Drafting with the Stars #22 – Staying Focused

Hello and welcome to a new installment of Drafting with the Stars! I hope you have already grown accustomed to playing more than two colors in a draft deck in the current draft format. As a reminder – here is a summary of what has changed from the previous format.

Usually you can get an abundance of power fixing in packs two and three, enough to splash one or even two colors with ease. Is it always worth to splash them, though? Read on and find out!

Pack 1 Pick 1

As I sit down to yet another draft I see a huge gun, pointing into the distance. Shhh! It is a secret, though, a Secret Weapon! Yeah, I mean, I can laugh all I want about this card or that card, but truth be told, I have lost a game to Secret Weapon in a draft, probably even more than once (I do my best and try to forget it ever happened). Moving on, Relentless Deadshot is a great 2-drop that is very relevant even if you draw it later in the game and can get out of hand if you manage to buff its health even a small amount. To be honest, the only other consideration is Horn of Plenty, a card that can, for example, boost Deadshot’s (and other Twist units’) health.

The change in curated packs brought us a plethora of 2-drop 2/2s that everyone can play – yes, I do mean Strangers and Bannerman – which makes cards like Horde Duelist or Displaced Oryctodon or other 2/2s that much worse. Deadshot still stays relevant, though. For my choice, it is a coin toss with what I feel like doing, and this time it is stunning.

Caleb’s choice: Relentless Deadshot

Pack 1 Pick 2

Lo and behold, another Horn appears! As I have already mentioned, it is a great buff to all units across your board and despite one thinking Yeah, but it is strictly worse than Xenan Obelisk … That does not mean this card is bad, oh no sir! Moving on to the uncommons – Silver Shortsword is pretty useless, Kemmo’s Blueprints seem slightly worse now that the Armory decks have not stayed so popular as they were in Dark Frontier drafts (at least for me). Last, but certainly not least, Impatient Pyromage is another 2/2 for two that stands its ground in the Strangers metagame.

As for commons we have Tremorshocker, though you can get big Time stuff later on and you do not need to commit to double influence requirements early on if the card in question is not a strict bomb. Auric Lookout is a filler, but it is on color. One might even want to go and force Bloodnurse early on to live that Bear Arms dream (aka never-ending supply of Vampire Bats).

After considering all the options – and there are more of them here than in the previous pack – I opted to go for Horn of Plenty, as it has a higher influence on the board than the potential Pyromage card advantage.

Caleb’s choice: Horn of Plenty

Pack 1 Pick 3

Smugglers are a thing nowadays, especially with people picking up more than their fair share of playables. Not as a double splash, though! Rare aside, Retribution is the card that stands out as the best common removal spell in Dark Frontier, slightly ahead of the high-costed Eviscerate. Tauride Test Pilot is another great Justice card, but also worse than removal in a removal-light format. Rallying Sergeant and Stronghold Vandal are also options, but they are not in the two colors I have picked up already. Besides, none of the other cards is as good as Retribution – and remember, early on in the draft you go for the most powerful cards and you fill out the holes in your deck in packs three and four.

Caleb’s choice: Retribution

Pack 1 Pick 4

Seeing no Justice cards makes me slightly sad, but let me take a look at the Time ones. Sauropod Crasher (codename: Ben) is a decent enough unit, especially when you are able to warp it. Otherwise it is overcosted by one power. Submerged Titan can grow out of control and please please please remember to always Shift this card out! Many a time I have seen the Centinel’s potential wasted quickly by a single Granite Coin or a fast Silence. Outside my designated color zone there is Razorquill, which – even after having its Twist cost nerfed up to two – is a very good unit with a high potential of finishing games. There is also Granite Coin, one of the better ones, which can also act as a source of splashing Fire for those Streets Aflame and Daring Maneuvers … I do not have yet. Seek Answers is a universal card draw, but I somehow never end up picking it.

The card choice is being influenced by me already having a Horn of Plenty, which makes me want to go into token strategies, which in turn supplement (i.e. grow) Submerged Titan quite nicely.

Caleb’s choice: Submerged Titan

Pack 1 Pick 5

This Time I see no yellow cards, but the green ones make up for this fact. Svetya’s Faithful is not exactly a 2-drop, as you usually do not lead with a 1-drop, but having the option to play a free 3/3 from the top of your deck mid-game, without it slowing down you playing your other drops too much, is a huge tempo swing. Emerald Coin is a decent option as well, as it might boost Relentless Deadshot and enable another stun. Outside of Combrei there is another Razorquill, but it is not that much better than Faithful, which ends up being my pick.

Caleb’s choice: Svetya’s Faithful

Pack 1 Pick 6

Another Timeless experience and another Svetya’s Faithful to pick up. Great! Nothing else gets even close here.

