Moving Along – Champions Cards to Keep an Eye On

This is probably my favorite subject to write on, since I love talking about over and underrated cards and helping people figure out the format. What cards are you overlooking, and which ones should you be drafting higher? The Eisel knows…

So here I am… in my office.

“Wait, I thought you were still in college, Nick, why the hell do you have an office?”

Okay, so maybe it’s not exactly my office, but that’s what I call it.

I’m sitting here in the science wing of my college in the one computer lab that nobody uses. Why no one uses it is a mystery to me since all of the equipment is brand new. Instead, most of the students opt for the sh***y computer lab in the main building of campus which is usually packed and the computers are powered by a mouse running in a wheel. I’m not kidding.

So yeah, this is where I get most of my work done. It’s a good spot to do some thinking, since the air conditioning is comfortable and the only noise is the cool, reverberating hum of the fifteen new computers. Oh, and I almost forgot to mention, my “personal” computer in here is obviously equipped with all of the necessities such as Magic Online and Poker software.

So anyway, I’m sitting here trying to come up with an intro for this article, and Dr. Martel decides he wants to try and help. By the way, he’s also Zippy in the forums, in case you were wondering who would ever make such stupid comments. Here’s an AIM conversation we had about coming up with my intro:

Soooooo: hmm i dunno how to start my article

xVerdantx: Start it like this

xVerdantx: Dr. Martel invented pants

Soooooo: lol

xVerdantx: Other great minds came up with other stuff, but I invented pants

xVerdantx: Tell them to stop cutting me off from White when I open Nagao

xVerdantx: %$*#ing bastards

Soooooo: so basically you have nothing good to contribute, you’re just gonna sit there and say random things?

xVerdantx: Beverly Lynn is one fine young woman

xVerdantx: But seriously, you should be like

xVerdantx: Somewhere in this article

xVerdantx: is a complete fabrication of truth

xVerdantx: and you readers need to find it

xVerdantx: and then dont have one

xVerdantx: so the forums will argue for a week


So how’s that for a pointless conversation? Oh, and that is actually Jason’s real AIM name, so feel free to harass him as you see fit.

Enchant Me?

First I want to list one of the funniest draft decks I’ve ever had. It’s not funny in the Eater of Days plus Screaming Fury sorta way, but because the deck was just absurdly good.

Enter the Shrine

Honden of Infinite Rage

Honden of Night’s Reach

Honden of Seeing Winds

Honden of Cleansing Fire

Honden of Cleansing Fire

Honden of Life’s Web

Honden of Life’s Web

Orochi Sustainer

Sakura-Tribe Elder

Kodama’s Reach

Kodama’s Reach

Kodama’s Reach

Moss Kami

Moss Kami

Moss Kami

Hikari, Twilight Guardian

Kabuto Moth

Feral Deceiver

Kami of the Hunt


Hundred-Talon Kami

Matsu-Tribe Decoy

Order of the Sacred Bell

Strength of Cedars




5 Plains

7 Forests

Yes, that’s seven shrines…and triple Kodama’s Reach. I lost the sideboard to this deck somewhere in transition, but I do remember that I had another copy of Strength of Cedars in the board, since I had to fit more creatures in the deck. Achieving double shrine is really not fair at all, especially in Limited, and if the White shrine (which I had two of) is one of them, it’s really hard to lose. I’d take the White shrine over any of the White commons, if I had any shot at getting another shrine. The only time I’d take Cage or Moth over it is if it was late in the draft already and I had no realistic chance to double up on Hondens.

People are starting to realize that shrines actually have a huge impact on the Limited environment, and it makes cards like Kami of Ancient Law that much better. Make sure to pick up those Wear Aways and Quiet Purities for the sideboard. It may actually be correct to maindeck one of these, especially in the case of Wear Away, since it has Arcane and there are a lot of powerful enchantments in this set that show up regularly. Cage of Hands, Mystic Restraints, all of the Instachantments, etc are all good reasons to maindeck cards like this.

