For those who are hopping in on this series late, it is an attempt to re-evaluate the draft picks as a whole for the entire MD5 Block. Since Fifth Dawn and sunburst carry some specific strategic changes, I thought it would be worthwhile to go back and take a fresh look at every card in the block, complete with highlighting of my own valuation mistakes along the way.
It never ceases to amaze me how mean people can get when you disagree with them. The forum posters from last week were so threatened by my pick orders that they had to assault me in the forums! Don’t worry about it guys, there’s no shame in being wrong. Just try to learn what you can from these articles and use it to improve your game.
While I did receive quite a bit of criticism in Seattle for my pick articles, I received just as much praise. I think this proves that my often praised, often criticized style of not exactly ordering picks is correct. However, I do think that just randomly ordering them in groups can be misleading. In this article, I will try to more accurately organize them. The pick orders still won’t be exact, but they will be a lot closer than they have been in the past.
Darksteel is not your Green pack. It is as simple as that. Green is the weakest in this pack and it also has the least amount of cards you need for a modern Green deck.
This card is way too efficient and potent to not be number one. Many artifacts have a huge investment involved with them and to be able to destroy them for 1 mana at Instant speed can be as demoralizing as it is devastating.
While the triple Green may seem prohibitive, it really isn’t. Most Green decks, while 5-color, still have a lot of Green mana sources in order to get out their mana fixing. On top of that, most of the mana fixing can produce Green as well. This is one of the best creatures for its cost in this block.
Again, most 5-color Green deck have enough Forests to support this card. And when he comes out on turn 3, he is really tough to deal with. Fifth Dawn didn’t offer much in the way of removal and a body like this can be overwhelming.
The Fangren Hunter of the set. The lack of trample does hurt, but the ability is not quite as irrelevant as you might think. Life gain is becoming more and more playable. This guy isn’t quite as good as Fangren Hunter, but if you are Green, he is still a first pick.
You can often steal a two-for-one with this card. Additionally, it is the ever popular two-power, two-mana creature. The double Green early could be a problem, but his powerful ability more than makes up for it.
Pulse of the Tangle
Rare will be the time that you actually go off with this card. That being said, a 3/3 for three in this format borders on unfair. Taken as that alone, it would be a first pick, and the ability to break the card pushes it to a near bomb.
Despite its casting cost, this is the best pump in the format. This turns the mediocre creatures of this format into wrecking balls. While it just barely squeaks into Group 1 it is in Group 1. It has won me too many games to not be here and it has never been bad for me.
While this card will often be sideboarded out, it is so incredibly powerful when he is used that I put him at the top of Group 2. You want to have one of these guys even if he won’t devastate every match-up.
This card used to be a lot better than it is, but due to the weak power level of Green cards in this set, it still hovers near the top of Group 2. There isn’t much to say about this card, but it’s here and it’s going to give its best.
I am not a huge fan of this guy, but he is solid. He just isn’t so much better than Tel-Jilad Chosen that he warrants two more mana. He does, however, usually have a relevant impact on the game and makes the cut over 70% of the time, so he goes in this group.
Laugh all you want, this guy is good. He should be in the main deck almost all the time. Artifact heavy decks have become the exception rather than the rule, and this guy will be easy enough to side out. In your Sunburst decks, your artifacts are all coming out long before or long after this guy.
Now this one I know I am going to get crap for. This may not be the most elegant mana fixer in the game, but dammit I like this card. I play this card in all my Sunburst decks, and he has been known to make the cut in the 2 color decks, particularly those with heavy color requirements. In addition to that, he is my favorite kind of card, an efficient little beater.
This card just barely scooted down to Group 3. It isn’t terrible, but it is pretty much the worst pump in the set. Many times, I actually prefer Battlegrowth. If you do manage to draft a lot of multiples of the same creature, go ahead and run this card, but usually it shouldn’t make the cut.
Not nearly as good as he looks. He costs one mana too many. At five he’d be good, at six he is overboard. You can side him if you need flying defense, but against decks that are on the ground, you won’t need his assistance.
Time for my mandatory berating of a seven-mana spell. This spell costs way too much to be useful, and its ability can hose you as often as it helps you. Pass this one by. If it falls in your lap, leave it in the sideboard.
This is a lot of mana for a creature that will never attack. The reduction of Artifact creatures makes this card even harder to use. I’d pass this thing by more often than not.
This card has its niche, and it’s a small one. This card should nearly always be sided in against the Red/Black Aggressive deck. It is nearly unusable against other decks.
Reap and Sow
I had moved this card up for a while, but after playing with Fifth Dawn more, I realized the casting cost was just too prohibitive. Mana fixing it good, but when you can get a Dawn’s Reflection for the same cost, it is hard to play this card.
