One of the trickiest aspects of drafting is juggling the draft until you find your lane. Staying open is arguably the strategy most experienced players implement and there are two ways to do it:
2. Trying to stick to one color for as long as possible and pair it alongside another open color. Ideally, the first color you commit to is flowing well enough, and if not, it is in your best interest to jump ship. This has a higher risk, but also a higher reward as you give up fewer playables when it works out.
The draft today is exceptionally tricky in terms of staying open. A fellow Limited expert, Alex Nikolic, sent it my way and I thought it was perfect for this column.
Pack 1, Pick 1
Honestly, this pack bothers me.
The three-mana uncommon blue flyer should not be worse than the three-mana common blue flyer, but it is. Even though there are many flyers in the format and Warden of Evos Isle given an impactful reduction to the flyers archetype, drawing an extra card is still worth more. And don't forget that Cloudkin Seer is an Elemental, so it has additional synergies of its own.
The real question in this pack is if Cloudkin Seer competes with Hanged Executioner. Two 1/1 flyers for three mana is a solid rate in Limited, but that would be reasonably worse than Cloudkin Seer. Does the additional removal mode make the Executioner a better first pick? I believe so, but I think it's close. Blue is a better color, but removal is important in Limited and I think pushes it over the edge. I also think it's important to mention that the white decks in this format often want to play Inspired Charge, which is quite good alongside Hanged Executioner.
The Picks So Far:
Battalion Foot Soldier and Loyal Pegasus aren't great cards, but they are in the same color as the rare we started with. That's a great tiebreaker, but the delta in power level from these white cards to the other cards in the pack is high enough that I'm not considering them.
This format is slow enough that seven-mana creatures are good, but Dragon Mage isn't good enough. A 5/5 flyer is great stats, but in a format with Murder at common, your seven-mana creatures need to come with value like Meteor Golem.
This leaves the pick between Gorging Vulture and Boreal Elemental, two flyers in two great colors. I usually don't like taking five-mana creatures early because there's a cap on how many you can play, but Boreal Elemental is great. It doesn't have the issue most five-mana creatures do where they are easily answerable for less mana. It's a better card on rate than Gorging Vulture, but the Vulture has a lot of surprising synergies, as Orzhov cares about lifegain and other black decks play out of the graveyard. I think you could go either way here, but I am going to take Boreal Elemental.
The Picks So Far:
Blightbeetle is one of the worst of the color-hoser uncommons. Some of them are okay to start in your deck, but this little Insect isn't one of them.
Metropolis Sprite is a surprisingly good two-drop. Any form of Welkin Tern tends to be playable in Limited and Core Set 2020 is no different. But taking Metropolis Sprite falls into the camp of putting too much weight on what you've drafted previously. Sure, it lends itself to a nice Azorius flyers build, but Silverback Shaman and Creeping Trailblazer are too much better to justify this pick.
Silverback Shaman is a fantastic common. It's one of the few cards where Pacifism is a better answer than Murder. It hits hard and recuperates value most of the time. I wouldn't fault you for taking it, but, as I've said, I don't like to take five-mana creatures early.
The last pack was exceptionally bad, and I begrudgingly took Boreal Elemental. Here, I'm going to take Creeping Trailblazer. It's both colors we aren't, but it's the best card in the pack by a reasonable margin. The conservative pick is Silverback Shaman, but I like taking the two-drop here.
The Picks So Far:
There's nothing in this pack that jumps out at me, as there are lots of overall mediocre cards. Wolfkin Bond is fine but a bit expensive, Octoprophet is a filler four-drop that you can do without in most of your blue decks, and Cryptic Caves isn't great either. Many players will just throw it in their deck, but a colorless land can have a large negative impact on your manabase. You can play it, but I wouldn't unless my mana is already good and I'm looking for flood protection.
This leaves Netcaster Spider and Inspiring Captain. Netcaster Spider in Core Set 2020 is the best it has ever been. There's so much flying running around in this format, and the 2/3 body is just generally relevant. But there are two main reasons I believe the correct pick out of this pack is Inspiring Captain. First, the best card I have drafted so far is white, so color is a reasonable tie-breaker. Second, Inspiring Captain is less replaceable to white decks than Netcaster Spider is to green decks because the main plan of white decks in this format is to go wide.
Given the theme of the article, the deck ended up absolutely nothing like the way you would expect. The pick after this one there was a Skyknight Vanguard, signaling that other players at the table may not be in Boros. The archetype was open, and Alex was rewarded with a 2-1 finish, losing in the finals.