Drafting with the Stars #26 – The Usual

Hello and welcome to a new installment of Drafting with the Stars! A friendly reminder – the Eternal Draft Guide is active for the current format, alongside card ratings.

Over time and playing multiple drafts in a specific format, one tends to favor some color combinations and card interactions more than other. This article will be more about staying inside my comfort zone than experimenting – just going for the good stuff(TM). Let us once again begin!

Pack 1 Pick 1

As I start a new draft, my eyes as usual venture to the top left … and I feel a wave of disappointment. Why can it not be one of the Warp legendaries? I have not opened one since I started playing in the 6.5 draft format, and right now, with the addition of all the fixing opening one of those cards would be just perfect. Instead … Stonehewer … ah, forget it.

There are two great cards in this pack, fortunately. Umbren Voidbringer is a 10/10 almost perfect unit – evasion and card advantage in one. The only downside is that it is not splashable. The other card is Horn of Plenty, a card that I had to up my rating to 10/10 recently. As one of my devoted viewers XellosKotEC vel Olorin the Wise keeps reminding me, this Relic is just sooo goooood there are not enough os to describe it. Horn of Plenty can help you with your go wide tactics, with your Twist units, with your taxes, can grab you a coffee.

Suddenly I felt a nudge from Baleb and went with the Shadow card.

Caleb’s choice: Umbren Voidbringer

Pack 1 Pick 2

The rare might be missing here, but I still have great uncommons to choose from. Lethrai Direbeast is the obvious one to gaze upon, as it is in the color of my previous pick – a very sturdy unit, just a much better Brightmace Paladin. Next up is Steel Legion, the Angel among Valkyries, so to say – great and evasive, a straight 10/10 poster unit. Impatient Pyromage might be smaller, but his fiery temper can net you a free card from time to time. You cannot also forget about Crooked Alleyguide (although I think Direbeast is slightly better, unless you are fully committed to building a very aggressive deck) and Corrupted Behemoth, a unit almost as good as Steel Legion, with Overwhelm being counted as semi-evasion.

This early in a draft I tend to pick card quality over consistency, mainly because I have not chosen my colors yet (unless I opened one of previously mentioned Warp legendaries, which is not the case here). Steel Legion is a much better unit than any of the two Shadow ones I am presented with.

Caleb’s choice: Steel Legion

Pack 1 Pick 3

This is a much weaker pack than the previous two, as it does not offer any amazing cards on the face of it. There are some good medium-value picks here, like Kosul Curator or Char. I started to look at the two cards I have already chosen. Both are rather expensive, which means I will probably be running a more midrange or controlling deck. Why not choose Valkyrie Accuser then? I mean, stat-wise it is a very good green flier, with Aegis nonetheless and an ability to shut down an opposing attacker. It is also yet another flier, and those – as you probably know by now – win draft games.

Caleb’s choice: Valkyrie Accuser

Pack 1 Pick 4

There are no Fire cards in this pack. This early on you have to look for these signals – if they are repeated in future packs they mean something, on their own as a single occurrence they might be chalked up to pack variance, e.g. when the single Fire card in a pack is a premium legendary.

When it comes to Argenport – the colors I have been picking up so far – High Alert and Razorquill are quite good cards. I consider the trick to be slightly better at this point, because all of my previous picks were units, so just to counterweigh the current composition. Seek Answers has not really been a card I played in drafts … at all? It is not bad, but I seem to always find a better card to pick. Tremorshocker and Arcanum Elite are decent signs that Time might be open…

Caleb’s choice: High Alert

Pack 1 Pick 5

This time around – no Shadow. Justice only has one card, and one that is not usually great in Spellstrike Sorceress. I could think about choosing a third color or staying away from Shadow, with Nimble Conscript being a very aggressive Fire card (something that would not fit great with the controlling theme of my picks) and Tremorshocker being a nice midgame unit, albeit not very splashable. Swirl the Sands could also be an option as a very conditional removal. In the end I went with staying on color and not exploring further options.

Caleb’s choice: Spellstrike Sorceress

Pack 1 Pick 6

Now we have no Justice cards in the pack. This is what I said about signals not meaning much if they are not repeated. Bandit’s Flail is the only on-color card for me, so to say. Fortunately Justice offers a ton of Armor support and that makes Flail a slightly better card than just a raw 3/2 Relic Weapon. I could also think about getting the Quicksilver Ooze, but that would have been a much better option had I started the deck with Horn of Plenty instead of Umbren Voidbringer.

Caleb’s choice: Bandit’s Flail

Pack 1 Pick 7

While one Flail might be okay, the second one will not fit into most decks. The Fire cards are pretty bad, as is the Primal card. The most playable one here is Displaced Oryctodon, which is saying a lot about this pack. Anyway, I might still go into Time, seeing as I get passed a lot of Time cards in the first pack.

