Now that Pro Tour Amonkhet is behind us, we have a much better understanding of the Limited format. For those of you unaware, it has been confirmed that this format is blisteringly fast. One-drops are king. Because the aggro decks are so good, you want to draft the hyper-linearized versions. This is because the best way to beat an aggressive deck is to attack. If you put an aggressive deck in a position where they have to keep creatures back to block, that gives you a huge advantage. Jason Chung spoke about this in depth at the Pro Tour. His team came to the understanding that if everybody is curving two-drop, three-drop, into four-drop, you can beat that by curving one-drop, two-drop, into three-drop.
Now this does not mean that you cannot draft a durdly midrange or control deck. It just means you have to be prepared to play against decks with five one-drops and eight two-drops. And you also need to have extremely powerful cards, so if I don't play an aggressive deck in this format, it's almost always because I have a couple very powerful rares.
Pack 1, Pick 1
I'm sorry to break it to you, but Kefnet the Mindful is not the durdly payoff that enables the late-game decks in this format. There simply isn't the time to spend four mana to draw a card. And in order to not die against these aggressive decks, you need to be casting your spells. Hence Kefnet the Mindful is not easy to turn on either.
So this leaves us with three cheap creatures, which is a good place to be. In the beginning of this format, I think I would have taken Exemplar of Strength. The card reminded me a lot of Longtusk Cub, as it's a two-drop creature that grows over time and hence still scales well into the lategame. Unfortunately, the card hasn't played out the same. It's still a very good aggressive two-drop, but not a card necessary to any strategies in particular. It's better than Bitterblade Warrior, but not by as much as I expected it to be (still by a substantial margin for what it's worth).
Ruthless Sniper is a terrifying magic card. As I like to draft decks with a bunch of one-drops and two-drops, Ruthless Sniper can mow down my entire creature base with ease. It's one of the big payoffs for U/B cycling and can also do work in B/R, but it is not as good there since the deck wants to be aggressive and cycling is not great under that circumstance. Ruthless Sniper is the frontrunner, but, and I think this will be the case for a lot of packs in this format, it gets outshined by a common that is just too efficient to pass up.
My man Gust Walker! I'm slamming this evasive two-drop and I'm not looking back. The decks that have had the most success in this format are W/R, W/U, and W/B. Notice a pattern? They're all white-based aggressive decks (note: the red aggressive decks are good as well, I have just seen more success with these three)! Gust Walker is not only incredibly efficient, but it will be one of your best cards in all of the top archetypes. Because of this, there aren't many uncommons that I take over the card, and I take it over a good amount of rares as well. Let me put it this way: I'll cut a quality Zombie before a Gust Walker in the W/B Zombie deck. It doesn't require additional synergies like Ruthless Sniper. All it asks is for you to play Plains, which I already want to do since white is the best color in Amonkhet Limited.
Pack 1, Pick 3
The Picks So Far:
So far we have a decent white-based aggressive start! Please note that Binding Mummy does not lock me into W/B zombies. While it is best in that archetype, Binding Mummy is solid in W/R and W/U as well (although pretty mediocre in W/G, which is not an archetype I like very much anyways). Let's see what the next pack has to offer.The Pack:
At the beginning of this format I would have slammed Edifice of Authority and also given myself a headache trying to comprehend what the hell the people to my right took over the card. Now, I'm more down on the card. Don't get me wrong, Edifice of Authority is a very good magic card, but in the best aggressive decks, it has no place. Paying three mana for a card that doesn't help you attack for three to four turns is an absolute waste of time. And given the start that I have in this draft, it's looking like Gust Walker will be a much better card for my deck.
Now, as any good drafter knows, you shouldn't lock yourself in. Maybe white isn't open? Well, given that we started with two white cards and I have the potential to take a white card, it honestly doesn't matter very much if white is not open, especially given the density of good white commons. This may come as a surprise to you, but one of the best ways to draft is to cement yourself in one color (white in this scenario) and pair it with whichever color/archetype you discover is open. This way you avoid losing early picks and still can get solid cards late! And now comes a little secret: I already know which archetype to pair with white just by looking at this pack.
This is something that I'm assuming most of you missed...both packs we looked at had the card Slither Blade. That's right, this Magic card you thought was "unplayable" turns out to be pretty good. I mean if you really want to play one-drops, it gets the job done. And it wears a cartouche or Honed Khopesh pretty well.
For those of you who didn't see all the coverage at Pro Tour Amonkhet, Lee Shi Tian drafted this deck on camera day one, and Christian Calcano went 3-0 with a deck with six copies of Slither Blade.
Now, I have been drafting this deck for about two or three weeks, and the key way to get into it is take note of when you see them in pack one, stay in one aggressive color (usually white or red), and then snap them up on the wheel.
The reason these decks are good is not because Slither Blade is busted; it's because Slither Blade is a solid card in the strategy that you can reliably get last pick, which helps build that hyper-linearized aggressive deck I have been talking about! If I take this Gust Walker and table both copies of Slither Blade, I am set up to be in an extremely potent W/U aggressive deck. And hey, if somebody in my pod has already jumped on the Slither Blade train, I'm mono-white, so I can jump into any of the other great white-based aggressive archetypes!
Just so you know, the Slither Blades did wheel and I ended up with an absurd deck with five of them! I had 22 cards that I could cast for one or two mana, and hence played only fourteen lands. Lastly, for your amusement, this happened: