Hi again, everyone! It’s time for some more What’s the Pick? Pack 1 Pick 1 with Ixalan. The Pro Tour is in the books, but I’ve got one more of these before moving on to the next set release!
Admiral Beckett Brass is a cool card, but in practice it’s only good in dedicated Pirate decks with solid splash options. Because the Admiral is 3 colors and Pirate decks are typically pretty aggressive, the cost of splashing is particularly high. I wouldn’t consider Beckett Brass here, but wanted to mention it anyway. Walk the Plank is a premium uncommon removal spell, removing anything (except for Merfolk) for only 2 mana. It does stink to have to sideboard it out sometimes against dedicated Merfolk decks, but what can you do?
Honorable Mention: Bishop’s Soldier.
One of the premier 2-drops in the format, Bishop’s Soldier is good in any white deck. At its best in Vampires, that would be the most preferred deck for me.
This card has overperformed for me, and due to my preference for aggressive Pirate decks, it’s one of the non-bomb cards that I’m happiest to begin a Draft with. Wanted Scoundrels can often put you so far ahead early in the game, especially on the play, that your opponent may have to double-block, setting you up to 2-for-1 them with a combat trick. It doesn’t match up well against cards like Frenzied Raptor, but pairs great with removal spells. I would look to draft any aggressive Pirate deck if I started the Draft with Wanted Scoundrels.
Honorable Mention: Drover of the Mighty.
Probably the best green non-rare to start a Draft with, Drover of the Mighty provides early-game acceleration, and then once you don’t need to use it for mana anymore, provides you with a 3/3 attacker or blocker. I would look to draft Dinosaurs, most likely R/G, but sometimes W/G if I started with Drover. Keep in mind that with Drover in your pile, it will make it that much easier to do something like splash Huatli in your R/G deck or Regisaur Alpha in your W/G deck.
This is an interesting pick. Lightning Strike and Fel Flagship are both great cards. One thing to keep in mind: while Fell Flagship is colorless, it’s really doesn’t go in any white or green decks. Lightning Strike, on the other hand, is a red card, but red pairs with any color, and Lightning Strike will be among the best cards in your deck regardless of which tribe or color combination you end up in, provided it’s red. Lightning Strike is one of the premium removal spells in the set, and a great way to start a Draft.
Honorable Mention: Fell Flagship.
Like I said above, Fell Flagship isn’t a true colorless card, but it doesn’t provide more flexibility than a lot of tribal cards. Fell Flagship will be a great card in any U/R, U/B, or B/R Pirate deck, though it does have to be played in a Pirate deck, more or less. After first-picking a Fell Flagship, I’d do my best to play Pirates, but if Pirates aren’t coming, you have to be very careful, as starting with a tribal card and forcing it is an easy way to end up with a poor deck in Ixalan Draft.
This card is strong. Often you’re playing a 2-mana 2/3 flyer. Don’t be deceived though—you aren’t playing a turn-2 flyer for 2 mana very often. I’ve found, interestingly, that when I am able to do that, it’s in a Merfolk deck. Merfolk has Kumena’s Speaker and Jungle Delver to play on turn 1, while Pirate decks typically only have Siren Stormtamer. In any case, sometimes you’ll be able to play the Aerialist and another 2-drop on turn 4 to really keep the pressure on. I’ve found Aerialist to be a good card even in Merfolk decks, so I wouldn’t necessarily prioritize Pirates if I first picked it.
Honorable Mention: Siren Lookout.
Probably the best blue common, though still not particularly exciting to start a Draft with. It will happen some of the time. Like a lot of the explore cards, the power will fluctuate depending on whether or not you hit what you need off of the explore.
Best common, good in any white deck, and best in red/white Dinosaurs. I’m sure we’ve all played against Territorial Hammerskull enough now to know how annoying it is. I’ve said it before, but it’s another card that pairs well with combat tricks as your opponent will be more or less forced to block to prevent the Hammerskull from tapping their creatures on future turns.
Honorable Mention: Contract Killing.
This is a pretty close pick. Raging Swordtooth is probably a better card than Contract Killing, but starting with a gold card is rough. It’s particularly rough in Ixalan where the playables tend to dry up pretty quickly. Contract Killing allows you to be a bit more open, and is the type of card that goes into any black deck so it doesn’t set you into a tribe right away.
Thanks again for reading! How’s everyone enjoying Ixalan so far? What did you think of my picks this time around? Let me know in the comments.