Back to Amonkhet again! This week is time to grind over and over again. While I'll be playing mostly Sealed to prepare for the upcoming RPTQ, Draft is still crucial, as you'll need to play one round of it if you're planning on getting to the Pro Tour.
This draft format has converged to a really interesting point. The aggressive decks, while good, are no longer dominant. The control decks aren't so easy to get anymore because fewer players are forcing aggressive decks. The real piece of information that you should know is that a general midrange "good stuff" deck doesn't seem to work as often. Hyper-aggression, durdly control, and archetypal synergies are really how you need to approach this format. Something in the middle is too easy to go over or under.
All right, let's jump into the draft!
Pack 1, Pick 1
Some players stand by Oketra's Monument so much as to say it's a bomb. I certainly don't pick it that highly, but it can take over a game. I'll sideboard in Forsake the Worldly or Dissenter's Deliverance if I see it, because it is powerful. The problem I have with the card is that it's too slow for most aggressive decks to want, and most of the durdly decks don't have good creature density. It is at its best in the "good stuff" midrange decks that aren't particularly great in this format, which takes it a notch down in my estimation. But don't get me wrong; it's still a very good card.
Aven Wind Guide is one of those cards that works absurdly well with Oketra's Monument. I have lost games I thought I could never lose to the combination of those two cards. And while I like Aven Wind Guide, it's not a powerful enough gold card to justify first-picking. It should also be noted that, in W/U Aggro, Aven Wind Guide is actually worse than Tah-Crop Elite most of the time.
Splendid Agony has gone up for me since the beginning of the format. Currently I would rank the best black common as Cartouche of Ambition, and then Final Reward and Splendid Agony are very close behind (I'm not even sure which is better). It's good at enabling attacks if you're aggressive, and it's very good at combating aggro decks too, which is exactly where you want a card to be in this format.
But now we come across one of the best cards in the set, Ahn-Crop Crasher. And it's the pick by a mile. A three-mana 3/2 with haste is already pretty good, and one that comes with an extremely aggressive ability to boot is just broken. I'm always happy to first-pick the card, and if I see it Pick 4 or later, I usually snap it up and view it as a signal.
There is still debate as to what you take first, Magma Spray or Ahn-Crop Crasher. Ahn-Crop Crasher is likely better in most aggressive decks, but not by that much, and it's much worse in decks like U/R Control. Currently I would take Ahn-Crop Crasher there, but I could be swayed the other direction.
Pack 1, Pick 7
The Picks So Far:
Mono-Red is one of the best archetypes in this format, albeit a rare seat. Many of the aggressive decks can't play less than fifteen lands because of colored sources, but Mono-Red can definitely play fourteen, and with a low enough curve you can even play thirteen lands! I'm looking to just draft red cards for the rest of this pack unless I get a pretty good signal somewhere. Then I'll either find a good open color in Pack 2 or stay the course and play Mono-Red!
Thresher Lizard is a very solid three-drop. The aggressive decks in this format dump their hands very quickly, and so cards like Thresher Lizard are even more impressive than you would initially think. But given the aggressive curves of these decks, a couple three-drops will do, and it doesn't really make much of a difference what they are. So while I'm happy to include Thresher Lizard in my deck, I'm actually going to take the Bloodlust Inciter.
Bloodlust Inciter is pretty week in a vacuum. But this isn't a vacuum; this is Amonkhet Limited, a format where one-drops are king. I am often unhappy with an aggro deck if it lacks one-drops, and while Inciter gets worse in multiples, I would rather guarantee that I get a copy of it. Bloodlust Inciter enables your most busted draws, often coupled with hard-hitters such as Bloodrage Brawler and Emberhorn Minotaur.
I could imagine a scenario where I would take the Thresher Lizard here, but the cards that I have so far, in my opinion, clearly dictate that Inciter is the correct pick. I already have two cards, Honed Khopesh and Consuming Fervor, that appreciate having little bodies lying around to suit up. Additionally, I already have Ahn-Crop Crasher and two packs to go. I doubt I'll be lacking in the three-drop department.