16 Base Set Cards (12/28/16)

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

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

16 Base Set Cards

demon_breach

Demon Breach Rating
Always Acceptable

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

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

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

drain_essence

Drain Essence Rating
Always First Pickable ++

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

drinker_of_blood

Drinker of Blood Rating
Situationally Desirable –

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

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

final_task

Final Task Rating
Always Acceptable

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

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

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

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

divine_judgment

Divine Judgement Rating
Always Desirable +

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

Draw 2 cards is always an appreciated secondary option.

faithful_pegasus

Faithful Pegasus Rating
Situationally Desirable

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

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

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

feint

Feint Rating
Always Acceptable –

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

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

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

gold_dragon

Gold Dragon Rating
Frequently Desirable

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

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

frost_giant

Frost Giant Rating
Frequently Desirable

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

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

hasty_retreat

Hasty Retreat Rating
Always First Pickable –

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

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

ice_drake

Ice Drake Rating
Frequently Desirable

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

juggernaut

Juggernaut Rating
Frequently Desirable +

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

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

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

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

flame_strike

Flame Strike Rating
Always First Pickable

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

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

flash_fire

Flash Fire Rating
Always First Pickable –

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

Or draw 2 is always appreciated too.

forked_lightning

Forked Lightning Rating
Situationally Acceptable

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

hunting_raptors

Hunting Raptors Rating
Situationally Acceptable

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

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

Final 16 Uprising Card Reviews

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

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

Final 16 Uprising Cards

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.

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.

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

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.

 

Second 16 Uprising Card Reviews

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

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

Important Concept

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.)

Second 16 Uprising Cards

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 is 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.

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.

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 2 cards.

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.

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.

Reviewed/Previewed Games Page

I just finished compiling a list of all of my currently reviewed/previewed games here. In addition, I’ve updated the welcome page with a link to it. Included below are a couple examples of my formatting.

Kingsburg

Ages: 13+ (14+)
Players
: 2p, 3p, 4p, 5p
MSRP: $49.95 (~50, ~55, ~60)
Advertised Play Time: 90 minutes (90m, 120m)
Tags: rolling dice, worker placement, civilization builder
A game where players compete for favor with members of the court to build a civilization.

Epic Card Game

Ages: 13+ (14+)
Players
: 2p, 3p, 4p
MSRP: $14.99 (~15, ~20, ~25, ~30, ~35, ~40, ~45, ~50, ~55, ~60)
Advertised Play Time: 20 min (20m, 30m, 45m, 60m, 90m, 120m)
Tags: 2-player, great art, dueling card game, my favorite game (lots of articles), drafting, hand management
An incredibly deep, non-collectible card game of dueling gods. (I prefer this to Magic: the Gathering, Hearthstone, etc.)

 

First 16 Uprising Card Reviews

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

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

Important Concept

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.

First 16 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.

Corpse Monger 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) .

In Evil and Good there are plenty of ways to get tokens to be used as fuel. Even replacing your demons with new demons to attack with can be worthwhile. (Plentiful Dead to get a 4/4 blitzing demon for only 1 life and 0 cards in hand, yes please.)

I put this into the same category of cards that punish my opponent for spending their gold first on my turn, alongside Rampaging Wurm. It can be better because it can draw 2 if needed, but it is worse because it requires other cards to work in that situation.

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.

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.

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. 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.

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.

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.

Uprising Dark Draft Tier Update

My Dark Draft Tier List has been updated to include Uprising Cards.

Let me know in the comments below if you disagree with any of my decisions, or if you would like to know my reasoning behind any specific cards’ tier changes.

I am also working on updating my card by card analysis. Which will include my Uprising Ratings. Since I have already talked a bit about the other cards, I’ll start with the Uprising cards.

Epic Cube Draft

Foreword

Epic Cube Draft is one of the 3 formats used on the first day of Worlds. I, and many other players, did not have a chance to practice the full 8-person format much before worlds. But, after doing 6 or so practice drafts on the Friday/Saturday before the tournament, I was able to draft probably my best limited format deck ever. I convincingly won all 4 games of the first 2 rounds.

Format Rules

Epic Cube is an 8-player format. To form the card pool, take 1 copy of every red gem card and 3 copies of every white gem card. Deal out 3 packs of 12 random cards from this pool to each player. To start, each player picks up a 12 card pack in front of them.

From the cards in your hand: choose one card, place it face down in front of you, and pass the remaining cards to your left. Everyone repeats this until each player has 12 cards in front of them and no cards in hand. Once all cards in a pack have been picked, each player may review their drafted cards.

Repeat this process 2 more times with your remaining packs. Except, pass cards in your second pack to your right. (Pass cards in your third pack to your left.)

After all 3 packs are finished, each player will have 36 cards. 6 cards must be cut so each player will have a 30 card deck.

Pre-Worlds Thoughts

As I mentioned, I didn’t have much time to practice for this format, but I did layout all of the non-uprising cards divided by faction and rarity beforehand. Mainly I just wanted to see how important the rares where to the strength of each alignment.

Good

Initially, I was thinking I might want to draft Good because I figured it would be the least drafted color (since it is generally the weakest color). I figured I would get passed some high-quality cards late in the draft, and, with the addition of the 3-copies of common cards, I figured I could draft a high-synergy deck.

Looking at the rare breakdowns, Angel of Mercy is the biggest loss because it is one of Good’s strongest cards. Courageous Soul and Secret Legion also decreased the consistency of potential human token decks. I was worried, but Good did still have 3 copies of: White Knight, Noble Unicorn, and High King.

