2. Mishra’s Self-Replicator
This is a slightly below-average pack. The ceiling on Mishra’s Self-Replicator is crazy, but you have to draft around it, it’s slow, and it can lead you down lines that get punished by cheap removal if you skip playing something to trigger Self-Replicator later, so if I can take a creature that will always be great, I’ll go with the safe pick of Knight of Grace.
After that, I don’t think any of the other cards are anything special, so I’ll go for the Self-Replicator and hope it works out.
The third pick is close for me between Grunn, the Lonely King; Grow from the Ashes, and Blink of an Eye. I think all are comparable power level, but Grow from the Ashes opens up my options for the rest of the draft and it’s an important card in an archetype I like (midrange G/x).
3. Mishra’s Self-Replicator
While Mishra’s Self-Replicator is a potent card, a five-mana 2/2 is way below rate, and many commons cleanly handle the card for little mana. So the rare, for me, is in slot number three, and the real discussion is between the ramp spell and interactive spell.
A couple of days ago I would have taken Grow from the Ashes over Blink of an Eye, but I no longer believe that is correct. While a lot of games in this format are won by mana advantage, decks can still curve out, and you don’t always have time to wait around and kick Grow. With this as the case, Blink of an Eye ekes itself ahead of Grow, as interaction is important and I think blue is a better color than green in this format as an additional tie-breaker.
Ugh, what a flat power level in this pack. After Knight of Grace as a smidge above the other cards, you have the similarly powered Blink of an Eye, Call the Cavalry, Sergeant-at-Arms, and Fungal Infection. I would not be annoyed by taking any of those cards, although I’m a tiny bit partial to the token-generating creatures and a tiny bit reluctant to take a trick over a card that generates multiple creatures in the dark. If you want to play blue, though, I could see taking Blink of an Eye here.
Fungal Infection is sort of like Skulduggery if you squint, although not quite as game-breaking because of the nature of this Limited format compared to the previous one. Knight of Grace is the first pick overall just because it’s got great stats for the body and can continue to be relevant as the game goes well beyond the first few turns. I hedge towards taking premium two-drops already, and Knight is a wonderful way to start a draft.
I’ve been skeptical of Sylvan Awakening, but it’s been good for my opponents enough that I think the card is probably great. The format is slow enough that it just works as a good finisher and I’m currently guessing it should be taken highly.
After that, the choice is between a bunch of creatures and Grow from the Ashes. Knight of Grace, again, is the best rate, and I think it’s clearly ahead of the rest of the pack.
For the third pick, I think it’s fine to take Arvad the Cursed, Grow from the Ashes, Academy Journeymage, or either common black Thallid. My inclination here is Academy Journeymage, particularly since the other blue cards tend to go late, but I don’t think it matters much which you take.
While Arvad the Cursed and Sylvan Awakening are powerful cards, they aren’t cards I like to first-pick. This is because they require a bit of finesse to optimize and aren’t so powerful that they are worth it over very solid cards.
I would start off with Knight of Grace here because this format lacks good two-drops, so when you can pick up a two-drop that is both good on offense and defense, you do it. A lot of people will call this format slow and say that you don’t need to prioritize two-drops. I believe this is true, but it also means you’re even more likely to get free wins by curving 2-3-4.
I like Grow from the Ashes a lot. As I said previously, you win a lot of games via mana advantage, and Grow enables that. Additionally, there are so many powerful cards and so few ways to splash that Grow is more premium than you would think.
Last, Academy Journeymage is just a super-solid card. It’s both great for defensive speed and for pressing advantage if you were able to curve out. Not a card I’m excited to first-pick, but it’s not the end of the world.
Again, Knight of Grace graces us with its powerful presence in the first pack, and though it’s close with the tempo-generating goodness of an Academy Journeymage, I tend to hedge towards premium two-drops over solid four- and five-drops with my first few picks. It can’t be overstated – a two-drop that keeps pushing through opposing two- and three-drops is something special, and when it dodges a lot of the best removal in the format, that’s just icing on the cake.
Journeymage is a solid pickup in its own right, as U/R Wizards and U/W Skies are two of the best aggressively slanted decks in Dominaria Draft. So why those over the powerful Arvad the Cursed? Quite simple. I hedge towards drafting monocolored cards over multicolored ones with my first picks unless the multicolored card is absolutely head and shoulders above the rest with respect to power level. Arvad isn’t that incredible, so it slides into third place in this pack.
I don’t believe any of these picks are close. Phyrexian Scriptures is a mythic legitimate bomb and you shouldn’t pass it.
Slimefoot is the kind of card that can read like it has an ability with a bad rate, but activating the ability gives you more time to activate it more, so it plays better than a conservative reading might indicate. Also, the Saproling death trigger ability plays well with a lot of the best green and black commons.
Skittering Surveyor should always be taken above other common creatures early in a draft.
Now this is a pack! Phyrexian Scriptures is one of the best mythics in the set. Even though your opponent sees the Wrath coming, the fact that you can recur a Wrath of God effect with cards like Blink of an Eye is absolutely absurd. And it’s not even a purely symmetric effect!
After that, we have one of the most powerful gold uncommons in the set and one of the best commons that’s also colorless and very likely to make your deck. Personally, I think Slimefoot, the Stowaway is just too powerful to justify passing for Skittering Surveyor. So while I’m very happy to start off a draft with Skittering Surveyor, the little Construct is only going to make it at slot number three here.
Oh daddy! Phyrexian Scriptures is one of the top five cards in the set, and the idea of starting a draft off with this incredible sweeper is making me drool. There’s not much more to say about this certified bomb.
