At this point in AFR draft, the community’s pick orders and top-performing archetypes and the tiers of Forgotten Realms commons are starting to coalesce into a fairly agreed-upon order. If you’re the type of drafter who generally does their homework and gets a jump on the competition early, then now is the time when you might start to lose your edge against the general draft population. Limited Resources just came out today with an episode including their thoughts on the best things to do in the format, and you can bet that many drafters on Arena will try to follow their advice.
While I haven’t had a chance to listen to the episode yet because I’m teaching band camp at my new job, Marshall and LSV are excellent drafters, and I’m sure they’ve come to similar conclusions that red is the strongest color and Rakdos and Boros are two of the top archetypes. I’d imagine they’ve also identified that blue is lagging behind the other colors. This means that the red archetypes will likely be more contested, and we might finally start to see cards like Price of Loyalty not wheeling constantly. Conversely, the blue archetypes might start to be more open.
So what does this mean for you, the consummately prepared drafter? In general, you’d like to zig when people are zagging in the draft format, but blue is enough weaker than the other colors that I’m not sure it’s advisable to start drafting blue willingly. Can you draft blue in the format? Definitely, but at this point, I would only let the top rares and mythics such as Mordenkainen or Mind Flayer pull me into the color. Sometimes you’ll be forced to draft blue by the people passing to you even when you don’t open great cards like that, but those drafts should be few and far between.
So where should your edge come from right now? In Forgotten Realms, I think your biggest win percentage gains at this point in the format can come from identifying the commons that aren’t the best of the best in their colors but are going later than they should in the draft. Many of the cards below are capable of swinging games in a big way, so you’ll win more just by including them in the right decks more often. Beyond that, knowing why they are better than the average card in the format can help lead to a deeper understanding of the format. Both of my CFB Limited colleagues, Ethan and Alex, just wrote excellent articles on big picture concepts in the format, so if you haven’t had a chance, please check those out!
We talked about this on the latest Lords of Limited episode, but my big picture take on the format is that it’s extraordinarily important to know whether your deck is trying to win with its two drops or via its five and six-drops. Decks that are very aggressive want to play the best two-drops and use them to push damage as quickly as possible. Decks that want to win with their five and six drops will still play a good amount of two-drops, as Alex’s article suggests, but they will trade them off aggressively in order to get to the point where their five and six-drops can take over the game. So now that you’re armed with multiple big picture views on the formats, let’s get down to business on the Commons that you should be casting more often!