his is a sad occasion for me. It's my last article here at the helm of Limited Information. I'm leaving for several reasons. I've somehow found my way into the real world and I don't have enough time to really dedicate to Magic and writing these articles takes up more time than you'd think. It's not all bad news, as I'm passing the reins back into the more-than-capable hands of Noah Weil. I hope you've enjoyed the places I've taken the column and I hope to see you at a Limited Pro Tour soon.
I'll finish off the lists partly as promised. The whole list is far too much to tackle on top of everything else, as these things take a long time to prepare and check and mistakes still slip through. I've also decided to cut doing Goblins, despite this being my last article, because, simply put, I don't know how to draft them; or, at least, not enough to confidently pass it on to you guys. I never draft them because I don't feel they have too much power although Olivier Ruel assures me that to make them work you have to have some combination of multiple Fodder Launches and Tar Pitchers and then Boggart Birth Rites, but this never really comes together for me. Faeries, however, are probably my most drafted archetype.
The cornerstone of the Faeries archetype, in fact about the only thing that really makes it 'tribal' at all, is Dreamspoiler Witches. This means you plan to fill your deck with as many instants and tricks as possible which accounts for them being ranked slightly higher on the list. Despite this, I rank Pestermite higher. This is because I think it sums up the entire archetype much better. Faeries can get behind on tempo and never come back. They have few outs to large creatures and tend to get beaten up by Benthicores the world over. To compensate for this, Pestermite Time Walks opponents in the early game by tapping a land in their upkeep, saves damage by tapping a crucial attacker, opens up the offence by taking out a blocker, triggers Witches, and provides a hefty clock. Some games get won simply because a curve of turn-three Pestermite followed by Witches and then a Sentinels of Glen Elendra is a flying army that is hard to race because of the Pestermite's initial tempo boost.
Sower of Temptation
Wydwen, the Biting Gale
Final Revels (I'm just not the biggest fan)
Wort, Boggart Auntie (if you've no Nameless Inversion to splash or to fetch with a Harbinger, she goes down)
Scion of Oona
Sentinels of Glen Elendra
Arbiter of Knollridge
Glen Elendra Pranksters
Nath of the Gilt-Leaf
Makeshift Mannequin (very dependent on targets)
Wings of Velis Vel
Merrow Reejerey (hard to evaluate because I tend to now go Merfolk if it's not too late)
Hunter of Eyeblights
Fistful of Force
Special Mention: Rebellion of the Flamekin
I mention this Elemental enchantment because it is the cornerstone of one of my favourite archetypes. If you see it early, it will almost certainly wheel, meaning you can snap it up the second time around. In the meantime, you can place a slightly higher priority on Lash Out
, Broken Ambitions
and Whirlpool Whelm
. You should also pick up the late Paperfin Rascal
s and Ringskipper
s slightly higher than usual. Only do this if you know you'll get the Rebellion back and only if it's the first booster so you maximise your chances of getting multiples later on. The deck tends to be Faerie-based, so cards like Fire-Belly Changeling
tend to be very playable to keep the count up. Have fun.
I mentioned earlier that Faeries can get overrun by fatties in the late game. To this end, you need to keep the deck as tempo-based as possible, continually nibbling with flyers so you can race their large guys. Another effective way the deck has to combat fatties is counterspells. From as early as turn four onwards, the deck tries its hardest to not cast anything in its own turn, abusing flash guys to the limit. This means it will almost always have mana open for counterspells, meaning they find a home in limited more so than almost any other limited deck.
I really like Neck Snap in Faeries because it's much harder to play around. The deck tries to keep four mana open as often as possible anyway, and you'll seldom have an actual Plains in play, more likely a Vivid land or Shimmering Grotto, making the element of surprise even better.
A cycle of cards I think are underrated in general are those that come with token minions. Marsh Flitter, Benthicore, and, in other decks, Hearthcage Giant are all incredibly powerful cards. I try to always play at least one Benthicore in every blue deck as I think he is a great win condition that almost always generates card advantage if not actual game wins. Mash Flitter is a perfect card for Faeries as it provides card advantage, tempo, and great defence. It is very difficult to attack into the little Faerie and its minions. On top of which, the little guy will start swinging back soon anyway.
Brigid, Hero of Kinsbaile
Ashling the Pilgrim
Wort, Boggart Auntie
Arbiter of Knollridge
Hoofprints of the Stag
Knight of Meadowgrain
Surge of Thoughtweft
Lairwatch Giant (if you get lots of Stinkdrinker Daredevils, this goes way up)
I mentioned the main strategies for Giants in my last walkthrough. I'll highlight them again. Take the three crucial commons : Stinkdrinker Daredevil, Avian Changeling and Kithkin Greatheart, whenever there isn't removal in the pack or something higher up on the pick list. They form the basis for the archetype, and aside from a late pick Thundercloud Shaman, Stinkdrinker Daredevil is the easiest signal to see if giants are open. Hearthcage Giant is one of my favourite reasons to be giants as he's just so powerful, providing you with three great guys and the ability to pump and save your other Giants or make their overlap lethal.
Apart from that, Giants are fairly easy to draft. They lack card advantage, which is one reason a splashed Mulldrifter is so good, but they are also one of the archetypes that winds up with the most playables because its picks are so low and come around late. This means that the deck seldom splashes, making for a solid mana base. If you have three or four Daredevils, which isn't too uncommon, then, obviously, pick as many expensive Giants as possible—fill your deck up with all the Axegrinder Giants and Lairwatch Giants you can.
The deck will often have a sub-theme of either Kithkin or Elementals and it is important to note how powerful either theme becomes, because then you can evaluate cards like Smokebraider and Wizened Cenn. However, as a rule of thumb, Elementals never become too influential, or at least, they won't whilst you're still mainly a Giant deck rather than a deck splashing Giants. Kithkin have no real theme beyond the Cenn and stronger Surge of Thoughtweft, so just keep an eye on their numbers.
Giants can get outraced in the air, so be sure to pick up as much removal as possible and make sure that the deck is capable of tempo draws to race them if it is low in this department. This is where the Kithkin Greathearts and Blind-Spot Giants come in. I try to pick every Blind-Spot that comes my way and then worry about picking the Avian and Fire-Belly Changelings. If worse comes to the worst and you have some Greathearts, then feel free to supplement the deck with a Runed Stalactite.
One final, leaving rant: I've oft been criticised for my love of blue, as if it were a bad thing. If my time writing here leaves you with any lasting message, let it be why I so frequently draft blue. Limited 101: in my experience, card advantage is the most important and influential factor in Limited. Which colour always has the most sources of card advantage? Blue. Additionally, blue's power is often because of subtle cards that your average player finds hard to evaluate correctly or put into use efficiently; because of this, blue is often underdrafted. These two factors mean that it will often be in your favour to draft the colour. If you can't, or don't feel at home with blue, then learn.
All that said, you should be at home drafting each colour, colour combination, and archetype, and it is my failing, for example, that I don't feel at home drafting Goblins. I mean, I will still win reasonably often with them but I am not at ease with them as I am with the other tribes. Try everything, watch others draft, and question their picks afterwards if they don't mind. Watch others deck build. Most of you won't do enough drafts to feel at home with every possibility that can occur, but through observation and discussion, you can gain almost as much experience as if you had drafted yourself.
So long, and thanks for all the fish.