Welcome back! I’m going to crack 5 packs and break down my choices—I didn’t pre-screen the packs because I want to get an idea of what the average pack looks like, so that the data is useful at the end of the series.
My pick: Dragonscale General. Another pack, another rare. This guy is obviously extremely powerful. The fact that the first turn you play him, you can do so after attacking makes him an especially formidable threat. When he’s good, he has an almost immediate impact on the board. He does have a downside in that when you’re losing or at relative parity, he might not do very much. That being said, even in some of those situations, if you’re unable to attack, he can gain some value if you have cards like Archers’ Parapet, Bloodfire Mentor, or Dazzling Ramparts in play—any creature with an activated ability that requires tapping.
Honorable mention: Mistfire Adept. Mistfire Adept seems like it could be approaching bomb uncommon level. A 3/3 for four mana is a decent rate, but with the upside of having prowess himself while providing flying to himself and other creatures, in the right Jeskai or even Sultai deck, he makes for an extremely fast clock.
My pick: Brutal Hordechief. A 4-mana 3/3 with a great triggered ability—drain your opponent for 1 life whenever you attack with a creature. In addition to that, you can pay five mana to either kill your opponents creatures, by forcing him or her to make bad blocks, or force your opponent to only block one creature to let the rest through. This will be one of those cards in Limited that will just win the game effectively by itself over the next couple of turns.
Honorable mention: Destructor Dragon, Reach of Shadows. A 6-mana 4/4 flier or a 5-mana removal spell are both viable options here. My instinct is to take the Dragon, but I could see removal proving to be more valuable in the format, as there are a fair amount of ways to deal with a 4/4.
My pick: Lightform. Lightform and its blue counterpart Cloudform are both going to be among the best uncommons in the set. I would be very happy to first-pick this card at the Pro Tour, although maybe that’s overstating it considering how powerful the rares tend to be. If you ever hit a creature when you play this card, you might get a Baneslayer, and even if you don’t, you’ve almost made a Vampire Nighthawk. Granted, going from 3 toughness to 2 is a major step down.
Honorable Mention: Sandsteppe Mastodon. Sandsteppe Mastodon could be a first-pick out of some packs, but so far, that hasn’t been the case. The 7-mana cost is a bit of a turnoff, despite his very high upside. A card as powerful as Lightform at only three mana makes this an easy pass, though.
My pick/Honorable Mention: Temur Sabertooth and Yasova Dragonclaw. This pick looks incredibly close to me. Temur Saberooth is just impossible to beat in many situations, and Yasova takes an already very good card, Alpine Grizzly, and gives it an additional massive upside. Forced to pick, I’d probably err on the side of the rare and take Yasova. Being able to Threaten every turn is just too good. It could cause a problem if your opponent is able to develop his or her board to have several creatures with 4 power or greater, but even then you might be able to take one of their smaller creatures and overrun them. I would certainly not fault anyone at all for choosing Temur Sabertooth here though, and after I’ve had a chance to play with each of the cards some more, could definitely see changing my mind. What do you all think?
My pick: Palace Siege. This card, like the other Sieges, seems like a true bomb. If you play this at anything close to parity, you will very often be able to engineer the game in such a way that it’s nearly impossible to lose. A 4-point life swing every single turn is very big. In addition, there is a second ability which isn’t irrelevant at all, but will probably be your choice less often. Especially in Sultai decks with a lot of self-mill, but really in any deck when the game has gone long, the ability to return a creature from your graveyard to your hand every turn is significantly better than drawing an extra card.
Honorable Mention: Lightform, for all the same reasons we first-picked it above, but in this case there just happened to be a better card.