M15: U/R artifacts

The playability of Aeronaut Tinkerer, Chief Engineer, Ensoul Artifact, Scrapyard Mongrel, and Shrapnel Blast all depend, at least in part, on the number and quality of artifacts in M15. The set has 29 artifacts, including Darksteel Citadel (which I’ve downgraded from good to conditional). Here’s a breakdown by rarity and quality (based on their own merits, not their interactions with other cards in M15).

Quality
Rarity Bomb Excep-
tional
Good Filler/
Conditional
Side-
board
Unplay-
able
TBD TOTAL
Common 2 1 1 4
Uncommon 4 2 1 7 1 15
Rare 2 1 3 1 7
Mythic 1 1 1 3
TOTAL 1 3 5 7 2 9 2 29

Let’s ignore the 9 unplayable and 2 sideboard cards. There are only 2 TBD cards, 1 each at uncommon and rare; they won’t have much impact on the results, so I will ignore them too. That leaves us:

  • Common: 2 filler/conditional cards
  • Uncommon: 4 good and 2 filler/conditional
  • Rare: 2 exceptional, 1 good, and 3 filler/conditional
  • Mythic: 1 bomb and 1 exceptional
    • In an 8-person draft, there will be an average of 0.2 bombs, 1 exceptional card, 4 good cards, and 7.8 filler/conditional cards, for a total of 13 cards. Any player can play an artifact card, so if they are shared evenly, we can only expect to end up with 1.6 on average. However, if we already have some cards that benefit from the presence of artifacts, we can draft artifacts a bit higher. In particular, the filler/conditional cards are likely to come around mid to late pick. Let’s assume that the bomb and exceptional cards are shared evenly among players, that we draft about twice the average share of good cards, and that we draft half the filler cards at the table (the other half might be lost to another player drafting a similar deck, or they might be a better pick in the pack). That would give us 5 artifacts, 4 of which would be filler. Consequently, we would expect to have 1 artifact in our opening hand and draw another one over the course of the game.

      Given that, here’s my evaluation of the cards listed above:

      • Aeronaut Tinkerer (/): It will usually have flying as long as your opponent does not destroy the artifact from your opening hand. Even if they do, you are left with a 2/3 that might regain flying later.
      • Chief Engineer (~): Since we only expect to see 2 artifacts over the course of the game, this will mostly function as a 1/3 blocker.
      • Ensoul Artifact (/): The dream is to play this on turn 2 on a 0/1cc artifact (ideally an Ornithopter) and attack for 5 on turn 2, or play it on a Darksteel Citadel and attack on turn 3 with a 5/5 indestructible creature. However, both those cards are uncommons so a draft will only have about 1 of each, on average. Even if you manage to draft them, there’s no guarantee you’ll start the game with them. Instead, they’re more likely to go on a random artifact and trade for 2 of your opponent’s creatures, resulting in no card advantage. Consequently, this is likely to be better as a late game play on a Darksteel Citadel, Ornithopter, or Gargoyle Sentinel. (Note that Ornithopter is not playable unless you have multiple cards that benefit from artifacts.)
      • Scrapyard Mongrel (/): A 4-mana 3/3 is filler, but this will often be a 5/3 trampler.
      • Shrapnel Blast (/): 5 damage is a lot, but if you have other blue/red cards that benefit from artifacts, then you won’t want to sacrifice your artifact unless you’re killing a particularly troublesome creature or your opponent.
        • Aeronaut Tinkerer and Scrapyard Mongrel are both commons, and ones that other blue and/or red players probably won’t value highly, so U/R artifacts is probably a reasonable archetype in M15 draft.

THS: U/R spells

Earlier this week, I had a chance to draft the U/R spells/scry deck that I’d theorized about in previous posts but that I hadn’t drafted yet. Here was my deck:

1 Omenspeaker
3 Crackling Triton
1 Spellheart Chimera
1 Spearpoint Oread
1 Borderland Minotaur
1 Ill-Tempered Cyclops
1 Purphoros’s Emissary
1 Prescient Chimera
1 Stoneshock Giant
3 Magma Jet
2 Lightning Strike
1 Voyage’s End
1 Hammer of Purphoros
3 Griptide
1 Steam Augury
1 Rage of Purphoros

