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Preening Champion

Arena Open Primer: Best Limited Cards and Sealed Stars in MOM

Late with your Open prep? No problem. Sierkovitz gives you a quick run-down which cards to look out for and which cards to avoid in MOM Limited according to data.

Arena Open this weekend is in Limited, so if you want some of that sweet, sweet cash – you might want to get a bit of an update on what is making the March of the Machine (MOM) limited tick. I will give you top 3 best commons and uncommons and selection of bombs in each color according to and then we will look as some cards that do particularly better in sealed to aid you in crossing that first hurdle.


White has a common creature problem in this format and data shows it. Of the top 3 commons in White, two are combat tricks, one is a 2 mana 3/1 creature. Don’t get me wrong, both combat tricks are pretty strong, but usually I am not going into a color combination based on a combat trick being present. There are some other decent creatures but they look like being replaceable – you can pick any of those and they will be fine.

Knight of the New Coalition, Bola Slinger and Sigiled Sentinel are all fine cards but don’t make me excited whenever I see them. And neither I should be, the Game in Hand Win Rates (GiH WR) of those cards is in the 54-55% range, an OK number but not even scraping top 10 commons in the format.

There are also couple of cards that look like a trap in White, in particular Realmbreaker's Grasp and Alabaster Host Sanctifier. Both are picked highly in drafts, but their numbers are very middling, with ~53% GiH WR. That means they re still playable, but should not be treated as premium in sealed and should not be picked highly in draft – you should only want them when they do go late, as in such scenario this is a good sign that White is wide open.

If White commons looked average, the data on White uncommons looks bad. Apart from excellent Norn's Inquisitor, which has a GiH WR of over 60% and is a 4th best uncommon in the whole set in that aspect, the rest looks pretty poor. Phyrexian Censor and Seal from Existence have a win rate of just over 54%, which would mean they would not make the top 3 White commons with those stats.

Instead of writing about quality in White, it is easier to draw your attention to 3 notable traps at uncommon: Sun-Blessed Guardian, Invasion of Belenon and Seraph of New Capenna barely have the GiH WR of above 50% and are picked very early.

This is not because those cards are bad on paper. But what they do aligns poorly with the rest of the format. Invasion of Belenon has too much defence for an aggro deck to be ably to attack it profitably, Sun-Blessed Guardian and Seraph require a massive investment to flip it that can be cancelled for one mana with opponent’s Ephara's Dispersal of any other bounce spell or cheap removal. In some other formats those cards could have been fine.

With this scathing picture of White, you may think that it is close to unplayable? Well maybe it would be if not for…

If not for the fact White has some of the most back0breaking bombs in the format. Top 2 highest win rate cards in the format are Sunfall and 7 mana Elesh Norn. And the Boon-Bringer Valkyrie is not far behind at no. 4. In fact, when you look at the Sealed data, all 4 of the top 4 highest win rate cards in the format are White, with Archangel Elspeth joining the team.

So on day 1 of the Open, do look at your pool from that perspective. White bombs might be the way for you to qualify for day 2 and if you do not have them, make sure you do have some ways to address them, because you are pretty much guaranteed to play against at least one of them.


If White was disappointing, Blue is its polar opposite. 6 of the Top 10 commons are blue. That includes the best common in the format, Preening Champion. People do understand its power by now, so you should not be getting too many anymore, but they still wheel sometimes. Not correct. But the other two of the top blue commons, Ephara's Dispersal and Eyes of Gitaxias, still go late in the pack, something you should capitalise in draft.

Apart from the top 3 there is a whole host of good Blue commons, partially driven by the color’s high win rate. Saiba Cryptomancer, Assimilate Essence and Temporal Cleansingare all more than solid. In fact, the level of Blue commons means there are almost no traps. One card that does underperform is the Order of the Mirror, but it still is playable, maybe should be prioritised less.

