Ixalan is out on MtGO! And you know what that means: It’s time to draft! Preparing for Team Sealed Grand Prix, like the one I’ll be attending in Providence this coming weekend, is not easy. It’s hard to get your team together to practice building, which is something that truly separates Team Sealed from every other format. Building one pool is not easy, but building three and trusting your teammates to not put a steaming pile of garbage in your hands is another proposition entirely. I’m cautiously optimistic about this coming weekend, as release weekend tends to reward preparation more than any other weekend. One of my teammates is Spellsnare’s own Riccardo Monico! Hopefully we’ll both have something to write home about.

In the mean time, I’ve been committing myself to learning the cards in the new set as much as my busy schedule allows me. While draft isn’t the perfect indicator of how cards will perform in sealed or Team Sealed, it does allow games to at least get a little experience with the format, so I’ve been entering draft leagues and doing some preparation sealed.

In today’s article, I’ll be running through my most recent draft on MtGO, looking at some of the important picks that determined the outcome of the draft. Let’s dive in.

Pack 1, Pick 1

 

There are a bunch of solid cards in this pack, but only a couple stand out, notably Growing Rites of Itlimoc, Bishop of the Bloodstained, and Vanquish the Weak. Growing Rites is certainly the highest upside card, replacing itself when it lands on the board and representing a Gaea’s Cradle when it hits the end step and you have 4 or more creatures. Bishop of the Bloodstained is rather narrow, but gets better the more vampires you draft (obviously). With a few vampires it’s playable, but once you get to the 8+ vampires range is where this card really shines. Additionally, vampires have a “sub-theme” in this set of creating 1/1 vampire tokens, so cards like Bishop rise in value in this context. Vanquish the Weak is nothing spectacular, but it does exactly what you would think it does. It’s a reliable removal spell that can’t quite hit the big creatures, but it’s not a card you’ll find yourself cutting.

My pick: Growing Rites of Itlimoc

Pack 1, Pick 2

To be honest, I barely looked past the first card in this pack. Charging Monstrosaur is a premium card in this format. It’s an uncommon that’s frequently picked higher than most rares and mythics in the set. The 5/5 trample haste is extremely consistent in what it does, and what it does is well-suited to this format. Other cards worth mentioning are Sleek Schooner, Vineshaper Mystic, Blossom Dryad, and Unfriendly Fire, but they don’t come close to Monstrosaur’s power in just about every deck.

My pick: Charging Monstrosaur

Let’s fast forward to Pack 1, Pick 6. After these first two picks, I picked up a Jade Guardian, a Thrash of Raptors, and a Blossom Dryad.

Pack 1, Pick 6

   

I’m highlighting this pack because it has two interesting things to note. Firstly, Legion’s Judgment is still in this pack, which is a fairly clear signal that white is open to my right. Additionally, Grazing Whiptail is still in the pack in the middle picks, which is less surprising, but something that I was pretty happy to see. In hindsight, I should have taken more of a note about the Legion’s Judgment being in the pack still, but I took the Whiptail and was pretty happy about it. The 3/4 reach is very well-sized against the creatures in this format (flying and not), and certainly one of the best green commons.

My pick: Grazing Whiptail

My next pick was another copy of Jade Guardian.

Pack 1, Pick 8

    

Holy moly! A Pious Interdiction eight pick? Sign me up! This card is a premier white card in this format, and pretty much uncuttable. Not only is it a good card, but the rest of the pack is pretty unremarkable, and combining this obvious signal with the one I mentioned in Pack 1, Pick 6, white seems to be open to my right, which is something important to note.

My pick: Pious Interdiction

The rest of this pack gave me a Sun-Crowned Hunter and some unexciting sideboard cards.

At this point, I still felt strongly that I was going to be in the R/G Dinos archetype that many players have been excited about in Ixalan limited. I was also keeping myself open to a R/W or G/W or even Naya Dinos deck if white continued to be fed.

My pack 2 started off with a Shadowed Caravel from a very weak pack and a Tilonalli’s Knight from a similarly unremarkable pack.

Pack 2, Pick 3

   

The choice here for me is between Shining Aerosaur, Slash of Talons, and Sure Strike. I’ve been fairly impressed with Sure Strike so far, but I don’t value it higher in a vacuum than either of the white cards. At this moment I had a good amount of playables at this point in the draft for R/G Dinos, so I decided to hedge and take the Shining Aerosaur, which I have been extremely impressed with thus far, and consider it one of white’s best commons.

My pick: Shining Aerosaur

I followed this up with a Sure Strike and a Firecannon Blast. What brought me heavily into white was the next two picks, the first of which contained pretty much nothing exciting outside of a Slash of Talons. Here was the second:

Pack 2, Pick 7

    

Seventh pick Sky Terror? Hello! Sky Terror is an incredibly potent card that should not be in the pack this late. It’s absolutely the type of card that you hedge on when you see around pick 4-6. I happily took it and committed to R/W Dinos/Aggro.

My pick: Sky Terror

Pack 3 went according to plan, with me picking up a copy of Legion’s Judgment, Lightning Strike and a second copy of Firecannon Blast.

Here is where my list ended up:

W/R by Jonah Gaynor

Creatures (14)
1 Tilonalli’s Knight
1 Sky Terror
1 Inspiring Cleric
1 Headstrong Brute
1 Rummaging Goblin
1 Paladin of the Bloodstained
1 Bonded Horncrest
2 Thrash of Raptors
1 Shining Aerosaur
1 Charging Monstrosaur
1 Storm Fleet Pyromancer
2 Sun-Crowned Hunter

Non-Creature Spells (9)
1 Sheltering Light
1 Slash of Talons
1 Lightning Strike
1 Sure Strike
1 Shadowed Caravel
1 Legion’s Judgment
2 Firecannon Blast
1 Pious Interdiction

Lands (17)
10 Mountain
7 Plains

Overall, I’m satisfied with this draft. The deck is fine. It has some excellent uncommons and enough removal, but there’s some semi-awkward filler in there that makes this deck below the level where I’d be really excited. I think I read my seat fairly well as well, which isn’t important for the upcoming Team Sealed Grand Prix this weekend, but good nonetheless. I’m very excited for more Ixalan limited, and hopefully this weekend will prove fruitful!

For more limited analysis of Magic’s newest set, read this article from Riccardo Monico.

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