Limited with Mirrodin Besieged!

Tuesday, February 8 – Brad Nelson will be battling Guillaume Matignon for the Player of the Year title in 2011! Be sure to vote for Team Brad or Team Guillaume before the showdown. Brad talks about the new Limited format with Mirrodin Besieged!

From my perspective, the Mirrodin Besieged Prerelease was a big success. I didn’t know if I was going to like the whole faction thing – but it
played out really well. Glen Goddard ran one hell of a tournament, making this my favorite Prerelease yet.

New cards mean a new Limited format, and that is exactly what we’re going to look at today.

Mirrodin Besieged has really changed the way this format plays out. There are so many new things to be aware of about this format that it makes sense
to look at things one step at a time.

Living Weapons

This is the coolest thing I have seen Wizards of the Coast do in a very long time. In the past, you always had to think very carefully about how many
pieces of equipment you wanted to draft. The first piece of equipment is always great, but the risk of drawing multiple pieces of equipment and not
enough creatures to put them on is a serious concern that you can’t help but think about.

Living weapon completely solves this problem.

Living weapons are insane in any infect strategy. Bonehoard leads the pack because of how many trades decks tend to make when fighting off a hoard of
infect creatures. Bonehoard makes every creature a real threat, and you lose little tempo by playing the card, since it comes down as a decently sized
creature pretty much anytime you cast it. Once the game has progressed far enough, it can move around your team for a very small cost.

Bonehoard is insane even if you aren’t drafting infect. The only time I don’t love this card is in a very aggressive, removal-light metalcraft deck. In
this case, creatures won’t die as often as they would normally, and it will not help you in the early turns when you’re trying to race an opponent.

Mortarpod is one of my top 10 favorite cards ever printed. I didn’t even know this card existed until I opened it in my Sealed pool. Mortarpod’s
power level is dependent on how good the player holding it is.

More cards like this need to get printed. The worst part about this card is that there are so many powerful cards that you have to take over it. Most
of the rares in the format are first-picks, which makes Mortarpod a very good runner-up in most packs. I see this card going second pick in many

The most powerful thing about this card is that it’s a two-drop that also kills other two-drops. Mirrodin Besieged doesn’t have as many good two-drops
as Scars has – which, on average, will lower the number of two-drops that decks have. Having a good two-drop is always important, but what puts
this card over the top is the ability to proactively kill one as well. This card does not have the same problem that Contagion Clasp sometimes has.
(Being able to play out your Mortarpod instead of watching it collect dust in your hand while you wait for your opponent to play a decent creature to
kill with it is nice indeed.)

Strandwalker is very good at fighting off both infect and flying strategies. A true artifact removal spell is the only way creatures with flying are
going to get past a Strandwalker, and the extra toughness that it provides will hold off any army. It can also turn a random infect dork into a serious

Good five-drops are also very hard to find. Most decks have a tough time filling this slot in their curve, and Strandwalker fits into most decks
perfectly. The only deck where it might screw up the curve is the dinosaur deck, but we will get to that later.

Living weapons have also changed my evaluation of many cards from Scars of Mirrodin. Tel-Jilad Defiance is a card that used to be a 23rd playable or
stuck in the sideboard. I think this card will make more maindecks because of living weapons. It’s insanely valuable to be able to kill off your
opponent’s Germ – getting a creature off the table your opponent thought was going to be on hand for combat. This can create a huge tempo
swing. Lumengrid Drake and Glimmerpost Stag also gain the ability to kill creatures and cause big tempo boosts.

Glint Hawk gains a new ability in that it can create another creature. Being able to re-buy on a Germ seems like a very powerful play on defense and

Six-Mana Bombs Are Still Six-Mana Bombs

This did not change at all. I don’t really understand why there are so many insane six-drops in this format, nor do I understand why they keep getting

Massacre Wurm?!? This card did not need to be printed. It was the least fun card I had to play against during the Prerelease. I don’t have a good
answer to how to play around this card, so I guess I can’t say much more. All I know is that you will be lucky if it doesn’t kill you at least once
before M12 comes out.

Knowing that the bomb density has not gone down since the release of Mirrodin Besieged means that holding removal is still very important. Being able
to kill these things is a must in this format. I don’t like trying to go aggro unless a deck has reach or can reliably kill an opponent before turn 6.
If your deck cannot do either, you should really save removal for these bomb-tastic six-drops. Most decks will have at least one so be prepared to deal
with them.

Why did they print Massacre Wurm…seriously.

The Spread Of Infection

White now has infect creatures, but that does not mean that it’s a viable draft strategy just yet. I wouldn’t say that it is impossible to draft
a good white infect deck, but there’s no way that I’m going to try to force it.

The reason for this is that there are too many cards in white that are at their best in a defensive deck or a metalcraft deck.

The list of white cards I want to play in an infect deck is reduced to amazing rares, removal spells, Priests of Norn, and Tine Shrike. Once the first
pack is over – the only white cards that will be good in an infect deck are removal spells.

