Hey everyone! Welcome to the first edition of What’s the Pick? Pack 1 Pick 1 with Iconic Masters. I’m going to do a few of these, as the set recently came out on Magic Online. I’ve only had the chance to draft the set once so far and I’m looking forward to more. I have a feeling that the rares in this set are going to be first-picked quite a lot. I’ll list the honorable mention as usual to discuss what I’d take if the card I’d chosen to first-pick were replaced with a basic land. I also promise not to keep opening packs until I open Mana Drain in every pack and write about that every time.
Close pick between the two white rares in this one. It’s possible that Restoration Angel is better than Austere Command, but while a 6-mana Wrath of God would often be playable in Limited, this particular wrath effect is especially powerful because you can use just the half of the wrath that benefits you. If you have smaller creatures, destroying all of the big creatures will often win the game. If you have the big creatures, you can prevent your opponent from going wide. In addition, if you only have a need for one of those two effects, you can pick off a pesky artifact or enchantment.
Honorable Mention: Restoration Angel.
Like I said above, this might be the best card in the pack. A 3/4 flying flash for only 4 mana, Restoration Angel was one of the best cards in Standard for basically the entire time it was legal. The ability to protect your other creatures, ambush opposing creatures, and reuse enter-the-battelfield abilities are all useful abilities. One thing to keep in mind is that Restoration Angel can’t blink your Angels, so while it might seem like a combination with Angel of Mercy at common, that won’t work out.
Black-green may not be the best color combination in this format, but Spiritmonger will still be a tough card to beat. While there are answers like Swords to Plowshares, not every deck will have a way to remove it. Spiritmonger also kills quickly due to its large power and toughness, and its passive ability makes chump blocking less effective. I wouldn’t be over the moon to start a Draft with Spiritmonger, but I would take it here.
Honorable Mention: Star Compass.
Mana acceleration tends to be powerful and tough to come by in these types of formats. While I wouldn’t be rushing to first-pick Star Compass out of any pack, I’d take it here. While it provides good acceleration, it doesn’t help you splash by providing any mana fixing for third, fourth, or fifth colors of mana.
A cheap, instant, efficient removal spell, Doom Blade is probably the second-best removal spell in the set, behind Swords to Plowshares. It’s hard to get a better rate than Doom Blade, and really the only knock on the card is that it is ineffective against black creatures. It’s not going to necessarily make you too happy in a format where you could open Mana Drain or Consecrated Sphinx, but still an all-around great card.
Honorable Mention: Pillar of Flame.
This is a pretty weak pack, but I’d take the removal spell again. Pillar of Flame tends to perform a bit worse in these types of formats since the cards showcased are usually big and expensive, where Pillar of Flame doesn’t really help as much. Pillar of Flame will still perhaps allow you to survive until the late game to cast your own powerful cards, though.
I love this card. I’ve had a lot of fun playing it in Modern as well as Limited. Even if you don’t get an instant combo kill with Restoration Angel, Kiki-Jiki is a powerful card. It can create perpetual blockers, recur value creatures like Angel of Mercy, or make copies of other, larger creature to attack with. Although Kiki-Jiki can be a somewhat annoying card when involved in an infinite combo, it’s a lot more interesting when played as a value card.
Honorable Mention: Hoarding Dragon.
A 5-mana 4/4 flyer is always a reasonable card in Limited, and this one allows you the chance to search your library for an artifact. If you’re able to get a good one, it can create a huge problem for your opponent by making it a scary proposition to deal with your flyer. Normally, though, you’ll just be able to do something like add a Mind Stone to your hand, which, as an added bonus for a 5-mana 4/4 flyer, is great.
I was debating between Yosei and Fireball here. What really pushed it over the top were the 2 copies of Foul-Tongue Invocation. Now, you can more likely wheel one and play W/B Dragon Control. I’m joking—that didn’t influence my pick at all. Do note that this pack doesn’t have 2 Foul-Tongue Invocations in error, and one was a foil. Every pack in this format has a foil, so this will happen occasionally.
This is a close pick between Fireball and Yosei. Yosei is one of the best in this cycle of Dragons. When removed, it effectively forces your opponent to skip their next turn by tapping down their best permanents, and does not allow them to untap. Because Yosei is such a potent, flying threat, your opponent really doesn’t have much of a choice other than to kill it normally.
Honorable Mention: Fireball.
The iconic Magic X-spell for a reason, Fireball is a versatile card. You can kill multiple creatures, you can kill a creature and do some damage, or you can do a large amount of damage to a single creature or your opponent. Fireball has been the best card in entire Limited formats, but that was generally in days when the creatures were a little bit worse. Fireball is so powerful that it’s always going to be a tier 1 card, but maybe not quite as good as a card like Yosei in this case.
Have you had much of a chance to play Iconic Masters yourselves? What card are you most looking forward to playing with? For me, like I said at the beginning of the article, it’s Mana Drain. Of course, that’s a bit of a cop-out as it’s probably the best card in the set, but oh well!