Hi everyone! Welcome back for another edition of What’s the Pick? Pack 1 Pick 1 with Ixalan. I’m currently in the process of moving, so I haven’t been drafting as much as I’d like, but I did a ton of Drafts in advance of the World Championships and U.S. Nationals, so I feel that I have a pretty good grasp on the format so far. I’m hoping to do a lot more as we close in on the Pro Tour, though. Here are the packs:
I didn’t think Wanted Scoundrels would be so strong when I first saw it. The drawback seemed huge, and while in practice it could really be devastating against cards like Lightning Strike or Walk the Plank, those cards are both uncommon. The only common removal spell that severely punishes Wanted Scoundrels is Legion’s Judgment, and that often doesn’t even make the main deck. A Wanted Scoundrels on the play can often do 12 damage, and in a format where combat tricks are also effective, Walking Scoundrels can be daunting to even attempt to block. Overall, just a great, cheap threat, and the easy pick out of this pack.
Honorable Mention: Bishop’s Soldier.
One of the premium common 2-drops, Bishop’s Soldier is strong enough to play in any white deck, whether or not you are Vampire themed. Of course, if you do have Vampire synergies, Bishop’s Soldier is that much stronger, and a particularly effective target for Vampire’s Zeal.
This might not even be the correct pick, but Repeating Barrage is an insanely good card. At this point, I’d choose it over Charging Monstrosaur. Sometimes when games play out with a lot of early trading, one evasion creature and a Barrage will provide a repeatable source of creature removal that can be almost impossible to beat. This card incentivizes you to play heavy red, as once you get to eight lands, you want four of them to be Mountains.
Honorable Mention: Charging Monstrosaur.
This is the best uncommon in Ixalan, and better than most of the rares, even the good ones. Charging Monstrosaur is like a better version of Reality Smasher, in that it’s easier to cast. There are also multiple cost reduction mechanics for Dinosaurs, and when the Monstrosaur comes down earlier than turn 5, particularly on the play, it is extremely difficult to beat.
Fiery Cannonade will have greatly different value across different games. If it’s good in your deck (most of your creatures are Pirates) you should be able to use it to decent effect. Sometimes, though, your opponents will have Pirates of their own, or in the case of a Dinosaur deck, not many 2-toughness creatures. Overall, though, this is a pretty weak pack, so taking the Cannonade is not the end of the world.
Honorable Mention: Jade Guardian.
There aren’t a lot of good options here. I don’t like to start in green because I think the best green deck, Merfolk, is hard to come by because it’s very good—people tend to fight over it. I think the other green decks are mostly weaker than the non-green decks. That said, this pack is so bad that I’d likely take a chance here and see if I could get a Merfolk deck with some Jade Guardians and maybe a couple of copies of One With the Wind.
I have Territorial Hammerskull as the best common in Ixalan. Naturally, it’s at its best in any sort of aggressive deck, but it’s a good enough card to play in any deck. Tapping down a creature on every turn can make both attacking and blocking difficult since your opponents will want to leave back multiple creatures in order to have a blocker. Territorial Hammerskull is another card that makes combat tricks a lot stronger.
Honorable Mention: Lightning-Rig Crew.
A throwback to Lobber Crew, Lightning-Rig Crew is just a great card. 5 toughness on the ground can often be difficult to attack through, so Lightning-Rig Crew, will be able to play offense and defense in tandem with Pirates. Cards like that are almost always strong, and often underrated.
Lightning Strike is one of the best removal spells in Ixalan. It’s an instant, which is huge when combat tricks are playable, and in a pinch, you can deal 3 damage to your opponent. Lightning Strike deals with the best common creature, Territorial Hammerskull, and is a blowout against one of the best uncommon creatures, Wanted Scoundrels. Lightning Strike is also a great first pick because while it puts you into a color, it doesn’t put you into a tribe, so you’re effectively wide open for a second color, as red can pair with any of them effectively.
Honorable Mention: Dreamcaller Siren.
This is a card that is very strong, but isn’t as good as I thought it would be when I first saw it. A 3/3 flying, flash, even with the drawback of not being able to block creatures without flying, is still very strong, and I’d rarely cut this even from a non-Pirate deck. That being said, there are a few cards I’d take over it, and Lightning Strike is one of them. If I took Dreamcaller Siren first, I would look to draft a U/B or U/R Pirate deck first and foremost.
Thanks for reading, everyone. What did you think of the picks this time around? Let me know below, and I’ll see you next time!