What the what? M15 prereleases this week? We finally know what the commons are? Hipsters already reviewed them all? What have I been, under a rock? Well, it’s time to get to work!

Most Magic sets have overt mechanical themes, such as “THING-matters” (where THING was lands in Zendikar, artifacts in Scars of Mirrodin, slivers in M14, and enchantments in Journey into Nyx). These main themes are apparent in every draft. They’re accompanied by easier-to-miss subthemes that most decks won’t take advantage of or even benefit from, like scry-matters in Theros, gates- and multicolor-matters in Return to Ravnica, or niche interactions like mill in M13, beasts and lifegain in M14, or enchantments in Return to Ravnica.

Let’s do a pass on the subthemes of M15 and see what we can expect this weekend. I don’t expect to touch upon every interaction  (’cause this article does need to end), but rather to focus on a small selection of strategies.

Triplicate Spirits


White tends to be the home for tokens, thanks mostly to its anthem effects and being tokens’ primary color. The token strategy doesn’t disappoint in this set, thanks to Selfless CatharParagon of New Dawns, and Sanctified Charge, which combine with powerful token-makers Raise the Alarm and Triplicate Spirits. In addition, tokens are already stronger than normal, since any effect that puts multiple creatures onto the battlefield effectively plays extra lands for convoke spells.

I’d wager that token-makers will generally be good, but the player who prioritizes and drafts around cards like Paragon of New Dawns will be in very good shape.



There’re a surprising number of cards that card about color in M15. Many, such as the uncommon Paragon cycle, Mass Calcify, Festergloom, Foundry Street Denizen, and Hunter’s Ambush reward players who play as monocolor decks as possible (at least as far as creatures are concerned). The uncommon Kird Ape cycle and cards like Glacial Crasher and Garruk, Apex Predator reward specific multicolor combinations.

The monocolor-matters cards seem stronger and better suited to building entire decks around abusing, whereas the multicolor cards seem less focused and are rewards for the drafter already in those colors… or make for a good splash in a mostly monocolor deck.

Aeronaut Tinkerer


There’re a peculiar number of artifacts-matter cards in M15, between red’s Shrapnel Blast Hoarding Dragon, and Scrapyard Mongrel, blue’s Aeronaut Tinkerer, Chief Engineer, and Ensoul Artifact, and every color other than black having answers to artifacts. Perhaps this is foreshadowing for Khans of Tarkir (Hoarding Dragon does hit both artifacts- and dragons-matter), or perhaps this is a subtheme that’s… strangely supported.

See, there are four common artifacts in M15 (Bronze Sable, Ornithopter, Will-Forged Golem, and Tyrant’s Machine) which isn’t a lot, and they’re not particularly strong (though Will-Forged Golem and Tyrant’s Machine seem decent). There are plenty of bad uncommon artifacts that should always wheel and will support these artifact-matters cards, but the benefits of sometimes having a flying Aeronaut Tinkerer or stronger Scrapyard Mongrel likely don’t outweigh the downside of wasting a slot on an off-color Staff of the Wild Magus (or a normally bad artifact like an on-color Staff).

I imagine that Darksteel Citadel will be a surprisingly high pick to help beef up artifacts-matter creatures that are already decent (since it doesn’t take up a spell slot), but that Shrapnel Blast and Ensoul Artifactwill be too risky to build around in most cases.

Siege Dragon


Walls are apparently a subtheme, given that they’re singled out by cards like Invisibility and Clear a Path. It’s bizarre to mention walls so often, both because R&D had apparently pivoted away from making them (Defender is an all-downside ability and walls represent inanimate objects, rather than living creatures) and because walls don’t have a build-around strategy as they did in Conspiracy and Rise of the Eldrazi (thank you, Vent Sentinel and Overgrown Battlement). Sure, Wall of Mulch interacts favorably with your falls, but giving Coral Barrier cycling 2GU isn’t very impressive. Also, several of the cards that mention walls are cards that destroy walls!

There is no wall deck and I discourage you from trying to make one. If I’ve missed something blindingly obvious in the spoiler, or if you want to prove me wrong, please, inform me of my folly.

Soul of Shandalar

I’m pumped for this weekend! There’s a new Limited format to discover and I’ll get to dust off my sleeves (which haven’t been used in an entire week!). Here’s hoping to see you at or hear about your prerelease experience.

—Zachary Barash

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Zachary Barash has been playing Magic on and off since 1994. He loves Limited and drafts every available format (including several that aren’t entirely meant to be drafted). He’s a proud Cube owner and performer, improvising entire musicals every week with his team, Petting Zoo. Zach has an obsession with Indian food that borders on being unhealthy.

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