Hello and welcome to a new installment of Drafting with the Stars! Just as a reminder – The Flame of Xulta draft guide is upon us, along with a list of card ratings!
There are drafts in which you open a legendary that can direct you into a certain strategy. There are also drafts, where you open a plethora of good cards and can go in any direction you choose. This is where you usually default to your personal preference mode – whatever strategy that may be. Fortunately, in the current draft format there are a lot of good strategies, which means that the pool you are about to see might have gone differently for each of you, Dear Readers. Want to try your hand at this? Just read on!
Opening Waylay in draft is a huge disappointment, as this card is very weak – even in a mill deck. Edict of Shavka is a decent option, as you will see Justice or Primal units more than half the time – and even on its own it can get rid of some small nuisances. Ghostblade Outcast is a good base Exalted unit, but I believe that as the format progresses, more people know how to better counter all the Exalted madness that can be happening on the battlefield. Borderlands Lookout is a very well-statted early drop, easily surpassing many 2-drops. Although it is very weak to Silence effects, it still means that your higher drops are not getting the silent treatment.
There are a couple cards that stand out in the common pool as well, with Marsh Dragon, Sinder Dragon, Makkar’s Bloodwolf and Linrei Evangel being the better ones.
You could honestly go in a number of directions with this start, with at least a decent card in each color being presented to you. Over the course of playing this format I tend to fave a favored strategy, though – as do many people. For me it is going for two out of three colors in the Fire / Time / Shadow combination and focusing on sacrificing your own units as a way to achieving greater effects. This makes me want to go with Borderlands Lookout here.
Caleb’s choice: Borderlands Lookout
This pack could have also gone in a number of directions depending on what I picked up in the first pack. For example, if I went and forced Skycrag Spell Damage again with Greed’s Reward in the previous pack, there is a Wizened Crone waiting for me here.
Focusing on the card I have picked up, my personal preferences lead me into one of two choices. There is Grodov’s Evangel, which is a good unit on its own, a modern day Stranger, so to say – that also helps us get that Time influence on turn one for the Borderscout. Another option is Sunset Priest. Once again – this is where my personal preferences are leading me. Now, in this case, both cards I have marked as pick-worthy are of similar value. The thing is, though, that one is still on-color while the other makes me choose my second allegiance this early in the draft. In such situations I always go with the on-color choice, as to keep my options open.
Caleb’s choice: Grodov Evangel
Okay, now the only on-color card is known for getting two hundred Shiftstone, nothing else. While that is sometimes the criteria I do use to pick a card, this is not going to be one of those situations. What I am looking at, though is cards like Marsh Dragon, Sol’s Fury, Sunset Priest and Warhorn. Two of those cards need a sacrifice for a better effect, one makes token Oni units (to sacrifice later, for example) and one fills voids. If we look at it another way, two choices turn me into Praxis and two into Xenan.
If I go further into a personal preference tunnel, I seem to default to Xenan in such situations more often than not. Those two premises mean one choice. I mean, do not get me wrong, if you play a Marsh Dragon mid-game and are able to sacrifice a unit, it can get you out of many situations where you back is against the wall – both for being a high-health flier, and for regaining you a decent amount of health.
Caleb’s choice: Marsh Dragon
While this pack offers up some choices, they all pale when up against Grodov’s Favored. I have said it more than once, but I feel I need to repeat myself – this is the ultimate Time common unit and being a 6-drop in this rather slow format is okay.
Caleb’s choice: Grodov’s Favored
Once again we are presented with some choices. Befoul is a card I have been lukewarm on for the most part i.e. color combinations, but Feln and Xenan is where this card shines – with the former color combination providing the opponent with ten or more cards in their void and the latter color combination providing you with enough units to sacrifice. Xenan Insignia is a decent piece of fixing, but it suffers from a slight conundrum. It is at its best in a straight two-color deck, but you do not really need it (or a lot of influence fixing, for that matter) in a two-color deck. Banewulf is an okay late game card, but I would rather get him out with Befoul. Last, but not least, we have another chance at Marsh Dragon – an okay prospect. At this stage, given the similar rating of both sacrifice cards, I would like to go for more variety – usually I end up with more than enough cards for my deck and I have to make some cuts. That is when having different options to choose from really shines.
