Interview: Marcio Carvalho’s Limited Analysis – Ixalan Draft Basics



24 world’s finest players that you have definitely seen in a tournament review, gather in one place, The World Championship 2017. Who will be the one, the one that defeats them all to win this wonderful tournament. I can’t wait to see what happens since all players attending this tournament are one of the world’s finest players.

Only a week has passed after the release of Ixalan, and the Standard and Limited format is at its early stages. Lots of players must be eager to seek for what the top pros think at this moment.

From a selection of the world’s finest players, we were able to hear his thoughts,

Marcio Carvalho from the Hareruya Latin.

He is known to be the world’s finest limited format player. Last year at the World Championships 2016, he attended as the title holder of the “Limited Master”. This year, he attends the World Championship as the “Player with the most Pro Points in Europe”, here at Boston.

When Marcio Carvalho was announced that he will join the Hareruya Pros, lots of fans must have thought “Finally we get to hear how he prepares to be so strong in the game!”

So, we decided to dig through Ixalan with Marcio Carvalho and hear what he thinks about the basics of how to win in this draft format.

Alright, let’s get started digging in to Ixalan with the world’s finest limited format player!

Ixalan – Basic Facts About Drafting

――Can you tell us little about how to win drafts in Ixalan?

Marcio: Of course! First of all, in this format you must recognize that this format is all about creatures! How good you combat is the key to winning.

――I see, what about the spells?

Marcio: I can assure you that they are weak, especially the removals. Heavy sorceries are everywhere. You must change how you think when drafting with Ixalan.

――What kind of changes?

Marcio: In drafts 15 creatures, 8 spells, 17 lands are the golden number for a decent deck, but in Ixalan, things are different. If you build a deck with the golden numbers, you will need to use some weak spells. At the moment, 17 or 18 creatures with 6 spells is so far, the golden number for a decent deck. 16 lands seem the best. ――So you shave a land, does this matter a lot?

Marcio: Yeah, let me make it easier to think. You aim in this draft is to build a deck that will run perfectly fine with 16 lands. You will pick to have a low mana curve in general so you should be able to cast creatures most of the time. Creatures are important, but the most important is the spells, especially the 1 mana combat tricks are the one you must pick, and you must use at the right time.

――You use the spells carefully since you picked less than usual, right?

Marcio: Yes. Lots of players have noticed by now that we see few spells in the format. It is obvious that you do not have a selection of spells, but your opponent also does not have much options too. Try using the spell as much as you can to take advantage of.

――It’s just a 1 mana spell, I bet it doesn’t make much impact in the game though.

Marcio: You’re right, it doesn’t make much impact that flips the game. In limited though, small advantages that build little by little is very important. You can’t pick 3 cards you want from a pack, so trying to use the cards at their best at all time is very important.

2 Axis of Ixalan

――Can you talk more about the details of Ixalan?

Marcio: Well, there are 2 axis in Ixalan. They are colors and tribes. To focus on both at the same time might be difficult, so let’s study how strong tribal deck are. There are small differences which might be better or worse strength in different occasions, but basically, let’s remember rank as Vampires being the strongest, then Pirates, Dinosaurs, and Merfolks being the weakest.

――Vampires, Pirates, Dinosaurs, Merfolks, easy to remember. So, the colors relate to these orders?

Marcio: Yes. Before we go further, I want you to know that the strength of the tribes are very complicated. I will explain as I talk about the colors.


Marcio: Starting with white, the best color in the format! There are several reasons why white is the best, but first let’s talk about the strongest common,《Territorial Hammerskull》.

Territorial Hammerskull

――Hmmn, so this dino is the top dogg of common?

Marcio: Absolutely best common. As I said before, spells are weak in this format. Though it is not easy to win without spells. In this meta, every time 《Territorial Hammerskull》 attacks, it’s like he is casting a spell. In a meta where creatures are the key to winning, tapping their blocker should be enough to say this is the best common in the format.

――I see, it’s a strong card.

Pious InterdictionVampire's Zeal

Marcio:《Pious Interdiction》is also good common when you have weak removal.《Vampire's Zeal》 is a great combat trick too. White is a color for Vampires and Dinosaurs but there is no need to dedicate to the tribes. Since they are such good cards, they can be the reason to pick white as the second color. This is the strength that white has but I will go into details later.


Marcio: Next up is blue. Opposite to white, this is probably the worst single color in the format. In general, the card power for each mana costs are weak. Cards like《Watertrap Weaver》seems good but not powerful enough.

Watertrap Weaver

――In terms of tribes, blue represents pirates and merfolks. What do you think?

Siren StormtamerRun Aground

Marcio: If building a pirate deck, I believe not taking blue and focusing on red and black makes it much better. 《Siren Stormtamer》 is a good card but when you have limited space for spells in your deck, cards that meet their requirement are probably 《Run Aground》 which is a little too heavy to cast for a bounce spell. In the other hand, if you choose red and black, they have combat tricks and removal to fit in.

――I see, but what about Merfolks, are they are weaker?

Tempest CallerDeeproot WatersRiver Sneak

Marcio: You can understand that merfolks are so low rated once you look at the card list. The key cards that make the Merfolk deck are mostly rares and uncommons. 《Tempest Caller》, 《Deeproot Waters》, 《River Sneak》……see they are all uncommons! I think there will be a small chance to get these all in a draft pod. Rarely there might be a chance that you can build a Merfolk deck though.

――Seems unlikely, do you think it is possible to pick them all?

