This is a continuation of my ratings of all cards for Dark Draft.
Mass Discard Pile Banish: A mass discard pile banish card is the single most important card in Dark Draft and other limited formats. Its importance is so great, my top tier consists of exclusively these cards (Amnesia, Erratic Research, Grave Demon, and Heinous Feast).
As long as you have at least 1 mass discard pile banish card and recycle it as soon as possible after playing it, you should have an almost 0% chance of losing to your opponent drawing through their entire deck.
Additional Mass Discard Pile Banish Explanation
While most games don’t end with a player drawing through their entire deck and therefore winning, it is a legitimate possibility/strategy. Even if a player doesn’t build a deck specifically designed to draw out to win, the game can enter a state where pursuing the draw out victory is the best/safest/most assured path to victory. These conditions, from the perspective of your opponent going for the draw out win, are:
- your opponent gets down to around 10 cards left in their deck
- you have more than 10 cards left in your deck
- your opponent is, at least, not behind on the board
- your opponent has a reasonable amount of health remaining (15+) or you have little to no burn/direct damage
- you have no mass discard pile banish card
In this situation, if your opponent answers every threat you play and draws at least as much as you do, they will eventually win. They don’t need to attack, so they can leave their champions back as potential blockers, and they have even less incentive to play cards while your gold is available each turn: you must play cards/spend gold to beat them, so they can play completely reactive. If they enter this state, it can be very difficult for you to beat them, unless you do have a mass discard pile banish card.
In addition, they could also draw aggressively to win a game they would have otherwise lost. If they get down to 6 cards in deck on your turn, they can draw 2 on your turn after you’ve spent you gold and attacked (4 remaining). Then draw a card at the start of their turn (3 remaining) and draw 2 more (1 remaining). On your next turn, as soon as you pass initiative, such as declaring an attack, they can draw 2 more to win the game. In this situation, it doesn’t matter if they were at 1 health and you were at 30 health with 7 cards in hand and multiple champions in play, you still lose.
Personally, if I can entirely eliminate one potential path to victory for my opponent, I will, always (currently). Especially if that means I prevent them from potentially drafting a way to entirely eliminate one potential path to victory for myself.
Opposing View on Mass Discard Pile Importance
I consider my view of always first pick the first mass discard pile banish card you come across, the “old view.” While it wasn’t the consensus of the community I interacted with, a lot of the top tournament finishers/Worlds qualifiers agreed with it.
After Uprising doubled the number of mass discard pile banish cards (Amnesia, Heinous Feast + Erratic Research, Grave Demon), multiple Worlds qualifiers began to argue for the “new view.” The new view advocates first picking other top tier cards like Drain Essence, Muse, Sea Titan, etc. over first picking the first mass discard pile banish card seen. In addition, new view players focus more on targeted, incremental, repeating discard pile banish from cards like Guilt Demon, Keeper of Secrets, etc. That isn’t to say the new view sees mass discard pile banish cards as low tier though, just not absolute top tier.
The new view primary arguments are:
- After Uprising, even more so than before, few games end with a player drawing through their entire deck. Therefore, taking cards that actively grant a greater advantage or do more to win/not lose the game traditionally, are more important.
- Cards like Guilt Demon are still able to remove critical discard pile cards like Psionic Assault, Soul Hunter, etc. They also help to push back an opponent from winning by decking out. In addition, they are a repeatable source of discard pile banish that the opponent must remove.
- Some of the strongest cards in the game (Blind Faith, Wolf’s Bite, etc.) rely on recycle to be strong. I want to recycle a lot, and if I am recycling a lot, I put myself further away from decking myself, and I therefore don’t care as much if my opponent gets a mass discard pile banish card.
- With 3 other mass discard pile banish cards potentially in the draft, I might get one later, but I won’t get another chance to take this other crazy strong card that I would be giving to my opponent otherwise.
While I think these are all very strong, convincing arguments, I still hold onto the old view. The new view might be correct, but I am not yet willing to risk not getting a mass discard pile banish card and then just lose to my opponent(s) decking out against me. (It doesn’t help that in one of my practice Cube Drafts at Worlds, I took a critical card for my deck over an Erratic Research, never saw another mass discard pile banish card, and then proceeded to lose both practice matches to my opponents decking out against me. I did draft a mediocre Good human token deck though.)
16 Tyrants Cards
Heinous Feast Rating
Always First Pick –
Mass discard pile banish is the most important aspect in Dark Draft and other limited formats.