Evil

Evil’s biggest weakness in dark draft is frequently being unable to reach a critical mass of Evil cards. In cube draft, I thought this might be a bit alleviated because of the commons: Medusa, Spawning Demon, Angel of Death, Dark Assassin, Necromancer Lord, Plentiful Dead, and Rift Summoner. In addition, the only super strong Evil focused deck cards that are rare are Raxxa and Zannos.

Sage

I felt like Sage didn’t lose a lot from its rares, but the addition of extra copies of commons didn’t seem that important either. The difference between 1 and 2 Juggernauts and/or Steel Golems isn’t as big as the difference between 1 and 2 Medusas for instance.

Wild

Worlds Drafts

Below are pictures from 4 rapid fire cube drafts that I participated in with, I believe, all qualified players on Saturday.

I also did 2 cube drafts on Friday.

Forcing Good

In these 6 drafts I tried to force Good multiple times. I had minimal success. In one of those drafts I was able to get double The People’s Champion and double Rabble Rouser with an Insurgency and a Revolt, but I had to pass up on my 1 chance to get mass discard banish to pick up the Revolt. The deck came close to going off and overwhelming my opponent’s with tokens, but in both matches, I lost when my opponent decked out.

Human Tokens

In every draft I went for human tokens, at least one other person went for it as well. This caused us to split important cards between the two of us, and both our decks were weaker for it. In addition, strong token decks need very specific cards like Revolt, Courageous Soul, and Insurgency. Due to this, I had to choose between critical cards in general and cards critical for my strategy. It didn’t work out well for me.

Good Commons

In addition, some of the strongest Good commons are reasonably strong in non-Good decks: White Knight, Noble Unicorn, Angel of the Gate, Blind Faith, Banishment (I value this a lot higher after Worlds), Divine Judgement, Inheritance of the Meek, etc. Due to this, the flow of Good cards passed to me was not as great as I was hoping.

Overall, Good was incredibly underwhelming for me at Worlds.

Evil

I fell into Evil twice in the above 4 drafts. Both times, I took an incredibly powerful card like Medusa a few picks into a pack, and then just kept getting strong Evil cards throughout. With both of these decks, I was able to continue to pickup some of the strongest generic cards while improving my Evil core as well. In other words, there were no must-have cards that overly restricted my ability to take cards like Erratic Research.

Evil dramatically overperformed my expectations.

Sage

Sage was nothing special. My first draft I went Sage/Wild (even though I went in wanting to force Good), and I had a 2-1 match record with it. Sage has a lot of powerful generic cards. This means that achieving a high-density of incredible Sage can be difficult since everyone will be taking cards of that alignment.

Average.

Wild

Wild burn is real in Cube Draft. There is a lot of Wild burn available and for people who focus on it, they can get a critical mass. I got crushed by it in my first practice draft on Friday, and I saw a deck packed with it later too. In addition, I also saw someone pick up all 3 Draka’s Enforcers.

Overall, seemed pretty solid.

My (approximate) Worlds Draft

I didn’t think to take a picture of it at the time, but I recreated it to the best of my ability below. It was sick.

Evil (16)
1x Zannos, Corpse Lord
1x Murderous Necromancer
1x Dark Assassin
1x Raxxa, Demon Tyrant
1x Reaper
1x Angel of Death?
2x Medusa

1x Plentiful Dead
1x Dark Knight
1x Little Devil
1x Unquenchable Thirst?

x Raxxa’s Displeasure?
1x Necromancer Lord?
x Raxxa’s Curse?
x Corpse Taker?
1x Guilt Demon?
1x Zombie Apocalypse?
1x Final Task?

Good (10)
2x White Knight
1x Inner Peace
1x Angel of the Gate
1x Banishment

1x Blind Faith
1x Rescue Griffin

1x Silver Dragon?
1x Urgent Messengers?
x Gold Dragon?
1x Inheritance of the Meek?
x Noble Unicorn?
x Palace Guard?

Sage (2)
2x Erratic Research

Wild (2?)
1x Entangling Vines
1x Mighty Blow?

Cut
1x Winter Fairy
1x Dark Assassin

When drafting, I saw a Medusa about 3rd pick in the first pack. After my results testing, I took it, went Evil, and didn’t look back. Oh man, I was so happy the rest of the draft.

For amazing Evil cards I picked up (for sure): Zannos, Raxxa, Murderous Necromancer, 2 Medusa, Plentiful Dead, Little Devil, Dark Knight, and 2 Dark Assassins (even had to cut 1).

For generically powerful cards (for sure): Blind Faith, 2 Erratic Research, Angel of the Gate, and Rescue Griffin.

This also let me effectively use: 2 White Knights and a last pick Inner Peace.

I remember being a bit worried about my number of off-turn threats (hence keeping Entangling Vines), and I was a bit worried about my card draw. I loved my powerful Evil cards and 0-cost champions though.

Match 1

So, while I was drafting, I had the unfortunate pleasure of knowing who my first round opponent was going to be. Great player, nice guy. I had faced him in 3 or 4 matches in the past, and I had lost every game to him, convincingly so. He was also the only person to beat me in a match on the first day of the Origins Limited event, and he did it to me twice (once in rounds and once in top 4). Needless to say, I was not ecstatic about facing him round 1.

0-Cost Blitzers

Little Devil, Dark Knight, Guilt Demon(?) were absolute beasts. These games were textbook cases of Get Ahead – Stay Ahead, where these little guys were my main establishing champions. I would play one, attack, get a bit of damage through, and then pass. If he played a champion on my turn, I’d use my gold to break it. If he drew, I’d either draw myself or hit him with my White Knights while also drawing. Aside from that, my tokens from Murderous Necromancer, Plentiful Dead, Raxxa, and Spawning Demon(?), where able to reestablish and keep the pressure on after wipes. I was able to stay ahead for largely the entirety of both games.

