Rebutting Kartin’ Ken – The 10 Things You Need To Learn In MD5 Limited

I think Ken’s Top Ten Mistakes aren’t really mistakes at all. He simply misjudged a few bombs, or was not paying attention to the same website he writes for. Let’s take a look at a few of his points and some of his Top Ten”mistakes”, along with some of my own recommendations before I tell you the things you really need to learn about MD5 Limited.

Thanks Mr. Krouner, I appreciate you trying to breathe some life into the fading Mirrodin Limited scene while at the same time deftly dodging any mention of the new Champions of Kamigawa cards and their sometimes absurd power level.

But with that said, I think his Top Ten Mistakes aren’t really mistakes at all. He simply misjudged a few bombs, or was not paying attention to the same website he writes for. Let’s take a look at a few of his points and some of his Top Ten”mistakes”, along with some of my own recommendations.

Mirrodin Block Effect

Here’s a quote:”A format with too many playables is unhealthy; it’s as simple as that.” Am I the only one here who doesn’t believe this foolishness? Too many bad drafts can spoil a player, too many bad picks and second-guesses can spoil a player, too many missed opportunities or bad archetype choices can ruin a player from any format, anywhere.

I’ve had my share of the Onslaught block, and I didn’t like it. The slow-as-molasses format consisted of fatties and their cohorts, along with broken rares and illegitimate advantages based on tribal drafting consistencies. Mirrodin however represents a wonderful playing field of playables, an archetype-rich format that has everything from Affinity to 5-color resting on the same competitive shoulders, a format that is just aching for the right players to take the right picks and bring home first place.

I’ve played in about 100 or more Mirrodin drafts, and I have a great respect for the format. I believe Ken might be a little too jaded to realize that when you have such a high percentage of playables, things break down to archetypes, pick ordering, and luck. Note that I did add luck on the end, as sometimes it’s not enough to recognize signals, but to also get lucky in finding some bombs coming your way.

A New Top 10: The 10 things you need to learn in MD5 Limited

10. Razor Golem is the best White common after Blinding Beam.

A potential turn 3 3/4 that doesn’t tap to attack is a White bomb, and equipment just makes this guy even stronger, especially Leonin Bola. The equip-friendly Den-Guard and Skyhunter are nice, but nothing compares to this guy for raw power, and even a possible turn 4 drop keeps this guy splashable and playable all game long. Even if you get a Plainsless match, the ability to hard cast him, attack next turn, and equip that Bola or Viridian Longbow still deserves some attention. This is the guy the makes White’s world go round.

9. Condescend is better than Trinket Mage.

Whoa boy, this is a biggie and I expect a lot of comment out of this alone. The fact is, if you don’t get lucky enough to pull a Longbow or a Bola, Trinket Mage is just another 2/2 for three mana that just might pull an artifact land or perhaps Conjurer’s Bauble. In the end, after that Mirrodin pack passes by and I don’t pull the Longbow or the Bola in Darksteel, the Mage drops way down in the playables list. Now this is all based on archetypes and what you have available at the time, but don’t let the writers on the site fool you: Mage is not the bomb that they keep claiming it to be. I’d rather have a Scry-packing counterspell to stop their Myr Enforcer on turn 4 than drop a little 2/2 the next turn and tutor for an artifact land.

8. Blind Creeper is a Black bomb in Fifth Dawn.

I know Fleshgrafter gets plenty of love around here. But in the real world, it’s sometimes better to actually play that equipment or artifact creature than throw it away so you can save the Grafter from a Magma Jet. Sure they’ll still get the Scry, but if you’re losing something other than artifact land to save him, that Dross Golem you just tossed begins to look really good when they drop a Goblin Brawler or a Bola next turn.

I also know very few people who can play three spells in a single turn to kill the guy. He simply loves to stick around. And while my example of the Magma Jet taking out the Grafter is ironic, considering I’m touting Blind Creeper here, I’d much rather have a two-drop 3/3 than a 2/2 that can eat precious artifacts I haven’t even cast yet any day of the week.

7. Signaling matters.

Quote:”Colors don’t matter, signaling doesn’t matter, and deck building doesn’t matter.” Oh? That is a freakishly overstepping-the-boundaries statement there. I think telling the Magic playing public, particularly those who love Limited formats such as myself, that signaling doesn’t matter is like telling a baker the amount of ingredients in a cake isn’t really important, as long as you get the general quantity of them in there.

To notice that on your third pick you’re pulling Tel-Jilad Archers or an Eisel-esque Blinding Beam should be something knocking you on the head. You’re getting two packs from this direction and these players – a total of 28 cards – and if you’re not paying attention during those important second and third picks, you’re going to lose. Signaling is not important. Ha! You’re killing me over here.

