|This pack generated from TappedOut.net, the MTG Deck Builder|
Another pack 1 pick 1, and this is one of the tougher ones yet in my opinion. I wanted to write an article today but was unsure of what to choose, so I’ll go into a little more detail about the cards I’m looking at and why I think they’re first-pickable.
For actual consideration, I’m looking at Maze of Ith, Vraska, Lingering Souls, Garruk, and Restoration Angel, and Coalition Relic. Some of these cards have a stronger case than the others, and a few are ones I wouldn’t be ecstatic about taking p1p1, but they’re all pretty awesome and I wouldn’t fault anyone for taking them. They allow you to go into a bunch of different directions all while having a solid piece for your deck to include.
Maze of Ith is one of the more underrated cards in cube. I’ve watched so many videos where players are passing a Maze of Ith 6th or 7th pick, and I’m a little dumbfounded. Sure, there are decks where you need all your lands to tap for mana as you drop them and can’t afford to stunt your mana growth for a fairly effortless icy effect, but being able to lock down any one creature is incredibly strong. Moreso you can hide your intentions of what you’re afraid of coming in by letting them declare their attackers first unlike Icy, which forces you to take the initiative when you have priority. Maze of Ith is also fine if you’re getting blown out in combat, such as if your guy’s equipment gets blown up by a disenchant. (There aren’t that many ways to surprise you in combat that Maze can save your creature from, but like any card it’s worth considering every possible angle of what the card can provide you.) I don’t think I would take Maze here, since it is essentially soft removal in a pack full of fun build-arounds and archetype supporters, but in my opinion it’s probably the second safest pick in the pack.
Next up is Garruk, which is being held back only by his GGG casting cost. Landing a Garruk is sick, and the green decks which want to do it can do it pretty easily. It’s entirely possible to have t1 elf, t2 Cultivate-ramp, t3 Garruk, which is quite bonkers even in a powered cube. He’s worth the cost, pumping up his loyalty with a 3/3 and giving green not just the rare card draw in its color, but insane card draw. Sometimes green faces the issue of ending up in clunky board states where it slowly tries to use it’s big or many threats to gain incremental value and slowly peck at their life. Drawing 5-7 as your fatty sits out there facing multiple blockers that’ll happily team block him while you can’t allow it to die will win you the game if you have the mana open, if not make your next turn bountiful. GGG is asking a lot out of a p1p1 card, and while I do love going green, there’s no reason to commit so strongly this early. If this is a smaller draft I definitely would not take Garruk, since if someone else thinks their green and the first pack is full of green cards, we could both be sabotaged and my deck will end up sucky. No thanks.
Vraska is probably a worse pick than Garruk, but is still a planeswalker that does awesome stuff and can fit into a bunch of decks that want an effect like that. While reaching the ultimate and attacking with a bunch of Assassins is what everyone wants to do with Vraska, her typical utility is as a Maelstrom Pulse laser cannon. I liken her to the Death Star: a powerful machine that must charge up to use it’s weapon, but is well protected while doing so and can destroy pretty much anything when she fires. If there isn’t a high-priority target or you’d like to threat multiple shots if she can’t be dealt with, her +1 is a fine ability that might net you some free kills if your opponent can’t afford to hit her. In theory this is cool, but most of the time players can find a way to play around it and wait until you have to shoot something, hitting you instead if Vraska is played onto an open or less-developed board on their side. While pumping out multiple Maelstrom Pulses is something I’m interested in, I can’t justify taking it first. Not only is it kind of boring and expensive if the card only ends up being “Maelstrom Pulse, gain 2 life”, but two colors right off the bat hurts and is something I try to avoid doing most of the time. (There are exceptions, of course.) If I was in a GB ramp or graveyard strategy and missed out on removal in the first 1 or 2 pack–it sounds crazy, no removal in black? but crazier things have happened–I’d be more inclined to take it, but for p1p1 I want a higher power level plus less of a mana commitment.
