Last updated on October 17, 2023

Strixhaven preliminary pick order feature image

You gotta love it — right now is the most exciting time of year here at Draftsim. Strixhaven: School of Mages preview season is over and we've finally got our hands on the full spoiler. Draftsim even got three cards to preview this time around!

Everyone under the sun is doing set reviews and you all have been slamming the draft simulator trying to get a feel for the new Strixhaven draft format. And now that means it's time for everyone's favorite two things — data and pick orders.

What I'm about to show you is the average pick number of each card in Strixhaven over the course of many drafts.

I did an analysis similar to this one for Kaldheim and received a lot of feedback on Reddit mainly revolving around two points:

  • Analyses like these are “worthless” because the drafters have never played the format and there are no consequences for experimentation.
  • Lists like this shouldn't be used as a pick order because card x or y is too high up on the list.

In general, while I'm actually sympathetic to these arguments, I still think there is a lot of value in making this list.

  • You get to see how other people en masse value the cards — what are they prioritizing?
  • You can learn a lot about the relative power level of the cards. The order of cards on the list ends up representing it pretty well.
  • If a card's position is way off from your or an expert's opinion, there's probably something pretty interesting there to discuss and learn from!

So to me, this exercise is very compelling, and is a far cry from being “worthless.”

OK with that out of the way, a quick word about this particular format.

Strixhaven Draft Is Unique

This set is quite a bear. We've got two unique sheets/slots in a Strixhaven draft booster:

Mystical Archive Cards

These are some of the most iconic instants and sorceries in Magic's history. Many of them are quite powerful, and there is one in every single draft booster pack. This has a huge impact on the draft format and injects a lot more variety and variability in the decks you'll see from draft-to-draft. Plus who doesn't love Lightning Bolting someone's face?

Lightning Bolt

I've included the Mystical Archive cards in the pick order because these are such a large part of the draft format. I think any discussion without considering them would be meaningless.

Lesson Cards

Lessons are original-to-Strixhaven cards that are one half of the Lesson-Learn mechanic. If you play a learn card, you get the option to grab a lesson card of your choice from your sideboard.

For some reason, the mythic, rare, and common lesson cards have their own dedicated slot, so you're guaranteed one per pack. But you also can get an uncommon lesson card in the regular uncommon slot.

Combined, these dynamics make for So. Many. Cards. So let's buckle up and dig in.

The Data

As with the last article, my data is based on over 50,000 drafts from April 3 – April 9 on our draft simulator:

If you used the simulator this past week and helped to provide data, thank you! I think you're awesome.

Here's the raw data that this analysis will be based off of, if you're interested:

