Hello and welcome to a new installment of Drafting with the Stars! A new draft format is upon us! Let everybody rejoice with the plentiful influence support we have received in the so-called Trials of Grodov / 6.5 drafts! What are the changes, you might ask? Here is a summary of what has changed from the previous format.
The long and short of it is – we have better quality of cards in the curated packs, alongside plentiful color fixing in the common slots. Does this mean playing with decks that have more than two colors of cards in it? Well yes it does! Read on to see how wide you can spread your influence!
Pack 1 Pick 1
As usual we start with a pack from the newest big set, which is still Dark Frontier. Values of some cards might have changed (I will have to re-work my card rating spreadsheet soon(TM)), but I still see the rare here as a mediocre one. It is not the worst, but Dark Frontier has a lot to offer in the uncommon and common slots as well, so I will browse through these right now.
Censari Dervish looks like the most obvious powerhouse here, and it surely is great! A very aggressive battle skill and an even more aggressive ability, do sign me up! Gustrider is one of those cards that might seem underwhelming at first, but what it does best is it enables you to loot through your deck quite fast and at a very low cost, which just means you can play eighteen power straight up and not worry about flooding or missing colors (usually). Burdenbearer Wisp has a decent statline, which for a 2-drop means it either has to trade with Strangers or survive the battle altogether. The Onslaught trigger of re-playing other units has a lot of benefits as well.
In the common slots we have High Alert, Blurreechaser, Svetya’s Faithful and Stonescar Outfitter among the better cards. I am feeling up to playing an aggressive deck, though, which is why – in the end – I have chosen the most aggressive card in here. Just do not run it into Strangers, okay?
Caleb’s choice: Censari Dervish
Pack 1 Pick 2
What better way to follow up a Fire opener than with one of three best uncommons from this set? Heretic’s Cannon is just that – usually a game finisher that can deal an absurd amount of damage, seemingly out of nowhere. The only other contender is Retribution – the best common removal card in the set – but with Cannon being both a bomb and in the color I have started with, this is not even a competition.
Caleb’s choice: Heretic’s Cannon
Pack 1 Pick 3
Fortunately I can follow up the first two picks with another great Fire card. Yes, but which one is it? I am going to discount Zuberi’s Longbow up front, as it is too conditional for my taste. Streets Aflame looks like an obvious pick here, but I wanted to stop and think about the other removal – Tantrum. After the cost reduction from some weeks ago, Tantrum now costs two instead of three, which is in line with dealing three for three in the case of Streets Aflame. Slow Speed is a small nuisance, as it cannot be played during the opponent’s turn and especially not in response to a trick – on the other hand it has a potential to deal four damage.
I still think fast speed beats the potential upside of Tantrum, but this choice could have been different if I already had a decent amount of Shift units! Scouting helps, too.
Caleb’s choice: Streets Aflame
Pack 1 Pick 4
In theory I could go for something like Razorquill or Flash Grenade, but it is much better if I can stick to one color with a card of similar quality. In this case that means picking up Daring Maneuver.
Caleb’s choice: Daring Maneuver
Pack 1 Pick 5
Another pack with a high quality Fire card! Great, sign me up, while the getting is good!
Caleb’s choice: Blurreechaser
Pack 1 Pick 6
Okay, Needlespitter and Outdraw are way beyond the line of playable Fire cards to pick, especially that there are much better cards in the pack. Having a Crooked Alleyguide here might suggest that Shadow is open, and Stonescar tends to be a very fast color combination. Arcanum Elite – while being a good card overall, and especially when it is boosting up Twist units – is not as clear of a signal of Time being an open color.
Caleb’s choice: Crooked Alleyguide
Pack 1 Pick 7
All of these cards are mediocre, but we still can salvage a decent pick here. I do not mean going into Time with Amber Coin – although that is a viable option, as splashing with a Coin is better than splashing with just a Sigil. No, I mean getting Clan Barracks here. Although I have stated that the Stonescar color combination is a rather fast one and the Barracks cost seven power to play, I am not set into those two colors yet. This deck might turn out to be a control deck, and with a Blurreechaser being a great trigger for the Barracks already, this makes the Relic a good pick here in my opinion. Even if I am 80% sure at the moment of picking it that it will not make it into the deck – having the option to swerve into a slightly different kind of deck is a solid choice.
Caleb’s choice: Clan Barracks
Pack 1 Pick 8
If I went with Arcanum Elite some picks ago I could have gone for the Quicksilver Ooze here, as it is much better with all health support cards. Given my current display of cards chosen so far – let us go with Mining Team, the trifecta of abilities that might matter, i.e. Warp, Scout and Shift.
