’m going to lay out the creatures by mana costs (wow – I wish Tenth was online already – this would be so easy to show in deckbuilder, via screen shots, but these were paper packs.) Here’s a first try, aiming for a straight WG deck.
Skyshroud Ranger
Icatian Priest

Canopy Spider
(Rushwod Dryad)
Grizzly Bears
Ghost Warden
Angelic Wall
Starlight Invoker
Steadfast Guard

Pincher Beetles
Benalish Knight
Wild Griffin

Voice of All
Aven Cloudchaser

Spined Wurm
Elven Riders
Loxodon Mystic

Reya Dawnbringer

Tricks and Removal
2 * Giant Growth
Phyrexian Vault

Forbidding Watchtower
9 Forests
8 Plains
Field Marshal is not playable, because I have almost no soldiers, and my opponents might. Heart of Light stinks if I am not intending to win with evasive creatures, since it creates a massive blocker that never dies. The two 1/1s for 1cc are so marginal I’m sad to play them. I will cut one for the second Vault, but I don’t know which.
It is very tempting to splash either blue or black – or both - but I would be very concerned about whether you would have the right colored mana to cast the important spells – like Overrun (2GGG) and Reya  (6WWW).    I think I would play this one as just GW, but - time permitting - I would build and save the splash blue and splash black versions.
GL in all your Tenth Edition release events - except verses me, of course.
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