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Preview Draft for Dragons of Tarkir


On April 1 and April 2, sixteen players participated in the first two drafts for Dragons of Tarkir on Magic Online and streamed them on Twitch. Toda we'll be analyzing the first three picks from each pack for each player in the April 2 event. The eight players in this group were Frank Lepore, Julian Knab, Kenji Egashira, Paul Cheon, Graham Stark, Scotty MacCallum, Marshall Sutcliffe, and Wizards employee WotC_Astocles. Let's get to the packs.

Frank's Pack

Sunscorch Regent [DTK]Ambuscade Shaman [DTK]Dromoka Monument [DTK]Sight Beyond Sight [DTK]Lose Calm [DTK]Marsh Hulk [DTK]Mind Rot [DTK]Palace Familiar [DTK]Pinion Feast [DTK]Sandsteppe Scavenger [DTK]Spidersilk Net [DTK]Summit Prowler [DTK]Territorial Roc [DTK]Updraft Elemental [DTK]Swamp [DTK]

Frank's Pick 1 - Sunscorch Regent

We have a clear cut choice for the first pick out of this first pack. Sunscorch Regent is difficult to kill and can easily win a game by itself given a few turns.

WotC_Astocles's Pick 2 - Ambuscade Shaman

Since the Wizards employee did not stream their draft on Twitch, we do not know their first pick though we can derive the others by checking Frank's and Marshall's stream. However, there are not a lot of picks that could make taking the Ambuscade Shaman wrong. It does work best in aggressive decks, but its versatility and power level are such that most control decks would be fine with running one as well.

Marshall's Pick 3 - Palace Familiar

We'll talk about Marshall's first two picks later, but suffice to say that they are white cards. Since Palace Familiar is best when you have lots of blue and black for exploit, there's definitely a consideration to take his namesake the Marsh Hulk here instead of the flyer. However, picking a blue card does have the upside of keeping him in an ally color combination instead of an enemy one, which is probably something of which he's aware.

Julian's Pack

Foe-Razer Regent [DTK]Kolaghan Monument [DTK]Strongarm Monk [DTK]Swift Warkite [DTK]Dromoka Warrior [DTK]Dutiful Attendant [DTK]Evolving Wilds [DTK]Naturalize [DTK]Negate [DTK]Silumgar Butcher [DTK]Summit Prowler [DTK]Tread Upon [DTK]Volcanic Rush [DTK]Wandering Tombshell [DTK]Mountain [DTK]

Julian's Pick 1 - Foe-Razer Regent

Julian's pick 1 is also pretty straightforward. Resolving this Dragon will usually just end the game and nothing else in the pack really comes close to it in power level besides the Swift Warkite, which would have pushed him into two colors.

Frank's Pick 2 - Swift Warkite

I find this pick to be overly ambitious. After Frank's first pick of Sunscorch Regent, picking a black-red card only works if he finds himself in Mardu (unlikely with Khans of Tarkir gone) or in White/Black splash red or White/Red splash black. Both of these options are enemy colors which means lower synergy between cards from Dragons of Tarkir. Frank ended up (spoiler alert) not playing the Warkite in his deck and would have preferred a Strongarm Monk or Dromoka Warrior in his pile. I think I might have ended up taking one of these white cards had this been my choice to make.

WotC_Astocles's Pick 3 - Kolaghan Monument

My experience with Monuments thus far has been that they definitely worth playing, but not incredible. When an opponent plays one, you have to think about how soon they can start animating it as it can attack for four or brick wall an offense if you don't have a way to push through it. I think its power level is comparable to one of the good commons in the pack like Silumgar Butcher or Summit Prowler. Any of these three picks would have been defensible. 

Kenji's Pack

Necromaster Dragon [DTK]Dromoka Captain [DTK]Echoes of the Kin Tree [DTK]Scale Blessing [DTK]Anticipate [DTK]Butcher's Glee [DTK]Dragon-Scarred Bear [DTK]Herald of Dromoka [DTK]Lightwalker [DTK]Ojutai Interceptor [DTK]Screamreach Brawler [DTK]Segmented Krotiq [DTK]Sibsig Icebreakers [DTK]Tail Slash [DTK]Forest [DTK]

Kenji's Pick 1 - Necromaster Dragon

For the third pack in a row, we have a simple plan presented: pick the rare dragon. Necromaster Dragon is strong on offense and helps you on defense. It is a great card to first pick. 

