M19 – Playing to Your Weaknesses: Artifacts, Multicolor, and Lands
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, 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. For the most part, I will focus mainly on cards from 2.5 to 5 stars in my article. 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. Example: A creature that fills the curve, a spell that destroys an artifact.
- 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. Example: A creature with a good ETB effect or decent activated ability. A spell that has a great effect but costs too much or has a big drawback.
- 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. Example: A creature that will win the game on its own if left unchecked and wins head to head battles often. A spell that has multiple effects or creates a huge swing in tempo.
- 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. Example: A creature that is almost impossible to due to special abilities or recursion. A spell that wipes the board or gives you massive card advantage.
There’s a storm brewing. Literally. I mean there is an actual typhoon on the way towards where I live and it’s going to hit this weekend. That means I’ll have plenty of time to finish up my articles and possibly start a M19 league on MTGO this weekend. I’m surely not going out to play any Magic in Tokyo or Yokohama this weekend, especially with the possibility of trains stopping and my cards getting soaked. Just not worth it.
So today is the final M19 limited article. Today I’ll be discussing cards that will mostly support your card pool or let you splash them in. It’s doubtful that we’ll find any build around cards, but you never know. Let’s take a look at Artifacts first.
With BW life gain strategies being one of the better archetypes, cards that can consistently gain you life will be in high demand. Fountain of Renewal does it the best, possibly coming down as soon as turn 1 and getting you more value the longer it stays in play before replacing itself late in the game. Diamond Mare finishes the horse cycle, giving you a 1/3 body that is almost as good as gaining you life. I like both of these a lot with Epicure of Blood as they can win a game by themselves by draining away an opponent’s life while you do nothing. I also like these cards with Nightmare’s Thirst and Ajani’s Pridemate. Great support cards.
Fountain of Renewal – RATING: 2.5 Stars
Diamond Mare – RATING: 2.5 Stars
Meteor Golem is a pricey 3/3 artifact creature, but you can’t beat that ETB effect. The best thing about it is that it’s removal that fits into any color deck. If you’re playing blue green and need to kill something, you want this. Even removal heavy colors like black and red might want to play this in their 7 drop slot. The only way I see it not being played is if you have multiple 5-6 mana bombs that can take over games. Otherwise, I think Meteor Golem does a great job.
RATING: 3.5 Stars
Both are 3 mana, but which is better between the two? Gargoyle Sentinel blocks well and can attack with a decent body relatively easily if you pay 3 mana, but Skyscanner draws you a card. I think Sentinel will end up being played more because of the number of 3 toughness flyers in this format. Skyscanner will simply draw you a card and then be outclassed. The only times I can see you wanting to play it over the Gargoyle is if you’re playing a blue artifact based deck with Tezzeret, Sai, or Skilled Animator.
Gargoyle Sentinel – RATING: 2.5 Stars
Skyscanner – RATING: 2 Stars
With all of the creatures, spells, and other effects that can gain you life in this format, Regal Bloodlord seems like a given. The body is nothing special, but it blocks very well, especially flyers, and can make you a huge army if you have repeatable life gain effects like the Fountain or Renewal or creatures with lifelink. If you have lots of black or lots of white life gain, but not enough playable cards in one of them, I think it would probably be beneficial to splash for this, especially if your deck strategy is more midrange-y. Outside of that BW life gain strategy, it’s incredibly mediocre.
RATING: 3 Stars
I loved cards like Goblin/Reckless Bushwhacker, so it’s only natural that I want to play Heroic Reinforcements. It’s something you’ll want to play in a go wide strategy with lots of tokens, so that means you’ll want to load up on cards like Leonin Warleader, Goblin Instigator, as well as other glass cannons so that on an open board you can swing for a huge amount of damage out of nowhere. It’s decent early on if you’re playing some aggressive cards, but also not bad as a 1 – 2 punch late game when it gives haste to a big drop like Angel of the Dawn. Combat trick plus multiple creatures all in one!
