In this article I rate and discuss all currently released cards in Epic Card Game specifically for Dark Draft (Core, Tyrants, Uprising). My opinions have changed over time, and I have included my previous ratings as well.
This is not a short article, and it might be more beneficial to skip to certain cards you have questions about instead of reading it straight through. Also, before the card ratings begin, I outline some important concepts that inform those ratings.
- My major article on Dark Draft can be found here.
- My article on Epic limited formats strategy can be found here.
- After playing a lot of Core-Only Digital Alpha, I have begun creating Core-Only tier lists here. Many of these changes will probably make it into this article with the next update.
- The rest of my Epic content can be found here.
Glossary included at the bottom. Let me know if there are any terms I should add or explain in more detail/clarity.
I separated the cards into 10 tiers based on how often I want to draft them. (The full spreadsheet can be found here.)
- Always First Pick: Grave Demon, Amnesia, Erratic Research, and Heinous Feast make draw out wins all but impossible. If one player has at least one and the other doesn’t, the player without is at a significant disadvantage
- Always First Pickable: Always incredible cards
- Always Desirable: Always great, but not as generically powerful as the previous tier
- Usually Desirable: Similar in strength to the previous tier, but not as broadly applicable
- Frequently Desirable: These are cards I want but could easily not fit into a deck for various reasons
- Situationally Desirable: Requires either a faction investment or a strategy investment; some of these cards are counters to certain deck types
- Always Acceptable: Cards that are always solid, but generally less powerful than the “Desirable” cards in the right circumstances
- Situationally Acceptable: Requires either a faction investment or a strategy investment to be solid; some of these cards can fulfill distributions deficiencies, just less ideally
- Rarely Playable: These cards are bad in Dark Draft, but can be useful in extreme circumstances
- Practically Unplayable: These cards are bad
++ : The most desirable cards in that tier (not strong enough and/or reliable enough to breach the next tier.)
+ : Generally a bit better and/or more reliable than other cards in the tier
– : Generally a bit weaker and/or less reliable than other cards in the tier
– – : The least desirable cards in that tier (not weak enough and/or unreliable enough to fall into the next tier.)
Noble Unicorn is included in both Situationally Deseriable and Always Acceptable on purpose.
These are concepts that will apply to multiple cards.
Mass Discard Pile Banish
A mass discard pile banish card is the single most important card in Dark Draft and other limited formats. Its importance is so great, my top tier consists of exclusively these cards (Amnesia, Erratic Research, Grave Demon, and Heinous Feast).
As long as you have at least 1 mass discard pile banish card and recycle it as soon as possible after playing it, you should have an almost 0% chance of losing to your opponent drawing through their entire deck.
Additional Mass Discard Pile Banish Explanation
While most games don’t end with a player drawing through their entire deck and therefore winning, it is a legitimate possibility/strategy. Even if a player doesn’t build a deck specifically designed to win this way, the game can enter a state where pursuing the draw out victory is the best/safest/most assured path to victory. These conditions, from the perspective of your opponent going for the draw out win, are:
- your opponent gets down to around 10 cards left in their deck
- you have more than 10 cards left in your deck
- your opponent is not behind on the board
- your opponent has a reasonable amount of health remaining (15+) or you have little to no burn/direct damage
- you have no mass discard pile banish card
In this situation, if your opponent answers every threat you play and draws at least as much as you do, they will eventually win. They don’t need to attack, so they can leave their champions back as potential blockers, and they have even less incentive to play cards while your gold is available each turn: you must play cards/spend gold to beat them, so they can play completely reactive. If they enter this state, it can be very difficult for you to beat them, unless you do have a mass discard pile banish card.
In addition, they could also draw aggressively to win a game they would have otherwise lost. If they get down to 6 cards in deck on your turn, they can draw 2 on your turn after you’ve spent you gold and attacked (4 remaining). Then draw a card at the start of their turn (3 remaining) and draw 2 more (1 remaining). On your next turn, as soon as you pass initiative, such as declaring an attack, they can draw 2 more to win the game. In this situation, it doesn’t matter if they were at 1 health and you were at 30 health with 7 cards in hand and multiple champions in play, you still lose.
If, on the other hand, you can play Amnesia, Heinous Feast, Erratic Research, or Grave Demon on their turn when they get down to 1 card remaining, you basically win.
Personally, if I can entirely eliminate one potential path to victory for my opponent, I always will (currently). Especially if that means I prevent them from potentially drafting a way to entirely eliminate one potential path to victory for myself.
Opposing View on Mass Discard Pile Importance
I consider my view of always first pick the first mass discard pile banish card you come across, the “old view.” While it wasn’t the consensus of the community I interacted with, a lot of the top tournament finishers/Worlds qualifiers agreed with it.
After Uprising doubled the number of mass discard pile banish cards (Amnesia, Heinous Feast + Erratic Research, Grave Demon), multiple Worlds qualifiers began to argue for the “new view.” The new view advocates first picking other top tier cards like Drain Essence, Muse, Sea Titan, etc. over first picking the first mass discard pile banish card seen. In addition, new view players focus more on targeted, incremental, repeating discard pile banish from cards like Guilt Demon, Keeper of Secrets, etc. That isn’t to say the new view sees mass discard pile banish cards as low tier though, just not absolute top tier.
The new view primary arguments are:
- After Uprising, even more so than before, few games end with a player drawing through their entire deck. Therefore, taking cards that actively grant a greater advantage or do more to win/not lose the game traditionally, are more important.
- Cards like Guilt Demon are still able to remove critical discard pile cards like Psionic Assault, Soul Hunter, etc. They also help to push back an opponent from winning by decking out. In addition, they are a repeatable source of discard pile banish that the opponent must remove.
- Some of the strongest cards in the game (Blind Faith, Wolf’s Bite, etc.) rely on recycle to be strong. I want to recycle a lot, and if I am recycling a lot, I put myself further away from decking myself, and I therefore don’t care as much if my opponent gets a mass discard pile banish card.
- With 3 other mass discard pile banish cards potentially in the draft, I might get one later, but I won’t get another chance to take this other crazy strong card that I would be giving to my opponent otherwise.
While I think these are all very strong, convincing arguments, I still hold onto the old view. The new view might be correct, but I am not yet willing to risk not getting a mass discard pile banish card and then just lose to my opponent(s) decking out against me. (It doesn’t help that in one of my practice Cube Drafts at Worlds, I took a critical card for my deck over an Erratic Research, never saw another mass discard pile banish card, and then proceeded to lose both practice matches to my opponents decking out against me. I did only draft a mediocre Good human token deck though.)
5 Defense vs 6 Defense
The difference between 5 and 6 defense in Epic is enormous. 5 defense champions can be broken by 0-cost cards (Lightning Strike and Spike Trap), and they are vulnerable to multiple target burn cards (Draka’s Fire, Forked Lightning, Rain of Fire, and Strafing Dragon). (5 defense champions also aren’t likely to survive blocking/being blocked, even in the air.) Once a champion hits 6 defense, it requires a gold or multiple cards to break it. This is important for getting ahead and staying ahead.
3 Defense vs 4 Defense
It is significantly harder to deal with a 4 defense champion than it is to deal with a 3 defense champion. If it is 1-cost champion, the only 0-cost cards that break it immediately without needing it to attack are Lightning Strike and Unquenchable Thirst (assuming you have 3 other Evil cards you are willing to banish). If it attacks, Hands from Below and Spike Trap can also potentially handle it. For 0-cost champions, Raxxa’s Curse can also be used, while Siren’s Song can be used on your turn only.
Besides that, Forcemage Apprentice needs a 1-cost Sage card to prepare it and is only reliable the first turn you play it. Pyrosaur and War Machine can only be used on your turn (unless Surprise Attack). Fire Spirit needs to already be in play. Draka’s Fire, Rain of Fire, Strafing Dragon, and Pyromancer are the other answers (aside from cards like Kong, Drain Essence, etc.).
In other words, if a champion has at least 4 health, it is significantly more likely to require a 1-cost card to remove it than a champion with 3 health. (Another reason Lightning Strike is great.)
Autonomous 0-cost Answers (5): Hands from Below, Raxxa’s Curse, Siren’s Song, Spike Trap, Lightning Strike
Other 0-cost Answers (2): Unquenchable Thirst, Forcemage Apprentice + 1-cost Sage card
Reasonable 1-cost Answers (7): Draka’s Fire, Fire Spirit, Pyromancer, Rain of Fire, Strafing Dragon, Pyrosaur tribute + attack, War Machine
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.
3+ Damage Additional Effects/0-cost Events (18): Hands from Below, Unquenchable Thirst, Wither, Raxxa’s Enforcer, Consume, Forcemage Apprentice + 1-cost Sage card, Spike Trap, Lightning Strike, Draka Dragon Tyrant, Draka’s Fire, Fire Spirit, Smash and Burn, Fireball, Pyromancer, Rain of Fire, Strafing Dragon, Fire Shaman, Pyrosaur tribute + attack
2 Damage Additional Effects/0-cost Events (8): Raxxa Demon Tyrant, Helion the Dominator, Forcemage Apprentice, Blue Dragon, Wolf’s Bite, Flash Fire, Pyrosaur tribute or attack, Flame Spike
Special Mentions: Raxxa’s Curse, Rescue Griffin, Siren’s Song, War Machine
3 Defense Champions (13): an attacking Thrasher Demon, Winged Death, Corpsemonger, Watchful Gargoyle, no human tokens in play Village Protector, Shadow Imp, off-turn Juggernaut, Keeper of Secrets, Ogre Mercenary, Winter Fairy, Citadel Raven, Cave Troll, Pyrosaur
2 or less Defense Champions (19 + tokens): non–demon tokens, The Gudgeon, Corpse Taker, Necromancer Lord, Dark Assassin, off-turn Dark Knight, Guilt Demon, High King, Courageous Soul, Faithful Pegasus, Priestess of Angeline, Bodyguard, Forcemage Apprentice, Thought Plucker, Mist Guide Herald, Muse, Warrior Golem, Citadel Scholar with no extra draw, Fire Shaman, Spore Beast
Not all alignments are as likely to be powerful in a given draft. Below I explain why I am more likely to draft certain alignments over other alignments.
Sage (6 out of 10)
Sage is the strongest faction in draft, and I will generally draft a Sage investment 6 out of every 10 drafts. The primary reason for this is that it has the most generically powerful cards out of all of the factions. Since I focus on picking up generically powerful cards and fulfilling distributions, I naturally gravitate towards Sage cards. With a Sage investment being almost guaranteed, picking up powerful Sage Loyalty cards becomes less of a risk.
Wild (2 out of 10)
Wild is the second strongest faction in draft because it has the second most generically powerful cards. I will generally draft a Wild investment 2 out of 10 drafts. Burn is another powerful aspect of Wild. Since damage is hard to get through in Epic, Burn is an effective way to close out games. Burn’s power also compounds the more of it you have. One Flame Strike is great, but if you have Rain of Fire and Draka’s Fire too, you can burn someone out in 3 turns from a max health of 18. This can also be started on your turn giving your opponent only 1 chance to play slow cards and/or attack before you win.
Evil (1.5 out of 10)
Evil is generically weaker in draft than Sage and Wild, but it can be the most powerful faction if you get a lot of it. I will generally draft an Evil investment 3 times out of 20 drafts. Evil cards have a lot of synergy and the strongest ally effects (Spawning Demon, Plentiful Dead, Reaper, and Infernal Gatekeeper). They also have some of the most powerful loyalty effects (Necromancer Lord, Angel of Death, and Medusa). Without these effects though, these cards can be largely worthless. This does mean that if you do go Evil there is a decent chance you will be passed at least some powerful Evil cards, but if you don’t go Evil, it is important to track how likely your opponent is. If you suspect they are, be careful how much Evil you pass.
Good (.5 out of 10)
Good is unquestionably the weakest format in draft. I will generally only draft a Good investment once out of every 20 drafts. Not only are their cards generically weaker by themselves, but their synergies are generally more subtle and rely on building momentum over multiple turns. That being said, human tokens are a real threat. It is possible to deal 19+ damage in one turn with just 2 cards and nothing on the board (Insurgency/Secret Legion and Revolt/Courageous Soul). If you can draft these key cards with others like Rabble Rouser and The People’s Champion, this can be a devastating deck.
You do also need to aggressively counter-pick cards like Wither, Flash Fire, Hurricane, and Zombie Apocalypse to make this work though. In recap, individual Good cards are weaker than average, but drafting very specific cards can make it powerful. (I do like them in constructed though.)
Evil Core Cards
Angel of Death Rating
Situationally Desirable +
A board clear that leaves a 6/5 airborne body behind is incredibly powerful. However, it requires an Evil Investment. Without an Evil Investment, it is just a slow, 5 defense airborne champion. If I am going Evil, this is a high priority pick, and it could possibly push me into Evil, but I don’t go Evil in most games because it is a weaker faction overall, unless you can get a lot of it.
Rating: 5 (Evil investment required) First Pick, Counter Pick
Breaking all other champions and leaving a 6/5 airborne champion is amazing. Without the Evil Investment, a 6/5 airborne champions is still decent. This card is so powerful that if your opponent is going Evil, you should counter pick this card.
Always Desirable +
Board clears are both powerful and important in draft, as are cards that can draw 2. Simple as that.
Rating: 3+, 4+
On your turn board clears are insurance. You might not need it, but if you don’t have it when you do, you will almost certainly lose. This is playable with any faction-based deck, and its value becomes a 5 first pick in a board clear light environment.
Army of the Apocalypse Rating
Army of the Apocalypse has a ton of theoretical value, but it requires a lot to be amazing. At minimum, you need to get more value out of playing it than your opponent. You could either get more raw champions or better champions like inherent airborne, blitz champions (since loyalty 2->blitz won’t trigger). If you can wait until your opponent’s gold is gone and you have blitz champions that it can bring back, it is even better. Either way, they can all be cleared by 1 board clear on your opponent’s turn if they have one.
If you drafted Amnesia or Heinous Feast this gets significantly stronger, even if you just bring back multiple champions to force a board clear. Blitz champions also make this better. (Erratic Research and Grave Demon can also set up for a one-sided Army.)
Rating: 3+, 2+
This is a conditional card. By itself, it is difficult to predict or create a situation where it is more beneficial for you to play. Here are a few situations that make this card potentially very powerful:
- You have ways to banish champions (in play and/or in an opponent’s discard pile) and your opponent does not. For example, Amnesia, Guilt Demon, Divine Judgement, or Palace Guard.
- Having champions with blitz (not from Loyalty 2) can turn this into a finisher.
- Your champions have better bodies in general (bigger or evasive).
If you meet any of these criteria it can be very strong, if your opponent meets these conditions, it might be worthwhile to counter pick this card. In the right circumstance this is theoretically a first pick, but be prepared to just draw 2 if the situation does not present itself.
I love targeted removal in Epic draft, and Bitten is solid targeted removal that doesn’t give much to the opponent in exchange. Or draw 2 too.
Rating: 3+, 4+
I highly value direct removal. This does not require an Evil investment. In a light (direct) removal environment I consider this a 5 potential first pick.
Corpse Taker Rating
My draft frequency for this card should probably be higher, but this card doesn’t excite me much. If you have cards like Sea Titan or Kong, then this becomes a lot stronger. It can also return a champion to help you hit loyalty in a different alignment for a turn. If it survives, the expend ability is also appreciated. In general, this is another copy of one of the best champions in your deck so its power depends on the power of your 1-cost champions.
I rank this card low because it is easy to get rid of before it can use its expend ability, and I would generally rather have a threat instead of potentially having a threat returned to hand in draft. On the other hand, if you already have some incredibly strong 1-cost champions, being able to play them twice can be very strong.
Dark Assassin Rating
I generally don’t draft Evil, and when I do there are other cards I would rather take. At minimum, assuming you have loyalty, it is slow targeted removal that can control a game if your opponent can’t answer it. Unfortunately, almost every card in the game, including multiple 0-cost cards, answer it.
Rating: 5 (Evil investment required) First Pick, Board Control
Targeted removal reusable each turn if not removed is incredible. Without the Evil investment and with only 2 defense, it is very possible it could be removed before it could break another champion. Counter pick if you have limited ways to break/banish it or it will control the board.
Dark Knight Rating
Usually Desirable ++
A 0-cost 5 offense blitzing unbreakable on your turn champion (with ambush too). Yeah, it’s great. The best way to use this is to play it on your turn before you spend your gold, especially when your opponent has no champions in play. Dark Knight is difficult to stop without your opponent using their gold. If they don’t, they take 5 damage. If they do spend their gold, you can respond with a big 1-cost blitzer like Ramping Wurm.
I do also love bouncing this after it hits my opponent. Play and attack with this, then, if they didn’t spend their gold, Sea Titan Dark Knight back to hand. This way you can replay Dark Knight and attack before spending your gold on a future turn.
It can also ambush in to block a champion if needed, but at 2 defense it is vulnerable to all 0-cost removal except Lash.
A 0-cost, blitz, 5 offense, unbreakable on your turn attacker is solid. In addition, it can ambush in as a blocker if absolutely necessary. This is more valuable if you have limited 0-cost cards and decent card draw.
Dark Leader Rating
This card is bad because it gives you so little for 1 gold. If you play it and immediately expend it, you got a 2/1 Evil/Good human token and an expended 4/4 champion that might put another 2/1 Evil/Good human tokens into play next turn. So the question is, how often would you want to spend your gold just to put a 2/1 token into play, that’s right, practically never.
To be fair, Dark Leader can provide 2 chump blockers in one turn. If you play it, don’t expend it, and have it survive to be declared as a blocker, you can then expend it to put the human token into play. Even though Dark Leader is now expended, the attacking champion is still considered “blocked” so the attacking champion won’t damage you.
This is generally thought to be one of the worst cards in the base set. This card will basically never be a threat and basically never win a game, but it does provide 2 potential chump blockers with ambush. If it survives, it does produce a free 2 offense chump blocker per turn unless your opponent uses removal on it. Only pick this if there is nothing better, but I personally think there are less valuable 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 Tyrant). In addition, being able to recall it to put 3 demons into play on a future turn is pretty nice, especially since the 1 health loss is usually meaningless.
12/12 worth of stats over 3 bodies is decent, hard-to-fully-remove pressure. This can even be some-what desirable late in a draft if you have few establishing champions drafted.
2 demons instead of 3 is a very significant downgrade. If your opponent has just 1 champion in play, they can block your first attacking demon and then only take 4 from the second half of your gold (the second demon). Even the fact that they come into play off-turn doesn’t offset the loss of a demon enough. If you have no other play and the board is empty, it’s okay, but otherwise I would rather hold onto it until my turn.
