First Impressions — The Best Commons in Champions Limited

In this article, I will the tell you what I believe are the best five commons in each color in Champions of Kamigawa. These are the cards that jumped out at me through looking at the spoiler, and impressed me through what I saw at the prerelease, enough to make me believe they will be the premier commons in each given color. If you’re going to draft the new set and don’t really know what cards you should be taking, start with these 25.

[Editor’s Note: Card images will be up next week. Just bear with us and peep the mtgnews.com spoiler in the meantime.]

I usually shy away from doing Limited reviews of new sets, and there are a number of reasons for this:

1) I play mainly on Magic Online, which gets the new sets way too late for me to give any relevant”first impressions” opinion on the set.

2) Everyone seems to do them, which makes one more ‘top draft picks in (insert new set here)’ article a bit pointless.

3) I’m scared of getting something fundamentally wrong, and looking like an idiot. This time last year I thought Inertia Bubble was pretty good.

However, this year I thought I would make the exception. Number one is kind of invalid at the moment, as nobody has really got much experience with the new set yet. I have read the spoiler thoroughly, and went to the prerelease, playing a few games and watching a load more, which is about as much as most people have done.

As for number two, there seem to be a lot less Limited writers around than there used to be. I’m not sure why this is, as this time two years ago, you could happily get ten opinions on the best ten commons in Onslaught on the front page of SCG, or any other site. Part of the reason is probably down to many writers getting shot down in the forums if they write an article that contains”unusual” opinions, or pick orders that are not entirely in line with current thinking.

This brings me nicely on to number three. While I’m sure this article will get its fair share of criticism, I would like to say in advance that; yes, there will be a lot of stuff in here that turns out to be wrong. There will also probably be some stuff that some people think is wrong but turns out to be right.

Maybe they’ll also be some stuff that people even agree with – you never know.

Anyway, I’m not going to get too ambitious, I will merely state what are, in my opinion, the best five commons in each color in Champions of Kamigawa. These are the cards that jumped out at me through looking at the spoiler, and impressed me through what I saw at the prerelease, enough to make me believe they will be the premier commons in each given color. If you’re going to draft the new set and don’t really know what cards you should be taking, start with these 25.


Black’s commons are weak. There is literally nothing in the common slot you can get excited about in Black. In fact, if you want to play Black, you had better hope that you pull some of the stellar uncommons that the color has to offer. There are some commons that you won’t be ashamed to have in your main deck though, and here is the best the color has to offer.

1. Pull Under

At first glance, this doesn’t look terribly efficient, as six mana to kill a creature is quite a lot to spend, especially as there is no gravy ability tagged on, like with Cruel Revival or Betrayal of Flesh. However, removal is removal and this is the best Black has to offer in the common slot (the uncommon slot is a totally different ballgame). There are plenty of opportunities to get a two-for-one with this card, including decimating gang-blocks, and killing enchanted creatures. More importantly it will take down most bombs in the set, including the Dragon Spirit Legends. This isn’t a windmill slam first pick, but in a set with weak Black commons, you’ll have to learn to love it.

2. Nezumi Cutthroat

It seems very odd to slap the title of”Black’s second best common” on this guy, a random 2/1 monkey for two mana, who can’t even block. However, fear is a very relevant ability in this format. In fact if your opponent isn’t playing Black, then this guy is basically unblockable, and a 2/1 unblockable creature for two mana is suddenly very inviting. Black’s common creatures are very unexciting, and this guy is the best of them.

3. Rend Spirit

4. Rend Flesh

I’m probably going to get some flack for not putting these two higher, but my initial results and gut feeling is that these will prove decent but unreliable. A spell that can take out, on average, half the spells in your opponents deck is a good thing but you will often be caught with the wrong one in your hand, and sometimes the card will be completely dead as your opponent beats you down with creatures of the other type. People may point to Terror and say that it was still a first-pick card, but in Mirrodin most of the bomb creatures were colored, whereas in CoK they are split down the middle.

5. Gibbering Kami

2/2 flyers for four mana are playable, especially in Black. This guy is a 2/2 flyer for four that can get back another creature when it dies, potentially creating card advantage too. I know it’s not terribly exciting but, as I said, Black’s commons are pretty weak.

Honorable Mentions

Cruel Deceiver, Kami of the Waning Moon, Soulless Revival, Wicked Akuba


Blue is not terribly deep in CoK, but it does have some stellar commons which, if grabbed in multiples, can make for a very scary deck indeed. Remember however that the Soratami creatures are less effective individually the more you have, as each require returning land to your hand to use their ability.

