Rivals of Ixalan has arrived, and it's time to get started on Draft! Figuring out where to start in a new format can be tricky, so today I'm going to look at the cards that will kick off most of your drafts. I've divided the set into groups of cards (with cards you are unlikely to pick early not making the cut), and within each group there's a rough ordering, though don't worry too much about that. The format is just beginning, and I expect order within groups to shift a lot.
Best Cards in the Set
First, let's look at the best of the best, the windmill slams, the cards you hope to open (which I likely never will).
These are the cream of the crop, and I give monocolor (or colorless) cards a nod over gold cards, though power level also informs the ordering.
Great Rares and Uncommons
Next up we have great first picks, mostly at high rarity, though the best uncommons sneak in.
Solid Rares/Uncommons and Best Commons
Next come the solid commons and uncommons, as well as some of the costly but powerful rares. These are cards you are happy taking early, even if they aren't the highest-tier rares. The best commons start appearing as well.
Good Commons and Situational Rares/Uncommons
Lastly, we have the solid commons and more niche (but still good) rares and uncommons. These are cards you'd rather not be first-picking, but certainly will have to some of the time.
(I had to throw Zacama on the list for the sake of sweetness, though I can't confirm that casting a nine-drop is a realistic plan.)
Once you drop below this list, you are starting to get very unhappy about your early picks, but that shouldn't happen very often at all.
How you start your draft is important, and these lists will give you a place to begin. Many of these cards point you in a specific direction (draft Merfolk, draft Pirates, draft ascend/enrage enablers, draft mana acceleration, etc.), but even the ones that are more open-ended at least give you a push toward their color. It's good to start with colorless or monocolor cards if possible, though the gold cards in the set are strong enough that many crack the top lists.
Good luck navigating treacherous waters, and may all your packs contain cards from the first tier!