I think one of the biggest observations that I have had in this format so far, regarding the makeup of the best blue decks, is that Riddleform is not a build-around — it’s just good! You see, most of my blue decks have had sixteen lands (seventeen with enough cycling lands) and a very dense spell count. I have been happy playing the third copy of Unsummon, and the best blue deck I’ve drafted had five bounce spells! It’s not just U/R, though; pairing blue with literally any color can yield a tempo deck with a great curve.
Anyway, this draft started off with a great rare that could be the start of a great tempo deck. Or any deck for that matter.
Pack 1, Pick 2
The Picks So Far:
Driven // Despair is an interesting rare. I will include it in almost every G/B deck that I have, but it doesn’t actually make me want to be in that color combination. The effect is very powerful, and it can certainly swing a game, but there are plenty of situations where it just isn’t good enough. Given that Kefnet’s Last Word is miles better, I would rather not take a G/B card here. Yes, I could splash the back half, but the card is best when both halves are played at the same time. And when you have a window to cash it in, you really want to be able to capitalize on that.
Bloodwater Entity is a pretty good card, but worse than Enigma Drake from the last set. It doesn’t really push me into U/R, but it would be a good speculative pick here. Additionally, it gets much better given that I already have a very high-impact spell. I’m not going to take it here, but I wouldn’t fault you for taking it. I will keep a note of it, though. If it wheels, maybe I’ll move into U/R. And I wouldn’t be surprised if, in a couple of weeks, it turns out that this is the correct pick.
Sifter Wurm is the best card in this pack by a pretty good margin when only considering power level. We all know it’s good, but the existence of Oasis Ritualist makes it pretty insane. Curving into this on turn 5 off of just the back of one common? Sign me up!
Most of you will call me crazy for the pick I’m going to make, and it’s not Sifter Wurm. If you’ve read this column enough, you know I lean towards efficiency over power, and there’s only so much room for seven-mana cards.
Slamming a second-pick Unsummon over one of the best uncommons in the set? Really? Yup. Every single blue deck that I have drafted could be improved with the second, third, or even fourth copy of Unsummon. And if I don’t have one copy, I’m pretty unhappy. Because of this I prioritize the card highly and actually have it above Aerial Guide (although below Spellweaver Eternal). Also, this is a rare occasion where the player to my left is actually getting a signal Pick 3 because there are no blue commons in the pack with one common missing. If they read into it enough, that is.
Pack 1, Pick 5
The Picks So Far:
I’m extremely happy with how this draft is going so far. I still have to pick my second color, but there is really no rush to it. Many of you may think that this Riddleform puts me into U/R, and while it is probably best there, I’ve already mentioned that it can go in any blue deck.
Reason is an odd card to evaluate. The card “U: Scry 3” is close to playable, but comes just shy in my opinion. I’ll admit I haven’t played with the card yet, so part of me wants to take it to get experience with the card, but I do think that one card in this pack is both very good and a signal, and hence I’m not going to do that. What I do know (or think I know) is that this card is pretty much, at best, filler. It’s just not a high-impact card, and hence whether I have it in my deck at the end of any given draft really doesn’t matter. We are often flush with playables these days, so I don’t like using picks on cards that I don’t need.
Blur of Blades has surprised me. Originally I thought it wasn’t going to be very good, but the incidental damage is relevant, and there are a lot of one-toughness creatures. If I had taken the Bloodwater Entity, this would’ve been my pick, but as is, I don’t think it’s better than my last option.
Devotee of Strength is great! Pump effects in this set are better than usual because of afflict. If my opponent is at six and I have a devotee of Strength and Spellweaver Eternal, they have to block the Eternal, since they can’t take four and leave me with a creature with Afflict 2. Devotee of Strength makes combat a nightmare and is just a reasonable body to boot. With multiple green commons still in the pack, I would read into this as a signal that green is open (not guaranteed, but a relevant note). I’m going to pick it up here, and the next couple of picks will determine whether or not this really was a signal. I’m only tied to blue, and am quite happy with my draft so far!