Welcome to our Draft Primer: Top Commons. Today we are diving into the least glamorous but most important cards in draft, the commons. We’ll detail our picks for the top commons in each color as well as the colorless and multicolor cards before taking a quick look at the available common lands.
This article assumes a base knowledge of the set mechanics so, if you need to brush up on that, check out our Draft Primer: Limited Mechanics write-up. If however, you’re looking for information on the archetypes then take a look at our Draft Primer: Limited Archetypes piece for those details. Right, let's get into it.
A Front runner for top common in the set, Inspiring Overseer is quite clearly head and shoulders above the power level of most other commons. A serious upgrade from Priest of Ancient Lore in AFR, this 2/1 now has flying in addition to its other abilities. Draw one, gain one is a serious ETB especially when it’s stapled on a flying body. Whilst a 2/1 on the ground may not impact the battlefield much, the same stats in the air demand to be answered. Don’t sleep on this card, it may just be the mythic common of the set.
A throwback to Legion Conquistador first printed in Ixalan, Gathering Throng is a three mana 3/1 that draws you more copies of Gathering Throng, assuming you have them in your library that is. Generating more cardboard is always a solid plan, especially in a set with the connive mechanic but casting these creatures is a reasonable option too. Naturally, the more Throngs you can get your hands on, the stronger each copy of the card becomes. So, once you have a couple of these, further copies go way up in value.
Although it might not look spectacular at first glance, Raffine's Informant is a solid two drop creature. Helping to smooth out your draws, this has the potential to be a 3/2 early in the game. Additionally, it’s never a bad top deck, assuming you hold excess lands, this provides some protection against flood in the late game.
An unconditional two mana counterspell would be far too strong for limited magic. However, Make Disappear is close to that for the first few turns of the game. Although its power level does drop off as the game progresses, the option to use casualty means that, for a small price, this spell can remain relevant late into the game. It’s also worth noting that you can use the casualty option to counter both halves of a spell copied by your opponent. A trick like this can really swing a game in your favor, especially if you have expendable sacrifice fodder. Altogether the efficiency and flexibility of this card make it one of blue’s top commons.
Blue’s common removal spell, Run Out of Town, shouldn’t be confused with a bounce effect. Whilst returning a card to the top of the library won’t permanently take care of bombs, it’s still a one for one trade. Additionally, being instant speed there’s room for this spell to net you an additional card, with a little extra work. In a set with +1/+1 counters, shield counters and citizen tokens, this card clearly has utility and its ability to target any nonland permanent makes it an extremely flexible option.
The times when Echo Inspector is a 3/4 flier for four mana will feel great, although it won’t always be possible to pitch a non-land card, especially later in the game. On those occasions however, assuming land has little worth later on, the Inspector becomes closer to a four mana 2/3 flier that draws you a card. Which of course is excellent. Extra value can also be gained here by teaming this card up with others that can be played from the graveyard such as Expendable Lackey or Raffine's Guidance. These cards allow you to gain the +1/+1 counter without pitching an entire card. It’s also worth noting that, if you can get the +1/+1 counter on this, it will really dominate the skies, as few other flying creatures can punch through 4 toughness.
A classic removal spell reprinted, Murder will deal with almost any creature at instant speed. Clearly a great pick up for any deck that can cast it, this card does suffer a little from having two black pips, in a set where multicolor decks are commonplace. Although the presence of shield counters may reduce the power level of this card slightly, it’s still likely to be black’s top common.
Although Girder Goons can be played as a five mana 4/4, its real strength lies in the blitz ability. In this format there are very few bodies which can profitably block a 4/4 which means this nearly always gets through for 4 damage. As such, Girder Goons often really reads; deal four damage, create a tapped 2/2 body and draw a card. That’s a whole lot of value for four mana! Whilst this card is clearly one of black’s top commons, it is worth noting that it’s most effective in an aggressive shell, thanks to the blitz ability. Having to hardcast it isn't a disaster but controlling builds may want to move this down in their pick order.
Reminiscent of Virus Beetle, Corrupt Court Official is unlikely to dominate the format in the same manner, due to the lack of the ninjutsu mechanic. That said it will still be a major player, thanks largely to its synergy with casualty. Snagging a card from your opponent, before sacrificing the body for value, is clearly a great line. Yet on occasions when this isn’t possible, the 1/1 will match up well on the battlefield, due to the abundance of 2/1 bodies in the format.
Although Strangle is a little removed from the iconic Lightning Bolt, it’s still incredibly efficient. Being unable to target a player matters less in limited than in constructed; however the card being sorcery speed significantly reduces the chance of a two for one. That said, comparing Strangle to one of the most efficient burn spells of all time is hardly fair, with around 70% of creatures in the format having toughness 3 or less, it’s clear that this card will get the job done.
