Epic Uprising Spoiler: No Escape

no_escape

banishmentI’ve been given the opportunity to spoil one of the Epic Uprising cards: No Escape. I received this image this afternoon, and I am still figuring out just how crazy it is.

My first impression Dark Draft tier rating for this card is Always Desirable. This has a similar effect to Banishment, remove a champion and the current player gains a card in hand, but it breaks instead of banishes, it has a draw 2 option, and the +1 card effect is both more powerful and more conditional/exploitable.

sea_titanIt can be more powerful because if you play it on your turn, you can get back your Sea Titan in your discard pile, instead of drawing a random card. However, this does mean that you aren’t getting any closer to drawing through your deck to win, and if you don’t have a worthwhile champion to return, this becomes weaker.

amnesiaIf you play it on your opponent’s turn, the same conditions apply. If they have a strong champion in their discard pile, they can take that champion back. If they don’t (for example if you Amnesia them beforehand), too bad for them. This is the aspect of the card that intrigues me the most. In a heavy-discard pile hate deck this can effectively function as a break target champion on your opponent’s turn with no draw back. If there isn’t a great time to do that, it can function as a strong break target champion and get a great champion back into your hand. If there isn’t a great time to do that, it can always just draw 2 cards. In other words, this card has 3 potentially solid to amazing applications. (Man playing this to break an ambushed in champion before it can be declared as a blocker, and, gaining back your most situationally valuable champion in your discard pile would be sick.)

markus_watch_captainAnother cool part about this card is that if you target your own champion on your turn, you could break that champion and then immediately return it to your hand with the second half of this card’s resolution. You would pretty much never want to do this…But, if your opponent has 3 demons in play and casts Psionic Assault on you, you could use this on your expended Markus, Watch Captain to break it and return it to hand. Then, at the end of your turn when you are forced to discard, put him into play as a prepared 10/10, banish the 3 demons, and potentially draw a card from loyalty. Bam! (I’m fairly certain this is correct.)

This is definitely a card I will want to draft. I have not had a chance to decide if I’ll want to add it to any of my constructed decks, but I probably will.

**EDIT** It was pointed out to me that, in my excitement, I didn’t realize that your opponent could always, at minimum, return to hand their champion that was just broken. This makes the card significantly less appealing to me. My Dark Draft rating for it drops to Always Acceptable, but I still think it is viable in constructed decks: Crystal Golem.*

Epic: 8 cards rating 10/29/16

dark_knight

Dark Knight Rating: Usually Desirable

A 0-cost 5 offense blitzing unbreakable on your turn champion (with ambush too). Yeah, it’s great. The best way to use this is to play it on your turn before you spend your gold, especially when your opponent has no champions in play. Dark Knight is difficult to stop without your opponent using their gold. If they don’t, they take 5 damage. If they do spend their gold, you can respond with a big 1-cost blitzer like Ramping Wurm.

I do also love bouncing this after it hits my opponent. Play and attack with this, then Sea Titan it back to hand if they didn’t spend their gold. This way you can replay it and attack before spending your gold on a future turn.

It can also ambush in to block a champion if needed, but at 2 defense it is vulnerable to all 0-cost removal except Lash.

dark_leader

Dark Leader Rating: Practically Unplayable

This card is bad because it gives you so little for 1 gold. If you play it and immediately expend it, you got a 2/1 Evil/Good human token and an expended 4/4 champion that might put another 2/1 Evil/Good human tokens into play next turn. So the question is, how often would you want to spend your gold just to put a 2/1 token into play, that’s right, practically never.

To be fair, Dark Leader can provide 2 chump blockers in one turn. If you play it, don’t expend it, and have it survive to be declared as a blocker, you can then expend it to put the human token into play. Even though Dark Leader is now expended, the attacking champion is still considered “blocked” so the attacking champion won’t damage you.

ceasefire

Ceasefire Rating: Always Desirable

Draw 2 is solid, but being able to draw 2 on your opponent’s turn while they still have their gold is incredible. Most of the time, if you spend your gold on your opponent’s turn before they do, they can respond by playing a blitzing champion and attacking face while your primary defense is down. This card prevents that from happening.

It also prevents all other attacks your opponent might want to make that turn. So, if they attack with a token before attacking with that Raging T-Rex in play, you can play this and that T-Rex can’t attack you that turn. This can also be a great way to set up for a board clear on your turn. If your opponent expands their lead on their turn even though they can’t attack, you can punish them by clearing everything on your turn.

Since your only windows to play cards on your opponent’s turn are:
– after they declare attackers
– after you declare blockers
– when your opponent tries to end your turn
You usually won’t be able to play this before your opponent attacks with at least one champion.

courageous_soul

Courageous Soul Rating: Situationally Desirable

Human Tokens can do a lot of blitz damage in one turn. This + Secret Legion is a great way to get 22 worth of attacking, blitzing offense into play (since this is a human, it gets the blitz from Secret Legion). This also has ambush, so it can be played on your opponent’s turn and if it survives, your opponent won’t get a window to kill it on your turn before you can attack with it.

This can also work with non-Good champions, so it can help a heavy zombie and/or demon token deck (or Wolves technically). Theoretically, if you play a Dark Leader on your opponent’s turn and it survives, you could play this into The Risen and immediately attack with this, since Dark Leader makes this human an Evil champion. (Dark Leader is still a bad card though.)

erase

Erase Rating: Always First Pickable +

Bounce in Epic is incredible because it frequently negates an opponent’s previously spent gold. If they play Rampaging Wurm and attack while you still have your gold up, you can play this to return the Wurm to hand and draw 2 cards. Assuming neither of you play anything else that turn, your opponent gained zero resources that turn, and you increased the number of cards in your hand by 1. It is not often that you gain more resources without losing board position on your opponent’s turn than they do.

This is also fast targeted removal which means it can remove an ambushed in blocker. You’re attacking with a Palace Guard and your opponent ambushes in Lurking Giant, great, Erase it before blockers are declared to net one card on your opponent this turn and get 6 damage through to their face. Excellent.

forcemage_apprentice

Forcemage Apprentice Rating: Situationally Desirable

Kills Muse, direct damage, Sage, need I say more? Great card. You can either save this as removal for when your opponent eventually plays a 2 or 4 defense minion, or you can play it before playing a 1-cost Sage card to get 4 damage through to your opponent’s face. Both options are great. This also needs to be removed or it will chip down your opponent’s health until they are dead, thankfully almost every removal effect in the game can get rid of it (not the newly revealed Savage Uprising).

flame_strike

Flame Strike Rating: Always First Pickable

8 damage to face, gg. Flame Strike is the finishing blow in a lot of games. It can also remove a decent amount of champions, if desperate.

flash_fire

Flash Fire Rating: Always First Pickable –

2 damage to all champions is relevant in most games. Kills Muse, kills non-demon tokens, etc. In the few games where the situation doesn’t occur that you don’t need a 2 damage board clear, you can always draw 2 cards instead. Always useful.

Updates

I downgraded 3 blitz champions from Usually Desirable to Situationally Desirable in my tier list:

Avenging Angel
Gold Dragon
Rampaging Wurm

These cards can be great, but they have a very specific use (punishing your opponent for spending their gold on your turn before you, when your opponent doesn’t have a champion in play that can effectively block it). Single purpose blitz champions are also bad if you lack sufficient draw in your deck. In addition, you don’t want too many single purpose blitz champions in your deck: if you can’t use one of them in a situation, you likely can’t use the others either.

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1L9cahBhgJkzUr0yr6vNfn80hhev-yvma7SIBq3O32Zk/edit?usp=sharing

 

Epic: Dark Draft Tier List

Epic Box

I decided to take EdTheMad‘s suggestion to create a tier list to replace at least my Draft Frequency rating. It isn’t a strict tier list:

  • Always First Pick: Amensia and Heinous Feast make draw out wins all but impossible. If one player has at least one and the other doesn’t, the player without is at a significant disadvantage
  • Always First Pickable: Always incredible cards
  • Always Desirable: Always great, but not as generically powerful as the previous tier
  • Usually Desirable: Similar in strength to the previous tier, but not as broadly applicable
  • Situationally Desirable: Requires either a faction investment or a strategy investment; some of these cards are counters to certain deck types
  • Always Acceptable: Cards that are always solid, but generally less powerful than the “Desirable” cards in the right circumstances
  • Situationally Acceptable: Requires either a faction investment or a strategy investment to be solid; some of these cards can fulfill distributions deficiencies, just less ideally
  • Rarely Playable: These cards are bad in Dark Draft, but can be useful in extreme circumstances
  • Practically Unplayable: These cards are bad

++ : The most desirable cards in that tier (not strong enough and/or reliable enough to breach the next tier.)
+ : Generally a bit better and/or more reliable than other cards in the tier
– : Generally a bit weaker and/or less reliable than other cards in the tier
– – : The least desirable cards in that tier (not weak enough and/or unreliable enough to fall into the next tier.)

Noble Unicorn is included in both Situationally Deseriable and Always Acceptable on purpose.

Here is a link to my spreadsheet with all of the cards in tiers:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1L9cahBhgJkzUr0yr6vNfn80hhev-yvma7SIBq3O32Zk/edit?usp=sharing

I will update the detailed ratings soon.

Epic: 8 cards rating 10/19/16

corpse_taker

Corpse Taker Rating

Draft Frequency: 2

Draft Power: 7

My draft frequency for this card should probably be higher, but this card doesn’t excite me much. If you have cards like Sea Titan or Kong, then this becomes a lot stronger. It can also return a champion to help you hit loyalty in a different faction for a turn. If it survives, the expend ability is also appreciated. In general, this is another copy of one of the best champions in your deck so its power depends on the power of your champions.

dark_assassin

Dark Assassin Rating

Draft Frequency: 1

Draft Power: 6

I generally don’t draft Evil, and when I do there are other cards I would rather take. At minimum, assuming you have loyalty, it is slow targeted removal that can control a game if your opponent can’t answer it. Unfortunately, almost every card in the game, including multiple 0-cost cards, answer it.

banishment

Banishment Rating

Draft Frequency: 1

Draft Power: 3

In draft I would rather play threatening champions on my turn than removal (preferably both in 1 card like Sea Titan). Off-turn, I love targeted removal. Banishment is terrible to play off-turn. That extra card is such a big deal in draft, but so is your gold on your turn. Other people love this card and this into Ankylosaurus is better than playing a Palace Guard, but I would rather have the Palace Guard for its guaranteed ability to remove a threat and leave a threat.

brave_squire

Brave Squire Rating

Draft Frequency: 4

Draft Power: 6

Brave Squire is one of my favorite cards because it is so versatile. +5 and unbreakable is a great combat trick. A fast 6/1 unbreakable champion is a great chump blocker. +5 damage added to an unblocked champion is great value. Preventing a champion you Final Tasked from breaking at the end of the turn is also great. This card rarely disappoints me.

deadly_raid

Deadly Raid Rating

Draft Frequency: 1

Draft Power: 5

In draft I would rather take a card that answers a threat or advances my board. Deadly raid can win games and it is great with a lot of tokens or big untargetable champions, but if you don’t have any of those, its effect is worthless. Further, if you use it while they still have their gold, it can be less than worthless. If you try to wait until after they spent their gold, you might not have anything to use it with. This is another card that others think is great, but unless I am low on draw effects, I will usually be happy to let it them have it.

djinn_of_the_sands

Djinn of the Sands Rating

Draft Frequency: 6

Draft Power: 8

This is one of the best cards in the game to play while you are ahead. It is also better than average if neither player has champions in play or the board is evenly matched. If you can force your opponent to spend their gold first on your turn, this is an 8/8 airborne blitz champion which frequently equates to a Flame Strike to the face with an expended, airborne, 8/8 body in play that can potentially draw a card next turn if attacking isn’t the best play.

Otherwise, you can play it, draw a card, and then be left with an expended, airborne, 7/7 body in play that can potentially draw a card next turn if attacking isn’t the best play.

However, if you are behind on the board, it is unlikely you can draw your opponent’s gold out before playing this which makes its 8/8 airborne blitz option terrible. Its draw a card leave an expended, airborne, 7/7 body in play also won’t help you too much.

Since this is a slow card and situational, I wouldn’t take it if I was overloaded on slow and/or blitz champions already, but after playing with it, I have realized how great a card it truly is.

fire_shaman

Fire Shaman Rating

Draft Frequency: 1

Draft Power: 2

0-cost slow 3 damage that requires a Wild 1-cost card to activate is not great. However, it is repeatable if the fragile 3/2 body lives through the start of your opponent’s next turn, unlikely. If you drafted a lot of Wild direct damage this gets better, but it is weak otherwise.

fireball

Fireball Rating

Draft Frequency: 2

Draft Power: 5

Fireball is fairly average card. It can hit a decent number of high priority targets: Muse, off-turn Juggernaut/Dark Knight, Shadow Imp, etc. It can also clear tokens if desperate. Its best use is picking off an ambush in chump blocker before it can get in front of your big, non-airborne, non-breakthrough attacking champion. It can also finish off someone.

Updates

I’m not sure how I feel about the draft frequency rating. I went through and decreased the draft frequency rating on almost all of the cards I have rated so far. I feel like the granularity isn’t there for the difference between Burrowing Wurm, Bellowing Minotaur, and Fire Shaman. We’ll see how I feel as I get through more of the cards. Will probably do some tyrants cards next time because I expect I’ll have higher draft frequencies for many of them. Scratch that, there are some super strong cards in the next batch of 8 core cards.

Epic: 8 cards rating 10/17/16

army_of_the_apocalypse

Army of the Apocalypse Rating

Draft Frequency: 1

Draft Power: 6

Army of the Apocalypse has a ton of theoretical value, but it requires a lot to be amazing. At minimum, you need to get more value out of playing it than your opponent. You could either get more raw champions or better champions like inherent airborne, blitz champions (since loyalty 2->blitz won’t trigger). If you can wait until your opponent’s gold is gone and you have blitz champions that it can bring back, it is even better. Either way, they can all be cleared by 1 board clear on your opponent’s turn if they have one.

If you drafted Amnesia or Heinous Feast this gets significantly stronger, even if you just bring back multiple champions to force a board clear. Blitz champions also make this better.

bitten

Bitten Rating

Draft Frequency: 7

Draft Power: 7

I love targeted removal in Epic draft, and Bitten is solid targeted removal that doesn’t give much to the opponent in exchange. Or draw 2 too.

angelic_protector

Angelic Protector Rating

Draft Frequency: 3

Draft Power: 5

A 5/9 airborne, ambush champion is solid. The fact that it can’t be broken or targeted the turn you play it makes it great to play on your opponent’s turn, even before they spend their gold, since you can’t be easily punished by a big non-breakthrough blitz champion.

I do like this more in constructed though. Since this doesn’t draw cards, remove most champions, or have blitz, it isn’t as reliably powerful in draft as other cards.

avenging_angel

Avenging Angel Rating

Draft Frequency: 5

Draft Power: 6

I like blitz champions now, but almost exclusively only after my opponent has spent their gold on my turn. This card does deal 6, gain 6, and must be answered before your opponent attacks, but it dies to almost all 1-cost removal.

blue_dragon

Blue Dragon Rating

Draft Frequency: 4

Draft Power: 4

I love tribute -> draw a card. I love Sage. Airborne is nice. Direct Damage is nice. But, I’m not a big fan of 4 defense champions, even after this card was crucial in the finals of my qualifying run.

crystal_golem

Crystal Golem Rating

Draft Frequency: 8

Draft Power: 7

This card consistently exceeds my expectations, especially in constructed. Ambush on an untargetable body is great, even if it only has 4 defense. Chump blocking and then breaking this before it dies is solid. Chump attacking and then breaking this before it dies is also solid. Overall, a super solid card.

cave_troll

Cave Troll Rating

Draft Frequency: 2

Draft Power: 6

I generally don’t have the Wild to support this card so I haven’t drafted it much, but I love it in theory. A recurrable chump attacker/blocker is pretty nice, and it has reasonable offense.

chomp

Chomp! Rating

Draft Frequency: 6

Draft Power: 6

Fast targeted removal that leaves nothing behind for my opponent, yes please. This card is criminally underrated in draft. Drain Essence is much better, but Drain Essence is one of the best cards in the game so that isn’t saying much. The +2/+2 to dinosaurs is usually meaningless, but my blocker and I were on the wrong end of a Triceratops once when this was played. That hurt.

Updates

Burrowing Wurm was reduced to Draft Frequency: 0. One of the worst possible cards in draft because it requires too much to make it valuable. The value you can achieve is strong, but not worth chasing.

