The last time we started a draft together on this column, the format was new, the packs were sketchy, and our deck ended up pretty weird. This week, we’re going to try to crack another first three picks of Amonkhet armed with crossed fingers and a greater understanding of the format.
When I do exercises like this shortly after a set release, I try to focus my reasoning heavily on individual evaluations of cards that people might be unsure about before playing with them. Later on, the discussion focuses more on how the picks in question interact with what we currently know about the format. Expect more of the latter out of this article than the one from a month ago.
Here’s our first pack:
Pack 1, Pick 1
Poking around the pack, I’m seeing a rare that’s playable, but narrow- it only fits into a particular playstyle of a single color pair. Since aggro decks with lots of two-drops are good in Amonkhet, Battlefield Scavenger and Cartouche of Zeal are pickable quite early, and two of the green cards in this pack, Shefet Monitor and Cartouche of Strength, are also incredibly flexible and strong cards to pick early and begin to plan a strategy plan around.
But the most flexible and strongest card here would have to be Cast Out. Cast Out is obviously a premium removal spell, and its earned that honor because it does a lot of work against decks of all speeds. Against a fast deck, it’s costed just aggressively enough that you can use it to nab an early threat before it deals a serious amount of damage. Against a slower deck, it’s great at removing blockers or bombs or what have you. Plus, it’s white, arguably the best color in the format. Basically, we’re picking Cast Out pretty easily here.
Take a look at pack number two:
Pack 1, Pick 2
The cards that catch my eye here are Angler Drake, Decimator Beetle, Cartouche of Ambition, and Binding Mummy. I’m sure some of you might be itching to slam down Binding Mummy here, since it does aggression extremely well and it’s in the same color as our first pick. However, I don’t really like the Mummy unless I’m playing blue or black, and I honestly think the other cards we’re considering vastly outrank the 2-drop in terms of power. Remember, just because aggression is the best thing to do, other strategies are still extremely competitive, and due to the self-correcting nature of draft and the overhyping of aggression in recent weeks, slower decks are probably more likely to bring you success these days than you think. As a result, I’m going to pass on the mummy for now.
What else do we have here? I sung Cartouche of Ambition’s praises last week as a common that can win games by itself, but I still think the uncommon creatures here are a bit more powerful. Angler Drake and Decimator Beetle are both beefy midrangey creatures that have a massive impact on the game if left unchecked, and I think they’re extremely close in power level. The obvious tiebreaker is the amount you have to commit to your colors, and Angler Drake wins our favor by not sticking our fingers in too many (color) pies.
Finally, here’s the third pack:
Pack 1, Pick 3
The best card in this pack is Shimmerscale Drake– nothing else particularly comes close. Luckily, the Drake is in the same color as our second pick, and it’s pretty easy to just snap it up.
How’d the rest of the draft go? Thanks to our first three picks, I thought we were going to end up as a traditional skies deck- gum up the ground with difficult-to-deal-with blockers like Tah-Crop Skirmisher and Naga Oracle, then win in the air with our enormous fliers. That’s not what happened, though. We just kept getting passed great 2s and 3s in U/W, and ended up with a pretty sweet midrange embalm deck that plays both sides of the clock really well. Behold!
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