Caleb’s choice: Mining Team
Pack 1 Pick 9
Flash Grenade is the only card in this pack that does anything, and Rakano is still a viable color choice.
Caleb’s choice: Flash Grenade
Pack 1 Pick 10
I was thinking about picking Reclaim here, and that could have been an interesting ramp effect into a turn five Clan Barracks. My thoughts turned into a different direction, though, with Muck Crawler. It is – in my opinion – at its best in a very fast Stonescar deck or a very shifty Praxis deck. Mine can turn out to be the former one.
Caleb’s choice: Muck Crawler
Pack 1 Pick 11
Nothing to choose from, really.
Caleb’s choice: Death from Above
Pack 1 Pick 12
Caleb’s choice: Fragility
Pack 2 Pick 1
Out with the old, in with the new.
Quality cards in curated, oh how I missed you!
No, seriously, I see playable cards and I all just tear up … almost. Crownwatch Captain, Stalwart Shield, Trickster’s Cloak, Combust, two Tokens … I restrain myself slightly and just look at the cards I could be playing. Combust stands out – by a lot! Just need to pick up some Grenadin generators…
Caleb’s choice: Combust
Pack 2 Pick 2
Banners. Good to have you back! Same goes for you, dear Stranger! Not that I am going to pick these off-color fixers right now. My eyes go towards Sporebreath and Pyre Elemental. I somehow convince myself that I can play Elemental in an aggressive Stonescar deck. Might not be the best of choices and will depend on me getting a Seek Power or two to get the Pyre out on turn three.
Caleb’s choice: Pyre Elemental
Pack 2 Pick 3
Welcome back, Mighty Strikes. I have to change my mental setting back two or three formats and remember about this card – although to be honest Daring Maneuver is cheaper and easier to play on its base settings. Also, it is not in my colors (at least not right now), while there is a very good card here for me. I am talking about Clan Huntcaller. Bannerman is not needed yet, Scavenge does combo with Combust, but it is much worse than Huntcaller in my opinion. Scalechannel Sorcerer needs a more spell-oriented deck, probably Rakano or Stonescar. Yes, Warcry Warrior, here we go!
Caleb’s choice: Clan Huntcaller
Pack 2 Pick 4
In the previous format I would have no cards to pick from anymore. Here there is still some good color fixing available, albeit not for me. Devour, Softfoot Burglar and Lethrai Bladewhirl are worthy considerations, with the first card being better in a token (i.e. small unit, not the Power card type) deck, the second in a low-to-the-ground aggressive deck with spell support, and the last one just as a finisher, preferably with some fliers or shifters. As I do not know yet which deck this will end up as, I just go with the potentially most powerful card in all scenarios.
Caleb’s choice: Lethrai Bladewhirl
Pack 2 Pick 5
It is about time to pick up some fixing. The question is almost as old as the old chicken or the Araktodon Egg debacle – do I go for Bannerman or for Seek Power? Let me analyze this for you – Seek Power is a spell that stands in for a power card and Bannerman is a unit that fits in the usual low curve slot. The winner in this case has been decided by me having a very low number of units.
Caleb’s choice: Bannerman
Pack 2 Pick 6
The only card I am willing to pick here – aside from gambling on taking the Stranger for fixing a potential splash – is Sadistic Glee, a card that I like to play as top end in my deck, especially when I can back it up with some sort of recursion. I am yet to mill somebody with this card in draft, but I was very close on a couple of occasions.
Caleb’s choice: Sadistic Glee
Pack 2 Pick 7
Breathstealer is a unit almost as underwhelming as Pit Fighter in 6.0 drafts, but the addition of Pledge for a point of attack makes it slightly better. Does not mean this unit is good, though. I would rather pick up Forgeborn if I end up with a more controlling deck or with one needing a unit to push through.
Caleb’s choice: Forgeborn
Pack 2 Pick 8
Nothing truly playable here, which means I am going to pick a premium common for my collection. Yes, when it comes to cards, shiny = pretty = me grabby.
Caleb’s choice: Disjunction
Pack 2 Pick 9
Uncommons are worth more shiftstone than commons.
Caleb’s choice: Sustaining Harp
Pack 2 Pick 10
If I am really low on units – especially early game ones – I can easily play any and all Strangers. If they fix for at least one color – the higher chance for them ending up in my deck.
Caleb’s choice: Skycrag Stranger
Pack 2 Pick 11
Now that I have a Skycrag Stranger and a Bannerman I can think about splashing some Primal cards.
