Drafting Journey Into Nyx: What to Pick In Round One?

Drafting Journey Into Nyx: What to Pick In Round One?

The Escapist staff outline their approaches to drafting Journey Into Nyx by taking a look at a first round pick.

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Opressive rays is certainly a solid choice, but I'd be pretty tempted by forgeborn oreads.

This pack is pretty underwhelming all things considered and whatever comes back is probably going to be disappointing. That said, I would be tempted by the two constellation creatures. Either one can be pretty good, but my pick would be towards the Oakheart Dryad just because green is a really good color and if you cut it early you can have it pretty much all to yourself in pack 3 when it is at its best.
I think the Temple is probably the worst pick you can make here from a strategic position. You are fixing before you know what colors you are in and there are so few cards in Theros block that I would consider splash worthy that it may not be worth it. First pick temples are basically a giant trap.
Oppressive rays is a decent pick, but do not demote the trailbalzer to just unexciting. She can easily do work in a heroic deck because 5 or 6 toughness can be a big problem to deal with, especially in the first couple of turns. Put an ordeal on her turn 2 and she will be sticking around for a long time because there is so little removal that can deal with that and any removal that can feels like a waste using it on a one drop.

Forgeborn oreads. Not close. Oakheart is a defensible pick, although I'm not sure green is enough better in general.

Oppressive rays is fine - in certain kinds of decks - and pretty close to dead in others. Sometimes it's a 1 mana arrest and sometimes it's a bad 1 target falter effect, and late game it sometimes isn't even that.

If you're committed to picking a removal spell, pick magma spray, which is a much stronger card than rays, in my view.

Oreads is a potential card advantage machine in a format where card advanatage is hard to get.

(Also, taking temple is, as noted above, a complete trap)

No-one even consider Chariot of Victory? Postpone the colour decision and get a card that works at least reasonable in any deck with creatures.

j0frenzy:
Oppressive rays is a decent pick, but do not demote the trailbalzer to just unexciting. She can easily do work in a heroic deck because 5 or 6 toughness can be a big problem to deal with, especially in the first couple of turns. Put an ordeal on her turn 2 and she will be sticking around for a long time because there is so little removal that can deal with that and any removal that can feels like a waste using it on a one drop.

It might not have been super clear in the article, but this is a triple JOU draft - hence why I like Lagonna-Band Trailblazer even less than normal. The strive helps, but there's much less bestow and you don't have cards like Battlewise Valor going late. I also think the heroic decks even took a big hit moving into full block in general, the nut draws of T1 heroic into odreal or Wingsteed Rider into Hopeful Eidolon just don't happen that much.

mrverbal:
Forgeborn oreads. Not close. Oakheart is a defensible pick, although I'm not sure green is enough better in general.

Oppressive rays is fine - in certain kinds of decks - and pretty close to dead in others. Sometimes it's a 1 mana arrest and sometimes it's a bad 1 target falter effect, and late game it sometimes isn't even that.

If you're committed to picking a removal spell, pick magma spray, which is a much stronger card than rays, in my view.

Oreads is a potential card advantage machine in a format where card advanatage is hard to get.

I certainly think Forgeborn Oreads is a defensible pick. The 4/2 body for 4 is ok. But personally, I think the pinging comes online too late to matter. Getting to pick off a couple little creatures gives you an advantage, but those creatures were going to be largely irrelevant by Turn 4-5 any ways. I think it's a card that almost always makes the deck, but I don't value it that highly. Roughly any other red 4 drop is going to be equivalent or better. However, what is nice about gobbling up red early is you hopefully get to monopolize on the strong red in Pack 2 Born of the Gods.

eBusiness:
No-one even consider Chariot of Victory? Postpone the colour decision and get a card that works at least reasonable in any deck with creatures.

Sometimes staying open is the right idea, but Chariot of Victory isn't quite what you want it to be in my opinion. Because it doesn't buff power it's largely relying on your creature quality being better than your opponents, baring some side situations where they have only low toughness stuff for the first strike. If all your creatures are already better then you don't need Chariot of Victory taking up a slot that could have been another creature, removal spell or combat trick, ie another card to trade with your opponent. You'll eventually run them over with quality and if your otherwise on the back foot Chariot of Victory looks a lot worse there.

mrverbal:
Forgeborn oreads. Not close. Oakheart is a defensible pick, although I'm not sure green is enough better in general.

Oppressive rays is fine - in certain kinds of decks - and pretty close to dead in others. Sometimes it's a 1 mana arrest and sometimes it's a bad 1 target falter effect, and late game it sometimes isn't even that.

If you're committed to picking a removal spell, pick magma spray, which is a much stronger card than rays, in my view.

Oreads is a potential card advantage machine in a format where card advanatage is hard to get.

I certainly think Forgeborn Oreads is a defensible pick. The 4/2 body for 4 is ok. But personally, I think the pinging comes online too late to matter. Getting to pick off a couple little creatures gives you an advantage, but those creatures were going to be largely irrelevant by Turn 4-5 any ways. I think it's a card that almost always makes the deck, but I don't value it that highly. Roughly any other red 4 drop is going to be equivalent or better. However, what is nice about gobbling up red early is you hopefully get to monopolize on the strong red in Pack 2 Born of the Gods.