Caleb’s choice: Svetya’s Faithful

Pack 1 Pick 7

The choice here falls between a Warp-eager Ben and health-boosting Arcanum Elite. I think of Elite being the usually more synergistic pick, as the two additional points of health can make a huge difference, Twist units or not!

Caleb’s choice: Arcanum Elite

Pack 1 Pick 8

Pick nine and still good cards left in the pack, that is a good sign for sure. Amber Coin is more viable the more Horns you have. Devotee is universally good, but during the game you have to take the contents of your hand into consideration when you are thinking whether to Shift it on turn two or not. Blink is a decent bounce spell, but with a slightly higher cost due to Warp. As Time tends to have more expensive cards than other factions, my pick here is usually Devotee – unless I have a ton of 2-drops already and it is pack four.

Caleb’s choice: Devotee of the Sands

Pack 1 Pick 9

Mute is usually not a playable card, especially that now we tend to have more good cards to choose from. The Primal cards are quite bad. This leaves me with Daring Maneuver – a card I am willing to splash if I do not pick up tricks in Justice and am able to put another color in.

Caleb’s choice: Daring Maneuver

Pack 1 Pick 10

Steadfast Paladin is a fine unit that should attack each turn – unless you know the opponent is not hesitant to block with high toughness units. Although in those situations, if you work out a pattern of always attacking with this unit, once you draw your trick, it is that much easier for you to kill a bigger unit! Having attack buffs such as Horn of Plenty usually helps with Paladin’s value as well.

Caleb’s choice: Steadfast Paladin

Pack 1 Pick 11

Eleventh pick and still a card I could consider playing. Great!

Caleb’s choice: Auric Lookout

Pack 1 Pick 12

Wow, another one! This is usually a good one-of that can swing the tide of a whole attack!

Caleb’s choice: Flash Grenade

Pack 2 Pick 1

Pack one was full of good and filler cards in Time and Justice, which means I am more likely to just look for higher power level of cards and some fixing. Taking a look at the rare makes me quite happy, as Marisen’s Disciple is quite good stat-wise, especially that it is spread over two bodies, which makes for wider blocks and higher synergies with Submerged Titan and Horn of Plenty. There are a lot of other good cards in this pack – Hunter’s Harpoon, Display of Ambition, Combust – all of which would require me to pick up two more colors. That is not what I am willing to do here, especially that I can pick up a very good on-color card.

Caleb’s choice: Marisen’s Disciple

Pack 2 Pick 2

With all Combrei cards lacking in quality, my eyes go towards potential fixing (in packs two and three) and splashes. Token of Vision is right now a bad Combrei Banner that might allow me to go for some Shadow cards. There is also an amazing Xenan 2-drop in Blistering Wasp. Good defensive stats and Deadly on top of it – none shall pass, especially when you boost this unit with Arcanum Elite and such. I am currently not running any Shadow cards nor do I have any Shadow fixing, but this is just the start of pack two, fixing should come my way!

Caleb’s choice: Blistering Wasp

Pack 2 Pick 3

The ultimate Power fixing is here, if ye Seeks it! On the other hand, Combrei Stranger also fixes my power quite nice. You have to remember that the best Strangers are in your main and splash color, not in your main colors though. This and the abundance of quality 2-drops and Combrei being the faction where spells matter makes me want to go for Seek Power instead of the Stranger. I am discounting Runic Protector and Reinforced Baton as mediocre or filler cards right now.

Caleb’s choice: Seek Power

Pack 2 Pick 4

Argenport Stranger is a higher consideration for me than Combrei Stranger was in the previous pack. I think I could have taken it over Seek Power back then as well. I also think it is better than Token of Vision, but it is quite close. With this Stranger, a Seek Power and a single Shadow Sigil I have enough sources already to run the Blistering Wasp I picked a short while ago.

Caleb’s choice: Argenport Stranger

Pack 2 Pick 5

Frostwave is a great card, both as an offensive and as a defensive trick, but would require me to splash another color. When it comes to on-color cards, though, I have Archive Curator, a very good defensive flier with an even better ability of Silencing a unit. This time I am going for consistency over raw power and am trying to solidify myself into Combrei with a potential Shadow splash.

Caleb’s choice: Archive Curator

Pack 2 Pick 6

The ultimate Time fixing is here. I am talking about you, Trail Maker! Elysian Banner could have been the pick here (but probably not over Trail Maker) if I took Frostwave in the previous pack. One word of warning about Forsworn Stranger – it looks like a decent unit, and it probably is, with three to five types of influence being the standard in this draft format. I am very afraid of this unit being Silenced for free from the likes of Archive Curator, Stillweave Shroud, Dispel and Desert Marshal though. That is why I keep avoiding this particular Stranger.

