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 the data is useful at the end of the series.
My pick: Monastery Mentor. This card is a bomb you can easily build your deck around. Cards like Defiant Strike, Tormenting Voice, and Pressure Point, which are already decent cards will greatly go up in value. The ability to use your spells to make tokens and pump the ones you already have is game-breaking, so I would make sure to focus my draft on making that happen as often as possible after first-picking this card. I’d also draft prowess creatures slightly higher than I would normally.
Honorable Mention: Bathe in Dragonfire. Three mana to deal 4 damage to a creature is a profitable exchange—usually you’ll be trading up in mana. In other words, hopefully you’ll be spending 3 mana to kill a creature that cost more than three mana, giving you a mana advantage in your 1-for-1 exchange. Even if you kill a morph, you’re at parity. This is a very strong card that I’d be happy to take out of a pack without a bomb rare.
My pick: Jeskai Infiltrator. Jeskai Infiltrator is very good. Even if you play a 2-casting-cost creature on our second turn, and he isn’t technically unblockable, morphs can’t profitably block him anyway, which allows you to get a hit in. After that, it’s a guessing game. These kinds of subgames are always very fun in Magic. Which of your cards is the Jeskai Infiltrator and which your of cards is the random manifested morph?
Honorable Mention: Cloudform and Aven Surveyor. Both of these cards, also blue, are extremely powerful. Both can give you a flying presence, and in the case of Aven Surveyor a lot of tempo. Again, Cloudform has the upside of giving you a really powerful flying force if you get lucky with the manifest.
My pick: Wardscale Dragon. A 6-mana 4/4 flier that is immune to combat tricks and cards like Kill Shot. 6 mana for a 4/4 flier is a pretty fair price, and it looks like white is still one of the strongest colors in the format after the addition of Fate Reforged.
If you are lucky enough to get an additional Dragon, they all have attack triggers as well.
I heard a story about this card from a friend who went to the prerelease last weekend. He had a hand full of tricks and removal spells and was waiting for his opponent to attack before casting them. His opponent attacked, and before passing priority unmorphed Wardscale Dragon, rendering my friend unable to cast any spells. He then quickly died to the attack, and lost the game.
Honorable Mentions: Aven Surveyor and Sandsteppe Mastodon. I’ve already talked about Aven Surveyor, but Sandsteppe Mastadon is an interesting card too. A 7-mana 5/5 is a bit on the expensive side, but when you think about it in terms of 5/5 plus five +1/+1 counter, you’re paying 7 mana for 10 power and 10 toughness which is a decent rate. Factor in that if you have another creature in play, half of that power and toughness effectively gets haste, I think that makes this a decent card.
My pick: Supplant Form. I think this card is a bomb. It’s so devastating when your opponent spends a lot of mana to unmorph a creature. Not only do you cause them to waste what is potentially an entire turn to unmorph their creature, you also get a copy of that creature, and they have to spend even more time casting it again.
It’s also extremely effective on your own giant threat. If you’re fortunate enough to be able to leave six mana up on later turns, which is admittedly no easy feat, you can protect your creature from a removal spell while also threatening to make a copy of it.
Honorable Mention: Reach of Shadows and Sandblast. A five-mana “conditional” removal spell is still very powerful. I think this is substantially better than a card like Throttle, for example. I say “conditional” because the condition is not that big of a drawback. Effectively you just can’t kill morphs until they are unmorphed, or artifact creatures. I don’t think those downsides are big enough to not make this a great card. Sandblast is another great card, which I think is actually better than its predecessor, Kill Shot. Being able to use it on offense as well as defense greatly increases its value.
My pick: Lightform. Three-mana 2/2 flying lifelink, enough said? One of the good parts about theseAuras that come into play enchanting a manifested card is that you don’t really get fully blown out by an enchantment removal spell. Sure, it could happen in combat, but at least if your Lightform gets disenchanted, you don’t lose your creature as well. Also, if the creature gets bounced, you’ve actually benefited by a card, unlike with a normal Aura, where you lose a card and tempo.
Cards like Lightform, I think, are going to prove to be very high variance cards. The difference between hitting a creature or a noncreature is going to prove extremely relevant, and probably with some reasonable regularity make a major difference in the outcome of games. The upside of that, and the downside of “only” getting a 2/2 flier with lifelink for three mana makes this a great first pick.
Honorable Mention: Outpost Siege. Nearly every time you play this card you will choose Khans. It’s certainly not quite as good of an effect as drawing an additional card every turn, but it’s in that ballpark. It reminds me a bit of Grafted Skullcap, which was generally a first-pick quality card. Factor in the versatility you gain by occasionally being able to name Dragons, and you have yourself a great card.