So the point here is to be aware that Shrines are a big theme in this Limited environment. Play them and be ready to deal with them.

Some Cards to Keep an Eye On

This is probably my favorite subject to write on, since I love talking about over and underrated cards and helping people figure out the format.

Sensei’s Divining Top

I was certainly a huge fan of Darksteel Pendant in the last block, and the Top bears some resemblance. However, the fact of the matter is that Pendant was pretty decent and the Top is really not very good at all. Lots of people at CMU have been playing it, and I really can’t figure out why they haven’t realized that it’s not very good yet.

The effect it produces is decent with shuffling effects, but if you don’t have any, then all this card does is waste time. It’s annoying to sit there every turn while some buffoon rearranges the top 3 cards for what seems like an hour. It can help to get you out of a manascrew, but it still isn’t worth a slot in your deck since it just doesn’t do enough.

Basically, if you’re out to waste an hour of someone’s life, this is the way to go, but otherwise leave it on the sidelines.

Burr Grafter

I meant to talk about this guy at the end of my article last week, and just forgot to do it.


It’s okay, because my opinion of him has only gone up even higher after another week of playing. When I first started drafting this set I thought this guy would be unplayable, because four mana for a 2/2 with a not-so-spectacular ability usually doesn’t cut the mustard. Once I realized that the Soulshift on Grafter was actually very good, it changed my entire valuation of the card.

The fact that Burr is an on-the-table trick is still fine, since the threat of his ability is usually enough to dissuade any blocking activity from occurring. When you combine our buddy here with something like Pain Kami, he really gets out of hand. This is simply because you can activate his Soulshift whenever you want by just pumping something, and have recursive Heat Rays all day long. While he’s still not that high of a pick (since Green doesn’t have a huge number of cheap Spirits he can shift back), he should usually be making the cut in your decks.


Equipment should be insane in a set without much artifact removal right?


I first picked this card in one of the first drafts we did, and it didn’t even come close to living up to my expectations.

Three mana is just too slow for the effect the card provides, even though it does essentially create an unblockable creature for the early portion of the game. I’d still play the card if I had to, but I don’t pick it high and generally try to avoid it if I can.


This guy is nuts!

If you have a decent number of Spirit and Arcane spells, this guy is almost a first pick for any Green deck. Once in play, the Shaper totally changes the flow of the game. The opponent has to constantly be worried about getting ambushed if he attacks, and also worry bout incoming lands that can screw up damage races. I recently stole a game out from under someone by getting him to attack with too many creatures and then activating this guy twice on my turn via cheap Arcane spells like Reach through Mists. Every spell you cast basically does three damage to the opponent if you’re drafting a deck like the one I advocated last week.

Sokenzan Bruiser

The value of this dude is totally dependent on what people are drafting.

Right now though, one of the most popular things I’ve seen is people splashing for Yamabushi’s Flame and Glacial Ray, which makes the Bruiser unblockable against a large majority of the opponents you’ll be facing. Even when he’s not, he’s still a Hill Giant for an extra mana, which isn’t the worst thing in the world.



Because of the legendary nature of this set, what seems like a trash rare is actually a pretty powerful spell. The best way to utilize this card is to bring it in for games two and three once you see what rares and uncommons your opponent has (he’ll only have one copy of them usually). That, or you can implement the scouting technique during deckbuilding and just run the thing maindeck if you can remember who has what. Eight damage is quite a bit when people aren’t really expecting it, and the only real dilemma comes up when your opponent is holding the card in question in the grip. This can be avoided though by reasoning that your opponent would have already cast the card if he had it based on his mana situation and generally the card doesn’t miss if you use your head.

Blood Rites

Anyone have any real experience with this card? I’ve only played it twice and really haven’t been happy with the results. Once it’s in play, the effect is extremely powerful, as a double Goblin Bombardment that costs mana is solid. Getting it into play, however, is another issue.

