Hi and welcome back to another What’s the Pick? Pack 1 Pick 1 with Iconic Masters Draft. This is a funny format. I have a feeling that there’s a ton to learn, and I’m just getting started. Unfortunately, there are no professional tournaments with this format, so I probably won’t have the opportunity to delve quite as deep as I have in some other formats, but we can still have some fun with it!
It’s been a while since I’ve seen this card, but it doesn’t look any less powerful. Any deck that relies heavily on white or black for either creatures or removal spells will truly have fits against it. The lifelink ability should allow you to turn the Blood Baron into a 10/10 and win the game very quickly. Even as a defensive card, if your opponent is able to flood the board, a lifelink creature can make it very difficult for your opponent to go wide, since it requires 4 power in unblocked creatures just to “break even” with the Blood Baron’s lifelink.
Honorable Mention: Electrolyze.
I could see Wing Shards being a better pick depending on the format, but I’m not sure yet. I’m a bit of a sucker for drawing cards, and I also think red-blue tends to be a pretty powerful color combination in these older formats. Blue is often the best color since it has the best card draw, and I’d be happy to first-pick a blue card in this format when possible. Electrolyze will let you play for the long game by bridging the gap at a benefit in the early turns of the game.
Grisly Spectacle is a better card than Claustrophobia, but its not by a tremendous amount. Claustrophobia costs 1 less mana, but it can only be played at sorcery speed and it’s vulnerable to enchantment removal, bounce, flicker, etc. But it’s blue, and like I said, I would try to veer toward blue in this format. In a high number of games, both of the cards will have more or less the same effect.
Honorable Mention: Grisly Spectacle.
One thing about Grisly Spectacle that could come up is its inability to kill artifact creatures. This isn’t a huge drawback by any means, just something to be aware of. I think Grisly Spectacle is a defensible first pick out of this pack, though, and I could see it straight-up being the correct pick.
Emeria Angel is a great rare. If you can wait until turn 5 to play it, you’ll get value from landfall even if they have removal. Emeria Angel is only a 3/3 flyer, so it’s not that difficult to remove, but when it isn’t, it will prove almost impossible to beat. It is true that you need to keep playing lands to trigger the Angel, but this shouldn’t be too hard, especially in a format with the Karoo lands.
Honorable Mention: Ulcerate.
Ulcerate and Pillar of Flame are similar in that they are both 1-mana creature removal spells. I think Ulcerate is clearly a better pick because it is an instant, and can deal with 3-toughness creatures, unlike Pillar of Flame. Losing 3 life is no small drawback, but it’s worth it for the power upgrade.
This is a really poor pack. While Thoughtseize is not a card I’d expect to first-pick a ton of the time, I don’t hate it. While Thoughtseize is usually a “good” not “great” card in Limited, it gets closer to “great” in a format like this. The reason is that the top-end power of the card is just so high. If your opponent does has a card like Blood Baron of Vizkopa, Mana Drain, or a combo like Channel/Fireball, it’s a very valuable tool. Even if your opponent doesn’t have anything quite that good, Thoughtseize will be able to get rid of their best card for only 1 mana and 2 life. That’s a pretty good trade. Like all formats, the biggest problem with Thoughtseize is that it’s often not a good topdeck later in the game. It’s a fair trade-off for such a high early-game upside, though.
Honorable Mention: Orzhov Basilica.
These Karoo lands are all excellent, and this pack is weak. Maybe you could get cute and do something like take Doorkeeper and try to draft a Wall deck, but I think I’d prefer to just take the Basilica and guarantee myself a good card. Even if you don’t get to shape your Draft around it, it figures that if you play two random colors, you’ll be playing either white or black 70% of the time. It will be a good card in all those decks, and of course in practice, you can use this pick as a tiebreaker to steer you in that direction.
The last great 4-mana wrath. This card brings back some memories. I played a ton of U/W Control in Constructed, and Supreme Verdict was far and away the best card. I’d be plenty happy to start a Draft with it here. Even though it’s a gold card, it’s just so powerful that you’ll rarely want to take anything else. Card draw spells, search spells, and sources of incremental card advantage will always be better in a deck with a wrath effect, because in games where you’ve cast your Supreme Verdict and gotten a 2-, 3-, or even 4-for-1, the extra incidental advantage will be almost impossible to overcome.
Honorable Mention: Palladium Myr.
This is probably a slightly better acceleration effect than Manakin. Draconic Roar is potentially a better pick, but early in the Draft in a format like this, I’d just take the card with the highest possible upside, and in this pack, it’s the Palladium Myr. Casting 6-mana spells on the fourth turn can often just be too much for a normal draw to overcome.
What are your impressions of the format so far? What are your favorite rogue strategies? Anyone have any luck with Doorkeeper mill decks? I want to try to force it, but have yet to pull the trigger. Let me know in the comments and I’ll be back soon.