Hi again! It’s time for some more What’s the Pick? Pack 1 Pick 1 with Ixalan. Here are the packs:

Pack #1

My Pick

Vanquish the Weak.

Not the best first pick, but the best pick in this pack. A 3-mana instant-speed removal spell is always good, and sometimes you’ll get to “trade up” in mana for something like a Shining Aerosaur. Instant interaction is hard to come by in this format too, so starting with one is welcome. The best card in the pack is definitely Sky Terror, but it’s not enough better to justify taking a gold card first pick.

Honorable Mention: Bishop’s Soldier.

This is a bit closer of a pick with Sky Terror, but again, I’d defer to the 1-color card. Bishop’s Soldier is a premium 2-drop and can often gain 4 or more life in a game. Bishop’s Soldier is especially good in a deck with cheap combat tricks like Vampire’s Zeal, Skulduggery, or Sure Strike.

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Pack #2

My Pick

Burning Sun’s Avatar.

Well, this isn’t a particularly interesting decision. Burning Sun’s Avatar is a bomb rare. It will kill a creature and deal 3 damage to your opponent basically every time you cast it. Beyond that, it will be the biggest creature on the board and is very difficult to remove. It isn’t susceptible to bounce, because you’ll simply get to reuse the enters-the-battlefield ability. Often referred to as “Inferno Titan,” Burning Sun’s Avatar is not quite that good, but is still one of the best rares in the set.

Honorable Mention: Pirate’s Cutlass.

After the rare, this is a pretty weak pack. Dark Nourishment isn’t a very good card, I’m down on Bonded Horncrest, and Marauding Looter is a gold card. Pirate’s Cutlass provides a lot of versatility in colors, as Pirate decks alone can be U/R, U/B, or R/B, and sometimes any deck that consists of any of those three colors will have enough incidental creatures to make the Cutlass a fine card to play.

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Pack #3

My Pick

 Hostage Taker.

Hostage Taker is probably the best rare in the set. Effectively a Control Magic, though for a bit more mana, dealing with your opponent’s creatures by taking them is the best thing you can do. I don’t think I have to sell the power of Hostage Taker too much. One thing I will say is that if I have a Hostage Taker, I’m going to look a bit more to play a card like March of the Drowned, or prioritize a card like Dive Down more highly.

Honorable Mention: Lightning-Rig Crew.

This is really just a great card—it’s even better than it looks. In a dedicated Pirate deck, Lightning-Rig Crew gets to play offense and defense, blocking up to a 4-power ground creature, while often doing multiple points of damage of offense as well. Even in something like R/G Dinosaurs, Lightning-Rig Crew is a great defender, and still does a point of damage every turn. While Lightning-Rig Crew does a good job of playing defense, it’s not actually a defender. I’ve made quite a few attacks with Lightning-Rig Crew to trigger raid.

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Pack #4

My Pick

 Lightning Strike.

Lightning Strike is the second best uncommon in Ixalan behind Charging Monstrosaur. Instant interaction isn’t the easiest to come by in Ixalan, and Lightning Strike is the best of it. 2 mana is a lot cheaper than 3, in practice, and Lightning Strike will be able to trade up a lot of the time. Lightning Strike also has the flexibility of dealing damage to your opponent, which doesn’t come up all that frequently in practice, but when it does, it’s a big deal.

Honorable Mention: Territorial Hammerskull.

The Hammerskull is the best common in the set, and the second best card in this pack. Next in line is probably Contract Killing, but Territorial Hammerskull gets the nod. Territorial Hammerskull goes in basically any white deck, though it’s much stronger in an aggressive deck, as opposed to some of the more controlling W/B Vampire Decks. I still usually play it in those decks, but it really shines in W/G or W/R Dinosaurs.

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Pack #5

My Pick

 Wanted Scoundrels.

One of the best 2-drops in Ixalan, Wanted Scoundrels is probably the card with the biggest delta between how good it looked to me and how good it was in practice. It’s not that easy for your opponents to actually kill Wanted Scoundrels early in the game, and later in the game, the drawback of giving your opponent’s Treasures just doesn’t matter as much. Wanted Scoundrels is insanely strong with combat tricks, as your opponents are forced to try an early game double block into untapped lands in order to avoid taking 12 or 16 damage from your 2-drop.

Honorable Mention: Seekers’ Squire.

Seekers’ Squire is another premium 2-drop, and after the Scoundrels, this is a really weak pack. Seekers’ Squire has performed really well for me, as basically all of the reasonable explore creatures have. It’s not a card I’m very happy to first pick, but in a weak pack, it can happen.

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Thanks for reading. What do you think about the picks this time around? Let me know in the comments.