Odyssey drafts are back on Magic Online so it’s time for a quick refresher on some of the best strategies in that format.
One important skill that’s common of draft formats today is to figure out which rares are worth first-picking over the top commons and/or uncommons. There are a lot of overpowered rares these days, not to mention mythics, and since you don’t see rares as often as you would every other card, they can be tough to evaluate.
The Top-Tier Rares
These are the cards you should basically never pass, and if I am not too deep into two colors before pack 2, I would look to move into blue to take a card like Aboshan. It really is that good. These cards take over games immediately and are very tough to deal with (outside of Kamahl, but the haste gives you that immediate impact, and if you untap with it the game is over).
First-Pick Quality Rares
As you may notice, a card like Repentant Vampire, which would appear next on the list, really isn’t even that much better than an Aven Windreader—and with Windreader being in a better color, it’s a very close call even there. So let’s discuss what I think of the color pecking order.
Blue - The best color, and it isn’t particularly close.
White (Then a big drop-off.)
Overrun is the best uncommon in the set and I would take it over all the top rares that aren’t in the top tier—and I might take it over some of those. I’m never ever passing Aboshan or Cabal Patriarch, but I could see taking Overrun over literally anything else. If you get passed an Overrun, it’s a strong sign (that your deck will be insane).
Next on the uncommon list for me is Cephalid Broker, as the ability to sift through all your draws while building up threshold is extremely powerful in this format.
The rest of my top uncommons—around a similar power level to a Repentant Vampire—are:
I have all of these a little above the next group of uncommons, which are mostly the uncommon evasion flyers:
The top 6 cards on this list can completely take over a game, while the rest are just extremely powerful. These are cards I am strongly looking to take if they are in my colors and the cards I’m looking for to decide my second color.
And for the most important part of Odyssey draft—the commons. The commons are on such a similar power level to the vast majority of the rares and uncommons in this set that it actually doesn’t reflect current Magic too often. The commons are the cards you see the most and you are very happy using early picks on many of them.
There’s a rather large step down from these 2 cards to the next tier and it’s no wonder that they were, at times, considered the best 2 commons in the set. Wild Mongrel would eventually ruin that parade, which according to many is the #1 common overall, but it is not as good as Looter in my book, and Windreader still remains a very strong #3 overall.
Blue is DEEP. And that pick order is totally and completely subjective. Aether Burst goes up dramatically with each copy you have, all the way up to #3 (and could, theoretically, pass Windreader, in the right deck). I could see taking any one of these cards over another depending on deck, but with what I normally draft, this is the rough order. And that’s without mentioning Dematerialize, Phantom Whelp, Rites of Refusal, and Words of Wisdom, which are all cards that have made the cut.
Blue is the best color for me because it complements all the other colors so well. There are so many powerful threshold cards in this format and blue has the most enablers, with cheap cantrips, looting, and “land looting” with something like Cephalid Scout.
1. Wild Mongrel
It’s #1 in green and many have it #1 overall. It’s absurd. Very hard to block, turns on threshold, and just does it all for a 2-drop.
I’m very happy having all of these cards and have first picked all of them many times. I used to have Nantuko Disciple as a clear #2, but that was at a time with “damage on the stack,” so I attempted to adjust accordingly. It’s still great, but not QUITE what it was.
Again, this order can vary pretty dramatically, but a pretty good starting point. I maindeck all of these cards pretty regularly, with the last 2 on this list being cards I would generally prefer not to, and Chatter is certainly not great in all decks (while being exactly what you want in others—for example, with Rites of Initiations).
1. Mystic Zealot
2. Hallowed Healer
3. Kirtar’s Desire
4. Aven Flock
7. Second Thoughts
8. Aven Cloudchaser
10. Patrol Hound
11. Mystic Visionary
12. Angelic Wall
13. The Pilgrims
The top 2 on this list are quite a bit ahead of the rest, and I could again see taking any card 3-9 on the list over any other. There are a lot of very powerful, often defensive tricks in white that you need to be aware of if you are going to draft this format. The value of Auramancer will vary dramatically depending on if you have cards like Psionic Gift, Caustic Tar, or the mondo combo of Chamber of Manipulation + Animal Boneyard.
1. Ghastly Demise
2. Dirty Wererat
3. Patriarch’s Desire
6. Morbid Hunger
7. Dusk Imp
9. Innocent Blood
10. Crypt Creeper
11. Whispering Shade
12. Zombie Assassin
I think this is the list where I vary the least in how I actually draft the color. I could see taking Afflict higher or lower, but otherwise you can basically stick to this order. Innocent Blood is definitely the card that varies the most, as it’s an excellent removal spell in a dedicated control deck with lots of other removal (like Afflicts) to deal with cheap creatures and pretty unplayable in some other decks. Zombie Assassin is the card that took the biggest hit with damage no longer stacking.
Honestly, those are the only good cards. Firebolt is fantastic and the others are solid, but the red commons are totally unimpressive.
4. Ember Beast
A card like Rites of Initiation is fantastic in some decks but often bad to unplayable. Thermal Blast is playable but mediocre removal. Acceptable Losses is slightly more unplayable removal. Barbarian Lunatic went from solid to bad with damage not stacking. Reckless Charge is good in some decks. Halberdier and Pardic Firecat are the definition of mediocre filler creatures that red decks generally have to play.
So, there’s Odyssey for you.
If I am going to be red, I really want to pair it with green (and feel RG is an excellent archetype), mostly due to the synergies of the cheap burn and the possibility of something like Rites of Initiation being good (and “monstrous'ing” my green threshold creatures, as well). RB is likely the worst archetype and a single Mystic Zealot can halt the entire deck alone.
My favorite archtypes, in order:
No real surprise! I like to be blue and it pairs fantastically with anything in this set.
Hope you guys learned, or remembered, a few things—good luck and happy drafting!