Drafting with the Stars #12 – Into the Dark Frontier

Hello and welcome to a new installment of Drafting with the Stars – now 100% darker! Today we venture into the Dark Frontier for the first time and re-watch all the miserable decisions I made during my fourth draft with the new set. Aside from analyzing the picks themselves I will also mention why I was wrong … more than once! Hey, we all got to learn somewhere! Onwards!

Pack 1 Pick 1

As usual, when a new set comes out, you have to spend a lot of time reading all the new cards. Do not worry – you get used to them as time goes by. Also as usual the first card you look at is the rare or legendary … and I laughed very hard when I saw the card I got to preview on my Twitch channel thanks to a viewer donation from ZoroCZ! Unfortunately this card is not playable in drafts, so let us just forget about it already and move on away from the Death Pit.

The first real card that comes to mind in this pack is Cloudsnake Matriarch. Having fliers in limited is good. Having big fliers in limited is great. Now this one has an additional upside – when you play it (or other units) from Warp (i.e. play it from the top of your deck) you get to draw a card. Excellent! The only downside is obviously the higher cost and double influence requirement, but this should not be a problem. Other cards of note are Shieldcrafter – the 2/6 Justice Tinker that gets you a lot of armor if you attack before playing it, High Alert – a very good but costly Justice trick with Warp, Omnivorous Vorlunk – the so-called Time Torch with some other noteworthy cards in the pack as well. To be honest this is one of the most packed … packs of Dark Frontier I have seen in a while. Without further ado, I just snatch the most powerful card here and am on my way.

Caleb’s choice: Cloudsnake Matriarch

Pack 1 Pick 2

I think that in this draft format – even more than in previous ones – it is very good to stay on point and draft cards from just one, maybe two colors for as long as you can in pack one. This would mean going for the 3/3 vanilla Yeti Instigator or Cobalt Coin – a very interesting take on power cards. On the other hand there are more powerful cards in this pack as well and it might turn out that Primal is getting picked before me, therefore drying this well. Aside from a couple of mediocre cards there is one powerhouse that stands out to me here – Corrupted Behemoth – both because of its raw power and its shininess. For me this card could be compared to being just slightly worse than Infused Guardian was for the Defiance and Homecoming draft formats. I know, it does not possess Endurance – trading it for Overwhelm – but the real Twist here is that it can also grow and regain you your like back!

Caleb’s choice: Corrupted Behemoth

Pack 1 Pick 3

Notice that the red card(s) are missing from this pack, which means that someone in front of me is already considering going this route. Unfortunately both the Primal and Time cards here are not the greatest – Warning Jolt is way too situational (unless the opponent twists their units too hard!), Murderous Flock is overcosted for its conditional, non-repeatable ability and Diving Pteriax is a tad too expensive for my taste (still better than Aerial Ace, though). Time cards include the okay Coin and Quicksilver Ooze – a card that can fill the board especially when you combine it with health enhancers. From outside these colors you could go for Auric Reclaimer (which would have been a real choice if I took Shieldcrafter in the first pick) or really one of the green cards. This time, though, I deemed it worthy to stay in the colors I picked and went for the Ooze. Going for Pteriax would also be acceptable.

Caleb’s choice: Quicksilver Ooze

Pack 1 Pick 4

Let me start with on-color cards here. Burdenbearer Wisp is no Illumination Wisp, but its Onslaught trigger can prove useful if you have a lot of Summon and one-shot effects on your Units or you need to get rid of some Curses. Horn of Plenty is a poor man’s (common man’s?) Xenan Obelisk, slightly overcosted but still allowing all your units to go for that one extra Twist – and by that I mean it is a good card for this particular format. I am not a great … enthusiast of Dinomancy Enthusiast, as it is usually just an overcosted Substitute – a card that I was very weary of running in the previous draft formats. The off-color choices are honestly just Nimble Conscript – but you do need to have some tricks for that one to be useful and Headhunter, but they both pale in comparison to the weaker Obelisk.

Caleb’s choice: Horn of Plenty

Pack 1 Pick 5

Good Idea at the Time has the best card name from the whole Dark Frontier set! It is also not a very bad card, to be honest. The only bad instance is when you have it in your opening hand – but playing it from Warp does not cost you a card (usually) and changes an excess power / uncastable thing / early game card in late game to a fully random new thing … which obviously might be worse than the previous one. One time my opponent played this and changed one of their cards into a back-breaking Minotaur Platemaker. It is still a filler … or to be honest good strategy if you rare-drafted the rest of the pool and are playing thirty Primal Sigils and fifteen copies of this. Okay, let me focus on some better choices now.

