FRF: Lotus-Eye Mystics and Abzan Advantage

Lotus-Eye Mystics and Abzan Advantage both get better if the format has good enchantments, although for different reasons. Khans of Tarkir had very few good enchantments, so neither of these cards would have been strong in a triple Khans of Tarkir draft deck. While Fate Reforged brought more enchantments to the format, including some excellent uncommon, I’ve often ended up with just a 3/2 prowess creature or a +1/+1 counter and am not sure whether my experience is representative. Let’s try to get a better sense of how many playable enchantments exist in the format, and in which colors. (I’ve left out the enchantments whose quality is still TBD — Ancestral Vengeance, Molting Snakeskin, and Frontier Siege — as I suspect they are unplayable in most decks.)

  • White: Lightform (uncommon), Sage’s Reverie (uncommon), Suspension Field (uncommon), Citadel Siege (rare), Mastery of the Unseen (rare) = 1.8 copies in an average 8-person draft
  • Blue: Jeskai Runemark, Singing Bell Strike, Cloudform (uncommon) = 3.3 copies
  • Black: Debilitating Injury, Raiders’ Spoils (uncommon), Retribution of the Ancients (rare) = 2.5 copies
  • Red: Dragon Grip (uncommon), Rageform (uncommon), Outpost Siege (rare) = 1.3 copies
  • Green: Trail of Mystery (rare) = 0.3 copies
  • Multicolor: Secret Plans (uncommon), Abzan Ascendancy (rare), Mardu Ascendancy (rare), Sultai Ascendancy (rare), Temur Ascendancy (rare) = 1.6 copies

So an 8-person draft has only 11 playable enchantments on average. Of the clans, Jeskai is expected to have most number of playable enchantments available in a draft (6.5), so I would expect a typical Jeskai deck to have no more than a couple of enchantments. This means that while Abzan Advantage is a reasonable card for your sideboard, it is probably not worth playing maindeck unless the +1/+1 counter is particularly relevant to your deck. Similarly, if you already have a couple of enchantments, it makes sense to draft Lotus-Eye Mystics more highly, but it’s probably not worth drafting early with the expectation of picking up enchantments to go with it. If you do draft it, keep an eye out for Debilitating Injury.

EDIT: I somehow missed the Khans of Tarkir auras in the list above. Singing Bell Strike, Debilitating Injury, and Dragon Grip (uncommon), are all quite playable, so I’ve added them to the analysis above.

5 Responses to FRF: Lotus-Eye Mystics and Abzan Advantage

  1. Brien Howard says:

    No Palace Siege? Super playable in limited. Also think Jeskai Ascendancy is more playable in draft than some of the stuff you’ve listed here.

  2. Brien Howard says:

    err… sorry didn’t mean to complain as the first comment. The work you do is great, and I appreciate it! Thanks 🙂

  3. sameer says:

    No worries, Brien. And thanks for the compliment 🙂

    My method of computing expected numbers of playables does have the limitation that it relies on only my own evaluations, and my current evaluations at that. Jeskai Ascendancy and Palace Siege have both fallen in my estimation over time. I’d initially thought Jeskai Ascendancy was a near bomb, but it doesn’t do anything until you play your next non-creature spell. Also, my Jeskai decks usually tend to have 12-14 creatures with only a couple of them in play at any time, so the +1/+1 effect doesn’t tend to have a huge impact. Palace Siege has 2 modes, neither of which does anything until turn 6. I’d first thought it was playable, now I only draft it as a sideboard card for control matchups.

  4. Brien Howard says:

    Thanks for the reply, Sameer.

    I would argue that Jeskai Ascendancy is at least as good as Temur Ascendancy in Limited, providing both looting and untap combat trick in addition to the buff, while also generally having more opportunity for impact than the Temur enchantment. Jeskai Asc also more of a build-around, which makes removing it even more effective against the deck running it.

    As far as Palace Siege not doing anything until turn 6 – the deck that really wants it is Sultai or Abzan control, and it provides a win con for those two grindy decks, making the impact very relevant in most of those cases since they go way past turn 6.
    In comparison, Sage’s Reverie, Retribution of the Ancients, Trail of Mystery, and Secret Plans each require very specific build strategies that otherwise lead to very low overall impact, with Reverie also being an expensive 2-for-1 risk seldom worth building around.

    At least that’s my two cents from playing Limited. You probably have more experience with the format than I do, but wanted to offer some reasons why those other enchantments should be counted as relevant in the format in regards to the two cards featured by this blog. 🙂

  5. sameer says:

    I think it’s possible to have different valuations that are still correct for different draft preferences / play styles. Also, even if I include these cards among the playable enchantments in the format, the expected number only goes up from 7 to 7.5, so it wouldn’t make Lotus-Eye Mystics or Abzan Advantage any more playable. That said, let me try to explain why I no longer like these 2 cards.

    Jeskai Ascendancy: Limited is a creature-based format and Jeskai decks have to strike a balance between creatures (preferably with prowess) and spells. Limited decks usually can’t run more than about 10 spells. Spells like Soul Summons or Cloudform that generate a creature can increase that number, but are cancelled out by falter effects and top-notch removal spells that you wouldn’t want to cast just to trigger Jeskai Ascendancy. 10 spells is sufficient if you play Jeskai Ascendancy on turn 3-4, but less helpful if you topdeck it later. In terms of quadrant theory, Jeskai Ascendancy doesn’t help much during development or if you’re losing, it’s only good if you’re at parity or winning.

    Palace Siege: It’s true that Sultai/Abzan control decks can usually make it to the late game and start getting value from the card if you’re already at parity or winning. However, it too expensive to help during development and having to wait until your next upkeep means that it might not help if you’re losing. Instead, I would rather play a large creature like Gudul Abomination or Riverwheel Aerialists that is helpful in more of the quadrants.

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