Hello and welcome to a new installment of Drafting with the Stars. It seems that Direwolf Digital gifted us with a new draft format recently. Yes, format, because the changes are numerous! The order of packs has changed to Curated-Defiance-Defiance-Curated! The contents of the curated packs have changed a lot! There are no more color-fixing Strangers! Madness! Mayhem! Let us start!
Pack 1 Pick 1
Hmm… Gunslinger Minotaur? Well now! Welcome to the new reality! There are some new cards in this pack, for sure, and it will take me some time to get used to all the changes. Anyway, is this a bad pack, or what? Given that there is not a lot of color fixing available and my most successful strategy in Defiance drafts was going big Time, I think I want to go for the ramp up spell.
Caleb’s choice: Secret Pages
Pack 1 Pick 2
Well, at least Veteran Strategist is back to do color fixing for us! Dark Return and Jekk’s Choice seem to be the other good cards in this pack. I am still in the mindset of ‘yes, I will get fixing later’ which makes me go for the most powerful card with the least influence requirements.
Caleb’s choice: Dark Return
Pack 1 Pick 3
Scorpion Wasp is kind of removal. Two Banners here as well, with the Feln one enabling me to go into Auralian in packs two and three. Timeworn Sentinel looks decent if I could get any Explorers into my deck. I think at this point I am going to go for the easiest choice – removal!
Caleb’s choice: Scorpion Wasp
Pack 1 Pick 4
Piercing Grief is back! Why, though?! It is a fairly weak one-shot (actually, two-shot) unit with no lasting board presence. Horizon Seeker tells me there are Dinosaur synergies for me in the future … drafts. Predator’s Instinct is a removal-ish card. There is also Baying Serasaur here, a decent offensive unit. While not great on its own, it is better than the other stuff and has a tribal Dino tag that could matter later on.
Caleb’s choice: Baying Serasaur
Pack 1 Pick 5
Speaking of which – Hissing Spiketail is a Dinosaur. Scaly Gruan is a Dinosaur. Yet another weak pack, though. Let me at least stay on-color, with a potential of synergies later to be found…
Caleb’s choice: Hissing Spiketail
Pack 1 Pick 6
Madness is back! Dormant Sentinel and Dragonbreath look decent. Serene Excavator seems nice as well, but more in Praxis than in Xenan – there are more Sentinels in Fire. Okay, do I have any synergies with any cards I already picked? Dragonbreath goes well with Scorpion Wasp (and other deadlies). Sure.
Caleb’s choice: Dragonbreath
Pack 1 Pick 7
Wow, again nothing in here? How am I supposed to win any games here? I mean, Lethrai Memory-Keeper is an Explorer at least, and this unit type might matter … also fills my unit count. Kind of. It would be one of the first cuts, though.
Caleb’s choice: Lethrai Memory-Keeper
Pack 1 Pick 8
A shiny, another weak Elf Explorer, a Banner and a Devour. In situations such as this I usually tend to go for a one on-color Banner with a thought that I might end up splashing that other color. Also, I have no real use for any of these other cards and they will probably end up being cut from the final list.
Caleb’s choice: Praxis Banner
Pack 1 Pick 9
Banner for the same reasons as mentioned above.
Caleb’s choice: Stonescar Banner
Pack 1 Pick 10
Caleb’s choice: Heroic Bravo
Pack 1 Pick 11
A weaponized Dragonbreath for my deadlies.
Caleb’s choice: Icebow
Pack 1 Pick 12
A very European-looking Helm.
Caleb’s choice: Spiked Helm
Pack 2 Pick 1
Disclaimer: this draft took place before Xo was nerfed to a 8FFFF unit. While many people think this change does not matter in ranked, in draft you actually need to play this dragon to win you games, which makes me happy I managed to get one while it was still hot. Very hot! To be honest, my draft pool so far consists of very poor cards, mostly in Time. I think I can (and have to) make room for Mr Endless Hoard and start making my following picks around Xo.
Caleb’s choice: Xo of the Endless Hoard
Pack 2 Pick 2
Now I have to go into red. I have all the colors but Justice. So far my pool looks like Jennev with a potential Dark Return splash (yes, returning Xo FeelsGoodMan). Shingane Forge is more for Winchest-y go-wide decks. Clan Huntcaller and Kerendon Steward are viable options and good cards by themselves, but that would require me to go into an unknown Fire/Time/Shadow territory. There is also Oni Forgemaster and Araktodon Egg. Back in Defiance drafts I usually said that Oni Forgemaster is at its worse in Jennev, which leaves only…
Caleb’s choice: Araktodon Egg
Pack 2 Pick 3
Parry and Infused Guardian are both great cards. Now let me think about the colors I am in. For sure it is Time, because I have the most cards from that color. For sure it is Fire, because big flying Dragons rule the skies and the battlefield. In Primal I have only Dragonbreath and Icebow and in Shadow just Dark Return. When presented with picks on a similar power level I tend to go with the one I am more likely to play. Later in the draft there are also other factors, such as curve, unit count, but right now let me just take the Sentinel.
