Fate Reforged is out and subtly, but substantially changing Khans Limited. The format is faster, which makes sense, since morphs aren’t as prevalent to provide late-game cards at mid-game mana costs. The complete lack of tricolor cards in Fate Reforged also allows faster two-color decks to compete, particularly blue-red tempo (which was generally subpar in triple Khans).

I’m still getting a handle on the format and was planning on inviting y’all to join me in some pack 1, pick 1s. Of course, William “Huey” Jensen of Channel Fireball has been doing just that throughout the week. He’s done three so far (check out 1, 2, and 3) and I strongly recommend checking them out. The only problem is…

“I found it very interesting that so far after opening 15 packs and making 15 first picks, I selected the rare 12 times. That’s quite a high rate. I’ll be curious to see if I was just “lucky” or if that’s the way the set actually plays out. I’ve got more of these coming up, so we’ll see. Happy drafting.”

Huey keeps taking the rare. It makes sense; Fate Reforged feels like a high-power, bomby format (a lot like Scars of Mirrodin was). The only problem is that there’s not much to learn from “take the rare,” since you’ll (pardon the pun) rarely be able to do that more than once or twice in your Fate Reforged booster.

In these cases, I prefer to apply the Conjured Currency rule:

Conjured Currency

Imagine that the rare is unplayable, like Conjured Currency (which is technically decent if your deck is awful), Knowledge Pool (ditto), or Mudhole (it’s… just… awful). If you ignore the rare, what do you take? I find this to be a much more helpful exercise than Pack 1, Pick 1, since you’ll far more frequently have to discern the relative value of commons and uncommons than compare a rare or mythic rare to lower rarity cards. With that said, let’s crack some packs!

My First Tome

Dromoka, the Eternal Conjured Currency

Rite of Undoing

Shifting Loyalties

Dark Deal

Sandblast

Collateral Damage

Whisperer of the Wilds

Ancestral Vengeance

Sultai Skullkeeper

Jeskai Runemark

War Flare

Sultai Runemark

Aven Skirmisher

Jeskai Sage

Swiftwater Cliffs

Without Dromoka, this pack looks a lot less exciting. I think that Rite of Undoing is a fine, but replaceable card (given how many tempo spells blue has access to). Shifting LoyaltiesDark DealJeskai RunemarkSultai RunemarkAven Skirmisher are unplayable, or nearly so. Collateral DamageAncestral VengeanceSultai Skullkeeper are not very strong, and I don’t want to commit to War Flare this early.

The cards that catch my eye are Sandblast (one of the best common removal spells), Whisperer of the Wilds (green’s best common), Jeskai Sage (which is the best color, blue), the aforementioned Rite of Undoing, and Swiftwater Cliffs (an enemy color dual land, which is better than an allied color dual land). I eliminate Jeskai Sage, because it’s weaker than my other options and I expect blue to be overdrafted. I eliminate Swiftwater Cliffs because I like my nonland options enough to not blindly commit to a dual land. I eliminate Rite of Undoing because I like blue’s other tempo spells better (though I acknowledge folks whose opinions I respect rate this card much more highly and may be P1P1ing it).

In the end, I’m choosing between Sandblast and Whisperer of the Wilds. I really like Sandblast because it kills almost anything, including most flipped morphs (which is a big deal) and it’s in white, likely the second-best color in Fate Reforged. Whisperer of the Wilds can lead to some very explosive starts, however, it’s green (a color which I think is very weak in Fate Reforged, excepting its powerful rares and uncommons) and doesn’t have a relevant body. I take Sandblast and stay open.

What do you take? What’s your line of reasoning?

Second Thoughts

Pack two!

Outpost Siege Reverse the Sands

Wandering Champion

Cloudform

Temur Sabertooth

Aven Surveyer

Soul Summons

War Flare

Abzan Runemark

Ancestral Vengeance

Sultai Skullkeeper

Formless Nurturing

Tasigur’s Cruelty

Temur Battle Rage

Return to the Earth

Wind-Scarred Crag

This pack is much stronger than the last one. I’m still not taking War Flare this early. None of Abzan RunemarkAncestral VengeanceSultai SkullkeeperTasigur’s CrueltyTemur Battle Rage, and Return to the Earth are particularly strong. Soul Summons and Formless Nurturing are both fine, (usually) vanilla creatures, but not that strong. Wind-Scarred Crag is a good, enemy-colored dual land, but not better than our top picks.

Me, I’m looking at Wandering Champion (a good, aggressive creature with potential upside), Cloudform (a good evasive threat that’s nuts when it hits an actual creature), Temur Sabertooth (a fantastic threat and board-controller), and Aven Surveyor (which is reminiscent of Mist Raven, an insanely good card). I think that Wandering Champion is the worst of these four; while it goes into practically any white deck (and is best in an aggressive one), it’s just weaker than my other options. Cloudform and Aven Surveyor are in blue, a color I strongly want to be in, while Temur Sabertooth is in green, a color I somewhat want to avoid in Fate Reforged (but like quite a bit in Khans of Tarkir). I’m honestly not certain which of these two blue cards is better yet; Cloudform is good on its own and amazing when you flip a creature, whereas Aven Surveyor is always a good tempo swing.

If Temur Sabertooth weren’t in the pack, I think I’d take Cloudform, but the cat guardian is insane and absolutely my first pick. It blanks your opponent’s removal while beating down admirably. Sure, it’s not in a great color, but colors that are perceived to be weaker tend to be underdrafted. Furthermore, when a color is weak and has few good commons, it’s really easy to tell whether it’s open; if I don’t see any good green uncommons, Whisperer of the Wilds, or Hunt the Weaks, then I can quickly jump ship into another color and possibly pick up green when it’s wide open next pack. With a deep color like blue, there are so many good commons, I could receive a fourth pick Whisk Away and think that blue is open, even though the previous four cards to be drafted from the pack were Torrent Elemental, Aven Surveyor, and Lotus Path Djinn.

What do you take here? Why? And furthermore, if the rare were actually Outpost Siege, would you P1P1 it?

Feldon of the Third Path

I hope that you’ve enjoyed this first round of Pack 1, Pick Common. If you liked this and would like to see more, if you disagree with my analysis or pick orders, or if you just want to talk, please comment below. I’d be more than happy to do this again, particularly as I get more experience with the format. And as always, thanks for reading.

—Zachary Barash

Zachary Barash has been playing Magic on and off since 1994. He loves Limited and drafts every available format (including several that aren’t entirely meant to be drafted). He’s a proud Cube owner and improviser, creating entire musicals from scratch every week. Zach has an obsession with Indian food that borders on being unhealthy.

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