Enough with that rant. There are two Time cards here and both are worthy of being considered. Devotee of the Sands (an upgrade from just an Initiate, I presume) is a good defensive ramp unit – not as good as Trail Maker because of the lack of fixing – while Arcanum Elite is much better than would seem at first glance. The obvious implication is that you give two health to a unit with Twist and allow it to activate two more times, but even without that this makes your units survive more on the Dark Frontier. Now that I look at the pack I think I would go with the flier, but a Good Idea at the Time was actually picking…

Caleb’s choice: Devotee of the Sands

Pack 1 Pick 6

I already talked about two of these potential on-color cards – Behemoth and Ooze, with Behemoth being significantly better. Phase Out is an interesting trick that can get an opposing unit out of the way or break some ground stalls in about three turns. It is not as good as a very solid unit, though.

Caleb’s choice: Corrupted Behemoth

Pack 1 Pick 7

If I was in Justice I could think about going for High Alert, but getting a good early unit in my colors is also good. Later in the game when the board is stalled you can always Shift it just to get through for some more damage. Also, Scouting on turn one is very good!

Caleb’s choice: Displaced Oryctodon

Pack 1 Pick 8

I should have gone for the Fend Off here – a poor man’s Frostwave or half of Flash Freeze if you prefer. On the other hand I have been seeing a lot of Shadow cards coming my way and Crooked Alleyguide seems like a very good early filler – later scout and delayed three damage. Sure, let me see where this path leads.

Caleb’s choice: Crooked Alleyguide

Pack 1 Pick 9

Blink is a weak but playable trick. Razorquill on the other hand is the poster boy, or rather Direbeast of the new Twist mechanic. Seeing it so late in pack one makes me think Shadow might be much more open than I initially thought!

Caleb’s choice: Razorquill

Pack 1 Pick 10

When in Shadow, pick Shadow units? I mean, if I had not picked Crooked Alleyguide over Fend Off to go into Shadow I might have considered going for another Fend off here. Now that I do have two Shadow units already I am diving deeper and going for a mediocre 2-drop (but a 2-drop nonetheless).

Caleb’s choice: Angry Prophet

Pack 1 Pick 11

Both of these are playable and I am quite happy to take an on-color card.

Caleb’s choice: Devotee of the Sands

Pack 1 Pick 12

I do not think I will play this one.

Caleb’s choice: Boot Knife

Pack 2 Pick 1

Ah, curated packs. All the cards I already know, but in these different circumstances it is like a new light shines on some of them. For example, Worn Shield is a card that I am actually considering playing from time to time given the new Twist mechanic.

Let me consider the cards now. Champion of Chaos (also known as ChaCha) is a very good unit even if you max out only one of her abilities. Lightning Strike is a very good kill spell – especially with so many units emerging unblockable from the Shadowlands these days. Advance Scout is a decent flier and Awakened Sentinel is a solid ground unit. At this point I have given up on my first pick Cloudsnake Matriarch and see my deck as a Xenan one. This, in turn, makes me consider only the Sentinel while in fact I should have stayed more open and went with Lightning Strike.

Caleb’s choice: Awakened Sentinel

Pack 2 Pick 2

The Standards are back! Thankfully (or not) I have ventured into Shadow late in pack one and I can easily pick Cabal Standard over Dark Return and mediocre 2-drops. Time and Primal do not have any good contenders here. Yes, this was an easy one.

Caleb’s choice: Cabal Standard

Pack 2 Pick 3

Healer’s Cloak is a much better comeback card than I initially gave credit to and it has won me many games in the previous formats. Why not just pick that or Dark Return here, if I want to keep to Xenan? Maybe the chaos and craziness of the new format took over me or I just saw one of the better removals in Permafrost and just went for it. Also we are still fresh off playing three and four color decks so why not go Auralian? All I need is some color fixing and everything is possible.

Caleb’s choice: Permafrost

Pack 2 Pick 4

Clan Standard, Downfall and Flickerling are the only considerations here and I already passed too many opportunities to go into Justice. Between splashing for the great Standard and going for the on-color weak flier I took power (literally) over shininess. Once again, it seemed a good idea at the time.

Caleb’s choice: Clan Standard

Pack 2 Pick 5

Curated packs are generally considered very weak in Dark Frontier drafts. I mean, if Rusty Grenamotive is a best card as pick five … what else do I need to say? On color I have Refresh and it is quite a good card for my Behemoths and Razorquill.

Caleb’s choice: Refresh

Pack 2 Pick 6

I remember virtually windmill slamming the second Cabal Standard into my draft pool here, without considering any other options. Oasis Seeker is a solid unit even without the Lifeforce mechanics and Lightning Strike is a solid removal. Okay, Standard is still better. Next!

Caleb’s choice: Cabal Standard

Pack 2 Pick 7

Second Refresh did not seem to be worth picking and I wanted to test Envelop out. I did not even bat an eye at Aerial Ace, as there are not a lot of weapons in this format. Voltron strategies are so Q1 2019!