Blind Faith

I’ve gone back and forth on Blind Faith. From saying it is one of the best cards in constructed to not valuing it too highly in draft. When I saw it in the Cube, I thought about it for a bit, and then decided I wanted to be the only one in the draft to have it. It was incredible. In both games of my first match it allowed absolute blowout plays. Game 2 it was part of my own personal play of the tournament.

I have an expended White Knight and Murderous Necromancer in play. My opponent has Steel Golem in play. On his turn, he plays Trihorror. On my turn, I immediately Blind Faith, use White Knight to break Trihorror (denying him 3 demons), and use Murderous Necromancer to break Steel Golem (no longer untargetable). Then I passed. He board cleared. I played and attacked with my second White Knight. It was brutal. In addition, his deck had Stand Alone in it. If I couldn’t have made that play, and if he had Stand Alone in hand, I would have been wrecked.

Blind Faith, great card. Helped me beat one of the strongest players I know. (He also ended the tournament with a better record than me.)

Match 2

Remember when I said you could draft an absolutely sick burn deck, yeah that happened. My opponent had all 3 Fires of Rebellion in addition to even more burn, such as Strafing Dragon. Thankfully, I had my 36th draft pick, Inner Peace, and I drew it.

In both games, he Fires of Rebellioned my face when my gold was up and I was about 1 or 2 more burn cards away from death. In both cases, I was able to answer by Inner Peacing and returning it to hand with my next gold. By then, I was already far enough ahead that I was able to win.

Importance of Card Reveals

In game 2, I had seen that my opponent had a Zombie Apocalypse in hand (either by revealing it for loyalty or accidentally dropping it, don’t remember which). At one point on my turn, my opponent’s gold was down, I was at around 15 health, I had multiple champions in play, and I had both Inner Peace and Erratic Research in hand (and some other cards).

My first instinct was to use this opportunity to Inner Peace. I was far ahead on the board, but I could lose to back-to-back burn if I were to use my gold before my opponent on a future turn of mine. (He Fires of Rebellions while my gold is down on my turn, and then immediately Fires of Rebellion + Flash Fires me on his turn before I can play anything.) So, by Inner Peacing now, I remove that possible path to victory for my opponent.

However, I also realize I am in a a dominant position on the board, and the only way my opponent can stabilize is to use a board clear against me. Since I know he has Zombie Apocalypse, I decide to forgo the opportunity to heal and instead banish his discard pile and draw 2 with Erratic Research. Sure enough, on his next turn he plays his Zombie Apocalypse, but instead of him having around 4-7 zombies to my 5 or so, he passes his turn with 10/10 worth of stats-disadvantage, while my gold is up. In other words, I was able to get him behind, and keep him behind.

If I hadn’t considered the card I knew was in his hand, I wouldn’t have been able to as effectively maintain my advantage.

Post Worlds Cube Draft Thoughts

Evil

Evil in Cube Draft is incredibly powerful, and I love it.

Not only are Evil cards highly inherently-synergistic with some of the most powerful Loyalty 2 and ally abilities in the game, but they are also attached to cards that are pretty awful without the loyalty/ally triggers: Necromancer Lord, Angel of Death, Medusa, Zannos Corpse Lord, Murderous Necromancer, Dark Assassin, Spawning Demon, and Plentiful Dead. Add on to that the non-loyalty/ally synergistic cards like Raxxa Demon Tyrant, Raxxa’s Displeasure, Demon Breach, Reaper, and Rift Summoner. Then, add all of the generically powerful cards: Corpse Taker, Plague, Raxxa’s Curse, Grave Demon, Little Devil, Consume, Heinous Feast, Apocalypse, Dark Knight, Drain Essence, Guilt Demon, Wither, and Zombie Apocalypse. Now you have a large pool of cards to draw from to build a powerful deck. Also, since so many of the powerful Evil cards are common, you can much more easily hit that critical mass that is so necessary.

Forcing an Alignment?

Should you always force Evil though? No, no you should not. If everyone or even 3+ people chase Evil, it’s possible none of them will hit the critical mass of Evil cards to be truly worth it. In addition, it opens other alignments, like Wild, to be easy-pickings for other players.

As you draft, you need to pay attention to the power of cards you see passed to you and at what stage in the pack you see them. If you see a Raging T-Rex 4th pick or later, there are decent odds the players on your right haven’t committed to Wild. 6th pick Medusa, enjoy your Evil, etc.

Until you reach a point you feel comfortable committing to an alignment, I recommend prioritizing key, generically-powerful cards. Once you see a signal that an alignment might be open (or you draft a really powerful loyalty/ally card of an alignment), you can start prioritizing alignment cards over duplicates of key cards. For example, already have a Grave Demon when your going Wild, take that Spore Beast over the Erratic Research.

However, it can occasionally be correct to shift your focus in a draft. If you start picking up Evil cards and then get passed (and pick) strong Wild cards on picks 8, 9, and 10, it might be forth pursuing the Wild more heavily than the Evil.

0-Cost Cards

Aside from Chamberlain Kark, the big, overlooked story of Worlds was the importance and high-valuation of 0-cost cards, specifically 0-cost champions. Even Darwin Kastle, Epic co-creator, discussed on stream how he hadn’t been valuing 0-cost cards as highly as some of the competitors, and how he thought he had possibly been proven wrong to have done so. For many players, 10 0-cost cards was the absolute minimum with up to 18 or so (in a 30 card deck) being better. I also lost, pretty convincingly, to a player in the second round of Dark Drafts who valued 0-cost cards higher than me (even though we drafted a similar number). He made it to top 8. I did not. (I’ll specifically discuss the high-valuation of 0-cost cards in a future article.)