Epic Card Game: Dark Draft Card Ratings

Foreword

In this article I rate and discuss all currently released cards in Epic Card Game specifically for Dark Draft (Core, Tyrants, Uprising). My opinions have changed over time, and I have included my previous ratings as well.

This is not a short article, and it might be more beneficial to skip to certain cards you have questions about instead of reading it straight through.

  • My major article on Dark Draft can be found here.
  • My article on Epic limited formats strategy can be found here.
  • After playing a lot of Core-Only Digital Alpha, I have begun creating Core-Only tier lists here. Many of these changes will probably make it into this article with the next update.
  • The rest of my Epic content can be found here.

Glossary included at the bottom. Let me know if there are any terms I should add or explain in more detail/clarity.

Tier List

I separated the cards into 10 tiers based on how often I want to draft them. (The full spreadsheet can be found here.)

  • Always First Pick: Grave Demon, Amnesia, Erratic Research, and Heinous Feast make draw out wins all but impossible. If one player has at least one and the other doesn’t, the player without is at a significant disadvantage
  • Always First Pickable: Always incredible cards
  • Always Desirable: Always great, but not as generically powerful as the previous tier
  • Usually Desirable: Similar in strength to the previous tier, but not as broadly applicable
  • Frequently Desirable: These are cards I want but could easily not fit into a deck for various reasons
  • Situationally Desirable: Requires either a faction investment or a strategy investment; some of these cards are counters to certain deck types
  • Always Acceptable: Cards that are always solid, but generally less powerful than the “Desirable” cards in the right circumstances
  • Situationally Acceptable: Requires either a faction investment or a strategy investment to be solid; some of these cards can fulfill distributions deficiencies, just less ideally
  • Rarely Playable: These cards are bad in Dark Draft, but can be useful in extreme circumstances
  • Practically Unplayable: These cards are bad

++ : The most desirable cards in that tier (not strong enough and/or reliable enough to breach the next tier.)
+ : Generally a bit better and/or more reliable than other cards in the tier
– : Generally a bit weaker and/or less reliable than other cards in the tier
– – : The least desirable cards in that tier (not weak enough and/or unreliable enough to fall into the next tier.)

Noble Unicorn is included in both Situationally Deseriable and Always Acceptable on purpose.

Important Concepts

These are concepts that will apply to multiple cards.

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.

5 Defense vs 6 Defense

The difference between 5 and 6 defense in Epic is enormous. 5 defense champions can be broken by 0-cost cards (Lightning Strike and Spike Trap), and they are vulnerable to multiple target burn cards (Draka’s Fire, Forked Lightning, Rain of Fire, and Strafing Dragon). (5 defense champions also aren’t likely to survive blocking/being blocked, even in the air.) Once a champion hits 6 defense, it requires a gold or multiple cards to break it. This is important for getting ahead and staying ahead.

3 Defense vs 4 Defense

It is significantly harder to deal with a 4 defense champion than it is to deal with a 3 defense champion. If it is 1-cost champion, the only 0-cost cards that break it immediately without needing it to attack are Lightning Strike and Unquenchable Thirst (assuming you have 3 other Evil cards you are willing to banish). If it attacks, Hands from Below and Spike Trap can also potentially handle it. For 0-cost champions, Raxxa’s Curse can also be used, while Siren’s Song can be used on your turn only.

Besides that, Forcemage Apprentice needs a 1-cost Sage card to prepare it and is only reliable the first turn you play it. Pyrosaur and War Machine can only be used on your turn (unless Surprise Attack). Fire Spirit needs to already be in play. Draka’s Fire, Rain of Fire, Strafing Dragon, and Pyromancer are the other answers (aside from cards like Kong, Drain Essence, etc.).

In other words, if a champion has at least 4 health, it is significantly more likely to require a 1-cost card to remove it than a champion with 3 health. (Another reason Lightning Strike is great.)

2 Defense vs 3 Defense

This is another important defense break point for champions and similarly damage effects. There are 8 effects in the game that deal 2 damage and 19 champions with 2 or less health + tokens. There are 13 additional champions with 3 health with an additional 18 effects that deal 3 or more damage. In other words, if you get an event that can deal 3 damage to a champion, there is a good chance you will be able to use it to remove a champion.

However, the break point is less important in Dark Draft than it is in Constructed. In constructed, 2 of the most popular cards are/were Thought Plucker and Muse (although the meta may be shifting away from them). Both of these have 2 or less defense which makes Wolf’s Bite (and to a much lesser extent Flame Spike) high-value answers. Therefore, since some decks (mine specifically) ran 2-damage small removal with recycle instead of 3-damage small removal, champions with 3 health like Winter Fairy became much more likely to survive than Thought Plucker.

Alignment Strength

Not all alignments are as likely to be powerful in a given draft. Below I explain why I am more likely to draft certain alignments over other alignments.

Sage (6 out of 10)

Sage is the strongest faction in draft, and I will generally draft a Sage investment 6 out of every 10 drafts. The primary reason for this is that it has the most generically powerful cards out of all of the factions. Since I focus on picking up generically powerful cards and fulfilling distributions, I naturally gravitate towards Sage cards. With a Sage investment being almost guaranteed, picking up powerful Sage Loyalty cards becomes less of a risk.

Wild (2 out of 10)

Wild is the second strongest faction in draft because it has the second most generically powerful cards. I will generally draft a Wild investment 2 out of 10 drafts. Burn is another powerful aspect of Wild. Since damage is hard to get through in Epic, Burn is an effective way to close out games. Burn’s power also compounds the more of it you have. One Flame Strike is great, but if you have Rain of Fire and Draka’s Fire too, you can burn someone out in 3 turns from a max health of 18. This can also be started on your turn giving your opponent only 1 chance to play slow cards and/or attack before you win.

Evil (1.5 out of 10)

Evil is generically weaker in draft than Sage and Wild, but it can be the most powerful faction if you get a lot of it. I will generally draft an Evil investment 3 times out of 20 drafts. Evil cards have a lot of synergy and the strongest ally effects (Spawning Demon, Plentiful Dead, Reaper, and Infernal Gatekeeper). They also have some of the most powerful loyalty effects (Necromancer Lord, Angel of Death, and Medusa). Without these effects though, these cards can be largely worthless. This does mean that if you do go Evil there is a decent chance you will be passed at least some powerful Evil cards, but if you don’t go Evil, it is important to track how likely your opponent is. If you suspect they are, be careful how much Evil you pass.

Good (.5 out of 10)

Good is unquestionably the weakest format in draft. I will generally only draft a Good investment once out of every 20 drafts. Not only are their cards generically weaker by themselves, but their synergies are generally more subtle and rely on building momentum over multiple turns. That being said, human tokens are a real threat. It is possible to deal 19+ damage in one turn with just 2 cards and nothing on the board (Insurgency/Secret Legion and Revolt/Courageous Soul). If you can draft these key cards with others like Rabble Rouser and The People’s Champion, this can be a devastating deck. 

You do also need to aggressively counter-pick cards like Wither, Flash Fire, Hurricane, and Zombie Apocalypse to make this work though. In recap, individual Good cards are weaker than average, but drafting very specific cards can make it powerful. (I do like them in constructed though.)

Evil Core Cards

angel_of_death

Angel of Death Rating
Situationally Desirable +

A board clear that leaves a 6/5 airborne body behind is incredibly powerful. However, it requires an Evil Investment. Without an Evil Investment, it is just a slow, 5 defense airborne champion. If I am going Evil, this is a high priority pick, and it could possibly push me into Evil, but I don’t go Evil in most games because it is a weaker faction overall, unless you can get a lot of it.

apocalypse

Apocalypse Rating
Always Desirable +

Board clears are both powerful and important in draft, as are cards that can draw 2. Simple as that.

army_of_the_apocalypse

Army of the Apocalypse Rating
Situationally Desirable

Army of the Apocalypse has a ton of theoretical value, but it requires a lot to be amazing. At minimum, you need to get more value out of playing it than your opponent. You could either get more raw champions or better champions like inherent airborne, blitz champions (since loyalty 2->blitz won’t trigger). If you can wait until your opponent’s gold is gone and you have blitz champions that it can bring back, it is even better. Either way, they can all be cleared by 1 board clear on your opponent’s turn if they have one.

If you drafted Amnesia or Heinous Feast this gets significantly stronger, even if you just bring back multiple champions to force a board clear. Blitz champions also make this better. (Erratic Research and Grave Demon can also set up for a one-sided Army.)

bitten

Bitten Rating
Always Desirable

I love targeted removal in Epic draft, and Bitten is solid targeted removal that doesn’t give much to the opponent in exchange. Or draw 2 too.

corpse_taker

Corpse Taker Rating
Always Acceptable

My draft frequency for this card should probably be higher, but this card doesn’t excite me much. If you have cards like Sea Titan or Kong, then this becomes a lot stronger. It can also return a champion to help you hit loyalty in a different alignment for a turn. If it survives, the expend ability is also appreciated. In general, this is another copy of one of the best champions in your deck so its power depends on the power of your 1-cost champions.

dark_assassin

Dark Assassin Rating
Situationally Desirable

I generally don’t draft Evil, and when I do there are other cards I would rather take. At minimum, assuming you have loyalty, it is slow targeted removal that can control a game if your opponent can’t answer it. Unfortunately, almost every card in the game, including multiple 0-cost cards, answer it.

dark_knight

Dark Knight Rating
Usually Desirable ++

A 0-cost 5 offense blitzing unbreakable on your turn champion (with ambush too). Yeah, it’s great. The best way to use this is to play it on your turn before you spend your gold, especially when your opponent has no champions in play. Dark Knight is difficult to stop without your opponent using their gold. If they don’t, they take 5 damage. If they do spend their gold, you can respond with a big 1-cost blitzer like Ramping Wurm.

I do also love bouncing this after it hits my opponent. Play and attack with this, then, if they didn’t spend their gold, Sea Titan Dark Knight back to hand. This way you can replay Dark Knight and attack before spending your gold on a future turn.

It can also ambush in to block a champion if needed, but at 2 defense it is vulnerable to all 0-cost removal except Lash.

dark_leader

Dark Leader Rating
Practically Unplayable

This card is bad because it gives you so little for 1 gold. If you play it and immediately expend it, you got a 2/1 Evil/Good human token and an expended 4/4 champion that might put another 2/1 Evil/Good human tokens into play next turn. So the question is, how often would you want to spend your gold just to put a 2/1 token into play, that’s right, practically never.

To be fair, Dark Leader can provide 2 chump blockers in one turn. If you play it, don’t expend it, and have it survive to be declared as a blocker, you can then expend it to put the human token into play. Even though Dark Leader is now expended, the attacking champion is still considered “blocked” so the attacking champion won’t damage you.

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 Tyrant). 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. Using this to return a Necromancer Lord to play off-turn (without needing to reveal for loyalty since Final Task gives blitz) and then return any champion in a discard pile to play is fantastic. While the Necromancer Lord breaks at the end of the turn, the other returned champion does not.

In alignment, 2 other great 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.

guilt_demon

Guilt Demon Rating
Always Desirable +

Guilt Demon is a great card because it is a

  • 0-cost champion
  • airborne
  • blitz
  • 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.

infernal_gatekeeper

Infernal Gatekeeper Rating
Situationally Desirable

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.

inner_demon

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.

medusa

Medusa Rating
Situationally Desriable ++

This is one of the absolute best possible cards for a deck with an Evil Investment. 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 Investment, there are not a lot of cards I would take over this. It’s also a major incentive to start going Evil itself.

murderous_necromancer

Murderous Necromancer Rating
Situationally Desirable

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.

necromancer_lord

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.

plague

Plague Rating
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.

plentiful_dead

Plentiful Dead Rating
Situationally Desirable

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.

soul_hunter

Soul Hunter Rating
Rarely Playable

Spending your gold on your turn to play this from your hand is weak. It can easily be bounced or banished before it can do anything. In addition, it can’t block airborne champions and does little against breakthrough champions. However, when supported by cards like Ceasefire/Ice Drake, when your opponent has no bounce/banish/discard pile banish effects, and when you get this into play without playing it, it can be strong.

The best way to get this into play is to discard it. You can either discard it when an opponent plays Thought Plucker/Psionic Assault/Knight of Shadows, or you can discard it at the end of your turn when you have 8 or more cards in hand. Then, on your next turn it will return to play without costing your own gold to play it. Since all of the above conditions aren’t easy to achieve in dark draft, I basically never draft it. Also, the fact that it is a demon and doesn’t break to Raxxa’s Displeasure is actually a disadvantage because you can’t use Raxxa’s Displeasure to trigger the on-break effect.

succubus

Succubus Rating
Always Acceptable

Tribute -> draw a card is nice, attached to an airborne, blitz champion is even better. Demon is a nice bonus too, and, if your opponent has non-unbanishable Good champions, the expend ability is very strong.

5 defense is a big weakness though.

the_risen

The Risen Rating
Rarely Playable

This card can be strong in conjunction with other Evil tokens. Play this after your Trihorror breaks and you have 24 blitz damage spread over 6 champions. Using this after an opponent Zombie Apocalypses is also strong.

Aside from that though, it isn’t that great. At minimum you get 3 3/3 blitzing zombies that can attack for 9 damage total, so it isn’t terrible, but specific fairly unlikely conditions are needed for it to be even potentially powerful.

thrasher_demon

Thrasher Demon Rating
Always Acceptable

A 0-cost blitzing demon that trades up with any 1-cost champion that blocks it is not bad. In addition, the 3 health gets it out of range of 0-cost 2 damage events like Wolf’s Bite. Finally, if it is able to attack twice, a 5/5 champion that breaks any blocking champion is a reasonable threat; anything higher and it becomes hard to remove and respectably damaging.

trihorror

Trihorror Rating
Practically Unplayable

Incredibly slow card with no immediate effect when played.

This card is not difficult to deal with before your opponent gets any value out of it. Bounce and banish completely negate its power, and a decent number of those effects get you further ahead when you use them (Erase). Playing Trihorror is usually more of a liability than a benefit.

If I were to play it all, it would be as an on-turn gold-punisher, and there are much better on-turn gold-punishers than this.

unquenchable_thirst

Unquenchable Thirst Rating
Situationally Acceptable

Reasonable card assuming you have at least 1 mass discard pile banish effect.

A 0-cost card that can remove a lot of champions, provided you have enough Evil cards in your discard pile you are willing to banish. This is generally much better against low defense champions because each card banished from your discard pile is one more you can’t use to recycle or return with cards like Final Task, Lesson Learned, Reusable Knowledge, etc.

vampire_lord

Vampire Lord Rating
Situationally Acceptable

This card isn’t as bad as I originally thought it was because it can function both as an on-turn and off-turn gold-punisher (blitz and ambush). In addition, it is fairly resilient against bounce because if you play it when their gold is down, if they bounce it with their next gold, you can just replay it.

Unbreakable on your turn can also be nice with cards like Apocalypse.

Ideally, you can ambush this in to block a smaller champion when your opponent’s gold is down on their turn. In that case, you start your turn with an unbreakable 7/7 that will probably grow to a 9/9 by the end of the turn. Unfortunately, that still leaves it in range of Drain Essence on your opponent’s turn.

wither

Wither Rating
Always Desirable

0-cost, 3 damage, targeted removal is great.

This card’s ability to clear out all of one type of non-demon token is another nice benefit perfect for slowing down/stopping human or zombie hordes. Kills Muse too.

In addition, the -3 offense has actually been relevant in multiple situations too. It is solid answer to Insurgency attacks, and it has functioned as a combat trick quite nicely too.

However, using it as a combat trick can be a bit risky, especially when your opponent’s gold is up. For example, if you use Lurking Giant to block a Kong, you could either Wither before or after damage. If you use it before damage, assuming your opponent plays nothing, you break the Kong and your Lurking Giant survives. On the other hand, if they play their own combat trick like Rage, they have 1 for 1 negated your Wither while keeping their Kong alive. They could even just remove your Lurking Giant before it can deal its finishing damage to their Kong, negating your Wither.

If you use Wither after damage, you only commit your Wither when you are certain it would break your opponent’s Kong. If you get passed initiative when Kong is 3 away from breaking, playing Wither will break it guaranteed. Both choices are viable, and either can be correct in different situations.

word_of_summoning

Word of Summoning Rating
Always Acceptable

Off-turn 4/4 with recycle is much better than on-turn 4/3 with recycle (Ogre Mercenary). In addition, its a demon token so it has synergy with other demon synergy cards. The only downside compared to Ogre Mercenary is that it is returned to the token pile if bounced.

