Pack 1, Pick 1: Descending On Dominaria

With the Prerelease on the horizon, Dominaria drafts can’t be far behind! Ari Lax, Sam Black, and Ryan Saxe give their Pack 1, Pick 1 rankings for five sample Dominaria packs. Vote for the winner each round!

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Round 1

1. Fight with Fire

2. Tatyova, Benthic Druid

3. Baird, Steward of Argive

When it was revealed in the Release Notes, I assumed Fight with Fire was a
rare. Splashable efficient removal with a nine-mana “win the game” mode is
absurd. It’s like the old days of Fireball, except it kills stuff that
isn’t your opponent efficiently.

Tatyova, Benthic Druid is another uncommon that can take over a game by
itself. In another format, this could be slow, but the early creatures in
this format aren’t heavy hitters. You get the extra card and life about two
out of every three turns, and that cascades into all your spells also being
kicked on top of just having more of them. Splashing isn’t the easiest in
this format, but this card is worth it.

Past that, Baird, Steward of Argive is fine. It’s impactful and a legendary
creature, but not going to win a game itself. If Keldon Overseer or Thallid
Omnivore ends up better, I wouldn’t be shocked, as those cards can
proactively win games.

1. Fight with Fire

2. Tatyova, Benthic Druid

3. Baird, Steward of Argive

I think taking anything other than Tatyova, Benthic Druid; Keldon Overseer,
Fight with Fire; Baird, Steward of Argive; or Sylvan Awakening would be

I think Sylvan Awakening is the worst of them, and not a great card. It can
be used defensively, because it lasts until your next turn, but it’s not
very good at it, since your opponent can just wait a turn to attack. Most
of the time, this isn’t going to do anything unless it wins the game.
Occasionally it will buy a turn, or buy a turn and deal some damage, but I
think it’s far too narrow and too expensive to really get much out of it.

Fight with Fire looks great. It’s an efficient, versatile removal spell
that basically just wins the game if it goes long. It’s going to be great
in any red deck, and some slower decks might want to splash it.

Tatyova, Benthic Druid will almost certainly win a long game if left
unanswered. I’m not sure how bad committing to U/G is in this format, but I
like the power level of this card and I feel like it’s easy to draft
toward, so I’d be willing to try moving in on it.

Baird, Steward of Argive seems like a great way to stabilize the
battlefield against an early rush, and it’s just a solid, versatile
creature at a good rate. Keldon Overseer is a powerful card, but it’s much
narrower than Baird or Fight with Fire, and I don’t think it’s as powerful
as Tatyova, though I could certainly be overrating Tatyova depending on how
the format ends up playing out.

1. Fight with Fire

2. Baird, Steward of Argive

3. Tatyova, Benthic Druid

I don’t think there is any logic that could deter me from starting off with
Fight with Fire here. This card is likely one of the best commons in the
set. Five damage should kill pretty much everything, so the floor of
sorcery-speed splashable Murder is already a first-pickable card. However,
the built-in kicker is that if you flood out to nine lands, you win the
game! I wouldn’t recommend building around paying the kicker cost, as
ramping isn’t often all that great in Limited (although in this set with
kicker it might be more promising), but you’ll always be happy to start a
draft with the card.

The drop off in this pack after Fight with Fire is, unsurprisingly, pretty
large. I find Baird, Steward of Argive a bit difficult to evaluate, but I
expect the card to be quite solid. A 2/4 with vigilance is a reasonable
body, and there doesn’t seem to be many four-power creatures. And the
additional Ghostly Prison-ish ability can be a nightmare for some decks,
especially because there are token strategies in this format. Also, it’s
important to remember that white has a historic theme throughout the
commons, which is another bonus for Baird!

Tatyova, Benthic Druid has quite the high ceiling, as it can completely run
away with the game. However, it’s a gold card that’s easily removed. The
fact that Tatyova is a 3/3 that you don’t want to cast until Turn 6 such
that you can guarantee your value is concerning. The card is good and
sneaks in at number three here, but I wouldn’t be happy to start off a
draft with this card.

Round 2

1. Verdant Force

2. Untamed Kavu

3. Keldon Raider

I’m taking a green card; I’m just not sure which one. Verdant Force is my
first-week pick just to see how it goes. Grow from the Ashes is a really
powerful common that implies eight-drops are in range. Untamed Kavu is just
raw efficiency, though I can see 2/2s being unexciting and 5/5s just
getting double-blocked and being good-not-great.

