Before We March Forward – Context & Caveats
We'll look at 17Land's data, which is an amazing site if you like to pore over Limited numbers – we'll look at data for March of the Machine's Sealed and Premier Draft games played in Magic Arena, gathered since MOM's launch and until last Wednesday.
17Lands does not endorse our recommendations here, and neither MTGStorm nor myself are related to them. Having said that, I personally recommend the site wholeheartedly if you like crunchy numbers.
Providing detailed data for each card is well beyond the scope of this article (readers are encouraged to check our source if in need of the nitty-gritty while in the middle of a particularly tough pick); we'll instead focus on:
- General trends (above all which color combinations fare the best)
- Outliers, salient cases, and traps.
As a rule of thumb, we can be fairly certain about cards that see a lot of play in MOM Drafts and/or Sealed, and are either a the top or the bottom of the performance charts: if they perform well then they are likely cards you want to add to your Drafted or Sealed deck, while if they underperform, they are likely cards you want to skip if possible.
On the other hand, cards that see (relatively) less play, or that see a lot of play but have average stats, are harder to assess:
- A well-performing card that sees little play could mean that players are underrating it or could mean that it's a powerful yet situational card that players correctly avoid drafting unless they have the deck for it,
- A poorly-performing card that sees little play may be a card that some weaker players are overdrafting or may be a case of "I'm doing the best I can with what I've been given" (that's to say, players correctly assessing it's a weak card, yet being forced to take it anyway because there was simply nothing better that they could use),
- Some cards saw so little play that there's not enough data for them. This usually implies they are so abysmally awful that nobody plays them, but although unlikely, there may be a gem (or an extremely situational bomb) in there,
- Good yet complex (as in, hard-to-play-optimally) cards may see a lot of play while having mediocre performance – that's always the problem with average data: great players may get a lot of mileage out of the card, while rookies drag it down (yet still draft it given it is still a solid card when played non-optimally).
Therefore, except when noted we'll focus on cards that see a lot of play and are clearly above or below average.
Last but not least: The fascinating (and sometimes infuriating) thing about data (of all stripes; not just MTG Draft or Sealed data) is that it's very good at telling us what's going on, but not so good at telling us why.
For example: as we'll see below, both Dimir (Black Blue) and Azorius (White Blue) are the best-performing color combination both in MOM Sealed, and MOM Drafts – whereas Orzhov (Black White) is the third-best pairing in Sealed, but dead last in Draft.
Why are Dimir and Azorius great in both MOM Limited formats, while Orzhov goes from among the best in Sealed to barrel-bottom in Drafts?
Data-crunching doesn't tell us – expert readers are welcome to try and come up with an explanation (and we'd be all too happy to listen!), but as noted, this article will limit itself to showcase trends and outliers, without pondering the "Why?" too much.
With this big chunk of caveats out of the way, let's jump to the Magic Arena Sealed and Draft data!
Magic Arena MOM Limited – March of the Machine Sealed
Magic Sealed is all about what we can do with the cards we've been dealt. While 17Lands has a ton of MOM Sealed data about each individual card (and although this author, data junkie that he is, finds every bit of data interesting!), there's not much decision-making to do with said data if you don't even have the cards to begin with.
Therefore, as noted in the introduction, this Sealed section will focus on general trends and clear outliers, to make sure you don't miss an otherwise amazing card (or walk right into a trap) – readers are encouraged to check 17Lands' Sealed data when in doubt about individual card ratings.
When looking at two-color pairings, the combination of White, Blue and Black come out clearly on top, and Red is the runt of the MOM litter.
|Dimir (UB)||Simic (GU) (**)||Rakdos (BR)|
|Azorius (WU)||Selesnya (GW)||Gruul (RG)|
|Orzhov (WB)||Boros (RW)|
|Izzet (UR) (**)|
(**) Have seen a lot less play
Overall, splashing a third color (adding 1-3 cards from a third color) makes decks noticeably worse (win rate drops, on average, around 3% or more), with two exceptions: Dimir and Golgari (in which case, performance is similar).
