I’m back for my second edition of Pack 1 pick 1! I plan to do around five of these and then switch to the Pack 1 pick 2 format. I’ll also be doing more archetype guides. Last time, I got some valid comments that drafting U/R Wizards was just drafting U/R, and had little to do with Wizards. True, but also not a problem. In some formats the decks are more linear than others.

Either way, I think a series on how to draft the best color combinations is useful. The What’s the Pick? series offers valuable information on what to take over what during the first few picks of a Draft when you aren’t committed to a deck yet. That’s when you want to prioritize the individual power level of the cards with minor considerations for your first few picks. The archetype guide is the perfect complement to that, because it gives you insight into the cards to look for and how to value the cards once you have your colors established.

Putting them together covers all of Draft. My current plan is to mix them, probably around one archetype guide for every two What’s the Pick because there aren’t that many color combinations that are good and get drafted that frequently. I hope everyone’s enjoying all of the Limited content. Let me know what you think in the comments.

Pack #1

My Pick

Murder

There are three cards that I would consider for top two cards out of this pack, and Murder is the best card by a wide margin. Second and third are closer to each other than they are to Murder. This is a format where killing big, important creatures matters a lot. Being able to answer big flyers, Colossal Dreadmaw, almost any rare, or any pantsed up creature is huge. You’ll play the more situational removal also, but I have found Lich’s Caress to be a lot better than the other commons. Murder is 2 mana cheaper, and being an instant is roughly as good as “gain 3 life” on a removal spell. Murder is very good and should be first picked out of most packs.

Honorable Mention: Electrify

Electrify and Declare Dominance are close. I have found Declare Dominance will win games and its upside is way higher than Electrify’s. It’s a good card and you should draft it aggressively. That said, Electrify kills most creatures and isn’t very situational. When I first started drafting this format, I assumed that Shock would be much better than Electrify but I’m not even sure which one I’d take now. Shock is more efficient, but a lot of the small creatures scry, draw a card, or are powering up something else, and Shocking them doesn’t do a lot. Shock is still a good card. It kills the 3-mana 2/2 flyers and plenty of 2-drops for 1-mana. I would take it early and always play it, but it and Electrify are close because I have found big removal to overperform and small removal to underperform in M19.

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Pack #2

My Pick

Ajani’s Pridemate

This pack stinks, but this first pick isn’t as weak as it looks. There is a ton of life gain in this format. It’s hard to have your 2-drops stay relevant without spending another card on them, but Pridemate will grow and grow, and become a force to be reckoned with in a lot of games. It’s an excellent 2-drop for white decks. I’m not happy to be 1st picking it but I’m not sad either. With how situational a lot of the removal is, I’m not even sure that I’d take any commons except Lich’s Caress over it. Pridemate is close with the next tier of removal like Shock, Electrify, and Luminous Bonds.

Honorable Mention: Fountain of Renewal

This is a bad second pick—a much worse second pick than Pridemate is first pick. I like that it’s an artifact that you can play in any deck that is looking to play long games or needs artifact synergies but there are still aggressive decks that don’t have artifact synergies and I wouldn’t want to main deck Fountain in those decks. It’s playable but more what I consider playable than optimal for aggressive decks that aren’t doing things with artifacts. Even for the artifact and/or control decks where it’s optimal it’s still a low power card. I take tons of commons over it and if I must second pick this card out of a pack, I’m disappointed.

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Pack #3

My Pick

 Sleep

Don’t Sleep on this card (How’d I do, LSV?). A lot of heavy blue decks are control decks and Sleep can be unplayable in them, but it’s a game winning bomb out of aggressive creature decks. Even though it’s double blue, it’s a late game card, so it’s no big deal if blue is your support color and not your main color—those are the decks Sleep is best in. I love Sleep in decks like U/W, U/G, and U/R aggressive decks that play 10 basics of their main color and seven Islands, using like 7ish blue cards for some bounce and flyers to support their main color’s creatures. The removal isn’t that great in M19 and the early creatures don’t hit that hard. That’s the perfect format for Sleep to be a game winning card almost every time it’s cast. The trick is that it just won’t be good in blue control decks.

