There has been a lot of debate about pick orders. I think the reason for this is the variability of similarly powered cards. For this reason, from here on, I will be using Groupings. There will be four groups for each color. I figure if it can work for Sklansky and Malmuth, why not for pick orders?
Group 1 is filled with the best of the best. These are the bombs you should nearly always be first picking.
What can be said about this card that hasn’t already been said? Green picked up a little steam with sunburst in the last pack. Add to that the fact that it is underdrafted and Molder Slug becomes as powerful as ever. If you didn’t open Grab the Reins, then this is your first pick.
This card is incredibly powerful. He is virtually indestructible if played properly. There is no ground creature in the game that uses Equipment as effectively as him, meaning he is very undercosted for the utility you get. There is a very short list of uncommons I would take over this guy.
Any creature that provides a two-for-one in this format is capable of generating powerful swings in the game. The Shaman is no different. With all the bounce effects in the game, Shaman’s potential reusability makes it a bomb.
The card no Green deck should be without. This guy is a dominating force on the board in this format. This card is particularly powerful with Ferocious Charge. It is one of the few Tramplers in the format and its size makes him very difficult to deal with.
I know I have this card lower than most people would agree with, but this card never blew me away. I saw a lot of potential in it when the set came out, but that potential was never realized. Too often I see it sit on the board when its controller has no spells to cast and it can’t deal with a real threat without mana burning to death. Beside that, it is terribly easy to kill and if your opponent knows you have it, he will conserve his removal. That being said, this card can dominate games, sometimes winning them single handedly. This is the last card on this list that will put me into Green early.
Group 2 is the highly playable group. Any deck would be glad to have these cards in it.
One Dozen Eyes
Big men are still at a premium in this format, so pick them up where you can. This card costs one more than Fangren Hunter, is much easier to deal with, and doesn’t have trample. However this card is a little more versatile, so it isn’t far behind the Hunter.
This guy is really good. I wasn’t sure for a while if he was better or worse than the Hunter, but he can get pretty unwieldy. The late game pressure he provides is often insurmountable.
It kills an artifact practically for free. When it is at its worst, it reads”Destroy target Artifact, Lose three life.” Now I don’t know about you, but a card like that would still make the cut in all of my decks.
One of the few cards in the set that can kill an Arrest. Arrest is one of Green’s biggest enemies. The land destruction aspect became a little more powerful with Sunburst. If you see this card, pick it up.
I have seen this card single-handedly shut down a formidable offense. Once things are stabilized he becomes nearly unblockable. This card is quite good take it early.
The best pump spell in a format with many. The others may be situationally better, but this one is the best value for your mana. This is the one that can be a game ender even when your finisher is chump blocked.
This card goes way later than it should. I put it here because this is where it falls in terms of power level, but I routinely see this card go seventh to ninth, so you can pass it and still have a good chance of seeing it again.
Talisman of Impulse/Talisman of Unity
You want your Talismans in Green to be as off color as they can be. Four or Five color Green is a powerful strategy.
Strictly worse than off-color Myr since most of the times you are drafting Green you will be several colors.
These are the clunky, bulky, situational, but still playable cards.
The best part about Equipment (and there aren’t many good parts,) is that they can turn defensive cards into offensive powerhouses. The Exile is one such card. He makes attacking very difficult. Add a Bonesplitter too him and he can win you the game.
Tree of Tales
This card is not quite that much lower than the off color ones. The reason for this is Trinket Mage. It is nice to be able to smooth out your mana with more than just Green cards.
This card I like a lot. Splashing tends to favor Artifact lands, and unlike Journey of Discovery, this lets you fetch those. It can also get your Glimmervoid or Mirrodin’s Core to really help out with your Sunburst.
Journey of Discovery
It is easy to see why this card improved with Fifth Dawn. It thins your deck, gets you card advantage, gives you mid-game tempo, and aids Sunburst. This card’s stock improved more than any card in Mirrodin.
If I am spending seven mana for something, it better win me the game on the spot. That is something this card doesn’t do. In fact, games are normally decided by the time this guy is cast. That being said, once he is on the table, he is really hard to deal with. He gives Vorrac Battlehorns a reason for existing.
The best enchantments are in the first pack. This card has slipped in value yet again. While a 2/2 for three isn’t awful in this format, it is sad to think of how much better he used to be.
Like Pewter Golem, once he is on the table he is a powerful force. The problem is surviving until he can get on the board. Drawing him early is a near mulligan.
Trolls of Tel-Jilad
This card is little more than a weaker Plated Slagwurm. Read about him above.
Plated Slagwurm number three, same as the first, a little more expensive and a little bit worse.
Chaff or barely playable cards.
I like little beaters and this one’s ability occasionally has uses. He doesn’t see nearly as much play as he should. He is a fine man.
