Feature Article – Sadin’s Grab Bag

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Steve Sadin, battling away at Grand Prix: Daytona Beach, has a mixed bag of topics for us today. First, he brings us his personal rules for creating the perfect Limited manabase. Next, he takes us through his Grand Prix Sealed Deck cardpool and final build, before sharing his Day 1 results at the time of writing. Finally, he hands his article over to Andre Coimbra, who brings us his Top 5 Commons lists for each color in triple Lorwyn Draft!

My Rules of Thumb for Building Manabases for Limited

Before I get into the article, I must warn you that I am going to throw around 0.5s a number of times when talking about how many mana sources you need to fulfil certain color requirements.

So, what is half a source for mana fixing?

I consider a creature that produces colored mana a 0.5 source. This is because mana-producing creatures tend to have a giant bull’s-eye on their heads, and as a result are not a 100% reliable way to fix your mana.

If you are using a card that searches for a basic land, such as Sakura-Tribe Elder, but you are splashing two colors (to accompany your two base colors), then it can only count as half of a source for each.

If I am splashing one spell in a color, I will run at least 1.5-2 sources for it.

If I am splashing two spells in a single color, I will run at least 2-2.5 sources for them.

If I am splashing three spells in a single color, I will run at least 2.5 sources for them, but I would prefer 3-3.5.

If I am splashing a spell with a double-color requirement, I will run at least 3.5 source for it.

The default number of lands that I run for a Limited deck is 17. While there are plenty of times in which it is right to run 16 or 18 lands, I need a reason, or reasons, to move away from the default. Those reasons have to do with my curve, my color requirements, and the ways I have to smooth out my draws.

I will strongly consider running 16 lands if:

My curve is very low.
I have 0-2 5+ drops and easy to reach color requirements.
I am mono colored or near mono colored.
I have several spells that give me more mana, such as Llanowar Elves or Fertile Ground.
I have 2-3 cheap cantrips such as Ponder.

I will strongly consider running 18 lands if:

My deck needs to get to four mana on turn 4.
I need the 18th land to properly fulfil my color requirements.
My deck has a lot of 4-6 drops.
I have a fairly high curve and a number of cards that require constant mana investment, such as Goldmeadow Harrier.

Grand Prix: Daytona Beach Tournament Report, Part 1

My pool:

My deck:

This deck was pretty easy to build. Almost all of my good cards were concentrated in Blue and White, and my Black cards made for a perfect splash. The biggest mistake that I noticed was that I played my Faerie Harbinger over my Makeshift Mannequin.

I only had two targets for the Harbinger: an Avian Changeling, which is good but really isn’t something that I want to be tutoring for; and a Wings of Velis Vel, which is something that I definitely don’t want to be advertising to my opponent. Whereas I had both Cloudgoat Ranger and Mulldrifter, which are absolutely great to buy back. Every match, I swapped out a Plains and the Faerie Harbinger for a Swamp and the Makeshift Mannequin.

Rounds 1-3

Round 4: Glenn Jones, playing G/b/u
Glenn won the flip and chose to draw.

Game 1: I mulliganed into a five-card one-land hand. It took me a few turns to draw my second land, but I had no shot at that point.

Game 2: Glenn mulliganed to six and never got past three lands, casting a total of two spells before dying.

Game 3: Glenn had a fairly slow draw, and I had Cloudgoat Ranger followed by Ajani Goldmane to take it home.

Record: 4-0 (1-0)

Round 5: A J Fields, playing U/R/b
Game 1: A J got a slow draw. I was able to take advantage of this by playing a couple of evasion creatures, a couple of removal spells, and Ajani.

Game 2: I thought I was way ahead when I had a board of about five reasonable/good creatures to his board of Amoeboid Changeling, Marsh Flitter, and 2 goblin tokens. He then played Thundercloud Shaman, which completely wiped my board. He won the game in short order after that.

Game 3: Midway through the game, I made a play where I attacked with my Cloudgoat Ranger (which I activated) into his Marsh Flitter (he still had both tokens). He went to trade his Marsh Flitter with my Cloudgoat Ranger, as I had expected, and I bounced my Cloudgoat with Whirlpool Whelm. A J untapped and cast Thundercloud Shaman, which left me with nothing and him with Thundercloud Shaman, Amoeboid Changeling, Changeling Shapeshifter, and a Sentinels of Glen Elendra. I untapped, played an Avian Changeling, and laid an Oblivion Ring on his Thundercloud Shaman. He got in for four by copying his Sentinels with his Shapeshifter, an attack which knocked me pretty low. I had some hopes of stabilizing with my Cloudgoat Ranger, but he Giant’s Ired and Tarfired me out a couple of turns later.

Record: 4-1 (1-1)

Round 6: Jimmy Gorham, playing G/u/b
Game 1: I messed up a number of times, allowing him to kill me with Wings of Velis Vel the turn before I would have killed him. It was seriously embarrassing how many times I screwed up this game. It wasn’t that I made a bunch of titanic blunders that can be seen from a mile away… In fact, any one of my mistakes (up until my final misblock) could have been defensible… but when put together they were the textbook example of how to play a game without any sort of plan.

