Welcome back to Very Limited, GatheringMagic.com’s exclusive Limited resource! With Khans of Tarkir on the horizon, we’ll be spending today discussing one of the more important parts of Limited Magic. Building a proper mana base for your draft deck can be difficult, and with Khans of Tarkir being a three-color set, there will be a lot of games won and lost by one player failing to find the correct mana. Today, we’ll be discussing how to properly build mana bases for our Draft decks. Including enough colored sources for all of our cards can be difficult when we don’t have access to all the juicy dual lands of Constructed. Khans of Tarkir pushes this problem a bit further by being a wedge set, or a set wherein it will be likely that many of the most powerful cards are three different colors. Sure, we haven’t seen the cards yet, but Nomad Outpost and Mystic Monastery are pretty good indicators that we’ll be seeing a lot of three-color goodness. There are five clans in Khans of Tarkir, and, presumably, we’ll be attempting to draft one of these clans in each and every one of our Drafts if we want to be successful. It’s also worth noting that we’ll often see bombs in later packs that share two of our three colors. Taking all of this into account can be difficult when putting together a mana base. Let’s try to simplify it.
How Many Mana Sources Do We Need to Reliably Cast Our Cards on the Appropriate Turn?
1-drops are notoriously underplayed in Limited when they’re the type of card that wants to be cast on the first turn. Sure, they can be outclassed quickly, but one of the major reasons 1-mana creatures struggle is that they are difficult to cast. To reliably cast a colored 1-mana creature on the first turn, we’ll need ten sources of that particular color in our deck. Playing ten sources of one color isn’t easy, even with a lot of fixing. This is one of the major reasons the playable 1-mana colored cards in Limited are cards that can affect the board even on later turns.Sungrace Pegasus and Kinsbaile Skirmisher, we should probably be taking Oreskos Swiftclaw over Runeclaw Bear, even though Runeclaw Bear is the better card. The major reason is that we want to either be playing ten-and-seven or nine-and-eight mana in favor of white, and the Runeclaw Bear won’t be reliably cast on the second turn of the game. The inverse trend continues with 3-drops, for which we’ll only need eight sources to reliably cast on the third or fourth turn of the game. 4- and 5-drops require seven sources to reliably cast on the fourth or fifth turn of a game. When we have two mana symbols of the same color on a card, it becomes much more difficult to reliably cast on the appropriate turn for it to see its maximum power. As a result, we should always be taking the ease with which we can cast a card into consideration when making a particular pick. For example, we’re drafting a W/X deck, and we see a pack with a 3/1 flyer for and a 3/2 flyer for . It may seem that the 3/2 is a clear pick, but if we’re planning on playing a second color as more than a splash, we’d definitely be better off taking the 3/1 for .
When Should We Be Taking Mana-Fixing?
In a set like Magic 2015, most of the cards are reasonably easy to cast without special mana-fixing, and the enemy-colored pain lands, while being a nice bonus, are rarely worth picking over a strong common or uncommon unless we need them for our collection. However, with Khans of Tarkir pushing us into three-color decks, we’ll have to be aggressive when looking for mana-fixing in the Draft. The three-color, enters-the-battlefield-tapped lands will undoubtedly be extremely high picks in this format. We should be taking these early and often in our initial Drafts.
Should We Wait to See What Colors We Are Before Taking Our Mana-Fixing?
Will Our Draft Signaling Be Hurt by Passing On-Color Playables When Taking Lands?
In a three-color set, signaling becomes much more difficult because every pick counts so much. We may be passing strong on-color cards, but by diversifying the spells we can cast, we’ll find that our signaling becomes less important because there’s a massive range of cards we can be passed that will make our deck.
How Many Lands Can We Play That Come into Play Tapped?
It’s terrible when cards are stranded in our hand when we don’t have the mana to cast them, but with the knowledge we’ve acquired today, that should happen a lot less often. Khans of Tarkir is fast approaching, and in the coming weeks, we’ll begin to see more exciting preview cards. I’ll be revisiting overarching Draft strategy concepts in the coming weeks to prepare us for the upcoming prerelease and release events. May our math work out and our lands always come on time.