Magic the Gathering Arena

In-Depth Turbo Draft Guide MTGA IKORIA

Today I wanted to share with you a guide on the recent Turbo draft featuring the Ikoria set in an effort to help you improve your win ratios & competitiveness on the format based on observations, research, and many many successful at bats in this draft format.  Of which, I absolutely love! 

Ultimately, my goal is to impart the knowledge I have found to be useful to help you farm some gems, fill up Ikoria missing cards, and acquire more packs to get those much needed crafts prior to our rotation here!  With that said, I will outline my approaches to success:

  1. Stack Ranking of Ikoria Set Colors
  2. Key Considerations
    1. Draw
    2. Colorless
    3. Creatures
    4. Land Base
  3. Overall Point of View
    1. Strategy
    2. Picking

Before I get started we need to consider this format for the specifics that it is worth.  It is similar to the original Omniscience draft format BUT not the same.  The things to keep in mind is we reduce casting cost by 5 colorless, and do not gain a benefit on creature abilities that cost mana unlike Omniscience.  This makes for a very unique, fast pace, fun draft format, and even better the drafting is bot based giving us a good opportunity for priority picking the way we need to in order to build efficient decks.  I say this because if you look at the cards that work best in the format you ABSOLUTELY do not need a single RARE or MYTHIC to be successful!  Which makes this amazing and a great level playing field.

Stack Ranking of Ikoria Set Colors

  • BLUE
    1. Counter Magic is amazing in this format
    2. Has tons of cheap draw!
      1. Most powerful card in the format Boon of the Wish-Giver
    3. Mutates are very powerful, draw, tap freezed, bounce
  • RED
    1. I put this over Black for one reason – SPEED
    2. Discard Draw
  • BLACK
    1. Removal
    2. Draw
    3. Mutates that hurt opponents, discard, sac
  • GREEN
    1. Biggest Creatues
  • WHITE
    1. Waste of a comment 😉 Seriously I don’t touch white in this format it is a waste – You can make it work, but doesn’t fit into my strategy

Key Considerations

In this section I will talk about draw, colorless, creatures, and land base.  These are all extremely important to keep in mind as you are drafting.  First, let us take a look at the draw.  You absolutely want the ability to gain 2:1 cards in this format, as it can make your deck essentially go infinite and T1 kill an opponent. Yes, it is possible.  I rate this the most important thing with a close colorless crystal as second.  I think it is extremely important to pull the Crystals providing you with more mana, however we need to keep in mind that this can become a diminishing return and without a draw we get to top decking fast.  Especially in this format where there is plenty of creature removal or denial we don’t want to overvalue the crystals.  Additionally, I am calling this out because most of the other things I have seen or heard significantly focuses on the crystals.

Next, I want to cover the colorless portion.  This includes both the creatures and artifacts.  With the way this format is set up these are free casts. As mentioned above the crystals are extraordinarily powerful in this format, and definitely important to stockpile to a degree as called out above.  The other important thing to note here though is sleeper dart which is a free draw and does something.  Great for deck thinning, and in terms of the three creatures we can’t really go wrong minus at times having too many.  Farfinder is great for finding a land if you are going 2-3 colors or even the thinning for only one color.  Adaptive shimmer is versatile on both offense and defense and stacks well with mutate.

Another thing I want us to take a look at is the key creatures within the color bases.  Additionally, I put a high priority on mutate which should as well be stated.  A creature that does something is very important, and since it is Ikoria mutate is almost a must.  The list I cover below is solely focused on Uncommon and Common.  Like I said above Rare and Mythic are unnecessary to win.  The lists below is also how I stack rank my picks where I can when assessing creatures.

  • BLUE
    1. Dreamtail Heron
    2. Pouncing Shark
    3. Archipelagore
    4. Wingfold Pteron
    5. Crystacean – oddly a great defender that has save me in games, and a lot of players don’t see this coming
  • RED
    1. Lava Serpent
    2. Pyroceratops
    3. Cloudpiercer
  • BLACK
    1. Chittering Harvestor
    2. Cavern Whisperer
    3. Blitz Leech
    4. Insatiable Hemophage (for me only the mutate mechanic the life gain tends to be negligent, but can also get you over the top on your opponent)
  • GREEN
    1. Glowstone Recluse
    2. Auspicious Starrix
    3. Migratory Greathorn
    4. Honey Mammoth
    5. Greater Sandwurm
    6. Titanoth Rex (4 drop cost – easily played around but when sticks it wrecks)
  • WHITE – in case you happen to go this color 😉
    1. Vulpikeet
    2. Majestic Auricorn
    3. Imposing Vanatsaur

The last thing for me to cover as addressed in considerations is the mana base.  First and foremost whenever you get a crystal you can reduce land.  As a starting reference I think you can run just fine between 13-15 lands you will want to go towards 15 if you are running 3 colors and if you don’t get crystals.  Yes, it can happen, and you need to be prepared to adjust.  Generally I find 14 is a good number because you ideally should have 1-2 in your starting and if you are lucky you will have a crystal as well.  The biggest call out that should seem obvious is the more colors you add the harder it is to hit the mark despite running crystals.  The benefit in this format is I would say it’s not as bad as a regular draft, but you can run into problems.  My advice here which is pretty standard is go 2 colors, if you want to go three I would only splash for real value, and that value to me doesn’t necessarily come from the creature list above.  My preference is actually spell based.

Point of View – Parting Words

I would like to leave you with a few final thoughts that I have used to my own success.  When I start my drafts I keep in mind a wide strategy with the focus of the priority in creatures and spells.  Even though I did not directly list out the spells above I think you understand where I am coming from.  If not I prefer, draw, denial, destroy in that order while simultaneously assessing the crystals.  I tend to focus strongly on blue then use red or green as support.  If enough to pull it off my favorite is Grixis when affordable, but 3 colors is tough without the proper crystals, and to my credit and in my guide above I still was able to make this workout!  

The next piece is with this strategy in mind.  I focus on the uncommon first depending on my priority preference which can lean towards a crystal, however if not a usable card in my book I go right to common.  Common has a ton of value in this format so you need to keep that in mind and not be scared.  Equally, people say you get penalized for mulligans here, but I would argue as long as you have a decent chunk of crystals you are better off mulliganing.  Due to the bots you will see a lot of value later in picking however don’t let that also fool you and risk picking the early value because there is no guarantee.

I wish you the best of luck in this lovely Turbo Draft format featuring Ikoria!

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