Pack 1 Pick 1 #15

Time to crack another pack!

Sorin, Lord of Innistrad Griselbrand Garruk Relentless
Condemn Sea Gate Oracle Profane Command
Duress Far / Away Brion Stoutarm
Wall of Roots Brimstone Volley Nevinyrral's Disk
Serendib Efreet Noxious Revival Vraska the Unseen
This pack generated from, the MTG Deck Builder


There are a lot of powerful cards in this pack, some overlapping in style but they mostly are all distinctly different by role or color. The cards I’m considering (in no particular order) are Sorin, Lord of Innistrad; Griselbrand; Garruk Relentless; Wall of Roots; and Vraska, the Unseen. Some are under stronger consideration than others, but they are what I feel to be the best cards in the pack. There are other cards which are good–Serendib Efreet, Nevinnyral’s Disk (good w/planeswalkers), Noxious Revival, Profane Command, honestly the entire pack is pretty good and there isn’t really a “bad” card, but the clear best cards to me are the 5 previous.

Sorin, Lord of Innistrad is good at making tokens and sets you up for a variety of decks. If your focus is on tokens he’s pretty great there, making his own and giving the bonus to make a smaller army of tokens potentially lethal. His vampires give you time for the creature-light control decks to set up their late game, and the ultimate will end the game against a lot of boards where your vampires are holding off threats. The biggest thing against Sorin is his casting cost. Both white and black mana is tough to jusitfy for picking first since it doesn’t keep you open and could influence you to make worse picks and miss signals if you’re trying to make him work when one or both of the colors is being cut hard to your right. I’d be much happier to first pick Sorin out of this pack if I was clearly in a non-Griselbrand BW deck since he is such a strong card when you are in those colors, but since we have on-par-or-better options to pick from in this pack, I don’t think we can choose Sorin unless we’re forcing a tokens theme or other style of black-white deck. This seems like a pretty loose/bad strategy to walk into a draft with. If that deck is open, great, but I’m not going to shove myself into it right away.

Vraska, for the same reasons as Sorin, can’t be considered the pick here, but she’s powerful enough to talk about. Having a versatile answer to threats is nice for a ton of different decks, and Vraska can give you multiple instances of removal all while hopefully gaining some life if your opponent needs to deal with her. Her ultimate is cool, but it rarely goes off unless you’re in a game where you have control of the board and any number of other planeswalkers would win the game in a quicker fashion. She is definitely worse than Sorin, but I mentioned her second since she’s probably a card we’re hoping to wheel if we take one or the other card–it’s worth nothing for future packs where we could pick up a Bayour or Overgrown Tomb if we’re only splashing one color or the other. I’d be happy to run her in any deck that would feature Garruk, Wall, or Griselbrand, either in the main deck or coming out of the sideboard. She’s a planeswalker, so it’s unlikely that Vraska will wheel since players tend to pick them high even if they aren’t that great, but she’s one of the more limited options so she’s not as high priority. Her wheeling chances are helped by a strong pack overall that features options for all the other colors if no one is in BG by the time she reaches them.

Third choice would be Garruk Relentless, a card I love quite a bit. One of the few green cards that I’ll splash (if you’re splashing for a GG cost, you either have amazing mana or you’re doing it wrong), Garruk is nice in so many spots. He provides threats for a deck that has them or doesn’t, kills opposing little shits, and all for a pretty moderate cost. Garruk is better in decks where he can compliment a suite of creatures–whether aggressive or more ramp-focused–but a stream of 2/2s or 1/1 death-touchers will put a hurting on a bunch of different decks in no time if he’s being leaned on as the win condition. The backside is great in the decks that have more creatures since you can sacrifice one of your tokens to grab a creature you’re likely to cast in the same turn since your mana should still be open, giving you a survival of the fittest at the cost of a past Garruk activation. Depending on the day, Garruk Relentless could certainly be the pick. He allows me to want to go into green without staying fully committed, easily splashing Garruk Relentless if I take a land or hit a signet that’s on-color. The thing about it is that the other two cards–Wall of Roots and Griselbrand–are so much better when they’re in their decks, and while I feel that forcing a strategy is bad neither is strictly a one-style card or their power level is so high that it’s totally worth doing. (Wall of Roots kind of is only good in ramp, but green ramp combines with all the colors well enough and I’ve never been shy about picking green cards.)