Lingering Souls is a funny one. For the longest time, I had a hard time grasping how strong of a card Lingering Souls was. I understood that in DKA INN INN, you never pass a Lingering Souls, and it was an actual tough pick if you cracked a pack with Sorin and Lingering Souls in it. In cube, I knew it would be strong too. 1/1 fliers can slowly peck away at a life when you make multiples bodies, and with both sides of the card cheaply costed, it’s easy to put the hit on. The more I’ve played with Lingering Souls, the more I understand not only the power, but the versatility of what you can do with it. There are multiple ways you can discard it to gain advantage, or use it as fodder if your opponent is making you pitch it. You can place it in aggressive decks to lay the smack down, or you can run it in control builds to give you multiple blockers or a win con. In the Moat deck it’s one of the sickest finishers, since in most match ups you’re not looking at many other blockers in other colors so giving yourself 4 threats off of one card is crazy. And that’s the kicker, really–you’re getting FOUR threats with evasion off of one card. There aren’t that many cards in cube that can provide you that little army for so cheap while maintaining your hand size and potentially keeping counter or removal mana earlier. Even still, I don’t think I take the Lingering Souls. Two colors is too much, and with how open some of the other cards I could take leave me, I can’t justify going into multiple colors.
Restoration Angel is an easy to cast card that can fill multiple roles in multiple archetypes. She’s the strongest in the blink/Venser decks, giving you a creature that can trigger other creatures when she comes into play, letting you attack with the angel and then blink her to use her as a blocker while also giving you another ETB trigger when she exiles another creature you control. In aggressive strategies she’s fine as a curve topper, better in RW builds that have random Keldons and what not. In tempo builds you can play her EOT, leaving open your removal or counter magic and ride the 3 in the air to victory. The same goes for control builds as well, though it’s a little tougher to rely only on a restoration angel since it does die to a lot. While Angel is incredible, it’s ultimately a little lackluster as a pick 1, but that could just be me. I like bombs or planeswalkers or sick fast mana, and while Restoration can be a bomb, it’s mostly an efficient creature with an incredible upside.
That leaves me with Coalition Relic, which I like the most–and by quite a bit. Coalition is a super strong card. Fairly cheap for what it does, the relic fits into so many different decks, because you can play whatever you want once Coalition Relic is on the board. Other than aggressive strategies, I can’t think of many decks that wouldn’t want to be playing a Relic. Even if your mana is fine and you don’t need to splash, the ability to play a 6 drop on turn 4 is such a crazy blow out in a lot of games. Playing it on t2 off an elf is such a huge advantage too, making the Relic fit in nicely as an inconsistently-repeating extra-mana effect. After picking a Coalition Relic, you can safely do whatever you want in your next few picks. This is crucial in drafts of all size, but getting an idea of what you’ll be receiving in smaller drafts from players early on can help you figure out what’s the strongest direction to go in and makes speculative archetype picks easier since you can jump ship without worrying about not using your first pick with ease. With all of the above cards, there is a chance I won’t play them in the deck I end up building even if my next few picks try to go in that direction as well. What if I take Garruk, bird, heirarch, and never see another good green ramp spell? What if I take Lingering Souls, grab a worse white card that another choice in pick 2, and then get a clear signal by picks 3-6 that I should abandon BW and go into a different direction? With coalition Relic I can go Relic, bird, heirarch, and then still maintain one card out of the three, or I don’t take the lesser white card and instead take the awesome card that was passed to me. Fixing is never a bad thing to value early if you want to make sure your early picks and your late picks count, and fixing in all colors that also ramps you far ahead of the curve is kinda nuts. This is an easy Coalition Relic pick for me.
There are a bunch of other strong cards in the pack as well, but none I’d seriously consider here. Port is cool, but it’s a card that wheels all the time and makes me want to play aggressive or builds that can play off the tempo slowing your opponent’s lands down can provide, which is not something I want to jump into immediately. The red cards are good, but none are stronger than the other picks in my eyes. To want to play an aggressive red deck, I either need to put on the blinders and just do it or open something like Goblin Guide or Sulfuric Vortex. It would feel weird taking a 2/2 haste for R first overall, but if mono red was the goal for that day then Guide is a fine card, as it’s the one you want to play on t1 every game. Crystal Ball is underrated, filtering your entire deck, but it does nothing to impact the board; I’d rather be taking more proactive cards here. Terminus is cool but I’m not inclined to take wraths first overall. Seal is neat and insane with Sun Titan, but I can find other disenchant effects. Gerard’s Verdict surprises people when it shouldn’t, since it’ll wheel, so if you take Lingering Souls it’s worth noting that. And Kira, while neat, is not something I’d take first overall.
Disagree with my pick of Coalition Relic? Lemme know in the comments what’d you choose. And thanks for reading!