Hi again, everyone! Welcome to another Pack One Pick One with Battle for Zendikar. This is going to be the last installment of Pack 1 Pick 1. After this, I’ll move on to Pack 1 Pick 2. Let’s see this week’s packs:
Clutch of Currents.
Clutch of Currents is the best common in Battle for Zendikar, so it’s no surprise that that’s the pick here. Guul Draz Overseer is a big flying rare, but the card has rarely performed well for me. Its landfall ability doesn’t come into play very often, espcially since black doesn’t have a lot of good ways to produce Eldrazi Scions. It’s quite possible that it would be better in a black/green deck, but as I’ve said before, green is so bad that I’d certainly never take a card that would shine in any green archetype. More often than not, Guul Draz Overseer is simply an underpowered Wave-Wing Elemental, and not worthy of a first pick. In fact, I think it’s worse than many of the black commons.
Akoum Firebird is pretty much a bomb rare. Admittedly, it’s not quite as good as it would be in many other sets, because so many of the cards are able to exile it. At common, there are cards like Touch of the Void, Complete Disregard, and Spell Shrivel, at uncommon you have cards like Stasis Snare and Grip of Desolation. While your opponent won’t always have a good answer the Phoenix, it will be unfortunate when they do. But the fact that it has haste lets you get 3 damage in—and when your opponent doesn’t have a way to exile it, it will end the game very quickly.
If Akoum Firebird were replaced with a basic land:
Eldrazi Skyspawner is another blue common that is among the best commons in the set, and I’d be happy to take it out of plenty of packs. It actually fits well into several good archetypes, the best probably being UR devoid. However, it’s also great in UB devoid, and UW fliers, and I’d be happy to play any of those decks.
Grip of Desolation.
The contenders for “best uncommon in the set” are Grip of Desolation, Rolling Thunder, and Stasis Snare. This pack does have a Barrage Tyrant at rare, and while it is a great card, it hasn’t performed as well as it looks like it would. It dies to most of the common removal and the inability to sacrifice itself has proven to be a big drawback.
Grip of Desolation, on the other hand, has overperformed. Exiling a land and a creature is huge in this format—exile an awakened land and also set your opponent back a turn from casting a big-mana creature, of which there are many. Exiling two cards is also excellent, powering Processors like Ulamog’s Nullifier, Blight Herder, or 2 copies of say Murk Strider or Mind Raker.
The best card in this pack is Woodland Wanderer, but as I’ve discussed before, Woodland Wanderer has two big problems: the first problem is that it’s green. The second problem is that in addition to being green, to really unlock maximum power from the card, you have to produce more than two colors of mana. Sometimes this isn’t so bad if you get some cards like Lifespring Druid or Sylvan Scrying, but that’s hard to rely on. These two things together would lead me to just take the Stonefury. Stonefury is a 5-mana removal spell, and you can even kill 7- or 8-casting-cost creatures later in the game when you have plenty of lands in play.
Emeria Shepherd is a real bomb. If your opponent doesn’t remove it or kill you within a turn or two, you can expect to always win the game. Even when you’re triggering the ability with non-Plains lands, returning a permanent to your hand is almost as powerful as putting something directly into play, effectively just drawing a good, nonland card every turn. When you’re playing a Plains, the effect is ridiculous. Emeria Shepherd combines particularly well with Hedron Archive, letting you play the Shepherd sooner and draw two extra cards every turn to continually ensure that you have a land to play.
If Emeria Shepherd were replaced with a basic land:
Complete Disregard is among the top commons, and it’s a card that I’d expect to first pick out of plenty of packs without a great uncommon or rare. Brood Monitor might be a better card, but again, I’d rule it out because it’s green.
Thanks, as always, for reading. What did you all think about my picks this week? Is there anything you feel I missed or that you disagreed with? Let me know in the comments. I’m looking forward to Pack 1 Pick 2, coming soon, and I hope you are as well. See you then!