Limited Lessons – The Over/Under of Lorwyn/Lorwyn/Morningtide

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Monday, March 17th – Whenever a new set is added to a well-explored draft format, there are a number of things up for consideration. One of the most overlooked aspects of exploration is the need to re-evaluate the cards of the first set in context with the cards from the second. Today, Nick brings us some of the overrated and underrated hits and misses now that Morningtide is in the mix…

[Editor’s Note: Patrick Chapin will be appearing later in the week. Stay tuned!]

I haven’t done an Over/Underrated article in a while, so I thought that would be a good change of pace for this week. I also plan on doing another walkthrough for next week, perhaps with DraftCap this time since I know there have been requests for it in the forums.

This is definitely one of the harder blocks for an article like this because it is so tribally oriented, and card values change a lot based on your deck. There are still plenty of cards that are being incorrectly evaluated, and hopefully I can clear some of that up now. The format has certainly shifted more in favor of aggressive decks, and so some cards have changed significantly because they are better at handling quick creature strategies.

Boggart Loggers
This one I can understand being undervalued for a few reasons. First of all, many people don’t have a huge amount of drafting under their belt yet, and likely don’t realize all of the shifts in the format with the inclusion of Morningtide. Second, Goblins was pretty bad in LLL and so people probably don’t have much experience with this card.

That being said, Green got a big boost from Morningtide and this card is a nightmare for anyone playing with Forests. There are also more common Changelings now thanks to ‘Tide, and this guy is great at nuking those. I recently lost an entire match on Magic Online to a single copy of this card that was recurred multiple times with Pilferers, Footbottom Feast, and Revive the Fallen. The sad thing is that it didn’t even kill a single creature, it just totally color-screwed me by killing three of my Forests. In LLL I’d say this was a sideboard card 90%+, but now I think it is totally fine to maindeck this if you’re a bit short on playables, and you don’t even have to be in Goblins to do so because it’s also a Rogue with evasion against Green. All in all, this card has really improved, and I still see it in the packs 12th pick or later, which is criminal when you truly understand the new format.

Thorntooth Witch
Treefolk are another tribe that improved a significant amount with Morningtide, and this card is a bomb in a lot of decks. This one isn’t too bad as I’m not seeing it late that often, but there have been multiple occasions where I got this 6th or 7th and was left scratching my head. Again, there are a lot of Changelings available for any color, and this guy is still pretty good if you only have 3-4 ways to trigger it and not too much else at the top end of your curve. Another benefit is that anyone who sees this will kill it on sight if they can, so it may end up drawing out a good removal spell when you don’t even have any Treefolk spells.

Broken Ambitions
I loved this card in LLL and I love it even more now.

This card is excellent at disrupting someone’s curve and putting the tempo back in balance. One thing I’ve realized is that whenever my opponent has U1 up I’m always afraid of this card. Despite that, the situation is usually such that you just have to play your guy anyway and just hope they don’t have it. This is one of the best formats for a Power Sink in a long time, and the fact that it clashes will usually help you more because Blue decks are more often playing the control role and need to stabilize, at which point winning will become academic.

Wings of Velis Vel
I was initially a big supporter of this card, but after some real testing with it my opinion has changed considerably. This is fine in an aggressive deck as a finisher, and it works really well with all of the +1/+1 counter effects in Morningtide. While that’s all well and good, I do think the card is being overplayed a bit and generally overrated.

When I’m in a Blue-based deck, winning really isn’t a problem. Like I’ve said time and time again, if you can get the board stabilized you can easily win with fliers, Islandwalk, or even by milling someone out. Wings of Velis Vel doesn’t particularly help any of these strategies, and it is also reactive instead of actually doing something right away. I think this is a good sideboard card against removal, Eyeblight’s Ending in particular, and has some value in a UW aggressive deck. Just because you can cast this doesn’t mean you should be playing it, and it almost never makes the cut for me anymore.

Pollen Lullaby
Nobody expects this card, and because of that it is almost always a wrecking ball. With Reinforce in the mix now, and other tricks like Kindled Fury, you can totally wreck someone’s attack step by casting this card. If you win the clash it’s almost always GG, but usually Fog will be plenty strong enough. Obviously this is better in a control deck, but it can also be perfectly fine in the maindeck of an aggressive build to ensure that you win any race. If there was actually a big tournament coming up I probably wouldn’t have written about this card as I enjoy getting it very late, and basically nobody will ever expect it or put you on it.

I know it may seem silly to make such a big deal about a Fog, but the card has been really strong for me in the first week of online drafting and I suggest you give it a try.

Shields of Velis Vel
This is another semi-sleeper but I don’t often end up maindecking it. It is, however, a great sideboard card in aggro matchups where you can sometimes even get two for one or better from it. It’s also good against tribal specific cards because it makes all of your men Changelings. I’m sure you’re well aware at this point that it hoses a Thundercloud Shaman. Basically, this is a cheap sideboard option for specific matchups.

Obviously the issue here isn’t that it’s being “underrated,” as nobody ever picks it. The issue in my mind is that nobody ever boards it in that I see, and I doubt many of you even consider it a possibility when sideboarding.

Final-Sting Faerie
I always play around this card if possible and I am always aware of its existence. I can’t say for certain if it’s being over or undervalued, but I want to mention it because I think very few players are worrying about it in situations where they should be, and it could end up costing you some games that would otherwise be close if you took it into consideration along with the other tricks when considering blocks. So many times when I was playing Black my opponent would make a block and I’d say to my roommate, “if only I had Final-Sting here, that would be game.”