Speaking of green cards, Wall of Roots is indeed my number two choice in this pack. Wall of Roots is nice as a big blocking ramper that is able to activate the turn it comes in. You really don’t want to be playing a faster deck with any walls, so it would be a bit worse than another card like a Llanowar ElvesĀ as a pick if you wanted to make the Bloodbraid Elf deck, but he’s great in the middle-to-big mana decks where he blocks until you’re ready to do your own attacking. Wall of Roots isn’t going to make a ton of mana, but he makes it every turn if you need it while stonewalling so many of the aggro decks for a ton of turns, or at least stopping their biggest threat. Casting wall, playing an elf the same turn, and having another spell open the next turn if you have an additional mana source available is such an efficient usage of your mana. Wall of Roots is pretty nice in UG builds for this reason, letting your run counters easier since Wall of Roots keeps you from actually tapping out every turn. The biggest issue I’ve found with UG is that the interaction is pretty much non-existent except for bounce because you often can’t afford to keep the mana open; Wall of Roots helps you avoid this issue. Taking wall and passing both Garruk and Vraska is tough, but there’s a chance we could wheel the latter and if not, there are a lot of different colors represented if we go red or blue or what not in the rest of the pack, and green plays nice with everyone.

Finally, there’s Griselbrand, who would be my choice. I’ve preached staying open, not committing, avoiding jumping into an archetype at all costs…a bit of an exaggeration, but it is true that I preach staying open more than committing right away. There are the obviously powerful cards in heavy color commitments you take, and I feel Griselbrand is one of them if not the best as a big creature. When looking at fatties, cube offers a lot of choices, but there really is no better option than Griselbrand. I even like him more than Emrakul in just about every situation except with Lightning Greaves, Sneak Attack, Zealous Conscripts, and Sarkhan Vol, all cards that give Emrakul haste the turn he comes into play for that crucial Annihilator trigger. Far less cubes run Emrakul than Griselbrand though, and even then Griselbrand is still an insane creature when put toe-to-toe with Emrakul and is better in some situations. No need to beat around the bush–free draw 7s are crazy, and when you put one on a creature it’s guaranteed to be broken. Creatures are the easiest cards to cheat into play early, since you’re able to bring them out of your graveyard or hand and put them into play directly with a wide variety of strategies. 8 is a lot, but there are certainly decks that not only can cast 8 drops but can have BBBB available in that mana pool as well. The draw 7 can be activated the turn he hits play, or you can wait for a combat step where you can gain 7 life. Yes, your fatty should just end the game, but wraths and removal are relevant–Griselbrand would be a lot worse if he couldn’t re-stock your hand. Because I’m super likely to win once I find a way to put Griselbrand into play, I can make pretend it’s a colorless card to a point and find a way to play him through one of the many strategies. Hell, if green ends up coming back around for any reason, I can hard cast him! I think that a resolved Griselbrand is the strongest big-creature play I can make, so I might as well take it now and figure out the rest later. Or I end up not playing my first pick. Oops. (Nah, we’re playing him.)

These picks wouldn’t always go this way. I can imagine any of the top 3 being the choice because they all have different roles and for as much as I can stay open I do have preferences. I try not to let them influence me, but if you play what you like then you end up playing better since you’re having the most fun. Some days I’d rather have a deck with 5 or 6 planeswalkers, others I’d rather find other giant things to cast. Today I’d rather be focused on getting a Griselbrand into play as a main strategy, hoping to use him the big-time win condition.


What would you pick? Reply in the comments to lets us know, and thanks for reading!

2 thoughts on “Pack 1 Pick 1 #15

  1. Hey guys! Great blog & keep up the good work. I run East Coast Commander so as you might imagine EDH is my primary Magic focus, but I have recently gotten into the world of Cube & have been building & evolving a Pauper Cube for a number of months. It’s a wicked format & I plan to stop by on a regular basis & get some pointers!

    As far as my pick goes, I really like Garruk. I have seen what kind of damage he can do in a powered cube before and his abilities are so versatile. He can shoot mana dorks, make tokens and tutor guys up. Love it. Sorin is a close second pick. If you build a deck around him it’s not unusual to see his ultimate go off and that is just OP.

    As a Pauper Cuber I really wanted to pick Sea Gate Oracle as it was in my cube until Omenspeaker from Theros pushed it out, but alas, Garruk is too good.

    • Hi christian, thanks for the reply. EDH players naturally progress to cube and vice versa because the highlander/high power level is abundant in both formats and also allows us to play powerful cards without having to constantly change our decks to ride with the format. (Though if you know a legacy deck inside and out, you’re usually OK no matter the meta most of the time.) The endeavor is always personal to the creator (and drafter), giving your decks a personal touch that don’t care if Mono Black is a thing or that Wild Nacatl was unbanned.

      Garruk is definitely a great pick here. It’s pretty close for me and depending on the day I might be more inclined to pick Garruk for sure. Sorin is awesome too–in general, you really can’t go wrong with picking a cubeable planeswalker. Unless it’s Tibalt, but why would anyone run him anyways? *cough* MODO cube post-AVR release *cough*

      Also, there’s no reason you shouldn’t run both Oracle and Omenspeaker since they’re both amazing in Pauper–do you have a list I can check out? There is probably something worse than the Oracle to cut. Oracle has been incredible for me since it does guarantee you that card, and I’m faced with less too-difficult decisions more often than not about whether to save one card or pitch another.

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