Now that Iconic Masters has had some time to settle, I’m confident that it’s a pretty great format. Most color combinations have a gradient of archetypes, which enables some awesome flexibility during the draft. I have two words of advice for success in this format though:
1. Draft blue. In my honest opinion, it is a full tier above the other colors and can support a large amount of drafters. I’m at the point where the only way I don’t end up blue is if the packs break weird. And given that every blue archetype has about three different versions, you don’t get as punished if the people upstream are also in blue.
2. Be hyper-vigilant about what wheels. Plenty of cards are very powerful in one (or only a few) archetype(s) and mediocre at best otherwise. Whenever I see these archetypal cards, I make note of them and alter my strategy such that I can maximize for the potential that they wheel. If they don’t, it’s fine and I go back to what I was doing, and if they do, well, I’ll be the only one at the table who can abuse the strategy, which is invaluable.
So with this in mind, let’s jump into a draft!
Pack 1, Pick 1
Anger of the Gods is a powerful rare, there’s no doubt about that. In plenty of formats, it would be a slam dunk for a Pack 1 Pick 1.
Unfortunately, I don’t believe IMA to be one of those formats. Games often play out as a grind-fest, and there are way too many decks that have only a couple of creatures with three or less toughness. The card is still good, but I think the other options are better.
Carven Caryatid is quite good. It’s only one color, replaces itself, locks up the ground, and is a defender to boot. In fact, one of the best decks in this format is the defender deck. But I think it’s not as good as Cephalid Broker, which also goes well into the defender deck, and hence I’m going to pass on the Caryatid.
Cephalid Broker is, well, broken. Looting twice a turn just means that, if the game doesn’t end soon, you’ll almost always have more spells than your opponent, and this is how you win most games of Limited. I’m always happy to start off with one of the best uncommons in the best color, so I’m snapping up the looter here.
Pack 1, Pick 4
The Picks So Far:
I am ecstatic with this start. I think Condescend is one of the top uncommons in the set. When you trade card-for-card on time, the scry 2 really makes you feel ahead, so any midrange or control deck will make great use of it. And the awesome thing about the card in the prowess-aggressive decks is that you can cast on your own spell for X = 0 to scry and get a prowess trigger. The card is flexible and powerful. I’m always happy to have access to it.
Repeal is a solid card, but overall not a card I prioritize. I like having one copy in most of my blue decks, but I’m just not going to take it early in Pack 1 very often, especially because I’m not even that upset if I don’t have access to it.
Bouncelands are spectacular. Card advantage built into a land that can potentially fix your mana is awesome. Taking Simic Growth Chamber is completely defensible, but it’s not what I’m going to do. You see, you can get bouncelands usually in this format, and I haven’t found them as premium as I expected. While I’m near 100% to play this land given the start of this draft, I would rather speculate on an irreplaceable card.
Guttersnipe is actively insane. The way U/R plays out (when it isn’t the defender version of the deck) is that you usually stick a threat or two like Kiln Fiend and maximize damage through drawing cards and interacting with the opponent. One of the ways U/R loses traction is by not getting through with prowess creatures. Guttersnipe takes this aggro deck and ensures it wins the long game while also playing very well with an aggressive start. I would rather open myself up to have the best possible version of this deck than take the bounceland, but that is just my personal preference (and affinity towards this color combination). Both are justifiable picks.