War of the Spark Draft Guide

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War of the Spark is the latest in the line of multicolored sets, following Ravnica Allegiance and Guilds of Ravnica before it. Like both those sets, War of the Spark takes place on the city-plane of Ravnica but focuses on the ensuing Planeswalker war. As enrapturing as the story is, the limited format showcases a unique take on Draft and Sealed — each booster pack has a Planeswalker in it, ensuring that most decks will have access to this powerful card type. To compensate for this, the multicolor heavy set satisfies both a flavorful connection as well as a mechanic need to more available Planeswalker removal spells.

I’ve gone over the set with Travis, which you can check out in the video here, and we’ve highlighted the best Commons, Uncommons, and Rares from War of the Spark. As for the question of Mythics — nearly every Mythic is a bomb, so we’ve chosen to avoid a section on Mythics. It’s sorted by color, with Hybrid, Multicolor, and Fixing earning their own spots after the Green. Capping off our analysis is an overview of the five Trap cards from War of the Spark, and how difficult these build around cards can be to pull off.


White

Commons

Efficient removal spells and on board spells get the nod here, with Trusted Pegasus the premier common White creature. Little controversy in these picks, as Law-Rune Enforcer and Divine Arrow are cheap removal spells to accommodate the unconditional nature of Wanderer’s Strike.

Uncommons

Similar to the top White commons, removal once again takes priority. Prison Realm is similar to Wanderer’s Strike but has additional versatility, while Sunblade Angel is difficult to race. Invalidating entire board states contributes to the power of Sunblade Angel, though its vulnerability to removal may change its status.

Top 2 Rares

It comes as little surprise that any sort of sweeper proves powerful in limited, but Single Combat is much worse from behind than other sweepers. It compensates for this by being better when ahead compared to its counterparts. Tomik is a truly exceptional two drop, as few creatures can compete with a 2/3 flyer for 2.

Blue

Commons

Continuing the trend of efficient bodies, Aven Eternal offers 3/3 worth of stats on an evasive three drop, while Tamiyo’s Epiphany allows decks to catch up on resources, or pull ahead at parity. Kasmina’s Transmutation is the closest to hard removal we’ve seen from Blue in awhile, and it’s no slouch in this late game heavy limited format. The ability to shut off flyers is a perfect supplement to the cadre of flyers available. Erratic Visionary is the latest in a long line of two drops that sculpt hands, but the activation cost makes it worse in the midgame.

Uncommons

Rescuer Sphinx earns a preliminary top spot among Blue due to the easy ability to turn it into a 4/3 flyer for 4. With a fail case of a 3/2 flyer, Rescuer Sphinx will make it into every Blue deck based just off of its stats. Eternal Skylord is similar to Aven Eternal but can create combo kills when combined with other Amass cards, while Kasmina earns her spot due to the powerful card filtering of her minus.

Top 2 Rares

Commence the Endgame is most likely a 4/4 Zombie that draws two cards — an incredible rate for Limited. While six mana is a tall ask for many formats, the multicolor heavy War of the Spark environment should allow players enough time to cast their powerful cards. Silent Submersible earns its spot for a different reason — the efficiency of a 2/3 removal resistant creature dominates board states on Turn 3, though the utility decreases as the game lengthens.

Black

Commons

In line with conventional ratings, removal once again dominates the top spots. Similar to White, Black’s removal is efficient and largely unconditional. Ob Nixilis’s Cruelty and Spark Harvest can remove nearly any creature in the format, while Shriekdiver is an evasive creature to match that of Blue and white.

Uncommons

Ob Nixlis and Liliana’s Triumph are powerful removal spells to round out the options for Black decks. Eternal Taskmaster does a reasonable job of gumming up the ground and can return one or more creatures on a whim. The 2/3 body prevents most aggressive starts, and the recursive attack trigger encourages trading resources more than normal.

