Some Thoughts About the Limited Format
Hello everybody, welcome back to another Calvetto article!!!!
In this article, as the title suggests, I will talk about the actual limited format, BNG THS THS.
The number of drafts I made with BNG is not super relevant (around 20) but I think It is a good number to start saying something useful and give a first look to what the format looks like.
My aim is to analyze the format from a very general point of view, trying to make a comparison before and after the arrival of Born Of The Gods and giving some thoughts about the different colors and color combinations. I will also say something about how the abilities can determine when a card is good and when it is not.
Obviously, due to the addition of BNG, the amount of cards in the actual draft pool has increased by a lot in respect to THS THS THS. This means that the complexity of the draft portion has increased and therefore the amount of time/skill required to understand the mechanisms and the variety of situations that may happen follows the same trend.
Talking about what the limited format looked like before the advent of BNG, it’s clear that it was a very fast format. All the average 5+ drops were pretty bad due to this fact; moreover the bestow mechanism tempted (and it still tempts) to prefer low drop creatures to high casting cost ones. In fact a two drop of any kind, such as the worst ones like Fleshmad Steed, can become a better creature than a lot of four/five drops if bestowed.
In my opinion the best color, due to card quality (casting cost related to the card potentiality), was white. THS white has a lot of low high quality drops such as Favored Hoplite, Wingsteed Rider and Phalanx Leader that can become really unmanageable if the heroic ability starts working. It is true that a lot of these cards are uncommon and, due to this, you won’t often have a lot in your deck and for this reason the white average deck is not so good.
I’m saying that it is the best color adopting a point of view which is based on the color’s potential in respect to the other colors; This explains why if you are able to draft a good white deck and a good green deck the white one is usually better.
The best color, talking about potential, is not always the best one to draft, it will be very seldom. In fact it will be often over drafted, not only at the beginning of the draft but also after pack one because of the high quality of cards can induce someone into a switch.
Following white, in my personal preference scale comes black/blue(tied), green and then red. THS Red is very short on valuable cards. It doesn’t have any particular good mechanism, such as for example heroic for white and devotion for black and green. It is also bad if paired with other colors and the RX cards such as Steam Augury, Crackling Triton and Deathbellow Raider are worse than the other double colored spells.
What has changed after BNG has arrived?
For sure someone noticed that THS red was poor. In fact it has improved by a lot in BNG and I think that is one of its best colors. There are a lot of good commons and good cards in general; in particular I have been very surprised with Fall of the Hammer. It is such a good card! Imagine an instant speed Prey Upon which has no downside on your creature, it is really a great card. The medium power level of red cards is pretty good.
White keeps having good creatures and high quality cards (Akroan Skyguard, Archtype of Courage, Ornitarch) while black is much worse than THS one also due to the bad quality of its rares. Compare the white rares such as Eidolon of Countless Battles, Hero of Iroas with Pain Seer, Fated Return and also Eater of Hope, Champion of Stray Souls which is even Mythic!! There is an abyss, the power level is slightly different.
Green, such as white, keeps having the same trend as THS. It is a little bit too slow and the power of cards is not really good. This because green creatures have a few abilities and it doesn’t offer a lot of cards which interact with the opponent’s ones.
Interaction, this is I would say the key word of the format. Any card which interacts with opposing creatures is just amazing. Think about Fall of the Hammer or Retraction Helix. If we think of these cards in another context, another format, they are good cards, sometimes more than mediocre. Well, in BNG I will classify them as the two best commons without any rival.
The reason why helix and hammer are so good is obviously related to the format, in particular to its main mechanicas: Bestow and heroic.
Both bestow and heroic have something to do with creatures. Moreover they offer bonuses to creatures and these bonuses vanish when the creature is bounced or, obviously, destroyed. Heroic in particular is, I would say, a cumulative effect which become more and more devastating as the game develops. It is also a “dependent” ability which is based on the effort of other spells to trigger. A cheap bounce effect or removal spell is the perfect way to deal with this ability by stopping heroic when it starts to be unmanageable and making also card advantage against all those spells which are used to trigger it.
Bestow, on the other side, is not a cumulative effect and you could not make any card advantage on it. But it usually requires a lot of mana to work and the value of bestow cards is very high when bestowed and loses a lot of power when the card is alone on the board.
For this reason having hammer or helix is very good in order to “gain mana” (these spells are very cheap while bestow creatures are not and you are basically trading one or two mana for five, six, so it is kind of a gain) and to worsen the value of the opponent’s cards.
These two cards are not the only ones devoted to this work. There is also for example Voyage’s End and Griptide, mostly blue cards.
This is the point where I would like to talk about blue. To me it is not the best color, if we talk about card potential, but it is the best one as strategy. Bounce cards are really really great, they win you the game easily for the reasons I said above.
Blue mechanics have improved also due the fact that BNG makes the format a little more slow. In respect to THS THS THS high casting cost cards have now an important role and is evident that this is positive for what a blue deck wants to do; the more the format slows down, the better a standard blue tempo strategy is.
Lastly, such as bestow and heroic, tribute also improves a tempo strategy. If you have for example a Sudden Storm in your hand and a tribute card is cast than you can let the counters happen without too much trouble. You having a lot of ways to treat creatures lets you have much more choices and for this reason decreases the power of opponent’s tribute cards.
It appears that blue is the perfect color to be paired with. It is perfect for every strategy; it helps a controlling strategy, slowing down the opponent, it helps green to take time in order to cast its big monsters and white to manage the opponent creatures while a big heroic guy is growing, threatening the opponent’s life total! It is also good in an aggro plan because it has cheap tricks and ways to deal with the opponent’s board.
Following blue-x (red blue is the worst between blue-x) my personal preference is white red and black red. This because these color combinations can be very aggressive and, due to the fact that the format has curved, it is difficult to find a lot of friction during the first turns (so aggro plans are better than before).
The combination I personally think it is not very good is green black. You could have a deck with a lot of good cards but both green and black are colors based on substance. All the cards are usually good by themselves but they work not so well with other cards. When drafting green black it is easy to fall into a deck full of good creatures that have a few abilities and interactions with the board and a deck poor on tricks, no bounce spells and a few removal effects.
I would like say something about inspired. Inspired cards bring you on the active side. In fact if you can race, tapping your creatures, any inspired card become much better. For this reason I don’t personally like cards like Noble Quarry for example and I prefer to have a containment strategy.
I hope you enjoyed, Marcello.