1. Soratami Mirror-Guard

As a 3/1 flyer for four mana, this card would be a high pick in it’s own right, but it’s special ability really pushes into”first pick” category. Making a two-power creature unblockable can sustain a strong tempo start into the mid-game to finish your opponent, or can give you a way of breaking through in the late game. The fact that the land returns to your hand, (not destroyed) and you can use the ability many times in a turn as an alpha-strike, makes this ability really insane. I’m going to stick my neck out here and say this is the best common in the set.

2. Teller of Tales

3/3 flyers for five are always good, and are normally uncommon. This guy also has a useful ability tagged on, letting you use a creature for double duty, tap down a key blocker, or tap an attacker at the start of combat using an arcane instant. These are going to be the mainstay of your mid-game if you are the Blue mage.

3. Soratami Cloudskater

I don’t mind 1/1 flyers for two in general. They come down early, and beat down until your opponent finds a way to deal with them. In CoK there are a lot more playable two-drops than usual, which lessens the value somewhat but this guy also has a nice ability tagged on. In the late game, where 1/1 flyers are normally redundant, the Cloudskater can really shine, as his looting ability comes into it’s own. Remember, the fact you are returning a land to your hand can be an advantage in this case, as you can discard the land you just returned rather than another card.

4. Mystic Restraints

I know I tend to overvalue cards like this (see Inertia Bubble admission above), but I really do think that this is great removal for Blue. It is better than Psychic Overlord, because it doesn’t give the owner the option of untapping and has the same casting cost (although is less splashable). Although not as good as Pacifism or Arrest due to being more expensive, it will effectively remove a creature. The only thing the creature will be able to do is use abilities that don’t require tapping. This card alone may make U/G viable as a color combination.

5. Soratami Rainshaper

Although the ability on this guy looks great, it is not as good as those on his Soratami cousins, because you will rarely want to leave three mana open to stop a card that your opponent may or may not have. However, a 2/1 flyer for three is great in the early game, and the ability to nullify your opponent’s targeted removal can be great in the late game, so this card will rarely be dead.

Honorable Mentions

Consuming Vortex, Floating-Dream Zubera, Hisoka’s Guard, Kami of Twisted Reflection


Green commons are average on the whole, and the top five are a strange bunch. Many cards are difficult to evaluate at the moment because it is tough to know how the format will pan out. Green’s larger creatures tend to dominate in slower formats (remember OOL?) but can be found lacking in tempo-based formats where land counts are lower. Also there are some cards below that you definitely want, but down want too many of; the mana fixers for example.

1. Kodama’s Reach

An odd choice for Green’s best common, but it is nuts. Not only does it accelerate your mana by one, but it also guarantees your fifth land-drop, thins your deck, and color fixes up to two colors! This is the best mana fixing/acceleration that we have seen in a long time, better even than Harrow (although in a format where color fixing is less relevant). Now obviously you’re not going to win a game with Kodama’s Reach, but it will certainly help you to lose a lot less.

2. Moss Kami

I must admit, I’m not too sure about this one. Fangren Hunter was fantastic in Mirrodin block, and this guy costs one more mana for one more power and toughness. This in itself probably makes him slightly inferior to the Hunter but, at the end of the day, he is a large creature in a format with not many large creatures, and this in itself will help him to win you a lot of games. He is also a spirit, and how relevant that is remains to be seen.

3. Kodama’s Might

This is the staple creature pump in the format, and it’s pretty good. How good it is exactly will depend on how many Arcane spells you are packing, but even on it’s own it is respectable. The best thing about this spell is that its splice cost is so cheap. If you have this, and any other combat related Arcane spell such as Glacial Ray or Rend Flesh, then this can turn one combat phase into a game-winning massacre.

4. Sakura-Tribe Elder

This card seems to break the benchmark for mana acceleration from two to four. It is strictly superior to Rampant Growth and Diligent Farmhand, and is even better than Wayfarer’s Bauble if you are playing a base-Green deck. Between this and Kodama’s Reach, the Green mage should have no problem accelerating and splashing.

5. Order of the Sacred Bell

After the top four cards, we have a number of creatures that will make up the bulk of your green decks that are all very similar in power. This is probably the pick of them, but if anyone wants argue that any of the creatures in the”honorable mention” list below are more powerful, I won’t argue too much. This is a 4/3 for four, which is good. If you get a head start on tempo and then drop this on turn four then you are asking very stern questions of your opponent indeed. Obviously if you play this on turn 3 off of a Sakura-Tribe Elder then this becomes an even bigger threat.

Honorable Mention

Feral Deceiver, Humble Budoka, Kami of the Hunt, Serpent Skin


From what I saw, Red was very popular at the pre-release and it is indeed quite strong if it is being passed. There is no Sparksmith or Spikeshot Goblin in this set, but the cards do run deeper than in previous sets. However, removal isn’t exactly plentiful, so the”remove everything, win with a random monkey” plan might not be as viable as in previous sets. You may need to find other ways to win with Red.

