For the Limited portion of Pro Tour Eldritch Moon, I prepared by drafting for several days in a house near Sydney with Team EUreka (Brad Nelson, Joel Larsson, Martin Dang, Louis Deltour, Pierre Dagen, Michael Majors, Oliver Polak-Rottmann, Thomas Hendriks, Magnus Lantto, Christoffer Larsen, Immanuel Gerschenson, Martin Müller, Aleksa Telarov, and Simon Nielsen). Afterward, we talked about the colors and cards in lengthy meetings. I also discussed card ratings with Matej Zatlkaj and Martin Juza during the Pro Tour weekend.
In the EUreka practice drafts, red and white overperformed. They had good win percentages (around 55%) in our drafts, and this makes sense as there are a lot of good commons in these colors. Blue was average in our practice drafts, while green and black had low win percentages (around 44%).
The win percentages of the color combinations were as follows:
- Red/White: 70%. These decks often looked like nothing special—just a flat curve of four 2-drops, five 3-drops, four 4-drops, and two 5-drops, backed up with cheap combat tricks and solid removal. But it worked in our drafts. This was surprising because, in theory, 2/2s for 2 easily get blocked in this format. In fact, for Martin Juza’s Cabin Crew, red/white posted a horrible win percentage. So I’m not sure what to make of all this. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle.
- Blue/White: 67%. Flyers are threatening in this format, especially when you have Tattered Haunter and Dawn Gryff at common.
- Blue/Red: 54%. Ingenious Skaab and Thermo-Alchemist make for a great deck when you have at least 8 instants or sorceries. For Martin Juza’s Cabin Crew, blue/red was the best-performing deck.
- White/Green: 53%. An aggressive Human-centric deck with a low, flat curve and combat tricks.
- Red/Green: 52%. This is the deck where Ulvenwald Captive excels, as you can transform Vildin-Pack Outcast and other Werewolves by sinking mana into them.
- Black/Red: 51%. This was the best-performing black deck and the worst-performing red deck. You have madness synergies between Olivia’s Dragoons and Alchemist’s Greeting.
- Blue/Black: 49%. There is a self-mill engine with Laboratory Brute and Cemetery Recruitment, so this is the deck that should focus on trading constantly and heading to the late game with a stocked graveyard.
- Black/White: 43%. There are plenty of synergies here that you can build around. One is delirium. Another is enchantments with Ironclad Slayer and Boon of Emrakul. Yet another angle is tokens with Spectral Reserves and Gavony Unhallowed. It’s possible that the low win percentage of this color combination is caused by people trying to figure which synergies to focus on in our early drafts.
- Blue/Green: 40%. It’s hard to draft correctly as you need a good mix of sacrifice fodder (such as Exultant Cultist) and emerge creatures (such as It of the Horrid Swarm). Moreover, the deck can be clunky, and you’re often in blocking mode at the mercy of your opponent’s combat tricks.
- Black/Green: 33%. This deck can be great if you have a creature bomb along with several ways to get it back from the graveyard. But otherwise, it’s hard to draft and to achieve delirium reliably.
Based on my draft experience and discussions, I built up pick order list. As usual, it ranks all cards in the set from high to low as a guide for the first-pick-first-pack decision. The ranking is based on the power of the cards during game play—the monetary value is not taken into account.
Multicolored cards are ranked relatively low because first-picking such a card leaves you with less flexibility to maneuver during the draft, and true colorless cards are ranked relatively high because they keep your options more open. I broke the list down into separate categories to make it easier to read and to allow me to intersperse some comments, but you can think of it as one continuous list if you like.
The Best Rares/Mythics
I would take all of these cards over any common or uncommon. Gisela is the best card to open in my opinion.
The Best 3 Uncommons
All these 3 uncommons are quite close in my view, as they can often deal with any big threat and/or get a huge combat boost for a low mana cost. I have Savage Alliance first due to color preference.
Rares/Mythics Slightly Worse Than the Best Uncommons
All of these cards are strong, but I’d rather start off my draft with any of the 3 uncommons.
Expensive or Conditional Removal Uncommons
All of these cards are quite powerful, but they are more expensive and/or more conditional than the top removal uncommons. As a result of that, they are rated a bit lower, but I would still take them over any common first-pick-first-pack.
The Best 3 Commons and Cards of Similar Power Level
Gold, or Expensive-Yet-High-Impact Rares
The multicolor cards are more powerful than the top commons and many of the uncommons, but it’s dangerous to start off your draft with them as you lose out on flexibility. The 2 red rares, meanwhile, are perfect curve-toppers, but it’s more important to lock up removal spells and the low part of your curve early.
I may have moved 1 or 2 cards around in my original ranking in order to come up with category names that made sense. At least it makes it easier to remember my ranking. One way or another, you can think of all of these cards as great plays on turn 3 that are slightly worse picks than the top commons.
More Expensive-Yet-High-Impact Cards
There are some powerful cards here, but most of them come with the downside of costing a lot of mana. You can’t have too many expensive cards in your deck or it becomes too clunky.
Note that Bloodhall Priest is obviously much, much better than Geist-Fueled Scarecrow if you’re black/red, but in the context of a first-pick-first-pack decision, I’d rather have a colorless card than a gold card.
Sweet 1-Drops and 2-Drops
All of these cards are pretty close to the excellent 3-drops. I think those 3-drops are slightly better than these 1-drops and 2-drops, especially because cards like Ingenious Skaab and Brazen Wolves can profitably block a 2-drop and then rumble with a 4-drop. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t be unhappy taking any of these 2-drops relatively early in the draft.
Fine Uncommons and Rares
Most cards here are restrictive in terms of color requirements, but they are powerful.
You don’t want to overload on them, but these are great plays on turn 5.
The Best Combat Tricks and Mediocre Removal Spells
Before drafting, I would have guessed that Alchemist’s Greeting and Prey Upon would be high picks. Things change if you can play Olivia’s Dragoons or Lambholt Pacifist on turn 2, but generally speaking, these are removal spells that you typically can’t play before turn 5, which is disappointing.
Tamiyo is the ultimate example of power versus consistency. The mana base of 3-color decks is iffy, and locking yourself into Bant with your first pick is not something I like doing. But I’ll take Tamiyo first-pick if the booster is really bad.
All of the other cards here I’d rather not first-pick, but are solid additions to any deck.
Some of these cards are good in one archetype and mediocre in others. Spontaneous Mutation, for instance, excels in blue/black, Bloodbriar is great in blue/green, and Curious Homunculus can do a lot of work in blue/red. But generally speaking, I don’t rate them that high.
There’s a role for every card, and I think each of these cards has made it into one of my draft decks so far. But I would never pick them highly.
Sideboard Cards and (Nearly) Unplayable Cards
I was asked how many planeswalkers I would need before putting Deploy the Gatewatch in my draft deck, and I came up with 4 to 5. Some of these cards are clearly not made for Limited.