Draft Digest: By Popular Demand!

Ryan Saxe isn’t stopping at two picks in the first pack! Today he also explores a second-pack dilemma that illustrates how card values can change based on your deck’s needs!

Now that the Pro Tour has come and gone, we have gotten a glimpse into how the greatest minds have dissected Aether Revolt Limited. This format has been referred to as difficult to understand, but there is one consensus: the format is aggressive. I think my favorite, and most unintuitive, discovery from the weekend is that Consulate Dreadnaught is actually pretty good.

Today, all of you are in luck! By request I will be adding a “middle of Pack 2” pick. Hopefully this adds the depth you all desire. Let’s get into the first pack:

Pack 1, Pick 1

The Pack:

The Pick:

Well, this pack is absolutely stacked!

I’m sure almost 100% of you are going to take Walking Ballista, and that would be (dare I say) objectively correct. Sometimes we get lucky, and today we did! Walking Ballista is in the top five cards in the set for Pack 1, Pick 1. The only cards I always take over it are Aethersphere Harvester, Ridgescale Tusker, and Herald of Anguish. And the only cards that are on a similar power level are Rishkar, Peema Renegade; Heart of Kiran; and Untethered Express.

As for the rest of the pack, we have an uncommon print run! Scrapper Champion, Siege Modification, and Tezzeret’s Touch appear together at quite a high consistency. The collation is not 100%, but if you get passed a pack with Siege Modification and Tezzeret’s Touch Pack 1, Pick 2, you can pretty safely put the person to your right in red with a Scrapper Champion.

After Walking Ballista and Scrapper Champion, this pack even has five of the top commons: Aether Chaser, Aether Poisoner, Aether Swooper, Scrounging Bandar, and Renegade Map. Although I don’t particularly like first-picking Renegade Map, it has certainly impressed me. The card is playable in every deck, and mana consistency is really important. Helping out with Revolt and Improvise is relevant as well. The rest of the commons listed, I am okay-first picking, and you should be as well. The only top common that isn’t in this pack is Daring Demolition, but it should be noted that I think both Aether Chaser and Aether Poisoner are better than Daring Demolition.

Pack 1, Pick 7

The Picks So Far:

We have a great W/R aggro deck a-brewing here. In my experience, this deck usually has two to four Vehicles, two to three combat tricks, and three to five removal spells. We are already nearing the top end of removal spells, but that’s not really an issue. It should be noted that creatures gain higher value, given that I only have two so far, though. Let’s look at the next pack:

The Pack:

The Pick:

This pack is a great one. Seeing an Aether Chaser this late is a huge signal that red is open, and I am snapping it up here. Many teams this weekend had Aether Chaser as the best overall common! With a Vehicle and more red and white cards in the pack, I think I’m in the right lane.

One of the reasons Aether Chaser is so good is that it can consistently help you play Sweatworks Brawler on turn 3. I’m looking to pick one up now; although it’s a shame I can’t take the one in this pack, remember that there was one in my starting pack that might wheel if the Aether Chaser came this late.

To talk about the rest of the pack, both Irontread Crusher and Dawnfeather Eagle have overperformed for me. I thought Irontread Crusher was going to be bad, but crewing it was not as difficult as I expected, and the 6/6 body is just monstrous. The Eagle is great, just as I thought, but this format has had a large potential for racing. I have won multiple games by sandbagging Dawnfeather Eagle so that my opponent thinks they’re winning the race when they’re not.

Pack 2, Pick 3

A new section! I am unsure how frequently I’ll be adding a Pack 2 or 3 scenario, but it is a different skillset that no article currently helps with. You see, at this point of the draft, you really need to see what your deck lacks and try to fill those holes. It’s just an additional dimension to consider. With that in mind, here we go…

The Picks So Far:

The Pack:

The Pick:

The best card in the pack for us is Chandra’s Revolution, but that doesn’t mean it’s correct to pick it here. Welder Automaton and Restoration Specialist are both good two-drops, and aggressive decks really need an abundance of them. We already have three removal spells and three two-drops (if you count Walking Ballista), so what is the necessity here?

First, let’s figure out which two-drop is better. What are the upsides? Welder Automaton can help cast Sweatworks Brawler on turn 3. Restoration Specialist can get back Vehicles and even Caught in the Brights or Walking Ballista. But Welder Automaton is reach and a mana sink. Overall, I think the upside for Restoration Specialist is much higher than that of Welder Automaton, so if I’m taking a two-drop, it’ll be the specialist.

So, two-drop or removal spell? I currently have three quality two-drops, although I would rather play Walking Ballista on turn 4 or turn 6. This early in the second pack, I am not worried about picking up two-drops, but it is something of note. If this were, say, Pick 8 or 9 in Pack 2, or worse yet the beginning of Pack 3, Restoration Specialist would be the pick hands-down. As is, I think I have enough two-drops right now and would rather take the solid removal spell in Chandra’s Revolution. I wouldn’t fault anyone for taking the Specialist here, but the card is a replaceable two-drop. Where R/W is going to have trouble with creatures with four toughness, and having access to more removal for big butts is important.