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More on M11 limited

August 17, 2010

I was planning on doing another “drafting with me”-article, but I don’t really have a good draft to showcase and I’m still in the phase where I try to find what archetypes I like, what borderline cards I like and don’t like etc. Therefore most of the drafts I have done so far have been pretty wacky in retrospect. So instead of showing off some awkward draft, I thought I share some intel about both individual cards and a couple of things about the format as whole.

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Starting off with the colors as a whole, I can be safe to say that blue is with clear marginal the best color in M11 limited, in my book. Card draw is very good in this format (with Forsee being the best common in the whole set IMO), evasion is really good, counterspells are also good, bounce is at least decent if not pretty darn good that too… All of blues fundamentals are very strong which is not so surprising when a limited format is not too fast (like Zendikar limited).

Red is pretty clear the low point in M11. There are some pretty sick bombs aswell as some very good cards at the uncommon slot (Fireball, Shiv’s Embrace and a couple of other springs to mind) but after that the color is not very impressing. A lot of (bad) ground cloggers for the most part. And even Lightning Bolts luster have faded a bit for me. Most of the guys you care about killing (specially when you are playing red) have 4 or more toughness which you can’t kill with Lightning Bolt no matter how much you want to. I’m off course not saying Lightning Bolt is bad or anything. What I’m saying is that picking a Lightning Bolt p1p1 in a draft isn’t particularly appealing to me.

There are a couple of light points for red though. Much like in Rise of the Eldrazi limited, Red is a very tricky color to draft. It’s unlikely that you can get a good red deck in this format by just picking good red cards (thought is happens time to time that some people insist in you picking up multiple Shiv’s Embrace). The way red decks usually succeed in M11 limited is by going for more synergistic tricksy strategy like deck revolved around Act of Treason (either with Fling or Vicera Seer/Bloodthrone Vampire) or completely balls out moves with Lava Axes and Arc Runners.

Okay, I have established the best and the worst. Now it’s time to get to the kids in the middle. Black stands out as the number 2. Card advantage plays (such as Sign in Blood and Gravedigger), along with good removal and plausible guys makes black a good well-rounded color. But then for the number 3/4 spot it’s much tighter. White does have a good array of fliers, some decent removal and some good tricks while in green we find some good fatties and the powerful duo of manafixing, Sylvan Ranger and most importantly, Cultivate.

I’m having a hard time ranking these colors. Have you asked me a week ago I would say that green was #3 and white #4 but during the recent week I have began to doubt. Cultivate and Sylvan Ranger allows you to be pretty open in drafts and sealed to splash whatever bomb-ombs you may have, which is very appealing. But playing a lot of drafts last week were a majority of them were I went Gxy I felt let down for the most part, losing to turn 2 Stormfront Pegasus or turn 3 Cloud Elemental more than I like. It’s not that you can’t beat those kinds of strategies with the multicolor green deck, it’s just that everything has to falls like dominos in order to do that. If you miss a landdrop or don’t hit your Giant Spider on turn 4 (or whatever else that can go wrong) you are going to lose to those kinds of deck all the time.

Because of the reason above I’m a little torn about green at the moment. Maybe I’m a little biased and just been a little unfortunate lately and therefore exaggerating, but that is what I feel about the issue right now.

Moving on to individual cards, I’m not planning on commenting on every single card in the set (because I don’t see any point in telling you how good Doom Blade is or how bad Goldenglow Moth is etc.). What I want to do is just highlighting a couple of cards that I worth mentioning.

Negate

A great example of a card that stops you from losing. Most of the really impacting cards in this format a spells (Fireball, Sleep, Overwhelming Stampede, Whispersilk Cloak, Act of Treason, Rise from the Grave, random removal spell, random card drawing spell…) and Negate stops those kind of spells. People seem to have caught on to this fact as now I regularly see people playing with Negate opposed to two weeks ago. All in all, happy to play 1 in any deck I wield.

