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Welcome to Rathe Draft – The Pack One, Pick Ones

Last week, I wrote an introduction to the Flesh and Blood draft format through the lens of the first booster set, Welcome to Rathe, which you can read here. Today, my look into Limited continues with a look at some boosters with some of my thoughts on setting yourself up right from the very first pick. In this article I adhere to, and make a lot of my pick decisions based on the principles I shared in my intro to draft article. 

When Welcome to Rathe first hit LCGs in New Zealand, Australia and the US during the alpha release, one of the most popular threads on the fan pages were draft “pack one, pick one” discussions. If you have ever been a reader of ChannelFireball’s Magic: the Gathering content then you may also be familiar with this type of format. 

Draft One

Wounded Bull (Red)Sink Below (Yellow)Nimblism (Blue)Scar for a Scar (Red)Ironrot GauntletWarrior's Valor (Blue)Singing SteelbladeRaging Onslaught (Yellow)Buckling Blow (Blue)Smash Instinct (Red)Stonewall Confidence (Blue)Surging Strike (Yellow)Driving Blade (Blue)Rising Knee Thrust (Blue)Stroke of Foresight (Yellow)

 

This is a nice strong pack to start us off. Immediately I pull to the front Singing Steelblade, Scar for a Scar (Red) and Smash Instinct (Red). I spoke last week about navigating early parts of Flesh and Blood drafts by selecting generics across your first four or so picks where it makes sense. Doing so allows you to stay as open as possible for later picks and be in a position to move straight into a class that appears open from your right as you get through picks five, six and beyond.

Scar for a Scar is of course a generic, but it’s also a strong and effective card that will make 100 percent of decks which is a huge positive for your first pick. The value of Scar for a Scar in a lot of decks comes from how it allows you to attack more than once in a turn and be a critical four damage, spreading the opponent’s defenses thin. However, Singing Steelblade and Smash Instinct (Red) are both powerful class cards. Taking a powerful class card pick one as a hedge can often be worth the risk of not playing it if the class doesn’t end up being open for you to draft. Really, what needs to be weighed here is a good solid generic card that will make the cut every time versus two cards with powerful class effects that will be played around 25 percent of the time when playing the draft table openly.

Despite being one of the best cards in the pack, Smash Instinct isn’t as powerful as Singing Steelblade so that’s ruled out first. Singing Steelblade and Scar for a Scar are fairly close as first picks in the draft. I would personally take Scar for a Scar as I value very highly staying open and trying to position myself in an open class to reap the benefits. I would say that either pick is justifiable though. The added upside here is that I know that the person to my left will likely take the Singing Steelblade and I can do one of two things. Option one: I can send the signal that Warrior is open and avoid that class knowing I won’t compete for cards in pack two. Option two: if another strong Warrior card is passed to me in pack two or three I can take that card and begin cutting every Warrior card off with the idea that I dictate what the person to my left sees for the next 12 or 13 picks. This will mostly likely result in the player abandoning Warrior when no cards come their way, leaving a Singing Steelblade I don’t have to worry about, without me compromising my first pick and in a strong open class. 

 

Draft Two

Unmovable (Red)Wounded Bull (Blue)Demolition Crew (Yellow)Raging Onslaught (Yellow)Heartened Cross StrapDisable (Blue)Steelblade Shunt (Blue)Whelming Gustwave (Red)Wrecker Romp (Blue)Crush Confidence (Blue)Awakening Bellow (Yellow)Sharpen Steel (Blue)Open the Center (Yellow)Biting Blade (Yellow)Rising Knee Thrust (Yellow)

 

Overall a weaker pack than the first pack one we looked at, our Ninja cards while good are all combo cards and not where I want to start the draft. The only two class cards that draw my eye at all here are Disable (Blue) and Awakening Bellow (Yellow), neither of which I would be thrilled to have as a first pick. Our generics and equipment do offer options however. Unmovable (Red) is a great defense reaction that can be played in most decks, although it does require that you have built your deck to support the hefty cost of three. Our equipment slot is the generic Heartened Cross Strap which might well be the one equipment I rate the highest outside of the Legendries in Welcome to Rathe Limited. Cross Strap will make almost any deck you play and will often be worth an entire card. Providing two resources to use on an important turn or to bail you out of an awkward hand is very valuable. I also think it’s a better card than Ironrot Plate in 90 percent of decks and even better than Barkbone Strapping in most Brute decks due to the consistency. 

The pick for me here, and fairly easily is Heartened Cross Strap.

