Yawgmoth’s Whimsy #187 – Moving on to Tenth

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Tenth Edition has been released. By unanimous consent, we drafted tenth instead of Time Spiral / Planar Chaos / Future Sight last week at FNM. We will also, apparently, be drafting Tenth during some of the Summer Magic events at the local store. It’s just in time. People seem to have figured out Time Spiral drafting, and the drafts are getting old.

Tenth Edition has been released. By unanimous consent, we drafted tenth instead of Time Spiral / Planar Chaos / Future Sight last week at FNM. We will also, apparently, be drafting Tenth during some of the Summer Magic events at the local store. It’s just in time. People seem to have figured out Time Spiral drafting, and the drafts are getting old.

Don’t believe people know how to draft Time Spiral? Well, I’m pretty much garbage at Limited, and I got it. Here’s my most recent draft.

Random GW Deck

2 Aven Riftwatcher
Knight of Sursi
Castle Raptor
Giant Dustwasp
Duskrider Peregrine
Lucent Liminid
Might Sliver
Watcher Sliver
Lymph Sliver
Amrou Seekers
Seht’s Tiger
Sporoloth Ancient

2 Judge Unworthy
Squall Line
Search for Tomorrow
Sprout Swarm
Evolution Charm

9 Forest
8 Plains

Notable sideboard cards:

Saltfield Recluse
Mistmeadow Skulk
Seal of Primordium
Numot, the Devastator
Jedit’s Dragoons
Marshalling Cry

I 3-0ed the table. I didn’t drop a game against the guy with Damnation, or the guy with Akroma’s Memorial. I did drop one game against the guy with Enslave and Errant Ephemeron and Take Possession, but only because I played all eight Plains and one Forest. I died holding the Squall Line that would have won the game early, and forced a draw late. I won the other two games against that player at twenty life (or more, thanks to Aven Riftwatchers.)

In short, if I know how to draft TSP Block, everyone who cares knows by now. Time to move on.

The new Limited environment is Tenth Edition. It’s basically Ninth on steroids, although a few things have changed. Let’s bust a couple packs and see what we have.

The first thing I noticed was that the pack now has a special sixteenth card. It is either a token creature (Goblin, Dragon, Soldier, Saproling, etc.) or a tips and tricks card. Second, like any base set, the pack also contains a basic land card. I’ll ignore the lands and tokens in the card lists.

I also noticed that the cards look far better with black borders, but we knew that.

Here’s the first pack:

Wrath of God
Wurm’s Tooth
Chromatic Star
Giant Growth
Aven Cloudchaser
Prodigal Pyromancer
Tundra Wolves
Stalking Tiger
Warrior’s Honor
Plague Beetle
Ravenous Rats

Oh my frikken gawd. I have drafted Eighth and Ninth Editions, in paper and especially online, a couple hundred times. I have never opened a Wrath of God. Now, in the packs I’m just busting for the article — Wrath! What a waste of a bombtastic pack. Boo!

Wrath in pack 1! What are the odds? Well, that’s easy enough — the set has 121 rares, 121 uncommons and 121 commons. (It also has 20 basic lands, 12 Tips & Tricks cards and 6 token cards.) So, the odds of busting a Wrath of God in the very first pack are one in 121 — slightly better than that if I were to fudge the order in which I listed the packs.

Wrath is obviously the pick in the pack. White also has a good flier, the perennial Cloudchaser Eagle or Aven or Condor — the species for the flying Demystify changes by set, but it is always decent. That’s about it for White, however. White is not as deep as it was in Ninth.

The Black pick is Nekrataal, who returns to this set with new artwork and undiminished effectiveness. If anything, he’s better, since Crossbow Infantry will no longer keep him out of the red zone. Overall, Black’s removal is still very good, with Terror replacing Dark Banishing (and improvement against everything but Platinum Angel) and Afflict cantripping along. On the downside, Plague Beetles is still a fifteenth pick, but it is pretty typical of Black’s creatures. Hollow Dogs have strayed. What’s left is a Mass of Ghouls and a mass of dreck. Dross Crocodile is a 5/1 — and one of Black’s “better” common creatures in combat. Some Black common creatures have evasion, some have good comes into play abilities, but none have any heft.

