It's getting to that point in the format where I'm bored. Hour of Devastation is still a spectacular Draft format, but I feel like I've done everything. This means I'm trying some of the crazy things, like an all-in, zero-other-win-conditions Torment of Scarabs deck (I lost a lot with that one). I even came across a multicolor green deck piloted by Beats_By_Stan_Digman with very little top-end but seven copiesof Feral Prowler to combo with Razaketh, the Foulblooded. They crushed me and went on to 3-0 the competitive League with that spicy meatball, so not all hope is lost!
Can we draft something spicy today?
Pack 1, Pick 1
My last article covered the Ifnir Deadlands versus Ominous Sphinx debate, and so I no longer have to consider that amazing land, although this may be the fifth or sixth time I've seen them together, so this may be a print run to be aware of.
Ominous Sphinx is an amazing Magic card. It isn't as good as I thought it was going to be. My initial impression of this card was that it would be in the top couple uncommons in the set, but that's not the case in Hour of Devastation. It's still very good, but if you remove the discard/cycling text, it becomes a solid card, yet not amazing because of how replaceable five-drops are. That text is relevant, though, and hence Ominous Sphinx becomes much better, but I think the rare in this pack is a bit more powerful.
Champion of Wits has impressed me. Three mana for a 2/1 body is abysmal, but if I get to loot twice, it becomes fine, especially given the graveyard mechanics in this set. But the key to the card is the eternalize part. If you ever play a Champion of Wits, you pretty much can't flood. The way this card plays out is that if you get to seven lands, you pull pretty far ahead on cards, and if you don't, well, then you'll probably draw more spells than your opponent! The card has so much built into it that I take it very highly, so that's what I'm going to do here.
Pack 1, Pick 4
The Picks So Far:
This is a wonderful way to start off a draft. Blue is the best color in my opinion, and I have two amazing blue cards and a Desert to boot. In a lot of my drafts in this format, I stay mono-blue until I determine what color is open. Let's see if this pack has something to say about that.
Ipnu Rivulet is the worst of that cycle. While I'll include it in almost all of my blue decks, I don't take it highly until I have a significant amount of Deserts-matter cards.
Imaginary Threats was a card I had on my radar for one of the best uncommons early on in the format. I have been severely disappointed by this card. It just turned out that, due to the way the creatures line up in this format and how blue is such a tempo based color, the effect is more conditional than I expected. The cycling should mitigate that, but I found myself cycling the card so often (or holding onto it in hopes that I could use it to good effect and never getting an opportunity) that I no longer pick it highly at all. I still put it in my deck every now and then, especially if I'm in U/B Cycling, but I don't look to pick it up over much.
Sandblast may be the most overrated card in the set. It's good, but conditional removal at three mana is just too easy to play around. I play the first copy in most of my white decks and all, and it's probably the best card in this pack, but I don't think I want to take it here. There's one card that has impressed me enough to take over Sandblast, even though Sandblast is a better magic card. Also, for reference, I take Desert of the True over Sandblast when given the opportunity.
Cunning Survivor is better than you think. I see this creature going super-late, and while it takes a special kind of deck to really maximize the card, given that we have Ominous Sphinx — a card that cares about cycling — and two cards that trigger both Cunning survivor and the Sphinx, it's actually set up to be a very good card in this deck. And wow do they get better in multiples.
The exciting thing about this pick is that our Pack 1 happened to have Leave // Chance in it! This card combos with Cunning Survivor to pretty much win the game. And since this pack has Manalith, Survivors' Encampment, and Traveler's Amulet, splashing either side may not be difficult. Looks like we could have a spicy one a-brewing!