Pack 1, Pick 1
Chamber Sentry may be the most underrated rare in the set – I think people by now have caught on that Experimental Frenzy is a bomb.
In a five-color deck, Chamber Sentry is a bomb, and in every single two-color combination, it is, at minimum, a two-drop with a relevant ability. The floor of the card really isn’t that far from Goblin Cratermaker. The only uncommon I’d take over Chamber Sentry Pack 1, Pick 1 is Murmuring Mystic. You could maybe make an argument for Lava Coil but that pick is still close in my opinion.
I’m going to take Chamber Sentry, but outside of that card, this pack poses an interesting question and I think it’s worth my time to discuss this pick should Chamber Sentry not be in the pack.
Conclave Tribunal is a better removal spell than Direct Current, but red is a better color than white. Boros Challenger overlaps in colors with the removal spells and is arguably the best two-drop for Boros, but it’s the narrowest card in the pack. Last, Watcher in the Mist, while the worst of the options, is the only blue card in the pack and blue is the best color. That’s quite a lot to unpack.
When I see a pack like this, I think it’s useful to break the pick into sub-problems and consider two separate card pairs. First and foremost, let’s compare the two removal spells. I like Conclave Tribunal over Direct Current for a couple of reasons. It’s splashable, it answers any nonland permanent, and it has a higher ceiling of playing the card for free.
How about Conclave Tribunal versus Boros Challenger? This pick is pretty close in my eyes. I know for a fact I would take Sunhome Stalwart over Conclave Tribunal, and I think Boros Challenger is better than Sunhome Stalwart in Boros. However, because I think flexibility is extremely important in early picks in this format in order to read the table, I like the mono-colored removal spell more than the powerful two-drop.
The last part of this round robin compares Conclave Tribunal to Watcher in the Mist. While Tribunal is usually a full tier ahead of the Watcher, does the abundance of white cards in the pack alongside the lack of blue cards (remember, this is ignoring the existence of Chamber Sentry) give Watcher in the Mist an edge? I don’t think so. The signals you send are important, and while taking Watcher gives you the ability to cut blue (which is the best color), I think the delta in power level between Watcher in the Mist and Conclave Tribunal is too large to justify that. That justification should be used as a tiebreaker and would require a better blue card like Chemister’s Insight.
Without the Sentry, I would end on Conclave Tribunal, but luckily there’s that awesome rare to take instead!
Pack 2, Pick 1
The Picks So Far:
Take a minute to review the pool so far. Pack 1 was fairly kind and can support pretty much any Sultai variant. With Disinformation Campaign, Dimir is the most straightforward avenue, but District Guide and Urban Utopia open a lot of doors for a base green deck, and a thirteenth-pick Rhizome Lurcher may mean that Golgari is where I’m supposed to be.
This pick is a hard one!
This pack really poses the question of if I’m green or not, and the short answer is that I don’t really know yet. If I’m taking a creature out of this pack, it’s Nullhide Ferox, so let’s figure out what’s better between Dead Weight or Deadly Visit first.
Top10 commons in #MTGGRN Draft:
1. Dead Weight
2. Direct Current
3. Healer’s Hawk
4. Skyknight Legionnaire
6. Deadly Visit
7. Watcher in the Mist
8. Artful Takedown
9. Luminous Bonds
10. Whisper Agent
Honorable Mention: Wojek Bodyguard
— Ryan Saxe (@rcsaxe) November 7, 2018
Given my current common pick order, Dead Weight is reasonably better that Deadly Visit. However, I don’t think it’s as clear-cut here. With Disinformation Campaign, the surveil on Deadly Visit might be crucial, especially since I’ll likely be on the lookout for cards like Dimir Spybug, Thoughtbound Phantasm, or Darkblade Agent should I end up Dimir. But this isn’t enough to sway me off Dead Weight. Dead Weight is too important to ensure you get to the late-game, where a deck like this excels. And with two copies of Capture Sphere, I’m not concerned about answering an expensive threat like Siege Wurm.
This pick boils down to Nullhide Ferox against Dead Weight and I think it’s a very close pick. Nullhide Ferox is a very good threat, and even though it becomes difficult to cast my spells, that really shouldn’t matter that much if I have a 6/6 hexproof creature on the battlefield. The problem with taking the Ferox here is that it’s not splashable. At this point I’ll either be Dimir or Golgari, so Nullhide Ferox has a fairly large probability of ending up in the sideboard, whereas Dead Weight will make my deck almost 100% of the time and be a premium card in it.
So while there’s a power-level gap here, the certainty of playing a premium removal spell is why I’m leaning towards Dead Weight. The last piece of logic to put it over the top is that I would rather be Dimir than Golgari, given the cards that I have so far.
Funnily enough, I didn’t end up playing any of the Capture Spheres – or Pokeballs, as I like to call them – because of the anti-synergy with Plaguecrafter and Dispersal, and I did end up in Golgari as blue cards were nowhere to be found. The deck still was great and I took it to a fairly easy trophy! Multiple copies of Dispersal play unbelievably well with Disinformation Campaign to handle problem permanents. I even got to get rid of Dawn of Hope this way!