Today I’m going to present to you the top three commons in each color of Modern Masters 2015 for draft as I see it. I heavily preface “as I see it” because I have a strong preference for 5-color control and my draft pick rankings will reflect that.
Arrest is a pretty clear #1 here almost regardless of what archetype you’re drafting. Black/white Spirits, blue/white affinity, 5-color control, it doesn’t matter. You’ll take and play as many Arrests as you can get your hands on.
I feel similarly about Sunlance. It’s been truly excellent for me and the handicap of being unable to destroy white creatures comes up so infrequently I almost forgot it did that at all. I’ve played against multiple mono-white draft decks but they almost always have a slant toward artifacts, so you can still kill Blinding Souleater and Cathodion. For 1 mana that’s a bargain.
Skyhunter Skirmisher isn’t a card I play with all that often, I lose to it often enough that I respect it. There’s enough equipment in the format that the drawback of having 1 toughness and being weak to Instill Infection, Shrivel, and Gut Shot is worth it since you can randomly suit him up with a Cranial Plating and win games seemingly out of nowhere.
I like Narcolepsy a fair bit in the 5-color control decks I draft because often my cheap removal is toughness-based. I’ll often have a Burst Lightning, Nameless Inversion, Sunlance, and Tribal Flames and they can always kill a 2/2 or a 3/3, but it’s a bit dicier the bigger their creatures get. Having a couple Narcolepsy means you win much more often when the opponent just plays a 5/5 with no abilities. Narcolepsy can be crummy in a blue-based aggressive deck since you can’t attack the turn you cast it—you have to wait for an upkeep to happen before that big blocker becomes tapped, but that drawback is hardly relevant for a control deck.
Bone Splinters isn’t a card I would play in a control deck, but there are a number of ways to negate its drawback, and when it works out how you want it to it’s excellent.
I chose not to list Smokebraider as I feel the Elemental deck is on the weaker end of the spectrum and these three are all great removal spells that work well in any deck.
This draft format is extremely unique in that there are a wide variety of linear strategies with high reward. At first glace you might think that this is a format in which you just first-pick a rare, let’s say Ghost Council of Orzhova, and force the corresponding linear archetype (black/white Spirits) and hope nobody around you is also drafting that strateg, and that the proper cards get opened that others won’t want (Devouring Greed). This is what basically everyone should do if it’s their first draft of the format and even what I was doing for mine. I prefer 5-color control and I’ve found it can support more players at the draft table than the other decks, I also just think it’s the best. For these reasons you’ll see why my ranking of the commons is so skewed toward that strategy.