CardAvg. PickColorRarity
multiple choice1Urare
professor onyx1Bmythic
torrent sculptor // flamethrower sonata1Rrare
hofri ghostforge1Multimythic
tanazir quandrix1Multimythic
shaile dean of radiance // embrose dean of shadow1.001443001Brare
augmenter pugilist // echoing equation1.001508296Urare
beledros witherbloom1.002197802Multimythic
velomachus lorehold1.002320186Multimythic
blot out the sky1.002583979Multimythic
extus oriq overlord // awaken the blood avatar1.008064516Multimythic
blade historian1.042899408Multirare
gnarled professor1.047677262Grare
mila crafty companion // lukka wayward bonder1.048929664Rmythic
sedgemoor witch1.051582649Brare
valentin dean of the vein // lisette dean of the root1.052493438Grare
galazeth prismari1.054794521Multimythic
plargg dean of chaos // augusta dean of order1.060773481Wrare
baleful mastery1.061093248Brare
retriever phoenix1.067150635Rrare
rowan scholar of sparks // will scholar of frost1.070886076Umythic
blex vexing pest // search for blex1.072674419Bmythic
silverquill command1.074433657Multirare
mavinda students' advocate1.074766355Wmythic
elemental expressionist1.076086957Multirare
flamescroll celebrant // revel in silence1.077399381Wrare
kianne dean of substance // imbraham dean of theory1.077617329Urare
sparring regimen1.081871345Wrare
venerable warsinger1.085753804Multirare
dragonsguard elite1.089514066Grare
shadrix silverquill1.093607306Multimythic
uvilda dean of perfection // nassari dean of expression1.094161959Rrare
conspiracy theorist1.107317073Rrare
mascot exhibition1.117515389Cmythic
manifestation sage1.178403756Multirare
day of judgment1.182926829Wmythic
dream strix1.196891192Urare
leonin lightscribe1.204054054Wrare
selfless glyphweaver // deadly vanity1.226351351Brare
elite spellbinder1.23633157Wrare
primal command1.238993711Gmythic
swords to plowshares1.241935484Wrare
devastating mastery1.242990654Wrare
dramatic finale1.243312102Multirare
codie vociferous codex1.244725738Crare
lorehold command1.246826516Multirare
tempted by the oriq1.250626566Urare
prismari command1.268365817Multirare
pestilent cauldron // restorative burst1.273422562Grare
demonic tutor1.289156627Bmythic
kasmina enigma sage1.313106796Multimythic
poet's quill1.320781032Brare
lightning bolt1.332402235Rrare
callous bloodmage1.358098068Brare
draconic intervention1.401069519Rrare
quandrix command1.406804734Multirare
time warp1.420074349Umythic
doom blade1.497093023Brare
igneous inspiration1.505190311Runcommon
witherbloom command1.510638298Multirare
daemogoth titan1.557997558Multirare
magma opus1.597222222Multimythic
mizzix's mastery1.632183908Rmythic
crux of fate1.686098655Bmythic
closing statement1.720997124Multiuncommon
crackle with power1.73318872Rmythic
archmage emeritus1.854148472Urare
illuminate history1.862962963Rrare
mortality spear2.041694242Multiuncommon
strixhaven stadium2.055214724Crare
blue sun's zenith2.102409639Umythic
oriq loremage2.123762376Brare
professor of symbology2.169347209Wuncommon
master symmetrist2.259149357Guncommon
efreet flamepainter2.264184397Rrare
devouring tendrils2.28028028Guncommon
mage hunters' onslaught2.404751233Bcommon
heated debate2.405429462Rcommon
jadzi oracle of arcavios // journey to the oracle2.443894389Gmythic
teachings of the archaics2.453051643Urare
wandering archaic // explore the vastlands2.554224464Crare
approach of the second sun2.609958506Wmythic
lightning helix2.651428571Multirare
inquisition of kozilek2.957377049Brare
urza's rage3.14800759Rrare
frost trickster3.154751131Ucommon
radiant scrollwielder3.155782313Multirare
emergent sequence3.243288591Guncommon
accomplished alchemist3.305319969Grare
hall of oracles3.344362745Crare
rip apart3.346978558Multiuncommon
body of research3.404040404Multimythic
clever lumimancer3.629392971Wuncommon
team pennant3.647558386Cuncommon
bayou groff3.648691938Gcommon
exponential growth3.662139219Grare
thunderous orator3.679768041Wuncommon
ingenious mastery3.705960265Urare
daemogoth woe-eater3.765722516Multiuncommon
vanishing verse3.806233062Multirare
rise of extus3.811706918Multicommon
ecological appreciation3.819256757Gmythic
killian ink duelist3.8828125Multiuncommon
storm-kiln artist3.967787115Runcommon
overgrown arch3.983464567Guncommon
zephyr boots4.037735849Cuncommon
divide by zero4.063938619Uuncommon
compulsive research4.07748184Urare
returned pastcaller4.086196504Multiuncommon
quandrix cultivator4.096612296Multiuncommon
spirit summoning4.134104833Multicommon
quandrix pledgemage4.139623844Multicommon
hunt for specimens4.159937888Bcommon
explosive welcome4.193548387Runcommon
increasing vengeance4.240131579Rmythic
natural order4.296786389Gmythic
basic conjuration4.309684685Grare
mage hunter4.312899787Buncommon
dina soul steeper4.324917673Multiuncommon
umbral juke4.429837518Buncommon
honor troll4.466864491Guncommon
maelstrom muse4.484703633Multiuncommon
professor of zoomancy4.521611002Gcommon
culling ritual4.547476476Multirare
academic dispute4.586750789Runcommon
rootha mercurial artist4.666084933Multiuncommon
semester's end4.685114504Wrare
gift of estates4.766025641Wrare
kelpie guide4.806956522Uuncommon
tenured inkcaster4.880350195Buncommon
agonizing remorse4.895985401Buncommon
ardent dustspeaker4.940165877Runcommon
quintorius field historian4.980608592Multiuncommon
pigment storm4.983315198Rcommon
brackish trudge4.987835783Buncommon
dark ritual4.995738636Brare
karok wrangler5.128863735Guncommon
dueling coach5.130085384Wuncommon
letter of acceptance5.172688304Ccommon
silverquill silencer5.252981261Multirare
decisive denial5.254370629Multiuncommon
pilgrim of the ages5.255803767Wcommon
mind's desire5.329545455Umythic
quandrix apprentice5.39075773Multiuncommon
mage duel5.416290868Gcommon
reduce to memory5.437238494Wuncommon
harness infinity5.468509985Multimythic
sign in blood5.499292786Brare
shadewing laureate5.541711809Multiuncommon