Honorable Mention: Plague Mare

This is a solid card but a weak second pick. Not as bad as Fountain out of the last pack, but I’m looking to get this card more like fourth than second. If it kills a 2/1 it’s a great card but when they don’t have a 2/1 out and it’s your only 3-drop, it’s a hard to cast Gray Ogre and that’s not playable in modern Draft formats. Of course, sometimes you have other 3-drops and can hold onto this until the turn where it’s good. It also lets you kill a creature that’s 1 toughness bigger than your attackers—that can matter a lot in a format with several good 1/3s like Omenspeaker, Druid of the Cowl, and Pegasus Courser. I can’t imagine ever cutting Mare from a black deck with 8+ black sources but I’m also hoping to never be second picking it.

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Pack #4

My Pick

 Knightly Valor

This card’s value swings wildly format to format. It might be the best it’s ever been in M19. There is very little cheap, instant removal, so you should virtually never get blown out by losing your creature in response to you casting Valor. Meanwhile, there are a lot of small useful creatures that you play but aren’t doing much by turn 5. I take this card over Luminous Bonds and think it is one of white’s best cards outside of nonsense like Resplendent Angel, which shouldn’t exist in Limited.

Honorable Mention: Nightmare’s Thirst

This is a good removal spell. It combos with Skymarch Bloodletter and Vampire Neonate to give you a life and kills a 2 toughness creature for 1 mana. Since it’s giving it -x/-x and there are very few good instant removal spells in this format, you can usually use it in combat to take out big creatures if you need to. Even gaining 1 life can trigger important things for you, like making a bat with Regal Bloodlord or growing Pridemate at instant speed. I’m a huge fan of Neonate, Pridemate, Bloodlord, Thirst, and the whole B/W deck. I think it’s likely the second-best archetype to Boros Aggro in M19.

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Pack #5

My Pick

Liliana’s Contract

Four is a lot of cards to draw. B/W and U/B are grindy control decks that can really use the cards and can keep their life totals up. B/G can use the two common green ramp creatures to empty their hand quickly and use this card to reload. There are a few matchups where this card will be great—in most it will be good. There are a few times like against a good Boros aggro deck where I would probably board this out when I’m on the draw and keep it in when I’m on the play. Starting with this tells you to draft around it. It’s at its best in B/W, with cards with a lot of life gain but less access to card drawing than U/B. If you are U/B, prioritize Vampire Neonates (a card I like in any black deck with or without Liliana’s Contract), and cheap blockers a little higher than usual so that you can keep your life total up and win through the card advantage that your deal with Lilliana is giving you.

Honorable Mention: Blood Divination

This isn’t a great second pick. I would take Lich’s Caress over Blood Divination. That doesn’t make Divination a bad card though because Caress is great. It’s very easy to pick up Doomed Dissenters, Act of Treasons, Omenspeakers, Skyscanners, Goblin Instigators, and Elvish Rejuvenators, and if you get it in pack 1 you have the whole draft to do so. I wouldn’t take this card nearly as early in pack 3 if you don’t have at least two critters you are happy to be sacrificing to it. But in a format with Dwindle and Luminous Bonds, Act of Treason, and many cantrip creatures, as well as little creatures that become useless later, 4 mana draw 3 is a very good card and Blood Divination isn’t far from that.

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How is everyone enjoying M19? I was losing a lot at first because I was stuck in Dominaria mode and that was a very special place. I’ve started doing better recently as I’ve gotten used to caring about my board presence again and started to discover what to do with the colors. M19 doesn’t compare to Dominaria, but so far, I will give credit to R&D in that it seems like all of the colors and almost all of the color combinations are playable. The card’s values do seem to change based on what you have and what color combination you are playing. I have been enjoying M19 Draft. How about you?

Happy drafting,
Ben