This is a continuation of my ratings of all cards for Dark Draft.
I talk about this idea a lot, so I’m keywording it.
- Gold-Punisher: A card that is best played after your opponent has spent their gold for the turn. The primary on-turn gold-punishers are blitz champions. The primary off-turn gold-punishers are ambush champions.
16 Base Set Cards
Guilt Demon Rating
Always Desirable +
Guilt Demon is a great card because it is a
- 0-cost champion
- targeted discard pile banishment
- (ambush, demon)
Unlike Little Devil with its 4 defense, however, there exist a lot of 0-cost answers to this card. It also dies to a lot of incidental damage attached to other champions like Blue Dragon or Draka Dragon Tyrant. Due to this, you do not want to play this card out as 0-cost blitz champion gold bait on turn 1. It is highly likely to be removed giving you no advantage.
Instead, this is a card you generally want to hold onto until there is at least 1 or 2 cards in your opponent’s discard pile that you want to banish. Use it on your turn to banish 2 cards and either deal 3 damage to your opponent or force them to use a card from their hand. If it can make multiple attacks, great, but with its 2 defense it probably won’t.
Rating: 4 –
This card is great for immediately removing a card from your opponent’s discard pile on their turn, or two cards on your turn. In addition, a 3/2 airborne, blitz body is not bad. If your opponent has no cards that care about discard piles, and your opponent has a lot of fliers or ways to do 2 damage, this card becomes weaker, but against cards like Lightning Storm this can be a first pick.
Infernal Gatekeeper Rating
13/13 stats over 2 bodies for the cost of 1 health and a gold isn’t great, but it isn’t terrible either. The fact that this can keep producing demons if not removed makes it a real threat though, if you have enough Evil. Also, it is a demon so it survives Raxxa’s Displeasure while also putting another demon into play.
If you are going Evil and there is nothing better, this is a reasonable card to pick up. It also works better in a deck that can already produce some amount of tokens to add to the pressure. In addition, attaching a demon to your Evil draw 2’s is another way to get slightly further ahead while not risking over-extending.
A 9/9 is a decent body, repeatedly getting a demon for 1 health is not terrible, but I feel like this card never actually does anything.
Tyrants Updated Rating: 3+
I value token spawning cards a lot more now. This card can easily get out of control if not removed quickly, particularly if you have an Evil investment.
In addition, this card was indirectly buffed by the plethora of demon based cards in Tyrants. This card itself is a demon, so it survives Raxxa’s Displeasure for example. Demon based cards in general are a lot more plentiful now which makes this card significantly better. The more demon related cards in your deck, the better this card gets.
Inner Demon Rating
Always Desirable –
I like targeted removal and “or draw 2 cards” cards. Unfortunately, since I like to use my targeted removal off-turn, leaving my opponent a demon is a disincentive compared to other targeted removal cards.
Rating: 3+, 4+
I highly value direct removal. This does not require an Evil investment. In a light (direct) removal environment I consider this a 5 potential first pick.
Situationally Desriable ++
This is one of the absolute best possible cards for a deck with an Evil commitment. It is a reasonably sized ambush champion with targeted removal included. Both of those are incredibly powerful in Dark Draft. It’s also a demon.
If you have the Evil commitment, there are not a lot of cards I would take over this. It’s also a major incentive to start going Evil itself.
Rating: 4 (Evil investment required)
Fast direct removal is great. Leaving behind a 6/8 body is an added bonus, but not amazing. Without loyalty, this drops in value significantly. This card can be counter picked, but does not need to be. While this card does always leave behind a significantly bigger body then either Bitten or Inner Demon and even on your opponent’s turn, I feel like I would rather have those cards for the option of draw 2 and lack of loyalty 2 requirement. In a heavy direct removal environment, I actually think this is better. Ambush it into play on your opponent’s turn. Then if they ambush a blocker on your turn, use another removal card on that new champion.
High King Rating
If you are already going Good, it is banish-based, slow, possibly repeating removal. One use is pretty strong, two uses is incredible, and if your opponent has to use a 1-cost card specifically to remove this (instead of a 0-cost card or incidentally with another card), it can answer 2+ gold for the price of 1.
Rating: 5 (Good investment required) First pick, Counter pick, Board Control
Targeted removal reusable each turn if not removed is incredible, and banish is generally better than break. Without the Good investment this card is removed by literally all removal in the game and probably won’t do anything. But, if not removed, this will control the board.
Inheritance of the Meek Rating
Always First Pickable
An off-turn banish-based board clear is always powerful. Drawing a card for your opponent isn’t great, but it can potentially get you back into a game.
Since it doesn’t effect tokens, it can be incredible in a demon/zombie deck, but if your opponent is going tokens it could be largely worthless. At least it has its “or draw 2 cards” option.
Rating: 3+, 5- First Pick
Since this only banishes non-token champions, if you have a lot of token champions it is better, but it’s worse if your opponent has a lot of token champions. In addition, drawing a card is huge, but a fast non-token banishing board clear is even better. Against token decks counter pick this.
