Hello and welcome to a new installment of Drafting with the Stars! The new draft guide is upon us, along with a list of card ratings!
In this episode I wanted to share with you an experiment I conducted on my stream not that long ago. After completing the above-mentioned draft guide I came to a conclusion that not a lot of people might have noticed Skycrag having a ton of effects that boost Spell Damage. Those cards, coupled with underdrafted spells such as Greed’s Reward and Reverberating Strike can lead to some true feels good moments of synergy! Let us dive right in.
Emblem of Kodosh is a rare worth of drafting for both the deck and your collection, as it is played in many Expedition decks. There are better cards in this pack, though. Fell Ritual is one of the most reliable kill spells in the format, and if you have access to an Immortalize or a Voprex’s Choice to get a Nihil Draconus – all the better. There is also and amazing common in the pact, i.e. Grodov’s Favored. Not only does it provide a huge body on the board, it also shoots down a flier or makes a deadly unit … less deadly. Three very good choices indeed.
This is not what we are doing today, though. In this episode I want to force the Fire-Primal aka Skycrag combination, whatever it takes! That means not even splashing for Grodov’s Favored, no sir! I am only interested in blue and red cards, which limits my choices to Fearstoker Raven, Yeti Gryffyn Rider, Living Mountain, Rosebloom Mandrake, Wizened Crone and Cindermaw Tota.
Now in the Skycrag archetype as I understand it, there are two main parts to the synergy. One is units and other cards that boost your spell damage, the other being spells that deal damage to multiple targets or draw you cards in the process. Wizened Crone is a perfect example of the first category, and the most common one you will see – especially that this card is heavily underdrafted (in my opinion and at the moment of writing this article). That also makes this an easy choice in this experimental study.
Caleb’s choice: Wizened Crone
Somebody took the Primal rare or legendary that was in the pack, which does not leave me with a lot of choices. Slayer’s Edge is a decent piece of removal in and of itself, but if you can play it while having a Teething Whelp or a Skyhorror Draconus on the board – all the better! Warbrush Oni is a very aggressive 2-drop that makes units and weapons in your hand more vicious. I do believe that the Oni is better suited to more unit- and weapon-heavy decks than this one – here spells matter slightly more. That is why I am going with the relic weapon.
Caleb’s choice: Slayer’s Edge
I believe here is where I heard some wincing from my chat. This pack is not Skycrag territory at all! The only saving grace is the Linrei Evangel that I am going to snatch. On the other hand – Aamri’s Choice, Grodov’s Favored, Intrepid Longhorn and Acclaimed Artisan are all amazing cards. I am very happy that other people will get to enjoy having them in their decks.
Caleb’s choice: Linrei Evangel
Okay, at least I am getting some more choices here. Once again these are not cards that are very highly rated in a vacuum, but that belong in certain decks – and I am going to rely on synergies in this color combination. Skyhorror Draconus is a good top end for a control deck, and this is probably going to end up being one. Cindermaw Tota is a conditionally good card, if you are running tons of dragons or if you have some good sacrifice effects like Sol’s Fury or Combust. Desperate Gambit is an okay trick, better suited for decks that are aggressive do not have access to all the overpowered Justice buffs, e.g. Praxis. This whole consideration leaves me with the Dragon, but I believe that if I already had one, the pick would have been the Tota.
Caleb’s choice: Skyhorror Draconus
There might be a draft where I am able to build a very aggressive Skycrag Spell Damage deck – and I believe that is the only one where I would be willing to try and play Breath of Voprex. Otherwise I like to steer clear of this card. Honestly, if the cards you are playing are giving a choice to the opponent – unless the effect is very powerful for you either way – are just too unreliable. Rainfall Accord is not card advantage, just some filtering, which makes it usually not worthwhile to play. No, here I would like to get a unit – and between both mediocre ones I am presented here I am willing to go for the flier. Mainly because it is a flier.