Caleb’s choice: Tundra Explorer
Pack 2 Pick 12
Caleb’s choice: Broken Wing Brawler
Pack 3 Pick 1
Too bad this Crest is not on color. At least a Banner is. I do not know how to rate Humbug Swarm yet, probably higher the more Horns of Plenty you have. Valkyrie Linebreaker seems like a game finisher, but it also looks like it is way too expensive. Scavenge is okay – I have some cards that could support it. Lightning Strike could be a splash here, with the Stranger and Bannerman I took in pack two. After some thought I went with the on-color Banner, after all Lightning Strike is for more controlling decks than what this is shaping up to be.
Caleb’s choice: Stonescar Banner
Pack 3 Pick 2
Two for the price of one … power. One of the two explodes to take out an opposing unit. I am talking about Grenadin Drone and its synergy with the Combust I picked up earlier. The only other card I would consider here is the Rakano Stranger – if I were to splash some Justice – but it is a replaceable option, while the Grenadin is just so much value!
Caleb’s choice: Grenadin Drone
Pack 3 Pick 3
Okay, fine! You leave me with (literally) no options! Okay, maybe not literally – there is an Argenport Banner that would also go well with potential Justice splashes. Seeing no Fire cards here is a bit troubling, but even if I just get some more of them from pack four, I should be good. Anyway, Rakano Stranger it is.
Caleb’s choice: Rakano Stranger
Pack 3 Pick 4
Although the Fire and Shadow cards are really, really, really bad, at least we get to Seek some Power.
Caleb’s choice: Seek Power
Pack 3 Pick 5
If I have to be honest, this pick was a mistake. I took Manufacture, while the choice should have gone to Scavenge, as it plays the units faster and fixes for a color. Yet another option would be Rakano Banner and potentially a very easy Justice splash. I would just need to get some Justice cards, though…
Caleb’s choice: Manufacture
Pack 3 Pick 6
Speaking of influence and its fixing, Veteran Strategist is a very good card, but it is destined for slightly more defensive decks. I would rather bank on getting the Skycrag Banner now and hopefully getting passed a Mighty Strikes or a Lightning Strike later on.
Caleb’s choice: Skycrag Banner
Pack 3 Pick 7
Called it! Well, I also have played through this draft already, so my hindsight is close to 20/20. Mighty Strikes – while more expensive and more restrictive (influence-wise) than Daring Maneuver – can deliver game-winning blowouts on six power. Ravenous Thornbeast is also a card I could consider, but I want to go for the surprise effect, especially that people usually focus on tricks in main colors, not in the splashed ones. I mean, when I play a Stranger it does not mean that I play both colors represented by it 100% of the time. Let me mix some bluffs in with power plays, always a good recipe for winning games.
Caleb’s choice: Mighty Strikes
Pack 3 Pick 8
I wonder which card is going to be better – Lethrai Intimidator or Stonescar Outfitter? This one is bigger and faster, but needs constant power to trigger and there are not a lot of ways of cheating additional power into play for a bigger effect.
Caleb’s choice: Lethrai Intimidator
Pack 3 Pick 9
Caleb’s choice: Hooru Stranger
Pack 3 Pick 10
I think me playing this card would be too much of a stretch, but the other ones just just my eyes.
Caleb’s choice: Safe Return
Pack 3 Pick 11
Now this is some premium fixing!
Caleb’s choice: Stonescar Stranger
Pack 3 Pick 12
Caleb’s choice: Snowfort
Pack 4 Pick 1
Alright, let me sum up. I have three packs’ worth of Fire and Shadow goodies, alongside potential splashes for Primal and / or Justice cards. Frost Elemental, Combustion Brawler and Roosting Warhawk stand out to me in this pack. Frost Elemental has an unfortunate double Primal requirement that makes me not want to splash it. Combustion Brawler is a very solid unit in one of my main colors. Roosting Warhawk could be splashed, but in a way would play a similar role to that of a main color Combustion Brawler. What to do?
Caleb’s choice: Combustion Brawler
Pack 4 Pick 2
More tricks is the way to go, so Daring Maneuver – I am looking at you. The other good card – sorry, singular – in this pack is Tauride Test Pilot, a flying Minotaur I could potentially splash. I have no Relic Weapons and I am playing a rather fast deck. This all means I will skip the Minotaur in favor of the trick.
Caleb’s choice: Daring Maneuver
Pack 4 Pick 3
As I already said at the beginning of this draft, Retribution is the best common removal in the set, and I have a plethora of options to splash for it. Wow, is it true? Can I play a two-color deck splashing for one Blue card and one Green card? Let us find out! For science!
Caleb’s choice: Retribution
Pack 4 Pick 4
Horde Duelist is a slightly worse card now, with the overabundance of colorless 2/2s for two power. Also, I have a lot of those for myself already. This pack is quite empty for me. After some thought and going through the cards a couple of times, my eyes finally come across Cobalt Coin. I mean, I will probably be splashing for Mighty Strikes and you can play off-color Coins as pseudo-spells sometimes.
