The Quick Guide to MVW Drafting (and Accruing Value While Doing It)

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Howdy folks,

If you are someone who enjoys drafting, but you don’t want to put your life savings into booster packs, you probably look out for opportunities to recoup some of the costs by picking “money cards” when the occasion presents itself. To do that efficiently, you have to know what are the money cards, of course. Passing a foil Bonfire of the Damned because you don’t like red is just not very smart from a financial perspective.

This short guide however will help you to maximize another important aspect of drafting – expected value. For your purpose and intent, expected value simply refers to the value you are getting out of a booster on average. I am not going to bore you with calculations and statistics, but let me just say this: If you want to get the most value for your money or event tickets, and you only have time to draft one format, you should draft Mirage, Visions, Weatherlight right now! These packs are filled with money. Let me just give you a short overview of the cards that will fill your virtual pockets. They are listed in descending value:

Mirage, Visions, Weatherlight Singles worth over 1 Event Ticket (updated Sept. 27, 2012)

Lion’s Eye Diamond
Vampiric Tutor
Null Rod
Undiscovered Paradise
Natural Order
Enlightened Tutor
Phyrexian Dreadnought
Anvil of Bogardan
Mystical Tutor
Cursed Totem
Winding Canyons
Lotus Vale
Goblin Bomb
Mana Web
Worldly Tutor
City of Solitude
Scorched Ruins
Gemstone Mine
Crypt Rats
Spinning Darkness
Benevolent Unicorn
Buried Alive
Zirilan of the Claw
Femeref Enchantress
Bone Dancer
Choking Sands
Shallow Grave
Cadaverous Bloom
Quirion Ranger
Snake Basket
Urborg Justice
Pendrell Mists
Retribution of the Meek
Tombstone Stairwell
Veteran Explorer

Hopefully that convinces you that MVW is the place to be right now for cashing in on those singles. I did not even mention that if you hit a foil of the Top 4 cards, you are looking at above 100 Event Tickets right there… To maximize your success, you also need to know HOW and WHAT to draft so you win more of the packs back you just cracked. If you can do that successfully, you will be on a run and will repeat the cycle that hopefully increases the value of your collection drastically. So how does the format play out?

What you need to know about the format

I happened to play a lot of MVW back in the days when the set first hit 100 years ago. Fortunately I picked up some knowledge that helped me many years later to win the MVW Farewell Event on MTGO with hundreds of participants and take the complete Block in foil(!) as the top-place prize. So let me share some insights with you:

  • The format is far slower then AVR, and you will have time to play your 6-mana creatures and spells.
  • The colors are not really well-balanced, and the best archetype in my opinion is Green-Red.
  • Don’t play more then 2 colors. Mana fixing is not easy to find in acceptable quality, and you will find yourself staring at your bombs you cannot cast if you are to greedy with your mana.
  • Blue is probably the worst of the colors unless you happen to open a bomb or multiple strong fliers in the rare and uncommon slots.
  • Games can take very long, and evasion wins games.
  • Creatures are generally small, so a 3/6 Treefolk is already a huge monster and hard to answer
  • Combat tricks are important, as you will often be facing similarly sized creatures as yours. Screwing with combat math gives you a huge tempo advantage.
  • Draft Green-Red.Yes, I know I already mentioned it, but it’s worth repeating!

What to look out for during the draft

The reason I believe Green-Red to be the best combination is the fact that is has two things that are hard to come by in MVW – removal and big creatures. Red has some of the best and most easily accessible removal spells in the format. Kaerveks Torch, Incinerate, Flare, Fireblast, Thunderbolt, Rock Slide are just a selection of them. Add to that that it has one of the best creature enchantments in the form of Fire Whip and has access to the most broken spell Savage Twister and you understand a part of the action already. Green adds the best creatures to the mix. Some of them are undercosted and big. It is very hard for your opponent to face a Turn 4 Jungle Wurm or Uktabi Efreet, especially when backed up with removal.

Some of the exceptional commons in those colors (in no particular order):

Granger Guildmage – comes out Turn 1 and shuts down tons of creatures.

Armor of Thorns – as mentioned, creatures are generally small in this format. This makes your critter big, and it comes down early.

Quirion Ranger – One of my favorite green commons. Looks innocent, but the card allows for some sick plays. Not only can it allow you to replay a land for additional mana, but it untaps a creature to block or use a special ability twice per turn. Broken with Fire Whip!