Due to this high valuation, 0-cost cards were frequently very hard to come by in Cube Drafts. Many players would focus on taking those first, and for myself who didn’t/doesn’t value 0-cost cards quite as highly, if you didn’t prioritize taking some early and throughout, you wouldn’t get that many. For example, in multiple test drafts, I found myself going into pack three with only around 3 0-cost cards. Personally, I want around 10, so in the final packs I was forced to draft 0-cost cards over almost everything else. Due to this, I was able to claw myself back into a reasonable range, but the caliber of my 0-cost cards wasn’t always as strong as some of the other players.

In the actual tournament cube draft, the players at my draft table did not seem to value 0-cost cards as highly as I had been experiencing in testing though. This let me get an 8th or so pick Little Devil, and it was a major contributor in both my matches. I was also able to get Rescue Griffin a lot later in the draft than I was expecting too. (It has been performing great for me ever since I was talked into how strong it is.)

Overall, even if you are not the player who wants to draft 18 0-cost cards (and you and I might be wrong not to be those people), make sure you prioritize at least key 0-cost cards. If you don’t, others will.

Epic: Kark – Why It Doesn’t Scare Me

Epic Box

First Impressions

chamberlain_kark

When I first saw Kark, I was happy. I had no intention of playing it, but I thought it would help to address the never-ending nature of some prominent control decks. Also, I was hoping it would become popular because I thought my style of decks would crush it.

Precursor Meta

To understand where Kark fits into the Epic meta, I’m going to first explain the two major decks that came before it: Sage/Wild tempo discard (my previous thoughts on it) and Derek Arnold’s 4-color control (my previous thoughts on it).

Sage/Wild Tempo Discard

The Sage/Wild tempo discard deck and its variants have thought_pluckerconsistently been the most popular decks in constructed Epic. Thought Plucker, Knight of ShadowsMuse, Sea Titan, Kong, Flame Strike, etc. These decks generally try to play the most high-value champions and supplement them with discard and/or burn. Some decks focus very heavily on Wild generally and burn specifically.

Derek Arnold’s Control Deck

Derek Arnold’s deck (his write up can be found on his blog lesson_learnedhere) effectively broke the format at the first major constructed qualifier at Origins. I got to watch it and be amazed as it played opposite to all of my assumptions of Epic at the time. It was able to survive the Sage/Wild tempo discard decks by constantly wiping their board, outdrawing their forced discard, and gaining enough health with Inner Peace to blank their burn. This was also the first deck to exploit the Lesson Learned -> Ancient Chant combo to draw 4 cards, and it had Drinker of Blood combo in it too.

inner_peaceThis deck was dominant, but it was slow. He made top 8 with a record of 3-0-2 winning the first game of the first 3 matches and drawing the rest. In other words, he made it to top 8 by winning only 3 games. Once in the untimed rounds of top 8, he grinded out all of his opponents to win his spot. With this deck, the control deck was introduced to competitive Epic. Variants of it would continue to earn spots at worlds: Tom Dixon’s control deck (mislabeled in Foundry) that heavily targeted the Sage/Wild meta and other decks that focused on Drinker Combo. I believe there was a deck at one of the World’s LCQs that even qualified without “winning” a single game. It just went to time every round and had more health than its opponents to win the tiebreaker.

The major problem with the control focused decks was that, with the inclusion of mass-discard banish and recurring health gain, games could theoretically never end, especially in the mirror matchup where both players were playing control. Life totals easily surpassed 60 health and games could and did go on for hours. With the introduction of Chamberlain Kark, this deck gained a way to end the game after reaching a high enough health threshold. In other words, Kark did not create the stall + health gain deck, it just gave it a win condition and shifted it more heavily into Good and health gain.

Honorable Mentions

Aside from these 2 core decks, a Sage/Evil deck focusing on blitzing zeroes saw success and my Combative Humans deck appeared in at least a couple top 8/top 4s.

Analysis

From what I gathered by attending Origins/Gen Con and by listening to other members in the community, Sage/Wild variants were the go-to strong decks for people relatively new to Epic. They were/are straight forward and effective.

Control was the next logical answer to this. These decks out-valued the Sage/Wild decks. In addition to outright nullifying the deck’s tempo and burn, these decks also leaned on discard-hate cards: Soul Hunter and ally -> recall cards like Inner Peace or Plentiful Dead. So, while Sage/Wild decks floundered, control decks could kill them over time with incremental advantage and incidental tokens.

These decks were incredibly difficult for most decks to defeat, but I had stumbled upon a potential answer with my Combative Humans deck. Instead of relying on high-impact champions, discard, and burn, this deck relied on a lot of mid-range champions with tribute -> draw a card in addition to blitz. Unlike the Sage/Wild decks that had to choose between applying pressure with champions and drawing, this deck did both at the same time.

Due to this, my deck forced the control deck to keep playing answers to my never-ending flood of threats. In this way, I ran them out of cards because I gave them no windows to safely draw, unlike their matches against Sage/Wild. If they board cleared me on their turn, I dropped Angel of Mercy, Noble Unicorn, or Angel of Light and forced them to deal with a new threat on my turn. Then, if they board cleared on my turn, I played a blitz threat like Lord of the Arena (possibly with Faithful Pegasus) or Avenging Angel, forced damage through, and left another threat they needed to answer in play. In this way, I was able to force the control deck to use their gold first, punish them when they did, and out resource them. Since my meta was fairly heavily control based, I constantly developed this deck idea. (The first iteration got crushed by a Sage/Wild deck largely because it had no way to effectively answer Muse.)