Yadda Yadda Yadda. Thank God there are no more of those.
The off-color Artifacts in this set are, by and large, unimpressive. They aren’t awful, but if you needed a story to write home to mom and dad, the odds of it coming from this set of cards is slim.
It is hard to argue that this is the best card in the set. There are more powerful cards like Forge[/author]“]Pulse of the [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author] and Pristine Angel, but none that don’t really care what the rest of your deck looks like.
This card is right after the ‘Clamp. I can’t even say for sure if Zvi was crazy or not for taking it over Fireball. This is by far and away the best common in the set. If this card isn’t dealt with it will win the game.
Sword of Fire and Ice
This is the best piece of heavy equipment in the block. This card fits in any deck and can shut down all sorts of decks giving you an out of control advantage.
Not quite as nutty as he used to be, but still a great card. If he quickly gets to four counters, he becomes unfair. I used to think this was one of the best cards in the set. It isn’t really anymore, but it is still first pick quality.
This is another card that has devalued with the diminished power of Artifacts. It is still a great first pick and will still be powerful in almost any deck. I don’t normally like to mention this, but this card is worth taking over a better card like Bola or Skullclamp due to its monetary value. I am not sure a card has ever come along that I have said that about, but considering the power of this card and its ability to fit into any deck, it actually applies in smaller drafts like Friday Night Magic. If you are drafting at the PT or a GP, don’t take it over better cards, but otherwise it’s a consideration.
Draft this card very carefully. If it isn’t good in your deck, don’t attempt to long range it. If it is good in your deck, then first pick it because this card is quite powerful.
Sword of Light and Shadow
Not as powerful as its Blue/Red brother, but still a fine card. Now do me a favor and compare this card to Loxodon Warhammer and try to tell me that Warhammer isn’t overcosted.
This card can be pretty punishing. It attacks for a lot and is no slouch on defense. It is just a high quality card for its cost.
Yeah yeah yeah, I know this is the fifth piece of equipment I have in Group 1, but gimme a break. They knew they made Equipment too weak, so they powered it up in the second set. It takes a big R&D department to admit their mistakes.
Talon of Pain
The Guevin’s and Little Darwin labeled this card a trap card. Their definition of a trap card is any card that does nothing when it comes into play. This is a pretty interesting theory. All my experience tells me this card is quite good, but their assessment of it makes me want to play it more.
Look They Made It Cheaper And Better, Alright?! This card is clearly best in deck with a lot of evasion but should make the cut in any deck. It’s no Mask of Memory, but it sure tries to be.
This card is fantastic. There are several ways to get it out on turn 3 between Myr, Talismans, Vedalken Engineer, and Wayfarer’s Bauble. This card will always make the cut and will always be powerful.
Yes another broken rule for KK, a seven-mana creature in Group 1. This card only barely made it into Group 1. The reason it sits here is that once it hits the table, it shuts the opponent down. He can’t attack you, it is hard to remove, and beginning on your next turn it is a near unstoppable clock.
I wasn’t sure whether to have this at the top of this group or the bottom of Group 1. I eventually decided to put it here since, as good as it is, it will never win you the game alone.
I am a big fan of the 1/1 fliers for two in this format. This card is no exception. I pick this card relatively high in Affinity decks and about middle of the road in most other decks.
The Slith that can keep attacking even after he is outclassed. At two colorless mana, this card is quite good even if he only hits twice.
Fear is better than it has ever been in this block. Dross Prowler is playable, Dross Golem is very good, and this card has become quite powerful. Not only is his Fear ability good, but the stealing of counters has gotten even better with Sunburst.
This hasty little beast can be a nasty surprise. This card may not look like much, but the Haste and the Modular are both abilities that come in handy in this format.
While you don’t really want to be using this card in your 5-color decks, it is a quality card. It is hard to remove and can be a small attacker or decent blocker.
This card’s stock went up a lot. There aren’t an abundance of one-drops in this format, so playing this card on turn 1 will likely not hurt you. It aids both Sunburst decks and Decks with a lot of color commitment.
This tricky little number is way better than it looks on paper. Making use of dying creatures will always be an advantage. 2/2’s aren’t the smallest things in the world, particularly when you get them for one mana and zero cards. Plus there are about a billion other tricks you can use the tokens for, you just have to keep your eyes open.
I used to like this card a lot more than I do now. That is most likely due to the removal of yet another pack of Myr. This card is still playable, but not as exciting as it once was.
With the Affinity deck being harder to come by, this little beater finds himself at the bottom of Group 2. I will still play him nearly every time, but his stock certainly dropped.
