Now that Guilds of Ravnica has been out for over a week, I've played both with and against every archetype a variety of times. And with the Grand Prix from this past weekend, there's plenty of content to learn what matters. My newest observation is that early plays matter a lot. Selesnya, Boros, and Izzet all have draws that kill extremely quickly, and you need to respect that. So, prioritize two- and three-mana plays because you need to have a good curve.
And just to tease you a little bit, I'll be writing an archetype guide for Thursday for whatever archetype I end up in in the draft below. So, let's see what that is!
Pack 1, Pick 1
Lots of solid options to start off this draft. Command the Storm is a solid removal spell, although I wouldn't be happy to first pick it. District Guide is a valuable three-drop that's a key card to the five-color gate deck. Roc Charger is maybe the best three-drop for aggressive decks. And lastly Crackling Drake is one of the best possible threats for Izzet. I think outside of Command the Storm, all of these options have merit. Don't get me wrong, Storm is solid, but it doesn't compare well to the uncommons in the pack.
So, which do you take?
Personally, I think the pick is Crackling Drake, and I don't actually think it's all that close. While District Guide is a mono-colored two-for-one, if you're not in more than two colors the card just isn't fantastic. It's still a card you'll play, but it's unexciting. And Roc Charger is just at a competitive slot on the curve. Yes, it will be fantastic in both your Boros and Selesnya deck, but your deck without it isn't all that worse than your deck with it since you'll be able to find another card to fill a similar role. And there's really no other card like Crackling Drake for Izzet. It closes the game quickly and is card advantage. Both it and Nightveil Predator are the two cards of their cycle that I'm ecstatic to first pick.
Pack 1, Pick 2
The Picks So Far:
This is one of the few picks in Draft that, in my opinion, isn't even close to being close. I started off with a Crackling Drake, and I think not following this up with a Crackling Drake would be a mistake. However, there's one thing that this pack poses that I think is important to discuss: two-drops in Izzet.
Fresh-Faced Recruit and Fire Urchin are creatures I've included in my Izzet decks before, and I actually think that Fresh-Faced Recruit is better. This format has so many small creatures that a 2/1 first striker attacks through a lot of blockers and can trade well. The 1/3 body on Fire Urchin hasn't been all that impressive, and Izzet decks tend to be somewhat aggressive because of the card Sonic Assault. So, a creature that consistently attacks for two is preferred to one that conditionally attacks for two.
Don't get me wrong: I'll play the card in my Izzet decks, but it's not fantastic. Furthermore, I actually like it a lot in Boros. Mentoring onto Fire Urchin turns it into a fantastic threat, so pairing it alongside cards like Parhelion Patrol is a better way to utilize the little critter.
Pack 1, Pick 3
The Picks So Far:
With two Drakes it's going to be quite hard to get me off Izzet. It's rarely correct to put blinders on this early in a draft, but this start is close to facilitating that. If Izzet is entirely dry, I'll have to re-evaluate, but for now I'm not considering other colors if there are Izzet options.
There are plenty of options here, and they all serve different purposes. The first thing to note is that Capture Sphere is not a spell. I've actually cut Capture Sphere from my Izzet decks before for synergistic reasons, but I'll sideboard it in against green decks where my Hypothesizzles and Command the Storms don't kill every threat.
Speaking of which, both Hypothesizzle and Inescapable Blaze are fantastic removal spells. I've been impressed with both of the cards, but between them I would take Hypothesizzle. It's instant speed Murder plus draw a card… the card is just unfair for a common. Inescapable Blaze being able to deal six damage upstairs is nothing to scoff at, but I don't think that flexibility is worth more than both the mana efficiency and card advantage of Hypothesizzle.
Goblin Electromancer has overperformed for me. I've found that Izzet often wants to cast multiple spells in the same turn thanks to jump-start and cards like Wee Dragonauts. I don't think the Electromancer is so good that I'd take it over Hypothesizzle, but the card is good.
So, the decision comes down to Hypothesizzle and the last option in the pack: Izzet Guildgate. In my opinion, Hypothesizzle is just too powerful to pass up. With two Crackling Drakes, the importance of Izzet Guildgate skyrockets, but I still don't think it's correct to take it over a high value card.
Pack 1, Pick 4
The Picks So Far:
Another pack with great cards and an Izzet Guildgate. With three gold-cards, two of which are Crackling Drake, that Izzet Guildgate is looking good, and I don't think Sonic Assault nor Radical Idea are good enough to take over it here. I do think both Sonic Assault and Radical Idea are good cards that I always play the first copy of in my Izzet decks (more on that in the archetype guide you'll read here on Thursday), but I don't think I need to prioritize them here. I do, however, feel the need to prioritize mana.
But Deafening Clarion is a fantastic Magic card. It works so unbelievably well with Crackling Drake because you can abuse the lifelink portion of the card. And Boros Guildgates are often easy to pickup because the Boros drafter isn't interested in the card in the same way that a Dimir drafter is interested in their Gate.
I think the ceiling is too high on Deafening Clarion, and that even though the mana may get a little worse with the Drakes, you should take the sweeper. Overall, this draft went quite well, and I was rewarded for my initial pick of Crackling Drake. In fact, my deck ended up with four of them. You can view my entire draft here , and we took it all the way to a trophy!
Ryan Saxe (@rcsaxe) October 7, 2018