Magic Arena Limited – A Look at March of the Machine (MOM) Sealed & Draft Data For The Arena Open

Need help for the Arena Open? Why guess at what's good when you can just click here and see what's good! Herko Kerghans compiled an insane amount of stats so you could see what cards are overperformers, what are traps, and the color combinations you should be aiming for!

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.

Color Pairings

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)
Golgari (BG)
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 Invasion of Ravnica // Guildpact Paragon

Urabrask // The Great Work Urabrask // The Great Work

Invasion of Shandalar // Leyline Surge Invasion of Shandalar // Leyline Surge

Jin-Gitaxias // The Great Synthesis Jin-Gitaxias // The Great Synthesis

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  

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

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:

Boon-Bringer Valkyrie
Dusk Legion DuelistHeliod, the Radiant Dawn // Heliod, the Warped Eclipse
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
BlueChrome Host Seedshark
Zephyr Singer
Faerie Mastermind
BlackInvasion of Fiora // Marchesa, Resolute Monarch
Pile On
Breach the Multiverse
RedEtali, Primal Conqueror // Etali, Primal SicknessCaptain Lannery Storm
GreenPolukranos Reborn // Polukranos, Engine of Ruin

Now, looking at multi-color MOM rares:

Yorion, Sky NomadLurrus 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 InquisitorSkyclave Aerialist // Skyclave InvaderBlightreaper Thallid // Blightsower ThallidFearless SkaldStreetwise Negotiator
Seal from ExistenceCaptive Weird // Compleated ConjurerMerciless Repurposing
Phyrexian AwakeningInga Rune-Eyes

And, behold! This would be the MOM Sealed King of Commons – fits in great decks, and makes them even better:

Deadly Derision

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:

Ephara Saiba Cryptomancer Unseal the Necropolis

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:

Alabaster Host Intercessor Realmbreaker

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)
(**)Selesnya (GW)(**)
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:

image 60

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 FblthpPile OnInvasion of Amonkhet // Lazotep ConvertPreening Champion
Invasion of New Phyrexia // Teferi Akosa of ZhalfirChrome Host SeedsharkTangled SkylineEphara's Dispersal
Vorinclex // The Grand EvolutionGlistening DawnCaptive Weird // Compleated Conjurer(**)
Sheoldred // The True ScripturesHoarding BroodlordHalo Forager
Chandra, Hope's BeaconBreach the MultiverseOracle of Tragedy
Invasion of Innistrad // Deluge of the DeadHidetsugu and KairiInga Rune-Eyes
Sword of Once and FutureEtali, Primal Conqueror // Etali, Primal SicknessTetsuko Umezawa, Fugitive
Gyruda, Doom of DepthsArtistic Refusal
Glissa, Herald of PredationScorn-Blade Berserker
Zephyr SingerSkyclave Aerialist // Skyclave Invader
Umori, the Collector
Ancient Imperiosaur

(**) 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:

SunfallChrome Host SeedsharkBreach the MultiverseGlistening DawnEtali, Primal Conqueror // Etali, Primal Sickness
Boon-Bringer ValkyrieZephyr SingerPile OnAncient ImperiosaurVoldaren Thrillseeker
Guardian of GhirapurFaerie MastermindHoarding BroodlordInvasion of Ixalan // Belligerent Regisaur
Invasion of Segovia // Caetus, Sea Tyrant of SegoviaInvasion of Fiora // Marchesa, Resolute Monarch
Baral, Chief of ComplianceBloated Processor
Rona, Herald of Invasion // Rona, Tolarian Obliterator
Norn's InquisitorCaptive Weird // Compleated ConjurerScorn-Blade BerserkerTangled SkylineFurnace Reins
Zhalfirin LancerArtistic RefusalBlightreaper Thallid // Blightsower ThallidStreetwise Negotiator
Phyrexian AwakeningSkyclave Aerialist // Skyclave InvaderCollective NightmareHerbology Instructor // Malady Invoker
Tetsuko Umezawa, Fugitive
Xerex Strobe-Knight
Inga Rune-Eyes
Aerial BoostPreening ChampionFinal FlourishOvergrown PestVolcanic Spite
Angelic InterventionEphara's DispersalDeadly DerisionConverter BeastRal's Reinforcements
Bola SlingerEyes of GitaxiasNezumi InformantCosmic Hunger
Temporal CleansingIchor Drinker
Saiba CryptomancerUnseal the Necropolis
Assimilate Essence
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:

Order of the Mirror // Order of the Alabaster Host Order of the Mirror // Order of the Alabaster Host Knight of the New Coalition

Pyretic Prankster // Glistening Goremonger Pyretic Prankster // Glistening Goremonger Kithkin Billyrider

Kami of Whispered Hopes

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).

End Step

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.

If you have questions, comments, or suggestions, be sure to stop by the MTGStorm Discord for a chat!

Be sure to follow MTGStorm on Twitter for content updates as well!

tags: esper mtg, jin-gitaxias