Hi there! It’s Siggy again, opening some boosters and making some picks. Let’s jump right in.
While I’ve come down a little on Imperial Aerosaur since I first saw it, I still think it’s one of the best uncommons in the set. A 3/3 flyer for 4 is a great rate, and it allows you to get in an extra hit with a creature that may have gotten blanked on board. When that creature is a Frenzied Raptor or a Bishop’s Soldier, that’s a 5- or 6-point life swing in addition to the 3/3 flying Dino body.
I’d never cut Imperial Aerosaur from any white deck, so I’m happy to have it to start the Draft.
Honorable Mention: Wanted Scoundrels
While Star of Extinction is tempting, it’s a 7-mana card that resets the battlefield. In most of my decks I want to be proactive, so I’d prefer to take the most proactive creature here.
Wanted Scoundrels may seem like the drawback is too big—it’s actually not that bad. In exchange for an early tempo boost, you give the opponent a later tempo boost by granting them 2 free mana. When you’re able to protect Wanted Scoundrels in the early game with equipment like Pirate’s Cutlass, and combat tricks like Skulduggery, the 2 Treasure can often be irrelevant.
Sanctum Seeker varies from being totally busted in a focused Vampire deck to a solid rate 4-drop in another black deck with only a Vampire or two to complement it.
In decks with a lot of Vampire tokens and other Vampires, there tends to be a stand-off between the opponent’s larger creatures and your tokens. Your opponent can’t attack because of the lifelink the Vampire tokens have, and you can’t swing because you’d be chump attacking. Sanctum Seeker makes sure all of these tokens will at least contribute a point of damage, and any extras getting through hit for even more. I’m comfortable slamming Sanctum Seeker and focusing on drafting a Vampire deck—the power level is that high.
Honorable Mention: Lightning Strike
I said it before, I’ll say it now, and I’ll say it again: Lightning Strike is just one of the most efficient removal spells in the format, and it’s in the most flexible color to start a Draft with. I’m first picking Lightning Strike a fairly high percentage of the time I open it.
Let’s hope that this isn’t my first pack at the Pro Tour. This pack has a pretty flat and low power level, and I wouldn’t be happy first picking anything here. That said, Fathom Fleet Firebrand has surprised me as 2-drop I thought was playable to one I actively want in my deck. Firebrand is a 2-drop that scales as the game goes long and can often trade up with a big Dinosaur later in the game when it threatens to do a ton of damage with your extra mana.
Fathom Fleet Firebrand also immediately equips a turn-3 Pirate’s Cutlass, and also doesn’t trade down for tokens. While I’m not happy to start my Draft off here, I’m going to prioritize my mana curve in such a weak pack.
Honorable Mention: Siren Stormtamer
It’s a pretty close pick between Siren Stormtamer and Fathom Fleet Firebrand here, and I wouldn’t blame you for making either selection, but the tiebreaker for me is that the floor on the Siren Stormtamer is just way too low. Too often Siren Stormtamer can neither attack nor block because of its small size.
This is the classic choice between a solid 1-color removal spell or a high power level gold card.
And Vona, Butcher of Magan’s power level is just too high to turn down here. It can clear its own path and use its activated ability to destroy a bigger blocker, and protects itself from an opponent’s combat trick. It wouldn’t be unusual in a game that you cast Vona to destroy two other permanents, and that on top of a 4/4 lifelink vigilance for 5 mana is just a busted mythic rare. I’ll be slamming Vona whenever I open it.
Honorable Mention: Walk the Plank
For me, it’s an easy Walk the Plank after Vona. A quality cheap removal spell that kills most creatures is always going to be my pick over a decent 5-drop in a format this fast.
Wow, another bomb mythic rare! I’m passing it? I’m sure this will spark some controversy, but Charging Monstrosaur is the best uncommon in the set, and this just goes to show you how powerful it is. I’ve said a few times that red is the most flexible color, making it a great place to start a Draft, yes, but I also think that Charging Monstrosaur is a better card in Ixalan Limited.
Let’s math it out. Let’s assume that you can cast Charging Monstrosaur and Carnage Tyrant on curve. On turn 5 you cast Charging Monstrosaur and attack for 5, then attack again on turn 6, the turn you’d be able to cast Carnage Tyrant, and hit for another 5. By the time Carnage Tyrant attacks for the first 7 damage, Charging Monstrosaur would have done 15. In a format that’s this fast, damage output is important, and Charging Monstrosaur just does more.
While Carnage Tyrant does have hexproof, Charging Monstrosaur dodges a fair amount of removal, as it’s tough to kill with any of the red removal, can’t be targeted by Vanquish the Weak, and is generally too big to lose a fight.
While this is incredibly close and I actually had to ponder it for a couple of minutes, I’m on team Charging Monstrosaur.
Honorable Mention: Carnage Tyrant
Carnage Tyrant is the obvious next best card in the pack, and I wouldn’t take any other uncommon over it. It’s impossible to interact with, and is almost always going to be the biggest Dino on the battlefield. As Carnage Tyrant is a sweet target for Auras like One With the Wind, it’s just a little too slow to put together that combo to match the raw power of a Charging Monstrosaur.