9 Mountains
8 Islands

Sideboard:
1 Fleetfeather Sandals
2 Akroan Crusader
1 Satyr Rambler
1 Deathbellow Raider
1 Fanatic of Mogis
1 Wild Celebrants
1 Titan’s Strength
1 Spark Jolt
2 Boulderfall
1 Sealock Monster
1 Mnemonic Wall
2 Fate Foretold
2 Stymied Hopes
1 Reaper of the Wilds
1 Fleshmad Steed

This was an extremely casual draft and only one other drafter at the table was in red, which is how I ended up with 10 removal/bounce spells. The first pack I opened was weak and I took Griptide over a Steam Augury that I thought might table (it didn’t). I then took a Lightning Strike over a Vaporkin, and then a Magma Jet, followed by a second one later in the pack. I also picked up a Steam Augury (not the one I opened) and a Spellheart Chimera (over a Flamespeaker Adept) later in the pack, both cards that I would have usually ignored if I hadn’t previously thought through what a U/R deck might look like. I opened Hammer of Purphoros in the second pack and obviously took it. (I learned later that another Hammer of Purphoros was dedrafted fourth pick by the person next to me; red was wide open.) The rest of the draft was more removal and whatever creatures I could pick up, including a couple of late Crackling Tritons.

The deck didn’t end up being quite the U/R spells deck I’d envisioned. It didn’t have any Flamespeaker Adepts (I saw 2 but took removal over one and a Spellheart Chimera over the other) and I would have preferred more Spellheart and Prescient Chimeras. However, the plethora of removal made it really strong and I ended up going 5-1 (10-2 in games) over the course of the evening.

Some things I learned:

  • Make sure to pick up an Annul or 2 for your sideboard because this deck has no other ways to deal with enchantments. Similarly, it’s a good idea to have a Wild Celebrants or 2 for your sideboard or even your maindeck, in case your opponents have a weapon of the gods or an aggressive start followed by a Prowler’s Helm.
  • All but one of the creatures in my deck had toughness >= 3 which largely invalidated any Pharika’s Cures and Magma Jets that my opponents were running. There are only a few blue or red creatures with toughness <= 2 that you really want to run anyway (Master of Waves, Nimbus Naiad, Vaporkin, Labyrinth Champion, and potentially Fanatic of Mogis), so it doesn't make sense to run cards like Spearpoint Oread since those provide targets for these removal spells.
  • In the summary of archetypes in THS/THS/THS, I’d theorized which cards would work well in this deck. I was wrong about a couple of them. There are many 5cc spells you’d prefer to run over Mnemonic Wall, like Prescient Chimera, Rage of Purphoros, and Wild Celebrants. Triton Fortune Hunter and Wavecrash Triton also don’t work well in this deck as it has a relatively low creature count, so you don’t want many spells that target your own creatures. Bestow creatures are often a good way to add targeting effects to your deck without increasing your spell count, but all the common bestow creatures have a toughness of 2, which is suboptimal for the reasons described above. Finally, there are many other creatures at 3cc that you’d rather run in this deck — Spellheart Chimera, Flamespeaker Adept, Crackling Triton, and Meletis Charlatan — all of which have a toughness of 3.

THS: Portent of Betrayal and sacrifice effects

Whenever a set has a common card like Portent of Betrayal that allows you to steal a creature temporarily, I always look to see how many sacrifice effects the set has. That lets me determine whether the card can be used in control decks as well as aggro decks, which can affect how highly I value the card during a draft. In conjunction with a sacrifice effect, such cards allow you to remove any creature without hexproof/protection, regardless of size, regeneration, and/or indestructability, and so it can be worth the effort of trying to assemble the combo.

Unfortunately, Theros provides only 2 effects that lets you sacrifice creatures you control: Rescue from the Underworld, which requires 9 mana to use with Portent of Betrayal (but lets you keep the creature for the rest of the game), and Tymaret the Murder King, which is a rare. Triad of Fares also interacts well with Portent of Betrayal but is also a rare and requires a 3-color deck. Finally, Shipwreck Singer lets you kill an X/1 creature if you can attack with it but again requires a 3-color deck.

Theros also has 5 creatures (including Tymaret the Murder King) that have abilities that allow you to sacrifice them. While Portent of Betrayal can be used against these cards without a separate sacrifice effect, it requires a fair bit of mana to be able to steal the creature and sacrifice it in the same turn. It also requires mana of the right color, unless you’re stealing Burnished Hart. Most importantly, these 5 creatures are not particularly scary and you’ll rarely be happy spending a bunch of mana to get rid of them.