If this guy gets going, he is a force to be reckoned with. He has the potential to single handedly win a game. The unfortunate part is that it is a rarity for an opponent not to have a turn 1 or 2 play in this format, so more often than not, the Predator just trades unless you have…
This is the first of the situational pump spells I was talking about. There are times and creatures that this card works better with than Predator Strike. However, more often than not this card is under-powered.
As much as Journey’s stock went up, this card went down. The last thing Green needs in the area of mana production is more Green Mana. Your best Green decks will be 5-color oriented.
Tooth and Nail
In a deck capable of generating massive amounts of mana, this card can actually be quite good. Assuming you have stuff to get with it. More often than not, this card shouldn’t be in your deck. However, on rare occasions, it will be quite good.
Turn to Dust
This is a sideboard card that won’t get sided in nearly as much as you might think.
This card is just unplayable. There aren’t enough big creatures without Trample to warrant it.
I am sure someone, somewhere has a saucy combo in Constructed for this. I am also sure he would tell you not to play it in Limited.
I am so sick of people telling me that this card is very good. Granted Fifth Dawn slowed the format… slightly. Seven mana is still too much and this guy still does too little.
Hum of the Radix
Could you side this in against a dedicated Affinity deck? Sure. Should you? Probably not.
It combos with Tangle Asp?… Moving on.
You know the old saying”if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all?”
You’ll have to forgive me if I don’t have something to say about each and every Artifact. This being the artifact set, I don’t really want to bore you to tears as I drone on about Tangleblooms and Tel-Jilad Styluses.
This card is quietly one of the most powerful rares in the set. He doesn’t get talked about much, but he is quite powerful. The threat of pumping can make him unblockable, while the pumping itself makes him nearly unstoppable.
This card is phenomenal. He is a sizable body for the format with an incredible ability. Do not pass this card.
Remember what I said about Viridian Shaman? Well most of that applies here too. The biggest problem with Duplicant is that often the creature he kills will be smaller than his own 2/4 stats. Sadly you don’t get the choice.
Mask of Memory
Yes I know this is an Equipment card, but it is the best of its breed in this set. If this card hits you more than twice you can forget about winning that particular game.
Colorless pseudo-removal that can change targets every turn? Where do I sign up? They say the third time’s the charm… well this is the best appearance of Icy yet. This probably has much to do with this being the first time it appeared in a draftable Block, but pay that no mind.
Jens is one of the people I miss the most from the PT. He, Jeff Fung, and I made a formidable team on the money draft circuit. He made a card that is simply spectacular in draft. If it was possible the card got even better with Fifth Dawn. I would be quite excited to open this card up in my first pack.
This card is truly awesome if you get to untap. For seven mana, I like the effect to be felt immediately. Generally I can’t complain about this particular seven casting cost spell.
4/4 fliers are very good, but keep in mind that is often all she is. She is so fragile, that you often can’t go below one life anyway for fear of her being bounced or destroyed. That being said, if you have no option but to go below one life, it is very nice to have her around.
Do I still think this is the best common in the set? Yeah I do. I know there are a lot of people out there who disagree with me, but I just think this guy is too juicy to ever pass for another common. He is at the top of the curve power/toughness wise and he casting cost is usually manageable.
Spending four mana for this seems like a lot, but once it is on the table, it is the most powerful card drawing card in the set.
There were a lot of things I was wrong about when the set first came out. This was not one of them. I loved this card from the moment I saw it. I think most people undervalued the ability to move it around doing multiple damage. It did drop in my eyes for a while, but it quickly came back. Sadly it dipped during a dark time I like to call:”The Mirrodin Dilemma Series.”
This card is often a Vulshok Morningstar. It is often far more than that as well. I don’t value this as highly as some, since I am a player who rarely has a significant amount of cards in his hand, but this card’s got game.
I was skeptical about this card in the beginning, but it really showed its stuff to me. Haste is a very relevant ability in this format, as there are a lot of races leading to a lot of tapped creatures.
This card isn’t nearly as good as it seemed in the beginning. It is not as easy as it appeared to work a game to a stalemate where this card thrives. There are, however, several cards that Mindslaver really punishes. You should almost always play this card, but don’t jump on it when you open it.
This is an interesting card. I am surprised I like it, considering how much I dislike Acquire. The difference is this can stabilize a board. You will always be copying the best artifact on the table. Moreover, you can judge how good it may be depending on the power of the artifacts in your own deck.
This is another card that dropped in value. There was a time I considered this the best common to first pick in the set. Now I don’t even consider it the best common Equipment. The card is fine, but nothing amazing. It is at its best in Affinity and White decks.
It has that dreaded number in the top right hand corner. I like that it flies and I like that you can pump it. I also like that if it goes unchecked it can win you the game by itself. What I don’t like is that it will rot in your hand in a mana light game. I think that Fifth Dawn marks the return of very low land counts. Like the Mindslaver, you shouldn’t be slamming this card when you open it, but almost always play it.
