Pack 1 Pick 1 #24

Holy shit, these guys still make articles? Yeah, we do. We’ve been on hiatus, busy in the cayman islands with our swiss banks accounts, riding on yachts with models and such. OR we’ve both had crazy busy schedules and don’t want this to ever not feel like it’s fun, so sometimes a break is needed. Either way, we’re glad to be back, even if being back ends up being sporadic. ANYWHO…

It seems like the “worst” packs in cube tend to be the hardest to figure out a p1p1 for. Sure, what does a “bad” pick in cube really mean when all the cards were top-tier performers in their respective and current times, but there is always a ranking to be made and a pick to choose. Today’s pack, for a powered cube, is rather underwhelming, but it is by no means barren of powerful cards.

Huntmaster of the Fells Nevinyrral's Disk Deranged Hermit
Steam Vents Simic Signet Faithless Looting
Mystic Snake Vedalken Shackles Journey to Nowhere
Thundermaw Hellkite Glacial Fortress Badlands
Volcanic Island Baneslayer Angel Lightning Mauler
This pack generated from, the MTG Deck Builder

Huntmaster of the Fells

Nevinyrral’s Disk

Deranged Hermit

Steam Vents

Simic Signet

Faithless Looting

Mystic Snake

Vedalken Shackles

Journey to Nowhere

Thundermaw Hellkite

Glacial Fortress


Volcanic Island

Baneslayer Angel

Lightning Mauler


There is no card that absolutely jumps out at me, but there are a lot of strong starts here. Deranged Hermit, Simic Signet, Vedalken Shackles, and Thundermaw Hellkite are what I’m considering, with a passing glance made towards all the lands and the Journey to Nowhere. The lands are all cool, but the color-committing cards are all strong enough that I don’t feel like staying that open is an actual option here. You can never go too wrong with a U/X dual, since blue should be where you want to be most of the time anyways, but the cards I’m considering are strong enough that I don’t want to send too loud of a signal that I don’t want to be in those colors. The Journey to Nowhere is a premier piece of removal, but at sorcery speed, slight vulnerability in being an enchantment, and only hitting creatures you can do better for removal at p1p1 and overall do better for a choice.

Vedalken Shackles is the strongest of the serious contenders, but is actually the one I’m considering the least. This is by no means an actual knock on Vedalken Shackles in the right deck. Taking creature after creature and either slowly winning by attrition or quickly winning by an open board will crush most strategies, even in cube where the creature-light decks do occur. However, you are heavily committing yourself to blue, which even I find to be an issue at p1p1. Yes, being in blue is where you want to be in a powered cube, but if you’re drafting with people who know what they’re doing they probably realize that too. It’s not out of the question for a couple players to be in blue and a couple-few more trying to splash or force their way in there because there are so many no-question first picks in blue. Other than the mana sources you really aren’t passing any blue, which is nice, so there is the possibility that you’re cutting blue completely off for pack two, but that’s still a lot for me to jump so hard into the color right off the back.

Simic Signet is by far the most “boring” of the picks, but the card is super strong while fitting in a variety of decks. Other than hard aggro, there isn’t a cube deck that wouldn’t want a signet, especially one on-color. An off-color signet is most likely going to be a 23rd card at best, but when you’re on color with one of the colors and hitting with both as mains or a splash, then Signet can be one of the best cards in your deck in a silent way. While making extra mana seems a bit underwhelming when one of the colors is green, which can ramp away no problem, just the idea of having hard-to-remove mana ramp in just about any color or any deck is a pretty strong way to start the draft. Now there is just about any deck available for your first pick, and you can play off your passed packs much easier without risking being attached to a stupidly good card in a color that might not be available. I can understand not picking the signet, since there are multiple colorless rampers and there are stronger cards when placed into a vacuum, but when drafting you need to consider more than pure power, and Simic Signet has a lot going for it.

Thundermaw Hellkite could be one of the things you cast off a signet, but Thundermaw is great because you are probably playing it in any red deck. Thundermaw is obviously good in the slower, Wildfire/red control style decks. He’s a big dude that ruins the air and lives through the Wildfire effects, all at a pretty low cost of 5 mana considering you’re getting a 5/5 flier with haste. Thundermaw is also a stellar top-end in the red aggro decks that exist. Reaching 5 mana can be really tough there, and if you’re playing a hard aggro deck with ~15 lands he is probably not the best choice since in only the worst games with the unluckiest draws will you reach the 5 mana. If you’re running 16-17 lands in your aggro deck though, he’s perfectly fine as your 1 or 2 of 4+ CMC cards. Knowing our playgroup, who are all colorblind to red, Thundermaw would go last pick or something dumb, but I refuse to believe that’s right and should give red more respect.

In the least surprising choice for people who know my cube style, I’d probably pick Deranged Hermit. First of all, Deranged Hermit is green, a color I love. Being able to put out giant things while splashing all the other tools to make that strategy work is some of the most fun I can have playing magic. If every deck I ever made could just play 8 drops, I’d be OK with it, since I’m a huge fan of battlecruiser magic, at least when I’m the one piloting that ship. Deranged Hermit is a huge thing that is small itself but when he’s abused is an actual terror. Sure, there’s an echo cost attached, but in some decks that’s actually a bonus when you plan to bring that Deranged Hermit back. This is not the easiest Deranged Hermit pick ever, but it’s one I’m happy to make here.

What would you choose? Why am I so stupid? Let us know, and thanks for reading!

4 thoughts on “Pack 1 Pick 1 #24

  1. I would also take Shackles. I love that card way too much. And I’m bad at reading signals, especially in cube, so I’m fine just forcing blue heavily and letting other people deal with it. Oh, and welcome back. I look forward to your updates, even if they might be sporadic for a while.

  2. Yep, I’d also take the Shackles. My group has been shy of blue recently (???), so it’s good to remind them why it’s the best color.

    In my cube, I’d next take the Hermit. I push tokens very heavy these days, and the Hermit is obviously great in that archetype.

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