So, you’re pumped and ready for the Magic 2011 Core set release this weekend, but perhaps you’re coming back into the game or, like Danielle, have never drafted before. Worry not, my fellow spellslingers, today’s Relapse is here for you. Today, I’ll break down a synopsis of each color’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as, provide you what I believe are the best commons and uncommons are for each. So, let’s get to it!
White has gotten considerable better since the last time I played. It used to be that with White, your creatures were never as good as Green and your spells were never as good as Blue. Today, more than ever, White excels at life gain, cheap creatures, making said cheap creatures better, and what I feel is the most important strength for Limited, Enchantment Removal. Enchantments in Limited can win games and having an answer for one is never bad. Every color has and uses enchantments, but aside from Green, only White can destroy them.
Weakness wise, White’s creatures (aside from bombtastic rares) are pretty small. Unless you’re able to draft the right cards to pump your creatures, White is going to have a tough time against Green’s big powerhouses in the late game. To get around this, I suggest a White/ Blue Flying strategy as it limits Green’s ability to run you over.
Best Uncommon: Serra Angel
Serra’s much hotter daughter, Baneslayer Angel, might have knocked her out of Constructed play, but don’t scoff her ability to win games in Limited. As Serra Angel has been moved to the uncommon slot, you will see this card in one aspect or another (I had to deal with her three times during the prerelease). If you aren’t playing her, be prepared to answer her.
Best Common: Safe Passage
The trick can easily steal games for you. There’s no better feeling than seeing the look on your opponant’s face when you play this card in response to him swinging in for lethal damage. This is a card that creates bad beat stories more often than you think.
Blue is the ultimate in “Control Magic”. It gives you the tools to obtain the things that new players are slow to recognize as important, such as card advantage. Blue excels at drawing cards, countering spells, and milling libraries.
Blue’s biggest problem, especially in Limited, is putting quality creatures on the board. Blue needs time to put its game-winning strategy into place, and it’s difficult to draft solid creatures to stop your opponants assault. Blue creatures are almost always overpriced for what you get, but the good ones at least have some form of evasion that makes them useable, most noteably Flying.
Best Uncommon: Wall of Frost
Wow, this wall is annoying! What puts this card over is the 7 toughness that it sports. Few removal spells, especially in red, have the ability to deal with this and even if your 7/7 fattie is blocked and kills it, you’re set back a turn by not being able to untap. If I’m playing blue, this is an easy early pick.
Best Common: Jace’s Erasure
Who gets milled in Constructed? Correct, no one. What about Limited? In a format with 40 card decks, this becomes an amazing blue enchantment. To give an example, I played against this in one of my matches during the Sealed Tournament. Both games, my Garruk Wildspeaker was put in my graveyard because of this spell. Besides that, my opponant managed to mill me to 7 by the end of the first game with NO card drawing spells! Be prepared to either play this or have a way to get rid of it quickly when it hits the board.
Black is best at killing creatures. Not doing damage…just destroy. Playing Giant Growth won’t save you, just say goodbye. Black is also a great life gaining color. Sure, it’s no White, but it has the added benefit of doing damage to a player and gaining that much life. You lose 5, I gain 5? I see nothing wrong with that.
However, Black has been getting some heat lately as being the worst color in Magic and it’s not hard to understand why. Pound for pound, Black has the worst creatures in this set. Overcosted, unimpressive, vanilla jank, aside from a couple (that is to say exactly two) exceptions. While we’re at it, let’s not forget Black’s complete inability to deal with enchantments and artifacts. Ouch! In draft, this is a pure splash color. Grab it for the removal spells, forget the rest.
Best Uncommon: Reassembling Skeleton
Two words: Creature Advantage. Unless Exiled (removed from the game), this guy keeps coming back to attack or block for you. Notice that the ability doesn’t say you have to play it as a Sorcery, so the correct play is going to be returning it at the end of your opponant’s turn, so that he’s untapped and ready to go at the beginning of yours.