Ordering this group is a bit of a challenge. Which mediocre card is better than which? There are a lot of 3/3s for five in this block. I don’t take this card too highly because I like most of the other ones better. This card is certainly playable, but I often pass it by.
Richard Hoaen was trying to tell me that this card was great, I have yet to be impressed. Going down a card to help a race a little just doesn’t seem worth it to me, and its effect on the games in which I have seen it cast supports my theory.
This card costs too much, but once it’s out it is really good. By the time it hits they have used most of their effective removal for him and 4/4 first strike is pretty good in this format.
This is the category of cards that make you go”meh.” This card will often make the cut, but it doesn’t mean it is any good. It isn’t bad either, but merely unexciting.
This card actually improved with the introduction of Fifth Dawn. The 5-Color Green decks have a lot of mana at their disposal. I wouldn’t play this in any other deck, but it is a good fit there.
Eater of Days
Got a bad deck? This is your go-to card. When your deck has few ways to win, it is worth playing this guy to try and steal a few. I have stolen entire matches with this card. I would have stolen another too, if not for an untimely Stasis Cocoon. This card is much better in team draft where you know what your opponents have to deal with it.
Auriok Siege Sled
This card is capable of winning games, but not many. The number of Artifact Creatures has diminished. For six mana you can do a lot better.
When you are forced to play a lot of land, this card can really be a boon in the mid to late game. Ideally you want your decks to afford low land counts, but if you can’t, this card should usually find its way in.
He is eight mana, but has enough of an effect on the game to consider playing. If your deck has the mana to support him, go for it, otherwise you can leave him in your board.
This part of the list gets quite arduous. We all know what this card can do, the question is, is the tempo loss worth it? Often it is, but don’t take this card too high and don’t feel compelled to play it.
Even when you have cards worthy of this ability, it is still a bit shaky. It is certainly playable, but nothing to write home about.
This spicy little number should be taken late. It may be good in your deck but you won’t really know until pack 3. So take it late, then consider whether or not to play it.
It doesn’t matter how tough a card is if it is clunky. This one will be in your board as often as not. It’s just an unimpressive card. Is it playable? Sure.
Well this card went from being better than off-color Artifact Lands to worse in a heartbeat. There are still decks that want this card, but draft it with care.
I can’t fathom people actually liking this card. Even when it gets going, it always feels like the person activating it is desperate for a card. If they had a playable in their deck instead of this it may cool off some of that desperation.
This card is so much worse than Ingot it isn’t funny. The mechanic is really cool, but nearly unusable in Limited.
Quite similar to every other eight-mana spell. This one also has no way to punch through. You don’t need his kind of help, trust me.
This isn’t the kind of mana fixing you want. It doesn’t ramp you too much and only produces colorless.
With god as my witness, no one-mana 1/1 will ever be lower than group 3.
Between the picture, the power and toughness, and the ability this card looks good. In truth it is only barely playable. This is likely the worst seven-mana creature in the format.
Can this be a tempo swing? Sure. Is it worth losing a card for? No.
I have really wanted to try this card, but the fact that it has been around so long and I have yet to actually try it lands it here.
One time I was team drafting with Alex Melnikow. Alex played turn 2 Vedalken Engineer, turn 3 Gilded Lotus, and turn 4 Extraplanar Lens and was still three mana short of casting this on turn 5. Rare draft it if Tooth and Nail is your pleasure.
Forge[/author]“]Darksteel [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author]
Too much mana for its effect, even considering the power of the effect.
Not only is it symmetrical, but our opponent gets the man first.
Wrong block, my R&D hommies!
A sawback to the first person who can break this in Limited.
This card is tempting, but just too clunky to work. You never get the horde of men on the table to make it worth playing.
Shield of Kaldra
These equipment remind me of a really good series of G.I. Joe episodes where this device was broken into three parts that were scattered across the world, and if Cobra got them assembled, that was game for the world. Obviously the Joes got to them first and all was well, but now we know and knowing is half the battle.
What the hell was I talking about again?
Cool effect, but like many cool effects in this block, this one is just short of playable in Limited.
If a win were an airplane, then this would be the equivalent of constructing one with duct tape. It may work, but God help you if you try.
Enjoy your artifact land.
What exactly are you trying to accomplish with this card in Limited?
Well of Lost Dreams
The array of cards you have to play to make this good isn’t pretty. You don’t want to see what happens if you don’t draw it.
Well that’s it for the lead up. Fifth Dawn is next on the agenda and I am every bit as excited as you are.
One thing that I have been thinking about lately (and this may be a bit premature), is the Champions of Kamigawa dilemma series. I am looking for suggestions for people I could debate against. If you have any, please drop them in the forums. In the meantime, enjoy Ask Ken and the return of the front page Limited discussion forum, both presented by yours truly.