A common misunderstanding in Draft is that drafting what’s open does not mean that you need to weight each archetype equally. It is often correct to use archetypal strength as a tie-breaker between picks. In Guilds of Ravnica Draft, if I am deciding between a blue card or a green card, I am likely going to take the blue card because I think both Dimir and Izzet are stronger archetypes than Golgari and Selesnya. This does not mean I am avoiding green, however. If green is open, I will draft it.
In order to draft what’s open, you need to be willing to give up what you currently have, even if it’s powerful. If you start your draft with great cards but can’t wheel a playable because multiple other players at the table are in the same archetype, you could be better off ditching the cards you have. It’s difficult to execute in practice, but it’s well worth it.
It is important to note that sometimes the start of your draft contains cards so unbelievably powerful that you shouldn’t look the other way. If you have a card like Tetzimoc, Primal Death, there’s almost nothing that should deter you from drafting black because of how absurd that card is. However, there are no cards of this caliber in Guilds of Ravnica Draft.
The card quality going into the middle of Pack 1 for this draft is extremely high. In fact, it’s high enough that blue would have to be incredibly dry in order to give up my first few picks. But I am willing to jump ship if I have to. Will I?
Pack 1, Pick 5
The Picks So Far:
While Fire Urchin looks like an Izzet card, it is actually better in Boros. My Izzet decks would rather have Vedalken Mesmerist, Fresh-Faced Recruit, and Ornery Goblin, all of which are common. Even though Izzet decks are filled with spells, Urchin forces you to cast a spell for it to be a serviceable body, while all of the other creatures don’t ask anything of you. However, in Boros, you can easily Mentor onto Fire Urchin, which turns the card into a reasonable threat.
This pick is hence between Fresh-Faced Recruit and Boros Guildgate. I mention in my Izzet Archetype Guide that Boros is the most common splash for Izzet decks. Combine that with the aforementioned abundance of good two-drops available, and I think the correct pick is Boros Guildgate.
Pack 1, Pick 6
The Picks So Far:
This pack is concerning. The only blue card is Radical Idea, and in the last pack, there were no blue cards. Furthermore, in the last pack, three commons and the rare were missing. And in this pack, the rare, an uncommon, the Guildgate, and two commons are missing. This information leads me to believe there is a high probability that one or more of the players passing to me are blue.
I think that Boros Challenger is both a potential signal that Boros is open, and so much better than Radical Idea, that the correct pick is to hedge on the Challenger. If the last two packs were anomalies and blue cards flow for the rest of this draft, I’m only missing a Radical Idea. But if the rest of the packs are dry of blue, the payoff for taking Boros Challenger is just too high to pass on.
For the rest of Pack 1, I saw a total of one blue card, and a mediocre one at that: Passwall Adept. The Boros cards flowed all the way to Pick 15 of Pack 1, and while I was sad to miss out on my awesome first few picks, hedging on Boros Challenger was crucial to navigating this draft properly.
Pack 2, Pick 3
The Picks So Far:
Once you get to Packs 2 and 3, picks become less about power-level and flexibility, and more about maximizing the potential of your deck given the cards that you have. Pack 1, Pick 1, Goblin Cratermaker is easily better than both Wojek Bodyguard and Command the Storm. With the current card pool, I think this pick is much closer. If this sounds strange to you, take a minute to go over the cards drafted so far.
It’s the beginning of Pack 2, and I already have four two-drops and a one-drop. Additionally, my pool is lacking in both three-drop creatures and creatures with Mentor. Wojek Bodyguard is one of the best commons in both of those departments. This adds up to a pick that I believe is incredibly close between Wojek Bodyguard and Goblin Cratermaker. I think you could go either way, but I ultimately decided that Cratermaker was the better choice.
A heuristic I stand by is that you can never have enough two-drops in an aggressive deck. With reason to believe that Boros is open based on the previous picks in the draft, I should be able to pick up cards like Wojek Bodyguard, Blade Instructor, Skyknight Legionnaire, and the like. But Goblin Cratermaker will be one of the best creatures at the most important part of my curve.
Note: I don’t think that Command the Storm is in the discussion because most Boros decks can only play a couple of five-mana cards. I prefer both Intrusive Packbeast and Barging Sergeant in that slot as long as my deck isn’t lacking removal.
Pack 3, Pick 2
The Picks So Far:
You may find this surprising, but I think this pick is very close. Healer’s Hawk has immensely overperformed. I thought it would be good, but I now believe Healer’s Hawk is the best white common, and so do other, well-known, Limited players.
I am almost certain it is healer’s hawk and I am not happy about it.
— DStern (@dustin_stern) October 16, 2018
Healer’s Hawk has proven to be a key card in both Selesnya and Boros. It’s the best one-drop that both guilds have access to, and it’s one of the best targets for Mentor. I believe that the best variants of Boros maximize the potency of Healer’s Hawk. But does that place the Hawk over Roc Charger? Let’s take a quick look at the pros and cons between the two white fliers:
|Good Mentor target||Good Mentor target|
|Lifelink||Enables favorable attacks|
|Costs one mana||—|
|One toughness||Costs three mana|
|Gets outclassed without a way to augment the 1/1 body||Bad offensive stat-line|
One of the best ways to beat an aggressive deck is to invalidate their creatures with good defensive bodies. This is the main reason to lean towards Roc Charger for this pick. Enabling attacks by giving one of your attacking creatures flying is nothing to scoff at. But don’t forget that the body is pretty terrible for the cost. If Roc Charger isn’t enabling attacks, then you are not getting the requisite amount of damage for three mana.
The mana cost is what makes me lean towards taking Healer’s Hawk here. Every time my opponent leads on Plains, I find myself praying that they don’t have Healer’s Hawk. All it takes is one +1/+1 counter for the card to take over the game. A 2/2 lifelink flier in Limited is often costed at four mana, and here we have a one-drop that, with little effort, can transform into an efficient and powerful threat.
I took Healer’s Hawk, and if presented with the pick again, I would still take the Hawk. Note that Pack 1, Pick 1, I would probably take Roc Charger, as I believe it is better in Selesnya due to larger green creatures, although that pick is still quite close.
If you’re curious about how all of the other picks in the draft went, I streamed it this weekend and you can watch both the draft and the games here.