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Utter Beatings – Pointing M10 Limited

Today I thought I would point out a few things about M10 Limited; namely, how good each card is on a one to five scale, which Wizards R and D does before each set is completed.

In Randy Buehler’s article Limited Pointing he uses the following quote from the Developer’s Handbook to explain the guidelines on how to point a card for limited:

Given that this is the first card you see (of your 75-card sealed deck or first pack, first pick in draft), how happy are you — on a scale of 0.0 – 5.0 — to see it? Furthermore, your ratings should be linear (that is, you’d be just as happy with a 3.5 and a 2.5 or with two 3.0’s). Also, to be technically correct, this all assumes that your goal is to win – winning makes you “happy.”

The following elaborations of this scale are merely guidelines, designed to clarify the scale defined above:

5.0: I will always play this card. Period.

4.5: I will almost always play this card, regardless of what else I get.

4.0: I will strongly consider playing this as the only card of its color.

3.5: I feel a strong pull into this card’s color.

3.0: This card makes me want to play this color. (Given that I’m playing that color, I will play this card 100% of the time.)

2.5: Several cards of this power level start to pull me into this color. If playing that color, I essentially always play these. (Given that I’m playing that color, I will play this card 90% of the time.)

2.0: If I’m playing this color, I usually play these. (70%)

1.5: This card will make the cut into the main deck about half the times I play this color. (50%)

1.0: I feel bad when this card is in my main deck. (30%)

0.5: There are situations where I might sideboard this into my deck, but I’ll never start it. (10%)

0.0: I will never put this card into my deck (main deck or after sideboarding). (0%)

Those guidelines break down for artifacts and gold cards – fall back onto the fundamental definition when rating these categories of cards: the happiness scale.

Every single rating given here is guaranteed to be wrong, but that’s not really the point. The idea is just to get a sense of how strong each color is, and look at what they are good at doing, and hopefully the ratings are going to be close enough for that purpose. I consider anything you feel bad playing an “unplayable”, so a “playable” is any card that points at 1.5 or higher.

(For those of you who don’t know all the M10 cards by name alone (basically everyone), here is the spoiler from MTGSalvation.com – LSV)

White

Angel’s Mercy – 0.5
Blinding Mage – 3
Divine Verdict – 2.5
Excommunicate – 2
Glorious Charge – 1.5
Griffin Sentinel – 1.5
Holy Strength – 1
Lifelink – 0
Pacifism – 3.5
Palace Guard – 1.5
Razorfoot Griffin – 2
Safe Passage – 2
Siege Mastodon – 2
Silvercoat Lion – 2
Solemn Offering – 1.5
Soul Warden – 1.5
Stormfront Pegasus – 3.5
Veteran Armorsmith – 3
Veteran Swordsmith – 3
Wall of Faith – 1

Average: 1.925
Playables: 16
Average for playables: 2.25

White has three of the best commons in Pacifism, Stormfront Pegasus, and Blinding Mage. From there White fills out with a bunch of good aggressive creatures. White’s strength is really going to hinge on how successful aggressive decks are. In the past core sets have been pretty slow in limited, with card advantage reigning supreme and Grizzly Bears being near unplayable. Of course, core sets in the past have not had creatures as good as Stormfront Pegasus, Veteran Armorsmith, and Veteran Swordsmith at common, so it is reasonable to expect the format to speed up. That said, something as simple as a Giant Spider seems hugely problematic for white, and the weenies can still be outclassed by other creatures pretty quickly.

Blue

Cancel – 2
Convincing Mirage – 0.5
Coral Merfolk – 1.5
Disorient – 1
Divination – 3
Essence Scatter – 2.5
Horned Turtle – 1.5
Ice Cage – 2
Illusionary Servant – 2
Jump – 0
Merfolk Looter – 3
Negate – 1.5
Ponder – 2
Sage Owl – 1
Serpent of the Endless Sea – 1
Snapping Drake – 3
Tome Scour – 0
Unsummon – 1
Wind Drake – 2.5
Zephyr Sprite – 1

Average: 1.6
Playables: 12
Average for playables: 2.21

Blue is certainly not very deep; it will mostly be playing support to whatever your other color is doing.

I am biasing towards card advantage based on experience with past core sets, which again may be somewhat invalidated in M10. With White to some extent supplanting Blue as the go to color for flyers, the main draw to Blue is Divination and Merfolk Looter. Blue is in trouble if those are not going to be premiere commons.

Unsummon is rated here as an unplayable, which might be a bit harsh, but a good chunk of its utility came from saving a creature with damage on the stack. If the format does end up being tempo based, Unsummon will be fine, but you can’t rely on getting a card’s worth of value out of it in longer games like you used to be able to. Unsummon is awesome at racing Green fatties with flyers, so it certainly has its place, but I don’t think you want to be playing it main very often.

