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Core Set 2021 Draft Guide

Do you want to win Core 2021 draft? Want to reach 7 wins on Arena and get lots of Gems? This M21 Draft Guide can help you do just that.

First, we’ll take a look at the best commons for each color. Afterwards, we’ll examine all ten two-color archetypes and what they’re trying to do. Finally, we also rank all colors and archetypes from best to worst.

We drafted M21 a bunch of times, so we updated the article with all the current info. For example, the best common in green Drowsing Tyrannodon, wasn’t on our original list.

Anyways, let’s see which are the best commons in Core 2021 Draft.

UPDATE: If you’re looking forward to drafting the newest set, you can find Zendikar Rising Draft Guide here.

Best Commons for Core Set 2021 Draft

White

1. Basri’s Acolyte

M21 Draft Guide Basri's Acolyte

We’re starting off with a very powerful card. As you’ll see in the archetypes section, every white archetype wants multiple copies of this card, which will make it a pretty high pick.

It plays well with life gain theme, with +1/+1 counters and in ordinary aggressive decks. Just imagine a curve of two drop, three drop, Basri’s Acolyte. This will be an absurdly powerful start and you can assemble it with just common cards.

Of course, there is a downside. Sometimes you have zero creatures and you’ll get just a 2/3 liflinker. However, most of the time, you’ll put at least one counter somewhere, which is already fine.

Don’t put Acolyte in a deck with low amount of creatures, try to aim for at least 15 creatures and a nice curve with enough two drops.

2. Swift Response

Swift Response Best Commons MTGA M21 Draft Core Set 2021

Swift Response is a very cheap and powerful removal spell. It’s better in more controlish decks, which can a bit of a problem as white usually tends to be aggressive.

However, even an aggro deck can find itself in a race and you’ll have enough targets to use Swift Response on. Of course, you can also tap opposing creatures with cards like Celestial Enforcer or Frost Breath.

3. Feat of Resistance

Feat of Resistance does a lot for what looks like a simple combat trick. You can win combat, procetct your creatures from removal or even make them unblockable if your opponent has all creatures from the same color.

It can easily win you the game when cast in the right spot. It often very hard to play around too, which makes it one of the best white commons in Core 2021.

Honorable Mentions

White is pretty deep and has even more good commons, which work well with different synergies.

For example, something like Concordia Pegasus is usually mediocre, but in a deck with a bunch of +1/+1 counters, it can become a real deal. Even one counter is enough to get you 2/4 flyer, which is pretty nice. Anything more and the Pegasus is just bonkers.

Gale Swooper can similarly prove to be amazing in an aggressive deck. Life gain deck might happily play Anointed Chorister. Rambunctious Mutt can also be strong, if there are lots of targets for its ability. White certainly looks like a good color to draft in M21.

Secure the Scene can also be fine and most white decks like to play a single copy of it.

Blue

1. Roaming Ghostlight

Roaming Ghostlight

Bouncing a creature and getting a big flyer? Yes, please. Sure, Ghostlight costs five, but you’re getting your money’s mana’s worth out of it.

If you’re already beating your opponent down, it closes the game very quickly. On the other hand, it’s also a fine defensive play. You get a blocker and your opponent has to spend their next turn replaying their biggest threat.

Don’t forget that you can also bounce your creatures. You can get their enter-the-battelfield effect again or you can save them from something like Capture Sphere.

2. Mistral Singer

Win M21 Draft MTG Arena Mistral Singer

2/2 flyer for three mana is fine. However, this will easily attack for 3 or 4 in the right deck.

There’s also something called threat of activation going on here. Your opponents won’t like to go in combat with a 2/3 (or similar sized creatures) against opposing Singer and open mana. You could just cast Opt and eat their creature for free. If they don’t block it, you don’t even need to use your Opt anyways!

3. Capture Sphere

Core Set 2021 M21 Draft Guide Capture Sphere

There’s not much to say about Capture Sphere. It’s not the most efficient removal spell, but it still deals with problematic creatures. That’s as good as it gets in blue.

You’ll play multiple copies of it in your blue decks and you’ll be happy with it.

Honorable Mentions

Rousing Read is a very interesting card. Card filtering often comes in handy, but it usually costs two mana. For one extra mana, you get +1/+1 and flying, which can be really good. It works well with both flying archetype and card draw archetype.

Frantic Inventory can also be pretty good if you manage to get multiple copies of it. Once you get three or more of them, it becomes a serious draw spell.