0-cost, fast discard pile banish is nice, but I’d rather the mass discard pile banish card either recycle, give me an 8/8 ambush body, or draw 2 cards than gain some health.
Rating: 3+, 5
Banishing your opponent’s entire discard pile is crazy powerful in draft. It basically prevents them from winning by drawing out, it resets their ability to recycle, it slows down cards like Necromancer Lord, Memory Spirit, and Resurrection, it can setup Army of Apocalypse, and this card even gains you a bit of health.
You can also use it on yourself if you are desperate for a little bit of extra health.
Off-turn targeted removal that doesn’t put your opponent any further ahead than you is excellent. The fact that it also gives you a chump blocker for that turn is a big deal too. 3 Zombies with your next 1-Cost Evil spell is also relevant.
Unfortunately, if used on your turn, it leaves behind a chump blocker for your opponent. It also can’t draw 2 if you don’t need the removal.
Rating: 5 (with at least some Evil investment)
Fast targeted removal which puts you no further behind your opponent on their turn is excellent. The fact that it can also give you 3 more zombies is an added bonus. The only unfortunate aspect of the card is it can’t clear out a blocker on your turn, since it produces a zombie for your opponent that can chump block.
Raxxa, Demon Tyrant Rating
18/18 worth of stats spread over 3 bodies without loyalty is great. The fact that if Raxxa gets bounced you can get 2 more 6/6 demons is also great. Raxxa can even buff your other demons in play, even if Raxxa is your only 1-cost Evil card in deck. (If Raxxa is removed the demons automatically revert to 4/4s.)
The loyalty effect is also excellent. 2 damage is nice for breaking all non-demon tokens, Muse, and other troublesome low defense champions. Off-turn Zombie Apocalypse/Wave of Transformation is already incredibly strong. Follow it up with Raxxa with loyalty on your turn to completely wipe their board and establish multiple threats.
Great without loyalty, potentially amazing with loyalty.
I raised my rating of Demon Breach to 3 because of the 3 demons on your turn. This is 3 6/6 demons on your turn, and a +2/+2 buff to any other demon tokens you have in play. So it’s better. You don’t even need the loyalty to get the extra demons, but the loyalty effect can be excellent as well. It works to clear tokens, High King, etc.
Raxxa’s Curse Rating
Always First Pickable
Draft Frequency: 9 Draft Power: 8
Raxxa’s Curse is a faction-independent powerhouse. Breaking any 0-cost champion and giving you a demon token is a strong swing in your favor. (I have put myself significantly ahead in at least one draft where I Raxxa’s Cursed a Muse that my opponent was relying on early.)
Since every faction has strong 0-cost minions (Guilt Demon/Spawning Demon, White Dragon/Paros Rebel Leader, Keeper of Secrets/Shadow Imp, Fire Shaman/Ankylosaurus) this will usually have a target to hit. In addition, even using it on a token is valuable.
Aside from breaking Muses, my favorite use of this card is to break an ambushed in 0-cost blocker. If I can draw my opponent’s gold out before mine, play a Rampaging Wurm, and break my opponent’s zombie from Plentiful Dead before blocks, I am happy.
If nothing else, you can always draw 2 with it.
Rating: 3+, 3
This card shines when taking out 0-cost cards like Muse, Guilt Demon, or Shadow Imp. It can also just break a token champion and give you a demon, which isn’t terrible. In addition, it can clear out an ambushed in 0-cost potential chump blocker as well.
Situationally Desirable +
By itself, this is weak. Attack for 8 over 4 unbreakable bodies is more reliable than Wolf’s Call, but no card wants to be compared to Wolf’s Call. 4 off-turn unbreakable blockers can save your life, but not a great use of a gold.
Where this card really shines is with other human token cards generally and AoE buffs specifically. Insurgency and then Revolt gives you 4 unbreakable, blitz 4/1 human tokens and 1 blitz 3/1 human token. Unless your opponent can AoE banish, Ceasefire, Ice Drake, Force Field, Surprise Attack -> Time Walker/Frost Giant/Velden Frost Titan, Blind Faith, or make a lot of blocks, they could take 19 damage from 2 cards (assuming you had no other human tokens in play).
This is one of the most important cards for a human token deck, and one of the strongest 2 card combinations in the game.