Caleb’s choice: Displaced Oryctodon

Pack 1 Pick 8

Inner Might and Twin Sai are midweight Justice cards that are good in specific decks, be it Spell-heavy or Armor-heavy ones. Novice Entomancer, on the other hand, is a very good Time unit, or rather two! I think I want to explore the option of having Time in my deck more and more, as it seems to be a more open color than Shadow.

Caleb’s choice: Novice Entomancer

Pack 1 Pick 9

Not much to get from here, but Furnish at least has a potential place in Twist-heavy decks, if it comes to that.

Caleb’s choice: Furnish

Pack 1 Pick 10

If you are low on Spells, Blink is a good trick to have in your deck. I mean, I would usually play Be Gone over it, especially in a deck that had at least some Justice and/or Shadow cards, but still, beggars cannot be choosers.

Caleb’s choice: Blink

Pack 1 Pick 11

That is a very nice Ooze to pick up. Too bad I cannot support it in any way yet.

Caleb’s choice: Quicksilver Ooze

Pack 1 Pick 12

Caleb’s choice: Boot Knife

Pack 2 Pick 1

The story so far… Calebovitsch has picked up a couple of great Shadow and Justice cards in an attempt to win another draft! Then, some Time cards fell in as well. The journey continues…

Shingane Captain is not a part of this story, as right now I am thinking of just picking cards in the Kerendon colors, i.e. Time/Justice/Shadow. I could consider some Fire or Primal cards for a splash, but they would have to be 9/10 or 10/10, with just a single influence requirement. What we do have here right now is a very good Justice flier – New Order Watchwing – that especially shines in slower, more controlling decks. We also already have one of the best triggers for the Valkyrie – High Alert. Aside from that there is some good influence fixing in Xenan Banner and Token of Vision. In general if you are presented with a full on-color Token it is better than a Banner, unless you have a ton of influence requirements in all your colors.

All that being said, at this point I am still going for card quality over influence fixing, as we are sure to get passed some in future picks.

Caleb’s choice: New Order Watchwing

Pack 2 Pick 2

Once again, Fire is missing from the packs. Remember that in packs two and three the signals come from a different line of people taking the cards.

As for the cards themselves, Mighty Strikes is a very good trick, but it is not such a groundbreaking feat not accessible in our colors that I want to rush in and snatch it. Nesting Avisaur is just an average flier, as the Summon effect will rarely be useful. With most of the Kerendon cards being just bad here, the only choice goes down to Training Ground or Avirax Familiar. Now, Training Ground has lost a lot of value with the format being overpopulated by cheap 2/2s, while Avirax Familiar can ramp us up to our more expensive cards pretty easily.

Caleb’s choice: Avirax Familiar

Pack 2 Pick 3

No Justice cards here this time, but we still have a lot to choose from, fortunately. Xenan Stranger is a great place to start, but I would like to say a few words about another card first. Friendly Wisp has a sub-par statline, just compare it to Arcanum Elite, which is one power cheaper to begin with and has a very impactful ability in the current format. Wisp’s ability, on the other hand, will not get triggered that often! If you take a look through the card pool, aside from some really expensive cards, the only real source of the Wisp’s activation comes from Tremorshocker and Wurmstone – unless you have multiples of Horn of Plenty, that is, then just snatch the Wisp right here and now!

Caleb’s choice: Xenan Stranger

Pack 2 Pick 4

This early in pack two I am not too keen on picking on-color / off-color Strangers, as there will be time for such fillers later. First I want to take a look at the other cards. Heirloom Seeker is a decent early defender, with the Unblockable option being activated by all the Relic Weapons you can play in Argenport colors. Valkyrie Militant, while weaker on the stats, has a good ability, making your Relic Weapons last longer and be able to take down an additional enemy unit. In the end, especially with being a controlling deck with a Bandit’s Flail to start the party with, the latter option is what I went for.

Caleb’s choice: Valkyrie Militant

Pack 2 Pick 5

Copperhall Cudgel is a clear pick here, just be careful of enemy bounce spells. Another consideration could be Dispel, but I tend to get that one later in the packs, I do not want to play two of them and there are other, more playable Silence effects in Combrei colors, such as Archive Curator and Desert Marshal.

Caleb’s choice: Copperhall Cudgel

Pack 2 Pick 6

Me having no Primal to splash already disqualifies both the Elysian Stranger and the Elysian Banner. Forsworn Stranger is always an option, as even decks that are running cards in three colors have access to more influence types than that. It is prone to Silence, though, which makes me shy away from this unit at all times. Maybe I am a bit paranoid, but maybe … they want to Silence us all! Fortunately, there is a great Master-at-Arms here that is in reality a 4/4 unit for two power, just that those stats are spread out.