Blue has only Unsummon in this pack, plus the cantrip Peek. If that seems weak, so is Blue overall. Unsummon replaces Time Ebb, and that’s symptomatic. Unsummon is a nice combat trick; turning a 2-for-1 trade into a mere chump block or bouncing a creature out from under a Blanchwood Armor. It is not a pseudo-Time Walk, where the opponent is cursed to redraw a creature when they would rather dig for answers. Time Ebb is gone.

Red as just one card in this pack, but it is a good card. Red finally gets to trade in the clunky Anaba Shaman for the cheaper pinger. About the only downside is that the Shaman was better in the mirror — single Shamans could not kill each other. Now, the first Pyromancer into play slaughters any on the other side. Still, not having to pay for pings is just fine. That’s true of all of Red’s damage dealing cards — they are just fine.

Green is solid. Giant Growth is just as good a combat trick as it ever was — and in a base set, where combat is king and tricks are fewer, combat tricks are even better. A lot of the format comes down to 3/3s attacking into a pair of 2/2s, which is where Giant Growth shines. The 3/3s into 2/2s is also why Stalking Tiger is a very good Hill Giant.

Chromatic Star is in the pack — and it is now an uncommon. This may have an impact on Pauper Magic, depending on the rules you play under, but it is also important for the set. Tenth is not like Ravnica — color fixing and land fetch are limited. Fellwar Stone is gone. The only common, non-Green mana fixer is Terramorphic Expanse, and that only shows up in every twelfth booster or so. In Limited, decks need to be two colors, with at best a one or two card splash, or you will have color screw.

Pack #2:

Coat of Arms
Spiketail Hatchling
Ballista Squad
Enormous Baloth
Cloud Sprite
Aven Windreader
Venerable Monk
Llanowar Sentinel
Rampant Growth
Hill Giant
Phyrexian Rager
Merfolk Looter

Coat of Arms is worth a few bucks, but it probably isn’t worth playing. At the very least, it is a two-edged sword. Rumor has it that the new set (due in just over two months!?!) will have a tribal theme. As a result, a lot of creatures are showing up with similar types. Merfolk are back, elves are numerous, as are other tribes. Coat of Arms may help your creatures — but it may end up helping your opponent as well. (Not to mention the fact that it if you draft mediocre cards just because they have the right tribe, your deck will suck until you draw Coat of Arms….)

White has another bomb, here — Ballista Squad is still as annoying to play around as ever. After that, however, White falls flat. Venerable Monk is as useless as ever. This format is defined by 3/3s, or at least 2/3s, clogging up ground combat. Tenth has at least 23 creatures with a toughness of three in the common slot – 24 if you count Rootwalla. This means that the best that 2/2s, like the old Monk, can do is hang around to double-block stuff. It also means that 1/1s, like Raging Goblin and Tundra Wolves, are pretty much useless. Hill Giants are everywhere — but when a 3/3 faces a pair of 2/2s, nothing much happens. Evasion is important in this format — evasion and fat.

Blue has evasion in this pack. Aven Windreader is still a very good card, but Blue has lost Horned Turtle. That means that it cannot hold off Hill Giants for long — or trade a random 2/2 for the 3/3 by double blocking with a 2/2 and a 1/4. Blue is not as good at stalling the ground, which means that a 3/3 flier for five mana may not be fast enough any more. Looking at Blue’s other fliers — Spiketail Hatchling and Cloud Sprite — would not inspire fear in the opponent. Those are very slow beaters. Merfolk Looter, on the other hand, is just as good as ever.

Black gets Phyrexian Rager. This would be awesome if 2/2s just did a little more in the format. They work best if you can also get a pinger, or some thing to allow 2/2s to trade with 3/3s. (Or Ascendant Evincar — an Evincar and a handful of Phyrexian Ragers made for a really sweet draft.) If I did not have a Black bomb I was digging for, I would just be happy that I had a second color when I got this pack.

