It's finally here! Hour of Devastationhas not been as blisteringly fast as Amonkhet so far, but blocking is still pretty terrible with exert and afflict all over the place. It's hard to tell much more about a Draft format this early, but here are my first observations:
1. Green is much better as a color. Whether it's the best color this time around is hard to know, but Ambuscade and Rhonas's Stalwart are top tier commons that I would be happy to first pick at this point.
2. White is much worse as a color. This doesn't mean white is bad; in fact, it's still probably fine. But in triple Amonkhet, white was the best color by miles and miles. All of the top commons were white. This is not the case anymore.
3. Deserts really do matter. While a lot of the cards with the Deserts-matter mechanic are fine on their own, the upside is really worth working for. Wretched Camel is great. Ramunap Ruins gets very good if you have a couple other Deserts. Same goes for Hour of Promise and plenty of other cards. This makes any Desert that taps for on-color mana, as a colorless land is a huge downside, important pickups. Don't draft them highly, but getting three or so may be important to the format.
Pack 1, Pick 1
I love when my pick is between two extremely busted cards, especially when I keep hearing players argue that they aren't really that good.
If that's you, just stop and think for a minute.
Overcome is not that much different from Overrun. And we all know that Overrun just wins you the game a high percentage of the time. They stopped printing the card because it was too good for Limited. Overrun either kills them or wipes their battlefield and leaves them at a low life total. The difference between Overrun and Overcome is that the latter will happen more with Overcome, but that option still wins you the game almost every time! I would be happy to first-pick the card in any draft, but I think our rare is busted enough to deter me.
Kefnet's Last Word also has an ample comparison to a card they don't print at uncommon for Limited anymore: Mind Control. Kefnet's Last Word has the upside of grabbing artifacts and enchantments, and the downside of freezing all your lands for a turn. Overall, the card is probably worse than Mind Control, but not by a substantial margin. It's hard to evaluate exactly the impact of losing your lands for a turn after casting a card that affects the battlefield in this way, but you have to play with the card to find out, right? So I'm taking Kefnet's Last Word here. It's a busted rare, and it's important to play with rares as early as possible because you will just have less data on them than the uncommons.
Note that I could see a world, based on a combination of color preference (favoring green much more than blue) and the way creatures line up in combat, where Overcome is the pick here. For now, I don't think that's the case, though.
Pack 1, Pick 4
The Picks So Far:
I'm pretty happy with the way this draft has started. Three very powerful cards in just one color? That's exactly how you want this to go. So now I'm hoping to get a strong signal in order to select my second color. Let's see what this pack has to offer!
Aerial Guide is likely the best blue common, but it's not busted (I don't think so, at least). If your opponent doesn't have a removal spell and they aren't the beatdown, you're just going to steamroll them in the air. That being said, our deck seems lined up very well for the long-game (although that's subject to change). I think both of our other options are powerful enough to justify taking over Aerial Guide.
River Hoopoe is pretty great. A 1/3 flier for two mana is something you just put in your deck a fair amount of the time, and that ability will just take over any game. The lifegain is also really important, as it should give you the time to cast the extra cards you're drawing. The card is splashable and just an all-around great gold card, although, depending on the format, it might end up as one of those sweet cards that is just too slow. For now, I think our last option is still better, but I have my eye on this little Birdie!
Ifnir Deadlands is a messed-up Magic card. It and Ramunap Ruins are pretty stupid, or at least they have been so far. Remember when I mentioned that Deserts matter? Well, if you have this land on the battlefield and some Deserts, you just mow down your opponent's creatures!
And it doesn't even take a spell slot in your deck. This is where most people don't realize how good these cards are. You know how, at the end of a draft, you have a pile of 22 or 23 cards and then four to five cards that could take that last slot? You only get to pick one! When you take a land that functions as a spell, it's like a free card you randomly get to draw.
If you have this in your opening hand, it's just like you had a Swamp and a card that reads "2BBB: Give a creature -2/-2." Now, that second card isn't great, but when it's free value, it's pretty awesome. And it's repeatable? Honestly, I think this land may be first-pickable. The only downside is the intensity of black mana required. I'm happy to pick it up here, and hopefully it's a signal that black is open!