Dragons Maze, Limited Resources, and my review process

It’s been a busy couple of weeks for me and I haven’t been able to update this blog as often as I would like. Hopefully I’ll have time to post some Dragon’s Maze stuff here over the next couple of days, but I thought I would throw up a short post about Dragon’s Maze and limited.

Marshall had me on the Limited Resources podcast this week as a guest commentator and I got to participate in the marathon Common and Uncommon set review. It was a blast to do and we got pretty deep into the set, but even with four hours of commentary there’s still a lot to be said about this limited environment and about how to evaluate cards in DGM. So, for your amusement/edification, I’ve listed some of the points that I didn’t get a chance to cover in the podcast below, disconnected shotgun bullet-point style. I’ve also included a link to my prep work/notes, right here, in case you want to get an idea of what I do to get ready for one of these shows.

  • I think this is a 3 color format, with 80% or more of the decks being an evenly distributed triple color. The format just rewards you so heavily for drafting gold cards that it’s hard to skip out on an entire pack of cards by going two colors. Simultaneously, having zero 5-color fixing in the first pack makes it harder to draft 5-color good stuff, although having Verdant Haven, Axebane Guardian, and Prophetic Prism in the second and third packs does help.
  • That said, I do think there are two color decks that are draftable. I’m sure straight Boros is draftable, given that there are fine low drop creatures and Dynacharge waiting in the Return to Ravnica pack. I also think that Azorius, Orzhov, and Gruul are probably draftable two color decks, given that none of them are particularly synergy driven and can just be traditional core-set style good stuff decks. Rakdos would normally fall into this category too, but I think it’s too hard to get solid, resilient creatures in red and black in the Dragon’s Maze and Gatecrash packs, where there are very few commons you would actually want.
  • I expect Selesnya and Populate to be much worse in full block draft, as it requires a critical mass of token producers, which are both expensive in DGM and GTC and are uncommon (Knight Watch and Sunspire Gatekeepers are not the token enablers you want).
  • The tokens you do populate will tend to be bigger, however, with Urbis Protector, Trostani’s Summoner, and Miming Slime giving you reasonable access to good 4/4s. So I think Selesnya will be a good complement to guilds that can slow down the early game.
  • I expect that WRB will be the best aggressive deck in the format. It has access to strong choices in the curve in all three packs, the mechanics all stand alone well, you get access to lots of removal, and none of the themes work at cross purposes.
  • A BUG control deck that focuses on the Defender and mill subthemes should probably be a thing. Given that Cipher is not a particularly good mechanic and that Evolve is unlikely to be good in this color combination, I expect that this is probably the dominant thing to do in this archetype.
  • The removal in this set continues the block’s theme of being lackluster and conditional, particularly at common. Your X/4s are usually safe, casting a bomb creature and riding it to victory, especially in sealed, is still a viable strategy.
  • Having only one pack of Cloudfin Raptors hurts the Evolve deck a lot. I think RUG will be the best Evolve deck, but the mechanic has gone down in strength.
  • In general I think Populate, Evolve, and Battalion have gotten worse. Scavenge and Cipher have both gotten marginally better, but are still in the bottom half of mechanics. Bloodrush, Extort, Detain, Overload, and Unleash have all stayed about the same, mainly because they’re generic good stuff mechanics that you don’t need to draft around to get the full utility from them.
  • My very rough ordering of the quality of the three color decks, from best to worst, is: WBR, Jund, RUG, Naya, Bant, Junk (WBG), UWR, Esper, BUG, Grixis. I am very prepared to be proven wrong on this ranking though.
  • I think you want to pick Guildgates very highly. They are the best fixing in the format outside of Prophetic Prism, the power level of the DGM cards is not so high that you are giving up a lot, and it will suck to go into the Return to Ravnica pack needing to pick up three color fixers, unless you’re a base Green mana ramp deck that is hoping to max out on Axebane Guardians and Gatecreeper Vines.
  • I think all of the token makers that produce multiple tokens are going to be good in the Junk deck.
  • Something like 20-25% of the commons in DGM are unplayable blanks. This is made up for somewhat by the land slot being very good instead of a blank, but, combined with people being color flexible, makes it important to make your early picks count, as you can count on the last 3-4 picks not going into your deck.
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