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!

There have been some draft formats in the past (cough Dark Frontier cough) where one was usually scrambling to get good cards for their deck. There have also been ones that allowed you to play almost everything you picked up. Right now I believe we are somewhere in the middle and the decision whether it is good to put a strain on your power base in order to splash some cards or not is a fine line to walk. Enough of this, let us dive into a draft and see what we shall find!

Pack 1

Pick 1

This is … a rather underwhelming pack, I have to say. Is the rare as worthy as its name? I have heard a couple of opinions that it is the best removal that Xenan has to offer in Expedition, and that probably translates quite well into the draft format. The downside of it is the necessity to mark ourselves as a Xenan deck at the start of the draft, without knowing which colors will be open. Time and Shadow might come our way, or might not come our way. This begs an answer to the following question: is this card good enough to risk choosing colors now? Usually no and I believe I would pick cards like Fell Ritual or Grodov’s Favored above it, but this pack is rather lacking in powerful options. Worthy Cause has an added benefit of being a rare, which means that even if I do not end up playing this card, I will either have a rare for my collection, or will at least have two hundred Shiftstone more. Yes, I do encourage you to rare-draft, but not blindly!

Caleb’s choice: Worthy Cause

Pick 2

Now that I have picked Worthy cause I want to focus on Time and Shadow cards slightly more. Befoul is another card in the sacrifice and mill sub-themes, which means it could fit in this startling deck quite well. Proselytize is the other side of this combo – a ton of token units you can sacrifice to Befoul, Worthy Cause and more. Which part of this synergy is more important? Which is easier to get a hold of? To be honest, there are a ton of smaller units you can usually sacrifice later in the game, so you do not have to count specifically on cards such as Proselytize or Nahid’s Choice to produce specifically 1/1s to get sacrificed. You could also go by card rarity – Befoul is an uncommon, while the other one is common. Thus, you will have a higher chance of seeing a Proselytize later in the draft. Oh, yes, there is Torture here, too, but I am going through synergies, and Curses are not it. Neither is Muster, so – sorry, Wilderness Refuge, you are also out.

Caleb’s choice: Befoul

Pick 3

Ah, the Edict series in draft… I am a huge fan of Teleport in the current draft format, and by just adding one to its cost – nothing horrendous, see: Blink in Dark Frontier – you have an added option of Hesitating a spell or even semi-killing a Primal or Shadow unit. Good, right? Also, if the only other choice is a Nahid’s Faithful, a decent Cultist that is not a 1-drop most of the time. I believe the trick is much better.

Caleb’s choice: Edict of Grodov

Pick 4

There is another Time Edict for us here, although it pales in comparison with Grodov’s Favored. Yes, the Favored is truly the Infused Guardian of Defiance drafts or Corrupted Behemoth of Dark Frontier drafts. Just think of Silence effects as effectively shutting down an annoying unit with Flying, Deadly or some other nastiness most of the time and providing a huge body on the ground. Oh, and if anyone asks how many Grodov’s Favored are too many, I would have to say that three are still fine.

Caleb’s choice: Grodov’s Favored

Pick 5

Ah, an interesting spot, this one! No Justice nor Fire cards means we are in a good spot, signal-wise. Cult Recruiter is a decent combat trick, being a medium-sized Ambusher, but its Ambush effect has waned in power over time due to the sometimes obvious four power stop – just like High Alert and Entrapment in previous draft formats. Next up we have Grodov’s Evangel, one of the Xultan replacements for Strangers and their fixing. Good, but not overpowered. Rounding out the potential picks there is Marsh Dragon, which is also a sacrifice synergy card. While very under-powered on its own, do not forget that it not only becomes more healthy after a good cultist diet, it also heals you up! And that can make or break a game, especially if you are trying to come back from behind.

Caleb’s choice: Marsh Dragon

Pick 6

Yes, another Grodov’s Favored. No real competition here. Just an interesting fact – Justice is still being cut.

Caleb’s choice: Grodov’s Favored

Pick 7

Now this is where things become more interesting. Yes, there is still no Justice coming, but that just solidifies me into not playing this color. Representing Xenan … Banewulf! It is an okay top end card and I would not feel bad playing a copy of it. There is just a question of whether we want to branch out into Fire for some more sacrifice synergies, like with Sol’s Fury – or even Warhorn, giving us some Oni fodder, or into Feln for some mill synergies (we have Befoul) with Wretched Raven or Rosebloom Mandrake? I believe that picking up another color is not necessary right now, but if we did, I think the pick would have been Warhorn or Wretched Raven, accordingly.