Chamberlain Kark Decks

Chamberlain Kark decks are built around the idea of reaching close to 60 health to play Kark and immediately win. In order to do this, not only do they have to gain health, but they also have to prevent themselves from taking damage.

One version of this deck is the Turbo Kark deck or ‘Burn’ Kark deck. This deck focuses on racing to 60 as fast as possible and winning in a couple turns. It is less  concerned with generating value.

The more popular version is Kark Control or Kark Prison as Finalist Will Morgen describes it in his Worlds Tournament Report. This version focuses on shutting down any aggression, board clearing for significant value, and gaining health steadily throughout.

Results

John Tatian won the tournament and $25,000 with his version, Gabriel Costa-Giomi and Jason Smith both made it to top 8 with their version, and Tom Dixon won the first 2017 Worlds Constructed Qualifier with his version.

Clearly, Kark is a strong card.

World’s Kark Lists Card Crossover

Beating Kark

In my testing, I ran across 3 or 4 test Kark lists run by different players, and I either beat them or came close enough in game one to feel confident in the matchup. Admittedly, my testing was not thorough, and I neither played against the lists nor the players running it at Worlds, but I felt like my decks of preference matched up well against what Kark was trying to do. It all ties back to my Epic: Limited – Get Ahead, Stay Ahead playstyle and my genesis decks: Combative Humans and 4-Color Army.

Kark decks lose to consistent, unrelenting pressure, just like the control decks before it. The most important aspects to applying this pressure, in my preferred style of decks, are Ambush Champions, Blitz Champions, and Maintaining a consistently adequate Handsize. (Incidental damage, discard pile hate, and possibly forced discard could be helpful too.)

Every time a Kark deck is forced to board clear, they lose a card in hand and don’t gain health. Their removal is primarily board clears. So, if you can get a threatening champion into play that they can’t neutralize by chump blocking with Bodyguard/Brand/Rescue Griffin/Blind Faith, Fumbling, or Hasty Retreating, they either take damage or need to use their gold. If they take damage, they are farther away from winning with Kark, and you are closer to killing them; you can also pass with your gold up. If they use their gold on your turn, you respond by playing a blitz threat that can hopefully push damage through anyway (airborne blitz champions and/or blitz champions with breakthrough or direct damage are ideal because they are a lot harder to fully neutralize). Then, if they use their gold on their turn, you play an ambush champion to keep the pressure on. Once you get ahead of them by forcing them to spend their gold first, if you can keep establishing immediate threats (ambush/blitz), it can be hard for them to dig their way out.

Ceasefire is one of Kark‘s most important cards. It draws 2, prevents you from punishing them for spending their gold first on your turn, and turns off a multi attack turn. In addition, it can bait players into over-extending. Generally, if you have overwhelming force in play that your Kark opponent can’t deal with, it is usually better to just draw cards after getting Ceasefired. Since your opponent is already in a position where they can’t win unless they answer your threats, adding more non-immediately threatening threats achieves little, especially if they get caught up in a board clear. Drawing 2 lets you maintain your aggression longer.

Bodyguard is another important card for Kark decks because it can completely lock out certain decks. Instead of drawing out resources with every attack you make, Bodyguard can keep you locked out on the ground without decreasing your opponent’s hand size or depleting their gold. If you rely on non-airborne/non-breakthrough champions, Bodyguard is a high priority target for discard pile banish.

Ancient Chant is another critical card for your opponent. If they can get it in their discard pile by either playing or discarding it to max hand size, they are able to recycle it with a 0-cost card to draw, or even worse, draw 4 by targeting it with their Lesson Learned. A lot of pressure can be alleviated by a 1 gold draw 4, so the best way to deal with this card is prevent them from having an opportunity to play it. If you keep enough pressure on them, you can hopefully prevent their hand size from reaching 8 at the end of their turn so they can’t discard it. You can also force them to choose between playing it to draw 2 and either taking damage or leaving you a free opportunity to establish an ambush champion on their turn. If you are running forced discard (Thought Plucker), this card is particularly nasty against you. Or, if your opponent has Frantic Digging, they can bypass the need to ever actually play it to get it into their discard pile. However, if it does hit their discard pile, you want to banish it before they can Lesson Learned or recycle it (particularly before they can 0-cost recycle it into 7+ reveal Kark to win the game).

Recycling and other discard pile recursion like Soul Hunter and Lesson Learned are also important to some Kark decks. John and Gabriel/Jason’s decks in particular relied heavily on recycling to maintain handsize, dig to Kark, and neutralize attacks at the same time. As can be seen in the finals between John Tatian and Will Morgen, if you can prevent recycling, you significantly weaken Second Wind, Fumble, Watchful Gargoyle, etc. However, this is much easier said then done because Kark plays a lot of events that fill their discard pile.

Noble Unicorn is another strong card in Kark because it allows for multiple draws if not immediately answered. Angel of Light and Drain Essence are also strong cards because they disrupt Kark‘s opponents and gain a significant amount of life. Inner Peace is actually a fairly weak card in this specific matchup because it neither relieves them of any of your pressure nor draws them closer to Kark. It can be strong to get that final burst of health to win though.

Reasonable Decks Against Kark

I’ve done well against various test versions of Kark decks with all of these decks below.

Going into Worlds, I believed that my Pyrosaur deck had the best matchups with the rest of the field, hence why I ran it. The rest of the decks, while potentially strong against Kark, did not match up great with other decks I tested against.

pyrosaurworlds

Link to My World’s Pyrosaur Deck article

Uprising Demons

Brute Force

Angels Humans

Conclusion

Admittedly, Kark is stronger than I initially expected, but I’m still not overly scared by it. If you disagree with my analysis of Kark and how to beat it, feel free to let me know in the comments below. Or, if you try one of these decks against Kark and get trounced, let me know as well: Pyrosaur and Uprising Demons will probably do the best for you, but don’t expect short games.