Top 2 Rares

Massacre Girl is often a sweeper attached to a 4/4, as the number of incidental one-toughness creatures to build up a big sweep hare high. When compared to Single Combat this has significant upside, as keeping a 4/4 on an otherwise empty board is better than keeping each player’s best creature. Dreadhorde Invasion provides constant bodies when under pressure, and can combine with other Amass cards to creature a snowballing life linking threat.

Red

Commons

When compared to the options available to other colors, the Red removal disappoints. Heartfire and Jaya’s Greeting have a smaller number of targets though do not require combat. The most efficient bodies are also smaller for Red creatures, with Raging Kronch earning the top spot due to its ability to block on an empty board.

Uncommons

Tibalt’s Rager and Dreadhorde Twins are well-statted creatures that provide late game utility. Dreadhorde Twins is a powerful Amass payoff, as providing Trample to a giant token can end games quickly. Tibalt’s Rager is a walking 2-for-1 and can trade with even large Army tokens due to the pump ability. Chandra’s Triumph is similar to Jaya’s Greeting, while Jaya earns her spot due to the utility provided by her Static ability.

Top 2 Rares

With little contest among other Red rares, Sarkhan and Chandra both make the Top spots. Sarkhan is most similar to Skarrgan Hellkite from Ravnica Allegiance, as he can create a 4/4 Dragon immediately and can prevent smaller creatures from going wide. The ability to turn each planeswalker you control into a Dragon is a win con for five color decks and can eek that extra bit of value from defunct uncommon walkers. Chandra is a continual card advantage engine that provides late-game inevitability in board stalls. With an ultimate that likely ends the game, she can quickly snowball games.

Green

Commons

Green’s commons come at a spectacular rate in War of the Spark, compensated for in part by a lack of removal. Band Together serves as the only removal spell at Common, and while it is a premium removal spell, it is not enough to carry longer games. To make up for this removal deficit, pushed threats like Thundering Ceratok and Snarespinner can gum up the ground, allowing Green to prevail with card advantage in the form of Vivien’s Grizzly or with giant creatures.

Uncommons

Similar in spirit to the Green commons, the uncommons showcase a varied mana curve filled with efficient threats. Powerful statlines, such as those on Mowu or Challenger Troll, allow Green to constantly apply pressure. Paradise Druid and Evolution Sage have decent enough bodies, but the utility provided support specific archetypes. The +1/+1 counter subtheme can snowball quickly off the back of Evolution Sage, while Paradise Druid serves an important role as mana fixing for the four and five color control decks.

Top 2 Rares

Vivien’s Arkbow showcases the power of repetitive card selection, threatening to turn every dead land into an additional threat. The instant speed nature of Vivien’s Arkbow makes combat difficult, if not impossible, while Awakening of the Vitu-Ghazi does a similar job — trading a recurring advantage for a massive damage swing. The pseudo removal roles of these cards contribute to their spots at the top of the Green Rares.

Multicolored

Uncommons

War of the Spark is decidedly multicolored set. With a full twenty multicolor uncommons to accompany the hybrid planeswalkers, evaluating these powerful uncommons can be difficult. With a focus on castability and flexilibity, the most powerful of these cards are never truly dead.

Merfolk Skydiver is nearly unrivaled inefficiency, and by itself can grow larger than nearly any other creature. Recurring Proliferate lets even modest planeswalkers snowball to victory. Deathsprout and Ral’s Outburst are removal spells with significant upside, while Angrath’s Rampage, Tyrant’s Scorn, and Domri’s Ambush are cheap removal spells that can deal with a variety of permanents. Elite Guardmage is a relatively unassuming member of this list, but the evasive body attached to a modest 2-for-1 earns this card a spot near the top of the premium uncommons.