Caleb’s choice: Banewulf

Pick 8

Ha ha ha! Five cards remaining, all in Xenan. Yes, I believe we are in the right place. Now just to choose a good one … fortunately it will be easy. Immortalize is such a great card, it replaces Dark Return very well and gives a ton of additional options as well. Of course, this usually comes at a higher cost of permanently losing one power, but that should not dissuade you from running this card – or other Decimate cards for that matter.

Caleb’s choice: Immortalize

Pick 9

One card to pick up – and a good one at that. I do not have a lot of units, and those I do have are rather expensive All of this makes the Evangel that much better for this fledgling deck.

Caleb’s choice: Grodov Evangel

Pick 10

Ah yes, the prodigal common returns. Welcome back to the fold, Proselytize, may you bring us tons of tokens to sacrifice!

Caleb’s choice: Proselytize

Pick 11

Okay, so normally in a very late pick I would usually grab a weak card in my color over a slightly better card in a color I am not playing – just in case I am missing one or two things for the final build. In this case Sol’s Fury is actually a card I like very much, especially in sacrifice-themed decks! I mean, I even got a very late Proselytize. This one is easy to splash, too. I mean, I am not throwing myself into a third color based on this card alone, but am just giving myself an option down the road.

Caleb’s choice: Sol’s Fury

Pick 12

Now even the last pick is something playable. Yes, Exalted units make for good sacrifices.

Caleb’s choice: Ardent Convert

Pack 2

Pick 1

Wow, is this pack empty for us or what? None of the Xenan cards are any good. At least there is a Seek Power as the go-to card for literally any deck. It is also a better way of splashing than Seat of Impulse, because it does not limit us to Fire. But wait, there is more! There is also a Conflagrate in this pack. It is a very splashable removal, but will we go for it? I am not a great fan of playing more than two colors in this format, that will also play a part in this decision, I believe.

The main reason why I would like to get Seek Power here over Conflagrate is that I will play Seek Power in all decks. If I already have enough influence fixing, then sure – I can think about picking up a Conflagrate somewhere down the line – or just even playing that Sol’s Fury we got late in pack one.

Caleb’s choice: Seek Power

Pick 2

Someone took a Time uncommon from this pack – my guess would be something along the lines of Twinbrood Sauropod or Bulbous Humbug – and the only Shadow card in this pack is rather unplayable. Where does this leave us? Looking for a way to fix for a potential splash, getting a splashable card or just rare-drafting. Fortunately we can do two out of three with one fell swoop. The rare being presented here is actually a good one, as it creates some Grenadins for us and is generally a bigger Warhorn. If I am playing Fire and if I am playing with a sacrifice sub-theme then yes, let us go for the Pickaxe. Plus, we already have one piece of fixing from the previous pack.

Caleb’s choice: Stonescar Pickaxe

Pick 3

No Shadow cards this time around, and the Time card is a weak one. Looking at other options, there is a Seat of Impulse and a Token of Instinct, both helping us to splash Fire, with the Seat being strictly better here. There is also Combust as the Fire splash card of choice, but I believe this one is actually close to Sol’s Fury with its effect. All that being said, I would need to pick up more influence fixing if I am going to play the Fire cards – after all fixing is more scarce these days than good, splashable Fire cards.

Caleb’s choice: Seat of Impulse

Pick 4

Now the plot really thickens. There is a big Time unit, a splashable removal and a piece of influence fixing. The decision in this pack depends on whether you think you will be playing a three color deck or not. If yes, then Conflagrate is the card for you, slightly higher than the Token this time. If not, go for the Dino. At this point in the draft I believed that a Seek Power and a Seat this early are good enough to justify a splash.

Caleb’s choice: Conflagrate

Pick 5

Oh hello, there is a good Shadow card for us. No real other options, too.

Caleb’s choice: Eviscerate

Pick 6

Stinging Wind is a reluctant option here, but not a bad one.

Caleb’s choice: Stinging Wind

Pick 7

And we are back to a good Shadow card. It is rather difficult to get many unconditional kill spells in this format, which makes this draft a rather fortunate one – at least in this regard. Now the question is – with two Eviscerates, is the Fire splash that necessary?

