I don’t know what it is about this block that has caused such a drop in the writings of Limited players. I don’t think there has been a block with such a dearth of Limited strategy articles in a long time. Therefore, I am going to begin a series of articles.
This is going to be a nine part series. Since several card valuations change as new sets are released, I am going to offer a pick order for every color in every set of Mirrodin Block. If I manage to stay on task (releasing one article every week for nine weeks), the article should culminate with about two months left before Champions of Kamigawa is released. CoK Block will be a whole different situation.
I am going to lead off with White. I won’t say too much about each card – You know the merits of them at this point. I will try to show you why certain cards have changed and how they interact with the new set.
I know you are shocked to see this card at the top of the list. Believe it or not, Wrath effects, even those with the capacity to be one-sided, are still playable. Jokes aside, this is the best or second best card in the set. There really isn’t anything you should be taking over it outside of Grab the Reins, and even that is debatable.
This guy is something else. He is hard to bust and makes your Artifacts even harder to bust. This is easily number two on White’s list.
Want to hear a sad story? One time at a Rochester Draft PT I took Skyhunter Cub over this card. It’s true. At that event, I somehow knew that expensive stuff was bad and cards like Shatter were better than cards like Platinum Angel. But I didn’t catch onto the fact that Equipment was God awful.
This card shuts down any creature. There isn’t a whole lot of Enchantment removal in this Block and not much more bounce. This is a great first pick and a boon to any White deck.
The secret is out on this badboy. There was a time when you could get this card as late as seventh pick. Well, it still comes fairly late, but don’t feel bad about making this your first pick. This card is even more important in Green/White. With the focus on maximizing Sunburst, you can be even more confident in this first pick as it is a solid splash.
I first pick this card often. While I think that the cards listed above it are more powerful, this card is quite important to any White deck. He isn’t easy to kill and is rather good on both offense and defense.
I never envisioned this card being this low on the list. I was overrating this guy for a good long while. However, I still think he is awesome now, so you can only imagine how good I thought he was originally. You really shouldn’t be taking much over him in your White decks, especially since you won’t be seeing him that late.
This card can be extremely powerful and it is quite versatile. It is particularly important if you are teamed up with Blue or Black. A bit clunky, but the fact that it is an instant is often relevant. However, I am not entirely sure it should be above…
The king of the Sliths. This guy has the most relevant ability of all the Sliths. Other than Firewalker, it is the only Slith with a synergistic ability before any counters get on him.
Roar of the Kha
This card can single-handedly win games. The lower your curve, the more powerful this card is. Don’t get me started on when I lost in the top 4 of a PTQ because Aaron Lipczynski had it with his Myr Incubator.
Talisman of Progress/Talisman of Unity
A lot of the time you will be taking the one that is off color. It is unclear where these fall in relation to completely off color Talismans. I jumped the gun on Equipment, thinking it defined the format, I don’t want to make the same mistake with Sunburst.
This guy becomes more important the more Skyhunter Patrols you have. He can also help you get your Razor Golems out on turn 3 when you don’t draw your third Plains. It is difficult to say, as with the Talismans, at this point whether off color Myr are better. In many colors they are, but White tends to have more double color commitment than most other colors. In truth they are probably all on the same level. If you see this and another Myr late and you have primarily single White spells, go ahead and take the off-color Myr.
Raise the Alarm
Little beaters seem to rule the day in this Block. This card makes two of them. I don’t think that any card has risen more in my estimation. It is card valuation changes like that that has made White, in my opinion, the best color in the Block. Act now, while it is still underdrafted.
This feels like a good spot for this card. You should never be cutting it from your deck, but it isn’t a bomb either. What it is is a giant headache for your opponent.
This card makes it hard for you opponents to attack and block. On top of that, it is a decent body. He isn’t amazing, but you should always play him.
We used to call this guy Timberwatch. We were a bit off in that estimation, but he is still quite good. He screws up the combat math and if you do get him equipped he is quite similar to Timberwatch Elf.
It pains me to put this card even this high, but I suppose I must. This card is way too expensive for what it does. This format is quite fast and with decks tending towards splashing, now she will be even harder to cast. I don’t like much of anything at seven mana in this format, and this card in no exception. However, if she does hit the table, and she does live, you will find yourself sitting in butter (that’s a good thing). [So that’s how Ken keeps such a svelte figure. – Knut, hefty]
I like little beaters. I particularly like little beaters that turn into control cards later in the game. I really really really like little beaters that can lock down a mana screwed opponent. This card is hot, let no one tell you any different.
This guy has gotten a lot better with the improvement of the low casting cost Equipment. The irony is that despite him getting better, he is lower on my list than he was when the set came out.
You know what tastes better than crow? Humble pie. I was sooooo wrong about this card. In fact, the only thing I was right about is that it is better than Skyhunter Cub. Both of these cards are marginal at best. When a card type sucks, you can be pretty sure that anything with that card type written on it sucks. This guy is quite nice with Leonin Bola, but you need to draft it and you need to draw it.
