As I write this, I am currently in the San Jose airport, waiting to board my flight back to New York City. You'd think I would have had enough of Magic after a weekend of nonstop Limited play, but then you obviously don't know me well enough. I woke up today comfortably at 8-1 and finished a respectable 12-3, but my itch hasn't been scratched yet. Yes, I am going to do another draft, right here, right now.
Before I get into the pack for today, I want to mention something I have found extremely important in this Limited format: sizing.
Creatures in Aether Revolt are small. Remember how Chandra's Pyrohelix was mediocre in Kaladesh? Well, it's pretty great now. Don't be afraid to maindeck Fireforger's Puzzleknot if your deck has Improvise. Even more so, there are so few creatures with four or more power that a 3/4 is just great! I won many games off using Implement of Ferocity (which needs to get more respect...I got one eleventh pick) to make a random 2/3 a 3/4. This is also why I have Ridgescale Tusker higher than most people. Yes, we all agree it's one of the best cards in the set, but I'll take it over anything barring Aethersphere Harvester. The +1/+1 counters on all of your creatures go such a long way, more than I expected. And the 5/5 body is completely uncontested!
Woohoo, you learned something! All right, now let's get into the pack.
Pack 1, Pick 1
We have a versatile rare, quality removal spell, decent flier, and a colorless card to stay open. From the get-go, mainly based on power level, I am going to eliminate Mobile Garrison and Foundry Hornet from contention. Although staying open is great, Mobile Garrison is too replaceable. And Foundry Hornet isn't always so impactful in comparison to the other options.
Aethergeode Miner has impressed me. The card does so many little things: Revolt, energy, aggro, you name it and Aethergeode Miner can do it. I am happy to first-pick the card out of a variety of packs. There are no commons I take over it, and only a handful of uncommons, but Monstrous Onslaught might just be on that list.
I'm a bit over 30 drafts into this format. At first I was extremely high on Monstrous Onslaught, but then it just didn't yield two-for-ones as much as I thought it would. Once I surpassed twenty drafts, I realized I was missing a really important aspect of the card that is a little unintuitive: optimizing it for post-combat. You see, Revolt is a really interesting mechanic that changes how combat works. Because of Lifecraft Cavalry, your opponent is incentivized to block in a manner that does not kill your creatures when you have five mana. This ends up making Monstrous Onslaught yield a three-for-one sometimes and a two-for-one often. And obviously it's even better, since you're playing a Lifecraft Cavalry as a giant monster to go with it!
Aethergeode Miner is a great card and an engine for Revolt, but Monstrous Onslaught is a more powerful card that gets better with Revolt. I think the pick is somewhat close, but I am going to take the Monstrous Onslaught here. It also should be noted that I have white as the worst color and green as the best, which has a minor influence here as well.
Pack 1, Pick 5
The Picks So Far:
This is such a great position to be in. I am one color and have all very quality cards going into Pick 5. I can now try to suss out what color is open and get rewarded. Let's see if this pack has anything to say about that!
So it looks like white might be open. It's difficult to tell. Audacious Infiltrator is great, but not a signal. The Felidar Guardian might be. Felidar Guardian does so much, and a 1/4 is much better than you would think. As I mentioned, very few creatures actually have four power in this set. If I am taking a white card, it's going to be the Guardian.
The green cards are a great Revolt enabler and fixer in Unbridled Growth and a Lifecraft Cavalry to go with the Monstrous Onslaught. Although Unbridled Growth can be great, you can usually pick up those types of enablers with Implement of Ferocity, Renegade Map, and Unbridled Growth at common. I would rather pick up a more potent card to work well with the enablers first, like Lifecraft Cavalry. So now we have to decide what's better for us, Lifecraft Cavalry or Felidar Guardian.
Let's weigh this decision. We are 100% to play the Lifecraft Cavalry, and maybe 35% to play the Felidar Guardian because we are 25% to be any nongreen color and taking the Felidar Guardian will make us lean white. But if we do end up W/G, Felidar Guardian will be an extremely important Revolt enabler. Further, five-drops tend to be replaceable, so that's another hit against the Cavalry.
I am going to take Lifecraft Cavalry here. I think with all the information mentioned above, the pick is extremely close. What puts Lifecraft Cavalry over the top for me is Monstrous Onslaught. This removal spell is fine with most creatures, but with a Scrounging Bandar and an Untethered Express already, taking Lifecraft Cavalry increases the consistency of Monstrous Onslaught in this deck by a relevant margin.