Welcome to the second pick 1 pack 1 article for Ravnica Allegiance Draft. Many of you seemed to agree with my picks in the first installment of this series. The most controversial was the pack with Enforcer, Ministrant, and Tome. I still feel confident that Enforcer is the best of those three cards. It’s a useful, efficient 2-drop. I’d have no problem with someone taking Ministrant over Tome though. Tome can be a game-winning effect, but it’s also slow. I’m not sure my evaluation of that card is completely accurate, but I am sure that Enforcer is better than Ministrant. Other than that, my perception of the format remains the same as I head into this article. All 5 guilds are draftable. Green and Azorius play a tempo game, Rakdos is straight aggro, and Orzhov and Gates control decks play grindy, late-game-oriented styles.
The Gates deck is very real. I would never start out drafting Gates, but if you can start with one of the best uncommons for it in this damage-based, adjustable sweeper then I am all for it. This “wrath” is basically perfect for the deck as you are looking to play high-toughness, low-power creatures and Gatebreaker Ram will always live through it. Don’t decide before the Draft that you are going to go Gates, but feel free to go into 4-5c Gate Control if you can start out with Gates Ablaze or Gatebreaker Ram. Both of those cards are excellent.
Honorable Mention: Grasping Thrull
Even though I don’t love starting out with gold cards, this one is super splashable. The drain + flyer is perfect for an Azorius deck looking to race or as a finisher for an aggressive Rakdos deck. Orzhov itself is a very good guild that is looking to play grindy games. A 5-mana 3/3 flyer isn’t playable on its own, but throw a 4-point life swing on the card and you have a strong common.
The planeswalkers that are truly broken usually make or kill creatures efficiently. This one doesn’t do that, but it does give +1/+1 to every creature you play and that’s adding resources to the board. It also has a lot of loyalty and the ultimate will win any game. It’s a good first pick but not a top 5 rare in the set.
Honorable Mention: Sauroform Hybrid
Good in any green deck or the green Gates decks, this card has quickly become one of my favorites in the set. My number 1 rule for judging early creatures is how easily/often they become blanked. Good luck blanking a 6/6. This card will be useful in every game and it fits nicely into any style deck. I would take Sunder Shaman over it once I’m in Gruul, but not pick 1 pack 1.
While I prefer not to first pick a card that can only go in one guild with my first pick, this card is much better than anything else in the pack. A 4-power flyer for 4 mana is incredible in Draft and now you must pay a ton of mana for most of the removal that kills it. Azorius/Orzhov are the best guilds, so I don’t mind drafting a U/W gold card that’s this good first pick, but don’t force U/W if you do first pick it. Look for U/W, and if it’s not there, then not playing your 1st pick isn’t the end of the world. If it is there, you have a great card for a great deck.
Honorable Mention: Lawmage’s Binding
This card is nowhere near as good as the Sphinx once you’re U/W, but it’s close with it P1p1. It’s not hard at all to do light splashes in a format with Gates at common, so you can easily toss this into an Orzhov or Simic deck if you pick up a couple of on-color Gates. The best mono-color card is Ministrant of Obligation and I think that and Binding are close, but Ministrant isn’t a great splash, so this card might actually be able to go into more decks than Ministrant, despite being more colors.
I love this card, especially if you start with it, so you can spend the Draft prioritizing everything that helps it connect. That’s Gates, but also bounce/removal. Gateway Sneak can make the opponent’s life very tough. Leave back blockers? I play a Gate, and you miss damage. Attack and leave back the creature you play that turn? Okay, bounce or kill it, hit you, draw a card, and save my Gates for later. If you draw two cards a turn from turn 3 you are a massive favorite to win and this card is very good at doing that.
Honorable Mention: Thrash // Threat
Like I said before, I don’t think of super splashable removal as a gold card the same way I do a 2-drop. This card will be effective at any stage in the game. This means that you can play it in decks with only 3-4 sources for one of its colors and still expect a decent performance out of it. This and Get the Point are great splashable late-game removal spells that are effective in any kind of deck and cards I’m happy to start with.
This card is very flexible. It’s really important to remember that the front half of this card isn’t red and green. It’s red or green. You don’t need access to the back half for this to be a good card. Since that’s the case this becomes a good card in any red or green deck and it won’t mess up your mana. If you draft a Rakdos deck and get one Gruul Guildgate, you don’t have to put any Forests in your 2-color aggro deck. Just play the one tapland. If you draw it and want to make a 4/4, then cool. If not, you can use it as a good removal spell.
Honorable Mention: Dovin’s Acuity
For anyone who hasn’t seen Deathsie on Twitch or Ultimate Guard’s performance in the Draft portion of MC Cleveland, I will tell you now: Clear the Mind is real. It’s a one-card engine for any Esper colored control deck. If you start with it early then you can prioritize instant removal, bounce, and card drawing for the rest of the Draft. This card will basically single-handedly win you the game. Gaining life while drawing extra cards makes it very hard for the opponent to kill you. Just make sure you have a plan to close. That can be Clear the Mind or great finishers like two Gateway Colossus, but you will run through your deck and that should result in wins a lot of the time.
I’ve been enjoying this Limited format. All 5 guilds are draftable, as are Gates decks, Clear the Mind decks, and 3-color combination decks. There is a nice balance of pressure and answers, and a great tension between good, easy-to-play gold cards, powerful Gates-matter cards, and drafting Gates to fix your mana and power your deck. I would never force or avoid anything in this format but in my opinion the best deck to draft is Grindy Orzhov, so that is going to be the first archetype guide I write for my next article here on CFB.
I hope everyone is enjoying the Draft format as much as I am, and if you want to draft with me, check out my stream on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday nights from 5-10 p.m. EST.