Caleb’s choice: Yeti Gryffyn Rider
Okay, this is the pack where we are being rewarded – pun definitely intended! Greed’s Reward is the card that (almost) everyone shrugged upon while reading through the new set spoiler, with the effect being too weak for the cost of the card. This card, however, is one of the center pieces of the archetype I am trying to force – counting on this particular common to get passed to me in picks ten through twelve in packs one and four. I am not going to risk it, though, and will just snatch it here.
Why is it the center piece of this format – you might ask. Well, Dear Reader, if you draft some of the eleven cards that boost your spell damage – like the Wizened Crone we already have – and, let us say – are able to deal three damage on fast speed and with decimating one maximum power are able to draw three cards as well – is that not a good deal? Even buffing this effect to just two is powerful indeed. Indeed…
Caleb’s choice: Greed’s Reward
Big shoutout to Draw Strength and Champion Grappler still being in this pack – those would have been the obvious choices outside this study. Here we have Thunderclaw Raven, Shavka Evangel and another Skyhorror Draconus. I believe that having more than one top end Draconus might be problematic, and I do not want to clog up my top end just yet. No, we need to stabilize early game, and what is better for that than the Evangels?
If this was pack four and I already had a decent Curse, such as a Permafrost in my card pool, I might have considered the Raven. Not yet, though.
Caleb’s choice: Shavka Evangel
Another Draw Strength and a Spiketail Qirin! There is a very lucky Combrei player, drafting somewhere after me. With my choice being once again the Dragon or a Sol’s Fury, I opt for the spell that deals damage. That is what we are here for today, right?
Caleb’s choice: Sol’s Fury
While Razorwire Totemite is not an exciting card for me, the sole fact that I have picked up a sacrifice effect makes it slightly better. Not sure it will make the end deck, though.
Caleb’s choice: Razorwire Totemite
There is an even lower probability that two will make it, but it still remains an option at least.
Caleb’s choice: Razorwire Totemite
Someone is going to be extremely happy with receiving a Draw Strength as their last pick, for sure!
Caleb’s choice: Wanderlust Qirin
Caleb’s choice: Sacred Seal
I have been playing this game for more than a year now and I still have no idea why Icequake costs so much if it decimates your units as well. I mean, if it was dealing damage to each enemy then fine, overpriced but very effective. As it is, pass. Lethrai Secretweaver is okay as it can recycle spells you do not want to play at the moment, with a decent body as well. Piercing Shot is usually underwhelming outside of very aggressive decks, but if you can buff the effect to three plus three or higher, then it becomes a strictly better Grenade – and as I have said at the beginning, spells that deal damage to multiple targets are what interest us more than in any other deck. Master Cartographer is a rather filler unit with a one-time loot effect attached to it, but I do not believe we could make use of that, outside of a rogue Icy Gaze.
To sum it up – burn!
Caleb’s choice: Piercing Shot
Sapphire Dragon is another huge flier and finisher – and a card that combos well with Slayer’s Edge. Hotblood Barbarian can turn any of your cards into a fast Snowball – and Snowballs are great effects when you can make them deal more damage, right? That makes this a contender for getting picked, much higher than in other color combinations. Mischief Yeti has the same benefit, but with a more difficult way of getting that Snowball. Please remember that spells that sacrifice your units, e.g. Sol’s Fury, and spells that otherwise use up your units as part of their cost, e.g. Snow Pelting do trigger Renown! Moving on, Rebel Sharpshooter is a decent unit, but one that synergizes less with the deck theme. Bannerman is a solid unit, but not truly necessary in a two-color deck as it would otherwise have been in a three-color one.
Given how this deck is turning out, I would like to pick up a late game unit that already synergizes with another card, i.e. the Dragon. Yeti and Barbarian could also be considered if I was willing to go at it as a more aggressive deck.
