by Bruce Gray -Casual Encounters
I have decided that I am going to try and put together a bit of new series here on Three Kings Loot called Crack a pack MTG with Bruce. This way I would enjoy the chance to sit down and really look at the cards I open in a pack and go through the same mental exercises I would use to evaluate cards in a draft. I always find this interesting because the thought process from person to person is so different. I might pick something totally different than the next player…and for perfectly valid reasons…making the drafting process super fun and very interesting. I thought it might be nice to share my thoughts on some of the cards and how I proceed
For our inaugural Crack a pack MTG, I’m going to look at a pack of Theros. My main reason for checking this out is the fact that my casual group is going to be drafting triple Theros later this summer because one of the guys in our group got a box relatively inexpensively…and what is better than drafting with a cheap box?! Nothing…that’s what! So, I went out to my local game store and picked up a pack of Theros to practice because it has been a few months since we all drafted triple Theros. Today I will go through card by card and look at what the potential top five choices are in the pack and what I would pick first.
This is, overall, a pretty mediocre pack. There is no obvious windmill slam or consensus first pick, but there are a number of good choices. Let’s have a look.
The most obvious place to start is the rare which is Colossus of Akros. The sheer size of this guy makes him very appealing, especially if you can Monstruous him and make some ridiculous beast. The fact that the Colossus is also an artifact and colourless is also nice because it doesn’t commit you to a colour yet. Options are good and this guy keeps my options open. The drawback to this card is the huge mana investment. Not every draft deck is designed to get to 8 mana to cast this or 10 to get it to Monstrous. It’s an option, but not an obvious first pick.
The next card to catch my eye is Stoneshock Giant because a 5/4 for 5 mana is pretty solid. The monstrous ability makes this guy very daunting to deal with as well too. He’s not flashy but very much in the running for first pick of this pack and a very good start to playing Red.
Gods Willing grabs my attention because it is an excellent combat trick to give something evasion or protect it from being killed. It can also Scry for 1 making it useful to set up the rest of your deck. Cheap. Versatile. And opens the door to trying to go for the Heroic deck. I’m not usually keen on picking instants and sorceries as first picks because they just don’t impact the board significantly enough, but this pack is pretty mediocre, so it might make sense. This one gets a long hard look.
Nessian Courser is a solid green body as a 3/3 for 3 mana. He’s bland and won’t scare your opposition, but more useful creatures is always better than fewer. I’d hate to take him first but if my heart was set on playing green and I thought there might be a chance something else in Green might wheel in this pack I might go for it.
Pharika’s Cure is next as a form of inexpensive removal. Removal is premium in a draft and instant speed removal is even better not to mention the incidental life gain is pretty useful as well. Not an exciting pick, but a card worthy of good look.
I would look at Akroan Crusader and Sea God’s Revenge, but I think those would have to wait and be more mid-round picks. The Crusader is good, but only in a heroic deck so I might hold off and hope that I see a Crusader or two go by as the draft takes shape. Revenge is a nice bounce spell, but for 6 mana is pretty steep and at sorcery speed is a little slow to have much in the way of impact. However, both can be very powerful and impact the board significantly.
Some other playables that I would be looking to make it around the table would include the Setessan Griffin which is a very solid 3/2 flier, but to maximize its abilities you are virtually forced into playing green along with it. The Priest of Iroas is another versatile creature that can occupy that vital 1 drop spot in your deck. Returned Phalanx is also quite solid, but again, to activate it and really get full value you need to pair it with Blue. Lastly the Leonin Snarecaster is a utility creature and occupies the all important 2-drop slot and even has an ability. These would be solid picks in the mid round as well and cards that I’d be making a note of as the draft progresses
Some things that would not be high on my list would be the Pharika’s Mender…not because it isn’t a good card because I really like it, but to pull this one you need to be in Black and Green early on. If things shake out that I am in Black and Green, I’ll grab the Mender, but otherwise I need to let her go. Defend the Hearth is another one that I like…but really has very little impact on the game. It’s the sort of card that is VERY good when it’s good, but when it isn’t good it’s just about the last card you want to see in your deck. So, I’ll let it go and if I end up in Green I might find it again later. Lastly, the Coastline Chimera is just a versatile Blue flier. It’s good on defence, but lacks much in the way of bite to attack, but if I end up in blue I might like this in the air. All of these are decent picks, but none of them are likely to be early picks from this pack.
When I open this pack there are really only 2 cards that really pull their weight as far as first picks. I want my first pick to hit the board and make an impact and possibly swing the game in my direction. As a result I want a creature first and not a spell in most cases. So, Colossus of Akros and Stoneshock Giant are really the only two viable first pickable cards. They are both very significant monsters that can take over a game and bring the beats when you need them to. Colossus doesn’t commit you to a colour and if you monstrous the thing it is basically game over. The Giant becomes a very solid 8/7 when it is Monstrous and has a much more reasonable casting cost of 5. The double red in the casting cost is a tad difficult to hit, but in a base red deck likely not that difficult.
In the end Stoneshock Giant would likely be my first because of the fact that it isn’t quite as ridiculously expensive to cast at the Colossus. I still get a big beat stick, but I will be far more likely to cast this one because 5 mana is just more attainable than the 8 for Colossus.
So, there we have it. Our first ever Crack a Pack with Bruce. What did you think? What was your first pick from that pack? I’d love to hear what other people thought. The fact that the power level in this pack was so average makes it difficult to make for a consensus first pick but it does open up lots of really good discussion. Send me your thoughts on Twitter because I’d love to hear what you think.
Well, thanks for reading…time for me to go back and brew up some new Casual masterpiece I’m going to break out at our next Casual card night. I wonder how ridiculous I can make it…hmmm?
Take care and until next time Keep it fun, keep it safe…keep it Casual.
Bruce Gray -Casual Encounters