Generally, I like this as a way to apply a bit more pressure. Put in 2 off-turn demons with Spawning Demon, then add one more with this. It can also function as a chump blocker with recycle if needed.

zombie_apocalypse

Zombie Apocalypse Rating
Always First Pickable +

Off-turn board clears are great. This one can create chump blockers as well, if you are forced to use it on your opponent’s turn while their gold is up. In addition, you can even set up for playing this by banishing your opponent’s discard pile before with Amnesia/Heinous Feast (or Erratic Research/Grave Demon the turn before).

Evil Tyrants Cards

dark_offering

Dark Offering Rating
Always Acceptable –

Spending a card and breaking your own champion is a very stiff price to pay, regardless of the effect. Potentially breaking 2 opposing champions off-turn is a powerful effect. Most of the time in Dark Draft, this price is not worth this effect. Either you aren’t willing to break your own champion or your opponent doesn’t have 2 champions in play you want to break. At least it can draw 2.

The best way to use this card is to break your Soul Hunter, Trihorror, Winter Fairy, The Gudgeon, or Mist Guide Herald. In other words, champions with valuable on-break effects or champions who provide most of their value with their Tribute/Loyalty effect and don’t generate much additional value.

If you have some of these champions, breaking your own champion isn’t much of a problem, and it can even be beneficial. The potential power-level of this card is enormous, but it isn’t likely to achieve that power-level often. (At least not in Dark Draft…I’ve built about 3 constructed decks using Dark Offering with mixed results.)

hands_from_below

Hands from Below Rating
Always Acceptable –

4 damage is enough to break all of the unblockable champions in the game (Thought Plucker, Knight of Shadows, Shadow Imp, etc.). It can also break all tokens and a lot of other 0-cost champions. If you can bait an opponent into group attacking with multiple demons, it can be really strong. (I know from experience being baited into doing just that.)

In addition, 2 zombies is a nice bonus.

Personally, it’s a bit too conditional for me, and the zombies aren’t enough of a bonus to make me desire this heavily. I know plenty of people who love this card though. I’d much rather have Spike Trap.

heinous_feast

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.

necrovirus

Necrovirus Rating
Frequently Desirable

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.

raxxa_demon_tyrant

Raxxa, Demon Tyrant Rating
Always Desirable

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.

raxxas_curse

Raxxa’s Curse Rating
Always First Pickable

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.

raxxas_displeasure

Raxxa’s Displeasure Rating
Always Desirable +

Most of the time this breaks all champions on your turn, pretty nice. However, if you are able to pick up a significant amount of demon cards (Raxxa’s Curse, Reaper, Spawning Demon, Raxxa Demon Tyrant, Demon Breach, Guilt Demon, Infernal Gatekeeper, Medusa, Succubus, Thrasher Demon, Trihorror-ish, Word of Summoning, Grave Demon, Raxxa’s Enforcer, Rift Summoner, Winged Death), this can be an on-turn, one-sided board clear which is incredible. It also still works with unbreakable on your turn cards like Dark Knight. If you are drafting a demon deck, or an Evil deck in general, this is a highly desirable card.

If you believe your opponent is drafting a demon/Evil deck, counter-picking this is seriously worth considering. If they get it, it could blow you out. If you get it, you can’t rely on it as a board clear, but you can always just draw 2 with it.

reap_or_sow

Reap or Sow Rating
Situationally Desirable

I love board clears, but trading the “or draw 2” option for “put 4 zombie tokens into play” makes this significantly worse.

While board clear effects are powerful, I generally use the “or draw 2” option more frequently, unless it is a one-sided board clear like Raxxa’s Displeasure. Therefore, trading the “or draw 2” option for a non-blitz Wolf’s Call (with zombies) hurts a lot.

If I’m going wide with a lot of tokens, I might take this. Or, if I don’t have any board clears late in the draft I will take this. Not a big fan though.

reaper

Reaper Rating
Always Desirable

Great card.

9 defense on a champion that can theoretically break (almost) any champion each turn is unparalleled, especially since you are guaranteed to get the tribute -> break effect. This card has to be removed with a gold, it survives all unassisted 0-cost removal (at worst it gets bounced), and it survives most damage based removal.

Since it does leave behind demons, it effectively can’t stop a chump block. (However, if it is in play, you can trigger it with a 1-cost Evil card to break a potential ambushed in airborne blocker though). In addition, those demons can actually be a threat to you, especially if your opponent was already going wide. Further, you can’t clear those demons with Raxxa’s Displeasure. Still, I’d rather start by dealing with Kong/Thundarus/Draka and then deal with the demon later.

Another use for Reaper is to upgrade your tokens into demons. You play this and then the next time your activate it your opponent has no champions in play? Target one of your expended zombies and trade it for a prepared demon.

spawning_demon

Spawning Demon Rating
Situationally Desirable

I am a fan of this card. My favorite way to use it is to play it off-turn, when my opponent’s gold is down, and then follow it up with an Evil 1-cost draw 2. Draw 2, pay 1 health, and get 2 4/4 demons, awesome. Also, if your opponent doesn’t remove it, you threaten to keep gaining demons.

If I’m not going Evil or even just don’t have sufficient 1-cost Evil draw 2s, I don’t want to draft this. Fun with Medusa too though.

Important note: Spawning Demon is not buffed by Raxxa, Demon Tyrant, but the demon tokens it spawns are buffed.

the_gudgeon

The Gudgeon Rating
Always Acceptable

Card draw is essential in limited formats. Getting a 2/1 unblockable champion that protects you from most burn (Flamestrike not Draka’s Fire), most discard pile banish (Amnesia/Grave Demon/Keeper of Secrets not Guilt Demon), and some discard effects (Psionic Assault/Thought Plucker-tribute not Knight of Shadows or Thought Plucker-deal damage trigger) is a nice bonus.

Generally, it is also much safer to draw 2 cards on your turn than your opponent’s. Unfortunately for The Gudgeon though, it competes with the other slow champions/on-your-turn effects like Kong, White Knight, Army of the Apocalypse, Divine Judgement, etc.

The best part of The Gudgeon is its interaction with Soul Hunter and Plague Zombies (to a lesser extent Fairy Trickster, Ice Drake/Frost Giant, and Scarros). For example, say you have The Gudgeon in play and your opponent has Soul Hunter in play. You Lightning Strike their Soul Hunter. What happens?

Yup, since you are untargetable, and your opponent must target a player to be affected by Soul Hunter‘s non-optional effect, they must target themself. Pretty nice. Soul Hunter and Plague Zombies are particularly nasty because it is less likely that the official take back rule will apply. If an opponent plays Plague Zombies (while you have The Gudgeon in play), attacks with a zombie, and then passes initiative, if you break all their zombies, it is too late for them to take back playing Plague Zombies, so your opponent must take the Plague Zombie damage to their face.

Cards that do not target a player are not stopped by The Gudgeon. This includes Blind Faith, Raxxa Demon Tyrant, board clears like Apocalypse, etc.

zealous_necromancer

Zealous Necromancer Rating
Situationally Acceptable

Ambush + tribute -> draw a card is nice, but 4 defense with only 3 offense is not.

That being said, if your opponent can’t remove Zealous Necromancer or board clear you, this card can take control of a game. Gaining a zombie after each and every non-zombie champion breaks, including your opponent’s champions and both players non-zombie tokens, means that you can have a hard to exhaust horde of chump blockers if nothing else.

This is particularly nasty against decks with human tokens because you can block their human token with a zombie, break the human token in combat, and then gain a new prepared zombie token to block the next attacking human token. In addition, if your opponent chump blocks your champions with any non-zombie champion, you still get a zombie.

Zealous Necromancer has won games both for and against me, but I still don’t like drafting/playing it much. If I’m going tokens or I expect my opponent to be going tokens (or if the rest of the pack is bad), I’ll draft this.

Evil Uprising Cards

Consume Rating
Always Desirable

0-cost 3 damage removal deals with a lot of champions especially with the addition of Pyrosaur and Winged Death. Gaining 3 health is also appreciated, but it would be playable without the 3 health gain too.

Corpsemonger Rating
Usually Desirable

This can either be used as a 0-cost blitz threat while both players have their gold, or it can banish pesky cards like Bodyguard while simultaneously gaining you health. In some games, especially where your opponent has burn, gaining 3 health a turn and removing champions from your opponent’s discard pile can be devastating. In addition, you can always banish your own discard pile champions if you need the health.

Demonic Rising Rating
Situationally Desirable

At first glance, this seems like a more dangerous and weaker Wave of Transformation. Clear all champions, leave behind tokens to replace them, but give them blitz!? It can work in this way though, especially if you have more champions in play or you use it on your turn.

But, it can also be used aggressively! If your opponent uses their gold on your turn while you have more champions in play (expended tokens for example) you can use this. Replace your board with blitzing 4/4 demons that can’t be broken by Flash Fire or Wither and attack (still stopped by Blind Faith though, since it removes blitz).

Grave Demon Rating
Always First Pick

Mass discard pile banish is critical. If you have it, use it against a big enough discard pile, and recycle it from your discard pile early (to be able to draw it before your opponent is able to possibly deck out again), your opponent essentially can’t draw out for victory. If your opponent has it and you don’t, they can play defensively and eventually draw out to victory.

8/8 ambush body is also pretty decent all by itself. Great card in Dark Draft.

Little Devil Rating
Always First Pickable

I absolutely love this card. 0-cost airborne blitz champion with 4 defense is one of the absolute best cards to play on your turn, before gold has been spent, when neither player has any champions in play. First play of first turn for instance.

As I mentioned at the top of this article, there are very few 0-cost cards that can deal with this immediately on your turn/when it attacks: Lightning Strike, Raxxa’s Curse, and Spike Trap. (Unquenchable Thirst later in the game). Therefore, you are very likely to either get 4 damage through to your opponent or force them to use their gold first on your turn. Both of which are pretty great for a 0-cost card.

In addition, after the first turn you attack with it, it stays at its 4 defense so significantly fewer cards can break it unlike Dark Knight or even Juggernaut. I’ve had games where Little Devil alone has dealt 8 or 12 damage before it was finally removed. Incredible card.

No Escape Rating
Situationally Desirable +

This card is great if you don’t have a lot of slow champions, and it is even better if you have high value 0-cost champions like Little Devil. On-turn removal is a great way to punish an opponent for spending their gold first on your turn for an ambush champion, and the extra effect is quite powerful.

Off-turn, this card becomes significantly weaker because of that powerful extra effect. Your opponent can even return to hand the champion you just broke. Unlike Erase doing practically the same thing, you get no bonus like draw 2 for returning it to your opponent’s hand. This is a desperation play only.

Unlike Banishment though, which is a very similar card, this does have a draw 2 option. In the heavy 0-cost favoring meta, this card has an even higher value than normal.

Plague Zombies Rating
Rarely Playable

If you can make a lot of zombies, this can be nice. Play it before you attack and each zombie does 2 damage whether or not it is blocked (assuming no tricks like Blind Faith, Ceasefire, or Ice Drake). Playing it after your opponent plays Zombie Apocalypse would be fun.

It can be a nice way to close out games though, especially if you have cards like Flash Fire or Wither. Play this and then immediately play Flash Fire to deal damage before your opponent regains the initiative.

Rules Reminder: When assigning damage to champions attacking or defending in a group, a player may deal all of their champions’ damage to 1 champion in the group. For example, I attack with Rampaging Wurm. My opponent plays Plague Zombies and blocks with all 3 zombies. I can choose to deal all 14 damage to 1 zombie, so I don’t break the others and only take 2 damage.

If you want to do breakthrough damage to an opponent (say you attacked with Burrowing Wurm instead), you would need to assign enough damage to break all defending champions in order to breakthrough with the rest.

Raxxa’s Enforcer Rating
Always Acceptable

The effects of this card are quite powerful. Tribute -> break most of your opponent’s 0-cost champions and then keep a -3 offense debuff in play. In addition breaking/finishing off a reasonable amount of champions, especially on your turn, it turns off Thought Plucker, makes Guilt Demon attack for 0, and knocks other champions off of their critical offense levels (like 6 offense for airborne champions). It is also a demon so it survives Raxxa’s Displeasure.

All of this is great, but it only has 5 defense which is a very critical break point. Still, I’ve been happy with it the few times I’ve drafted it. My recommendation is make a point to draft it because it is very hard to see just how powerful it can be otherwise.

Rift Summoner Rating
Frequently Desirable

Best case scenario: Play Plentiful Dead. Then play Rift Summoner, spend 1 life to recall Plentiful Dead, reveal it and 1 other Evil card for loyalty, and get a demon token. Finally, break the zombie token from Plentiful Dead with Rift Summoner’s expend ability. You just put 17/17 worth of stats into play across 4 bodies, off-turn, costing you 1 card in hand and 1 life (requiring Plentiful Dead and 1 other Evil card). That is an insane amount of value.

Worst case scenario: Play this without loyalty 2. Then, use its ability to break itself and put 2 demons into play. Same as off-turn Demon Breach, but no recall ability. Off-turn Demon Breach isn’t very strong though.

Most common scenario: Play this with loyalty to put a demon into play. Use the expend ability to break that demon. End up with 13/13 worth of stats, over 3 bodies, off-turn.

Chump block scenario: Chump block with a champion in play, such as a token. After blockers, ambush this in (with or without loyalty). Then, break the chump blocking champion with Rift Summoner’s expend ability to make 2 demons.

Rift Summoner is extremely powerful, especially with loyalty and the ability to make tokens. Aside from Surprise Attack, no other card puts this much offense/defense into play off-turn.

In addition, if Rift Summoner stays in play, it can break another champion you control to make 2 demons on each of your turns. With this in play, you can attack with a demon on your turn. Let your opponent block it with a bigger champion. Then use Rift Summoner to break that demon (since it was going to break anyway) to get 2 more demons.

This card can be powerful even if you don’t go Evil, especially if you are able to make incidental tokens. It also has some cool interactions with other cards, like Inheritance of the Meek. Play Rift Summoner on your opponent’s turn and make some demons. Then on you turn, break Rift Summoner to its own ability before playing Inheritance.

Saren, Night Stalker Rating
Situationally Acceptable

I like blitz champions because they are a great way to punish an opponent for spending their gold before me on my turn. This card can perform that roll, but its stats and abilities are worse than other champions that perform that roll.

If I want to wait to play this until after my opponent’s gold is down on my turn, unbreakable is largely meaningless. Without their gold, the odds that they could break Saren on my turn are very low. However, if it survives until my next turn when both our golds are up, unbreakable could be nice.

With 7 defense and no unbreakable on my opponent’s turn though, it is not terribly likely it will survive until my next turn. In addition, it has no form of evasion (airborne, unblockable, breakthrough). Due to this, it is at the bottom of my blitzing gold-punishers. Since I value blitzing gold-punishers so highly, I would still take it if I had none near the end of the draft.

Winged Death Rating
Always Desirable

1-cost 3-defense-champions in dark draft are risky, since they can be removed by 0-cost cards which can be a massive tempo loss. However, Winged Death immediately breaks a champion when it enters play. If it isn’t immediately removed, it can break a second champion that turn, and it threatens to break another one each turn.

When this ability triggers, your opponent chooses which of their champions in play they want to break. Therefore, if they have 1 strong champion and 1 weak champion (like a token), they can choose to break the weak champion. But, if they only have 1 champion in play, they must break that champion. In addition, this ability doesn’t target, so if their only champion in play is the untargetable Sea Titan, they must break their Sea Titan (since this effect doesn’t say target, untargetable doesn’t protect it).

This card can also be a devastating punish when your opponent’s gold is down on your turn. If they have 2 champions in play that can’t block airborne champions, and no 0-cost answers in hand, you can play this, break a champion, hit for 4 damage in the air, and break a second champion. It’s sweet.

Even if your opponent’s gold is up this can be a strong play. Play this to break their only champion in play, and then pass. This way, your opponent can’t followup  by playing a non-airborne, ambush champion like Noble Unicorn or Lurking Giant. If they do anyway, you can just attack with your Winged Death afterwards. Assuming they don’t have a 0-cost answer, you hit for 4 and force them to break their freshly played champion.

It’s also a demon, so Raxxa’s Displeasure.

Beware Rescue Griffin!

Zannos, Corpse Lord Rating
Situationally Desirable

When I dark draft, my deck generally doesn’t consist of much more than 50% of the same faction (since I generally value generically powerful cards over taking weaker cards just to match faction). Therefore, the odds of me hitting greater than loyalty 3 or so with this card isn’t great. That is also assuming I go Evil in Dark Draft which I generally don’t like to do, since it relies on acquiring a critical mass of strong Evil cards.