Julian's Pick 2 - Segmented Krotiq

If Julian wanted to stick to green after his first pick, I like his choice here. Some people seem to have an over-fondness for Dragon-Scarred Bear, but at least at this juncture, I like the late game potential of the Segmented Krotiq more. However, I think Tail Slash has a high enough power level to warrant dipping over into red with his second pick. It's not as if anyone to his left is going to move into green upon seeing a Segmented Krotiq and Green/Red is a safe color combination to attempt to stake a claim to.

Frank's Pick 3 - Dromoka Captain

Here Frank has to start to come to terms with already having three colors of cards in his first two picks. Does he take the white creature with high upside, or the black and red spells Butcher's Glee or Tail Slash? Here he opts to stay true to his first pick and eventually will cut Swift Warkite out of his deck.

Paul's Pack

Dragonlord's Prerogative [DTK]Graceblade Artisan [DTK]Savage Ventmaw [DTK]Youthful Scholar [DTK]Coat with Venom [DTK]Custodian of the Trove [DTK]Kolaghan Stormsinger [DTK]Pinion Feast [DTK]Sandcrafter Mage [DTK]Shambling Goblin [DTK]Sidisi's Faithful [DTK]Sprinting Warbrute [DTK]Student of Ojutai [DTK]Taigam's Strike [DTK]Forest [DTK]

Paul's Pick 1 - Dragonlord's Prerogative

Paul couldn't pass up on the opportunity to draw four cards and I don't blame him. Dragonlord's Prerogative has a strong effect and is worth the early pick. If you know the feeling of resolving an Enhanced Awareness when you're not under too much pressure, you can imagine the added joy that comes from the additional card advantage.

Kenji's Pick 2 - Youthful Scholar

Kenji finds himself in the unfortunate position of committing to blue and black with his first pick and being to the left of Paul who opened a good blue rare. Luckily for him, there are still plenty of good choices left in this pack. While Coat with Venom is a quality combat trick and each of Shambling Goblin and Sidisi's Faithful are fine, none of these really compare to Youthful Scholar and its synergy with Exploit.

Julian's Pick 3 - Savage Ventmaw

While I was initially skeptical of how useful the extra mana from Savage Ventmaw would be, I've found it can be surprising relevant. Whether you have a Atarka Beastbreaker or Atarka Pummeler around, or some other mana-intensive ability, or just a handful of spells, the extra burst of mana can be nice. It doesn't hurt that the floor of a six mana 4/4 flyer is still acceptable. I think Julian made a good choice branching into a new color to pick up this card.

Graham and James's Pack

Secure the Wastes [DTK]Dragonlord's Servant [DTK]Foul-Tongue Invocation [DTK]Sight of the Scalelords [DTK]Ancestral Statue [DTK]Duress [DTK]Kindled Fury [DTK]Marsh Hulk [DTK]Naturalize [DTK]Sandcrafter Mage [DTK]Sandstorm Charger [DTK]Territorial Roc [DTK]Tread Upon [DTK]Updraft Elemental [DTK]Forest [DTK]

Graham and James's Pick 1 - Secure the Wastes

Here's another first pack with an obvious rare to take. This spell is relevant at any point in a game, synergizes with the Warrior themes that can still be found occasionally, and is just simply powerful.

Paul's Pick 2 - Foul-Tongue Invocation

I think Sandcrafter Mage is definitely close to Foul-Tongue Invocation in terms of power level, however Paul's first pick of Dragonlord's Prerogative prefers a home in a controlling deck. For this reason, Paul is looking to be in a Blue/Black controlling deck instead of a White/Blue tempo/aggressive deck.

Kenji's Pick 3 - Marsh Hulk

We're now seeing some of Kenji's pain in drafting Blue/Black and being passed cards by Paul, who has also settled into Blue/Black. He has only two real choices in his colors this pack, and I agree with him that Marsh Hulk is the pick over Updraft Elemental

Scotty's Pack

Hidden Dragonslayer [DTK]Ojutai Monument [DTK]Scion of Ugin [DTK]Silumgar's Scorn [DTK]Ancient Carp [DTK]Atarka Efreet [DTK]Dragon-Scarred Bear [DTK]Dromoka Dunecaster [DTK]Dutiful Attendant [DTK]Epic Confrontation [DTK]Flatten [DTK]Sabertooth Outrider [DTK]Sibsig Icebreakers [DTK]Zephyr Scribe [DTK]Forest [DTK]

Scotty's Pick 1 - Hidden Dragonslayer

It turns out that stapling a Champion of Arashin and Smite the Monstrous together and making the resulting card cheaper and more flexible creates a really strong card. Scotty correctly identified the card that was far beyond the others in the pack and picked it.

