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Core Limited

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Vedalken Entrancer
I hope you enjoyed last week’s article about more uncommon Limited formats. This week, I’ll be taking things in the opposite direction, sharing some of my thoughts on Magic 2013, which is a very typical Limited format. Many people have voiced their dismay about Avacyn Restored Limited, and I can’t say that I’m the biggest fan of it either, so I was really happy when Magic 2013 was released online. I usually enjoy drafting pretty much any Limited format available, as the heaps of Mercadian Masques block cards on my account will testify. This time around, I’ll actually have a very good reason to draft as much as possible, as Magic 2013 Limited is one of the main formats for the World Magic Cup.

I have done roughly twenty drafts as of writing, and I think I have at least some clue of what’s going on in the format. As we are talking about a core set Limited format, you can expect things to be simple compared to Innistrad Limited, for example, and that’s pretty close to how it is. The distinctive lack of gimmicky archetypes is always a bit sad, as I enjoy Limited formats in which there are cards that for one drafter are first picks and for the rest of the table unplayable garbage. The only gimmicky archetype in Magic 2013, as far as I can see, is the mill deck. It seems to be better than in some of the previous core set Limited formats, as on average, the format is slower than last year. I’ve only drafted it once, and I had zero Mind Sculpts, so I wouldn’t really call it a dedicated mill deck even though it had five Vedalken Entrancers. In case you want to go for the milling route, I would suggest looking into blue and black as the primary colors, but white also works fairly well.

Rather than do a full review of all the cards, I’ll cover some of the decks and color combinations that I have had the most success with so far.

Blue and Black

Murder
switcheroo
">Switcheroo
Archaeomancer

What I consider to be the best decks that I have drafted have almost all been blue and black. These decks tend to be more on the controlling side, taking advantage of Archaeomancer and the various other card-advantage sources available in these colors. While drafting this deck, you just try to pick up all available removal, meaning cards such as Encrust become quite a lot better than in other decks. One of my favorite sequences of plays with this deck is to play Murder or a card-advantage spell such as Divination or Mind Rot on turn three and then return it with Archaeomancer the following turn. You can then follow up with Switcheroo on turn five and return and replay the Archaeomancer with Unsummon on turn six, ready to steal another guy the following turn.

Here’s an example of a blue and black controlling deck:

Even though this deck had two bombs, you don’t really need them to make this archetype work. Faerie Invaders or some other medium-sized evasive creature should be enough to end the game once you establish control. An Essence Drain and another Divination would have been nice, as I was sometimes stuck with several Archaeomancers in hand without any targets, but finding that balance while drafting can be a bit difficult, and I took the Mind Rot higher than I usually would have just because I needed some more spells.

Power uncommons in this archetype include Talrand's Invocation, Harbor Bandit, Switcheroo, Fog Bank, and Vampire Nighthawk. All the defender-type creatures such as Vedalken Entrancer, Kraken Hatchling, and Giant Scorpion are good in this archetype, as you have the removal to deal with exalted guys, enabling these walls to actually block stuff and live. Giant Scorpion is especially good in my opinion, and it’s worth picking high.

White and Blue

Sleep
welkin tern
">Welkin Tern
Unsummon

This color combination is as old as Limited, with blue and white flyers being among the first archetypes people look to when a new set is released. In Magic 2013, it has the potential to be aggressive, and it’s important to pick up the 2- and 3-drops quite early, as you really need to start playing guys from turn two onward to pressure your opponent. All the white exalted creatures are naturally good here, as are Welkin Tern and Wind Drake, the two cheap blue flyers. Welkin Tern is a card that’s not very good in many decks, and I have seen people play with it over and over in decks where it really doesn’t belong.

Here is an example of a white and blue aggressive deck:

This deck was perhaps not the best, and it featured a fair number of fillers, but I feel the overall plan was still working here. The deck had plenty of flyers to get over opponents’ creatures, and it had some stuff to gum up the ground.

Power uncommons in this archetype include Sleep, Arctic Aven, Talrand's Invocation, Switcheroo, and Serra Angel. Switcheroo is worse here than in some of the more controlling decks, but it’s still very good. Especially Arctic Aven and Sleep are insane in this color combination, as both make racing impossible for your opponent. And if there’s one thing this aggressive archetype wants to do, it’s race.