Therefore, I am not a huge fan of Zannos in Dark Draft. If you are going Evil, it is fine (especially if you do prioritize in-faction cards over generically powerful cards), but I would pick a lot of cards over it. That being said, even just loyalty 2 is a reasonable effect: 13/13 worth of stats, over 3 bodies, with 2 direct life loss for your opponent, 2 life gain for yourself, and a 1-cost body your opponent doesn’t want to bounce is definitely not bad.

Good Core Cards

angel_of_light

Angel of Light Rating
Situationally Acceptable

I am biased against this card because it was more than worthless for me when I was blown out in the semi-finals of Gen Con 2015 (before the game was released).

6 defense is a big step up from 5, but it still leaves it vulnerable to Lightning Storm (5th best card in Draft) and Smash and Burn (a personal favorite). In addition, spending your gold for 5 health isn’t great. Fast 10 health with a 5/6 airborne body is better, but Good is weak in draft making a Good investment less viable. If I know/expect my opponent to have burn, I desperately need fast cards, or I actually have/expect to have a Good investment, I will pick this if there is nothing better in the pack.

angel_of_mercy

Angel of Mercy Rating
Situationally Desirable +

If you can play this after your opponent spent their gold on their turn when you have at least 1 valuable Good champion in your discard pile, this card is great (assuming they don’t have Lightning Strike or Amnesia/Heinous Feast). Getting a champion into play + a 4/5 airborne body + the threat of more champions coming back to play is game winning. However, this relies on drafting other Good champions, and it is bad if your opponent can break it or banish the relevant card(s) in your discard pile before your turn starts. This also isn’t a critical Good card for human tokens.

angelic_protector

Angelic Protector Rating
Always Acceptable

A 5/9 airborne, ambush champion is solid. The fact that it can’t be broken or targeted the turn you play it makes it great to play on your opponent’s turn, even before they spend their gold, since you can’t be easily punished by a big non-breakthrough blitz champion.

I do like this more in constructed though. Since this doesn’t draw cards, remove most champions, or have blitz, it isn’t as reliably powerful in draft as other cards.

Lines up nicely with Juggernaut.

avenging_angel

Avenging Angel Rating
Frequently Desirable

I like blitz champions now, but almost exclusively only after my opponent has spent their gold on my turn. This card does deal 6, gain 6, and must be answered before your opponent attacks, but it dies to almost all 1-cost removal.

(As a side note, I have been including it a lot in my pre-alpha, core-only constructed deck crafting.)

banishment

Banishment Rating
Situationally Desirable

In draft I would rather play threatening champions on my turn than removal (preferably both in 1 card like Sea Titan). Off-turn, I love targeted removal. Banishment is terrible to play off-turn. That extra card is such a big deal in draft, but so is your gold on your turn. Other people love this card and this into Ankylosaurus is better than playing a Palace Guard, but I would rather have the Palace Guard for its guaranteed ability to remove a threat and leave a threat.

I’ve been warming up on this card recently. Using this on turn is great, and it helps support heavy 0-cost decks and/or low slow champion decks.

brave_squire

Brave Squire Rating
Usually Desirable

This card has worked well for me often. +5 offense and unbreakable is a great combat trick (keep your champion alive while breaking an opponent’s champion). A 6/1 unbreakable human token can break attacking champions like Noble Unicorn and Pyrosaur; at minimum, it can be a hard-to-remove, 0-cost chump block to throw in front of a Rampaging Wurm when your gold is down. Even just +5 damage on an unblocked champion has value, especially if that champion has righteous.

ceasefire

Ceasefire Rating
Always Desirable

Draw 2 is solid, but being able to draw 2 on your opponent’s turn while they still have their gold is incredible. Most of the time, if you spend your gold on your opponent’s turn before they do, they can respond by playing a blitzing champion and attacking face while your primary defense is down. This card prevents that from happening.

It also prevents all other attacks your opponent might want to make that turn. So, if they attack with a token before attacking with that Raging T-Rex in play, you can play this and that T-Rex can’t attack you that turn. This can also be a great way to set up for a board clear on your turn. If your opponent expands their lead on their turn even though they can’t attack, you can punish them by clearing everything on your turn.

Since your only windows to play cards on your opponent’s turn are:
– after they declare attackers
– after you declare blockers
– when your opponent tries to end their turn
You usually won’t be able to play this before your opponent attacks with at least one champion.

courageous_soul

Courageous Soul Rating
Situationally Desirable

Human Tokens can do a lot of blitz damage in one turn. This + Secret Legion is a great way to get 22 worth of attacking, blitzing offense into play (since this is a human, it gets the blitz from Secret Legion). This also has ambush, so it can be played on your opponent’s turn and if it survives, your opponent won’t get a window to kill it on your turn before you can attack with it.

This can also work with non-Good champions, so it can help a heavy zombie and/or demon token deck (or Wolves technically). Theoretically, if you play a Dark Leader on your opponent’s turn and it survives, you could play this into The Risen and immediately attack with this, since Dark Leader makes this human an Evil champion. (Dark Leader is still a bad card though.)

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.

high_king

High King Rating
Situationally Desirable

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.

inheritance_of_the_meek

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.

inner_peace

Inner Peace Rating
Situationally Desirable

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 card almost single-handedly won my my second cube draft match at Worlds against an incredibly burn heavy deck. It was the last card I drafted.)

lord_of_the_arena

Lord of the Arena Rating
Situationally Desirable

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.

noble_unicorn

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.

palace_guard

Palace Guard Rating
Always Desirable +

Targeted, banish removal with a 6/8 body and no alignment-requirement is incredible.

priest_of_kalnor

Priest of Kalnor Rating
Practically Unplayble

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.

priestess_of_angeline

Priestess of Angeline Rating
Rarely Playable

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.

rally_the_people

Rally the People Rating
Practically Unplayable

Terrible.

0 cost card to put a 2/1 human into play and buff your champions. At only +1 offense I wouldn’t even want it in a token deck. With recall, you could spend a gold to put 2 humans into play and give +2 attack, but that isn’t anywhere close to the power of a gold.

At the very least, you can chump block with it, and you can recall it if you have literally no other use for your gold.

resurrection

Resurrection Rating
Always Acceptable

I want to like this card. It has been great for me in some situations, but it has rotted in my hand in many other situations. The ability to essentially play any champion as if it had ambush is a big incentive, but I’ve found that champions you want to return generally either get bounced/banished or removed while your gold is down. I still want to draft this card, but it has underperformed for me repeatedly.

secret_legion

Secret Legion Rating
Situationally Desirable

By itself, this card is pretty weak. 6 humans can work as multiple chump blockers or 6 blitzing attackers, but neither of those are great. Its real power comes from combining it with Courageous Soul (since Courageous Soul is a human this gives it blitz), Revolt, Standard Bearer, etc. Secret Legion + Revolt is a 2 card 21 damage combo, which can win games assuming no Flash Fire, Wither, Blind Faith (would remove the blitz but not the +offense buff), etc.

standard_bearer

Standard Bearer Rating
Situationally Acceptable

Not great on its own, but if you have other human token support, the +2 offense can do work. Until you’ve played with/against a deck that can consistently put human tokens into play while this is out, it is easy to underestimate just how strong this static buff can be.

the_people_s_champion

The People’s Champion Rating
Situationally Desirable

I like this card, but I wouldn’t say it’s great.

It enters play as 10/9 stats over 3 bodies, one of which is unbanishable but the others are just 1/1s. As long as it stays in play, it threatens to keep producing 1/1 tokens, and most of the time that means you have a nearly limitless stream of chump blockers. This can be strong if you have another champion that can attack with impunity, such as an airborne champion. If you have cards like Revolt or Insurgency, you can also turn those chump blockers into actual threats.

The unbanishable is a nice benefit as well, especially since opponent’s occasionally forget to take that into consideration. (With the official take back rule, if an opponent plays a card like Divine Judgement and then realizes The People’s Champion wouldn’t be banished, they can return it to hand as if they didn’t play it, the only penalty being the information they have given their opponent.)

It is also a human so it can pair with Faithful Pegasus. 8/7 is great for an airborne champion.

thundarus

Thundarus Rating
Situationally Acceptable

Slow, but powerful.

No immediate effect makes this highly vulnerable to bounce effects. It also has no protection from break effects, but it is unbanishable, airborne, and survives all solitary burn removal. In addition, at 10 airborne offense, it must be removed.

If it is removed easily, it did nothing for you and possibly put you behind. If it can’t be removed, it can win you the game in 3 attacks, especially since it is hard to efficiently chump block in the air.

I generally won’t draft this, but if it is late in the draft and I haven’t passed much targeted break and/or bounce, I would consider taking it.

vital_mission

Vital Mission Rating
Rarely Playable

Similar effect to Magic’s Swords to Plowshares, but the fact that this costs a gold makes the comparison not great. Targeted removal is strong, but in a game where damage can be difficult to deal, giving an opponent 8+ health can be pretty bad. If used on a small champion like Necromancer Lord, Thought Plucker, Angel of Mercy, Hunting Raptors, etc., the small champion probably gained significant value already. At least it does banish so it prevents discard recursion on powerful champions.

On the other hand, using this on your own champion can give you a decent amount of health and draw you to 2 fresh cards, but it requires you to take a massive tempo hit in order to do it (unless you target your own unbanishable champion). Doing this on your turn before you off-turn board clear on your opponent’s turn can be worthwhile though.

watchful_gargoyle

Watchful Gargoyle Rating
Always Acceptable

Tribute -> recycle is nice. Airborne is nice. 2 offense with 3 defense enables it to break non-demon tokens too. Not too scary on offense, but it can function fairly similarly to Fumble (which I love), assuming your opponent doesn’t have 0-cost fast removal to use on it before blockers. I’d much rather have Fumble or Spore Beast though.

white_dragon

White Dragon Rating
Situationally Desirable

0-cost 5/5 airborne champion is reasonable on its own. If you can get the recycle, it is a lot better. At 5/5, it trades with a decent number of 1-cost airborne champions, and at 5 damage it is a threat in its own right too.

The best card to use before playing this is probably Banishment. Remove a threat, put an airborne threat into play, and net lose 0 cards from hand.

white_knight

White Knight Rating
Usually Desirable

One of my favorite cards.

Once again, Tribute -> draw a card is great. 9/9 blitzer can be a solid on-turn gold-punisher too. Those alone make it desirable to me, but the expend ability can be amazing too (although frequently irrelevant). Put an expended 9/9 into play, draw a card, and break a champion, yeah, pretty nice.

It’s also a human, so it can go airborne with Faithful Pegasus.

Good Tyrants Cards

blind_faith

Blind Faith Rating
Usually Desirable

I’ve gone back and forth on this card, but currently I love it in Dark Draft. There are so many situations where stripping abilities off of champions can lead to massive blowouts or even just generically strong plays.

With the addition of more mass discard pile banish cards, drawing out becomes less likely. Therefore, recycling is less likely to have even a small downside.

forced_exile

Forced Exile Rating
Always Desirable

I like targeted removal and “or draw 2” cards. Banish is usually stronger than break. This is strong both on-turn and off-turn. Solid.

insurgency

Insurgency Rating
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.

markus_watch_captain

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.

noble_martyr

Noble Martyr Rating
Situationally Acceptable

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.

paros_rebel_leader

Paros, Rebel Leader Rating
Situationally Desirable

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.

quell

Quell Rating
Situationally Desirable

I go back and forth on this card a lot, and I’m still not certain where I stand on it.

The first group of times I played with Quell, I was able to cause massive blowouts with both of its options, even in decks not built around it.

  • I only had 0-cost champions while my opponent only had 1-cost champions:
    So, it was a one-sided, on-turn board clear.
  • I only had 1-cost champions while my opponent had a bunch of tokens and other 0-cost champions:
    So, it was a one-sided, off-turn board clear and drew a card.
  • I’ve also used it as a banishing board clear while I had unbanishable champions like The People’s Champion in play.

Other people have used it quite nicely against me as well. In other words, it has had promising play results.

However, I’ve had multiple situations where I didn’t want to play it because I had both 1-cost champions and 0-cost champions I didn’t want to banish in play. In those situations, the lack of an “or draw 2” option made this largely a dead card. I could’ve drew 1 with it, but I’d have lost my Muse, Little Devil, Dark Knight, or other 0-cost champions in the process. In addition, it can’t answer an opponent’s mixed board completely.

Currently, I think it is desirable to draft if you are going wide with tokens and 0-cost champions. Otherwise, I want to just force myself to draft it more to see how it shakes out for me now.

rabble_rouser

Rabble Rouser Rating
Situationally Desirable

This is a card that must be removed or it will overwhelm the board with its greater than doubling madness. (I believe the most humans I saw it create was around 36, since some tokens gave their life along the way.) If unremoved, some of these human tokens can slowly push damage through while others chump block. In addition, they can mass up for an Insurgency, Revolt, etc.

Unfortunately for this card, it has 5 defense so it breaks to a lot, including damage based board clears like Draka’s Fire that sweep up the tokens along with it. If you have multiple ways to go wide quickly, adding another one can strain your opponent’s ability to board clear you, which can be quite strong.

revolt

Revolt Rating
Situationally Desirable ++

This is by far the most important and best card for human token decks.

A 0-cost event that gives +2 offense to all Good champions can turn any human token assault into a major threat, whether those human tokens started the turn in play or you just played Insurgency/Secret Legion. It’s an all-star.

Unless you are desperate, you should not use the “or draw 2” option in a human token deck because the main effect is too valuable. Unfortunately for human token decks, the “or draw 2” option does make this incredibly easy to counter draft. Even just a 3/1 ambush chump blocker can be useful, in a desperation type of way.

Memory Spirit, Reusable Knowledge, and Citadel Raven are worth extra consideration in a human token deck with this card. Revolt is that strong.

royal_escort

Royal Escort Rating
Situationally Acceptable

5/9 Ambush means it’s never terrible. It also gives a guaranteed 3 health gain, but, since its ally trigger is Good, it probably won’t gain too much more. Making all of your other champions untargetable can be quite nice though with specific champions, particularly low-defense ones: Guilt Demon, Dark Assassin/High King/Murderous Necromancer/Reaper/Elara the Lycomaner, Necromancer Lord/Angel of Mercy, Avenging Angel/Gold Dragon, Muse/Spore Beast, Thought Plucker, Winged Death/Citadel Raven/Pyrosaur, and The Gudgeon is another fun one.

One thing to be careful about is that you can’t target your champions either. No Brave Squires, Rages, etc. for you (unless you Vanishing/bounce your Royal Escort first of course).

second_wind

Second Wind Rating
Always Desirable

5 health with recycle can frequently be just enough to keep you out of burn range for an extra turn or two. This is especially strong because a lot of burn wins can revolve around using 2 1-cost burn cards in a row, one at the end of your turn after you’ve spent your gold, and a second at the start of their turn before you can spend a gold. Not only can Second Wind save you here, but it punishes your opponent for wasting an entire turn not affecting the board with their gold.

Second Wind’s recycle is also indirectly stronger after Uprising because, with the addition of Erratic Research and Grave Demon (plus a seemingly faster game pace), it is much less likely to win by drawing through your deck. I particularly like this card with Memory Spirit.

Without recycle this would be so much worse.

urgent_messengers

Urgent Messengers Rating
Always Desirable

Off-turn draw 2 with a perk (usually 2 chump blockers). Great.

Good Uprising Cards

Angel of the Gate Rating
Always Desirable

Amazing card. 7/7 airborne ambush is solid. Only Thundarus, Djinn of the Sands, Draka Dragon Tyrant, and Draka’s Enforcer can break it in air combat, and Angelic Protector, Gold Dragon, and Ice Drake are the only other airborne champions that can block it without breaking.

In addition to its offensive threat, it gains you 5 health a turn (if your opponent doesn’t spend a gold to remove it). Even just getting the trigger once, the turn after you play it, is reasonable.

Avenger of Covenant
Always Acceptable

8/8 ambush body is always reasonable, especially when your opponent’s gold is down.

While it isn’t ideal to take a hit from a champion, using this to banish 0-cost cards like Little Devil seems reasonable. Especially since it leaves you with at least some protection with its body. So far, I haven’t been terribly impressed by it, but I feel like I, and a lot of other people I talk to, still undervalue it a bit.

It can also banish Pyrosaur, Strafing Dragon, Blue Dragon, etc. after you get hit by their Tribute/Loyalty abilities but before their attacks go through.

