This is a continuation of my ratings of all cards for Dark Draft.
16 Base Set Cards
Demon Breach Rating
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.
This card is weak. 3 demons on your turn is weak, 2 demons on your opponent’s turn is weak, and spending your gold to lose a health and return a weak card to hand is bad. When I originally saw it, I thought it was cool and strong, but I cannot ever remember wanting to play it when it was in my hand.
Tyrants Updated Rating: 3
Yeah, I was wrong about this card. 3 demons on your turn is not weak, if you have other ways to gain multiple champions. 3 4/4’s can get respectable damage through, especially if you have dramatically more champions in play than your opponent. Sure they may have Kong in play, but if you have 4 demons, a zombie, and haven’t spent your gold on your turn, you’re in good shape. Attack with those small guys first and assuming 1 block and neither player plays a card, that is 14 damage that slips through to your opponent. 12 if you hold your zombie back to block Kong.
The recall ability is also nice. It’s nice if you need extra cards, or if your opponent is repeatedly Psionic Assaulting while you wait to draw your discard pile removal. In addition, you can always play this on your opponent’s turn for 2 demons if needed. 2 Demons is a significant drop-off from 3, but they can add pressure or save your life if you can’t do anything better.
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.
I like direct removal and this gets rid of 36 of 51 1-cost champions, and all but 1 of the 0-cost champions (using on a 0-cost champion is not ideal, unless it is Muse). 9 health is also a very solid amount of health gain.
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.
This card will usually not affect a board immediately and a 5/4 airborne, unbreakable on your turn champion is not great. It can be great as a combo card if you have a lot of tokens and/or board clears. Flash Fire is nice for a 0-cost board clear for non-demon tokens. If it survives a turn (not great chances based on how I like to play) Apocalypse or other breaking board clears are great. Interesting with Army of the Apocalypse.
Tyrants Updated Rating: 2, 4 Counter Pick
In a standard, balanced deck this card is fairly weak. In a token deck, especially one with 0-cost token board clears like Flash Fire and Wither, this card can do work. If you are able to produce a lot of tokens, you can play this before attacking to put you opponent into a tight spot. They basically have to let your small champions through or else they take damage and heal you. Since those small champions lived, they can attack again next turn, even if the Drinker of Blood has been removed by then.
If you can build your deck to get a lot of small champions into play, you can then play Drinker of Blood followed immediately by Flash Fire/Wither. This can do high amounts of damage, and if you don’t win outright, you can gain a high amount of health to keep you in the game until you do win. While I do believe this to be a very powerful constructed play, it is considerably harder to put together in draft since you aren’t guaranteed to get all of the cards you need.
If you believe your opponent is going tokens, this can definitely be worth counter picking. If you are going tokens, you should generally be counter picking Flash Fire etc. anyways, so this can be worth first picking.
Final Task Rating
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.
Rating: 3+, 3+
This lets you bring a champion from either your discard pile or an opponent’s back into play for a turn. Great card to use on champions with powerful tribute or loyalty 2 abilities (Angel of Death or Frost Giant), and this can be played on your opponent’s turn too.
Tyrants Updated Notes:
This is a powerhouse if you have powerful tribute champions, powerful on break champions, unbreakable champions, and/or 0-cost cards that make champions unbreakable (Brave Squire and Priest of Kalnor).
Using this on an Angel of Death as a Fast breaking board clear is worth it even if the Angel of Death breaks at the end of the turn. Using this on your Trihorror is strong because it can attack or block then give you 3 demons. If your opponent breaks it, it is strong for you. If your opponent returns it to your hand, that isn’t terrible for you. If your opponent banishes it, that’s not great. Finally, being able to keep any champion returned in play with Brave Squire and/or Priest of Kalnor (since it makes them unbreakable that turn) is excellent.
This is an incredibly strong constructed card, but it isn’t hard to get at least some cards that work well with it in draft too. Even if you don’t get anything, your opponent probably will, which is nice since you can use it on champions in their discard pile too.
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.
Rating: 3+, 4+
Banish board clear on your turn is great. In a board clear light environment this is a 5 First Pick. It is also better if you have Unbanishable champions.
Faithful Pegasus Rating
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.
Tribute -> Recycle means this card can’t have a 1 rating. I have not been valuing this card highly, but with certain humans it can actually be really useful (White Knight, Time Walker). Once you play this and if you immediately attack with it, your human can’t be prevented from gaining and can’t lose airborne that turn. This card was excellent in a recent pre-constructed game I played, but I’m still wary of it in draft.
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.
I love this card in theory. Draw 2 cards + A) a free block or B) a free attack that draws off potential blocker(s) of your opponent. In practice, unless my opponent has already used their gold for the turn, I do not want to risk using mine at either of those 2 points. I would rather just use it at the end of a turn to draw 2 cards and ignore the second part.
Gold Dragon Rating
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.
