cinderslash ravager
23, Feb, 23

Current MTG Limited Format May be the Worst Balanced Set Ever!

Article at a Glance

It’s been a few weeks, and players have finally had enough time to gather some respectable data about the Phyrexia: All Will Be One Limited format. The Pro Tour recently passed as well, hosting six rounds of the new Limited format played by the best MTG players in the world. The one common thing that players and recently gathered data are suggesting is that one particular color combination is outshining the rest of the Limited format. Phyrexia: All Will Be One Limited has a Gruul problem.

Gruul is Absurd in Phyrexia: All Will Be One Limited

After collecting some data provided by 17 Lands, considered one of the most reliable data sources for any Limited format played on MTG Arena, Twitter user Magic Data Science posted the following charts, which shows something quite alarming.

Pictured above are the trophy rates for each dual-colored combination in recent MTG sets recorded on 17 Lands. The points on the Y axis are percentiles for how many trophies for each color are allocated to it compared to everything else. If you look at the chart in the last row for BRO, or Brother’s War, for example, the 0.1 means that about 10% of trophies for the entire set are allocated to those colors. For reference, a trophy refers to when you hit the maximum number of wins available in any Limited mode. In Premium Draft, that would be getting seven wins before hitting three losses in a Best of One event.

Phyrexia: All Will Be One, or ONE, found at the beginning of the second column from the top. You’ll notice that there is one major outlier. Gruul holds about 30% of all trophies recorded on 17 Lands for Phyrexia: All Will Be One. This is way ahead of the other color combinations in the format, with Boros, the runner-up, only hitting around the 15% mark.

Interestingly, this looks similar to the chart from Dominaria United. Izzet is a major outlier in this format, also responsible for just under 30% of all trophies. As quoted from Magic Science, this comparison means a lot in terms of preventing a write-off for the entire format:

“Dominaria is remembered fondly as a format, which suggests that this degree of concentration doesn’t necessarily spell doom for a set.”

That said, Gruul is strong for a reason. Let’s look at what Gruul has going for over other color combinations in the format.

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Phyrexia: All Will Be One Limited Gruul Oil

cinderslash ravager

The Gruul theme typically cares a lot about oil counters. The deck also has a fantastic payoff in the uncommon slot that plays even better than it reads. Between Phyrexian Mites and other common threats, there are a ton of one toughness creatures that get annihilated by Cinderslash Ravager. In my experience, you won’t be casting this for a considerable discount very often, but the card is still fantastic for the entire six mana.

migloz, maze crusher

Migloz is, of course, another fantastic payoff for the archetype, but you won’t usually be found this since its a Rare. That said, according to 17 Lands, Migloz sports the highest winrate of the entire set at 59% in Premier Draft. Bladehold War-Whip and Cinderslash Ravager follow this up, the two uncommon payoffs for the leading archetypes according to the above graphs.

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The Gruul color combination also dominates the best winrates amongst the common rarity, according to 17 Lands, with the top seven commons all falling into the color combination (to be fair, six of those are red).

chimney rabble

According to 17 Lands, Chimney Rabble has the highest winrate in Premier Draft. This is followed up by Barbed Batterfist, Axiom Engraver, and Hexgold Slash which are all in the same color. These cards float between a 59 and 58% winrate. This jumps down a bit with the next card, another red card named Furnace Strider.

This speaks heavily to the fact that red is in both top-performing archetypes in the list above. Some green cards are amongst the best-performing commons, namely Contagious Vorrac, but this list is truly dominated by red.

rebel salvo

The story doesn’t change too much when looking at uncommons on the site. As mentioned before, the War-Whip and Cinderslash Ravager hold the top two spots, but seven of the nine top spots are held by the dominant Gruul combination. The top nine slots for uncommon winrate in 17 Lands are as follows:

  • Bladehold War-Whip – 59%
  • Cinderslash Ravager – 58.6%
  • Annex Sanctuary – 58.4%
  • Rebel Salvo – 58.2%
  • Furnace Punisher – 57.8%
  • Evolving Adaptive – 57.6%
  • Hexgold Halberd – 57.5%
  • Cankerbloom – 57.2%
  • Exuberant Fuseling – 57.2%

With the Gruul color combination dominating the top nine slots, it’s easy to see why Gruul dominates trophy numbers so heavily on MTG Arena. Notably, many of the uncommons directly under the top nine are white – the only other color that even appeared in the top nine slots.

What Do You Think?

As mentioned at the beginning of this article, many Pro Tour players also mentioned that, in an ideal world, Gruul is the color combination you want to end up with in Phyrexia: All Will Be One draft. Orzhov was another color combo that many players were happy to play. Of course, there are some incredibly powerful bombs in the set, like The Eternal Wanderer and Glissa Sunslayer, that heavily incentivize those lucky enough to find them into a different color. It also doesn’t necessarily mean that you, as a Limited player, should always go for Gruul, regardless of how open it is. If anything, the biggest takeaway from this is how powerful red is in the format, and, if you do see Gruul payoffs later in your packs, switching off could be incredibly rewarding.

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