Pick Orders for Magic 2013

After fiddling around a while with Magic 2013 on LeBestiare, I have begun to correct my first view of the set: It is not nearly as slow as I thought initially, and consequently the correlation between rarity and power level, while still very noticeable and annoying, isn’t quite as important. I walked into the same mental trap as Till Riffert: I believed that Exalted, the poster mechanic of the set, would set the pace for aggressive decks, making it hard to get an offense going against token swarms, good blockers and removal. However, the actual pacesetter here are aggressive token decks which are much harder to stop; as are cheap, not too small creatures (like Mogg Flunkies or Centaur Courser) and flyers supported by plenty removal and combat tricks. It seems that there are a lot of different archetpyes possible if you get multiples of certain cards (bears and better bears, token producers, exalted creatures, Archaeomancer synergies, manafixing etc.), and this in turn can make a few generally really weak cards (for example Warclamp Mastiff or Glorious Charge) playable in the right deck. It is actually very easy to overload a deck on (by themselves really useful) spells for 5 mana, and it is very well possible to draft decks which do not want to spend more than 4 mana AT ALL. Consequently, the value of more expensive spells is considerably lower than I thought at first. One class of cards which I deem mostly unplayable are (non-Rancor) auras – there is just too much removal and good blockers going around to make putting two eggs in one basket a wise choice. (Also, the auras in this set – other than Rancor – are really bad.)

The following are my tentative pick orders for the commons and uncommons (together) in each color, under the assumptions that these are your very first picks and that you do not yet know which archetype you will be in or even what your secondary color is. Consequently, these pick orders go only to the point where you shouild avoid picking worse cards unless you know why specifically you want them. Black is the most extreme example: The next card in line can either be Walking Corpse, Servant of Nefarox, Giant Scorpion or Public Execution, all of which are mediocre at best if you have to put them in a deck not supporting a certain strategy. A card, which is always very good, but downright broken in the right deck (Griffin Protector), is thus to be valued extremely highly. Note that “spoiler protection” is still an important asset, but speed is always of the essence.

Oblivion Ring
Griffin Protector
Serra Angel
Captain’s Call
Crusader of Odric
Healer of the Pride
War Priest of Thune
Divine Verdict

Vampire Nighthawk
Liliana’s Shade
Bloodhunter Bat
Essence Drain

Garruk’s Packleader
Prey Upon
Centaur Courser
Sentinel Spider
Flinthoof Boar
Timberpack Wolf
Acidic Slime
Deadly Recluse

Talrand’s Invocation
Faerie Invaders
Welkin Tern
Arctic Aven
Essence Scatter
Wind Drake

Flames of the Firebrand
Arms Dealer
Searing Spear
Volcanic Geyser
Bladetusk Boar
Furnace Whelp
Mogg Flunkies
Crimson Muckwader

Edit, six weeks later: After drafting the set for quite a while, I still stand by my overall assessment of it, although I certainly would switch around a few cards now. However, leaving out Attended Knight was just an oversight – I just came here to see if I had ranked it above or below Captain’s Call (above would have been correct, but I might have underestimated the Knight a little in the beginning) and was shocked not to find it at all!

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6 Comments on “Pick Orders for Magic 2013”

  1. ormus7577 Says:

    There is no Guardian Protector, should be Griffin Protector, right?

    • Ja, natürlich – danke.

    • Simon Rau Says:

      Davon abgesehen: Wie viele Captains Call oder Dragon Fodder braucht man damit der wirklich downright broken ist?

      Ist Serra Angel trotz schnellerem Format nicht immer der bessere pick?

      Außerdem fehlt mir Roaring Primadox, welcher auch gut synergiert. Vor allem wenn man ihn früh pickt.

      • Ich weiß nicht – 4 Mana sind schon recht viel, und sein Nachteil lässt sich nicht sooo leicht zum Vorteil machen. Klar, er ist toll mit Archaeomancer – aber andererseits ist das auch eine superklobige Kombo. Ich fürchte, häufig wird der Primadox einfach nur dank eines gegnerischen Removals Temponachteil sein, und seine Stats sind in einem Token-Format auch nicht spektakulär (im Gegensatz zu seinen Vorgängern trampelt er nicht). Natürlich ist er super, um Kreaturen vom Pazifismus zu befreien… Ich würde jedenfalls kein Deck um ihn herum draften wollen, sondern ihn erst dann hoch nehmen, wenn ich denke, ich habe ein Deck, in dem er glänzt.

