Hello and welcome to a new installment of Drafting with the Stars. Today I am continuing with a written playthrough of a draft I have recently played, breaking down all the drafting and deckbuilding decisions. Before we dive in, make sure you are well acquainted with my basic and intermediate drafting theories in my Eternal Draft Guide, Splashing Guide and the Defiance Draft Card Ratings of Awesomeness.
Pack 1 Pick 1
Starting a draft with a legendary card always feels good, especially with a good one such as Dizo’s Office. There are some other good cards in the pack – namely Pitfall Trap and Powerbreach Sentinel – and a ton of okay ones, but none of them compare to the raw power of The Office. Taking this card is not the end of the road, though – there are still a lot of choices in front of us!
Caleb’s obvious choice: Dizo’s Office
Pack 1 Pick 2
Now what do I want with The Office? I could go with Acantha’s Outrider and push for Auralian or with Display of Vision and push for Kerendon – both of these color combinations can include a “big Time” base, and given that the site requires a lot of power to play, this is a good path to be on. Other good cards include Oni Forgemaster and Barrel Through. The Forgemaster is a great card and would mean I lean into Winchest, but Winchest is a fast faction, which means it probably would not use The Office to its full potential. Barrel Through would probably also lead me into Kerendon, but I think the Display is a better card specifically for a high cost deck with some empower effects because of the ramp up option.
Caleb’s Choice: Display of Vision
Pack 1 Pick 3
Looking from the perspective of the first two picks, i.e. going into Time/Justice/Shadow aka Kerendon, the first thing that comes to mind in this pack is Powerbreach Sentinel. Good stats and a great ability in one very solid card. That is not the only good option here, though. There is also a fully on-color Token, a tempo Be Gone and a Lethrai Courtier that can help power cards out if I happen to have some good relics along the way. None of these come close to the power of the sentinel, though, and usually there is a lot more color fixing offered in the later picks.
Caleb’s choice: Powerbreach Sentinel
Pack 1 Pick 4
Ancient Excavator has a very good ability that comes into play more often than not, mainly because it can get back things like Araktodon Eggs and Wurmstones and relic weapons – in this case the easiest to pick will be Curator’s Spears and Iron Hooks. I am not a great fan of Eye for an Eye, maybe if the unit did not have to be exhausted… Bleak Basic Guide could also be a pick here, but in my opinion a) this is looking more like a control deck than an aggressive deck and b) you can usually get the Guides much later in the packs. Aerial Spotter is okay-ish in Ixtun, but not here. Broken Wing Brawler was bad even before the developers nerfed him down from a 3/4.
Caleb’s choice: Ancient Excavator
Pack 1 Pick 5
Awaken the Ages has some potential in power-hungry decks, such as those wanting to play Runic Protector before turn eight. The Protector itself is a decent option, especially that I am building a deck that wants to play some big fat time units. Direwood Slasher and Obliviobot are just bad. There is also the case of Token of Knowledge, being just a bad Xenan Banner, i.e. always coming into play depleted and giving only one of two colors. Well there is always the option of splashing Primal for Changeesticks or some other bombs… Given that I haven’t picked up any color fixing yet, I am willing to go with the Token.
Caleb’s choice: Token of Knowledge
Pack 1 Pick 6
In this pack I am considering Acantha’s Outrider, Sirocco Glider and a second Auralian Token. Glider is obviously better in a relic-heavy deck and I do not have any of those yet. Acantha’s Outrider is a great Auralian build-around card, but I am currently in Kerendon. I mean, I want to go into Kerendon, but my only Justice card is Display of Vision – the rest is just Time units and the Site. In situations such as this it is usually good to go for raw power over staying fully committed to one color combination, as cards like Sirocco Glider can often be cut from the final deck – so honestly picking another card that has potential of being great in a certain other deck is not the worst idea. Yes, I am willing to keep my options open between Kerendon and Auralian. Also, getting Outrider so late in pack one could be a signal.
Caleb’s choice: Acantha’s Ourtrider
Pack 1 Pick 7
Taking the previous pick into consideration, Frost Talisman is a good follow-up pick, as it allows us to play Outrider on turn three. Courtier could also be an option, but I need to have some relics first to be able to get some good effects off of the elf mage. I already have one Ancient Excavator and this slot is usually full of Amaran Archaeologists, Sandbinder Sentinels etc. Auralian it is!