Best Common: Doom Blade
This is the best removal spell in the set. Period. Pick it early and often, as 1B mana cost is easy to splash for. Creature removal is the most sought after spell in limited, so if you pass this (and why would you?) don’t expect to see it again.
Red has gotten mighty sophisticated over the years. The once, “Big, Dumb” Red has now become a color where playing the right spell at the right time is the difference between winning and losing. Sure, you could turn 1 Lightning Bolt your opponant’s face, but good luck winning with that strategy. Better to wait for the right moment to strike, such as using it later in the game to kill a creature and open a path for those Arc Runners. Red is best at burn, burn, and burn. Oh yeah, land and artifact destruction…and burn.
Right off the bat, Red’s big problems are lack of card drawing, enchantment removal, and life gain. It’s a “kill opponant before he kills you” color. Also, Red is kind of like a tranny, a big surprise in the front, but not a lot of junk in the trunk. Red creatures don’t stick around too long and are more like burn spells with legs.
Best Uncommon: Ember Hauler
This guy is awesome. While the cost hurts the ability to splash for this guy, Ember Hauler’s “Shock on a stick” ability allows him to slow down aggro decks. Just leave this guy untapped and ready to block and watch a creature-based deck struggle to figure out the correct play. Answer: There is none. Anything you swing with is going to be blocked and then you’re taking two to the face! How appealing does that sound? Guess it depends on who controls the Ember Hauler.
Best Common: Lightning Bolt
This card explains itself. Pay R to deal 3 damage to target creature or player. There are many applicationd for this spell and the very reason 4 toughness on a creature is considered the minimum for it to be any good. No player watches his opponant put down a Mountain and doesn’t think of Lightning Bolt first and foremost. This spell is just as good in Limited as in Constructed. Do not pass this!
Green is all about the big impressive creatures. Sure, it can gain life, destroy artifacts and enchantments, and such, but it’s all about the beats. Green has the biggest creatures with the lowest costs and provides mana acceleration to boot. Green, along with White, is a color that went from zero to hero since I first began playing and I can’t imagine a Green/ X strategy to be a bad idea in Limited.
On the downside, Green only has one way to deal with other creatures, run them over. There’s very minimal creatue kill in Green, so unless they’re dieing during combat, expect your opponants creatures to stick around.
Best Uncommon: Nature’s Spiral
In Limited, it’s very important that your “Game Winning Rare” lives up to it’s namesake. Sometimes, your opponant has an answer. Sometimes, you answer back, especially when you have Nature’s Spiral. Planeswalker dead? Get it back. Someone had the nerve to Doom Blade your Baneslayer Angel. Get her back and watch him squirm because that was his only one. Nature’s Spiral is there for you.
Best Common: Greater Basilisk
This guy is awesome, not only because he has Deathtouch, but unlike other creatures with the ability he has the ass to back it up. Pun intended. Greater Basilisk is an answer and a damage dealer in one and the card you want to see if you’re playing Green.
Artifacts are the cure-all for what ails your deck. Since they are colorless, they can go in any type of deck and are always a great pick in limited.
The only downside to Artifacts is that, in Limited, you won’t see many. All 22 in the set are either uncommon or rare, and when faced between picking an artifact or one of the cards above that fit your color(s), the correct play is to pass the artifact.
Better Uncommon: Elixer of Immortality
Don’t underestimate life gain in Limited. Like pure creature removal this is rare and gaining 5 life for 3 mana is freakin’ awesome. There’s rarely blowouts in Limited and 5 life can often be the difference between winning and wondering if you should’ve snagged that Elixer of Immortality.
Best Uncommon: Whispersilk Cloak
What can I say about this card that it doesn’t say itself. Unblockable and can’t be targeted? Permadamage for the win! This has been the artifact you want to have in every set I’ve drafted that had it. Why even chance that your opponent has removal in their deck when you can slap this baby on and not have to worry of such trivial matters.
So, there you have it. Disagree with me on any of these? I’d love to hear it. Discussing Magic and thinking about Magic makes you better at it, so I’d love to hear your thoughts. Good luck to everyone (except my opponents) at the release events. Until next week, when I share my experiences, keep chasing those rares.