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.
This card is also indirectly buffed by all of the demon specific cards in Tyrants. Raxxa, Demon Tyrant, Raxxa’s Displeasure, and Spawning Demon being 3 of those cards.
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. Using this to return a Necromancer Lord to play off-turn (without needing to reveal for loyalty since Final Task gives blitz) and then return any champion in a discard pile to play is fantastic. While the Necromancer Lord breaks at the end of the turn, the other returned champion does not.
In alignment, 2 other great cards to use this on are Angel of Death, for a (potentially off-turn) board clear with no draw back, and Murderous Necromancer, for 4 zombie tokens and targeted removal (potentially off-turn). Returning an unbreakable champion like Juggernaut is also great because it will survive the “Break it at the end of the turn” trigger. To permanently return any champion (potentially off-turn), you can Brave Squire the champion you put into play with Final Task.
Using this on Thought Plucker on your turn is another popular strategy because it immediately draws a card and forces your opponent to discard while threatening to deal combat damage and do it again. In addition, it would die anyway so removing it is less appealing. Brave Squiring the Thought Plucker in this situation can be really obnoxious (and great).
Even with these potentially great uses (Kong, Palace Guard, Rampaging Wurm, Frost Giant being some others), I still don’t value it higher than Always Acceptable generally. In a lot of decks, it might just be another blitz champion that breaks at the end of the turn. On the bright side, that blitz champion could be the strongest champion in either player’s discard pile.
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 any particularly great champions to use this with, your opponent probably will, which is nice since you can use it on champions in their discard pile too.
Guilt Demon Rating
Always Desirable +
Guilt Demon is a great card because it is a
- 0-cost champion
- targeted discard pile banishment
- (ambush, demon)
Unlike Little Devil with its 4 defense, however, there exist a lot of 0-cost answers to this card. It also dies to a lot of incidental damage attached to other champions like Blue Dragon or Draka Dragon Tyrant. Due to this, you do not want to play this card out as 0-cost blitz champion gold bait on turn 1. It is highly likely to be removed giving you no advantage.
Instead, this is a card you generally want to hold onto until there is at least 1 or 2 cards in your opponent’s discard pile that you want to banish. Use it on your turn to banish 2 cards and either deal 3 damage to your opponent or force them to use a card from their hand. If it can make multiple attacks, great, but with its 2 defense it probably won’t.
Rating: 4 –
This card is great for immediately removing a card from your opponent’s discard pile on their turn, or two cards on your turn. In addition, a 3/2 airborne, blitz body is not bad. If your opponent has no cards that care about discard piles, and your opponent has a lot of fliers or ways to do 2 damage, this card becomes weaker, but against cards like Lightning Storm this can be a first pick.
Infernal Gatekeeper Rating
13/13 stats over 2 bodies for the cost of 1 health and a gold isn’t great, but it isn’t terrible either. The fact that this can keep producing demons if not removed makes it a real threat though, if you have enough Evil. Also, it is a demon so it survives Raxxa’s Displeasure while also putting another demon into play.
If you are going Evil and there is nothing better, this is a reasonable card to pick up. It also works better in a deck that can already produce some amount of tokens to add to the pressure. In addition, attaching a demon to your Evil draw 2’s is another way to get slightly further ahead while not risking over-extending.
A 9/9 is a decent body, repeatedly getting a demon for 1 health is not terrible, but I feel like this card never actually does anything.
Tyrants Updated Rating: 3+
I value token spawning cards a lot more now. This card can easily get out of control if not removed quickly, particularly if you have an Evil investment.
In addition, this card was indirectly buffed by the plethora of demon based cards in Tyrants. This card itself is a demon, so it survives Raxxa’s Displeasure for example. Demon based cards in general are a lot more plentiful now which makes this card significantly better. The more demon related cards in your deck, the better this card gets.
Inner Demon Rating
Always Desirable –
I like targeted removal and “or draw 2 cards” cards. Unfortunately, since I like to use my targeted removal off-turn, leaving my opponent a demon is a disincentive compared to other targeted removal cards.
Rating: 3+, 4+
I highly value direct removal. This does not require an Evil investment. In a light (direct) removal environment I consider this a 5 potential first pick.
Situationally Desriable ++
This is one of the absolute best possible cards for a deck with an Evil Investment. It is a reasonably sized ambush champion with targeted removal included. Both of those are incredibly powerful in Dark Draft. It’s also a demon.
If you have the Evil Investment, there are not a lot of cards I would take over this. It’s also a major incentive to start going Evil itself.
Rating: 4 (Evil investment required)
Fast direct removal is great. Leaving behind a 6/8 body is an added bonus, but not amazing. Without loyalty, this drops in value significantly. This card can be counter picked, but does not need to be. While this card does always leave behind a significantly bigger body then either Bitten or Inner Demon and even on your opponent’s turn, I feel like I would rather have those cards for the option of draw 2 and lack of loyalty 2 requirement. In a heavy direct removal environment, I actually think this is better. Ambush it into play on your opponent’s turn. Then if they ambush a blocker on your turn, use another removal card on that new champion.
Murderous Necromancer Rating
I was impressed by this card in my cube draft at Worlds. Without loyalty, it is a 6 defense champion that can break a champion every turn. Hitting that 6 defense means there is no single 0-cost card that can break/banish this (Smash and Burn being a special case). Therefore, the opponent has to spend a gold to break Murderous Necromancer, and if they don’t, they can’t keep a champion in play.
When you add on the 3 zombies, you get tiny threats that can push damage through while Murderous Necromancer stays in play. In other words, unless your opponent can deal with the zombies, Murderous Necromancer is able to push damage while shutting down your opponent’s ability to come back into the game.
In addition, Murderous Necromancer works great as a target for Final Task, and it isn’t a big deal if it gets bounced. I was definitely underestimating that 6 defense before.
Rating: 3+ (Evil investment required) Board Control
This card will usually be: get 3 zombie tokens for chump blocking, and force the use of a removal card by your opponent. The expend ability will not be used much, but if it survives it will control the board. In a light (direct) removal environment this card becomes a 4 or 5 potential first pick.
Tyrants Updated Rating: 4+ (Evil investment required), Board Control, First Pick
Those 3 zombies are quite helpful, especially since it is easier to get a lot more small champions into play with Tyrants. This is also an excellent target for your Final Task.
Necromancer Lord Rating
Situationally Desirable ++
One of the strongest cards in the game, as long as you have loyalty for it. When you play it, you get the best champion from either discard pile immediately. Then, if Necromancer Lord survives until the next turn, you get the next best one, etc. Even if you are only able to return 1 champion before this gets Lashed, you still put a champion into play while making your opponent lose a card.
Generally, it is better to return your own champions with this card in case your opponent is able to bounce the returned champion. If you returned your own champion, you essentially drew a card if it gets bounced. If you returned one of theirs, you gave them a card.
Loyalty and Tribute abilities do trigger when the target champion is put into play, but ally abilities would not. For example, if you have Necromancer Lord and Blue Dragon in play and you use Necromancer Lord to return Steel Golem to play, you could reveal 2 Sage cards to give Steel Golem blitz, but Blue Dragon would not deal 2 damage to a target.
If you are able to reliably hit the loyalty for this card, you want to draft it. It is awful without loyalty, but due to its potential power, it can be worth counter drafting.
Rating: 5 (Evil investment required) First Pick, Counter Pick
This is one of the most powerful cards in the game. When played, you generally get the best 1-cost champion from any discard pile, and if Necromancer Lord is not removed, you get another one per turn. Necromancer Lord does break/banish to everything, but it does require your opponent to use removal on it, otherwise you essentially get 2 gold on each of your turns.
An interesting note, if you return a champion your opponent owns to play (it started in their deck), and they return that champion to hand with Erase, for example, it would go back to the owner‘s hand, not yours. If you do not have the Evil investment to play this, but your opponent does, counter pick it.
Always Desirable +
Break all champions is great. The other effect is also usually better than just draw 2 (unless you don’t have 2 cards in your discard pile); it can clear out human tokens and break champions like Necromancer Lord and Thought Plucker. Great card.
Rating: 3+, 4+
The first choice is essentially draw 2 but it can also break cards like Necromancer Lord. The second effect is Apocalypse, see above.
Plentiful Dead Rating
With a decent amount of 1-cost Evil cards in your deck, this card can be quite useful. Essentially, you can spend 1 health to get a zombie with every 1-cost Evil card you play each turn. These zombies can potentially push through extra damage or chump block.
If you can’t recall it multiple times, it is considerably weaker, but, if you do use it multiple times, 5+ health loss can add up quickly.
I do not like this card. Yes, it is a free fast chump blocker and for 1 health you can play it again. And yes, it is good for activating Evil loyalty effects. I am just not willing to pay that 1 health as a stall for no gain, and I do not think it is worth it for offensive zombie tokens. I could be proven wrong about this card.
Tyrants Updated Rating: 1 (with no Evil investment), 2 (with light Evil investment), 4 (with heavy Evil investment)
I am still not a huge fan of this card in draft; however, with enough Evil investment it can work pretty well. If you can get a basically free zombie on most of your and your opponent’s turns, those zombies really add up quickly. This is not terribly likely in draft since you won’t, and shouldn’t, just take every card of the faction you are playing.
If you have a light Evil investment, it can potentially at least provide a couple fast chump blockers.
Soul Hunter Rating
Spending your gold on your turn to play this from your hand is weak. It can easily be bounced or banished before it can do anything. In addition, it can’t block airborne champions and does little against breakthrough champions. However, when supported by cards like Ceasefire/Ice Drake, when your opponent has no bounce/banish/discard pile banish effects, and when you get this into play without playing it, it can be strong.
The best way to get this into play is to discard it. You can either discard it when an opponent plays Thought Plucker/Psionic Assault/Knight of Shadows, or you can discard it at the end of your turn when you have 8 or more cards in hand. Then, on your next turn it will return to play without costing your own gold to play it. Since all of the above conditions aren’t easy to achieve in dark draft, I basically never draft it. Also, the fact that it is a demon and doesn’t break to Raxxa’s Displeasure is actually a disadvantage because you can’t use Raxxa’s Displeasure to trigger the on-break effect.
This is a slow card that can be banished or returned to hand for no effect; I do not value these types of cards highly. If you opponent has minimal champions with airborne, minimal banish, or you have lots of breaking board clears, this can do work. Otherwise, avoid it.
Tribute -> draw a card is nice, attached to an airborne, blitz champion is even better. Demon is a nice bonus too, and, if your opponent has non-unbanishable Good champions, the expend ability is very strong.
5 defense is a big weakness though.
Rating: 3+ (4+ with Evil investment)
I mainly use this as a 6/5 airborne, blitz, draw a card champion. It is a solid, aggressive, evasive body that replaces itself. It is also not bad without the loyalty due to the Tribute -> Draw a card. If you can use it to banish Good champions, even better.
Tyrants Updated Rating: 4+
I value tribute draw a card incredibly highly. In addition, I value decently sized airborne bodies as well. Even without blitz with an opponent running 0 Good cards, I would draft this card. If you have an Evil investment and they have Good, banishable champions, this is a 5.
The Risen Rating
This card can be strong in conjunction with other Evil tokens. Play this after your Trihorror breaks and you have 24 blitz damage spread over 6 champions. Using this after an opponent Zombie Apocalypses is also strong.
Aside from that though, it isn’t that great. At minimum you get 3 3/3 blitzing zombies that can attack for 9 damage total, so it isn’t terrible, but specific fairly unlikely conditions are needed for it to be even potentially powerful.
This can do a solid 9+ damage when played, but the +1 offense, +1 defense goes away after 1 turn, and then you are just left with 3 zombies that might have even been blocked and broken already. This card has a high potential for damage (Dark Knights, Word of Summoning, etc.), but I personally prefer my cards to help me secure board position instead.
Tyrants Updated Notes:
This card is a bit stronger with the addition of more ways to get demons with 0-cost cards. I mainly added in this note to explain how it works with Spawning Demon. If you play Spawning Demon then play this, this will fully resolve giving your Spawning Demon +1/+1 and blitz and giving you 3 3/3 zombies with blitz, but the demon created by Spawning Demon would come in after The Risen resolves. That newly created demon would therefore not gain the buffs.
Thrasher Demon Rating
A 0-cost blitzing demon that trades up with any 1-cost champion that blocks it is not bad. In addition, the 3 health gets it out of range of 0-cost 2 damage events like Wolf’s Bite. Finally, if it is able to attack twice, a 5/5 champion that breaks any blocking champion is a reasonable threat; anything higher and it becomes hard to remove and respectably damaging.
I like this card. This card is best if your opponent has minimal 0-cost champions including tokens or 0-cost removal. If this card attacks each turn, it becomes a threat, and if it is blocked by a 1-cost champion, you will break a 1-cost champion with a 0-cost card. It can also be held back as a blocker to discourage an attack by non-airborne champions.
Incredibly slow card with no immediate effect when played.
This card is not difficult to deal with before your opponent gets any value out of it. Bounce and banish completely negate its power, and a decent number of those effects get you further ahead when you use them (Erase). Playing Trihorror is usually more of a liability than a benefit.
If I were to play it all, it would be as an on-turn gold-punisher, and there are much better on-turn gold-punishers than this.
I do not value cards that can be returned to hand or banished with no effect highly. This card does have a strong body (especially for Evil), gives you 3 demons when broken, and was a part of one of my favorite Epic moments so far, but bounce is so good in Epic I cannot rate this highly.
Tyrants Updated Notes:
This is a demon that creates demon tokens when it dies, so it is indirectly buffed by all of the demon cards in Tyrants.
Unquenchable Thirst Rating
Reasonable card assuming you have at least 1 mass discard pile banish effect.
A 0-cost card that can remove a lot of champions, provided you have enough Evil cards in your discard pile you are willing to banish. This is generally much better against low defense champions because each card banished from your discard pile is one more you can’t use to recycle or return with cards like Final Task, Lesson Learned, Reusable Knowledge, etc.
Rating: 4- (Evil investment required)
I value 0-cost removal highly. I like having some health gain. This is a really nice targeted removal card as long as you have Evil cards in your discard pile you do not mind banishing. Unfortunately, Evil cares the most about its discard pile.
Tyrants Updated Rating: 2+
In draft, I am hesitant to banish large amounts of my discard pile for a single effect. I would only draft this card if I expect my opponent to have low defense, high-impact champions like High King, Thought Plucker, etc.
Vampire Lord Rating
This card isn’t as bad as I originally thought it was because it can function both as an on-turn and off-turn gold-punisher (blitz and ambush). In addition, it is fairly resilient against bounce because if you play it when their gold is down, if they bounce it with their next gold, you can just replay it.
Unbreakable on your turn can also be nice with cards like Apocalypse.
Ideally, you can ambush this in to block a smaller champion when your opponent’s gold is down on their turn. In that case, you start your turn with an unbreakable 7/7 that will probably grow to a 9/9 by the end of the turn. Unfortunately, that still leaves it in range of Drain Essence on your opponent’s turn.
Once again, 1-cost champion that can be bounced or banished with no effect. If your opponent has no answer for it, it grows strong, but it can also get continually chump blocked. Much better with breaking board clears on your turn.
0-cost, 3 damage, targeted removal is great.
This card’s ability to clear out all of one type of non-demon token is another nice benefit perfect for slowing down/stopping human or zombie hordes. Kills Muse too.
In addition, the -3 offense has actually been relevant in multiple situations too. It is solid answer to Insurgency attacks, and it has functioned as a combat trick quite nicely too.
However, using it as a combat trick can be a bit risky, especially when your opponent’s gold is up. For example, if you use Lurking Giant to block a Kong, you could either Wither before or after damage. If you use it before damage, assuming your opponent plays nothing, you break the Kong and your Lurking Giant survives. On the other hand, if they play their own combat trick like Rage, they have 1 for 1 negated your Wither while keeping their Kong alive. They could even just remove your Lurking Giant before it can deal its finishing damage to their Kong, negating your Wither.
If you use Wither after damage, you only commit your Wither when you are certain it would break your opponent’s Kong. If you get passed initiative when Kong is 3 away from breaking, playing Wither will break it guaranteed. Both choices are viable, and either can be correct in different situations.
This card can clear all of one type of non-demon token from the board, finish off a champion already dealt damage, or manipulate an even trade between 2 1-cost champions to be favorable for you (you lose a 0-cost card instead of a 1-cost card). In addition, it breaks Muse.
Word of Summoning Rating
Off-turn 4/4 with recycle is much better than on-turn 4/3 with recycle (Ogre Mercenary). In addition, its a demon token so it has synergy with other demon synergy cards. The only downside compared to Ogre Mercenary is that it is returned to the token pile if bounced.
Generally, I like this as a way to apply a bit more pressure. Put in 2 off-turn demons with Spawning Demon, then add one more with this. It can also function as a chump blocker with recycle if needed.
A free fast chump blocker that replaces itself with recycle, solid.
Tyrants Updated Rating: 2+
Outside of a token based deck, I don’t feel like a solitary, fast demon is enough value to warrant a card slot and 2 cards in my discard pile. I would rather recycle with cards like Amnesia or White Dragon. This card does work nicely with the demon cards in Tyrants though.
Zombie Apocalypse Rating
Always First Pickable +
Off-turn board clears are great. This one can create chump blockers as well, if you are forced to use it on your opponent’s turn while their gold is up. In addition, you can even set up for playing this by banishing your opponent’s discard pile before with Amnesia/Heinous Feast (or Erratic Research/Grave Demon the turn before).
Rating: 3+, 5- First Pick
One of the best fast board clears in the game. The zombies based on champions in discard piles can make it better or potentially much worse depending on the situation, but it would, at minimum, save you for one more turn.
Evil Tyrants Cards
Dark Offering Rating
Always Acceptable –
Spending a card and breaking your own champion is a very stiff price to pay, regardless of the effect. Potentially breaking 2 opposing champions off-turn is a powerful effect. Most of the time in Dark Draft, this price is not worth this effect. Either you aren’t willing to break your own champion or your opponent doesn’t have 2 champions in play you want to break. At least it can draw 2.
The best way to use this card is to break your Soul Hunter, Trihorror, Winter Fairy, The Gudgeon, or Mist Guide Herald. In other words, champions with valuable on-break effects or champions who provide most of their value with their Tribute/Loyalty effect and don’t generate much additional value.