Caleb’s choice: Infused Guardian
Pack 2 Pick 4
Bottoms Up is the best card in this pack. Sirocco Glider is also an option, or a bad Stonescar Banner i.e. Token of Ambition. To be honest, going big in Praxis means that Bottoms Up should get played for a lot of power.
Caleb’s choice: Bottoms Up
Pack 2 Pick 5
This is quite late for a Conflagrate – a great piece of removal. Warband Skald is an amazing unit, but I am not in Justice at the moment. Be Gone has potential against Voltron-based strategies (i.e. put a ton of weapons on a unit), but these are a lot weaker now that there are fewer weapons in the curated packs. Fireheart Recruit, Sandcrawler and Surveilor are good or filler units. Nothing lives up to the Conflagrate, though.
Caleb’s choice: Conflagrate
Pack 2 Pick 6
Once again, Oni or the Egg? I mean, I have not picked up any more Primal or Shadow cards, so I do not think Elvish Swindler or Master Cartographer are worthy considerations. And once again the Egg is getting picked.
Caleb’s choice: Araktodon Egg
Pack 2 Pick 7
I am not a great fan of Packbeast. That only leaves one choice – that is also Bottoms Uppable. Wait, is that even a word?
Caleb’s choice: Lazy Firemane
Pack 2 Pick 8
There may be no more fixing Strangers, but Bannerman is here to the rescue! While Dune Painter is great when you have cards with a low Amplify upgrade (i.e. Bottoms Up), fixing is at a premium nowadays.
Caleb’s choice: Bannerman
Pack 2 Pick 9
Many people might discount Mesmerized Moth when they are not running any Relic synergies, but to be honest the fact of giving you a card that does something, with a small flying body attached, is more than I need from a ninth pick. Also, those single points of life gained with Ancient Baubles have won me a number of games in Defiance drafts.
Caleb’s choice: Mesmerized Moth
Pack 2 Pick 10
Nothing here for us, move along!
Caleb’s choice: Pistolwhip
Pack 2 Pick 11
Caleb’s choice: Reinforced Towershield
Pack 2 Pick 12
Caleb’s choice: Endure
Pack 3 Pick 1
Wow, another good first pick here. Moonstone Vanguard is sooo good, it can even steal back games when it is the first card you play. None of the other cards here come even close to this Sentinel’s power level.
Caleb’s choice: Moonstone Vanguard
Pack 3 Pick 2
Nothing good for Praxis here. If I go the Jennev route with Sauropod, though, I do have Dragonbreath and Icebow in my card pool as backup. Other than that, nothing here to support my strategy for this draft (which is currently: play Xo or Vanguard).
Caleb’s choice: Carnivorous Sauropod
Pack 3 Pick 3
Locust over another Egg? My only 2-drop so far is a Bannerman, so yeah, this will help.
Caleb’s choice: Locust
Pack 3 Pick 4
Speaking of 2-drops, Resolute Monk is a great one to get here. If not for the Monk, I think I would go for Oni Forgemaster here, especially given how high of a power curve I am running.
Caleb’s choice: Resolute Monk
Pack 3 Pick 5
Another 2-drop, or maybe Eternity Core for the late game? Gilded Flames is kind of weak and Court Mage is in a shallow splash color. Okay, so two Eggs and three 2-drops mean I have at least five cards to play in the early game, with twenty more cards to pick. I think I can safely go for the ramp route here.
Caleb’s choice: Eternity Core
Pack 3 Pick 6
Bottoms Up is a card with diminishing returns for me. First one is great, but the second one is just okay. Honestly this is a choice between Scorpion and Bannerman. I do have some serious influence requirements so far…
Caleb’s choice: Bannerman
Pack 3 Pick 7
Another Lazy Firemane? No, I do not think I need it, especially that I picked a ton of 3-drops along the way. Triggering its Renown is also very difficult in this deck. On the other hand I could use more top end, now that I am sporting an Eternity Core.
Caleb’s choice: Runic Protector
Pack 3 Pick 8
Okay, sure, if the kitty wants in, the kitty is in. Right, Merisiel?
Caleb’s choice: Lazy Firemane
Pack 3 Pick 9
I was not suspecting such a difficult choice this late in the pack! I mean, all of these cards are playable in my deck! The choice is much narrow obviously, as it is just between Bannerman #3 and a great Relic in the form of Pitfall Trap. Bannerman always gets played. Pitfall Trap in a splash color gets cut more often than not.
Caleb’s choice: The Bannerman Saga, part three
Pack 3 Pick 10
I have a ton of 3-drops, so Be Gone it is. Also, I love to have at least one bounce (put a unit into its owner hand) spell in my deck.
Caleb’s choice: Be Gone
Pack 3 Pick 11
This might even end up in the deck, because I have Eternity Core.
Caleb’s choice: Spitfire
Pack 3 Pick 12
Very underwhelming, especially for a unit with Overwhelm. Wait, why was this card ever made?