Caleb’s choice: Frost Talisman
Pack 1 Pick 8
…aaaand I get presented another Display of Vision and my mind explodes. This card is just such a great cornerstone of Kerendon… Also there are no other real good cards here – Lost Scroll is one power cheaper but oh so much worse than the Display and Oathkeeper’s Hammer is only good when you have Renown units such as New Order Watchwing.
Once again, I am back to keeping my options open.
Caleb’s choice: Display of Vision
Pack 1 Pick 9
Mediocre units or decent color fixing? I think if none of the Tokens were fully on-color in Kerendon or Auralian I would pick the Sandcrawler, but I do have a Token to go with not one, but two Displays!
Caleb;s choice: Token of Vision
Pack 1 Pick 10
A relic that I will probably not end up playing with – but there are situations when you just need to have a relic in play on turn two!
Caleb’s choice: Reinforced Towershield
Pack 1 Pick 11
A good cornerstone of a good ramp deck. Or a card that does nothing?
Caleb’s choice: Awaken the Ages
Pack 1 Pick 12
Hahaha!! Okay, okay, I get it. I get these subliminal messages, game! That is for me saying that Spitfire is a better card than people give it credit for? Sure! What other choice do I have? Literally.
Caleb’s choice: Spitfire
Pack 2 Pick 1
Rakano Outlaw and Oni Ronin are two of the best early Fire cards, but I am not running this color. Wow, this pack is really empty when it comes to Kerendon or Auralian. The only notable pick I see is Trail Maker – much better than a lowly Bold Adventurer.
Caleb’s choice: Trail Maker
Pack 2 Pick 2
We have a winner here! Like, literally, a game-winning card. I am talking about Pillar of Amar – a sentinel that turns all your late game power into 5/5 units. Not too shabby! There is also a case for some color fixing like Elysian Stranger or one of the Banners, but the sheer power level of the Pillar versus the fact that it is still quite early in the draft and I can pick color fixing a bit later (a thing I usually tell to myself much too often).
Caleb’s choice: Pillar of Amar
Pack 2 Pick 3
Power versus consistency, the Eternal struggle! By that I mean I have an option to pick a Banner once again or go with a powerful Dark Return. So here’s the thing – Dark Return is so much better in non-Winchest decks, because they usually have some big units to return for full effect. Also I am still unsure about the third color, which means Dark Return will be played always, while Combrei Banner will only be played in Kerendon.
Caleb’s choice: Dark Return
Pack 2 Pick 4
This is a very weak pack. Hero of the People is the best card here, but only in theory. When I look at my card pool I do not have that many units with battle skills right now. In fact the only one is Acantha’s Outrider in a competing color combination. Sewer Sludge is playable-ish only in Winchest, so that is a hard pass. Copperhall Recruit, Vainglory Patrol and Sanguine Sword are the only choices here, not that they are good choices. Sanguine Sword is also better in Winchest – here it does not look like I will have small units to sacrifice to it. Vainglory Patrol is a win condition, but I already have a huge late game plan, so I would rather go with something more defensive. I mean, all in all I will probably skip any of these choices in the final build of the deck, but I still want to pick a potentially playable card here. Defense it is. Given that I usually ten to play Court Mage whenever I have the option to…
Caleb’s choice: Copperhall Recruit
Pack 2 Pick 5
Now it is the perfect time to get some color fixing. Seek Power and Xenan Stranger are both good options, with Seek Power being better with heavier influence requirements and Stranger being better when you do not have any early game. So far my only 2-drop is Trail Maker, which makes me want to pick Xenan Stranger here.
Caleb’s choice: Xenan Stranger
Pack 2 Pick 6
Nothing? Really? I will go with a unit then.
Caleb’s choice: Lethrai Memory-Keeper
Pack 2 Pick 7
I really do not want to be playing Valkyrie Arcanist because of the double Justice requirement. Sewer Sludge is also not a contender. There is a very powerful card here i.e. Linebreaker’s Shield, but I am either in Justice or in Primal. To be honest I would not play any other card from this pack and the Shield is quite easy to splash – in both directions. So once again, if you are picking a card that will probably not end up in your deck, pick the one that still has the highest potential to end up there and win some games.
Caleb’s choice: Linebreaker’s Shield
Pack 2 Pick 8
Hmm.. Predator’s Instinct over nothing playable?
Caleb’s choice: Predator’s Instinct
Pack 2 Pick 9
Wow, now I can splash the Shield more easily. Thank you, game!
