Since the War of the Spark prerelease coincides with a Grand Prix and a Mythic Championship, I decided to put out my Pick 1 Pack 1 list even earlier! The goal of this article is to rank all cards in the set from high to low for the purpose of the first-pick first-pack decision in Draft. The ranking is also relevant as a rough guideline for the subsequent picks.
Methodology and Data Sources
To construct an aggregate ranking, I took the weighed average of the following normalized grades:
- My own initial grades. Usually, I would use the grades from LSV’s set reviews. But since I wanted to submit this pick order list super early, LSV’s set review wasn’t available yet. So I gave a Limited grade between 0 and 5 to every card myself. These ratings are informed by a day of drafting, as I printed a “cube” to help out the local qualified players. I used my own grades for a weight of 55%.
- The Draftaholics Anonymous rankings, collected on Tuesday April 23rd. Their scores for cards are derived from users who are presented with choices between two cards in a Pick 1 Pack 1 context. I scaled the ratings so that the card with the highest score became a 5.0 and the card with the lowest score became a 0.0. I used their rankings for a weight of 15%.
- The LR Community review rankings, also collected on Tuesday April 23rd. These rankings are based on a project by cricketHunter where hundreds of users submit Limited grades for every card in the new set. I scaled the grades so that the card with highest grade became a 5.0. Thanks to cricketHunter for providing me with the raw data! I used their rankings for a weight of 15%.
- The average pick numbers of each card within a booster on draftsim.com. Draftsim is an online Draft simulator and practice tool where you can draft against computer opponents, and the data is based on over 73,000 War of the Spark Drafts done by users since the set was live. I transformed the average pick numbers so that the card with the lowest average pick number within a booster got a grade of 5.0 and the card with the highest average pick number within a booster got a grade of 0.0. Thanks to Dan Troha for providing me with the data! I used their rankings for a weight of 15%.
After taking the average of the four grades, I made some adjustments for multicolor cards and colorless cards to get closer to a proper first-pick first-pack order. After all, first-picking a gold card reduces your flexibility because it only goes into one color combination, whereas an artifact card keeps your options open. I subtracted 0.2 points for any gold card and added 0.1 point for any hybrid or colorless card.
The end result was a number for every card in War of the Spark—an aggregate of the above four sources that captures people’s first impressions. My raw data in spreadsheet form can also function as a searchable text list. After I got a number for every card, all I had to do was to press sort, and the aggregate pick order list arose.
Tier 1: Bomb Rares/Mythics
Cards from this tier got a final adjusted rating between 4.1 and 5.0. If you prefer letter grades, then I would peg most of them as A-, A, or A+.
These are the best cards in the set according to this aggregate list, and I would first-pick them over any common or uncommon.
The cards are in order. Although this generally doesn’t matter for rares because packs don’t tend to have multiples, God-Eternal Oketra is pegged as the best card in the set, whereas Storrev, Devkarin Lich is on par with the best uncommon.
Tier 2: Includes the Best Uncommons
Cards from this tier got an aggregate grade between 4.1 and 3.8. That’s approximately B+.
Remember that this is all one continuous list, to be read left-to-right, top-to-bottom, and that the cutoff for my category grouping is completely arbitrary. The way to read it is that Prison Realm should be first-picked over Feather, the Redeemed or Vivien, Champion of the Wilds, which should in turn be first-picked over Angrath, Captain of Chaos if they’re all in the same booster together. Arlinn, Voice of the Pack is on par with the best card from the next tier.
Tier 3: Includes the Top 5 Commons
Cards from this tier got an aggregate grade between 3.8 and 3.1. That’s approximately B or B-.
Tier 4: Great Playables
Cards from this tier got an aggregate grade between a 3.1 and 2.6. That’s approximately C+.
Tier 5: Good Playables
Cards from this tier got an aggregate grade between 2.6 and 1.9. That’s approximately C or C-.
Tier 6: Mediocre Playables
Cards from this tier got an aggregate grade between 1.9 and 1.6. That’s approximately D+.
Tier 8: Mediocre Filler
Cards from this tier got an aggregate grade between 1.6 and a 0.9. That’s approximately D.
Tier 9: Bad Cards and Unplayables
Cards from this tier got an aggregate grade between 0.9 and a 0.0. That’s approximately D- or F.
Thanks for reading. I rushed to get this out there before the prerelease, and I hope this article prepares you for your first War of the Spark Drafts.
Although Sealed Deck is usually a little different than Draft, I expect that the power level of cards in Sealed Deck are reasonably approximated by the pick order list as well. Just keep in mind that multicolor cards are slightly stronger than this P1P1 list would suggest.
I will return in two weeks with a deeper analysis, thoughts on controversial cards and 2-color archetypes, an overview of sweet interactions, thoughts on how to build aggro decks when your opponents effectively start at more than 20 life, and additional insights based on doing more drafts. Until then, let me know which cards you feel are particularly overrated or underrated!