Dominaria reminds me of Modern Masters 1. You can play card draw and removal. You can play synergy-based decks and have interesting picks as your deck becomes more focused and stronger. Do you take Sporecrown Thallid or Eviscerate? In a focused Thallid deck, I would rather have the Thallid. But this is pick 1 pack 1. I love formats like this, where the card values change as your deck moves in a given direction. That’s what Booster Draft is all about.

Anyone can memorize a pick order. Realizing when a card is much better than it would be on average, or substantially worse, can  allow skilled drafters to craft great decks.

I love that a lot of the best removal in this format is so easy to splash. That makes for some interesting choices pick 1. Do I take the more powerful, focused card, or the splashable removal spell? The less powerful creature that’s good in every archetype of that color or the more powerful one that’s only good in one? Let’s crack some fresh packs and see what choices they hold.

Pack #1

My Pick

 Cloudreader Sphinx.

I know this is going to surprise some people, who I don’t think realize how good this card is in a format like this. It’s basically Serra Angel, but gives up 1 power and vigilance for scry 2. There are formats where that would be a bad deal, like those where you really want your win condition to be able to attack, block, and kill them a little faster.

In Dominaria, what you really want from your 5-drop is to provide value even when it’s killed. There are a lot of great removal spells in this format, and most likely, your big flyer is going to die. If you don’t need any more lands (likely, since you already have 5), scry 2 will allow you to scry a land to the bottom, which isn’t much different than draw a card. The fact that it’s an enters-the-battlefield ability means that you get that even when the Sphinx is killed, and that pushes it past a slightly bigger flyer like Serra Angel.

Honorable Mention: Serra Angel.

Pretty close with Sphinx, but slightly worse for the reasons mentioned above. I do really like Serra, because in this format I’m looking to win in the air with my white decks. I try to draft virtually all flyers and Equipment, and only play powerful ground creatures like legends or like Trapper that can tap blockers. Also, it’s a slow format, and an unanswered 4/4 flyer will usually win the game. If it’s answered, it’s still trading with a removal spell and there is nothing wrong with that exchange—removal is valuable.

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Pack #2

My Pick

 Wild Onslaught.

This card has been overperforming for me since day one. This card excels in G/W Go-Wide and G/B Saps, which make lots of 1/1s. It’s still very good in a G/R ramp deck. These decks look to produce a lot of mana, so they can kick a Wild Onslaught. Also, one of the main ways to do that is by drafting the little mana producing creatures like Llanowar Elves aggressively. That has strong, positive synergy with Wild Onslaught. U/G is also a ramp deck but without kicker synergies, and while it’s less interested in Onslaught than the other three green archetypes, I’d still always play it.

Honorable Mention: Tempest Djinn.

The triple-blue casting cost of this card isn’t a concern to me. A 3/3 flyer on turn 3 that grows bigger as you play more Islands is broken. But on turn 5, a 3/4 flyer that grows bigger when you play more Islands is still a good card. Only having to pay 3 for it means that you can maybe use the other 2 mana to play another spell or move an Equipment. If you spike 3 Islands by turn 3 or 4, then it will be a great card. Play this card if your land count has 9 Islands, but also try to prioritize blue cards over cards of your other color so you can aim for 10/7 or 11/6.

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Pack #3

My Pick

 Blessed Light.

I like first picking this card. While Shivan Fire and Eviscerate are better cards because they are more efficient, Blessed Light is the most powerful removal at common in the set. It’s a single white to cast, so if you don’t end up in white, it’s a better splash since it’s a better late-game card. Exile isn’t the same as destroy in this format. Besides Multani (which is the best card in the set), there is a good amount of graveyard recursion with Soul Salvage at common, not to mention some powerful Sagas like Song of Freyalise floating around. If you start with Blessed Light and aren’t seeing white, make sure to pick up one Skittering Surveyor.

Honorable Mention: Thallid Omnivore.

This card is just excellent. It’s practically broken in Saprolings. It’s going to be the biggest creature on the battlefield and if your opponent was thinking about racing, you can wish them good luck when every Saproling you eat gives you 2 life. But also, this card is still very good in non-Saproling decks. Think about the situation where you have Omnivore and a 2/2, and the opponent has a 4/4. If they attack you can block and sacrifice your 2/2, which effectively trades your 2/2 for their 4/4. I consider this card a first pick in Saprolings but a good card in any black deck.

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Pack #4

My Pick

 Karn, Scion of Urza.

Slam the mythic? Not exactly. This card isn’t broken. It’s good. You aren’t going to have many artifacts in Draft like you can in a Constructed deck built around Karn, and when they choose the card in Limited where roughly 40% of your deck is lands, you are going to get lands a lot of the time. It still has a lot of loyalty and can take over the game in a pure stalemate. If Karn is draw two cards gain 4 life for 4 mana, that’s neither a great card nor a terrible one, and it has the upside of winning stalemates. It’s a good first pick because it’s colorless and can go in any deck, but in pack 3 there are a lot of decks where I would take a good uncommon like Fight with Fire or Song of Freyalise over Karn, and I would consider Karn pretty close with great removal.

Honorable Mention: Cast Down.

Speaking of great removal, this card couldn’t be more efficient. Some of the best creatures are legends, but there are plenty of great creatures that aren’t. Being able to kill a 4-7 mana creature at instant speed is awesome. This is one of the best removal in the format and an easy first-pick out of most packs. I would take Karn over Cast Down pick 1 pack 1 because Karn is colorless, but unless I had a lot of cheap removal and needed a win condition I would usually take Cast Down over Karn once I’m already in black.

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Pack #5

My Pick

 Skittering Surveyor.

Two weeks ago I would have first picked one of the good uncommons. But getting not only a colorless card but the colorless card that means you can splash pick 1 pack 1 is huge. It means that if you second or third pick one of the good removal spells and then don’t see that color, you can just move out of that and into whatever you are seeing and still splash that removal and play Surveyor. Starting with a Surveyor virtually ensures a good Draft deck because you will get to use your early picks and find the open color. It’s become my favorite common to pick 1 pack 1 in the entire set but once I already have colors, there are a lot of commons I would take over it.

Honorable Mention: Sporecrown Thallid.

G/B Saprolings is the best deck in the format. This card is excellent. There are multiple commons in Migration and Sapherd that make two different creatures (or more) that are pumped by this 2-mana 2/2, and often it will be an Anthem for most of your deck if you are G/B. It’s unfortunate this is only broken in one specific deck, but when that’s the best deck in the format I am not going to be afraid to use an early pick on such a good card. Just be ready to move away from it and let go of the card if you aren’t seeing G/B Saps because you don’t want a train wreck for this card, especially since it requires you to get a lot of G/B Saprolings cards to be broken.

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I hope everyone is continuing to enjoy Dominaria Draft as much as I am. I had to take a little break from Draft to work on my Modern deck for GP Toronto and now my Standard deck for the Pro Tour, but once the Pro Tour is over I should be able to get back to non-stop drafting. I’m loving all of the value cards, flying, and I’m low on ground attackers. Does that match your experience? Let me know in the comments and what you think of my picks.

Happy Drafting!