Thursday, July 21, 2011

Of Limited Interest #32.3 Number Crunch: M12 Pick Rankings by Color and Commonaltiy (Part 3)

Editor's note this is a continuation of (insert link here).

Red Rares and Mythics: 
  1. Inferno Titan
  2. Flameblast Dragon
  3. Chandra, the Firebrand *+
  4. Grim Lavamancer
  5. Furyborn Hellkite
  6. Chandra's Phoenix
  7. Goblin Chieftain *-
  8. Warstorm Surge
  9. Reverberate
  10. Manabarbs
  11. Scrambleverse
Analysis: As previously mentioned I think Inferno is at worst the 2nd best Titan in M12 Limited and even then my preference for Grave Titan comes primarily from preferring control-ish builds to crash and burn decks.  Regardless of how "Flaming Man" compares to other Titans however he's easily the best Red card in the entire set and as such should be a snap 1st pick every time you open him.  While it's certainly no surprise that a Titan tops this list, I expect a slightly stronger reaction to my choice for 2nd; Flameblast Dragon.  Look we've already established that 5/5 Flyers are disgusting in this format primarily because they are very hard to engage in combat or kill with a single card.  We've also already established that you don't want to be passing premium removal spells here in M12 and that Fireball is in fact one of these spells.  Putting 2 and 2 together is it really so far fetched to suggest that a 5/5 Flyer with a built-in reusable Fireball is a ridiculous card in this format?  I would have no trouble whatsoever slamming Flameblast Dragon into my pile out of a mythical pack that had both it and a Chandra inside; assuming I was playing to win and not to build my collection that is.  Speaking of Chandra I'd like to note that I've now actually opened her in a draft and despite not being the absolute *best* Planeswalker in the format she's hardly the steaming pile of garbage many people have suggested her to be.  While it's certainly true that 1 damage per turn to a single target isn't exactly "earth shattering", doing 6 damage to up to 6 targets all at once most certainly is.  What's more her -2 "Fork" ability is literally incredible when combined with the right spells; when I drafted her my deck also contained an Incinerate, 2 Chandra's Outrages and a Divination as potential game-breaking "Fork" targets.  The downside of course is that she's much harder to protect than the other Planeswalkers in M12 and without 1 toughness targets or interesting cards to copy she can be kinda useless until you hit 6 Loyalty, which is why she only comes in at 3rd on this list. Coming in just outside of the top tier is fan favorite Grim Lavamancer and a couple of Flyers that serve very different roles.  Repeatable burn effects are "some good" in Limited which makes the Lavamancer a legitimate early pick despite his fragile 1/1 body and occasionally awkward activation cost.  Furyborn Hellkite however is pretty much all about the beats; hit your opponent, cast a 12/12 Dragon and wait for your next combat step.  If your opponent doesn't kill the Dragon before it hits him you've probably just won the game.  On the opposite end of the scale is Chandra's Phoenix; mostly at home in a quick aggressive build this "firechicken" provides added value if you have a reasonable number of burn spells to throw at your opponent's "dome".  This can be harder than it looks because in many cases wasting a Shock or Incinerate on your opponent's life total instead of his creatures will be a sub-optimal play even if you do get the Phoenix back from the graveyard.  Of course you could just fry your opponent's critters out with Chandra's Outrage and accomplish both goals but I wouldn't want to suggest that the set designers for M12 wanted you to play these cards together or anything. :)  The only other cards worth mentioning here are Goblin Chieftain and Warstorm Surge.  Like all tribal "Lords" the Chieftain is a pretty mediocre card on his own but gains a reasonable amount of value when combined with 5-7 other Goblins; just don't build your whole deck around him because it's still surprisingly easy to kill a 2/2 Gobo even if he is "kind of a big deal" in his tribe.  Finally I suppose I should mention that while it's not a strategy I am likely to be pursuing here in M12, Warstorm Surge isn't as bad a card as it looks and in a pinch can serve as a "bomb-like substance" in a deck with a reasonable amount of 3-5 power beaters.  I'm certainly not recommending that you slam Surge 1st pick and try to build your deck around it but if you're already playing a "Stompy" style deck and the price is right (5th-7th pick) you could do a lot worse than Warstorm Surge as a "finisher" here in m12.  

