Pack 1, Pick 1
Pacifism is a solid card in almost any Limited format, and this one isn’t an exception. Now, it’s not as good as it usually is, given that there are plenty of ways to handle it (Man-o’-War, I’m looking at you), but it’s a reasonably efficient removal spell. However, there is a high density of removal in this format, so there’s not a need to prioritize one that isn’t anything special.
Kongming, “Sleeping Dragon” is quite the powerful card. There are some curves with this card that are near-unbeatable, and the aggressive decks certainly pack a punch. However, I would rather end up in an aggressive deck by picking up a late payoff card like Kongming than start off the draft in that direction. This is because those decks don’t support multiple drafters in the same way the controlling decks do, so I think it’s more important to discern whether or not the archetype is open. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind taking a flier on this card, but the rare in this pack is too good to pass up!
Plague Wind is actually one of the best rares in this format. It’s odd that a nine-mana spell is good in Limited, but the basic landcyclers really make the difference. In most formats, cards like Plague Wind aren’t good because you lose the games where you end up having nine lands on the battlefield, so there isn’t an incentive to play the card.
However, when your threats can double as lands, you can play the game to maximize Plague Wind without flooding, as hitting later land drops is more of a choice. If you have Plague Wind in your hand, don’t discard your eighth land to Sift. It’s that easy! This card wins the game in so many circumstances, I rarely find myself passing it.
Pack 1, Pick 4
The Picks So Far:
Blightning, while a powerful spell, is just not on-plan with this whole Plague Wind thing. Yeah, the card is solid, but when the three damage doesn’t matter, the card loses some punch. But I think there are reasonable arguments for the other three options.
Twisted Abomination is the card with the highest likelihood of making my deck. Given the Plague Wind that I would like to play, I could see splashing the card off some Abominations and Prophetic Prisms in any controlling deck, really. Splashing double-colored cards tends to be a bad idea, but it’s less of a problem if the card in question is nine mana.
If I’m taking a blue card, it’s likely Counterspell. While Sift is splashable and the deck seems like it may have some risky mana, I just think that Counterspell is too much better of a card. U/B and U/W have been my favorite color combinations in this format, and so I think I would rather go with the better card early on in the draft to best put myself in the position to end up in a base-blue deck rather than splashing.
So the question here is between Twisted Abomination and Counterspell. I’m not sure you can go wrong between these choices, but I would lean towards Counterspell. It is the only card that does what it does well (no, Arcane Denial does not count), so I would rather take the less replaceable card.