What’s Your Pick? #1 – Know Your Limits by Sean Davey

What’s Your Pick? #1 – Know Your Limits by Sean Davey

Hello guys, this is a great time to write about draft as we have a sweet new set out and a 3 set format that should be reasonably complex.

Fortunately I have come up with a simple idea to keep us all in the loop that is reasonably tried and true.

The plan is to flick through a pack and talk about the cards in the order I see them, just like you would when opening your first pack for a booster draft. I am not going to go too deep on each card as I hope that the article itself is merely a starting point and the discussion can continue into the comments below.

JOU Pack???

I want to know which card you guys would first pick and any other opinions you have about any of the other cards in the pack. Without further ado, let’s crack this thing open!

Pin to the Earth


We start off with an interesting one. Traditionally this sort of effect has been pretty weak, but in a set lacking in interaction with opponents piling multiple cards into one threat I’m not so sure about that any more. Those bestow creatures are not going to fall off when the creature is pinned, so it can feel a lot like gaining card advantage.

Two mana is very cheap and -6 power is quite a lot, you’ll be able to neuter all but the scariest of threats quite efficiently. Sure you would rather have real removal, but that is not readily available in this block and this is the sort of card you need to work with.

I think this one is going to be undervalued at first. Pick them up late while the format is fresh, I think you have to spend upwards of 5th pick on this when the pick orders mature.

War-Wing Siren

The obvious comparison with this card is Wingsteed Rider, which is high praise considering that it’s arguably the best common in Theros! War-Wing Siren is easier to cast, which is one thing that bothered me about Wingsteed Rider. It was not fun looking at a hand built around resolving a heroic creature and then being unable to cast it.

There is certainly some additional upside here too. The extra point of toughness can help dodge some of the cheaper removal like Pharika’s Cure or Magma Jet giving you time to boost it up or untap with God’s Willing at the ready. The fact that you are working with one less power makes very little difference once you have multiple targeting effects going. I don’t know about you, but I’m not fussy if my massive flyer has 6 or 7 power, it’s still going to end the game in a couple swings.

The lost point of power is significant though. Wingsteed Rider is actually just fine even if you don’t activate heroic. A Wind Drake is a Wind Drake after all. This card however, is pretty stinky without some shenanigans going on.

I also worry that this card really wants to be paired with white to fit into a heroic strategy, so picking it early is nearly as committing as picking a Blue/White gold card. I think you’ll be disappointed if you have to first pick this card, but I can certainly see it as a 3rd pick or thereabouts.

Mortal Obstinacy

I don’t want to like this card, but it is a cheap heroic enabler and in this block that counts for a lot. Very cheap cards with potential always seem to pan out, because the opportunity cost on a one mana spell is so low.

The phrase ‘destroy target enchantment’ has been gradually getting more exciting as more of the block has been released. Having to hit your opponent does add to the set up cost, but making your creature bigger helps and especially so if you activated heroic at the same time.

For these reasons I begrudge this card its playability and I think you will do well not to underrate it. As for when you pick it, that’s a different story, but it probably won’t be very early.

Ajani’s Presence

Just wow. This card is like God’s Willing and Dauntless Onslaught mixed into one. Even Mortal’s Resolve ended up being excellent and this card is leagues ahead of it in the colour that most cares about targeting your own creatures.

The thing I really like about this is card is how safe it is. Most tricks are vulnerable to a counter trick that not only kills you creature, but wastes your trick as well. This is particularly relevant trick heavy Theros block. The indestructibility on this card means you are well protected from this scenario.

This will be one of the best cards in your deck if you are on the heroic plan and it will be super solid even if you aren’t. I haven’t even mentioned how you are occasionally going to kick this card twice and just destroy your opponent. Power, flexibility, synergy, this card has all the makings of an awesome common and I wouldn’t be upset if I had to first pick it. Definitely the standout card of the pack so far.

Gluttonous Cyclops

I said very early on in Theros life that cards that coast 6 mana or more are going to have to be really impressive to see play. This card is not ‘really impressive’ and I suspect will not be seeing a lot of play.