This card can be great, and it can be a Myr that doesn’t give you mana. I don’t like cards that sit exclusively on two ends of the spectrum. You can do much better.
I know you probably all think I am nuts, but I must say that since I started nearly ignoring the Equipment guys in draft, I haven’t done much losing with White. Combos are bad news in Limited, particularly ones that aren’t overly powerful when you get them and are easily disrupted.
White has never been a color that wanted a lot of artifacts in play. In White, unless you are heavy in commitment, take an off-color artifact land over this.
This is another card that soared in my eyes. It won’t make the cut every time, but you will find it winning you games here and there. [I actually think it probably belongs higher on the list, since I find myself playing a single Awe Strike more than the Equipment dependent White beaters. – Knut]
My love of little beaters extends to this guy as well. He makes the cut more and more for me every time I have him. I remember a time when I didn’t even lay him out when I was building my deck, now he probably makes the cut 50% of the time or more.
The day of the off-color Spellbomb has drawn to a close. And while there will be instances when you crack this for five life, most of the time this will act as an off color one.
Just not worth it. Sure you need guys in the five slot, but you can do way better than this guy.
Shelter’s baby brother. This is on a run with Awe Strike and you will see them around the same point in the draft. This card is just worse than Awe Strike. You can play it, but don’t cut it before you cut Strike.
We are reaching the ass end of the playables. I’ll put this card in my deck, but I’d much rather cut it. It is too obvious and too weak. It isn’t worth it for the once in a blue moon that you manage to wreck your opponent.
Not a fan. You don’t get your mana’s worth with this card. If I am spending four mana in this format I want more than a 2/2 that will rarely be anything more.
I always meant to try this card and I never got around to it. It seems too weak on paper to ever bother, and no one else has spoken up. It wouldn’t surprise me is there were some way to go off with this thing in post-Fifth Dawn Constructed, but that is neither here nor there.
Once this card is out it does wonders. If he were a Vanguard card, I’d love to start with him in play in this format. However, the only course of action when you draw him before turn 6 is to jump out a window. Sorry, Loxodon Mender, life is going too well right now.
Tempest of Light
If you saw a lot of Arrests/Domineers flying around, go ahead and take this for your sideboard. But if you are White and saw Arrests, they should be in your deck.
This guy was cast against me once by a mana screwed opponent. It wasn’t pretty.
Sphere of Purity
Here is another card I always wanted to try. I don’t see it being good though. If it worked like the other Spheres, maybe, but this falls short.
Rule of Law
A fine card to rare draft. People will be going off in Constructed often. You’ll want this in your sideboards… for Constructed.
White is fairly unique in that this pick order won’t deviate much, regardless of what your other color is. With only one Pack of Mirrodin, you can’t count on getting any particular card, so you just have to draft the best cards when you see them.
Time to move onto Blue. This format seems to threaten that Blue/White will indeed not be the best deck this time around. Bear in mind that this isn’t a Blue/White article, but rather an article about Blue and White.
Yes it is, in fact, overrated. And despite that fact, it is still a bomb. This card is easily in the top 10 cards in the set and should be drafted as such.
Not strictly better than Somber Hoverguard, but considering when you will need to make the decision, I’d take Neurok Spy. Grey Ogres aren’t as bad in this format as they have been in the past and an unblockable one is that much better.
A better clock than Neurok Spy, but not nearly as reliable on turn 3. This is the only thing preventing it from moving up to the number two spot. Only one pack of Myr and Talismans and only two packs of Artifact Land. On top of that Citadel went down a lot because of Sunburst.
Sadly this card is often on a print run with Crystal Shard. That means that you will have to pick between the two when you are picking. It also means when you see this bad boy second, and there is an uncommon missing, you are likely being fed by another Blue drafter. There is good news though. Blue is really good in Darksteel and really bad in Fifth Dawn so you can still take this guy second and stay in Blue.
While not as insane as it looks on paper, this is quite a good card. Especially if you can catch them tapped out and snag a Replica. The artifact creatures in this format are not the best, but they are still worth stealing.
Talisman of Progress / Talisman of Dominance
Similar comments to the aforementioned Talismans. In Blue you can probably take the double off-color Talismans around the same spot. The Red off-color Talismans are particularly nice, as they offer help if you want to splash powerful cards in Mirrodin and Darksteel.
Blue is the color that wants Myr the most. Blue is not known for its heavy color commitments. I think you can safely take off-color Myr.
Quickie can really dominate the board. It is perhaps the best answer in the format to Spikeshot Goblin. It can stop Leonin Bola if you use him during their End Step. He is just very versatile, and can catch weaker opponents off guard.
Thirst for Knowledge
Card advantage is hard to come by in this block. Thirst was powerful enough to make a showing in a very broken Extended format. Sometimes this will be no more than really good card selection, but more often than not it will be card advantage.
The reason I put this guy above the following three entries is that Fatespinner is going to be played regardless of what else is going on in your deck. While he is less powerful at his most powerful than the following three are at their most powerful, he is always good. He didn’t look like much when I first saw him, but I came around.
