Hello and welcome to a new installment of Drafting with the Stars! A new format is upon us, so without further ado, let me … tell you a short intro …. but then we dive right into another draft!
Sometimes, while drafting, you come across a decision point where you can choose between a couple of options, each of them rated similarly. At the end of the day are you results oriented at what cards did come your way, or are you assessing it all with a cool and calculating mind? The first way can come with some regrets…
Pack 1 Pick 1
I get to open a huge dragon that looks like a bomb, and it certainly would be in any sealed deck (i.e. both limited and slow) environment. Is seven power to cast him too much for the current draft format, though? If you have watched the latest Eternal Draft Summit, where Sunyveil, Kasendrith and Calebovitsch talked about the format as a whole, you might know that expensive cards are where the format is actually at! That, alongside all the Dragon synergies in Fire and Shadow, make Cruel Wyvarch a great first pick.
If the Wyvarch was not in the pack, though, where would you lean? There are some build-around cards here, like Vile Collaborator for Dragons, Hexcaster for Curses and Eloz’s Paladin for Decimates, alongside the Time Evangel just being a solid pick. So, still much to choose from.
Caleb’s choice: Cruel Wyvarch
Pack 1 Pick 2
Kindo Shadowstep is my favorite rare from The Flame of Xulta, for sure – a good, defensive stat line combined with a huge mill effect. In draft, though, you would just play him for his 2/7 body, as having a ton of one-ofs makes his Mastery pretty worthless. Moving on, Felrauk’s Choice and Misery Walker are some more good Curse build-arounds, with Mistrust being a pretty good Curse in here as well. As with all two part synergies (i.e. Curse and Curse payoff) you have to remember to get both parts balanced!
Aside from that there are a couple of Dragons and a Fire Evangel in the pack, and the Evangels are really good, solid picks early on that keep you quite open to a lot of options. This one is also an Oni, which comes in handy in many Rakano synergies. In the end, Curses (or rather, the factions that are playing curses) kind of covers some of the same colors as Dragon synergies, but I would like to focus on one or the other. That is why I went for the solid 2-drop fixer.
Caleb’s choice: Shavka Evangel
Pack 1 Pick 3
From the Dragon perspective there are a couple of choices here, so I will just focus on those. Dramatic Exit can provide you with some explosive results – especially that all the battle skills get Exalted over to another Unit. You just have to be careful of bounce effects! Marsh Dragon is a decent mid to late-game drop which can get you out of many sticky situations thanks to its potentially huge heal effect … you just need to have your void filled with Units and sacrifice another one upon entry. Warhorn gives you those Units to play, chump block with and send to your void, especially when equipped on an evasive Unit – and is generally considered to be a good, value card. Among all these choices I believe that Dramatic Exit has the highest potential of swinging some neutral board stats heavy in your favor.
Caleb’s choice: Dramatic Exit
Pack 1 Pick 4
Now this is where the path diverges, as the Stonescar well of goodies has dried up. Sure, you can go for the rare (either for your collection or just for Shiftstone) while waiting for your colors, or you can choose another path, either as a splash for the colors you so far have, or even if you wished to get away from one or both of those.
The two most obvious stand outs here are Grodov’s Favored – this set’s hot hot hot big Time common Unit – and Draw Strength – the cheap Justice trick that could … be even more powerful than Finest Hour on some occasions. Both cards have similar value when it comes to sheer power, but vastly different applications. You cannot go wrong with either one.
…or can you?
Caleb’s choice: Draw Strength
Pack 1 Pick 5
Now that I have taken up Justice as my potential third color I have more options to choose from … potentially. In this case we have Cindermaw Tota, the Totemite that everyone wants to silence, but no-one wants to kill. Makkar Evangel is the baseline good 2-drop. Eloz’s Elite is a new potential addition to the team, with a good, Scaly Gruan-esque defensive body and a great ability – if you have the Decimate cards for it. Makkar’s Bloodwolf is a big stop sign for all baseline good 2-drops and a very good defensive tool while you await the arrival of your Cruel Wyvarch overlord.
While going for three colors I have found back in Defiance drafts that you do need to find some pieces of fixing, and right now Evangels are it. Five to seven pieces of those Clerics, Tokens, Seats, Insignias and/or Seek Powers and you should be good. That is why my choice now went for Evangel. If I were going for just base two color, it probably would have been Bloodwolf, though.
Caleb’s choice: Makkar Evangel
Pack 1 Pick 6
Immortalize is a great trick, much more costly than Dark Return (I am talking both about sheer power and Decimate), but giving the returnee Exalted is so much better than giving it +1/+1. Also people keep forgetting that this is in fact a fast spell, which can be utilized after your troops fall to opposing attacks, freeing your power to just replay them on your turn.
