Everybody is drooling over the power of Dimir in Innistrad: Midnight Hunt Draft as well as the quality of the black commons. Soon, you can expect the color combination to dry up. It won’t be bad, but the more people draft Dimir, the worse Dimir becomes. While I really like Dimir and Orzhov, Golgari and Rakdos haven’t performed well for me, which is consistent with the archetype win rates posted on 17Lands.
What does this mean? Well, blue is the place to be. Azorius, Dimir, and Simic are the top-performing archetypes. And while Izzet performs poorly, I personally have had a lot of success with it, as it’s my highest-performing color combination. So, starting with blue cards is a great way to maximize the probability I draft the best deck, while also leaving me in the position to pivot into whatever the other open color is.
Because of this, I have found myself in Simic quite often. I very often start blue, and when the green cards start coming, I capitalize on that. The most important commons for Simic are, honestly, just the top green and blue commons: Organ Hoarder and Eccentric Farmer. Farmer is one of the most underrated commons at the moment because it’s actually a lot closer to the power of Organ Hoarder than you would initially think.
So far, I have found the self-mill aspect of Simic to be significant, but incidental. I’m not trying to play Tapping at the Window in my Simic decks. Even though this mills cards and has flashback, my best Simic decks don’t even have that many creatures. And I’m not interested in playing cards solely for the purpose of milling myself. Otherworldly Gaze is an exception to this rule, as if I hit a true density of cards with flashback, I’ll often end up playing the first copy. But this only makes the absolute best Simic decks, and it’s still often your worst card.
Here’s the trick though: Simic is not actually a ramp deck. It’s just a solid midrange deck that has good card advantage and top-end. This might be confusing, given the title of this article has to do with ramp, but that’s just because the draft below was anomalous (and interesting to boot). Don’t put Path to the Festival in your Simic deck. Look to splash, but splash with Evolving Wilds and Eccentric Farmer. Maybe even Jack-o’-Lantern. Prioritize card advantage and removal. Draft a deck that can curve out with Unblinking Observer into Shadowbeast Sighting. Have that deck make those cards individually good, with lots of spells and ways to leverage flashback. Prioritize Silver Bolt, Revenge of the Drowned, and Locked in the Cemetery extremely highly, because otherwise you’ll have to splash for removal.
Now that you have a reasonable understanding of how I prioritize cards in Simic, let’s jump into a draft where (surprise) I end up Simic.
Pack 1, Pick 1
Croaking Counterpart is an underrated rare. It’s not a first-pick-quality card, but it’s solid. There are a ton of value creatures in this format to target, and higher-rarity creatures with very strong abilities. And, if you’re truly stalled out of a game and have enough mana, you can loop it with Rootcoil Creeper. I don’t think it’s in the discussion here, but I wanted to mention it because I see it go very late, and I would almost always play it in Simic.
Locked in the Cemetery is a card I said Simic has to prioritize, but it would be incorrect to take here. If I were 100% certain that I would end up Simic, then Locked in the Cemetery is the card I want the most. However, it’s pretty bad in all the other blue archetypes. Simic is the only one that can reliably have five cards in the graveyard on the earlier turn of a game, and it’s also the blue deck most starved for removal since fight spells from green don’t often line up well with low-creature-count Simic decks.
Search Party Captain is a top white common. Two-to-three mana for a cantripping bear is a great rate for a common in Limited. However, I haven’t found much success with white and I don’t think the card is incredible by any means. Given that, I would rather take Hound Tamer, a very powerful green uncommon, or Baithook Angler, an incredible two-drop for any blue deck.
I ended up taking Hound Tamer, but my preference for blue in this format almost led me to take the Angler. I like all the blue archetypes, but out of the green archetypes, I only like Simic and Selesnya. Golgari and Gruul are, in my opinion, the two worst archetypes. Now, maybe I’m being too low on Golgari. I’ve heard other players like it. But I haven’t won with it, and I haven’t lost to it either. If I really think that 50% of the green archetypes are that bad, then green cards are almost like gold cards.
Anyways, I ended up settling on Hound Tamer because it’s just too much more powerful than Angler. But the more I think about it, the more I think this may have been a mistake.
Pack 2, Pick 1
Before deciding what you would take for this pick, take a minute to review the picks so far. I’ll also tell you that Simic felt incredibly open, and both Croaking Counterpart and a Rootcoil Creeper wheeled.
The Picks So Far:
The Celestus is a mana rock that controls day and night while providing some looting value. That’s pretty awesome, but not awesome enough. The thing is, it’s a good card that plays a role my current pool already plays just fine: ramp. I already have two copies of Rootcoil Creeper, and I don’t have much top-end. Taking a ramp spell here, in my opinion, would be a mistake.
Ominous Roost is not a card I have been able to make work yet. Even in Simic, the deck with lots of flashback spells and a self-mill theme, it just doesn’t get there. Tokens not being able to block is a problem. If I want to be able to leverage my flashback spells, I need to play good defensive cards, not something like Ominous Roost. Most of the flashback costs are quite expensive, and so I think my win rate is better if I play cards to help me get to the stage of the game where I overrun opponents with card advantage through flashback. A few pesky flyers that can’t block don’t help me get to that stage, and once I get to that stage, I don’t need those flyers to win.
What did I say at the beginning of this article? Well, I said quite a few things, but the one I’m referring to is, “Prioritize Silver Bolt, Revenge of the Drowned, and Locked in the Cemetery extremely high, because otherwise you will be required to splash for removal. “
The correct card to take here is a removal spell. Olivia’s Midnight Ambush and Candletrap are solid options, but I’m taking Revenge of the Drowned. Don’t let double Rootcoil Creeper fool you; there’s still a limit on the number of cards you can splash. Ambush is fine, but I’d rather splash Defenestrate or Eaten Alive (assuming I can produce enough decayed tokens). Candletrap is fine given the defensive nature of Simic, but white is a much worse splash than red or black because it provides less removal and less uncommons and rares that can dominate the late-game. This means, I don’t know what my splash color will be, and I would rather take Revenge as a fantastic interactive spell to put off that decision.
Pack 3, Pick 1
The Picks So Far:
It’s Pack 3, and my deck is awesome. Any splash is on the table. Right now, my eye is on the Seize the Storm in my pool, and so red cards are more appealing, but Siphon Insight is certainly a powerful rare with flashback. However, when looking at my pool more closely, I don’t need card advantage. I have plenty. What I need is interaction. The other three cards can play an interactive role, and hence are better picks.
Flip the Switch is the common that has swung the most in terms of my pick order. I thought the card would be terrible, but it’s just fantastic. There’s so much to do at instant speed in this format, and the decayed token matters a lot. It’s a great blue common, but it’s not the pick here. This particular Simic deck is lacking in the instant department, which makes this worse. Additionally, I can see myself playing one copy of Flip in this deck, but not two, and I already have one in my pool.
Winterthorn Blessing is a fantastic card for my deck, but it’s not the correct pick. If I believed there was any chance there was another Simic drafter at the table, this pick would be closer. But given how every card for my deck has flowed to my seat, I think the probability this card wheels is above 90%. Given that, I’ll try to have my cake and eat it to. Moonrager’s Slash is a great removal spell to splash, and it’s in the same color as the only card in my pool I currently want to splash: Seize the Storm. I believe it’s the correct pick here, and I correctly predicted that Winterthorn Blessing would come back. I ended with an absolutely fantastic Simic deck that couldn’t lose a game even if I tried.