Caleb’s choice: Befoul
Now that I know I will need willful followers to … ekhm … influence that the Dragon will do them no harm … I need to recruit said lemmings. Ardent Convert is definitely one of them. Malaise – as it stands – works for Feln, but not for Xenan. Unmake is not a real choice here.
Caleb’s choice: Ardent Convert
This was bound to happen sooner or later – a pack with no Xenan cards. When you come across this occurrence you should ask yourself a question – is anything here worth a splash, or maybe, just maybe, is there a good enough card to signal that another color is wide open? In this case the answer is no and no, which is why I am taking the uncommon for slightly more Shiftstone.
Caleb’s choice: Snowstorm Druid
Nahid’s Faithful is a decent addition to the archetype I am drafting, and you can usually get these double color commons – even the better ones, like Champion Grappler – quite late in the packs.
Caleb’s choice: Nahid’s Faithful
Fervent Siphoner is another cheap Exalted unit you can sacrifice to the Dragon or Befoul. This one has a slight advantage over Ardent Convert in the way that you can trick its power up with the effects of cards such as Sunset Priest, which we do not have here yet, but might appear later on in the packs.
Caleb’s choice: Fervent Siphoner
Out of these three non-inclusions, Rosebloom Mandrake is still the closest to being in, given some inclinations towards mill in the Shadow part of Xenan.
Caleb’s choice: Rosebloom Mandrake
Caleb’s choice: Icy Gaze
Caleb’s choice: Greed’s Reward
Despite the fact that I did lose a draft game to Kaleb’s Sanctum in the past, I still believe it is a rather unplayable card. In this pack there are several good cards not in our colors – Relentless Deadshot, Bring Down and Conflagrate – but fortunately there are also a couple great Xenan picks. Xenan Lifespeaker has a huge Inspire effect of giving all units you draw Lifesteal and is not a bad card later in the game, as you can make it into a 4/4. Xenan Guardian is a decent 4-drop that turns in to an absolute board-controlling monster later in the game. Although I already have several 1-drops, I believe that the flexibility and sheer power of the Lifespeaker are a better fit here.
Caleb’s choice: Xenan Lifespeaker
This is a Xenan-heavy pack, for sure! Voice of the Speaker is a innocent-looking card, but the effect of echoing each Power card you draw has potential to give you an immense card advantage. Shadowlands Bonepicker is one of those threats you cannot leave unanswered later in the game, but also fits into midrange-y strategies quite well. Eviscerate is the hard removal of choice in the format – while expensive, it is also definite and that is something very good to have. Living Example is another Inspire unit, this one boosting each unit you draw by +1/+1. If I could, I would just take all four cards and grab that Staff of Speed while we are at it! Looking through the cards I have already drafted, though, I see that I already have units but am lacking board interaction – and this is where I am happy to pick up Eviscerate, especially in a format with not a lot of removal.
Caleb’s choice: Eviscerate
Sauropod Wrangler seems like an amazing unit on first impression, but usually you do not end up with a lot of five-or-more attack units in your deck, maybe a Grodov’s Favored or a Champion Grappler. Ravenous Thornbeast is a decent 3-drop that can grow if you have any units to spare – which is what I want to go for here, actually. Razorquill has a ton of good synergies with cards that trigger on a unit hitting the enemy player because of its direct damage ability, cards such as Reconnaissance or Warhorn. Given that I do not have any such cards, I would rather go for the Thornbeast.
