Drafters’ Corner: P1P1, What’s the pick?

Hi everybody! Hope you all enjoyed the tier list that I put out last week! If you haven’t, I strongly recommend checking it out here, together with the accompanying article. For today’s article, I’ll be building on that knowledge and discuss what to pick for P1P1. I’ll also go through some sample P1P1s at the end!

 

What to pick?

Picking for P1P1 is actually slightly more intricate that I’ve let on in my previous articles. While picking the strongest card in the pack is a good rule of thumb to follow, there is an added consideration of how likely the card is to make the final deck. I group all cards under the following 4 categories:

1) Mono-faction, splashable (e.g. Gun Down, Archive Curator, Dragonbreath)
2) Mono-faction, unsplashable (e.g. Groundbreaker, Jotun Cyclops, Tranquil Scholar)
3) Dual-faction, splashable (e.g. Highwind Glider, Duelist’s Blade, Mortar)
4) Dual-faction, unsplashable (e.g. Clan Hero, Nobel Firemane, Auric Bully)

Doing some rough calculations (assuming equal chances of playing 2F or 2F+splash decks and equal chances of playing each faction), there’s a 50% chance of a mono-faction, splashable card making our deck, 40% chance of playing a mono-faction, unsplashable card, 20% chance of playing a dual faction, splashable card and 10% chance of playing a dual faction, unsplashable card. (Huge shoutout to /u/Sliver__Legion for catching a mistake in my previous calculations)

Taking these statistics into account, we can try to adjust our ratings on the tier list to pick the strongest card that is also most likely to see play. There isn’t really a hard and fast rule, some people still prefer to pick the strongest card, some prioritize mono-faction P1P1s very heavily. For myself, I adjust my rankings by giving mono-faction cards a bump up of half a tier, so for example, Archive Curator goes from high A- tier to low A tier. Dual-faction, splashable cards remains untouched while dual-faction, unsplashable cards get a penalty of half a tier. For example, Slay would go from high A tier to low A tier.

 

Unique effects and Replace-ability

An additional factor to consider when picking your first few cards is the uniqueness and replace-ability of the card that you are picking. For example, while Tranquil Scholar is a great card with a high ceiling, there are times where it will simply be a 2-drop. In that sense, a random Stranger is only a slight downgrade Tranquil Scholar. Similarly, while Roosting Owl is a great 6-drop, you generally don’t want to many 6-drops in your deck and there are quite a few 6-drops that outclass Roosting Owl. In contrast, given the limited pool of removal options, cards such as Purify, Gun Down are considered relatively unique effects. It’s generally a good idea to prioritize cards with more unique effects over more replaceable cards.

Similarly, there are also cards that get worse in multiples. A great example is Bring Down. The first 2 Bring Downs are great to answer fliers, but running too many could easily result in them clogging up your hand while you are being overwhelmed on board. Cards that belong this category should also be prioritized less.

 

Sample P1P1s

(Note: I’m using my daily free packs as sample P1P1s because I’m too poor to draft so often ><. I will also only list out my top 5 picks for each pack because going any further is kind of moot.)

 

1.PNGPack 1

Shelterwing Rider is the rare in this pack and it is definitely a solid card. A 5/4 for 4 power flier is significantly above curve. The drawback of being a 0/4 when the aegis is popped is significant, but not the worst as it can still bounce and hold back most fliers. However, I’m not super happy to just pick this P1P1 because not only does playing this card force me into Hooru, it is extremely hard on the power base as well. If I wanted to splash in a deck with Shelterwing Rider, I would want multiple fixing Strangers to ensure that I can play the Shelterwing Rider on curve. Tranquil Scholar and Stormcrasher are alternative considerations and I would favour Stormcrasher slightly more because a random Stranger is only a slight downgrade from Tranquil Scholar while a good, cheap flier is much harder to come by. Highbranch Sentry is a decent 3 drop, even in a deck with no mentor effects. Rockslide and Auric Bully are alright fillers, but they both suffer from being only playable in their respective dual-faction. As such, I would rather pick the Xenan Stranger over both cards.

Final pick order

Shelterwing Rider > Stormcrasher > Tranquil Scholar > Highbranch Sentry > Xenan Stranger

 

2.PNGPack 2

Cat Burglar is quite a nice card, with a potential 2-for-1 if you manage to hit a relic with the summon effect. The deadly text also allows Cat Burglar to trade up well when blocking. This is a pack loaded with goodies though, with Awakened Sentinel, Extract, Duelist’s Blade and Valkyrie Militant catching my eye. The strongest card in the pack is probably Duelist’s Blade. The aegis can sometimes come in clutch and a 4/4 weapon on the right board can often net a 2-for-1 trade. Relic weapons also have an added advantage of being able to target a selected creature and ignore aegis. Valkyrie Militant is a pretty neat card, and with the recent buff, it synergizes very well with weapons. Playing a relic weapon with Valkyrie Militant active can often buy you an additional swing. Picking up synergistic cards early on in the draft is also advantageous because you can try to build your draft around them by picking up their counterparts, such as relic weapons in this case. Awakened Sentinel is another good card, but I’ve rated it a B on my tier list because Time as a faction has an extremely wide selection of good 5-drops, such as Amber Monument, Twinbrood Sauropod and Towering Terrazon. Thus, while Awakened Sentinel is a good unit buffed by the warp and endurance text, it becomes a lower priority pick because we can often replace it with an equivalent or better unit. Extract is also good, but the double Shadow influence heavily commits you to Shadow as a base faction.