The next-best card is Keldon Raider. A 4/3 for four is just a solid rate in
formats where three toughness doesn’t trade for a two-drop, and the
tacked-on Rummage is way better than it looks. When you cast a big creature
on curve, you just want to curve out harder by fixing your draws, and later
on this the 4/3 is still an impactful spell that has a bonus loot value.

1. Untamed Kavu

2. Sanctum Spirit

3. Knight of Grace

Verdant Force is another rare that just costs too much mana. I think
Bloodtallow Candle wouldn’t be an unreasonable card to take early. It’s a
clunky removal spell, but it’s historic, so it triggers random things and
you can play it in any color, but I think I’d rather have an efficient
creature than an inefficient removal spell.

Untamed Kavu seems great. As an acceptable creature early and a great
creature in the mid-game, I think this is clearly the best card in this

Sanctum Spirit is a weird one. A 3/2 with lifelink for four isn’t great,
but threatening to become indestructible with no mana investment can make
trying to interact with it really scary for your opponent. Sometimes this
will mean they won’t attack, won’t block, or won’t target it even when they
could kill it, which means I expect it to overperform somewhat.

Knight of Grace is nothing special, but I think it’s a better rate than the
other cards in this pack.

1. Untamed Kavu

2. Knight of Grace

3. Sanctum Spirit

The rate on Untamed Kavu is absurd if you ask me. A five-mana 5/5 with
trample and vigilance is an extremely potent threat, and Untamed Kavu is,
dare I say it, strictly better. In a lot of games, I expect it to be
incorrect to cast this card on Turn 2, given how powerful and feasible the
kicked version is. However, a late-game threat that doubles back as an
efficient early play is just so much more than you can ever ask out of a
Limited card, so I’ll always be ecstatic to start off a draft with this

After Untamed Kavu, I think the pick is between Knight of Grace and Sanctum
Spirit. While Verdant Force and Tiana, Ship’s Caretaker are powerful, they
require a bit more finesse and I don’t want to start a draft off with them
if I have better options. As far as the white cards in contention go, both
cards appear to be quite good, though unlikely to be better than the best
commons under many scenarios. So the question is, which is a better card to
start off your draft?

First strike is a very powerful mechanic in Limited, but then again, so is
lifelink. Overall, I think I will use the tie-breaker of “when in doubt,
take the cheaper card.” It’s much better to be clogged on the curve at two
than it is at four, and so I’d take Knight of Grace over Sanctum Spirit.
Additionally, my gut is leaning this way already because the Knight
requires less to go right to optimize its effectiveness. That said, if the
architecture of white decks in Dominaria limited are chock-full of
historic cards, then this may not be the case.

Round 3

1. Kazarov, Sengir Pureblood

2. Vicious Offering

3. Seal Away

This pack is very powerful. Kazarov, Sengir Pureblood might be dreaming a
little big, as black doesn’t have the ramp or fixing of green, but it
threatens to be a giant flier that kills stuff, so I at least have to try

Vicious Offering versus Seal Away is close, but I’m leaning towards the
proactive black instant over the white enchantment. There are just enough
artifact reasons to maindeck Invoke the Divine that the enchantment type
scares me. Vicious Offering can also trade up in similar ways to Moment of
Craving even without a sacrifice. Both are much better than Ancient Animus,
which has all the traditional issues of parity fight spells.

Rona, Disciple of Gix is just outside this range. A hybrid Gravedigger /
card draw / historic card is just a lot of things, even if they are all
limited in some way.

1. Vicious Offering

2. Seal Away

3. Ancient Animus

Maybe these expensive rares are better than I think, but here, I’d stick
with the removal spells. Vicious Offering is great. It’s comparable to
Moment of Craving, of course, except instead of gaining two life, you have
the option to kill almost anything if you need to, and the cost of
sacrificing a creature seems like it often won’t be too bad in this format.