Rating: 1 or 5, First Pick, Counter Pick
This card is very powerful in a human token based deck. Giving human tokens blitz is excellent, as is the +1 offense buff. The real power though is the unbreakable. There are quite a few ways to stop a token assault that has been buffed by Courageous Soul, Revolt, etc. (Flash Fire for instance), but there are significantly fewer ways to stop an unbreakable token assault (Quell, Wither, Blind Faith, Ceasefire, Ice Drake, Surprise Attack -> Time Walker, and Wave of Transformation).
If you are going a human token strategy, you want this card. If you think your opponent is going a human token strategy, you probably want to counter pick this card.
Markus, Watch Captain Rating
Situationally Desirable +
Thought Pluckering me? How about I put a 10/10 into play instead of discarding, seems nice.
Oh yeah, and I actually drafted some other Good alignment cards, so I’ll reveal these 2 to draw a card to replace him.
You have 3 Demons in play too, not any more you don’t. At least you still get your ambushed in 1/1 unblockable champion.
10 defense is great.
Put it into play if discarded is great. Banish up to 3 tokens, particularly demons is great. Loyalty 2 -> draw a card is excellent (except that it is Good Loyalty 2). If you can trigger at least one of its abilities this is a strong card. If you get all 3 (you almost certainly won’t), it is incredible. In any other alignment, this would be really difficult to pass up, since Loyalty 2 -> draw a card is my favorite part.
It’s also a human so it can go airborne with Faithful Pegasus.
Rating: 4+/- (with Good investment)
This is a 1 if neither you nor your opponent have a Good Investment, discard cards like Psionic Assault, or tokens. In that incredibly rare situation, this is just a slow vanilla 10/10, which is bad. In the incredibly rare situation where you put this into play without spending a gold because your opponent forced you to discard, then you banish 3 demon tokens, and have the loyalty to draw a card, this card is almost frustratingly powerful. (Putting this into play is not playing it from your hand, so it would not trigger Good ally effects if it enters play this way.)
Most of the time, you will probably have the loyalty to draw a card from it which alone makes this a 3. My assumption, is that you would be able to banish some tokens with it as well which pushes it up to a 4 generically for me.
This card is also an indirect nerf to all discard cards such as Psionic Assault.
Noble Martyr Rating
4 defense on a ground based champion that doesn’t deal 4 damage when it is played and attacks (Pyrosaur call-out), is really weak. It dies to so many champions and multiple 0-cost cards. If it survives, it can at least sneak 7 damage through (weak for an on-turn gold-punisher).
However, Unbanishable on a card with a discard pile ally trigger is a nice combination. Unless they transform it or bounce it (or banish it from your discard pile), you’ll be able to trigger the loyalty ability for 5 humans. Do this at the end of your opponent’s turn, then Insurgency on your turn and you have 9 unbreakable, blitz 2/1 champions for 18 damage. Or you can just trigger it for chump blockers.
This is an interesting card that lets me talk about a lot of the intricacies of Epic. In general, I am not a fan of slow champions that do nothing when they come into play, but the inclusion of unbanishable and the discard pile ally trigger make this interesting.
Unbanishable + Discard Pile ally trigger: This is interesting because to remove this card it must either be bounced or broken. If bounced, that is pretty awful for you. If it is removed by breaking (since it can’t be banished without using Blind Faith), then it has to go to your discard pile where you can trigger its ally ability. So, in other words, they can’t use just 1 card to fully remove this card, aside from bouncing it. To prevent it from being able to put 5 human tokens into play, which is quite powerful, it would either need to break in combat or through a break effect, and then your opponent would have to banish it from your discard pile. Since the unbanishable keyword is not in the gray text, it does not apply while it is in your discard pile. So yes, your opponent could break this and then play Guilt Demon to banish this before you can make use of the ally trigger.
Due to the Ally Timing interactions, I am much more likely to play this card. I am a fan of the discard pile ally triggers that let you banish itself for an effect.
Ally trigger timing: Triggers, such as ally triggers, happen after a card finishes resolving. So, say you have this and Inner Peace in your discard pile. If you play Insurgency, you would put the Noble Martyr and Inner Peace ally triggers onto a separate heap and then fully resolve Insurgency. Once Insurgency finishes resolving and you have 4 2/1 unbreakable, blitz, human, token champions, you could choose to banish Noble Martyr to get 5 more 1/1 no abilities human champions. You could also recall your Inner Peace at this time. Importantly, your 5 human tokens from Noble Martyr would come into play after Insurgency resolves so they would not get the Insurgency buff.
