Limited Card Pool Update: Under the Influence of M13

I am still constantly looking to improve my limited card pool. Having drafted a lot M13 (at least for my standards), I found that I now appreciate a few things I didn’t think I’d like as much when I first saw the cards – a normal process. That will lead to a number of changes (as soon as I get my hands on those cards):

1. exalted

Most of the black exalted cards still do not convince me, but I decided I do not need to flesh out that theme fully in that color. To the contrary, I will remove the Bant affiliation from that mechanic and instead only use multiple exalted cards in White, but additionally keep single cards in other colors. That means:

In:

Servant of Nefarox – the only black exalted creature that feels completely right to me. As the only other non-white exalted creature, Rhox Charger is still in. If a convincing red exalted creature is printed, I will complete the cycle with Frontline Sage again, but I do not want it so badly on its own.

Out:

Frontline Sage – if a card is the only example of exalted in its color, I prefer it to be one which you want to attack with.

Outrider of Jhess – just not interesting enough, and horribly inferior to Rhox Charger.

Court Archers – never really convinced me, was only there to support exalted’s Bant affiliation.

Ethercaste Knight – boring, weak, and an artifact for no good reason outside the set it originates from.  A filler just like Court Archers.

Qasali Pridemage – this one, on the other hand, was always a little stronger than I was comfortable with. Since the 2-slot in Selesnya is already loaded, I’m happy to be able to trim this card.

2. Rings

I do not want the rings from M13 as a cycle – partly, because I don’t like some of their designs, but partly because they take up so much space with similar effects. I realized, however, that I do not need the complete cycle, but can instead cherry-pick the ones I really like. I hate the blue and black one, because they feature activated abilities costing mana, making them even more clumsy, and because those abilities remove options to interact with the creatures they equip. I’m also not impressed with the green one, because trample is a somehow lackluster ability. On the other hand, I appreciate cards which reward you for focussing strongly on one color.

In:

Ring of Valkas – giving haste cheaply is almost already worth it. In practice, this ring will often help you make an additional attack each round, while in the meanwhile distributing +1/+1 counters among your team. That plays really well.

Ring of Thune – astonishingly, plays completely different from the red ring, because here you will tend to put it on one creature and keep it there as long as possible, getting double use from the equipped creature’s growing strength by attacking and blocking with it.

3. RW aggro

Playing this archetype has led me to re-evaluate a few cards.

In:

Roar of the Kha – I found I missed a cheap (less than three mana) mass-pump spell which goes well with token armies and very fast aggro (like Glorious Charge in M13) – I thought I could do with Fortify and Guardian’s Pledge, but the smaller, cheaper bonus plays significantly different, and I like it. So I will re-establish the good ol’ Roar.

Relentless Brute – to be clear: I still don’t like that this creature bereaves you of a decision. But just like with Bloodcrazed Neonate, I found that that disadvantage isn’t quite as severe as it looks at first glance, and that it is possible, skill-testing and rewarding to draft and build a deck which maximizes the card’s effectiveness and minimizes its weakness. A few such cards can do an environment good.

Hulking Ogre – Bloodrock Cyclops had to go, because it was a little too similar to Relentless Brute, and because the Brute plays more notiecable different from a normal creature. This opneed up a slot for the return of the Ogre, lining it up with Goblin Raider.

Bladetusk Boar – for a while I was enamored with Heirs of Stromkirk, but the Boar actually plays better (and it’s fine that it’s splashable) and better complements Skirk Shaman. Thus it returns.

Rummaging Goblin – I still hate that the Goblin ist just twice worse than Merfolk Looter, but I have to live with a color gaining inferior versions of other colors’ cards (see, as an example, Sentinel Spider in Green vs Serra Angel in White), even if it is a little overdone (really wouldn’t have hurt to give the Goblin at least Reckless Scholar stats), and the Goblin just plays well and significantly differently from Mad Prophet.

Attended Knight – My experiences with Ambassador Oak defined my expectations towards this card: I thought it would feel just like a 1/1 token tacked onto a mediocre creature. The lower mana cost makes a heck of a difference, though, as does the smaller gap between the creature and the token – this feels a lot more like growing your army, and gives you a lot more value relative to its cost.

Out:

Shield Wall – I know this card is more useful than most players think, but it still just never ends up in consideration for my cubes. With Roar of the Kha, Safe Passage and Wrap in Vigor, I have enough similar options.

Bloodrock Cyclops – I once explained why I initially decided for the Cyclops and against the Ogre (links to a German entry), but as I already said, Relentless Brute just does it better, and Hulking Ogre is less annoying while still clearly encouraging you to be aggressive. (Also, over the years 3/3 for three mana has just become less impressive – when you were happy about each Hill Giant you could lay your hands upon, you were willing to play cheap 3/3s with significant disadvantages, but nowadays, when Hill Giants often not even make your deck, a mana off isn’t reason enough to take such risks.)

Heirs of Stromkirk – just don’t play as well as I thought, needing to connect three times just to get on par with the easier-to-cast Bladetusk Boar.

4. The instant/sorcery theme

I still don’t want Archaeomancer, but I realize I also do not want its narrower, clumsier predecessors anymore. Since I want that theme to be in Izzet anyway, Izzet Chronarch does what I want it to do (and there’s also Mystic Retrieval), and Return to Ravnica will bring new interesting creatures supporting that theme.

Out:

Scrivener – why so narrow and expensive?

Anarchist – why so narrow and expensive?

5. strong flyers

In:

Faerie Invaders – well, the 5-slot in Blue certainly knows no lack of 3/3 flyers, but this one has convinced me with its unique gameplay. It is also an interesting card to splash – environments should have a few of these to present players with options. This could also have been Spire Monitor, but chances are better that Faerie Rogue becomes relevant in my limited pool again than that Drake ever will.

Out:

Vampire Nighthawk – I love that card, but it is just too good, especially in Black. Chapel Geist is already strong – why does Black get TWO very significant improvements over it? Giant Scorpion is a completely fine card – why does exchanging a generic mana for a black one give you +1/+0 (doubly relevant with Deathtouch), flying, AND lifelink? With one of those abilities less; with a point less power, or even with a point less toughness (so that most flyers can trade 1:1 with it), it would be acceptable, but as it stands, it is just too strong by itself and too strong when compared to other three-drops. Heck, it would still be a clear firstpick if it cost one mana more!

That’s it so far.

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