Caleb’s choice: Feln Banner
Pack 2 Pick 10
Praxis Banner if I want to also splash some Fire … wait, Illumination Wisp? Hello! Both early game and a solid defensive unit!
Caleb’s choice: Illumination Wisp
Pack 2 Pick 11
I already have a ton of late game so it is going to be Lock Horns.
Caleb’s choice: Lock Horns
Pack 2 Pick 12
Okay, it seems I want to pick the Behemoth anyway.
Caleb’s choice: Belching Behemoth
Pack 3 Pick 1
When I saw the Legendary here my mind exploded for a moment. Tha is a very good card – if you are able to play it, obviously. Currently the influence requirements of this deck are TTTJPSS. Picking Grinva would explode it to TTTJJJPSSS – from seven to ten! I also have a lot of late game already, with Pillar of Amar and Dizo’s Office at the top! Wow. Other considerations are Auric Sentry, Trail Maker and Illumination Wisp. Between these three I think I would go with Auric Sentry, as I am a great fan of this unit – great on the defense, great with the Warcry! On the other hand … Grinva! At the end of the day I just could not stop myself and went with the most powerful Minotaur out there, hoping my fixing will take me there. Also – I need to pick color fixing even higher now!
Caleb’s very greedy choice: Grinva, Judge of Battles
Pack 3 Pick 2
Speaking of which, Argenport Stranger can ease me into Grinva’s Requirements. This honestly makes it better than Mr Ramp-Up himself – Amaran Archaeologist.
Caleb’s choice: Argenport Stranger
Pack 3 Pick 3
Once more it is color fixing time! Oh, Grinva, what have you done to me? Both Feln Banner and Elysian Stranger could help me with getting to my precious influence requirement goal, so now is the question do I need to do it in my unit card slots, or my power card slots? Currently I have four 2-drop units, with the usual goal of having five to six total. This is only mid-way through the draft, so I still have some time to pick up some more Strangers later on.
Caleb’s choice: Feln Banner
Pack 3 Pick 4
Lightning Strike in a fourth, splash color? I do not think so, as it is too situational of a removal. On the other hand Amethyst Acolyte is also quite good in the removal suite and also on-color.
Caleb’s choice: Amethyst Acolyte
Pack 3 Pick 5
I have talked a lot about Archaeologist, now I can safely pick him over some more aggressive, but mediocre or situational Justice units. Go big or go home!
Caleb’s choice: Amaran Archaeologist
Pack 3 Pick 6
I currently have only one 4-drop – Copperhall Recruit and in the 3-drop slot I have one decent, but reactive unit i.e. Amethyst Acolyte. In the latter slot I also have ramp in the form of two Displays of Vision, which means I want to go with Sky Crew more than with the Thornbeast.
Caleb’s choice: Sky Crew
Pack 3 Pick 7
Nothing here for me, really, so I will just go with the 2-drop that will end up in the rest of the card pool.
Caleb’s choice: Living Offering
Pack 3 Pick 8
I am not a fan of Grimy Alp-luachra, especially in a controlling deck with established win conditions. Hooru Banner could, once again, help with splashing for Linebreaker’s Shield.
Caleb’s choice: Hooru Banner
Pack 3 Pick 9
This is a nice choice to have such late in a pack. Do I need another decent 2-drop or do I need more fixing? Given that I have a massive influence requirement here and I already stated that I need to pick fixing much higher…
Caleb’s choice: Combrei Banner
Pack 3 Pick 10
Nothing really here…
Caleb’s choice: Scaly Gruan
Pack 3 Pick 11
Caleb’s choice: Lock Horns
Pack 3 Pick 12
…or… What?! Another Feln Banner? Is it my birthday already?
Caleb’s birthday choice: Feln Banner
Pack 4 Pick 1
Now the question is what are the diminishing returns on Display of Vision? How many is too many? I mean it can get me any power card, so that includes Banners and Tokens. Also if I end up playing against Winchest I should be able to blow their side of the board up! What other choices do I have here? Mob Rule. How many units do I have at this moment? Thirteen. No, that is too low.
Caleb’s choice: Display of Vision
Pack 4 Pick 2
A fourth Display? Now that is just silly! Other choices include Lethrai Intimidator or Curator’s Spear. I already have Ancient Excavator which can get me the Spear back – also remember that if you manage to buff it that is permanent, so later on you can get an even bigger Spear back! Intimidator, though, is a unit and I am lacking those. On top of that it has decent stats and I can trick out his buff mid-combat with my Displays. Yes, that puts it over the top.
