For this “What’s the Pick,” let’s try something a little different. The early picks in a Draft are by far the hardest and most interesting, but that’s not limited to pick 1. I frequently get asked about pack 1 pick 2, so I’m trying out a way to include those with the pack 1 pick 1s. For my first pack, I’ll do my pack 1 pick 1 like normal. For my second pack, I’ll do a pack 1 pick 1, followed by a pack 1 pick 2, using my pick from the first pack. I’ll do this again with the third pack but using my first pick from the second pack. I’ll continue that pattern through my 5th pack. What this means is I’ll write five pack 1, pick 1s and four pack 1 pick 2s. Normally I don’t use many packs with broken rares, but I’m going to use them when they randomly come up here, because exactly how much they push you to stay on color is one of the most interesting factors when making pick 2s.
This card is good but let me just be clear: this is no Vampire Nighthawk. Deathtouch allowed Nighthawk to trade up with giant monsters when you drew it in the late game or were behind. The 3rd toughness pushed it past many 2-power flyers and made it a better blocker the turn you played it. That said, Sadistic Skymarcher is still a good card because a 3-mana 2/2 flying lifelink is tough to race. This card is a reasonable first pick but not one I’d be overly excited about. It’s a pretty clear pick out of this pack where the second-best card is Hunt the Weak.
I’m a huge fan of this Forerunner because Vampires tends to be a grindy, aggressive deck full of 1/1 lifelink tokens and creatures that are just barely too small to attack sometimes. With Anointed Deacon at common you will often have exactly 1 copy in your Vampire decks, (now that you only have 1 pack of Ixalan) and with it costing 5 and being very powerful, it’s the perfect card to be tutoring up. Unless of course, you were lucky enough to open a Champion of Dusk.
Pick 2 (with Forerunner of the Legion gone and having first-picked Sadistic Skymarcher): Sanguine Glorifier
This card and Sadistic Skymarcher go together like peanut butter and jelly. Swift Warden is a better first pick than Sanguine Glorifier, but it doesn’t go with Sadistic Skymarcher well at all, and it’s only a little bit better of a card, so this is a pretty clear pick for me. Vampires pretty much never goes big, so Glorifier is a strong card for almost every Vampire deck. And since a lot of the Vampires are cheap, getting too many 4-drops is rarely a problem, and pumping small flying or lifelink (or in the case of Skymarcher both) creatures is very useful.
This is a good pack and an interesting pick. I think Angrath is good, but not great. It can kill a small creature, but then it has almost no loyalty left. It doesn’t make creatures or kill big creatures, so there will be some games where it’s not an effective enough card to be worth 5 mana.
The gold cards are both better than Bombard in their respective archetypes, but not enough better to justify taking them over a card that is one color. Even if you move out of red, you can easily manage to pick up cards to splash Bombard, and it’s a solid card win any deck. While not flashy, bombard is efficient removal at instant speed that frequently trades up a mana or two.
Pick 2 (with Bombard gone and having first-picked Forerunner of the Legion): Legion Lieutenant
This is a pretty clear pick. The Vampire and Merfolk lords are exceptional. As I have already talked about, those tribes produce decks full of little creatures and pumping them all is broken. The only interesting question is if these lords were enchantments so that they couldn’t be targeted by removal, would they be better or worse? At this point, draft this card and don’t think twice about passing the planeswalker.
This card has grown and grown and grown and grown on me. This format is a lot slower than Ixalan. Sometimes the draw ability gives you the three cards you need to be able to save this card from the opponent’s removal spell. That’s often the difference between winning the game with your 7-drop or losing after you cast it. This isn’t a top 10 rare in the set or anything. I would take Chupacabra over it. But I do consider it a broken rare that I’m happy to first pick.
Pick 2 (with Nezahal gone and having first-picked a Bombard): Impale
I think B/R is a little worse in this format than it was in Ixalan. Two fewer packs of Pirate’s Cutlass is going to hurt any aggressive Pirate deck. It’s still a fine deck though, and Impale and Bombard are the kind of quality removal that clears big blockers and allows an aggressive deck to succeed. Impale is also just the best card in the pack and we are definitely not that attached to playing red for Bombard that we would consider taking Buccaneer’s Bravado over Impale.
My opinion of Impale hasn’t changed. In a previous article, I took it over Moment of Craving and a lot of people disagreed with that. I think taking Moment of Craving over Impale is a mistake. I don’t think you need your cards to be that cheap in this format and the 2 life just isn’t worth what it would be worth in formats like Ixalan where blocking is harder. People are still enchanting their creatures, and there are lots of broken rares and giant Dinosaurs that need a big removal spell that doesn’t care if a creature has too much toughness.
Pick 2 (with Impale gone and having first-picked Nezahal): Sailor of Means
Sailor of Means is much better in this format than it was in Ixalan. There are three factors that all substantially raised its value. Blocking has become a more effective strategy, the cards that cost 5+ mana are better now so using Treasures to ramp is more valuable, and finally (probably the biggest reason) is it gives you two permanents that stick around for the city’s blessing. All of that said, Skymarch Aspirant is the second-best card in the pack. Aspirant and Sailor are close enough that after first-picking a 7-mana blue broken rare, I would second-pick Sailor over the Aspirant.
This felt fun, interesting, and very different from the standard “What’s the Pick” articles. Did you find the pack 1, pick 2s helpful? Do you prefer the honorable mentions? How I write the “What’s the Pick” articles going forward will depend on the feedback I get from you, so let me know in the comments below. I’ll write these however you want me to, since I’m already ecstatic just to be writing about the indisputable best Magic format. Because even if people disagree with individual picks, Draft’s superiority is not in question!