Hey everyone! Now that we’ve had some time to enjoy some adventures in Baldur’s Gate, it’s time to let you in on some of our findings that defy expectations. In other words, it’s time to talk about which cards are over and under performing compared to their initial predictions. That means I’m not going to tell you that Drider is bad or The Hourglass Coven is good because everyone knew that going in.
Astarion, the Decadent
3.5 to 3.0
There are times that this is just an absurdly busted card and it is even in the two most powerful colors in the format. So why is it floating around a very average 55% win rate with an almost negligible improvement in win rate when drawn? It’s because it’s six mana and it either pushes you over the top or sits in your hand while you die. It’s not necessarily a win more card, but it does tend to just finish games that you are ahead.
It’s also vulnerable to instant speed removal like Patriar's Humiliation or a Dragon's Fire with a four-power dragon. Nothing quite like dropping your six-drop expecting to win and getting wrecked by one or two mana removal.
I’m not going to deny that sometimes it’s great and warps the game. It’s just that other times it just eats a removal spell without affecting the game at all. It’s undeniably powerful and you should still take it, just lower your expectations on it.
Black Market Connections
2.5 to 1.5
The biggest problem with this is the speed of the format. You don’t have time to take turn three off to play this and then start losing life every turn. Even with a bunch of life gain, I still don’t want this in my starting lineup as I believe it is basically unplayable in best of one.
It’s is actually a fine side board card against slower decks that you can bury in value. Even in that scenario, I would be much more comfortable having this in my deck if I was on the play.
Calim, Djinn Emperor
3.0 to 2.5
If Calim, Djinn Emperor was the exact same card in one of the Mardu colors, I would be raising this score quite a bit. It’s just so hard to dedicate that much of your mana base to the worst color early. Triple blue is just not where you want to be in this format. It’s still a really powerful card in a vacuum and if you fall back into blue, getting this late is a great payoff.
The problem is that most of the other blue cards just can’t keep up with the power level of everything else going on. Don’t totally discount it though, you can actually get a sick deck with the right opens at the table if you are the only blue drafter.
Follow the Tracks
2.0 to 1.5
The theme of doing nothing on turn three being awful continues with Follow the Tracks. While ramping and getting a card out of it later sounded good in theory, the format is way too fast for those types of antics to be good.
One of the big problems is that green doesn’t have very many good two drops to lead with so you don’t have much going on when you cast this. Then after playing this on three, you’re so far behind that even a five drop isn’t going to pull you back in the game.
3.5 to 3.0
I know, I know, I’ve been telling you about how much removal matters in this format. So why is this underperforming? Because a four-mana sorcery speed removal doesn’t do much against a rush of cheap double team creatures.
It’s still a good card, just not the absurd, top of the mountain, end all, be all removal that it was before. It’s also REALLY bad when you do this and your opponent pays one mana to wreck you with Blessed Hippogriff.
Sworn to the Legion
2.5 to 1.5
Are you in the market for winning a game by significantly more than you already were? How about tapping out for a spell that does nothing so that your opponent has the opportunity to mercilessly bash your face in? You’re not into either of those? Well then, this card is not for you.
There are certainly going to be times that this dominates the game, but in the vast majority of cases you would have been far better off with literally any other card.
2.0 to 1.5
While it’s unexpected that this just didn’t work out in this format, I probably should have seen it coming. Red is an extremely aggressive color and you just don’t have time to spend four mana to filter a card even if it double ramps you.
Its home is in expensive, multi color shenanigan decks, but decks like that would much rather be playing Undercellar Myconid.
2.5 to 3.5
I thought this was going to be good, solid staple, but its actually one of the format defining cards. Its mere presence dictates the flow of tempo by basically making trades off limits if you have a white mana up. As long as your opponent knows that this card exists, they are just not going to block when you can easily fit the front part into your curve while putting them down a card.
Even if your opponent never bites on getting wrecked by the adventure portion, this is still a fine creature that helps you win board stalls or races by flying another monster over the top.
2.5 to 3.5
This is actually the second highest IWD (win rate improvement when drawn) Uncommon after only Sword Coast Serpent. Having such a high win rate in a lower tier color really speaks about the raw power level of the card.