Inner Peace Rating
I don’t rate this card too highly because it can’t get you ahead, and it can’t bring you back when behind. It can only get you further ahead or keep you from losing. I would rather have cards that advance me towards winning.
That being said, an extra 10 health can be enough to close out a game. This is especially true against decks with significant amounts of burn. If you can recall it even once in that type of match up, and you never give your opponent an opportunity to use two 1-cost burn cards in a row before you can play this, you pretty much can’t be burned out. This can also be a nice way to increase your advantage on a turn when you are already ahead on the board and your opponent has already spent their gold.
In other words, I would only want to draft this if I knew I passed my opponent a significant amount of burn: 2+ burn cards.
This was another card that has had a lot of conversation about it being too powerful. If you have limited card draw, then being able to spend your gold every other turn to gain 10 health is quite strong. So, in a card draw light environment when you have a Good investment, this card goes up to a 4.
As I have mentioned though, card draw is so important that you should try to avoid putting yourself into a position where this is great. I rate this lowly because it does not affect the board at all, and if you opponent spends their gold to remove/play a champion, and you just gain life, you will get behind.
It is, however, a strong way to stop very aggressive decks that try to beat you with primarily direct damage.
Lord of the Arena Rating
A 13/9 unbreakable, blitzer is a nice on-turn gold-punisher.
I am not a huge fan of how easy it is to remove (at 9 defense) on my opponent’s next turn though, nor the fact that a 5/9 champion isn’t a huge threat on my next turn. However, if you have a significant amount of 1-cost Good cards (generally weaker than other alignments in dark draft), the threat of being able to make it unbreakable the instant your opponent passes initiative each turn is real.
The “must be blocked if able” ability is cool, but it almost never matters.
This is another card that might not do anything the turn it comes into play due to fast bounce and fast banishment. The reason this is a 3 and not a 2, is that if you can get your opponent to use their coin, this has the potential to do 13 unbreakable damage to the face or to a lone champion your opponent controls. Using the card to remove a champion in that way would make this a 5, but it is unlikely to happen often in actual play (it’s an unlikely situation and Hasty Retreat).
Keeper of Secrets Rating
Other people value this higher than I do, and they are probably correct. Targeted discard removal is great. Essentially tribute -> recycle is great (assuming you play a 1-cost Sage card immediately after playing this). The fact that it also threatens to recycle every turn thereafter is also great. If needed, it can also always attack for 2 too.
In my experience, whenever I could draft it, there are usually other cards I want more.
2/3 blitz can do some damage if needed. Recycle on a Sage ally trigger is incredible if you have a Sage investment. I have been picking this card specifically to banish cards like Lightning Storm and Soul Hunter. However, if you have a heavy Sage investment then that ally->recycle is probably the best part of the card. In a heavy Sage investment deck where your opponent has strong discard pile effects, this is a 5 first pick.
Lying in Wait Rating
Always Desirable –
I like off-turn targeted removal that leaves my opponent with nothing a lot; I used to absolutely love this card because it does that incredibly well. A lot of champions are only threats because they can attack. Attacking with 1 champion at a time (attacking alone) is usually correct. So, when a threatening champion attacks alone, you can use this to remove it. The ability to remove Sea Titan, Steel Golem, Juggernaut, etc., and the fact that it banishes the champion are also big deals.
However, if your opponent still has their gold up when you play this, you leave yourself open to an on-turn gold-punisher. In addition, this card can never deal with non-attacking threats like Necromancer Lord or Hunting Raptors.
If nothing else, it is a Sage “or draw 2” which has value.
Memory Spirit Rating
This is a nice off-turn gold-punisher. Throw this down after your opponent spent their gold on their turn and you get a 5/4 airborne champion that can attack next turn, and you get your best event back from your discard pile.
5/4 airborne, ambush body is decent. Returning an event card from your discard pile to hand can be really useful. For instance, using this to return an Ancient Chant will still draw you the card, but you also get a 5/4 airborne body on your opponent’s turn as well (or you could return a Wolf’s Companion, Rage, etc. during an attack on your turn). 1-cost cards like Erase are also great to play a second time.
Tyrants Updated Rating: 4+
I value evasive, ambush champions a lot more now. A 5/4 airborne, ambush body is excellent. In addition, returning 0-cost events to hand is just so powerful. I love having a discard pile full of Fumble, Feeding Frenzy, Flash Fire, etc. just waiting to be replayed when I need them. Sure, it can also return 1-cost events, which can be great (especially board clears and Ceasefire), but I love it for the 0-costs.
Always First Pickable
One of the most powerful cards in the game.
Drawing a card at the start of each of your turns can get out of control quickly. Play this at the end of your opponent’s turn, and then if it survives for 2 turns (don’t need to attack with it) you were able to draw 2 cards with a 0-cost card. In other words, your opponent must remove it as soon as possible. If they don’t have a 0-cost answer immediately, it at minimum replaces itself on your turn and will force your opponent to use a card/effect on it later.
Muse (and Thought Plucker) is the primary reason why 2+ damage 0-cost cards are so powerful/important.
