I hope you had as much fun at your prereleases as I did. This limited format looks like it’s going to be deep and interesting on quite a few axes, and I can’t wait to get into the swing of things. And what better way is there to learn a new draft format than by making some picks? To do so, we’ll be using the first three picks I took from an actual Amonkhet draft. Let’s get started!
Pack 1, Pick 1
First of all, this pick is between two cards only: Glory-Bound Initiate and Baleful Ammit. None of the other cards in the pack are even close to the same power level as these two. (Greater Sandwurm is the next best card by a clear margin as well.) And I gotta say, they are awfully close to each other, not just in terms of power level, but also in what they do. Both cards are cheap, efficient lifelinkers with downside. The question is, which is better?
I took Glory-Bound Initiate because I hadn’t gotten a chance to play with the card yet. It looks like the kind of card that’s fine sometimes and great when it’s good, which I can always get behind in my limited decks. In hindsight, though, I believe I made the wrong pick. Baleful Ammit sticks to the board more consistently than the fragile 3/1, and its lifelink is always on, not just when it takes every other turn off. Additionally, I like black as a color more than white at this point in the format. Cartouche of Ambition, Wander in Death, Unburden, Soulstinger, and even some of black’s other commons did not catch my attention when they were spoiled, but they are slowly wowing me more and more with their power and versatility. Alas, we’re stuck with the Initiate, so let’s see where this draft takes us.
Pack 1, Pick 2
I’ll start off by saying that since there are no second pickable white cards in this pack, staying on color isn’t a considering factor at all for this pick. This pack has a few cards better than Greater Sandwurm but worse than our Glory-Bound Initiate. First of all, I’m not bashing the wurm- it’s actually quite good, especially thanks to cycling acting as a safety valve against its expensive cost. There are simply better options here, and some of them are cards that we can’t expect to go as late.
Destined//Lead is an above average second pick if you end up green, and below average if you only end up black, but the fail case isn’t horrendous. Labyrinth Guardian’s ability rarely comes up unless you’re playing cartouches or combat tricks- if your opponent is casting a spell on your 2/3, it’s probably dying anyway, and nobody’s going to want to spend a card killing something that’s just going to come back in the first place. Splendid Agony is a solid, flexible removal spell, and as I said before, Cartouche of Ambition has wildly impressed me. You just don’t realize how effective lifelink can be at putting away games, especially on large creatures, and the first time you suit up your 4/3 to become a 5/4 lifelink, you’ll understand. Plus, the -1/-1 counter is far from trivial.
While all of the cards I’ve mentioned are decent options, I actually went with Shefet Monitor. I hadn’t played with this card yet either, but its flexibility just looks so tasty. It’s an excellent ramp spell when you need it, and in case you already got there, it gives you a fatty to play instead. On to pick 3!
Pack 1, Pick 3
It’s pretty safe to say that Electrify is the best card in this pack. For a red removal spell, it’s not terribly efficient, but it gets the job done for a very reasonable price. Is it better enough than all the on-color cards that it’s worth forsaking one of our first two picks? A few days ago, I would have said absolutely, but that was before I got to play with what I believe is one of the biggest sleeper cards in the set: Oketra’s Monument.
I’d like to take a moment to talk about the Monument outside of the context of this draft. Seriously, this card is really good, and I’m even happy to play it in nonwhite decks. An extra body with every creature you cast does a lot, I’m finding. It means that when you’re ahead, you can apply extra pressure and go wide. When you’re at parity, you can attack with your big creatures without fear of losing a race. And when you’re behind, you get to double down on blockers. The only time it’s bad is when you topdeck it, and even then I’ve seen worse offenders than the Monument in that scenario- at least this one will probably net you a couple of 1/1s.
I also keep finding new uses for Oketra’s Monument. It’s really good with tokens matter cards like Anointer Priest and Aven Wind Guide. Also, since the trigger goes on the stack above the spell, you get to play cards like Exemplar of Strength and Defiant Greatmaw, dump the counters on your new token, and keep the giant beater with its full strength.
Back to the draft, Oketra’s Monument is still great for most of the reasons I’ve mentioned, and while I may be seriously wrong here, I’m happy to take the risk for what I think is a great little artifact.
This draft was a little weird for me, and I expect all of my decisions to be somewhat controversial. However, this early in Amonkhet, those are exactly the kinds of conversations players need to be having- it’s the only way to discover what’s truly good in the new limited format. So please, let me know how wrong I am about pick 3 in the comments. Cheers!
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