1) Always maindeck Encase in Ice.
Yeah, seriously. I have been maindecking Encase in Ice in my blue decks for a while now and I’m quite happy with the results. If you assume all colors are represented equally in a booster draft and everyone at the table plays a two-color deck, then about 66% of the time each opponent will have either red or green in their deck. This can be complicated by the fact that red/green is a good color combination so those colors might cluster together, but also I know I’m playing blue in this situation, so all the colors are not represented equally.
I made a rule for myself to try to have two discard outlets when I maindecked Encase in Ice—cards like Zephyr Scribe, Enhanced Awareness, and Sibsig Icebreakers. Encase in Ice is a ridiculously good card when you can cast it, as good as Ultimate Price, which is a first-pickable, splashable card, and if you have a card that mirrors that effect 2/3rds of the time that’s awesome. If you’re a base-blue deck you can feel free to do this with Rending Volley and Surge of Righteousness as well, but I would avoid Self-Inflicted Wound and Display of Dominance.
2) Sage’s Reverie draws a card for each Aura you control and not just Auras attached to the creature you put it on.
This works well in blue/white decks that can have Cloudform, Lightform, and even Pacifism and Reduce in Stature-type cards that sit on your opponents creature the entire game. If you have two Pacifisms you should almost always play a Sage’s Reverie if you get it—when drawn together it’s +2/+2 and draw two cards for 3W, which is an awesome rate. Also Pacifism and Reduce in Stature sit in play for so long that you can play a Pacifism on turn four and draw a Reverie on turn ten and get the benefit.
3) Ancestral Statue is a cute card that you should take seriously when sideboarding.
If you play against a blue/white deck with Pacifism or Reduce in Stature you can play Ancestral Statue and return that creature to your hand, a 3/4 for 4 that 2-for-1s the opponent is a big game. I also quite like Ancestral Statue with the cards Cloudform and Lightform. Turn three Cloudform makes a manifest, into turn four Ancestral Statue, returning Cloudform, leaves a manifest creature behind. A good curve backed by card advantage, it’s a dream come true. The same way Ancestral Statue can be good against opposing Auras I would also mention that Center Soul can turn from a mediocre combat trick to a Ray of Revelation against decks with multiple Pacifisms.
4) Illusory Gains is a weird rare from Dragons of Tarkir—it’s awesome, but pay close attention to it.
It can mimic Mind Control, but it comes at a cost. I would say pick Illusory Gains highly and always play it, but it’s worth remembering that it gets completely hosed by dash. If I take your 5/5, and you dash a Kolaghan Skirmisher, I gain control of the 2/2 and at end of turn the Skirmisher will trigger, returning to its owners hand and sending my Illusory Gains right to the graveyard. I suggest being very willing to sideboard this card out if you’ve seen multiple dash cards and playing carefully with it in game one. The best use is to cast it on their best creature and try to exploit it as soon as possible—preferably on the same turn.
5) Cards like Ire Shaman, Den Protector, Stratus Dancer, Silumgar Assassin, Hidden Dragonslayer, and Shorecrasher Elemental are all awesome rares that can basically go in any deck.
If you play an Evolving Wilds or even get a dual land you should always put these cards in your deck. A black/white deck with 1 Dismal Backwater should always play a Shorecrasher Elemental and a red/green deck with a Thornwood Falls should always play a Stratus Dancer. The floor for potential of these cards is an off-color morph, which is weak but passable, and the ceiling is very high. Plus the value of these cards goes up if you know the games will be grindier and last longer—seeing a higher percentage of your deck will make it more likely you draw that morph with your random land that fixes for that color.
Pay 3 mana, get a free +1/+1 counter. Not bad. But to really go crazy, pair two Scalelords to make for infinite counters.
There are many more cool tricks to the format, but these are just a couple that came up for me during my Pro Tour preparation. Thanks for reading and good luck in the draft queues!
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