Ice Cage and Illusionary Servant are tricky to evaluate. They are better in M10 than they would be in most any other format, with Blinding Mage being the only common that really punishes them. Things do start looking worse at uncommon, but overall the set is still very light on activated abilities that target creatures. The number of common playable spells that I would say profitably answer these is pretty small: Weakness, Kindled Fury, Sparkmage Apprentice, Giant Growth, and Oakenform. There is no shortage of unplayables that are good against these cards, like (Un)Holy Strength and Lifelink, and it does suck giving your opponent good value out of such cards, but you should not be seeing these main often. Interestingly, these could be great sideboard options against Blue decks full of Ice Cages and Illusionary Servants. These cards are obviously very good if they stick, and they will stick often enough and the risks to them are low enough that I think both are going to be pretty good.

Black

Acolyte of Xathrid – 1
Assassinate – 2.5
Child of Night – 2
Disentomb – 1.5
Doom Blade – 4
Dread Warlock – 2.5
Drudge Skeletons – 2
Duress – 1
Gravedigger – 2.5
Kelinore Bat – 2
Looming Shade – 2
Mind Rot – 2
Sign in Blood – 3
Soul Bleed – 0.5
Tendrils of Corruption – 3
Unholy Strength – 1
Vampire Aristocrat – 2
Warpath Ghoul – 2
Weakness – 1.5
Zombie Goliath – 2

Average: 2.0
Playables: 16
Average for playables: 2.28

Black is the clear best color at common. It has the best card advantage, the best removal, and its creatures don’t even look too shabby. Black plays nice with Green, taking advantage of the beefy bodies, though perhaps plays best alone thanks to the demanding Tendrils of Corruption and [card]Looming Shade[/card].

Red

Berserkers of Blood Ridge – 2.5
Burning Inquiry – 0.5
Burst of Speed – 0
Canyon Minotaur – 2
Fiery Hellhound – 1.5
Firebreathing – 0.5
Goblin Piker – 1.5
Jackal Familiar – 1
Kindled Fury – 1.5
Lava Axe – 1.5
Lightning Bolt – 3.5
Lightning Elemental – 2
Panic Attack – 1.5
Raging Goblin – 0.5
Seismic Strike – 2.5
Shatter – 0.5
Sparkmage Apprentice – 1.5
Trumpet Blast – 1.5
Viashino Spearhunter – 1.5
Yawning Fissure – 0

Average: 1.375
Playables: 13
Average for playables: 1.9

The Red is not pretty. As bad as Red looks by the numbers, it may be even worse than that. I feel like I am being a little generous saying you will play cards like Lava Axe, Panic Attack, and Trumpet Blast about half of the time in your red decks, basically assuming that you are playing red mostly for those kind of effects. Even Seismic Strike is most likely rated too high here, as playing lots of mountains is going to be a bad idea. Lightning Bolt is a trap.

Green

Borderland Ranger – 2.5
Bountiful Harvest – 0.5
Bramble Creeper – 1.5
Centaur Courser – 3
Craw Wurm – 2.5
Deadly Recluse – 2
Elvish Visionary – 2
Emerald Oryx – 1.5
Entangling Vines – 1.5
Fog – 1
Giant Growth – 2
Giant Spider – 2.5
Llanowar Elves – 2.5
Mist Leopard – 1.5
Naturalize – 1.5
Oakenform – 1.5
Rampant Growth – 2.5
Regenerate – 1
Runeclaw Bears – 2
Stampeding Rhino – 2.5

Average: 1.875
Playables: 17
Average for playables: 2.1

Green has the awesome acceleration and fatties we are used to seeing, but it also has a very nice curve of ground animals highlighted by Centaur Courser and Borderland Ranger.

Terramorphic Expanse is the only non-Green mana fixing in the set outside of the rare duals, so if you want to play three colors you probably need to play green. You can get away with splashing that Fireball off of a couple of Mountains, but that’s about it. Rampant Growth and Borderland Ranger should be higher picks than they were in 10th, as you no longer have Prismatic Lens and Chromatic Star helping your mana out.

***

Black
Green
White
Blue
Red

Knowing the hierarchy is pretty relevant. It tells you to expect many swamps and fatties in your pre-release, and that you probably want to run Emerald Oryx main, and that [card]Bog Wraith[/card] is going to be amazing. It tells you to value [card]Lightning Bolt[/card] and Seismic Strike lower in draft than you might otherwise, as you would really like to avoid red. It tells you to take [card]Looming Shade[/card] and [card]Tendrils of Corruption[/card] lower as well, as there are likely going to be more Black drafters than drafters in other colors, so it will be harder to have a heavy Black deck.