Bodyguard Rating
Situationally Desirable

With enough Good cards in your deck, this can do a lot of work. Chump block multiple champions without decreasing your hand size? Great stuff.

The biggest problems are:

  • You need 1-cost Good cards to recall it (the weakest alignment in Dark Draft)
  • If you use it to chump block, your opponent gets the first initiative after it breaks, so they can banish it before you can recall it
  • Unlike Plentiful Dead, you can’t just play it before every 1-cost Evil card you play, but it doesn’t cost life to recall

Still, it is a card I would be very happy to take if I had a reasonable amount of Good cards.

Brand, Rebel Fighter Rating
Situationlly Acceptable

0-cost ambush 5/5 that reverts to a 2/5 but can gain 5 health if I’m in Good, meh. The +3 offense can be used on other champions which is nice (I traded a White Dragon for a Silver Dragon once), but I’m not terribly impressed by this card in Dark Draft.

Chamberlain Kark Rating
Practically Unplayable

This card is significantly better in constructed because you can very precisely build your deck around it. Without the ability to bring multiple copies of Ceasefire or a bunch of other key cards, the odds of reaching 60 health are reduced significantly. Without his alt-win condition, I have very minimal desire to spend my gold on my turn, to put a 9/12 into play, to gain a bit of health at the cost of showing my opponent cards in my hand.

However, if you do go heavy into Good and have cards like Gold Dragon, it is possible to hit that threshold. I believe it is unlikely though, and I have little desire to try, at least not at a tournament.

Gladius, the Defender
Rarely Playable

A 1-cost champion in Good that doesn’t do anything immediately when played and doesn’t have blitz, ugh. Do not want.

However, just like Thundarus, if your opponent doesn’t have the plethora of answers to punish this, it can be strong. Both unbanishable and over 9 defense does make it more resilient to Good and Wild based removal (except Chomp!). In addition, 4/1 human tokens are actually fairly threatening, and the fact that he can put 12 offense into play each turn is kind of scary. In a deck that has access to human tokens already, banish-based board clears, and potentially Surprise Attack, this could be a nasty card. Even just playing it on your turn after your opponent spends their gold is somewhat reasonable, since not removing it can be quite bad for your opponent.

Justice Prevails Rating
Situationally Desirable

I initially underestimated this card. I thought that I didn’t want to spend my gold to buff my 0-cost champions because my opponent can punish me so hard for doing that in a variety of ways. However, the fact that it draws a card, gives +3 defense, and gives righteous is actually quite a potent combination.

First, if you play this before your opponent spends their gold and they respond with an off-turn board clear like Zombie Apocalypse, you drew a card so you are still up from the exchange.

Second, with +3 defense, cards like Flash Fire and Wither can’t destroy all of your 1-gold-buffed tokens that turn.

Third, if even just 1 or 2 0-cost champions/tokens deal damage (regardless of whether it is to your opponent or their blocking champions) you gain a minimum of 4 to 8 health. If 3 or 4 champions hit, that is an incredibly significant amount of health. The fact that it also buffs cards like Rescue Griffin and Little Devil is a major perk.

If nothing else, it can also always just draw 2.

Martial Law Rating
Frequently Desirable

Banishing board clears are very powerful. Banishing board clears that can be used on an opponent’s turn are significantly more powerful. (4 human tokens is also a very small price.) Board clears that can’t draw 2 can be dead cards in your hand for an entire match if you stay ahead consistently. Thankfully, it is unlikely anyone can stay ahead consistently for an entire match.

Putting 5 humans into play probably won’t be what you want to do in most games, but it can help you push the last points of damage through to an opponent. It can also be used to chump block if you don’t want to board clear, but I generally don’t want to spend a gold just to chump block even if 4/5ths of the effect of the gold remains. If you have ways to buff the tokens, like Revolt, it can be much more desirable, but you pick this card for the board clear.

Master Zo Rating
Always Acceptable

9/8 ambush champion is never a bad choice. The unbreakable trigger can be nice too, in theory. Play this when your opponent attacks (preferably when their gold is down). If they don’t break it before blockers, you can declare it as a 9-offense, unbreakable blocker which is pretty solid. Then, after combat if their gold was still up, it is safe from slow break effects like Kong and Winged Death.

On your next turn, you can attack with it first to immediately give it unbreakable without spending your gold. Therefore, you have a reasonable threat that is hard to remove.

Rescue Griffin Rating
Always Desirable +

Crazy strong.

7 health on a 0-cost champion means the only 0-cost cards that can immediately remove it by themselves are Raxxa’s Curse and Siren’s Song (Unquenchable Thirst too with enough Evil cards in your discard pile).

7 health also means it survives combat with all airborne champions except: Thundarus, Silver Dragon, Djinn of the Sands, Draka Dragon Tyrant, and Draka’s Enforcer. It also breaks all of the following champions in combat while surviving: (0-cost) Corpsemonger, Guilt Demon, Watchful Gargoyle, Courageous Soul, Faithful Pegasus without an accompanying champion, Bodyguard, Keeper of Secrets, Ogre Mercenary, Muse, Warrior Golem, Cave Troll, and Fire Shaman (1-cost) Winged Death, Winter Fairy, Mist Guide Herald, Citadel Raven, and Pyrosaur.

It chump blocks (or better) and survives against 54% of the currently existing champions (65 of 121). A couple notable blocks being Dark Knight and Little Devil.

Even just ambushing this into play on your opponent’s turn and then attacking with a 3/7 airborne champion on your turn is reasonable.

Silver Dragon Rating
Always Desirable

I love Tribute draw a card. Banishing 3 token champions is pretty nice too. Airborne 9/8 is a very real threat: it only breaks to Thundarus, Djinn of the Sands, and Draka Dragon Tyrant in airborne combat and only Thundarus lives through it. Rescue Griffin also can’t survive chump blocking it. Finally, it requires no faction commitment so it can be run in any deck.

Great card.

Village Protector Rating
Situationally Desirable

This card can be much harder to remove than you might think. With no other human token generation, your opponent still has to remove 2 human tokens (which might not even attack), in order to remove Village Protector. In addition, only banishing or transforming effects can remove it while it is in play with human tokens, since it survives AoE break (Apocalypse) and damage effects (Hurricane). If you do have ways to put more human tokens into play (The People’s Champion, Martial Law, Revolt, etc.), it becomes a lot harder for your opponent to find a window in which they can remove this card.

In general, I think this card is underrated, and it will stay that way until people start drafting it more. I don’t think it is incredible, but I do think it can be solid.

Sage Core Cards

amnesia

Amnesia Rating
Always First Pick

As mass discard pile banish, it is one of the 4 most powerful cards in Dark Draft. There are very few situations where I would not pick Amnesia, mainly if it is the 2nd/3rd picks of a pack when I’ve already drafted one of the other 3 mass discard pile cards.

ancient_chant

Ancient Chant Rating
Usually Desirable

Fast draw 2 effects are powerful. The fact that if it gets Amnesia‘d while in your discard pile you draw a card is powerful.

It is also the only card that, by itself, can net you +2 cards in hand. Recall it from your discard pile (+1 card in hand) and draw a card (+1 more card in hand). The fact that it can also work with Lesson Learned to draw 4 is incredible.

blue_dragon

Blue Dragon Rating
Always Acceptable

I love tribute -> draw a card. I love Sage. Airborne is nice. Direct Damage is nice. But, I’m not a big fan of 4 defense champions, even after this card was crucial in the finals of my qualifying run.

crystal_golem

Crystal Golem Rating
Always Desirable

This card consistently exceeds my expectations, especially in constructed. Ambush on an untargetable body is great, even if it only has 4 defense. Chump blocking and then breaking this before it dies is solid. Chump attacking and then breaking this before it dies is also solid. Overall, a super solid card.

deadly_raid

Deadly Raid Rating
Always Acceptable

In draft I would rather take a card that answers a threat or advances my board. Deadly raid can win games and it is great with a lot of tokens or big untargetable champions, but if you don’t have any of those, its effect is worthless. Further, if you use it while they still have their gold, it can be less than worthless. If you try to wait until after they spent their gold, you might not have anything to use it with. This is another card that others think is great, but unless I am low on draw effects, I will usually be happy to let it them have it.

djinn_of_the_sands

Djinn of the Sands Rating
Usually Desirable +

This is one of the best cards in the game to play while you are ahead. It is also better than average if neither player has champions in play or the board is evenly matched. If you can force your opponent to spend their gold first on your turn, this is an 8/8 airborne blitz champion which frequently equates to a Flame Strike to the face with an expended, airborne, 8/8 body in play that can potentially draw a card next turn if attacking isn’t the best play.

Otherwise, you can play it, draw a card, and then be left with an expended, airborne, 7/7 body in play that can potentially draw a card next turn if attacking isn’t the best play.

However, if you are behind on the board, it is unlikely you can draw your opponent’s gold out before playing this which makes its 8/8 airborne blitz option terrible. Its draw a card leave an expended, airborne, 7/7 body in play also won’t help you too much.

Since this is a slow card and situational, I wouldn’t take it if I was overloaded on slow and/or blitz champions already, but after playing with it, I have realized how great a card it truly is.

erase

Erase Rating
Always First Pickable +

Bounce in Epic is incredible because it frequently negates an opponent’s previously spent gold. If they play Rampaging Wurm and attack while you still have your gold up, you can play this to return the Wurm to hand and draw 2 cards. Assuming neither of you play anything else that turn, your opponent gained zero resources that turn, and you increased the number of cards in your hand by 1. It is not often that you gain more resources without losing board position on your opponent’s turn than they do.

This is also fast targeted removal which means it can remove an ambushed in blocker. You’re attacking with a Palace Guard and your opponent ambushes in Lurking Giant, great, Erase it before blockers are declared to net one card on your opponent this turn and get 6 damage through to their face. Excellent.

forcemage_apprentice

Forcemage Apprentice Rating Situationally Desirable

Kills Muse, direct damage, Sage, need I say more? Great card. You can either save this as removal for when your opponent eventually plays a 2 to 4 defense minion, or you can play it before playing a 1-cost Sage card to get 4 damage through to your opponent’s face. Both options are great. This also needs to be removed or it will chip down your opponent’s health until they are dead, thankfully almost every removal effect in the game can get rid of it (not the newly revealed Savage Uprising though).

frost_giant

Frost Giant Rating
Frequently Desirable

8 offense blitzer is solid. The fact that it expends all potential blockers when it is played makes it even better. 12 defense means it survives almost all damage based removal too, 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 as well.

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).

keeper_of_secrets

Keeper of Secrets Rating
Usually Desirable

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 always attack for 2 too.

In my experience, whenever I could draft it, there are usually other cards I want more.

lying_in_wait

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

Memory Spirit Rating
Always Desirable

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.

My favorite use of Memory Spirit, however, is to return a 0-cost event. Cards like Fumble or Lightning Strike can be great to return to hand and then immediately play.

muse

Muse Rating
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.

ogre_mercenary

Ogre Mercenary Rating
Situationally Acceptable

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.

This card might be better than I think it is. Bouncing it with Time Walker/Reset can always be nice too.

psionic_assault

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.

sea_titan

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.

This card is amazing at getting you ahead from behind, and it can only be removed by non-damage based board clears and non-targeting cards like Lying In Wait or Winged Death.

Absolute monster.

spike_trap

Spike Trap Rating
Always Acceptable

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.

stand_alone

Stand Alone Rating
Situationally Desirable

This is a great off-turn board clear if your opponent is focusing on a wide, token strategy. In other words, if they have a lot of small champions instead of 1 or 2 big champions in play at a time, this is a great way to remove most of their pressure while leaving your strongest champion in play as well. If you are going wide, this is definitely worth counter-picking because you can always at least draw 2 with it.

If your opponent isn’t going wide, this “board clear” effect can be essentially worthless, since this can’t remove their best champion.

steel_golem

Steel Golem Rating
Always Desirable

13/13 untargetable is a strong threat. The fact that this can also gain blitz with Sage Loyalty 2 is a major perk, but I would still first pick this from a pack if I had no other Sage in my deck.

As a 13/13 untargetable blitzer, this is one of the few blitzing champions I would play and attack with while my opponent’s gold is up. Unless they have exactly Lying in Wait, Blind Faith, Surprise Attack -> Winged Death/Angel of Death/Time Walker, or an off-turn board clear, this will at least necessitate a chump block or deal 13 damage.

Great card.

thought_plucker

Thought Plucker Rating
Always First Pickable

This card is so powerful in a vacuum that the constructed meta has largely been forced to shift around it. Ally -> recall cards, Soul Hunter, and other cards have been added to a lot of decks in addition to 0-cost answers to help mitigate the damage of this card. In dark draft, the odds of having all of the best answers to deal with this card are significantly lower.

When played on your opponent’s turn when their gold is down, you immediately get ahead in card advantage. Then, you can immediately attack with it on your turn and force them to remove it; if they can’t, your card advantage becomes even more pronounced (you drew 2 while they discarded 2). If both players started this exchange at 5 cards, you are now at 6 to your opponents 3 (not including the card you drew for your turn).

If they have to spend their gold to deal with your Thought Plucker, you can follow up with any gold-punisher. One really nasty card in this situation is Final Task because if it is used on Thought Plucker and Thought Plucker deals combat damage, the hand sizes could be you at 6 with your opponent at 1 (assuming they used a 1-cost card to remove Thought Plucker without gaining another card, and not including the card you drew for your turn).

The potential to dramatically shift the card advantage into your favor makes this a highly dangerous card. However, if both players are already at 7 cards, this becomes a lot weaker. Ending at 8 to 5 is a lot less devastating than 6 to 3.

In addition, this card won’t be able to bring you back into a game where you are far behind on the board by itself. A 1/1 unblockable champion won’t stop a Triceratops for instance. It can help you draw into an answer like a board clear though.

time_bender

Time Bender Rating
Situationally Desirable

Fast reusable targeted removal is pretty strong. In addition, the 4 defense makes it a lot harder to remove with a single 0-cost event.

If you play this off-turn to bounce an opponent’s threat, you can always immediately bounce this with its own expend ability on your turn; this protects it from removal and allows you to use it again later. By immediately bouncing it on your turn, you don’t get further ahead, but you can maintain a removal card potentially indefinitely.

time_walker

Time Walker Rating
Situationally Desirable

Board clear that leaves you with a 10/10 body in Sage. Yup, pretty strong.

This can also be a great way to abuse 0-cost blitz champions. Play and attack with 0-cost blitz champion(s). Play this. Play and attack with the same 0-cost blitz champions. However, if your opponent has a lot of 0-cost ambush champions or powerful loyalty/tribute abilities, this becomes worse.

Amazing against token decks.

transform

Transform Rating
Always Desirable –

Targeted removal that transforms leaving only a wolf behind is pretty great. Only untargetable champions are immune to this card. Unfortunately, in the less likely situation where you want to use this on your turn to remove a blocker, that wolf left behind can always chump block. If nothing else, it is a Sage “or draw 2” card.

turn

Turn Rating
Usually Desirable

In a world without bounce, this would easily be one of the best cards in the game. Using this on your turn to permanently take control of a champion (+1 champion for you, -1 champion for your opponent) is incredible value. However, if your opponent is able to bounce the champion, it returns to their hand instead of yours (the owner’s not the controller’s) .

The second ability is also strong because it can let you steal a champion for a turn, give it blitz, and use it to finish off your opponent. It can also steal a champion off-turn to either negate an attacking champion, or, even better, use any one of your opponent’s other champions to block their attacking champion.

warrior_golem

Warrior Golem Rating
Situationally Desirable +

4/2 blitz with a recycle trigger attached is a great card to play to an open board while both players have their gold. It isn’t hard to remove, but your opponent needs to immediately remove it or they take damage. In addition, when they remove it, you get to recycle to replace its loss. You can even recycle itself to its own trigger because Warrior Golem is already in your discard pile when the trigger resolves.

Also, since the trigger happens regardless of how it enters your discard pile, you could even discard it to a Thought Plucker and immediately get the recycle effect.

wave_of_transformation

Wave of Transformation Rating
Always First Pickable

The most reliable off-turn board clear.

No champion in the game can survive this card. Unfortunately, when you use this and are behind in quantity of champions in play, you stay behind. In addition, it doesn’t help you much against tokens hordes. That being said, the reliable off-turn board clear is so powerful that these downsides aren’t that problematic. Also, sage draw 2 too.

winter_fairy

Winter Fairy Rating
Always Acceptable

After seeing Derek Arnold’s constructed Origins deck, I appreciate the idea of slow, on-turn, “draw 2 and” champions a lot more than I once did (even though his deck didn’t have any: Winter Fairy or The Gudgeon). I wrote about it a bit in my Epic: Constructed – Origins 2016 (Part 2) article, but it does primarily deal with constructed.