Pinging them to the face is an entirely valid plan. And J-B-T has plenty of 1 toughness but playable dudes (like most draft formats). 1 toughness flyers, a variety of other random dorks.

It's also a format where nearly every deck is going to contain multiple enchantments you're going to be happy to cast turn 5 or later.

But, indeed, I do agree that forgeborn isn't super-amazing, and it may or may not be the best red 4 drop in Journey. (Although there is only 1 other. Also a weird thing to compare on).

But the question is: Is it the strongest card in this pack to pick first pick? Because it's important to note that some cards are much much stronger if you get the opportunity to pick them early, as you can build around them, and the forgeborn are definately that. Whereas oppressive rays both doesn't have that property and is kindof bad removal.

But don't believe me; ask LSV.

Oppressive rays:

Limited: 1.5

While this will often let you slip by a blocker the turn you cast it, I don't like effects that drop off so much in the late game, and this gives your opponents way too many outs to just put you down a card. It's also the world's worst heroic enabler, as you can target your own guy then pay an exorbitant amount of mana to then attack with it.

Forgeborn Oread:

Limited: 3.5

Even without a single other enchantment, this offers an attractive deal. It's basically Flametongue Kavu already, with the possibility of becoming Visara with just a little help. Ok, maybe that's a bit (or a lot) of exaggeration, but this is still a hot addition to any Limited deck.

Now, before anyone says anything: No, I don't always agree with appeals to authority. But as noted: Rays are a dodgy removal spell that might be disenchanted, or just plain irrelevant late game; if they have some kind of voltron it starts costing them a bunch of mana but there is a fair chance that is irrelevant.

And yes, the above reviews are based on the notion that you are drafting J-B-T, but in JJJ oreads are *better* because you are more likely to see multiples or other good constelation cards and just live the dream.

but as I said previously, quite aside from that, magma spray is reds best common, probably, and oppressive rays are a long way from whites best, so even if you want to pick a removal spell, pick the good one!

edit: Oh, and on chariot of victory: it's a bad card. It should never make your 40. Even the best case scenario with it (you cast it on turn 3 or 4 and equip it to a creature immediately) it is worse than the worst bestow creature nearly always, and most of the time it is a lot worse than that.

Realizing this is triple Journey possibly changes my pick. Certainly the trailblazer is not that good because the best heroic trigger are not in this draft. I would probably consider jumping on the Oread train. The pinging is nice and without the meta planning around people considering moving into red pack 2 because they got that Fall of the Hammer then red becomes more defensible. I am also more willing to get behind Oppressive Rays, but a solid body that can get rid of some creatures (like say any annoying snakes that a black player might have out) is probably the better pick.

in a triple journey draft I find it very had to justify not first picking one of the constellation creatures

In triple Journey constellation can get pretty gross very quickly. But i think the general BREAD draft hierarchy still stands. If you don't know a format's ins and outs it's always a good place to start. I would also say that just efficient creatures is still your best bet too. Think BREAD and run the vanilla test and abide by general limited deckbuilding methods (get your number of creatures right, enough fixing etc) and generally you'll be okay.

Once you know a format better you can start looking at Synergy and deck types that work in the format. Make sure you're in a colour combo supported by the format. In triple journey I'm not hugely certain of what is/isn't workable as an archetype but I'm sure someone else will. As for Synergy, heroic and enablers are less of a thing in triple journey. With such a limited card pool you can usually pick up multiples of commons that work in your deck. Again going all in on constellation is at least extremely fun.

mrverbal:
snip

Obviously I'm no LSV. Closest I've gotten to a Pro-Tour is a few PTQ Top 8s. That said here's my line of thinking.

For starters, while ratings are very useful for examining cards, that's done in a vacuum. There's certainly a style of drafting focused on simply taking the objectively most powerful card in the pack, but knowing Jon and Josh weren't likely to cover passing and signals I did want to bring it up. My personal style is to weigh signals against power level, sometimes cutting the pack evens up the value on a weaker card and I'm also a fan of trying to avoid the colors that everyone else is likely to fight over in order to clean up later. The Forgeborn Oreads leaves a very juicy Magma Spray and eventually someone will grab the Temple of Epiphany even if it's just for the free scry.

I also think there's a potential power level to balance as well. Oppressive Rays can be bad late game, but there are aggressive decks where it's practically the best card in the deck. As long as your creature quality is Grizzly Bears all you really need is ways to push through damage, and getting to lock down their stabilization blocker and continues to add to your board goes a long way. Where as I still feel like Forgeborn Oread is entirely replaceable. I would probably take Bladetusk Boar over it head to head. Some games it will certainly do work and you just machine gun down their team, but I think most of the time it's just going to be a 4/2 body that occasionally lets say your 3/2 trade up with their 3/4 by playing Forgeborn Oread or an enchantment post combat.

