War of the Spark is finally here! While the set releases in stores this weekend, you can draft it on both Magic Arena and Magic Online as of yesterday. The beginning of any set is kind of the Wild West. Cards are wheeling that shouldn’t and cards aren’t wheeling that should. It’s impossible to evaluate every card perfectly going in and that will be true for everybody sitting at that virtual table this week. Maybe you can find a common gem that the rest of the world doesn’t seem to appreciate!
Pack 1, Pick 2
The Picks So Far:
Starting off a draft with a bomb rare is a dream. Usually this creates a pretty large bias towards red, but be warned – the person passing to me in this draft is almost certainly red. Packs in Magic are collated such that a common of every color is present. There are no red commons in the following pack. This means either the person passing to me took Jaya’s Greeting, which notably is better than every card present, or the pack had a foil, which happened to replace the only red common. The latter is fairly unlikely and hence this provides a strong signal.
This doesn’t mean I will avoid red, but it’s a relevant note for the rest of the draft. Ideally, however, I can still play Ilharg, the Raze-Boar.
If you want to take Liliana’s Triumph, I suggest rethinking. While it’s a powerful card that will see Constructed play, Edicts generally aren’t good in Limited. They’re playable, but begrudgingly so and that’s not the kind of a card I want to take as a second pick. I would rather take Herald of the Dreadhorde if I were to take a black card, and I like all the other options better than that card as well.
Originally, I thought Silent Submersible was a very good card. Then I reread it. It doesn’t have any form of evasion. A 2/3 without evasion isn’t the easiest creature to attack with. It’s a good card, but with all the awesome noncreature spells in the set, I just don’t expect it to be worth the double-blue casting cost. It will likely make my deck a fair portion of the time, but the fail case is too frequent to justify an early pick.
This leaves Vivien’s Grizzly and Tamiyo’s Epiphany, both solid commons that provide card advantage. However, the mana inefficiency of Vivien’s Grizzly makes the card pale in comparison to the power-level of Tamiyo’s Epiphany. Spending four mana on an ability that may pay no dividends is not something you can afford to do unless you’re truly out of gas. It’s a great mana sink, but not a premium card in the same way Tamiyo’s Epiphany is.
Pack 1, Pick 3
The Picks So Far:
Izzet in this format is a spells-matters archetype, and both Burning Prophet and Flux Channeler fit well into it. Even though Flux Channeler is the powerful uncommon in this pack, I think the pick is Burning Prophet for four reasons.
1. Two-drops are more important than three-drops.
2. Given that Ilharg is in the pool, red cards are better picks than blue cards.
3. A 1/3 for two is a better rate than a 2/2 for three.
4. The power of Burning Prophet is self-contained, while Flux Channeler asks for synergy with other cards.
A key observation is that Burning Prophet is playable in many red archetypes. While it is optimized in Izzet, many archetypes in this format play a higher density of non-creature spells because cards with Amass and planeswalkers can function as creatures. For the reasons above, with this observation pushing the red bias to the forefront, I think this pick is Burning Prophet.
Pack 1, Pick 4
The Picks So Far:
It looks like a lot of players this draft aren’t going to have many planeswalkers. That’s 4/4 on Teyo in the planeswalker slot (it was in the first pack too!).
Tamiyo’s Epiphany is one of the most powerful commons. I believe the first copy of the card is premium, but after that there’s a severe drop-off. Mythic Championship London this past weekend demonstrated that this format is quite slow, but there are enough cards that have a large battlefield presence that you can’t just jam three copies of Tamiyo’s Epiphany in your deck.
Tenth District Legionnaire makes Boros work. According to Wizards of the Coast, the Boros archetype is “Aggro Tricks,” but there aren’t many cards that provide payoff for playing cards like Samut’s Sprint and Defiant Strike. In fact, Burning Prophet is the closest thing we get to that outside of this key uncommon. If it turns out that Boros is one of the better archetypes, I believe the correct pick out of this pack is Tenth District Legionnaire, but my current rankings have it as one of the worst because I don’t believe there are enough premium two-drops to facilitate a strong aggressive deck. Even though it’s a more powerful card, I think Gruul is enough better than Boros that Kronch Wrangler is a better pick.
Burning Prophet is a playable in every single red archetype. It’s substantially worse than Kronch Wrangler in Gruul, but still playable. Because Prophet in Izzet is about as good as Wrangler in Gruul, I think it’s the pick here. It keeps me open in the color of my bomb rare and that’s quite valuable.
Pack 1, Pick 5
The Picks So Far:
Samut, Tyrant Smasher is not a card I like. Granting haste to all your creatures is powerful, but not always relevant. The fact that your opponent can ignore her if she’s irrelevant and focus on removing her if she’s relevant greatly reduces the potency of Samut. Even though she’s arguably the only red option, I just don’t think Samut is good enough.
Contentious Plan is an interesting card. The ceiling on a cantrip that proliferates is incredibly high, and the floor isn’t very low, but Izzet isn’t the archetype that maximizes the card. It will trigger spells-matters cards such as Burning Prophet, but I’m not convinced that makes a card I should prioritize. It’s possible that this is the correct pick out of this pack, but with my current understanding of the format, I would rather pick up some fixing or a removal spell.
Gateway Plaza is better than I expected.
First #MTGWAR Draft. 3-0 6-0 pic.twitter.com/Wb8b4do96S
— Ryan Saxe (@rcsaxe) April 28, 2019
This was my first draft of the format, and oh boy does the deck look odd. A Gruul beatdown deck with two copies of Gateway Plaza and a double-splash? This format is all about power and the ability to splash is more important than ever. The best decks will run smoothly and not splash, but there are so many powerful commons that you can almost always solve the weaknesses of a deck via splashing. Having access to Gateway Plaza is important, and I plan on prioritizing the first copy.
However, when you just look at the power-level head-to-head of the cards in this pack, Band Together wins by a reasonable margin. If it was later in the draft without any green cards, you could justify passing up the premium removal spell.
Pack 1, Pick 5 is still a point where it’s fine to switch colors, and so the pick is Band Together.