Top 10 Multicolored/Colorless Rares

As with the uncommons, the rare multicolored cards are a mix of card advantage, removal spells, and threats, with Ugin earning the top spot. Generating both card advantage and a body each turn, Ugin also functions as a nearly unconditional removal spell. Time Wipe and Widespread Brutality are sweepers with upside, gaining most of their strength from the board presence left behind. Sorin and Enter the God-Eternal can swing problematic races in your favor, as the life gain from both of these cards is a substantial complement to the board presence generated. Casualties of War is a dramatic removal spell that is always a 2-for-1 and often a 3 or 4 for 1. Eliminating a creature and a planeswalker would be enough merit for a Top 10 ranking, but the ability to mana screw greedy land bases is a relevant aspect of this restrictive removal spell. Tolsimir and Bioessence Hydra are efficient threats that can swing board states, either by removing small creatures or demanding an immediate answer. Tamiyo and Soul Diviner are difficult to interact with forms of card advantage, with Soul Diviner cashing in small Army tokens or Proliferate activations for card draw, while Tamiyo can recur removal spells or dig for a game-ending threat.

Hybrid Planeswalkers

The Hybrid planeswalkers in War of the Spark serve as additional complements to many decks while alleviating some of the otherwise problematic mana problems. Most of these planeswalkers are conditionally playable or traps altogether, but these three represent the best options. Angrath provides a combat relevant form of evasion attached to at least one additional body, while Kaya and Nahiri function as nearly unconditional removal spells.

Fixing

As with any multicolor set, fixing is a crucial component of any rarity. At common we have Mana Geode and Gateway Plaza as premier forms of mana fixing, though less effective options are also available. Be on the lookout for these two, as they have smaller drawbacks compared to most options. Mana Geode’s scry ability ensures it is never dead in the late game, while Gateway Plaza’s land status does not require a reduction in nonland cards. Firemind Vessel is the best uncommon fixing, as it also serves to ramp into powerful six and seven mana spells. Interplanar Beacon echoes the flexibility of Gateway Plaza due to being a land, but its mana fixing is restricted to casting only Planeswalkers to compensate. Any of these options are crucial for Limited, and the more colors in your deck the more priority Drafting these should be.

Traps and Pitfalls

A  continuing trend among Kingslayer Limited articles, the Traps and Pitfalls of a Draft format are important for understanding what build around cards are worth pursuing. These five are niche cards that lack an accessible payoff. First up is set icon and Story Spotlight card The Elderspell. While a dedicated planeswalker format may indicate playability for a narrow removal spell, The Elderspell requires board states in which your opponent has multiple good planeswalkers, an aspect that just isn’t particularly likely. With 36 planeswalkers in the set and only a handful available in each Draft, the likelihood of an opponent having two planeswalkers that are worth removing in play is low. Similarly, Charmed Stray has a similar inconsistency issue. A 1/1 lifelinker for one mana isn’t enough to see play on its own, but with three of four additional copies you can produce a ton of power quickly. The issue is that drafting six or seven copies is unlikely, and seeing less than three Charmed Stray is not enough to feel worth the payoff. Similarly, Ajani’s Pridemate lacks enough recurring life gain engines to consistently increase its power. While incidental life gain exists, its mostly one-shot effects, resulting in slightly weaker Pridemates than normal. Only play Pridemate if a 2/2 body is acceptable.

Ral, Storm conduit has garnered much discussion over its Standard implications, but the lack of powerful spells in Blue and Red make drafting the spells matter archetype difficult, and Ral himself gives a weak payoff compared to others in the set. Huatli is in a similar position as Ral and follows in the footsteps of High Alert and other toughness matters mechanics. Where Huatli falters is the lack of evasive high toughness creatures. While building around Huatli is possible, it usually requires multiple copies for consistency. Unlike prior iterations of this effect, Huatli is a planeswalker, and as such can be attacked. This vulnerability results in a lower overall impact in Draft, as decks play more evasion and more removal compared to Sealed.


Thanks for checking out our War of the Spark Draft Guide, and as always, let us know what you think by posting in the comments section below. For more War of the Spark content, you can follow me on Twitter at twitter.com/PariahPopular.