by Hugh Kramer

M14 has arrived and the supposed apocalypse of uninteresting and un-fun Magic that was to accompany it is nowhere in sight. As a core set, M14 certainly does not require the drafting skills of a limited god—but like any set, having a breadth of experience will help you to unravel its intricacies and grant you greater success in your drafting endeavors. I would say that, at this point, I feel I have gained enough insight into the format (having played it heavily since its release) that my opinions carry a fair amount of merit. I would like to share my thoughts with you and hope you will take them into consideration as you approach the new PTQ season. My goal for this season is to attended a minimum of ten PTQs, with roughly half of those being M14, and the other half being Theros (which will replace M14 for the second half of the season). Even if you are not a PTQ grinder, I hope this article at the very least will improve your next draft at FNM! With that said, let me put on my business socks because, ah yeah, it’s business time.

Drafting is about commons—a format where commons are your bread and butter and commons are king. Bombs are good, of course, and can win you games if unanswered, but the vast majority of your deck will be commons. It is with those commons that you will play (and win or lose with) the vast majority of the time. On top of this, M14 is not a super bomby format, making commons all the more relevant. Because of the reduced role of bombs, it is reasonable to assume that the colors with the best and most playable commons are the best colors to be in. This has led me to jump to the conclusion that Blue is the best color in M14…followed closely by Green. Blue has by far the most playable commons. Along with Blue and Green, Red has also proven to be a strong color, again due to its high number of playable commons.

On the other hand, White and Black are quite weak, with Black being my pick for worst color in the set. The problem with black is that not only does it not have as many playable commons as the RUG colors, but I have found its commons to be too weak on their own. Now that is not to say that you can’t draft and win with a good Black deck, but if I’m right, you will have a harder time winning multiple drafts if you play Black or White more often than the RUG colors, since people in RUG colors will have decks with an overall higher level of card quality than you.

I’m not going to take the time to discuss every card but I will give my picks for best common and uncommon for each color. If you are interested in my opinion for any particular card I’m happy to discuss it in the comments!

Best Blue Common: Claustrophobia


This is about as unconditional as Blue removal gets. It’s relatively cheap, neutralizes any creature, and it fits snugly into most overhead storage bins. My pick here is a relatively safe because, to be honest, this is the only pick I’m not 100% confident in, simply because the Blue commons are all just that good.


Best Blue Uncommon: Air Servant

Air Servant

Better than Sengir Vampire, better than Serra Angel, though certainly not better Air Supply.


Best Green Common: Elvish Mystic

Elvish Mystic

I picked Mystic over Rumbling Baloth here but it’s a close call. Though a 4/4 for 4 is really good, at the end of the day Baloth is still just a fatty. If you’re a Green deck, picking up enough fatties shouldn’t be your problem.  Getting ahead on mana, accelerating all your plays by a turn, all while being a creature, is nigh irreplaceable and a huge advantage over the course of any game.


Best Green Uncommon: Briarpack Alpha

Briarpack Alpha

It was usually a blowout in Innistrad and it continues to be blowout in M14. No other Green uncommon comes close. Glen Close, though, comes somewhat close.


Best Red Common: Shock


I picked Shock here over Chandra’s Outrage for multiple reasons. First, the difference between one mana and four mana is not actually three, but closer to infinity.  The second is that the difference between R vs 2RR mana cost is also extremely relevant. The third reason, I will begrudgingly state, is that Shock is splashable. While technically being an advantage, I say it begrudgingly because I am an adamant opponent of splashing and an overall splashophobe.


Best Red Uncommon: Flames of the Firebrand

Flames of the Firebrand

The text on this card may say some stuff with words and things but what the card actually means is this: “Three mana for a pretty much guaranteed two-for-one.”  Enjoy the sigh from your opponent and your inevitable victory in 90% of the games you successfully cast this card.  “Have a flame-tastic day!”  Flames is the best uncommon in the set, and better than many of the rares.


Best White Common: Pacifism


Not much to say here. The fact that cheap unconditional removal is good is Draft 101.


Best White Uncommon: Serra Angel

Serra Angel
Serra Angel is still Serra Angel. Banisher Priest certainly gets a shout out here but not having wings and -2/-2 power and toughness still gives Serra the nod.


Best Black Common: Mark of the Vampire

Mark of the Vampire

Yup, that’s right. You know you’re in trouble when your best common is a four mana aura. But allow me to explain. To all you Quag Sickness and Lithurgy of Blood proponents out there: Sorry, but you’re wrong. Clunky, expensive, sorcery-speed removal is garbage. Yes, they’re playable, but straight up worse than any of the three good Blue tempo spells (Frost Breath, Disperse, Time Ebb) and certainly worse than any half-decent creature. Removal is, I think, often overrated in limited. If the removal spell is a bad spell (expensive, sorcery speed, or conditional) it is generally not good. Being “removal” doesn’t mean a card is good. Both of these common Black removal spells have one or more of the three short comings I just described. The three Blue tempo spells I just named however, will basically be functional removal spells exactly for the turns you need them to be. And they also conveniently fall into the categories of cheap, unconditional, and instant speed. Mark of the Vampire is the best Black common simply because when it is unanswered and played correctly, it will win you a game.


Best Black Uncommon: Doom Blade

Doom Blade

Once the king of all the commons, deemed too good at its job, Doom Blade has been promoted to prince of the uncommons. Not having this at common really spelled doom for Black in this set.

I could certainly go on with more of my thoughts on this set and limited in general but I think this is a good place to stop. I hope you found this primer useful. Writing this has made me begin to hunger to write a general article on limited (mostly drafting), so keep a look out for that every other week here at Hipsters of the Coast.

Thanks for reading!

Praise Omnath,
Hugh Kramer “Control”

World-renowned punster Hugh Kramer is also a skilled Limited Magician. He’ll share his thoughts on each format as it rears its ugly head, and continue his analysis well after the format fades into the darkness of rotation. Hugh was able to single handedly drive Matt Jones from the Limited format with his love of the Spider Spawning archetype in Innistrad Limited.

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