A fundamental skill in Booster Draft is asking yourself questions to help navigate decisions. For example, once I have committed to an archetype, I always ask myself, “What card in this pack helps my deck do the thing it wants to do?”
This question isn’t easy to answer, especially in Adventures in the Forgotten Realms Draft due to the non-synergistic nature of the format. Often it means looking at the card that gives me the best investment for the mana cost that intersects with my colors, but sometimes it’s more complicated. It’s important to look at your pool and discern what you think your deck is missing. I wrote a whole article about imagining what you want your deck to look like, and navigating the draft to optimize towards that deck, which you can check out here. In the meantime, let’s go over some picks where this type of dialogue is necessary in order to make the correct decision.
Take a minute to review the pool of cards I’ve drafted so far. These cards are in the order in which I drafted them.
Pack 2, Pick 5
The Picks So Far:
The only thing that I know at this point is that I’m black and that I will be casting Skeletal Swarming. I think that, without much experience in the format, that would lead me to have a preference for pairing black with green.
I don’t think any of the cards in this pack are very good, and hence could see that leading someone down the path to take Bulette or Dire Wolf Prowler. I believe that would be a mistake. Prowler has been okay, but only in aggressive decks, which I’m not positioned to pursue. Bulette has been terrible every time I’ve seen it. Hence, this pick is between the red cards.
Farideh’s Fireball is another five-mana removal spell that people take too highly. I recently saw Hobgoblin Captain wheel in a pack that previously had Farideh’s Fireball in it. I think in almost 100% of my red decks, including the non-aggressive ones, I would prefer the Captain. Five mana to kill a threat is just too much. You play the card sometimes, but don’t take it highly.
If I close my eyes and imagine what I want my deck to look like, Unexpected Windfall is better than you would think. It makes Treasures, which helps me splash Skeletal Swarming, and it also digs to find my Skeletal Swarming. I don’t think this pick is particularly close, but I can see how it’s possible to convince yourself that you should take a green card or that you need a removal spell.
Pack 3, Pick 5
The Picks So Far:
Underdark Basilisk and Vampire Spawn are too far behind the red cards in this pack to justify taking. I just wanted to bring them up because they’ve both overperformed. Green decks really appreciate the deathtouch body on the Basilisk thanks to having access to multiple one-sided fight spells like Spoils of the Hunt and Hunter’s Mark. And Vampire Spawn has just had a much larger impact on games, from both an offensive and defensive angle, than I expected.
Given this opinion, you would think I would take Battle Cry Goblin, right? It’s an unbelievably powerful card, but I don’t think it’s the right pick. Context is king, and having two copies of Skeletal Swarming changes everything. First off, I could technically still end up Golgari and splash two copies of Dragon’s Fire, whereas I wouldn’t splash this Goblin. Second, I want to extend the game and take over with Skeletal Swarming. Third, I’m light on removal in general. The context of my pool yields Dragon’s Fire as a better pick than Battle Cry Goblin.
Overall, I ended up with a pool that could be either Golgari or Rakdos, and I think a lot of people may fall into the trap of submitting Golgari just to maximize the probability that you can cast Skeletal Swarming on Turn 5. However, the Rakdos deck has so many ways to make Treasures that green is pretty easy. It’s also better at creating death triggers, and gets to properly utilize Hired Hexblade, which is a strong Magic card that the Golgari deck can’t play.