The point is for you to up this guy on your priority list and start thinking about it more often when your opponent could have it.

Okay, so I went off on a bit of a tangent with the last two cards, but I want to get back to Over and Under cards. This guy is certainly underrated in the Online draft metagame right now, and by a good margin. There are so many matchups where this card will just destroy someone, and still it seems that nobody is picking it as high as it deserves. Merfolk will scoop to this card in a lot of situations, it crushes Elf tokens, and it destroys small Faeries. Seriously guys, start taking this higher.

Another thing about this card is that you usually don’t want to play it out on turn 2 unless you plan on activating it early, or it isn’t going to be very good in the matchup. Just like Final-Sting Faerie, this is another card that most people don’t play around nearly as often as they should and it’s better to sandbag it and let them overextend before dropping it and using it in the same turn. Just because it’s a creature don’t think that you have to cast it on turn 2 because you’ll miss a few points of damage if you don’t. In an unknown matchup I’d never cast it on turn 2, and once I learned more about my opponent’s deck I would make a decision from there.

Yeah, this is Rare, but I’m mentioning it because it’s a special case.

Initially I thought this card was very good, but it turns out that it is only very good if your mana curve is super low and you can dump your hand quickly most of the time. I’ve had this a few times online and been very displeased with it, as it usually was just a Hill Giant and I never could Evoke it for value. Obviously it’s a fine card because it is a solid creature and can occasionally draw you a few cards, but don’t go first picking it thinking you’ve struck gold because you will be sorely disappointed.

Sage’s Dousing
I had a deck yesterday with three copies of this card. I then proceeded to play against someone playing Blue in all three rounds and wondered how this possibly could’ve happened. Let me put it to you this way… if you’re Blue, you have some freaking Wizards in your deck, so why aren’t you taking this card? This is Dismiss for one Blue mana in almost all situations, and is probably the best common counter in the block.

I’ve been shipped this 6th or later on three separate occasions and I honestly have no idea why. Someone in those six drafters had to be playing Red, and this card is far better than all of the Red commons. This isn’t Firemaw Kavu by any means, but it’s still an excellent card, and if you’re not picking it high when drafting Red you need to start doing so.

Order of the Golden Cricket
I’ve heard different opinions on this card so I’m not sure whether it’s underrated or not in the general metagame. Personally I hate when my opponent plays this card on turn 2, because it gets a few free hits in and then starts jumping over for more, constantly keeping the pressure on. My best advice is to be taking this very highly when you’re in White, and it is good in both control and aggro.

I mention it because I think it’s a card that people tend to pass over, saying “of course that guy is good, but I don’t really think he’s amazing.” I think he deserves a bit more attention because he has been amazing for me every time, and super annoying when someone plays him against me.

Veteran’s Armaments
When Tiago and I did our set review, we didn’t rate this card very highly. I’ve since played with it a bit more, and I like it significantly more than my initial impression. Obviously the card is a bomb in Kithkin, but I think it can have some implications in other archetypes, especially if you’re going to be on defense and want a huge blocker. The best use I’ve found so far is when you put this on Nath’s Elite and just smash their whole team without even losing your guy. Overall I wouldn’t say to maindeck this unless you can make a bunch of tokens or otherwise get a big army quickly, but it definitely has some uses outside of the Kithkin archetype.

Weed-Pruner Poplar
This guy hasn’t really impressed me lately. Sure, he’s a fine card and usually will be making your maindeck, but I’ve found that he will often not be able to kill anything or simply be killed when he would actually be effective. Unlike Festercreep, your opponent will see this guy coming and have a chance to respond, and he’s also very clunky at five mana. Honestly, I think I prefer the ‘Creep to this card almost always, and I doubt any of you are making that pick unless you already have a bunch of five-drops.

I’ve maindecked this twice now in near mono-Red Elementals, and been happy with it both times. Since there are a lot more common Changelings now, I think this guy finally has a chance to really steal some games away, and again it is a card nobody will expect. There’s nothing sicker than feeling like you have the game locked down only to be completely blown out by a Goatnapper on a key turn. Once this happened to me I decided I would try the card out, and I’ve definitely been pleased. Obviously this gets better if you have a way to sacrifice creatures as well, but the Threaten ability has been excellent for me and usually will have a target in LLM.

Kithkin Daggerdare
Since the format has taken a turn towards favoring aggression, this guy has certainly gone up in value in my book, as have cards like Silvergill Douser (if he wasn’t already high enough). This guy is superb in an aggro strategy, and I’ve been picking him much higher nowadays than in LLL. This may seem somewhat obvious, but I haven’t played against many opponents who had this card in their Green decks, and I think it’s likely because they didn’t value it appropriately and it got hate drafted or went into somebody’s sideboard.

Faerie Trickery
As nice as it is to have a hard counter, this card has gone down a bit in value with the inclusion of Morningtide. This is obviously because Faeries have grown stronger, and again there are more Changelings that you can’t counter with this. I’d take Broken Ambitions over this almost always, and be very happy about it. While I’ll still maindeck this relatively often, I’ll also board it out in a lot of Blue matchups as it really sucks to keep mana up for it and then not be able to counter something.

That’s about all I’ve got for now, so hopefully something in here catches your eye or makes you think about the format on a deeper level. Next week I should have another Draft Walkthrough, but until then, I’ll see you guys in the forums.

Nick Eisel
Soooooo on MTGO
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