This is a continuation of my ratings of all cards for Dark Draft.
16 Base Set Cards
Murderous Necromancer Rating
I was impressed by this card in my cube draft at Worlds. Without loyalty, it is a 6 defense champion that can break a champion every turn. Hitting that 6 defense means there is no single 0-cost card that can break/banish this (Smash and Burn being a special case). Therefore, the opponent has to spend a gold to break Murderous Necromancer, and if they don’t, they can’t keep a champion in play.
When you add on the 3 zombies, you get tiny threats that can push damage through while Murderous Necromancer stays in play. In other words, unless your opponent can deal with the zombies, Murderous Necromancer is able to push damage while shutting down your opponent’s ability to come back into the game.
In addition, Murderous Necromancer works great as a target for Final Task, and it isn’t a big deal if it gets bounced. I was definitely underestimating that 6 defense before.
Rating: 3+ (Evil investment required) Board Control
This card will usually be: get 3 zombie tokens for chump blocking, and force the use of a removal card by your opponent. The expend ability will not be used much, but if it survives it will control the board. In a light (direct) removal environment this card becomes a 4 or 5 potential first pick.
Tyrants Updated Rating: 4+ (Evil investment required), Board Control, First Pick
Those 3 zombies are quite helpful, especially since it is easier to get a lot more small champions into play with Tyrants. This is also an excellent target for your Final Task.
Necromancer Lord Rating
Situationally Desirable ++
One of the strongest cards in the game, as long as you have loyalty for it. When you play it, you get the best champion from either discard pile immediately. Then, if Necromancer Lord survives until the next turn, you get the next best one, etc. Even if you are only able to return 1 champion before this gets Lashed, you still put a champion into play while making your opponent lose a card.
Generally, it is better to return your own champions with this card in case your opponent is able to bounce the returned champion. If you returned your own champion, you essentially drew a card if it gets bounced. If you returned one of theirs, you gave them a card.
Loyalty and Tribute abilities do trigger when the target champion is put into play, but ally abilities would not. For example, if you have Necromancer Lord and Blue Dragon in play and you use Necromancer Lord to return Steel Golem to play, you could reveal 2 Sage cards to give Steel Golem blitz, but Blue Dragon would not deal 2 damage to a target.
If you are able to reliably hit the loyalty for this card, you want to draft it. It is awful without loyalty, but due to its potential power, it can be worth counter drafting.
Rating: 5 (Evil investment required) First Pick, Counter Pick
This is one of the most powerful cards in the game. When played, you generally get the best 1-cost champion from any discard pile, and if Necromancer Lord is not removed, you get another one per turn. Necromancer Lord does break/banish to everything, but it does require your opponent to use removal on it, otherwise you essentially get 2 coins on each of your turns.
An interesting note, if you return a champion your opponent owns to play (it started in their deck), and they return that champion to hand with Erase, for example, it would go back to the owner‘s hand, not yours. If you do not have the Evil investment to play this, but your opponent does, counter pick it.
Always Desirable +
Break all champions is great. The other effect is also usually better than just draw 2 (unless you don’t have 2 cards in your discard pile); it can clear out human tokens and break champions like Necromancer Lord and Thought Plucker. Great card.
Rating: 3+, 4+
Plentiful Dead Rating
With a decent amount of 1-cost Evil cards in your deck, this card can be quite useful. Essentially, you can spend 1 health to get a zombie with every 1-cost Evil card you play each turn. These zombies can potentially push through extra damage or chump block.
If you can’t recall it multiple times, it is considerably weaker, but, if you do use it multiple times, 5+ health loss can add up quickly.
I do not like this card. Yes, it is a free fast chump blocker and for 1 health you can play it again. And yes, it is good for activating Evil loyalty effects. I am just not willing to pay that 1 health as a stall for no gain, and I do not think it is worth it for offensive zombie tokens. I could be proven wrong about this card.
Tyrants Updated Rating: 1 (with no Evil investment), 2 (with light Evil investment), 4 (with heavy Evil investment)
I am still not a huge fan of this card in draft; however, with enough Evil investment it can work pretty well. If you can get a basically free zombie on most of your and your opponent’s turns, those zombies really add up quickly. This is not terribly likely in draft since you won’t, and shouldn’t, just take every card of the faction you are playing.
If you have a light Evil investment, it can potentially at least provide a couple fast chump blockers.
Noble Unicorn Rating
Situationally Desirable +/Always Acceptable
Ambush, tribute -> draw a card makes this always a decent play as an off-turn gold-punisher. The fact that it threatens to draw even more cards means your opponent needs to deal with it. This is one of my highest priority cards when I’m going Good, but it is also very easy to counter-draft if your opponent is going Good.
Rating: 5 (Good investment) First pick, Counter pick
This card can really run away with the game just by staying in play. Ambush it in on an opponent’s turn to draw after they have spent their gold. On your turn, play a Good card to draw. The card has essentially become 6/6 ambush, draw 2 cards, if your opponent doesn’t remove this, keep drawing cards. Even as just an ambush 6/6 draw a card, this is playable.
