Drafting Digest: Did You Ever Have To Make Up Your Mind?

Ryan Saxe is staring down some quirky Dominaria packs! After his first pick, he tries delaying his color commitment as long as possible. Will you agree with choice?

I’m a bit more than ten Dominaria drafts in at this point, and I can say I am very much enjoying the format. Kicker is an extremely skill-testing mechanic, and the question of “Should I wait to be able to kick this?” is not as easy a puzzle to approach as you would think.

I’ve been having a lot of success with green, and I think this is because having access to more mana optimizes the modality of your kicker spells. Having the choice of tempo-sequencing or waiting for maximum value is awesome. It’s early on, so it’s hard to say what the best color will be, but I have my eye on green. I’m not locked in on the color by any means, but it does mean I have a higher chance of starting off with the green card in the following pack.

Pack 1, Pick 1

The Pack:

The Pick:

Sanctum Spirit and Urgoros, the Empty One haven’t particularly impressed me. While they look quite powerful at the first pass, they just don’t pack the punch.

Urgoros is a six-mana card that dies to pretty much every single common removal spell, and that’s not where you want your top-end to be. And discarding to Sanctum Spirit is just too high of a cost. Sure, I’ll put this card in my deck a nonzero percentage of the time, but given the way combat seems to work out thus far, I’m not convinced it’s better than Aven Sentry anymore. The threat of activation just isn’t enough.

Last week I wrote an article where both Blink of an Eye and Llanowar Elves were in the pack, and the Elf didn’t even make the poll. After playing the format, this was clearly wrong. In fact, while I still don’t believe Llanowar Elves is the pick out of that pack, I do think I would rather start off my draft with the ramp creature over the bounce spell.

Games where you start off with the Elf just put you far ahead, and because of kicker and all the other mana sinks in the set, it’s not a terrible draw later in the game either. Most of my green decks will gladly have access to nine mana, and so ramping is more premium than usual. So I would take Llanowar Elves here. Blink of an Eye is great, but it is certainly more replaceable.

Pack 1, Pick 5

The Picks So Far:

This draft could go lots of ways. I’ve just been taking the best card in the pack, and now it’s time to choose a direction. Unfortunately, the pack I was handed next didn’t have wonderful goodies in any of the colors in my pool so far, which poses quite the difficult pick.

The Pack:

The Pick:

I really haven’t been impressed with Ancient Animus, but I figured it may be an option that a lot of players like, given the Elf in the pool. In my experience so far, this card is just Pounce like 90% of the time. Pounce is fine in Limited, but not much more than that. The problem is that green really doesn’t have access to all that many legendary creatures, and even though green has the biggest creatures, it’s still not enough to make Pounce a great card.

So while there are plenty of options in this pack, I think the pick boils down to Blink of an Eye versus Keldon Raider. I think Blink is the best blue card in this pack (maybe there’s a deck that breaks Precognition Field, but I don’t think that’s likely).

Many players may say “Blue is open, so it’s clearly Blink of an Eye”, but I don’t think it’s so clear-cut. There are three uncommons missing here, so the people upstream could have taken In Bolas’s Clutches; Raff Capashen, Ship’s Mage; Tatyova, Benthic Druid; and the list could keep going. I do think Blink of an Eye is the best card in this pack, but that’s the fourth color if I take the card.

So how much better is Blink of an Eye than Keldon Raiders? While I think many will disagree with me here, I don’t think it’s that much better. A 4/3 has pretty good stats for the format, and card selection is very powerful. The card even combos with some graveyard synergies. The fact that the best colored card in my pile, in my opinion, is Shivan Fire, acts as the tie-breaker that leads me to take the red card here.

I don’t expect many to agree, but I think Keldon Raiders is being underrated. It’s not a first-pick-quality card, but it’s not as far from it as you would think.