Ever since my abysmal Day Two performance at Grand Prix Boston-Worcester two weeks ago, I’ve been determined to improve my M13 draft skills. This past week I’ve drafted M13 on Magic Online multiple times a day, in order to try to get a better grip on what went so wrong at the Grand Prix. I’m happy to say that in just this short amount of time, my M13 results have improved dramatically. From my Grand Prix drafts compared to my recent online drafts, I noticed a distinct pattern.
GP Draft 1: Blue/black 1-2
GP Draft 2: Blue/black 0-3
My last six online drafts:
Draft 1: Blue/black 0-1
Draft 2: Mono-green 3-0
Draft 3: Green/white 3-0
Draft 4: Green/red 3-0
Draft 5: Green/white 3-0
Draft 6: Green/red 2-1
These draft results indicate that I can’t win when I draft a blue/black deck, and that I do win when I draft green. I have no idea what compelled me to draft blue/black so often. I don’t have a strong preference for the archetype, but somehow I kept falling into it. I don’t think blue/black is a terrible combination in this format, although I do believe that any M13 draft deck without green is automatically at a disadvantage.
I knew that green was a strong color in M13 Limited even before the Grand Prix. I was too afraid of getting cut off, however, since I knew other people would want to draft green as well. What I hadn’t realized at the time is just how deep the color is in M13. Even if there are multiple other people drafting green, you can still end up with a solid deck.
During my online “Draft 3”, I decided to force green/x just to see how the draft would end up. As it turned out, I got completely cut off from green and was forced to play some very mediocre cards. I was paired against two green/white decks and a green/red deck during my three rounds, and my green/white deck still won the draft. Here is my deck from that draft:
Although I do have some good cards here, my deck underwhelms overall. Since I was determined to play green this draft regardless of how open the color was, I was forced to play some mediocre cards such as Fungal Sprouting and Fog. Despite this handicap, my deck was strong enough to overcome three opponents who had also all ended up with green decks.
I am not usually an advocate of forcing one color or color combination while drafting. Most of the time if you know what you are going to draft before the draft starts, the quality of your deck is largely out of your control. When you force a strategy, you will end up with a good list if the people around you aren’t taking the cards you need, and a poor one if they are. The one situation exception to this, is when you are confident that you can still win with a mediocre version. Thus, forcing green in M13 is valid.
Forcing one color in a draft gives you a lot more flexibility and doesn’t force you to commit nearly as much as you would if you force a whole archetype. In M13, I have seen green paired with all four other colors with some success, but the most common successful green decks I’ve seen have been green/white and green/red. During the draft, if you find that you are not getting passed as many good green cards as you would like, you can choose another color that is flowing more heavily to be your second color.
My online “Draft 3” was a great example of what happens when you force a color that is popular at your draft table. My online “Draft 2” and “Draft 4” are perfect examples of what happens when the color you want to be in is readily available.
As you can see, these two drafts both went very well. In my mono-green draft, I just never saw a need to dip into a second color. Mono-green in M13 is exceedingly powerful if you can get the cards for it. I basically just kept taking powerful green card after powerful green card, without ever seeing a reason to draft a card of a different color. In the other draft, I started off with a first pick Searing Spear with the intention of drafting a green/red deck if the red cards kept coming. As it turned out, I didn’t see many more red cards at all, but when I opened a second Searing Spear in pack three I knew I could just splash them both in my nearly mono-green deck.
These are the best green commons, in an approximate pick order:
In my opinion, this is the best green common in M13 draft. Having an early stream of creatures in this format is extremely important—Arbor Elf helps you do this as both a creature himself and accelerating into bigger creatures. As is usually the case for green, there is no shortage of large creatures in this set, but there is a shortage of ways to accelerate your mana. Although one-drop mana accelerators are always good in Limited formats, Arbor Elf interacts particularly well with many other cards in the set. Turn one Arbor Elf into a turn two Centaur Courser is one of the best starts in the format. Using Ring of Kalonia to turn your early-game Arbor Elf into a mid-game beater is an application that cannot be overlooked. In order to draft a good green deck, you should pick your first 2-3 Arbor Elves very highly.
Because of the speed of M13 draft and the importance of early creatures, Centaur Courser is an absolute all-star. Even though he is not quite as central to the green decks as Arbor Elf is, Centaur Courser gives you the ability to win games on the back of very few cards. An early 3/3 requires your opponent to answer it, and if they have to use too many turns and resources doing so, any follow-up creatures will often be able to finish them off.
With less experience drafting this set, I probably would have guessed that Sentinel Spider would be a higher pick than Centaur Courser, and maybe even Arbor Elf. At this point, I feel very confident saying that Sentinel Spider is usually a worse pick than both those cards. That being said, the green Serra Angel is still a powerhouse. This is also one of the better things to search for with Mwonvuli Beast Tracker.