Paros, Rebel Leader Rating
Great card for Good-focused decks or human token decks. +1 offense for humans is a big deal. Human tokens now trade with non-demon tokens and bigger humans sneak a bit of extra damage through too.
In addition, being able to continually put out chump blockers either forces your opponent not to attack, or lets you attack with your champions more freely. Also, 4 defense is a nice breakpoint.
Rating: 3 with heavy Good investment, 1 with no Good investment
This card is nice because it is a 0-cost card that can continually put out more tokens. The +1 offense for other human champions is a very nice addition, since it makes your human tokens (generated through this or by other means) threatening in large enough numbers. If you have no Good cards or human champions, a vanilla 3/4 is terrible.
Love this card.
0-cost card that shuts down most attacks completely while recycling. Also, unlike Watchful Gargoyle, it can’t be countered by an opponent’s 0-cost card (although champions can be buffed over the -10 offense). Fumble is the card that makes me feel safe.
It is also Sage and can draw 2 if needed.
Rating: 3+, 3
Initially, I didn’t think much about this card, since the -10 offense does nothing permanent. However, playing with this card felt very powerful. -10 offense is enough to shut down most attackers for the turn, particularly Juggernaut, and it recycles. So, for a 0-cost card, I can neutralize a 1-cost card for a turn and not lose a card in hand, pretty strong. This then lets me use slow removal like Kong etc. to deal with that troublesome champion on my turn.
In the game that I felt amazing having this card, I do not remember what I originally used it on, but I had a Memory Spirit in hand. I felt so comfortable knowing that this was in my discard pile and I could grab it at any time to stop an attack and recycle.
In other words, I think this card is undervalued.
Helion, the Dominator Rating
Frequently Desirable +
8/8 ambush means it can’t be bad. It is also Sage with a loyalty 2 ability, interesting. Steal a champion for a turn and give it blitz, yeah, I like that. So many great applications for it.
One of the best case scenarios: opponent attacks with a champion (Infernal Gatekeeper for instance). You play this to steal another one of their champions (White Knight). Assuming they don’t remove their White Knight you now control, you declare it as a blocker. Before both champions break each other, you rub it in by expending White Knight to break one of their demon tokens. Pretty valuable use of a gold; break 2 champions (and a demon token) and put an 8/8 into play, off-turn.
This can also steal an ambushed in champion before it can be declared as a blocker. Once you finish your initial attack, you can then attack with your opponent’s champion.
If needed, it can also just steal an attacking champion for the turn, completely negating the attack.
Fortunately, this does not prepare a stolen champion.
Before I forget, Helion even has the ability to expend to deal 2 damage to up to 2 targets. It can push some damage to face while breaking Muse at the same time. You can even ambush Helion in and then target him with his own loyalty 2 ability to give him blitz for the turn (this can also make him an 8/8 on-turn gold-punisher instead of an off-turn gold-punisher). Great card.
When playing against a deck with Helion, it is important to attack with your most evasive champions first. If you have an unblockable champion, airborne champion, and a neither unblockable, nor airborne champion, attack with them in that order. By doing this, you prevent the possibility of your opponent stealing one of your champions and using it to block another one of your champions.
Rating: 4 (with Sage investment) 3 without Sage investment
An 8/8 ambush champion is solid. A decent sized body with ambush is particularly strong because it can be used after an opponent’s board clear. Without a Sage investment, it is still a 3 for these reasons.
The loyalty 2 ability also has a lot of excellent applications. On your opponent’s turn, you can steal one of their champions for a turn and use it. It is strong whether you use the stolen champion for its expend ability (use Elara, the Lycomancer on herself to banish it and give yourself the wolf), use it to steal an attacker to stop an attack, use it to steal a champion to block your opponent’s attack, or use it to steal a champion for a combination of any of the above.
You can also use it on your turn to steal a potential blocker and attack with it. This is especially devastating if they spend their gold to ambush one in on your turn.
Finally, you can always have Helion target himself to be able to immediately attack or use its expend ability to deal 2 damage to 2 targets. Overall, this is a very solid card.
Helion’s Fury Rating
Always Acceptable –
I’ve never really been impressed by Helion’s Fury. It is only on-turn removal which isn’t great. In addition, it isn’t terribly common to want to bounce 2 champions on your turn instead of 1. At least it can remove a token when played. Drawing a card is nice though. It could also potentially be involved in an interesting combat situation, saving one of your attackers/blockers in a group attack/block while removing one of theirs in a group attack/block.
Essentially though, it is a Sage draw 2.