Duress

Very similar to Negate, but not as good for the most time. It’s a little better in a way since you can have Duress along your curve but the bad news is that a Duress can’t stop people from ripping goodies from the top of their decks, which Negate can. Happy to play 1 in any deck I have.

Plummet

The creatures that you care about the most are not so surprisingly the ones that are actually going to kill you. And if you are playing green that means for the most part creatures with flying. And so, Plummet is the perfect solution. Obviously it’s the stone cold nuts versus blue and white, but it’s still good versus black and there are some bombs in red that you can dispatch with a Plummet. I never feel bad playing 1 Plummet in my main deck.

Deathmark/Combust/Flashfreeze/Celestial Purge/Autumn’s Veil

I wouldn’t play Flashfreeze or Autumn’s Veil in my main deck in either sealed or drafts. The same goes for Celestial Purge with the exception that I might include it in my main in drafts if I’m not playing either red or black in the same deck. The thing is that it’s very few red or black permanent you really care about for the most part, with the exceptions from the ocational bomb or Vicera Seer/Bloodthrone Vampire that threatens (no pun intended) to wreak you with an Act of Treason.

I don’t like maining Combust in sealed but I can do it in drafts, particular if I’m not blue or white at the same time (it’s often worse than Plummet thought if you are given the choice). Deathmark is the only one of these cards I don’t have any problems with running in my main in either sealed or draft. In fact if I’m black-blue or black-red I wouldn’t mind playing more than 1 in my main.

Whispersilk Cloak

Near bomb-status in sealed and is very good in drafts. I often find obscure reason to not play Whispersilk Cloak in my draft decks and I often regret it. Probably the individual card I have lost the most games to in M11 limited.

Crystal Ball

A very good card although it’s luster have faded a bit over the course of the recent two weeks. A friend pointed out to me exact the reason why. It’s really hard to use Crystal Ball to recover from a board state where you are behind. In that situations a Forsee or Jace’s Ingenuity is much stronger and might actually help you get back into the game.

Nevertheless a very strong card. You rarely cut it from your sealed deck but I have stopped taken it over quality removal or creatures in draft.

Sorcerer’s Strongbox

A card I kind of dismissed at first, but this one is actually quite good. It’s nowhere near as good as say, a Forsee. But still, drawing cards is drawing cards after all. A common argument against this card is that you could be spending litary infinite time and mana on this card without getting value (my current record is losing 10 coin flips in a row with this card). But the thing is most of the time you don’t have anything better to do with that mana anyways. Play this card and be happy.

Armored Ascension/Shiv’s Embrace

The “overruns” of this format. These cards should be classed as near bombs in my opinion. You slap it on to one of your creatures and then if your opponent doesn’t have an imitate answer, they are dead for the most of time. I see these go criminally late in draft… Sure, I can understand why because Armored Ascension requires you be fairly white heavy and Shiv’s Embrace requires you to be, you know, red. Still, these cards are more than legit reason to steer in white or red in drafts.

Fling

I was a little skeptical at first since you can’t put damage on the stack these days the opportunities to score two-for-twos are a little harder to set up. But this card has grown on me. It’s really powerful in combination with Act of Treason, Bloodthrone Vampire or just a random green fattie. But even so I perfectly fine with running 1 in any deck I play these days.

Nature’s Spiral

How good Nature’s Spiral is, is very dependent on the rest of the deck. If you have some saucy permanent, the better this cards get. I just wanted to make a shout out for this card because I think Nature’s Spiral is a little underplayed overall and the fact that is has become a bit better since M10. The main reason is Quag Sickness. Now you actually can re-buy hard removal with this card.

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That would be all for this time. GP Gothenburg is just roughly a week away now and I can’t wait. It’s going to be a blast for sure. Until next time!

I saw that Anton Jonsson actually have 5 Pro Tour Top8 instead of the 4 I claimed last week. Sorry for that!

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