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Conflux Review Part 3: Sealed & Draft January 28, 2009

Posted by James in : all, reviews, previews, strategy, tips, limited, draft, sealed , trackback

We want to know four things about Sealed and Draft tournaments: (1) What is the best color? (2) Will I get mana screwed? (3) What are the best cards we can hope to get? (4) Will Conflux make our experience more enjoyable?

The short answer to question 1 and 2: (1) White and Red are still the best colors. In particular that means that Naya is usually the best deck to play. Expect almost everyone to play Naya in a Sealed Deck tournament for this reason. (2) I already answered this question in my first Conflux Review. Yes, you will get mana screwed a lot.

Note: Since Conflux isn’t out yet, this article is speculative. I haven’t tested my ideas yet.

What cards are best?

The very best (bombs)

Really good cards (first picks)

Good cards (second picks)

Although Conflux has a larger quantity of powerful cards than Shards of Alara, most of them are rare. If you get great rares, that can end up determining what colors you should play. However, rares don’t have a consistent impact on what decks you should play in sealed or draft. In order to know what colors are best, we need to remove the rares from the list:

The very best (bombs)

Really good cards (first picks)

Good cards (second picks)

Now that the rares have been removed, there is only one bomb, two first picks, and seven “second picks.” What I call a “second pick” is something that you would often take as a first pick when playing in a draft because nothing better would be in the pack.

There are three white cards, three red cards, one green card, and one black card that are either “good” or “powerful.” No blue cards have made the cut. (You might think there are more “good cards” than I mentioned, and I will talk about other “mentionable” cards soon. What I call a “good card” is a card that I would often take as a first pick.
Let’s consider how powerful of cards each color will get:

Lands

These two lands are very important just for mana fixing, and they are potentially better than the mana fixing produced in Shards of Alara. One reason for this is because Conflux has a 5-color theme. If you want to have a five color deck I would recommend to play one or two main colors and to splash for the other colors. Three of the special lands like these can be enough to splash 3 to 6 off-color cards.

White

Path to Exile is by far the best creature removal spell in the set, and it is actually the best creature removal spell we’ve seen in about 10 years. Court Homunculus will greatly help Esper decks, which tend to be too slow without it, but it won’t be that great in Bant or Naya. Celestial Purge will be good against every deck except Bant.

Red

Even though the red removal spells are some of the best removal spells in Conflux, they are still lacking. The only reason that Exploding Borders and Volcanic Fallout are first picks is because there isn’t anything better in the set. Exploding Borders is the most powerful red common in the set, but it requires you to play green-red.

Green

The only green card worth taking as a first pick is Exploding Borders, which is also red. Of course the real reason that Green is worth playing is because a Green deck tends to be green-red-white (Naya), and the red and white spells in Conflux tend to be the best.

Conclusion

White and Red are clearly the best colors and they were already the best colors in Shards of Alara. Little has changed in that regard.

Will Conflux Make Draft/Sealed More Enjoyable

No. Think about it this way: Whether playing in a draft or sealed, you will hope to get removal and powerful creatures. However, removal is scarce in Conflux, and there aren’t a lot of powerful creatures either. Conflux doesn’t have a lot of great cards to help your 3 color deck and it expects you to play a 5 color deck. Playing 5 colors is a great way to get mana screwed even more often. Overall, Conflux will simply make your draft or sealed tournament decks weaker. There will be a lot of great rares, but you can’t count on getting good rares. The fact that so many rares are so powerful just makes sure that the games will be even more luck-based. Either you get lucky and can beat everyone with your “powerful card” or you are someone like me who won’t be so lucky.

Conflux is made for constructed, not limited. Those of us who love drafting and playing in sealed tournaments will probably have to wait about a year before we get a good set to play with again.

Update 1-29-2009)

Voraious Dragon, Rakka Mar, and Extractor Demon have been added to the “second pick” list.

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Comments»

1. Recoculous.com: Magic the Gathering Articles » Drafting Conflux Part 1: Naya - January 30, 2009

[…] I have already mentioned the best cards you can draft in Conflux. White and red are still the best colors, and Naya is still the best 3-color deck you can draft, and it is certainly the best colors you will tend to get in Sealed. Now that you know what the best cards are, I still need to mention the other “mentionable” cards that you should look out for when nothing better can be found: […]

2. Alex - February 6, 2009

I disagree that Path to Exile is a bomb. It is a very very good removal spell, but it will never win games by itself, and cannot generate card advantage (unless it kills a creature with an aura on it, but this is the same as any other removal spell).

Clearly it’s better than all the other removal and mediocre creatures, but it is NOT to be picked higher than bombs.

3. James - February 6, 2009

Good point about Path to Exile. It is a lot better in constructed than draft because the land you get can be so helpful in draft. I wanted to say it was a bomb because it is light years ahead of other removal spells in Conflux.

I also said Noble Hierarch is a bomb even though it is just mana fixing. Again, it is light years ahead of other mana fixing.

The question is: Would we take Path to Exile above Noble Hierarch? Would we take it above Malfegor? If my first pack had a Malfegor and a Path to Exile, I might take the Path to Exile because it is a much smaller commitment, but this isn’t an easy choice to make.

4. Recoculous.com: Magic the Gathering Articles » Drafting Alara Reborn Part 1 - May 7, 2009

[…] My favorite colors from Shards of Alara and Conflux were already red and white. (Go here for more information.) Naya can use both red and white, so Naya is the best color in draft and sealed for the entire Shards of Alara block. (So much so that it is often “overdrafted.” Too many people often play it.) […]