If you have some of these champions, breaking your own champion isn’t much of a problem, and it can even be beneficial. The potential power-level of this card is enormous, but it isn’t likely to achieve that power-level often. (At least not in Dark Draft…I’ve built about 3 constructed decks using Dark Offering with mixed results.)
Rating: 3+, 2
This card can work well with Trihorror or Soul Hunter which want to be broken. Still, I generally wouldn’t want to rely on that situation existing in a draft. Further, it isn’t generally that common a situation, in my experience, where I have a 1-cost champion in play that I don’t really care about when my opponent has 2 champions in play. It’s a cool card, but it is just too situational for me to draft it over most any other card.
Hands from Below Rating
Always Acceptable –
4 damage is enough to break all of the unblockable champions in the game (Thought Plucker, Knight of Shadows, Shadow Imp, etc.). It can also break all tokens and a lot of other 0-cost champions. If you can bait an opponent into group attacking with multiple demons, it can be really strong. (I know from experience being baited into doing just that.)
In addition, 2 zombies is a nice bonus.
Personally, it’s a bit too conditional for me, and the zombies aren’t enough of a bonus to make me desire this heavily. I know plenty of people who love this card though. I’d much rather have Spike Trap.
Generically, I wouldn’t say this is an incredible card in draft. It does seem to be a direct answer to all of the unblockable champions in Epic though. Knight of Shadows, Temporal Enforcer, etc. all have 4 or less defense, so this breaks them all. It also works against Crystal Golem since it doesn’t target. Unfortunately, it can’t hit some potential low defense airborne champions that Spike Trap can hit.
If you believe your opponent has worthwhile targets for this, it is worth drafting. The more potential targets, the more likely you can use this effectively.
Heinous Feast Rating
Always First Pick –
Mass discard pile banish is the most important aspect in Dark Draft and other limited formats.
0-cost, fast discard pile banish is nice, but I’d rather the mass discard pile banish card either recycle, give me an 8/8 ambush body, or draw 2 cards than gain some health.
Rating: 3+, 5
Banishing your opponent’s entire discard pile is crazy powerful in draft. It basically prevents them from winning by drawing out, it resets their ability to recycle, it slows down cards like Necromancer Lord, Memory Spirit, and Resurrection, it can setup Army of Apocalypse, and this card even gains you a bit of health.
You can also use it on yourself if you are desperate for a little bit of extra health.
Off-turn targeted removal that doesn’t put your opponent any further ahead than you is excellent. The fact that it also gives you a chump blocker for that turn is a big deal too. 3 Zombies with your next 1-Cost Evil spell is also relevant.
Unfortunately, if used on your turn, it leaves behind a chump blocker for your opponent. It also can’t draw 2 if you don’t need the removal.
Rating: 5 (with at least some Evil investment)
Fast targeted removal which puts you no further behind your opponent on their turn is excellent. The fact that it can also give you 3 more zombies is an added bonus. The only unfortunate aspect of the card is it can’t clear out a blocker on your turn, since it produces a zombie for your opponent that can chump block.
Raxxa, Demon Tyrant Rating
18/18 worth of stats spread over 3 bodies without loyalty is great. The fact that if Raxxa gets bounced you can get 2 more 6/6 demons is also great. Raxxa can even buff your other demons in play, even if Raxxa is your only 1-cost Evil card in deck. (If Raxxa is removed the demons automatically revert to 4/4s.)
The loyalty effect is also excellent. 2 damage is nice for breaking all non-demon tokens, Muse, and other troublesome low defense champions. Off-turn Zombie Apocalypse/Wave of Transformation is already incredibly strong. Follow it up with Raxxa with loyalty on your turn to completely wipe their board and establish multiple threats.
Great without loyalty, potentially amazing with loyalty.
I raised my rating of Demon Breach to 3 because of the 3 demons on your turn. This is 3 6/6 demons on your turn, and a +2/+2 buff to any other demon tokens you have in play. So it’s better. You don’t even need the loyalty to get the extra demons, but the loyalty effect can be excellent as well. It works to clear tokens, High King, etc.
Raxxa’s Curse Rating
Always First Pickable
Raxxa’s Curse is a faction-independent powerhouse. Breaking any 0-cost champion and giving you a demon token is a strong swing in your favor. (I have put myself significantly ahead in at least one draft where I Raxxa’s Cursed a Muse that my opponent was relying on early.)
Since every faction has strong 0-cost minions (Guilt Demon/Spawning Demon, White Dragon/Paros Rebel Leader, Keeper of Secrets/Shadow Imp, Fire Shaman/Ankylosaurus) this will usually have a target to hit. In addition, even using it on a token is valuable.
Aside from breaking Muses, my favorite use of this card is to break an ambushed in 0-cost blocker. If I can draw my opponent’s gold out before mine, play a Rampaging Wurm, and break my opponent’s zombie from Plentiful Dead before blocks, I am happy.
If nothing else, you can always draw 2 with it.
Rating: 3+, 3
This card shines when taking out 0-cost cards like Muse, Guilt Demon, or Shadow Imp. It can also just break a token champion and give you a demon, which isn’t terrible. In addition, it can clear out an ambushed in 0-cost potential chump blocker as well.
Raxxa’s Displeasure Rating
Always Desirable +
Most of the time this breaks all champions on your turn, pretty nice. However, if you are able to pick up a significant amount of demon cards (Raxxa’s Curse, Reaper, Spawning Demon, Raxxa Demon Tyrant, Demon Breach, Guilt Demon, Infernal Gatekeeper, Medusa, Succubus, Thrasher Demon, Trihorror-ish, Word of Summoning, Grave Demon, Raxxa’s Enforcer, Rift Summoner, Winged Death), this can be an on-turn, one-sided board clear which is incredible. It also still works with unbreakable on your turn cards like Dark Knight. If you are drafting a demon deck, or an Evil deck in general, this is a highly desirable card.
If you believe your opponent is drafting a demon/Evil deck, counter-picking this is seriously worth considering. If they get it, it could blow you out. If you get it, you can’t rely on it as a board clear, but you can always just draw 2 with it.
Rating: 3+, 5 Counter Pick
Generally, I like my board clears to be fast, but, since this one avoids demons, it isn’t terribly difficult to get great value out of this card. Even if you just counter pick this, you can always use it just to draw 2 (since the board clear would probably be pretty weak against the demon deck you counter picked it from).
This card is such a powerhouse for Evil in draft. The fact that it also avoids 1-cost champions that just happen to be demons themselves is amazing: Raxxa Demon Tyrant (obviously), Succubus, Medusa, Trihorror, Reaper, etc.
Reap or Sow Rating
I love board clears, but trading the “or draw 2” option for “put 4 zombie tokens into play” makes this significantly worse.
While board clear effects are powerful, I generally use the “or draw 2” option more frequently, unless it is a one-sided board clear like Raxxa’s Displeasure. Therefore, trading the “or draw 2” option for a non-blitz Wolf’s Call (with zombies) hurts a lot.
If I’m going wide with a lot of tokens, I might take this. Or, if I don’t have any board clears late in the draft I will take this. Not a big fan though.
This card is interesting due to the fact that it is a board clear that can’t draw 2 instead. The or-effect is put 4 zombies into play. In the average non-token deck, I would say the or-effect is much weaker than draw 2. This is why this card is only a 3.
For a token deck, this can be quite powerful. You have the board clear if needed, and if you want to push forward when you have a champion advantage, this can work for that as well.
In constructed, I believe this card works great because you can include it in a token deck and generally be happy. For drafting, it really depends on the rest of your deck. No matter what, it is at least a board clear, and board clears are very important in draft.
9 defense on a champion that can theoretically break (almost) any champion each turn is unparalleled, especially since you are guaranteed to get the tribute -> break effect. This card has to be removed with a gold, it survives all unassisted 0-cost removal (at worst it gets bounced), and it survives most damage based removal.
Since it does leave behind demons, it effectively can’t stop a chump block. (However, if it is in play, you can trigger it with a 1-cost Evil card to break a potential ambushed in airborne blocker though). In addition, those demons can actually be a threat to you, especially if your opponent was already going wide. Further, you can’t clear those demons with Raxxa’s Displeasure. Still, I’d rather start by dealing with Kong/Thundarus/Draka and then deal with the demon later.
Another use for Reaper is to upgrade your tokens into demons. You play this and then the next time your activate it your opponent has no champions in play? Target one of your expended zombies and trade it for a prepared demon.
Rating: 5 First Pick, Counter Pick, Board Control
This is one of my favorite cards, particularly in draft. A 7/9 with tribute and ally break a champion is a complete powerhouse. You get immediate value when you play it, it has a solid 9 defense, and if not removed, it will effectively shut your opponent out.
My favorite part about this card is that it turns all 1-cost Evil draw 2 cards into removal. I’ve sat behind this and just drawn through my deck. It was glorious.
Even if you aren’t going Evil, the tribute effect and body are strong enough to warrant picking anyway.
This card can even break your own champions, like Soul Hunter and Trihorror, to give you a demon. It cannot however give you a demon if you target an unbreakable champion you control, since the trigger only works if the champion actually breaks. If nothing else, you can always upgrade your humans into demons, and if you have Zealous Necromancer in play get a zombie out of the deal too.
Spawning Demon Rating
I am a fan of this card. My favorite way to use it is to play it off-turn, when my opponent’s gold is down, and then follow it up with an Evil 1-cost draw 2. Draw 2, pay 1 health, and get 2 4/4 demons, awesome. Also, if your opponent doesn’t remove it, you threaten to keep gaining demons.
If I’m not going Evil or even just don’t have sufficient 1-cost Evil draw 2s, I don’t want to draft this. Fun with Medusa too though.
Important note: Spawning Demon is not buffed by Raxxa, Demon Tyrant, but the demon tokens it spawns are buffed.
Rating: 5 (with heavy Evil Investment), 3 (with light Evil Investment), 1 (with no Evil Investment)
A 0-cost ambush card that can keep spitting out demons is excellent, if you have the Evil Investment to support it. Play this on your opponent’s turn after they spent their gold to get 2 demons with whatever Evil card you were going to play anyway.
As a side note, I find it a bit amusing that the demons spawned would be stronger than the Spawning Demon if Raxxa, Demon Tyrant is in play, since Raxxa‘s buff only works on demon tokens.
The Gudgeon Rating
Card draw is essential in limited formats. Getting a 2/1 unblockable champion that protects you from most burn (Flamestrike not Draka’s Fire), most discard pile banish (Amnesia/Grave Demon/Keeper of Secrets not Guilt Demon), and some discard effects (Psionic Assault/Thought Plucker-tribute not Knight of Shadows or Thought Plucker-deal damage trigger) is a nice bonus.
Generally, it is also much safer to draw 2 cards on your turn than your opponent’s. Unfortunately for The Gudgeon though, it competes with the other slow champions/on-your-turn effects like Kong, White Knight, Army of the Apocalypse, Divine Judgement, etc.
The best part of The Gudgeon is its interaction with Soul Hunter and Plague Zombies (to a lesser extent Fairy Trickster, Ice Drake/Frost Giant, and Scarros). For example, say you have The Gudgeon in play and your opponent has Soul Hunter in play. You Lightning Strike their Soul Hunter. What happens?
Yup, since you are untargetable, and your opponent must target a player to be affected by Soul Hunter‘s non-optional effect, they must target themself. Pretty nice. Soul Hunter and Plague Zombies are particularly nasty because it is less likely that the official take back rule will apply. If an opponent plays Plague Zombies (while you have The Gudgeon in play), attacks with a zombie, and then passes initiative, if you break all their zombies, it is too late for them to take back playing Plague Zombies, so your opponent must take the Plague Zombie damage to their face.
The nice part about Fairy Trickster, Ice Drake/Frost Giant, and Scarros is that you immediately choose a target when the champion enters play. If you then realize you don’t want to expend all your champions or deal 1+ damage to your board and yourself, you can take back that play as if it didn’t happen. Unfortunately for a Scarros play, you’ve already revealed a bunch of cards in your hand.
Surprise Attack is a bit of a tricky interaction. Since you draw a card before putting a champion in play, you can’t take back playing Surprise Attack if you realize your champion won’t do what you want. You can choose a different champion or none at all though. In the case of Scarros, you could also choose to resolve Loyalty 0 even after you revealed 1 or more cards.
Cards that do not target a player are not stopped by The Gudgeon. This includes Blind Faith, Raxxa Demon Tyrant, board clears like Apocalypse, etc.
Tribute draw 2 cards is pretty nice. The bonus 2/1 unblockable is appreciated, since it will eventually need to be removed. Until it is, the “you are untargetable” effect can be nice to prevent direct damage, or more likely and more interestingly, to prevent cards like Heinous Feast, Ice Drake, and Psionic Assault. The 1 health does make it removable by basically everything though.
The only annoying thing about this card is that it is slow. So, since it will frequently just draw 2 cards, only being able to do that on your turn is not great.
Zealous Necromancer Rating
Ambush + tribute -> draw a card is nice, but 4 defense with only 3 offense is not.
That being said, if your opponent can’t remove Zealous Necromancer or board clear you, this card can take control of a game. Gaining a zombie after each and every non-zombie champion breaks, including your opponent’s champions and both players non-zombie tokens, means that you can have a hard to exhaust horde of chump blockers if nothing else.
This is particularly nasty against decks with human tokens because you can block their human token with a zombie, break the human token in combat, and then gain a new prepared zombie token to block the next attacking human token. In addition, if your opponent chump blocks your champions with any non-zombie champion, you still get a zombie.
Zealous Necromancer has won games both for and against me, but I still don’t like drafting/playing it much. If I’m going tokens or I expect my opponent to be going tokens (or if the rest of the pack is bad), I’ll draft this.
Rating: 5, Board Control
A fast tribute draw a card champion is excellent. The body is pretty small, but the ability is so surprisingly powerful it’s crazy. This card can just be straight up removed fairly easily, but you drew a card so it isn’t a huge deal. If they can’t remove it quickly, it can generate a lot of zombie tokens.
This generates zombie tokens when human, wolf, and demon tokens break which is a really big deal. It also generates zombie tokens when your opponent’s champions break. So, if you attack with a demon, and they block it with something bigger, you just flipped an opponent’s blocker and only had to downgrade a demon into a prepared, deploying zombie to do it. If you opponent tries to attack with non-unbreakable human tokens and you have at least one blocker, this gives you a fresh blocker after each of those human tokens break. So, this card alone can largely shut down a token based strategy of your opponent, and it can help your token based strategy.
If you ambush this in on your opponent’s turn, you can swing with your non zombie army, and then use The Risen to attack with your freshly created zombie army.
I am giving this a 5 because its potential is so game changing, and it draws a card to replace itself if nothing else. I gave it the board control description even though it doesn’t remove champions because it can lock down the board fairly effectively, even though the zombies spawned don’t create more zombies.
Overall, I think this is an easy card to overlook. It’s possible I am overrating it a bit, but I want people to look at this card seriously.
Evil Uprising Cards
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.
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
At first glance, this seems like a more dangerous and weaker Wave of Transformation. Clear all champions, leave behind tokens to replace them, but give them blitz!? It can work in this way though, especially if you have more champions in play or you use it on your turn.
But, it can also be used aggressively! If your opponent uses their gold on your turn while you have more champions in play (expended tokens for example) you can use this. Replace your board with blitzing 4/4 demons that can’t be broken by Flash Fire or Wither and attack (still stopped by Blind Faith though, since it removes blitz).
Grave Demon Rating
Always First Pick
Mass discard pile banish is critical. If you have it, use it against a big enough discard pile, and recycle it from your discard pile early (to be able to draw it before your opponent is able to possibly deck out again), your opponent essentially can’t draw out for victory. If your opponent has it and you don’t, they can play defensively and eventually draw out to victory.
8/8 ambush body is also pretty decent all by itself. Great card in Dark Draft.
Little Devil Rating
Always First Pickable
I absolutely love this card. 0-cost airborne blitz champion with 4 defense is one of the absolute best cards to play on your turn, before gold has been spent, when neither player has any champions in play. First play of first turn for instance.
As I mentioned at the top of this article, there are very few 0-cost cards that can deal with this immediately on your turn/when it attacks: Lightning Strike, Raxxa’s Curse, and Spike Trap. (Unquenchable Thirst later in the game). Therefore, you are very likely to either get 4 damage through to your opponent or force them to use their gold first on your turn. Both of which are pretty great for a 0-cost card.
In addition, after the first turn you attack with it, it stays at its 4 defense so significantly fewer cards can break it unlike Dark Knight or even Juggernaut. I’ve had games where Little Devil alone has dealt 8 or 12 damage before it was finally removed. Incredible card.
No Escape Rating
Situationally Desirable +
This card is great if you don’t have a lot of slow champions, and it is even better if you have high value 0-cost champions like Little Devil. On-turn removal is a great way to punish an opponent for spending their gold first on your turn for an ambush champion, and the extra effect is quite powerful.
Off-turn, this card becomes significantly weaker because of that powerful extra effect. Your opponent can even return to hand the champion you just broke. Unlike Erase doing practically the same thing, you get no bonus like draw 2 for returning it to your opponent’s hand. This is a desperation play only.
Unlike Banishment though, which is a very similar card, this does have a draw 2 option. In the heavy 0-cost favoring meta, this card has an even higher value than normal.
Plague Zombies Rating
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
The effects of this card are quite powerful. Tribute -> break most of your opponent’s 0-cost champions and then keep a -3 offense debuff in play. In addition breaking/finishing off a reasonable amount of champions, especially on your turn, it turns off Thought Plucker, makes Guilt Demon attack for 0, and knocks other champions off of their critical offense levels (like 6 offense for airborne champions). It is also a demon so it survives Raxxa’s Displeasure.
All of this is great, but it only has 5 defense which is a very critical break point. Still, I’ve been happy with it the few times I’ve drafted it. My recommendation is make a point to draft it because it is very hard to see just how powerful it can be otherwise.
Rift Summoner Rating
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
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
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
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.
Evil Pantheon Cards
[temporary pantheon article links]
(Necromancer Apprentice, Dirge of Scara, Scarred Priestess, Run Riot, Forbidden Research, Scara’s Gift, Krieg, Dark One’s Chosen, Dark One’s Fury, Scarred Cultist, Scara’s Will, Herald of Scara, Steed of Zaltessa)
Good Core Cards
Angel of Light Rating
I am biased against this card because it was more than worthless for me when I was blown out in the semi-finals of Gen Con 2015 (before the game was released).