Between Bestow, Monstrous and now Strive there are plenty of things to do with your mana and you just don’t need to play expensive spells like this. Your late game is taken care of by modal spells that also have applications in the early game.

Sometimes you will play this guy, but the reason will probably be that you went into red when it wasn’t open and you are struggling for playables. There is nothing particularly wrong here, it’s just not positioned very well. Not embarrassing, but not worth a pick of any value.

Lightning Diadem

This card does everything you want to do, buffing your own guys and picking off one of theirs. The problem lies in the price tag. I’ve just spent the last few paragraphs laying into a perfectly reasonable six drop and this is not as good even as good as that.

There is no way you are catching a hero with a six mana spell, they will have long grown past the point where 2 damage will kill them. It’s going to feel really good if you catch a late game utility creature like the new Akroan Mastiff (by the way, what a dog), but I fear this is a best case scenario.

All that said it doesn’t seem the worst thing you can do and I can see this card being played occasionally; I just hope it’s not by me…

Feast of Dreams


Here it is, probably the most important card in the entire set. This is Doomblade in a block that is not supposed to have Doomblade. This card is going to make your opponents think twice about going all in on a hero regardless of whether you have it or not.

Remember Voyage’s End? We were over the moon that we got to bounce a creature at instant speed so cheaply and would pick that card extremely highly. Well this time you just get to flat out kill it! 2 mana and it’s dead, like in the graveyard dead.

I don’t think it’s possible to overrate this card and it’s going to be in first pick contention in every pack it is present. This pack is no exception and it’s currently at the top of my list for this one. Servant of Tymaret fans rejoice there is a new and deadly weapon in our arsenal!

Nyx Infusion

A pretty reasonable card. +2/+2 for 3 mana is quite efficient and Fearsome Temper did some good work at the same cost. The problem is all your heroes are by definition not enchantments, so your most desirable targets are not available.

The main use is going to be taking out a fledgling hero or a utility creature (Akroan Mastiff says woof). It does a pretty good job of it, three mana is quick enough to nab a Wingsteed Rider before it can grow, even on the draw.

There is not much raw power here, but the flexibility seems to make up for it. I don’t think you’ll need to pick this highly, but it’s nice mid-pack fodder which is going to almost always make your deck.

Flamespeaker’s Will


Here we have the red version of Mortal Obstinacy">Mortal Obstinacy. A lot of the same things I mentioned for that card are true here as well it’s cheap, triggers heroic and has a low opportunity cost. All good stuff.

However, there are a couple issues. Destroying an artifact is considerably worse than destroying an enchantment in this block, there are a few, but the most important ones ie. The god’s weapons are rare and not seen very often. The fact that this card is red as opposed to white is also significant as you do not have as many good heroic creatures to work with.

If you have a very aggressive red deck, perhaps paired with white this could make the cut, but don’t spend a pick of value as these will be coming round late if you want them.

Oakheart Dryads


This card is pretty much a poster child for solid creatures. 2/3 for 3 mana is unexciting, but gets the job done and there is some minor upside as well.

Pumping pre-combat is not very exciting, so don’t put a lot of stock into this ability. It will enable some attacks that were previously not possible, but on the condition that +1/+1 is enough and you actually want to play an enchantment this turn anyway.

I can’t see myself cutting Oakheart Dryads">Oakheart Dryads from a deck, but it won’t be a high priority in the draft portion.

Thoughtrender Lamia

This card does look like it has some upside but in reality it’s probably going to be utter garbage.

I already discussed how I don’t want to play with 6 drops, even fairly good ones. This one trades down with almost everything with it’s miniscule 3 toughness. Compounding this is the problem that by the time you play Thoughrender Lamia there is a good chance your opponent doesn’t even have cards left in their hand.

Maybe it’s something you’ll bring in for a control mirror, but even then you would hope to do better and how often in this fast format does that happen? It’s a higher pick than a basic land, but that might be it.