The value of Prey Upon changes a lot depending on the cards in your deck. Even though Prey Upon is a great card in most green decks, I have had drafts where I left Prey Upon in the sideboard because I didn’t have enough large creatures. Despite its more limited uses I find that a lot of people tend to overvalue it. As a result, if I think my deck will really need a Prey Upon, I often try to pick one up early in the draft in case I don’t see another one.
Although its role as an attacker is extremely limited, Deadly Recluse does a great job of trading with any troublesome opposing attacker. Deadly Recluse‘s ability to keep their best creature away from your life total is invaluable in racing situations. This is also easily one of the best cards in the green mirror match since it will trade with the majority of their creatures, and is good both with and against Prey Upon.
Yeva’s Forcemage never really impressed me until I got the chance to play with it myself. It’s a lot more impressive than it looked at first glance. It’s one of the few three-drops that green has in this set, and its ability is actually very relevant. Having Yeva’s Forcemage in your deck even makes cards like Elvish Visionary a lot better, since on turn three you can have your mostly useless 1/1 push through three damage. Yeva’s Forcemage‘s pump will often be able to push through a lot more than three damage if used at the right time.
It can sometimes be tempting to play him as a vanilla 2/2 when you aren’t able to use his ability to good effect, but it is often a lot better in those situations to hold onto him for a few turns until you can play him for the most value.
Although Titanic Growth will always be a good Limited card, I don’t consider it very high up in the pick order for M13. Too often Titanic Growth will function as a psuedo-removal spell that your opponent can easily play around. It’s at its best when it’s used as a finisher to get in that last 4 damage, but those situations are a lot harder to come by. Creatures and mana curve are just too important in M13 to feel good about using your mana for a Titanic Growth when you could just be playing another guy. At two mana, it also gets a lot harder to play another creature in the same turn you cast this. Overall I’ll play Titanic Growth if I have it, but I’d even prefer to have Yeva’s Forcemage most of the time. Most of the green decks you draft will want one or two Titanic Growth, but more than that is excessive.
Even though he has such a minimal impact on the board, I’m a big fan of Elvish Visionary. Drawing cards is wonderful, and there are so many ways in M13 to benefit from the 1/1 body that it’s far from useless. Like I previously mentioned, Yeva’s Forcemage helps make Elvish Visionary a lot better when it comes down on turn two, and Ring of Kalonia also turns him into a real threat. Roaring Primadox turns Elvish Visionary into a card-drawing engine, and if you end up playing white or black, exalted can give him a boost too.
The amount that I value Elvish Visionary is strongly based on the cards I have that interact with him. Fortunately there are a lot of cards in the set to take advantage of, and the Elvish Visionaries in most drafts end up going around pretty late. Even if I don’t have too many ways to make him better, I won’t be too unhappy to play Elvish Visionary—but how high you pick him in a draft changes a lot based on how many of these synergistic cards you already have.
Just like Elvish Visionary, the value of Primal Huntbeast changes a lot based on the cards you have to make him better. Anything that makes him bigger is great, such as Mark of the Vampire, Tricks of the Trade, Volcanic Strength, or Ring of Kalonia. He also gets better if you have Garruk’s Packleader in your deck so you can draw some cards, or Mwonvuli Beast Tracker to search him out. Just like Elvish Visionary I will usually play him even without other synergies, but his value and pick order changes a lot based on your deck.
It definitely goes without saying that the more the Timberpack Wolves you have, the better. My record in draft so far is four, and that is a good number to have. More than four is very good, three is okay, and one or two isn’t impressive, but if your deck really needs a two-mana creature, a Grizzly Bear isn’t the worst thing to have.
Vastwood Gorger, Plummet, Spiked Baloth, Fog, Naturalize
I bunched these all up in the same category because I consider them sideboard cards that you will occasionally play in the main deck. Vastwood Gorger is the card I am most likely to find myself main decking, but if I am not short of big creatures, or if I am short on Arbor Elves, I will usually keep it in my sideboard. I have played all the rest of these in the main deck on certain occasions, but luckily green is a deep enough color that you can usually afford to keep these in your sideboard until you really need them.
Green is such a deep color in M13 that forcing a green/x draft deck is definitely a viable option. Even if you don’t end up with all the best green cards, you’ll often still have a really powerful deck. One important thing to realize is that anytime you force a draft strategy, there will be times when it just doesn’t come together. That being said, the majority of the time things will work out great—and since Green is the color to be in right now, that is a risk I’m willing to take.
Thanks for reading,
greyknight7 on MTGO