6 defense is a big step up from 5, but it still leaves it vulnerable to Lightning Storm (5th best card in Draft) and Smash and Burn (a personal favorite). In addition, spending your gold for 5 health isn’t great. Fast 10 health with a 5/6 airborne body is better, but Good is weak in draft making a Good investment less viable. If I know/expect my opponent to have burn, I desperately need fast cards, or I actually have/expect to have a Good investment, I will pick this if there is nothing better in the pack.
This was a difficult one for me to rate. 5/6 Airborne, Ambush is a respectable body. 10 health (with loyalty) is a good amount of health too. My only problems are that 6 defense leaves it fairly fragile (Lightning Storm), and the Tribute and Loyalty 2 effects don’t put you further ahead when you play this. The health just makes it harder to lose.
Angel of Mercy Rating
Situationally Desirable +
If you can play this after your opponent spent their gold on their turn when you have at least 1 valuable Good champion in your discard pile, this card is great (assuming they don’t have Lightning Strike or Amnesia/Heinous Feast). Getting a champion into play + a 4/5 airborne body + the threat of more champions coming back to play is game winning. However, this relies on drafting other Good champions, and it is bad if your opponent can break it or banish the relevant card(s) in your discard pile before your turn starts. This also isn’t a critical Good card for human tokens.
Rating: 5- (Partial Good investment) First Pick, Counter Pick
In basically every game, you only want to play this on your opponent’s turn, after they have spent their gold, when you have a worthwhile Good champion to return to play. In that situation, this card is amazing. Outside that situation, a 4/5 airborne that can be easily removed is not great. Definitely strong enough to warrant counter picking if opponent is going Good.
Angelic Protector Rating
A 5/9 airborne, ambush champion is solid. The fact that it can’t be broken or targeted the turn you play it makes it great to play on your opponent’s turn, even before they spend their gold, since you can’t be easily punished by a big non-breakthrough blitz champion.
I do like this more in constructed though. Since this doesn’t draw cards, remove most champions, or have blitz, it isn’t as reliably powerful in draft as other cards.
Lines up nicely with Juggernaut.
5/9 airborne, ambush is a really decent body. The tribute unbreakable, untargetable (which can target itself) can be situationally very worthwhile. Most of the time it is just used on itself as a blocker. 9 defense is a magic number because it survives Flame Strike.
Tyrants Updated Rating: 4
I value airborne, ambush champions with more than 6 defense a lot more now. This card also really works well with Sea Hydra. Block a Steel Golem with your Sea Hydra. Then, before damage, ambush this in targeting your Sea Hydra. Your Sea Hydra will still take the 13 damage, but it won’t break. So, your Sea Hydra will gain 13 +1/+1 counters and become an 18/23.
Avenging Angel Rating
I like blitz champions now, but almost exclusively only after my opponent has spent their gold on my turn. This card does deal 6, gain 6, and must be answered before your opponent attacks, but it dies to almost all 1-cost removal.
(As a side note, I have been including it a lot in my pre-alpha, core-only constructed deck crafting.)
At Gencon 2015 (before the game was released with only 100 of 120 cards available), this was one of the most discussed cards. A lot of people were saying this card was way too powerful because the combination of all of the abilities (airborne, blitz, righteous, while expended you cannot be attacked) just controlled the game too much. Which if Avenging Angel survives, it is indeed incredible. However, it is so ridiculously fragile that it is frequently removed in a 1 for 1 trade (or it just get’s blocked by another airborne champion). I don’t like those cards because I value targeted removal so highly.
If you are in a light (direct) removal environment this card can dominate. Or if you can deny your opponent card draw or force them to discard with Psionic Assault/Thought Plucker, this card is much better; if your opponent is low on cards, a 1 for 1 trade can still be favorable for you, since this card must be removed.
In draft I would rather play threatening champions on my turn than removal (preferably both in 1 card like Sea Titan). Off-turn, I love targeted removal. Banishment is terrible to play off-turn. That extra card is such a big deal in draft, but so is your gold on your turn. Other people love this card and this into Ankylosaurus is better than playing a Palace Guard, but I would rather have the Palace Guard for its guaranteed ability to remove a threat and leave a threat.
I’ve been warming up on this card recently. Using this on turn is great, and it helps support heavy 0-cost decks and/or low slow champion decks.
Rating: 4 +/-
Targeted removal is excellent, but drawing 1 card is a big deal. So, if you can use it on your turn when you are already ahead (since this is an event you can use it after someone ambushes in a champion, but before they declare it as a blocker) it is a 5. If you have to use it on your opponents turn, it drops to a 3.
Brave Squire Rating
This card has worked well for me often. +5 offense and unbreakable is a great combat trick (keep your champion alive while breaking an opponent’s champion). A 6/1 unbreakable human token can break attacking champions like Noble Unicorn and Pyrosaur; at minimum, it can be a hard-to-remove, 0-cost chump block to throw in front of a Rampaging Wurm when your gold is down. Even just +5 damage on an unblocked champion has value, especially if that champion has righteous.
I really like this card. A fast 0-cost chump blocker is okay. Giving a champion unbreakable and +5 offense for a turn is great. (This could also be used after blockers for 5 extra damage to the face.) Being able to make a fast unbreakable 6/1 chump blocker is gravy.
Draw 2 is solid, but being able to draw 2 on your opponent’s turn while they still have their gold is incredible. Most of the time, if you spend your gold on your opponent’s turn before they do, they can respond by playing a blitzing champion and attacking face while your primary defense is down. This card prevents that from happening.
It also prevents all other attacks your opponent might want to make that turn. So, if they attack with a token before attacking with that Raging T-Rex in play, you can play this and that T-Rex can’t attack you that turn. This can also be a great way to set up for a board clear on your turn. If your opponent expands their lead on their turn even though they can’t attack, you can punish them by clearing everything on your turn.
Since your only windows to play cards on your opponent’s turn are:
– after they declare attackers
– after you declare blockers
– when your opponent tries to end their turn
You usually won’t be able to play this before your opponent attacks with at least one champion.
Rating: 5 First pick
Draw 2 cards is a solid 3 by itself. Being able to stop all future attacks in one turn saves games.
If an opponent attacks on their turn, there is no way to play this before that first attack. The only exception, is if they try to end their turn before attacking, and you play it at that time. In that situation they would not be able to then attack after you spent your gold.
This is one of the 3 best “Draw 2 +” cards, and it requires no faction investment. My opinion of this card has risen dramatically as I have played. On a side note, it is another good way to potentially stop Courageous Soul + Secret Legion.
Courageous Soul Rating
Human Tokens can do a lot of blitz damage in one turn. This + Secret Legion is a great way to get 22 worth of attacking, blitzing offense into play (since this is a human, it gets the blitz from Secret Legion). This also has ambush, so it can be played on your opponent’s turn and if it survives, your opponent won’t get a window to kill it on your turn before you can attack with it.
This can also work with non-Good champions, so it can help a heavy zombie and/or demon token deck (or Wolves technically). Theoretically, if you play a Dark Leader on your opponent’s turn and it survives, you could play this into The Risen and immediately attack with this, since Dark Leader makes this human an Evil champion. (Dark Leader is still a bad card though.)
Rating: 1 or 5 First pick, Counter pick
By itself this card does very little. In a token based deck, this card is amazing. The quickest way to beat someone is Courageous Soul + Secret Legion + 1 more 0-cost card (Rally the People, Dark Knight, etc.). As you will see, I generally do not rate token producing cards very highly in base game Epic. So I generally would not recommend drafting a token based strategy, and would therefore not recommend Courageous Soul. If you or your opponent is going for a token strategy, make sure you get this card. In that very specific situation, this would be my overall number 1 draft pick.
Tyrants Updated Notes:
Tokens are a lot more viable now that the tyrants cards have been added. There are a lot more ways to get human and demon tokens, and this card can provide a devastating boost. Insurgency goes a long way to make human tokens worthwhile for attacking, and that indirectly buffs this as well. The rating does not change though because it is still highly situational.
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 (unless Blind Faith). 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.
High King Rating
If you are already going Good, it is banish-based, slow, possibly repeating removal. One use is pretty strong, two uses is incredible, and if your opponent has to use a 1-cost card specifically to remove this (instead of a 0-cost card or incidentally with another card), it can answer 2+ gold for the price of 1.
Rating: 5 (Good investment required) First pick, Counter pick, Board Control
Targeted removal reusable each turn if not removed is incredible, and banish is generally better than break. Without the Good investment this card is removed by literally all removal in the game and probably won’t do anything. But, if not removed, this will control the board.
Inheritance of the Meek Rating
Always First Pickable
An off-turn banish-based board clear is always powerful. Drawing a card for your opponent isn’t great, but it can potentially get you back into a game.
Since it doesn’t effect tokens, it can be incredible in a demon/zombie deck, but if your opponent is going tokens it could be largely worthless. At least it has its “or draw 2 cards” option.
Rating: 3+, 5- First Pick
Since this only banishes non-token champions, if you have a lot of token champions it is better, but it’s worse if your opponent has a lot of token champions. In addition, drawing a card is huge, but a fast non-token banishing board clear is even better. Against token decks counter pick this.
Inner Peace Rating
I don’t rate this card too highly because it can’t get you ahead, and it can’t bring you back when behind. It can only get you further ahead or keep you from losing. I would rather have cards that advance me towards winning.
That being said, an extra 10 health can be enough to close out a game. This is especially true against decks with significant amounts of burn. If you can recall it even once in that type of match up, and you never give your opponent an opportunity to use two 1-cost burn cards in a row before you can play this, you pretty much can’t be burned out. This can also be a nice way to increase your advantage on a turn when you are already ahead on the board and your opponent has already spent their gold.
In other words, I would only want to draft this if I knew I passed my opponent a significant amount of burn: 2+ burn cards.
(This card almost single-handedly won my my second cube draft match at Worlds against an incredibly burn heavy deck. It was the last card I drafted.)
This was another card that has had a lot of conversation about it being too powerful. If you have limited card draw, then being able to spend your gold every other turn to gain 10 health is quite strong. So, in a card draw light environment when you have a Good Investment, this card goes up to a 4.
As I have mentioned though, card draw is so important that you should try to avoid putting yourself into a position where this is great. I rate this lowly because it does not affect the board at all, and if you opponent spends their gold to remove/play a champion, and you just gain life, you will get behind.
It is, however, a strong way to stop very aggressive decks that try to beat you with primarily direct damage.
Lord of the Arena Rating
A 13/9 unbreakable, blitzer is a nice on-turn gold-punisher.
I am not a huge fan of how easy it is to remove (at 9 defense) on my opponent’s next turn though, nor the fact that a 5/9 champion isn’t a huge threat on my next turn. However, if you have a significant amount of 1-cost Good cards (generally weaker than other alignments in dark draft), the threat of being able to make it unbreakable the instant your opponent passes initiative each turn is real.
The “must be blocked if able” ability is cool, but it almost never matters.
This is another card that might not do anything the turn it comes into play due to fast bounce and fast banishment. The reason this is a 3 and not a 2, is that if you can get your opponent to use their gold, this has the potential to do 13 unbreakable damage to the face or to a lone champion your opponent controls. Using the card to remove a champion in that way would make this a 5, but it is unlikely to happen often in actual play (it’s an unlikely situation and Hasty Retreat).
Noble Unicorn Rating
Situationally Desirable +/Always Acceptable
Ambush, tribute -> draw a card makes this always a decent play as an off-turn gold-punisher. The fact that it threatens to draw even more cards means your opponent needs to deal with it. This is one of my highest priority cards when I’m going Good, but it is also very easy to counter-draft if your opponent is going Good.
Rating: 5 (Good investment) First pick, Counter pick
This card can really run away with the game just by staying in play. Ambush it in on an opponent’s turn to draw after they have spent their gold. On your turn, play a Good card to draw. The card has essentially become 6/6 ambush, draw 2 cards, if your opponent doesn’t remove this, keep drawing cards. Even as just an ambush 6/6 draw a card, this is playable.
Palace Guard Rating
Always Desirable +
Targeted, banish removal with a 6/8 body and no alignment-requirement is incredible.
Rating: 4 First pick
Targeted banish removal that doesn’t require a faction investment is great. A 6/8 body with nothing else is nothing special, but it is something extra. The only reason I don’t make this a 5 is I think Kong is better generally (even though banish can deal with more answers better: Soul Hunter).
Priest of Kalnor Rating
I used this card to chip my opponent down from 9 health to 8 in the 2015 Gen Con quarter-finals allowing me to Flame Strike my opponent. It has done practically nothing for me since then.
The 1/4 body is pretty weak. 4 health gain is appreciated but not worth a card. It’s loyalty 2 ability is tied to Good (the weakest alignment), and its application is very narrow. The best way to use the unbreakable/untargetable is on a champion before it attacks, either a non-deploying champion or a blitz champion. This on a Surprise Attacked Burrowing Wurm would be terrifying. It can also be used on an Avenging Angel you just played before an opponent spends their gold on your turn.
In drafts, the 1/4 body is almost meaningless (although it does block non-demon tokens), the 4 health isn’t great, and the loyalty 2 requirement on the slow unbreakable/untargetable isn’t generally worth it. In constructed this can be a beast of a card for that Loyalty 2 ability though.
Priestess of Angeline Rating
Tribute -> recycle makes this playable, but I don’t want a slot dedicated to getting out a 1/2 champion that might give me 3 to 9 health and only if I draft and play 1-cost Good cards.
If it is late in the draft and I already have a lot of 1-cost Good cards, I might draft this.
Rating: 3 (Good investment)
Tribute -> Recycle makes this card replace itself as a 0-cost, and it will continue to provide health until removed. Almost everything can remove it, but I think it is solid with a Good Investment.
Rally the People Rating
0 cost card to put a 2/1 human into play and buff your champions. At only +1 offense I wouldn’t even want it in a token deck. With recall, you could spend a gold to put 2 humans into play and give +2 attack, but that isn’t anywhere close to the power of a gold.
At the very least, you can chump block with it, and you can recall it if you have literally no other use for your gold.
I mainly use this as a fast 0-cost chump block that can be returned to hand if I can’t spend my coin on something better. In a token deck it could be okay.
I want to like this card. It has been great for me in some situations, but it has rotted in my hand in many other situations. The ability to essentially play any champion as if it had ambush is a big incentive, but I’ve found that champions you want to return generally either get bounced/banished or removed while your gold is down. I still want to draft this card, but it has underperformed for me repeatedly.
Rating: 3+, 4+
If you have massive threats like Kong or Raging T-Rex, this card is easily a 5. The fact that it can also draw 2 instead makes this really strong.
Tyrants Updated Rating: 3+, 5
I play this card in so many of my decks because it is amazing. Being able to effectively play a slow champion on your opponent’s turn as if it had ambush is incredible. Unfortunately, this won’t do much if your opponent banishes the champion. They can either banish it from play, or they can banish it from your discard pile after it breaks (before you have the initiative to play this card).
Secret Legion Rating
By itself, this card is pretty weak. 6 humans can work as multiple chump blockers or 6 blitzing attackers, but neither of those are great. Its real power comes from combining it with Courageous Soul (since Courageous Soul is a human this gives it blitz), Revolt, Standard Bearer, etc. Secret Legion + Revolt is a 2 card 21 damage combo, which can win games assuming no Flash Fire, Wither, Blind Faith (would remove the blitz but not the +offense buff), etc.
Rating: 3+, 2+
Once again, this card combos amazingly with Courageous Soul (since all human champions gain blitz), but aside from that, it is probably just 6 fast chump blockers.
Tyrants Updated Rating: 3+, 2 or 5, First Pick
Token strategies are a lot more viable now, and Secret Legion is excellent at enabling them. Secret Legion still works great with Courageous Soul, but it also synergizes excellently with Insurgency, Revolt, etc.
Standard Bearer Rating
Not great on its own, but if you have other human token support, the +2 offense can do work. Until you’ve played with/against a deck that can consistently put human tokens into play while this is out, it is easy to underestimate just how strong this static buff can be.
This is another card that has fallen from favor for me. I used to highly value it, but since I do not think token decks are currently viable, I don’t value this card. 3 fast chump blockers is okay.
Tyrants Updated Notes:
Even though Good token champions (human tokens) are more viable now, I am still not a huge fan of this card. If, however, you have Rabble Rouser, this card can provide a lot more value, since you can get a crazy amount of human tokens for this to buff.
The People’s Champion Rating
I like this card, but I wouldn’t say it’s great.
It enters play as 10/9 stats over 3 bodies, one of which is unbanishable but the others are just 1/1s. As long as it stays in play, it threatens to keep producing 1/1 tokens, and most of the time that means you have a nearly limitless stream of chump blockers. This can be strong if you have another champion that can attack with impunity, such as an airborne champion. If you have cards like Revolt or Insurgency, you can also turn those chump blockers into actual threats.
The unbanishable is a nice benefit as well, especially since opponent’s occasionally forget to take that into consideration. (With the official take back rule, if an opponent plays a card like Divine Judgement and then realizes The People’s Champion wouldn’t be banished, they can return it to hand as if they didn’t play it, the only penalty being the information they have given their opponent.)
It is also a human so it can pair with Faithful Pegasus. 8/7 is great for an airborne champion.
Another token generating card, this one has a slightly higher rating because it continually produces tokens until removed. It also survives Divine Judgement. (If you cast Divine Judgement, the tokens from the ally effect would come into play after Divine Judgement banishes everything.) In a removal light environment with a Good investment, the number of tokens can start to get out of control.
Slow, but powerful.
No immediate effect makes this highly vulnerable to bounce effects. It also has no protection from break effects, but it is unbanishable, airborne, and survives all solitary burn removal. In addition, at 10 airborne offense, it must be removed.
If it is removed easily, it did nothing for you and possibly put you behind. If it can’t be removed, it can win you the game in 3 attacks, especially since it is hard to efficiently chump block in the air.
I generally won’t draft this, but if it is late in the draft and I haven’t passed much targeted break and/or bounce, I would consider taking it.
Rating: 4 Counter Pick
This is another champion that has had a lot of discussion about being too powerful. A 10/15 airborne, unbanishable body is enormous, true, but it still gets removed by all break effects and bounces. I give it a 4 because with the 15 defense and the unbanishable, a lot of ways to remove it are taken away. In addition this card alone can kill in 3 turns and there are no tokens to chump block it in the air.
If you can pick most of the targeted break effects and bounce, I would highly recommend taking this card. If you can’t, it might just be another 1 for 1 trade.
Vital Mission Rating
Similar effect to Magic’s Swords to Plowshares, but the fact that this costs a gold makes the comparison not great. Targeted removal is strong, but in a game where damage can be difficult to deal, giving an opponent 8+ health can be pretty bad. If used on a small champion like Necromancer Lord, Thought Plucker, Angel of Mercy, Hunting Raptors, etc., the small champion probably gained significant value already. At least it does banish so it prevents discard recursion on powerful champions.
On the other hand, using this on your own champion can give you a decent amount of health and draw you to 2 fresh cards, but it requires you to take a massive tempo hit in order to do it (unless you target your own unbanishable champion). Doing this on your turn before you off-turn board clear on your opponent’s turn can be worthwhile though.
This is fast banishment removal. However, using it as removal always gives your opponent a bit of something which is why I didn’t make it a 4. One strong way to use this card is to target your unbanishable champion. “I’ll target Thundarus with Vital Mission, gain 10 health, draw 2 cards, and since Thundarus is unbanishable, I don’t lose that either.” Yes, that is how that works.
Watchful Gargoyle Rating
Tribute -> recycle is nice. Airborne is nice. 2 offense with 3 defense enables it to break non-demon tokens too. Not too scary on offense, but it can function fairly similarly to Fumble (which I love), assuming your opponent doesn’t have 0-cost fast removal to use on it before blockers. I’d much rather have Fumble or Spore Beast though.
A nice little 2/3 airborne, ambush, Tribute -> Recycle body. It is nothing crazy, but I like all of that at 0-cost. A small evasive body has potential to do work, or a fast 0-cost airborne chump blocker.
White Dragon Rating
0-cost 5/5 airborne champion is reasonable on its own. If you can get the recycle, it is a lot better. At 5/5, it trades with a decent number of 1-cost airborne champions, and at 5 damage it is a threat in its own right too.
The best card to use before playing this is probably Banishment. Remove a threat, put an airborne threat into play, and net lose 0 cards from hand.
Rating: 3 (4 with Good investment)
A 0-cost 5/5 airborne is pretty strong. A 0-cost 5/5 airborne with the ability to recycle is really strong.
White Knight Rating
One of my favorite cards.
Once again, Tribute -> draw a card is great. 9/9 blitzer can be a solid on-turn gold-punisher too. Those alone make it desirable to me, but the expend ability can be amazing too (although frequently irrelevant). Put an expended 9/9 into play, draw a card, and break a champion, yeah, pretty nice.
It’s also a human, so it can go airborne with Faithful Pegasus.
9/9 Tribute -> Draw a card is solid, not great though. Blitz is nice to have. Expend ability is great if against Evil champions.
Good Tyrants Cards
Blind Faith Rating
I’ve gone back and forth on this card, but currently I love it in Dark Draft. There are so many situations where stripping abilities off of champions can lead to massive blowouts or even just generically strong plays.
With the addition of more mass discard pile banish cards, drawing out becomes less likely. Therefore, recycling is less likely to have even a small downside.
The potential of this card is outstanding.
- You are attacking with an airborne champion, they ambush in an airborne champion to block it. Before they can declare it as a blocker, you play, that champion loses airborne, can no longer block your airborne champion, and you even recycle.
- You are attacking with Kong, they ambush in Crystal Golem to block it. After they declare it as a blocker, but before they get a chance to break it, play this, remove Crystal Golem‘s ability to break itself to draw 2 cards, and you recycle.
- Your opponent has Sea Titan in play when you have a hand of targeted removal that can’t touch it. You play this, recycle, and play your removal on Sea Titan.
- Your opponent attacks with Burrowing Wurm. Play this, remove Burrowing Wurm‘s breakthrough, recycle, and chump block it with a human token.
- Your opponent attacks you with an Insurgency buffed human token hoard, you play this, remove both the blitz and the unbreakable. The +1 offense granted by Insurgency would not be removed.
- You have lethal on board but you opponent has an expended Avenging Angel protected by Royal Escort. You play this, recycle, attack because Avenging Angel is no longer stopping you, and, after blockers are declared and both players know you are going to win, play removal on Avenging Angel just to rub it in (since it is also no longer protected by Royal Escort).
This card is incredibly versatile. It can be played offensively or defensively, and it recycles. However, it is not an inherent threat, nor inherent removal, nor an inherent win condition. So, it can be mildly to incredibly useful in most decks, but I wouldn’t pick it over inherently powerful cards. My opinion on this card still isn’t finalized, but I would be willing to pick it. This is especially true if I had significant airborne, untargetable, or unblockable champions and my opponent could take it if I didn’t.
I think this card has serious potential in constructed, but I don’t have a deck that features it yet.
Forced Exile Rating
I like targeted removal and “or draw 2” cards. Banish is usually stronger than break. This is strong both on-turn and off-turn. Solid.
Rating: 3+, 4+
I love fast targeted removal. The fact that this banishes is also a plus, since it gets around unbreakable, on break effects, and prevents the champion from coming back from the discard pile. However, it can’t remove unbanishable champions like Thundarus.
The two humans can also be a big deal. In a token deck, this is easily a 5 if you play it on your turn. If you plan to play it on your opponent’s turn, I generally would rather give them 1 champion as opposed to 2 (so Bitten or Transform), but this is still excellent.
Situationally Desirable +
By itself, this is weak. Attack for 8 over 4 unbreakable bodies is more reliable than Wolf’s Call, but no card wants to be compared to Wolf’s Call. 4 off-turn unbreakable blockers can save your life, but not a great use of a gold.
Where this card really shines is with other human token cards generally and AoE buffs specifically. Insurgency and then Revolt gives you 4 unbreakable, blitz 4/1 human tokens and 1 blitz 3/1 human token. Unless your opponent can AoE banish, Ceasefire, Ice Drake, Force Field, Surprise Attack -> Time Walker/Frost Giant/Velden Frost Titan, Blind Faith, or make a lot of blocks, they could take 19 damage from 2 cards (assuming you had no other human tokens in play).
This is one of the most important cards for a human token deck, and one of the strongest 2 card combinations in the game.
Rating: 1 or 5, First Pick, Counter Pick
This card is very powerful in a human token based deck. Giving human tokens blitz is excellent, as is the +1 offense buff. The real power though is the unbreakable. There are quite a few ways to stop a token assault that has been buffed by Courageous Soul, Revolt, etc. (Flash Fire for instance), but there are significantly fewer ways to stop an unbreakable token assault (Quell, Wither, Blind Faith, Ceasefire, Ice Drake, Surprise Attack -> Time Walker, and Wave of Transformation).
If you are going a human token strategy, you want this card. If you think your opponent is going a human token strategy, you probably want to counter pick this card.
Markus, Watch Captain Rating
Situationally Desirable +
Thought Pluckering me? How about I put a 10/10 into play instead of discarding, seems nice.
Oh yeah, and I actually drafted some other Good alignment cards, so I’ll reveal these 2 to draw a card to replace him.
You have 3 Demons in play too, not any more you don’t. At least you still get your ambushed in 1/1 unblockable champion.
10 defense is great. Put it into play if discarded is great. Banish up to 3 tokens, particularly demons is great. Loyalty 2 -> draw a card is excellent (except that it is Good Loyalty 2). If you can trigger at least one of its abilities this is a strong card. If you get all 3 (you almost certainly won’t), it is incredible. In any other alignment, this would be really difficult to pass up, since Loyalty 2 -> draw a card is my favorite part.
It’s also a human so it can go airborne with Faithful Pegasus.
Rating: 4+/- (with Good investment)
This is a 1 if neither you nor your opponent have a Good Investment, discard cards like Psionic Assault, or tokens. In that incredibly rare situation, this is just a slow vanilla 10/10, which is bad. In the incredibly rare situation where you put this into play without spending a gold because your opponent forced you to discard, then you banish 3 demon tokens, and have the loyalty to draw a card, this card is almost frustratingly powerful. (Putting this into play is not playing it from your hand, so it would not trigger Good ally effects if it enters play this way.)
Most of the time, you will probably have the loyalty to draw a card from it which alone makes this a 3. My assumption, is that you would be able to banish some tokens with it as well which pushes it up to a 4 generically for me.
This card is also an indirect nerf to all discard cards such as Psionic Assault.
Noble Martyr Rating
4 defense on a ground based champion that doesn’t deal 4 damage when it is played and attacks (Pyrosaur call-out), is really weak. It dies to so many champions and multiple 0-cost cards. If it survives, it can at least sneak 7 damage through (weak for an on-turn gold-punisher).
However, Unbanishable on a card with a discard pile ally trigger is a nice combination. Unless they transform it or bounce it (or banish it from your discard pile), you’ll be able to trigger the loyalty ability for 5 humans. Do this at the end of your opponent’s turn, then Insurgency on your turn and you have 9 unbreakable, blitz 2/1 champions for 18 damage. Or you can just trigger it for chump blockers.
This is an interesting card that lets me talk about a lot of the intricacies of Epic. In general, I am not a fan of slow champions that do nothing when they come into play, but the inclusion of unbanishable and the discard pile ally trigger make this interesting.
Unbanishable + Discard Pile ally trigger: This is interesting because to remove this card it must either be bounced or broken. If bounced, that is pretty awful for you. If it is removed by breaking (since it can’t be banished without using Blind Faith), then it has to go to your discard pile where you can trigger its ally ability. So, in other words, they can’t use just 1 card to fully remove this card, aside from bouncing it. To prevent it from being able to put 5 human tokens into play, which is quite powerful, it would either need to break in combat or through a break effect, and then your opponent would have to banish it from your discard pile. Since the unbanishable keyword is not in the gray text, it does not apply while it is in your discard pile. So yes, your opponent could break this and then play Guilt Demon to banish this before you can make use of the ally trigger.
Due to the Ally Timing interactions, I am much more likely to play this card. I am a fan of the discard pile ally triggers that let you banish itself for an effect.
Ally trigger timing: Triggers, such as ally triggers, happen after a card finishes resolving. So, say you have this and Inner Peace in your discard pile. If you play Insurgency, you would put the Noble Martyr and Inner Peace ally triggers onto a separate heap and then fully resolve Insurgency. Once Insurgency finishes resolving and you have 4 2/1 unbreakable, blitz, human, token champions, you could choose to banish Noble Martyr to get 5 more 1/1 no abilities human champions. You could also recall your Inner Peace at this time. Importantly, your 5 human tokens from Noble Martyr would come into play after Insurgency resolves so they would not get the Insurgency buff.
If you were to play Divine Judgement instead of Insurgency in that situation, you would first banish all champions, then you would have the choice to banish Noble Martyr and get the 5 human tokens.
Paros, Rebel Leader Rating
Great card for Good-focused decks or human token decks. +1 offense for humans is a big deal. Human tokens now trade with non-demon tokens and bigger humans sneak a bit of extra damage through too.
In addition, being able to continually put out chump blockers either forces your opponent not to attack, or lets you attack with your champions more freely. Also, 4 defense is a nice breakpoint.
Rating: 3 with heavy Good investment, 1 with no Good investment
This card is nice because it is a 0-cost card that can continually put out more tokens. The +1 offense for other human champions is a very nice addition, since it makes your human tokens (generated through this or by other means) threatening in large enough numbers. If you have no Good cards or human champions, a vanilla 3/4 is terrible.
I go back and forth on this card a lot, and I’m still not certain where I stand on it.
The first group of times I played with Quell, I was able to cause massive blowouts with both of its options, even in decks not built around it.
- I only had 0-cost champions while my opponent only had 1-cost champions:
So, it was a one-sided, on-turn board clear.
- I only had 1-cost champions while my opponent had a bunch of tokens and other 0-cost champions:
So, it was a one-sided, off-turn board clear and drew a card.
- I’ve also used it as a banishing board clear while I had unbanishable champions like The People’s Champion in play.
Other people have used it quite nicely against me as well. In other words, it has had promising play results.
However, I’ve had multiple situations where I didn’t want to play it because I had both 1-cost champions and 0-cost champions I didn’t want to banish in play. In those situations, the lack of an “or draw 2” option made this largely a dead card. I could’ve drew 1 with it, but I’d have lost my Muse, Little Devil, Dark Knight, or other 0-cost champions in the process. In addition, it can’t answer an opponent’s mixed board completely.
Currently, I think it is desirable to draft if you are going wide with tokens and 0-cost champions. Otherwise, I want to just force myself to draft it more to see how it shakes out for me now.
This card has been incredible for me in a lot of situations. I have used the 1st effect to banish something like 36 human tokens once, and I banished 3 or so powerful 0-cost champions like Forcemage Apprentice another time (both times on my opponent’s turn while also drawing a card). On multiple occasions, I have used the second effect to clear out multiple 1-cost champions while preserving my 0-cost filled board and my unbanishable champions like The People’s Champion.
This card is one of the best board clears for gaining an actual board advantage. It is also one of the best answers for Insurgency attacks. It does, however, have the potential problem of being effectively unplayable. Since it can’t just draw cards, if you have a board advantage that relies on both 0-cost and 1-cost champions, this card can just sit in your hand because you don’t want to banish your 0-cost champions to draw a card. Even still, I am a fan of this card. I really want it if I think my opponent is going token heavy.
Rabble Rouser Rating
This is a card that must be removed or it will overwhelm the board with its greater than doubling madness. (I believe the most humans I saw it create was around 36, since some tokens gave their life along the way.) If unremoved, some of these human tokens can slowly push damage through while others chump block. In addition, they can mass up for an Insurgency, Revolt, etc.
Unfortunately for this card, it has 5 defense so it breaks to a lot, including damage based board clears like Draka’s Fire that sweep up the tokens along with it. If you have multiple ways to go wide quickly, adding another one can strain your opponent’s ability to board clear you, which can be quite strong.
Rabble Rouser is a terrifying card since it provides slightly greater than exponential growth. Assuming you have no other human tokens in play (which there is a strong chance you will have human tokens in play if you take this card), it produces 2 the first time. The second activation will leave you with a net 6, then 14, then 30, etc.
As someone from the Epic Card Game Fan Page on Facebook pointed out, if you play Rabble Rouser on your turn without activating it, then Secret Legion on your opponent’s turn and activate your Rabble Rouser, followed by a Rabble Rouser activation on your next turn, you have 30 human tokens (14 not deploying) ready to be utilized whether with Insurgency or something else.
Situationally Desirable ++
This is by far the most important and best card for human token decks.
A 0-cost event that gives +2 offense to all Good champions can turn any human token assault into a major threat, whether those human tokens started the turn in play or you just played Insurgency/Secret Legion. It’s an all-star.
Unless you are desperate, you should not use the “or draw 2” option in a human token deck because the main effect is too valuable. Unfortunately for human token decks, the “or draw 2” option does make this incredibly easy to counter draft. Even just a 3/1 ambush chump blocker can be useful, in a desperation type of way.
Memory Spirit, Reusable Knowledge, and Citadel Raven are worth extra consideration in a human token deck with this card. Revolt is that strong.
Rating: 3+, 2 or 5
In a token deck this is a beast of a finisher. Play this with a build up of tokens or an Insurgency/Secret Legion attack to put out a lot of damage.
Even if you run no tokens, a fast 0-cost chump blocker is useful enough for the 2 rating, especially since you can always draw 2 off of it instead.
Royal Escort Rating
5/9 Ambush means it’s never terrible. It also gives a guaranteed 3 health gain, but, since its ally trigger is Good, it probably won’t gain too much more. Making all of your other champions untargetable can be quite nice though with specific champions, particularly low-defense ones: Guilt Demon, Dark Assassin/High King/Murderous Necromancer/Reaper/Elara the Lycomaner, Necromancer Lord/Angel of Mercy, Avenging Angel/Gold Dragon, Muse/Spore Beast, Thought Plucker, Winged Death/Citadel Raven/Pyrosaur, and The Gudgeon is another fun one.
One thing to be careful about is that you can’t target your champions either. No Brave Squires, Rages, etc. for you (unless you Vanishing/bounce your Royal Escort first of course).
I like ambush champions. I also like health gain, more so in constructed though. Where this card really shines though is in protecting your more vulnerable champions. You play this on your opponent’s turn, then you play an Avenging Angel and attack with it on your turn. They can’t use targeted removal on Avenging Angel this turn, and if they remove Royal Escort on your turn and remove Avenging Angel on their turn, you have forced out 2 removal cards to answer your Avenging Angel. High King, unsurprisingly, is another nice card to play with Royal Escort.
Second Wind Rating
5 health with recycle can frequently be just enough to keep you out of burn range for an extra turn or two. This is especially strong because a lot of burn wins can revolve around using 2 1-cost burn cards in a row, one at the end of your turn after you’ve spent your gold, and a second at the start of their turn before you can spend a gold. Not only can Second Wind save you here, but it punishes your opponent for wasting an entire turn not affecting the board with their gold.
Second Wind’s recycle is also indirectly stronger after Uprising because, with the addition of Erratic Research and Grave Demon (plus a seemingly faster game pace), it is much less likely to win by drawing through your deck. I particularly like this card with Memory Spirit.
Without recycle this would be so much worse.
Banishing 2 cards from your discard pile to gain 5 health is not worth it in draft. Your discard pile is precious, partly for recycle effects, partly because drawing through your deck to win is a thing, and partly for the potential to return cards from it to your hand or play. 5 health in draft is not terribly helpful either because you generally lose health in bigger chunks than that. If it can get you above 2, 5, or 8 health, that can be helpful because those are 3 very dangerous health totals to be at, but besides that it is pretty bad.
In constructed, on the other hand, I am a fan of this card. I am very worried about burn decks, and I can easily add this into my control decks that have an abundance of events I don’t mind recycling.
Urgent Messengers Rating
Off-turn draw 2 with a perk (usually 2 chump blockers). Great.
Rating: 5, First Pick
I love “draw 2 and” cards. This effect is also excellent. 2 human tokens to use as chump blockers or to assist a human token assault are always appreciated.
Good Uprising Cards
Angel of the Gate Rating
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
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.
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
0-cost ambush 5/5 that reverts to a 2/5 but can gain 5 health if I’m in Good, meh. The +3 offense can be used on other champions which is nice (I traded a White Dragon for a Silver Dragon once), but I’m not terribly impressed by this card in Dark Draft.
Chamberlain Kark Rating
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
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
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
Banishing board clears are very powerful. Banishing board clears that can be used on an opponent’s turn are significantly more powerful. (4 human tokens is also a very small price.) Board clears that can’t draw 2 can be dead cards in your hand for an entire match if you stay ahead consistently. Thankfully, it is unlikely anyone can stay ahead consistently for an entire match.
Putting 5 humans into play probably won’t be what you want to do in most games, but it can help you push the last points of damage through to an opponent. It can also be used to chump block if you don’t want to board clear, but I generally don’t want to spend a gold just to chump block even if 4/5ths of the effect of the gold remains. If you have ways to buff the tokens, like Revolt, it can be much more desirable, but you pick this card for the board clear.
