My Top 5 Tips For Magic 30: Premiere Draft

Hey everyone!

Sorry there's been a bit of a hiatus with articles. We've been working on a lot of stuff behind the scenes, so hopefully those efforts will come to fruition soon. None the less, I've been playing a lot of Mix Up draft because it's very similar to some of my favorite limited formats ever - Chaos/Wacky Draft (where the packs you open are random) and Cube!

With that experience, I've come to some pretty strong conclusions concerning the draft format, so if you want a different perspective or are trying to win more games, hopefully these tips can help you out!

As a final note, these tips aren't necessarily in order (the first one is though), as they're all important!

Proactivity is King

If I could impart just one tip on you throughout this entire article, it's that being proactive is really, really good in mix up draft. This shouldn't come as too much of a surprise to a chaos draft aficianados (all three of you) if they've been using more recent packs, as in recent years, the threats have become increasingly stronger while the interaction has mostly stayed at the same power level.

While good interaction is still excellent, looking to play a more defensive game just very rarely works, no matter how strong the deck may look. Anecdotally, I think there's just simply too much that can go wrong when your game plan involves heavily disrupting the opponent as getting the wrong mix of lands to spells or drawing the wrong interaction at the wrong time can be deadly. In just this format alone, I have died multiple times with a Bone to Ash rotting in my hand as I was hoping it would nab me some insane value, but when the opponent got under me, it was all over.

Here's a great example. I was in a Dimir Control mirror and my cards were just so much better than my opponent's, I thought it was going to be an easy win. The main issue with my deck, though, was that it was very slow to close as it had few win conditions. While I'm just tempoing and outvaluing my opponent, they cast a Blue Sun's Zenith on themselves for three. I realized that I had no Negate effect, so I had to end the game quickly. Despite knowing that, I drew more and more interaction, and while my opponent couldn't keep a thing on board, they eventually found Zenith again, then again, then again. Eventually, the game ended as they had no cards left, they Zenithed me for 10 on my end step, drew it, and did it again, and I died.

Again, this isn't to dissuade players from taking interaction, but having a proactive game plan will go a long way to bolstering your win rate as a linear deck is a consistent deck.

Bombs Are More Important Than Usual

I know, novel take saying that bombs are good. While bombs are always going to be bombs, they are substantially more impactful in formats like this than they generally are in their native formats. Why? Set specific stop gaps.

In any given set, there are going to be a decent amount of "bombs", cards that can easily end games on their own. With that, I would subdivide them into three categories - nukes, regular bombs, and "unremoved" bombs.

The nukes are as they sound, these are cards that are going to end the game very quickly and will pretty much necessitate interaction immediately (if that even helps) to stop them. You don't even have to think Pack Rat, but something like a big Mass Manipulation would fall into this category.

The second are just regular bombs - these will end games pretty quickly, don't necessarily demand interaction at that moment, but will likely be worth many cards in value, think mostly cheaper planeswalkers.

Finally, you have the "unremoved" bombs, bombs that will turn the game on its head, but are strong by the virtue of them not being destroyed as they'll produce little to no value. Adult Gold Dragon fits here as, untouched, this card can make racing impossible, but one Lightning Strike and it's gone.

The nukes are unaffected by this format mostly, they're going to be insane no matter what. I would argue the regular bombs are also mostly unaffected as general interaction can deal with them, and in any given set, there's a good amount of general interaction. The unremoved bombs, however, get a huge boost. These bombs may have had more interaction tailored specifically to them in the format of choice, whether it's the numbers on them, whether they destroy or exile, etc. If these bombs require somewhat specific answers that were more plentiful in their initial format, they're going to be substantially stronger as the odds of the opponent having interaction, but the wrong piece, is much higher.

So, this was more or less a long winded way to say that bombs feel particularly potent here as the odds of a player having the right piece of interaction to deal with them is much, much lower.

Curve Is Extremely Important

While the bombs section was long, this one can be much shorter - make sure you have a good curve.

Curve has always been important, but depending on the format, where you want your average cmc can vary greatly. In Dominaria United, games tended to drag on so not having a play until turn three could be completely fine, even on the draw, but try that in Phyrexia: All Will Be One and you'll probably be dead within a turn or two.

Since this format is just an amalgam of every previously Standard legal format, it's hard to get a gauge on what speed you need to be to beat your opponent. So, when in doubt, curve them out! There's two reasons for this - you can catch slow decks off-guard (or simply people that stumble) and you can invalidate many bomb. Being able to go 2,3,4 against an opponent who kept a more awkward hand is a super easy way to win, no matter the format, but since bombs are better in this format than normal, the best way to invalidate them is to simply not them cast it! With fast decks, I have beaten many decks that were "better" than mine by the virtue of their card quality, but their strongest cards would often arrive too late and would simply fold to the onslaught that were my mopey two and three drops. Conversely, I've had seemingly great decks that were on the slow side that just got annihilated by someone's bomb that I just couldn't answer.

If you have a good curve, you may get beat by someone who has bombs or better cards on curve, but honestly, you probably weren't going to win those games anyway if you were the slow deck or had a clunky draw, so worrying about it is meaningless. Now this isn't to say you should draft crappy two drops over great fours or fives when given the opportunity, but definitely upshift your evaluation of twos and three drops.

Play Fewer Slower Lands (and Lands in General)

Here's another fast tip for you that I feel most players get wrong. Unless your curve is particularly high, you should start your mana base at 16 lands, not 17. Not only do I just generally do this, this is particularly important in Bo1 where you have the help of the hand smoother to have better land to spell ratios in the opener. Furthermore, most of the time, it's much easier to come back from being mana screwed for a bit than it is to flood a bit, so that's another incentive to go lower.

In a similar vein, you don't always have to play slowlands that are in your color. The temptation to play Evolving Wilds in your two color deck can be high, but if your deck doesn't have too many cards that are color intensive and you aren't splashing anything, just going for all basics can be great. Like I said last section, being able to deploy stuff on curve is great, so having untapped lands exclusively goes a long way to help with that.

You Should Probably Avoid Blue

This is my final and probably most controversial tip for this article. I'll admit that this is very much based on the experiences my friends and I have had for this format, but Blue has not been working well for us. Overall, I think the biggest reason Blue has been failing us is that it more or less goes against two tips in this article - proactivity and curve.

Blue decks tend to lend themselves to being more reactive as a lot of their best cards are counterspells like Essence Scatter or premium tempo plays like bounce creatures or Crashing Tide. Are these cards bad? Absolutely not, but they can more often than not trick you into playing a slower deck that simply has a lot of problems in this format for the aforementioned reasons.

While I generally hate self-eliminating a color in draft and generally pride myself in playing the color that most people consider bad, it takes a lot to convince me to go Blue now as I pretty much need to see an early bomb or a lot of tempo cards to consider it. That said, there are definitely Blue decks I've seen that have been strong, even more reactive decks, but the bar for them, I believe, is much higher and it's more rare that they work effectively.

Maybe your experience has been different, but that's just my two cents.

End Step

I hope you found this article helpful, and if you have any tips you want to share or talk about, be sure to hit us up in the Discord!

Thank you so much for reading!