Blue uncommons are on par with the commons in terms of the power level. Artistic Refusal has GiH WR lower only than two multicolor cards (and guess what, both have blue in their cost). Captive Weird and Skyclave Aerialist are right behind with a GiH WR of ~60%. And Xerex Strobe-Knight, Tetsuko Umezawa, Fugitiveand Inga Rune-Eyes are not far behind.

One notable trap at the uncommon level is the Invasion of Kamigawa. Overcosted and understatted, it doesn’t even reach 50% GiH WR, appalling result for an uncommon with a signature mechanic of the set and in the best color combination.

Only 2 blue cards fulfil the “bomb” requirement in MOM, which for me is having a higher win rate than Preening Champion. But both those cards look amazing. Chrome Host Seedshark is a house. Just a 2/4 Flying creature for 3 mana is great. Making big incubator tokens when you build around it with cards like Artistic Refusal is a whole different story altogether. Shark can quickly take over the games and will do if you have no ways of dealing with it. Zephyr Singer is a threatening body, that can make other bodies equally threatening.


Deadly Derision is an all-star common, only having a lower GiH WR than the top blue cards and crossing the 60% threshold, something only very few commons achieve. But other top black commons are not bad either. The key themes seem to be removal and 2-for-1 value.

Final Flourish and Vanquish the Weak provide the former, while Nezumi Informant, Unseal the Necropolis and Ichor Drinker, the latter. No obvious traps in Black, as the low WR cards are also picked late.

Uncommons in Black are slightly less impressive than the commons, still the top 3 are all solid cards with a 58% GiH WR. And again the theme is removal (Collective Nightmare and Merciless Repurposing, just outside of top 3) and getting that extra value (Berserker and Thallid). But after the t4 mentioned cards, the quality drops off slightly. No massive traps but both Nezumi Freewheeler and Compleated Huntmaster have a bit of a low win rate, considering how highly they have to be picked.

But even if the unocommon slot in Black was not impressive, the rares makes up for that, and some. Breach the Multiverse is a surprising bomb in the format. Turns out the high power level of other cards and the permissive speed of the format allow us to play 7 mana spells and if that is the case, the effect of Breach is powerful enough. Both Sheoldreds are powerful and require opponent to have the answer to them if they want to have a chance of winning the game, which is the exact definition of what bombs should be.

Invasion of Fiora is, perhaps somewhat surprisingly, the top invasion in the format. Modal wrath effect, that sometimes lets some of your creatures survive is a strong front side and the back is impressive as well. And Pile On is perhaps the most modestly looking of the cards that have higher win rate than the Preening Champion. But it does, just, which is a sign that you should not underestimate the power instant speed convoke combined with some card selection and removal provides to your deck.

Worth mentioning a couple of other solid rares in Invasion of Innistrad and Hoarding Broodlord. One potential trap is Ayara, First of Locthwain The excessive mana requirements mean it does not perform as well as you may think it would, with a disappointing 52% win rate.


Red is a color of three commons. The cards above are very good. But they have very little support. The problem with red commons is, it is a 1-for-1 color in a 2-for-1 format. And you can see it with the top caqrds all allowing that 2-for-1 exchanges, and being good at 55-56% GiH WR. Hangar Scrounger, just behind those three, still lets you get the extra value, but the rest of the cards look much worse. A whole bunch of red commons slot into this 50-53% win rate category of things you are reluctantly ok to put in your deck, but by no means you are happy to do so.

Good part is Red is drafted accordingly to its power, so in draft portion you should be able to get your Red commons with not much trouble and in the end, MOM is a format where every color combination is playable, so if people try and draft Blue a bit too aggressively, maybe Red decks are an interesting gamble against the metagame?

Uncommons in Red are not amazing but very solid. Furnace Reins is on top, but it will fit only into a small subset of Red decks, mostly BR with some capacity to sacrifice the stolen creature, so pick it only if you are able to use the full potential of steal and sac strategy. Fearless Skald is one of the better Backup creatures – showing again that Double Strike is one of the most powerful keywords you can get. Invasion of Mercadia is getting lot of its power from the fact that just the front side is worth its cost, so even if you flip the card only 10-20% of the time you are well ahead on the price you paid.