Caleb’s choice: Trail Maker

Pack 2 Pick 7

Downfall is not really a card I want to consider playing – it is way overcosted and usually does not hit anything on the board (unless my opponent is playing it, obviously). Kosul Recruit seems like a decent and solid choice, with the option of Pledging it not coming into effect too often.

Caleb’s choice: Kosul Recruit

Pack 2 Pick 8

I have a lot of fixing options presented to me here. I can go for Xenan Stranger and aim for that Blistering Wasp, or for Rakano or Praxis Stranger and aim for splashing the Daring Maneuver. There is also the Silence effect in Dispel, but I already have an Archive Curator. I think fixing is in order and I have my sights set on Shadow.

Caleb’s choice: Xenan Stranger

Pack 2 Pick 9

Although I already have a ton of 2-drops, Training Ground is the only real card in this pack, a spell that gets you a 2-drop. Sure.

Caleb’s choice: Training Ground

Pack 2 Pick 10

Ooh. Be Gone is the simple bounce effect with Argenport fixing on top. Sure!

Caleb’s choice: Be Gone

Pack 2 Pick 11

Caleb’s choice: Softfoot Burglar

Pack 2 Pick 12

Caleb’s choice: Farplace Finder

Pack 3 Pick 1

Ooh another rare I can use for this Combrei-X special! Although Moonstone Vanguard was nerfed from being a 5/5, it still possesses a lot of value in the draft environment for me to easily consider snatching it. The only other contender is Maddening Whisper, a potentially game-ending multi-bounce spell, although you need a ton of power to make it effective. My heart stays with the Sentinel, nerf or not!

Caleb’s choice: Moonstone Vanguard

Pack 3 Pick 2

More fixing, more silence or some relic weapon support? I mean, I am not into relic weapon or spell-matter synergies and I am quite heavy on 2-drops and fixing, so I think Silence is where this pick is at.

Caleb’s choice: Archive Curator

Pack 3 Pick 3

A flier – and a big one at that – has presented itself! New Order Watchwing can be buffed by things like High Alert and Stalwart Shield for great effect and a free 4/4 relic weapon, which in turn can be boosted by numerous armor-gaining effects waaaargh! Loving it! Strangers are no longer a consideration – I got a lot of fixing and only a single Shadow and a single Fire card I am considering splashing. Primeval Plover is better than it was in a long-forgotten format because of Twist units, which does not make it a great unit anyway.

Caleb’s choice: New Order Watchwing

Pack 3 Pick 4

With a lack of otherwise viable options, I go for a Stranger. An on-color – off-color one is still a decent 2-drop filler, while also giving me some potential of splashing the off-color.

Caleb’s choice: Hooru Stranger

Pack 3 Pick 5

If I go down that Shadow route… Also, nothing better to get.

Caleb’s choice: Xenan Banner

Pack 3 Pick 6

This is an interesting choice between two units with a Silence effect. One is a 2-drop 2/2 with Ambush, the other a 4-drop 1/4 with flying. I think I value the Ambush slightly higher now, because if I can get Unblockable of Flying off an attacking unit, it is usually the same as outright killing it.

Caleb’s choice: Desert Marshall

Pack 3 Pick 7

I do have a lot of fixing already, which makes the Veteran Strategist, Bannerman and Stonescar Stranger slightly worse picks for me. Bear Arms, on the other hand, is my secret love card of the current curated pack set, as I have found myself picking Bloodnurses and Quicksilver Oozes on more than one occasion with the thought of getting some Bear Arms at the back of my mind. Beware, this card works only in certain go-wide and Twist decks.

Caleb’s choice: Bear Arms

Pack 3 Pick 8

Another card I love more than I should is Sadistic Glee. Having just one in my deck means I can mill an opponent, get it back with Dark Return, Umbren Voidbringer, Display of Ambition, bounce it with Burdenbearer Wisp, Be Gone, Safe Return … the re-usability potential goes on and on! Milling for ten and for fourteen can almost finish a game. Combined with a multitude of mill effects added to curated packs, you have yourself an alternative win condition in board stall situations. And yes, having multiple Silence effects helps me with creating those board stalls!

Caleb’s choice: Sadistic Glee

Pack 3 Pick 9

If there is nothing else…

Caleb’s choice: Bannerman

Pack 3 Pick 10

…let me take the potential Shadow splash enablers.

Caleb’s choice: Argenport Banner

Pack 3 Pick 11

Reinforced Baton is also known as the Stranger-Smasher.

Caleb’s choice: Reinforced Baton

Pack 3 Pick 12

Reinforced Towershield is also known as one shiftstone.

Caleb’s choice: Reinforced Towershield

Pack 4 Pick 1

Reinforcements is another joke card that I have lost to and want to forget it ever happened. Wait, what happened? Huh, nevermind.