Red gets a Hill Giant in the pack, but no removal. I would not be happy to be Red/Black and open this pack. The only other Red card is Demolish, but if that comes back around, I would be happy to grab it for sideboard use. The set contains a couple of totally broken artifacts, like Icy Manipulator, Platinum Angel, Razormane Masticore, and Loxodon Warhammer, and I want to be able to answer them. Fortunately, all but the Icy are rare — but the odds are about three in five that one of those three rares is going to show up in the draft, and about the same that Icy will be present in any given Tenth / Tenth / Tenth draft.

Green opens with a huge fattie — a 7/7 for seven mana. This format is different from other Limited formats in that other colors tend to have fewer big creatures. The commons with four power or greater are limited to a pair in Black, a couple in Red, and to Green. Enormous Baloth is clearly at the very upper end of castable, but Green has a lot of mana accelerators. Rampant Growth is in this pack, and Llanowar Elves, Civic Wayfinder, and Overgrowth are all commons. Green has even more mana acceleration in the uncommon and rare slots. Enormous Baloth is expensive, but once on the table it will take something like Terror, Unsummon, Pacifism or a pile of chump blockers to get rid of it.

Green also gets a Llanowar Sentinel in this pack. The Sentinel is a 2/3, meaning it can hold off the format’s two dozen plus 2/2s all day (well, except the ones with evasion.) You might also get a couple of bonus copies, allowing you to get several at a discount. The odds are not totally favorable. Green is a popular color, and the Sentinels are a mid-range pick. That means that you will probably be fighting for them. With 121 different commons in the set, and 240 commons in a draft (remember, just 10 commons per pack — plus a basic land), you can expect two per draft. The Sentinel is really just a 2/3 for 2G, so take it accordingly. Once in a blue moon you might get five copies and be able to go nuts, but don’t count on even two.

Let’s look at another pack:

Joiner Adept
Karplusan Strider
Soul Warden
Viashino Sandscout
Cloud Sprite
Raging Goblin
Wild Griffin
Anaba Bodyguard
Dross Crocodile
Looming Shade

I’m not going to go in depth on this pack — I’ll just make a few quick comments.

First of all, note that the Green creatures, and to a lesser extent the Red ones, are decent. The other color’s creatures tend to be small and fragile. The fliers, here, are ten- or twenty-turn clocks. Looming Shade can be a monster late game, but the odds are against getting to late game with Black commons on defense. Dross Crocodile is what he is — namely dead to anything that can possibly kill a creature.

Blue has card drawing, but its counterspells are not Counterspell. Blue’s card drawing, on the other hand, is still first rate. Other colors get cantrips — Blue gets Sift and Tidings and Looter and Arcanis and… well, it’s Blue. It gets the good stuff.

Another pack:

Time Stop
Femeref Archers
Faerie Conclave
Snapping Drake
Cloud Elemental
Uncontrollable Anger
Lava Axe
Skyhunter Prowler
Suntail Hawk
Elvish Berserker

Femeref Archers is the card that really caught my attention in this pack. Yes, it’s a Grey Ogre — but a Grey Ogre that kills practically every flier in the set. For the first time in a long time, Green gets an anti-flier card that is actually maindeckable. The last time I remember that happening, off-hand, is Masques, when Spidersilk Armor was annoying people in drafts everywhere. [Mustn’t forget Trophy Hunter… – Craig, jonesing for RGD draft.]

The Archers are just one card, and they are not enough to make me overlook the rest of the fliers in this pack. Blue has the amazing Snapping Drake, plus Cloud Elemental and Faerie Conclave. All three beat quite well, and Blue even has a Cancel in the pack.

White’s only decent card here is Skyhunter Prowler, which keeps one 2/2 at bay forever, while slowly beating down. That’s it. Black gets a second rate removal card (Terror, Essence Drain, and Nekrataal are first rate in the set) and a marginal cantrip. Red gets Uncontrollable Anger, which is actually quite good in an environment filled with 2/2s and 3/3s. It will probably save a creature early, then require the opponent to trade a couple more to bring down the creature wearing it.

