Welcome back to Limited Power Rankings. I hope that everyone enjoyed their prereleases; I surely enjoyed mine, and I got a lot more practice with Oath of the Gatewatch cards. I enjoyed the set much more with the inclusion of Oath of the Gatewatch than I did with just Battle for Zendikar, so I’m very excited to be digging in to a new format. This week, I’ll be looking at how my ratings have changed as a results of the prerelease, and how that will affect my drafting going forward.
You can find the link to my last power rankings here. There are a lot of changes for this week; I think that I got a lot of things very right, but there were also a lot of things that I just wouldn’t know until I got my hands on the cards. When I’m looking at cards for the prerelease, I’m not really rating things based on how strictly powerful I think they will be; instead, I’m sort of pointing out the directions that I think have the most potential for the foundations of strategies early on in the format. I had identified black and colorless as two of the biggest foundations of the format, and at least at my prerelease, that was definitely confirmed. I played a BR deck with several good cards, and made the top 8 of my prerelease, where we promptly split because it was so late. The top 8 decks were as follows: BG, BR, BR, UB, UB, WB, WB, and WU. This was a pretty strong confirmation to me that black is the strongest color in the format.
The other thing that became readily apparent was the importance of colorless mana generators. In sealed, this has a huge impact on your ability to build decks. You might open a card like Endbringer, but only get 2 sources of C, and just have a hard time getting it online often enough to compete against someone that opened 6 sources of C. On the other hand, it’s easy to open pools in this format that are incredibly shallow simply because so many of the commons are lands. I ended up playing cards that I would not have played in any other sealed formats, simply because I didn’t have enough playables to make it to 22 in my two deepest colors.
With that said, here’s my current limited power rankings.
I don’t have much to add here, except that black was even stronger than I expected. I thought about moving red down a little bit lower, but I simply don’t have enough information to make that decision. We’ll see how the colors shake out as the format progresses.
Again, not too many changes here. It’s very difficult to figure out the strength of archetypes until you sit down and draft them. I still think that the UB Devoid decks that make use of C are going to be the strongest. The biggest changes is that I moved RB up. Black was just so strong that it made sense to move the black decks up some slots.
The biggest changes to this list were the inclusions of the two colorless lands. Both of these cards are strong because they generate colorless mana, but they also give you a big effect later in the game. Ruins allows you to add a +1/+1 counter to colorless creatures, which makes a huge difference at pretty much every stage of the game. It allows you to play all of your C cards, but also just make big things every turn. Mirrorpool is also quite strong as a Colorless land that you can cash in for your best creature later in the game. These two cards really just hit home how important it is to have colorless mana early on.
When I first saw Seed Guardian, I thought “Wow that’s a good creature for a normal set, but probably loses value in a set with so much exile.” That’s true, but I didn’t appreciate just how strong this effect is. This card is absolutely game breaking, and it was necessary to print this in a set with exile effects just so that there is a stop gap on this card’s strength. A 3/4 for 4 with reach is already a strong card, but I found myself in positions where I couldn’t kill it, because it was going to turn into a 7/7 or an 8/8. I suddenly couldn’t attack or block, and I was just hoping to rip my one Oblivion Strike to have a chance.
The other major change to this list is that I moved all of the multicolor cards down several slots, or even just off the list. Those cards are obviously good; you can’t argue with the power of Time Walk-o’-War or Nulldrifter. The problem is that the impact of C on this set makes it very difficult to splash for multicolor cards. If you run a UG deck splashing black, you’re likely also splashing C, and you’ll have a hard time finding the mana to compete on the same mana curve as your opponents.
This is another list that saw a lot of changes. I only added one new card, but a lot of thigns moved down or up the list. This is mostly a reaction to seeing first hand how important C was to the format. Hedron Crawler seems like an absolute lynchpin as the best common C producer. It comes down early and powers out great cards early on, while also turning on all of your C pay off cards.
The stand out card for me at the prerelease was Unnatural Endurance. Now, I realize that it seems a little far-fetched to put this so high on the list; I don’t particularly like combat tricks myself, so I had it significantly lower, and it’s possible that I’m just overcorrecting. I currently have it as the second best black common, but it’s in tight competition with Vampire Envoy, Slaughter Drone, and Sky Scourer, all of which are in tight competition for that 10th slot on the power rankings. I didn’t have enough experience with the Envoy or the Drone, so it’s possible that I’m still just underrating them, but here is my reasoning for Unnatural Endurance:
- It’s a combat trick that trumps other tricks. This is one of the most important parts of any combat trick. The last thing you want to do is play out a combat trick only to have your opponent play their own and two-for-one you. With this card, you get to be that player.
- This is a format where there are a lot of creatures with slightly higher toughness crashing into each other. There are a lot of 2/3s and 2/4s that just sit on the board and stare at each other. Unnatural Endurance is a fairly safe way to break through some of those stalls.
- Unnatural Endurance powers Devoid synergies. It can pump up Sky Scourers or Kozilek’s Sentinels, or it can untap a Nettle Drone, or get a ping off of Molten Nursery. There are enough synergies in the set to give it a little boost in value.
- Unnatural Endurance is a great way to turn on your surge spells, and it can even do it at instant speed. There aren’t a ton of instant speed Surge spells, but being able to turn on Surge during combat, and still use your comparative analysis or turn on a Grip of the Roil after you played another card can be strong. In my deck, I used it to attack proactively and turn on Goblin Freerunners (two in one turn), but I also used it to turn on midcombat Fall of the Titans. Again, this isn’t an incredible synergy, but these things all add up on an already useful effect.
- Finally, there are only 70 commons in the set, and a big chunk of them are just mana producers. There simply isn’t the same kind of competition you see in other sets. I doubt that Unnatural Endurance would make the top 10 commons list in a large set like Battle for Zendikar, but there are simply fewer cards competing for the slots here.
I realize that I might be a little bit bullish on Unnatural Endurance, and it’s entirely possible that it doesn’t deserve this slot, but I think it’s great and that people should give it a closer look at the least.
Thanks so much for reading, and I’ll see you all after Oath of the Gatewatch releases!