Dinosaurs

Vastwood Gorger
sentinel spider
">Sentinel Spider
Garruk's Packleader

Like Fogo, this archetype is all about the beef. The first time I heard the name Dinosaurs used was back in Scars of Mirrodin Limited, where the creatures in question such as Alpha Tyrannax were actual dinosaurs. The creatures this time around are largely Wurms, Spiders, and Beasts. This archetype just aims to slam down big guys until your opponent is dead. Most of these decks have been almost mono-green, usually playing around five cards from another color and sometimes splashing two colors with some Evolving Wilds and Farseeks. White is the color that I have paired green with most often, but that might just be how the Drafts in question have turned out, as I don’t really see any reason that white would be a better color than red or black. One card worth mentioning here is Battleflight Eagle, which I think is not very good in other decks, but which is decent here.

Here are some dinosaurs:

The creatures in this deck were a bit cheaper than usual, as this deck features a full three 4/4 creatures for 4. Yeva's Forcemage was particularly effective in this deck, as it allowed Intrepid Hero to take down some medium-sized guys.

Duskdale Wurm
Even though I said this archetype is about the big guys, you still need a fair bit a balance in your curve and can’t just go jamming four Vastwood Gorgers and expect to win. The strategy of just jamming big guys has often been weak to flyers, but Magic 2013 shakes things up a bit as green gets two creatures with reach, while the flyers in this set aren’t all that spectacular. With the biggest enemy missing, the green guys have free reign to stomp over the small creatures other colors try to block with.

The exalted decks can be a problem, as such a deck has the capability to put you on defense and force you to trade your bigger guys for its. This often means it can trade its 3-mana guy for your 5-mana guy, which is not a winning proposition for you. This is where the splash color comes in, and it should give you some help in these situations. Prey Upon is also excellent here—the exalted guys are not as big on your turn, and it is usually easy to take one out without your fighter dying.

Power uncommons in this archetype include Rancor, Garruk's Packleader, Roaring Primadox, and just about every premium uncommon in the other colors that you can play. Duskdale Wurm is also quite good here, and even though 7 mana is a lot, Arbor Elf and Farseek can help you make it there in a reasonable timeframe. Farseek is a bit disappointing overall since it doesn’t find you gg, but if you end up splashing two colors or just need more accelerants, it can be excellent. I would value Arbor Elf higher than the 2-drops in this archetype, as playing the big guys a turn earlier can really swing the tempo in your favor.

In and Out

There are naturally many other archetypes that are viable, and perhaps I’ll write about some others in the future, but to finish the strategy section of this week’s article, here are some card-specific thoughts.

Chronomaton

  • Scroll Thief is pretty bad. I’ve never had a deck in which it’s actually good, as it requires some combination of heavy removal and/or exalted to really be worth it.
  • Spiked Baloth is actually good. When I first saw the card, I thought it would be awkward, but it’s turned out that with the proper help, it can be quite the beast. Titanic Growth and Yeva's Forcemage in green help it make it through combat without biting the dust, while the other colors all have some cards to help this Baloth.
  • The Rings are all excellent, in particular Ring of Kalonia and Ring of Xathrid. I first thought Ring of Kalonia would be the worst since the green creatures don’t really need help becoming big, but equipping Deadly Recluse or one of the other early drops can be really good. The interaction between trample and deathtouch is brutal and often wins games singlehandedly.
  • Chronomaton should not be going as late as it has been going in my Magic Online Drafts. At first, I didn’t like playing it, but I soon realized that was a mistake and that it’s good in pretty much any deck.

Play the Game, See the World Cup

By the time you read this, I’ll already be in Indianapolis trying to cram some last-minute testing in before the World Magic Cup begins. I’m really looking forward to playing in the tournament, and I’m hoping we can bring home the trophy or at least Pro Tour invites for the rest of my team. I recommend that you check out the live broadcast and root for Team Finland along with your own team. I’ll be writing about my World Magic Cup experience and how we prepared for the event during the next few weeks, so be sure to check back if you are interested in Standard, want my Indy playlist, or just want to hear more stories from Gen Con.

If you have any good restaurant recommendations for Indy or recommendations for stuff to do in general, be sure to hit me up in the comments or on Twitter; all input is greatly appreciated! And as always, feel free to comment and give me input if there is some topic you would like me to write about in the future.

Thanks for reading,

Max

@thebloom_ on Twitter

Maxx on Magic Online

You can find my music on: http://soundcloud.com/bloomlive

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