On Limited Fodder

Wizards likes to boast that Magic is a game with over 10,000 unique cards. That sounds impressive until you consider how many of those are actually functional reprints of one sort or another (printing another 1/1 for 1 with a new name or creature type is barely a new card – although to be fair, a search for vanilla 1/1 creatures for 1 only produced 8 distinct cards spread across the colors – guess what color doesn’t have a vanilla 1/1 for 1?) or have such a narrow application that they can’t really be played in 99.99% of decks. And then there’s the large body of cards that can be classed as “limited fodder”– those cards that are made strictly for the limited environment (booster draft or sealed deck), which has a relatively limited lifespan. I’m not saying there aren’t a lot of cards for the game, but if you can pick the card up for 5 or 10¢, it’s probably not actually any good. Consider how many of those 10,000+ cards are actually “constructed playable” in a format like Legacy? There’s a lot, but it’s nowhere near 10,000+ cards. I would imagine a serious Legacy player only has to be aware of a few hundred cards, max.

Let’s look at the newest set out, Magic 2013.

First, let me tally up my count of “limited fodder”–cards that I marked as such when I went through the spoiler. Keep in mind that as a “super casual” Magic player, I’m always going to be willing to cast my net a bit wider than others when looking for playable cards – tribal decks can sometimes demand chaff to stay on theme. Plus, I wasn’t overly aggressive in my markup either–the hyphens are the cards that I figure might be limited fodder but can’t be sure.

White: 12-2

Blue: 14-2

Black: 10-4

Red: 13-3

Green: 12-1

Artifacts: 3

TOTAL: 64-15

For an expert’s opinion, let us turn to Luis Scott-Vargas’s set review.* If he rates a card at 1.0 or lower for Constructed, then we can safely call it limited fodder. I’ll also take note of how many cards he considers to not even be limited playable (less than 1.0 limited rating).

W: 22 (3)

U: 14 (4)

B: 12 (0)

R: 14 (3)

G: 13 (2)

A: 14 (3)

TOTAL: 89 (15)

89 out of 229 is only 39%, but when you consider how many of those are commons, you start to see that any booster pack you open is gong to be filled with Limited Fodder. This also doesn’t take into account how many ‘constructed’ playable cards will only see play in some sideboards if certain decks become prominent.

Just saying.

*As LSV puts it, “One of the tricks of the trade when it comes to Constructed is ‘don’t play Auras’.” So almost all Auras are automatically limited fodder to him (except maybe Rancor???).


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