Black

1. Grasp of Darkness

Win Core Set 2021 Draft MTG Arena Grasp of Darkness

Now that’s an efficient removal spell! It does cost double black, so it’s not splashable, but that’s probably its only downside.

There’re 135 creatures in Core 2021. Grasp of Darkness straight up kills 117 of them or 86,7% of all creatures in the format.

Even the remaining 18 creatures can be dealt with in combat. You block their big creature, then Grasp it to a manageable size.

You’ll also be able to get an easy two-for-one with Grasp in response to a pump spell. All of that makes this a best black common in the M21 draft.

2. Finishing Blow

Finishing Blow

Finishing Blow is quite a step down from Grasp of Darkness. However, it still deals with any creature and is splashable.

Most black decks will happily play a couple of Blows. Every once in a while, you’ll get to kill a planeswalker, which will certainly feel great.

3. Crypt Lurker

M21 Draft Guide Crypt Lurker

Best two commons in black were pretty straightforward. For the third one, there are a couple options. We chose Crypt Lurker, as it already has a fine body as a 3/4 for four and a very relevant ability on top of that.

The ability works well with multiple synergies: sacrifice, reanimation or death-triggers. You can also just get rid of something, that was locked down with an enchantment like Capture Sphere. As such, Lurker is a very versatile card and will find home in lots of black draft decks.

Honorable Mentions

As we mentioned, there was some competition for the third best black common. There are a couple of cards we’d like to mention.

First one is Skeleton Archer. There are 23 creatures with one toughness in Core 2021, which means Archer kills 17,0% of all creatures. You can also finish something off post combat. Sometimes that can even be your opponent.

Second card worth mentioning is Deathbloom Thallid. It has fine stats for a three drop, and the 1/1 token can be used for value, especially in the sacrifice deck.

Red

1. Scorching Dragonfire

Scorching Dragonfire

Dragonfire is both cheap and quite powerful removal spell. It kills exiles 101 different creatures, or 74,8% of all creatures in M21. You can also use it post combat to get rid of the bigger creatures too.

Exiling is not without meaning, since your opponents can get value from creatures dying or with some graveyard shenanigans.

2. Shock

Core Set 2021 Draft Guide MTGA best cards Shock

Shock is significantly worse than Dragonfire, however it still deals with almost half of the creatures (48,1%) on its own. It can remove smaller blockers, or stop early aggression.

Of course, Shock can also target your opponent and help you finish the game, which is one thing that Dragonfire can’t do.

3. Spellgorger Weird

Core 2021 Draft Guide Spellgorger Weird

Once again there was a bit of a competition for the third place. This card is truly at its best in Blue-Red, but you can easily include it in other decks too. Sure, you need some support to enable it, but not that much.

Just getting one +1/+1 counter on Weird makes it fine, while the second one really pushes it over the top. As such, Spellgorger Weird is a fine card to play in any deck that has at least 8 noncreature cards.

Honorable Mentions

Turn to Slag is also a very playable removal spell, although a bit expensive. Still, it kills 92,6% of all creatures in the format, which makes it a pretty strong common. Equipment part doesn’t matter that much, since there are just Short Sword and Malefic Scythe in the format.

Pitchburn Devils might look weak as a 3/3 for five, but the ability is very good, which will often give you a nice two-for-one.

Green

1. Drowsing

Drowsing Tyrannodon Best Green Common M21 Draft

Two drops are very important in this draft format and 3/3 for two is insanely good. There are just so many ways to get a four powered creature that the downside is just negligible.

With a ton of +1/+1 counters in Core 2021, you can easily put one on this dino, which also enables attacking. A bunch of green commons can do this (without even going in other colors and rarities), for example:

These cards are all very playable by themselves already, which makes Tyrannodon a very good card. Pick it early – we often see it go very late in draft, even sixth or seventh, which is simply wrong.

2. Llanowar Visionary

MTG Core Set 2021 Draft Guide Llanowar Visionary

A three mana 2/2 that draws you a card is already at least a playable card. On top of that, Visonary provides mana. Putting your big creatures in play a turn earlier can often win you the game.

Llanowar Visonary is surely one of the best green commons in M21 draft.

3. Hunter’s Edge

Win M21 Draft MTG Arena Hunter's Edge

Four mana is on the higher end for a fight spell. However, it has two relevant upsides.

First, you can make your creature bigger and there are some synergies with +1/+1 counters in the set.