Given this, you should only draft Portent of Betrayal if you’re drafting an aggressive red deck that can make good use of its effect, and not for the potential combo with a sacrifice outlet. Most R/X decks in Theros are aggressive, but some U/R and R/G decks are more controlling and Portent of Betrayal is not a good fit for those decks.

THS: Combat damage triggers

I drafted a fairly weak W/U deck last week. It had a couple of heroic creatures, 3 Fate Foretold*, and 2 Thassa’s Emissary. Once I picked up the second Emissary, I started keeping an eye out for cards that could grant them evasion. I drafted a Nimbus Naiad, took a Sea God’s Revenge over an Aqueous Form, and then didn’t see any other cards that would have allowed the Emissaries to get through.

Theros also has several other cards that have combat damage triggers, such as Daxos of Meletis (which I’ve been passed multiple times previously, but unfortunately not this time). In order to better understand how likely it is that I can make these abilities trigger, I decided to make a spreadsheet of all the cards in Theros with such triggers, all the cards that grant evasion, and also all the cards that have evasion (since Bident of Thassa and Warriors’ Lesson let you draw a card if any creatures get through), sorted by color and rarity. Here are some notes on interpreting this spreadsheet:

  • In the Combat Damage Triggers column, italics mean the card doesn’t actually have a combat damage trigger, but has the potential to do a lot of damage if it get through, usually due to Firebreathing or double strike. I have not listed creatures with monstrous, mostly because they’re too many of them and they would dominate the list. Yellow highlight means that the effect can trigger multiple times if 2+ creatures get through.
  • In the Grants Evasion column (which also includes cards that prevent an opponent’s creature(s) from blocking), italics mean that the card grants evasion as a one-time effect. This includes cards like Arena Athlete that can be triggered multiple times, but require a spell to target them for each use. Yellow highlight means that the effect grants evasion to 2+ creature.
  • In the Has Evasion column, italics mean that the creature has a form of evasion other than flying, e.g., intimidate. I have not listed effects that grant trample because it is not a reliable way to trigger these abilities. Yellow highlight means the card gives you 2+ creature with evasion.
  • Red text means that the card appears in more than one column, e.g., Nimbus Naiad has evasion but can also grant evasion to other creatures if played as an Aura.

From the spreadsheet, we can see that blue has the most cards with combat damage triggers: Thassa’s Emissary (uncommon) and Bident of Thassa (rare), as well as the multicolor cards Daxos of Meletis (W/U rare) and Medomai the Ageless (W/U mythic). Red has most of the italicized cards in this column: Dragon Mantle (common), Two-Headed Cerberus (common), and Firedrinker Satyr (rare), as well as the multicolor cards Akroan Hoplite (R/W uncommon) and Polis Crusher (R/G rare with an actual combat damage trigger).

Looking at the next column, white has 2 cards that grant evasion permanently + 1 that grants evasion temporarily (sort of; it only taps one creature). Blue has 3 + 1, black has 0 + 1, red has 1 + 2, green and multicolor have none, and there are 2 + 0 artifacts that grant evasion**. So blue also has the most number of ways to give creatures evasion.

Finally, white has 3 commons + 1 uncommon + 1 rare with evasion (8.7 in an average 8-person draft), blue has 4 + 1 + 1 (11.1), black has 2 + 1 + 1 (6.3), red has 1 uncommon and 1 mythic (1.4), green has 1 common (2.4), and there are 0 + 4 + 1 + 3 (5.8) multicolor cards with evasion and 1 uncommon artifact. Once again, blue leads the pack, but it followed very closely by white.

If you are trying to build around some cards with combat damage triggers but aren’t able to draft a monoblue deck, what is the best color to pair it with? Red seems like it would go well in this deck since it provides a few ways to give creatures evasion, multiple removal spells that allow creatures to get through, as well some creatures that can get through for a lot of damage if unblocked. In particular, Nimbus Naiad on a Two-Headed Cerberus can make short work of an opponent. And you can splash green for Warriors’ Lesson, Polis Crusher, Horizon Chimera, and perhaps Agent of Horizons.