Caleb’s choice: Lethrai Intimidator
Pack 4 Pick 3
Blood Quill? I do not think so. Be Gone? It is good on tempo and good versus build-your-Voltron strategies. Also, this pack is rather empty when it comes to good cards.
Caleb’s choice: Be Gone
Pack 4 Pick 4
Ooh! A trick in a sea of nothing-else-to-pick.
Caleb’s choice: Barrel Through
Pack 4 Pick 5
Now this is more like it! A lot of decent picks are available here, so let me go through them. Rallying Banner is a good finisher, but I already have a ton of those. Pitfall Trap is good, but I do not have that many relic-matter cards and it is in a splash color and in this deck I want to play all my power out. One Be Gone is usually enough – unless your deck is very tempo oriented. Curator’s Spear is a decent early game removal that I can later get back with Ancient Excavator. Okay, that settles it.
Caleb’s choice: Curator’s Spear
Pack 4 Pick 6
Kosul Recruit is a decent pick-up here as a remedy for my lack of units. I could go for Improvised Club as another late game win condition that goes oh-so-very-well with Ancient Excavator, but I am already packed at the top end.
Caleb’s choice: Kosul Recruit
Pack 4 Pick 7
Bannerman over Runic Protector for a fifth 2-drop. Also, more fixing!
Caleb’s choice: Bannerman
Pack 4 Pick 8
I already have a ton of color fixing, so I do not need to pick the Token up. I have lots of ramp, so Lost Scroll is not a true contender. Sandcrawler as a filler unit? Sure.
Caleb’s choice: Sandcrawler
Pack 4 Pick 9
Wagoneer is a great card, but I do not have too many units in my deck. On the other hand, it has a great Empower ability that I can trick mid-combat with Display of Vision. Also, two-color pledge. Yes, I think I am willing to give it a go.
Caleb’s choice: Resilient Wagoneer
Pack 4 Pick 10
Token as a bad Banner.
Caleb’s choice: Token of Ambition
Pack 4 Pick 11
Glider is an okay unit, even without relics.
Caleb’s choice: Sirocco Glider
Pack 4 Pick 12
A good finish to a crazy ride!
Caleb’s choice: Sandcrawler
Now, my biggest conundrum is how much power am I playing here, with all the late game stuff, pledges and ramp. Thirty three non-power cards in here. I do not need any Primal Sigils to splash for Linebreaker’s Shield as I already have eleven (!) potential sources of blue. Let me weed out the weakest cards and see where I can go from there. Awaken the Ages is not necessary as ramp as I have three Displays of Vision in that same cost slot. Lock Horns is also out, as well as Lethrai Memory Keeper. These are the obvious cuts.
I also think I can cut Belching Behemoth, as I already have a behemoth of a late game plan. With nineteen units and twenty-nine cards total I think I can safely get rid of Copperhall Recruit. Now the question is am I playing seventeen or eighteen power? Am I cutting a unit or a power card? The choice is even tougher as the first card on the cutting block is Resilient Wagoneer – a pledge unit. Usually when I have at least three pledge units I tend to go one lower on the power sources and the Wagoneer is the third pledge unit. I do have a lot of late game cards, but also some ramp cards to get me there.
Final (Grinva’s) verdict: Wagoneer in, power out. After adding some Sigils here is what I came up with.
The power base here is a puzzle game. No Primal Sigils but still eleven sources of Primal. Thitreen Shadow sources, ten Justice sources and ten Time sources. I have counted only the first instances of a color here, e.g. Trail Maker as all non-Time sources, Display of Vision as just a Primal source – because I need to have the three remaining colors to play it – etc. Getting second and third instances of a color should be easier thanks to the Displays.
The deck seems to be running a good curve with five 2-drops, three of which are neutral and provide me with color fixing, followed by five 3-drops. The plan is to go for late game and win with high-quality, or rather insane-quality cards.
After losing the first game the deck ended with a 7-1 record. Games were won by the obvious powerhouses, i.e. Grinva, Pillar and Dizo’s Office. I have also won a game by playing Linebreaker’s Shield on a unit with Permafrost and a couple by decimating the opponent’s board full on x/1 units with Display of Vision. I did not have any problems with my colors and was able to play out everything in time. And in other factions.