However, I did see one silly/fun upside to the Forgeborn Oread. The Aspect of Gorgon probably wheels and you can assemble something pretty fun there.

The only reason I don't like Forgeborn Oreads as a first pick is the RR cost, plus you still pass Magma Spray, which is a mixed signal. If you take Oppressive Rays, it pretty much shows that white isn't a good choice for other players. If you take Magma Spray, well, Forgeborn Oreads is still getting passed. Very mixed signals.

As a side note, the google addon autocard anywhere is very nice for this discussion.

Ok, three things to discuss: Boar VS oread, signaling, and just how good can oppressive rays be, anyway? EDIT: WALL OF TEXT INCOMING!

Firstly, boar. Yes, in the abstract, boar is about as good as or slightly better than oread. In a format where all that triggered oread in the average deck was itself, then it's a beater that probably gains about half a card when you play it. Which is good, mind you, but probably the mostly unblockable boar is better.

in a format where you can easily be playing 8 to 10 enchantments (and JJJ you can potentially do better), Oread is going to gain you about half a card every other turn once you play it, which takes it from "ok" to "bonkers". It makes blocking a nightmare decision for your opponent, it shoots them, and it has a sizeable front to beat them with.

The other factor that makes it better than boars *here* is that it's 1P1P, which means you have a pretty good opportunity to build around it, putting it into that bonkers range. If it's pack 3 pick 1, even if I'm in red I might take the boar; boar is super solid and you'd always play it in red, and on occasion oread isn't going to pan out. But if I've got another 41 picks to make my oread work? It's going to be pretty damn good more often than not. Boar is a card to play because I'm in red; Oread is a reason to BE in red.

Also, the temple of epiphany is so close to completely irrelevant to the discussion it might as well be blank.

But wait, you say - I'm sending mixed signals!

Well, yes and no. Yes, the player next to you is likely to take the magma spray, and if not, the next player is sure to do so.

But no, it's almost never relevant. Sure, if you're in the top 8 of a PTQ it is important to be able to read signals. But you can't read signals off the first two picks anyway!

Lets imagine you get passed this pack, but without a rare in it. What does that tell you about the colour of card your opponent took?

The correct answer is "nearly nothing". It could have been a godsend or dawnbringer charioteer. It could have been a prophetic flamespeaker (or whatever it is called). If what they took was an uncommon, it still doesn't tell you very much.

Worse, even if you can work out what they took, they might not have any idea about signals. Or they might, but then get passed something from the other side they think is a signal. Plus, most players - even quite good ones - are so bad at reading signals that it's almost irrelevant. What you GET passed you should consider the signal - what you PASS is (while not worthless) not very interesting. We can pass the pack hoping to send signal we're not in red, but we've no certainty they are not in white.

Plus, passing left, you are in the drivers seat for 3 packs - sure, you can push them into offering the sweet hookup in pack two, but this is actualy able to be done in a surprisingly small percentage of cases with most players.

Signalling is something to consider. And if the two cards you are looking at are very similar in power level, it's even sometimes worth doing.

In this case, the power levels sure aren't very close.

SO on to oppressive rays.

Removal is good. No question. The question is: How good is THIS removal?

It certainly doesn't "add to your board". It takes away a blocker, but often only for 1 or 2 turns, and past about turn 5, doesn't even reliably do that. If the game does go long, there is a 100% chance that they will be able to re-claim the lost card, even if only as a chump blocker. It even makes the game harder for you to read - are the leaving the mana up to pay for a blocker, or for a surprise flyer with deathtouch?

We're pretty much agreed it is only good in fairly aggressive decks. And by fairly agressive, we mean very very agressive.

Problem is that your format isn't actually that aggressive at all. You've got 1 good aggressive 1 drop (scarhide; the hopolite is a bit of a bother to get to a decent size) and it isn't on colour. You've got 2 on colour common agro 2 drops, with exactly 1 more at common in each colour that isn't blue. (and only 4 more between the colours at uncommon, and that is assuming you count the sub-par sightless brawler). 3 drops have a few more, but hardly any really strong aggressive drops - best of breed are probably linebreaker and oakheart dryads, if you have triggers for the former or enchantments for the latter.

So our pool of cards that go in a hyper-aggressive deck is not super deep. And for this to be a good pick, we've got to at least have a reasonable chance to be a very, very aggressive deck...and it's just not there, or not at the kind of odds I'd like. Yes, there is a fair chance you'll play the card if you draft it, but rays is also the sort of card I'd cut from a fair portion of white decks. I cannot imagine cutting the forgeborn.

Frankly, in my view, Forgeborn is probably in the top 5 or 6 red cards in the set, or very close to that line. Oppressive rays probably isn't in the top 5 white commons.

mrverbal:
It certainly doesn't "add to your board".

Sorry if I wasn't clear there. What I meant is that its cheap cost means you're not likely taking a turn off to play it. You're generally able to deploy both it and another creature or spell that turn.

 

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