Master Zo Rating
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 +
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
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.
Village Protector Rating
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.
Good Pantheon Cards
[temporary pantheon article links]
(Helena’s Chosen, Cast Out, Ambush Party, Silver Wing Savior, New Dawn, Hand of Angeline, Knight of the Dawn, Herald of Angeline, Angeline’s Will, Silver Wing Lancer, Silver Wing Guardian, Angeline’s Favor)
Sage Core Cards
Always First Pick
As mass discard pile banish, it is one of the 4 most powerful cards in Dark Draft. There are very few situations where I would not pick Amnesia, mainly if it is the 2nd/3rd picks of a pack when I’ve already drafted one of the other 3 mass discard pile cards.
Rating: 3+, 5 First Pick
Banishing an entire player’s discard pile and recycling with a 0-cost card is incredible, absolutely incredible. You can use this to completely shutdown someone close to drawing through their deck. This removes individually threatening cards from a discard pile like Lightning Storm or Soul Hunter.
In addition, it also stops cards that check the discard pile like Zombie Apocalypse, Unquenchable Thirst, and most importantly Army of the Apocalypse (either yours or your opponent’s). Further, since it is a 0-cost card, it can be used immediately before some of the cards mentioned above. And it replaces itself with recycle. Spectacular, spectacular card.
Ancient Chant Rating
Fast draw 2 effects are powerful. The fact that if it gets Amnesia‘d while in your discard pile you draw a card is powerful.
It is also the only card that, by itself, can net you +2 cards in hand. Recall it from your discard pile (+1 card in hand) and draw a card (+1 more card in hand). The fact that it can also work with Lesson Learned to draw 4 is incredible.
Fast draw 2 cards is solid. Spending a gold to recall and draw another card is also decent. The “leaves your discard pile trigger” also happens when the card is banished from a discard pile due to Amnesia or any of your cards that recycle. Even though this card will only ever draw cards (besides activate Sage ally and help with other Sage loyalty 2), it does it quite well.
Blue Dragon Rating
I love tribute -> draw a card. I love Sage. Airborne is nice. Direct Damage is nice. But, I’m not a big fan of 4 defense champions, even after this card was crucial in the finals of my qualifying run.
6/4 airborne is okay, but I love champions that draw a card when played. In addition, the 2 damage can help finish off a player or deal with a lot of small threats like Necromancer Lord, High King, Muse, etc. The 4 defense does make me hesitant to give it a 4, but if your opponent has a lot of cards like the ones mentioned above, it easily makes it to that 4, possibly 5 with enough Sage ally triggers.
Tyrants Updated Rating: 4
Blue Dragon deserves the straight up 4 because the evasive airborne body is that important. Everything Blue Dragon has together make this an excellent card, even if you aren’t running Sage.
Crystal Golem Rating
This card consistently exceeds my expectations, especially in constructed. Ambush on an untargetable body is great, even if it only has 4 defense. Chump blocking and then breaking this before it dies is solid. Chump attacking and then breaking this before it dies is also solid. Overall, a super solid card.
This card is essentially draw 2 cards + a chump block. You ambush this in after attackers are declared, wait for blocker declarations, declare it as a blocker, then when your opponent passes initiative, break it to draw 2 cards. The low defense prevents it from surviving most combat, but the high offense, untargetable, and ambush can let it attack if your opponent has no champions in play. If it gets blocked, you can always still break it to draw before damage is assigned. It does break to board clear and non-targeting cards like Lying in Wait though, so be careful if you really need to draw those 2 cards.
Tyrants Updated Rating: 5
I really underestimated this card. While the draw 2 cards + a chump block is a solid, common way to use this card, it is also quite strong as an ambushed 7/4 untargetable attacker. If you play it to an empty board, especially after your opponent spent their gold on their turn playing a board clear, you get to attack with a 7/4 untargetable on your turn champion. So, they probably won’t be able to remove it (barring Lying in Wait, Spike Trap, or Hands from Below), and you can always break it if they ambush something in to block it. In addition, if you play it when there are champions in play, you can attack with this first, force your opponent to flip a champion to block it, break this to draw 2, and then your opponent has one less champion to block the rest of yours this turn.
This is an excellent card in so many situations, and it doesn’t require a Sage Investment.
Deadly Raid Rating
In draft I would rather take a card that answers a threat or advances my board. Deadly raid can win games and it is great with a lot of tokens or big untargetable champions, but if you don’t have any of those, its effect is worthless. Further, if you use it while they still have their gold, it can be less than worthless. If you try to wait until after they spent their gold, you might not have anything to use it with. This is another card that others think is great, but unless I am low on draw effects, I will usually be happy to let it them have it.
Rating: 3+, 5-
This is one of the biggest straight-up finishers in the game. +2 offense and unblockable will basically never improve your board position, but assuming your opponent can’t remove or stop the attackers, this will win you the game if you have a lot of champions or just a few big ones. Targeted removal or fast board clears can really punish you for using this card, hence the -, but it is still a 5.
Tyrants Updated Rating: 3+, 4
At this point, I do not value finishers as much as I used to. For this card, you are frequently already winning when you would play this to win, not always, but frequently. In addition, until that point, it is largely worthless. You can at least draw 2 from it though. While this is still a solid card, I do not believe it deserves a 5.
If neither side has much removal or board clears, then this is stronger because it can win a stalemate. Fortunately, in my opinion, those stalemates are fairly rare.
Djinn of the Sands Rating
Usually Desirable +
This is one of the best cards in the game to play while you are ahead. It is also better than average if neither player has champions in play or the board is evenly matched. If you can force your opponent to spend their gold first on your turn, this is an 8/8 airborne blitz champion which frequently equates to a Flame Strike to the face with an expended, airborne, 8/8 body in play that can potentially draw a card next turn if attacking isn’t the best play.
Otherwise, you can play it, draw a card, and then be left with an expended, airborne, 7/7 body in play that can potentially draw a card next turn if attacking isn’t the best play.
However, if you are behind on the board, it is unlikely you can draw your opponent’s gold out before playing this which makes its 8/8 airborne blitz option terrible. Its draw a card leave an expended, airborne, 7/7 body in play also won’t help you too much.
Since this is a slow card and situational, I wouldn’t take it if I was overloaded on slow and/or blitz champions already, but after playing with it, I have realized how great a card it truly is.
This is a difficult one for me to rate. An 8/8 airborne, blitz champion is a solid evasive body that can do work, but if you use it like this, it can be removed with you gaining nothing.
Instead, you could draw cards with it. If you draw immediately, you just spent your gold on your turn for an expended 7/7 airborne to draw 1 card, not great. If you wait to use it as a blocker first (or the threat of a blocker), since you can expend it after blockers are declared, you risk it getting removed before it does anything, also not great.
While this card is versatile, I am hesitant with all of its options.
Tyrants Updated Rating: 3
This is not as bad a card as I originally thought. When played to an empty board when your opponent still has their gold, you can just expend it to draw and pass. If they remove it, you are still up a card, and since the board was empty, you don’t really need it as a blocker at that point.
If you draw out your opponent’s gold on your turn before you spend yours, an 8/8 airborne blitz champion is pretty difficult to stop. If you get that 8 damage to face, even if they remove it on your next turn, you still did 8 damage on top of a 1 for 1 trade.
Always First Pickable +
Bounce in Epic is incredible because it frequently negates an opponent’s previously spent gold. If they play Rampaging Wurm and attack while you still have your gold up, you can play this to return the Wurm to hand and draw 2 cards. Assuming neither of you play anything else that turn, your opponent gained zero resources that turn, and you increased the number of cards in your hand by 1. It is not often that you gain more resources without losing board position on your opponent’s turn than they do.
This is also fast targeted removal which means it can remove an ambushed in blocker. You’re attacking with a Palace Guard and your opponent ambushes in Lurking Giant, great, Erase it before blockers are declared to net one card on your opponent this turn and get 6 damage through to their face. Excellent.
Rating: 5 First Pick
This card is easily one of the best cards in the base set. It is so strong that just existing makes other cards worse. This is the primary reason why I do not like cards that aren’t guaranteed to do something when they come into play. By now it should be clear that I like draw 2 cards, and the second part is amazing.
Returning a champion to hand (bounce) in Epic is incredible. Since you only get 1 gold per turn, and a lot of really powerful champions can only be played on your turn, returning one of those champions to your opponent’s hand effectively neutralizes their gold for that turn + you draw 2 cards. Playing this on your opponent’s turn is brutal, but you can also play it on your turn if they ambush in a blocker.
Further, only untargetable cards are completely immune to this card. This gets around unbreakable, unbanishable, high defense, and to a lesser extent blitz and ambush. This card is incredible, pick it. There are situationally better cards, and this can be situationally worse, but it is still amazing.
Forcemage Apprentice Rating Situationally Desirable
Kills Muse, direct damage, Sage, need I say more? Great card. You can either save this as removal for when your opponent eventually plays a 2 to 4 defense minion, or you can play it before playing a 1-cost Sage card to get 4 damage through to your opponent’s face. Both options are great. This also needs to be removed or it will chip down your opponent’s health until they are dead, thankfully almost every removal effect in the game can get rid of it (not the newly revealed Savage Uprising though).
Since I love targeted removal, I really want to use this to break cards like Necromancer Lord etc., and in situations where your opponent has a lot of targets for this in their deck, it is probably a 4. This can also clear through tokens, and it is obviously a lot more powerful with Sage ally triggers.
This card also really excels at doing damage directly to the face. 2 damage per turn until removed (removed by literally everything) is solid, but 4 damage on your turn, and 2 damage on your opponent’s turn is a pretty quick clock.
Frost Giant Rating
8 offense blitzer is solid. The fact that it expends all potential blockers when it is played makes it even better. 12 defense means it survives almost all damage based removal too, very nice.
In addition, the expend effect can be a great way to win a stalemate after multiple turns of no board clears. Surprise Attack, and to a lesser extent Final Task, can be a great way to get this effect off-turn as well.
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 an 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.
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).
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.
Keeper of Secrets Rating
Other people value this higher than I do, and they are probably correct. Targeted discard removal is great. Essentially tribute -> recycle is great (assuming you play a 1-cost Sage card immediately after playing this). The fact that it also threatens to recycle every turn thereafter is also great. If needed, it can always attack for 2 too.
In my experience, whenever I could draft it, there are usually other cards I want more.
2/3 blitz can do some damage if needed. Recycle on a Sage ally trigger is incredible if you have a Sage Investment. I have been picking this card specifically to banish cards like Lightning Storm and Soul Hunter. However, if you have a heavy Sage Investment then that ally->recycle is probably the best part of the card. In a heavy Sage investment deck where your opponent has strong discard pile effects, this is a 5 first pick.
Lying in Wait Rating
Always Desirable –
I like off-turn targeted removal that leaves my opponent with nothing a lot; I used to absolutely love this card because it does that incredibly well. A lot of champions are only threats because they can attack. Attacking with 1 champion at a time (attacking alone) is usually correct. So, when a threatening champion attacks alone, you can use this to remove it. The ability to remove Sea Titan, Steel Golem, Juggernaut, etc., and the fact that it banishes the champion are also big deals.
However, if your opponent still has their gold up when you play this, you leave yourself open to an on-turn gold-punisher. In addition, this card can never deal with non-attacking threats like Necromancer Lord or Hunting Raptors.
If nothing else, it is a Sage “or draw 2” which has value.
Memory Spirit Rating
This is a nice off-turn gold-punisher. Throw this down after your opponent spent their gold on their turn and you get a 5/4 airborne champion that can attack next turn, and you get your best event back from your discard pile.
My favorite use of Memory Spirit, however, is to return a 0-cost event. Cards like Fumble or Lightning Strike can be great to return to hand and then immediately play.
5/4 airborne, ambush body is decent. Returning an event card from your discard pile to hand can be really useful. For instance, using this to return an Ancient Chant will still draw you the card, but you also get a 5/4 airborne body on your opponent’s turn as well (or you could return a Wolf’s Companion, Rage, etc. during an attack on your turn). 1-cost cards like Erase are also great to play a second time.
Tyrants Updated Rating: 4+
I value evasive, ambush champions a lot more now. A 5/4 airborne, ambush body is excellent. In addition, returning 0-cost events to hand is just so powerful. I love having a discard pile full of Fumble, Feeding Frenzy, Flash Fire, etc. just waiting to be replayed when I need them. Sure, it can also return 1-cost events, which can be great (especially board clears and Ceasefire), but I love it for the 0-costs.
Always First Pickable
One of the most powerful cards in the game.
Drawing a card at the start of each of your turns can get out of control quickly. Play this at the end of your opponent’s turn, and then if it survives for 2 turns (don’t need to attack with it) you were able to draw 2 cards with a 0-cost card. In other words, your opponent must remove it as soon as possible. If they don’t have a 0-cost answer immediately, it at minimum replaces itself on your turn and will force your opponent to use a card/effect on it later.
Muse (and Thought Plucker) is the primary reason why 2+ damage 0-cost cards are so powerful/important.
Muse is also one of the reasons why Good is weaker because they have no 0-cost answers to Muse if it doesn’t attack. They also have no incidental answers to it with 1-cost cards (except for Quell, but that also hits your Rescue Griffins, White Dragons, Paros Rebel Leaders, and/or human tokens). In order for a Good deck to deal with a Muse, they either need to use an entire 1-cost removal effect like Palace Guard/Forced Exile or splash a different alignment.
This is one of the most frustrating parts about constructed Epic. Muse is so powerful and so prevalent, most decks want multiple 0-cost answers for it because without them, they can just get run over. Therefore, a primarily Good deck needs to splash other factions to get access to 0-cost answers. This also monopolizes non-Good 0-cost slots making it harder to bring cards like Little Devil, Fumble, Rage, etc. because the 5-15 non-Good 0-cost cards are at least partially accounted for by Consume, Raxxa’s Curse, Wither, Forcemage Apprentice, Siren’s Song, Fireball, Flame Spike, Flash Fire, Lightning Strike, and/or Wolf’s Bite (at least there are multiple choices).
And yes, I am still partially bitter about my loss at Origins in the finals to 2+ Muses per game when I was playing my Combative Humans deck (my opponent was/is also one of the best players in the world), but I’ve been beating my head against this problem with every Good deck I’ve tried to make since. Good-based Kark decks winning Worlds and the first Constructed Qualifier for 2017 show that it’s possible to build a strong Good deck, but I still think this is an issue. This also extends out to the inability to efficiently deal with other effectively unblockable 0-cost champions like Corpsemonger, Bodyguard, Forcemage Apprentice, Keeper of Secrets, Shadow Imp, Fire Shaman, and Spore Beast, but these don’t see anywhere close to the amount of play as Muse, nor are they as powerful, and they frequently need other cards to support them.
I can understand that it was probably a conscious choice to keep the alignments separate, but it is such a debilitating disadvantage. It is a lot easier for Wild to splash a couple Erratic Researches/Grave Demons or even Amnesias/Heinous Feasts to deal with its lack of discard banishment for example.
Feels good to get that off my chest.
Rating: 5 First Pick
This is another one of the strongest cards in the game. This unassuming 2/2 airborne ambush spirit must be removed as soon as possible or else that player will get far ahead in cards in hand. Granted there are a lot of ways to remove this card with 0-cost and 1-cost cards alike, but if it draws even 1 card, using a card on it (aside from Blue Dragon, etc.) puts the Muse player up 1 card for the trade. And yes this card is so strong I would use a 1-cost removal like Bitten to take out this card if needed.
Ogre Mercenary Rating
I’ve never been a big fan of this card, but I lost to someone in dark draft, fairly convincingly too, who loves this card. 4/3 is a decent 0-cost body, and tribute -> recycle is always appreciated, but the fact that it is slow and lacks any evasion or other abilities makes me not like it. At least it’s Sage.
This card might be better than I think it is. Bouncing it with Time Walker/Reset can always be nice too.
Yes this is a 0-cost Tribute->Recycle card so it is essentially free, and I can’t rate it a 1 because of that. But, I really don’t feel like it does enough. I like Watchful Gargoyle because it has ambush and airborne at the cost of 2 offense. I think Word of Summoning is better because it is fast and it is in Evil so other cards can help it more (even though it is a token and therefore more vulnerable to being outright removed).
This card can be played multiple times if bounced, and it can trigger cards like Ancient Chant. Still, I would generally only pick it over 1 rating cards in draft.
Psionic Assault Rating
Always Desirable –
This card is nasty. It can easily chew through an opponent’s hand if they aren’t careful. Playing this when an opponent has spent their gold and has 5 or fewer cards in hand is particularly strong because 3 or fewer cards in hand is a very weak position. Once you reduce an opponent to 4 or less, you can potentially keep recalling and replaying this to prevent them from ever being able to come back, as long as you can keep control of the board simultaneously.
If you have strong reestablishing champions like Kong, you can remove their champion while forcing them to remove your new threat. When they remove your threat, they give you another safe window to play this again.
Rating: 4+ Counter Pick
This card (in conjunction with Lightning Storm) absolutely wrecked me in the 2015 Gen Con tournament top 4. This is the ultimate stay ahead/get further ahead card. If you already have better board position and your opponent is low on cards in hand, this card can make them weaker while not leaving yourself open to an unfavorable trade.
You would not want to play this card while behind because it doesn’t actually help your board position at all. This card is very similar to draw 2 cards, but reducing cards in your opponent’s hand reduces their potential answers and threats. It also makes it more difficult to trigger loyalty 2 abilities which are frequently the strongest part of cards.
This card is weaker if your opponent has a lot of card draw or has ways to banish cards in discard piles (Guilt Demon, etc.). So, I think but am not certain yet, that you would avoid this in a card draw heavy environment, but definitely a 5 first pick/counter pick in a card draw light environment where either player has a Sage investment. Soul Hunter can punish this card slightly.
As a side note, this can also be incredibly brutal against newer players who do not realize the importance of card draw. So you might want to avoid it if you do not want to push them away from the game.
Sea Titan Rating
Always First Pickable +
Insanely powerful card. 11/14 is a huge body. Untargetable makes it hard to deal with, and tribute -> bounce a champion is ridiculous.
This card is amazing at getting you ahead from behind, and it can only be removed by non-damage based board clears and non-targeting cards like Lying In Wait or Winged Death.
Rating: 5 First Pick
11/14 untargetable body, insane. Add a bounce effect which I constantly say is amazing in Epic. Yeah, this card is incredible. The only sad thing is that I can’t use Lash on it. (But I hope an ability like Magic’s “hexproof” never exists in Epic.)