Game 2: I two-for-oned him with a couple of well-timed removal spells, and he was never able to recover.

Game 3: He opened with Leaf Gilder, Pestermite (on my upkeep, preventing me from making a play), and a Cloudcrown Oak before I played my first spell. I never had a chance.

Record: 4-2 (1-2)

I will have the second part of my report next time. In the meantime, enjoy the writings of my special guest co-host Andre Coimbra.

My Top 5, by André Coimbra

Steve was too tired to finish his article after a first day of nine rounds at GP: Daytona Beach, so he asked me to finish his article. He needed to sleep in order to play on Sunday. I usually don’t help other people with articles, but the people that know Steve know how nice he is, so I guess he deserves his sleep in order to try to for fight the Grand Prix victory!

He told me I could write about “anything.” “Anything” is quite vague, so I thought for a while about a topic. My Day 1 undefeated Krakow deck was a possibility… if only I could remember something about it. All I remember is that it crushes beatdown and loses quite badly to Mono-Blue, and that’s not enough for an article. Writing about draft strategies would be possible too, as the only time I got to make the second day at a Grand Prix of this format I ended up third.

Am I bad at Sealed Deck? I don’t think so… it’s just that losing is a big part of the game, and if we didn’t lose sometimes, we wouldn’t give value to the times we win. It would just seem natural (just ask the guys that make a winning start). However, I already have to write an article about drafting for the Spanish magazine Mirari, so instead of writing the same thing twice, I will skip that topic this time…

So… What am I writing about? As the name “My Top 5” might suggest, this “mini-article” will be about my Top 5 commons of each color in triple Lorwyn booster draft.


1)Oblivion Ring
2)Avian Changeling
3)Kinsbaile Balloonist
4)Judge of Currents
5)Goldmeadow Harrier

Oblivion Ring is very close to Vindicate, but without the prohibitive cost of 1WB, so pick it quite high as you can also splash it. Avian Changeling and Kinsbaile Balloonist are very close in ranking, and both are splashable. Judge of Currents is more an archetype card than anything else, so it only gets value in the Merfolk decks. However, it marks the difference between a good and a bad deck, and thus it makes my Top 5. Goldmeadow Harrier is an efficient tapper, which is always welcome, and the only reason it doesn’t rate higher is because White-based strategies are quite bad in this format.


1)Silvergill Douser
5)Sentinels of Glen Elendra

Silvergill Douser is so flexible for a two-mana 1/1 creature. It gives you a lot of combat options, and will make your opponent’s plays worse overall. Mulldrifter is pure card advantage, and if you match it with Black graveyard cards like Warren Pilferers or Makeshift Mannequin you can make some broken plays. Aethersnipe is a pure tempo card with a solid 4/4 body. Pestermite, while not close to the power level of the previous cards, is still very good and might win some random games. Also, being a faerie might matter sometimes. Sentinels of Glen Elendra rank higher than Stonybrook Angler because the Angler requires two mana every turn to be effective.


1)Nameless Inversion
2)Dreamspoiler Witches
3)Eyeblight’s Ending
5)Warren Pilferers

I can see people arguing with me in the forums about Black, but this current pick order has been doing great for me in recent drafts. Nameless Inversion is obviously the best, but Witches second? If you untap with Witches in play and some other instant removal, you probably just win the game due to the massive card advantage it offers. Eyeblight’s Ending is pretty straightforward too, but Peppersmoke over Warren Pilferers? These cards play in different strategies, and Peppersmoke is better than Pilferers because UB is better than BR, and the -1/-1 is so important in UB…


1)Lash Out
4)Consuming Bonfire
5)Mudbutton Torchrunner

Apart from Smokebraider they are all burn spells — even the Mudbutton — and such cards are usually the top commons in any set. Smokebraider not only allows you to speed up your Elementals, but also helps you splash some powerful elementals from other colors.


1)Lys Alana Huntmaster
2)Cloudcrown Oak
4)Woodland Changeling
5)Fistful of Force

The Huntmaster might not be the obvious choice for best common, but the card advantage it provides on a decent body is just too good to overlook. Usually, spiders get a 2/4 body for four mana… Cloudcrown Oak is not only a treefolk, but he also has an updated 3/4 frame. I’ve seen some Japanese players splashing Lignify, as it is a decent creature removal spell with an obvious drawback. Keep in mind that if you Lignify a champion creature and it dies, the championed creature won’t come back. Bears are usually barely playable in draft, but being all creature types takes Woodland Changeling to the top. Finally, there aren’t many combat tricks in the format, and Fistful of Force is quite efficient… so play it in your deck!

I hope my Top 5s help you in your next draft, may it be at your local FNM, on Magic Online, or even at Worlds! As usual, I will try to answer every question in the forum. I hope you enjoyed reading this mini-article as much as I enjoyed writing it!

See you at the draft tables!

André Coimbra