With Journey into Nyx just recently released but not yet available on Magic Online, a change of format from video is necessary if I want to talk about the
new set. In addition, the Pro Tour is just a week away and I have been knee-deep in testing both Constructed and Limited. As much as people would like to
know my thoughts on the constructed format, I would rather focus on the draft format of the Pro Tour, Booster Draft with one booster each of Journey into
Nyx, Born of the Gods, and Theros.
I really enjoyed Simon’s article from last week where he
tackled eight boosters and went through what he thought would be the best picks. I thought I would pick up on this concept and do eight more packs to go
through as I saw my pick orders change from seeing the set to actually playing with the cards in person. The cards are not easy to evaluate and some card
evaluations can range wildly depending on what kind of deck you’re putting together.
Before going directly into the packs, I would like to note that my experience has me valuing stand-alone good cards even higher than previously. By this I
mean that I rate cards that need synergy to work, such as low-power heroic cards (think Setessan Oathsworn, Centaur Battlemaster, Lagonna-Band
Trailblazer), lower as I don’t find them reliable enough with fewer packs of Bestow guys (Journey has just one cycle of bestow creatures at uncommon, plus
one rare). That also means that I rate the bestow creatures from the Born of the Gods and Theros even higher – they are almost all very good on their own,
some of them even unbestowed. I also value going mono-colored even less now as there are fewer cards which make going into just one color worth it, such as
Gray Merchant of Asphodel, Dragon Mantle etc.
With that, let’s get right into the packs themselves:
As much as I like opening a bomb rare to kick off my draft, a 2/1 for 1W with a marginal ability is not where I want to be. As I mentioned at the start, I
like cards that can pull their own weight and am immediately drawn to three cards: Riddle of Lightning, Nessian Game Warden, and Sigiled Starfish. Riddle
is a nice removal spell with high-variance outcomes, the Warden has a solid body for its cost and in a heavy-green deck will be strong early and late,
while the Starfish has been doing quite some work, especially in slower decks. I also quite like some of the black cards in the pack, especially Pharika’s
Chosen, but I feel they are all weaker than the three I mentioned.
I think the three cards are not that far from power levels but I think I prefer the consistently good creatures over the removal spells. (Pharika’s Chosen
is the black Doom Blade, after all.)
1: Nessian Game Warden
2: Sigiled Starfish
3: Riddle of Lightning
4: Pharika’s Chosen
This booster will make a lot of people happy, because even though it lacks a powerful rare it has a lot of playable cards across all colors. I think the
best cards in the packs are Reprisal, War-Wing Siren, Golden Hind and Magma Spray. Here comes a point where color preferences and signaling play a huge
role in choosing the card for you. As much as I like green and Voyaging Satyr alternatives, I would not pick Golden Hind here as I think green got a bit
weaker with Journey added into the mix, and while it is by far the best green common, I like the other cards a bit more. I also like Magma Spray but feel
Reprisal and War-Wing Siren are simply better.
Personally, I would take War-Wing Siren here as it does a great Wingsteed Rider impression. Even a small permanent boost of power makes it really
threatening in the air, and while Reprisal is great and can usually find a target, it might not always hit what you want it to. In addition, by taking the
Siren, I think there’s a high chance of one of the other blue cards getting back to you, as the other white cards are all quite decent and I’m usually
happy to run one Pin to the Earth.
1: War-Wing Siren
3: Magma Spray
4: Golden Hind
In this booster we have a mythic rare in Prophetic Flamespeaker that seems very powerful, but as it usually is with mythics, you don’t get to play them
very often so it is hard to find out how good it really is. But as far as base stats go, he is very efficient, works wonders with any kind of
power-pumping, and seems like it would be great first pick if you can force a heavy-red deck. To figure out if it is a good first pick, you have to see if
the pack offers any alternative that would come close. I think Hour of Need is a tremendously powerful uncommon that works great with any creatures.
Playing it on turn 5 and turning your two worst dorks into 4/4 flyers is as good as uncommons go. While Bloodcrazed Hoplite and Skyspear Cavalry are also
good cards in their own right, it comes down to the Flamespeaker and Hour of Need.
I think this pick is really close, but with there being no other red cards in the pack, I would take the mythic and try to build around it, prioritizing
cards such Titan’s Strength, Dragon Mantle, and just cheap pump spells overall. This pick could set me up for a nice Born of the Gods booster as I think
cutting red after taking Flamespeaker is the way to go. Not happy to pass Hour of Need though!
