Drafting Digest: Launch The Weatherlight!

With all of Dominaria revealed, Ryan Saxe kicks off his Drafting Digest series on the new set! Today’s intriguing picks show just how difficult an unfamiliar format can be to navigate…and how a little logic can go a long way!

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Just because the set isn’t out doesn’t mean we can’t conjure up some packs! Let’s jump right into the first Dominaria Drafting Digest!

Pack 1, Pick 1

The Pack:

The Pick:

Pretty much every set these days has a common catch-all removal spell, and Eviscerate is certainly a good one. The fact that it’s splashable is also a huge plus. If you’re familiar with my Limited philosophies, however, you’ll know two things.

First and foremost, at the beginning of the format, I prioritize taking complex uncommons and rares to get a good grasp on their evaluation. I also am not one of those Limited players who praises removal, so while Eviscerate is a first-pick-quality card, I’m not excited about it and I won’t take it here.

Orcish Vandal and Raff Capashen, Ship’s Mage are both complex and powerful cards. In order to evaluate which we should start our draft with, let’s consider the likelihood of each to make the deck. Raff is going to make your deck slightly more than 10% of the time (assuming even distribution of archetypes, which isn’t a great assumption because of archetype imbalance as well as influence of the first pick) given that it’s also splashable.

40% of archetypes are red, but what portion of those archetypes can support an artifact subtheme? Honestly, none of the red archetypes have a focus on artifacts, and some of them (like U/R Wizards/non-creature spells) are unlikely to want them in the first place. Combine that with the fact that there aren’t many artifacts I’m excited to play at common, and I’m not expecting Orcish Vandal to be all that great. Sure, it’s powerful, but I don’t want to work too hard here and would rather start out with Raff Capashen, Ship’s Mage!

Pack 1, Pick 4

The Picks So Far:

I have no clue how good Teshar, Ancestor’s Apostle is. The card could range from a D to a B+ depending on the context, so it’s important to take cards like these highly early on to get some data. I took it over a Blessed Light, which has a reasonable chance of being incorrect; however, exploration is very valuable at the beginning of a format.

As far as where the draft stands so far, it’s reasonable. I’m not tied down too much, although I would certainly prefer to stay white, and W/U would be ideal. Keep in mind that there’s a historic subtheme with these cards, so that can change the value of what’s in the next pack.

The Pack:

The Pick:

This is one of those picks that there’s likely a clear answer to, but it’s difficult to know that answer without a significant number of drafts under your belt. How important are two-drops in this format? Is there a high density of five-drops? How does the W/U archetype specifically shift the answers to those previous questions? I could go on and on about different variables and questions that would change the proper pick, but for now, let’s attempt to logically break this down.

Cloudreader Sphinx is the more powerful card under what I believe are more common scenarios in Limited. Scry 2 is extremely valuable on a finisher, and flying is a premium ability, especially in W/U. But don’t forget that the three cards we have already care about historic, and so does Benalish Honor Guard.

I’m going to take Benalish Honor Guard for two main reasons here. First, it’s a white card. Raff is splashable and hence Benalish Honor Guard has a higher probability of making my deck than Cloudreader Sphinx. Last, I think it’s a useful tie-breaker to take the cheaper card when the pick is close. In general, curve is quite important, and too much top-end in a Limited deck is going to lose you more than too much low-end (in your average format, that is).

As I’ve said, this pick could really go each way depending on the texture of the format. A similar pick in Rivals of Ixalan easily goes to Cloudreader Sphinx; however, in triple Ixalan, the pick is clearly the two-drop. Hopefully by next week we’ll have a bit more understanding of the speed of Dominaria!

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