        Der Protector greift selbst unter “normalen” Bedingungen als fliegender 3/4er an, und das aus statistischen Gründen im Schnitt nicht eine, sondern zwei Runden früher als der Angel. Mit Attended Knight und Captain’s Call hat man zwei Commons allein in Weiß, die ihn noch stärker boosten, und so viele Angriffe für 4 oder 5 Schaden in der Luft braucht man auch nicht, bevor man dann mit einem Alpha Strike (schließlich hat man ja eine Token-Armee) den Rest erledigen kann. Es ist ebenfalls relevant, dass der Protector (um seinem Namen Ehre zu machen) bereits deutlich früher als der Angel als 2/3 Flieger blocken kann, womit er die meisten anderem Common-Flieger des Sets aufhält. Noch ein weiterer kleiner Bonus ist, dass er splashbar ist und deswegen zum Beispiel ein R/w Deck verstärken kann (Monorot scheint mir in diesem Format durchaus erreichbar zu sein).

  2. I agree with you that there are a lot of answers to Auras in Limited, making it hard for them to really perform. However, I don’t agree that ALL the auras are really bad – Mark of the Vampire’s (or whatever it is called) lifelink ability can easily offset its inherent danger of card disadvantage, and Tricks of the Trade is a perfect card to mise games you actually had no right of winning. I already now that I’m going to lose a lot of games to that stupid card.

    I also agree with Griffin Protector > Serra Angel. Griffin Protector, on average, is a 3/4 flyer for 4 that sometimes has the upside of randomly being a 5/6 (Captain’s Call etc.). I think that gives it the nod over the 4/4 flyer for 5, even if it’s vigilant. The one mana from four to five just makes a big difference. Do you rate Pacifism > Serra Angel just because of the fact that it’s splashable and thus a better first pick? Or do you actually find it to be the better card?

    Oh, and I actually have no idea how certain decks are supposed to beat Sentinel Spider. I don’t think I would pick Centaur Courser over it, even though I like the Centaur a lot.

    I do think the format is fun, overall. Admittedly, there ARE a lot of bombs, but there are also a lot of ways to answer them (and the presence of aggro decks mitigates their strength somewhat).

    • Certainly some players will win games with these auras, but that still doesn’t mean it was the right move to draft them or put them into the deck in the frist place, although I can see siding them in in certain matchups. But overall, their power level is just to low (just compare with Spectral Flight, for example – several times stronger and still just a situational card), and those you mention have the additional problem of sitting in a really overcrowded mana slot.

      Reasons for Pacifism over Serra:

      1. mana cost
      2. spoiler removal
      3. mana cost
      4. splashability
      5. mana cost

      Also, with Griffin Protector at common, you still have a good chance to get strong flyers for your deck, but if you pass a Pacifism, you just might not see more good removal. (And I really despise Divine Verdict – it is, of course, a useful card, but clunky and weak in aggressive strategies.)

      I am surprised myself how much I have come to believe in the speed of this environment – it is no Zendikar, but I am convinced that there are decks which flat-out do not want Turn to Slag or Divine Verdict! (Essence Drain is a little more attractive, since it might swing a race.) 4 mana is already a crowded spot, and competition at 5 mana is even tougher.

      You know, I believe it is a LOT harder to assemble a reasonable lategame deck than a reasonable aggressive deck in M13 draft, and the Spider isn*t actually the bee’s knees when you are trying to close games fast. Yes, it is always solid, once you get finally around to cast it, and it can be a stop sign for an opponent’s offense, but I don’t believe it will be as dominating, much for the same reasons I value Protector higher than Serra. So, how to beat it? Just be faster. Or swarm it with tokens. Or attack with bears into it, holding Show of Valor or Titanic Growth. Or with a pumped Protector, or with a Bladetusk Boar. Or remove it with Pacifism, Divine Verdict, Murder or Turn to Slag, all of which you likely didn’t need for earlier creatures (especially if the Spider player passed up on a Courser for it). Crippling Blight also works, and let’s not get into uncommons like Oblivion Ring or Switcheroo… Maybe even Unsummon or Downpour will prove to be valid options in fast decks. Oh, and a blue player will likely have had Essence Scatter mana at that time.

      I’m certainly not saying it isn’t a good card – just that you will sorely rue it if you take it higher than a 3/3 for 3!

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