With Amonkhet fully revealed, we can finally start cracking some packs (or simulated ones in this case, as I can't get my hands on the actual cards until after this weekend). As nobody has played with the cards yet, it's hard to share much knowledge on the format, but so far I have an inkling that it will be on the slow side. Think about the mechanics. Both Embalm and Aftermath are built-in card advantage, yet that side is quite overpriced, and cycling is designed to help smooth out draws. In fact, other than Exert, every mechanic is designed such that the cards are, to an extent, overcosted. This is why I believe this format will be on the slower side, but it's hard to tell.
Anyway, let's crack a pack!
Pack 1, Pick 1
Honorable mentions in this pack would be Synchronized Strike and Cartouche of Knowledge. I don't think they are good first picks here, but I could see a format where they severely overperform. They are both cards I will be keeping an eye out for in the early weeks.
Both Compulsory Rest and Cartouche of Strength are premium commons. They are efficient removal spells, which aren't the easiest to come by in Limited. So which one is better? My guess would be Cartouche of Strength, given the upside of boosting a creature and interacting very well with the Trials. But it is pretty close, and both of these picks are safe.
Merciless Javelineer is certainly the most powerful card in the pack. It seems like a very good mana sink and really helps aggressive decks. Also, with Embalm, Aftermath, and other graveyard synergies in the set, discarding a card isn't as detrimental as usual. Although I don't like first-picking gold cards, this one seems powerful enough to consider. Additionally, given that it's the first draft of the format, I would rather try something out to see if it's good than take the safer pick. So I'm going to take Merciless Javelineer.
Pack 1, Pick 6
The Picks So Far:
Baleful Ammit looks like it could be one of the best uncommons in the set! I mean, it's a three-mana 4/3 with lifelink, and doesn't even cost double black. So we're looking to be a B/R aggro deck. Let's see what this pack has to offer.
The only reason to take Cursed Minotaur is if the format is extremely hostile towards one-toughness creatures. Given the -1/-1 counter subtheme, this is entirely possible. But for now I will assume this is not the case, so the pick is between Dread Wanderer and Nef-Crop Entangler.
Since both of these cards fulfil the same role (aggressive card on the curve), a good way to go about discerning which is better is to look at the differences. The only category in which one card is simply better than the other is converted mana cost. Other than that, it's unclear. Dread Wanderer has built-in recursion for the late-game, and Nef-Crop Entangler can attack through three-toughness creatures.
I think Dread Wanderer is the pick here for a couple of reasons. First off, it's the beginning of the format, so it's important to take and play rares when possible. We will get a good feel on Nef-Crop Entangler early in the format, but that isn't necessarily true of Dread Wanderer. But that's not the only reason. I do think that Dread Wanderer edges out Nef-Crop Entangler in enough categories that it's just the better card. It's cheaper, has a more relevant creature type, and works pretty well with the Merciless Javelineer that we picked up with Pick 1!