Caleb’s choice: Sapphire Dragon
Hellfire Oni is a decent consideration for many a deck in the current format, with Rakano Onis being the obvious favorite. Hoof Slash is a rather mediocre trick, but as I have said with Desperate Gambit – there is a ton of great tricks in Justice, but if you are not playing that color, this is as good as it gets. Ruination Sledge is a great, aggressive weapon that doubles as attachment removal – something that I am usually lacking in the current format full of Curses, Exalted Weapons, Relic Weapons … and just Weapons. Rounding things out there is also a shiny Mortar. Yes, I know that for a much higher cost this deals only one damage more than Torch. This is the world we drafters have to live in.
I was quite hesitant between Mortar and Ruination Sledge for this pick. Usually I would just go for the spell that deals damage, but the Sledge’s effect has saved my bacon more than once. Reliable hammer it is, then.
Caleb’s choice: Ruination Sledge
Rally was a great trick for all Winchest-based go-wide strategies back in Defiance drafts, that I do remember. Right now it can be used to push a lot of damage through, but also needs a certain deck for it – probably Praxis with Manufactures and Proselytizes. Sinister Opportunist is not worth a second look outside a Curse-heavy deck. Flash Freeze is a great trick both on offense and on defense – remember that stunning a unit takes it out of combat. Stunning is also my personal favorite way of combating opposing tricks, High Alert excluded. Softfoot Burglar can get you a Treasure Trove if you sacrifice it to Sol’s Fury and it slightly grows when you play spells – that makes him a better candidate than Sinister Opportunist for this deck, but nowhere near the double stun’s power level.
Caleb’s choice: Flash Freeze
Get a Weapon, Piercing Shot included! And not even too overpriced! Longbarrel has always been one of the better Spellcraft Weapons out there, behind Changeestik and Welding Torch in terms of value, sure, but still on the Skycrag podium. If not for this one, Oni Forgemaster would have been another worthy consideration, obviously over Pyre Adept. Magma Javelin fits a role very similar to Slayer’s Edge and I already have one of those, so – pass. Yes, let me get back to the rare and its potential aggressive burst.
Caleb’s choice: Longbarrel
One would say this pack is just empty for us. I say hey there is two hundred shiftstone just waiting to be grabbed. That is what these rares are for, right? Oh, and yes – Electropy is bad even for a Curse deck. Like, literally, a necessary evil there.
Caleb’s choice: Stonescar Excavator
This is not an aggressive deck for Oni Patrol to find a home in, sorry. Hotblood Barbarian was already highly promoted by me earlier, although you have to look at the rest of the pack, too. No, I am not talking about Helpful Doorbot. I mean Court Mage – the midgame blocker that we need to hold the ground while Sapphire Dragon flies over there and Overwhelms for six per turn.
Caleb’s choice: Court Mage
Pick nine, we are still getting decent units. Oh, I mean Rebel Sharpshooter, although beggars cannot be choosers and I would have picked up Dusthoof Brawler if the Rebel was not here.
Caleb’s choice: Rebel Sharpshooter
Lens of Clarity is one of the cards that people have deemed unplayable a couple of sets ago and do not give a second glance. Yes, I know it is a 4-cost Relic that does nothing on its own. On the other hand – if you have six or more spells that combo with it and do not have too many Wizened Crones and such – it is a worthy consideration. Also, despite being an uncommon, it is fairly easy to get this one late in the draft. So while Skysnapper would have been my pick in any other color combination, when it comes to Skycrag Spell Damage Study, Lens of Clarity will show us the way!
Caleb’s choice: Lens of Clarity
There are no Twist synergies to be had for now, so I am not counting too high on playing Snowfort in my deck.
Caleb’s choice: Snowfort
Granite Coin is a very nice pick up this late. Just remember to be in the habit of attacking before playing your power for the turn, as people seem to have forgotten this ping (i.e. a source that deals one point of damage) is a thing.
Caleb’s choice: Granite Coin
Caleb’s choice: Forge Wolf
Given that I have not seen Devious Drone being played at all, it being a rare and all, I have to stop and say that this unit is probably Stonescar’s best friend, with the plethora of sacrifice effects in that color combination. On to Skycrag, there is only one card worth real consideration for me and that is Cloud of Ash. Having an option of exhausting all non-Endurance units on the opposing side of the board and alpha striking on a stalled board is great. A second copy of this card is usually redundant, though, as you either win after playing it or not. That is why this is another card that I rate much lower if I already picked up a copy – similar to Skyhorror Draconus throughout pack one.