In addition, I continue to build decks that exploit undervalued cards that might show promise. I have my own version of discard + discard pile-hate that shows promise, and I am liking my Blue Dragon/Hunting Pack deck although it still needs work.

My World’s Pyrosaur Deck

Epic Box

Foreword

This deck is dedicated to James Damore for beating every other deck I threw at him with that one deck of his. I created this deck the morning I left for Worlds, drawing on some of my earlier concepts. It significantly outperformed my expectations during testing, I went 2-1 with it, and it is a lot of fun to play.

Worlds Deck List

pyrosaurworlds

Evil (9)

Slow (3)
3x Winged Death

Fast (3)
3x Drain Essence

0-Cost (3)
2x Guilt Demon
1x Heinous Feast

Good (0)

Sage (6)

Slow (0)

Fast (4)
3x Ancient Chant
1x Wave of Transformation

0-Cost (2)
2x Muse

Wild (45)

Slow (17)
2x Brachiosaurus
2x Draka, Dragon Tyrant
3x Fire Spirit
2x Kong
3x Pyrosaur
3x Raging T-Rex
2x Scarros, Hound of Draka

Fast (13)
3x Draka’s Enforcer
3x Rain of Fire
3x Smash and Burn
2x Strafing Dragon
2x Surprise Attack

0-Cost (15)
3x Cave Troll
3x Feeding Frenzy
3x Fire Shaman
3x Spore Beast
3x Wolf’s Bite

Post Worlds (Untested) Modifications

Evil
-1 Winged Death, -1 Heinous Feast | +1 Grave Demon, +1 Guilt Demon

Wild
-1 Pyrosaur | +1 Brachiosaurus

Post Worlds Explanation

Brief Meta Analysis (Thought Plucker/Muse)

thought_pluckerThought Plucker and Muse are two of the strongest cards in a vacuum. Both must be answered immediately or they can generate significant card advantage. Card advantage involves utilizing your cards more efficiently than your opponent to have an advantage in hand size and/or champions in play. It is important, and it is rightfully highly-valued by players coming from other card games like Magic: The Gathering.

museMuse is strong because it puts a card advantage threat into play without spending a gold. Thought Plucker is strong because it immediately generates you positive card advantage (you draw and your opponent discards), and it threatens to compound this effect each turn. Both of these can also be played on an opponents’ turn when their gold is down, which makes them more likely to generate significant benefit.

witherThe best answers for these cards are 0-cost small removal cards like Wolf’s Bite, Wither, Flash Fire, Forcemage Apprentice (held in reserve), etc. Due to the strength and popularity of Muse and Thought Plucker, many decks include at least some 0-cost small removal cards to answer them. Because of this, any champions with 3 or less defense (Pyrosaur, Winged Death, etc.) become effectively weaker, since most decks will have answers to them inherently. However, these decks only have so many of these answers.

Guiding Principle (Wither Targets)

pyrosaurThe guiding principle of this deck is to pack it with tons of champions that break to Wither. By doing this, I overload a deck’s 0-cost removal answers which allows my high impact, low defense champions to survive (2x Winged Death, 3x Guilt Demon, 2x Muse, 2x Pyrosaur, 3x Cave Troll, 3x Fire Shaman, and 3x Spore Beast).

fire_shamanAgainst most decks, my Muses are my least valuable of these cards because they advance my deck’s goals the least. Due to this, I can throw them out early as lightning rods for small removal. If they get removed, great, that is one less removal card for Pyrosaur, Winged Death, etc. If they survive, even better, I draw a card at the start of my turn, and I can be fairly confident they do not have a 0-cost answer for my more important cards.

Citadel Raven Deck

citadel_ravenI’ve been messing around with this Wither Targets idea for awhile largely trying to make Citadel Raven work. Initially I tried to be very greedy by making it a 27 Sage/33 Wild deck with tons of loyalty triggers in both factions. When that deck got up to 7 cards in hand and consistently hit its loyalties, it crushed, but too many bad draws forced me to scrap it. This is what naturally followed, and I love it. I also made a Sage Wither Targets deck after Worlds that actually runs Thought Plucker, Muse, Knight of Shadows, Psionic Assault, etc., and that has been working fairly well for me too. In other words, don’t underestimate the 3 defense champions.

Wild Core (Raging T-Rex)

raging_t_rexAs with most Wild focused decks, my Pyrosaur deck runs a similar core of powerful cards: Brachiosaurus, Draka Dragon Tyrant, Kong, Raging T-Rex, Draka’s Enforcer, Rain of Fire, Smash and Burn, Strafing Dragon, Surprise Attack, Fire Shaman, and Drain Essence. These cards are so powerful/consistent that they appear in most Wild decks, regardless of archetype. Notably absent from my deck are Flame Strike/Lightning Storm/Fires of Rebellion/Hunting Raptors/Pyromancer, Rage/Lash, and Flash Fire.

Midrange (Consistent Pressure)

fire_spiritWhile it may initially seem odd to think of midrange decks in a game with no accumulating resources, Epic does have advancing game states progressing from early (establishing champions/drawing up to 7 cards in hand or stopping an opponent from doing so), mid (exploiting resources in play and hand to push damage through/set up your combo/approach 60 health), and late game (making the final push to finish a game). Almost all of my decks focus on quickly entering and dominating the mid game by emphasizing value and my Get Ahead, Stay Ahead playstyle.

The goals of this deck are fairly straight forward: put big champions into play to pressure the board, maintain a 7 card hand size, and punish my opponent for spending their gold before me.