When I draft/play/include this card, I never expect it to deal combat damage. It’s great when it does, but it isn’t very likely. Instead, I view it as a draw 2 card that forces my opponent to spend a card to remove it. I always think about playing this and having it immediately get Withered, for example. +1 card in hand for me, -1 card in hand for my opponent.

If played while your opponent has no airborne champions in play, their most likely answers for it are: 0-cost 3 damage removal (avoiding the recycling 0-cost answers Wolf’s Bite and Flame Spike), banishment/transform removal, or other damage/break based 1-cost removal (best case scenario for you). If either of the first 2 options are used, you just drew out an incredibly valuable card from your opponent while drawing 2, great value. “You used your Palace Guard? Okay, I only drew 1 card, but now can you deal with this Kong?”

This is definitely one of my favorite cards in the game (partially because a lot of people undervalue it, although one of those people learned to value it even more than I do in draft), but I don’t value it higher in Dark Draft because Dark Draft is a lot more tempo based than constructed. While drawing 2 and forcing an opponent to use Wither is strong, if they are still at 6 cards in hand and running me over on the board with their gold, that value I just got probably won’t save me.

Overall, I like the card, but I’d rather have a more impactful card in Dark Draft most of the time.

Also, Final Tasking this on your turn to deal 4 damage and draw 3 isn’t bad either. (Tribute, combat damage, on-break effect)

Sage Tyrants Cards

arcane_research

Arcane Research Rating
Always Acceptable-

I don’t like this card in Dark Draft.

It’s never bad because you can always just play it and banish no other cards to replace it, but you do give a bit of information away for nothing in that case. You also potentially missed out on drafting something better.

In addition, I rarely find myself in a situation where I am searching for exactly 1 card, so banishing multiple cards just hurts my own ability to recycle, while also showing more cards to my opponent.

The only time I would actively want this card in Dark Draft is if I had Flame Strike/other high value burn, Drain Essence, or linchpin cards like Revolt. Devastating your discard pile to win the game has no downside, but devastating your discard pile for a defensive answer or a marginally better champion can do more harm than good sometimes.

**Update**

I’ve been convinced to increase Arcane Research’s tier from Situationally Acceptable to Always Acceptable-. Since, if you only have lower tier cards to draft from it can always at least replace itself into a different card you drafted. It also doesn’t count against the number of 0-cost cards you can include (since there is no limit in draft). I’m throwing the minus onto it because I don’t like revealing cards when I don’t have to.

 

****

elara_the_lycomancer

Elara, the Lycomancer Rating
Situationally Desirable +

Another card that I think is undervalued. It’s Sage so I’ll usually be able to hit the loyalty. Transform is an incredibly powerful effect. Free chump blocking wolf isn’t irrelevant. 5 defense puts it out of range of all 0-cost removal cards except Lightning Strike, so it is much more likely to get a second activation or at least force a gold to be spent on it.

6/5 blitzer that brings a wolf with her can also serve as an on-turn gold-punisher if really needed.

fumble

Fumble Rating
Always Desirable

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.

helion_the_dominator

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.

helions_fury

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.

knight_of_shadows

Knight of Shadows Rating
Always Desirable

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.

lesson_learned

Lesson Learned Rating
Usually Desirable

This card is as strong as your best event. If I’ve drafted Ancient Chant (to draw 4), Drain Essence, Flame Strike, and/or Erase, I would be happy to draft this. If I haven’t, or it is early in the draft, I don’t want to take this with the hope that I will. Admittedly, the odds of not getting at least a few worthwhile 1-cost events is fairly low though.

At the very least, Sage draw 2.

Click here for an explanation of why Lesson Learned -> Ancient Chant draws 4 cards/how cards technically resolve in Epic.

mist_guide_herald

Mist Guide Herald Rating
Situationally Acceptable ++

This card will usually be acceptable, but in a deck with fewer champions, or only a few strong establishing champions, I wouldn’t want this. If you hit a strong establishing champion when you play this, and you used Mist Guide Herald as an establishing champion, it is better than just playing that establishing champion.

In most other situations, it is worse than just playing a champion you legitimately want to play in that situation. I play this as an establishing champion but I only turn up gold-punishers, gaining a 3/2 airborne body is not enough to offset the poor timing of the gold-punishers. Or, I am trying to dig to one specific champion, and I don’t get it, playing/drafting something else would probably have been better. Worst case scenario is you play this and reveal no champions. On-turn gold for a 3/2 airborne champion tribute -> show my opponent 5 cards in my deck, terrible.

I’d much rather have a more reliable card in most situations, but I’ll take it if there aren’t any better cards in the pack.

Mist Guide Herald does combo great with Final Task/Necromancer Lord/Resurrection and Dark Offering though. (I especially love it with Dark Offering.)

shadow_imp

Shadow Imp Rating
Situationally Desirable

Strong in a deck with a lot of 1-cost Sage cards. Works great as a free 2 damage unblockable attacker each turn. At 3 defense it survives multiple 0-cost removal cards like Wolf’s Bite and Flash Fire. In addition, it gets to hide in your hand at the end of your turn (assuming you play a 1-cost Sage card); this lets it dodge opponent’s on-turn board clears.

It also works as a free chump blocker. Your opponent attacks, you play this, assuming it isn’t removed, you block with it, then assuming it isn’t removed again, you play a 1-cost Sage card to return it to hand unscathed. The blocked champion remains blocked.

One bad thing about this card is that it can force you to use your gold before your opponent, especially when used to block. While you can block a champion that started the turn in play, if you use Shadow Imp’s free block trick, you open yourself up to an on-turn gold-punisher. At least you can always just replay and chump with Shadow Imp if needed.

temporal_enforcer

Temporal Enforcer Rating
Situationally Desirable

I haven’t been as impressed by this card as I was expecting, but I did have very high expectations. Bounce is especially strong in limited formats, the ally ability can both remove opponent’s tokens and protect your 0-cost champions, ambush is always great, and 6 unblockable offense is no joke.

However, the 4 defense is still not great. That being said, this card has performed pretty well for me on multiple occasions, particularly against demon decks. I think my primary reservation about this card is the fact that it is a 1-cost bounce card that doesn’t have a strong defensive effect with it, unlike Sea Titan and Erase. It is more of an aggressive tempo card, but 4 defense on an aggressive, 1-cost, tempo card worries me.

temporal_shift

Temporal Shift Rating
Always Acceptable

A weaker Erase, usually. As fast bounce removal that maintains both players’ handsize, this can be a nice tempo play, and can theoretically be stronger than Erase in discard-based control decks. However, draw 2 is usually better than forcing your opponent to choose 1 card from their hand to banish.

An alternate use of this card is to target an opponent’s token. Not only do you remove the token from play, but your opponent still has to banish a card from their hand. While this is a nice trick and a reasonable card, I would still rather have Erase.

vanishing

Vanishing Rating
Always Desirable

This can be brutal.

Use this to return an ambushed in Lurking Giant to hand, remove an ambushed in token chump blocker, return a slow champion like Thundarus to hand, or even return your own Rampaging Wurm (that started the turn in play) for a second attack. All of these uses are excellent.

Even when used to return an opponent’s champion to hand (net -1 card in hand for you and +1 card in hand for your opponent), the board advantage this can give you is huge. It’s also Sage and can draw 2.

Sage Uprising Cards

Citadel Raven Rating
Situationally Desirable

I’m not a huge fan of 1-cost champions with 3 or less defense in Dark Draft, but it does bring back your most useful event in your discard pile guaranteed the turn you play it. If it can make a second attack, it provided reasonable value, even if it breaks in the second attack.

I am more interested in this if I have high value 0-cost cards like Fumble, Lightning Strike, or Wolf’s Bite. Haven’t had much chance to draft with it yet, but it is a card I want to experiment with more.

Citadel Scholar Rating
Always Acceptable +

A 0-cost tribute recycle champion is fine, but a 0-cost recycle champion that can grow to become a real threat that must be removed by spending a gold is solid.

By playing it, you get minimally farther behind (losing 2 cards in your discard pile for a 1/2), but you establish a threat without spending your gold or losing a card in hand. This can be even stronger in Dark Draft because you spend more time drawing 2 than in constructed. Even just playing this followed immediately by a draw 2 on your turn, when your opponent’s gold is down, is solid because it immediately puts it out of range of 3 damage effects.

Erratic Research Rating
Always First Pick

Mass discard pile banish is critical.

Draw 2 is also an effect you are going to need to use throughout a Dark Draft, so you lose almost nothing drafting and playing it.

Fairy Trickster Rating
Always Acceptable

Airborne, Ambush, Blitz is an interesting combination of abilities. Having both ambush and blitz makes this a reasonable play on your turn or your opponent’s turn after your opponent’s gold is down. Airborne gives it the evasion to make it hard to chump block. These abilities by themselves make this a fine card.

The expend ability is weird. Frequently, it will do nothing when you ambush this in on your opponent’s turn, use it, and turn up a 1-cost card. However, with the growing popularity of greater than 50% 0-cost cards in Dark Draft decks, it becomes more likely that you will hit a 0-cost card. Also, since this lets you play non-ambush 0-cost champions off turn, you can potentially hit Citadel Scholars, Little Devils, etc. If you do, that is very strong. Even hitting a generic recycle card like Blind Faith or Second Wind can be strong, turning this into a 5/5, airborne, ambush, tribute -> recycle.

Also, if you use it on your own deck (you do give your opponent some information), but if you don’t turn up a 0-cost card, since you banish it if you don’t play it, you move yourself closer to drawing a 0-cost card.

Generally I wouldn’t want to use this ability on my turn regardless of whether Fairy Trickster started my turn in play. Not only do you give up a chance to deal 5 damage in the air/draw out your opponent’s gold on your turn, but you also aren’t guaranteed to turn up a card you want to play.

If you have nothing better to do (your opponent has a bigger airborne champion already in play for example), you can use this ability on your turn to essentially draw a card, if you play the revealed card. But, I still don’t want to take that risk.

Force Field Rating
Always Acceptable –

Draw 2? Sure it’s at least always acceptable.

The other 2 options though…not a fan. Using this card costs you a gold and a card (although you might draw 1), and it doesn’t put you further ahead nor your opponent further behind. It can save your life vs a surprise Insurgency token attack and it completely negates tokens + Justice Prevails, but it can only work if they initiate the assault while your gold is up. There are already so many reasons not to initiate an assault when you opponent’s gold is up, so having this isn’t much more of an incentive not to.

If you have a lot of on-turn board clears, I could see this card having some value, but I personally don’t see me drafting it (or including it in constructed) unless I need more draw 2s.

Frantic Digging Rating
Frequently Desirable

Everyone who has played Epic has experienced those moments when you have too many slow champions in hand, don’t have the loyalty you need, or you just want to dig to your Flame Strike. Frantic Digging helps you get out of those situations.

When you play this, assuming you have at least 1 card in your discard pile you are willing to recycle, you end up with a net gain of zero. The same number of cards will be in your hand, discard pile, and deck; however, you were able to trade 2 cards in your hand for 2 new cards (one of the traded cards being this). If nothing else, you replaced a situational card that was worthless at the time, or you got rid of one of the worst cards in your deck without needing to play it.

Best case scenario, you are able to gain value from the card you just discarded:

  • Discard an Ancient Chant and recycle it, now you just drew 3 cards.
  • Discard a Soul Hunter, have it in your discard pile at the start of your turn.
  • Discard an ally recall card like Cave Troll, and then immediately play a corresponding 1 cost card like Rampaging Wurm, you just net 1 card in hand from your 0-cost card.
  • My personal Favorite is when you play Angel of Mercy and your opponent banishes your discard pile. You play this to put your best 1-cost Good card from your hand into your discard pile so you can get it into play for free. (Granted you net lose a card in hand, but as long as your opponent doesn’t have more fast discard removal, you’ll be fine.)

Knight of Elara Rating
Frequently Desirable +

I’m a fan of Tribute/Loyalty draw a card champions. I’m also a fan of blitz champions. Sage, yup, that too. Oh look, all 3, I like.

With those 3 things alone, I would value this card reasonably highly, just look at White Knight who isn’t even Sage. The when blocked ability is just gravy. My opponent just Surprise Attacked in Sea Titan on my turn while my gold is up. Heh Heh Heh Heh, Heh Heh Heh Heh Heh! 10 damage or transform your Sea Titan into a wolf and break it (after I drew a card), yes.

Reset Rating
Usually Desirable

Board clears are great, off-turn board clears are better, draw 2 is great as a secondary option.

Returning champions to hand in dark draft is great because it is unlikely that your opponent will have as powerful of Tribute/Loyalty triggers as they currently do in constructed. If they have a lot of 0-cost champions though, this becomes much worse as they can just replay them. Conversely, if you have a lot of 0-cost champions (especially ones with blitz, Little Devil anyone?), this becomes a lot better. It can essentially let you play all of your 0-cost blitz champions and attack. Return them all to hand while also returning your opponent’s champions to hand and drawing you a card, and then play them and attack with them all again. Good stuff.

If you are playing against an opponent who prioritizes a lot of 0-cost champions, this could be worth counter-picking too, even if you only plan on using it to draw two cards.

Reusable Knowledge Rating
Always Acceptable +

Draw 2 effects in dark draft are mandatory. A draw 2 effect that lets you take back a specific card from your discard pile seems quite handy. However, if this is your only draw 2 in hand when you have no discard pile, you might be very sad.

Siren’s Song Rating
Usually Desirable

This card has dramatically underperformed for me in constructed, but I still think it should be reasonably strong in dark draft. The ability to remove a 0-cost champion while putting one into play should be great. This wrecks Muse and Rescue Griffin for example.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t immediately protect you against Little Devil, Dark Knight, or other 0-cost blitzing threats. In addition, if it gets bounced, it returns to its owner’s hand. At the very least, it is Sage and has an “or draw 2” option.

It’s possible that this card drops a couple tiers as I play it more in dark draft.

Velden, Frost Titan Rating
Usually Desirable

10/13 blitz is enough for me to draft it already. Loyalty x for Sage means, regardless of the effect, I’ll probably be able to get some value out of it since I draft Sage a lot. Bounce x target champions…wow.

This card can be an absolute monster in dark draft. Bounce is strong in dark draft and even just Loyalty 1 can be a massive tempo shift. High loyalties can get you back into a game where you’re far behind. Even just using it to remove multiple tokens has value, especially since doing so removes potential chump blockers.

Most of the time you won’t even need to use that high of a loyalty x to get a strong effect, but that does also mean that if you have more cards you could reveal, the effect doesn’t get any stronger. With the other loyalty x cards, each card you reveal makes the effect stronger increasing its damage, health gain, and/or zombie spawn. With Velden, if your opponent only has 1 champion in play, Loyalty 1 is actually stronger than loyalty 6 (since you show your opponent 5 less cards in your hand at no loss of effectiveness). That being said, this is still the strongest loyalty effect in most dark draft situations.

War Machine Rating
Always Desirable

Tribute -> banish all opposing 0-cost champions on a 10/10 body is absolutely great. This removes all possible 0-cost champions your opponent could have in play including tokens. If this was all it did, I would draft it frequently, especially since it is Sage.

But that’s not all! Loyalty 2 (on a Sage card) gives it blitz too. Basically this combines a lot of my favorite characteristics into 1 card:

  • 10 defense (survives Drain Essence)
  • blitz (to punish my opponent for spending their gold before me on my turn)
  • Sage
  • removes Muse

Wild Core Cards

bellowing_minotaur

Bellowing Minotaur Rating
Practically Unplayble

This is one of the worst cards in the game. It is a 9/7 blitz breakthrough with recall: I have seen the +2/+2 be relevant for other Wild champions only once. As a card that can potentially do 9 damage multiple times in a game, it has value, but it is just too weak and slow. 9 damage is okay, but it is bad to play when your opponent has their gold available and/or any 10+ defense champions in play. It also drops to 5 health after the first turn making it easy to remove.

I have drafted this over other cards before, and I probably will again (it’s better than having no on-turn gold-punishers). But, I think I’ve won only one of those matches.

burrowing_wurm

Burrowing Wurm Rating
Practically Unplayable

This card is unlikely to ever do anything in a draft. If you play this when your opponent has their gold available, they get a window to spend a gold to remove it on your turn, on their turn, and on your next turn when you attack with it. In high level play, it is highly unlikely to survive that long.