Final pick order

Duelist’s Blade > Cat Burglar > Valkyrie Militant = Extract > Awakened Sentinel

 

3.PNGPack 3

Upon seeing Slay in this pack, there is no reason to give any of the other cards in the pack any more than a customary glance. Slay is flat out one of the best removals in the format and there are very few cards that I would first pick over it. Talon of Nostrix is a slightly above average 2 drop, and I would definitely pick it over a Stranger. In most cases, Talon of Nostrix ends up trading for a stranger, but there are cases when it extracts much more value by removing fliers or annoying units such as Sand Viper or Deranged Dinomancer. Reunite is a disappointing rare and only playable in Stranger-centric decks. Even if you want to force strangers, you don’t want to first pick Reunite. Instead, you want to focus on the synergistic Strangers first, such as Battle-tested Stranger, Soaring Stranger and Determined Stranger. Audacious Bandit is an ok 4-drop in Fire and a fine conservative pick. Fencing Master makes for an interesting pick, but strongly compels you into Hooru because that is the faction with the most stun effects. It is also heavily reliant on your deck having multiple stun effects. Umbren Thrister is great if you are able to reliably activate it. Picking either cardsearly is not the worst idea as a speculative pick as you can focus more on drafting activators. I would generally want at least 4+ activators before putting either cards in my deck.

Final pick order

Slay > Talon of Nostrix > Audacious Bandit > Praxis Stranger = Umbren Thrister = Fencing Master

 

4.PNGPack 4

Despite an average rare in the form of Champion of Vengeance, this pack has quite a few tempting goodies in the form of Purify, Valkyrie Denouncer and Minotaur Oathkeeper. Purify is a great card since not only is it a good removal, it gets rid of both revenge and annoying entomb effects, effectively neutering cards such as Stonescar Magus, Valkyrie Denouncer and Minotaur Duelist. Valkyrie Denouncer is one of my favorite cards in draft. A 5 power 3/3 flier is about the average rate, but revenge makes it a significantly stronger card. Fliers are also more valuable in this removal light format so that is another point in favor of Valkyrie Denouncer. Minotaur Oathkeeper is a great 1-drop because playing it on turn 1 is great, but topdecking it late is not the worst thing. The ability to selectively buff one of your attackers can easily make blocking awkward for your opponent. Champion of Vengeance is very mediocre if unactivated and slightly above average if you are able to activate both factions. However, the main drawback is that this card is extremely bad at stabilizing you if you are behind on board as you are unable to attack with it to buff it’s attack and it does not have invulnerability when your opponent is attacking. The rest of the pack is pretty bad, and I would be tempted to pick the Banner over any of the other 7 cards.

Final pick order

Purify > Valkyrie Denouncer > Minotaur Oathkeeper > Champion of Vengeance > Xenan Banner

 

5.PNGPack 5

The legendary is very bad in draft since it’s very hard to consistently hit 5 Time influence in draft, and even harder to hit it while still having cards in hand. As in the previous pack, Valkyrie Denouncer makes for a solid P1P1. Time Weaver is another nice card in draft because not only does it allow you to effectively remove a card from your opponent’s hand, the additional information that you gleam from the summon effect allows you to optimize your play. Time Weaver is slightly lower on my power scale because it is a much worse card to draw when both players are in topdeck mode and therefore, you get zero value from the summon effect. Valkyrie Militant is a solid pick as covered previously. Blinkwolf is of a slightly higher power level than Skycrag Stranger, but the fact that the Stranger goes in almost every deck and can potentially offer substantial fixing makes it a marginally better pick than Blinkwolf here. I also generally value Strangers more than Banners because firstly, Strangers can always just be played for their 2/2 body and secondly, Strangers provide fixing for a wider array of decks. For example, the Skycrag Stranger fixes for any deck requiring Fire or Primal sources (70% of 2F decks, 90% of 2F+splash decks). In contrast, the Xenan Banner only fixes for decks that require both Time and Shadow sources (10% of 2F decks, 30% of 2F+splash decks)

Final Pick Order

Valkyrie Denouncer > Time Weaver > Valkyrie Militant > Skycrag Stranger > Blinkwolf

 

Conclusion

I hope you enjoyed this article and found it helpful in deciding your P1P1s! If you disagree with my pick orders or have any interesting P1P1s of your own, do share it in the reddit thread! For next week, I’ll be moving on to the next aspect of draft play, how to decide on mulligans!

May you crack a bomb legendary every P1P1,
Flash2351