It is interesting to note that only Blue has any depth in the pack. That is not altogether uncommon. Black and White seem very shallow at common. Red looks shallow unless it contains a burn spell, but that is deceptive. Green has a lot of fat, and that rarely looks shallow.

Finally, one more pack.

Razormane Masticore
Wall of Swords
Angel’s Feather
Treetop Bracers
Sage Owl
Aven Windreader
Venerable Monk
Skyshroud Ranger
Hill Giant
Rampant Growth
Phyrexian Rager
Merfolk Looter

Remember when I mentioned that about three in five drafts would have a bomb artifact? Here you go. Razormane hits a creature for three damage every upkeep. By my count, that kills sixty-six common creatures outright — roughly fourteen in each color. Random stuff, like Pincer Beetle, survive because of Shroud, and regenerators may not die, but only Sea Monster can actually block and live. The numbers get a bit better when you throw in uncommons and rares, but not a lot. The new Masticore is still a Masticore, albeit not quite up to the original.

Nothing else in the pack is even close to Razormane, but the pack is not completely shabby. Wall of Swords is hard to fight through. Treetop Bracers is, if anything, better in this format. Green’s guys are already fat — fatter and flying is tough to stop. Overall, though, I want to open this pack, instead of getting passed everything but the rare.

Color Overview / Review:


White still has a couple of good rares, in addition to Wrath of God, and it still has Pacifism. Master Decoy, the other super-high pick common, has been replaced with Loxodon Mystic, who is far slower. White has some flying walls that are fine on defense, but it does not have much in the way of offensive fliers and nothing to connect on the ground. On the plus side, you will not be fighting all that many other drafters for White.


Blue still has a flock of good fliers, and great card drawing. It still has Boomerang, and adds Unsummon. What it loses are the commons to gum up ground combat. Horned Turtle and Wanderguard Sentry are gone, leaving just Sea Monster to keep out the bad guys. Blue is still very good, but U/W is not the be all and end all of draft colors anymore.


Black has a bunch of very good removal spells, a couple of mediocre removal spells, and a few decent creatures at uncommon and rare. Its best common creatures are Dusk Imp and Severed Legion, but then it drops off towards Ravenous Rats and Mass of Ghouls, with a bunch of non-playables bringing up the rear. Black is very solid if you can get a couple of good bombs early on, and if you don’t have too many other drafters splashing for your best removal spells.


Red has Incinerate, and Shock, and Blaze, and Prodigal Pyromancer, and Beacon of Destruction, and on and on. Red’s creatures are also good, including the quite aggressive Bloodrock Cyclops, the semi-removal spell called Bogardan Firefiend, and the surprisingly valuable (and splashable) Rock Badger. If nothing else, Rock Badger can punish people for stealing your Incinerates.


For once, Green really is the creature color. Green gets common 6/4s and 5/4s, and a bunch of Hill Giants and so forth. Its creatures are just bigger across the board. It also gets a number of decent combat tricks, starting with the cantrip Aggressive Urge, and gets a near monopoly on mana fixing and acceleration. Green also gets Naturalize and Creeping Mold, as answers to some nasty problems. Green is good in this set, which — when combined with the fact that many new players gravitate towards Green – means that you may be fighting for the color with a lot of other players at FNM and in the 4-3-2-2 queues online. I recently nearly won out (lost game 3 of the finals) despite having a really bad U/B deck, mainly because five other drafters battled for Green. All the Green drafters were short of playables.

Color matches:

R/B aggro works, if you can get a lot of burn and removal, and a bunch of cantrip creatures, like Phyrexian Rager. That deck aside, however, anything under a 4/4 is likely to get stalled on the ground. The result is that most decks have to win on the basis of evasion, tricks and fatties. Any combination that gives you tricks and evasion, and maybe some fat, can do the trick.

I’m looking forward to drafting this set in the next couple of weeks. I will at least be looking at new cards and new art. I don’t know whether the set will stay interesting all the way until October, when the next main set will arrive, but Tenth looks good for a while. I’ll be at U.S. Nationals and GenCon — I wonder which will be drafted in sides more often?


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