I was scared to write this article a few weeks ago. I usually have a Draft camp in my hometown, Quebec, Canada which pulls me ahead of the learning curve, but I recently relocated to France, which left me unable to attend. I simulated a few drafts online (a miserable experience), and lucky me, Kaladesh came out on Magic Online 2 days earlier than anticipated (still a miserable experience). Then, GP London alongside Team East West Bowl’s thoughts from Draft camp helped me get comfortable with the format.
Without further ado, let me talk to you about the cards you should be playing less!
1) Thriving Rats
It’s no secret that the format is fast—there’s a never-seen-before number of 3/2s for 2 mana and that’s one of the reasons why Thriving Rats is so mediocre. To have a real card, you’ll want to attack with it so that it’s a 2/3, and even then, you’re still trading with most other 2-drops and you had to work for it.
On the draw you can’t even block. You have to attack, and then you can’t block again for another turn.
It doesn’t block well—but it is a resilient attacker. I’m okay playing the card in a deck like green-black, where you can profitably use the +1/+1 counter with Fairgrounds Trumpeter or Armorcraft Judge, and the deck actually wants to be able to change gears and attack if needed.
2) Captured by the Consulate
I’m not sure if people misread that card, but I’ve seen it in way too many decks. It is not good if your deck is attacking—they can still block. There are also many cards that have 2 targets—Hunt the Weak, Furious Reprisal, Aether Tradewinds, Nature’s Way—not to mention all the flicker and bounce effects that make Auras awkward.
It’s a fine card if you’re a control or flyers deck like blue-white and I can see sideboarding it in against black or red decks because they have the fewest 2-target cards cards but please, Renegade Freighter and Captured by the Consulate do not belong together.
3) Spark of Creativity
There’s too much randomness here. At first I thought it would okay—if it doesn’t work, you’re cycling, it’s fine. The reality is that the 1 mana you’re spending is too important in the tempo and race games that Kaladesh offers. If you spend that mana hoping to kill a blocker and you don’t, then you have to cast a 2-drop instead of your 4-drop you have in the end because you used that 1 mana—it’s not great. That’s not to the mention the times where you flip something too small to kill the creature, but you don’t really want to cast that flipped card because a card in your hand is just a better play.
It remains okay filler, but I’m never excited to play Spark of Creativity.
4) Incendiary Sabotage
I initially ranked this card quite highly. I mean, it’s powerful—there’s no doubt. Sulfurous Blast was an amazing card. Kaladesh is a different world. First, it’s actually hard to have random artifacts lying around when you’re playing red. You have to resort to pairing it with fabricate colors, but then you just have a bunch of creatures in play if that’s what you’re doing, not to mention that all red decks are aggressive.
I can see a theoretical world where you are blue-red with a bunch of Prophetic Prisms. If you splash another color and are a control deck, then Incendiary Sabotage will be good, but that’s too situational for me to pick highly in a draft.
5) Long-Finned Skywhale
All right, the Skywhale is not exactly bad and I would rarely not play it, but it’s important to understand that blue is not an aggressive color, and spending your turn 4 on a creature that can’t block is unlikely to go well for you.
You want to cast this on turn 4 if you played two defensive cards on turn 2 and 3. Otherwise, you’ll have to wait until later and use it to close the game.
Essentially, this fills the same role as Gearseeker Serpent. You want to pick them eventually because they are needed, but they can also be replaced easily.
6) Glint-Nest Crane
As I mentioned above, with 3/2s everywhere a 1/3 just doesn’t block super well. It does have flying, which is nice at dealing with Wind Drake and Thopters, but you’ll want to make sure you hit with the ability to get your money’s worth here.
I want to reliably hit artifacts, otherwise I’m not playing it. Refer to Frank Karsten’s article to know how many artifacts you need.
I’m comfortable with roughly 12 artifacts, which is unusual for a draft deck in this format.
7) Wild Wanderer
I want to see this in a blue-green deck splashing a color—that’s it. Other decks rarely want to splash and Wild Wanderer’s body is terrible for 4 mana. If there were a ton of 6-mana cards you’d want to cast then fine, you could make a case for it, but there just aren’t in this format. The curves usually stop at 5 or include one 6-drop.
8) Reckless Fireweaver
A 1/3 offers defensive stats (bad ones even), but the ability wants to be played in an aggressive deck. The ability isn’t terrible in midrange/control, but the red decks fundamentality don’t want to be those archetypes.
I have yet to find a deck where this would be actively good.
9) Filigree Familiar
It’s cute and everything, but you shouldn’t let that bias you. You can’t just jam it in your aggressive deck thinking it’ll be awesome. It will be okay—nothing more.
Most blue or black deck are happy playing it—but I’m not interested in it elsewhere. Don’t first pick because it’s colorless, since it virtually isn’t.
10) Glassblower’s Puzzleknot & Woodweaver’s Puzzleknot
I have seen way too many of these on the battlefield. Maybe I’m stubborn, but none of these cards have made my main deck yet. You must be all-in on energy to consider playing a card that impacts so little. Prophetic Prism cycles—these cards don’t.
To be fair, I have not drafted many energy decks yet and there are reasonable arguments if you can always use the energy these cards produce because then it’s almost like drawing a card, or better. Just be mindful of how many energy sinks you have before you include these.
Happy drafting, and see you next week as I unveil my Top 10 Underrated Cards right after the Pro Tour—I have to keep the secrets under wraps until then!