Caleb’s choice: Immortalize
Pack 1 Pick 7
This does not feel like a heavy mill Feln deck, and remember there are those skulking around! No, the choice here is between Gaudy Showman and Cindermaw Tota. Both Units are rather medium when it comes to their value, but have slightly different applications, i.e. fit into different decks. Tota is much better if you want and/or have Dragons, while Showman is much better in aggressive decks. Given that with a seven cost Wyvarch in tow this is looking more like a control deck…
Caleb’s choice: Cindermaw Tota
Pack 1 Pick 8
Makkar’s Bloodwolf is truly the Lifestealer that Direwood Lurker wanted to be in the previous set, but never could because it was overpriced – both on the regular and Shift front. Torture is much better than people see at first glance – especially given Exalted is a mechanic in the current set. This is also a cautionary tale that some cards can be much better or worse depending on the mechanics and generally other cards that surround them. Another great example is Jekk’s Knife, which in other sets was okay at best and right now is your best source of achieving Mastery much much faster.
You should not forget that there is also a Nivia’s Inquisitor in the pack and I have already picked up a Draw Strength and Immortalize! Although this card needs a lot of setup, the potential greatness can be seen in its long text. Maybe if I picked up Eloz’s Elite earlier this could have been a pick, but right now it is not. Regrets? No really. Not yet, anyway.
Caleb’s choice: Makkar’s Bloodwolf
Pack 1 Pick 9
The only playable card here is Crowd Queller, although it is not a great option and rather a Iron Hook-like filler in a potential splash color.
Caleb’s choice: Crowd Queller
Pack 1 Pick 10
The value of Ancient Manual heavily depends on the deck if you are playing. It is pretty mediocre if you are playing two colors, gets quite good when you are going for three colors and is amazing with four or five – given hat you are not running a ton of double- or triple-influence cards. The only downside of it I have found is that it is a huge non-bo with Evangels. If you have an Evangel in your opening hand, you cannot get another Influence of that color with Manual, because you already have one so be careful when planning on keeping or redrawing your initial hands!
Wow, such a long paragraph about a potential tenth pick, and we have another candidate here! Reconnaissance acts as a finisher, replaces itself if you have more than enough power and can lead to some devastating scenes when combined e.g. with a Dramatic Exit or Razorquill. Oh wait, I already have a Dramatic Exit! Let me Exalt this Unblockable to someone else then…
Caleb’s choice: Reconnaissance
Pack 1 Pick 11
Caleb’s choice: Yeti Gryffyn Rider
Pack 1 Pick 12
Caleb’s choice: Chant to Grodov
Pack 2 Pick 1
I would like to repeat that this is a rather slow format in which big Units get usually played, and Dashing Rapscallion is a must kill! If you combine it with, let’s say, Reconnaissance, you have twenty (!) unblockable damage speeding towards your opponent! Ravenous Thornbeast, Lethrai Ranger and Lethrai Bladewhirl are all decent picks, but nowhere near Rapscallion’s power level! There is also a lonely Changeestik is this pack, but I really do not feel I can stretch my power base to play this powerhouse of a Spellcraft Weapon.
Caleb’s choice: Dashing Rapscallion
Pack 2 Pick 2
Oblivion Spike is, or rather can be a very powerful Relic Weapon, taking out two or even three Units – given you know how to feed your void, and in this format you can do that pretty well I would say. Oni Forgemaster is a great 2-drop that can even hand you an Axe if you help her first. Spirit Drain is just too expensive, like another Outdraw. I am very low on Units at this point, which means I need all the help I can get, and with Wyvarch securing the end game, the Oni seems like a great pick here.
Caleb’s choice: Oni Forgemaster
Pack 2 Pick 3
If I had picked up Grodov’s Favored way back, Magus of Celerity would have been a great option. Right now my splashiest of splash colors allows me to get … High Alert? In the world of Draw Strength and Finest Hour, High Alert is just much much weaker, or in this case overcosted. Manufacture is an okay source of small token Units to sacrifice to cards like Combust or Sol’s Fury you can pick up in Fire and Shadow. Blazing Renegade is a worse version of Horde Duelist in a world where her Unit types does not matter. I guess there is only one choice here, albeit a very mediocre one.
Caleb’s choice: Manufacture
Pack 2 Pick 4
Hordeleader goes quite well with go-wide strategies, such as the Manufacture I have just picked up. Another Oni Forgemaster is also a great pickup, and the choice between those two would depend whether I need more help with my early- or mid-game. Fortunately the choice is pretty simple, because there is also Eviscerate in the pack, a hard removal in a format where removal is usually pretty scarce. Yes, please.