Second, it’s not an actual fight card. It’s more of a punch, as your creature doesn’t take damage in the process.

Be careful not to cast Hunter’s Edge into too much open mana, your opponent might have a removal spell, which won’t end good for you. But if you find a right spot to cast it, it can definitely give you an edge.

Honorable Mention

Pridemalkin is also a very good card, especially once you pair it with the best green common Drowsing Tyrannodon

Green decks sometimes have problems with flyers, that’s why having a reach creature with good stats is always nice. The role of a flying blocker in this set goes to Gnarled Sage. It’s also a fine attacker, especially if you can trigger its ability.

Artifact

Most artifact commons aren’t anything spectacular. Nevertheless, there is one that we should mention.

Skyscanner

Skyscanner is a fine playable card, as it slots nicely in plenty of different archetypes. It has flying synergies, card draw synergies and is a free body on which you can put +1/+1 counters or just sacrifice it for value.

Speaking of archetypes, let’s move to the next part of Core Set 2021 draft guide.

M21 Draft Archetypes

Core Sets are usually pretty straightforward. You play your two color archetypes and maybe occasionally splash a third color, but mostly you stay in two colors.

Each two color pair has a signpost uncommon, which highlights what the archetype is about. We’ll examine each one of them and give you some tips on what to pay attention to. Let’s get right to it!

Blue – White: Flyers

MTGA Draft UW Flyers Watcher of the Spheres

Blue-White does what it usually does. It clogs the ground with big blockers, while attacking in the air with its efficient flyers.

There are 10 creatures with flying in blue and white:

  • 3 commons
  • 4 uncommons
  • 2 rares
  • 1 mythic rare

Besides all that there’s also Skyscanner in adddition to some cards that grant flying like Keen Glidemaster. So there’re enough flyers, if you want them.

What are the payoffs for this deck? Just getting the flyers themselves is already pretty good, with flying being the best evasion ability in draft.

However, there are some additional payoff cards like the golden uncommon Watcher of the Spheres or Tide Skimmer. This archetype also unlocks the Celestial Enforcer, which is great once it’s gets active.

Black – White: Gain 3 Life

Win Core Set 2021 Draft MTG Arena M21 Indulging Patrician

Both black and white have ways of getting life, but this time around there’s a twist on the life gain theme. For your payoffs to work, you’ll need to gain at least 3 life.

There are 4 payoffs for the deck:

Indulgence is probably the weakest of them, while the other three are all pretty good, especially Griffin Aerie. If you have a repeatable life gain effect, this enchantment becomes borderline unbeatable. However, this deck is pretty hard to get together, as all of your payoffs are at uncommon slot and you really want multiple of them.

Enabling Life Gain

So what enablers do we have? Something like Revatilize is perfectly fine, as you get your trigger and you draw a card. However, what you really want is a repeatable way to trigger your stuff.

The simplest way is to play lifelink creatures. What you’ll find about those is that they often don’t reach 3 power by themselves. Blood Glutton is the exception to the rule, however it’s pretty fragile for a five drop.

Therfore all lifelink creatures really want some +1/+1 counters. This way they’ll be able to gain 3 life by themselves.

Tavern Swindler Lifegain Archetype M21 draft guide

Another way to is to use Tavern Swindler. On average you’ll net 0 life per activation. However, if you have life gain payoffs, you actually get a bonus half of the time you activate it. Even if you’re a bit unlucky and lose some flips in a row, you’ll still probably do fine since you have multiple ways of gaining life in your deck.

Green – White: +1/+1 Counters

M21 Core Set 2021 Draft Guide Conclave Mentor

A bunch of cards in these colors can put +1/+1 counters on your creatures. The best payoffs include:

Important part of these decks are cheap creatures with abilities. Something like Concordia Pegasus or Celestial Enforcer might be weak on their own, but when you start putting +1/+1 counters on them, they quickly become very real threats.

So pay attention to those, and play enough creatures in your deck. You should probably aim for at least 15 creatures, so you always have something to put counters on, especially with a best common way to do so – Basri’s Lieutenant.

Red – White: Aggro

Alpine Houndmaster Draft MTGA Core Set 2021 Guide

Red-White color pair wants to attack with lots of creatures (as usual). Its golden uncommon Alpine Houndmaster is a strong value card, that gets you multiple bodies. If you draft it, you certainly want to pick both Alpine Watchdog and Igneous Cur.