Palace Guard Rating
Always Desirable +
Targeted, banish removal with a 6/8 body and no alignment-requirement is incredible.
Rating: 4 First pick
Targeted banish removal that doesn’t require a faction investment is great. A 6/8 body with nothing else is nothing special, but it is something extra. The only reason I don’t make this a 5 is I think Kong is better generally (even though banish can deal with more answers better: Soul Hunter).
Priest of Kalnor Rating
I used this card to chip my opponent down from 9 health to 8 in the 2015 Gen Con quarter-finals allowing me to Flame Strike my opponent. It has done practically nothing for me since then.
The 1/4 body is pretty weak. 4 health gain is appreciated but not worth a card. It’s loyalty 2 ability is tied to Good (the weakest alignment), and its application is very narrow. The best way to use the unbreakable/untargetable is on a champion before it attacks, either a non-deploying champion or a blitz champion. This on a Surprise Attacked Burrowing Wurm would be terrifying. It can also be used on an Avenging Angel you just played before an opponent spends their gold on your turn.
In drafts, the 1/4 body is almost meaningless (although it does block non-demon tokens), the 4 health isn’t great, and the loyalty 2 requirement on the slow unbreakable/untargetable isn’t generally worth it. In constructed this can be a beast of a card for that Loyalty 2 ability though.
Priestess of Angeline Rating
Tribute -> recycle makes this playable, but I don’t want a slot dedicated to getting out a 1/2 champion that might give me 3 to 9 health and only if I draft and play 1-cost Good cards.
If it is late in the draft and I already have a lot of 1-cost Good cards, I might draft this.
Rating: 3 (Good investment)
Tribute -> Recycle makes this card replace itself as a 0-cost, and it will continue to provide health until removed. Almost everything can remove it, but I think it is solid with a Good investment.
Ogre Mercenary Rating
I’ve never been a big fan of this card, but I lost to someone in dark draft, fairly convincingly too, who loves this card. 4/3 is a decent 0-cost body, and tribute -> recycle is always appreciated, but the fact that it is slow and lacks any evasion or other abilities makes me not like it. At least it’s Sage.
Yes this is a 0-cost Tribute->Recycle card so it is essentially free, and I can’t rate it a 1 because of that. But, I really don’t feel like it does enough. I like Watchful Gargoyle because it has ambush and airborne at the cost of 2 offense. I think Word of Summoning is better because it is fast and it is in Evil so other cards can help it more (even though it is a token and therefore more vulnerable to being outright removed).
This card can be played multiple times if bounced, and it can trigger cards like Ancient Chant. Still, I would generally only pick it over 1 rating cards in draft.
Psionic Assault Rating
Always Desirable –
This card is nasty. It can easily chew through an opponent’s hand if they aren’t careful. Playing this when an opponent has spent their gold and has 5 or fewer cards in hand is particularly strong because 3 or fewer cards in hand is a very weak position. Once you reduce an opponent to 4 or less, you can potentially keep recalling and replaying this to prevent them from ever being able to come back, as long as you can keep control of the board simultaneously.
If you have strong reestablishing champions like Kong, you can remove their champion while forcing them to remove your new threat. When they remove your threat, they give you another safe window to play this again.
Rating: 4+ Counter Pick
This card (in conjunction with Lightning Storm) absolutely wrecked me in the 2015 Gen Con tournament top 4. This is the ultimate stay ahead/get further ahead card. If you already have better board position and your opponent is low on cards in hand, this card can make them weaker while not leaving yourself open to an unfavorable trade.
You would not want to play this card while behind because it doesn’t actually help your board position at all. This card is very similar to draw 2 cards, but reducing cards in your opponent’s hand reduces their potential answers and threats. It also makes it more difficult to trigger loyalty 2 abilities which are frequently the strongest part of cards.
This card is weaker if your opponent has a lot of card draw or has ways to banish cards in discard piles (Guilt Demon, etc.). So, I think but am not certain yet, that you would avoid this in a card draw heavy environment, but definitely a 5 first pick/counter pick in a card draw light environment where either player has a Sage investment. Soul Hunter can punish this card slightly.
As a side note, this can also be incredibly brutal against newer players who do not realize the importance of card draw. So you might want to avoid it if you do not want to push them away from the game.
Sea Titan Rating
Always First Pickable +
Insanely powerful card. 11/14 is a huge body. Untargetable makes it hard to deal with, and tribute -> bounce a champion is ridiculous.
Rating: 5 First Pick
11/14 untargetable body, insane. Add a bounce effect which I constantly say is amazing in Epic. Yeah, this card is incredible. The only sad thing is that I can’t use Lash on it. (But I hope an ability like Magic’s “hexproof” never exists in Epic.)
Spike Trap Rating
5 damage is enough to kill a lot of champions, including all of the unblockable champions (like Thought Plucker or Knight of Shadows) and a decent number of airborne champions (like Angel of Death or Memory Spirit). Recycle is also quite nice.
