I hope there isn’t too much in here that directly conflicts with my first one of these around a month ago, but my opinions on the format do tend to evolve. That said, I have now done a ton of Drafts, and my thoughts on what to take first pick aren’t going to change much more. B/G Saprolings and U/R Wizards are still the premier archetypes.
The ability to splash has moved up and up for me, to the point where I know to first pick Skittering Surveyor over any common in the set pick 1 pack 1. If it’s pack 3 and I don’t have a splash, or I’m in U/R or a white aggro deck, then there are lots of commons I will take over it.
The cheap removal that lets you draw first has really grown on me. The next two commons I take over everything else are now Shivan Fire and Vicious Offering. Eviscerate, Blessed Light and Fiery Intervention are still great, but generally come after.
Time to crack some fresh packs.
This is the best common in the set if you look strictly at what it gives you and what you pay for it. I mentioned above that I take Skittering Surveyor over it pick 1 pack 1, but that’s in large part because Surveyor is colorless and can be played in any deck. Once I am already drafting red, I will never take Surveyor over Shivan Fire.
This card just has it all. It’s a single red to cast, even when kicked. It costs 1 mana and lets you choose to draw and kill early creatures efficiently. Kicker can kill big creatures, so it’s also good in the late game. Additionally, it fits perfectly into what the good red archetypes are trying to do. It’s a spell, so it triggers Wizards and can be brought back with Chronicler. You can use Arcanist mana to kick it, and it triggers cards in your G/R Kicker deck.
Honorable Mention: Memorial to Genius
“Spell lands” might be at their absolute best in Dominaria. Their downside is that they enter the battlefield tapped. That matters way less in a slow format like this than it would in more aggressive ones. This is a format where many decks want to play 18-19 mana sources because you want to make land drops forever thanks to some great expensive cards, kicker, and good activated abilities. Sometimes your opponent will deal with what you draw, and you might have a land-heavy hand. The spell lands can turn losses into wins in these types of games. They allow you to play one extra land and cash your lands in when you are flooded. I wish the red one dealt 2 damage to a creature or something, because tapping 6 to kill a land isn’t playable and I don’t know what’s up with that design. The other four are all quite good though.
This card provides so much value. It’s not the best against Saprolings, but it’s not just an edict effect, either. Putting the best card from either graveyard into play two turns after you cast it is awesome. All three modes of this Saga will provide a full card a lot of the time, which makes it a 3-for-1. The biggest problem with card advantage in Limited comes when you fall too far behind to win with it. This card kills a creature when you cast it (even if it’s their worst one, that still impacts the board), then it brings back the best dead creature for 0 mana, so you can cast something from your hand that turn too. Throw in that it’s a single black so you can still easily splash this, and you have a great first pick.
Honorable Mention: Sporecrown Thallid
Some pros seem to think that U/R Wizards is the best archetype in the format. They are wrong and blinded by their love of drawing cards. B/G Saprolings is the best, and this lord is incredible in it. Migration turn 2, and attack with 2/2s on turn 3. Cast Yavimaya Sapherd with Sporecrown out and you have a 2/2 and 3/3 for 3 mana. Thallid Omnivore—nah, Omnivore doesn’t need any help, but helping the rest of your team will allow Omni’s sacrificial lambs to alpha alongside it. Also, draft Soul Salvage more aggressively if you have Thallids with this little lord so that you can bring it right back if the opponent has removal for it.
This is like first picking Skittering Surveyor over Shivan Fire. Icy is not the best card in this pack. It’s not even the second-best card in this pack. But it is colorless and good in every type of deck. This means that you can take the best cards passed to you and have a great first pick that you can play 100% of the time.
I do think, however, that Icy is kind of overrated. It’s good removal and nothing more. You can tap a creature end of turn and on your turn, but that’s more valuable in aggressive formats. A lot of decks in this format win through card advantage, synergy, and going wide, and Icy doesn’t do much to disrupt that. That said, it’s still a good card. Even if it weren’t colorless it would still be first pickable, but like I said, it wouldn’t even be close to the best card in this pack in power level and I would probably take it third.
