Mercadian Masques Booster Draft Part Three
The third installment of my series on Mercadian Masques booster draft, this column will focus on the blue common selection within the set.
A few thoughts...
Blue always seems to get somewhat shortchanged in the standalone sets, only to be lifted by the expansions. Urza's block and Rath cycle both exhibited this tendency, and MM seems to be no different. While Blue does, as always, have more than its share of bombs, the lack of depth within the color's common selection relegates it to support color status.
The key to blue in Mercadian Masques is that it has the top two commons in the set, Stinging Barrier and Waterfront Bouncer. That a 4cc pinging wall is this set's equivalent (best common) of Pestilence, Rolling Thunder and other powerhouses testifies to the weakness of Mercadian Masques as far as power level goes.
Blue can perform well with any of the other colors, with its strongest ally being white and its weakest, due to an inability to deal with Spidersilk Armor, being red. While many of its commons are good in particular match ups, few of them excel against all comers.
Stinging Barrier - Like I said, this is the top common in the set. Powerful 1/1 creatures with special abilities (Gliders, Shapers) dominate Mercadian Masques and as a result, the Barrier becomes dominant in the metagame. In my opinion, there are only four uncommons I'd take over the Barrier and not too many rares either.
Waterfront Bouncer - Almost as good as the Barrier, the Bouncer is actually better in aggressive decks that splash blue to move blockers out of the way. With both white and blue relying on creature enchantments for elimination, the bouncer becomes a huge bane for the UW decks that seemed to be the most popular archetype in the format's early months. Especially good if you can pick up Squee or Groundskeeper and in combination with Scandalmonger it becomes obscene.
Drake Hatchling - After a long drop off, this, the third best common flier in the set comes a distant third best common for Blue. The Drake gets the nod over the airship because of its defensive capabilities, often controlling the rebel deck with its 3 toughness. Versatility is the name of the game boys and girls and this card gives it to you.
Rishadan Airship - The blue Flame Jet, if you consider yourself a total scrub who is horrible with combat situation mathematics, take this card over the Drake because there isn't much thought to playing it. Cast it turn 3; attack turns 4-10, simple as that. Unfortunately, a toughness of 1 makes it extremely vulnerable and its inability to block non-flyers makes it a little too lacking in versatility for my tastes.
Blockade Runner - Gotta love 2/2's for 4, but in this environment, this is one of the better ones. If you're playing against anyone but Mike Turian, the chances of getting creature lock eventually are pretty good, and this guy breaks through creature lock like no other in this Spidersilk Armor-plagued set.
Counterspell - Old reliable. This card is THE staple in this game as far as I'm concerned, and no environment is complete without it. I remember covering Darwin Kastle's top 8 draft in London, in which he took Disenchant 3rd saying it was a power card because it kills power cards. I don't wholly agree with that philosophy, but at the same time, Counterspell is just better than Disenchant as it stops Notorious Assassin, Thrashing Wampus, Two-Headed Dragon, et al.
Dehydration - Time and again I hear players refer to this card as Thirst (a card that I was never that big on to begin with), but unfortunately, it's not as good. While Thirst's upkeep was always annoying, Dehydration costs too much and doesn't tap the creature in question, so it can not be the offensive weapon Thirst was. Additionally, most of the creatures you want to Dehydrate tap at the end of the opponent's turn, so you can't catch them tapped.
Saprazzan Outrigger - Getting into the mediocre here, the Outrigger is fast for its size but its drawback is a biggie. Cards that can only put you further behind when you're losing aren't that great and this is one of them. Outrigger is really good against green's fatties, but in a set with free 2/2's, it's not that great even as a wall.
Gush - A better card than Outrigger, Gush goes later in draft so it gets the lower ranking here. The bonus to Gush is its alternate casting cost, which I've failed to use only twice. Used in tandem with the Bouncer or other powerful Spellshapers, that alternate casting cost makes this card a lot more than minor card advantage.
Balloon Peddler - Probably the weakest of the 2/2 Spellshapers, this card is seldom more than a Grey Ogre. In decks with forests and large, non-trampling creatures, it gets a little better.
Brainstorm - One of my favorite cards in the color, Brainstorm ranks this low only because it comes SOOOOO late. Not only does brainstorm help with your mana problems and give you a 10 card opening hand (at least as far as choosing how to play your first few turns), but when combined with one of the many ways to shuffle your deck in the environment (rebels, mercs, Land Grant, Pathfinder etc) it becomes Ancestral Recall-like, trading 2 lands, or better yet, 2 mercenaries/rebels you made the mistake of drawing for 3 random cards from your deck.
Tidal Bore - Here's where the selection starts getting really thin. Bore is actually pretty underrated, acting as a good trick that gets an unneeded land back to one's hand for spellshaper use.
Cloud Sprite - A weak card, the Sprite should only be in your main deck if you've had the good fortune to draft a Coastal Piracy, under which it becomes very strong. It also serves as a sideboard card against Rishadan Airship and, more importantly, Gliders against your other color.
Rishadan Cutpurse - The Blue Stone Rain, huh? Unfortunately, your opponent gets to choose the land, if its even a land they want to get rid of, and it only works in the first 5 turns. If you have a lot of spellshapers for mid/late game use, this guy is ok, but you really don't want him in your deck
Buoyancy - Also weak, this isn't too bad as a sideboard card, or in times of desperation, in a GU deck with big creatures.
Diplomatic Immunity - a sideboard card for the deck with power creatures against black.
Hoodwink - Maybe when you can't get around Story Circle and you have no enchantment removal? Pretty weak, I've heard rumors of Hoodwink/Stone Rain mana deprival decks but haven't had a chance to try them out.
Misstep - I've heard people say they've boarded it vs. green, but it's always been a wasted card for me
Port Inspector - Could this guy be any weaker?
Saprazzan Raider - I guess Port Inspector isn't THAT weak...