16 Base Set Cards (12/28/16)

This is a continuation of my ratings of all cards for Dark Draft.

A link to my full tier list may be found here. My reasoning for each card can be found here.

16 Base Set Cards

demon_breach

Demon Breach Rating
Always Acceptable

My opinion of this card has dramatically increased after playing it in specific scenarios. 3 demons on turn is actually fairly reasonable (even if it is worse than Raxxa, Demon Tryant). In addition, being able to recall it to put 3 demons into play on a future turn is pretty nice, especially since the 1 health loss is usually meaningless.

12/12 worth of stats over 3 bodies is decent, hard-to-fully-remove pressure. This can even be some-what desirable late in a draft if you have few establishing champions drafted.

2 demons instead of 3 is a very significant downgrade. If your opponent has just 1 champion in play, they can block your first attacking demon and then only take 4 from the second half of your gold (the second demon). Even the fact that they come into play off-turn doesn’t offset the loss of a demon enough. If you have no other play and the board is empty, it’s okay, but otherwise I would rather hold onto it until my turn.

drain_essence

Drain Essence Rating
Always First Pickable ++

This was the most included card in constructed at Worlds 2016 for a reason, and it’s even more reliably powerful in dark draft. 9 damage is enough to break all but 21 champions, and in dark draft your opponent will certainly have some of the other 100 in their deck. In addition, 9 health is a very significant amount of health gain which more than negates a single use of the highest, single-target, direct damage event in the game: Flame Strike. There are very few cards I would take over Drain Essence.

drinker_of_blood

Drinker of Blood Rating
Situationally Desirable –

I don’t particularly like Drinker of Blood in dark draft (nor constructed for that matter). This is a powerful combo card that can deal a significant amount of unpreventable damage, assuming a very specific board state exists when you play it and you have an enabler like Flash Fire or Wither in hand.

If you have already drafted a significant amount of token generation like Zannos Corpse Lord, Murderous Necromancer, Necrovirus, Rabble Rouser, etc., picking this later in the draft can be reasonable. But, I would not pick this early in the draft with the intention of building a deck around it. If you don’t get the required pieces for it, a slow, 5/4, airborne, unbreakable on your turn champion will do very little.

final_task

Final Task Rating
Always Acceptable

With its draw 2 option this card is never bad, and with its other option it can be incredible.

In alignment, 2 of the best cards to use this on are Angel of Death, for a (potentially off-turn) board clear with no draw back, and Murderous Necromancer, for 4 zombie tokens and targeted removal (potentially off-turn). Returning an unbreakable champion like Juggernaut is also great because it will survive the “Break it at the end of the turn” trigger. To permanently return any champion (potentially off-turn), you can Brave Squire the champion you put into play with Final Task.

Using this on Thought Plucker on your turn is another popular strategy because it immediately draws a card and forces your opponent to discard while threatening to deal combat damage and do it again. In addition, it would die anyway so removing it is less appealing. Brave Squiring the Thought Plucker in this situation can be really obnoxious (and great).

Even with these potentially great uses (Kong, Palace Guard, Rampaging Wurm, Frost Giant being some others), I still don’t value it higher than Always Acceptable generally. In a lot of decks, it might just be another blitz champion that breaks at the end of the turn. On the bright side, that blitz champion could be the strongest champion in either player’s discard pile.

divine_judgment

Divine Judgement Rating
Always Desirable +

Board clears in dark draft are frequently amazing. Banish is an incredibly strong effect. It can be nice with unbanishable champions, but most unbanishable champions aren’t amazing and Good is fairly weak in dark draft.

Draw 2 cards is always an appreciated secondary option.

faithful_pegasus

Faithful Pegasus Rating
Situationally Desirable

I played against this in the second dark draft round of worlds, and I had no answer for it allowing my opponent’s Palace Guard to fly over my champions twice. 8 damage twice with recycle was pretty nice.

0-cost airborne, blitz, tribute -> recycle is a nice combination of abilities. 2 damage isn’t a ton, but it isn’t horrible on its own. With other reasonable humans (Markus Watch Captain, Time Walker, Royal Escort, Lord of the Arena, White Knight, Helion the Dominator, Palace Guard, Jungle Queen, Pyromancer, The People’s Champion, Elara the Lycomancer, Noble Martyr, Courageous Soul, Chamberlain Kark, Gladius the Defender, Avenger of Covenant, Master Zo, Village Protector, Zannos Corpse Lord, Corpsemonger, Knight of Elara, and Citadel Scholar), it can actually be fairly strong. That is actually a lot more than I was expecting to find with at least a few of them being cards I would want to draft regardless.

