The more I draft this format, the more I like it. I know a lot of people have been hammering about the lack of playables and the high variance, but I promise you can mitigate a lot of the issues by drafting well and finding a good, open archetype. In fact, this lack of playables makes the drafting portion a lot more skill-intensive. You really need to draft well and figure out your seat, because if you don'tm you're going to be in trouble. I think this is one of the harder formats that we've seen in the past few years, but if you can get on top of it, it's quite rewarding!
My approach to the following pack may surprise you, but I stick by it. What would you take here?
Pack 1, Pick 1
I'm expecting most of you to want to first-pick this Savage Stomp, but I would not be happy to take the card here.
Sure, it's very powerful, but green is the worst color in the set by a pretty large margin. The fact of the matter is, this format is all about tempo and racing, and the non-Merfolk green decks don't do that very well. So while it's probably the best card in the pack, my color preference pretty much has me ignore green until later in the pack, where I can determine if it's wide open and then move in.
Unfriendly Fire is overrated. Sure, the card is fine, but I rarely want to play more than one copy. Five mana is just too expensive for removal, and cheap tricks get the job done better. Skulduggery, for example, is probably better than Unfriendly Fire in this format.
Ah, good old Pirate's Cutlass. In my opinion, Pirate's Cutlass is the best common. It is good in pretty much all the nongreen archetypes, and since I'm not looking to draft green, it almost always makes my deck. Additionally, creatures are tiny in this format, so turning them into threats is a big deal. I'm happy to take the Cutlass here. I first-pick this card a lot!
Pack 1, Pick 5
The Picks So Far:
I'm pretty happy with how this draft has gone so far. I'm pretty solidly in blue and maybe will end up Merfolk, but I'm still open to exploring pretty much anything. Signals are extremely important while drafting Ixalan, and Picks 5 and 6 are often the crux to any seat. So let's see what this pack has to offer:
Run Aground is the obvious pick, but it's not what I'm going to take here. Sure, we already have two great blue cards, but Run Aground is more replaceable than it looks. There are a ton of tempo-oriented cards in this format, and given that Run Aground is four mana, it's at a slot that can get a bit cluttered. I have been happy passing on cards like these to take a hedge in the middle of Pack 1, and that is exactly what I'm going to do here.
Anointed Deacon keeps going up in value. Even though it's five mana, I have it as one of the best commons in the format. If you draft W/B, it is almost always the best card in your deck, and U/B decks will even utilize it if they have some number of Vampires, especially as the card wears One with the Wind pretty well. I've also had a ton of success splashing Anointed Deacon in the W/U decks.
Overall, I'm taking a hedge towards W/B here. If it's open, I'm willing to throw away what I have to reap the rewards. Otherwise, it still isn't the end of the world, as the picks I have are great and Anointed Deacon can go into other decks (although I'll admit that it's a little unintuitive).