It doesn't take too long for a pick order for Pack 1, Pick 1 to solidify. But once you're one pick in, it shifts. I'll take Ob Nixilis's Cruelty over Aven Eternal to start a draft, but if it's Pack 1, Pick 3 and I already have a couple of great blue cards, it's reasonable to take Aven Eternal over Ob Nixilis's Cruelty.
Drafting Pack 1 is the art of balancing flexibility and power. Different players have different philosophies and different formats require different approaches. Drafting is an ever-changing game and it's one of the reasons I see it as one of the most challenging puzzles out there. This particular draft poses some difficult questions.
Pack 1, Pick 3
The Picks So Far:
Toll of the Invasion isn't really in contention here, but it is a card I want to talk about.
Many players I respect think it is fantastic and that you should play multiples. But one of the best Limited players in the game, Ben Stark, said on stream that he wasn't a fan of the card. It's okay to have differing opinions. There doesn't have to be a right and a wrong. It's possible that there is an optimal way to draft where Toll of the Invasion isn't an enticing card, and a comparably optimal way to draft where it is. Remember – Magic is a complicated game and is rarely black and white.
This pick is between Spark Double and Burning Prophet. At the beginning of the format, I would have laughed at the assertion that Burning Prophet is in the same league as Spark Double. The extra counter and loyalty matter so much, and there are enough high-value targets, that Spark Double is much better than Mirror Image. However, it's not often a card you play on curve. The format has an abundance of late-game powerhouses and a jarring lack of good two-mana creatures. Burning Prophet is one of the best and also in the color I like the best. With Jaya's Greeting already in the pool and no other blue cards, I think Burning Prophet actually gets the nod here.
The Picks So Far:
Kiora, Behemoth Beckoner is a card I started low on. I then saw it in action and was very impressed. However, I soon learned that, while the ceiling is high, the average case is closer to my initial expectation. It's a fine card, but not one I would take over any of the common options in this pack.
In terms of power-level, I would rank the common options in the following order:
3. Spark Reaper
But consider the pool of cards I have so far. Rakdos is one of the best color combinations and Spark Reaper is surprisingly premium in that deck. It goes with every single card I've drafted so far. Wanderer's Strike is great for the Boros midrange and aggressive decks, and also lets me play every card in my pool. However, I strongly prefer Rakdos to Boros. Tamiyo's Epiphany is not only the best card in terms of power-level but is a very important card for any blue archetype. Epiphany requires giving up Kaya, Bane of the Dead, or both Jaya's Greeting and Burning Prophet. Is that worth it? I believe so.
In the beginning of a draft, I want to keep my options open. If there were a strong red card in this pack, even one a bit weaker than Tamiyo's Epiphany, I would take it for flexibility. But given that the other options in this pack don't provide that much flexibility in comparison, I think taking the best card is the way to go.
The Picks So Far:
Solar Blaze is a powerful card. It ranges from poor to devastating depending on the matchup, but the average case is fairly reasonable. This is the card I would take if I took Wanderer's Strike from the previous pack, as it would provide the perfect foundation for a Boros midrange deck. However, I think both Burning Prophet and Ugin's Conjurant provide more flexibility and fill important enough roles to justify taking, even though they are less powerful.
This is surprisingly late for Ugin's Conjurant. I first-pick the Conjurant out of most packs it's in because it always makes my deck and is both flexible and powerful. I would first-pick Ugin's Conjurant over Burning Prophet. However, with a Burning Prophet and Jaya's Greeting in my pool, Conjurant doesn't have the flexible nod in comparison to Burning Prophet. Conjurant is still more flexible, but by a much smaller margin. Taking that into account, I think it's correct to pick up a second copy of Burning Prophet.
This deck ended up as just an okay Izzet spells deck. I think my seat wanted to be Dimir, but given the start of the draft with red cards, it was hard to recognize that. I don't know if I navigated incorrectly, but the Dimir deck would have been better in this seat.