Draft Digest: Banding

Ryan Saxe heard you loud and clear: you want more picks from deeper packs! Today he explores some counterintuitive picks with the potential to unlock a devastating Limited deck!

Another day, another draft! After the feedback from last time, I decided I’m going to try my best to constantly give a Pack 2 or Pack 3 scenario. Let’s go a little deeper! Here’s the first pack:

Pack 1, Pick 1

The Pick:

Let’s just look at each pick individually, since we have a couple of options here, starting with a rare!

Merchant’s Dockhand does a little more than I expected. As I’m sure you’re aware of by now, one-mana artifacts get a huge bump thanks to Improvise. There hasn’t been a format in the past couple of years with an abundance of playable turn 1 cards like Aether Revolt. The activated ability on the Dockhand can get out of hand pretty quickly if it goes unchecked, but it really isn’t relevant until the game goes long. All in all, the card is playable, but doesn’t entice me into going for Improvise when there are other options in the pack. It’s a good engine, but I’m going to pass on it here.

Then we have Maverick Thopterist. I’m pretty high on the card, and it’s one of the few gold cards I’m willing to first-pick. This pack is pretty powerful too, so the Merchant’s Dockhand might even wheel if I take the Thopterist here. I’m thinking about taking the card, but there are a couple of commons I take over it Pack 1, Pick 1, so let’s look further into the pack.

Shock is, well, shockingly efficient for the removal we get in Limited these days. There are a lot of three-toughness threats in the set, so sometimes Shock doesn’t do so much, but it should be noted that red has three cards with first strike or double strike that make Shock even more impressive. Speaking of those cards, Aether Chaser, the best common in my opinion, could get me off this Maverick Thopterist. As is, I don’t think Shock is going to do it.

Can Scrounging Bandar do what the other cards in this pack couldn’t? Will it entice me away from my beloved Maverick Thopterist? I have been quite impressed with Scrounging Bandar, and I have it in the top five commons in the set. The card just does so much, and because creatures are so small in this format, those counters really go a long way. To top it all off, it’s actually the only green card in the pack. This opens up an opportunity to cut off green entirely from the person to my left, guaranteeing that they can’t play green, and hence setting myself up for a powerful Pack 2! I am taking Scrounging Bandar here.

Pack 1, Pick 7

The Picks So Far:

As you can tell, my first couple of packs were pretty weak. Fortunately, a fifth-pick Skyship Plunderer sent a signal that blue was wide open and I was able to move in. This pack just confirms that!

The Pack:

The Pick:

We have a defensive card, a threat, and a removal spell. This pick is actually quite complicated. If I were certainly U/G, I think the pick is Shielded Aether Thief because of the amount of energy cards I can get in Pack 3. But if I end up in an Improvise deck, the second copy of Basion Inventor might be really important and green has dried up. Also, I currently have no removal spells, so Ice Over definitely has its merits.

If I didn’t have a Bastion Inventor already I would be more tempted, and Ice Over is just so medium overall in my opinion. Even though every pick has some solid reasoning behind it, I think Shielded Aether Thief simply has the highest upside! So I am taking Shielded Aether Thief here and I’ll keep my eyes peeled for energy for the rest of the draft.

Pack 2, Pick 5

The Picks So Far:

It looks like Pack 2 has given me some pretty great green cards, so I’ve locked myself into the U/G archetype. It should be noted that I have passed a couple of cards I want on the wheel: two copies of Hinterland Drake and a Rogue Refiner. Enough background info. Let’s see what the next pack has to offer:

The Pack:

The Pick:

Without any copies of Renegade Map or Unbridled Growth, Greenwheel Liberator is pretty mediocre. The floor of the card isn’t unplayable, but it’s pretty bad. I would take Scrounging Bandar over the card any day. Given that I already have a Greenwheel Liberator, I’m not really interested in the second copy. So what to take, Hinterland Drake or Implement of Ferocity?

Looking at what’s in the pool, what do I need? An enabler? A flier? A three-drop? The real question is about synergy. Hinterland Drake is a great quality three-drop, but the Implement can tie a whole deck together.

So far, here are the cards that I have that work well with Implement of Ferocity: Skyship Plunderer, Greenwheel Liberator, Scrounging Bandar, and both copies of Bastion Inventor. Even Prey Upon and Monstrous Onslaught get a little bit better. That’s enough cards that I’m leaning towards Implement of Ferocity. It’s also one of the few ways to get a counter on Skyship Plunderer, which is a really solid way to win a game. The only reason to take the Drake here is because there really aren’t any three-drops in the pool, so I could see taking it. But there are plenty of other three-drops I can pick up, three of which have a chance to wheel!

Even though it might be a bit unintuitive, for the reasons I stated, I think the correct pick is Implement of Ferocity.