Welcome back for another edition of What’s the Pick? This is the third installment of the series with Oath of the Gatewatch , and with each one I write, I am getting more and more anxious to start playing the set with physical cards. I wasn’t able to make it to the prerelease this time around, but have plans to start drafting very soon! Let’s get to today’s set of packs:

Pack #1

My Pick

Boulder Salvo.

Boulder Salvo is one of the better common removal spells in the set. The surge cost is pretty easy to maneuver, and will often deal with your opponent’s best creature. Paying 5 mana for 4 damage is also fine in certain situations, and if you don’t have anything else to cast anyway, spending the extra mana likely won’t hurt you.

Honorable Mention: Flaying Tendrils.

It’s hard to evaluate this card without playing the format, but in general, this type of effect is very powerful. It’s also even more valuable when you’re able to pick it up early in the draft, as you can maximize close picks by taking creatures that are able to survive the -2/-2 and maximize your gain.

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Pack #2

My Pick

Isolation Zone. I’m actually not quite sure about the pick between Isolation Zone and Grasp of Darkness. Isolation Zone has a bit more power in that it can remove creatures with greater than 4 toughness. That seems like it may be more important in an Eldrazi format than in a normal format. It naturally has the downside that if your opponent can remove your Isolation Zone, his or her creature returns to play. Processors still exist, so that drawback can be somewhat mitigated by turning the exiling into an upside. Isolation Zone can also exile an enchantment, which probably won’t come up too often.

Honorable Mention: Grasp of Darkness.

On the other hand, Grasp of Darkness is an instant, and still deals with many of the creatures in the format. Even if you’re up against a creature with 5 or more toughness, you can use Grasp of Darkness as a combat trick. I think this pick is pretty close, and I could see being wrong, but in the beginning, I’d take Isolation Zone.

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Pack #3

My Pick

Sphinx of the Final Word.

When this card actually gets into play, it’s more or less unbeatable. A 5/5 flying hexproof kills extremely quickly, and is almost impossible to interact with. The only difficulty in getting Sphinx of the Final Word into play is getting to 7 mana. The real question here is whether the format is fast enough that Grasp of Darkness can be a better first pick. Initially, it doesn’t look like it is.

Honorable Mention: Grasp of Darkness.

For all the reasons mentioned in the previous pack—it is just a great, instant removal spell that will be able to remove most creatures.

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Pack #4

My Pick

Chandra, Flamecaller.

Chandra, Flamecaller is unsurprisingly really powerful. She can be an aggressive card by making two 3/1 haste creatures. She can be a defensive card by minus’ing to destroy all of the creatures in play. She can also be a grindy card by using the zero ability, allowing you to discard your hand, hopefully full of useless cards, and draw that many cards plus one. Chandra doesn’t protect herself that well against big creatures, but I still doubt that I’ll ever consider passing this card first pick, first pack.

Honorable Mention: Blinding Drone.

This is a tapper that takes me back to the good old days when there were several common tappers and many games came down to tapper superiority. The drawback, of course, is that Blinding Drone requires colorless mana to activate. That being said, the upside is enormous, and the 1/3 body for 2 mana is pretty good, as it means Blinding Drone is able to survive at least a couple of the common removal spells. This is a very good card that I hope to play in all my blue decks.

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Pack #5

My Pick

Deepfathom Skulker.

The upside of this card just looks too high to consider passing it for one of the great uncommon removal spells. It even has the added upside of being able to make one of your creature unblockable to guarantee that you get to draw a card. A 4/4 for 6 mana isn’t particularly great, but the passive ability on this card is simply too good.

Honorable Mention: Oblivion Strike.

I still think Oblivion Strike is probably the best common in the set. I’d be fine to first pick it generally and would certainly always put it in my deck if I was playing black.

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Thanks for reading this edition of What’s the Pick! As always, let me know what you think of my picks in the comments. Happy Drafting!