Dynamic Pick Orders in Champions of Kamigawa

The concept before us today is one that has been mentioned several times, but to my knowledge has never been addressed in any kind of in-depth fashion. This concept is dynamic pick orders. Today I’m going to detail my pick orders for the set and then discuss how they change based on what cards are already in your pile.

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Ferrett said content was a little light lately, so I am going to make an appearance here. A month after retirement may seem soon, but it is a nice feeling to be able to take care of those who took care of me.

The concept before us today is one that has been mentioned several times, but to my knowledge has never been addressed in any kind of in-depth fashion. This concept is dynamic pick orders. While I originally postulated that Kamigawa was indeed the set with the most dynamic pick orders, I realize this simply isn’t true.

One of Onslaught’s major themes was Tribes. Each color had at least two tribes it could support. As such, the pick orders were not set in stone. Sure pick orders of the past had some amount of variability, but this was usually relegated to the spell/creature debate. Onslaught offered us something never seen before. Cards that would be first picks in one deck would be passed over for several cards in another deck. Shock was overall the second best common in Red, but if you were Red/Blue or wanted to go down that road, you would take Lavamancer’s Skill over it without a second thought.

So what do these lessons of the past teach us? How can we apply them to today’s drafting? Well I’m going to tell you. I am going to start with the least dynamic color and work towards the most.


Not much interesting here. Blue doesn’t do much changing. The top two commons never change (in my opinion), and the other ones only slightly change.

1. Teller of Tales

2. Mystic Restraints

3. Consuming Vortex

4. River Kaijin

5. Soratami Mirror-Mage

6. Soratami Rainshaper

7. Soratami Cloudskater

8. Callous Deceiver

9. Hikari’s Defiance

Defiance can go higher if you are inundated with creatures, and Rainshaper can go above Mirror-Mage based on curve. Kaijin can drop down if you are playing a more aggressive deck, but by and large your common pick order will look a lot like this. Even in your aggressive decks you really want a card like River Kaijin to hold the ground while you fly over with your Soratami. And in Black/Blue, if you have Devouring Greeds, you may want to move Callous Deceiver up above the Soratami.


The power level of the Red commons after the top two drop so dramatically and from there are so similar that even if you make the wrong pick for your deck, it won’t devastate your chances.

1. Glacial Ray

2. Yamabushi’s Flame

3. Ronin Houndmaster

4. Kami of Fire’s Roar

5. Hearth Kami

6. Frostwielder

7. Uncontrollable Anger

8. Brutal Deceiver

9. Yamabushi’s Storm

Red was designed to be an aggressive color, but there are several cards that can make it into control. There are decks in which Frostwielder could move up to number three. The utility of pingers always goes up the more you have. Kami of Fire’s Roar, Hearth Kami, and Brutal Deceiver can all move up in a Spirit-oriented deck. You always want a Yamabushi’s Storm in your main deck or sideboard, so you may have to draft it over technically better cards later in the draft. With Red being an aggressive color, curve considerations are key. There are times in a draft where Hearth Kami could move to number three, however, this will be fairly rare since there are so many two-drops in the set. I have even heard rumors about Akki Avalanchers and Lava Spike making their way into highly aggressive decks built around Kami of Fire’s Roar.


Black is not only the most powerful color, but also the deepest. It has three of the most powerful removal spells in the set all in the common slot. It also has the singular best finisher in the set in the common slot.

1. Devouring Greed

2. Nezumi Cutthroat

3. Rend Flesh

4. Befoul

5. Rend Spirit

6. Wicked Akuba

7. Cruel Deceiver

8. Kami of Waning Moon

9. Scuttling Death

10. Gibbering Kami

11. Nezumi Ronin

12. Pull Under

13. Cursed Ronin

The cat’s out of the bag about Devouring Greed, so it is much more difficult to build your deck around it. That said, if you see one early, you should leap on it. The other removal can jump around quite a bit depending on what you need. In Mono-Black you will find yourself grabbing Akuba and Cursed Ronin much earlier. Even Midnight Covenant could move up in a Mono-Black deck. Later on, if you have a lot of removal, you can move the two-drops up above the removal. In a Green deck with a lot of mana acceleration, Pull Under becomes a lot more valuable. Short on fliers? Grab a Gibbering Kami. This color is really defined by Devouring Greed. If you get one early, the whole pick order is turned on its head.


I like to call White the middle child of draft. While it hasn’t been the best color in years, it always has Green to look down on. This set it gets to be the worst, at least when looking at the commons. Don’t feel bad White, I bet you’ll get your day in the sun again sometime. What is interesting about White in this set is that the pick order, particularly near the top, changes a great deal. Also when evaluating the power, you have to consider the fact that it has two of the top five uncommons in the set in Nagao and Ghostly Prison.