There are 2 more solid uncommons in Red: both Stoke the Flames and Khenra Spellspear are great additions to your red decks. The same can’t be said about Harried Artisan or Shivan Branch-Burner, which are picked early by 17Lands users but have disappointing win rates, to the point I would treat them as traps, cards that force you to waste early picks on mediocre spells.

Two high rarity cards shine brightly, and are good reasons to draft Red: Etali, Primal Conqueror is very similar to Breach the Multiverse, but comes on a sizeable 7/7 trampling stick. This is the sort of 7 mana creature you do not mind playing as the enter the battlefield triggers is so powerful, even if it is killed instantly, you are ahead on the exchange.

Chandra is a powerful planeswalker and will win games on her own if left unchecked. But most Red rares are on a level of strong uncommons in other colors, 56-7% GiH WR is not something that is worth venturing into a weaker color. And some, like Invasion of Kaldheim and Into the Fire, at 50% and below or both versions of Urabrask at 53%, are right traps.


Green has a similar problem as White does. Lack of stars in its common slot. Top commons are all around 55-56% GiH WR. Both Pest and Beast are mainly good because of their ETB effects, which make removal less powerful against them, as even killing one part leaves something behind, so you generated value of those two no matter what.

Adaptation is a sort of sneaky untap trick I tend to like, having many ways of making opponent’s life miserable. A whole bunch of commons is close behind the top 3, but across Cosmic Hunger, Blighted Burgeoning Seeds of Hope and Wary Thespian, only the latter is a creature and it is a reasonable but medium 2-drop. This leaves Green commons lacking in terms of quality creatures. Good news is, there are no clear traps in Green, low win rate cards are drafted late.

Uncommons in Green also lack excellence. All 3 of the top 3 are around 57% WR, above average but not by much. Tangled Skylineis the Honey Mammoth of the set, even if the design team tried to hide that fact well. Still it is pretty good in the decks that would be interested in gaining life thanks to a big creature. And secret reach is a thing, especially in a format where top common is a Bird. Most other uncommons are in the same cluster of medium win rates as the Green commons were, so nothing amazing, but also nothing too bad. Two exceptions of that rule are Renata and Invasion of Muraganda. Both have a very low win rate for where they need to be picked.

Vorinclex is the sole green bomb, and you can imagine why it is good. Glistening Dawn is not far off, being just 0.2%p lower win rate than Preening Champion. Which sort of is the testament towards the quality of Preening Champion. There are notable traps in Green high rarity cards. Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger, Invasion of Shandalar and Tribute to the Tree all have win rates so low, they should be avoided.


The multicolor uncommons are surprisingly low performing this set, but not the three you can see above. Invasion of Amonkhet is the top uncommon in the whole format. But that is about only good news for multicolor uncommon battles in MOM. Most of them do pretty badly, with 6 of them having w GIH WR around 50% – a result poor for 17L user standards. Marshal of Zhalfir also has solid numbers, aided by UW being a good color combinatino on the shoulders of Blue commons and uncommons. Halo Forager is a good card and it is in a really good color pair, which almost definitely helps its cause.

But not all multicolor uncommons are excellent, actually if I were to speculate, my feeling is, the multicolor cards in MOM are weaker than average. Over 2/3rds of multicolor uncommons have a GiH WR lower than 56%, with a bunch of them below 50%. This is not typical, in ONE 40% were below 56% WR, and in BRO, only 20%.

Better news for multicolor bombs, plenty of those. So look for them in your open sealed pools. And if you look carefully, you may notice that all those top rares in multicolor provide you with multiple pieces of cardboard, either by card draw, or by generation of multiple permanents. Again pointing towards the key aspect of this format: get more out of your cards.

Hopefully this article will help you in your Sealed campaign. But when in doubt what to put in your deck, remember data is available for all online!

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I am a limited player, who mainly skips playing in order to analyse the limited data using I run a podcast: Magic Numbers, where I try to use data to let you improve your limited game play, find out which heuristics work out and which common ideas are not well supported by data.

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