Marcio: Very unlikely. Though as I mentioned before, this is where it gets complicated when we talk about the tribes in this format. If you were able to pick every card that is needed in a merfolk, you got a very powerful merfolk deck. Defeating pirates and Vampires that do not have enough cards of their tribe will be easier. Remember, the chance of playing this is very low. If you plan to play Merfolks in the beginning, there might be a chance you will not see any merfolks coming around the table.

――Picking blue with no good reason must be bad.

Marcio: In the beginning of the format it is important to try new things. Not playing Merfolks because of someone’s opinion is not what you want to do. Try it yourself and experience the draft. After you tried all sorts of drafts and you end up matching with a well-built Merfolk deck, you will know what they have picked, and how they will place their moves. To be a better player, those experiences really count.


Marcio: Next up is black that represents vampires and pirates. The best common in this color is 《Skulduggery》. A card that does it’s work with 1 mana. 2 power and toughness differences seem not much but be aware. In this meta, it means a lot.

River Sneak

――Is it because of the meta is more towards combat tricks and combat is important?

Marcio: Exactly. 《Contract Killing》is a good card but 5 mana is too heavy. By the time you have the mana to cast this they must be prepared. It is a decent removal though, so using this is an option. If you remove their bomb rare with this single card, now it is your turn to make pressure.

Contract Killing

――This must be a card you cannot mess up playing?

Marcio: Of course! In a limited format, points in the game that can turn the game around in your favor are little. Where removal is weak in Ixalan, you cannot make those mistakes.

――In this format, is it that hard to turn the game around when you are losing?

Marcio: Don’t be so negative, during a game, there is always a way to turn it around. Especially in limited, a little miss plays leads to a big turnover. Once you become in favor of the game, it will be difficult for them to turn it around. Remember, the important thing is to be in favor of the game and keep attacking!


Marcio: Next, we got red. The card to look out for is 《Tilonalli's Knight》. It only activates when attacking, though having a body of a 3/3 will make pressure. 《Thrash of Raptors》 is also a card to lookout for. Don’t forget about the removals too. 《Unfriendly Fire》, 《Firecannon Blast》 will lead you to a unbelievable game so use it carefully!

Tilonalli's KnightThrash of RaptorsFirecannon Blast

――They all look like strong commons!

Fiery Cannonade

Marcio: There are notable uncommons like《Fiery Cannonade》. It is a card that turns the game around.

――Looks like we have good cards in red?

Marcio: Probably the 2nd best color in the format. The creatures are just strong. May look better than white but white has more wide options so in total makes me think that white is the best overall. Also white is able to team up with black or red, even blue is alright. Before I explain this, let’s talk about green.


Marcio: Green is a very difficult color. Cards are very weak, they even might be worse than blue. There is no common to look out. The RARES though, THE RARES. Especially the dinosaur rares are so strong. If 《Regisaur Alpha》 hits the board constantly on turn 5, The deck is strong period! I don’t want you to forget that the meta is towards very fast decks, heavy mana creatures are in a bad position. We need to try more things to figure this out though.

――「So if you were able to pick multi colors and 《Carnage Tyrant》is there some chance to win?

Marcio: Yeah.

2 Color Combinations

――「Alright, thanks! So, we talked about single colors, what’s the best 2 color combination?

Marcio: I would say black and white, or red and white is the best. Collecting the white dino’s and proceeding to black, or pick the red dino’s as well and build towards a dinosaur tribal. That’s why I think white is the best color. I talked about it a little before, but teaming up with blue and having a plan based on flying isn’t bad. Blue seems to have low evaluation, so it tends to go around the table quite often. So, remember that this can be an option!

Marcio Carvalho Teaches the way to Win

――Thanks for the details of drafting Ixalan! Next question is probably what lots of players want to know. You are one of the world’s finest limited player. To become such a player what do you do to be so great?

Marcio: That’s a difficult one. Practice is important, well that’s an answer anyone would guess. One thing, a simple advice. Say you have just drafted. You finished your match, and you are happy that you have 3-0ed or sad that you 1-2ed. Then you start to sort your cards neatly to take a picture of your draft to upload on your social media. I understand why lots of players do that and it’s great to do so. Now, after you took a picture and spread the cards on the table, what do you do after?

――After? Well, put it in a pile and get ready for the next draft?

Marcio: Lots of players end up just like you said. I want you to add one more step. Look at you pool and think, what if I had that card, was it correct to let that card go in that pack?

――So you want us to take some time to evaluate the picks?

Marcio: Yeah, very important. You want to find the best pick that you could have made. To play a better draft, from pick to matches, through the process, got to think hard.

――I see.

Marcio: I don’t want you to take this wrong, I’m not a guy that likes to think hard all day. I know I am not good also. This is a story in standard, I hate decks that need hard thinking every match like Temur Energy. This deck makes you think so much every match to play the best, and I get tired pretty easily. I knew this was my weak spot so I used Temur Energy on purpose and made myself practice to think. I practiced hoping maybe next game I might get use to the hard thinking and did this multiple time. It is not an easy thing to do.

He laughed as he talked how he practiced to overcome his weakness.

I asked, “Thanks for the interview! Last question, can you tell us what enthusiasm you have facing the World Championships to your fans all over the world? Also, can I have some words for your fans in Japan?”

He thought for a moment and answered,

Marcio: As a member of the Hareruya Latin, I am proud to wear this uniform. Japan is a country I like. The players and the community are strong and wonderful. Also, they have sushi! If I have the chance, I would definitely go to a Japanese Grand Prix!

As he stood up, he added one quote,

“Of course, in a limited format!”

He kept talking to us “Needs more testing”, “Needs more practice”. At the World Championship 2017, he will be playing with what he has experienced and thought over and over to tug the victory he aims to achieve. We will know what result will achieve in the near future.