The other possibility is W/U, either a flyers deck or a heroic deck. Since the deck runs several creatures with evasion anyway and has ways to give more creatures evasion, killing your opponent with flyers is a great plan B (or even plan A) for this deck. A heroic deck also has potential since some of the effects that grant evasion also trigger heroic. White also gives you access to Daxos of Meletis and has Gods Willing to protect your creatures once they have been given evasion or a combat damage trigger. As above, you can also splash green for Warriors’ Lesson, Horizon Chimera, and perhaps Agent of Horizons.

* This was my first time playing Fate Foretold and I was not impressed. However, that may have been because I only had a couple of heroic creatures and/or because I played against a lot of blue decks with bounce + Griptides.

** Note that Theros has only 1 Wall, so Prowler’s Helm essentially makes your creature unblockable. It’s very similar to Fleetfeather Sandals, except that it gives up haste in exchange for a near guarantee that the creature will be unblockable.

THS: Follow-up on Minotaurs

I managed to pull off a Minotaurs deck in a recent draft. I was already in red and was passed a Kragma Warcaller pack 1, pick 4 (the other good card in that pack was Wingsteed Rider). I committed myself to a Minotaurs deck shortly thereafter and was rewarded with another Kragma Warcaller in pack 3. My deck also had 6 other Minotaurs: 3 Fellhide Minotaur, 2 Minotaur Skullcleaver, and 1 Borderland Minotaur.

The supporting cast included some aggressive early drops (Tormented Hero, Firedrinker Satyr, Akroan Crusader, Arena Athlete, Blood-Toll Harpy), some removal (2 Lightning Strike, 2 Ordeal of Purphoros, 2 Lash of the Whip), and some finishers (Portent of Betrayal, Ember Swallower, Cavern Lampad). The pair of Kragma Warcallers were the lynchpins of the deck and even led to a U/G opponent scooping immediately when the second one hit the table (he had no way to deal with them permanently).

The main thing the deck lacked was 2-drops. In particular, I would have loved to pick up a couple of Deathbellow Raiders, but I never saw one. Also, Fanatic of Mogis would have been a great finisher for this deck, but I managed to go undefeated even without it.

THS: Humans

Other than Minotaurs, the other main tribal interaction in Theros is with Humans: Cavalry Pegasus gives Humans flying if they attack alongside it, and Titan of Eternal Fire gives Humans the ability the ability to tap to do 1 damage to a creature or player. Much of the value of these cards depends on how many Humans you have in your deck, so it helps to know whether Theros has enough playable Humans to make these cards worth taking early.

This spreadsheet lists all 33 Humans in Theros. White has about a third of these and a disproportionate number of the commons, so about 40% of the Humans in a typical draft will be white (this is not a commentary on the racial makeup of the Magic community :)). 1 of the white commons is unplayable and 2 are filler, but white does also have an exceptional Human at common (Wingsteed Rider, although it does not benefit from Cavalry Pegasus since it already flies). White also has 2 exceptional Humans at uncommon (Favored Hoplite and Phalanx Leader) so it will have 4.8 exceptional Humans in a typical 8-person draft, 4 times as many as any of the other colors, and none of which can be played as a splash by non-white players. If you don’t have Titan of Eternal Fire, Wingsteed Rider is not any better than a non-Human since it does not benefit from Cavalry Pegasus, but white will still have 2 times as many exceptional Humans as the other colors in a typical draft. Finally, all the multicolor Humans are also white except for Prophet of Kruphix: 2 are R/W, 2 are W/U, and 1 is W/B. This means that a Humans deck will need to run white as a main color rather than just splashing Cavalry Pegasus as a finisher.

Red and green are next with 5 Humans each, including 2 at common. The commons in both colors are playable, but red has an edge because it has 2 uncommon Humans instead of 1, provides access to 2 multicolor Humans, and has Titan of Eternal Fire. Black has 4 Humans, only 1 of which is a common, and that one is unplayable unless you’re drafting the black devotion deck. On the far end of the spectrum, blue has only 3 Humans, 2 of which are rare, although it does also have 2 of the multicolor Humans.

Let’s also look at Humans that particularly benefit from having the evasion that Cavalry Pegasus grants:

  • Daxos of Meletis (W/U rare): generates card advantage if it deals combat damage to an opponent
  • Favored Hoplite (white uncommon), Soldier of the Pantheon (white rare), and Tormented Hero (black uncommon): can enable aggressive starts with Cavalry Pegasus allowing you to keep up the pressure
  • Fabled Hero (white rare), Staunch-Hearted Warrior (green common), and Akroan Hoplite (R/W uncommon): these creatures can do a lot of damage if they are unblocked
  • Arena Athlete (red uncommon): can prevent opposing flyers/spiders from blocking your creatures

Looking at all of this information in concert, it appears that R/W is the best color for a Humans deck as it has both cards that interact with Humans, the most number of playable Humans, and the most Humans that benefit from the evasion granted by Cavalry Pegasus.

