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OTJ Limited: First Impressions


OTJ Limited: First Impressions - Background: Kellan


Yesterday, OTJ Limited was finally available. I hit the ground running firing up some drafts, but unfortunately, they briefly shut it down on MTGO for some bugs during the first game of my second draft. Most cards were fixed when it came back online, though some are still a bit bugged.


However, the experience wasn't too tainted, and I'm enjoying OTJ Limited thus far. It's high-powered but not overly fast-paced.


Removal is important because there are a lot of high-powered rares. Interacting with them is mandatory, but there are many ways to blank removal with cards like Snakeskin Veil and Take Up the Shield at common, or ones like Fleeting Reflection and Smuggler's Surprise at higher rarities.


Hard counterspells are better than usual because of the high-powered nature of the format, but soft counters are at their worst due to the plot mechanic. Plot makes it so you can play a high-impact spell's mana cost before it hits the stack, which makes it easy to play around soft counters.


Plot is an all-timer mechanic. I love how it allows for explosive turns and the decision to either play your spells for plot costs for potential bonuses or cast your spells to get them on the battlefield immediately.


Two-drops aren't as important as they've been in recent sets and there are lots of powerful cards and cards that scale with mana to bring you back into a game where you've fallen behind. Bear in mind that I've played almost exclusively on MTGO, so the experience on Arena may be different with the handsmoother.


The common desert dual lands smooth out the crime mechanics perfectly. Without them the crime cards would be meaningfully worse, so adding those to the set is a huge win, and it's a chef's kiss when combined with desert synergies.


What currently draws me to this set is that I think it will be incredibly re-playable. The draft experience feels different every time because of the high-power nature of the packs. I don't feel forced to draft a curve and a few removal and combat tricks. I can draft a deck that has a theme or synergy, play a longer game, and watch my deck operate how I want. If you design a Limited set with a fantasy to pursue, it's important that the fantasy is worth pursuing and will be fun and competitive when you're able to finally draft that perfect Izzet Plot deck or that great BG Self Mill deck.


While I love the format and think it's fun, it may be more high variance as a result of how unpredictable the games can be due to the amount of rares.


I'm fine with adding variance if it includes adding fun, and in true Dave Humphreys fashion, OTJ hit the mark perfectly.

Let's take a look at a couple of the decks I've drafted so far. While I've been winning more than losing, I'm not yet getting trophies every draft. If I keep it, maybe I can find some holes in the drafting meta and get an exceptionally high win rate.




Deck 1

Izzet Plot


Here's a run-of-the-mill Izzet Plot deck. This deck almost felt like playing Pioneer Phoenix since it was equipped to spend mana every turn, interact often, and I never flooded or missed land drops due to the Highway Robbery. Stoic Sphinx is insane and carried me for a couple of games, but Malcom also did a lot of work when I was able to prolong games.


Red removal spells will likely be this archetype's key commons. You'll want to take Razzle-Dazzler fairly high, as you can often get gridlocked by various green-reach creatures without great ways to interact. Expensive plot cards like Loan Shark and Djinn of Fool's Fall are sitting at about replacement level because there are a lot of options. The early part of your curve is more important for this archetype because it needs to play a tempo-positive game vs. larger creatures.


This was a 2-1 deck losing to lots of Cactarantulas.

Deck 2

Orzhov Sacrifice


This deck looked great while drafting it, but ultimately it was not very good. The curve was nice and tight, and I had removal to push through my smaller creatures, but the creatures were too underwhelming.


There's a lot of value in this set, so making small positive exchanges like curving a Nezumi Linkbreaker into a Ruthless Lawbringer isn't enough to keep pushing damage. My deck would often flood out in long games while my opponent had 10 or so life.


Orzhov decks have been bad in recent Limited sets with the new Limited design approach because the archetype tends to lack traction in most formats. Its cards are mostly low impact and the synergies are too soft and understated for modern-day Magic. I'm sure I'll try drafting Orzhov again, but my hunch is it's a lane you actively want to avoid, and I sort of feel like that about white in general. White needs to be aggressive in formats like this that are high powered and I don't think it's quite there.