Caleb’s choice: Envelop

Pack 2 Pick 8

With almost no Relic synergies in the draft format Porcelain Mask loses most of its potential. This just leaves me with Scheme as an expensive redraw on Trailblaze’s level and Iron Hook as a removal for small Deadly units and fliers.

Caleb’s choice: Iron Hook

Pack 2 Pick 9

Why pick two Fend Offs early when you can pick one Flash Freeze later?

Caleb’s choice: Flash Freeze

Pack 2 Pick 10

Dark Frontier drafts have been very light on units for me. Also, would I ever play Trailblaze in a splash color with no Scout synergies?

Caleb’s choice: Horned Vorlunk

Pack 2 Pick 11

Bad unit over bad … is that even a card?!

Caleb’s choice: Araktodon

Pack 2 Pick 12

Ouch!

Caleb’s choice: Viper’s Bite

Pack 3 Pick 1

Ten people are going to be very disappointed. One person is going to get Auric Weaponsmith and a lot of Justice Coins and be happy. I am also happy, because at least I can get Seek Power for some needed fixing and keep the Auralian dream alive!

Caleb’s choice: Seek Power

Pack 3 Pick 2

Let us assume at this point I will not venture outside the Auralian colors, which is why I am saying no to Gun Down and am considering just three options – Mob Rule, Advance Scout and Watchful Amanera. One flies, one scouts, one kills. All of these are on similar mediocre power level and in situations such as this I tend to see what am I missing in my deck. Usually it is removal, which is why I go with the mob.

Caleb’s choice: Mob Rule

Pack 3 Pick 3

I will say it again – color fixing is usually lacking in this format and you really cannot go into three colors without any. In Defiance and Homecoming I used to say I need at least five pieces of color fixing for a decent three-color deck.

Caleb’s choice: Seek Power

Pack 3 Pick 4

It is strange seeing Blood Quill in the curated packs. Wait, what? A third Seek Power? Yes, please!

Caleb’s choice: Seek Power

Pack 3 Pick 5

One of these is an actual card!

Caleb’s choice: Clan Standard

Pack 3 Pick 6

In a format full of Warp Excavate is not a dead card. Even if I will end up cutting it, it has a higher potential than a very cuttable Trailblaze.

Caleb’s choice: Excavate

Pack 3 Pick 7

Once again with the mediocre removal.

Caleb’s choice: Mob Rule

Pack 3 Pick 8

It is also very strange to see Pitfall Traps in the curated packs. The looting effect is great and there are a lot of one health (sometimes over-twisted) units out there!

Caleb’s choice: Pitfall Trap

Pack 3 Pick 9

I could go for the unit if my unit count is low, but I actually like playing Dispel once in a while. If you silence a small flier or a deadly unit it usually works just like killing it – and you get to draw a card.

Caleb’s choice: Dispel

Pack 3 Pick 10

Could have gone for the Advance Scout, but rather went with an early unit in my main color than a mid game unit in a splash color.

Caleb’s choice: Training Ground

Pack 3 Pick 11

Caleb’s choice: Savage Denial

Pack 3 Pick 12

Caleb’s choice: Backlash

Pack 4 Pick 1

Considering my colors the choices are Arcanum Elite and … wow, the rest of Auralian is bad. I mean, Steel Legion is clearly the best card in the pack, Streets Aflame and Granite Coin are good. After giving it a lot of thought I went and straight rare-drafted! I did not think I would end up playing the small flier and early in the format you really want to get all the good cards for your collection. We all know all the Smugglers will see at least some play, right?

Caleb’s choice: Cen Wastes Smuggler

Pack 4 Pick 2

I could do here what I did in the previous pack, but I have real playable cards here! Well, at least Time Torch is playable! Hold Under is overcosted, but I have been on the receiving end. Alleyguide and Ooze are worse than Vorlunk (at least I think so) and the Shadow coin is the worst of the lot.

Caleb’s choice: Omnivorous Vorlunk

Pack 4 Pick 3

I could have gone for the second Horn of Plenty. Let me rephrase that – I should have gone for the second Horn of Plenty. Instead I went for a good 2-drop in Auric Reclaimer. I still have to play him in a Relic Weapon-heavy Argenport deck, though! Here, alas, he at least has an option of copying an Iron Hook.

Caleb’s choice: Auric Reclaimer

Pack 4 Pick 4

Between Alleyguide and Sauropod Crasher I went with the latter choice – I try and treat Warp as a backwards card draw and try to play cards from Warp as soon as I can. The cheaper the unit – the higher chance you will have enough power to play it once it rests on the top of your deck.

