Hi everyone and welcome back to another edition of What’s the Pick? This time, I’m drafting Eldritch Moon. I had a chance to play the prerelease, and I must say, I got very lucky with my opens. I ended up with a Grixis (BR splash 2 blue cards) control deck featuring: Nahiri’s Wrath, Distended Mindbender, Hanweir Garrison, Gisa and Geralf, and Forgotten Creation. Nahiri’s Wrath was basically the most ridiculous card I’ve ever played with—just incredible. Hanweir Garrison was good. Gisa and Geralf were great, which I somewhat expected, but I think they over-performed my expectations. I did have something like 6 or 7 other Zombies, including a very powerful rare in Forgotten Creation. Anyway, the format seems fun so far and although I haven’t been able to draft it yet, I’m a little bit more educated about the Limited format. Let’s get to the packs:
This is a really good card. For a green removal spell, this is a bit like Rabid Bite in that it doesn’t actually fight, so you can use a 4/4 to kill an opposing 4/4. But Rabid Bite actually pumps your own creature as well, letting you use a 3/3 vs. a 4/4 or something similar. It’s also an instant, so you can score a giant blowout in combat if your 3/3 is blocked by an opposing 3/3, for example. Instant green removal is extremely rare, and I expect Clear Shot to be one of green’s most premium uncommons.
Honorable Mention: Olivia’s Dragoon.
After Clear Shot, it seems like this pack has a lot of cards that are close in power level. Olivia’s Dragoon is a solid 2/2 for 2 Vampire, but most importantly, it functions as a reasonable madness outlet. If I were to take Olivia’s Dragoon first pick, I’d be looking to draft an aggressive Vampires/madness deck from there. I could see arguments for taking Thermo-Alchemist, Eternal Scourge, Fortune’s Favor, Guardian of Pilgrims, or maybe Vildin-Pack Outcast. But for now, I’d take the Dragoon.
I have a feeling this card is going to be even better than it looks. After being able to first pick this card, you can prioritize drafting cards that synergize with it, madness cards and Vampires. The effect of pumping all of your Vampires is going to be extremely powerful. Vampires and madness already have a lot of natural synergies, including several Vampires that have built-in madness costs. If you can discard a Vampire and madness it into play using Stomkirk Condemned, not only can you block with your newly summoned Vampire, but it will get the +1/+1 bonus as well. Even just passing with mana untapped and the threat of a madnessed Vampire is going to be a very scary situation for your opponent.
Honorable Mention: Spreading Flames.
7-mana cards are not always something that you want to take this early, but this card seems to be an exception. Basically, Spreading Flames is almost always going to be a 2-for-1, and can kill a large creature in a pinch. The fact that it is an instant is huge, as you can even use it to trade up in combat as well as pick off another creature. If the format is super fast (which I don’t think that it is) maybe this card would go a little down in my rankings.
Yeah. This card is completely unreasonable. I don’t expect you’re going to be able to meld Gisela very often, if ever, but who cares? 4 mana for a 4/3 flying, first strike, lifelink. If Gisela goes unanswered for a few turns, you’ve basically won the game. It’s very hard for anyone to get into creature combat when you have Gisela on defense as well. My only knock on her is that the 3 toughness makes her a little easier to answer than bomb rares, but whatever, this card is a true bomb, and you’ll never pass it.
Honorable Mention: Galvanic Bombardment.
I think this is the best removal spell in the pack, which is what I’m debating between with the honorable mention pick here. Oath of Liliana is the other removal spell, which is a fair amount worse than Galvanic Bombardment. Subjugator Angel is perhaps a comparable choice, but I think I’d opt for Galvanic Blast. This is a pick that I could end up changing my mind on if Subjugator Angel performs much better than I expect.
Ishkanah is one of the most powerful cards in Eldrich Moon at 5 mana for 4 creatures: a 3/5 reach and three 1/2s with reach. Of course it’s not quite that simple—you do need to get delirium to fully “turn on” Ishkanah, so after first picking it, that would be a big priority. In addition to prioritizing cards that give you delirium, I would try to pick up any way to recur Ishkanah from the graveyard, for example Macabre Waltz or Cemetery Recruitment. One Ishkanah in a game is tough enough to beat. Multiple copies would be almost impossible to overcome.
Honorable Mention: Ruthless Disposal.
High cost, high reward. In the end, you do get to remove your opponent’s 2 best creatures. I had a conversation with Reid recently where I asked him how many times in our testing house that I’d Unsubstantiate his Ruthless Disposal. I think I’ll pull it off.
This is a powerful card, similar to Banisher Priest in that you can conditionally remove your opponent’s best creature. The biggest difference is that when your creature dies, you’re losing 2 cards instead of just 1. Against a deck that relies on red removal, though, if you can sneak Faith Unbroken onto the battlefield while your opponent is tapped out, it becomes harder to remove your creature using damage-based removal. One big drawback is that Faith Unbroken is extremely vulnerable to bounce spells, especially instant-speed ones. Your opponent will be able to bounce your enchanted creature, giving them control of their creature, even to block with if you’re attacking, so you’ll have to be careful. Ironclad Slayer being a common makes this an even better first pick since the two pair so well together.
Honorable Mention: Certain Death.
For a 6-mana removal spell, this is very good. It can remove any creature without fail, and only costs 1 colored mana. Life gain is extremely powerful in Limited, and even though it might not seem like 2 life matters that much, it will decide the game often enough that it’s a significant upside.
Thanks everyone for reading this edition. Let me know what you think. How’d everyone enjoy your own prereleases? Any cards that surprised you? Any cards that disappointed you? Be back soon!