THS: Minotaurs

Theros is unusual in having 2 lords for a single tribe: Rageblood Shaman and Kragma Warcaller. How good are they in triple Theros drafts? Let’s figure it out.

Theros has 7 Minotaurs, including the 2 lords. There are 4 commons, 2 uncommons, and 1 rare, so the average 8-person draft will have 12.3 Minotaurs, including 1.6 Minotaur lords. The Minotaurs are listed below, along with my prior evaluation of them:

  • Common: Deathbellow Raider (2cc, good), Minotaur Skullcleaver (3cc, filler/conditional), Fellhide Minotaur (3cc, filler/conditional), Borderland Minotaur (4cc, good)
  • Uncommon: Fanatic of Mogis (4cc, exceptional), Kragma Warcaller (5cc, TBD)
  • Rare: Rageblood Shaman (3cc, TBD)

The Minotaurs are spread reasonably well across the mana curve, which is good. All are in either red or black. While the black Minotaur is not particularly strong, Kragma Warcaller is, and Deathbellow Raider requires black mana for regeneration, so a Minotaur deck is likely to be R/B or R/b (red splashing black).

Many of the Minotaurs are playable on their own merits, even without a lord: Borderland Minotaur, Fanatic of Mogis, and Kragma Warcaller. Deathbellow Raider and Minotaur Skullcleaver are also playable in a sufficiently aggressive red deck. Other than Fanatic of Mogis, however, none of these cards are likely to be taken highly by non-Minotaur players. So it is likely that a player drafting Minotaurs can expect to pick up about 8 Minotaurs over the course of the draft if no one else is drafting the same deck. (I say 8 instead of 12 because some Minotaurs will get drafted by other players, because you will have to pass Minotaurs for removal, and because Fellhide Minotaur isn’t worth playing unless you have multiple Minotaur lords.)

What does this mean for the playability of the Minotaur lords? Kragma Warcaller is good on its own merits as a 4/3 haste creature for 5 manas, so it’s worth drafting highly if you’re in those colors, even if you don’t have many Minotaurs. Rageblood Shaman is more conditional, but is very playable in a deck with about 8 Minotaurs, so it is a reasonable early pick that you can try to craft a deck around.

M14: Rod of Ruin and Shrivel

I’ve never been quite sure how highly to take Rod of Ruin in M14 drafts. While it is reusable removal, it is also quite expensive. In my post on the B/R sacrifice deck, I’d determined that “27% of the must-kill creatures” and “23% of the flyers” in an average draft have 1 toughness. There is a bit of an overlap here, since both numbers include must-kill flyers, but it means that Rod of Ruin can kill about a quarter of the must-kill/flying creatures your opponent plays. M14 draft decks usually run about 12-16 creatures, so a typical deck will have 3-4 1-toughness creatures. Furthermore, the threat of activation is often sufficient to let you get creatures past blockers or to strand 1-toughness creatures in your opponent’s hand, and it can slowly ping away at your opponent if the board is stalled.

(Note: must-kill differs from my usual evaluation scale of bomb through unplayable. It means the creature can create problematic board states if it remains on the table. A creature like Goblin Shortcutter with a great enters-the-battlefield ability can be very playable but still not must-kill. Other less playable creatures like Striking Sliver and Nightwing Shade are must-kill because you can end up losing the game if you’re not able to deal with them in a timely manner. If your deck is sufficiently aggressive, you may be able to kill your opponent before these creatures become a problem, and so may need less removal. Note also that large flyers are not classified as must-kill unless they also possess problematic abilities, e.g., Archangel of Thune, since they can be gang blocked in theory. In practice, you usually either need a removal spell or a Deadly Recluse.)

I also want to know if Rod of Ruin is more likely to be effective against certain color pairs, so I know whether to side it in/out against certain decks, regardless of what I’ve seen them play so far. Partly, this is because of a recent game I played against a U/R deck. I didn’t see any 1-toughness creatures in game 1, so I reluctantly sided out the Rod of Ruin out for a Naturalize, and then found myself staring down 2 Academy Rectors and a Trained Condor.

