Hey all. I've been trying to improve at Invasion-block booster draft (1 Invasion, then 1 Planeshift, then 1 Apocalypse). Often you hear of cards that are "first-pick" calibre. That is, if you see it, you immediately grab it.
So what cards (common and uncommon mostly as rares are hard to depend on) if you saw in your first pick of Invasion would you immediately grab?
Personally, there are no automatic picks that aren't rare. However, most of the time I will take these cards over all others.
breath of darigaaz
I was planning on listing more, but that is all that is on the top of my head. The quality of the other cards in the pack usually acts as a tiebraker. The power of any card is somewhat offset by the strength of that color in the pack. Zanam Djinn is really good, but if the pack is full of great blue stuff, you might end up with a bunch of people on your left playing blue also. This is not such a big deal for blue, but red would be screwed since so many of it's great cards are in Planeshift.
I feel like this may not have been that helpful. Sorry, here is a list of the cards that I hope to have in any draft out of the invasion pack.
fact or fiction
breath of darigaaz
angel of mercy
plus all the apprentices and weavers
Important thing to note: almost all are creatures or removal
My list of non rare invasion first pick worthy cards.
Breath of Darigaaz
Fact or Fiction
Stomrscape Apprentice (marginal)
Thornscape apprentice (marginal)
Angel of Mercy
Benalish Trapper (marginal)
Fires of Yavimaya (marginal)
I'm sure I forgot a few here and there, but that is most of them.
The tappers are all hurt by the introduction of flagbearers in apocalypse.
The bears which joe mentioned are high picks, but very disappointing first picks.
I don't agree with all the first picks here, I would not consider these to be first picks, unless the pack was really really sub-par.
repulse -- Not poweful enough
duskwalker -- Not efficient enough
phyrexian slayer -- Not efficient enough
harrow -- 5c on first pick? never!
aggresive urge -- Not a good card generally
acolytes -- Also not efficient enough
I would add the blue apprentice and green apprentice (tappers) to the mix. Also, many people pick:
Your basic picks go like this (without any other information).
High quality removal (demise, annihlate, tar, spores) -> Low quality removal (scorching lava, tribal flames) -> High quality creature (charging troll, zanam djinn...) -> lower quality creature (ancient kavu, runner) -> support cards (harrow, pumps, creature enchantments).
High quality creatures often get picked over lower removal as well, so that is interchangable. Depends on the player and their colour preference.
Obviously these rules can be bent a lot with "broken" cards such as Dragons, Ghitu fire and the like as well. Also, when your first four picks are removal, and you have no creatures... sometimes you don't need that tribal flames. In that case, pick a creature if it is comparable. There are other things to consider (if you pass a really good card left, your opponent will pick it... so you may know what will be coming back. Beware of people who go 5c when they open that shivan wurm, flametongue or similar.)
First of all, Plague Spores is horrible. It's way overcosted, especially for an ability that you can get elsewhere, especially not for 6 whopping mana.
Some really obvious first picks are:
Fires of Yavimaya
Breath of Darigaaz
Fact or Fiction
It definately is overcosted... But it is removal none the less. I would still pick it up, assuming there was nothing better in my pack.
How helpful is it to say:
"I would still pick it up, assuming there wasn't anything better in my pack." ?
I would pick up a basic land if there wasn't anything better in my pack.
I would pick up the last card, even if it were complete chaff, if there wasn't anything better in the pack (which, by definition, there wouldn't be).
The original question was: what cards *are* the better cards.
Without rating every single card from top to bottom? Impossible. It depends entirely on you. Plague spores is a first pick when there is no better first pick. If you open up repulse or spores, people will argue. I pick spores. Would I pick demise over it? Yes. Would I pick 35% of the rares over it? Yes. But I would consider any removal to be a first pick -- if there isn't anything better. I did list the better cards, too, and in the order I would pick them.
Spores is not only a 6cc card though. It is a 6cc card that is both black and red (screwed by 2 acolytes, and can't kill black creatures. The land kill is fairly inconsequential in most games, unless you play multiple ld or your opponent has a shaky colour base, because i hits so late.
It is still removal, but when you consider the number of common and uncommon removal spells in those colours which are better (pretty much all of them), it cant really be called a first pick.
I would take all of the following over spores:
Breath of Darigaaz
If I opened a pack with NONE of those cards, but with a spores, I might take it, but not because of it's quality so much as for a) signal value and b) it being the only R/B removal card in the pack, helping me cut those colours off.
side note: I would almost never take spores over repulse. i think you underrate it's value.
What do you mean it hits so late?
Since when is 6th turn late in a draft?
I have dropped 4th turn dragons before and that still doesn't win by the 6th turn, so by no means is 6th turn to late for a spell that kills a creature.
I do agree with the above post that people argue over cards, because I would easily take tribal flames or scroching lava or any other removal spell in invasion except for exotic curse. The reason is tribal flames is never useless. I seem to get luck and end up with 12 removal in my deck most of the time I draft so I try to clear the board and go all the way with one or two creatures, which is why I like to have the burn spells that can also do the finishing points of damage to assure the win.
Also, if the rare isn't any better and I see a fact or fiction, I dont have to look at the rest of the pack because in my opinion getting 5 cards deep in my library is far more important than any removal or bounce card. Fact or Fiction is my #1 draft pick disregarding rares.
The arguement, IMO, against plague spores should be that it is two colour, hence first picking it forces you into those colours.
However, I feel that 6th turn is not that late, and it is removal *and* it can grab fertile ground or splash colour when it shows up.
Repulse is fine -- but it is *not* removal. When I'm first picking, I will almost always first pick removal. If repulse comes along 2-3 after getting FoF or Djinn, then I would absolutely take it.
If I knew the feeder to be picking BR or GR, then repulse would be taken. Lacking any previous knowledge, I would take spores over repulse.
*Shrug* Recently my drafting strategy would rarely takes spores anymore, however. I almost *always* pick single colour, trying to maintain 2c until planeshift. Barring a master or similar power card, naturally... Then, opening Flametongue or burst, I decide my splash colour (R, normally). Otherwise I try to allow for spashing an opposing colour (ie: monger, deed, grasp) in apoc.
"The land kill is fairly inconsequential in most games, unless you play multiple ld or your opponent has a shaky colour base, because i hits so late."
Read carefully. The LAND KILL hits late. This is because it gets cast around your 6th land drop (not always 6th turn), so on average your opponent would already have 6 lands as well. If you opponent already has 6 lands, the land destruction is not nearly as big a deal as if it hit earlier, as the 5- 6 mana plateau rarely stalls a deck much.
Hence spores is often just 1 for 1 creature removal, which is still good, but at 6 mana (2 colours) overcosted and vulnerable. Im not saying it's bad, but first pick is WAY too high.
I disagree with this only in how it plays. Every draft deck I see is 3c, always with a splash. Getting that land 10th turn isnt always too late.
Also, effective with fertile ground, or if they stalled on land, or got an uneven mana distribution.
If you're seeing not too many solid cards, you could hate draft (or not!) a Harrow first pick. It's solid in any green deck, and the extra versatility makes up for maybe not running blue. It also sets you up for more versatile picks after that, as all the BB or BR or whatever cc cards are gonna be gone. I think if you see a harrow, the rares not a bomb, and there is no agonizing demise or Djinn in the pack then you should take it. It's just good to have and good for you to deny your opponents.