One Baldur’s Gate prerelease is down, and there’s a lot to know with MTG’s latest Commander draft event. A lot went wrong, yet I managed to come second overall anyway. Here I’ll give some recommendations on what to look for during the drafting process, some general tips on how to enjoy yourself with a format that you’ve probably never played before, and advise you to avoid the mistakes that we made:
Some major glitches affected our prerelease experience. Hopefully, by letting you know about it, you’ll be able to catch it before you experience the same thing.
Firstly, some of our packs had unequal amounts of cards in them. This, as you may expect, caused absolute chaos in the pod when someone counted the cards left in their pack and found seven left. For reference, in this draft, each pack starts with 20 cards, and you take two at a time. You should therefore never have an odd amount of cards in a pack. How do we know that they were extra cards? We all had 60 cards at the end of the draft and there were still a couple cards left over. I think this is an isolated incident, but to avoid this messing up the middle of your draft, consider counting the amount of cards in each pack before you start passing them around the table.
Take Your Time
Secondly, make sure you draft carefully. No one in my particular pod did Commander drafts before, and pandemonium broke loose. No one had an issue taking one card instead of two, which I think may be a common problem in your pods, but packs were getting left behind pretty consistently, and there was some confusion about what to do with your prerelease promo.
For reference, your prerelease promo does not go into any packs. You get to keep it as a pick 0 for your draft pool, so to speak.
My advice? Be really clear about the rules before starting draft, because a lot of people will not have done Commander drafts before. Be very clear about what packs are being passed, and in what order the player beside you should receive them. This, hopefully, should avoid the really clunky drafting experience that I had with this set.
Now that the glitches are out of the way, here are some good common practice things to consider when drafting Baldur’s Gate:
READ MORE: Top 12 Green Card Draw
Try to Stay Within Two Colors
Your final deck for Baldur’s Gate draft cannot exist outside of your Commander’s color identity. It’s not unheard of to literally have a deck that you can’t play as a result. Another noteworthy change from normal draft is that you need to have 60 cards instead of 40. The earlier you can find a Commander and build a plan around it, the better your deck will end up. I got Astarion partway through pack two, and ended up with a few copies of it in my pool. I then started taking cards that could help push mass amounts of damage so I could double it and kill people outright. There are three color Commanders available in Baldur’s Gate. If you find them, start drafting the Gate lands highly. I find that, if you’re only in two colors, you don’t really need fixing. Three color Commanders do seem to be more powerful on average, but synergy is the most important thing when drafting Baldur’s Gate.
Card Draw is King
A common issue for players was to run out of resources. These games take a long time to finish. Drawing one card per turn is not enough. Make sure you can set up some advantage to outlast other players at the table. Being a threat on board doesn’t matter if you can’t close out games, and there weren’t a lot of decks that were capable of doing that. I didn’t have much card advantage, but I did have Ascend from Avernus, which won me multiple games on its own.
If you can manage a deck that just takes a massive dump on the board and starts killing people, that’s a really good place to be. Board wipes aren’t very strong in this format, so multiple bodies can be kind of brutal. Watch out for Forktail Sweep. It did end up blowing out a token deck out that was posed to win in one of our games.
Goad is Strong
Every instance of Goad in our games was incredibly impressive. Draft these cards highly. If two players at the table are going at each other’s throats, fuel their fire with Goad effects. In my experience, multiple players end up dying in rapid succession, so Goad, for the most part, is pseudo removal that puts pressure on multiple opponents. This is where you want to be.
Removal is Worse Then Usual
Removal is still quite powerful, and you should have some of it in your deck to prevent major blowouts, but removal in general is a lot weaker in Baldur’s Gate. Killing one person’s creature isn’t enough to impact the board state in a major way. Symmetrical removal, that does something to multiple players, can be a little better. Banishment specifically was very impressive… until the player who had it died and a mass of creatures flooded back on to the board.
Know Your Draft Archetypes
Players that followed draft archetypes and had plans for their decks generally did better than players who found a Commander they liked and went with it. This was surpassed only by a player who focused on a Commander that provided heavy card advantage. I don’t know the set well enough to talk about any archetypes in detail, but here are some draft archetypes you can shoot for:
- UW Flicker
- GW Tokens
- WB Aristocrats/leaving battlefield matters
- RW Attack Matters
- UB Initiative
- UR Adventures/Dragons
- GU Dragons
- BR Treasure
- BG Reanimator
- RG Dragons
Note that, for all these archetypes, you can make them work without any rares.
Final Note: Don’t Take it too Seriously
As a parting note to this brief overview for Baldur’s Gate prerelease, do not take your games too seriously. A few more competitive players came out to the Baldur’s Gate release and hated their experience. Multiplayer is messy, and people are going to do what they want to even if it doesn’t make sense. If you enjoy a challenging competitive experience where you’re rewarded for delicate decision making, this is not the event for you. If you want to have some laughs with some new friends at a table with an absolute mess of a game, you’re at the right place. I myself, will be doing a few more of these with friends and family. This is a great event to bring a lot of people to and just have a good time playing MTG.