Welcome to my first edition of Pack 1 Pick 2 for Dominaria. Core 2019 is coming out soon, but Dominaria is one of the best Limited sets of all time, so I’m not sure which Limited format to make content for. I can do either one or both so please let me know what you would like to see from here onward. I have to practice drafting the Core Set for the two Limited GPs so I will be playing a lot of it, but I will also continue to draft Dominaria Limited because it’s so amazing.
I felt it was time to switch to the pack 1 pick 2 format but took a little break from writing because I had GP Las Vegas and Pittsburgh to prepare for, and that was all three formats: Dominaria Limited, Standard, and Modern. Thanks for the patience and all feedback is always appreciated.
Daring Archaeologist, Knight of Grace, and Eviscerate are all close but Shivan Fire is a clear pick. Being able to choose to draw is valuable, and to do that you want removal that’s good in any stage of the game. Shivan Fire is the best common in terms of power level and the second-best to first pick behind Skittering Surveyor.
I would rank the other three cards in this pack Eviscerate, Daring Archaeologist, then Knight of Grace. I think all are close enough that you could first pick any of those four and it wouldn’t be a big deal, but taking anything else out of this pack would be a crime. The fifth best card in this pack is not on the same level as those four, and Shivan Fire is a clear number 1.
I have found the legendary sorceries to be too inconsistent to count on. I like Urza’s Ruinous Blast, and it would be my second choice out of this weak pack, but I’ll take an excellent quality splashable removal over it pick 1 pack 1. Urgoros and Divination are next. Urgoros is a powerful card, but 6-mana creatures die most of the time in Dominaria Limited and this one is easy to kill. Divination is a nice advantage in a slow format, but still, you get what you pay for—there’s nothing special here. Fiery Intervention can deal with everything from Grunn to Icy, and if you pick up a single Surveyor, it can be tossed into any deck, so it’s the card you should take out of this pack.
Pick 2 (with Fiery Intervention gone and having first picked a Shivan Fire): Divination
Even though I think the second best card in this pack is Urza’s Ruinous Blast, I don’t think it goes well with Shivan Fire. I think Shivan Fire is substantially better than Blast and goes extremely well with Divination. You can still draft U/R Wizards as one of the premier archetypes or easily splash Fire into U/B Control or U/G Ramp if you don’t end up seeing much red. There isn’t enough separating Blast and Divination this early in a Draft for me to take a card that goes that much worse with my first pick when my first pick is so much better than any of the cards I’m choosing between now.
This card is extremely broken. It’s also not that hard to play. Some gold cards, like Adeliz, are very good but basically not splashable. Adeliz is aggressive and synergistic with one archetype. Tatyova is a powerful late game card that is good in every type of deck. This means that if you can pick up one Skittering Surveyor, you only need to be blue or green to play this card. Tatyova is one of my favorite cards to first pick in this set because of how easy it is to play and how powerful it is. This is a clear first pick.
Pick 2 (with Tatyova gone and having first picked a Fiery Intervention): Sporecrown Thallid
Sporecrown can still be good in an R/G deck. While it’s best in B/G, green gives you more important synergies by making more than one Fungus or Thallid at a time. Green is the easiest color to splash into with Grow from the Ashes available on color, in addition to Surveyor, which is available for every color. Also, Fiery Intervention is nowhere near as good as Shivan Fire and not a compelling reason not to just take the clear best card out of this pack and see where the Draft goes.
I have talked about this card not being broken, yet I still virtually always first pick it. It’s not a 10, and it’s not a 9. But a colorless 7-8 that’s good in every type of deck is still a windmill-slam first pick. The power level between all of the best cards in this pack is close. Cast Down and Shivan Fire are great, efficient removal. Eldest Reborn and Karn give you a lot of bang for your buck. Skittering Surveyor is great fixing, good in every type of deck, and allows you to grab a great splashable card whenever you see a pack that doesn’t have anything in color for you. But Skittering Surveyor is much less powerful than the other cards and catches up by being colorless. Karn is around the same power level of the other cards and is also colorless, so that makes it an easy first pick.
Pick 2 (with Karn gone and having first picked Tatyova): Skittering Surveyor
I just spoke about how Tatyova is easy to splash if you are either green or blue, so you don’t have to be green and blue to play it. You can play it almost every time you first pick it. Well, Skittering Surveyor is what makes that possible. I would love to grab all of the other good cards I just named, but none of them go especially well with Tatyova and Tatyova is better than all of them by a substantial amount. Taking Surveyor here ensures that you will be able to play your first picked Tatyova and allows you to move in almost any direction from here. Even though it’s the weakest of the good cards remaining in this pack, it’s a clear pick after Tatyova.
This card has moved up and up and up for me since day 1. There are some key factors powering up this card. 1) There is a lot of removal in Dominaria, which means that creatures with enters the battlefield or leaves play abilities are better than usual, 2) the ground tends to get stalemated more often so flying is especially valuable, and 3) games are long and slow, so card advantage and scry are more valuable than they would be in more aggressive formats where you can’t always play everything you drew before you die. There is pretty good common fixing and Sphinx is easy to splash. This card isn’t a great first pick, but it’s one I’m perfectly fine with.
Pick 2 (with Sphinx gone and having first picked Karn): Garna, the Bloodflame
Karn can go into any kind of deck and Garna is like Tatyova (though nowhere near as good) in that it’s a late-game card that’s easy to splash into any black or red deck. Nothing in this pack is good enough to pull as hard into a color as Dread Shade and Merfolk Trickster do after first picking Karn. Garna allows you to continue to stay open and read the Draft. If I knew I was going to have 10 Swamps in my deck I would take Dread Shade over Garna, even if I was in black, red, or had a Skittering Surveyor, but I don’t know that because it’s pick 2, and the power level difference between Shade and Garna is nowhere near enough to justify taking a triple-black card after a colorless first pick over something as easy to play and splash as Garna.
I’m sad that we are nearing the end of Dominaria Draft. I think it’s the best non-Modern-Masters Limited set since I started playing Magic again in 2009 and I really hope everyone got to play it. I hope it stays around on Magic Online. It really feels different to me than playing most tempo-based Limited formats where you have to think about your life total constantly. I call it Battle Box Limited, because you are always trying to create value. Draft for synergy and card advantage, and be able to stop your opponent’s cards that would dominate the game. As I said at the start of this article, I will continue to make Dominaria Limited content if there is demand for it, so please let me know what you would like to see. Also, all feedback on the pack 1 pick 2 format is always appreciated.