Sometimes you’re lucky enough to start with a bomb rare. But how hard should you hold onto it?
Pack 1, Pick 2
The Picks So Far:
Leafkin Druid has impressed me. Given the amount of value in this format, mana advantage can be very important, especially with the amount of playable expensive cards. And it’s even an Elemental for great synergy with cards like Overgrowth Elemental and Risen Reef. Agonizing Syphon is also a very solid common, although there’s not much to say about it. I prefer both the rare and uncommon options to these two commons and would not be excited to first-pick either of them out of any pack. But they are good.
Empyrean Eagle is awesome. That third point of toughness matters a lot with both Shock and Disfigure in the format along with the amount of two-power fliers running around. There’s also quite the large density of fliers to get maximum value out of the lord bonus. I believe the Empyrean Eagle is the correct pick out of the pack, but it’s not what I took; I took Glint-Horn Buccaneer because I wanted to play with the card. I have not played with or against this rare much and it looked solid to me, as a 2/4 for three has fine stats to begin with and the card selection ability can be a real lifesaver for red decks prone to flood problems.
Pack 1, Pick 3
The Picks So Far:
There are two commons missing and this pack has zero red or white commons. The overwhelming majority of packs have commons of each color present. This means it is quite likely that both a red common and a white common were picked from this pack by players passing to me. That’s not a great sign, given that I started with a white card and a red card.
This devalues the “take Fencing Ace because it is the same color as your bomb” logic. While I would still like to be white and play Ajani, the probability of white being open is now lower. This doesn’t mean it can’t be open, and I could still draft white as long as the color isn’t completely dry, but it is a very important note.
Silverback Shaman continues to impress me. If you read much of my content, you probably know I hate on five-mana creatures a lot. You can lose too much tempo from spending five mana on a card that can be answered for less, but the trample and the safety-valve-death-trigger save the Ape. I’d play five of these, and have no problem taking it early. It’s still not the best green common because it’s expensive, but don’t sleep on Silverback Shaman due to the mana cost.
Yarok’s Wavecrasher is a potent uncommon. The enters-the-battlefield ability ranges from “serious drawback” to “immense upside.” Returning creatures like Ferocious Pup is amazing, and not at all hard to set up. Later in the draft, the stock of Wavecrasher goes down because you’re less likely to have as many cards that synergize, but I take it highly in Pack 1, and will take it here.
Pack 1, Pick 4
The Picks So Far:
This pack is terrible, but it’s important to keep your cool and make a good pick. Rash decisions at points like this are among the easiest ways to trainwreck a draft.
Griffin Sentinel, Moment of Heroism, and Vial of Dragonfire may jump out to you because “at least I get to stay open.” I don’t like this way of thinking and if you would take one of these cards because of that, I highly suggest reconsidering. Think about it – what percentage of the time do any of these cards make your deck? They’re all basically a D on the grading scale: a playable twentieth to 23rd card that you’d prefer not to include in your deck, but often have a couple of because that’s how Limited works. None of these cards can be great, so why waste a pick on one? If you’re not likely to play Griffin Sentinel, why does having one “keep you open?” If you disagree on my evaluation of these cards, they could be defensible picks, but I don’t like any of them at all.
Swiftwater Cliffs could be argued as a fine pick since there’s nothing great and it opens doors down the line. It’s also in the Elementals colors, so splashing is slightly more enticing with this land.
Faerie Miscreant and Undead Servant range from unplayable to fantastic. If you were to take one, the Miscreant makes more sense due to having the highest upside with the cards I already have drafted: a flyer for Azorius and synergizes with Yarok’s Wavecrasher.
Blood Burglar and Destructive Digger are solid commons that play important roles in their respective decks. I’m pretty happy to play the first copy of either and would take the Digger if choosing between the two by using Glint-Horn Buccaneer as the tie-breaker.
So what did I take? I took Faerie Miscreant. I think many of the cards are defensible picks, and the pack is truly unfortunate. When in situations like this, I almost always lean towards the pick with the highest upside. It’s rare to end a draft scrambling for playables, and because of this I steer away from taking filler cards at this junction and would rather speculate on a potential direction with Faerie Miscreant.
Pack 1, Pick 5
The Picks So Far:
Squad Captain and Soulmender are not cards that I like very much. Sure, they go with our Ajani, as that’s the theme of the day, but that doesn’t change the fact that the majority of my decks are better without them. Thrashing Brontodon is too much better than the white cards in this pack to justify taking them.
But is Thrashing Brontodon too much better than Unsummon? I like Unsummon quite a bit in this format. It’s not amazing, but saving a Cloudkin Seer from removal or invalidating cards like Pacifism brings the notch up a bit. If the format was faster, Unsummon would be an incredible blue common, but given the speed, it’s only okay.
I think my best bet at this junction is still to take the best card, which is Thrashing Brontodon.