Magic 2015 drops this weekend, kids—and even though the focus for the next three days will be on the weird mutated sealed monster that is the modern prerelease experience, I’m champing at the bit to draft. Hopefully I and my friends will win enough packs in our Saturday-morning sealed flight that we’ll be able to draft that afternoon, because I really want to get as many M15 drafts as possible under my belt before I head to Portland and Pro Tour Magic 2015 in just three short weeks.

With that in mind, I took a look through the full M15 card image gallery, and picked out the top 10 commons I’m psyched to first-pick in draft, two in each color. Of course the rubber really has to hit the road before we know whether or not these picks are correct; and also uncommons, rares, and mythics will definitely play a big factor. However the commons are what you are going to be seeing the most of, and so it’s super valuable to know which ones to snap up (like Golden Hind in Journey Into Nyx) and which ones to pass (like Starfall in same). Here we go!

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Raise the Alarm has a lot of stuff going for it: It produces two bodies, at instant speed, and it works well with the big returning mechanic for M15, which is convoke. Generally speaking, Magic designers aren’t going to put a marquee mechanic into the set if it’s not actively good, and Raise the Alarm is pretty much the best, cheapest way to “convoke ramp,” if you will. I could be wrong, but I think that a convoke-y white weenie strategy is going to be good in M15, and Raise the Alarm will be a key piece of that deck.

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As a case in point RE: convoke, consider Triplicate Spirits. Three 1/1 white flying creatures is a legitimate threat, but the six-mana cost is a little steep. Raise the Alarm, as well as any other cheap creatures you have lying around, changes all that, allowing you to power out Son of Lingering Souls here on turn four or even three, if you had a one-drop. Also, once you first-pick Spirits, you can build your whole deck around it, which of course makes any subsequent Triplicate Spirits that much better.

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Frost Lynx, aka the new Man o’ War, isn’t a super exciting creature—but it’s going to do work. Whether it comes down on turn three and helps get (and keep) the beats flowing, or you rip it off the top in the late game, enabling a board-stall break-through, it’s going to do exactly what you want it to most of the time. And remember that this isn’t Leonin Snarecaster: Keeping a creature tapped down for a whole turn cycle feels like forever when you’re on the receiving end, and this cat is going to be so frustrating in multiples.

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Not much to say here other than if blue skies is a deck, Welkin Tern is going to be a big part of it. Its analog Vaporkin could be quite good in Theros, however it often got outclassed in the later game by Voltron monsters. But M15 doesn’t look to be a “go big or go home” format, which means that stacking up multiples of this 2/1 flier is a great recipe for quickly draining your opponent from 20 to zero.

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Well, it does what it says on the tin, does it not? Sure, five mana is a lot to pay for removal, unconditional or otherwise, but black doesn’t look to be a super aggressive color in M15, and Flesh to Dust is just a very powerful card, and at instant speed to boot. The only thing that might keep me from first-picking this spell is the double black in its mana cost, which means that you might not have to first pick it to get it. I also can’t wait to really get somebody who plays Necrobite with this spell.

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This was a tough pick, and maybe Shadowcloak Vampire is a bit too expensive to be a legit first-pick common, but a four-power flier, conditional or otherwise, is strong enough that I think it’s worth considering. Its power is such that you often won’t even have to turn on the flying, and by the time that you do—when the skies are clear thanks to your Flesh to Dusts—it’s only going to take a few hits with Shadowcloak here to close the game out. Just be sure to prioritize lifelink creatures like Child of Night in order to offset the life you’ll need to spend later in the game.

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What a bizarre card! It seems so weird that this is a common, but there you have it. I like that this is a Goblin Piker all by its lonesome, which can often get in for four or more damage before being outclassed—and when this elemental stops being relevant, you can cash it in to either ramp out a bigger threat or cast two things in one turn. I just really like the flexibility, as it allows you to beat down, ramp (in red), or randomly give some big threat haste in the late game.

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Not an exciting pick, but basically the most powerful and efficient removal spell (outside of stuff like Ulcerate, which comes with a cost) you’re going to get on … what plane are we on? Shandalar? Dominaria? Menomenee Falls? At any rate, it remains to be seen whether red will be good in M15, which could affect the pick-worthiness of Lightning Strike (it wasn’t a popular first pick on Theros, as red was famously weak in triple Theros), but that doesn’t change the individual raw power of this spell.

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It was hard for me to pick two cards in green, as the color seems to have a lot of beefy, somewhat-similar, expensive beat sticks. What helps power all those out, though? Our little Elf Druid friend here—who, unlike his kin in previous sets, Voyaging Satyr and Golden Hind, comes down on turn one, allowing you to power out threes on turn two, which is not something either of those other cards could do. Watch out for Forge Devils, though; Brian Wong of Limited Resources has pointed out that this set looks to be a very unkind place for one-toughness creatures.

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Again, this was a tough pick, and in fact a card like Hunt the Weak might be a better first pick—but this card does a lot. As BMac said yesterday, Oakheart Dryads and Supply-Line Cranes were two of his favorite cards on Theros, and Living Totem serves a similar function. First of all, by itself it’s a not-at-all-embarassing 2/3, which with just one other creature to convoke gets the cost down a very reasonable three mana. Toss that +1/+1 counter on a Welkin Tern to build your own Snapping Drake. NB: Initially I had read this card as allowing you to put the counter on Living Totem itself if no other creatures were around, but, you know—RTFU. (Thanks for the catch, BMac!) So it’s worth noting that this guy gets significantly worse if he’s your only dude on the battlefield, in which case you’re also not getting a convoke discount, either. So just make sure to draft tons of bodies if you find yourself going down the Living Totem road.

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You guys get a free 11th pick! I really like first-picking strong artifact cards, as it’s kind of a free roll in terms of staying open for a long as possible, so as to help maximize all of your subsequent picks. Will-Forged Golem just seems positioned really well in terms of cost, stats, and convoke, as well; if you curve out with a two-drop into a three, you can drop this guy on turn four and (although you have to pause to cast him) re-commence the beats in earnest the following turn. It remains to be seen whether taking the tempo hit that will allow you to power out this Golem is worth it, but a 4/4 is a very real card, and I think in a weak pack that doesn’t provide much direction you are going to be happy to see him.

Good luck this weekend at your prereleases, everybody! I’m very curious to hear whether or not you agree with my common first-picks, and how they start stacking up for you in practice, once we start drafting M15. In the meantime, may all your convoke spells come down three turns early!

23/17 is a Hipsters of the Coast column focused on Limited play—primarily draft and sealed, but also cubing, 2HG, and anything else we can come up with. The name refers to the “Golden Ratio” of a Limited deck: 23 spells and 17 lands. Follow Hunter at @hrslaton.

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