zimone quandrix prodigy5.542984061Multiuncommon
reflective golem5.546272494Cuncommon
spell satchel5.589211618Cuncommon
teach by example5.630681818Multicommon
wormhole serpent5.664929263Uuncommon
witherbloom apprentice5.677034884Multiuncommon
verdant mastery5.689655172Grare
strict proctor5.701592624Wrare
lash of malice5.775Bcommon
symmetry sage5.843906511Uuncommon
double major5.903966597Multirare
plumb the forbidden5.921419518Buncommon
mentor's guidance5.967798853Uuncommon
lorehold excavation5.998409332Multiuncommon
prismari apprentice6.129060579Multiuncommon
hall monitor6.139407245Runcommon
necrotic fumes6.175514267Buncommon
witherbloom pledgemage6.280172414Multicommon
show of confidence6.293650794Wuncommon
fortifying draught6.359558316Guncommon
lorehold pledgemage6.404802328Multicommon
culmination of studies6.408888889Multirare
grinning ignus6.457393484Runcommon
tezzeret's gambit6.582225332Urare
pest summoning6.615248575Multicommon
the biblioplex6.619930475Crare
lorehold apprentice6.627272727Multiuncommon
tend the pests6.630616908Multiuncommon
combat professor6.63987069Wcommon
silverquill apprentice6.670726207Multiuncommon
memory lapse6.675324675Urare
silverquill pledgemage6.691188581Multicommon
rushed rebirth6.707432432Multirare
prismari pledgemage6.720767357Multicommon
expressive iteration6.780279154Multiuncommon
faithless looting6.787663108Rrare
blood age general6.789299242Rcommon
practical research6.809621711Multiuncommon
growth spiral6.870563674Multirare
inkling summoning6.904849885Multicommon
environmental sciences6.907819782Ccommon
reconstruct history6.912860892Multiuncommon
blood researcher6.929536276Multicommon
tainted pact6.936416185Bmythic
introduction to annihilation6.985239852Ccommon
creative outburst7.037392796Multiuncommon
teferi's protection7.055555556Wmythic
elemental summoning7.121809225Multicommon
cram session7.124144226Multicommon
mana tithe7.209039548Wrare
introduction to prophecy7.249167424Ccommon
snow day7.275461741Uuncommon
expanded anatomy7.447884417Ccommon
eureka moment7.519401922Multicommon
containment breach7.540050063Guncommon
divine gambit7.641304348Wuncommon
reckless amplimancer7.6484375Gcommon
deadly brew7.679532164Multiuncommon
illustrious historian7.685254574Rcommon
tome shredder7.754385965Rcommon
abundant harvest7.856544503Grare
spectacle mage7.875173157Multicommon
chaos warp7.896103896Rmythic
fractal summoning8.040167975Multicommon
fuming effigy8.042654028Rcommon
stonebound mentor8.103071948Multicommon
aether helix8.136587079Multiuncommon
snakeskin veil8.202611436Guncommon
field trip8.26848249Gcommon
go blank8.324074074Buncommon
spiteful squad8.330186743Multicommon
access tunnel8.356034483Cuncommon
needlethorn drake8.359284682Multicommon
tendrils of agony8.400562852Brare
springmane cervin8.405057015Gcommon
thrill of possibility8.414547304Runcommon
gods willing8.415948276Wrare
moldering karok8.433277027Multicommon
make your mark8.43672391Multicommon
pillardrop warden8.440633245Rcommon
golden ratio8.453261321Multiuncommon
eager first-year8.456628057Wcommon
pop quiz8.501964027Ucommon
waterfall aerialist8.530953955Ucommon
stone rain8.542857143Rrare
defend the campus8.55487431Wcommon
crushing disappointment8.578142077Bcommon
bury in books8.587264151Ucommon
stonerise spirit8.599516762Wcommon
shineshadow snarl8.638588235Multirare
novice dissector8.670998886Bcommon
stonebinder's familiar8.695941661Wuncommon
necroblossom snarl8.734586795Multirare
detention vortex8.783013019Wuncommon
owlin shieldmage8.845116681Multicommon
scurrid colony8.855916031Gcommon
frostboil snarl8.856018519Multirare
furycalm snarl8.877962683Multirare
campus guide8.884511867Ccommon
vineglimmer snarl8.896103896Multirare
big play8.909687379Gcommon
elemental masterpiece8.977959309Multicommon
whirlwind denial9.033740831Uuncommon
leech fanatic9.060364465Bcommon
village rites9.092955701Buncommon
archway commons9.118844567Ccommon
fervent mastery9.1525941Rrare
unwilling ingredient9.17318641Bcommon
pillardrop rescuer9.198415556Wcommon
promising duskmage9.257940522Bcommon
specter of the fens9.260074782Bcommon
biblioplex assistant9.271601017Ccommon
leyline invocation9.282091918Gcommon
infuse with vitality9.311399265Multicommon
soothsayer adept9.323548598Ucommon
burrog befuddler9.462017027Ucommon
relic sloth9.501496661Multicommon
weather the storm9.586622807Grare
exhilarating elocution9.589818182Multicommon
twinscroll shaman9.598377891Rcommon
enthusiastic study9.601281025Rcommon
adventurous impulse9.619554373Guncommon
thrilling discovery9.622869132Multicommon
sudden breakthrough9.623268698Rcommon
professor's warning9.660377358Bcommon
oggyar battle-seer9.699115044Multicommon
vortex runner9.798406203Ucommon
study break9.815656566Wcommon
beaming defiance9.887396694Wcommon
charge through9.905053599Gcommon
star pupil9.923838649Wcommon
serpentine curve9.925082978Ucommon
academic probation9.981063123Wrare
arrogant poet10.00241274Bcommon
first day of class10.02425502Rcommon
solve the equation10.05191257Uuncommon
essence infusion10.08797554Bcommon
guiding voice10.10577762Wcommon
witherbloom campus10.13037477Multicommon
start from scratch10.15196744Runcommon
quandrix campus10.19965259Multicommon
defiant strike10.27834395Wuncommon
krosan grip10.32173913Grare
silverquill campus10.34096723Multicommon
lorehold campus10.34691031Multicommon
prismari campus10.35702706Ccommon
claim the firstborn10.37416587Runcommon
mascot interception10.44528522Runcommon
strategic planning10.4539629Uuncommon
mercurial transformation10.50271132Uuncommon
confront the past10.54926299Brare
arcane subtraction10.58030769Ucommon
excavated wall10.66005341Ccommon
square up10.66159091Multicommon
cogwork archivist10.69503546Ccommon
test of talents10.70631157Uuncommon
spined karok10.88436521Gcommon
ageless guardian10.99152303Wcommon
dragon's approach11.12311236Rcommon
secret rendezvous12.04280557Wuncommon