Divine Verdict isn’t a great card because it’s so hard to leave four mana
available and Assassinate isn’t a great card because you have to let the
creature hit you. Seal Away, as an instant at two mana, means you don’t
have to take damage from the creature, since you can exile it in combat,
but you don’t have to leave much or any mana up to be able to use it, and
it can answer utility creatures even if they’re used at the end of your

Ancient Animus is probably great. Fight spells vary kind of weirdly in
power level from format to format depending on the size of green creatures
compared to others, but it’s not terribly rare that you’ll be able to get a
+1/+1 counter out of this while killing a creature, and at instant speed
for two mana, that seems very good.

1. Seal Away

2. Vicious Offering

3. Ancient Animus

This pack is a little odd, as the pick is somehow between three different
two-mana instant-speed removal spells. But hey, I’m not complaining, as
that sounds like a pretty good problem to have in terms of an opening pack.
Let’s really break down each spell to understand the ranking I’ve provided.

Seal Away is a conditional removal spell; however, Assassinate is usually a
pretty good Magic card where the condition isn’t all that hard to fulfill.
Beware of cards like Blessed Light, but overall I expect Seal Away to be a
premium removal spell in the format, given that it’s instant speed and can
hit a threat of any size.

Ancient Animus is quite difficult to evaluate in my mind because the range
of potency goes from a card routinely in my sideboard (a.k.a. Pounce) to an
instant-speed version of Hunt the Weak that’s half the cost! With enough
reasonably costed legendary creatures, Ancient Animus is going to be one
hell of a card, however green really doesn’t provide that. This is one of
those cards that I’m guessing is going to look better than it is just
because it isn’t intuitive that green isn’t the place to be for the upside.
If Ancient Animus were white, I think it would be substantially better.

This places Vicious Offering and Seal Away clean above Ancient Animus in my
eyes. While Vicious Offering can lend itself to more assertive plays and
still kill large things, that kicker cost is pretty steep outside of a
Saproling deck, and so I’m going to assume Seal Away is a better removal
spell. Still, I could certainly see that not being the case!

Round 4

1. Settle the Score

2. Cloudreader Sphinx

3. Yargle, Glutton of Urborg

Settle the Score is Impale with extra flavor text. Who cares, it’s hard
removal, and that’s a first pick.

Cloudreader Sphinx seems absurd to me. To put things in context, the green
Spider is a five-mana 3/5 with reach. This is basically the same card, but
it actually flies and scries. As mentioned, the creatures this set are a
bit small, and I expect to splash for this card like it is the 1990s again.

Yargle, Glutton of Urbog isn’t just meme value. Nine is just too much power
for five mana. There are multiple ways to give this trample or flying at
common for the full-on Battletoads. It isn’t the best black uncommon or
possibly even the second-best, but it will win games.

1. Settle the Score

2. Cloudreader Sphinx

3. Danitha Capashen, Paragon

You’re not likely to get to put any counters on a planeswalker, but four
mana to exile a creature is good enough by itself in Limited for me to take
Settle the Score very highly. This pack also isn’t very strong. After that,
I’d take Cloudreader Sphinx. This is almost an Air Elemental in size, and
scry 2, especially later in the game, is very strong. This creature looks

Finally, I’d take Danitha Capashen, Paragon, as all those keywords are
pretty likely to matter in Limited, and if you can do anything to make her
bigger, she can take over a game. Also, I think taking things that trigger
your legends-matter cards where you can is a pretty good idea.

1. Danitha Capashen, Paragon

2. Settle the Score

3. Cloudreader Sphinx

This is the worst pack we’ve seen so far, but still isn’t embarrassing. If
we were in the world of Rivals of Ixalan, I think that Settle the
Score would be a better card than Danitha Capashen, Paragon, but we’re on
Dominaria now. While unconditional removal is always valuable, it should be
clear by now that white really values having access to legendary creatures.
Given that there’s also an Equipment and Aura subtheme and the keyword soup
on Danitha is a potentially powerful recipe, I think the card is likely to
be strong. It’s certainly possible that the 2/2 body is too small for the
format, but for now I don’t think that’s going to be the case.

Outside of Danitha and Settle the Score, the rest of the pack falls off
quickly in terms of power level. I would classify the rest as filler, so if
you had to approach this pack to take a filler card, what would you take?
There’s maybe an argument for taking something cheap and synergistic like
Serra Disciple that you can optimize for and build around, but I think it’s
better to just take the most powerful card possible.