Caleb’s choice: Ravenous Thornbeast
Minotaur Lightfoot is a card I do not see very often in draft and I almost missed him when browsing through this pack. That would have been a mistake, as it has a good, study body on top of a rather unique ability – giving another unit Unblockable for a turn. This is a good way to finish a unit’s Mastery or to push through for some damage later in the game. Overall – very good. There is also Learned Herbalist in here, but in 2-color decks where spells do not matter as much, this is usually a mediocre card. Some people might find Disjunction playable in a metagame full of attachments – Curses, Exalted Weapons and such – but I only see it is a Market card or as filler. Token of Knowledge is here as well, but unless I am playing all three colors, I do not find this one really necessary – as I tend to not play two on-color Tokens in a two-color decks without heavy influence requirements.
Caleb’s choice: Minotaur Lightfoot
This pack is quite empty for us, nothing good on-color, nothing splash-worthy. This is just the rare for the sake of Shiftstone.
Caleb’s choice: Channel the Tempest
Now this is a slightly different pack, which although does not include any Xenan cards for us, does pack two different, easily splashable cards. Streets Aflame is a good piece of fast speed removal, but Changeestik – despite being nerfed several months ago – still packs quite a punch! It was the scary weapon of choice before Heretic’s Cannon had its time in the sun. Yes, I am picking the Stik up and looking for ways of splashing it without having to sacrifice too many power slots to non-Xenan Sigils.
Caleb’s choice: Changeestik
Once again, a rather empty pack.
Caleb’s choice: Svetya’s Bravery
Wow, things are running pretty dry here for the fourth pack in a row. One has to wonder in this situation, are the cards in my colors getting picked before they get to me, or it is just the pack variance taking its toll – there are packs with just one card in two colors you are interested in, but there are also packs with five or six cards of one color inside. I need to start looking for a color to switch into or a third main color to include. I already have Changeestik and a couple of other rather less worthy Primal cards, but that is a good place to start – and that means getting Jarral’s Frostkin here. Unfortunately this Token does not help with out fixing situation.
Caleb’s choice: Jarral’s Frostkin
I guess there is a Time card here that could find some use in a fringe case, e.g. if we are very low on tricks, but have some Exalted units like Ardent Convert or Fervent Siphoner out…
Caleb’s choice: Viper’s Bite
This is a defensive body without any upside (in this card pool, at least) that is also the higher rarity card.
Caleb’s choice: Boltcrafter Shaman
Caleb’s choice: Safe Return
Caleb’s choice: Token of Honor
After getting through a rather unfortunate pack two, we open a Time legendary that is rather good. A side note about legendaries that you do not see too often – the opponents do not see them that often, too, and forget what they do. That means this one might actually caught someone off-guard when they play a flier. This goes back to Card Game 101 lesson – read the card text on all cards that are played. Anyway, I already have a lot of 1-drops, so let me still go through the rest of the pack and see what we have here. Jack’s Knife is the Mastery-in-a-day card, that does not truly work in a card pool without Mastery cards, right? Living Offering is also a rather mediocre 2-drop. When in doubt, pick the card with the higher rarity – that should be Semi-Rare Drafting Lesson 201.
Caleb’s choice: Ghar, Master Sandmage
We stayed on course through bad times in pack two and now we get some sweet, sweet rewards. Ashara, the Deadshot is a must-kill card, otherwise it attacks with more impunity then Shen-Ra. If you manage to Inspire it with Lifesteal, it proves to be a truly unstoppable racing machine. Neither Xenan Guardian nor Bannerman are anywhere close to Ashara’s power level, and we are not yet at the stage where we have to just look out for cards to fill out our curve.
Caleb’s choice: Ashara, the Deadshot
A second chance at Voice of the Speaker is a good option. That is not the end of the pack, though. We also have an option to grab Lumen Shepherd, a big Radiant that gives us a small Wisp to sacrifice – a good deal overall. Dark Wisp is also a good sacrifice target. But wait – that is not all! We also have a Token for splashing the Changeestik.
