Drafting Digest: Am I Really Playing Red?

Ryan Saxe makes no bones about it: he thinks Red is the weakest color in Rivals of Ixalan Draft! But with the packs seemingly pushing him that way, can he bring himself to get Mountains at the basic land station?

Pack 1, Pick 1

The Pack:

The Pick:

Zetalpa, Primal Dawn is actually better than I thought. It’s still not a card I’m happy to first-pick, but I figured it was worth mentioning. There are a variety of decks in this format that can both get to eight mana and need finishers, and Zetalpa is quite the solid one. Unfortunately, there are abundant answers at common such as Luminous Bond or Waterknot, which doesn’t bode well for the Elder Dinosaur.

Crashing Tide is a solid common that I don’t mind first-picking. The tempo advantage is pretty huge, and hence Crashing Tide fits well in both aggressive decks and controlling decks. Even without any Merfolk the card is quite solid, but with a Merfolk on the battlefield, the card is amazing.

Needletooth Raptor is my pick here, though. I think red is the worst color in the format (although it’s still early and this is subject to change), so it takes a strong card to put me into red. Needletooth Raptor has a huge upside, and a variety of cards in the set combo excellently with it. The most common sequence is tutoring the Raptor with Forerunner of the Empire, but you haven’t really lived until you’ve paired Needletooth Raptor with Makeshift Munitions!

Pack 1, Pick 4

The Picks So Far:

This is a reasonable start to a draft. I don’t feel tied down to any particular strategy here, but I will say that I’ve had success with both B/R aggro and B/R removal, so I have my eyes open for either of those strategies. However, I could still certainly end up Merfolk or Vampires if the next pack has nothing but a lord.

The Pack:

The Pick:

Sadistic Skymarcher is very good in Vampires and suitable in most black decks. However, I don’t think I’m that likely to be Vampires, and if that’s the case, I would rather take Dusk Legion Zealot.

I’ve been impressed by the little “Vampire Visionary.” It’s not a spectacular card by any means, but it does a lot of little things. If I were certain that I would be the B/R removal deck, I think I would probably end up on the Zealot, as it helps against the little 2/1 creatures that can be a problem when you’re trying to trade one-for-one. However, given that I’m not sure what my strategy would be, I think it’s best to take the card with the highest chance to make my deck.

Charging Tuskodon is a solid finisher. I don’t usually like picking up finishers this early because you can usually get them pretty late (Dusk Charger, for example). But the Tuskodon is one of the best finishers for a deck chock-full of removal, and if I end up in a Dinosaur deck, I’ll be really happy I snagged the card here. So I’m going to take Charging Tuskodon.