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?

12 thoughts on “Pack 1 Pick 1 #13

  1. I’d go the Brainstorm way. Considering how many “first picks” you have in this pack, I believe Into the Roil gets wheeled and that puts me into de Ux Tempo archetype, which happens to be my favorite.

    Honorable Mention: Bloodgift Demon, the one and only black card on the pack would make a strong signal.

  2. Bloodgift Demon gets my vote. Card advantage, evasion on a fast clock. Sign me up. I’ve found this guy to be quite strong.

  3. Sundering Titan very easily for me. It’s the most powerful effect in the pack, and while it’s not as ‘versatile’ as a mana fixer, the facts that it’s colorless and that there are so many ways to cheat it mean that it’s not pigeonholed into any specific archetype the way something like an Iona would be; big mana easily casts it and the usual reanimation/Sneak Attack cheats work as well as they do with any fattie, but it’s also probably the best creature shy of an Eldrazi to Channel into play and the fact that it’s a valid target for Tinker and Goblin Welder just pushes it over the top.

  4. A lot of different routes here. I like what I’m hearing so far. I think I’m with Sam on the fetch land, but there is definitely merit to the other picks that have been mentioned.

  5. pkedu: why Brainstorm? The effect is reasonable, but there aren’t generally enough shufflers to make it consistent – I think there are nine cards in this pack that you could make a legitimate case for over Brainstorm, so you might reasonably expect to wheel it here. (For the record: Llanowar Elves, Maelstrom Pulse, Titan, Misty Rainforest, Bloodgift Demon, Into the Roil, Cryptic, Grim Lavamancer, and Ankh. I’m not saying I would automatically take all of them over Brainstorm but I think you can make a real case for all of those over it.)

    • I have to say, I’m pretty surprised how many people are saying Brainstorm, too. I mean, it’s not bad, but like you said, there are other cards in this pack.

      I hope it’s not that people are just thinking, “well, blue is the best color”

      • I think it’s more along the lines of ‘well, Brainstorm is banned/restricted and dominates Legacy’ without really understanding what makes the card so good there (not just the fetchland-shuffles but also the ‘hiding’ effect from cards like Hymn), and why that goodness is situational and not inherent in the card.

        • You’re probably right about that. I think there are a lot of reasons to like brainstorm but when evaluating it in the cube format you have to understand that the decks that want brainstorm are the ones where you have a bunch of ways to abuse it. Otherwise, as you were implying, you can end up having it just be “dig three cards deeper, a little earlier and get use to seeing those cards you’re putting on top.”

          It’s like scroll rack. You don’t want to just play scroll rack for the sake of playing scroll rack – you want to be maximizing its potential with fetches, time twisters, preordain, ponder, crystal ball, and the like.

        • I don’t even think Brainstorm is a good cube card, nevertheless first pickable. I can’t remember the last time I put Brainstorm in a deck, even as a throw away.

Comments are closed.