Howdy folks, and welcome to HowWL. Today I’d like to talk about one of the most influential moment of drafting: the first pick. This choice is the most impactful for determining the deck you end up with, and is worth taking some time to examine in detail. I’ll be assuming standard Draft set up, 4 people 4 packs, Simplified Sealed rules, so if your draft uses old limited rules or has different numbers things may change slightly. I invite you to take some time looking at each pack before reading my thought process, as developing your own compass is the ultimate goal here. My opinion serves my playstyle, which is pretty flexible, so if you skew aggro or controlly then different cards may be more important for you than me, which is perfectly OK.

All 12 of the following packs are real, all from the same box, and I chose those I felt were the most interesting. With that all said, let’s dive into some packs!

Pack 1

This is a tough choice between Ifrit and Varuna. Removal is great but the breakpoint between 7 and 8k is so important in this set. Varuna is a hyper efficient threat that is reasonably easy to trigger, and the Brave helps you both apply pressure and hold the fort. Ultimately I think that easy access to Sazh makes Ifrit the pick here. If I took Ifrit I would also keep an eye out for Seymour in the future, as setting up an 8k burst is very threatening.

Pack 2

This is the kind of pack I dream of in sealed. Eduardo, Galdes, Kefka, and Tidus are all worth consideration here. Ed and Galdy will let you start snowballing advantage, Kefka will let you turn advantage into victory, and Tidus is super hard to deal with. The safest (and probably correct) pick here is Galdes, as you know you will play him no matter how hard an element gets cut. Eduardo is the riskiest pick, as you’re exposing yourself for a trading down if your opponent can break him before attacking, or dull him and keep him frozen with Shiva/Bard shenanigans, but if you can get 2+ attacks off with him you basically won already. Kefka is the strongest pick. His dull freeze 3 will outright win games with only a little set up. Picking Tidus will (probably) allow you to wheel Ninja, which is a great pairing. I’d most likely to take Galdes here but I think any of them are fine picks.

Pack 3

Slam Lann and cut Fire hard. There are no other Fire cards in the pack and if you can signal to your left that Fire is not an option, your pack 2 and 4 will pay dividends.

Pack 4

Here you have two strong options which will heavily influence the rest of your draft: Aigis and Bartz. Aigis will pull you towards a theme of small forwards, you’ll want to especially keep an eye out for WOFF monsters and Chocobo, and Bartz will incentivize V backups. I feel like Bartz is the safer choice, as V backups are plentiful. Aigis doesn’t outright die to ifrit/ramuh which is relevant, but it’s unlikely you’ll be able to leverage the Brave, and most 2s want to be played with CP to take advantage of off-element ETF effects, although getting them on the cheap often makes up for missing out on their autos.

Pack 5

Opening this as your Pack 1 is going to feel awful. There’s really no great choices here. Most of the R/H are reliant on specific other cards to be good (the only XIII Lightning forward in the set already has Haste too.) I don’t really like taking a backup pick 1, unless it’s super good, and the only summon is very conditional, so it’s pretty much down to White/Red Mage. White is easier to play, since it only requires a commitment to one element, so I think it’s the pick, as unexciting as that is. Pray for better packs to come.

Pack 6

The WOFF monsters will be easy enough to get, but the summons they fetch won’t be, which turns me off of P1 Reynn. Taking Xezat first lets you immediately avoid Fire/Water to focus on the elements that activate him, and you’ll be signalling strong fire to your left with Reynn/Varuna/Red Mage.

Pack 7

Easy Exdeath. You even have a Tidus in the pack, which you will be ecstatic to see in an opposing Break Zone. Infinite 9ks are even more brutal when your opponent gave them to you. For those who haven’t seen the loop, you use Exdeath to revive Tidus, and use him to bounce Exdeath. Then you sit on Exdeath until Tidus dies again. Extremely difficult for an opponent to fight through.

Pack 8

Probably one of the toughest possible packs to choose from. Auron is a serious beating, Ifrit is great removal, but Snow/Exdeath are probably the picks here. Honestly I think it comes down to whether you are more comfortable playing aggressively or trying to grind out value over a long game. Either way, you’re probably getting a great card once the pack comes back around, Tidus for Exdeath or Shiva for Snow.

Pack 9

Kimahri is strong, it’s not too tough with Wakka/Tidus/Lulu at C to get Kimahri on curve, and if I’m being honest I will gladly pay 6 for a 9k in o7 limited. That said, Bard is a serious blowout. He gives you a ton of tempo when you play him, and his dull/freeze is such a huge threat for the rest of the game. Kimahri makes Tidus C even tougher to deal with, however, and is what I would take.

Pack 10

Yuri if you want to win the draft. Sephiroth if your wallet wants to win the draft. Either way, expect the person who gets this pack after you to stare at you like you’re an idiot.

Pack 11

Golbez gets more and more efficient as the game drags on, and gives you a second shot at your best forward. Still, Yojimbo is stellar removal, in a set where removal is pretty scarce. A tough choice, but I think with how uncommon summons are that Jimbo is the pick, as he combines with more cards like Seymour.

Pack 12

Prishe’s ETF kills every forward in the set, save Gawain, and leaves you with a colossal 9k body afterwards. There are very few cards I would take over Prishe, and none of them are in this pack. Don’t let the 9 cost deter you, bargains like this are precious. Yojimbo/Styx/Bard are all great, but they lack the raw power of the Abhorrent One.

And those are my thoughts going into each of those packs. It’s still early in the format and I expect some of my opinions to change (bard in particular I suspect is even better than I credit him for) and I’m excited to see how o7 evolves moving forward. Hope you all had a good time exploring these packs with me, and I hope to see you again in a future HowWL!