Leonin Iconoclast

This card looks promising and it could decimate certain matchups, but I have some serious doubts. The body is quite underwhelming for the cost and it’s going to trade with almost all the 2 drops. Bear in mind that you can’t even kill a Bestow creature whilst it’s an aura, which is another limitation.

I also worry that using this creature as a basis for a voltron isn’t the best as it has no combat abilities. Even if you got to kill something by Bestowing your Observant Alseid the creature is only a 5/4 with no evasion and that could very easily trade or get double blocked. If you’re doing it right heroic guys should demand immediate answers.

I do appreciate that if your opponent does have a lot of enchantment creatures this might be the best card you can have, so I’m not going to bash it too hard until I see it in action. I have no idea where you pick it, but suspect it will be something that you pick because you are already heroic, rather than something that pushes you into heroic.

Gnarled Scarhide

One mana creatures that are actually worth playing are excellent in limited as they don’t come up very often and allow you to start playing the game one turn before you should. Gnarled Scarhide definitely fits into this category and in addition to that even has Bestow for quite a good price.

Unfortunately there is one glaring problem and that is the colour it’s in. The majority of the black cards in Theros block are not very aggressive and this card lacks support. If you play a one drop, but then fail to play another attacker on turn 2 you may has well have just had a Fleshmad Steed or similar, all of which you easily get late if you want.

This wouldn’t be the worst, after all in a defensive deck it’s quite nice to have a cheap creature that can trade with you opponents early drops, for example Tormented Hero was a welcome addition to most of my decks. However the ‘can’t block’ drawback stops you from using Gnarled Scarhide in this way.

This can be turned to your advantage. If you are looking like you actually are heading towards an aggressive black deck (perhaps paired with red) there is a pretty good chance you can pick this card later than it deserves. The other black drafters will be overlooking this in favour of more defensive options, so if you can capitalise on an aggressive start then grab this guy mid pack as he will be great for you.

Doomwake Giant


Up until now nothing had challenged Feast of Dreams as a first pick, but Doomwake Giant certainly has potential. To start off with he is a rock solid 4/6 for 5, which especially for black is well above the expected curve. If that was it this card would be extremely desirable, but not a high pick.

Luckily that is not it, there is a nice enters the battlefield effect and going forward you can threaten further shenanigans. You are going to be really pleased if you can nab an Oreskos Swiftclaw or Eagle of the Watch right away, which is not an unreasonable expectation.

Being in the first pack is certainly helpful as it will then be possible to draft enchantments a bit higher going forward. It’s going to be a bit tricky to activate this more than once per turn to kill bigger creatures, but shrinking your opponents team, even if nothing dies immediately is going to enable a lot of profitable attacks.

I just wish there were more instant speed enchantments like Feral Invocation to really abuse this thing. If you can make this effect happen mid-combat it will be absolutely devastating, but I fear that is not going to happen very often. It’s also not going to affect the centrepieces of this format, which are the massive heroes and monsters. It’s a strong ability sure, although I think it looks a little bit better than it actually is.

It is going to be correct to first pick this card in a lot of circumstances and I can’t imagine you will ever see it later than 2nd. The real question is do we first pick it here?

The First Pick Contenders

First Picks

All these four I wouldn’t blame you for taking although I am going to eliminate Ajani’s Presence and War-Wing Siren right away as I think they are just a notch lower on power level than either of the black cards.

So… does Doomwake Giant beat Feast of Dreams? I’m going to go with no. Feast of Dreams is just so amazing at answering the format. I find my black decks are so good at winning the late game if only I can stop my opponent doing something absurd like an ordeal start or stacking multiple targets on a hero my chances of winning become very high.

Feast of Dreams doesn’t just stop these kind of plays it actively punishes your opponent for making them via tempo loss, card disadvantage or both. There is a reason we have been waiting all year for this card, because it is really going to make an impact.

It is a really close call though, so I would like to hear if you agree with Feast of Dreams or if you are in camp Doomwake Giant. There is definitely an argument to be made for Ajani’s Presence or War-Wing Siren as well.


So, which of the cards listed above would you choose as your 1st pick? and what would you like to add to the comments made so far in this article?

Comments and let me know!



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