Hi, everyone! It’s finally time for some What’s the Pick? Pack 1 Pick 1 with Ixalan. I was busy preparing for and playing Worlds, as well as Nationals. I’ve done a lot of Ixalan drafting, though I still have a decent amount of the format left to explore. The Pro Tour is only a few weeks away, so I’ll definitely be continuing to draft quite a bit as I write this series.
Fathom Fleet Captain is a great card. It allows you to draft either B/R or B/U Pirates and will be a premium 2-drop in both decks. Even if you end up forced out of Pirates and play a non-Pirate black deck, a 2/1 menace for 2 mana is a fine quality 2-drop, and if you have an incidental Pirate or two, it has tremendous upside. I would take Fathom Fleet Captain here easily, and look to draft a Pirate tribal deck.
Honorable Mention: Shapers of Nature.
Unlike Fathom Fleet Captain, Shapers of Nature forces you into a specific 2-color deck right away: Blue-Green Merfolk. It’s not an ideal way to start a Draft, as you’ll more often be forced to abandon your first pick, but the upside is very high. If Blue-Green Merfolk is open and you’re able to get it, Shapers of Nature will be one of the best cards in your deck.
Ixalan’s Binding is an all-purpose removal spell. It’s one of the premium white uncommons, and goes into any white deck, regardless of theme. It may seem like in Limited the secondary effect of Ixalan’s Binding won’t come up that much, but when you’re only drafting one set, it matters more often than you’d think. Without that clause, Ixalan’s Binding would still be a great card, but that just makes it that much sweeter.
Honorable Mention: Firecannon Blast.
I wouldn’t be thrilled to first-pick Firecannon Blast, but it is a premium removal spell. It’s cheap and efficient, and while it won’t single-handedly win you a lot of games, it will prevent you from losing some. I’d basically play any number in any red deck, and despite hoping for better, it’s still one of the best commons.
I think this is a pretty close pick out of a weak pack. Basically, the only considerations are Deathless Ancient and Fiery Cannonade. The Cannonade will be great sometimes, and other times won’t do very much. Deathless Ancient is a reasonable top-end finisher in any black deck, although a bit better if you’re able to get a bunch of Vampires in order to return it to your hand in the event it dies to a removal spell. Not a very exciting first pick to a Draft, but I’ll have to make due.
Honorable Mention: Fiery Cannonade.
Fiery Cannonade is a pretty polar card. In some decks it’s great, and against some decks it’s great. On the flip side, of course, you’ll have red decks where you don’t really want Fiery Cannonade and against some decks it will do little to nothing. If I first-pick Fiery Cannonade, I try my best to play Pirates— either B/R or U/R.
Mavren is a great card. With a good Vampire 2-drop such as Bishop’s Soldier, Queen’s Bay Soldier, or Skyblade of the Legion, you can begin making 1/1 lifelink tokens as early as the third turn. Mavren triggers off itself, so even if it’s your first play, you might be able to back it up with something like Vampire’s Zeal to prevent trading for a 2/2 and keep the token train rolling. Mavren is a good enough card to play in decks with a few incidental Vampires, but I would basically consider it a W/B gold card, and try hard to end up with a heavy-Vampire deck.
Honorable Mention: Contract Killing.
Savage Stomp is a better card than Contract Killing, but I really don’t like green Dinosaur decks very much. The best green deck in the format is U/G Merfolk, if you can get it, but starting with a Savage Stomp isn’t where I want to be. I basically like all the black decks, so I’d rather start off a Draft with Contract Killing.
One of the best black uncommons, Walk the Plank is a 2-mana removal spell—except of course against those pesky Merfolk. I have to admit—I’ve had Walk the Plank before and had to sideboard it out, which is not ideal for a first pick. That said, sometimes Walk the Plank is just the best card in your deck against a big Dinosaur deck. I’d be relatively happy to first-pick it, and I’d maindeck virtually any number in any black deck.
Honorable Mention: Adanto Vanguard.
Adanto Vanguard is a good, aggressive 2-drop. In fact, the Vanguard is good enough that even if you don’t end up in a Vampire deck, you’ll generally be pretty happy to put it in your deck. Attacking for 3 and gaining indestructible makes the Vanguard nearly impossible to block. It’s just an all-around great card. One major weakness I’ve found for it is against Vampire Token decks. Sometimes you don’t want to be paying 4 life per turn to pick off a 1/1 token.
What did you think about the picks this time around? Let me know in the comments!