This deck went 1-2 and was by far my worst deck.


Deck 3

RGu Ramp



Multicolor green is one of my current favorite decks to draft and this was my first go at it.


I picked up a lot of lands to help facilitate splashing some solid blue uncommons and round the deck out so it wouldn't run out of gas.


Roxanne, Starfall Savant is strong and absolutely busted when paired with Cactusfolk Sureshot. I was able to play Roxanne many times and attack in the same turn to kill a four-toughness creature with both of my Meteorites. That sequence is good enough that I'm curious to find other potential playable ways of giving Roxanne haste in the future, perhaps having Roxanne push a card like Lavaspur Boots into the playable category.


These green decks want a bit of removal, but you can also be confident casting huge creatures every turn. Snakeskin Veil makes plotting big creatures like Freestrider Commando safe and effective and can punish opponents when they spend four or more mana to try and interact with your large creatures.


Also, Snakeskin Veil protects the creatures you're trying to fight, so I like to play at least one Snakeskin Veil. I'm coming around to thinking that's the correct amount, as when the game develops if you don't have a lot of ways to generate card advantage Snakeskin Veil can rot in your hand, especially if you have multiples.


I was surprised at how solid Primal Command was in this deck. If I didn't have any truly busted creatures like Roxanne I likely wouldn't play it, but its versatility made it one of my better draws.


This was another solid 2:1 deck.


Deck 4

More Multicolor Green



This was close to my best deck and it showed. I started with a pick-one-pack-one Oko and took Doc Aurlock to follow it up and lock in. Someone else was in my colors despite all Simic gold cards, and none of the cards came back that I thought would. I ended up much lower on plot cards than I wanted to with my two Doc Aurlocks.


Endless Detour and Kellan both fell into my lap, Endless Detour was a tenth or eleventh pick, and I took Kellan fairly early pack three in a pack that was otherwise empty.


I didn't anticipate playing the splash, but my alternative cards were too weak and I wanted more interaction. Kellan was fine when I drew it but not a high-powered mythic you should take early to build around.


Oko was disgusting. It hits hard, always left me in the game protecting itself, and ran away with at least two games on its own.


Pest Infestation is strong but not a massive bomb. You should take it over every common and likely uncommon, but it's not at the same level as Oko since it only shines deep in the game or when your opponent has some targets.


Fblthp, Lost on the Range was better than I had hoped, but that's likely a matchup thing. It is a three-mana future sight with the caveat you don't get to play a land off of it like future sight, but there are ways to manipulate the top of your deck. I'd almost always play it because it's a cheap enough spell that you can cast deep in a game and get immediate value. It won't get buried if you cast it on the play against basically any deck if you follow up with interaction on later turns.


Solid deck that got an easy 3-0 trophy. Oko did a lot of the heavy lifting, and I'm starting to believe green could be one of the best colors, if not the best.





Deck 5

BGuw Self-Mill


I haven't had a chance to play a real match with my last deck. This is something of a self-mill deck with Rise of the Varmints as a payoff, but it's mostly just a 4c-green-value deck that can play creatures on curve and hit hard, as well as bog down the board with creatures and removal while taking over with value cards. This is not the best deck for Intimidation Campaign, but it's too good to not play with all these deserts and removal.


Villainous Wealth can end any slow game on the spot, or win a game out of nowhere.


I had a lot of tough picks this draft, as my archetype was very open. I'm missing a key common in Desperate Bloodseeker, which I saw twice and opted to take one of my first deserts over and an Honest Rutstein the second time.


I expect a 2:1 on average with this deck because it has a lot of ways to generate value, a solid curve, and decent removal, though I wish I had one or two copies of Desperate Bloodseeker and/or Desert's Due to Round it out.



So far OTJ is an extremely fun Limited format. It's high-powered, there are a lot of actions and decisions in the draft and gameplay. I didn't think I'd enjoy plot as a mechanic nearly as much as I have, but unlike recent sets, I'm always excited to get right back in the queue when I finish my draft.

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