Caleb’s choice: Cloud of Ash
Sir, do you want a weapon with your Piercing Shot? The answer is usually a resounding yes, unless Fire is just your splash. There is a much better weapon here, though, the Stick of many a Changee. Even if you are playing it for just the base effect it can turn games around, giving you another flier. Later in the game, though, when you combine the buff with turning one of the opponent’s units into a Frog – pure perfection.
Caleb’s choice: Changeestik
Gravemarker Oni is a unit with stats lower than the average, but the option of drawing any weapon from your deck is a great boon – obviously it is at its best in a deck heavy with Onis and weapons, which this is not. Strondhold Vandal is a Pyre Adept with a huge upside, but I already have my attachment removal of choice. Boltcrafter Shaman – like Lens of Clarity before – is another card people will probably overlook very often. Boosting all damage your spells are dealing by two is a huge effect, and one on a very defensive body. That is a double win for a control deck such as the one that is brewing here. Icebow is a good consideration in a deck that is packing lots of Deadly units, otherwise it is pretty lackluster.
Caleb’s choice: Boltcrafter Shaman
Stonescar Maul has been one of my favorite Relic Weapons since I started playing this game with a free-to-play mono Fire brew. Having overwhelm on it means you are able to deal a lot of damage through low health units while also taking blockers out. On a stalled board if you can do that twice – that is not only card advantage, but also a huge damage burst. In our case there is yet another benefit – all your spells’ damage has Overwhelm, too! I mean, sure, Storm Spiral is a good board clear – a fast speed one at that – but nowhere near as good as the Maul! As for the Token of Instinct, I believe that you do not need influence fixing in two-color deck, and with two Evangels already there is really no need of grabbing this one.
Caleb’s choice: Stonescar Maul
Lightning Strike is what we came here for. Gustrider and Fireheart Recruit have their upsides and are good cards overall, on a level comparable with the spell. If you add in the potential synergies, though…
Caleb’s choice: Lightning Strike
Yeti Wars! Yeti Bully is out before I even start thinking about this pack. Mischief Yeti has an added benefit of a Snowball – one that can deal potentially more damage in this deck. I also have some ways of triggering the Renown already. On the other hand, Blureechaser is very good on its own, being a 3/1 Quickdraw attacker after two Scouts. Once again – I am more about synergies here than just general value. That means Mischief Yeti – while usually worse than the Fire Yeti – is a better candidate for a Spell Damage deck.
Caleb’s choice: Mischief Yeti
Neither Araktodon nor Jump Kick are good cards. If I would have to choose, though (and I do!) I am going to get the big, dumb unit (no offense).
Caleb’s choice: Araktodon
Bloodthirsty Brawler is an amazing unit. Relentless Combatant? Please!
Caleb’s choice: Bloodthirsty Brawler
I do not have many ways of getting more damage out of Belligerent Yeti in this deck, but it is still a 2-drop that trades with most Evangels.
Caleb’s choice: Belligerent Yeti
At least it is shiny!
Caleb’s choice: Dusthoof Brawler
This is what I was talking about – getting overlooked cards such as the Lens very late in a pack.
Caleb’s choice: Lens of Clarity
Caleb’s choice: Grenamender
Bargain cards are not really playable in this draft format. I have no real synergies with Fearstoker Raven either – that card is more suited to a Feln deck. That leaves us with Linrei Evangel – not the worst choice to be honest.