This should help you get a jump on M10 Limited, and if you disagree with any of my ratings be sure to point it out in the forums or comments section!

25 thoughts on “Utter Beatings – Pointing M10 Limited”

  1. Loved the article, but agree with the comment re: Horned Turtle. That guy is *insane*, especially with Divination in the format–although we don’t have Sift and Fisher anymore, frown.

  2. I think that there are strong archetypes to be formed out of the weaker colours… i bet a speedy red deck with a couple copies of oakenform and lava axe would be very powerful. And the serpent of the seven seas combos with alluring sirens pretty well.

    There might even be a mill deck with burning inquiry + tome scour to compliment a lucky Jace, a Traumatize or maybe a rise from the grave.

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  4. And Bramble Creeper at 1.5. No way is that guy nearly as good as soul warden, another card you have rated at 1.5.

  5. Wouldn’t Tome Scour be at least a 1.5, considering you can actually build a deck just around that?

  6. Clearly the value of horned turtle lowers because of fisher and sift missing. My own experience with the card often leaves me picking support cards over it, as a 1/4 isn’t good against fliers, and I’d rather the other blue players have them. It has done it’s job when I did play it, (I can recall getting two llanowar elves, three of him, and three snapping drake once with a might of oaks and a few other dorks) but certainly nothing close to what I’d call “insane”.

    Now, if they had reprinted Doran…

  7. Josh Utter-Leyton

    Doobs – I am braindead

    Horned Turtle – see above, but also:
    Palace Guard – 1.5
    Hurned Turtle – 2.5
    would be pretty awkward. Is 1.5 wrong for Palace Guard? Should the same card in different colors point differently?

  8. While analyzing the commons in a set typically is the most important, I think that the power level of uncommons is going to play a heavier roll with M10 than it did with previous core sets.

    Take Blue for example: You have Air Elemental, Mind Control, and Sleep as mega-bombs at the uncommon level. Especially Sleep. Naya Charm is one of my favorite cards in Alara block draft, and I have to imagine that, despite the *less choices and sorcery speed and one more mana aspect*, it has to be better than Naya Charm was. You just insta win any creature stall.

    White has Serra angel, rhox pikemaster, harms way, armored ascension, and (to a lesser extent) white knight.

    Black is not as great at the uncommon spot, with only consume spirit, black knight, and howling banshee of mention.

    Red has fireball, dragon whelp, goblin artillery, and pyroclasm

    Green has Cudgel Troll, acidic slime, and Overrun(!). (Not as sure about the bomb status of these cards except overrun)

    Conclusion: I completly agree with your common order, although I think that a lot of this format will be defined with how many bomb-uncommons (and rares and mythics of course) you can pack into your deck. Cards like sleep, overrun, and fireball may have a lot of say in how strong colors end up being.

    PS I do agree that a heavy red deck doesn’t work, and Seismic Strike should thus be evaluated accordingly.

  9. No love for Safe Passage? In Limited, you could do beastly things with this card and totally turn the tide in combat.

  10. Green is a stupidly solid color to draft, especially with either red or black. Great creatures, 3/2 for 4 with shroud and 4/3 with regen? Really?

    Black and red is where you’ll probably find most of your removal, so those colors are necessary. I feel that blue will be underdrafted because it’s obviously underpowered.

  11. Safe Passage has potential to create huge swings in combat and I think it should be rated higher. In Eventide the card Endure costs 5 at uncommon and does the same thing (also protects Planeswalkers, but that rarely comes up). I think the card will be pretty good in limited, especially if decks are all creatures.

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  13. I’m unimpressed by the evaluations. Take a look at this:

    Ice Cage at 2, Unsummon at 1

    Mind Rot at 2, Vampire Aristocrat at 2

    Lifelink at 0 – this one is particularly retarded

    Veteran Swordswith at 3, Warpath Ghoul at 2

    I could go on…

  14. Good thoughts, and like others have posted, the uncommons and rares will change things quite a bit. One point: Lifelink – 0 ? In a format without much removal, and definately creature based, I can’t think of a better way to neuter an opponents fatty or get extra racing time from your beatstick. I hope I get two or three wheeled back to me as 11th and 12th picks… I can just image my opponents face when he windmill drops a Baneslayer and I Lifelink it.

  15. To Marc, remember that the card Lifelink is not the same as Spirit Link. Lifelink actually gives the enchanted creature lifelink, meaning the creature’s controller, not the enchantment’s controller, gains the life.

  16. Lightning bolt has got to be higher than 3.5. Its one of the top 5 cards in the whole set.

  17. Doh! Yup, I did indeed read the spoiler too fast and thought that Lifelink was Spirit Link. No wonder it’s a 0! Thanks.

  18. @ Marc: I did too, and it would have cost me the pre-release if my opponent didn’t think the same thing I did lol

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