Death Ripple is a solid removal that is easily splashable with my multitude of Shadow-X sources. Valkyrie Accuser is an amazing game finisher that can also render an opposing unit unable to attack, which – combined with its Flying, is almost like removing the opposing unit entirely. Retribution and Eviscerate are great removals. There is also another Horn of Plenty and another Arcanum Elite. Can I just take the whole pack and call it a day? No? Given that Combrei is usually lacking removal, I will take the Retribution then.

Caleb’s choice: Retribution

Pack 4 Pick 2

I wish I had an angel… A 4/4 Flying Valkyrie with Endurance should work out fine, too!

Caleb’s choice: Steel Legion

Pack 4 Pick 3

Withstand is just such a bomb when played on a unit. Yes, the buff is permanent! Just remember that – unlike with High Alert – this does not ready your unit, so you cannot play this on a depleted unit to ambush-block an opposing attacker. It does get rid of stun effects, though!

Caleb’s choice: Withstand

Pack 4 Pick 4

Having two Retribution means I need to be able to trigger their Onslaught reliably for them to be their best selves. This means I have to value Steadfast Paladin higher than Devotee of the Sands.

Caleb’s choice: Steadfast Paladin

Pack 4 Pick 5

Arcanum Elite’s defensive capabilities, combined with a potential to trigger my Svetya’s Faithfuls on turn two and other Onslaught triggers makes it a better choice than Spellstrike Sorceress.

Caleb’s choice: Arcanum Elite

Pack 4 Pick 6

I like High Alerts, especially because I can get them as really late picks in a draft. I do not know why, but they seem to be passed way too late in packs I keep getting. I know it is not Finest Hour, but it is still a good trick.

Caleb’s choice: High Alert

Pack 4 Pick 7

With an overabundance of 2-drops, I go for the trick.

Caleb’s choice: High Alert

Pack 4 Pick 8

Tauride Test Pilot is a very good unit. Once again I wonder what Praxis cards people have been picking up from this pack for this beauty of a card to get passed onto me. Thank you!

Caleb’s choice: Tauride Test Pilot

Pack 4 Pick 9

Twenty shiftstone is better than one shiftstone.

Caleb’s choice: Slag

Pack 4 Pick 10

Caleb’s choice: Horde Duelist

Pack 4 Pick 11

This Relic Weapon might even end up in my deck.

Caleb’s choice: Twin Sai

Pack 4 Pick 12

Caleb’s choice: Furnish

Draft Pool

After all this maneuvering and all the fixing I have picked up I end up with forty (!) playable non-power cards. I have to limit this number as much as possible, so let me start with the obvious. There is no way that I need to have the two Fire or two Shadow cards in here for this deck to be good. Let me cut them first, as well as the Banners, for this picture to be clearer.

Okay, now we can start from the top. Thirty six playables, with a Seek Power acting as a power card. Seventeen power cards and twenty eight non-power cards means I have to cut eight things here. The unit count is very high, with twenty four and one Training Ground, so let me start cutting there. Twelve (!) 2-drops and a 2-drop Shift unit, that is where I want to start cutting. I need to get below twenty for sure. I might as well start with Training Ground, which is a 3-cost 2-drop, and with no spell-matter cards in my deck it is just out of here! I follow this up with getting rid of off-color Strangers of the Argenport, Hooru and Xenan variety. Auric Lookout can go as well. The last unit to go is Submerged Titan, with me having no multiple unit generation synergies.

I need to cut two more cards. I think the spells are okay, with four tricks, two removals and a bounce spell. Seek Power is in a power card slot, so it really does not count here. That leaves me with attachments. I am not getting rid of Horn of Plenty, so the executioner comes for either Reinforced Baton or Twin Sai. In the end it was Sai that got the boot, because of the big cost difference. This, combined with a quite low curve, makes me go with sixteen power! Obviously I have some units that help with that as well, such as Devotee of the Sands, Trail Maker and the Pledging Kosul Recruit. Seven Time and Nine Sigils, with Seek Power, Bannerman, Trail Maker and Be Gone for influence fixing – this should be a non-standard deck, for sure.

Draft Deck

Draft Summary

I did accumulate two losses in my way to seven wins. The deck turned out to work pretty well, and with no real power sinks like Twist units or loot effects the sixteen power base turned out okay. In the two games I lost I just got out-valued and out-tempo’d.

The only improvement I could have in this deck is another 3-drop or two instead of Bannerman and another early drop, and maybe an upgrade of Reinforced Baton to something like an Unseen Ghostblade, but in general even those cards were not lacking any punch.

It is also note worthy that you can still get an overabundance of quality cards in just two colors in this 3-5-faction format! This is what makes Merchants even better.

Now once again I have some homework for you, dear reader! Try and go through these picks once again and see if you would have been able to build an even better deck from these packs. Maybe you can create a more noteworthy splash here. Which color would be the third one, though? 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!

As always, you can usually find me on TwitchDiscord and Twitter.

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