Welcome back! I’m going to crack 5 packs and break down my choices—I didn’t pre-screen the packs because I want to get an idea of what the average pack looks like, so that the data is useful at the end of the series.
My pick: Crux of Fate. Another pretty easy bomb-rare pick. Any Wrath of God-type effect is almost always very good in Limited. Crux of Fate is no exception. The fact that it can only kill Dragons or non-Dragons is a double-edged sword. It could be beneficial if you get lucky enough to get a Dragon, or a drawback if your opponent has one. Theoretically it could also be good for you if your opponent has a Dragon and you can use Crux to destroy that without killing your own creatures, though.
Honorable Mention: Valorous Stance, Douse in Gloom, Bathe in Dragonfire. Both of the first two cards are powerful, situational creature removal spells which I’d often be very happy to first-pick. Bathe in Dragonfire is an even stronger removal spell, but with Crux of Fate in the pack, there is really no other consideration.
My pick: Torrent Elemental. I’ve heard speculation that this card is the single best card in the set, and I can see why. As simply a 3/5 flier for 5 mana that tapped all of your opponent’s creatures when it attacked, you’d be exceptionally happy to first-pick this card. In a delve deck, it’s even better.
Imagine you’re playing a deck with cards like Sultai Skullkeeper and Rakshasa’s Secret, along with any of the delve cards in either Fate Reforged or Khans of Tarkir. You have plenty of opportunities to put Torrent Elemental into your graveyard from your library, which is great. You then have the opportunity to delve it away, and put it into play from exile. Even if you end up playing Jeskai, you’re happy to draw and cast this card. All of these things make Torrent Elemental a bomb that you should never pass.
Honorable Mention: Douse in Gloom, Sandblast. More situational removal spells that don’t compare to bomb rares but are very powerful, and you’d sometimes first-pick and almost never cut from your deck.
My pick: Citadel Siege. This card is another bomb rare. It has the advantage of being great if you’re being aggressive or if you’re playing a control game. On offense, you can simply put two +1/+1 counters on your creatures every turn. Against an opposing monster, you can use it as a Benalish Trapper with haste. I don’t think there are any cards that I’d take over Citadel Siege, except maybe in the weird instance of a pack that has a foil rare (this doesn’t apply at the PT, since the packs don’t have foils).
Honorable Mention: Sandsteppe Outcast. Most of the time, this card is going to be a 3-mana 2/1 that gives you a 1/1 flier, which is pretty decent value. Two creatures for one card is often very good in Limited, even when both creatures are somewhat weak on their own. In general getting two weak creatures is better than getting one mediocre creature.
My pick: Ojutai, Soul of Winter. A 7-mana 5/6 flying vigilance is a bomb rare in nearly any format that isn’t hyper-aggressive. Add in the fact that when he attacks you get to lock down a permanent for your opponent’s next turn and this is an easy pick out of this pack even though you’re committing to two colors.
Honorable Mention: Aven Surveyor. This card is most often going to be a 2/2 flying Man-o’-War for five mana, which is great. Bouncing a creature that your opponent has already unmorphed can gain a lot of tempo. A 3/3 flier for 5 is also a very good rate, and certainly that will be your choice some percentage of the time.
My pick: Daghatar the Adamant. A 4/4 for four with vigilance is already a very good card. Being able to move +1/+1 counters about your creatures for three mana can really make combat a nightmare for your opponents. Factor in that Daghatar is a Warrior and so gains the bonus of any Warrior synergies, and also has the capability to steal your opponent’s +1/+1 counters if they happen to have some makes this an easy pick.
Honorable Mention: Bathe in Dragonfire, Reach of Shadows. Bathe in Dragonfire is the second-best card in the pack, and I would easily select it if the rare hadn’t been quite so good. Reach of Shadows is another quality removal spell that I would consider selecting if I developed a very strong preference for black over red.
I found it very interesting that so far after opening 15 packs and making 15 first picks, I selected the rare 12 times. That’s quite a high rate. I’ll be curious to see if I was just “lucky” or if that’s the way the set actually plays out. I’ve got more of these coming up, so we’ll see. Happy drafting.