Over ten drafts in (probably more by the time you read this) and this has been some of the most fun I've had in Limited, ever! I've started to have a lot of success with aggro decks, so it's possible this format isn't as durdly as I thought. But don't get me wrong; for all of you going to Grand Prix Richmond, this Sealed format is quite the durdlefest (I think). I've played four-/five-color "Good Stuff" to great success so far in Sealed. It's also an archetype in draft (base U/G), but I'm not sure how potent the strategy is and/or if it can keep up with the aggressive decks.
Anyway, let's get into the draft!
Pack 1, Pick 1
This one might be a little controversial, as I know I'm higher on this card than most, but hey, it's the beginning of the format, so we'll know who's right soon enough...
Rags//Riches is a bomb and a half. I'm taking it here. Now, it's not entirely obvious that this card is great, so don't hit yourself if you missed it, but Infest is pretty good in this set. It just so happens that there are lots of Bears and other X/2 creatures lying around. Funny enough, these creatures don't attack in such a fragile manner due to Exert, so don't go fawning over those Naga Oracles. But this does make Rags a substantially better card than how it looks at first glance.
Then, the Aftermath part is just wonderful gravy. You can use some removal, or even a timely Winds of Rebuke, on a mediocre creature and then cast Riches to steal their best card. And even taking their worst card is fine; it's additional value. The only card in this pack that contests it is Oketra's Attendant. Both Naga Vitalist and Electrify are solid commons, but they aren't guaranteed two-for-ones.
Even though I've said I'm taking Rags//Riches, I do want to briefly discuss Oketra's Attendant. Five mana for a 3/3 flier is about one point of toughness below rate. Throw cycling on that card and I'm happy to play it. Add Embalm and I'm pretty excited about the card. I'll admit Oketra's Attendant hasn't performed as highly as I expected, but that was a very high bar. It's still solid and better than probably every common. It's a card I am happy to first-pick, as it's a resilient threat with built-in value that can't get stuck in your hand. I'm still taking Rags//Riches, but I could definitely see a world where I'm wrong here and Oketra's Attendant is the pick.
Pack 1, Pick 4
The Picks So Far:
This draft isn't going very well so far. Second-picking Trial of Ambition out of an overall weak pack was pretty unfortunate. Diabolic Edict isn't a good Limited card, so you really need to pick up the Cartouches for it to be good, but don't play them if they're bad in your deck just to make a Trial better.
Cartouche of Ambition is the only black card in the pack worth taking, so we can signal pretty hard that black is not open. And it synergizes well with the Trial of Ambition. But as I mentioned before, I don't think it's good practice to take a Cartouche to make the Trial that we have better, especially this early. Overall, I think the other two options in this pack are better.
Bloodrage Brawler hits hard! If you cast play that card on turn 2, it'll probably take over the entire game. It certainly has the highest ceiling out of all the cards in the pack, but also a notably low floor. I also have not been impressed with B/R at all, and Rags//Riches wouldn't be very good in a B/R aggro deck. I think I would take this over the Cartouche of Ambition, but not over the next card.
I really like Aven Initiate. In fact, I think it's the best blue common. A 3/2 flier will end the game, and this one is resilient. Even if you're on the back foot, you can just trade it away and then Embalm it back later! It's a great card for a control deck, and this seems to be shaping up to be a pretty good U/B control deck. There's also some fixing in the set, so maybe I can still splash the Magma Spray.