Caleb’s choice: Rumbling Contraption
Pack 4 Pick 1
Well hello another Legendary! And a tricky one at that! This is a third 10/10 card I have opened in this draft, but I am not really in Shadow now, am I? You do not even need to worry about this Radiant’s Tribute, just Ambush the heck out of some unsuspecting souls and be done for the day. Also, the rest of these cards is very underwhelming, so even if I do not end up playing the Occluder it will still find its way into my card collection … or shiftstone grinder!
Caleb’s choice: Umbren Occluder
Pack 4 Pick 2
These cards are mostly bad. There are two Banners here, though, and I picked up the Skycrag one – which, given that I now know how the draft went, should have been the other one!
Caleb’s choice: Skycrag Banner
Pack 4 Pick 3
Adaptive Predator aka Derpy has a double blue requirement and that is a big turn-off for me. I also have very good late game so far. There is also Granite Acolyte here, who – despite my high density of 3-drops – will probably see play. It can trigger Renown on the kitties or make a Moth bigger.
Caleb’s choice: Granite Acolyte
Pack 4 Pick 4
Hmm… Sentinel Ally. Do I have Sentinels? Yes, a few. Okay, let me try this card out.
Caleb’s choice: Serene Excavator
Pack 4 Pick 5
Explorer Ally… How many Explorers do I have then? One. Is it good enough even if you cannot trigger the card draw ability? Not so much. Since the time I played this draft I have learned that this card is better than I initially gave credit to – but you do need to have a decent number of Explorers!
Caleb’s choice: Timeworn Sentinel
Pack 4 Pick 6
Creeper is all kinds of great, but I already have enough 2-drops and I would rather play my Bannermen for fixing’s sake. I currently have four Sentinels in my draft pool, so going for the synergies of Serene Excavator or Scourstone Sentinel might pay off. I think I will go against my curve, though, and start with the flier.
Caleb’s choice: Serene Excavator
Pack 4 Pick 7
I do not have too many Dinosaurs to boost Fishing Dinoch’s stat line. Another option is to take the Feln Banner and see if I end up playing four colors.
Caleb’s choice: Feln Banner
Pack 4 Pick 8
Hmm… a second Dark Return? This late in the day? Yes, thank you, oh dear person passing me packs!
Caleb’s choice: Dark Return
Pack 4 Pick 9
Let me go for a good defensive unit here.
Caleb’s choice: Recogulator
Pack 4 Pick 10
Caleb’s choice: Heirloom Blade
Pack 4 Pick 11
Caleb’s choice: Yeti Spy
Pack 4 Pick 12
Noth… Ooh, a wall!
Caleb’s choice: Town Watchman
Okay, I am left with thirty-three cards that are waiting to get played. I am not counting the Occluder, so splash-wise I have two Dark Returns in Shadow and Carnivorous Sauropod, Icebow and Dreagonbreath in Primal. I usually start with determining my power level. No Seek Powers or Cargos, only two Pledges mean I cannot go any lower than the base eighteen power cards. Fortunately, I have up to four Banners and three Bannermen, which also means I do not need to go any higher than that.
Next up I eliminate the weakest cards from the pool. With twenty-one units I can start cutting there. Five good 2-drops are the correct amount of early game, especially when backed up by two Araktodon Eggs. Nine 3-drops are way too much so I can safely start cutting here. Lazy Firemanes are first on the chopping block, as they do not synergize with the deck too well and they are not in the main color – with this deck being not really Praxis, but Time and Friends. Hissing Spiketail also has weak stats for a 4-drop and does not synergize with the rest. With three more cards to go I take a look at my splashiest of splash colors – Primal and Shadow.
As far as Primal i s concerned, I only have one Deadly units and I got rid of my Renown Firecats, which all makes Icebow very weak. Sauropod is good, but it is in a still overcrowded curve spot and I have good enough late game. Dragonbreath is a removal, but a conditional one. On the other hand in Shadow I only have two Dark Returns, but they do work wonders with my premium units – Xo and Monstone Vanguard.
If I cut Primal, I am left with one card too few. But wait! There is still Umbren Occluder in my pool that I initially took out of the equation. So, yeah, if we cut the Primal and stay in Time/Fire/Shadow, we should be good, right?
The deck looks quite interesting. It has enough early game, some color fixing, bombs and Dark Returns for said bombs. What it is lacking is removal, with just a single Conflagrate to stop the opposing smallish units and a Be Gone for a heavily-weaponized smasher. Obviously this deck would be more clunky if I played it right now with Xo costing 8FFFF instead of 7FFF, but at the time I thought that my requirements were low enough and fixing was decent enough.
The deck ended up going an underwhelming 4 wins 3 losses. The losses were to a timely Storm Spiral wiping four of my units, some power issues and being out-tempoed. On the other hand, both legendaries went on to win some games as well, as did Bottoms Up.
I wish I had some more decent removal in here, like an Extinguish and another Conflagrate. Some of the units could have also been upgraded. Overall, a bomb-filled deck that in this run just exploded in my face. It happens. Let us move on to another draft…