Spike Trap Rating
5 damage is enough to kill a lot of champions, including all of the unblockable champions (like Thought Plucker or Knight of Shadows) and a decent number of airborne champions (like Angel of Death or Memory Spirit). Recycle is also quite nice.
While this does hit all attacking champions, and you can bait people into group attacking if they know you have Ceasefire/Ice Drake, this will usually only hit 1 champion. Despite that, removing 1 champion (especially a 1-cost champion) and recycling is a great deal.
Spike Trap is an interesting card in that if it was weaker, I think I would like it more. Deal 5 damage to an attacking champion and recycle is pretty strong. It can break a decent number of champions (airborne champions in particular) and it replaces itself, yes please. If your opponent has no 5 defense or lower champions that want to attack, it can always just replace itself.
Since this affects each attacking champion though, I always want to get more than 1 champion with it. In my mind, I think of this card as I can potentially really nail someone with this card, and when I get just the strong situation of breaking 1 champion, I feel disappointed.
So, if you are like me, don’t get discouraged that champions almost always attack alone, and be happy when you get a 0 for 1 trade with it. If you ever get 2 or more champions or set up something else with it, be ecstatic.
Tyrants Updated Rating: 3+
This card has been indirectly buffed by the inclusion of all of the 4 or less defense unblockable champions (Knight of Shadows, etc.). Spike Trap is much more likely to be valuable because there are a greater number of champions that can be removed effectively by it.
Stand Alone Rating
This is a great off-turn board clear if your opponent is focusing on a wide, token strategy. In other words, if they have a lot of small champions instead of 1 or 2 big champions in play at a time, this is a great way to remove most of their pressure while leaving your strongest champion in play as well. If you are going wide, this is definitely worth counter-picking because you can always at least draw 2 with it.
If your opponent isn’t going wide, this “board clear” effect can be essentially worthless, since this can’t remove their best champion.
Rating: 3+, 5- First Pick
Fast board clear is great even though this doesn’t technically clear the board. Bringing your opponent down to their strongest champion still serves the same purpose for punishing them for over-extending. It also lets you keep your strongest champion.
Steel Golem Rating
13/13 untargetable is a strong threat. The fact that this can also gain blitz with Sage Loyalty 2 is a major perk, but I would still first pick this from a pack if I had no other Sage in my deck.
As a 13/13 untargetable blitzer, this is one of the few blitzing champions I would play and attack with while my opponent’s gold is up. Unless they have exactly Lying in Wait, Blind Faith, Surprise Attack -> Winged Death/Angel of Death/Time Walker, or an off-turn board clear, this will at least necessitate a chump block or deal 13 damage.
A 13/13 untargetable body is amazing. If you can give it blitz even better. While this doesn’t technically do anything immediately, the number of answers (besides chump blocking) is dramatically reduced (Lying in Wait, Zombie Apocalypse, etc.). In addition, if you can force your opponent to use a board clear to break just one champion, it can set you up for a dominating position later in the game.
Tyrants Updated Rating: 4.5
Big untargetable bodies are that strong.
Thought Plucker Rating
Always First Pickable
This card is so powerful in a vacuum that the constructed meta has largely been forced to shift around it. Ally -> recall cards, Soul Hunter, and other cards have been added to a lot of decks in addition to 0-cost answers to help mitigate the damage of this card. In dark draft, the odds of having all of the best answers to deal with this card are significantly lower.
When played on your opponent’s turn when their gold is down, you immediately get ahead in card advantage. Then, you can immediately attack with it on your turn and force them to remove it; if they can’t, your card advantage becomes even more pronounced (you drew 2 while they discarded 2). If both players started this exchange at 5 cards, you are now at 6 to your opponents 3 (not including the card you drew for your turn).
If they have to spend their gold to deal with your Thought Plucker, you can follow up with any gold-punisher. One really nasty card in this situation is Final Task because if it is used on Thought Plucker and Thought Plucker deals combat damage, the hand sizes could be you at 6 with your opponent at 1 (assuming they used a 1-cost card to remove Thought Plucker without gaining another card, and not including the card you drew for your turn).
The potential to dramatically shift the card advantage into your favor makes this a highly dangerous card. However, if both players are already at 7 cards, this becomes a lot weaker. Ending at 8 to 5 is a lot less devastating than 6 to 3.
In addition, this card won’t be able to bring you back into a game where you are far behind on the board by itself. A 1/1 unblockable champion won’t stop a Triceratops for instance. It can help you draw into an answer like a board clear though.
Rating: 4 Counter Pick
This is another get further ahead card that works excellently in tandem with Psionic Assault. If you are behind on the board, this won’t catch you up, but it puts you up 2 cards (-1 opponent, +1 you). This card also must be removed otherwise it will dominate the game. If you don’t have reliable ways to remove it (since it is unblockable), you should probably counter pick it. In a card draw light or small removal light environment this is a potential first pick.
Time Bender Rating
Fast reusable targeted removal is pretty strong. In addition, the 4 defense makes it a lot harder to remove with a single 0-cost event.
If you play this off-turn to bounce an opponent’s threat, you can always immediately bounce this with its own expend ability on your turn; this protects it from removal and allows you to use it again later. By immediately bouncing it on your turn, you don’t get further ahead, but you can maintain a removal card potentially indefinitely.
Rating: 5 (Sage investment required) First Pick, Counter Pick, Board Control
Bounce is amazing. Bounce a champion every turn or banish a 0-cost champion is incredible, especially when it is fast. This champion also has 4 defense to avoid all of the 2 damage removal that High King and Dark Assassin are vulnerable too. It can also be used to return your own 1-cost champions to hand if needed. This card must be removed or it will control the board.
Time Walker Rating
Board clear that leaves you with a 10/10 body in Sage. Yup, pretty strong.
This can also be a great way to abuse 0-cost blitz champions. Play and attack with 0-cost blitz champion(s). Play this. Play and attack with the same 0-cost blitz champions. However, if your opponent has a lot of 0-cost ambush champions or powerful loyalty/tribute abilities, this becomes worse.
Amazing against token decks.
Rating: 5 (Sage investment required) Counter Pick, First Pick
A 10/10 body is pretty strong, but this card is its loyalty 2 effect. Returning all champions to hand and leaving behind a 10/10 is great. Tokens returned to hand also go straight back to the token pool so this clears them permanently. Can make Ogre Mercenary better.
Always Desirable –
Targeted removal that transforms leaving only a wolf behind is pretty great. Only untargetable champions are immune to this card. Unfortunately, in the less likely situation where you want to use this on your turn to remove a blocker, that wolf left behind can always chump block. If nothing else, it is a Sage “or draw 2” card.
Rating: 3+, 5 First Pick
I probably value this card higher then a lot of people, and I do value it higher then Bitten and Inner Demon. I usually want to play these cards on my opponent’s turn anyways so the possibility to gain a zombie or a demon isn’t great for me. In addition, this banishes any champion except untargetable ones. It gets around unbanishable, unbreakable, effects that happen when a card breaks, and prevents it from coming back from the discard pile. Excellent targeted removal.
The only downside is that it leaves behind a chump blocker if you play it on your turn. So if you attack with Raging T-Rex and they ambush in Lurking Giant, even if you transform the giant, removing it, the 12 damage to face can still be prevented.
In a world without bounce, this would easily be one of the best cards in the game. Using this on your turn to permanently take control of a champion (+1 champion for you, -1 champion for your opponent) is incredible value. However, if your opponent is able to bounce the champion, it returns to their hand instead of yours (the owner’s not the controller’s) .
The second ability is also strong because it can let you steal a champion for a turn, give it blitz, and use it to finish off your opponent. It can also steal a champion off-turn to either negate an attacking champion, or, even better, use any one of your opponent’s other champions to block their attacking champion.
Rating: 5– First Pick
This card is great. When played on your turn, it is removal for your opponent’s best champion, and you gain that best champion. Or you could give that champion blitz and attack with it to win the game. Playing this on your turn after your opponent ambushes in a champion is brutal.
On your opponent’s turn, you can take one of their champions and use it to block an attack by another one of their champions. Best case scenario is 2 (or more) of your opponent’s champions break (since you can block then use the expend power: Dark Assassin). Worst case you chump block one champion and prevent another from attacking you.
The reason I give this a double minus (–) is in a bounce heavy environment this card can become significantly weaker. If you take control of your opponent’s champion, and they bounce that champion to hand, it goes to their hand (since they are the owner), instead of your hand (the controller). I decided to go with a 5 rating because outside this one situation, it is incredible. (And forcing your opponent to bounce their own champion isn’t the worst thing.)
Warrior Golem Rating
Situationally Desirable +
4/2 blitz with a recycle trigger attached is a great card to play to an open board while both players have their gold. It isn’t hard to remove, but your opponent needs to immediately remove it or they take damage. In addition, when they remove it, you get to recycle to replace its loss. You can even recycle itself to its own trigger because Warrior Golem is already in your discard pile when the trigger resolves.
Also, since the trigger happens regardless of how it enters your discard pile, you could even discard it to a Thought Plucker and immediately get the recycle effect.
Rating: 2 (3 with Sage investment)
This is similar to Ogre Mercenary except it can have blitz and is the only card that can recycle itself. A small 4/2 blitzer isn’t amazing but it can get a bit of damage in before going down, and since the recycle doesn’t trigger until this is in the discard pile, you may choose it as one of the 2 cards to recycle. But you can’t bounce it to reuse the recycle effect.
Wave of Transformation Rating
Always First Pickable
The most reliable off-turn board clear.
No champion in the game can survive this card. Unfortunately, when you use this and are behind in quantity of champions in play, you stay behind. In addition, it doesn’t help you much against tokens hordes. That being said, the reliable off-turn board clear is so powerful that these downsides aren’t that problematic. Also, sage draw 2 too.
Rating: 3+, 4
This is the only fast board clear I am not rating a 5-. The reason for this, you can stay behind if your opponent is far ahead and against token decks this won’t do too much. Banishing all champions is a really big deal though which is why this is still a 4, especially since it is fast. Against a token deck this might be counter pick worthy.
Tyrants Updated Rating: 3+, 5
This is the best all-occasions, on-your-opponent’s-turn board clear in the game. It literally stops anything coming at you for at least one turn: unblockable champions, unbanishable champions, untargetable champions, token swarms, everything. The only thing to potentially watch out for is an opponent’s Wolf’s Call after you use it on their turn.
Winter Fairy Rating
After seeing Derek Arnold’s constructed Origins deck, I appreciate the idea of slow, on-turn, “draw 2 and” champions a lot more than I once did (even though his deck didn’t have any: Winter Fairy or The Gudgeon). I wrote about it a bit in my Epic: Constructed – Origins 2016 (Part 2) article, but it does primarily deal with constructed.
When I draft/play/include this card, I never expect it to deal combat damage. It’s great when it does, but it isn’t very likely. Instead, I view it as a draw 2 card that forces my opponent to spend a card to remove it. I always think about playing this and having it immediately get Withered, for example. +1 card in hand for me, -1 card in hand for my opponent.
If played while your opponent has no airborne champions in play, their most likely answers for it are: 0-cost 3 damage removal (avoiding the recycling 0-cost answers Wolf’s Bite and Flame Spike), banishment/transform removal, or other damage/break based 1-cost removal (best case scenario for you). If either of the first 2 options are used, you just drew out an incredibly valuable card from your opponent while drawing 2, great value. “You used your Palace Guard? Okay, I only drew 1 card, but now can you deal with this Kong?”
This is definitely one of my favorite cards in the game (partially because a lot of people undervalue it, although one of those people learned to value it even more than I do in draft), but I don’t value it higher in Dark Draft because Dark Draft is a lot more tempo based than constructed. While drawing 2 and forcing an opponent to use Wither is strong, if they are still at 6 cards in hand and running me over on the board with their gold, that value I just got probably won’t save me.
Overall, I like the card, but I’d rather have a more impactful card in Dark Draft most of the time.
Also, Final Tasking this on your turn to deal 4 damage and draw 3 isn’t bad either. (Tribute, combat damage, on-break effect)
This is another get further ahead card. This will usually draw 2 cards, 1 when played, 1 when broken. If it manages to hit face, it does draw an extra card so it must be removed (most things can remove it though). I like to play this card when I am 1 or more champions ahead of my opponent because even if they use a board clear I don’t get much further behind. It is also one more thing that they need to deal with, which can be tough if the other things are directly winning me the game.
Sage Tyrants Cards
Arcane Research Rating
I don’t like this card in Dark Draft.
It’s never bad because you can always just play it and banish no other cards to replace it, but you do give a bit of information away for nothing in that case. You also potentially missed out on drafting something better.
In addition, I rarely find myself in a situation where I am searching for exactly 1 card, so banishing multiple cards just hurts my own ability to recycle, while also showing more cards to my opponent.
The only time I would actively want this card in Dark Draft is if I had Flame Strike/other high value burn, Drain Essence, or linchpin cards like Revolt. Devastating your discard pile to win the game has no downside, but devastating your discard pile for a defensive answer or a marginally better champion can do more harm than good sometimes.
I’ve been convinced to increase Arcane Research’s tier from Situationally Acceptable to Always Acceptable-. Since, if you only have lower tier cards to draft from it can always at least replace itself into a different card you drafted. It also doesn’t count against the number of 0-cost cards you can include (since there is no limit in draft). I’m throwing the minus onto it because I don’t like revealing cards when I don’t have to.
When you play Arcane Research you need to show your opponent the top x cards from the top of your deck where x = the number of cards banished from your discard pile + 1. Then they get to see which of those cards you take. Frequently, when Arcane Research is played without banishing any other cards in your discard pile, you are signalling to your opponent that you do not have any great plays you want to make at that time in hand. Then, you show your opponent the new card you gained. Unless you immediately play it, they are now able to play around that card to prevent you from getting the most value out of it.
This could also potentially reveal one of your 10 first picks that your opponent had not seen in the draft. Giving your opponent this information is a very subtle disadvantage, but it is an important one. This is also why I don’t really like banishing multiple cards with Arcane Research in draft. Information is powerful, especially early in a match.
With regard to thinning your deck (effectively having 29 cards instead of 30 because Arcane Research draws itself into a new card), I’ve made a similar argument with regard to Surprise Attack in constructed. However, I don’t think it applies as much in draft generally and with Arcane Research specifically. Partially because of the information given to your opponent.
On the extreme end, why I doubt I’ll ever push Arcane Research near the Always Desirable or better tier is the fact that I would almost never draft Arcane Research over Amnesia, Kong, Drain Essence, Rescue Griffin, Palace Guard, etc. I would much rather add one of the strongest cards in the game to my deck than a card that draws me to the other 29 cards a little bit faster. In general, one high-impact card is more likely to win me a game than drawing into my median drafted card. (This is why I boosted it to Always Acceptable- though since I assume my median card will at least be at the Always Acceptable- level, and taking Arcane Research would probably be better than taking anything below that tier.)
Overall, the information lost playing Arcane Research except to win the game is not worth it for me, in draft. If I can Arcane Research 10 cards to draw my Flame Strike 7 cards deep to win the game, incredible. Besides that, I’d personally rather just have another Always Acceptable draw 2 or better card.
This is one of my card ratings that I think is most at odds with most other people, but I am always happy to be proved wrong.
This is an interesting, highly situational card that I am going to spend a lot of time explaining.
Effectively, you can search for 1 card in the top x cards of your deck, where x is 1 + the number of cards in your discard pile. So, say you have 5 cards in your discard pile, if you choose to banish them all, you would reveal the top 6 cards and put 1 into your hand. In addition, since this is a 0-cost card, you can potentially play any card you get.
This card is incredible because it can do a lot of highly valuable things:
- This card lets you dig for that final card you need to win: Flame Strike, Deadly Raid, etc.
- Similarly, this card lets you dig for that final combo piece: Insurgency, Priest of Kalnor, etc.
- This card lets you dig for a desperate answer: Wave of Transformation, Hasty Retreat, etc.
- If low on cards in your deck, this card can potentially return a card from your discard pile to hand. For example, say you have 3 cards in your deck, and you banish this + 8 cards in your discard pile. Those cards get shuffled and go to the bottom of your deck, which is now 12 cards. Then you draw 9 of those 12 cards, 6 of which could either be the specific card you wanted to return or the Arcane Research you just played.
- This card can banish cards with “when this card leaves your discard pile” effects: Ancient Chant and Wolf Champion
This card is terrible because it does highly negative things:
- This card requires banishing of cards in your discard pile. This is bad because your discard pile is important for plentiful reasons.
- This card can reveal a very significant number of your cards to your opponent. So, if played in the first game of a match, your opponent could learn a decent chunk of your deck early.
- This card, by itself, does less than nothing. You play this, it gets banished, and you reveal the card that replaces it.
With all of this in mind, this card is significantly better in constructed Epic than drafting Epic. Drafting Epic generally relies a lot more on solid high-efficiency plays than accomplishing one specific thing. Due to this, the value of the cards in your discard pile could easily be higher than the value of playing this card. In addition, drawing out for a win is a very real possibility in draft. So, if you draft a more balanced deck that doesn’t try to win through a specific combination of cards, this card isn’t generically amazing.
However, specific cards like Flame Strike, Lightning Storm, Deadly Raid, Insurgency, etc. are so powerful that they can be worth the downside. This card is primarily a finisher in this regard. You only play it when it could win you the game. While it can be used defensively, if you are playing a defensive deck in draft you generally want to maintain the possibility of drawing out for the win.
In constructed, competitive constructed in particular, the downsides are significantly lessened and the upsides are significantly enhanced. You can build your deck as combo deck which makes this excellent. You can build in such a way that your discard pile is less important. In addition, your opponent will frequently already have a decent idea what your deck is running, particularly if it is a popular deck list available online (here or at White Wizard Games’ Deck Foundry for instance).
So, skipping it is usually fine, but it can definitely enable wins in specific circumstances. It is also possible I am being too harsh on it.
Elara, the Lycomancer Rating
Situationally Desirable +
Another card that I think is undervalued. It’s Sage so I’ll usually be able to hit the loyalty. Transform is an incredibly powerful effect. Free chump blocking wolf isn’t irrelevant. 5 defense puts it out of range of all 0-cost removal cards except Lightning Strike, so it is much more likely to get a second activation or at least force a gold to be spent on it.
6/5 blitzer that brings a wolf with her can also serve as an on-turn gold-punisher if really needed.