Caleb’s choice: Eviscerate
Pack 2 Pick 5
Out of the whole old Favor cycle I believe Vara’s Favor is the only one playable in draft, because it deals one damage. The Justice cards are just early game Units, which are replaceable, and also you do not want to splash for 2-drops and 3-drops. Easy choice here, then.
Caleb’s choice: Vara’s Favor
Pack 2 Pick 6
Wow, seven cards to choose from and none is good. Just pick up your ten Shiftstone worth of an uncommon. Any of them.
…although if I were in Time, Predator’s Instinct would actually be a pick here. Oh well.
Caleb’s choice: Curse of Taxation
Pack 2 Pick 7
Another good Time card stares at me here in judgment of the path not chosen. The (literally) Living Example of gong the wrong way. yes, I know, double Time influence is a pain and you do not want to splash for 2-drops, but this could have been the case of making Time the more main color, eh? Anyway, there is still a Token here, one that is a bad Rakano Banner (I should really change these comparisons to … Rakano Insignia?), but it is fixing nonetheless.
Caleb’s choice: Token of Honor
Pack 2 Pick 8
Stonescar Insignia is a much better piece of fixing for this potentially three color deck. Pyre Adept is an okay 2-drop filler. There is also a great 2-drop here, i.e. Trail Maker, although I have not chosen his path.
Caleb’s choice: Stonescar Insignia
Pack 2 Pick 9
This choice is an interesting one. I a world where you have Grenadin handy to be thrown with … Grenade (how apt!), but can also go for Hotblood Barbarian as a decent 2-drop. A side note here, ladies and gentlemen. One of the better tempo Stonescar plays these days is getting Barbarian into play on turn two and discarding a Faceless One … straight into play! ow all I need is some Faceless Ones…
Caleb’s choice: Hotblood Barbarian
Pack 2 Pick 10
This time I will get the Grenade, although Warpainter is also a consideration.
Caleb’s choice: Grenade
Pack 2 Pick 11
Caleb’s choice: Patience
Pack 2 Pick 12
Caleb’s choice: Grenamender
Pack 3 Pick 1
Stonescar Maul is a great Relic Weapon, one that can get you some surprise wins if the opponent is low enough on health and has left some one- and two-health Units on the board. Giving a Grenade Overwhelm is also nothing to sneeze at, and the range of Units the Maul can kill is pretty impressive! It is much better than getting another Oni Forgemaster or potential fixing for Justice in the Token of Honor. Speaking of which, with only a single Draw Strength I would guess that I theoretically could just splash that one card, but this deck is looking like Stonescar all the way. Even the Relic Weapon would agree!
Caleb’s choice: Stonescar Maul
Pack 3 Pick 2
I have to point out Horn of Plenty as a great, splashable Time card in the pack, while also just taking Eviscerate as the good removal that it is. No, I am not even looking at Bear Arms.
Caleb’s choice: Eviscerate
Pack 3 Pick 3
Technically Grenade is the only card I could play out of this pack, but you can also think about taking just the rare for you collection or Shiftstone. The Justice cards are definitely not worth consideration for what we have here.
Caleb’s choice: Grenade
Pack 3 Pick 4
This time the choice is between Warpainter and Granite Coin. A pretty close decision that is won by Warpainter when I see I am very low on Units at this point. I mean, that is a good and a bad thing about getting a Warpainter…
Caleb’s choice: Warpainter
Pack 3 Pick 5
The choice between Centaur Outrider and Lethrai Bladewhirl is a funny one. Do I want to pay one additional power for the Bladewhirl’s attack buff? The answer is more often than not – yes!
Caleb’s choice: Lethrai Bladewhirl
Pack 3 Pick 6
Ruination Sledge is an amazing Weapon, especially that we are back to good ol’ Voltron days, with Exalted weapons running around everywhere. Maybe not literally running around, but remember – they were Units once.
Token of Vision is almost an after-thought, as I am slowly resigning from Draw Strength and any Justice splashes whatsoever.
Caleb’s choice: Ruination Sledge
Pack 3 Pick 7
Okay, now getting Horn of Plenty this late is pretty ridiculous. Once again, if I only went for Grodov’s favored at the beginning of this draft…
Caleb’s choice: Horn of Plenty
Pack 3 Pick 8
Kaleb’s Favor is not really a goo card in draft, unless you are extremely aggressive. I would rather go for Amber Coin and … still hope to catch a piece of Time-X fixing and play the Horn? Maybe?
Caleb’s choice: Amber Coin
Pack 3 Pick 9
Caleb’s choice: Predator’s Strike
Pack 3 Pick 10
Get more Shiftstone!