Anyways, your deck needs to have a low curve, plenty of cheap creatures, and cards that make multiple creatures like Valorous Steed and Goblin Wizardry.

Afterwards, you boost your army up with Basri’s Solidarity or Burn Bright to win the game.

Blue – Black: Control

Obsessive Stitcher

Blue-Black is the most control oriented archetype, with best removal and card draw spells.

The deck can play lots of instants and therefore take full advantage of Rewind. You can counter spells for free if you have another instant like Rain of Revelation as well.

Reanimator Sub-Theme

There’s also a small reanimator theme present (getting creatures back from graveyard). However, there are only two cards that get creature back from your yard – Rise Again and Obsessive Stitcher.

Waker of Waves M21 draft

Both work really well with Waker of Waves, which can first offer you some card selection, and then be your reanimation target. Another cool card to get back is Archfiend’s Vessel. You can use it early as a chump blocker and then bring it back as a 5/5 flyer.

Don’t get too caught up in the reanimator sub-theme, though. If you’ll just play all of your good black and blue cards, you’ll do just fine.

Blue – Red: Prowess

Experimental Overload M21 Draft Guide

Your avarage Red-Blue deck wants to have plenty of creatures with prowess, but also lots of noncreature spells to enable them.

There are six creatures with prowess in the set:

Besides, there’s also Spellgorger Weird, which has a better version of prowess. All seven cards are very playable and you’ll happily use them in this deck.

Cards like Overload and Goblin Wizardry and even Riddleform are particularly nice, since they are noncreature spells, that actually make creatures, so you can have enough creatures and enablers.

This deck will also gladly play multiple copies of Opt. When you get two, you can already cut one land, so you’ll have an appropriate ratio of spells that actually do something and lands.

Blue – Green: Card Draw Triggers

Lorescale Coatl Core Set 2021 Draft Guide M21

Blue-Green combination has a nice theme for everyone who loves value. You need to draw cards and as if that wasn’t good enough, some cards also get better when you do so.

Here are the payoffs for the deck, sorted from best to worst:

  1. Jolrael, Mwonvuli Reculse
  2. Lorescale Coatl
  3. Burlfist Oak
  4. Tolarian Kraken

All of these are perfectly playable, even Tolarian Kraken can surely finish some games quickly in the right deck. Of course, you’ll want enablers like Opt and Frantic Inventory.

Sanctum of Calm Waters is particularly nice in a deck like this, even without any other Shrines, as it gives you a repeatable draw effect.

Teferi’s Tutelage

Teferi's Tutelage Draft M21 Guide

Perhaps you noticed that this card was missing from our payoffs cards. That’s because its power level varies from unplayable to the best card in your deck.

We had similar cards in the past with Sphinx’s Tutelage in Origins and Psychic Corrosion in M19. Both times, these cards spawned their own archetype, and there’s no reason to think that this time will be any different.

What you want to do is to draft a defensive deck with lots of card draw. You need creatures with high toughness and lots of removal spells. Don’t play cards that are only good on offence. You’ll mostly win by milling your opponent out and not by attacking.

If you can get multiple copies of Teferi’s Tutelage, the deck becomes even better. However, it can still work with just one copy, since you’re playing lots of card draw.

Black – Red: Sacrifice

Dire Fleet Warmonger

Black-Red once again wants to sacrifice creatures for value. For those decks to work you need three things:

Some cards slot into two categories – Dire Fleet Warmonger and Goremand can be both outlets and payoffs.

Traitorous Greed

Traiturous Greed

Cards that temporarily steal your opponent’s creature are very important for a sacrifice deck. This time around we have Traitorous Greed. It’s pretty good, although the getting mana part is a bit clunky.

You usually want to steal their creature, attack with it and then sacrifice it. However, if you cast Greed in your first main phase, you need to spend the two mana before you go to combat, otherwise it empties from your mana pool.

Still, it’s a pretty nice combo with something like Witch’s Cauldron. You essentially pay 4 mana to destroy a creature, draw a card and gain one life. Now that’s some value!

Black – Green: Death Triggers

Twinblade Assassins MTG

This archetype wants to see creatures dying. It actually plays pretty well with some of the sacrifice stuff mentioned above. If you have a sacrifice outlet, you can get your death triggers, whenever you want. (as long as you have some creatures laying around.)

