An aggressive creature in a good tribe is exactly how you want to start your Draft in Ixalan—particularly when it’s mono-colored. On stats alone, Imperial Aerosaur is significantly above par for 4 mana. On top of that, the ability can be worth a handful of extra damage when you’re curving out, or can act as reach in a stalled game where your opponent has stabilized at a low life total. Aerosaur is at its best in W/R Aggro, but also fits in W/G Dinosaurs and is even good enough to comfortably make the cut in W/B Vampire tribal.
Honorable Mention: Tishana, Voice of Thunder
It’s rare that I can resist the allure of something like Tishana, Voice of Thunder. Even in formats where it’s good to be fast and aggressive (Ixalan is one of these), bomb rares on this level are capable of breaking the mold. Having such a unique and powerful card can allow you to succeed with archetypes that other players wouldn’t be interested in. That said, Tishana does shoehorn you into a slow U/G deck while Aerosaur leaves you open to a healthy number of Ixalan’s best archetypes. I’d take Tishana over most commons, but not over a premium uncommon like Imperial Aerosaur.
I can always dream about opening a planeswalker or a Burning Sun’s Avatar, but realistically, Lightning Strike is exactly how I want to start my Drafts. It’s perhaps the most efficient removal spell in the format, and a card that’s going to be excellent in any deck you build.
Honorable Mention: Deathgorge Scavenger
Deathgorge Scavenger isn’t a bomb rare, but it’s absolutely a premium creature. You can often count on gaining 2 life when you cast it, and getting bonus life swings any time it attacks. As a cherry on top, it has a good creature type and chomping up your opponent’s graveyard can be helpful in some corner-case situations. I’d take the Scavenger over any common.
Ixalan is so aggressive that I get excited about something as simple as a Queen’s Bay Soldier. Adanto Vanguard hits harder than other 2-drops, and your opponent can’t trade or point removal spells at it (at least not early in the game). It’s at its best in W/B Vampires, but is strong enough absent tribal synergies to be a great addition to W/R Dinosaurs too. It also happens to be an ideal target for Mark of the Vampire.
Honorable Mention: Marauding Looter
The power level of Marauding Looter is through the roof. The two things holding it back as a first pick are that it’s a gold card, and that it’s a little expensive for a non-evasive creature. Personally, I’m not certain that I’d pick Looter over Watertrap Weaver and Tilonalli’s Knight, but I would never take those cards over Adanto Vanguard. If you could convince me that U/R Pirates was the best archetype, however, I might get on board with taking the gold card.
Jace isn’t quite equal to Vraska or Huatli on power level, but it can give you free wins when he goes unanswered, or gives you an advantage in a stalled game. I would start with Jace, and put an even larger-than-normal premium on 2-drop creatures.
Honorable Mention: Storm Fleet Aerialist
Storm Fleet Aerialist is an evasive 2-drop that really packs a punch. It happens to be exactly what you want in a Pirate deck because it helps you trigger raid each turn, and is probably the best body for Pirate’s Cutlass in the format.
4 mana for a 3/3 flying is great, and flash is roughly a wash with being unable to block. Even without its triggered ability, Dreamcaller Siren would be a very good card. When you actually get to tap down your opponent’s creatures (whether they happen to be attackers or blockers) you have an incredible card that guarantees you’ll win the race if the game is even remotely close. Note that Siren’s Ruse goes up in value once you’ve picked Dreamcaller.
Honorable Mention: Otepec Huntmaster
I’m not the biggest fan of R/G Dinosaurs, but Otepec Huntmaster is one of the cards that does make me want to go into that archetype. The games where I’ve felt the most hopeless and utterly outclassed in Ixalan Limited have all started with a Dinosaur player having Otepec Huntmaster or Drover of the Mighty on turn 2. The Huntmaster lets you attack with your giant Dinosaurs two turns ahead of schedule, which is simply awesome.