The 17lands website provides an abundance of sweet Limited data. One thing that is always interesting to look at is how highly cards are being picked by 17Lands drafters (“Average Taken At”) versus the win rate of games where a certain card was drawn (“Drawn in Game Win Rate”). By comparing these two metrics on a plot, we can get a sense for which cards are overrated and which cards are underrated, at least in the first few weeks of The Brothers’ War Premier Draft.
Cards that are above the linear regression line have a higher win rate than you would expect for how highly they are taken. Cards that are below the linear regression line perform worse than you would expect based on their average pick number. The further they are removed from the line, the more underrated or overrated they are. These are aggregate metrics, and you have to keep in mind that some cards may excel in some decks but play out poorly in others – if one card has a higher win rate than another, this does not mean that it’s the superior choice for every draft deck. Yet we can pinpoint cards that are overrated or underrated on average by checking how far they are from the regression line.
A similar measure, which I defined in an earlier article, is the total wins created over a replacement pick. By sorting cards based on these numbers, I obtained the five most overrated and five most underrated commons according to the data. Let’s count them down.
The most underrated commons
Airlift Chaplain is the fifth-most underrated common in The Brothers’ War. It’s taken in the middle of the pack, around pick 6.6 on average (“Average Taken At”), but it’s associated with a solid 58.9 percent win rate (“Drawn in Game Win Rate”). This suggests that the average drafter should take it earlier. Airlift Chaplain usually provides the choice between a Wind Drake or a Skyscanner, which is good flexibility. Milling yourself is generally an upside as well due to the presence of unearth in the set.
Out of all underrated cards in this article, Scrapwork Cohort is taken the earliest, around pick 5.4, but it has the highest win rate out of all commons in the set, at 59.7 percent. This win rate is even higher than removal spells like Overwhelming Remorse or Excavation Explosion, which are typically taken around pick three or four. This means that Scrapwork Cohort has been going far too late. After playing with the set, it’s easy to see how many synergies it supports: artifactfall, Powerstones, Soldiers, sacrifice, self-mill, unearth and so on. Even in absence of synergies, Scrapwork Cohort provides card advantage, a mana sink and a way to win damage races. On top of all that, it’s easy to splash in any deck. Don’t sleep on this one.
The red sacrifice deck is real. While Goblin Blast-Runner is at its best in red-black and shouldn’t make every deck – I would want at least five reliable sacrifice outlets – it can easily slot into an aggressive red deck with several Penregon Strongbull, along with a spare Bitter Reunion, Evolving Wilds and any other card to trigger them. So far, Goblin Blast-Runner has been taken rather late, around pick 9.5, but with a 57.8 percent win rate, they should definitely be picked earlier.
Scrapwork Mutt is the second-most underrated common. It’s taken in the middle of the pack, around pick 5.7 on average, but it’s a top-tier two-drop, with a 59.3 percent win rate to boot. Most of the things I said about Scrapwork Cohort also apply here – Scrapwork Mutt supports all of your synergies, and it’ll fit into any deck, even if you’re not base red. It deserves to be picked more highly.
Gaea’s Gift gets taken fairly late, around pick nine on average, and it’s frequently left in sideboards. However, as can be inferred from its 58.8 percent win rate, it’s the best combat trick in the set because it helps you win combat, leaves behind a +1/+1 counter and even protects from removal if need be. The reach ability has also saved me on numerous occasions when I would otherwise lose to a flyer. Gaea’s Might should be taken far earlier, and it has been the most underrated common in the set so far.
The most overrated commons
Seeing Evolving Wilds on the overrated list was a bit of a surprise to me. I always tend to pick it highly and use it to improve my mana base. But perhaps The Brothers’ War is not the set for it. The games can be fast and often come down to damage races, which means that drawing a tapped land in the midgame can be crushing. Moreover, many of your cards are artifacts, so you are missing colored mana less frequently. So in The Brothers’ War Limited, the benefit of Evolving Wilds is lower, whereas its costs are higher. With a 55.5 percent win rate and an average pick number of 6.3, it’s been going a bit too high and perhaps should not be as high of a priority.
Gixian Skullflayer has been unimpressive, as it’s difficult to turn on reliably, and a 2/3 for three mana is merely filler at best. Its win rate has been mediocre at 51.1 percent, and even though it’s not taken highly, at pick 8.3 on average, it should go even later.
There’s nothing wrong with Scrapwork Rager – indeed, its “Improvement When Drawn” statistic is positive – but it’s not as impressive as Scrapwork Cohort, which provides more immediate board presence and unlocks more synergies. Yet both were taken at around the same clip, at pick 5.5 on average. It’s good, but not that good. With a win rate of 55.3 percent, Scrapwork Rager is overrated in comparison.
Powerstone Fracture is yet another black card, and you can see a trend here. Out of all five colors, black is the worst one overall in The Brothers’ War, based on the 17lands data. The average white or red deck has a win rate that is two percentage points higher than the average black deck. Accordingly, you should not value Powerstone Fracture that highly, especially early on the draft. Only take it when black seems open and you can unlock sufficient sacrifice synergies. When in doubt early on, if a pick seems close, avoid black and go for red or white instead.
The most overrated common in The Brothers’ War, according to my metric, is Goring Warplow. While playable, its 53.0 percent win rate does not warrant it being taken at pick 6.7 on average. It’s understated at both two mana and six mana, and it being an artifact doesn’t help all that much – black is poor at Powerstone generation, and artifactfall synergies are centered in other color combinations. All in all, Goring Warplow has been the most underwhelming prototype creature. The average drafter has been taking it a bit too high.