The Most Overrated and Underrated Cards in Forgotten Realms Draft

Magic Missile Art by PINDURSKI
Magic Missile Art by PINDURSKI

Hey everyone! I’m beyond excited to be diving into some D&D limited today. Limited is by far my favorite format and I especially love discussing and breaking down my card preferences.

First and foremost, I want to discuss the most overrated and underrated cards in D&D booster draft. So far, I’ve done around 50 drafts of the format and feel that I have a solid understanding of it. I’ve noticed an unfortunate pattern of players being fooled into playing cards that are way worse than they look at first glance. I’ve also been noticing solid, albeit unassuming looking, cards consistently going later during the draft than they should be. Time to tell you what cards you do and don’t want!

As all of us Arena grinders know, having enough wildcards is a constant struggle. Winning more in draft makes it significantly easier to have the necessary wildcards to build whatever decks you want. So, let’s dive in and boost your D&D draft win rates!

When it comes to limited card evaluation, I’ve found that using Quadrant Theory is one of the simplest and most effective ways to accurately examine cards. The Marshall Sutcliffe article, “Quadrant Theory” goes into detail on how this card evaluation process works. If you are interested in reading that, you can click here. The theory considers at what point(s) in the game a specific card will perform well. This method works because Limited revolves almost entirely around board presence. There are four quadrants: opening, parity, winning, and losing.

Umezawa's Jitte

Let’s use Umezawa’s Jitte as an example. Examining it under this lens shows why it is one of the best limited cards in the history of the game. It simply dominates every imaginable board state at all the game points listed above. Quadrant Theory is how I come to a lot of my conclusions about specific cards. But enough chit chat, let’s dive in!

Overrated

YOU MEET IN A TAVERN

You Meet in a Tavern is a classic example of two mediocre effects combining to make a mediocre card. It happens way too often where my opponent waste their fourth turn casting this. They hit 1-2 creatures, and then I untap and beat them down with my Hobgoblin Captain and Circle of the Moon Druid. It’s just such a sigh of relief when that is what they decide to do in the midgame.

I’m no Frank Karsten, but I do know that consistently hitting more than two creatures with the Form a Party mode of this card is pretty unlikely. Plus, if you ever miss entirely, you might as well just shame concede. Spending your fourth turn on a bad instead of developing our board or answering an opposing threat will lead to you getting run over quickly.

On the other hand, the Start a Brawl mode has the issue of being way too situational. It really only wins a game where you are already winning. The reason why cards like Overrun are so nuts in limited is because of the trample or evasion that they give. This allows you to win games where you are winning, at parity, or losing. With Start a Brawl your opponent is able to chump block a creature or two and still have a great crack-back on their next turn.

Just do what green does best and commit good creatures to the board instead of wasting your time with effects like this. If you want to pump up a creature, then stick to Bull’s Strength and the solid equipment.

DRIDER

Drider is an example of a classic limited scam. It’s an expensive, uncommon creature with a bunch of abilities that somehow still underperforms when compared to its common counterparts. Every set always has a few of these bozos lying around.

Despite Drider being an uncommon, it’s worse than both Herald of Hadar and Zombie Ogre. Both these cards have better bodies and actually have a valuable effect when you are winning, losing, and at parity. The board is often already at a stall by the time Drider comes down.

It’s a poor attacker because the three toughness means that it will often trade down with a worse creature. Furthermore, it’s also a poor blocker because even though it has reach, three toughness means that it will only trade with most fliers. Living the dream and connecting with Drider will end the game very quickly, but so does hitting your opponent with pretty much any four-power creature.

EQUIPMENTS

Adventures in the Forgotten Realm really is the land of misfit equipment. Just because you have solid equipment payoffs like Dwarfhold Champion or Bruenor Battlehammer does not mean you should always be stooping to include these weak equipment in your deck.

Equipment in general have diminishing returns. They are often clunky and have high equip costs which can make it easy to fall behind when you draw too many of them. Playing too many equipment can also lead to board states where you’re low on creatures and forced to put all your eggs in one basket. Doing this leads to blowouts where your creature gets shot down with a Farideh’s Fireball and you’re just left with useless equipment.

Prioritize the more premium equipment like Plate Armor, Goblin Morningstar or even +2 Mace if you want your Boros equipment decks to perform.

MIMIC

I saved the worst offender for last. The amount of Mimic I’ve faced in my time drafting is incredibly concerning. Unlike You Meet in a Tavern, both parts of this card aren’t mediocre; they’re terrible. Blowing this early for mana leaves you down a card, and animating this offers you a really clunky Centaur Courser that you can’t equip efficiently. I will never pick Mimic unless it is the literal last card in the pack and I hope you do the same.