Caleb’s choice: Linrei Evangel
There are some obviously great cards in this pack, but let me refrain from praising Fell Ritual yet again and just focus on the mission at hand. Edict of Shavka is one of the Edicts I am willing to play, as it takes care of Primal fliers and big Justice units alike. Also, at its base it is a superpowered Snowball, getting through Aegis and all. Even against other colors you can boost this one with Spell Damage, which does not make it a dead card in other matchups. Next up there is Reverberating Strike, a card much too expensive for what it does. Unless it does more with Boltcrafter Shaman, Wizened Crone and Lenses of Clarity! I believe that for the sake of this Study I should have gone with Reverberating Strike, but I also believed that I could get one much later on. That is why I took the Edict.
Caleb’s choice: Edict of Shavka
If I have not picked up a Flash Freeze earlier, Icy Gaze might have been a semi-decent replacement for it. Honestly, whichever card I pick from this pack, it will probably end up being cut. So let me get the one that potentially deals damage to a unit, even at a very high cost.
Caleb’s choice: Cruelty
Normally this would have been the pack, where I would be very happy picking up Grodov’s Favored. As it stands, I am very happy picking up another Wizened Crone. I will say it once more – it is one of the center pieces of this color combination and fortunately it is a common, it is currently underdrafted and is in a color combination that is not often chosen.
Caleb’s choice: Wizened Crone
Same choice as above, same result as above. Also, I am very happy about picking up the Crones, this might make me lose the Lenses. We will see…
Caleb’s choice: Wizened Crone
Let me get the Showman, more for the body than for the effect. I do not believe I need Desperate Gambit or any tricks here, as my spells are better at dealing damage than at buffing units.
Caleb’s choice: Gaudy Showman
Yes! My patience is rewarded with another Greed’s Reward. This is why I am here. This is what I signed up for. To hype a card that is otherwise a 1/10, up to the heights of being … better than 1/10!
Caleb’s choice: Greed’s Reward
Nothing for us, sadly. Another good pack for the Combrei player behind me, though!
Caleb’s choice: Vinepetal Creeper
Wizened Crone number four. Cannot have too many of them. Unless the number is twenty five – then it is literally too many and a system error.
Caleb’s choice: Wizened Crone
Caleb’s choice: Swaying Sea Qirin
Huh, I do have a few Spellcraft Weapons, which means Yeti Traditionalist might actually grow at least once. If it is a 5/5 then it can hold the ground pretty well and wait for the Dragon cavalry to fly in and win the game. Or – you know – just smash face on its own!
Caleb’s choice: Yeti Traditionalist
Caleb’s choice: Oni Stalwart
This is the pool we ended up with. Thirty five cards with forcing two colors – not that bad. Gives a lot of opportunity to cut and tailor the deck to the synergistic needs. There are some things that have to go right out. Belligerent Yeti, Yeti Gryffyn Rider, Razorwire Totemite and Dusthoof Brawler leave the unit pool pretty fast. Lenses of Clarity can go as well, given that I picked up three Crones in the last pack. Slayer’s Edge is also kind of redundant with Stonescar Maul as the heavy hitter – literally!
That took out seven cards already, but there is still one more to cut. We are at sixteen units, which is generally on the lower side already, but this is a rather controlling deck which is why I will let this one slide. After some deliberation it is Sol’s Fury that did not make the cut – mainly due the the already mentioned fact that I am not running too many units. Now just add some Sigils and voila!
I am very happy that I was able to force draft a critical mass of synergies for this one. Five effects that boost spell damage and six cards that deal spell damage. The deck is slightly lower on the unit side and could have gotten a Reverberating Strike or two. Other than that, this was more or less what I was gunning for.
The draft itself started rather bad, with one win and two losses, but after mustering up a lot of strength and willpower I was able to win the remaining six games and go for a total of 7-2. As I suspected, playing the control was crucial, as well as maximizing the value of each and every synergy piece. There is truly a reward for being greedy in such a deck.
Furthermore, I was so happy with this run that I immediately played another draft in which I forced Skycrag Spell Damage. The result of that one was a resounding seven wins and just one loss. The deck looked slightly different – it had no Greed’s Rewards, but was sporting Reverberating Strikes – but the combo potential and all the synergies were there as well. Maybe this is the answer to the current draft metagame?
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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