I actually rate this card higher then Avenging Angel strictly because I would rather have the extra 2 defense then the prevent attacking while expended ability. It can still be removed by a lot of cards (not Lightning Storm though) before it does anything, but the amount of health this can gain is enormous.
Frost Giant Rating
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.
Rating: 5 First Pick
8/12 blitz is solid, but the tribute makes this a crazy strong finisher. Expending all your opponent’s champions makes it so they can’t block. So, playing this card allows all of your champions in play to have a potential shot at your opponent’s face (including the 8 damage from this). In addition, 12 is a very solid defense.
This champion is a monster finisher, but as a lone 8/12 attacker it is still decent. It can, however, be removed without doing anything if it is your only champion that can attack.
Tyrants Updated Rating: 4
Same with Deadly Raid, I do not value finishers as much now as I used to. If you win when you play this card, you were frequently winning already, not always though. While still strong, I just don’t think it deserves a 5.
It is much better if you can play this after your opponent spends their gold, especially if they are trying to hold you off with a Secret Legion or something. Also, in a removal/board clear light environment, this can win you the game if the board becomes a stalemate.
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.
Rating: 3+, 4
Bounce is great. 0-cost bounce is an amazing safeguard against cards like Rampaging Wurm. However, drawing a card for your opponent is a big deal. To avoid that draw, you can block with any legal champion before using this card. Then, before damage is dealt, use this. Even if you block a Burrowing Wurm with a 1/1 human token, you still won’t take any damage, they won’t draw a card, and you just used a 0-cost card to effectively waste a gold spent by your opponent.
Ice Drake Rating
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.
Rating: 4 (5 with Sage investment)
A 6/8 airborne, ambush champion is strong by itself, since only Thundarus, Angelic Protector, and Gold Dragon can survive being blocked by it in the air (only Thundarus breaks it in airborne combat too). The loyalty 2 ability is also incredible, especially on an ambush body. It can function as a finisher allowing the rest of your attackers to attack face (and if cast on opponent’s turn, Ice Drake will be able to attack on your turn too). It can also prevent your opponent from attacking. (Although if they attack with a champion on their turn, there is no way to prevent that first attack.)
I rate it as a 4 because I think it is strong enough outside of a heavy Sage investment deck, but with a Sage investment it is a 5. I really like Frost Giant‘s 12 defense in comparison, but Ice Drake with loyalty is a more versatile card.
Tyrants Update Note:
While I am not adjusting the rating, I just wanted to say that a 6/8 airborne, ambush champion is a lot stronger generically than I originally thought. Playing this after your opponent board clears on their turn is excellent. You have a threat going into your turn, and you don’t have to use your gold until they use theirs.
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.
Rating: 3 (4 with Sage investment)
9 offense with breakthrough, blitz, and unbreakable on your turn is a solid threat card. With that loyalty 2 -> draw a card, this is a strong card.
Tyrants Updated Rating: 5 (3 without Sage investment)
Juggernaut is incredible. I love this card. 9/3 blitz, breakthrough, unbreakable on your turn is so nasty. You don’t generally play this when they have a 10 or greater defense champion in play, but if they don’t, they are in trouble whether or not they block. Trading tokens to chump block some of the damage is a fairly weak play for your opponent and so is taking 9 damage to the face. When you add in the loyalty effect to draw a card, you still come out ahead even if they can remove it before it deals damage. The only cards being able to do it are bounce, which lets you draw another card the next time you play it, or banish/transform cards like Banishment and Wave of Transformation that give you something in return.
Overall, if you are going Sage, you almost certainly want this card.
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.
Rating: 5 First Pick
8 damage to the face is a serious finisher. If possible, I always want to save this to win the game, but it is also decent fast removal if needed.
Flash Fire Rating
Always First Pickable –
Or draw 2 is always appreciated too.
Rating: 3+, 5
An excellent answer to non-demon tokens or low defense cards like Muse. As a side note, this is a great way to stop Courageous Soul + Secret Legion. I gave this a 5 rating because the primary effect can be so situationally devastating, decent, or terrible, but the “or draw 2” makes this a very powerful card overall.
Forked Lightning Rating
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.
This card will frequently be break/finish target champion and deal 5 damage to your opponent. 5 Damage is not great for breaking champions by itself, but it can remove a decent number of airborne champions. It is possible to remove 2 champions with it, but unless you target tokens or 0-cost champions, it is unlikely.
Hunting Raptors Rating
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.
Rating: 2.5 (better with Wild investment)
4 damage on each of your turns can be pretty strong, especially since the damage can go straight to the face. The fact that it has ambush is also quite nice because it can expend for 4 damage immediately on your opponent’s turn, and then 4 more at the start of your turn. I personally value removal and board position a lot more though, and a 5 defense body isn’t hard to remove. In addition, there aren’t a ton of great 1-gold targets for this to hit.