1: Prophetic Flamespeaker
2: Hour of Need
3: Skyspear Cavalry
4: Bloodcrazed Hoplite
This pack is fairly weak and offers a couple of average cards spread across the colors. The cards I would consider picking here are Crystalline Nautilus,
Felhide Petrifier, Cast into Darkness, Akroan Mastiff, or Flurry of Horns, but from playing with all of these cards, I believe the two black cards are the
most consistent ones. Nautilus is unreliable, Mastiff is decent but doesn’t work in all kinds of decks, and Flurry of Horns is just weaker than the other
I have grown very fond of Cast into Darkness and think it’s much better than I gave it credit for when I first saw it, but I will still be picking the
Minotaur, as I am a big fan of deathtouch in this block and potentially making other minotaurs more threatening is sweet.
The good thing is that any of these picks are easily dropped if you get good signals in other colors. I think it’s very important to read signals and not
just try to brute-force a color you like or stick to a color just because of a powerful rare. So if I get passed no black after this first pick, I don’t
feel bad about switching colors as I are not losing that much.
1: Felhide Petrifier
2: Cast into Darkness
3: Crystalline Nautilus
4: Akroan Mastiff
I think this is one of those packs where it looks like you have so many choices but ultimately the pick is clear. All of the black removal spells are
definitely playable but have their clear downsides: Extinguish All Hopes needs to be built around, is expensive, and still might be not impactful enough at
times; Spiteful Blow is decent in the same way as Sip of Hemlock, so slow but reliable; and Nightmarish End can be quite unreliable at times, but usually
does what you want it to do for three mana. Starfall and Magma Spray are both decent removal spells, Magma Spray being much better of the two. Golden Hind
is also great if you want to be green at all costs.
But ultimately, in this format, bounce is great on offense or defense, and that is why I feel Hubris is the clear pick here. I like being in blue as I feel
it synergizes well with all other colors and starting off with a solid bounce spell is where you want to be. You also don’t pass any relevant signals to
the left, and with a slice of luck you might even wheel a playable card.
2: Magma Spray
3: Golden Hind
4: Spiteful Blow
We’ve all been there-you open your pack, excitedly looking to first-pick that one awesome card, but as you shuffle past the rare, the uncommons, and then
the commons, you realize that you will have to first-pick a card you are unexcited to pick 8th. This is one of those boosters, with the only cards I would
consider being Battlefield Thaumaturge, Consign to Dust, Grim Guardian, and Nyx Infusion, with the other cards being a bit weaker, but not by a large
I will dismiss Grim Guardian and Consign to Dust first, because they are decent playables but the Thaumaturge and Nyx Infusion are each better to
first-pick than them. When deciding between these two I would leave it up to your color preferences, with each having its advantages. The Thaumaturge is
cute and you can assemble some nice synergies like Hour of Need, Glimpse the Sun God, or some rares, with the built-in hexproof heroic trigger also nice if
you like to build a heroic deck. Nyx Infusion is versatile and can be used to pump up your enchantment creatures or kill a guy non-enchantment guy of your
opponent. As mentioned before, I prefer blue so I would go for the rare.
1: Battlefield Thaumaturge
2: Nyx Infusion
3: Grim Guardian
4: Consign to Dust
Pack 7 offers up quite a deep choice of cards in all colors except green. Don’t be fooled by the Dictates; only the white one is a slam first-pick and I
would only consider first-picking the black one in an average pack. The blue one is simply not good enough, even though you can get the extra card first,
because you had to invest three mana into playing it in the first place.
I wouldn’t mind playing many of these cards, some of which I mentioned during the previous pick- Spiteful Blow, Pharika’s Chosen, and Stonewise Fortifier
are all decent. Satyr Hoplite is also a good playable in aggressive red decks. Starfall is also a decent role-player but definitely can be cut, much like
Rage of Purphoros. Same goes for Lightning Diadem, Grim Guardian and Harvestguard Alseids.
The cards I’m liking the most are War-Wing Siren and Forgeborn Oreads, which I think people undervalue. It gives your enchantments nice value, and while
one damage is not that much, these pings can add-up if the Oreads go unanswered. I am however picking the Siren here, as it really is the Wingsteed Rider
of the set.
1: War-Wing Siren
2: Forgeborn Oreads
3: Pharika’s Chosen
4: Stonewise Fortifier
In an FNM draft I would slam the Mana Confluence, but at the Pro Tour I would have to go for a proper playable, which this booster offers a couple of. I
think the best cards in this pack are easily Bladetusk Boar, Reprisal, and Stonewise Fortifier. The other playables are mainly in red in this pack, but
that shouldn’t influence our decision as much.
I think picking Reprisal is the best choice here, and as much as I am a fan of Bladetusk Boar, Reprisal deals with lots of problematic creatures and is
very cheap to boot. The signals you pass are not that crucial, as the power level of the cards you pass is not as high. Note that you opened no good blue
card, so if you get passed a powerful blue card, you could cut off blue and white if packs work your way.
That’s it for me this week and I hope to return to making videos after Pro Tour Journey into Nyx in Atlanta. In the meanwhile, don’t hesitate to let me
know your picks, as I would like to hear your opinions on what you consider to be the right pick for you.