The last couple of formats that have had a five-mana 3/4 flier, and the
card has been extremely solid. Tacking on scry 2 is nothing to scoff at,
and I expect Cloudreader Sphinx to be one of blue’s best commons. I
wouldn’t be happy to start a draft with the card, but it’s not the end of
the world, I guess (although it would be pretty disappointing).

Round 5

1. Raff Capashen, Ship’s Mage

2. Blessed Light

3. Garna, the Bloodflame

Raff Capashen is just a very powerful card. A four-mana 3/3 with flying is
already good, and then it just has flash, which is great, and then it gives
other stuff flash. If it seems like I’m just reading the text on the card,
it’s because the text is just that good.

Past Raff, the other legendary creatures are sketchy. Jodah, Archmage
Eternal is just a 4/3 flier in three colors, which is not worth stretching
your limits for this early, and Garna, the Bloodflame reads a little more
conditional than the best-case scenario of an easy win implies. That
best-case scenario three-for-one is still good enough that she gets third
place, but she reads like a Bright Reprisal-level clunky card advantage

So that leaves the removal. Deep Freeze is a bit better than the usual
“can’t attack” removal, as it stops abilities, but instant-speed exile of a
creature with upside is a good deal for five. Blessed Light is just good,
not a lot beyond that.

1. Raff Capashen, Ship’s Mage

2. Blessed Light

3. Garna, the Bloodflame

Raff Capashen, Ship’s Mage and Garna, the Bloodflame feel pretty similar.
They’re both gold 3/3s with flash. Garna can do a lot of great things, as
you can trade and then cast it for a lot of value or you can flash it in at
the end of your opponent’s turn and then cast a large creature on your turn
to attack for a ton of damage out of nowhere. Garna is extremely good
against sweepers, but that’s not a major part of Limited games.

Raff Capashen gives you a good rate upfront on your 3/3 flier with flash.
It can ambush creatures for one less mana, it has flying to the body far
more impactful in combat, and it grants flash to make attacking into open
mana on following turns a risky proposition. Both are gold cards, so they
require a fairly serious commitment. Ultimately, I think Raff is better
because I value costing four mana rather than five highly.

Even though these are close, I have Blessed Light between them, which may
be wrong. It’s possible that Garna is better than I’m giving it credit for,
but Blessed Light feels like a sage, powerful pick. Five mana is more than
I like to spend to answer a creature, but at instant speed, exiling the
creature, and offering an answer to enchantments, it has enough going for
it to get me on battlefield.

1. Raff Capashen, Ship’s Mage

2. Blessed Light

3. Garna, the Bloodflame … I guess 🙁

I believe Raff Capashen, Ship’s Mage is a busted Magic card and I don’t
expect to pass it all that often. A four-mana 3/3 flash flier is already a
premium card. It’s a reasonable win condition and can be a two-for-one at
least some portion of the time. But how is your opponent supposed to play
when every single legendary creature you could have can be flashed onto the
battlefield? Do they just cross their fingers and attack into your open
mana? Raff strikes me as the kind of card that can completely dominate the
game, and when it doesn’t, it’s still reasonably above rate. Maybe I’m
overrating the card, but I don’t expect to pass it very often.

Blessed Light is one of those cards that everybody is going to take highly
initially but could end up being quite mediocre. My inclination is that the
card will be solid, and I won’t mind first-picking it, but if you’re often
trading down on mana, a card can only be so good; five is a lot for a
removal spell. That being said, the rest of this pack is pretty abysmal, so
there’s nothing else in contention for the second slot here.

If you really twist my arm to pick a third card out of this pack, it would
be between Jhoira’s Familiar and Garna the Bloodflame (note: I don’t
believe the fixing is even close to good enough to consider Jodah, Archmage
Eternal). While Jhoira’s Familiar is a colorless flier, which sounds like a
good way to start a draft, a four-mana 2/2 is just so unbelievably below
rate that I don’t really know if I’ll ever want to play the card. How much
of your deck would this card have to discount to make it worth it? It must
be a lot, and that just doesn’t seem reasonable to me. Feel free to try to
change my mind here, but my gut tells me this card belongs in my sideboard
often. So by that logic I’ll take Garna, the Bloodflame, which looks like a
mediocre gold card but would still be better than replacement for your
average B/R deck.

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