My best guess is that this is a good sideboard card in slow matchups, but really shouldn’t be maindecked unless you have some particular reason (like a million Zuberas) to do so. It also seems fine if you have lots of mana acceleration and need a way to dispose of Orochi Sustainers and other dorks in the late game.

Guardian of Solitude

This little man is a fine addition to a heavy Green Arcane deck that really needs some way to control the air. He’s especially good if you have instant Arcane stuff like Kodama’s Might so that you can ambush attackers as well as giving your fatties evasion.

I mention him mainly because I haven’t seen many people playing him and I think he’s better than he’s given credit for in general.

Soratami Savant

I haven’t really seen much talk about this guy, and I think you should know that he is a friggin’ bomb.

He’s much better than any of the Blue commons, and probably almost as good as Glacial Ray. Once you untap with this guy on your side, it is very hard to lose the game. If you’re playing UG with Kodama’s Reach and other mana acceleration, this guy becomes virtually a hardlock, since you can use his ability multiple times every turn.

Don’t pass this guy if you’re in Blue.

Hisoka’s Defiance

I haven’t really played this card very much yet, but I did notice that a lot of people were sporting it in Grand Prix: Austin this past weekend. Maybe the card is actually better than I’m giving it credit for.

Anyone have an opinion on this?

Mean Green

Green is the best color in Champions Limited.

There you have it, some real tested and proven advice.

Why you ask?

It’s pretty simple, Green has three powerful common mana-fixers, a deep set of commons, and works well with any other color. We’re back to the days of Invasion where Harrow was a first-pick, and splashing removal into a Green deck was a solid strategy. I can’t say that I’m unhappy about it either, as Green is sleek and powerful as ever.

I mentioned last week that the common pick order for Green was really difficult, since there are so many good cards. I think I’ve finally put together a basic pick order though for those of you who are curious about basic power level. Obviously the order changes dramatically based on what the rest of your deck looks like, but let me at least lay down a foundation for the commons of the best color in Limited CoK (Note: I left out the unplayable maindeck cards like Jukai Messenger and Joyous Respite).

1) Kodama’s Reach

2) Sakura-Tribe Elder

3) Orochi Sustainer

4) Kodama’s Might


Kami of the Hunt & Matsu-Tribe Decoy

7) Moss Kami

8) Order of the Sacred Bell

9) Orochi Ranger

10) Burr Grafter

11) Serpent Skin

12) Humble Budoka

13) Vine Kami

14) Dripping-Tongue Zubera

15) Venerable Kumo

16) Kashi-Tribe Warriors

Green has so many highly playable commons in this set that it’s sick.

A few notes about the list:

Kami of the Hunt and Matsu-Tribe Decoy are really too close to call. The decision is based on the rest of your deck, and since you usually won’t be first picking either of these in the first pack, we’ll just say that they’re too close to call and depend on the other cards in your deck. Decoy obviously gets better with more pump and Snake Tribal effects, while Kami is nuts in the Spirit/Arcane archetype.

Notice how low Humble Budoka is on the totem pole. Being untargetable in this set really sucks.

I would take Kodama’s Might over Orochi Sustainer if I already had 2-3 manafixers in my deck.

I would take Ranger over Sacred Bell if my curve dictated so, as I already emphasized last week that I really am not much of a fan of the Sacred Bell.

I’ve taken Kodama’s Reach over Befoul, Cage of Hands, and many other top commons plenty of times, and every time I have been happy with the choice

So there’s the Green pick order in a nutshell. It’s been quite a while since we’ve had this deep of a common pool for a color, so enjoy it.

I’m planning on doing another Snapping Thragg type experiment again soon, so hopefully I can find the time to put that together, and also to start doing some draft walkthroughs of the new set.


Nick Eisel

[email protected]

Soooooo & ThatsGameBoys on MODO