Caleb’s choice: Sauropod Crasher

Pack 4 Pick 5

Tremorshocker is a great Time unit, as is the Behemoth. Both are worthy of getting picked, this time I should have gone with the Tremorshocker, though, as I already am slinging two Behemoths. What did Caleb do, though? Oh, look! There is a 3/3 flier for three in a color I am splashing and I do not care about the double influence requirement. Could someone time travel to that moment and persuade me to get the Wurm? Thank you!

Caleb’s choice: Frost Elemental

Pack 4 Pick 6

On the one hand I think I could treat Stained Honor just like a Dune Painter for Twist, but with better stats. On the other hand back with Amplify you had to pay all the power at once, whereas with Twist you can invest in your units over time. It can still hold the ground pretty well and the discount does matter, it is just not first pick material. Unless it is the only half-reasonable card in my colors … which it is!

Caleb’s choice: Stained Honor

Pack 4 Pick 7

With this second one I cannot looze!

Caleb’s choice: Quicksilver Ooze

Pack 4 Pick 8

Hunting Anoura is a very curious beast. If you compare it to my first pick Matriarch it has lower stats, does not always have Warp nor the card draw upside. Also you need to attack first to see it on the top of your deck, which makes your planning for the turn a horrible chore. On the other hand it is still a 4/4 flier, no matter the power cost, and big fliers tend to win games. I mean, I can always cut it from the deck, right?

Caleb’s choice: Hunting Anoura

Pack 4 Pick 9

That is yet another late High Alert. I know it is a bit overcosted, but usually when you can Warp it you just attack and it does not matter whether you use it on offense or on defense. It is not in my colors, though.

Caleb’s choice: Vicious Rumors

Pack 4 Pick 10

Wow, I really did not pick Arcanum Elite yet again? Must be a glitch in my matrix.

Caleb’s choice: Snowmass Jotun

Pack 4 Pick 11

Winnow is almost as overcosted as Dustblind, so I just go for more dust.

Caleb’s choice: Reweave

Pack 4 Pick 12

This is a card that, despite being slow, I might actually try out!

Caleb’s choice: Darkweave Enchantress

Draft Pool

The decisions do not end here! When I see this pile of cards I am confused where to go with it. For sure I am playing Time, also Shadow has a lot of early game units. Primal has some great, but double influence cards in Cloudsnake Matriarch and Frost Elemental. On top of all that I have three Seek Power and four Standards! Thirty six cards total which means some cuts have to be made. How much power am I running, though? I usually play Seek Power as just power cards one-for-one, but I have never gotten three in a draft before! Do I just go down to fifteen Power and three Seek Power? What about Standards? You should usually count them as half a Power card each – as their spell effect is much better than that of an average trick!

Okay, If I cut all the Primal cards (including Banners) I am left with thirty cards, so the power base is thirteen Sigils, two Banners and three Seek Power? Let me take a closer look!

Draft Deck

This looks … decent. A lot of units, some tricks, good curve. Is this the best I can do, though? I mean, I do have three Seek Power and if you cannot make a three color deck with this fixing, I do not know what is right anymore. Let me see. What are the weakest cards here? Envelop, Excavate, Training Ground for sure. Angry Prophet and Iron Hook are also on the weaker side. What Primal cards do I include, though? Do I go for the powerful double Primal cards, or just for the tricks?

If I leave out the three worst cards and replace them with Permafrost, Pitfall Trap and even Flash Freeze I am in a good spot, right? What about the power base, though? Eleven Sigils in three colors, four Standards and three Seek Power. Seems like a stretch to me, especially that I need both double Time and double Shadow, I am running a 6-drop and I have a couple of power sinks (cards that make good use of excess power later in the game) in Pitfall Trap and my Twist units. How about I take Iron Hook and Angry Prophet out as well and just run up my power count?

I re-did my power math and it went like this: eighteen power is the base. I count Seek Power / Cargo cards as power. Standards are half a power each. That would mean going for seventeen power. Voila!

Draft Summary

The deck looked good enough that I thought it could go the distance and get me seven wins. I was wrong. I did manage to win four games on the backs of Cabal Standards and Behemoths and lost three games to being high-rolled with Good Idea at the Time, and some power issues.

I could have gone in a lot of different ways over the course of this draft. The deck I ended up with seemed better than just the four wins I got with it. I know I made some bad decisions while picking cards. Would they change the outcome? Probably? Would they change it for the better? Maybe. What would you, dear reader, have done differently? Please let me know in the comments below.

As always, you can usually find me on Twitch and Discord.

Don’t forget, you can play your games with your style with Inkedgaming.com. Use code TRS12 at checkout for 12% off your final purchase total!

Make sure to follow us on our socials and check out our sponsors: https://linktr.ee/teamrankstar

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

Scroll Up