With Surprise Attack/Jungle Queen and/or Royal Escort it can become a real threat, but none of those cards are great in their own right either. I’d rather just draft more generically useful cards.

cave_troll

Cave Troll Rating
Situationally Desirable

I generally don’t have the Wild to support this card so I haven’t drafted it much, but I love it in theory. A recurrable chump attacker/blocker is pretty nice, and it has reasonable offense.

chomp

Chomp! Rating
Frequently Desirable

Fast targeted removal that leaves nothing behind for my opponent, yes please. This card is criminally underrated in draft. Drain Essence is much better, but Drain Essence is one of the best cards in the game so that isn’t saying much. The +2/+2 to dinosaurs is usually meaningless, but my blocker and I were on the wrong end of a Triceratops once when this was played. That hurt.

fire_shaman

Fire Shaman Rating
Situationally Acceptable

0-cost slow 3 damage that requires a Wild 1-cost card to activate is not great. However, it is repeatable if the fragile 3/2 body lives through the start of your opponent’s next turn, unlikely. If you drafted a lot of Wild direct damage this gets better, but it is weak otherwise.

fireball

Fireball Rating
Usually Desirable

Fireball is fairly average card. It can hit a decent number of high priority targets: Muse, off-turn Juggernaut/Dark Knight, Shadow Imp, etc. It can also clear tokens if desperate. Its best use is picking off an ambushed in chump blocker before it can get in front of your big, non-airborne, non-breakthrough attacking champion. It can also finish off someone.

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.

hurricane

Hurricane Rating
Always Desirable

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.

jungle_queen

Jungle Queen Rating
Always Acceptable

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.

kong

Kong Rating
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.

lash

Lash Rating
Always Desirable

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.

Lash has also killed a decent number of Necromancer Lords and Thought Pluckers. Recall can be desirable in dark draft as well for those situations where you were just going to draw 2 anyway.

lightning_storm

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.

Great card.

lurking_giant

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.

mighty_blow

Mighty Blow Rating
Always Acceptable

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.

pack_alpha

Pack Alpha Rating
Always Acceptable

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.

pyromancer

Pyromancer Rating
Frequently Desirable

Ambush 5/7 is reasonable. Attaching a Tribute -> deal 4 damage is quite nice because 4 is a nice damage break point for removing certain champions. Pushing 4 damage to the face can also be a nice addition.

The (1 gold): deal 4 damage to a target is incredibly poor gold value by itself, but if your opponent is at 4 or less health, it is all you need. It can effectively function as a 2-gold, 1-card Flame Strike for winning games in many situations.

rage

Rage Rating
Always Desirable

With the possibility of only 1 Blind Faith max in a draft, the ability to grant breakthrough with a 0-cost event can be quite strong. Any chump blocked champion can turn into a a decent amount of damage to the face. In addition, the +4 defense is a nice combat trick that can let your attacking/blocking champion survive combat while the +4 offense lets it break your opponent’s champion. Both of these application are a great use of a card.

raging_t_rex

Raging T-Rex Rating
Situationally Desirable ++

The best card for a Wild deck (not counting mass discard pile banish).

Draw 2 cards is nice, and a 12/10 champion is a very real threat. If you have the Wild to support T-Rex, take it. T-Rex is also enough incentive to start going Wild.

rain_of_fire

Rain of Fire Rating
Usually Desirable

Rain of Fire has been impressing me a lot more than I was originally anticipating. There are a significant number of situations where you can have 3 viable targets for this (1 of which being your opponent’s face). This is another card I recommend playing with/against because it can be easy to underestimate.

The fact that this can also draw 2 is a big advantage over Forked Lightning.

Rules clarification: Targets are chosen when an event resolves. Therefore, you do not need 3 legal targets to be able to play this. If there are no champions in play, you can still play this, choose yourself as the first target to take 3, and your opponent for the second target to take 4. Since there is no legal third target, the 5 damage is lost.

However, if there are 3 legal targets, you must choose all of them. For example. If your opponent has The Gudgeon in play and you have Thought Plucker in play, you must target yourself, the The Gudgeon, and your Thought Plucker (you can’t target your opponent because they are untargetable when you choose targets). However, with the official take back rule, you could choose to return this to hand instead of playing it if you can’t target what you wanted to.

rampaging_wurm

Rampaging Wurm Rating
Frequently Desirable

14/14 blitz is an incredibly destructive on-turn gold-punisher. Cards like Lash/Rage make it stronger because it means it can’t be effectively chump blocked by 0-cost champions. Raxxa’s Curse, Wolf’s Bite, etc. are great with it because they can break potential 0-cost ambush chump blockers.

In addition, with its permanent 14/14 stats, it remains a hard to remove threat even after the turn it possibly hits for 14. Few things are as satisfying in Epic as playing and attacking with Rampaging Wurm when your opponent’s gold is down. (If you play it while their gold is up, there are a plethora of 1-cost targeted removal answers to it. If they have one, and they frequently will, they can remove your Wurm without giving you basically any advantage from it.)

sea_hydra

Sea Hydra Rating
Always Desirable –

I like Tribute -> draw a card. 10 defense is also a great value. The ability to grow is cool, but not amazing and frequently irrelevant (great with Hurricane though).

Recall on this is also powerful, since when you recall it, you get a Tribute -> draw a card champion back. This can be a nice way to come back if you get low on cards in hand.

strafing_dragon

Strafing Dragon Rating
Situationally Desirable +

6/6 airborne, ambush, blitz is a solid group of abilities on its own: it lets this function as both an on-turn and off-turn gold-punisher. 5 targeted damage with the loyalty trigger is another big boost. 11 damage gold-punish is great, and so is a 6/6 airborne champion that removes a champion when played. I’ve been undervaluing this card.

surprise_attack

Surprise Attack Rating
Always Acceptable +

This card generally won’t do worse than at least replacing itself when you would play a champion anyway. “It’s my opponent’s turn and my hand is all ambush champions and this? Might as well use this to put one of those ambush champions in play, draw a new card, and get a card in my discard pile.”

Best case scenario, on the other hand, involves putting an incredibly powerful slow champion into play off turn like Sea Titan/Kong, Angel of Death/Time Walker, Raging T-Rex/Triceratops, Raxxa Demon Tyrant/Den Mother, etc.

Still, it is possible, with a champion light deck, to be in a situation where you have Surprise Attack in a hand full of events and 0-cost champions. In that situation you can’t even effectively cycle it.

While Surprise Attack is always acceptable, I would generally rather have the slot filled with a card that is either more versatile or can perform a specific role better, in Dark Draft (in constructed it is usually the first 3 cards I add when I want to include 0-cost Wild cards).

triceratops

Triceratops Rating
Always Desirable

Speaks for itself.

Tribute -> draw a card on a 10/10 breakthrough body with no alignment requirement. All of those things are great, regardless of what else is in your deck.

wolf_companion

Wolf Companion Rating
Practically Unplayble

Terrible.

+2/+2 can be worthwhile in certain situations, but usually isn’t. Spending a gold to get back this weak effect even with a wolf is largely a waste of a gold, but it can save you in a desperate situation. A better way to get the wolf would be to recycle this card though; that way you don’t have to return it to your hand.

wolf_s_call

Wolf’s Call Rating
Practically Unplayble +

Not a huge fan of this card because it can be easily countered by a Wither, Flash Fire, Blind Faith, etc. However, without those effects it could potentially work as an 8 damage on-turn gold-punisher, meh. 4 wolves off turn is also meh, and the lack of a draw 2 option is disappointing.

There is one situation where I might draft it though, to be cheeky. If earlier in the draft I was forced to pass my opponent Wave of Transformation (to get an Amnesia, etc.), this can be a nasty punish. They Wave of Transformation on my turn while my gold is up, I play this to attack for 8 +2 for each champion I had in play (now wolves). In a wide/token deck, that could add up quickly.

wurm_hatchling

Wurm Hatchling Rating
Situationally Desirable

Without Wild, a 0-cost 4/4 breakthrough champion is not a card I want.

With a significant amount of Wild, this can quickly grow into a real threat. Immediately jumping to 6/6 makes it so no 0-cost, damage-based removal can deal with this by itself. In addition, it can attack as an 8/8 breakthough champion on your next turn, assuming you played a second 1 cost Wild card. At 8/8, it only loses in combat to 24 of the 91 1-cost champions. At 10/10, it only loses to 11 champions. That is pretty crazy (even taking into account that a lot of those champions would never be in combat).

So, if you have a lot of 1-cost Wild cards, this can grow into a very real threat. Forcing your opponent to use a 1-cost card to answer a 0-cost card is powerful.

Wild Tyrants Cards

ankylosaurus

Ankylosaurus Rating
Always Acceptable

7/7 breakthrough champion is a real threat. Playing this without spending your gold and passing is a very reasonable play because of that.

Being able to spend a gold to draw a card with it also has value when needed, but 0-cost breakthrough 7/7 is usually better.

battle_cry

Battle Cry Rating
Always Acceptable –

Since the draw 2 option can only be used off-turn, it is slightly weaker than other draw 2 cards. And, since most games won’t want its primary effect, it is primarily just a less versatile “or draw 2” card.

If you have a bunch of tokens or big untargetable champions, +offense and AoE breakthrough can potentially win games. In addition, +3 defense puts even human tokens out of range of breaking to Wither/Flash Fire, which is appreciated. However, I almost never want to commit a gold to potentially win the game, assuming my opponent has no answer, at the risk of gaining nothing.

The +3/+3 off-turn can make some otherwise chump blocking tokens into real threats though (in addition to the draw 2).

brachiosaurus

Brachiosaurus Rating
Situationally Desirable

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.

draka_dragon_tyrant

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.

drakas_enforcer

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.

drakas_fire

Draka’s Fire Rating
Frequently Desirable

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.)

feeding_frenzy

Feeding Frenzy Rating
Situationally Desirable

I haven’t played this card much in draft, but it has been incredible in my World’s Pyrosaur constructed deck.

Best case scenario with this card is to use it after attacking with Draka, Dragon Tyrant or Pyrosaur as a 0-cost break anything. It can also work nicely with Fire Shaman, Fire Spirit, Flash Fire, Wolf’s Bite, Lightning Storm, Rain of Fire, Smash and Burn, etc. In theory, it can even be strong in a token deck. Attack with a token, they block it, you finish off their champion with this (hasn’t happened for me yet though).

Without any of these specific scenarios, it becomes a lot less reliable and a lot less effective. Using 2 non-recycle cards to break 1 champion isn’t ideal (Fireball into this), nor is getting your 1-cost champion broken in combat in order to finish off the champion that blocked it. Not being able to use the effect on your opponent’s turn keeps this card from being too crazy.

If I have a few of the cards mentioned above, I would prioritize this highly, if not, it’s at least an “or draw 2.”

fire_spirit

Fire Spirit Rating
Usually Desirable

Tribute -> draw a card is one of my favorite abilities. 9 or less defense is also significantly less important in limited formats than it is in constructed (Max 1 Drain Essence).

In addition, the ally trigger of Fire Spirit is pretty great. It can incidentally take out most 0-cost champions and some 1-cost champions just by being triggered. This + Rain of Fire, Smash and Burn, Feeding Frenzy, Pyrosaur, Draka’s Fire, etc. can let you semi-incidentally take out 1-cost champions too.

This card significantly overperforms my expectations.

great_horned_lizard

Great Horned Lizard Rating
Situationally Acceptable

It’s both an on-turn and off-turn gold-punisher, but I am not a huge fan of it in either of those roles.

Reverting to 8 defense after being played makes it susceptible to more removal than I like, and 7 offense isn’t amazing even with breakthrough. 10/11 is a strong off-turn blocker and 10/11 breakthrough, blitz is no slouch on-turn either, but it doesn’t give as much to me as other on-turn gold-punishers.

For example, Rampaging Wurm hits harder and leaves a 14/14 in play. Avenging Angel and Gold Dragon are airborne, gain me some health, and largely need to be removed. Draka, Dragon Tyrant is a 9/9 airborne champion that sweeps away a lot of 0-cost champions every turn it attacks. Djinn of the Sands can draw if I don’t need the airborne 8/8 blitzer. Knight of Elara and White Knight draw me a card. I would happily take any of these over Great Horned Lizard, even though Great Horned Lizard is the only one with breakthrough.

Tribute -> +3/+3 to dinosaurs could be nice, especially with Ankylosaurus and Triceratops, especially since this can be played mid-combat as a combat trick, and it has worked great for multiple people I know. But, the AoE dinosaur buff has never made a difference in any game I have played.

lightning_strike

Lightning Strike Rating
Always First Pickable

One of the best 0-cost cards in the game.

5 damage breaks:
All tokens (removing chump blockers), Little Devil, Raxxa’s Enforcer, Winged Death, Corpsemonger, Rift Summoner, Spawning Demon, The Gudgeon, Zealous Necromancer, Angel of Death, Corpse Taker, Dark Assassin, Dark Knight off-turn, Dark Leader, Drinker of Blood off-turn, Guilt Demon, Necromancer Lord, Soul Hunter, Succubus, Thrasher Demon, Vampire Lord off-turn,

Bodyguard, Village Protector unprotected, Brand Rebel Fighter, Noble Martyr, Paros Rebel Leader, Rabble Rouser, Angel of Mercy, Courageous Soul, Faithful Pegasus, High King, Priest of Kalnor, Priestess of Angeline, Standard Bearer, Watchful Gargoyle, White Dragon,

Citadel Raven, Fairy TricksterCitadel Scholar even with a draw 2, Elara the Lycomaner, Knight of Shadows, Mist Guide Herald, Shadow Imp, Temporal Enforcer, Forcemage Apprentice, Juggernaut off-turn, Keeper of Secrets, Memory Spirit, Muse, Ogre Mercenary, Thought Plucker, Time Bender, Warrior Golem, Winter Fairy, Blue Dragon,

Pyrosaur, Spore Beast, Bellowing Minotaur next turn, Cave Troll, Hunting Raptors, Wurm Hatchling if played without ally trigger, and Fire Shaman

It can also draw 2 instead.

smash_and_burn

Smash and Burn Rating
Always Desirable

One of my favorite cards.

9 times out of 10, I use this purely to draw 2 cards largely ignoring the +5/+5 buff. Then, a few turns later, I trigger it to break one of a plethora of 6 or less defense champions including Avenging Angel, Strafing Dragon, Thought Plucker, etc. This alone makes this one of the best “draw 2 and” cards in the game. Even if you only have 3 other Wild 1-cost cards in your deck, you’ll still probably get the trigger, or at least force the use of a discard pile banish card after you’ve already resolved the draw 2 effect.

+5/+5 can be nice too. I have used it to buff a champion to win a combat on multiple occasions, but I almost always do it only after my opponent spends their gold. It would be pretty awful to use this to buff a champion just to have your opponent Erase or otherwise remove it before it can do damage.

wolfs_bite

Wolf’s Bite Rating
Always First Pickable

One of my most included cards in constructed, and it’s pretty great in limited formats too.

This breaks Muse and recycles and gives you a wolf.

There are few cards that can trade with a Muse and put you ahead, for that reason alone, this card is amazing. It can also be used to enable Feeding Frenzy, finish off a damaged champion, create an emergency chump blocker, or even convince an opponent to make a game losing block.

I love this card.

Wild Uprising Cards

Den Mother Rating
Always Desirable

12/12 worth of stats spread out over 4 bodies is pretty nice. It is especially nice that on your next turn you can attack with the wolf tokens first, and if your opponent breaks them, they only buff up your 8/8, 11/11, 14/14, 17/17+ breakthrough champion. You could even use your own Flash Fire to buff the Den Mother, if desired.

Entangling Vines Rating
Always Acceptable +

9/8 ambush is always reasonable. The tribute -> expend can also be great. Your opponent plays a slow champion like Kong, Soul Hunter, or Triceratops? You can play this, expend their champion, and then have an open path to attack your opponent’s face. Then, on future turns you can expend more potential attackers or blockers if you have more 1-cost Wild cards.

I’ve had success with this card.

Fires of Rebellion Rating
Always First Pickable

7 direct damage is the easiest way to finish off an opponent. Get them down to 7 life and then you can just win. In addition, 7 damage breaks a reasonable amount of champions and drawing a card is always appreciated. This + Flame Strike and you only have to deal 15 other damage including mulligans to win.

Also, when your opponent knows you have this card in your deck, they will frequently play like you have it in your hand. This can make them make non-ideal plays because they are afraid of reaching the burnout threshold. While this is frequently correct, it also might make your opponent play to not lose instead of to win. For example, this can lead to overly defensive chump blocking that removes their threats while only delaying yours.