RATING: 3.5 Stars
Black already had some good drain effects, like Epicure of Blood whenever you gain life, but the added effect of Poison-Tip Archer makes that life drain doubly effective. Limited is a creature heavy format, with most people playing 16+ creatures, so you can expect this to not only stop all flyers and beaters dead in their tracks, but also let you attack knowing that you’ll get some kind of value regardless of if the creature was able to deal damage. I don’t know how good the GB archetype will be, but I think Poison-Tip Archer is good enough to splash. You’ll definitely want it in a deck with Elvish Clancaller. That’s certain.
RATING: 3 Stars
Not great by itself, but it works very well in a beater heavy deck. If you’re playing green then you’ll obviously be playing with some 5/5s or 6/6 creatures like Colossal Dreadmaw. Turning one of those creatures into a 6/6 or 7/7 permanently and giving it flying makes it more than worth it to play Skyrider Patrol, even if it dies when blocked. I don’t think UG will be that great of an archetype, but with the right tempo and creatures it can be playable and Patrol will help immensely.
RATING: 3 Stars
The next batch of multicolor cards are decent but not splashable. If you’re playing these colors then you should definitely include them, but don’t feel like you need to build around them. Psychic Symbiont is way too heavy at 6 mana for a 3/3 flyer, even if the ETB is nice. Engima Drake simply won’t have enough instant and sorceries to make it worth playing, especially in sealed. It’s slightly better in draft, but it won’t consistently be good. Aerial Engineer is probably the best of the bunch as it becomes a 4/4 flyer if you control an artifact, but that’s heavily dependent on your draws in sealed or what you pick in a draft. It’s great with cards like Sai, Master Thopterist, but I’m not sure if the payoff is there if you’re not already in a heavy artifact themed deck.
Psychic Symbiont – RATING: 2.5 Stars
Enigma Drake – RATING: 2.5 Stars
Aerial Engineer – RATING: 3 Stars
My final two picks are Draconic Disciple and Brawl-Bash Ogre. If you’re going to be splashing a 3rd color and it matches the Disciple, then you should definitely be playing him. The secondary effect is also very nice late game but if this format is centered around bombs then ramping up to one of the Elder Dragons or playing an early Pelakka Wurm makes him more valuable as a mana creature.
Brawl-Bash Ogre has a decent body and pseudo-evasion with its menace ability, but I like it more for the second effect. In a limited format that has lots of graveyard recursion and cards like Reassembling Skeleton, his second ability basically reads “1B: Brawl-Bash Ogre gets +2/+2 until the end or turn, put a 1/1 skeleton creature with recursion into play”. I’m guessing you can only use this ability once upon attacking, but a 5/5 menace is still scary and becomes even scarier if you’re playing some red combat tricks.
Draconic Disciple – RATING: 3 Stars
Brawl-Bash Ogre – RATING: 3 Stars
Other Cards That Will See Play
- Arcane Encyclopedia – An improved Jayemdae Tomb? Great design. Feels more balanced in this new age of limited. Will see some play as card advantage will be important in midrange match ups.
- Explosive Apparatus – Of course it’s a good card for ‘artifacts matter’ decks, but also alright if you’re severely lacking in removal.
- Manalith – Great for that splash, also to ramp. If your deck is a little bit heavy on the curve and you can spare a slot, definitely play it.
- Rogue’s Gloves – if you have a deck with a lot of flyers or evasion, I think Rogue’s Gloves might be worth a slot. Most of the time I’ll probably just want an Arcane Encyclopedia though.
- Tap lands – These will definitely see a lot of play, but I felt like I didn’t need to spell it out for you.
- Rupture Spire – Another great card, but outside of splashing a 3rd color for an elder dragon or a bomb, I don’t think it’s that necessary.
That’s a Wrap
Sorry again for not being able to get all of these out before the pre-release. Better late than never I guess. I look forward to checking out cards to invest in before rotation though. Even with the Pro Tour coming up next weekend, I don’t think we’ll have to worry about speed as much since things are going to totally change come the end of September. I’m hoping to get the first article out early next week for my ‘Bang for your Buck’ series, so be sure to stop back in a few days. If you have any suggestions about M19 limited or want to share some of your experiences with the format, feel free to post below!