Some of these cards are providing us with synergies, some with fixing, some with value. This time I wanted to go for value, especially that I believe Voice is a high level threat – even if not on board than with just providing you with a ton of cards. Mind you, it is better when combined with Primal and looting effects, such as the one on Gustrider, but even without that it is amazing.
Caleb’s choice: Voice of the Speaker
If I am splashing a color – here it is probably Primal – I am not that interested in doing it for filler early drops such as Camp Surveyor. I am also not playing Disjunction nor Mute. I guess it is Tricketer’s Cloak this time?
Caleb’s choice: Trickster’s Cloak
This one presents Bold Adventurer and Amber Coin as our choices. The first one is a solid 2-drop as it stops all incoming Evangels. The second one gives us a small unit to be sacrificed. At first I wanted to go for Bold Adventurer, as I saw I only had a few 2-drops in my card pool, but after closer inspection it turned out I have a plethora of 1-drops that can act as 2-drops. That means my early game curve is filled to the brim actually, which is why going for the Coin is much better.
Yes, this is the moment when you should be looking at what you have picked up already and just grab the things that fill out all things you are missing – or are just straight-out better for your synergies.
Caleb’s choice: Amber Coin
Token of Vision is a piece of fixing that this deck is sorely missing. Unfortunately I would prefer one that gives Primal along other color(s) that I am running – as I previously said, the goal of fixing for your splash color is to have as few sources that do not give you your main color(s) as possible. In this case Token of Instinct would have been much better – and Token of Knowledge, the full Auralian one, would be just perfect. On the other hand there is also Lightning Strike here, and if I am splashing for Changeestik then this piece of removal might find its way into my deck as well. Especially that I have had a lot of empty packs so far and I might be running low on playables if that trend continues.
Caleb’s choice: Lightning Strike
Okay, this is the piece of influence fixing I need right now, which is why I am picking Token of Instinct over Voyaging Lumen, A word about the big Radiant, though – it would fit rather well in this deck. We do have some life gain effects, starting with Xenan Lifespeaker and Nahid’s Faithful. The Wisps that would be created help with the overall sacrifice theme of the decks as well – a perfect synergy fit. But yes, fixing is what I need even more right now.
Caleb’s choice: Token of Instinct
Araktodon Egg is a great card if you can play it on turn one, otherwise it can turn out to be rather lacking. The good thing is we have Voice of the Speaker, which should help keep the power flowing. One word of advice – if you are playing Araktodon Egg in your deck, always start on Time influence if possible. Even if you do not have the Egg in your opening hand, you might draw it right after and then play it before playing your power on turn two. Also I know, this is yet another 1-drop, but a good one in my opinion.
Caleb’s choice: Araktodon Egg
Omnivorous Vorlunk used to be a good card in draft, but now with the inclusion of Immortalize and the option of creating an Exalted Killer chain it is a perfect tool for any Xenan deck. If you have one of those cards, you have to pick the other much higher, as this is a back-breaking combination for most board situations.
Caleb’s choice: Omnivorous Vorlunk
Caleb’s choice: Calderan Gunsmith
Caleb’s choice: Seat of Fury
Wow these late picks are so full of empty. I might need to scramble to get enough playables for this draft deck.
Caleb’s choice: Fledgling Owlet
This is a rather shiny pack – four premiums, wow! Taking a step back and evaluating the cards themselves now… Vinepetal Creeper is a rather filler card outside of medium plus Muster support decks. Banwewulf is also not necessary here. Makkar Evangel is an early drop and a piece of fixing. Although I am not too hyped about this pick, it is still a good one.
Caleb’s choice: Makkar Evangel
Someone is going to be extremely happy getting a Shen-Ra Speaks this late in a draft – yes, late is anywhere after pick one. I will skip over the okay Cultist ramper and Time Evangel because lo and behold, there is an Immortalize here for us, or rather for the Omnivorous Vorlunk Exalted Killer Chain Combo.
