Gatecrash tips: Playing to your Weaknesses – Artifacts and Lands
Hello and welcome to another installment of Play to your Weaknesses, a series of articles I post before each new set is released to evaluate what I believe to be the strongest cards in a sealed or booster draft type event. But there is a catch. I don’t take into account the rare or mythic rares that you could POSSIBLY pull from a booster pack. Instead I look at what cards you’ll probably be seeing the most of: commons and uncommons.
Pre-releases bring all types of people out to play, from the casual gamer that plays a few times a month to the hardcore gamer that eat, drinks, and breathes Magic the Gathering. I never gave drafting strategies much thought when I first did pre-releases, but by taking an hour or two to look through the cards for possible combos and synergies, you can end up doing really well at an event and earn yourself some extra booster packs. My first article will be short because there aren’t a lot of lands and artifacts to cover, but nevertheless it’s important to talk about them.
The Guildgates in Return to Ravnica filled a nice role in a limited match. Having some at your disposal meant that you could splash cards into your deck that was running at least one of those colors so it wasn’t totally worthless, and it also helped to cast cards with double color symbols such as the guild leaders. In Gatecrash, the Guildgates will serve a similar function. Having 1-3 of these in your deck and 14 other lands will help you to smooth out your mana a lot easier and reduce the chances of getting stuck with just one color. Gatecrash lacks Chromatic Lantern and Transguild Promenade, so playing 3 colors might be more difficult this time, which makes the Guildgates even more important. When choosing which one to use, look at the color symbols on your cards and also think about how fast you want your deck to be. Is having it come into play tapped okay for your deck? Do you want to be able to play cards right away? If you’re looking for speed, you might want to forgo using too many Guildgates.
Artifact selection from the last few sets has been pretty slim pickings, especially at common and uncommon rarity. Most of the decent ones end up being rares. However, some end up being limited superheroes. For example, Rakdos Keyrune. For 3 mana you got a 3/1 first striker, which was amazing on both offense and defense in limited. This time around we get some new Keyrunes, and there are a few that I think will be really good in the limited format.
First off is Dimir Keyrune. Why I like it: It becomes a 2/2 Unblockable creature. Unblockable. It can’t be blocked. Yes there will be a lot more removal spells this time around (Dimir Charm, Orzhov Charm, Killing Glare), but they will be far and few between. Two damage a turn puts your opponent on a clock. If you can keep your life high in a Esper deck using Extort, you can sit back and let this artifact Horror do all the work for you.
The other Keyrune I like is Orzhov Keyrune. It’s an decent blocker and will stem the loss of life early on, but true bonus comes from lifelink. Limited event rounds tend to go fast because players are only using 40 cards and most decks tend to be made up mostly of creatures. Sometimes you get your bombs out, but sometimes you’re just a few life short. The keyrune should help you to stall just a little longer so you can drop your best cards on the table. It won’t do anything against Gruul or Simic in the late game, but against the quick footed Boros it will prove to be quite a pain.
The most useful Keyrune is the Simic Keyrune in my opinion. Simic has some big spells, and also works well with Gruul which means you’re going to need some help in the mana acceleration department. You might also need a good blocker early on and don’t want to worry about your creature getting destroyed by removal. This card does all 3. Hexproof will prove useful against Orzhov and Dimir’s removal, and the 2/3 Crab will be a nice blocker against Boros.
The Gruul Keyrune is okay, especially since it will help you to get our those big creatures earlier, but at the same time I’d probably want to use that spot to put another creature in my deck. The trample is good, especially if you have a lot of Bloodrush cards, but I think that the others have better passive abilities in limited.
Armored Transport also seems like a decent card in limited as well. It’s a 2/1 that takes no damage when attacking from creatures that block it. If you’re playing an aggressive deck, it can keep on pounding away at your opponent and live to do it again the next round while their creatures die off. The downside is that it is incredibly fragile against removal, so be careful against decks running black and red. I think it would work best in a Gruul deck with the Bloodrush mechanic.
I knew this article was going to be the shortest and easiest to write, that’s why I chose these first. I’m going to have to work hard and fast to get every article done before the pre-release though. This means I’ll be working on two articles a day, which will have to fit between the two classes I’m teaching as well as all of the prep work that I have to do for those classes . . . BUT THIS IS SOMETHING I’M PASSIONATE ABOUT! I will work tirelessly to help my readers by thinking of possible combos as well as evaluating the strength of Gatecrash’s cards in limited. As always, if you have any suggestions regarding cards I should have mentioned, or comments about the ones I did talk about, please reply to this post and tell me what you would do differently. Next time, white! Look for it either Wednesday night or Thursday morning.