Pack 1 Pick 1 #13

Llanowar Elves Black Vise Maelstrom Pulse
Sundering Titan Brainstorm Evolving Wilds
Kird Ape Noxious Revival Powder Keg
Misty Rainforest Bloodgift Demon Into the Roil
Cryptic Command Grim Lavamancer Ankh of Mishra
This pack generated from, the MTG Deck Builder

Time for another Pack 1 Pick 1! For the first time ever I opened a pack on the first try that didn’t have a clear first-pick. There are some cards in this pack that are ones people have said are “clear” first picks in some videos I’ve watched, but I disagree and think this is a pretty even pack that allows you to go into a lot of different directions.

For starters there’s Llanowar Elves. While not exciting by any means, and probably not on the radar for a lot of players, there are a few reasons why this caught my eye. First off, it’s the first card in the pack. (Har-har.) In terms of the accompanying cards, it’s one of only 2 green cards, and noxious revival is more of a colorless card that is better in decks that can make green than anything. The noxious not wheeling is not a sign that green is necessarily being drafted by another player, even in a smaller draft like a 4-man, since there are so many decks could use the noxious effect. Llanowar Elves as a card isn’t jump-off-the-page exciting, but I tend to draft a lot of decks with green in them while cubing and you want a good amount of elves if you’re looking to ramp. While it’s pretty “all-in” compared to some other picks in this pack, there is so much ramp in green that it can support two players depending on how many there are in a draft.

On the opposite end of the ramp spectrum is Sundering Titan, i.e. the guy you want to be playing off your elves and other big-mana makers. Fortunately for Sundering Titan he isn’t as pigeon-holed as some of the green fatties are into the green decks. Sundering Titan excels in just about any deck that can put 8 drops into play, whether that’s through cheating or fairly ramping up with incremental ramp spells. He’s really cool in the cheating decks too, since Titan often turns into a 7/10 with two Armageddon attached to him, which are sometimes more one-sided than not. For the same reason as I’d pick elves—in that I like to put massive creatures into play—this is one of my safer picks, since I gravitate towards the Titan-style decks to begin with.

Misty Rainforest is probably the actual “safest” pick here, and for good reason. In cube, where there are so many amazing cards in all the colors, it can be really strong to splash for an effect your colors typically can’t run if your fixing is strong enough. The fetches help your mana base the most, and if you’re picking in a vacuum then I take the fetch over duals every time when it comes to priority for quality fixing. The reason is that being able to grab the third color through a dual is incredible, and being able to grab that off-color basic with one side of the fetch is also great. Ultimately, fetches provide more versatility than duals, being able to find a bunch of different cards that you drafted instead of only being exactly what it is. Taking the Misty here and wheeling the Evolving Wilds could be the start of a nice 4-5 color decks, perhaps base green if that starts to funnel in.

If you’ve decided that the aggro cards are the strongest here, which could certainly be the case, there are a few options. Grim Lavamancer is nice, since it’s good in the aggro and also RG midrange decks too. In aggro he’s a one-drop that eats up all your burn and removed creatures and turns them into shocks. In midrange he’s a bit more versatile, able to eat their little early guys and acting as a later win-condition once your graveyard fills up with your earlier spells. Black Vise is a nice one, but one I don’t want to be taking early since I’m siding it out in a lot of different match ups. Anhk of Mishra is a bit stronger for the colorless options, and if you were to take it then you’re looking to play 16, maybe 16 lands.
Cryptic Command is a p1p1 trap that a lot of people in recorded videos have made, saying it’s an amazing card. While I certainly agree, and if I was already in blue by packs 2 or 3 then I would certainly consider it, but I feel that taking any triple-colored card this early is absurd in a pack with so many other good options. If you end up being in blue you’ll look like a genius, but why force yourself into the best color? If your color split Is 50% or worse—a number I came up with off the top of my head that seemed legitimate—then Cryptic is pretty bad, being uncastable under a lot of different mana bases. I’d rather stay open and pick a strong card instead of just picking a strong card.

Ultimately I think I just take Misty Rainforest since if I wheel any of the blue or green cards I’m probably in good shape. What would you choose?