6. Rain of Rust is a fantastic card.

This one struck me as overrated when I saw it taking laps around the draft table, only to be seen as late as picks 13 and beyond. My thoughts were,”If I’m playing with players with over a 1700 rating, then they must know this isn’t a good card.” I think the fact is, Red was so overdrafted in the MMD environment that players have either given it up on it or decided to splash it simply for Grab the Reins and Spikeshot Goblin (and those lucky SOBs who grab a Fireball) and leave the rest to lay limp. This is the late-draft card that you can pull to swing the game in your favor.

This is an expensive card, no doubt, but its Instant status makes it immediately perk up in the rankings, and sometimes being able to expensively shatter that Grafted Wargear at the end of your opponent’s turn can mean the difference between conceding and”GG”.

But again, the secret is not knowing when to pass it, the secret is when to pick it, and in what quantity. This is such an underrated card that you can easily pick up one or two of them, sometimes even more, very late (picks 10+). Even if Red is over-drafted early, it’s rarely over-drafted late. Using this same methodology, you can snag a few Vulshok Sorcerers this way as well.

5. Regress is not better than Aether Spellbomb, but Echoing Truth is not far behind.

Echoing Truth is the Darksteel equivalent of a bounce bomb. I can reference the Grafted Wargear example (and I’ll actually speak more on this guy in a second), but with such amazing token creators as One Dozen Eyes to Beacon of Creation and the new cog chewers like Summoning Station, this guy can take turns of work and tons of mana and turn them into one big long mistake.

4. Grafted Wargear isn’t that good.

Here is a quote from Scott Wills’s”Limited Information” article, located here:

“The Wargear is simply ridiculous in a good aggressive deck with early drops. Yes, it has a significant drawback, but you may remember this group of cards called”Creature Enchantments” that were the pre-cursors to equipment. They had a similar drawback – you’d lose two cards if your opponent could remove the creature thereby killing the Enchantment too”

In his article he asks five pros what they would pick out of a random pack. It boiled down to Grafted Wargear, Wayfarer’s Bauble, or Skyreach Manta. Only Kai Budde was gutsy enough to take the Wargear, and the rest agreed it was the”safe pick” then chose the Manta for its amazing evasion + Sunburst goodness.

This single card has burnt me like no other. To quote Mr. Krouner again:”This is one of the best Equipment cards in existence.” Well, allow me to retort. There is such artifact hate in the Mirrodin block en masse that even thinking of using this against a Green or Red player is like putting the gun to your head and asking them to pull the trigger. There are way too many answers for it, and if you see those colors on the other side of the table, be sure to sideboard it out. You’ll thank me later. Am I saying its terrible? No. It’s great in the right circumstances, but this stopped being anything near a first or second pick a long time ago.

3. Unforge is freakishly underrated.

Speaking of Red artifact removal, equipment removal is a finicky thing. Sometimes it can live in the sideboard, sometimes you’re confident that a Turn To Dust is a welcome pick to your removal arsenal. But of all the removal I’ve seen passed around, Unforge gets a seriously bad rap, and I think it’s time it gets its due.

This removal takes down almost any creature the equipment is attached to, particularly those evasive creatures such as Neurok Spy and that pesky Somber Hoverguard. The card advantage alone is worth packing this main deck.

2. Tel-Jilad Archers are a bomb.

These are the single most powerful common creatures I can think of. Considering Mirrodin is a set of artifacts, the lucky drafters who see these guys come their way know to first pick them, second pick them, and watch the game turn their way. They are hard to get rid of (no Barbed Lightning, and that’s as good as common burn spells get), and can stop strong colored fliers such as the Hoverguard.

These guys were always high picks, but they should be considered first picks. They fit perfectly in any 5-color sunburst-friendly decks, and with a Copper Myr and a few Forests, they can quickly provide the extra security or beatdown to push you over the edge to victory.

1. Infused Arrows is the best Limited uncommon in Fifth Dawn.

Yeah, yeah, take your Eternal Witness rhetoric elsewhere. Sure she’s great, and there’s no denying she isn’t. But she’s also Green, and that alone has made me pass her quite a few times in draft. The difference between that bomb and this one is that Arrows are obviously better as they can fit into any deck. And if Eternal Witness is only your second or third Green spell in your deck, you could suffer while waiting for the GG requirement before you get a chance to see her usefulness.

Just to have this guy sitting out there, particularly at full sunburst, is intimidation that money can’t buy. There are almost no creatures that can fully resist its power, except, of course, that other bomb I noted in here: Tel-Jilad Archers.

Good luck, fellow card-slingers!

– Evan”misterorange” Erwin