First Picks in Dominaria
- Thoralf Severin
Sometimes your life is as easy as opening Karn, Scion of Urza, leaving you with no decision whatsoever. But most of the time, the first pick is quite difficult and sets the tone for the picks to come. In this article, I look at some booster pack and which cards I would pick from them.
How to Approach the First Booster
I have seen people make this much more complicated than it should be. 97.4587% of the time, we just take the best card (and yes that number is scientifically proven, trust me). There are few cases where we pick a card that is slightly less powerful, because it is the only card of that color in the pack and there are at least two other comparable good cards in the other color in the booster. But even though it's sometimes correct, I think ignoring this is far less harmful than trying to do it too often. Moreover, I would never consider a card wheeling as a reason to take a weaker card. There are way too many unknown factors to risk this.
So, we just pick the best card. Normally, that is also the strongest card, but sometimes it differs, usually because of its mana cost. Jaya Ballard is an acceptable card, but I would pick a slightly less powerful card over it, since that card is more likely to end up in the deck. In other words, we always pick the card that will add the most power to our deck, factoring in the likelihood that the card will actually end up in the deck. That is why some gold cards are not always the right pick, even if they are obviously very powerful. Sometimes, a cards relative power is influenced by how strong the color is in that draft environment, but this is not the case for Dominaria in my opinion.
Thallid Omnivore, Mammoth Spider, Radiating Lightning, Tragic Poet, Tolarian Scholar, Baloth Gorger, Jousting Lance, Fungal Infection, Guardians of Koilos, Shivan Fire, Tatyova, Benthic Druid, Icy Manipulator, In Bolas's Clutches, and Jaya's Immolating Inferno.
In a Scenario, where you can actually cast Jaya's Immolating Inferno, it's the best card. Killing more than one creatures for an acceptable mana cost and/or dealing a lot of damage to your opponent is almost unbeatable. But getting the necessary amount of legendaries is almost impossible. The card is not ideal because of this. I would consider Shivan Fire a better pick than Tatyova, Benthic Druid, but Shivan Fire doesn't even come close to the other two uncommons.
So, the decision is between Icy Manipulator and In Bolas's Clutches, arguably the best two uncommons in the set. And we had quite the discussion about those two cards. I personally think Icy Manipulator is the best uncommon and therefore clearly my pick here, but there is an argument for Clutches being the best uncommon, which I can understand. But, as I said, just being a better card doesn't mean that it ends up in our deck often enough. I can see the raw card strength of Clutches proving me wrong, but I would be surprised and definitely feel that Icy Manipulator is the more powerful pick.
Grow from the Ashes, Baloth Gorger, Vodalian Arcanist, Skirk Prospector, Ghitu Chronicler, Cloudreader Sphinx, Feral Abomination, Dub, Divination, Ghitu Journeymage, Untamed Kavu, Yargle, Glutton of Urborg, Diligent Excavator, Verdant Force.
The only three cards I would consider picking are Cloudreader Sphinx, Untamed Kavu and Verdant Force. This would be one example where I can see people thinking about picking the Sphinx. It's a good card and the other two green cards are enticing enough to make your neighbors pick them, but it's just not good enough to justify this. Which leaves us with the two green cards and I don't see Verdant Force as the pick here. Untamed Kavu is so flexible to use on two and so strong to use on five that this choice is fairly clear. I can see a draft where I would pick Verdant Force over Kavu in the second or third pack given that we already picked up some nice mana acceleration like Song of Freyalise.
Keldon Overseer, Opt, Bloodstone Goblin, Dub, Fiery Intervention, Thallid Omnivore, Cloudreader Sphinx, Saproling Migration, Blessing of Belzenlok, Powerstone Shard, Sanctum Spirit, Merfolk Trickster, Gaea's Blessing, and Jodah, Archmage Eternal.
Well, this is a pretty bad booster. Neither the rare or the uncommons are exciting, so it is between Cloudreader Sphinx and Fiery Intervention. I have come across this decision quite often and I am still unsure about it. This would be one of the times where other playable picks could make the difference, and Merfolk Trickster is the only other card in those colors worth taking. I have picked Intervention every time in this situation and I would still do so here. When in doubt, I stray on the side of removal. Being able to destroy an artifact is a pretty handy bonus too.
Academy Journeymage, Arcane Flight, Windgrace Acolyte, Sergeant-at-Arms, Eviscerate, Deep Freeze, Cabal Paladin, Deathbloom Thallid, Pierce the Sky, Fiery Intervention, Spore Swarm, Cast Down, Whisper, Blood Liturgist, and Daring Archaeologist.
While Daring Archaeologist can be powerful, he has, overall, disappointed me quite a bit. It is not that easy to rebuy artifacts with him, since there are very few artifacts that naturally land in the graveyard. In the beginning, I would have picked him above decent removal spells, but not anymore. Now we have to decide between the four removal Spells. Deep Freeze and Fiery Intervention are fine, but clearly inferior to Eviscerate and Cast Down and I think those two are very close. I can see the argument that Eviscerate hits every creature and being able to kill legendary creatures is very important since they are usually the best creatures on the battlefield, but I would still choose the efficiency and instant-speed option. Another argument is that, ideally, I would like to have one of each instead of having two of one. Getting another Eviscerate in the draft is far more likely than getting another Cast Down.
Do you agree with my picks, or would you have picked/considered something else completely? What were difficult pick you had in your drafts? Please let me know and comment or feedback in the comments below.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily Cardmarket.