While Mirrodin Block drafting was over for most people as soon as Kamigawa hit the stores, Kamigawa’s a whole new world for those who are addicted to Magic Online. You don’t want to know how many Drafts and Sealed decks I’ve played since Kamigawa was release two weeks ago – and it just so happened that Kamigawa’s release on Magic Online coincided with me leaving my previous place of employment to get some rest. So however much you think I’ve played, multiply it by three and I’ve still probably played more than that.
One of the first things I asked myself before Kamigawa came onto the scene was what lessons I could take with me from all my Mirrodin block drafting. Specifically, what I think you might find interesting is that my key to being successful in Mirrodin drafts (and I was – my rating moved between 1900 and 1950 throughout the last two months of Mirrodin), lay in a small number of underrated cards.*
What I started noticing more and more towards the end of the block was that these cards consistently appeared in my decks and won me games.
So when I approached Kamigawa block after having gotten so much from a small number of underrated cards, my first question was – what will be the new hidden gems in Kamigawa? Because the fact is, if a card isn’t valued by the general drafting population, even an uncommon, then you will find yourselves receiving it in almost every single draft that you play.
Before I go on, a brief description of the three cards that defined my MDF drafting:
- Fractured Loyalty: Splashing this off three continuous sources is like splashing an off-color control magic off of three lands. Healer’s Headdress, Baton of Courage, Chiss-Goria Pieces, Leonin Bola – the list goes on and on and on.
- Coretapper: A pretty bad man, but insane once Baton of Courage hits the board. Also works well with Banshee’s Blade, Talon of Pain, Pentad Prism, Opaline Bracers, and probably more. I once had someone run a Razor Golem into two Baton counters just so he could Fireball my Coretapper for 5!
- Avarice Totem: Becomes a Control Magic with any blue bounce spell. Asks your opponent, “Are you in an even position with your best creature gone?” – and as long as he can’t answer yes, you will get to keep the creature.
When I drafted Mirrodin, I was treating every draft individually and never really took a chance to try out a new card. While this may have led to more consistency in the beginning, I think that overall I missed out on a lot of opportunities, because it took me a long time to find the cards that are now major performers in over half the decks I draft.
Therefore I decided to approach Kamigawa block drafting with what I would call “a look to the side” – always on the lookout to try new cards that seem interesting, playing the cards that aren’t blatantly good until I form an established opinion on just how good or bad they truly are. The cards that are important to keep an eye out for are not Cage of Hands and Glacial Ray; you’ll never be able to get those late. But find a good card that doesn’t look as shiny, and you will have gained a real edge over the competition.
That said, and with now over twenty Kamigawa drafts under my belt (in addition to my stomach and trousers and pants and all), I present to you… My current Kamigawa gems!
Oh and before I start, I don’t have many, so while the first few will be extremely underrated, the next will be less so.
- Serpent Skin: This card and it’s ilk are the reason that blocking isn’t good for you in Kamigawa. An extremely powerful and versatile card – this thing is amazing for its cost, and every time there is green on one side of the table I either wish I could draw it or pray my opponent doesn’t have it. Imagine a Nezumi Ronin with this thing on – you better kill his controller very fast, my friend. I believe this card will move up in people’s pick orders as time passes.
- Hankyu: Would you believe it? You probably think I’m pulling your leg with this one. I recall someone at the prerelease asking me if this was any good. I lifted my backpack and smacked him on the head for asking me such a stupid question. (The answer was obviously “No.”) But after having played with and against this card several times though, I stand corrected. While it is no Viridian Longbow, Longbow was quite insane. This card is sane – it isn’t amazing, but it’s pretty good. It fits mostly decks that have many non-attacking creatures like Zuberas or other 1x creatures like Devoted Retainer that you don’t mind keeping back. While it is by no means fast, given time this will dominate the board – I have been playing it and am quite pleased with the results. But you probably won’t believe me anyway on this one…
- General’s Kabuto: I haven’t played with it enough to know just how good it is, but this card sure is powerful. Better than indestructible, since it holds off dragons, Kashi-Tribe Reavers, it works on blocks and attacks – the General’s Kabuto does it all. Put this on a Kumano, Master Yamabushi like I did last week, that’s also good. Takes a turn to get going, but once you have this equipped you will feel so much safer it’s got to be worth it. Obviously doesn’t fit every deck as it’s more a defensive than offensive card – but equip this on a creature and your opponent will simply cease to attack you.
- Oathkeeper, Takeno’s Daisho: Now, this card I have played with enough, and I know that it’s insane. Just like in Mirrodin – if neither player is getting crushed, the equipment will dominate the game. And this time there are no Shatters flying around to ruin your day. Any kind of stall, and you’re going to crush.
- Nagao, Bound by Honor: All right, I admit it – I’m out of underrated cards. What can I say? This set seems simpler than the previous one, but we’re also still at the beginning. Devouring Greed and Devouring Rage most people know about already. Kabuto Moth is also quite good. There’s a good chance that Hanabi Blast is better than Glacial Ray. I would also keep an eye out for Eye of Nowhere – I remember that Churning Eddy used to be a playable card, so this should probably be in your deck more often than not.
And that’s all I’ve got to say for this time. Thanks for reading.
mr_topdeck8 on Magic Online
Mehungry14 (at) yahoo dot com
* – My success also had something to do with a drafting rule I came to agree with at some point – “Don’t draft green.” To explain how much I took this rule to heart – I was happy to see an eighth-pick Fangren Hunter because there was a chance it would put the guy to my left into green and therefore help me out in Darksteel.