Every three months we get a new Limited format, it can be a totally new environment we’ve never seen, or simply one new pack. For someone who drafts regularly in events, it can be overwhelming to relearn every single time there’s a new set. Of course, some basics stays the same, but knowing what each color combination does, how many 2-drops you should play, whether Demolish is still unplayable… these types of questions you need to play over 10 drafts to figure out—
—Unless you run the numbers like I do for every set. Where I live, it’s hard to draft as much as I would like to, so I theorize a lot about formats, and after 5 drafts I feel quite comfortable.
The first thing I like to do is evaluate whether the format will be dominated by mythics and rares. It basically tells me if the format will be fun and interactive to play as well as define how important removal is.
The set has 16 mythics and 55 rares for a total of 71. I’d consider 30 to be “bombs,” this does not include merely good rares such as Harbinger of the Tides or Knight of the White Orchid because those aren’t taking over a game singlehandedly. I did include cards like Gideon’s Phalanx which can steal games even if 7 mana is a lot in this quick format, but overall, I felt like I had to stretch to find bombs and it’s good news that one of the best is Pia and Kiran Nalaar, a card that is great but still beatable.
With that said, for a Core Set, Wizards did a good job at keeping the rares reasonable. That tells us that even if your deck doesn’t have removal, you won’t lose to a ridiculous card 75% of the time.
Now, let’s go over the quality of uncommons in Magic Origins. Note that these numbers are based on general knowledge, experience so far, as well as how they match up against other cards in the set.
The categories can be a little imprecise. My metrics are:
Great = A card you basically never cut from your deck barring too many cards at the same mana cost or mana base issues. Archetype defining cards such as Blightcaster make this category as they are powerful in the right deck.
Okay = A card you are not unhappy playing, but you would rather leave in your sideboard or at least not have multiple copies—most combat tricks or big blockers usually fit in this category.
Between Consul’s Lieutenant, Patron of the Valiant, Knightly Valor, Sentinel of the Eternal Watch, and more, white has the highest quality uncommons. To give you an idea, Sentinel of the Eternal Watch takes over more games than half of the 30 cards I considered game-breaking bombs.
Red is up there, unfortunately most of its cards depend on your archetype to reach their full potential—even so they are playable in any deck.
Blue is not a great color in this set due to its lack of good commons, as you will see below—still, it is compensated with seven significant uncommons, making the color rewarding if you stick to it while others decide to abandon ship based on commons.
Black and green have a little less, but as you’ll see, they are deep enough that it shouldn’t affect a drafter that much.
This section really shows how well balanced and fun Magic Origins is.
Green and black are considered the best colors based on their quantity of great commons, even if they only have a few outstanding cards among them. For example, Leaf Gilder is one of the best green cards, but it’s nothing compared to the best red card Fiery Impulse—the thing is that there are TEN of those not-insane-but-still-good commons.
Green is the deepest color by far—each of these commons can fit into any deck, but you will need some support in terms of removal. I have seen decks that didn’t even need removal by using Titanic Growth and Might of the Masses to race.
I’m counting the cycles of collectible cards like Undead Servant, as they can get out of hand in multiples—of course you don’t play the black version if you have just one. Black is deep as well, but not aggressive. This is mostly the control color of the format.
The creature quality in white is phenomenal, and attacking with this color is the real deal. Celestial Flare is a good removal spell for 2 mana, and don’t forget the post-damage trick—creatures are still considered attacking or blocking even after damage.
Red is light on great cards, yet the few it has are extremely good. It is worth noticing that none of its 2-drops make this list—there are three in total and I recommend borrowing from other colors to replace them. Dragon Fodder and Subterranean Scout can be reasonable in the right deck, but are ultimately narrow.
Four cards? Eh, I could’ve stretched to add Aspiring Aeronaut, but it has been cut from my decks frequently.
Green and white sit at the top, however white has greater card quality overall.
Blue is by far the worst in numbers, but that doesn’t mean it’s not good. The very few cards it has are quite good which means if it’s lightly drafted at a table, there will be someone with a powerful blue deck.
Thank you for reading and see you at Grand Prix Dallas and Pro Tour Magic Origins!