Early Game (Establishing Champions, Draw, or Pass)

Going First

brachiosaurusIn the early game, when having to go first, you ideally want to open with Raging T-Rex, Fire Spirit, Brachiosaurus, or Cave Troll and then pass. All of these put a threat into play that either gives immediate value, or leaves you open to exploit your opponent spending their gold first on your turn. T-Rex and Fire Spirit draw card(s) and leave behind big bodies. Fire Spirit also leaves an ability allowing you to pick off small champions your opponent might play. Both Brachiosaurus and Cave Troll put solid bodies into play while leaving your gold available to react to an opponent spending their gold first on your turn. 8 times out of 10, when you play Brachiosaurus, you do not want to immediately spend the gold you get off it for this reason. If you can get an 8/12 breakthrough body into play and force your opponent not to spend their gold on your turn, you’re in great shape.

ancient_chantIf you don’t have any of the above cards (and I recommend  mulliganing aggressively to get one) I recommend either passing or playing a “draw 2 and” card: Smash and Burn or Ancient Chant. If you have a lot of reactive cards like Kong or you’re afraid of your opponent spending their gold while yours is down, pass. If not afraid of your opponent, the “draw 2 and” card helps further the deck’s goals without leaving you too vulnerable. Most of the time in this latter situation your opponent will just draw 2 too.

Going Second

drakas_enforcerIf going second (drawing first), the best card to play is Draka’s Enforcer, potentially even if your opponent still has their gold available. This card puts an evasive (airborne) threat into play that can attack on your turn and draws you a card. If they answer it on their turn without drawing, Divine Judgement for instance, you start your turn with 6 cards in hand while they have only 4. If it survives until your turn, you start with a 7/7 airborne champion in play that requires a gold to answer.

surprise_attackThe other amazing card to play is Surprise Attack into any of the Going First cards above, any of the reestablishing cards if they played a champion (Kong/Winged Death/Scarros, Hound of Draka), or potentially even just Draka, Dragon Tyrant if their gold is down (Pyrosaur potentially as well). Other viable plays are a draw 2 or, if they spent their gold, a Strafing Dragon.

Mid Game (Push Damage Through)

One way to enter the midgame is for 1 player to start their turn with a board advantage. In our case, this most commonly occurs from our Brachiosaurus pass play or our off-turn Draka’s Enforcer play.

You’re Ahead

draka_dragon_tyrantFrom this position, the person who is behind is forced to act or start taking damage. For example, if you start your turn with Draka’s Enforcer in play, attack while both players’ have their gold available. If they do nothing and take 7 damage, great, pass and force them to play something or go to their turn. If they spend their gold to remove it with a Drain Essence/Zombie Apocalypse/etc., that’s fine. You just answer by playing a blitz threat like Draka, Dragon Tyrant/Strafing Dragon/Pyrosaur and attack, usually dealing damage and leaving that new threat in play for next turn. If they take the damage from the attack and then draw after passing, you could either play that blitz threat or draw as well to maintain your advantageous position without overextending.

You’re Behind (Spore Beast + Worlds Example)

spore_beastWhen you, or anyone, is behind on the board on an opponent’s turn, frequently the best response is a 0-cost card that can negate an attack while leaving your gold available. Many decks run Fumble for this role, this deck runs Spore Beast. Spore Beast is a dramatically underrated card. The simplest use of it is to completely negate an attack without spending a gold, but unlike Fumble, your opponent is forced to deal with it or it can continue to lock down an attacker each turn. If they have targeted 0-cost removal, then you stopped an attack and decreased your hand size by 1 and decreased your opponent’s hand size by 1 as well, which is a similar net effect to Fumble‘s recycle.

cave_trollSpore Beast can be better than Fumble because it negates the entirety of one champion’s attack (not just a max of 10 damage), and it can punish buffs like Lash or Rage. For example, if you chump block a Raging T-Rex with a Cave Troll and then an opponent Rages their T-Rex, before damage you can respond with Spore Beast to remove the Raged, breakthrough T-Rex and take no damage. Spore Beast can also remove your own champions from combat to protect them if your opponent ambushes in a champion or plays an unexpected combat trick.

sea_titanWhile this is how I primarily use my Spore Beasts, the most devious trick is to remove a champion blocking your breakthrough champion. In game 3 of the final round of Worlds the turn after time was called, I had Scarros and Brachiosaurus in play while my opponent had Sea Titan and his own Brachiosaurus. Both our golds were down, but I had dealt 2 damage to his Brachiosaurus when I used Wolf’s Bite to try to dig to some burn, my opponent was at 5 health. After considering for a long time, I attack first with my Scarros; my opponent takes the bait and blocks with his untargetable Sea Titan, breaking my Scarros in the process. I then follow up by attacking with my Brachiosaurus. He blocks with his Brachiosaurus whose 12 current defense would prevent all 8 of my breakthrough offense (since breakthrough damage, unlike Magic’s trample does not care about damage on the champion). Once blockers are declared, I play my Spore Beast from hand, remove his Brachiosaurus from combat, and kill him with my Brach‘s breakthrough damage since there is no longer any defending defense. It felt great. Spore Beast, strong card.

