Pack 1, Pick 1
I wanted Frost Lynx to be better than it is. Don’t get me wrong, the card is a solid blue common, but the 2/2 body becomes irrelevant quickly and the enters-the-battlefield trigger is only great if you’re pressuring your opponent. It can be great in the flyers decks, but it’s not great for the late-game blue decks. Yes, Frost Lynx is a form of defensive speed, but it’s not great at that either.
Ember Hauler is a great Magic card, but the mana requirements are harder than people realize. Even with ten red sources, you’re not even able to cast the card on Turn 2 70% of the time. Whenever you cast Ember Hauler on Turn 2, it’s amazing, but it’s not that likely. 2/2s don’t scale well into the game, and neither does the card Shock. I do like Ember Hauler, but it’s not the kind of card I want to start my draft with.
I don’t have a huge amount of experience with Pattern Matcher, but my opponents seem to always have a creature to get. If you get your value off Pattern Matcher, the card is unreasonably good for a colorless creature. And the earlier you draft it, the easier it is to prioritize duplicates. Sometimes you won’t get your value, but a colorless Hill Giant isn’t the worst floor on a creature. It’s not a slam-dunk first pick, but it’s a fine start to a draft.
Pack 1, Pick 3
The Picks So Far:
This is an ideal situation to start a draft: two good cards without color requirements! The world is my oyster for the next pack.
Both Silverback Shaman and Boneclad Necromancer are solid five-mana creatures that provide additional value, which is important for your expensive threats in order to line up well against removal. However, at this portion of the draft, that’s not an important resource to go after. But Goblin Smuggler and Netcaster Spider are too close to filler to take either. Hence the pick is between the uncommon artifacts.
Both Mask of Immolation and Portal of Sanctuary have impressed me. I originally did not believe these cards would be high picks. I was wrong. Portal of Sanctuary can take over the entire game by combining it with a variety of commons. Even an unassuming Ferocious Pup can create a 2/2 Wolf every turn. But the Sanctuary does ask more of you than Mask of Immolation. Mask is great in every single red deck, as this format has lots of one-toughness creatures and the additional reach is nothing to scoff at. The card keeps going up in my pick order.
Pack 1, Pick 4
The Picks So Far:
I initially thought Moldervine Reclamation was bad. It’s two colors, expensive, and doesn’t immediately replace itself. You need to draw quite a few cards for it to be worth the mana cost. However, it just turns out that this format plays to what makes Reclamation good. There are lots of tokens and creatures trading and cards like Sanitarium Skeleton that can chump forever are quite the potent combo. While I don’t think it’s the pick in this pack, if you’re like me and thought the card was clunky, I promise it’s better than it looks.
Masterful Replication is a powerful card, but it’s only uncommon power-level. Two flash 3/3s can really get your opponent, but if you pass with six mana up, alarm bells should go off in your opponent’s head. It’s a rare, so they likely won’t play around it in Game 1, but after sideboarding, the card will be less potent. It’s still the best card in this pack, but Ember Hauler is in the same color as Immolation Mask and is cheaper. Which is the better pick?
Honestly, I think you can go either way. I’m going to take the rare just because I think this early in the draft, it’s best to take the more powerful card. Furthermore, Masterful Replication is splashable, which has good value given how open the first couple of picks were to lead this draft.