Pro Tour Oath of the Gatewatch is coming up in Atlanta, Georgia. The Constructed format is Modern this time around, and the Limited format is OGW/OGW/BFZ booster draft. I’m looking forward to getting to Atlanta soon and working on those formats with my Pantheon teammates. For now, let’s get to the packs:
Linvala, the Preserver.
This card is just outrageous. A six mana 5/5 flyer is pretty good, and it has two tremendous upsides. This card is almost like a flying Thragtusk under optimal circumstances, and when you draw Linvala, you can engineer the game state in such a way to give you the maximum benefit. If you think about the greatest effect Linvala can provide, you’re paying 6 mana for a 5/5 flyer, a 3/3 flyer, and 5 life. That is simply an absurd rate, and I can’t imagine ever passing this card.
Honorable Mention: Reflector Mage.
As I was watching preview season, this was the card that most jumped out to me as a Limited bomb at common or uncommon. Man-O’-War-type cards have always been very good in Limited, and this could be the best one ever printed. Your opponent not being able to cast the bounced creature for a turn is simply amazing. This card could prove to be one of the best non-rares, and is a very good first pick out of most packs.
Isolation Zone is basically just a slightly more expensive and slightly worse Oblivion Ring in Limited. That being said, it still exiles any creature, including giant Eldrazi. If you’re pairing white with a color that has Processors, you can also process the exiled card in order to prevent your opponent from finding a way to remove your Isolation Zone and return their creature.
Honorable Mention: Hedron Crawler.
A 2-mana accelerator that can go into any deck is really powerful. Although normally tapping for a colorless mana doesn’t provide any mana fixing, in this format, quite the opposite is true. Plenty of cards cost colorless to cast and have activated abilities requiring colorless mana. Hedron Crawler is good in any deck, but if it allows you to better cast or use the cards you already have, it will be that much better.
I’d be happy to take a 2-mana instant removal spell here, the only issue being, of course, that you need to actually draft ways to cast it. It’s early in the draft, first pick overall, so I’d be happy to take it out of this pack, and prioritize other powerful cards that require colorless mana and move into a colorless deck. Even if you aren’t able to build a full-fledged colorless deck, you should still look to put Spatial Contortion into most decks if you can cast it.
Honorable Mention: Cultivator Drone.
I actually found the honorable mention in this pack to be particularly difficult. I could see Flayer Drone, Prophet of Distortion, or maybe even Captain’s Claws or Maw of Kozilek being the pick here.
For now, I’d take Cultivator Drone. It accelerates to 5 mana on turn 4, albeit only to cast colorless spells. You can cast any devoid spell, any generic colorless spell, and most importantly it allows you to “fix” your mana and cast a card like Spatial Contortion or activate an ability requiring colorless.
Sifter of Skulls.
While this card is in play, your opponent is going to have difficulty with trading in combat. Leaving you with a Scion every time one of your creatures dies is a very real cost. Extra 1/1s to attack, block, or even cast expensive spells ahead of curve will prove to be very useful. Also, a 4/3 for 4 is a fine rate on its own.
Honorable Mention: Oblivion Strike.
Oblivion Strike looks to be one of the better removal spells in the set. It’s probably better than Grasp of Darkness, which is also in the pack, due to its ability to deal with plenty of large bomb creatures that Grasp of Darkness can’t on its own.
This card looks great. A 3-mana 3/3 with a terrific special ability. The activated ability actually poses a defensive and offensive threat. With 3 mana untapped, your opponent won’t be able to target any of your other creatures with removal, although they’d probably want to remove Eldrazi Displacer first anyway. You can use the ability to exile your opponent’s creatures also, since they return to play tapped. This means that you can attack through the tapped creature, or simply prevent a giant monster from attacking you. If you are very fortunate, you might even be able to pair Eldrazi Displacer with a card that has an enters-the-battlefield ability such as Reflector Mage, or an Ally, while controlling one of the many Allies that trigger when an Ally enters the battlefield.
Honorable Mention: Hedron Crawler.
A colorless mana accelerator that can go into any deck and fixes your mana in order to cast spells or use abilities requiring colorless mana. Maybe not the greatest first pick, but a very good card.
Thanks for reading this edition of What’s the Pick! As usual, please let me know what you think of my decisions in the comments.