The Pick Order

All the usual caveats about pick orders apply — they're almost useless after pack 1, pick 1, but they can help you understand more about the power level of cards in the set.

Here we go! These are subcategorized into different tiers, but they're very broad and can change drastically based on the context of your pool.

Bombs and Slam First Picks (Picks 1-1.3)

While there is a bit of a difference between the top and bottom of this list, don't worry — you should be first picking these cards. They are essentially all tied for “take this right away” status.

I think it's pretty funny that some of the greats and “broken cards” of Magic's past such as Swords to Plowshares and Lightning Bolt can't hold a candle to many of the rares in the set. I know this is limited and all, but it's amusing to see so many cards above these all-time greats.

You do see a lot of deans/MDFCs in this upper echelon. They're mostly all incredible. The optionality that they give you in your draft (the ability to either go one color/side or play both) is amazing. I would be very happy to start my draft with one of them.

Nice First Picks (Picks 1.4-1.7)

Here we've got our first couple of uncommons – both very efficient efficient removal with extra value tacked on. Kill something and Demonic Tutor from my sideboard? Yes please!

I think Daemogoth Titan might stick out a little bit here. After listening to some great set reviews from other content creators, I have come around to the opinion that its uncommon counterpart Daemogoth Woe-Eater is likely better.

Reasonable First Picks (Picks 1.8-2.9)

We've got the last of the MDFCs here (already!) and our first couple of commons – Mage Hunters' Onslaught and Heated Debate.

Also our first “this is an archetype-specific uncommon but is such a strong pull that it's an early pick” card in Bookwurm.

Strong Cards (Picks 3-4.9)

Archetype Bread and Butter (Picks 5-7.9)

Was I the only one here who was distracted by the art for Faithless Looting yet again? It certainly is… noticeable.

It took this long for us to see the top white common, Pilgrim of the Ages! I don't think this is a great sign. Where's my Pacifism at?

You can also infer from this list that the colorless lessons are relatively high picks because they offer you a lot of flexibility. Those cards are almost certainly making your “deck” because only a single learn card in any color unlocks all of them.

Archetype Role Players (Picks 8-9.9)

It looks like y'all had no love for common two drops with so many of them sliding this low. I have a feeling that we'll be seeing a few of those creep in pick number sooner rather than later.

