Drafting Digest: Yes Way, Jose

Sometimes a draft just goes your way, but you still have to make the right picks! When all the options seem good, Ryan Saxe guides you toward great!

Another day, another draft! Aether Revolt has finally released on Magic Online and I have been running back draft after draft in preparation for Grand Prix San Jose. I’ll be on the site starting Friday morning, so feel free to come and find me if you have any questions about the format or are just bored. I don’t bite, I promise…although the rare in this pack might.

Pack 1, Pick 1

The Pack:

The Pick:

Well, this is a pack! I’m going to break down all the options, but before I do, the pick is Ridgescale Tusker and it’s not particularly close. I doubt any of you deny that Ridgescale Tusker is powerful and an all-around good card, but the magnitude of the power is absolutely through the roof. Every single time I have seen this card cast, it has been spectacular.

Even the floor is above rate! So many creatures in this format have two power that it’s hard to even double-block, let alone deal with the onslaught of large creatures the Tusker creates. And this doesn’t even mention the +1/+1 counter subtheme in B/G! Call me crazy, but the only card that I currently take over Ridgescale Tusker is Aethersphere Harvester, and the pick is close in my mind and only won because the Harvester is colorless. I have found the Beast to affect the battlefield, on average, more than every rare and mythic in the set. Yes, this includes planeswalkers like Ajani Unyielding and bombs like Herald of Anguish.

On to the rest of the pack, Aetherwind Basker is a B.O.M.B. That card singlehandedly kills your opponent. You cast it and then the next turn attack for something like sixteen trample damage! The problem is, seven mana is a lot to ask for, and even then, triple green is not trivial. Combine that with the fact that, if it’s removed, it only left behind some energy, and it’s just not as good as Ridgescale Tusker. I have had the pleasure of creating my own Plague Wind with Aetherwind Basker and Monstrous Onslaught, but that was pretty much win-more anyways.

The next two cards are solid removal spells. Daring Demolition has performed exactly as I suspected, solid and played in all my black decks, but nothing more than that. Pacification Array has definitely overperformed. Two mana to tap a creature is a more expensive rate than I would like, but it’s still a good card. Tappers are always good in Limited, but sometimes this one boosts your creatures that want artifacts or even taps for mana! It’s also colorless, so you don’t even need to commit to a color on your first pick. Don’t be afraid to pick this card early, but just not over Ridgescale Tusker, the uncommon Gearhulk.

Pack 1, Pick 5

The Picks So Far:

As you can see, this draft is going particularly well. I first-picked one of the best cards in the set and then got passed a reasonable rare that curves perfectly into said bomb. Then I even got the uncommon gold card to go with them! Pick 5 even has more goodies:

The Pack:

The Pick:

When over 50% of the pack has cards in your colors, it feels pretty good.

Aether Herder is a very medium card. I’m never happy to play it, but it usually makes the cut as long as I don’t have a glut of four drops. That said, it’s definitely the worst of my options.

Unbridled Growth is a great enabler for Revolt. It fixes your mana, can help splash, and already can be a one-mana Divination with Renegade Rallier. If going all-in on Revolt had more promise, I would spend more time thinking here. But you can usually pick up an Implement of Ferocity, Unbridled Growth, or Renegade Map at some point to help with the couple of Revolt cards you get. For now I would rather further my W/G beatdown plan.

This leaves Audacious Infiltrator and Caught in the Brights. My guess is that most of you are going to take the Caught in the Brights here. It’s a good removal spell, can turn on Revolt if you have a vehicle, and is definitely great when you’re beating down. But there are a lot of cards that punish Caught in the Brights, such as Decommission and the entire flicker subtheme of the set. Also, don’t forget that for some reason that obviously disregards flavor, the creature frozen in your headlights can still crew Vehicles.

Those are relevant downsides. With that in mind, let’s take a deeper look at Audacious Infiltrator. Since it can’t be blocked by Servos, this unassuming two-drop attacks well and usually just trades. Although that doesn’t seem like that much of a benefit, it is. Your opponent can’t take three damage forever. They are incentivized to trade, and this will trigger Revolt. It curves beautifully into the Renegade Rallier we have as well. Not to mention that most three- and four-drops in this set have three toughness, so it trades up as well. And to drive it all home, all W/G wants to do is curve out, so two-drops are extremely important.

I am taking the Audacious Infiltrator here. See you in San Jose. Don’t be afraid to say hi!