Caleb’s choice: Immortalize
Majestic Mandrake is an okay big body for your late game. Sunset Priest is quite good at filling your void with Immortalize targets and just more units to make Marsh Dragon happy. Makkar’s Bloodwolf is a good 2-drop stopper and one that prevents ground assaults from overwhelming you early on. There are also other Xenan cards here – a lot of them actually – but let us focus on these three choices. I did not want the mandrake, as i thought my late game would be okay anyway. Between the other 3-drops I should have gone with the Bloodwolf probably, but somehow ended up picking Sunset Priest. To be honest, you could go both ways, as there are pros about both choices, but if I was drafting this pack again I believe this would be the one choice I would change.
Caleb’s choice: Sunset Priest
Wow, Sodi’s Spellshaper seems as busted (aka very good) in draft as Changeestik – and I am already splashing Primal. Yes, this is a clear pick, without a doubt.
On the other hand, if you were not playing Primal in this deck and skipped on Changeestik, Lightning Strike and this weapon, what would you get? Probably another Marsh Dragon as your finisher, right?
Caleb’s choice: Sodi’s Spellshaper
Okay, it seems I need to go deeper into Primal, as Greenstretch Empath is a card I particularly like – even as a splash. Now that we have two Spellcraft weapons, this one is even better. You only need to trigger the draw two cards Muster once for it to be much better than just a solid defensive body. If you were not going for Primal then probably Bloodwolf is for you.
Caleb’s choice: Greenstretch Empath
Only one card to pick here and no, splashing Skywatch Zealot might be too much. I mean, we only have one Dragon so far, and without that Ally clause this is a worse-statted Fervent Siphoner, right?
Caleb’s choice: Fervent Siphoner
I do not want to grab another 1-drop for sure. Wilderness Refuge – although pit probably will not get played – is another option to trigger Muster for the Empath we took two picks ago.
Caleb’s choice: Wilderness Refuge
One Befoul is more than enough usually – it is one of those cards for which the second copy is redundant. Now that we have a Siphoner, grabbing a Sunset Priest is much more important, as this two-three punch can deal seven damage early on.
Caleb’s choice: Sunset Priest
A lot of Primal, but none of it is getting played here.
Caleb’s choice: Yeti Traditionalist
A second Marsh Dragon is a sight for sore eyes – although we had plenty of options to pick him before. Each time, though, there was something better, right?
Caleb’s choice: Marsh Dragon
Caleb’s choice: Acclaimed Artisan
Caleb’s choice: Malaise
In the end there are thirty one playable cards in our colors that we get to choose from. If we wanted to cut all Primal out, we would be left with not enough playables, so that is out of the question. Yes, I know, the fixing is very lacking here, but fortunately this deck does not have huge influence requirements. Double Time for Omnivorous Vorlunk, double Shadow for Minotaur Lightfoot, Ashara and Eviscerate and single Primal for the splash.
The first and obvious ones to go are Rosebloom Mandrake (we are not a dedicated mill deck) and Viper’s Bite. We can quickly follow it up with Trickster’s Cloak and Wilderness Refuge and voila! Now, for the power, I want five to six sources of Primal for four cards, but with most of them being mid- to late game cards and a rather low amount of fixing, we can settle on five. Yes, this deck would have been much better with two more dual powers, even those Kerendon Tokens.
For sure this deck could have been better. I am not talking only about fixing – although that would have been Captain Hindsight’s first step. Ardent Convert and two Fervent Siphoners are looking rather weak, but with four sacrifice outlets they have proven themselves worthy … of getting sacrificed. Lightning Strike could have been a harder, Shadow piece of removal. Other than that, deck seems quite functional, with a lot of stand-out great cards and a decent amount of synergy.
After a mediocre 2-2 start I was able to take the remaining five games and grab another seven win virtual trophy. There are trophies for that, right?
A short announcement at the end. Next week there will be no new episode of Drafting with the Stars, but hopefully I will be back in December with a fresh number of limited conundrums to share with all of you.
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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