1. Glacial Ray

Here’s your cheap”deal two” spell for the format. It costs one more than Shock but has the intriguing Splice ability tagged on. Now I’m not sure if anyone knows quite how useful Splice will be yet, but I do know that even if you just hard-cast this, it is a good card, and if you use the Splice ability just once you are generating good card advantage. For example, if you have two of these in your hand, you basically have a Shower of Coals for six even if you have no other arcane spells.

2. Yamabushi’s Flame

It deals three damage for three mana, at instant speed. Not very original, but when you list desirable traits of removal, originality isn’t normally very high on the list. The fact it removes the creature from play may occasionally be relevant, if your opponent plans on Soulshifting the creature.

3. Ronin Houndmaster

Reds best common creature is a Goblin Chariot with Bushido 1. Bushido is an interesting ability in that, for all intents and purposes, it gives the creature +1/+1. I know if it attacks and they don’t block it, it doesn’t get the bonus but, with any creature of power greater than 1, that plan isn’t viable in the long term. So what we have here is effectively a 3/3 with haste for three in red. Generally only green has 3/3s for three with no drawback so this is one hell of an efficient creature. I know it doesn’t provide the same clock as a regular 3/3 but I sure want as many of these as I can get.

4. Uncontrollable Anger

I like the series of instant-enchantments in the set, because they can give a great two for one. You have a dorky blocker, you cast this on him, kill your opponents attacker/blocker and are left with a beefy guy to continue the assault the following turn. Alternatively you can use this as straight up removal, or just slap it on an evasion creature to increase the beatdown. At four mana, this card isn’t cheap but it comes with a versatility that is rare.

5. Frostwielder

Vulshok Sorcerer this ain’t, but pingers are always pretty good. Anyone who has played 8th Edition draft knows the power of Anaba Shaman, and this is pretty much the same creature. It screws with combat math, it kills one-toughness creatures and it gives a slow-but-steady clock when the board is locked up. Reusable burn, even if only one point, is good.

Honorable Mentions

Akki Avalanchers, Brutal Deceiver, Ember-Fist Zubera, Kami of Fire’s Roar


White is the best color in CoK. Wow, I said it. Its commons run very deep, and their creatures are super-efficient. For all those players who are always bemoaning the weakness of White, now is your time to get excited.

1. Cage of Hands

Well if they didn’t just go and make Pacifism better! The ability to return this to your hand and pick a new target has many applications. Firstly you can bounce it in response to its destruction (through enchantment removal or the creature it is enchanting leaving play). Secondly, you can pick a new target if you find a way to deal with the creature, or if a bigger threat comes along. Cage of Hands takes all the best features of Master Decoy and Pacifism and rolls them into one card. This is better than Arrest, this is better than Pacifism, this is the best piece of targeted White removal in a long time.

2. Kitsune Blademaster

Great in the same way that Ronin Houndmaster is great. An effective 3/3 with First Strike for three is a major headache for your opponent to deal with in the early game. Good as an attacker or a blocker, and as efficient as either get.

3. Kabuto Moth

Not much to look at, but boy, did these guys give people some headaches at the prerelease. Can provide some evasive beats if you are so inclined, but they are better as either a 2/4 flying blocker, or even better still a creature who is hard to remove and sits there screwing with combat math all day. An active Moth can give your opponent very few good attacking and blocking options, and in multiples they are nuts.

4. Mothrider Samurai

Not sure why it was decided that Moths would be a good creature type in this set but if it’s moths we’re given, it’s moths we’ll have to work with. I wouldn’t say this guy was quite like a 3/3 flyer for four mana, because Bushido is slightly less relevant on flyers, because your opponent will often have no way to block them anyway. However he can take down any 2/2 or 2/3 flyer and live to tell the tale and, to be honest, if your opponent doesn’t have any flyers then this guy will make a significant dent in your opponent’s life total anyway. Note that Green has no common way to deal with this guy. Their only”may block as if he has flying” guy is a 2/3.

5. Call to Glory

I’ve got a feeling I might be wrong about this one, because these untap creature cards always look better than they are. However, the fact that it untaps all of your creatures, and also gives your Samurai +1/+1 (White has three common Samurais, plus lots in the uncommon/rare slots and some in other colors) will surely mean many games will be won with this. It can be a great combat trick, that can completely destroy your opponent, and at a mana cost that is not difficult to leave open in the mid-game.

So there you go, that’s my opinion on the best cards to draft in the new set. No doubt I will go back and read this in six months time and have a good laugh at this, but until then this is what I’m running with.

Wishing you the best of luck in the new season.


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