Another solid pickup for the aggro decks, although Mayhem Patrol may not be a great blocker, it’s an excellent offensive card. Attacking as a 2/2 menace when alone or optionally pumping another creature, this will likely get through multiple times before your opponent can reliably block it. In addition to that, the cheap blitz cost on this card means it will be a great partner for casualty or other sacrifice effects.
Exhibition Magician is a card which provides a wealth of options, no pun intended. Two bodies for three mana can really help stabilize the board, when you’re behind, as well as being a solid enabler for any go-wide payoffs. The option to create a treasure instead of the 1/1 provides even more utility, as one shot fixing, ramp or for enabling the treasure matters theme.
A clear demonstration of power creep, Jewel Thief is an incredible three mana common. Whereas a 3/3 with vigilance and trample would be strong in a vacuum, this card also makes a treasure when it hits the battlefield. Having otherwise great creatures, provide ramp and fixing is clearly excellent, meaning that this card will be a high pick for any strategy.
Although tricks are often considered filler in limited, For the Family bucks that trend. Due to the small size of creatures in this format, +2/+2 is usually enough to win a combat, whereas the +4/+4 mode can take out almost anything. Of course, timing is everything when using combat tricks as it’s essential not to get blown out. That said, the single green mana cost of this card means that it’s easy to hold up and less of a liability if an opportunity doesn’t present itself. Please note that, whilst this card is performing well in the meta, it’s not currently being taken highly so you can expect to find copies of this late in the packs.
A three mana 1/1 might seem like a raw deal at first glance, however Warm Welcome provides a package of value to sweeten the deal. Although there’s some risk of whiffing, the card selection allows you to dig deep into your deck looking for a relevant play. In addition, the fact that this card operates at instant speed allows you to potentially ambush 2/1 creatures as well as triggering alliance when your opponent least expects it.
A 2/3 body for two mana is clearly solid and Civil Servant is no exception. Curving this into another citizen can mean a 3/3 lifelinker swinging in as early as turn three, which is really tough for your opponent to deal with. An early six point life swing is clearly a great way to start a game and if you can back this up with tricks or removal, you may be able to push the advantage further.
Celestial Regulator is another card which is simply solid at its base, since a 2/3 flier for three mana is above rate. Ideally its tap-down ability will enable attacks regardless, however getting a single counter on the board in these colors shouldn’t be too difficult.
Part of a cycle of creatures which also provide fixing, Spara's Adjudicators is making waves in the game. Although some of its power comes from the inherent strength of the Brokers crime family, this card provides an edge for a variety of reasons. Firstly it has a lower mana cost than most of the others in the cycle; five mana really is the sweet spot for a curve topper as six mana can be hard to reach. Secondly it has four toughness, a fact that really matters in this format. With several removal spells dealing precisely three damage, this creature is hard to remove and also matches up well in combat where four power isn’t frequently seen. Finally it has a super relevant ETB. This can can be used defensively although it will often end games by removing your opponent’s essential blocker.
With much of the set given over to multicolor cards, there are fewer than average colorless cards to consider in this section. One for the aggressive decks Quick-Draw Dagger acts as a combat trick that leaves behind an equipment. With +1/+1 and first strike likely to win most combats, this is a reasonable option for those looking to win quickly, in particular because creatures in this format are typically quite small.
Whilst Ominous Parcel isn’t a powerful card, and therefore perhaps shouldn’t be on this list, it’s definitely one to be aware of in the format. Although over priced on both halves, this being colorless means it provides fallback fixing for any deck. In addition, turning into a removal spell in the late game, albeit an expensive one, helps to solve the problem of top decking unneeded fixing in the late game.
Given that Streets of New Capenna is a three color set, this primer wouldn’t be complete without a quick round up of the lands available at common. All of these cards will be fairly high picks, as a robust manabase is essential to success in a multicolor set.
First up is a half-cycle of Dual Lands in the allied color pairs. These are excellent even in two color decks, as even one copy can improve your mana base significantly. Even higher picks, of course for those working with three or more colors, the option to cash these in for a card, late in the game, will help prevent flood.
In addition we also have a half-cycle of Tri Color Search Lands. As the term suggests, these allow you to search up any one of three basic land types. Perfect for three or four color piles, don’t be shy to include these in your two color decks too.
Angri started playing Magic The Gathering during the Ice Age expansion. Proud to have collected a full set of 4th Edition, he was horrified to discover that, whilst he was away at college, his mom had donated his cards to a thrift store! With two mathematics degrees safely under his belt, Angri turned his attention to the world of online poker. Following a 10 year stint as a professional poker player, he finally returned to the glorious game of his youth. When not found playing or writing about MTG, he enjoys hanging out with his small family or riding an electric bike around the polluted English city he calls home.