There are various payoffs for this strategy. They’re listed here from best to worst:

  1. Liliana’s Standard Bearer
  2. Twinblade Assassins
  3. Liliana’s Devotee
  4. Sabertooth Mauler
  5. Caged Zombie
  6. Fungal Rebirth
  7. Canopy Stalker

As an aside – Life Goes On isn’t a payoff, it’s just a trap card that wants to trick you into playing it.

This deck doesn’t need to go all-in on the death triggers plan. Just play good Black-Green stuff and the deck will perform. Removal spells are even better here, as they trigger all of your stuff.

Red – Green: 4+ Power

Leafkin Avenger MTGA

Red and green have plenty of big creatures, which works perfectly with 4+ power theme.

Besides Leafkin Avenger, you have two powerful enchantments as your big payoffs – Furious Rise and Garruk’s Uprising. Both provide a steady flow of card advantage.

You’ll want to have at least 8 creatures that are capable of getting 4 or more power in your deck, before you put these enchantments in your deck. What happens when you don’t reach that threshold?

Well, if your deck is already good enough, you should just cut them from your deck. On the other hand, if your deck is bad to mediocre, you can play Furious Rise with as little as four creatures and hope that everything comes together. You’ll need a little luck anyways and Rise can be a game winning card.

Core Set 2021 Draft Guide: Power Rankings

Okay, it’s time to rank all the colors and archetypes. They all seem pretty evenly matched and you can probably win with anything.

Archetypes that are on the top of our list are just the ones we think will be the most successful at the beginning of this draft format.

Draft is self correcting, especially if you’re drafting with other humans. So if something like Black-White does prove to be the best, you can expect more players drafting it, which in turn makes it worse.

Best Colors

  1. Green
  2. White
  3. Red
  4. Blue
  5. Black

Green is the deepest color – it has tons of playable cards that slot in various archetypes. You probably can’t go wrong, if you prefer green cards in M21 draft.

White and red follow very closely. White has some very good commons and a lot of two drops – which are incredibly important in this format. Red is similar, but has also some very good removal with Shock and Scorching Dragonfire.

Blue comes in fourth. It’s at its best when paired with red and medium otherwise.

Black is clearly the worse color, try to stay away from it unless, it’s widely open, for example if you’re getting some sweet black rares around pick 4 or later.

Best Archetypes in M21 Draft

  1. Green – White: +1/+1 Counters
  2. Red – White: Aggro
  3. Blue – Red: Prowess
  4. Red – Green: 4+ Power
  5. Blue – Green: Card Draw
  6. Blue – White: Flyers
  7. Black – Red: Sacrifice
  8. Black – White: Life Gain
  9. Black – Green: Death Triggers
  10. Blue – Black: Control

Green-White features the two best colors in M21, so naturally it’s the strongest archetype. It has the best two drops, which become even better with +1/+1 counters.

Following are three red decks with different flavors. Red-White is aggressive, which can be very successful in this format. Red-Blue is pretty much a build around deck around non-creature spells. It can definitely work wonders when it comes together. Red-Green also preforms well in M21 draft.

This four decks are really above everything else. The only addition to the best decks is probably the Teferi’s Tutelage deck. The best versions of it might even be the best archetype in the format, however they can still get beat down with some fast starts.

Griffin Aerie BW Archetype

Nevertheless, you can win with anything, even with Blue-Black control decks. So which archetype are you most excited about? Tell us in the comments bellow.

More Core?

That’s the end of our Core Set 2021 draft guide. Nevertheless, you can still find some other resources to be even more prepared. First, you can browse all M21 cards here.

Secondly, we have a couple of great articles that can improve your win rate:

Want to play some Standard? You can try one of these 21 new M21 decks.

If you don’t want to miss another strategy article, make sure to give us a follow on Facebook or Instagram. We post a bunch of Magic related stuff there – new articles, spoilers, memes and codes for MTG Arena. Speaking of which, you can find all currently available MTGA codes here.

On the other hand, if you’re also playing M21 in paper, you can find all Core Set 2021 products here.

Anyways, that’s all for today. Until next time, have fun drafting and may you open Ugin, the Spirit Dragon in your next M21 draft!

6 thoughts on “Core Set 2021 Draft Guide”

  1. As an aside – Life Goes On isn’t a payoff, it’s just a trap card *thaqt wants to trick you into playing it.

    This deck doesn’t need to go all-in on the death triggers plan. Just play good Black-Green stuff and the deck will *preform

    misspelled: that and perform.

    Otherwise great article! I really appreciate the percentages on the removal spells, it helps tremendously to put things into perspective.

    Reply

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