Slimefoot, the Stowaway is an interesting pick, with a little more back-and-forth surrounding it. In the right deck, this creature can take over a game and lock out most opponents. The 2/3 body is perfectly reasonable and the ability offers slower decks one of the things they need most: a mana sink. Committing to two colors isn’t my favorite thing to do, but the upside of getting a sick G/B/x midrange or controlling deck is worth the downside of wasting a first pick if the cards just aren’t flowing. The alternatives are the adequate red commons, but if there were a Shivan Fire or Eviscerate in the pack, you’d see me slamming premium removal over the two-color card.
Speaking of solid red playables, I prefer Ghitu Chronicler to Keldon Raider for the simple reason that it’s a Wizard. U/R often has significant Wizard synergies, and I prefer that to R/G, R/B, or W/R in this format. In the best path forward from this pack, Chronicler offers a truly important effect, and that lifts it slightly over the powerful Keldon Raider.
1. Time of Ice
Time of Ice is far better than the other cards. After that, there’s nothing special in this pack, so I go for the high upside on the Djinn if I happen to manage a mostly blue deck. I’ll prioritize artifacts and Opts to try to play as many Islands as I can.
Again, I don’t feel strongly about the third card—Grow from the Ashes, Memorial to Unity, Divination, Dark Bargain, and Tiana, Ship’s Caretaker would all be fine. My inclination is to go with Grow from the Ashes the same reason as the first pack, but I think Memorial to Unity might be the best pick—it’s easy to find enough good spells and getting an extra one as a land is a nice bonus for any deck.
1. Time of Ice
Time of Ice has impressed me. In tempo-oriented decks, the effect is completely backbreaking. And even when you’re on the backfoot, it slows down your opponent significantly. Regardless of the architecture of my blue deck, I’ll be happy to play Time of Ice.
Tempest Djinn is extremely powerful but does require a very specific manabase. However, this isn’t a large hoop to jump through, as most blue decks, in my experience in the format, are heavy blue anyway. Fliers are a great way to win and starting off a draft with a huge one sounds good to me!
And finally, Grow from the Ashes slides in at number three. It’s just a good card in the format and I guess it happens to be in all the packs today…
2. Time of Ice
Meh, none of these cards is an incredible way to start off a draft. I suppose Time of Ice offers a unique effect for the U/x tempo decks, but if one is inclined to be a U/x tempo deck, one is better served just taking Tempest Djinn. That casting cost sure is discouraging, though!
If you’re gonna be blue, and you’re willing to risk the chance that you never draw the third Island, Tempest Djinn is close to Serra Angel in power level. My verdict is to go for broke and draft the powerful threat.
After the two blue cards, though, the next decent playable is probably Tiana, Ship’s Caretaker, which isn’t terribly exciting. As a flying threat, there are many worse ways to start off a draft, but I’m absolutely ready to abandon ship on W/R and start taking whatever Eviscerates or Untamed Kavus my fellow drafters want to pass me.
This is another pack where the best card is far ahead of the rest of the pack. Tatyova can generally be played such that it generates immediate value and then it generally wins the game if the battlefield is close to even and the opponent can’t kill it.
Memorial to Folly is my favorite Memorial. I don’t want to sacrifice a land until very late in the game, and by then, I probably have something great in my graveyard. It’s a really easy way to make it much harder to deal with any of your bombs.
I almost want to say I’d take something else just because I feel like I’m mentioning Grow from the Ashes too much, but the only cards I could see taking over it are black and the fact that they’re all black on top of being a little worse to start a draft with (Caligo Skin-Witch, Windgrace Acolyte, and Lingering Phantom) makes it very hard to justify.
Boy did I underestimate Tatyova, Benthic Druid. I thought the card was going to be good, but that it was too mana-inefficient to be phenomenal. Having to wait until land drop number six to play a 3/3 just didn’t sound appealing. But in this format you actively want to hit eight or more lands, and Tatyova just keeps the cards flowing. This card is one of the best uncommons in the set and is better than most rares. Don’t pass it very often.
After Tatyova, there’s a pretty big drop-off in the pack. The only two other options in my opinion are Memorial to Folly and Grow from the Ashes, and you all already know how much I like Grow, so there’s no surprise about that taking the second slot.
Memorial to Folly is the best uncommon land in that cycle, and while I’m not sure if I like the idea of first-picking it, I certainly wouldn’t mind it. A land that gets back a threat is nothing to scoff at, and I routinely see this card wheeling. It shouldn’t, so if you’ve been passing it pretty late, you might want to re-evaluate the impact of the Memorial.
Another kind of undesirable pack, but I’m happy to start things off with a sweet U/G engine card like Tatyova. Drawing cards and gaining life go together like peas and carrots and Tatyova is begging to be the centerpiece of a value-laden Sultai or Temur (or four-color) midrange deck with a few juicy bombs off the splash. To enable such a deck, you’ll need a few Skittering Surveyors and/or Grow from the Ashes to keep your mana clean, so those go up in value now.
Caligo Skin-Witch is a nice maindeckable Mind Rot effect, which helps punish bad players who improperly play out too many lands or mis-sequence their spells. The reasonably sized body on this card means you can just run it out there early to soak up some damage, but it also wins loads of games on Turn 6 just by sniping sandbagged bombs or removal. Nothing wrong with that!
Grow from the Ashes is a decent enabler for the multicolor good-stuff decks, and without a clear direction from this pack, it’s a safe pickup in case such a deck does fall in your lap. With no real competition save for medium playables like Windgrace Acolyte and Gift of Growth, I’m willing to take a shot at Grow from the Ashes in this pack.