Here’s an updated version of the spreadsheet I’d created for that post. This version also computes how many creatures you can expect to see of each type in a typical 8-person draft. It also includes additional columns that sum up the number of must-kill, not must-kill, flyers, non-flyers, and all creatures. Looking at the number of must-kill creatures by color, we see that red has the most by far (6.3) because of Academy Raider, Striking Sliver, Young Pyromancer, and Goblin Diplomat. Each color is typically shared by 3 players, so an average R/X deck will have 2.1 must-kill red creatures with a toughness of 1. That’s not a large number, but it still means you might want to consider keeping Rod of Ruin in against R/X decks, even if you haven’t seen a lot of problematic creatures. Red also has the highest total number of creatures with 1-toughness in an average 8-person draft (14.7), followed by black (11.1), white (9.9), blue (7.9), and green (6.0).

Shrivel also kills 1-toughness creatures, but on both sides of the table. Consequently, it ends up going very late and often languishes in sideboards. However, I think it is actually a reasonable sideboard against R/X decks, and especially against U/R tempo decks since it kills Goblin Shortcutter, Coral Merfolk, and Trained Condor. Shrivel is also a reasonable card to side in against Young Pyromancer or Sporemound, since it can kill the tokens they produce. However, you need to ensure that your deck doesn’t have too many 1-toughness creatures yourself, or that you delay playing some of them if you haven’t yet cast the Shrivel.

Why are we not also talking about Barrage of Expendables, Thorncaster Sliver, Festering Newt, and Wring Flesh, even though they also kill 1-toughness creatuers? I already talked about Barrage of Expendables previously, and part of the benefit of the card is that it lets you sacrifice creatures, not just that it does a point of damage. Thorncaster Sliver is usually surrounded by other Slivers and so will usually do more than 1 point of damage. Festering Newt trades with 2/2’s. And Wring Flesh is an excellent combat trick that I’ve heard compared to Giant Growth; while it can’t save a creature from Shock or do the last 3 points of damage to an opponent, instead it sometimes kill a 1-toughness creature.

M14: The tokens deck

Another deck that I have yet to try is the tokens deck. It is usually centered around Young Pyromancer, Molten Birth, and Barrage of Expendables. This spreadsheet lists all the cards in M14 that produce tokens, and also attempts to list most of the cards that interact particularly well with tokens. Cards in bold are particularly important to the strategy, while cards in italics help tokens get through blockers. (I haven’t listed pumps spells here, only effects that have a more permanent impact.)

From this, it seems that the deck wants to be R/W, with:

  • Young Pyromancer, Molten Birth, and Hive Stirrings to produce tokens
  • Goblin Shortcutter, Master of Diversion, and Seismic Stomp to help the tokens get past blockers
  • Fortify, Lightning Talons, Shiv’s Embrace, and Ogre Battledriver to help push damage through
  • Barrage of Expendables, Congregate, Path of Bravery, and Bubbling Cauldron to buy time, plus Act of Treason if the deck has a reasonable number of sac outlets (or to enable an earlier alpha strike)

If you have a chance to pick up Dark Prophecy and/or Gnawing Zombie, you can also try to make a B/R tokens deck that looks a lot like the B/R sacrifice deck I’d written about previously. In addition to these cards and the red cards from the list above, Altar’s Reap, Blood Bairn, and Vile Rebirth are also important, especially if you have a Young Pyromancer on the table.

One downside of this deck is that Young Pyromancer is good in just about every red deck, so you won’t get passed it very often. But if you do draft an early Young Pyromancer, keep this deck in mind as an option.

EDIT: Shrivel can be a problem for this deck since most of its key token producers make 1/1 tokens. Be careful to not overextend into it against opponents playing black, especially post-board.

M14: Strionic Resonator and the U/R control deck

Let’s try to evaluate Strionic Resonator today and determine whether it’s worth drafting early. This spreadsheet has a list of all cards in M14 with a triggered ability (see this post for the card quality key). It includes updated card quality evaluations as well as an assessment of the quality of the triggered ability, which can differ from the card quality (e.g., Sengir Vampire and Angelic Accord). These trigger quality assessments are very similar to the card quality assessments:

  • + means you would happily pay 2 mana to copy the trigger.
  • / means you would pay 2 mana to copy the trigger.
  • ~ means the ability is difficult to trigger or less useful to copy.
  • E(xpensive) means that you are unlikely to have 2 mana to spare when the trigger goes off, or that you’re already winning the game if the trigger goes off.
  • R(are) means that you’ll rarely want to copy the triggered ability or that it won’t trigger very often.
  • x means that there is never a reason to copy this trigger, barring very unusual game states.

