After a weekend of the Iconic Masters, here are the takeaways I have so far:
1. Every color combination can do multiple things. Be creative and flexible when possible!
2. It’s difficult to draft aggro decks. They can come together, but you need good versions, as the late-game-oriented decks have too many tools to come back with.
3. Kiln Fiend is better than I thought, and a card I will speculate on if I see it late in Pack 1. U/R is an extremely potent combination, and if it’s open, it very well may be the best deck by a good margin.
It’ll be interesting to see how the format evolves, but for now, let’s just keep on drafting!
Pack 1, Pick 1
Honestly, this pack is on the weak side for a Masters set. But hey, you can’t always slam a bomb!
Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur just isn’t gonna work out the way you want it to in Limited. Even if you manage to cast the card, the draw-seven is not optional and may kill you before you can kill the opponent. Maybe you’re playing a ramp deck and have removal for Jin-Gitaxias so this doesn’t happen, but it’s still way too much to ask for, and I would rather not try to jump through those hoops.
Search for Tomorrow is pretty solid in this format. If you look at the color green, it’s pretty clear that it wants to ramp, and search is a solid common to facilitate this plan. But there is a large enough density of ramp at common that I don’t think it’s necessary to prioritize. Additionally, I’m not a huge fan of ramp decks in Limited. That’s not to say they’re bad (in fact, I think they’re pretty good in this format), but I think it’s important to draft with your personal preferences in mind. And mine lead me away from Search for Tomorrow.
Draconic Roar is a solid common for sure. It kills a large portion of threats, and if you happen to have a Dragon, the card becomes pretty absurd. While this is the safer pick, it’s not what I’m going to take. You don’t need to prioritize removal in these sets to the same extent as usual. Yes, removal is important, but good removal is not as hard to pick up, so I would rather take a card that is less replaceable.
Distortion Strike has impressed me. It’s a key card to the U/R Kiln Fiend deck, and one copy is fine in most blue decks. While I’m not ecstatic to first-pick the card, in certain flavors of U/R and U/W, it’ll be the best card in my deck. In Masters formats you often have an abundance of playables at the end of the draft, so I prefer taking powerful yet narrow cards over solid playables like Draconic Roar to start off my drafts.
Pack 1, Pick 2
The Picks So Far:
I don’t really even think Grisly Spectacle is in contention here. Yes, it’s unconditional removal, but as I mentioned previously, you don’t really need to prioritize removal. You’ll get some.
Mahamoti Djinn is a pretty powerful card. A 5/6 flier is hard to deal with and ends the game quickly. Given that there are a bunch of mana rocks in this format, a six-drop doesn’t have as much downside as usual. That being said, I tend to still prioritize efficient cards early on. You could still end up lacking in that category, where it’s rare to lack win conditions.
Mind Stone is a spectacular card, and one that is first-pickable. The downside to mana rocks is that they’re useless later in the game, but at least this one can turn into a card under those circumstances! The one issue I have is that, given the abundance of mana rocks at common, you don’t need to prioritize them as much as I thought. So while Mind Stone is good, I don’t feel like I need to take it over a great card.
Staggershock, in my opinion, is one of the best uncommons in the set. It can be a two-for-one, and even when it’s not, the card is solid. Rebound is an extremely powerful mechanic and does a lot of little things in this format. On top of just being a good card, it also triggers all your prowess creatures twice and can even help cast cards like Illusory Angel! So I’m happy to take Staggershock here. It’s at its best in U/R (which is great given the start of Distortion Strike), but it will be great in any red deck. And it’s splashable to boot.