Underrated

CIRCLE OF MOON DRUID

Circle of the Moon Druid is a pretty vanilla and unassuming card. It seems like it’s only filler when in actuality I’m happy to play as many copies as I can in the green aggressive decks. Circle of the Moon Druid is one of those cards that you can only fully appreciate after playing the format a decent amount.

Furthermore, the card works very well with the premier green commons. Gnoll Hunter into this puts your opponent to the test immediately because of how quickly you can trigger pack tactics. When combined with Spoils of the Hunt you’re able to kill almost any creature.

Bull’s Strength also works wonderfully with Circle of the Moon Druid too because it allows you to get a ton of damage in, have your creature live, and still have a solid four toughness blocker back to stop you from losing the damage race. Definitely not an all-star card, but also definitely not something I should be consistently seeing 12th pick.

MAGIC MISSILE

Removal is of course at a premium in limited, so its not like Magic Missile is ever going particularly late. However, I see a lot of drafts where players are valuing worse interaction over Magic Missile. It may not be common knowledge, but Arc Lightning effects always tend to overperform over most traditional removal spells. Why? It’s really easy to get a 2 for 1.

Situations like killing your opponent’s two and three drop or using it post combat to clean up the creatures that just barely survived is very common. What makes removal truly great in limited is when you’re able to get both tempo and card advantage out of it. Magic Missile answering two early creatures is extremely backbreaking for this reason. Spending three mana and one card to answer two creatures who in total cost the opponent five mana will leave you wildly ahead in the game.

Minimus Containment, Grim Bounty, and Dragon’s Fire are all worse than Magic Missile, so stop taking them over it!

THE CREATURE LANDS

I’ve seen posts on Twitter from pros who said that they would take premium commons like Dragon’s Fire or Grim Bounty over these lands. Furthermore, I also consistently get these lands between pick 3-5. As an example, Lair of Hydra is a worth a lot more than Hive of the Eye Tyrant because it’s just a more powerful effect which makes evaluating them even more difficult.

However, making your manabase fight for you is a key to succeeding in modern limited, especially if the land that you are getting value out of provides colored mana. In today’s day and age, it’s so easy to get to 23 playables because there are so few completely unplayable cards in a set. That means that you often end up with extra, near useless cards.

Even premium removal like Dragon’s Fire can be replaced with mediocre versions like Spiked Pit Trap that go late in the draft. That loss in efficiency is well worth it if it means that one of my land drops is also a pseudo spell.

After trading one-for-one all game you’ll be the one left with the must answer threat on board. Thank me later when you’re riding a bugbear to victory.

DEADLY DISPUTE

This one really surprised me because I’ve never been a big fan of maindecking Village Rites effects in Limited unless my deck was built to abuse it. That’s not the case with Deadly Dispute. Besides Skullport Merchant, Black really does not have much card advantage. This makes it a lot easier for archetypes like Rakdos Sacrifice to be out-carded by the decks playing Owlbear, Priest of Ancient Lore, or strategies that venture into the dungeon well.

Furthermore, since there is an abundance of treasures in black, it is easy to hold up Deadly Dispute at all times in a nonsuspicious fashion and blow out an opponent’s removal spell. All the treasure lying around also guarantees that you always have something to sacrifice if you’re in dire straits and need to find something.

Finally, Deadly Dispute is a key sacrifice outlet with Price of Loyalty. It makes an Act of Treason into a Murder with huge upside. Deadly Dispute really helps the Rakdos decks from a consistency standpoint, so definitely up it in your pick order.

Hopefully I was able to change your mind on a card or two and help you win some more D&D drafts. Jumpstart: Historic Horizons is fast approaching so now is the time to start building up your wildcard collection!

Thank you for reading!

Chris Kvartek

While Chris Kvartek technically kicked off his career in 2012, he burst onto the scene in 2019 like few before him. With an early season Top Finish at Mythic Championship II and narrow miss for his second at Mythic Championship IV, Kvartek earned invitations to two more Mythic Championships through online qualifiers. He secured his second Top Finish of the season at Mythic Championship VII, and now this rising star must prove he can stay among the elite of professional Magic.

8 Responses

  1. gino says:

    Last part “skullport mercenary” —> Skullport Merchant
    (that’s why there is no link maybe 😉 )

  2. Sagan says:

    Great article! Welcome, Mr. Kvartek!

  3. Pollaski says:

    Ill disagree with Dueling Rapier. Its basically a combat trick that sticks around and can quickly turn a chump into a trade. Its a good back end card to get you to 23.

  4. Manuel Vazquez Sanchez says:

    Who underrates Deadly dispute? Serioulsy

    • Cody Mann says:

      That’s what I was thinking! I think most people agree it’s an amazing card.

      I also disagree magic missle is better than dragon’s fire or grim bounty. Sorcery speed is a real downside and the other two are just better cards.