Oath of the Gatewatch: Playing To Your Weaknesses – Colorless and Artifacts
(NOTE: “Playing to your Weaknesses” is a series of articles I have been doing on my own blog since Avacyn Restored that cover all of the uncommons and commons in a new expansion and which ones I would choose to use as one of the 23 cards in a 40 card limited deck. For those of you uninitiated to limited, it simply means sealed and booster draft, where you open packs and then proceed to make a deck out of them. I’ve purposely left out the rare cards because it is much more likely that you’ll see multiples of uncommon and commons in your packs/pools.)
As for my rating system, I’ll be using a new format this time around. After a lot of feedback, I’ve decided to abandon my 3 tier scoring system of Low-Medium-High and I will instead be moving onto a 5 star ranking system. The system is as follows:
- 1 star = a card that is barely playable, even as filler for your deck
- 2 stars = this card could be a strong sideboard card, but is highly conditional and not always effective
- 3 stars = a 3 star card is a solid role-player. These cards could be less than amazing removal effects, or a creature that is a glass cannon (high power, low defense). They could be good except for a few flaws.
- 4 stars = Here’s where we get into the powerhouses. 4 Stars could be good finishers, or cards that can end a game if left unchecked. They also have multiple effects, and are all around good value for you. The only thing holding them back is restrictive costs or some small drawback.
- 5 stars = you won’t see a lot of these at common and uncommon. These will usually be your rares and mythics because they are incredibly bonkers. Planeswalkers, massive creatures, etc., these are the cards you could build a deck around.
The first day of the OGW pre-release is done, and after 3 tournaments I can say I’ve been thoroughly crushed. I was knocked around back and forth and had games stolen from me out of nowhere. One of the reasons I did so badly at each of these tournaments is because I wasn’t able to effectively use the colorless mana symbols. I either made mistakes with my mana or misunderstood how things like the colorless mana symbol could be used. I blame myself for not studying the cards more, as quite a few times I found myself saying “oh, is THAT how it works?”. But it’s the pre-release. It’s all about learning the minutiae and interactions of the cards. I’m sure once I have a few more booster drafts under my belt I’ll know how the cards work together very well.
In Battle for Zendikar limited, colorless cards (namely the Eldrazi), were easily splashed and made huge impacts on the battlefield. They were your finishers and they could fit anywhere. The big difference in this format is that there are A LOT less of these finishers going around. BFZ packs usually netted you an Eldrazi Devastator or Bane of Bala Ged,but in OGW/BFZ limited, they simply aren’t there. Most of the colorless cards this time are at Rare rarity, which means most of the time you won’t open them up. Those people that do end up with them however, are usually the ones with the stronger deck. I don’t know how many times I got into trouble because I simply couldn’t deal with a card like Breaker of Armies.
The best colorless card this time around is Walker of the Wastes. At worse you’re getting a 4/4 trampler for 5 mana, but if you’re in draft you’ll be able to grab a few Wastes to put into your deck which should ensure that you’re hitting for 6 or 7 damage. In sealed, I usually opened up 1-2, so in a deck that needs some of the colorless mana symbols, you could realistically see Walker as a 6/6 trample. Not bad. Strong beater and fits well on your curve. I’d take him sooner rather than later in draft, but not first pick.
RATING: 3.5 Stars
If you’re playing a colorless heavy deck, such as one with a lot of Eldrazi Scion or multiple utility lands, Kozilek’s Pathfinder can be pretty good. It fits into any deck in the format and it makes your opponent play carefully in case they would be left in a bad situation where they’d have to unfavorably block him. This is something I’d pick up later in draft, but not wait until the end to grab it. It’s a beater, plain and simple. If your pool is full of middling creatures, he’s better than nothing. However, he’s not a BFZ Eldrazi and can get outmatched more often than not by even normal creatures.
RATING: 3 Stars
I played with the Warden a few times at the pre-releases I attended and he wasn’t bad. If you’re playing decks with a bigger top end like GB Eldrazi you’ll want to play him, but sometimes it’s just better to play something like Lifespring Druid if you’re in green. The only time I’d actively try to play him in my deck would be if I had multiple colorless activations I wanted to use like those on Endbringer. It’s still decent though, and having vigilance is also a play. You can attack then use him for mana after your combat phase. If you’re drafting, grab 2 just in case, but no more than that.
RATING: 3 Stars
It’s like the Eldrazi version of Nameless Inversion, at least with the same effect on stats. This type of card ends up being a lot better in decks that aren’t playing black or white and are short of removal such as blue and green. Most of the time you’ll want to use it to kill a creature, but don’t be afraid to use it to pump a big creature you control either. If you’re mainly in two colors and can realistically play colorless lands pick this card up, but don’t force it. It’s great against fast decks like Allies and landfall.
RATING: 3 Stars
This basically reads as:
- exile a pesky mana creature, token, some Allies, or wall-“ish” creature
- counter a board wipe or powerful rare like Remorseless Punishiment that’s going to kick your ass
- chump block an attacker to prevent certain death/one time ramp use
The card is versatile enough that I would draft it and use it in my limited deck. Just don’t think of it as removal so much. More often than not you’ll probably be using it for the Scion effect, but in those rare instances that you counter a sorcery or get rid of your opponent’s 3/1 attacker it’s pretty sweet.
RATING: 3 Stars
There really aren’t that many good artifacts in the set. Hedron Crawler is decent though. There’s no Gilder Elf or other 2 drop mana creature in the format at common, so Hedron Crawler fills that gap nicely. Going from 2 mana turn 2 to 4 mana in a 4 mana heavy environment can be pretty powerful. Dropping a card like Thought Knot Seer on turn 3 is huge, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. I would say that you should take this before you draft something like Sylvan Scrying or Ruin in Their Wake. You won’t be killing anything with it, but it’s still an extra body and it’s ramp, plain and simple. Grabbing 2 would be optimal.
RATING: 3 Stars
While not as good as Hedron Crawler, there are some situations where I could see Seer’s Lantern being better. If you’re looking to go from 3 mana turn 3 to 5 mana on turn 4, then Seer’s Lantern is what you want. Cards that would benefit from this would be Kozilek’s Channeler, Ob Nixilis, and Planar Outburst to name a few. I don’t think I’d want multiples of this though. One should be plenty. The scry will definitely come in handy when games go long.
RATING: 2.5 stars
Other Cards that Will Probably See Play
- Strider Harness – I kind of like this card. If you’re playing decks that have a lot of 4 mana+ creatures, I think it’s worth having one in your deck so you can bring the pain to your opponent the turn your creature comes into play.
- Chitinous Cloak – Menace is actually a pretty good effect in this format, especially if you’re putting the effect on a 5/5 creature or bigger. Not sure if it fits in an Ally themed deck, but definitely something you want in GB Eldrazi.
- Bone Saw – great if you’re playing lots of Surge effects and want to cast those cards quickly.
Coming Up Next
Thankfully today’s article was shorter than usual. I don’t really thinking finishing this series before the pre-release would have helped me that much, but you never know. I feel like the decks I made weren’t all that bad, but without any bombs in my mana pool I found it hard to close out games when I was ahead. If you’re wondering what I used during the pre-release, you can check out my Twitter (@yoschwenky) or stop by after I’ve posted my final article in this series. I’ll be covering the final two parts of the set, multicolor and land cards, but I’ll also be posting my deck lists from the pre-release so you can see where I went wrong and what I did right. Things can only get better from here!