Caleb’s choice: Master-at-Arms

Pack 2 Pick 7

Eternity Core was very powerful in the old Amplify 5.0 and 5.5 draft metagame, but not anymore. Even in my rather control-looking deck, there is no way of spending too much power. Sporebreath is the only actual card and, while quite bad as a removal, it is still removal.

Caleb’s choice: Sporebreath

Pack 2 Pick 8

This is when I love getting my on-color Strangers. So late in the pack, with just a couple of options. Great!

Caleb’s choice: Argenport Stranger

Pack 2 Pick 9

Downfall is not really playable, but if you know you will lose to a big unit, you can still just run it. I mean, I have lost some really great units to it, so you cannot take it out of the equation when thinking about your opponent’s plays and counterplays.

Caleb’s choice: Downfall

Pack 2 Pick 10

I am not a great fan of this Minotaur, it will most likely not make the cut.

Caleb’s choice: Minotaur Oathkeeper

Pack 2 Pick 11

Caleb’s choice: Mass Entomancy

Pack 2 Pick 12

Neat-o!

Caleb’s choice: Xenan Banner

Pack 3 Pick 1

Vodakhan’s Staff is finally a Rare I can get behind! If you have it in your deck, though, remember to play up to seven power and have a Sigil at the ready to get Staff back from your void – yes, it triggers on the eighth power! Another choice would be Horngrinder, but we already got a lot of solid late-game units to carry us forward to victory! I would much rather get the overpowered Staff here.

Caleb’s choice: Vodakhan’s Staff

Pack 3 Pick 2

Courier Albatross is actually one of those cards that I would consider splashing at this moment, if I had a Hooru or an Elysian Stranger, maybe a Seek Power. Unfortunately I do not, so let us move to other cards which are just slightly lower on my ratings scale. Hello, Trail Maker! Need I say more?

Caleb’s choice: Trail Maker

Pack 3 Pick 3

Wurmstone is a good, albeit slow card, which is why I tend to shy from it in the current format. I am also running quite low on spells, which makes triggering said Wurmstone problematic. A second Valkyrie Militant is not really a good option outside dedicated Relic Weapon-heavy decks. Lethrai Intimidator seems to me like a worse version of Stonescar Outfitter, but it comes into play a earlier and with more blocking in mind. It is still a solid choice!

Caleb’s choice: Lethrai Intimidator

Pack 3 Pick 4

I try to shy away from picking 2-drops, as I know I will usually end up with enough of them anyway. That makes me want to pick Kosul Recruit here over Heirloom Seeker. Neither of these are a great choice, and they might now make the final cut to the deck, but none of the other cards seem any better for us.

Caleb’s choice: Kosul Recruit

Pack 3 Pick 5

This is your usual which piece of fixing should I go for pack. Usually Seek Power is the best answer, especially that you play it in place of a Power card. Other than that, Xenan Banner is obviously better for us than Token of Knowledge, unless we previously picked up Courier Albatross or Forsworn Stranger.

Caleb’s choice: Seek Power

Pack 3 Pick 6

I am not a great fan of Primeval Plover, this card – while playable – always seemed a bit overcosted for what it does. Reinforced Baton is the Stranger Smasher, and that should be good enough for me. I mean, between Baton, Rotorsmith, Training Ground and Lethrai Intimidator, these are picks of similar value, so you have to take a look at what your deck is missing at this point. In my opinion it is removal, not units. Hence this choice of mine.

Caleb’s choice: Reinforced Baton

Pack 3 Pick 7

Many cards to choose from, none of them particularly great. Lethrai Intimidator is still good at what it does.

Caleb’s choice: Lethrai Intimidator

Pack 3 Pick 8

Just a Banner, in case I get a late Frostwave or something. If you know you are not getting any Primal, though – which is what I should have been thinking at this point – go for Obliviobot! You are not going to play either of those card, and the uncommon gives you nineteen shiftstone more.

Caleb’s choice: Hooru Banner

Pack 3 Pick 9

One Sporebreath is bad enough. Two of them … although with no Retributions or Eviscerates, who knows?

Caleb’s choice: Sporebreath

Pack 3 Pick 10

Perfect! Fully on-color Token still in the pack, just waiting for me.

Caleb’s choice: Token of Vision

Pack 3 Pick 11

Caleb’s choice: Breathstealer

Pack 3 Pick 12

If I am low on 2-drops, this card might still make it in the deck. In fact, I think I would value this higher than, say, Displaced Oryctodon, because it can be played regardless of the influence I already have and it is an additional source of Shadow, which I need two of for the likes of, say, Umbren Voidbringer.

Caleb’s choice: Feln Stranger

Pack 4 Pick 1

We are back to bad rares, it seems. Fortunately, there is Retribution in this pack and I am very happy to finally get this piece of removal.

