Let’s see what our latest Ixalan pack has to offer:
Pack 1, Pick 1
I said this pretty early on, and after playing with and against Jace, Cunning Castaway multiple times, I can confirm that it’s mediocre. Jace too often does nothing. When you’re ahead, he does some interesting things, but more often than not, I think Jace, Cunning Castaway belongs in the sideboard.
Ixalan’s Binding is a premium removal spell. It’s splashable, and a card I don’t mind first-picking. There really isn’t much more to say about it other than that I’m not taking it here. While I like the card, premium-level two-drops are better than non-cheap removal spells in this format.
Kitesail Freebooter continues to go up in value. In fact, I have it in the top five uncommons (Charging Monstrosaur, Lightning Strike, Wanted Scoundrels, Kitesail Freebooter, Adanto Vanguard). This card does a ton of small things that add up to a premium card. It’s cheap, evasive, has a relevant creature type, and protects your threats. I’ve found Duress in my maindeck some portion of the time due to how often I’m trying to suit up a creature with an Aura and take over the game. The removal is clunky, and you can get a huge advantage by grabbing a spell with Kitesail Freebooter. And this little creature even wears a suit pretty well and enables all the raid to boot!
Don’t underestimate Kitesail Freebooter.
Pack 1, Pick 3
The Picks So Far:
This is a great start to a draft. Both of these cards are good enough that it’s going to be hard to get me off black unless I just never see a black card for the rest of this pack.
I don’t like Dark Nourishment. Three damage for five mana is just too inefficient. Sure, it can gain life to swing a race, and it can go to the face if necessary, but there’s only so much room for expensive removal and we already have Contract Killing. Easy pass on Dark Nourishment here.
Merfolk Branchwalker is the best card in the pack. I’m pretty high on this card. In general, a cheap creature with a relevant type that provides value is really good in this format. In fact, if this card were not green, it would be in my top five uncommons, but I think green is the worst color by a reasonable margin, as the only green deck I like is U/G Merfolk (that’s right, I’m not a fan of R/G Dinosaurs).
Given that B/G rarely comes together in this format and my black cards are good, I’m going to use color/archetype preference as a tie-breaker here. While Merfolk Branchwalker is a better card than Watertrap Weaver, I would rather expand into blue than green.
Something to think about here with Watertrap Weaver is that if Merfolk happen to be wide open, which is the reason I would want to take Merfolk Branchwalker, Watertrap Weaver still fits the bill. And if it’s not, then I would be happily in U/B Tempo. Even though Pirates are the tribe relevant to the U/B archetype, I’ve found any creature that helps attack is a great inclusion, so I’m taking Watertrap Weaver here.