Ixalan is a tribal set, right? Well, that doesn't mean that every single deck you draft will have a tribal component. Maybe there's a W/G aggro deck that doesn't really care about Dinosaurs! It's hard to tell by just looking at the set, so we'll have to really iterate over each archetype multiple times to figure out the different versions of each.
With that in mind, let's take a look at the first pack:
Pack 1, Pick 1
While both the gold cards, Belligerent Brontodon and Call to the Feast, are good, I don't think they're good enough to justify first-picking a two-color card. I could be wrong about this because green has fixing and black has Treasures, but for now I'm going to try to read the table and end up in the correct lane. In a format with such an abundance of synergy, I think that will have a very high reward.
Fathom Fleet Firebrand is a really solid two-drop. Some of you may be surprised to see it here, but look at it this way: it's a two-drop that scales into the late-game and can trade up! While I don't think I would be happy to first-pick Fathom Fleet Firebrand, it's a great card and I will play it often. I currently have it as the second-best red common after Firecannon Blast. I could see it being worse than I have it, but I could also see it being better depending on how premium two-drops end up in this format.
Commune with Dinosaurs is great even in a deck that isn't built around Dinosaurs. If my deck has at least eight green sources, the first copy of Commune with Dinosaurs can replace a land. In a 40-card deck with sixteen lands, Commune with Dinosaurs is 93.5% to hit at least one land. I will play Commune in all my non-aggressive green decks with two or more Dinosaurs. I'm not happy to first-pick it, but hey, it's a card I'll play frequently and won't take a spell slot!
And here is the first card I'm happy to first-pick: Territorial Hammerskull. This card, in my opinion, is in the top five commons in the set, and it could even be the best one. While a 2/3 for three isn't great on its own, the ability is game-breaking. Ahn-Crop Crasher was one of the best cards in Amonkhet. Now, that card had more power and haste in a blisteringly fast format. I don't expect Territorial Hammerskull to be that good, but it is certainly a must-kill threat on a lot of battlefields. I can't wait to cast it on turn 2 thanks to Kinjalli's Caller and laugh as my opponent can never ever block. I'm snapping it up here.
Pack 1, Pick 4
The Picks So Far:
You've heard it here first: Bright Reprisal is straight-up bad. I think this card is going to end up in my sideboard more often than my maindeck. Five mana is way too much mana to hold up for a conditional removal spell that's easy to play around.I expect the card to be much better at the beginning of the format before everybody is aware of it, because once you get got by Bright Reprisal, it won't happen again. I don't care that it's a two-for-one. It's only a two-for-one if I get to cast it.
Wanted Scoundrels is better than it looks. We learned from Bloodrage Brawler that a 4/3 for two with a downside should not be overlooked. And the downside of this card scales beautifully with the game. In the early-game, giving your opponent two Treasures is a pretty big downside, but luckily this set has only a few removal spells cheap enough for this to be a large problem. And later in the game, the downside really doesn't matter all that much. I look forward to first-picking this card and beating people to death with it.
Otepec Huntmaster is a really interesting card, but is probably best in R/G. That doesn't mean it's bad in W/R, just not as powerful. If W/R is as low-to-the-ground aggressive as usual, they can't use the mana advantage to a huge degree. And while the haste is pretty great when combined with cards like Territorial Hammerskull, it's nothing to write home about as a whole. Don't get me wrong, I think this card is good and I would play it in W/R, but it has some stiff competition.
The reason this pick is close has to do with archetypes. W/B is supposedly a Vampire deck, and the cards for that archetype look more on the midrange side. Almost all of our cards slant aggressive and none of them are Vampires, so it's possible that Wanted Scoundrels can't be paired well with our white cards. That being said, I'm not committed to white. I could certainly end up in B/R Pirates aggro too!
For now, I'm going to take the Scoundrels. I think it's too much better than Otepec Huntmaster, but I could see this being incorrect, depending on how the archetypes in the format line up.