Hi everyone! I’m home from the Pro Tour and it’s time for some more Pack 1 Pick 1 articles. I’ll do a few more of these and then I’ll move on to Pack 1 Pick 2. I’ve had a lot more practice with the set since my previous Battle for Zendikar picks, which were based solely on instinct and reading the spoiler. The biggest takeaway from my PT testing was how weak the color green is. I ended up playing it at the Pro Tour, despite my best efforts to avoid it, but really I think green should be avoided at all costs. Let’s get to the packs:
I don’t love taking gold cards first pick first pack, but I do love Drana’s Emissary. It’s one of the best cards in the WB Allies archetype, and helps a life gain theme. Also, this format tends to reward taking cards that are great in narrow archetypes, because many of the best decks and strategies are so linear, the reward is higher than normal. Also, Drana’s Emissary is easily the most powerful card in the pack, and it isn’t particularly close. I’d be happy with Drana’s Emissary out of this pack, and as I said, I’d be looking to draft white/black Allies and hopefully get some cards like Serene Steward and Kalastria Healer.
Woodland Wanderer is the best card, but I try to avoid green as much as possible, and also it incentives you to play a more-than-2-color deck, which I have found to be particularly poor in this format. The payoff usually isn’t that high, so combining a green base with playing several colors makes me want to stay away from Woodland Wanderer even more. Outnumber is a great card on its own and fits into any deck. Having a 1-mana trick is awesome in this format, and in Magic in general, although it has the obvious downside of sometimes not doing very much if you have no creatures in play.
This card is sort of like a Phyrexian Gargantua. I admit it’s not a linear comparison, but it’s close. This card has performed well for me, and in a format without a lot of card draw, I think its value is even greater. A 4-mana Divination is not bad in a pinch, either. Blue is one of the best colors in Battle for Zendikar Limited, and I’m happy to start with a very powerful blue card.
Red/colorless based decks tend to be among the most powerful decks in the format, and Vile Aggregate is one of the best cards in the archetype. 5 toughness makes it very difficult to remove from play, particularly in the early game. Aggregate attacks quickly for a lot of damage while triggering ingest, and potentially turning on any Processors you were able to draft. Exert Influence might be a better card in a vacuum, but it doesn’t really shine in a simple 2-color deck, although it’s still very good. Blue and red are the two best colors in the format, so color preference doesn’t play a huge role here.
Deathless Behemoth is much better than it looks. One problem that some of the big creatures have in this format is that they can be chump-blocked by Scions and that opens the door for your opponent to attack. The vigilance on Deathless Behemoth is relevant, and occasionally you can return him to your hand by sacrificing a couple of Eldrazi Scions. Brood Butcher is a card that has performed worse for me than I thought it would. First of all, it’s green, so I wouldn’t consider taking it, but even beyond that, it’s just not a great card, and I’d easily take Deathless Behemoth from this pack.
This might be the first article I’ve written where I didn’t first pick a single rare. I guess we got a little unlucky! What did you think about the picks in this edition? Let me know in the comments. Do you like the format so far? Why or why not?