This one is up here by popular demand. I haven’t been bowled over by this guy, but a lot of my friends have. I think he costs a bit much for a 0/2, even one that draws you so many cards. However, when he does get going, it is hard to lose.
A shadow of his former self. There was a time I would slam this guy first pick. The Affinity deck had a lot of wind taken out of its sails. This guy can still be good, but it will be hard to pick him early enough to try and build an Affinity deck.
I am truly a man who can admit when he was wrong. My thought that Regress was better than this came from my overestimation of Equipment and my underestimation of Affinity and low land-counts. This card is a powerful tempo swing and can buy you a turn later in the game.
I have always been a big fan of this card, even when I am not Blue. You don’t have to keep a Blue up for this guy to be good, but if you do he can seriously slow your opponent’s development.
My second favorite block to draft of all time was Odyssey. As such it is no surprise that this card leapt out of the pack and slapped me in the face the first time I saw it. At it turned out, however, Blue was very much the beatdown color of this Block. As such there was no real room for this guy in most blue decks. You almost always play him, but he is not Cephalid Looter, I can promise you that.
I was not the biggest fan of this card in the early goings. To tell the truth, I am still not sold on its merits. However, in a dedicated Affinity deck you could do a lot worse. If you are spending more than two mana on this card it isn’t really worth it.
Seat of the Synod
Blue is the best color for exploiting the Artifact lands, but in general you will want the off-color ones more than this one.
2/3s for four are about par for the course in this block. I am not saying this guy is an all-star, but you should be playing him nearly every time you have him.
This card is very odd. It is almost like a coin flip card. However, sometimes your deck has no way to deal with large men. Also it is useful in sending back your Myr later on in the game.
I am sure I was not alone when I saw this card and thought it was the best Blue common. What we all failed to realize was how infrequently we’d be able to leave one Blue Mana up. What is even harder than that is leaving one Blue Mana up and not be obvious.
This card may not look like much, but when you are on the offensive it can be quite powerful. Even when you can’t all out attack effectively he is still a 1/2 flier. That may not sound like much but this guy can do some tricks.
This card reminds me of Sage Owl in a lot of ways. If you have a lot of Equipment, this card can be pretty good. Otherwise, it will likely rot in your sideboard.
Yes, shut up. I was wrong, again. But that is what you get when people do set reviews too early. Don’t beat yourself up too much if you are playing this card. It can still be a huge tempo swing if you are playing against an Equipment deck.
I would have this higher on the list if Blue weren’t so damn aggressive. This card actually can just completely stop an offense and when it isn’t that good, it is often a Fog that draws a card.
I hope you guys appreciate this… I am going to order the rest of these cards despite them all being nigh unplayable. If you need a larger body, play this guy, but there are far better 3/3s for five out there.
I have a feeling the whole world, myself included, underrates this card. I bring it out of the board often. I guess the problem is often times the artifacts this locks down are just not worth it. Thinking about this card makes me wonder if I overrated Stasis Cocoon.
It can’t really hurt to have this card in your pile. Since you only get one pack with this card in it you need to take this much later than you might in pack three of MMM. If there is nothing playable left in the pack, grab it and with luck you’ll get some bombs making it worth playing.
March of the Machines
Believe it or not this card has uses. There are decks that could exploit this. However, they are rare and you don’t want to be drafting a deck around it. You are best served pretending this card isn’t in the pack.
Man I can’t believe I have more cards after this one. If you have a dedicated Affinity deck and your opponent has a bomb you can’t otherwise deal with, I suppose you can side this in. The main problem is a dedicated Affinity deck should be winning before your opponent can even cast the thing you would bring this in against.
This one… not gonna cut it. I have played him before. I was rather embarrassed.
This is a lot like Assert Authority, but doesn’t outright counter the spell. With Condescend in, I don’t think this will see much play at all.
If you can get him through he is pretty good. Generally he will need to hit twice. If his cost were UU, we could perhaps discuss occasionally playing him.
Yes, I’ve gotten wrecked by this card too. That doesn’t make it good.
This can be a nasty surprise. Your opponent may laugh so hard that he has a heart attack.
I am not sure if this is the list this card belongs on. I am not sure it belongs on any list. If it was possible, this card got worse. The last thing you want to do is give your opponent access to a color of mana they don’t currently have. If you can survive the first few triggers, I guess it becomes good. No, I don’t see it.
Cute and fun. I might date Shared Fate, but I’d never play it.
Inflation apparently exists in cards, not just money.
So there is the first in my nine part series about MD5 draft. I am sure you are all eager to see the Fifth Dawn Cards, but you will appreciate the wait when you don’t have to deal with such statements as: Regress is better than Aether Spellbomb or Leonin Den-Guard is the second best White common.
I am going to do my best to get one of these out every week. I think I can do it. The only week I may miss is the week of July 5th-July 9th, as I am out of town. Take care, and keep drafting!