Caleb’s choice: Icebreaker
Pack 3 Pick 11
Caleb’s choice: Emerald Acolyte
Pack 3 Pick 12
Caleb’s choice: Scaly Gruan
Pack 4 Pick 1
Argh! Waystone Fragment, another great Time card that I would have liked to play!! I remember pausing on this one for a minute or so with a look of … regret. No, at this point I unfortunately cannot take it. Unfortunately, there are not a lot of choices left for me here. There is Vile Collaborator, but I am really lacking Dragons right now. There is also a Marsh Dragon aka the second piece of the puzzle, and this time I think it is the correct moment to pick the Nightmare Dragon.
Caleb’s choice: Marsh Dragon
Pack 4 Pick 2
Harmony of Flame is a rare that is unplayable in draft. There is also Banewulf, a late game Unit that is much better in this format than it could have been in any of the faster ones. I already have a late game Unit I am looking forward to, and having too many 7-drops is not the way to go, in my opinion. Eloz’s Elite could also be an option if I did not resign on the Justice. Actually, after some thought, why not take the rare? I mean, I am not going to play any of the other cards anyway, might as well get something for the collection this early in a set.
Caleb’s choice: Harmony of Flame
Pack 4 Pick 3
As a contrast to the previous pack, here I have a lot of choices. Skipping over a second attempt at Nivia’s Inquisitor and straight to Living Mountain, a decent mid-game Unit that can help one of your Units achieve Mastery faster, or just help push some damage through. Warbrush Oni is a solid 2-drop, providing a boost to all Units and weapons in your hand. Sol’f Fury is a nice piece of removal, given you have enough Units to sacrifice – and i do not, unfortunately. A second copy of Reconnaissance or Immortalize would also be nice, with Immortalize being the better option. In the end I had to go for a Unit, given that at this point I was very low on that front. And speaking of low, I wanted to improve me early game, so the award went to the Oni.
Caleb’s choice: Warbrush Oni
Pack 4 Pick 4
Teething Whelp is one of the best 2-drops in the current format. Just one hit, and it flies! Two more hits and it is a 5/5 flying Dragon! That is much better than anything else offered by this pack.
Caleb’s choice: Teething Whelp
Pack 4 Pick 5
The only Stonescar card in this pack is an interesting one – a Fast Spell tutor for a Dragon or a Weapon. Given that I have some bombs in those departments, i.e. Cruel Wyvarch and Stonescar Maul, this is actually a pretty nifty pickup!
Caleb’s choice: Dragon Forge
Pack 4 Pick 6
A second Immortalize in an empty pack a good pack makes! Really, you only need one good card in a pack to be content.
Caleb’s choice: Immortalize
Pack 4 Pick 7
We are not milling and we are low on Units. Which is going to be the pick?
Caleb’s choice: Makkar Evangel
Pack 4 Pick 8
Ah, the mid-game Mountain comes back to us? Yeah, there is not much else to write about these choices.
Caleb’s choice: Living Mountain
Pack 4 Pick 9
For example here – ten Shiftstone or one Shiftstone? The choice is pretty simple.
Caleb’s choice: Majestic Mandrake
Pack 4 Pick 10
Caleb’s choice: Linrei Evangel
Pack 4 Pick 11
Caleb’s choice: Eager Offering
Pack 4 Pick 12
Caleb’s choice: Linrei Evangel
There was a lot of chaff coming my way in the latter picks in all packs, which is quite unfortunate. Or – if you look at the actual pool up here – fortunate, because I have twenty seven non-power cards, one of which – Vara’s Favor – can count a a power. That means I just click Add Power and can move to the next segment.
Yeah, fortunately the deckbuilding was easy, but not without regrets. Throughout the second part of the draft and all the games I was still thinking What if I had picked up that Grodov’s favored? This deck would have turned into something different, for sure! Two Horns of Plenty, Waystone Fragment, Grodov’s Favored, Trail Maker, Magus of Celerity, Living Example – just to name several cards that passed through.
There is another factor here. This deck only lost one game while winning the whole shebang! Everything fit right into place, even despite running just fifteen Units (plus two Immortalize and Manufacture). Grenade were honestly over-performing, as were Eviscerates. Stonescar Maul, Dashing Rapscallion and Cruel Wyvarch had their time in the sun as well. Somehow, despite the clunkiness, it all just fit together.
So – in the end – should you have regrets if you missed out on some opportunities, but still managed to go 7-1? Or should you just be happy and queue up into another draft?
Now once again I have some homework for you, dear reader! Try and go through these picks once again. What colors would you end up with and why? 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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