This week I wanted to do a quick rundown of the best commons for each guild added to the draft format in Dragon’s Maze. I understand you will not often be just two colors going into the last pack, which should make this kind of primer even more useful, since if you notice that a 3-color wedge has all the good commons in the last set, you can position yourself to take advantage of it. Or, if you know a couple guilds have fewer options, you shouldn’t go into a wedge comprised of mostly those guilds.
Make sure to play a wedge with all good commons in the last set, or pair a bad guild with a good one. Also, it’s important to note that if one of your best possible opens is a [card]Zhur-Taa Druid[/card], you should try to be mainly Gruul so you have the correct lands to cast it on turn two. All that said, let’s get started.
The best common in Dragon’s Maze for Gruul is [card]Zhur-Taa Druid[/card] and it isn’t close. There are very few cards in this format that accelerate you from two mana to four mana on turn 3, so even without the rest of his text he would have a very high pick. If there is one thing I have learned over many years of Magic, it’s that value is always underrated. It may look innocuous enough that it’s just a mana guy and just 1 damage per turn, but it can and will add up quickly. By the time turn seven rolls around, it’s already generated an extra turn of mana AND produced a [card]Lava Axe[/card] out of thin air.
[draft]deputy of acquittals[/draft]
The best common for Azorious is [card]Deputy of Acquittals[/card], and I have to say that’s a bit of a let down. I could have selected something like [card]Steeple Roc[/card], and that may very well be better, but it’s just so plain and unexciting.
Deputy of Acquittals has a much higher upside in a world of multicolor control decks flooded with removal, where this guy has the opportunity to straight 2-for-1 the unknowing opponent. Remember that its ability is a “may,” so you can and will often just run it out there as a 2/2 flash beater—no shame in that. I also like to try and go deep to get value with cards like [card]Seller of Songbirds[/card], [card]Urbis Protector[/card], and [card]Voidweilder[/card]. This card also destroys [card]Paralyzing Grasp[/card], [card]One Thousand Lashes[/card], and [card]Krasis Incubation[/card].
The best Dimir card is a [card]Grisly Spectacle[/card] junior: [card]Fatal Fumes[/card]. Fatal Fumes is good, though not great—it’s able to kill a creature most of the time, but it’s weak against bombs and big Gruul creatures. I like Fatal Fumes as an answer to basically any extort creature and the flying creatures out of Boros.
It isn’t the best answer to two-drop creatures, and four mana can be expensive, but that seems to be a trending theme through this Ravnica block—almost none of the removal is unconditional, so you just take what you can get. Honorable mention goes to [card]Ubul Sar Gatekeepers[/card] which is incredible and better than Fatal Fumes if you can consistently trigger it. I’ve found that triggering the Gatekeepers is harder than it looks, which is why on average Fatal Fumes will be better, but this is just something to keep in mind.
[draft]punish the enemy[/draft]
The [card]Searing Blaze[/card]-esque [card]Punish the Enemy[/card] has a slightly higher price tag on it this time, that said it’s still a totally sick spell. The fact that this card is an instant is wonderful, though not as huge as it normally would be, since Selesnya still has infinite pump spells, there are many playable counterspells, and you will want to kill extort creatures on your own turn before your opponent has a chance to use them. Thus, more often than not you’ll be casting this card in your main phase to prevent blowouts, but it’s always good to have the option. The bonus of hitting the opponent’s dome isn’t relevant for a unique reason like it might against planeswalkers in Standard, but it’s still excellent in basically any red deck. Rakdos and Gruul love a free 3 damage and wouldn’t ever mind playing a five-mana removal spell. It works nicely with Izzet cards like [card]Goblin Electromancer[/card] and [card]Guttersnipe[/card].
The best common by a wide margin is Tithe Drinker. The [card]Syndic of Tithes[/card] throwback with a twist is basically everything you want in an Orzhov card. Extort is incredibly overpowered for Limited play, so basically any card that has it is instantly playable, and tacking extort onto a [card]Child of Night[/card] is perfect. Child of Night was already an excellent card and high pick in core set Limited, and having it in an aggro-driven block like this one is even better. I imagine Tithe Drinker is the best common in the set and just another reason to try to be Orzhov. Simply by virtue of this card’s existence, I would place a slightly higher value on cards that can deal 1 damage like [card]Bomber Corps[/card], [card]Golgari Charm[/card], and [card]Electrickery[/card].
