Drafting Digest: Once More With Eldritch Moon

Ross Merriam has found himself in another tough drafting situation! He’s inviting you to help out and steer him in the right direction! Which cards would you choose?

Everyone is preparing for their first taste of Kaladesh this weekend as the Prerelease is a mere day away (two days if, like me, you’re too much of a curmudgeon to stay up all night on Friday), but I’m here with one final Eldritch Moon Draft Digest for you all.

As much as the Standard format took a lot of flak for the dominance of Collected Company and Emrakul, the Promised End, the Draft format proved to be quite enjoyable with a range of viable archetypes and interesting gameplay. So everybody put your Draft caps on and gear up for a weekend of great Limited Magic.

As always, we start with Pack 1, Pick 1:

The first thing I notice here is there is a solid rare in Sanctifier of Souls, especially if you plan to play a longer game and can gain significant value from its activated ability. Advanced Stitchwing is another solid late-game card, providing a large, evasive body that you can sink some unnecessary lands into as the game progresses.

But I see the pick coming down to a choice between two commons: Boon of Emrakul and Ingenious Skaab. Both cards are solid early and still relevant later in the game, which puts them slightly ahead of Sanctifier of Souls and Advanced Stitchwing. I think most players would gravitate toward the removal spell first, since that’s one of the first things new players are taught about Limited, but I find that slavish devotion to removal spells quite antiquated. Draft these days is about curving out and having more powerful creatures, and while removing your opponent’s threats is a part of that equation, the balance of power has shifted.

In this case, Ingenious Skaab is an excellent creature that can dominate the game and make combat very difficult for your opponent. Boon of Emrakul is a nice removal spell, but the ceiling on it is not high enough to take it over a premium common creature. If you were later in the draft and had an Ironclad Slayer, then I think the cards are close enough to tilt the scales in favor of Boon, but Pack 1, Pick 1, I’m going with Skaab.

Through the rest of pack 1, we have stayed mono-blue. Our first opportunity to deviate is Pack 2, Pick 3.

This is what we’re sitting on going into this pick:

Faith Unbroken is another powerful removal spell, albeit a fragile one that can open you up to a huge tempo swing as you have a lot of resources committed to one creature. Still, the ceiling is sky-high. We could also dip into red, which is a natural pairing with blue, for Brazen Wolves, a creature that is on par with Ingenious Skaab. Or we can continue to be patient and take a second Ingenious Skaab.

I would quickly eliminate the Brazen Wolves from consideration, since the cost of dipping into a second color is much higher than any perceived power level difference between it and Skaab, especially when the latter is very good in U/R.

But Faith Unbroken is tempting. We don’t have a lot of removal and it’s certainly the most powerful card in the pack. If you had any inclination that white would be open, then I’d take the Faith Unbroken for sure, but with no such information, I’m leaning toward staying the course. The premium creatures are just that good and the odds of you moving into a different support color based on what comes in later packs is fairly high. It’s just too hard for me to give up a premium playable for anything but a bomb, and Faith Unbroken is a level below that mark.

This pick is very close, so by no means should you feel like taking Faith Unbroken is a mistake. Just understand that you’re not committing to white by taking it and that it is by far the riskier pick. Some players are gamblers, but I prefer to be more conservative, especially when the alternative is a very good card.