Hi everyone! I’m back, this time with What’s the Pick? Pack 1 Pick 2 with Hour of Devastation. This is my favorite format to draft in the last several years. I like to draft control decks and I love to play control mirrors. I love the slow, grindy games of Limited with tons of decisions, and I love formats where the value of cards can vary significantly from Draft to Draft.

The next several articles I write will be different than the previous bunch. I’ll be focusing on the second pick of the Draft. I’ll include what was taken first pick and go from there, using that information to make a decision about what to choose next.

Scenario #1

Your First Pick: Hour of Glory.

Your Pack

My Pick

Sand Strangler.

Usually when I look at a second pick, my process is as follows: First I evaluate the cards of the color that I first picked—in this case, black. I decide what I deem to be the best card of that color. In this case that card is Torment of Venom.

From there, I evaluate the best overall card in the pack, also factoring in things like color pairing, and synergy with my first pick, where applicable. In this case, the strongest card in the pack is Sand Strangler. When the strongest card in the pack does not share a color with your first pick, you have to make a decision. If the cards are very close in value—let’s say something like Puncturing Blow vs. Torment of Venom, I will always take the card that’s in the same color of the card I first picked.

In this case, the cards aren’t equal in value. So now, I have to determine if the difference in power is big enough to make it worth taking a card of a color that is different than my first pick. There’s no hard and fast rule here, really. This involves a fair bit of intuition, in general. But in this case, the disparity in power is extreme. I would definitely choose Sand Strangler.

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Scenario #2

Your First Pick: Oasis Ritualist.

Your Pack

My Pick

Ambuscade.

Here’s a case like the example I gave in the previous pack. Your first pick is green, Oasis Ritualist. Oasis Ritualist even encourages you to play 3 or more colors. Abrade is the clear best card in the pack. Even given all that, Abrade isn’t enough better than Ambuscade that I’d bother going into a second color for it. The midrange green decks also tend to have a lot of ways to hold off 3-toughness creatures on the ground—the Ritualist itself can do a decent job of that.

The tempo you gain by casting Abrade for less matters a lot less since you’re not racing. The green midrange decks tend to want ways to deal with larger creatures or bombs, and Ambuscade does a much better job of that than Abrade does.

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Scenario #3

Your First Pick: Ambuscade.

Your Pack

My Pick

Ominous Sphinx.

The best green card in the pack is Rhonas’s Stalwart. Rhonas’s Stalwart is really not a particularly good card in this format. It goes up a bit in value if you are trying to draft aggressive decks pretty often, but that’s a poor strategy in this format, with a high fail rate. This format favors slower, more controlling decks, and most of the time people draft aggressive decks, the decks tend to be average, and are massively disadvantaged against the average midrange/control decks.

Beyond that, Ominous Sphinx is basically a bomb uncommon. I like green-blue a lot as the base colors for a ramp or multicolor green deck, and Ambuscade + Ominous Sphinx is just a much better start to a Draft than Ambuscade plus any other card in this pack. This pick is a clear Ominous Sphinx.

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Scenario #4

Your First Pick: Pride Sovereign.

Your Pack

My Pick

Desert of the True.

The best card in this pack is Bloodwater Entity. The second best card is Desert of the True. There’s an argument for taking Bloodwater Entity and just seeing which of your first two picks you’re able to play.

Pride Sovereign is so strong, though, that I’d force it a little bit here. I’m also high on Deserts, in general, so I wouldn’t feel too bad about this pick. Also, because Pride Sovereign is green, and green can splash cards so well, as long as you’re able to play a green deck, you should be able to play your Pride Sovereign and your white Desert.

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Scenario #5

Your First Pick: Unquenchable Thirst.

Your Pack

My Pick

Banewhip Punisher.

This is another scenario much like the first. Your first pick is blue, so you should evaluate the blue cards first. Sinuous Striker is probably the best blue card in the pack. Honestly, though, this is even less close than the first pack. The disparity in power between the blue cards in this pack and Banewhip Punisher is completely off the charts. I’d be happy to get a second pick as strong as Banewhip Punisher here. I also like U/B very much, so I’m not unhappy at all to start a Draft with a blue and a black card.

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Thanks everyone for reading this week. What do you think of this format? Are there any tweaks to the Pack 1 Pick 2 articles that you think would make it more interesting? Let me know in the comments.