1. Kabuto Moth

2. Kitsune Blademaster

3. Indomitable Will

4. Kami of Ancient Law

5. Cage of Hands

6. Mothrider Samurai

7. Lantern Kami

8. Blessed Breath

9. Hundred-Talon Kami

10. Kitsune Healer

The top of this pick order is very volatile. The top four cards are all quite solid, but none would be classified as an all-star. They all have their moments, but they can’t approach the power level of Glacial Ray, Devouring Greed or even Teller of Tales. Devouring Greed is the biggest cause of dynamic pick orders, and White is no exception. Kami of Ancient Law and Lantern Kami can both fly up in the pick order if you get the spirit-enabled finisher. Cage becomes a lot more valuable in a Blue/White deck with a lot of fliers, or in Green/White where there is no other card that really performs this function. Indomitable Will has the most potential of all the cards, but it is tough to pick it early, as White tends to rely on its creature curve. Also this card is severely undervalued right now. In most Magic: Online drafts you will see this card as late as tenth, whereas a less powerful card like Kami of Ancient Law would never lap like that. White doesn’t have the efficient fliers it used to, but still needs them to win consistently. Mothrider Samurai and Hundred-Talon Kami both need to be drafted earlier in pack 3 if you are light on fliers.


I think I like Green more in this format than I ever have before. I liked it initially in Mirrodin-only draft, but I soon learned that Green was just as weak as it ever was. Green in this set excites me quite a bit. It has three common mana accelerators, of which are color fixers as well, and two of which are creatures. I have no doubt this will be the most controversial of my pick orders – I just wanted to make sure you don’t think I have lost my edge.

1. Sakura-Tribe Elder

2. Orochi Sustainer

3. Kodama’s Might

4. Order of the Sacred Bell

5. Kodama’s Reach

6. Kami of the Hunt

7. Moss Kami

8. Feral Deceiver

9. Burr Grafter

10. Serpent Skin

11. Matsu-Tribe Decoy

12. Orochi Ranger

13. Orochi Leafcaller

13. Commune with Nature

14. Humble Budoka

Green, your day finally came. It took six years, but you made your comeback. Soak it up, you’ve earned it. Sadly, what this means is Green isn’t the worst color. It is probably third best, but this set impresses me with the color balance. Even White, which is the worst color, isn’t that bad in comparison to the rest. Andrew Pacifico and I spent a while hashing out the top end of this pick order. I also spoke to several other players I respect to come up with this version.

Drew came up with the concept of the critical turn 3 for Green. Since Kami of the Hunt is its only pure three-drop, it is necessary to move the two-mana mana fixers to the top. Drew prefers the Sustainer. I am a Tribe Elder man myself. We both came to the conclusion, and Tim Aten agreed, that Kodama’s Reach was quite overrated. I initially had it higher in the pick order, with my theory being if you stocked up on Reaches and Elders that you could draft any bomb you opened without mana concerns. Drew convinced me that, in fact, the opposite was true. If you get early bombs in a color you don’t wind up playing as a primary color, you can move the Reach up in the pick order.

Order of the Sacred Bell is truly awesome, but you have to watch out. Green is very heavy in the four-drop area. If you draft based purely on card power without consideration for your curve you’ll wind up completely bogged down with four-drops. Kodama’s Might is one of the only pump spells in Green and incredibly powerful. If you don’t have one by pack three, you absolutely must first pick it. If for some reason you can’t pick one up, you’ll need to get yourself a Serpent Skin at some point. These last two concepts are most important if you are also in White (if you are sans Indomitable Will) and Blue at all times. When you don’t have a decent amount of removal at your disposal, you need pump. Orochi Leafcaller is a fine card if you find yourself with a deck sporting more than two colors, but you couldn’t get all the Reaches and Elders you wanted. It can move up to as high as eight.

What’s it all mean?

What this means is pick order articles and a lot of conventional draft theory are just out the window. You must at all times be aware of what is in your deck. A popular habit of drafters is to separate cards by color both on MTGO and in real life. I suggest doing a lot more sorting by type and converted mana cost. This way as the draft goes on, it will be easier to see what holes need to be filled. There are a lot of good cards in Champions. The set is the best set for Limited since Odyssey, but it is critical that you recognize what is needed to make your deck the well-oiled machine it can be.

Gary Wise stole my comeback thunder, but I suppose with only a month off, I shouldn’t expect trumpets and a band of dwarves coming out to welcome me back. Plus Gary always was at least ten times the writer I have ever been. [He’s quite the Ass as well. – Knut, who’s in love with that picture] I doubt this will be the rebirth of my writing career, but you never know. As I said – I owe this site a lot, and I can think of no greater honor than to be asked to return. Thanks for reading and happy drafting.


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