Muse is also one of the reasons why Good is weaker because they have no 0-cost answers to Muse if it doesn’t attack. They also have no incidental answers to it with 1-cost cards (except for Quell, but that also hits your Rescue Griffins, White Dragons, Paros Rebel Leaders, and/or human tokens). In order for a Good deck to deal with a Muse, they either need to use an entire 1-cost removal effect like Palace Guard/Forced Exile or splash a different alignment.
This is one of the most frustrating parts about constructed Epic. Muse is so powerful and so prevalent, most decks want multiple 0-cost answers for it because without them, they can just get run over. Therefore, a primarily Good deck needs to splash other factions to get access to 0-cost answers. This also monopolizes non-Good 0-cost slots making it harder to bring cards like Little Devil, Fumble, Rage, etc. because the 5-15 non-Good 0-cost cards are at least partially accounted for by Consume, Raxxa’s Curse, Wither, Forcemage Apprentice, Siren’s Song, Fireball, Flame Spike, Flash Fire, Lightning Strike, and/or Wolf’s Bite (at least there are multiple choices).
And yes, I am still partially bitter about my loss at Origins in the finals to 2+ Muses per game when I was playing my Combative Humans deck (my opponent was also one of the best players in the world), but I’ve been beating my head against this problem with every Good deck I’ve tried to make since. Good-based Kark decks winning Worlds and the first Constructed Qualifier for 2017 show that it’s possible to build a strong Good deck, but I still think this is an issue. This also extends out to the inability to efficiently deal with other effectively unblockable 0-cost champions like Corpsemonger, Bodyguard, Forcemage Apprentice, Keeper of Secrets, Shadow Imp, Fire Shaman, and Spore Beast, but these don’t see any where close to the amount of play as Muse, nor are they as powerful.
I can understand that it was probably a conscious choice to keep the alignments separate, but it is such a debilitating disadvantage. It is a lot easier for Wild to splash a couple Erratic Researches/Grave Demons or even Amnesias/Heinous Feasts to deal with its lack of discard banishment for example.
Feels good to get that off my chest.
Rating: 5 First Pick
This is another one of the strongest cards in the game. This unassuming 2/2 airborne ambush spirit must be removed as soon as possible or else that player will get far ahead in cards in hand. Granted there are a lot of ways to remove this card with 0-cost and 1-cost cards alike, but if it draws even 1 card, using a card on it (aside from Blue Dragon, etc.) puts the Muse player up 1 card for the trade. And yes this card is so strong I would use a 1-cost removal like Bitten to take out this card if needed.
Off-turn board clears with no benefit to your opponent are great. The fact that this can be a one-sided board clear if you (or your opponent) has 10+ defense champions is great. At the very least, you can always draw 2 with it too.
Rating: 3+, 5 First Pick, Counter Pick
Probably my favorite board clear in the game (and it’s fast). I generally value 10+ defense champions highly so I can frequently clear my opponent’s board without clearing my own. If they get most of the 10+ defense champions this is definitely counter pick material.
Jungle Queen Rating
Tribute -> Draw a card means this can’t be lower than always acceptable. The fact that it gives the ability to play your Wild champions as if they had ambush also makes it a lightning rod for removal. “You better remove my Jungle Queen or I might ambush in Kong.”
In addition, the +1/+1 to other wild champions is very easy to overlook and underestimate. In a lot of situations it won’t do anything, but it makes your wolves survive Flash Fire, and it can make blocks a bit more annoying for your opponent.
Tribute -> Draw a card is excellent, since you don’t lose a card by playing this. A 5/7 slow champion is not great though, and the +1/+1 to Wild champions is minor (except in token vs token battles). Being able to play your Wild champions as if they had ambush is crazy though (Kong, Burrowing Wurm, and Raging T-Rex). If you can make any of those slow, massive, high tempo cards fast, you will probably be in good shape.
Tyrants Updated Rating: 4
This card is frequently picked when I see it. The Tribute -> draw a card is excellent, and giving Wild champions ambush is enough of a threat to draw out removal.
Always First Pickable +
One of the best cards in dark draft hands down. A 13/14 body is huge, and it removes most champions in the game. Incredible reestablishing card.
Rating: 5 First Pick
Possibly the strongest card in the base set for how I play the game. A 13/14 body that breaks all but 6 champions (Thundarus, Crystal Golem, etc.) when it comes into play is incredible. Removal + a massive threat is basically perfect for tempo.
While I haven’t been playing with or against Lash as much recently, it has done a lot of work for and against me since the game released. Giving breakthrough and an extra 4 damage can be incredibly nasty after you chump block their previously non-breakthrough Kong or Rampaging Wurm.
Rating: 5 First Pick, Counter Pick
One of the 3 best 0-cost cards in the game (Muse and Amnesia being the other 2). 0-cost card that can remove High King and Necromancer Lord. 0-cost to give +4 offense and breakthrough is amazing, especially with big bodies like Kong. In addition, you could use lash, then immediately recall it and use it again that turn. This is also one of the best recall cards in the base set. This card is incredibly powerful.