River Boa – Very strong creature on offense. A bit less efficient as a blocker because of the many flankers in the set.

Warthog – The ugly pig is a solid 3-drop and very dangerous if your opponent plays Swamps.

Feral Instinct – A very good yet harmless-looking card. Often this card is instant card advantage.

Redwood Treefolk – Don’t be fooled by the cute picture. This is one of the biggest creatures you will see on the board and very solid.

Uktabi Efreet – The cumulative upkeep is less of a concern when you are bashing your opponent’s face or he is forced to chump block it every round.

Kaerveks Torch – Direct damage to the face or as removal. Very strong spell.

Incinerate – What’s not to love? Three damage as an instant to any target and the “no regeneration” clause is pretty useful against black

Dwarven Vigilantes – Equip with Armor of Thorns and win.

Fireblast – This card was a tournament staple for many years. “Free” damage is good.

Rock Slide – Can wipe out an entire army.

Fire Whip – “Pingers” are very strong in the format, and combined with some of the green cards, such as Quirion Elves or Locust Swarm, this can end games quickly.

Lava Storm – Can be a one-sided Wrath or just help remove some bigger threats combined with blocking.

Bogardan Firefiend – Is often a 2-for-1 and can take creatures out that are not in combat.

Noteworthy uncommons:

Unyaro Bee Sting- Yeah, I know that looks lame compared to Lightning Bolt. It’s still top removal and takes care of a lot of annoying creatures.

Locust Swarm – Not only a perfect blocker, but combined with another common in red named Fire Whip, it is a brutal threat.

Femeref Archers – Shuts down all flying offense.

Llanowar Behemoth – Big and gets bigger if you want. Hard to block or remove.

Burning Palm Efreet – Solid flyer control. Note that you cannot deal more then 2 damage to a single creature, as it loses flying after the first activation resolves.

Reign of Chaos – Strong card against white or blue.

Cone of Flame – Simply brutal.

Savage Twister – Will be the best card in your deck most likely.

Here a sample decklist that has good chances of winning:

This is basically all you need to know to draft this archetype in MVW. Watch out for some of the better anti-flying cards such as Downdraft or Burning Palm Efreet in case you run into the Blue-White flier deck and make sure you are not to top heavy on the mana curve, but don’t be afraid to include your fatties as they win games. MVW is pretty straightforward to play and you will do well with a few trials if you follow my advice. Oh, and learn how banding works in case you don’t know. It can be relevant :-)

I hope this short overview and the archetype recommendation will help. Let me know if it does!



  1. :) I remember winning lots of drafts when MVW was originally out because I would draft banding decks and no one knew how the rules for it worked.

    BR is pretty strong also since you get shadow guildmage and a bunch of cheap aggressive guys like skulking ghost and the 2cc flanker.

  2. Hey Platipus,

    yeah, there are other good archetypes of course and a lot depends on how the cards flow. I just thought I make a quick overview of what I like most and what worked for me in the past. The value right now is very good so I will most likely try to get into a few drafts if time allows.

  3. I just played 3 games against R/G and lost with a sick R/B deck. He won on the back of Torch and T1 Elephant twice =/
    Shame. I had a good deck.

  4. I found people HIGHLY undervalue Sun Clasp and Emp Armor. If you can cut white with Knights and the 2/2 flyers, the chances of getting 2-3 of the aura’s are greatly increased.

  5. I just played 4 MVW drafts. My first 3 drafts I played R/G and lost miserably (propably because of my unexperience with older formats). Last draft I went B/R … what a deck! A lot of cheap critters and damagespells to the head worked out great. I didn’t get a moneyrare though :(. I would love to see some vids on these drafts … pretty please :)

  6. Shame I just found this article now, would have loved to get in on some of this action.

    The cards look good and I like the slower pacing of the older game.

  7. I appreciate this article. I’m sick of M11, but wasn’t sure about leaping into a completely new format (for me) without some basic guide on drafting it. Thanks!

  8. I don’t know how i found this but NixTIx is weatherlight right now….
    I think i am going to try prices probably are still close or at least i hope

    Ty Marin

  9. good advice, drafted a weak rg and went to the third game of the second round, and managed to pick up three of the cards on your money list and recoup my entry fee. thanks for the article.

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