The spreadsheet also indicates which archetype(s) each of these cards fits best in. If the archtype is in parentheses, it means that the card is playable even outside the archetype. If no archetype is listed, the card is usually played on its own merits rather than because it interacts particularly well with other cards.

Pivoting by color (to the right of the main table in the spreadsheet) shows us that red has the most triggered abilities we’d want to copy (11 in an average draft), followed by white and blue (8 each). Since most players draft 2 colors in M14, each color will have 3 drafters. If they split these cards between them, it means you can expect to get about 6.3 triggers you want to copy if you’re in R/W or U/R, and about 5.3 triggers you want to copy if you’re in W/U. However, Goblin Shortcutter and Archaeomancer don’t usually go in the same deck, so let’s also look at the cards by archetype instead.

Pivoting by archetype (also to the right of the main table in the spreadsheet) shows us that B/R sacrifice and U/R control have the most number of cards with triggers we’d want to copy (8 each in an average draft). If you’re the only drafter at the table, you will probably have enough triggered abilities that you’d want to copy.

The B/R sacrifice deck has Festering Newt, Pitchburn Devil, and Dragon’s Egg (uncommon), whose abilities trigger when they die, either in battle or when sacrificed to Altar’s Reap, Blood Bairn, Barrage of Expendables, Gnawing Zombie, or Vampire Warlord. It also has Young Pyromancer, whose trigger produces more cannon fodder for your sacrifice outlets. However, Pitchburn Devil’s trigger is the only one (at common or uncommon) that you’d really want to copy, so I’m not sure how well Strionic Resonator would work in this deck.

I haven’t drafted U/R control yet, but it seems like it should be a viable archetype. Red has Shock, Chandra’s Outrage, Flames of the Firebrand (uncommon), and Volcanic Geyser (uncommon) for removal. Blue has Essence Scatter, Negate, Cancel, and Spell Blast (uncommon) for countermagic, Time Ebb, Disperse, and Frost Breath for stall, and Divination and Opportunity (uncommon) for card advantage. Combined with Academy Raider and Archaeomancer, it could be a fairly potent counterburn deck that wins with a large flyer or by recurring Volcanic Geyser. In such a deck, Strionic Resonator could help ensure that that you don’t run out of cards before your opponent does.

So Strionic Resonator is probably conditionally playable. I wouldn’t recommend taking it early in the hope that U/R control is open. However, if you’re already drafting that deck, it might be worth taking it and then drafting cards with useful triggers slightly higher. (It’s also useful if you don’t remember how many triggered abilities you have in your deck when you’re passed a Strionic Resonator; if you’re drafting U/R control, you’re more likely to have enough triggers to play it.) This card does have a tendency to get passed late, so if I’m already in either blue or red the next time I see it, I might draft it to try it out (as I did with Door of Destinies recently) and post a follow-up.

Btw, here are the card quality evaluations I’ve updated since I originally posted the evaluation spreadsheet, in case you’re interested:

  • Ajani’s Chosen (TBD -> exceptional): A 3/3 for 4 mana is already a reasonable body, and W/B enchantments is a strong archtype.
  • Angelic Accord (TBD -> conditional): It’s difficult to draft a good lifegain deck, but I still believe it’s possible.
  • Auramancer (TBD -> playable): Ajani’s Chosen works well with all enchantments, but Auramancer mostly works well with Quag Sickness.
  • Blightcaster (TBD -> exceptional): Like Ajani’s Chosen, but with 1 less point of power and a stronger trigger.
  • Sanguine Bond (TBD -> conditonal): See Angelic Accord above.
  • Xathrid Necromancer (TBD -> exceptional): It’s a 2/2 for 3 mana that at least nets a 2/2 when it dies, and can be nuts in the right deck.
  • Door of Destinies (TBD -> conditional): It’s playable in a Slivers deck or a W/B Humans deck.
  • Advocate of the Beast (TBD -> conditional): It’s good if you already have Beasts.
  • Dismiss into Dream (TBD -> unplayable)
  • Domestication (TBD -> playable)
  • Archaeomancer is still TBD.