You’re Behind (Reestablishing Plays + Deck Synergy)

kongThe simplest way for this deck to regain control of a game on your turn is to play Kong. It breaks most champions, puts a 13/14 body in play, and is in faction, excellent. Scarros can also function similarly if your hand is full of Wild cards, and Drain Essence is the best off turn removal card in the game, even if it doesn’t leave a threat behind. (Hunting Pack is currently on my radar for other decks.) Aside from those answers, the damage synergy in this deck is truly nasty. And as I was once taught by Tom Dixon, all decks should be strong when they are ahead, but the best decks can come back from behind too. The damage synergy in this deck makes that possible, and it keeps this deck almost perpetually ahead on the board.

smash_and_burnHaving Fire Spirit, Fire Shaman, and/or Smash and Burn in play/discard amplifies the effectiveness of Pyrosaur, Draka Dragon Tyrant, Scarros Hound of Draka, and Rain of Fire dramatically. 9 times out of 10, I play Smash and Burn just to draw 2, possibly trigger an ally ability, and put it in my discard pile. The +5/+5 is rarely relevant, and it is still an incredible card. Smash and Burn can break 6 defense champions with any 1-cost Wild card trigger. A Smash and Burn triggered off of a Pyrosaur or Draka can hit one target for 10 or 9 respectively. Throw in a Fire Spirit or Fire Shaman trigger and that single target damage can reach 14, which breaks all targetable champions that see play.

feeding_frenzyRain of Fire functions similarly, and I have used it to kill cards like Muse and T-Rex with Smash and Burn, while also dealing 5 damage to the face on multiple occasions. The damage synergy gets even more devastating with the 3 Feeding Frenzys. Any damaging ally trigger become break target champion, and any AoE damage, like from Pyrosaur or Draka, can break even the most buff champions. Wolf’s Bite is another great enabler for Feeding Frenzy.

winged_deathFeeding Frenzy is great because small to mid-size champions are easily cleared off with my damage, but big guys can be a bit harder for damage alone. My other answer for big or untargetable guys is Winged Death. This card fits into my Wither Targets design goal, which makes its 3 defense less of an issue. Also, the massive amounts of incidental damage is great to keep the board clear of small champions that can be chump broken to its ability. And, this is amazing for punishing an opponent for spending their gold on your turn before you. On multiple occasions I have killed two high impact champions (like Steel Golem and Sea Titan) on the same turn. This card is even solid to play while an opponent’s gold is up. Break their only champion, and then pass. They can’t play a non-airborne ambush champion in this case because Winged Death can also attack after to force them to break that too. If they draw, you can still swing in for that 4 airborne damage. I love this card in this deck.

Mid Game Periphery Support

guilt_demonGuilt Demon is solid in this deck. Not only does it help you reach a critical mass of 3 or less defense champions, but it can also pick apart the most critical cards in your opponent’s discard pile. It even hits for 3 in the air with blitz. This guy helps keep the pressure on your opponent, and it can be really nasty against heavy recycle decks, like some Kark iterations. Definitely upping this to 3-of since it has performed so well. Grave Demon is taking the place of Heinous Feast to provide me with 1 mass discard banish.

wave_of_transformationAncient Chant has been excellent to help maintain my 7-card hand size. Even without the Lesson Learned draw 4 cards trick, it still works great to play and recycle to draw 3, discard to Thought Plucker, or even recall to net +2 cards in hand for 1 gold. Great card. Wave of Transformation was thrown in as a 4th card to enable my second copy of Muse, but I’ve really liked having exactly 1 in my deck. It’s rare that this deck reaches a point where it needs to wrath, but it does occasionally happen and this is a great way to do it. Nothing survives Wave of Transformation, it deals with Soul Hunters, and I can clear up the 2/2 wolves left behind quite easily.

drain_essenceI’m not a huge fan of running Drain Essence in this deck, especially 3 copies. It is an incredible card, and I’m not sure what else I would want in place of it to enable the 3 Guilt Demons (probably more Grave Demons and/or Winged Death), but this deck doesn’t need off-turn removal as badly as some other decks. It is always great blowing out a greedy opponent who just tries to Draka me while my gold is up though. However, due to the prevalence of burn, and the effectiveness it has in bursting me down 1 turn before I can kill it, it appears to be a necessary Evil (see what I did there?).

Late Game (Finish with Small Burn)

rain_of_fireLate game isn’t too much different from mid game for this deck. However, cards like Fire Shaman, Rain of Fire, Strafing Dragon, Pyrosaur, and Scarros become a lot more valuable because they can finish off an opponent without giving them a chance to respond/react.

scarros_hound_of_drakaStrafing Dragon and Scarros are particularly nice for pushing damage because your opponent can’t bounce them without getting hit by the direct damage a second time when you replay it. While Erase has been falling out of favor due to the prevalence of strong Tribute/Loyalty triggers, it still sees occasional play, as does Sea Titan.

Post Worlds Conclusion

flame_strikesavage_uprisingI absolutely love playing this deck. I’ve played it against multiple decks, and it has an extremely high win-rate against some with only a few even or bad matchups. Direct burn in testing is its worst match up by far.

I lost to the Sage Kark list on foundry because I didn’t pressure as aggressively as I chamberlain_karkshould have in the first game in certain moments. Then, I didn’t have enough time left in the round to win the next game let alone next 2 games. However, I might still have lost because my opponent played quite well even though he probably hadn’t seen a Wild list quite as value-based as this before. Post Worlds, I’m also adding a slight bit more discard hate as well to improve my Kark matchup. I plan on talking more about Kark in future articles.

justice_prevailsImmediately following that Kark matchup, I played a non-conventional Kark deck with Noble Martyrs and Justice Prevails; it was really cool, and it was the most interesting constructed deck I played against during the entirety of Worlds. I did manage to beat that list 2-1, but I do want to experiment with it because it intrigued me.

pyrosaur

Overall, this deck is great because the damage synergy can lead to some real blowouts, it is easy to get ahead with this deck/hard for opponents to come back from behind, and it runs underrated or at least underplayed cards like Spore Beast, Pyrosaur, Winged Death, and Fire Spirit. I really, really enjoy winning with undervalued/underplayed cards.