I'm thankful for a lot of things this year. All the normal stuff: family, friends, health of course, and also there's my promotion to Premium this year, and the opportunity to create VS Videos and a whole bunch of other content. But mostly I'm thankful that Kaladesh has been such a sweet draft format. You can be aggressive, you can be controlling, you can play a million colors if you want to, and there are plenty of internal synergies to figure out.
So put down the fork; you've had enough turkey and you need to save room for pie. Sit down, avoid the awkward conversation with family you rarely see, and check out some sweet, sweet draft picks.
Pack 1, Pick 1
This one may seem like a no-brainer. Large creatures with powerful enters-the-battlefield abilities tend to be excellent in Limited, and the Gearhulk cycle as a whole lives up to that high standard. But Cataclysmic Gearhulk is on the weaker end of the cycle because its effect is rather high-variance. When you're far behind it's going to be incredible, but it's a tough card to play when you're ahead or at parity because most decks in this format have diverse card types.
Still, there will have to be some tough competition for me to pass up a card with as much potential as Cataclysmic Gearhulk.
Well, looking at the rest of the pack, I see two quality uncommons in Filigree Familiar and Chief of the Foundry. Filigree Familiar is a bit overrated because the 2/2 body isn't great in this format, and while you're likely to get a two-for-one if you cast it early, you're not trading for high-leverage cards, so it's an easy material advantage to overcome through other means.
Chief of the Foundry, however, is excellent in my experience. You need to build around it to an extent, but even with five or six artifact creatures it's going to be quite good, and with anything in excess of eight or nine it will be among the best cards in your deck. Sizing in Limited is quite important; turning all your fabricated Servos into 2/2s helps them trade for full cards, and leveling up the rest of your team gives you a huge edge in combat.
The fact that Chief of the Foundry doesn't commit you to a color is also attractive, so I think this pick is fairly close. Still, I have to side with the raw power of the mythic rare, since effects like that are so rare to find.
Pack 1, Pick 3
The pool so far:
Okay, so we have our Cataclysmic Gearhulk and our second pick was...what? Bastion Mastodon? It's a fine card, but second-pick?? Suffice it to say that the second pack was among the worst I'd ever seen and the portly pachyderm was actually among the best cards in it.
Now we're faced with a pack where the best white card, Thriving Ibex, isn't exciting. The only reason to pick it would be to stay on-color and I don't find that argument compelling here.
The two best cards in my opinion are Servant of the Conduit and Subtle Strike. Mana creatures have always been good in Limited and Servant of the Conduit comes with a body that can reasonably trade for something later in the game and can fuel energy synergies.
Subtle Strike is one of those cards that quickly rose up pick orders in the early testing of the set. It's tough to figure out which tricks are the best without playing with the cards, so the best ones tend to be underrated early on. Subtle Strike is versatile because it can operate as a traditional trick, net a two-for-one if your opponent lines up their blocks poorly, or simply trump an even trade while taking out a Servo. Its versatility makes it difficult to play around, so it will almost always get value.
That being said, mana creatures are certainly more difficult to pick up later in the draft, and with two five-drops in the deck already, I like taking Servant of the Conduit here.
I think I smell the pies coming out of the oven, which is my cue to exit. Until next week!