Draft Digest: The Red Strokes

Flexibility is the key to successful drafting in Ixalan! Ryan Saxe serves up two tricky picks that might not go the way you expect! This is your last chance to improve your Ixalan draft game! Don’t miss it!

There were some really interesting moments from the Pro Tour this past weekend. I think a lot of players are afraid to go against what they know about Limited, and this hurts more than it helps in this format. Yuki Matsumoto’s draft from the Pro Tour really showcased this. In Pack 3 (around 19:00), he takes Blight Keeper over Contract Killing. Now of course this isn’t a pick that you would make Pack 1, Pick 1, but there are decks in this format that just aren’t as interested in removal as they are cheap creatures. So keep that in mind while you’re drafting.

Anyway, let’s see what our packs today have to offer!

Pack 1, Pick 3

The Picks So Far:

The Pack:

The Pick:

First off, I think Bishop of Rebirth is overrated. A 3/4 with vigilance for five is below rate, so the text needs to be reasonably good in order to pique my interest. The additional text on the Bishop looks extremely powerful, but that’s not how it has played out in the majority of matches. Yes, this card can completely take over the game, and sometimes it does, but the speed of the format really takes a wrench to it. Five-drops in this format need to have a large impact on the battlefield on Turn 5, and this card has more of an impact later in the game. Essentially, it’s a fine card, but I’m going to lean towards the cheaper threats.

Both Fathom Fleet Firebrand and Watertrap Weaver are cards I’m willing to first-pick in this format. So which is better? I would argue that, in a vacuum, the Pirate gets the nod ever so slightly. And even though my last article suggests that you should take the Pirate, I don’t actually think that’s the case.

When drafting, you’re trying to optimize for the best possible deck. This is why you’re supposed to take cards of the same color when possible, as each additional card increases the probability that you play the whole lot. In Ixalan, you throw away picks more often because finding your lane is that much more important. That’s why I advocate taking the best card in the pack over a worse card that shares a color with what you already have in most cases.

But here, Fathom Fleet Firebrand and Watertrap Weaver are so close in power level that I think using the fact that One With the Wind is blue as a tie-breaker is a reasonable approach, whereas in my last article I went the other way because I think Pious Interdiction is substantially better than Siren Lookout.

Pack 1, Pick 6

The Picks So Far:

The Pack:

The Pick:

With both Fathom Fleet Firebrand and Lightning-Rig Crew still in this pack, I think red is where I’m supposed to be, as both cards are quite good.

In the beginning of this format, I would have snapped off Lightning-Rig Crew and jumped with joy. But at this point, I’m taking Fathom Fleet Firebrand and moving on with it. While the pinger is a great card, there’s a glut of three-drops in the format, and maximizing on two-drops is the best recipe for success in Ixalan. When in doubt, take the cheaper card!

After this pick, I think the probability I end up red is quite high. Maybe it’s not open, and I’ll move off it if that’s the case, but I find this unlikely. But I can still be any other color, although I have a strong preference towards blue or black because I already have cards of those colors and Vanquisher’s Banner will be best-suited there.