Rating: 3+, 2
I have had the opportunity to draft Helion’s Fury on multiple occasions, and I almost never have. While bouncing 2 champions and drawing a card can be strong, the fact that it can only be used on your turn is really, really limiting. I love bounce on Sea Titan because it leaves me an 11/14 untargetable champion as well. Erase, Hasty Retreat, Temporal Enforcer, and Temporal Shift are all strong because they can be used on your opponent’s turn. Vanishing is a 0-cost card, which is strong. In general, I don’t like this because I feel I wouldn’t really be able to use it on 2 champions frequently, I don’t want to just bounce on my turn, and 1 card is significantly less than 2 (Erase).
Knight of Shadows Rating
I like tribute -> draw a card, forcing my opponent to discard in limited formats is also usually great. 9 offense + unblockable is a strong combination as well. At 4 defense though, it gets removed by a decent amount of cards including Hands from Below and Spike Trap.
While I will frequently take this card happily, I do prefer my slow champions to have either an even more devastating effect or more defense.
9/4 unblockable is strong. The tribute draw and opponent discard is strong. Put those 2 together and you have an amazing card. As a 9/4 unblockable, your opponent must use a card to remove this, otherwise it will quickly win you the game. So, when they use removal, you will have lost a net 0 cards to their net 2 cards, generally. Although, if both players have a full hand of cards, then this card is significantly weaker, since it doesn’t actually affect the board. I don’t frequently say this, but you gotta love that art too.
The best way to use this is to play it while your opponent’s gold is up and pass. They will either:
- use their gold
allowing you to play an on-turn gold-punisher, removal on their ambush champion (Kong for instance), or draw cards
- pass out of fear of an on-turn gold-punisher/removal
essentially making this an 8/12 breakthrough dinosaur with tribute -> target opponent loses their gold. I’d play that card.
If you spend your gold immediately after playing Brachiosaurus, your opponent will have full gold information. If you played a second champion, they could just board clear you, which would make Brachiosaurus just 2 for 1 yourself. However, this can double trigger Wild ally triggers like Fire Spirit or Fire Shaman, which can be quite powerful.
Rating: 5, 2 with no Wild investment
An 8/12 breakthrough body is very solid, and, if you are going Wild, it is better than free (it let you get 2 Wild Ally triggers in 1 turn). In addition, it is a dinosaur, so it works with Great Horned Lizard and Chomp! If you have no Wild cards, it is a much worse Burrowing Wurm.
Draka, Dragon Tyrant Rating
Situationally Desirable +
9/9 airborne, blitz (with Wild Loyalty) is great. An excellent, hard to block, heavy hitting, on-turn gold-punisher. It also clears out non-demon tokens, in addition to a lot of 0-cost champions like Muse.
Works great with Feeding Frenzy.
Rating: 4- with Wild investment
The best part of this card is the “when this card attacks” effect. 3 damage will frequently break something, and it is excellent for stopping a non-demon token build up. A 9/9 airborne, blitz champion is also pretty threatening. If your opponent has minimal 3 or less defense champions and a lot of fast removal, this drops down to a 2, since it doesn’t do anything of value when it comes into play and can be broken, banished, or bounced with no downside.
Draka’s Enforcer Rating
Frequently Desirable +
One of the best off-turn gold-punishers. 7/7 airborne can even break a lot of airborne champions in combat and survive. Loyalty 2 -> draw a card is always appreciated.
Rating: 4 with Wild investment
7/7 Airborne is a solid body. Ambush is excellent. Loyalty 2 -> Draw a card is amazing. This card could potentially make it to a 4.5. It also works with Thundarus.
Draka’s Fire Rating
Deal 5 damage to all opposing champions and draw a card has been surprisingly powerful more often than I was expecting. It is a great way to clear out tokens (incidental or otherwise), it sweeps up most other 0-cost champions too, and it can finish off damaged champions as well. All without affecting your champions in play. This + Lightning Strike has worked wonders for me.
5 damage to everything has won me games. It can also stop non-Insurgency surprise token assaults.
In general, this card does better than I expect it to. (I did drop it from Usually Desirable to Frequently Desirable on 1/18/17 though. I don’t think I would usually want it, and I probably just didn’t think about it when I created the Frequently Desirable column.)
It breaks all generic tokens and most 0-cost champions in general. It can also draw a card. This is a powerful card to pick if you or your opponent is going tokens.
I am prepping the next Epic Puzzle. Expect to get my 1 week notification later this week.