Graham and James's Pick 2 - Flatten

Graham and James were left with no great white cards to follow up their first pick and had to branch into a new color quickly. While I probably would have taken the Epic Confrontation to stay in an ally color combination, Flatten is another removal spell with comparable power level. Additionally, if they can plant a flag in White/Black and be the only ones in that color combination, they should be able to get everyone's Harsh Sustenances in the Fate Reforged pack. This is a card that is normally good, but gets even better given that a card like Secure the Wastes is floating around in their deck.

Paul's Pick 3 - Epic Confrontation

Despite being able to take a very good common in Zephyr Scribe, Paul identifies that green is open when he sees the premium common Epic Confrontation and decides to move in. Paul demonstrates a tremendous ability to play his seat and not become overly attached to his first pick in this draft, and his final decklist reflects this. If you're going to watch a draft replay, I'd suggest starting with Paul's.

Marshall's Pack

Arashin Foremost [DTK]Circle of Elders [DTK]Rending Volley [DTK]Ultimate Price [DTK]Aerie Bowmasters [DTK]Contradict [DTK]Dromoka Dunecaster [DTK]Dromoka Warrior [DTK]Elusive Spellfist [DTK]Flatten [DTK]Herald of Dromoka [DTK]Keeper of the Lens [DTK]Tormenting Voice [DTK]Wandering Tombshell [DTK]Island [DTK]

Marshall's Pick 1 - Arashin Foremost

While Marshall continued this draft pod's trend of taking the rare, I think his choice was closer than anyone else's thus far. Ultimate Price is a premium removal spell that isn't easily replaceable. While the Arashin Foremost is very strong and is probably the correct pick, it's worth noting that this decision is a bit harder than the ones the other drafters were presented with for their first pick.

Scotty's Pick 2 - Ultimate Price

Scotty doesn't fall for the trap of taking an only okay white card to stay open and instead moves into black for the aforementioned Ultimate Price. Good removal is hard to come by, and it's often correct to take it when you see it.

Graham and James's Pick 3 - Flatten

The LRR team has unfortunately been presented with a pack missing a white/black card after taking a white card and a black card for their first two picks. Luckily for them, there's still a great spell in their colors in the pack. They see it and decide to take the second copy of Flatten and move along. 

WotC_Astocles' Pack

Great Teacher's Decree [DTK]Herdchaser Dragon [DTK]Qarsi Deceiver [DTK]Ancient Carp [DTK]Center Soul [DTK]Coat with Venom [DTK]Colossodon Yearling [DTK]Dirgur Nemesis [DTK]Enduring Victory [DTK]Kolaghan Stormsinger [DTK]Reckless Imp [DTK]Segmented Krotiq [DTK]Tail Slash [DTK]Swamp [DTK]

WotC_Astocles's Pick 1 - ?

Since the Wizards employee rounding out this draft did not stream on Twitch, we don't know what their first pick was. We do know that they took a rare, however the rest of the pack is underwhelming enough that it wouldn't take much for the rare to be the most desirable.

Marshall's Pick 2 - Enduring Victory

Marshall's first pick was a white card, and he isn't really given a reason to deviate from that in this pack. Enduring Victory isn't quite competitively costed, but it's hard to get unconditional removal much better at common.

Scotty's Pick 3 - Coat with Venom

Scotty continues in the White/Black vein with the very good combat trick Coat with Venom. While Center Soul also offers a good effect, it's hard to argue with a card that usually offers all the value of Necrobite while costing only one mana. 

Draft Recap

Although all of the first picks were rares, I feel like this is an anomaly and this format will be less bomb-driven than the last. Additionally, the strong rares in Dragons of Tarkir are typically Dragons and most Limited decks pack at least a few pieces of creature removal. This is definitely healthier than the Sieges of Fate Reforged (especially Citadel Siege) since main deck enchantment removal is usually unplayable rendering the Sieges both difficult to beat and hard to remove.

I encourage you to watch the replays on these player's Twitch channels if analyzing picks and draft dynamics in detail interests you. Seeing when the players jump ship and abandon their opening color(s) to move into an open archetype is great training to learn to do the same during your own drafts. I'm not going to spoil the winner for you here, so if you want to find out, go ahead and watch the games.

Conclusion

I really enjoyed breaking down the beginnings of this draft. While Pack 1 Pick 1's can be easy sometimes, it's harder to know what direction to go during the next few steps of a draft. Learning when to stay the course and pick a mediocre card of a color you're already in and when to jump ship and grab a better card in new territory is a learned art.

Reach out to me on Twitter @JakeStilesMTG or in the comments below with which picks from our participants that you disagreed with or that piqued your interest. I'm eager to learn how widely approved the draft strategies and pick orders shown here are.


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