Draft Digest: Let The Trials Begin!

With Amonkhet prize packs in hand, Ryan Saxe is ready to start the Trial of Draft! What’s his first pick from an intriguingly loaded starting pack, and how will he follow it up?

Now that we’ve all gotten a chance to play with Amonkhet cards, evaluations will begin to properly converge. I’ve drafted the set a couple of times, and it’s been some of the most intricate games of Limited I have played in recent memory! Cycling, as I’ve said, smooths out draws and adds some great decision points. So far it seems that, as long as your opponent doesn’t have Ahn-Crop Crasher, this format won’t be too fast. There’s a lot to do, and I’m excited to explore it to a deeper degree. But until then, let’s crack a pack!

Pack 1, Pick 1

The Pack:

The Pick:

I’ll start this by saying that, even though the format doesn’t appear fast, eight mana is just too much. Sorry, Sandwurm Convergence. You’re a bomb in Sealed, but in Draft, we can do better!

Then we still have three other awesome green cards! Wow, that’s a lot, and it’s going to be impossible to signal properly. This actually brings up an interesting option: Final Reward. Final Reward is a very solid removal spell, especially in a world of Embalm. It’s a solid first pick out of many packs, and the only good black card in this pack. If I take a green card, I’m quite certain somebody downstream will also end up in green, whereas if I take Final Reward, I can cut black hard and get rewarded in Pack 2. So the bar the green cards have is a little higher than usual in order to compete here, but they aren’t out of the question!

Cartouche of Strength appears to be the best green common, and I’m pretty happy to first-pick it. It’s unclear if it’s better than Final Reward, but I could see this going both ways. Because of that, I think it doesn’t pass that additional threshold.

Shefet Monitor is such a cool Magic card! There’s a lot to ramp into in this set, especially if you end up U/G. And a 6/5 body is bigger than most things. But I’m honestly unsure if this card is even better than a solid removal spell. If it turns out something like a five-color “Good Stuff” deck is viable that utilizes Shefet Monitor, Naga Vitalist, and Painted Bluffs as the backbone of the manabase, the Monitor certainly goes up in value. But for now, I’m going to stick with Final Reward.

I’ve saved the best for last! Crocodile of the Crossing is a hell of a Magic card. A four-mana 5/4 with haste is spectacular and I will first-pick out of most packs. Yes, this comes with a -1/-1 counter, but there are many ways to mitigate that. I don’t imagine losing many games where I cast this on turn 3, placing that counter on my Naga Vitalist. Overall, Crocodile of the Crossing looks like it’ll be one of the best uncommons, and I believe it outweighs the premium removal here, even if we’re passing good green cards downstream.

Pack 1, Pick 3

The Picks So Far:

I’m pretty excited to play with this Crocodile tribal deck! Jokes aside, we have three very strong cards and are almost certainly green. Unfortunately, green doesn’t seem very open…

The Pack:

The Pick:

As good as cycling duals are, I’m not taking one this early when there are better options in the pack. So we have two on-color cards and two off-color cards. Do we need to stay black? No, but to move away, we are throwing away Baleful Ammit. This means that the nonblack card should be better than Baleful Ammit.

Zenith Seeker looks much better than it is. A 2/2 flier for four is just way too below rate. Yes, you can give other creatures flying (which is probably at best in U/G), but it does require a condition, albeit one that’s easy to accommodate. Overall, the card doesn’t make me want to give up on the wonderful lifelinking Crocodile.

Time to Reflect is a very interesting card. Unfortunately, I don’t think we can take it. I want approximately seven or more Zombies for this card to be put in my deck, and once I have about ten, I’m very excited to play it. The thing is, there aren’t many green Zombies, so we would be throwing out both copies of Crocodile of the Crossing for this pick, since W/B is the Zombies archetype. I don’t think this card is that good.

So it’s down to the two black cards. Cursed Minotaur is a fine card. I’ll play it in my deck, but I’m never happy about it. But then we have Wander in Death. This card looks unassuming, but I promise you that it’s the real deal! Double Raise Dead is a very powerful effect, and when it’s not good, you can cycle it. The card is very flexible and I want one copy in all of my black decks. Although I don’t like taking it this early, the pack is mediocre enough that I’m willing to settle and pick it up here.