While a 4/3 for four isn’t something you would actively want in your deck, it’s not entirely embarrassing as a card 20-23. As we all know, adding draw a card to anything can make the difference between a perpetual stinker and a high-end masterpiece. This goes a step beyond that by letting you tutor up the best dragon in your deck. RAWR!
2.0 to 3.0
I’m going to be honest with you all here. I misread the card when I originally ranked it, I thought it only pumped itself instead of every copy of itself. Even then I probably still underrated it because I would have put it at a 2.5.
It’s the best common red two drop (yes, it’s better than Hobgoblin Captain) and a key part of what the aggressive red decks are doing. Double Team is an amazing mechanic and there aren’t a lot of cards that let your opponent deal with this before you get the chance to get the extra copy.
Gameplan: Take a bunch of these and profit.
1.5 to 2.0
This is the most contentious card in the set as it was a gigantic dumpster fire in AFR, but had a huge win rate early on in HBG. While not having Plundering Barbarian around to wreck it is nice, there’s a lot more than goes into it being suddenly playable. It’s a much better card here because it lines up well against all of the small creatures running around, but it’s still not great.
There are many reasons behind the early spike and subsequent fall of the Iron Golem. The biggest one is that early on, only better players were playing it in decks that it should be played in while now that everyone jumped on the band wagon it is plummeting faster than NFTs.
The times you do want to be playing this are when you have cards like Blessed Hippogriff or as a top end in Boros. Its drawback really doesn’t matter in situations like these because you were going to be attacking anyway. Just don’t be the person shoving four of these in a random deck.
2.0 to 2.5
In the words of Ricky Bobby, I wanna go fast! Dropping this on turn one completely changes the flow of the entire game. Your opponent has to account for everything in your deck suddenly having haste and you can sneak in unexpected double team cards before they have a chance to deal with them.
The ability being perpetual matters so much more than you would think. Even if they kill Kobold Warcaller, you can still use its ability to set up for a future turn. You can even bluff having an additional creature in hand by using it’s ability since you don’t have to reveal it.
2.5 to 3.0
Boros is the best deck and Shambling Ghast lines up really great against what they have going on. Trading off and either ramping or picking off another creature is pretty amazing value and sometimes it just puts them in the position where they can’t profitably attack. That’s not even getting into how good it is with Deadly Dispute.
It just does so much for a one drop. It was underrated early in AFR and it’s being underrated again here in HBG.
2.0 to 3.0
One of the huge benefits to this is that it gets around Blessed Hippogriff. I’ve already had plenty of incidents where I played Rasaad with Griff backup and they just Sewer Plagued me in the middle of nowhere. It’s almost like exiling because it takes reanimation off of the table with the perpetual effect.
Don’t underestimate how fast this can kill almost anything since it gets the counters every upkeep. That means that you can take out a Champions of Tyr before it gets the chance to double team.
You can’t go wrong with reasonably costed instant speed removal.
3.0 to 3.5
Apparently, Swords to Plowshares is pretty good as a common. It doesn’t even have the decency to give your opponent the life, it just humiliates them and moves on.
The remove abilities portion has been way more relevant than predicted. It wrecks death triggers like Draconic Muralists and Undercellar Myconid. You can even respond to specialize to completely blow them out after they discarded a card.
This 100% should have been at least an uncommon.
2.5 to 3.5
Ramp that gives you disposable blockers to get you to the late game is pretty insane and getting access to all five colors can lead to some serious shenanigans. All of the small creatures running around makes the 1/1s you get off this even more relevant.
Comparing this to Follow the Tracks really tells you all you need to know about the format. Long term card advantage isn’t nearly as important as building a board.
Well that brings us to the end of our first update on Alchemy Horizons Baldur’s Gate limited. I’ll be doing a full update on the tier list in the next few days. Maybe I’ll even get crazy and do a bonus article, who knows, sometimes I like to get nuts. Until next time, may the mana gods bless you with an abundance of riches.
If you have any questions, let me know in the comments below.
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