Three-color decks perform even worse. Esper decks, for example, even though they combine cards from the three best color pairs (White, Blue, and Black), do worse than the worst two-color deck (Gruul).
MOM Sealed: Mythics
Folks have noted that MOM is a bomb-y Limited format, and the MOM Sealed data supports that perception – the majority of Mythics range from good to great.
Not all, though: beware of Mythic traps – these actually lower your deck's winrate when drawn:
Invasion of Ravnica // Guildpact Paragon and Urabrask // The Great Work may be solid choices anyway if the rest of the deck is solid (they are not terribly bad cards in Sealed; just not great). Invasion of Shandalar // Leyline Surge and Jin-Gitaxias // The Great Synthesis tend to end up in below-average Sealed decks, and even manage to drag those decks down if drawn.
Then, we have a "Siren" of sorts:
Wrenn and Realmbreaker seems like a very good card (it does boost your deck's win rate noticeably if drawn), but the decks it's played in tend to perform poorly – and, since it's a fairly popular Mythic, it implies that players recognizing the card's power are lured into trying to fit Wrenn into bad decks.
Last but not least, perhaps the clearest exception about going strictly two colors:
Borborygmos and Fblthp has seen comparatively very little play (implying that Limited players know the perils of straying too far from strictly two-color decks), but in this case, the payoff seems massive.
MOM Sealed: Rares
This is a quick overview of the salient cases for each color, when looking at Rares in the MOM Sealed format:
- "Great" are Rares that see a lot of play, fit in above-average decks, and boost their decks' win rates when drawn – probably what you want to consider first, unless the rest of the color sucks,
- "Underplayed" are Rares with great performance but comparatively little play – perhaps players are undervaluing them, or perhaps these are situational (and therefore not a good choice unless your deck can support them),
- "Traps" see quite a bit of play and do badly – you may want to include them in your Sealed deck anyway if the rest of the color is solid, but are not by themselves a reason to be in that color (there are other Rares that do even worse, but folks seem aware of them being bad and try not to play them)
Looking at mono-color MOM Rares:
|Dusk Legion Duelist||Heliod, the Radiant Dawn // Heliod, the Warped Eclipse|
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
|Blue||Chrome Host Seedshark|
|Black||Invasion of Fiora // Marchesa, Resolute Monarch|
|Breach the Multiverse|
|Red||Etali, Primal Conqueror // Etali, Primal Sickness||Captain Lannery Storm|
|Green||Polukranos Reborn // Polukranos, Engine of Ruin|
Now, looking at multi-color MOM rares:
|Yorion, Sky Nomad||Lurrus of the Dream-Den|
|Hidetsugu and Kairi|
|Glissa, Herald of Predation|
|Kogla and Yidaro|
As noted in the introduction, the above are all cards that see quite a bit of MOM Sealed play; cards with lower frequency are much harder to evaluate. For example: Atris, Oracle of Half-Truths is a Rare that players seldom pick, even when compared to other multicolor Rares, but has amazing performance. It may be that players don't value Atris enough… or it may be that players only include Atris when they can assemble a graveyard-matters deck.
MOM Sealed: Exceptional Uncommons and Commons
These are Uncommons that, when drawn, have MOM Sealed win rates that would make most Mythics and Rares jealous:
|Norn's Inquisitor||Skyclave Aerialist // Skyclave Invader||Blightreaper Thallid // Blightsower Thallid||Fearless Skald||Streetwise Negotiator|
|Seal from Existence||Captive Weird // Compleated Conjurer||Merciless Repurposing|
|Phyrexian Awakening||Inga Rune-Eyes|
And, behold! This would be the MOM Sealed King of Commons – fits in great decks, and makes them even better:
Then we have a few that are criminally underrated – unsurprisingly, they below to the best two colors (implying players leave them behind because they have many other choices), but numbers suggest these are cards you do not leave out if you're playing Blue or Black:
Interestingly, misjudging Ephara's Dispersal seems to be a common occurrence in MOM Drafts too, as we'll see when we cover the best cards to draft.