For this color combination, I picked [card]Rakdos Drake[/card]. I think [card]Punish the Enemy[/card] is clearly better, and if I was Rakdos I would take that over the Drake, but purely for the sake of variety and flavor I like the Drake better. Also, of note is that Rakdos Drake really lives up to his name and shines in a Rakdos deck, whereas his playability drops drastically in an Orzhov or Dimir deck. A 3-toughness flier is already pretty hard to kill, but when you put it in a color combination stretched for evasion creatures and short on higher toughness, you have a card that is deceptively impressive. When you first see it, you might be unimpressed—but after playing with it, I expect to lose many games to this card. Honorable mention goes to [card]Rubblebelt Maaka[/card] which I also like very much.
Since the dawn of time, [card]Giant Spider[/card] has been one of the best green commons in its respective draft formats, and though [card]Towering Indrik[/card] was nothing special, I think this effect will be more desirable in a slower format, which leads me to the best Selesnya common: [card]Thrashing Mossdog[/card].
Thrashing Mossdog not only has scavenge, but unlike [card]Towering Indrik[/card] it provides a reasonable clock for its price. I understand this card has a Golgari guild mark on it, but it’s just a solid green card, and of every common in the set I would value this highest in a base-green/white deck. The Towering Indrik comparison doesn’t do this dog justice, since it’s simply way better and a more desirable pick during a draft. Also of note is that now the most common thing to draft will be three colors, which means you will have self-mill in your deck some percentage of the time, making the scavenge relevant in Selesnya splashing something like [card]Grisly Salvage[/card].
[card]Viashino Firstblade[/card] packs quite the punch. We all know how amazing [card]Skyknight Legionnaire[/card] is after playing with her in Gatecrash draft. Haste is just ridiculously powerful in decks that want to trigger battalion, and creatures that are hard to block profitably are key to triggering battalion without sacrificing attackers. I stress the importance of the battalion interaction because that is going to decide games, but also let’s not lose sight of the many other things this creature does well. I like it as a red creature which will trigger the [card]Foundry Street Denizen[/card]s I pick highly and a white creature for my [card]Court Street Denizen[/card]. Did I mention it’s a 4/4 haste creature for three mana? Yeah that’s pretty good.
[draft]Drown in Filth[/draft]
[card]Drown in Filth[/card] is a strange kind of card, it reminds me of [card]Erratic Explosion[/card] or [card]Erratic Mutation[/card]. Drown in Filth is slightly less effective than those cards at killing creatures, since with those cards you could often target 2/2s, and when you felt like gambling you could try your luck at a 3/3 or higher. The most common use for this card will be to target 1-toughness creatures and important 2-toughness guys. Strictly as a removal spell this card is poor, I’ll come out and say it, but the upside of being able to mill scavenge or [card]Rot Farm Skeleton[/card]s or other such goodies is the gravy. Treat is as a shock that can get you value and you won’t often be disappointed.
[card]Beetleform Mage[/card] reminds me a lot of [card]Frilled Oculus[/card] which was not a broken card at all, but a very solid two-drop and a high pick. Beetleform Mage’s stats don’t lend themselves well to evolving creatures beyond that first pump, but that doesn’t make him a bad card, and at three mana you just play an evolve creature, then him, then start bashing. As I was writing those previous sentences I went back to double-check what the card did and—FLYING? Are you kidding me? This card is bonkers as an effective 4/4 flying creature for three mana. Of course, you can only activate him once a turn, and when you curve out with him it is likely he will fall to a [card]Mugging[/card], but still, I think this card is great and I recommend picking it highly when Simic.
Here’s the overall ranking:
1. [card]Tithe Drinker[/card]
2. [card]Zhur-Taa Druid[/card]
3. [card]Punish the Enemy[/card]
4. [card]Thrashing Mossdog[/card]
5. [card]Fatal Fumes[/card]
6. [card]Beetleform Mage[/card]
7. [card]Rakdos Drake[/card]
8. [card]Viashino Firstblade[/card]
9. [card]Drown in Filth[/card]
10. [card]Deputy of Acquittals[/card]
I think as I learn the format and it evolves, it will be interesting to see how people value the aggressive cards. For me, I put a heavy emphasis on consistent mana when trying to play an aggressive strategy. When over half the set is gold cards, how can you possibly aim to get 8 playables in a solid two-color Boros deck? You’re either forced to splash or play very bad cards.
When your mana base is 8-8 and a [card]Boros Guildgate[/card], then [card]Wojek Halberdiers[/card] is a really strong card and a high pick, but if your mana base has five mountains and seven plains then it’s going to be really difficult to cast that card on turn two consistently, and thus its power level drops drastically. It’s no mystery that a huge part of the power of a 2-casting cost card is that you can cast it on turn 2.
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