Caleb’s choice: Retribution

Pack 4 Pick 2

While Ice Bolt is a playable mid- and late-game removal spell, I do not want to splash it at this point. Bloodnurse is kind of weak if I am not running Horn of Plenty or Bear Arms. The choice now is between Svetya’s Faithful, Devotee of the Sands and High Alert. With my unit total still quite high and my trick / removal total quite low, I am gladly picking up another High Alert. Just remember, people learned about this card some time ago and are now usually trying to play around it.

Caleb’s choice: High Alert

Pack 4 Pick 3

Okay, this is definitely not a Dizo’s Racket deck. The choice here boils down to Svetya’s Faithful and Roosting Warhawk. I always have the Warhawk vs Steel Legion comparison in my head, but – once again, and always in draft – beggars cannot be choosers and fliers win draft games. Thinking of the power curve, Svetya’s Faithful is not really a 2-drop, so no worries on passing a 2-drop here.

Caleb’s choice: Roosting Warhawk

Pack 4 Pick 4

Time is not my main color, and I did not pick any double Time cards, which makes me want to shy away from Tremorshocker. That just leaves another Warhawk.

Caleb’s choice: Roosting Warhawk

Pack 4 Pick 5

With a plethora of units and no constant Armor-gainers like Rotorsmith or Tauride Test Pilot, Kosul Bladebarrier can be just a weak card most of the time. I would rather pick up the Coin here.

Caleb’s choice: Amber Coin

Pack 4 Pick 6

A third High Alert will probably not make it in the deck, but with the only other choice being Hunting Anoura … yeah I hate Anoura. Even if it just had a non-conditional Warp, it is still worse than Cloudsnake Matriarch – a card with the same rarity, nonetheless!

Caleb’s choice: High Alert

Pack 4 Pick 7

Wow, this is a great find, this late in the draft. Although, it is exactly this late in the draft when you get very surprising gifts!

Caleb’s choice: Horn of Plenty

Pack 4 Pick 8

Now that I have a Horn of Plenty, Bloodnurse’s value shoots up by a couple of rating points.

Caleb’s choice: Bloodnurse

Pack 4 Pick 9

Probably not going to play the Missionary, unless I see my early game too lacking.

Caleb’s choice: Warfront Missionary

Pack 4 Pick 10

Caleb’s choice: Muck Crawler

Pack 4 Pick 11

Probably will not make it into the deck, but still is an option.

Caleb’s choice: Sauropod Crasher

Pack 4 Pick 12

Caleb’s choice: Hold Under

Draft Pool

Alright, a ton of units, a few attachments and some rather sub-par tricks. Yeah, you always have to look at the cards you already picked, otherwise I would not even have Reinforced Baton or at least two of those High Alerts here. Also, if I had picked Horn of Plenty as my first card, instead of Umbren Voidbringer, I think I could have gone with Primal as my third color instead of Shadow – especially given how much Elysian and Hooru fixing I was offered.

Nevertheless, we got a deck to build, so let us start with the basics and that is power. Thirty five cards, one of which is Seek Power, means that as a baseline I need to cut seven of them. With twenty two units … I can cut four or five of them. That means two or three Attachments or Spells have to go. The Attachments are rather good – even Bandit’s Flail, as it can be a different kind of removal than Sporebreath. As far as spells go I can shave off Blink, two Sporebreaths and a High Alert. After some consideration One Sporebreath and one High Alert go to the bin, giving me access to different kinds of answers.

As far as the units go, first let me cut the obvious ones. Minotaur Oathkeeper and Spellstrike Sorceress have to go. Three more should get the axe. I have six 2-drops, which is on the higher side, as I usually like to have just four or five of them. As I previously said, Displaced Oryctodon is kind of worse than a one on-color Stranger, so it has to go. I think I would keep it, though, over a fully off-color Stranger or if I had a Blurred Stygimoloch in my deck – but that is mostly because Stygimoloch loves you to Shift a unit on turn one. Anyway, Kosul Recruit also seems underwhelming. The last cut goes to one of the Lethrai Intimidators, as my end game plan is already very solid, and they do not add to it too much. After adding some power, the masterpiece is complete!

Draft Deck

Draft Summary

This deck has a lot of weak cards, and saying masterpiece at the end of the previous paragraph was a big stretch. Feln Stranger, Lethrai Intimidator, Valkyrie Militant, Bandit’s Flail, Sporebreath, Blink … they could have been better cards.

Fortunately I was able to run away with this deck, just losing one game throughout this run. Things just clicked and went according to plan. If you also take a look at the Justice Winged Armada(TM), yeah, that is the main reason of those seven wins – keeping the ground occupied and flying towards the goal.

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!

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

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