Last but not least, a couple of traps – cards that are among the most included, but actually make your deck worse:
It may still be perfectly correct to play them to round up your deck (they are not that terrible, just a bit below average), but they do seem to show up in slightly below-average White decks while seeing a lot more play than better options.
Magic Arena MOM Limited – March of the Machine Drafts
This is how the palette looks like when looking at MOM Player Drafts (For context/clarity: MOM Quick Drafts, where you draft with bots, have not fired up at the moment of this writing – this data is from Premier Drafts, with other warm-blooded drafters).
|Dimir (UB)||Simic (GU)||Rakdos (BR)|
|Azorius (WU)||Izzet (UR)||Boros (RW)|
|Golgari (BG)||Gruul (RG)||Orzhov (WB)|
(**) Both Golgari and Orzhov are fairly weaker than other options in the same Tier, thus the space added to signify.
Just as we've seen for MOM Sealed data, Dimir and Azorius are the Top Dogs of MOM Drafts, but right next we find two clear differences between both Limited formats:
- Golgari leaps several places forward, and is in the front pack (although not quite at UB or WU levels),
- Orzhov suffers a massive drop, and from third best pairing in MOM Sealed it's dead last in Drafts.
Overall takeaways for (human) MOM Drafts thus far are:
- For Blue, sky's the limit,
- White does have some of the bombiest MOM bombs, but is not great outside of Azorius – and, notably, the two worst-performing pairs include White,
- Black is in an interesting spot: two of the best pairings (including the best pairing), and two of the worst (including the absolute worst); looks thus far MOM's high-risk, high-rewards color choice,
- In contrast, Green is doing a good job at being a middle-of-the-pack jack-of-all-trades,
- Red, well… let's just say that Mountains and Machines don't seem to mix too well.
MOM Draft: Format Speed
This is a fascinating bit of visual info that the 17Lands folks provide, where they graph the win rate when being on the Play on the first game of a best-of-three match, versus the average game duration:
Thus far, MOM looks like a fairly aggressive format, with whoever goes first having quite the edge – but also seems slower than ONE by nearly a full turn.
MOM Draft: Top Performers
When looking at MTG Draft data to inform our picks, we're usually looking for three parameters, the higher the better:
- Inclusion rate (ie amount of decks that play this card),
- Deck win rate (ie how well do decks that have this card perform, regardless if the card is drawn), and
- Draw win rate (ie odds of winning if you do see this card at some point in the game).
Cards that are at the top of all three charts are the cream of the crop: they are included in lots of good decks, and they make those decks even better.
With that in mind, the best-performing cards from MOM Drafts thus far seem to be:
|Borborygmos and Fblthp||Pile On||Invasion of Amonkhet // Lazotep Convert||Preening Champion|
|Invasion of New Phyrexia // Teferi Akosa of Zhalfir||Chrome Host Seedshark||Tangled Skyline||Ephara's Dispersal|
|Vorinclex // The Grand Evolution||Glistening Dawn||Captive Weird // Compleated Conjurer||(**)|
|Sheoldred // The True Scriptures||Hoarding Broodlord||Halo Forager|
|Chandra, Hope's Beacon||Breach the Multiverse||Oracle of Tragedy|
|Invasion of Innistrad // Deluge of the Dead||Hidetsugu and Kairi||Inga Rune-Eyes|
|Sword of Once and Future||Etali, Primal Conqueror // Etali, Primal Sickness||Tetsuko Umezawa, Fugitive|
|Gyruda, Doom of Depths||Artistic Refusal|
|Glissa, Herald of Predation||Scorn-Blade Berserker|
|Zephyr Singer||Skyclave Aerialist // Skyclave Invader|
|Umori, the Collector|
(**) Blue has a handful of other Commons that also perform excellently, with performances that make most Mythics jealous.