Situational / Sideboard Cards (Picks 10+)

Maybe lesson/learn are going to provide us with all the mana sinks we ever need, but honestly I was pretty shocked to see the campus cards down this low. These duals:

  • Make our two-color mana base more consistent
  • Enable the splashing of powerful off-college cards
  • Give us a great way to spend our mana in the late game

I realize there aren't synergy payoffs for them like there are for the snow duals in Kaldheim, but still.

If there are decks that are looking to “go off” with magecraft, I also think the more marginal Mystical Archive cantrips may be a little better than they looked initially.

Strixhaven Specifics

The Effect of Mystical Archives

Mtg mystical archive art

It's impossible to discuss the Strixhaven limited format without focusing on these, there's just so many of them floating around in the packs. And they really run the gamut from powerful, game-breaking spells to very situational cards. Plus they're pretty.

I think it's cool that every pick gradation on the list above has some of these cards in it. They're not all unconditionally “bombs” or must-take cards. However, their prevalence really adds to the density of instants and sorceries in every pack if your deck cares about magecraft.

It's amazing these cards didn't overwhelm the original cards from the set. I guess that says something about WotC being very intentional about the inclusions and the fact that creatures in modern magic are insane.

When Should I Take Lessons?

Probably a little higher than you might first think.

After all, something like Inkling Summoning can be cast in around 60% of decks (Silverquill, Lorehold, and Witherbloom). And the colorless lessons add value to your draft pool the minute you get a learn card that makes your maindeck.

The average pick number for the common lessons was 6.7, so you definitely want to be snagging them before replacement level cards for your deck.

Top Commons

This time around, since everything in the set is viewed through the lens of the colleges, I decided to rank the top commons (mono and multi-colored) in each college.

No mono-white cards (not counting hybrids) cracked the list!







It seems very clear that there are strong mono-colored and hybrid commons that will anchor you (“pivot cards”) and give you options to branch into many different colleges or college-specific synergies. These cards are a positive addition to your deck regardless of archetype, and they give you just a little nudge to move in one synergy direction or another.

Top Uncommons




Note: There was a big drop off between Inspiration and Artist – pick 1.5 to 3.8


It's pretty funny all the cards here are green. The power of blue's uncommons just doesn't stack up.


Most Controversial

These cards are the most “controversial” because they have the highest variance between where they were picked in packs between different players. One player might take a strange rare 1st, while another thinks it's too situational and would prefer to take it 7th pick.

Here are the top 10 most controversial cards for Strixhaven:

  1. Culmination of Studies
  2. Fervent Mastery
  3. Rushed Rebirth
  4. Tendrils of Agony
  5. Double Major
  6. Chaos Warp
  7. Reconstruct History
  8. Creative Outburst
  9. Channel
  10. Stone Rain

My thoughts: As you can see, many of these cards are the sexier but weirder Mystical Archive cards. For example Channel, Tendrils of Agony, and to some extent, Chaos Warp.

These are Cube staples that are missing their context (synergy pieces) that make them so busted. Alas, we have no draw sevens, Ulamogs, or Sundering Titans. I have a feeling that some people may be overvaluing these due to their history as broken cards in constructed or in Cube.

Another theme I see here is some skepticism about the “big mana” Prismari deck. Is Culmination of Studies really a worthwhile payoff? It's a rare so it must be good, right? Creative Outburst I think is a little more of a direct question about the viability of that strategy.

It's pretty clear what the card does — and it's powerful. But is it worth taking early and “going for it”?

So, What's Next?

Well, we've still got two days before the set comes out! So definitely head on over to Draftsim's Strixhaven draft simulator to get practice in before the set is released on MTG Arena on April 15.

arena tutor draft companion

I'm also planning on having all the ratings updated in our awesome MTGA tracker, Arena Tutor, that same day. So if you want dynamic ratings and a little AI assistance while you draft on Arena, please check it out. It's free!

Thanks for reading, I'll catch you next time.

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  • Avatar
    Christopher Ruggiero April 13, 2021 3:11 pm

    you rock

  • Avatar
    Shadowist April 17, 2021 11:53 am

    Don’t know if this will get noticed by the relevant team or not, but I think Arena tutor hasn’t gotten the full grasp of the learn/lesson mechanic yet. It keeps on trying to get me to add lessons to the main board. I think the AI should be fixed so that lessons are ranked normally in draft, but suffer a huge penalty in ratings (just for being lessons) to encourage them to stay in the sideboard.

    • Avatar
      Dan Troha April 18, 2021 11:04 am

      Correct, this has not been coded yet. I just fixed this on the draft simulator but it may take a week or so for AT. Thanks for using the app!

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