Hi everyone! I'm eager to get back to drafting Hour of Devastation, so I'm going to keep the intro short!
Here are the packs:
I still think Ambuscade is probably the best common at this point, still edging out Open Fire. In a pack like this without a good rare, and no premium uncommons, I'd take Ambuscade every time. I have liked green a lot so far in this format, so I'm happy to start things off with a green card.
Honorable Mention: Torment of Venom.
This card has been pretty good for me. The other choice was Fervent Paincaster, which has underperformed so far. Perhaps I'm over-adjusting for how good I expect the Paincaster to be, and it's still better than Torment of Venom, but at the moment I don't think so.
Desert's Hold has to be one of the better uncommons. For 3 mana, it completely shuts down a creature including activated abilities, which we've seen before, Arrest. Arrest was basically always a first-pick card. Desert's Hold also has the upside of sometimes gaining you 3 life. The common cycle of cycling Deserts is great, and basically go in all of your decks anyway. People have a tendency to think, “I''m only gaining 3 life sometimes—I'm not really utilizing the full effect of the card, so it's not really that good." Be careful of thinking like that when the basic effect of the card already makes it as strong as a card like Desert's Hold.
Honorable Mention: Khenra Scrapper.
This card has been stronger than it looks. It looks reasonable as a 3-drop already. 2/3 menace for 3 is a decent rate, and the exert provides large upside. It's hard to double-block a 4/3 in a way that doesn't make multiple creatures vulnerable or create the opportunity to be blown out by a removal spell or combat trick. Khenra Scrapper is not a card I'd be particularly happy to first pick, but I would take it here.
Naturally, the planeswalker is the best card in this pack. Samut has actually performed better (albeit always against me—I haven't actually opened one yet) than I thought it would. Double strike is particularly strong in red and green since it tends to have particularly large creatures. Also, the minus ability is strong as a way to protect Samut from small flying creatures, or to sometimes pick off two small creatures at a time.
Honorable Mention: Open Fire. The other card that I've mentioned as a contender for best common, Open Fire, is an instant-speed removal spell that also doubles as direct damage. If not for Samut, it would be the clear first pick out of this pack.
This card is incredibly strong. The base line of Air Elemental is pretty good, and the ability is extremely impressive. It's very hard for your opponents to attack into your open mana, and if you're attacking, it can also be very hard to block. Imagine attacking a 3/3 into a 3/3 with Ominous Sphinx in play. Damned if you do, damned if you don't.
Honorable Mention: Rhonas's Last Stand.
The jury is out on this card. I know it's strong, and I'd take it over Doomfall at this point, but I'm not 100% sure how strong it is. The drawback is very real, even in the best-case scenario of playing this turn 2 on the play. A 5/4 on the second turn is insane, but it dies outright to a bounce spell, and you have to skip your third turn basically no matter what. Even if you play Rhonas's Last Stand and a 3-drop on the fifth turn, the drawback actually gets larger because you don't untap 5 lands next turn instead of 3.
Clearly a 2-mana 5/4 is way above cost, and I'd take this highly and play it in any green deck. Exactly how this card stacks up against all of the top uncommons I'm not 100% sure yet, but I'd lean toward taking the Sphinx.
I've had the displeasure of playing against this card once so far. It's one of those cards where if it sits in play for more than a turn or two, the game is basically lost. The best use is probably to generate additional enters-the-battlefield triggers on your own cards like Sand Strangler. Condemnation Angel is actually such an efficient attacker that you're probably only exerting it to take care of big threats, or anything that can block it.
Honorable Mention: Struggle // Survive.
Struggle is just an insanely good removal spell—easily better than any common on its own.
I have to say that Survive has actually been a lot better than I expected it to be. I expected it to be situational. I've had Struggle // Survive in a couple decks already and the Survive half has actually come up multiple times. I've used it to shuffle in eternalize cards multiple times and I've also used to it to turn my opponent's moderately sized Enigma Drake into a 0/4. In theory, though I haven't done it, for 5 mana, you can also remove one of the multi-colored Gods from the new cycle as well.
That's all the packs for this edition. Let me know what you thought in the comments. Be back soon!