The Prince and the Pauper

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In informal terms, different limited environments are sometimes described as being either “prince” or “pauper”, or rather – there’s a scale with one end labeled prince and the other end pauper, and all limited environments can be placed in between. A format leaning towards pauper (through coincidence, this is only tangentially related to the constructed format of the same name) is defined by its commons – there are good threats and good removal at the common level, there might be synergies to be drafted and so on. A format leaning towards “prince” is defined by bomby rares and mythic rares – where these cards that outshine the uncommon and common cards in the format by a large margin, so large that it puts the emphasis on drafting around these powerful rares.

wingmateroc.full3x Khans of Tarkir was, according to some, a pauper format. There’s no denying that there are plenty of powerful rares; High Sentinels of Arashin, Sagu Mauler, and Wingmate Roc are all game-breaking cards that will dominate most any limited board states, but the format also contains a bunch of binder fodder as well as some great commons.

Fate Reforged, on the other hand, was according to many a prince format with very powerful rares and the Fate-Khans-Khans drafts were usually focused on opening something sweet in Fate Reforged and then making sure to draft something that could play your bomb rare. Since this is the opinion of Luis Scott-Vargas and other pros, I’m left with no credentials nor confidence to stand against these titans. I agree.

However, part of the problem of Fate Reforged being full of bomby rares is that it is the first pack to be drafted. If you open a Dromoka, the Eternal in your first pack, there would have to be a right long string of good UR Tempo cards coming for you not to at least splash the Dromoka. The rare dictates the draft too much in this case. But, when Fate Reforged is opened in Dragons-Dragons-Fate drafts, people are already probably locked into a couple of colours. As such, I expect us to see people second- or third-picking Dromoka and friends, unless someone is hate-drafting them.

The problem with the Fate Reforged rares being too powerful might still be there – there’s lots more of Dragons of Tarkir to be seen, specifically commons and uncommons, but they won’t quite dictate our drafts in the future in the same way as they have in Fate-Khans-Khans. Personally, I think some decent unconditional removal in the common or uncommon slots would solve the problem outright.


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