What’s the Pick? Rivals of Ixalan Pack 1 Pick 1 with BenS

Welcome back for another Pick 1 Pack 1. The response to the last one was very positive, so I’m going to stick with that format again for this one. Unless it becomes clear that one format is heavily preferred over the other, I’ll probably waffle back and forth. I’ll take a first pick out of a pack, and then in the next pack I’ll make a pick, and then make a second pick based on the first pick from the previous pack. For a more detailed explanation you can check out the previous installment here.

Pack #1

My Pick

Swift Warden

This pack is very weak. World Shaper is just not a good card. Milling yourself to maybe put a land into play, if you can force a trade, is not enough upside to make a 4-mana 3/3 anything more than just playable. I like Everdawn Champion, Kitesail Corsair, Legion Conquistador, and Spire Winder, but none are cards I would be happy first-picking. Kitesail Corsair would be my second choice out of this pack and is a little behind Swift Warden for me. Swift Warden isn’t a great first pick, but it does ambush a small creature from time to time, and even on very rare occasions save a Merfolk from a removal spell. But mostly it’s just a slightly-difficult-to-cast 3/3 for 3 Merfolk. That is a card I’m happy to play but not something I’m excited to be first-picking.


Pack #2

My Pick

Luminous Bonds

I have been moving in the direction of control/big creatures more and more in this format, so I really like being able to stop any size creature, but that’s not what makes this removal my favorite common in the set to first-pick. Pirates have Treasure and green has fixing, so a single-white removal spell is usually an easy splash in most nonwhite decks. That means you get to play this card almost every time you first-pick it.

Pick 2 (With Luminous Bonds gone and having first-picked Swift Warden): Thrashing Brontodon

No reason to go-off color here. Thrashing Brontodon is the best card remaining in the pack. I would take Luminous Bonds over it second pick even after first-picking Swift Warden. I don’t like Path of Mettle at all. It’s difficult to flip and its enters-the-battlefield ability is probably still best against red and white decks despite the clause. In my opinion, the third best card in this pack is Kitesail Corsair and there is no reason to take that over Brontodon when you already have a green card.


Pack #3

My Pick


There are three cards I’m happy to first-pick: Bombard, Moment of Craving, and Seafloor Oracle. Bombard is just too efficient, though. It kills virtually any creature that costs 4 or less mana and sometimes even more expensive ones. It’s an instant, so you can get the full blowout in combat or in response to an enchantment, and it’s single red and effective at any point in most games, so it’s a solid card to splash if you don’t end up red. I think this format is enough about lords, bombs, and big creatures that Impale is the best common in the set, but the commons I most want to first-pick are Luminous Bonds and Bombard because they are much easier to splash.

Pick 2 (with Bombard gone and having first picked Luminous Bonds)Moment of Craving

Moment of Craving and Seafloor Oracle are extremely close. Seafloor Oracle is at its absolute best at the top of the curve in an aggressive Merfolk deck, though. I still like it in other aggressive Pirate and U/W Flyers decks, but it offers those decks less than Moment offers a B/W Vampires deck. Since I have the two cards around tied in power level, starting with a Luminous Bonds is enough to steer me away from Oracle, and toward Craving pick 2. Craving is a little worse than people would expect because this is a low-pressure format, so sometimes people can play around it and the 2 life often doesn’t mean a lot. It’s still efficient removal that usually trades even on mana and gives you 2 life. Sometimes that won’t provide a significant advantage, but once in a while that will kill a lord and win you a game.


Pack #4

My Pick

Tendershoot Dryad

This card is completely and totally broken. The city’s blessing is easy to get under normal conditions, so when you are making a 1/1 every upkeep it’s a given. Even if they have the removal for it on their turn you still net a 1/1. A 1/1 isn’t a big deal, but that’s what happens when they can kill it. When they can’t, you win the game. I really wish this card had been 3GG instead of 4G. It’s so easy to splash that you will get to play this card 100 percent of the time that you first-pick it. That makes it a clear first pick over even the mythic uncommon of the set, Ravenous Chupacabra.

Pick 2 (with Tendershoot Dryad gone and having first-picked Bombard)Swift Warden

Not a great second pick, but I think G/R is a perfectly reasonable draft deck in this format. I like that you can draft it as an aggressive deck with a small Dinosaur subtheme or a big green Dinosaur deck that prioritizes Knight of the Stampede and red removal. Green is one of the easier colors to allow you to splash your Bombard should you end up unable to draft red. In a strange quirk of this format, it’s probably second to blue, since blue is so good at making Treasures, but that’s not a relevant enough difference to make me take Corsair, which would be my next choice out of this pack.


Pack #5

My Pick

Deeproot Elite

I have come around a little more to the idea of first-picking the narrow power cards and just dropping them if I don’t see that deck. Not too many cards can really win games for 2 mana. This card in an all-Merfolk deck is incredible. The only drawback is that it’s not a good topdeck in the mid-late game. That matters less for Merfolk than it does for slower decks because Merfolk is a highly aggressive deck. That means plan A is to end games quickly and you don’t worry as much about how a card performs in the late game. If you play this on turn 2 and have a heavy Merfolk deck, it is very hard to lose.

Pick 2 (with Deeproot Elite gone and having first-picked Tendershoot Dryad)Hunt the Weak

I would normally take both Luminous Bonds and Moment of Craving over Hunt the Weak, but starting with a Tendershoot Dryad doesn’t make this normal circumstances. Tendershoot is the kind of broken rare that you want to try and stay on color for. The one caveat is that it is only a single green to splash, so you can still play it in any blue Treasure deck or even if you just pick up an Evolving Wilds or Traveler’s Amulet to help splash it. That means you don’t have to go miles out of your way to stay green, but while Bonds is substantially better than Hunt, it is not by enough to make me pass another green card after first-picking a true bomb rare.


If anyone found this confusing at all I highly suggest checking out the previous What’s the Pick?. I explained the format in more detail there. I hope everyone is enjoying this. I like expanding on the What’s the Pick articles and a lot of the suggestions I got last time were very useful. I personally think the second and third pick in Drafts are the most interesting. I would strongly consider trying to expand this one pick further if you are finding this fun and easy enough to follow along with. I don’t think later in the pack is as good, because by then a lot of the time there is an obvious best card for the deck you already have. Thanks again for reading and for all the great feedback on both what you would take out of these packs and ways to expand and improve the article series.


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