These removal spells are usually taken over the good white creatures, so it is quite difficult to pick up many copies of these cards. Once the white
removal spells are picked up, the only cards you can take in your white/X infect deck are white creatures or spells in your other color. This will lead
to many non-infect creature picks and a very unfocused deck. We have already figured out that an opponent is not dead if they are at ten life with five
poison counters.

Black and green, however, do get an amazing power jump with the new set. Infect creatures are evolving and taking monstrous forms. The way we have to
fight with/against infect has changed in a pretty significant way.

Before the introduction of Mirrodin Besieged, infect was, typically, played as a pretty straightforward aggressive deck with multiple
two-drops. Sure, the fact that Untamed Might could be waiting right around the corner was pretty frightening (and often deadly), but it was pretty easy
to control them if you had the correct tools because they never really did anything else.

It’s becoming less important to have an abundance of two-drop infect creatures since infect decks now have relevant five- and six-drops as well as new
toys like Morbid Plunder that help them immensely in the mid/late game.

It used to be a decent defense to put down a card like Loxodon Wayfarer as a roadblock – but that really doesn’t work anymore. You need a lot of
pressure to be able to combat modern infect decks. I don’t think you can push the game into turn 15 and expect to have a way better board than they do
unless your deck is filled with six-mana bombs like Steel Hellkite and Massacre Wurm.

Metalcraft Has Lost The Edge

It’s a lot harder to put together a good metalcraft deck now that Mirrodin Besieged is in the picture.

Not only do you have one less pack of mana Myrs and Spellbombs, but the metalcraft guys in Mirrodin Besieged are significantly less powerful
(and plentiful) than the metalcraft creatures in Scars of Mirrodin.

There is also a shift away from good artifact creatures and an abundance of great colored guys. This makes it even less attractive to draft metalcraft
and instead to just grab great dudes. Not to mention how good the artifact removal has gotten…

Sure, it’s still possible to get 4/4 Chrome Steeds on turn 3, but I don’t think there’s much upside to trying to force metalcraft

Silverskin Armor is a card that makes me want to try an interesting metalcraft deck. I think that the practical problem is that I would want (at least)
two of these because of how sweet they are with the colored metalcraft creatures from Scars of Mirrodin. Turning a Carapace Forger into a 5/5 as long
as you have a single other artifact is pretty hot. I think that Silverskin Armor is one of the best new ways to get Crafty.

The other card that is big for metalcraft is Master’s Call. Master’s Call is one of the most interesting cards to come out of this set;
because of the pack order change, Besieged is drafted first instead of last. Master’s Call is one of the best enablers in the set – but you
have to take it in pack one. This can be very awkward because Master’s Call is not good at all if played without any metalcraft cards, Myr
Galvanizer, or battle cry guys. So far, I will grab this card if I’m in white and the pack doesn’t have anything else I am interested in – but
drafting it early is a very interesting proposition…

How Important First-Picks Have Become

This is something that is fairly new to me in Draft. First-picks have never really been that important to me in Scars of Mirrodin Limited because I
always want to be open to opportunities as the draft goes on. I would normally just take a first-pick and kind of ignore it until I saw how the draft
evolved. The new problem is that Besieged has some very powerful cards, and there are usually two cards in each pack that are significantly better than
the rest.

This will (usually) make it easy for you to figure out what the person to your left is going to take. The drafter to your left will think infect is
open if you pass him or her a Flesh-Eater Imp – so drafting infect might be harder since you just made the person to your left think that you are
not infect.

This goes for a number of cards in the format.

It is very hard to abandon the first couple picks in the draft since they tend to be the most powerful cards a person is going to draft. It is
important to keep a mental log of what you passed the person to your left so you know what you can expect to see in pack two.

Be Able To Close A Game

This is the most important thing to know about the new format.

The tempo in the game has sped up a great deal, but games themselves last as long as they did during mono-Scars of Mirrodin Limited. This means that
being able to compete on turn 3 as well as turn 13 is very important. The games are typically huge attrition wars (where the carnage begins only
moments after the first land is played) – but it’s possible to get overrun in the early turns if you aren’t ready.

The reason for this is that most decks are very aggressive – but there are so many cards in the format that slow the games to a crawl. This is
when the game goes into a topdeck war until someone has a bomb or a big creature with evasion and finishes the game with it.

Super-aggressive decks do not really work. Make sure to draft some haymakers because you are going to need them.

That’s all the time I have to talk about Limited this week. I really mean that it’s all the time I have, since I did not bring a charger to Paris
for my computer, and I have 13% left on it. I should learn to be more prepared for these things, but it does seem to be more fun doing it this way. I
will make sure to find a new charger because I have to save the best for next week…

As you all know, I will be battling Guillaume Matignon this weekend for Player of the Year. This is why I couldn’t talk about anything really sweet
this week. I really have to bring the trophy to the US. Next week will be a fun one because I will not only have a great tournament report from this
weekend but some great stories about testing in San Diego last week. Maybe Steve Sadin will let me write two articles next week so I can have a
Gruesome Encore

Wish me luck this weekend, and I will do everything in my power to make you proud of me. USA!

Brad Nelson