I’m back with another edition of Pick 1 Pack 1. Let’s jump right into some picks!
There are formats where River’s Rebuke might not be a bomb, but this isn’t one of them. Ixalan Limited is heavily focused on tempo and controlling the battlefield, and River’s Rebuke is one of the only ways to reset the battlefield.
A card that only bounces your opponent’s permanents won’t catch you up from too far behind, but it’s rare in this format that there are creatures on only one side of the battlefield, so River’s Rebuke can usually catch you up enough to win a close game.
Honorable Mention: Firecannon Blast.
When Ixalan first came out I would have selected Snapping Sailback here, but I can’t remember the last time I triggered enrage with ol’ Snappy while it was still in play. Okay, I can—it was the prerelease.
This is a close pick for me. On the one hand you have Pirate’s Cutlass, a card that has done nothing but skyrocket to the top of people’s pick orders. On the other hand, you have Adanto Vanguard, a premium 2-drop.
In Ixalan Limited I want to attack every turn, and Adanto Vanguard can attack with impunity in the early turns of a game, and combined with all of the lifelink white has to offer, giving Adanto Vanguard indestructible hasn’t felt like too steep a cost. Speaking of lifelink, Adanto Vanguard is one of the best possible targets for a Mark of the Vampire in a B/W Vampire deck.
Honorable Mention: Pirate’s Cutlass
As I said before, this was a close pick, but my second choice here is easily Pirate’s Cutlass. I was surprised by how good it was when I first played against it. Pirates cover 3 of the 5 colors in Ixalan, and you don’t need many Pirates to turn this equipment into a Trusty Machete, making it a lot more flexible than it may seem as a “tribal” card.
There are not many mana sinks in Ixalan Limited, so moving equipment around is a good way to use unspent mana so that you have effective attackers and blockers.
I’m pretty happy to start my Draft off with this solid equipment.
While this pack is weak, Priest of the Wakening Sun is a busted turn-1 play in a deck with a high concentration of Dinosaurs. In a format that usually comes down to racing, it will gain you upwards of 10 life when you cast it on turn 1.
After it has done its job attacking for a few points of damage and gaining you a ton of life, it will then go find you one of the best creatures left in your deck after making a chump block.
The downside of Priest of the Wakening Sun is when you draw it later in the game, or are forced to play your only Dino early, it can be a low impact card requiring a lot of mana to turn into something with actual impact on the game.
While I’m not over the moon to first pick Priest, I’m not entirely upset about it either.
Honorable Mention: Watertrap Weaver.
This is a close pick with River Sneak, as I’ve grown fond of the 2-mana unblockable, but without any context and any firm direction of being Merfolk, I lean to Watertrap Weaver here. Watertrap Weaver is a great creature in any blue deck providing you with a way to bust through bigger creatures in blue and shut that same creature off for an attack. River Sneak is pretty mediocre outside of a solid Merfolk deck as it just does not pack enough of a punch when you can’t get the extra few points of damage off of its triggered ability.
Frost Lynx has never been better, and while Watertrap Weaver is low on the list of cards I’d expect to first pick, it’s a solid playable and I’m always going to include any number of these in my deck.
This is what everyone’s talking about when they complain about packs full of unplayable cards in Ixalan. While there are some cards I’m fine putting in my deck as filler, there’s only one card in this pack I’d ever think could be the best card in my deck, and that’s River Heralds’ Boon.
While I’m a fan of staying open early in this format, I’d much prefer to stake my claim in Merfolk when I open a pack like this and take one of the best combat tricks in the format in River Heralds’ Boon. Merfolk can be a tricky deck to get into, and opening packs like this is usually how I end up moving into the archetype.
Honorable Mention: Headstrong Brute.
Headstrong Brute is a quality 3-drop common, but it’s not a good way to start a Draft. The card goes down significantly in value if you don’t have Pirates in your deck, and borders on unplayable in that circumstance.
When you do have Pirates in your deck, it’s usually one of your best 3-drops if your deck is aggressive enough.
I did it! Hostage Taker might be the best rare in Ixalan Limited. Hostage Taker acts as a 3-for-1, allowing you to Mind Control an opponent’s creature while leaving you with a 2/3 body. It does require a lot of mana to do that, but the juice is worth the squeeze in this case.
It’s worth nothing that in addition to Hostage Taker being so busted to cast once, cards like Siren’s Ruse and March of the Drowned also go up a ton in value when you have a Hostage Taker. There’s no uncommon or common that comes close to the power level of Hostage Taker.
Honorable Mention: Siren Lookout.
As I’ve said before, others are higher on Bonded Horncrest than myself, and while I like to take a Perilous Voyage now and then, Siren Lookout is a strong common that carries a Cutlass better than most.
Lookout’s Dispersal is close to Siren Lookout, but I like to stay flexible early and Siren Lookout is excellent in all my blue decks whereas Lookout’s Dispersal ends up being a slightly better Cancel in a deck like Merfolk.
Okay, what did you think this time? Anything you disagree with? Let me know!