Honorable Mention: Song of Freyalise
During CFB’s Limited meeting I basically argued for this card over everything, every pick—with only Martin Juza on my side. I don’t get it. Has anyone had a normal draw and played this and lost? Green has multiple commons that make more than one creature.
This card gives you mana to dump your hand, then pumps your team and makes them unkillable, unchumpable, and even gives them vigilance so that you have them untapped to block on the opponent’s turn.
People say that it’s bad against removal. That’s nonsense. Kill one of my five creatures and you will still lose to it. Song is bad against sweepers, and Dominaria Limited is famously low on those. When it comes to power level, this card is an actual mythic rare if you are a Saproling/go-wide deck. The only legitimate argument against this card is that some green strategies aren’t really about creatures. But this is pick 1 pack 1. If you start with this, try to draft a creature or Saproling deck, and not a ramp deck. And even if you do draft a ramp deck, just take Saproling Migration over everything and this card will still be bonkers.
I mentioned that I consider Icy the third-best card in this pack—second, in my opinion, is Rite of Belzenlok, but Rite and Song aren’t enough better to take over Icy pick 1 pack 1.
This pack sucks. Rona isn’t a good first pick. I would take 10 commons over it pick 1 pack 1. Any of the removal, Surveyor, or Migration. None of those are in this pack, though. Rona isn’t really a gold card since it’s a good splash into decks like R/B, B/W, U/G, and U/W if you pick up a Surveyor. It wins a stalemate and is powerful with the Sagas. It’s a good-but-not-great card, and a well below average first pick. This is one of the worst packs I’ve ever seen, so Rona it is.
Honorable Mention: Thallid Soothsayer
This card is better than it looks. You don’t have to be playing Saprolings for this card to be good. It combos well with utility creatures like Sergeant-at-Arms and Skittering Surveyor. It’s good against removal, of which there is a ton in this format (thank you again R&D for letting us actually play Magic). And last but definitely not least, it’s a build-your-own Opportunity with Saproling Migration. A lot of games are slow moving in this format and the ground tends to get cluttered. Being able to cash in your smallest bodies to find removal, card drawing, and bombs in the late game is a valuable ability, and in this format, you won’t get punished for spending turn 4 to put a 2/3 into play.
There are a lot of cards in this pack you could reasonably take. There isn’t a lot separating Knight of Grace, Danitha, Mending, Vicious Offering, and Trickster. Of those five, only Vicious Offering is really a good splash card. And further, if there is one point I’d really like to hammer home, it’s that this is a format where it’s good to draw first, even if the opponent is aggressive. But you don’t want to get run over by aggressive decks. That makes Shivan Fire and Vicious Offering special in that they are good in both the early and the late game. Very few Magic cards can efficiently kill an early drop on turn 2 and be effective removal in the late game. This makes Vicious Offering valuable and the card I first pick out of this pack.
Honorable Mention: Danitha Capashen, Paragon
I like white more than most. I do think it’s the worst of the five colors, but I don’t think it’s bad. More players in an average Draft will end up blue, green, and black than they will white. Those colors are the best in this format because they have the most good commons. So, on average, more people should end up drafting them. That’s the natural balance Draft finds. That’s why I almost never like forcing or avoiding colors. Occasionally, there is a color like green in Battle for Zendikar that is so bad that it’s undraftable, but that is very rare. In this format, a good white deck is a good deck. White decks want both historic cards and Equipment. That makes Danitha a perfect fit for any white aggressive deck and a great early pick in a Draft.
This is going to be my fifth and final installment of the regular-style pick 1 pack 1s for Dominaria. I will still be doing What’s the Pick, but am going to switch to the Pack 2 pick 2 style that I debuted in Rivals. I feel that five is a good amount to cover most of the close or interesting choices that we face pack 1 pick 1, so it seems like the right time to move forward. Pack 1 pick 2 is still 50 percent pick 1 anyways, but we also get some new choices pick 2 that account for our 1st pick. I hope everyone has been enjoying these as I really like writing them. I’m also loving Dominaria Limited, so you can expect the content to keep coming! There will be a steady stream of Draft videos, pack 1 pick 2s, and archetype guides.
Until then, happy drafting.