While the secret is out on this card, there was a long time where people looked at it with a bad taste in their mouths. The fact is this card can put you ahead in races you couldn’t win before. In the early game it can shut down those little beaters that normally work so well in this format.
I’ll bet you are surprised to see me rating this card so high. I assure you this is a testimony to how bad the rest of the artifacts are, rather than how good this is. This card has moved up to mediocre in my mind, as that is what too many good players have insisted to me. I still don’t like this card. It remains the most overrated card in the history of Limited.
This is a great creature. 3/3s are very powerful in this format, especially at such a low cost.
Sunburst and cog-enablers moved this card up a great deal. You want this card in your deck.
I used to think this card was much better. In big Green decks, it is quite good, but nowadays (and especially with the new cogs), this card can be too much of a liability.
Altar of Shadows
I left this off of the Black list, since drafting Black has nothing to do with this card. Someone was sure fond of the number seven, because it appears a lot in this set. Too bulky for me.
Here is a card I hated at first, but really grew on me. It amazes me how long it took me to realize all of the creatures in Mirrodin sucked. They didn’t get too much better as the sets went on. This card is still very playable.
This card got a lot scarier when Darksteel revealed the Echoing cards. It can still be powerful, but it is very dangerous. In the past you wanted to do this during your upkeep to maximize the number of tokens you get. Now I would wait until the endstep to avoid Echoing Ruin. You still aren’t protected against Decay and Truth however.
This card should make the cut in nearly every deck. It is early damage and can stand up to some cards more powerful than it later on.
Evasion or flying defense for any color. This card should almost always make the cut.
Powers up Affinity and stops early beats. Affinity isn’t quite as powerful as it used to be, but in this card’s heyday I was known to second pick it.
This card is harder to play than it used to be since you need to be playing a lot of colored land. Most decks nowadays will be three colors at least.
This card, conversely, has gone up in value. Unless your deck really can’t support or use this at all, you should be playing this card all the time.
This card is nice if you have no way of dealing with Artifacts. I would generally leave this in the board if you do.
If you aren’t a good one, don’t use this. That being said, it does help Affinity and on average you will draw a card every other activation.
I want this card to be good, but it always seems to fall short. I get the feeling Champions of Kamigawa will be released with this question never being answered.
Personally I like this card better than Loxodon Warhammer. I am leaving it down here under the assumption I don’t know what I am talking about in the field of Equipment and others know better. [Perhaps the funniest KK card review of all time. – Knut]
Just too slow for this format.
You know my feelings on Equipment. I don’t ever draft this card as I never see it late enough where I would want to take it. If I didn’t, I am not sure I would play it.
The risk of two-for-one just makes this card too weak. If you have a number of powerful cards to imprint on it, go for it. Otherwise, don’t force matters. Try to make sure you can use it the turn you cast it.
He falls into the Golem family in Mirrodin quite nicely. Slow and clunky, but very powerful once on the table.
If you have powerful artifacts that you really want to be able to get a second chance with this guy can move into group 2.
Painfully slow, but 4/4 fliers are not to be taken lightly. This card can swing games.
In Affinity decks, this card can be quite powerful. Yet another situational 4/4 flier.
This card has gotten a lot better. There are several cards that don’t tap to attack and most of them playable. Don’t discount this card right away. See what kind of synergy it has with your deck.
Pseudo-evasion. This card is incredibly hard to block. Add to that the pumping, you have a moderately playable card.
He’s big for this format. That alone makes him potentially playable. Normally you need to pump him a couple times before he can become offensive though. This gives your opponent plenty of time to figure out how to deal with him.
This card can be a nasty surprise. It can also be bulky and predictable. You can play it, but you don’t have to.
Sword of Kaldra
If you get a second-turn Myr this card is a lot better. Otherwise, a bit too clunky.
This card was always a hidden gem. I played it in most decks, and I think it got even better with Fifth Dawn.
This card can be a dominating force in creature light decks. If you have a way to get it off the table it is even better. However, most of the time the drawback is too much.
Use your judgment. You’ll know how well this card works in your deck.
Goblin War Wagon
I liked this card at first due to the low quality of creature cards in the set. I have since learned the value of mana conservation in this format.
A thoroughly unimpressive piece of Equipment, but you could to worse in an affinity deck.
This can be a powerful sideboard card. When you have this keep an eye open for how many things it shuts down of your opponents.
Scale of Chiss-Goria
Tooth of Chiss-Goria
Chalice of the Void
Gate to the Aether
Scythe of the Wretched
Tower of Champions
Tower of Eons
Tower of Fortunes
Tower of Murmurs
Let me know in the forums if you like this format better. Remember in the individual categories, the cards aren’t necessarily in a pick order. Next week begins the Darksteel portion of our series. I hope you are enjoying it thus far, and I look forward to you comments.
A small note on Ask Ken. My injury prevented me from writing it for a week and it also kept me out of work. Between writing this series and catching up at work, I have decided to leave Ask Ken on hiatus until July 1, 2004.