Flame Spike Rating
Always First Pickable –

Most of the time this is a weaker Wolf’s Bite, but it can deal damage directly to an opponent too. The fact that I’m comparing this to one of the strongest cards in the game should show how much I value this card.

0-cost recycle removal is great, and there are plenty of 2 or less defense champions to use it on. Not to mention the fact that it can finish off damaged champions too if needed.

Hunting Pack Rating
Always Desirable

Off-turn removal that leaves 3 wolves behind and doesn’t need a faction commitment? Yes, I’ll take it. In dark draft there are plenty of 6 or less defense champions walking/flying around. Removing one on my opponent’s turn and getting 3 wolves that can immediately attack on my turn is a pretty great use of a gold.

Also, it gets boosted by Den Mother, Wolf’s Bite, Wave of Transformation, Pack Alpha, and Elara the Lycomancer. (Technically Wolf’s Call and Wolf Companion too, but don’t draft those just to combo with this. The rest are fine on their own.)

Go Wild Rating
Always Acceptable

I want to like this card because I was a fan of 0-cost buffs (Brave Squire and Rage) in my original version of Combative Humans, but I just don’t that much. +4/+4 is a fairly important swing that can make this a pretty nice combat trick, and recycling removes the risk of using a buff just to have the champion it was used on removed before damage. But, there are so many other cards I would rather have instead of this.

I would much rather have a card that can be powerful without needing a very specific situation arising, which is a bit strange because I plan on writing an article about why you should include some cards only for very specific/specialized situations. Overall, I’m just not currently impressed, but I plan on drafting it more to see if I’m right.

Mythic Monster Rating
Always Desirable

This card got a lot of hate when it was revealed for being a worse Triceratops. Even if that is true, which it isn’t in at least a few situations, a worse Triceratops is still an incredibly valuable card in dark draft. A massive body and tribute draw a card, yeah I’ll happily first pick that out of a pack.

No champion (except Burrowing Wurm) beats this in a fight, and (aside from Burrowing Wurm) only Thundarus, Rampaging Wurm, Kong, and Sea Titan can survive a fight with it. In other words, every time this thing attacks, your opponent will likely either need to remove it, chump block it, or double block it. In basically all of those cases, since you drew a card when you played it, you are getting value.

Pyrosaur Rating
Situationally Desirable

1-cost 3-defense-champions in dark draft are risky, since they can be removed by 0-cost cards which can be a massive tempo loss. For that reason, I generally would not want to draft this (although I love it in constructed). At minimum, assuming you can trigger loyalty, it deals 4 damage to all of your opponent’s champions and 4 damage to their face when played. That alone can be worth a gold in some situations.

If it isn’t immediately removed, all 4 or less champions that started the turn in play have already been broken so therefore can’t block it (most 0-cost cards and all legal tokens). And, any 10 or less defense champions that started the turn in play can only trade with it if they block. If Pyrosaur gets through to your opponent’s face instead, it just dealt 10 damage, solid. Then next turn, if it gets to attack again, it will at minimum deal 2 damage to your opponent and clear out all their non-demon tokens.

If I’m going Wild already and there aren’t any better choices, I would take Pyrosaur, and a reasonable situation would probably present itself to play it. If I’m not already going Wild, this wouldn’t be the card that convinces me to.

Savage Uprising Rating
Situationally Acceptable

I’m not a big fan of this card. I generally want my AoE damage events to break tokens and 0-cost champions.

I also generally don’t want an effect that can only go face. In addition, if I want to go face, the “draw a card” effect is usually irrelevant because I’d want to either be finishing off my opponent or already have lethal in hand.

In theory, this can be nice if you have reasonable 0-cost champions/tokens in play, but if you do, 9 or less defense champions probably won’t be that big an issue for you.

Wild also doesn’t have great token generation, but it could be nice with Ankylosaurus, Wurm Hatchling, Fire Shaman, and Cave Troll. Smash and Burn is also always a nice addition.

If you do have a significant amount of other burn though, this can help push through a victory from a reasonably high health point.

Scarros, Hound of Draka
Situationally Desirable –

This card has been underwhelming in Dark Draft. Since my decks are generally lucky to have over 50% of one faction, I generally don’t get much higher than 2 or 3 damage with this ability. Both of those are reasonable values, but not terribly impressive. Not a bad card (and it works reasonably well in my Pyrosaur deck), but there are a lot of cards I would take over it.

Spore Beast Rating
Situationally Desirable ++

I absolutely love this card.

Removing a champion from combat with a 0-cost card is such a powerful effect. If your opponent manages to get ahead on board and is able to attack with a champion while both players have their gold, this is the perfect answer that doesn’t require spending your gold and leaving yourself open to be punished. Oh, you are attacking with the Juggernaut you Surprise Attacked in on my turn? No you’re not, but thanks for expending it. Due to this ability to negate attackers with a 0-cost card, it is very similar to Fumble, which I also love.

With Fumble, you stop up to 10 damage from hitting your face and recycle. Most of the time, this fully negates an attack and you lose a net 0 cards from hand. With Spore Beast, you completely stop an attack and leave a 2/2 champion in play that can continue to stop an attack every turn. To prevent this, your opponent will generally need to spend a card to break Spore Beast, effectively costing both you and your opponent 1 card. So, you lose a net 0 cards compared to your opponent. Cards like Wolf’s Bite or Pyrosaur/Draka Dragon Tyrant can disrupt this exchange rate, but Spore Beast can also generate more value.

Since Spore Beast completely stops an attack, any buffs like Brave Squire or Mighty Blow completely go to waste. In addition, if your opponent attacks with a card like Rampaging Wurm, you chump block, and then they Rage/Lash it, you can then play your Spore Beast to remove Rampaging Wurm from combat, prevent all damage, negate any value from their buff, and save your chump blocker. Yup, pretty great.

On the other hand, if you are the one attacking with a breakthrough champion like Brachiosaurus and your opponent blocks with a high defense champion (like their own Brachiosaurus), you can play Spore Beast after blockers and remove their defender from combat. This allows all of your breakthrough damage to hit your opponent because there is no longer any blocking defense in combat.

Spore Beast can also function as a combat trick if your opponent attacks/blocks with more than one champion. Remove one of their champions from combat so the other one breaks while yours survives. (Fumble can work similarly, and it has the advantage of not requiring 2 champions to attack/block.)

Overall, this is one of my absolute favorite cards.

Winds of Change Rating
Rarely Playable

I’m not a huge fan of 1-cost buffs, especially on cards I’m incentivized to play on my turn.

Yeah, giving +2/+2 and breakthough to all of your champions could be powerful if you either have a lot of champions in play or a couple big ones, especially since the +2/+2 is permanent, but it isn’t terribly common to have a lot of champions in play or a couple big ones and still have your gold available for the turn. In addition, if you play this when your opponent’s gold is up, they can punish you by using a board clear. In that case, it doesn’t matter that the buff was permanent.

On the other hand, +5/+5 on-turn and breakthrough could be nice when an opponent’s gold is down on your turn (and there are a lot of champions that a permanent +5/+5 boost would be incredible on: 9 or less defense champions in general, Avenging Angel in particular). In addition, drawing a card always helps. But, I would much rather just spend my gold on another blitz champion or to draw 2 cards instead.

Glossary

  • Evil/Good/Sage/Wild Investment: A number of cards required to reliably trigger loyalty and ally abilities. 1/3 of your deck (10 cards) is the approximate minimum but more is better.
  • Pack: The 5 cards dealt to a player at the start of a round
  • Pool: All 100 cards seen between both players during the draft
  • Burn: Damage that can directly target a player (Flame Strike)
  • Bounce: Return a champion to hand (Erase)
  • Removal: An effect that removes an opponent’s champion from play by banishing it (Banishment), bouncing it (Erase), breaking it (Apocalypse/Flame Strike), or taking control of it (Turn).
    • Targeted Removal: Removal that can affect one or more specific champions. Frequently has the word “target” in the text (Bitten/Lying in Wait)
  • Board: All of the champions in play
  • Balanced Deck: A deck with a reasonable mix of board clears, targeted removal, threat champions (establishing, reestablishing, ambush, blitz), and card draw
  • Off-turn: An effect that can be used on your opponent’s turn. For example, Apocalypse can be an off-turn draw 2, but it can’t be an off-turn board clear. Wave of Transformation is an off-turn board clear.
  • Gold and Card Advantage: A gold advantage is achieved by more efficiently using your gold than your opponent to get more champions into play. A card advantage is achieved by more efficiently using your cards than your opponent to have more cards in hand.
  • Over-extending: Putting more champions into play than needed to win the game.
    • Playing Into: Making a play that an opponent can directly exploit. For example, if you over-extend by putting 3+ 1-cost champions into play, you are playing into an opponent’s board clear (since their board clear can allow 1 gold to remove 3 gold)
    • Punish: To exploit a risky play made by an opponent. For example, if Player A plays a blitz champion that doesn’t draw a card (Rampaging Wurm) when their opponent, player B, still has their gold for the turn. Player B can punish player A by playing an Erase. This nets player B +1 card in hand for the turn while Player A gained nothing.
  • Slow: An effect that can only be played on your turn, not during an attack: champions without ambush (Kong)
  • Over-drafting: Picking too much of a specific distribution to the neglect of one or more other distributions
  • 1 for 1: Notation for determining the value of a trade by cards. If I play Chomp! on your Lurking Giant, that is a 1 for 1 trade since I used a card to remove one of your cards. If I play Psionic Assault, that is a 2 for 1 trade because I used 1 card to make you discard 2 cards. If I play Dark Offering targeting my Kong to break your Triceratops and White Knight, that is a 2 for 2 trade because I used 2 cards to remove 2 cards. etc.
  • Control-type/high-value deck: This type of deck tries to win a long game by relying on consistently making slightly favorable trades. Instead of applying pressure, these decks efficiently remove your pressure until you can neither apply pressure nor respond to their minimal, high-value pressure (Sea Titan).
  • Locking them out: Preventing your opponent from performing a specific action. If you have a Steel Golem and I play Plentiful Dead every time it attacks so I can chump block, I am locking your Steel Golem out from damaging me. If I have an Elara, the Lycomancer in play that you can’t remove, I can transform 1 champion a turn, locking you out of keeping a valuable champion in play.
  • Chump block: To block with a champion that can’t break one or more attacking champions to prevent you from taking damage to your health. Frequently the chump blocker breaks.
  • Face: Your health total. I let the Rampaging Wurm hit my “face” (deal damage to my health total).
  • Counter-pick/Counter-draft: To draft a card specifically so your opponent can’t draft it or to draft a card to answer a specific goal of your opponent’s deck. For example, if my opponent is going for human tokens, both Revolt (if you first pick it) and Flash Fire would be counter-picks.
  • Dig: To try and get a specific card from your deck into your hand. This is frequently accomplished by drawing as many cards as possible. Arcane Research and Mist Guide Herald are also considered digging because you look through a bunch of cards from the top of your deck and select one. Playing multiple 0-cost cards just to recycle (Spike Trap outside of an attack for example) would be another example of digging.
  • Decking/Decking Out/Drawing Out: To win by drawing a card when you have no cards left in your deck (Drawing through your entire deck + any mulliganed cards).
  • Combat Trick: A card that can buff an attacking or defending champion. This buff allows that champion to survive the damage from blocking/being blocker and/or it allows that champion’s offense to break the blocked/blocking champion.
  • 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.

I’m Back

 

Epic Box

Hey, sorry I haven’t posted anything on here for quite a while, but I am coming back. Recently WWG reached out to me to fill out a winner’s survey for Worlds that they will be putting on their website here. Unsurprisingly to frequent readers, I went a lot more in-depth in one of my answers than they were expecting. So, instead of just editing it down, I decided to post the full length version here.

Question

What was your favorite play during the tournament, if you can remember?

My most memorable play during the tournament was when I decided to go all-in in game 3 of the Dark Draft finals and everything after. During the first game, I realized that my opponent had drafted a better deck that would probably win most extended games. (I had over-drafted situational, non-drawing cards and given my opponent too much Evil.)

pyromancerIn game 3 we got to a point where I drew my opponent’s gold out early on my turn. My hand was garbage with no draw effects and my opponent had significant resources in play: I knew I would lose in an extended game, so, I threw everything at his face. I dropped Pyromancer to deal 4, Dark Knight from hand swung in for 5, and my Shadow Imp brought the total to 11 damage in one turn, putting him to 4 health. I only had 2 cards left in hand, but if he couldn’t remove my Pyromancer before passing initiative on his turn, I would win. I also knew that I had Lightning Storm in deck and that I was close to drawing through my entire deck to reach it (not including mulliganed and recycled card). At this point, my health was 28, my opponent had 3 champions in play and 5 cards in hand.

On his turn, he plays Angel of Death with loyalty and immediately blows up both our boards. He then begins to chip away at my health with his own Dark Knight (23). With nothing better to do, I play out my Time Bender without loyalty.

blue_dragonI draw into Blue Dragon on my turn. My goal is still to dig for my Lightning Storm, so I play Blue Dragon to draw a card and see what happens. It’s Lightning Strike. Since it isn’t the card I need to win the game on his turn, I have to decide whether to break my opponent’s Dark Knight or target his face for 2 damage. Because I was able to get Time Bender into play, I opt for the 2 damage to his face and then immediately use Time Bender to return Blue Dragon to my hand (all of this happens before my opponent has a window to remove Blue Dragon). This once again puts me into a position where I win unless he stops me, this time he has one turn to gain health or kill me from 23, and I haven’t seen any health gain in his deck.

djinn_of_the_sandsOn his turn, he Final Tasks to bring back my Avenging Angel. I have no way to prevent the attack. Calculating that I would go to 6 health if he attacked with everything and he would go to 8, I decide to draw 2 with my Lightning Strike instead of using it to remove his Angel of Death. I don’t draw Lightning Storm, but I do draw Djinn of the Sands. The attacks go through.

If I don’t win by his next turn, I lose. I don’t draw Lightning Storm at the start of my turn. At this point, I have two possible paths to victory:

  • Play Blue Dragon to bring him to 6 and draw a card. If it’s Lightning Storm and he can’t gain health before passing initiative to me on his turn, I win.
  • Play Djinn of the Sands and attack for 8 with airborne. If he can’t remove or chump block the Djinn, I win. He does still have his gold, but I have Time Bender in play that can either bounce or banish an airborne, ambush champion if he has one.

For both situations, if I whiff I lose.

I don’t want to put the outcome of the game into my opponent’s hands, so I opt for Blue Dragon. I deal the 2 damage to my opponent without looking at the card I drew first. My opponent is at 6 health. I pass. At the end of my turn, he plays Ice Drake with loyalty to expend my team.

lightning_stormHe starts his turn, attacks with Ice Drake for lethal. I play my Lightning Storm. I win.

After the match I look at my next draws: Second Wind is on top followed by my first mulliganed card. This means that if I had been keeping track perfectly, I would have known I was guaranteed to get to Lightning Storm with my last Blue Dragon play. Also, since he had Ice Drake, if I would have gone with Djinn, he could have played Ice Drake to expend my Time Bender and chump-block the Djinn.

This was a great series. Afterwards, I was so overwhelmed with joy that I just sat there for a good 15 minutes. Not only had I won a spot at Worlds and guaranteed $500 minimum, but the win empirically proved that my Epic content that I have spent over 100 hours writing has value.

TomSQualified

(Thank you Kyle Coons for the picture. I love it.)

**10/14/16 Correction**

It has been pointed that I said both my opponent and I had Dark Knight which is an impossibility in Dark Draft, which is correct. Looking back at my card list, it looks like my “Dark Knight” was most likely Guilt Demon or possibly Thrasher Demon.

****

Going Forward

I’ve been putting in a lot of hours at Fantasy Flight Games trying to get as much out of my internship as possible, and I haven’t been making time to blog. However, at minimum, I want to get my updated ratings up a week before Worlds (not necessarily including the as of yet unreleased Uprising expansion), and I would like to do another Epic puzzle contest starting on Oct. 30th so it can end on Nov. 13. (I have a playmat on its way for a prize.)

To achieve these goals, I will be posting at least once a week until Nov. 14. Ideally, I’ll add at least 5 cards a day starting Wednesday night Oct 12/Thursday morning Oct 13 (excluding Oct 13-Oct 16 when I won’t have access to my computer).

Good luck to everyone who will be competing at Worlds! I hope to at minimum get all of your pictures for the blog in addition to anyone else there who would like to as well.