Caleb’s choice: Cobalt Coin
Pack 4 Pick 5
The packs are running kind of dry for me, or is it just my imagination? There is a Roosting Warhawk here that I was thinking about picking not too long ago. I also picked up a Retribution, which means I can go for Justice. Sure, splashing this is much better than playing with Darkweave Enchantress or Sizzleback Salamander – a sentence I would not utter under the 6.0 Dark Frontier two-color dictatorship.
Caleb’s choice: Roosting Warhawk
Pack 4 Pick 6
The Vandal is strong in this one – a decent unit and one of few ways to get rid of pesky Relics such as Horns of Plenty or a plethora of Relic Weapons.
Caleb’s choice: Stronghold Vandal
Pack 4 Pick 7
I have seen Fallen Militiamen grow out of control, more than once. You have to shift it, though, and you can just sit back and force some Stranger on Stranger trades.
Caleb’s choice: Fallen Militiaman
Pack 4 Pick 8
Another card I will probably not play, but could do it if I had a control deck. Also – remember that Twinflame is actually a Fast Spell (if you ever come across it).
Caleb’s choice: Twinflame
Pack 4 Pick 9
This is quite late for this still decently aggressive card. I will take it without hesitation, especially that I will be sporting a plethora of tricks to back it up. Yes, Conscript is much worse without at least a couple of Daring Maneuvers or other support so that it does not run into 4/6 walls all the time.
Caleb’s choice: Nimble Conscript
Pack 4 Pick 10
Huh, I can splash it. Will I splash it? And I do not mean Death from Above.
Caleb’s choice: High Alert
Pack 4 Pick 11
Caleb’s choice: Vicious Rumors
Pack 4 Pick 12
Caleb’s choice: Sudden Stampede
The draft format change brought with itself a higher number of influence fixing, which leads to me having more cards to choose from during the deckbuilding portion of the draft. Also, cards in the curated packs are better in general, which also leads me to having a wider array of options. Thirty four, all in all. The base is in Fire with nineteen cards, followed up by Shadow with eight, Justice with three and Primal with one. Oh, and also six neutral cards fixing my influence!
An easy way to go here is to either cut both splashes or the high end of the card pool, leaving seventeen Power cards and a Seek Power. I am going for the later route, mainly for science! and finding out can I splash four cards in two colors with these old, yet new toys.
Away goes Forgeborn, Sadistic Glee, Clan Barracks and Twinflame. Manufacture also does not seem necessary. That means one more card has to go and I have to look at the units – twenty is too much! I was thinking of cutting a 2-drop, probably one of the Strangers or the Vandal, but then Muck Crawler caught my eye. While I do have six Shift units, 1-drops do not have a place in a two plus two color deck. Wait, Grenadin Drone, I did not mean…
As for the power base, let me start with the splashes. One Primal card needs at least three sources. Two Strangers, Bannerman, Skycrag Banner, Cobalt Coin, Primal Sigil, Seek Power. That is way too much. I could either go for just the Coin, without the ability to use Seek power to search for the Sigil, or without the Coin. I went with the former option. Now let me get to Justice. Three cards, that means five to seven sources. Here I only have two Strangers, a Bannerman and a Seek Power, which means I need two or three Justice Sigils. Okay, let me table that decision for a moment. I have seven Fire and four Shadow sources – not counting Sigils. After going through the numbers some more, this is what I came up with.
This truly looks like a fast deck, with four cards to play on turn one and eight to play on turn two. Eight (!) pieces of fixing meant I had no problems with playing my off-color cards in any of the games. Yes, this deck went all the way to seven wins, just stumbling twice on some big Time units the opponents played – Sand Wurms, Tremorshockers and Stygimolochs. You know, the usual.
I could have done away with potentially one of the 2-drops, Pyre Elemental and Mining Team, bringing in a better unit and two more tricks or pieces of removal. In the end I cannot complain, as the deck took me the distance. Once again – I had zero influence problems casting the cards I drew in all games. You truly can go for greed piles and just spread your influence in the current draft format.
An interesting side note here is the order in which I picked up the cards. I took a lot of either on-color or speculative fixing in packs two and three to be able to pick a Primal (actually a Skycrag) card halfway through pack three and was still quite decent to get all three Justice cards just from pack four! You can still experiment with other colors all the way until the end.
Now once again I have some homework for you, dear reader! Try and go through these picks once again and see if you would have been able to build an even better deck from these packs. Maybe you can go with just two colors, as in days long past. Maybe you can go even wider and make a five-color deck. Please make the decklist on eternalwarcry.com and link it in the comments. I hope you enjoyed this lengthy story and that I will see you on one of my streams!
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