Yeah, I’ll probably actually start keeping track of whether or not I have any number of reasonable humans to possibly pair with this card in future drafts now.

feint

Feint Rating
Always Acceptable –

It’s a draw 2, and that is usually it.

It can remove your attackers or blockers from combat too (which can let you attack or block again that turn instead of dealing damage in the first combat), but I usually use it just to draw 2 at the end of my opponent’s turn before a situation arises in which I care about that effect.

It does have some cool highly unlikely interactions I talk about here though.

gold_dragon

Gold Dragon Rating
Frequently Desirable

6/8, airborne, blitz is a reasonable card to punish an opponent for spending their gold first on my turn. Adding 6 health gain from the righteous (for a net 12 health swing) is a very nice perk too.

If you do have other Good champions in play, that AoE righteous can really create a lot of health quickly. Due to this, if I had this card I might consider drafting Kark.

frost_giant

Frost Giant Rating
Frequently Desirable

8 offense blitzer is solid. The fact that it expends all potential blockers before it is played is great. 12 defense so it survives almost all damage based removal, very nice.

In addition, the expend effect can be a great way to win a stalemate after multiple turns of no board clears. Surprise Attack, and to a lesser extent Final Task, can be a great way to get this effect off-turn too.

hasty_retreat

Hasty Retreat Rating
Always First Pickable –

Bounce in dark draft is great. This card lets you remove a 1-cost champion from play without spending a gold. It can also punish someone for Lashing/Raging one of their champions after you chump block it. (As the defender, you always get the last initiative-pass in combat so you always have the chance to Hasty Retreat after they play their Rage/Lash.)

This can be a great save against an opponent that plays a blitz threat while your gold is down even if you can’t chump block the attacker. Using a card and letting your opponent draw a card isn’t great, but if both players are at 7 cards in hand, blocking 9+ damage and removing a champion can frequently be worth it.

ice_drake

Ice Drake Rating
Frequently Desirable

6/8 airborne, ambush is always reasonable. The fact that it can also expend all of your opponent’s champions when you play it makes this great. This allows you to shut down an opponent’s ability to attack you on their turn, and it prevents those same champions from blocking on your next turn. Also, since it’s Sage, I’ll probably have the loyalty.

juggernaut

Juggernaut Rating
Frequently Desirable +

This is such an annoying card to play against. 9 blitz, breakthrough damage on an unbreakable champion that drew a card feels bad to face if you don’t have an answer to it. Due to the combination of these abilities, it is even worthwhile to play while your opponent’s gold is up and you will still probably get 9 damage through.

On your opponent’s turn though, it is almost certainly going to get removed due to it’s 3 defense.

The best answers to this card negate it’s attack while keeping it in play for you to break on your turn: Fumble, Angelic Protector, Spore Beast, Lurking Giant, Helion‘s loyalty ability, and Blind Faith.

Works incredibly well with Final Task (it doesn’t break if you use it on your turn) and Army of the Apocalypse (since the blitz is not granted with loyalty 2).

flame_strike

Flame Strike Rating
Always First Pickable

8 damage to the face wins a lot of games. It can also be used as fast, targeted removal for a reasonable number of champions too.

You generally only want to target your opponent’s face when it would win the game or set you up to win with your next gold though. Flame Strike on their turn after they spend their gold then Fires of Rebellion on your turn before they can spend their gold is pretty nice.

flash_fire

Flash Fire Rating
Always First Pickable –

2 damage to everything is a great way to clear off tokens, and it also breaks other pesky champions like Muse, Necromancer Lord, and Thought Plucker.

Or draw 2 is always appreciated too.

forked_lightning

Forked Lightning Rating
Situationally Acceptable

I would only want this card if I already had other burn in my deck, or if I knew my opponent already had a significant amount of burn in their deck. Usually this reads as deal 5 damage to target champion and 5 damage to your opponent. It is rare that you will have two 5-or-less-defense champions you want to break when you play this card.

hunting_raptors

Hunting Raptors Rating
Situationally Acceptable

More burn. Generally you play this on your opponent’s turn after they spend their gold to deal 4 damage to them. Then, on your turn you immediately expend it again to do 4 more damage (effectively a Flame Strike).

It does deal 4 damage though which is an important break point for champion defense, so it can be used as removal. However, at 5 defense it is susceptible to a lot of removal itself.

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