While this does hit all attacking champions, and you can bait people into group attacking if they know you have Ceasefire/Ice Drake, this will usually only hit 1 champion. Despite that, removing 1 champion (especially a 1-cost champion) and recycling is a great deal.
Spike Trap is an interesting card in that if it was weaker, I think I would like it more. Deal 5 damage to an attacking champion and recycle is pretty strong. It can break a decent number of champions (airborne champions in particular) and it replaces itself, yes please. If your opponent has no 5 defense or lower champions that want to attack, it can always just replace itself.
Since this affects each attacking champion though, I always want to get more than 1 champion with it. In my mind, I think of this card as I can potentially really nail someone with this card, and when I get just the strong situation of breaking 1 champion, I feel disappointed.
So, if you are like me, don’t get discouraged that champions almost always attack alone, and be happy when you get a 0 for 1 trade with it. If you ever get 2 or more champions or set up something else with it, be ecstatic.
Tyrants Updated Rating: 3+
This card has been indirectly buffed by the inclusion of all of the 4 or less defense unblockable champions (Knight of Shadows, etc.). Spike Trap is much more likely to be valuable because there are a greater number of champions that can be removed effectively by it.
Lightning Storm Rating
Always First Pickable +++
Best card in dark draft aside from the mass discard pile banish cards.
I’ve won multiple games playing this at the end of my opponent’s turn, recalling it immediately on my turn, and playing it again to kill my opponent when they attack on their next turn. 12 damage over 3 gold before your opponent can get another attack through is strong.
In addition, it can also be used to pick off a decent amount of champions because of its 6 damage. The ability to divide that damage can also be great for removing multiple small champions. Even just using it and recalling it as a 6 damage removal spell has significant value.
Rating: 5 First Pick, Counter Pick
This was the second card that absolutely destroyed me in the top 4 of Gen Con 2015. (Psionic Assault was the first.) The existence of this card makes all 6 defense or less champions weaker. When drafting, you need to be careful not to overload on 6 defense champions or lower because this one card can shut you down. You play a 6 defense champion, they use this. You play a second 6 defense champion, they recall and use this next turn. This loop effectively locks you out from playing 6 defense champions entirely, since you can’t get ahead in cards with them.
In addition, this card can put you on a short clock if you are already behind. 6 damage to face, recall, 6 damage to face, etc. This card is ridiculously versatile and powerful, draft it. (It also largely stops Courageous Soul + Secret Legion.)
This is another one of the cards that makes discard removal so important.
Lurking Giant Rating
Usually Desirable +
Great off-turn gold-punisher. Your opponent spends their gold on their turn to board clear? You drop this and start your next turn by attacking with an 11/11 champion, solid.
If your opponent has already spent their gold for the turn, you can even play this to block a champion that was just declared as an attacker. White Knight with loyalty and attack? Okay, Lurking Giant, block, break the Knight, and start my turn with an 11/11, good deal.
A fast 11/11 body is quite strong. You can usually ambush this in after an attack is declared to remove a champion. Then you have an 11/11 ready to attack on your next turn. The only reason I hesitate to give this a 4 is fast removal, when your opponent attacks before spending their gold. In that case, you might miss an important block and be put into a really bad position (Turn).
Mighty Blow Rating
I’ve liked this card in theory with tokens for a long time. Attack with a token, they choose not to block the 1 to 4 damage. Play this after blockers making it unbreakable and dealing 10 damage.
In practice, I usually just use it to draw 2. It can be nasty with breakthrough champions, but I just haven’t had many times I wanted to play it for its ability.
As mentioned by others elsewhere: Final Task -> Brachiosaurus then play this on Brachiosaurus with the extra Wild gold for an 18/12 unbreakable, breakthrough, blitz champion that won’t break to Final Task‘s end of turn trigger.
Rating: 3+, 4
This card is an excellent way to get that extra 10 damage in, but it can be neutralized. You generally want to play this on an unblocked champion you control, but only after blockers have been assigned. Attack with a little 1/1 human token, they don’t block, drop this and you have an 11/1 unbreakable, unblockable champion. The only answers at that point are fast banishment or bounce. This is one of the strongest cards in a token based strategy, in my opinion.
This can also be used for removal if needed, just use it on your blocker.
Pack Alpha Rating
This card has consistently performed reasonably for me, which is better than I expected. A 5/6 that immediately puts 2 3/3 wolf tokens into play (11/12 stats spread over 3 bodies) is not bad. The fact that Pack Alpha will keep producing wolves until removed is also a real threat. Finally, at 6 health it essentially requires a gold to remove it.
I like this card and draft it, but there are a lot of better ones.
This card is frequently just, put 2 wolf tokens into play, and force a removal card from your opponent. It is important to remove this champion because it can put a lot of 3/3 wolves into play. However, it isn’t hard to remove, and I don’t just want 2 wolves for my gold on my turn. In addition, I don’t see tokens as incredibly viable for attacking.