Drafting Digest: Dominaria Post-Prerelease Edition

With the Prerelease in the rearview mirror, Ryan Saxe is ready to take on the Draft format! Will he take a powerful red card to start things off or a colorless rare? And the puzzles get harder from there…

Now that the Dominaria Prerelease is behind us, there’s an idea of what the format looks like. It’s important not to bias too hard from this information towards Draft, since Sealed and Draft are often entirely different ballgames, but it’s relevant nonetheless.

What I’ve been hearing from most people is that the Sealed format is quite slow and mana advantage is a great way to win because of all the kicker cards. I’m guessing that Draft will be a bit leaner and you won’t always have time to cast your Divinations, but it likely won’t be a blisteringly fast format. With this in mind, let’s jump into a draft!

Pack 1, Pick 1

The Pack:

The Pick:

In my opinion, there are no other cards in this pack even close to the power-level of either Fight with Fire or Helm of the Host. But which one is better to start off your draft with, a flexible and powerful red removal spell or a colorless game-ending engine?

Flexibility is an odd consideration here because the colorless card is so clunky that it cannot fit in any deck, so if you want to take the card with the highest chance of making your deck, it would be Fight with Fire. Even though it’s red, you’ll play it in every single red deck and splash it as well.

But flexibility isn’t the only factor that goes into a draft pick. If you read my articles, you’re probably aware that I take rares higher than normal at the beginning of a format. For games where learning is involved, there is always a balance between exploitation and exploration. You want to explore as much of a new format as possible such that you familiarize yourself with the cards at a brisk pace and get ahead of the curve, but you also don’t want to lose yourself in this exploration as the format progresses.

While there’s a chance that Helm of the Host is just not a good card because it’s too clunky, making a Clone every turn is an immensely powerful effect, and I think it’s important to take it here, given that it’s Week 1.

Pack 1, Pick 3

The Picks So Far:

The Pack:

The Pick:

Valduk, Keeper of the Flame is a build-around uncommon with a pretty high ceiling and not the lowest of floors, as a 3/2 for three is serviceable. Given that this draft started with an Equipment card, many players may be blinded into an archetype and just snap up Valduk and try to draft that kind of deck.

At the beginning of a format, as I’ve mentioned, this exploration has merit. However, something feels off about this card to me. For whatever reason, it doesn’t feel worth building around. Maybe it will be good, but I think both the other options I listed are simply more powerful.

Juggernaut is quite the finisher. At my Prerelease, I had an opponent curve Juggernaut into Juggernaut and I really needed to evaluate how I would avoid dying. The conclusion I came to was to cast a three-power-creature and just hope my opponent didn’t have anything. I got pretty lucky that the trade went smoothly, but all it takes is a Run Amok before your eyes pop out of your head. While Juggernaut isn’t a slam-dunk pick-up, it’s a solid early pick, and I wouldn’t fault you for taking it here.

But I think Danitha Capashen, Paragon is extremely good. The combination of keywords is substantially above-rate for a three-mana creature. I’ve been most impressed combining the card with cards like Short Sword (which I’m already a bit too high on, to be honest). Boosting Danitha’s stats is nothing to scoff at, and zero-mana historic triggers on cards like D’Avenant Trapper can make your opponent’s life difficult very quickly. I’m happy to pick up the card here, and I think you should be too!