 

Draft Three

Flock of the Feather Walkers (Red)Nimble Strike (Red)Barraging Brawnhide (Blue)Sink Below (Blue)Ironrot LegsBlessing of Deliverance (Red)Singing SteelbladePrimeval Bellow (Blue)Stonewall Confidence (Red)Smash Instinct (Blue)Stonewall Confidence (Blue)Nature's Path Pilgrimage (Yellow)Open the Center (Red)Driving Blade (Yellow)Surging Strike (Red)

 

Another Singing Steelblade, how about that then? Again, it’s one of the more powerful cards in this pack with the other standouts being Surging Strike (Red) and Flock of the Feather Walkers (Red). Surging Strike (Red) is one of the Ninja cards I prefer to take early. All of the Ninja starters (Leg Tap, Head Jab and Surging Strike) are great to jump on early as they can still be played even if you don’t draft much of the combo line for that card, as they have natural go-again. However, Surging Strike has the added benefit of working with a wide range of generic cards that other Ninja cards can’t work with like Sloggism and Pummel. Additionally, at five base attack, it can’t be blocked out entirely by a three defense card plus an equipment or a Sink Below (Red)

Flock of the Feather Walkers (Red) is a great card in Warrior to setup go-again situations with the Quicken token making it difficult for the opponent to decide how to block Dawnblade. Flock is also great in almost all Brute decks and will occasionally be a solid role player in Ninja decks. Singing Steelblade meanwhile has the power level of a red card but is yellow and pitches for two! Having a card that can search up the right attack reaction card for a combat situation shouldn’t be underestimated in this Limited format. 

My pick here is the last of the above options in Singing Steelblade. I believe it to be the most powerful class card in the pack and I think it is enough of a stronger card than Flock of the Feather Walkers that it’s worth the first pick hedge here.

 

Draft Four

Sloggism (Yellow)Regurgitating Slog (Blue)Razor Reflex (Red)Pummel (Red)Barkbone StrappingPotion of StrengthOverpower (Yellow)Pummel (Blue)Wrecker Romp (Blue)Buckling Blow (Blue)Awakening Bellow (Red)Cartilage Crush (Yellow)Sharpen Steel (Blue)Whelming Gustwave (Blue)Sharpen Steel (Yellow)

 

An interesting pack here, with both Razor Reflex (Red) and Pummel (Red) standing out. These two cards are two sides of the same coin. Razor works best in low-cost decks, primarily Ninja and Warrior where it can also target the weapon. Pummel, on the other hand, is best in high-cost decks, primarily Guardian and Brute where it can also target the class weapons. The other cards I pull to the front are Barkbone Strapping, Sloggism (Yellow) and Potion of Strength

Barkbone Strapping, despite my opinion of being overall slightly worse than the generic Heartened Cross Strap, is still a great piece of equipment with both a defensive and offensive function.  Sloggism in all three cycles is a card that’s highly underrated in Welcome to Rathe draft and can be a great fit in many decks that rely on going tall with one attack to push damage. Think Guardian or Brute, although it can even pair well in Ninja decks that have a number of Surging Strike and/or Open the Center.

Potion of Strength is a card that’s incredibly useful in decks that have on-hit effects and even works on your weapon (I’m looking at you, Dawnblade). The potions can be awkward to setup as you likely take the turn off from sending offensive threats your opponent’s way the turn you play it. If Potion of Strength is used correctly though it can, in latter stages of the game, be worth much more than one or two damage and a card form the opponent’s hand. One of my favorite finishes in this format with Guardian is Sloggism plus Potion of Strength into a dominated three cost attack action card to present in the region of 13 to 15 damage.

In this instance, however, it comes down to the two attack reactions, Pummel (Red) and Razor Reflex (Red). I feel Sloggism will likely wheel, the Potion requires a good supporting setup and the Barkbone’s too narrow and not the best card available in that slot. I would take the Razor Reflex for a couple of reasons. One, I think it can be played in slightly more decks than Pummel. For example, it can easily make it into Brute decks while Pummel can make it into Ninja but requires a lot more work due to the total resources needed on those turns. I also think that Razor has a slightly more powerful effect and is harder for your opponent to play around when in either of the two main decks it shines in, Warrior and Ninja. 

Conclusion

Four packs, four first picks and hopefully some takeaways for you as you head into your own drafts with friends or, if you have the opportunity, at local game stores around the world. Personally, I was fortunate enough to do my first Welcome to Rathe draft since the alpha printing with the unlimited released here in Australia last week. I had a blast drafting an aggressive combo-heavy Ninja deck that kicked some butt! Pun certainly intended.

Happy drafting all! Leave a comment and let me know what cards you like from these packs and why!

Discussion

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