Caleb’s choice: Eviscerate

Pick 8

Dark Wisp is an obvious sacrifice target, which makes it a perfect, albeit short-lived, candidate for this deck.

Caleb’s choice: Dark Wisp

Pick 9

Ravenous Thornbeast is a decent unit at its core and can get even better if you throw away a Cultist.

Caleb’s choice: Ravenous Thornbeast

Pick 10

Caleb’s choice: Bear Arms

Pick 11

Caleb’s choice: Scaly Gruan

Pick 12

Caleb’s choice: Steely Resolve

Pack 3

Pick 1

Once again, this is a rather empty pack considering our colored needs. The only options are … what? Ornamental Daggers or Granite Acolyte? The Daggers are rather decent, like a Crownwatch Longsword that you can split in two. Unfortunately there are no synergies with this card in the card pool so far. As for the Acolyte, it powers up another unit and then gets sacrificed to one of our effects. Rather weak on both accounts.

After thinking about this for a longer while, I found a third path. I just took the rare with the intention of turning it into Shiftstone – as I would not have played the other cards in my end deck.

Caleb’s choice: Howling Kurtarr

Pick 2

Linebreaker’s Shield is the best card in the pack, but it is not in our colors, so that is a hard pass. Journey Guide is rather Weak. There is also a Spitefeeder and an Angry Prophet here. Both are small, early units than can get easily sacrificed later to a slew of effects. That is actually decent. Now, which one to pick, though? I opted for the Prophet, as it usually has a higher impact on the board and we do not need early evasive units – unless you count a carrier for the Stonescar Pickaxe.

Caleb’s choice: Angry Prophet

Pick 3

There is not a huge choice in this pack, which makes me think about picking the rare, just as I did several packs ago. Then my eyes landed upon Predator’s Instinct, a rather underused cards in many a format before. There is one thing that makes it special in The Flame of Xulta environment, though, and that is the Exalted battle skill. If you play the Instinct on a unit with Exalted, it is going to get passed further on. And we already picked up a rather late Immortalize, so there is something we could go for here.

Caleb’s choice: Predator’s Instinct

Pick 4

Playing one Angry Prophet is bad enough, I do not want to pick another one up. Spider is also an option, but a rather weak one. Also – I hate spiders. Hellfire Rifle is no Heretic’s Cannon, so that one is a pass as well. What about Ruincrawler Yeti, though? Attachment removal is very scarce in the current format, and this one has a decent body attached to it, too. I mean, as long as I am splashing, this is a good card for just that.

Caleb’s choice: Ruincrawler Yeti

Pick 5

Omnivorous Vorlunk is Predator’s Instinct personified, or rather Dino-fied onto a decent body. The Time Torch is usually a good card, but can be superb in Xenan if you can give it Exalted with Immortalize. So the same scenario as with Predator’s Instinct, but much better!

Caleb’s choice: Omnivorous Vorlunk

Pick 6

Bad Xenan Banner is still a piece of fixing. The other cards are not suited for us in any way.

Caleb’s choice: Token of Vision

Pick 7

I would not play Humbug or Cabal Bludgoner in this deck. I also do not believe in Alchemical Blast too much, nor in a splashed Hotblood Barbarian. No, the answer for me is honestly just taking the uncommon for slightly more Shiftstone. The other cards are not really necessary for this deck.

Caleb’s choice: Curse of Taxation

Pick 8

Another Omnivorous Vorlunk is a great card to pick up here.

Caleb’s choice: Omnivorous Vorlunk

Pick 9

Thornbeast is a solid unit, even just as a 3/3 for three power. I believe in reducing Fire to just a small splash as much as possible, which means no Combust. Also, I believe that at this point I was rather low on units.

Caleb’s choice: Ravenous Thornbeast

Pick 10

Grenade is not a good cards on its own, but in a themed deck can be a very good finisher, or just a solid piece of removal.

Caleb’s choice: Grenade

Pick 11

Caleb’s choice: Spire Spellsword

Pick 12

Caleb’s choice: Hotblood Barbarian

Pack 4

Pick 1

Cast into Shadow is a great piece of removal, too bad that I am not playing Justice. There is something great here, though, and that card is Immortalize. If we can get the second copy of it and combine it with two Omnivorous Vorlunks, the results will be great and will probably lead to some huge blow-outs.

