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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!

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