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
Anvil of Bogardan
City of Solitude
Zirilan of the Claw
Retribution of the Meek
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.
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
Fireblast – This card was a tournament staple for many years. “Free” damage is good.
Rock Slide – Can wipe out an entire army.
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.
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.
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!