Caleb’s choice: Immortalize

Pick 2

Wow! This pack has everything for us – from a splashable Voprex’s Choice, through Fell Ritual, Immortalize all the way down to Grodov’s Favored. I do believe in the favored, but I already have a couple of them, which is why I am willing to grab the Ritual. Also, Ritual’s value goes up with the Immortalizes we already have.

Caleb’s choice: Fell Ritual

Pick 3

With a lot of finishers – Grodov’s Favored, Immortalized units and all – I do not believe Reconnaissance is necessary. It is better suited for more midrange-y decks, in my opinion. No, I believe the pick here is Fervent Siphoner. Even without discard it is a 1/2 Exalted unit that can easily get sacrificed to some beneficial effects.

Caleb’s choice: Fervent Siphoner

Pick 4

Given that I have picked up some fine units to sacrifice along the way, let us give a big welcome to Marsh Dragon number two! It synergizes with a lot of cards, many more than the Vinepetal Creeper does.

Caleb’s choice: Marsh Dragon

Pick 5

This is an interesting choice between Spiketail Qirin and Makkar’s Bloodwolf. I believe both cards are very good, the first one more on the offense, the second one more on the defense.Looking at my power curve I believed I needed more 2-drops, which made this pick easier.

Caleb’s choice: Spiketail Qirin

Pick 6

Nahid’s Faithful is an option to consider for us here, but not the only one! Champion Grappler is a very aggressive Praxis unit, one we might want to splash. On the other hand, we are already packing two Grodov’s Favored for our top end, which should be enough. Yes, let me focus on the early game. Also, remember – this card makes you want to pick up Makkar and Grodov Evangels slightly higher – as it is your way of playing Faithful on turn one.

Caleb’s choice: Nahid’s Faithful

Pick 7

This is a healthy exercise in what to pick. If you have read carefully through my draft guide you should know that in this point of the draft you should be filling out the holes in your power curve and the number of units or tricks you have available. Given that the three choices here are units, let us just think back on what we have picked up along the way. In the end I decided to go for the Swaying Sea Qirin – and yes, remember that Exalted Weapons are attachments, too.

Caleb’s choice: Swaying Sea Qirin

Pick 8

Oh my goodness, this late in a draft and such a hard choice! There is a second Proselytize to build up a token army … that is overshadowed by a third Grodov’s Favored and a third Immortalize! Immortalize goes great with the Killer effects in this card pool. On the other hand, Favored can just win games on its own. I believe the last argument is what got me to make a choice, but I believe this is a very close one.

Caleb’s choice: Grodov’s Favored

Pick 9

I would rather get a blocker here than a unit that will get blocked by all 2-drops and 3-drops.

Caleb’s choice: Swaying Sea Qirin

Pick 10

Caleb’s choice: Mettle

Pick 11

Caleb’s choice: Eloz’s Elite

Pick 12

This is a huge boon, to grab Proselytize this late.

Caleb’s choice: Proselytize

Draft Pool

By the end of the drafting part I already knew I would have more than enough cards strictly in Xenan to need splashing any Fire. I mean, even good cards such as Conflagrate and Stonescar Pickaxe are nor necessities when you have four hard removals, a good curve and decent cards overall.

This also means that most of the trimming has already been done. With thirty one cards I have to just take out three and play seventeen power cards and a Seek Power. Oh, and no – I will not be running a Token in a two color deck without heavy influence requirements – I would hate to get a speed bump along the way with a depleted power source.

I do not believe Befoul is necessary in this deck, as I am already running a lot of finishers – three Favored and two Immortalizes included. The next one to go is predator’s Instinct, as I already have two Omnivorous Vorlunks to go with my Immortalizes. The last cut was a choice between Ardent Convert and Fervent Siphoner. I believe it is a close one, as they are similar, but in the end I do have two Eviscerates for discard, which is why I opted to stay with the Siphoner.

Draft Deck

Draft Summary

This deck has everything going for it, including an additional color that was not necessary. I mean, sure, one might want to splash it off of the several pieces of fixing that we have here, but I believe this deck has everything it needs to succeed.

Did it succeed? Not entirely. It got a whopping six wins, but that was not enough to get the cigar. Do not get me wrong, I have won at least two games with Immortalizing (with Decimate) an Omnivorous Vorlunk and going Killer-crazy on the board. Grodov’s Favored were also towering over everything else. Could this deck have been better? Probably yes, as there are several weaker cards in the list. Those units were the first ones to get sacrificed.

Your Homework

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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