Green Commons:   
  1. Giant Spider
  2. Rampant Growth
  3. Lurking Crocodile
  4. Arachnus Web
  5. Garruk's Companion
  6. Greater Basilisk
  7. Stampeding Rhino
  8. Sacred Wolf
  9. Trollhide *+
  10. Titanic Growth
  11. Llanowar Elf
  12. Vastwood Gorger   
  13. Plummet
  14. Runeclaw Bear
  15. Brindle Boar
  16. Reclaim *+
  17. Naturalize 
  18. Gladecover Scout
  19. Fog
Analysis: As befits a color I will purposely be avoiding in M12 drafts, I honestly could not find a single Green common that I felt qualified as a top tier draft choice.  This isn't to say that Green doesn't have some above average cards in the common slot, it does; 4 of them to be exact.  Unfortunately none of these 4 cards are good enough to consistently change games by themselves in this format; Giant Spider still blocks small flyers all day but dies to the numerous 4/4 beaters in the format, while Lurking Crocodile is awesome against someone running Islands but the worst Blood Ogre ever otherwise.  Arachnus Web is definitely a very interesting card here in M12 but as removal effects go you'd rather have cards that can deal with 4 power monsters permanently and these cards typically come in other colors.  If there is a single Green common in the format I really respect it's probably Rampant Growth and that's primarily because it allows me to play cards that aren't Green.  After that most of Green's best remaining commons are vanilla beaters with decent but unremarkable stat lines and sub-par abilities.  I should mention that while I'm not the world's biggest Trollhide fan it's remarkably good on creatures with Hexproof; Sacred Wolf and Aven Fleetwing both come to mind and if you've already grabbed a couple of these cards it's safe to move Trollhide up 4-5 picks on this list.  The only other remarkable card on this list is Reclaim which is mostly worthless but can periodically combine with some other, significantly better card to help you win the game.  While I wouldn't normally main deck this if you're struggling for playables and have something like a Fireball or an Overrun in your deck already this can be a decent 23rd card; don't ever run 2.

Green Uncommons:  
  1. Stingerfling Spider
  2. Overrun
  3. Jade Mage *+
  4. Acidic Slime
  5. Cudgel Troll
  6. Carnage Wurm
  7. Hunter's Insight
  8. Lure
  9. Autum's Veil *+ 
Analysis: If there is any hope for Green decks in M12 Limited I feel it will ultimately be be based on the strength of their uncommons.  While Green lacks real game changing cards in the common slot it actually has one the better uncommon spreads in the entire format.  In my opinion the best of these cards is Stingerfling Spider because with the number of Flyers in M12 it's almost a guaranteed removal spell and 5 toughness plus Reach help it fight off pesky 4/4 Flying uncommons in other colors.  Believe me there is something pretty satisfying about binning your opponent's freshly cast Aegis Angel with a splashable uncommon and considering Green's general weakness to flying creatures in the format this card should be a very early pick.  Next up is everyone's favorite lightning rod for criticism; Overrun.  While I will be the first to admit that Overrun is the soul crushing, game warping, "oh my gosh I guess I win" kind of card that I typically hate in Limited, I really don't have a problem with its inclusion here in M12 as an uncommon. Frankly, pouring over Green's card base I don't see how you win games *without* a few completely unfair game-changing cards because you certainly aren't getting there on the strength of your monsters.  With that having been noted Overrun does win games in a deck with enough bodies to generate huge "alpha strikes" the turn you cast it; if you're in Green already there are very few legitimate reasons to pass this card and the only reason it falls to 2nd on this list is the presence of 3 Green mana symbols.  Coming in at #3 we have the most interesting Green card in the entire format in my opinion; Jade Mage.  In a vacuum this card would be absolutely disgusting; repeatedly spitting out 1/1 Saproling tokens every time you have 3 mana free is normally pretty ridiculous in Limited and while the Jade Mage is no Imperious Perfect she's not *that* far behind.  Unfortunately as mentioned during the review of Reassembling Skeleton; 1/1 chump blockers just aren't as relevant in a format with this much Flying/Trample action and it takes an *awful* long time to swarm your opponent with weenie plant creatures.  Despite these shortcomings however Jade Mage is still a *very* good card here in M12 and can be particularly devastating when combined with Overrun; though this combo can be somewhat difficult to assemble as both cards are uncommon.  Rounding out Green's uncommon selection of "very good" cards are format staples Acidic Slime and Cudgel Troll; neither card is very exciting but both of them can help carry you across the finish line in limited.  The Slime is somewhat hurt by the lack of good artifacts in the format but he's still pretty good at blowing up Oblivion Rings and Pacifisms while the Cudgel Troll remains a sick mid-range beater against anyone not running Incinerate, Oblivion Ring or Pacifism.  Unfortunately the rest of cards on this list are pretty boring; a 9/9 Trampling Wurm for 7, a card draw spell that works best when you're already dominating the game with a big fatty, a marginal removal effect that doubles as an "alpha strike enabler" and finally a card that's only good out of the sideboard and even then only if your opponent is playing both Blue and Black.

1 comment:

  1. I guess its a year late but you forgot to link at the top