Let’s get right to it!
I think Treasure Map is a good card, but worse than I originally thought, because some decks just have amazing curves and there’s never time to activate it. It is colorless, however, which means it can in theory go in every deck, and if the game stalls even a little bit it’s very powerful. This is a format without good mana sinks, so it should trump most opponents’ late games—just don’t be afraid to side it out if the matchup proves too fast.
Honorable Mention: Pious Interdiction
Pacifism with upside is good, even if it costs 4. This is a format with some big creatures and good Auras, so having a way to deal with them, no questions asked, is always appreciated.
Originally, I thought Wanted Scoundrels was going to be pretty bad—it just looks like the kind of card that you hope your opponent plays. After playing with it, however, I realized that it was actually quite good, because there is almost nothing that deals with a 4/3 for less than 5 mana. You can swing past their blocker early on, and then remove their next blocker, and all of a sudden they are at 8 life. Even if it does die, it’s usually at a point where Treasures don’t matter that much.
Honorable Mention: Vanquish the Weak
Vanquish the Weak is a solid card, and I like starting the Draft with a card that can go in two different archetypes (in this case Pirates or Vampires). I think some people would take Jace here (also over Scoundrels), but I don’t even like Jace that much—it often just makes a 2/2 and dies, which isn’t that great.
This is an extremely weak pack, and nothing here jumps to mind as something you’d be happy to first pick (or put in your deck, either, to be honest). In cases like this, I think it’s better to try to spike—instead of taking a card that is consistently mediocre, take the one that can be great. In this pack, that’s One with the Wind.
One with the Wind type effects have existed before, but in this set it’s probably the best it has ever been—there are several 1-drops worth playing, there’s a common hexproof creature (Jade Guardian), and the removal isn’t very good at killing big creatures that you enchant. I like One with the Wind in most blue decks.
Honorable Mention: Headstrong Brute
Headstrong Brute isn’t good in every red deck, but it’s great if you’re both aggressive and have Pirates. I don’t love first picking it, since it’s narrow, but in this pack, you really can’t do better.
Savage Stomp is one of the best uncommons in the set. If you have Dinosaurs, then it’s a huge tempo swing. For only 1 mana, you kill a creature and grow yours, and you can often play something else that turn as well. Even if you don’t have Dinosaurs, it’s a cheaper Hunt the Weak. I’d happily play it in any green deck.
Honorable Mention: Imperial Aerosaur
Aerosaur is also one of the premium uncommons in the format—a 3/3 flyer for 4 is already good, and it often pushes through 3-4 damage on top of having a good creature type. Any white deck will be happy to have this card.
I think both those uncommons are better than Vance’s Blasting Cannons. Cannons has a better high-end since it’ll win you some unwinnable games, but it often does nothing, and when the power level is this high, I’d rather take the more consistent card (i.e., I’ll take the card that’s always an 8 over the one that can be a 1 or a 9).
Both “modes” on this creature are great, since it’s a 2/1 is a body on its own, so you’re either getting a free land or a counter and a scry. It’s much better than other explore creatures whose base stats are 1/2 since they often can’t participate in combat if you don’t hit a spell, and I’d be happy to have it in any green deck, even if I have no Merfolk synergies.
Honorable Mention: Firecannon Blast
Firecannon Blast is a fine card, but worse than it looks. Being sorcery speed is awkward, as is costs double red. If they play a big blocker, you often have to suicide an attacker to kill it, at which point it might as well just deal 3 damage. Still, it’s a 3-mana removal spell that can kill basically anything, so it’s always going to be worth playing.