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Drafting Magic 2011: Top 10 First Picks July 9, 2010

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

When drafting, the first few picks we take will often determine what colors we should play, so knowing the very best cards of a draft is essential. If you get a powerful card after a couple cards have already been taken in a pack, then you should probably play that color because it looks like you don’t have a lot of competition. The most powerful cards are what I often call “first picks.” I will discuss my current favorite top 10 commons and uncommon first picks for draft. (Keep in mind that this was written before Magic 2011 was released, so this is somewhat speculative.)
Why not talk about all the rares? One, about half the rares in Magic 2010 are extraordinarily powerful. It would be a waste of time to think too much about them for that reason. Two, rares are rare. You won’t see them too often and specific rares won’t make a big difference in the long run. You need to know how to draft well with the commons and uncommons before you worry a lot about the rares.

However, I will let you know that my favorite rares of each color and the best rare artifact are the following:

  1. Baneslayer Angel (white)
  2. Stormtide Leviathan (blue)
  3. Grave Titan (black)
  4. Ancient Hellkite (red)
  5. Overwhelming Stampede (green)
  6. Platinum Angel (artifact)

What are my favorite common and uncommon first picks?

1. Mind Control

mind control

Stealing creatures is awesome. Stealing the other guy’s Serra Angel is better than actually playing one.

2. Serra Angel

serra angel

Serra Angel is incredibly powerful. Especially in a format where cards tend to be much weaker than usual.

3. Air Servant

air servant

It’s not quite as fat as Air Elemental, but the ability to tap fliers will come in handy and could be game winning in some situations.

4. Lightning Bolt

lightning bolt

Lightning bolt is still the best removal in Standard.

5. Fireball

fireball

It is classically worth splashing for fireball no matter what other colors you are in. It’s that good.

6. Pyroclasm

pyroclasm

There’s a chance you could kill the opponent’s entire team with this card.

7. Doom Blade

doom blade

It’s cheap and it’s an instant. That counts for a lot, but the inability to destroy nonblack creatures is a huge drawback that I find annoying.

8. Condemn

condemn

Condemn has two drawbacks. The life gain drawback isn’t so bad, but the fact that the creature has to be attacking is a huge drawback and it will fail to kill Royal Assassin and Prodigal Pyromancer for that reason.

9. Pacifism

pacifism

Pacifism doesn’t do anything about creature abilities, but it gets the job done for the most part.

10. Mana Leak

mana leak

Mana Leak is an incredibly powerful counter spell, but only for the most part. Late game it can get pretty weak and you’ll just have to hope to counter something that’s 7 or 8 casting cost.

Honorable Mention

The following common and uncommon cards are also quite good, but failed to make my top 10:

  1. Jace’s Engenuity
  2. Cudgel Troll
  3. Chandra’s Outrage
  4. Ember Hauler
  5. Assassinate
  6. Garruk’s Companion
  7. Llanowar Elves

Conclusion

There’s a lot of blue, white, and red on the list, but only one black card and only zero green cards. Things aren’t looking so good for black or green based on this list, but green can be pretty good at mana fixing to splash other colors and green has pretty decent creatures overall.

How does this compare to Magic 2010? It’s almost exactly the same, but green has been severely weakened due to the fact that overrun is gone.

Comments»

1. 神の一手 - July 12, 2010

Ancient Hellkite is not a first pick. It is 3 red to cast. Sure it is powerful if it attacks, but it commits you to red. Inferno Titan is only 2 red and is a walking Lightning Bolt factory. The titan is a better first pick.

2. James - July 12, 2010

I guess the Titan is better, but that certainly doesn’t mean the Dragon isn’t a first pick. You are going to be committed to red either way.

3. 神の一手 - July 13, 2010

i can see the titan being played in a red splash or forcing red. With the dragon, I can see you needing to force red or abandon your first pick.

4. robert ching - July 19, 2010

Vengeful Archon is unbelievable in draft. My opponents gave up after I dropped him. Armored Ascension is a great uncommon in draft. If I knew. I was going white, I’d go with it ahead of the angel.

5. James - July 19, 2010

Armored Ascension requires that you have a creature that stays alive. I’ve played a lot of games where just about everything died, so the Angel is still a better card in my opinion.

6. Parth - July 20, 2010

What about sleep? Sleep seems like a really bombish card to pick.

7. James - July 20, 2010

I haven’t had the best luck with sleep, but it can be quite good in the right deck. I put it on blue’s top 10 uncommon/commons, and I suppose it could be in the honorable mention list.

8. robert ching - July 22, 2010

I’d have to say, after several M11 drafts, that white and green were the colors I saw the most in winning decks. The mana-fixing in green was very strong.

9. robert ching - July 22, 2010

Sleep won me a couple of games, if I hadn’t screwed it up, I would’ve won another game with it. It’s an awesome card in limited.

10. Roqbthepirate - July 23, 2010

Green is very strong in 2010 limited with greater basilisk, sacred wolf, spined wurm, garruk’s companion and yavimaya wurm all in common and removal so in demand by everyone you can easily draft a creature heavy deck that your opponent just can’t keep up with. White is a good supplement with its strong flyers and control options like pacifism. Early decks will win with G/W mostly I think until the other colors which require more complex strategies are more figured out by the average player.

11. James - July 23, 2010

Roqbthepirate,

Green does have decent creatures, but removal tends to be better than creatures. At the same time I agree that green can be a good supplemental color to a deck in part also because of the mana fixing and mana acceleration.

12. tyler - August 31, 2010

Most drafts I was in found Blue and White winning. I’ve also placed top 4 several times with mono red goblins. Seeing as I’ve pulled Goblin Chieftain in about 4 drafts