As a rough rule of thumb, the cards seen above are slam-dunk first picks above over anything else that it's not in the chart (although you may want to double-check with 17Lands against other White or Black rares, or several Blue Uncommons and Commons, that are neck-to-neck).
MOM Draft: Mythics
Pretty much every Mythic improves their deck's win rate when played – in other words, almost all of them are better than the average card in your deck.
Just bear in mind that some color pairings are better than others – a good Blue Uncommon may be a better first pick than a Red Mythic.
MOM Draft: Rares, Uncommons, and Commons
Here's a quick overview of the best Rares, Uncommons, and Commons – in all cases, these are cards that improve a deck's win rate if played, and that fit in above-average decks:
|Sunfall||Chrome Host Seedshark||Breach the Multiverse||Glistening Dawn||Etali, Primal Conqueror // Etali, Primal Sickness|
|Boon-Bringer Valkyrie||Zephyr Singer||Pile On||Ancient Imperiosaur||Voldaren Thrillseeker|
|Guardian of Ghirapur||Faerie Mastermind||Hoarding Broodlord||Invasion of Ixalan // Belligerent Regisaur|
|Invasion of Segovia // Caetus, Sea Tyrant of Segovia||Invasion of Fiora // Marchesa, Resolute Monarch|
|Baral, Chief of Compliance||Bloated Processor|
|Rona, Herald of Invasion // Rona, Tolarian Obliterator|
|Norn's Inquisitor||Captive Weird // Compleated Conjurer||Scorn-Blade Berserker||Tangled Skyline||Furnace Reins|
|Zhalfirin Lancer||Artistic Refusal||Blightreaper Thallid // Blightsower Thallid||Streetwise Negotiator|
|Phyrexian Awakening||Skyclave Aerialist // Skyclave Invader||Collective Nightmare||Herbology Instructor // Malady Invoker|
|Tetsuko Umezawa, Fugitive|
|Aerial Boost||Preening Champion||Final Flourish||Overgrown Pest||Volcanic Spite|
|Angelic Intervention||Ephara's Dispersal||Deadly Derision||Converter Beast||Ral's Reinforcements|
|Bola Slinger||Eyes of Gitaxias||Nezumi Informant||Cosmic Hunger|
|Temporal Cleansing||Ichor Drinker|
|Saiba Cryptomancer||Unseal the Necropolis|
|Meeting of Minds|
As noted when looking at color pairings, Blue seems clearly the deepest and with Black also having lots of depth, making Dimir (WB) arguably the most desirable combination.
In particular, both Black and Blue are deep enough to have some criminally underrated cards: Artistic Refusal, Inga Rune-Eyes, Ephara's Dispersal (in Blue), and Scorn-Blade Berserker (in Black) are being picked too late for their stats.
White has some of the most powerful cards in March of the Machine, but seems not as deep – as we saw, Azorius (WU) is one of the best pairings, but there's something not clicking with Orzhov (WB), which is the worst pairing by performance.
Red, as noted, looks thus far the color you don't want to be in if you can avoid it, unless you see one of the few good cards in the chart above.
Last but not least, a few traps to be aware of:
All of the above see quite a bit of play (relative to their rarity), yet seem to make their decks worse if drawn. They may still be good choices for rounding up an otherwise strong build, though (for example, Knight of the New Coalition tends to end up in good decks).
Hope you've found the above Magic Arena Draft and Sealed number-crunching useful – as with all things data, do remember numbers only tell one part of the story, and don't replace other sound deck-building concepts (a good curve, a good mana base, keeping an eye on synergies). And then there's always luck: sometimes you get all the bombs, sometimes you gotta make do with what you've got.
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