Rating: 5 (Sage investment required) 3 (without Sage Investment), First Pick, Counter Pick
I was initially a bit hesitant about this card since it does leave a wolf behind for your opponent when you use it. Now that I have played with it, I know that it is incredible. I would argue that this is one of the, if not the best, board controlling champions in the game. Not only can you give it blitz, but it transforms which can remove all non-untargetable champions. It also has 5 defense, and it gives you a wolf when it comes into play. This is an insanely powerful card.
Without a Sage investment I would still consider this a 3 since it is harder to get rid of and at least gives you a wolf.
Love this card.
0-cost card that shuts down most attacks completely while recycling. Also, unlike Watchful Gargoyle, it can’t be countered by an opponent’s 0-cost card (although champions can be buffed over the -10 offense). Fumble is the card that makes me feel safe.
It is also Sage and can draw 2 if needed.
Rating: 3+, 3
Initially, I didn’t think much about this card, since the -10 offense does nothing permanent. However, playing with this card felt very powerful. -10 offense is enough to shut down most attackers for the turn, particularly Juggernaut, and it recycles. So, for a 0-cost card, I can neutralize a 1-cost card for a turn and not lose a card in hand, pretty strong. This then lets me use slow removal like Kong etc. to deal with that troublesome champion on my turn.
In the game that I felt amazing having this card, I do not remember what I originally used it on, but I had a Memory Spirit in hand. I felt so comfortable knowing that this was in my discard pile and I could grab it at any time to stop an attack and recycle.
In other words, I think this card is undervalued.
Helion, the Dominator Rating
Frequently Desirable +
8/8 ambush means it can’t be bad. It is also Sage with a loyalty 2 ability, interesting. Steal a champion for a turn and give it blitz, yeah, I like that. So many great applications for it.
One of the best case scenarios: opponent attacks with a champion (Infernal Gatekeeper for instance). You play this to steal another one of their champions (White Knight). Assuming they don’t remove their White Knight you now control, you declare it as a blocker. Before both champions break each other, you rub it in by expending White Knight to break one of their demon tokens. Pretty valuable use of a gold; break 2 champions (and a demon token) and put an 8/8 into play, off-turn.
This can also steal an ambushed in champion before it can be declared as a blocker. Once you finish your initial attack, you can then attack with your opponent’s champion.
If needed, it can also just steal an attacking champion for the turn, completely negating the attack.
Fortunately, this does not prepare a stolen champion.
Before I forget, Helion even has the ability to expend to deal 2 damage to up to 2 targets. It can push some damage to face while breaking Muse at the same time. You can even ambush Helion in and then target him with his own loyalty 2 ability to give him blitz for the turn (this can also make him an 8/8 on-turn gold-punisher instead of an off-turn gold-punisher). Great card.
When playing against a deck with Helion, it is important to attack with your most evasive champions first. If you have an unblockable champion, airborne champion, and a neither unblockable, nor airborne champion, attack with them in that order. By doing this, you prevent the possibility of your opponent stealing one of your champions and using it to block another one of your champions.
Rating: 4 (with Sage investment) 3 without Sage investment
An 8/8 ambush champion is solid. A decent sized body with ambush is particularly strong because it can be used after an opponent’s board clear. Without a Sage investment, it is still a 3 for these reasons.
The loyalty 2 ability also has a lot of excellent applications. On your opponent’s turn, you can steal one of their champions for a turn and use it. It is strong whether you use the stolen champion for its expend ability (use Elara, the Lycomancer on herself to banish it and give yourself the wolf), use it to steal an attacker to stop an attack, use it to steal a champion to block your opponent’s attack, or use it to steal a champion for a combination of any of the above.
You can also use it on your turn to steal a potential blocker and attack with it. This is especially devastating if they spend their gold to ambush one in on your turn.
Finally, you can always have Helion target himself to be able to immediately attack or use its expend ability to deal 2 damage to 2 targets. Overall, this is a very solid card.
Helion’s Fury Rating
Always Acceptable –
I’ve never really been impressed by Helion’s Fury. It is only on-turn removal which isn’t great. In addition, it isn’t terribly common to want to bounce 2 champions on your turn instead of 1. At least it can remove a token when played. Drawing a card is nice though. It could also potentially be involved in an interesting combat situation, saving one of your attackers/blockers in a group attack/block while removing one of theirs in a group attack/block.
Essentially though, it is a Sage draw 2.
Rating: 3+, 2
I have had the opportunity to draft Helion’s Fury on multiple occasions, and I almost never have. While bouncing 2 champions and drawing a card can be strong, the fact that it can only be used on your turn is really, really limiting. I love bounce on Sea Titan because it leaves me an 11/14 untargetable champion as well. Erase, Hasty Retreat, Temporal Enforcer, and Temporal Shift are all strong because they can be used on your opponent’s turn. Vanishing is a 0-cost card, which is strong. In general, I don’t like this because I feel I wouldn’t really be able to use it on 2 champions frequently, I don’t want to just bounce on my turn, and 1 card is significantly less than 2 (Erase).
Knight of Shadows Rating
I like tribute -> draw a card, forcing my opponent to discard in limited formats is also usually great. 9 offense + unblockable is a strong combination as well. At 4 defense though, it gets removed by a decent amount of cards including Hands from Below and Spike Trap.
While I will frequently take this card happily, I do prefer my slow champions to have either an even more devastating effect or more defense.
9/4 unblockable is strong. The tribute draw and opponent discard is strong. Put those 2 together and you have an amazing card. As a 9/4 unblockable champion, your opponent must use a card to remove this, otherwise it will quickly win you the game. So, when they use removal, you will have lost a net 0 cards to their net 2 cards, generally. Although, if both players have a full hand of cards, then this card is significantly weaker, since it doesn’t actually affect the board. I don’t frequently say this, but you gotta love that art too.
Lesson Learned Rating
This card is as strong as your best event. If I’ve drafted Ancient Chant (to draw 4), Drain Essence, Flame Strike, and/or Erase, I would be happy to draft this. If I haven’t, or it is early in the draft, I don’t want to take this with the hope that I will. Admittedly, the odds of not getting at least a few worthwhile 1-cost events is fairly low though.
At the very least, Sage draw 2.
Click here for an explanation of why Lesson Learned -> Ancient Chant draws 4 cards/how cards technically resolve in Epic.
Rating: 3+, 3
This card is just a second versatile copy of your events. If you have strong events, this is better. This is especially powerful if you have events that are specifically high-value for your deck. For example, if you are going for a token rush strategy, this can be a second Secret Legion or Insurgency. A second Flame Strike is also quite strong.
Mist Guide Herald Rating
Situationally Acceptable ++
This card will usually be acceptable, but in a deck with fewer champions, or only a few strong establishing champions, I wouldn’t want this. If you hit a strong establishing champion when you play this, and you used Mist Guide Herald as an establishing champion, it is better than just playing that establishing champion.
In most other situations, it is worse than just playing a champion you legitimately want to play in that situation. I play this as an establishing champion but I only turn up gold-punishers, gaining a 3/2 airborne body is not enough to offset the poor timing of the gold-punishers. Or, I am trying to dig to one specific champion, and I don’t get it, playing/drafting something else would probably have been better. Worst case scenario is you play this and reveal no champions. On-turn gold for a 3/2 airborne champion tribute -> show my opponent 5 cards in my deck, terrible.
I’d much rather have a more reliable card in most situations, but I’ll take it if there aren’t any better cards in the pack.
Mist Guide Herald does combo great with Final Task/Necromancer Lord/Resurrection and Dark Offering though. (I especially love it with Dark Offering.)
I still don’t know how I really feel about Mist Guide Herald in draft yet. It is essentially a 3/2 airborne champion that lets you draw then play the best situational champion in the top 5 cards of your deck. That seems like pretty solid stuff, especially when you are even with or ahead of your opponent on the board. When you are behind, it is hope that you get what you need, but if you don’t have what you need in your deck, you can’t get it.
This card is much stronger if you have other strong champions in your deck. It does provide pretty solid value if you can bounce and replay it too. There is a solid chance I will revisit this card later.
Shadow Imp Rating
Strong in a deck with a lot of 1-cost Sage cards. Works great as a free 2 damage unblockable attacker each turn. At 3 defense it survives multiple 0-cost removal cards like Wolf’s Bite and Flash Fire. In addition, it gets to hide in your hand at the end of your turn (assuming you play a 1-cost Sage card); this lets it dodge opponent’s on-turn board clears.
It also works as a free chump blocker. Your opponent attacks, you play this, assuming it isn’t removed, you block with it, then assuming it isn’t removed again, you play a 1-cost Sage card to return it to hand unscathed. The blocked champion remains blocked.
One bad thing about this card is that it can force you to use your gold before your opponent, especially when used to block. While you can block a champion that started the turn in play, if you use Shadow Imp’s free block trick, you open yourself up to an on-turn gold-punisher. At least you can always just replay and chump with Shadow Imp if needed.
Rating: 4 (with heavy Sage investment) 2 (without Sage investment)
This card can be really powerful. A 0-cost 2/3 ambush, blitz, unblockable champion is a very real threat. If you don’t remove it, it will eventually kill you. Where this card really shines though is its ally ability. With the ally ability, you can attack, and then after damage immediately play a 1-cost Sage card to return it to hand. You can either keep it in hand to protect it and use it next turn, or you can replay it for another 2 damage that same turn. In addition, you can use it on your opponent’s turn to ambush it in, chump block, and then before damage return it to hand by playing a 1-cost Sage card. In a heavy Sage Investment deck, I really like this card.
Without a Sage Investment it can still do 2 unblockable damage a turn until removed. It is also still a nice target for Mighty Blow type effects.
Temporal Enforcer Rating
I haven’t been as impressed by this card as I was expecting, but I did have very high expectations. Bounce is especially strong in limited formats, the ally ability can both remove opponent’s tokens and protect your 0-cost champions, ambush is always great, and 6 unblockable offense is no joke.
However, the 4 defense is still not great. That being said, this card has performed pretty well for me on multiple occasions, particularly against demon decks. I think my primary reservation about this card is the fact that it is a 1-cost bounce card that doesn’t have a strong defensive effect with it, unlike Sea Titan and Erase. It is more of an aggressive tempo card, but 4 defense on an aggressive, 1-cost, tempo card worries me.
Rating: 5 (with Sage Investment) 2.5 (without Sage Investment)
I love evasive ambush champions, and unblockable is the best kind of evasion. Then, when you add the loyalty bounce on that evasive body, it becomes an incredibly valuable play on your opponent’s turn. Finally, the ally ability is excellent primarily for removing your opponent’s tokens, but it can also be used to get more value from your 0-cost champions. This can be done by allowing for a second Dark Knight attack in a turn, or it can just be used to protect your Muse after you draw the card for it at the start of your turn. This is an incredibly strong Sage card.
Without a Sage Investment this is still an ambush unblockable champion with 6 offense so it can potentially be strong. It isn’t terribly hard to remove though.
Temporal Shift Rating
A weaker Erase, usually. As fast bounce removal that maintains both players’ handsize, this can be a nice tempo play, and can theoretically be stronger than Erase in discard-based control decks. However, draw 2 is usually better than forcing your opponent to choose 1 card from their hand to banish.
An alternate use of this card is to target an opponent’s token. Not only do you remove the token from play, but your opponent still has to banish a card from their hand. While this is a nice trick and a reasonable card, I would still rather have Erase.
Fast, targeted bounce is excellent. In addition, it draws you a card and forces your opponent to banish a card from their hand. (They do not show you which card they banish.) If they have no other cards in hand, this essentially reads banish target champion, draw a card. Otherwise, they can always banish a different card and replay the card you bounced at a later time. I have been convinced to remain somewhat skeptical about this card, but I still believe it to be solid overall.
This can be brutal.
Use this to return an ambushed in Lurking Giant to hand, remove an ambushed in token chump blocker, return a slow champion like Thundarus to hand, or even return your own Rampaging Wurm (that started the turn in play) for a second attack. All of these uses are excellent.
Even when used to return an opponent’s champion to hand (net -1 card in hand for you and +1 card in hand for your opponent), the board advantage this can give you is huge. It’s also Sage and can draw 2.
This 0-cost card lets you bounce a 1-cost (or 0-cost) champion at fast speed, but only on your turn. This card is excellent. Wasting an opponent’s 1-cost champion with a 0-cost card is incredible. This can also send an ambushed in champion straight back to your opponent’s hand before it can be declared as a blocker. In addition, you can always return one of your own champions to hand and potentially replay it the same turn.
I really like this card, and I’ve used it effectively. But, I haven’t been drafting it recently, as I’ve valued other cards more. As a side note, I also haven’t included it much in my constructed lists yet. I still think it is incredible, but we will see how I feel about it later.
Sage Uprising Cards
Citadel Raven Rating
I’m not a huge fan of 1-cost champions with 3 or less defense in Dark Draft, but it does bring back your most useful event in your discard pile guaranteed the turn you play it. If it can make a second attack, it provided reasonable value, even if it breaks in the second attack.
I am more interested in this if I have high value 0-cost cards like Fumble, Lightning Strike, or Wolf’s Bite. Haven’t had much chance to draft with it yet, but it is a card I want to experiment with more.
Citadel Scholar Rating
Always Acceptable +
A 0-cost tribute recycle champion is fine, but a 0-cost recycle champion that can grow to become a real threat that must be removed by spending a gold is solid.
By playing it, you get minimally farther behind (losing 2 cards in your discard pile for a 1/2), but you establish a threat without spending your gold or losing a card in hand. This can be even stronger in Dark Draft because you spend more time drawing 2 than in constructed. Even just playing this followed immediately by a draw 2 on your turn, when your opponent’s gold is down, is solid because it immediately puts it out of range of 3 damage effects.
Erratic Research Rating
Always First Pick
Mass discard pile banish is critical.
Draw 2 is also an effect you are going to need to use throughout a Dark Draft, so you lose almost nothing drafting and playing it.
Fairy Trickster Rating
Airborne, Ambush, Blitz is an interesting combination of abilities. Having both ambush and blitz makes this a reasonable play on your turn or your opponent’s turn after your opponent’s gold is down. Airborne gives it the evasion to make it hard to chump block. These abilities by themselves make this a fine card.
The expend ability is weird. Frequently, it will do nothing when you ambush this in on your opponent’s turn, use it, and turn up a 1-cost card. However, with the growing popularity of greater than 50% 0-cost cards in Dark Draft decks, it becomes more likely that you will hit a 0-cost card. Also, since this lets you play non-ambush 0-cost champions off turn, you can potentially hit Citadel Scholars, Little Devils, etc. If you do, that is very strong. Even hitting a generic recycle card like Blind Faith or Second Wind can be strong, turning this into a 5/5, airborne, ambush, tribute -> recycle.
Also, if you use it on your own deck (you do give your opponent some information), but if you don’t turn up a 0-cost card, since you banish it if you don’t play it, you move yourself closer to drawing a 0-cost card.
Generally I wouldn’t want to use this ability on my turn regardless of whether Fairy Trickster started my turn in play. Not only do you give up a chance to deal 5 damage in the air/draw out your opponent’s gold on your turn, but you also aren’t guaranteed to turn up a card you want to play.
If you have nothing better to do (your opponent has a bigger airborne champion already in play for example), you can use this ability on your turn to essentially draw a card, if you play the revealed card. But, I still don’t want to take that risk.
Force Field Rating
Always Acceptable –
Draw 2? Sure it’s at least always acceptable.
The other 2 options though…not a fan. Using this card costs you a gold and a card (although you might draw 1), and it doesn’t put you further ahead nor your opponent further behind. It can save your life vs a surprise Insurgency token attack and it completely negates tokens + Justice Prevails, but it can only work if they initiate the assault while your gold is up. There are already so many reasons not to initiate an assault when you opponent’s gold is up, so having this isn’t much more of an incentive not to.
If you have a lot of on-turn board clears, I could see this card having some value, but I personally don’t see me drafting it (or including it in constructed) unless I need more draw 2s.
Frantic Digging Rating
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.
Board clears are great, off-turn board clears are better, draw 2 is great as a secondary option.
Returning champions to hand in dark draft is great because it is unlikely that your opponent will have as powerful of Tribute/Loyalty triggers as they currently do in constructed. If they have a lot of 0-cost champions though, this becomes much worse as they can just replay them. Conversely, if you have a lot of 0-cost champions (especially ones with blitz, Little Devil anyone?), this becomes a lot better. It can essentially let you play all of your 0-cost blitz champions and attack. Return them all to hand while also returning your opponent’s champions to hand and drawing you a card, and then play them and attack with them all again. Good stuff.
If you are playing against an opponent who prioritizes a lot of 0-cost champions, this could be worth counter-picking too, even if you only plan on using it to draw two cards.
Reusable Knowledge Rating
Always Acceptable +
Draw 2 effects in dark draft are mandatory. A draw 2 effect that lets you take back a specific card from your discard pile seems quite handy. However, if this is your only draw 2 in hand when you have no discard pile, you might be very sad.
Siren’s Song Rating
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
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
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)
- removes Muse
Sage Pantheon Cards
[temporary pantheon article links]
(Mystic Researcher, Gareth’s Will, Alchemist Assassin, Master Forcemage, Gareth’s Juggernaut, Fairy Entrancer, Scrap Golem, Ethereal Dragon, Erwin, Architect of War, Teleport, Steel Titan, Force Lance)
Wild Core Cards
Bellowing Minotaur Rating
This is one of the worst cards in the game. It is a 9/7 blitz breakthrough with recall: I have seen the +2/+2 be relevant for other Wild champions only once. As a card that can potentially do 9 damage multiple times in a game, it has value, but it is just too weak and slow. 9 damage is okay, but it is bad to play when your opponent has their gold available and/or any 10+ defense champions in play. It also drops to 5 health after the first turn making it easy to remove.
I have drafted this over other cards before, and I probably will again (it’s better than having no on-turn gold-punishers). But, I think I’ve won only one of those matches.
Bellowing Minotaur is a combination of a lot of strong abilities, but I still feel like the combination of them all in this card is weak. Yes it has blitz and breakthrough. Yes it also gives Wild champions +2 offense and +2 defense the turn when it comes into play. Yes you can recall it.
But, most of the time it’s just a 9/7 blitz, breakthough on the turn it’s played, and if it manages to survive, which is unlikely, it’s juts a 7/5 breakthrough. I just don’t feel like a 9/7 blitz, breakthrough is worth spending a gold on, on my turn. Nor do I think it is worth spending a gold to get it back into my hand. In addition, the +2/+2 buff for Wild champions isn’t worth much because I don’t value token strategies. Tokens aside, it is also hard (and risky) to build up a big board of champions in general. If it had ambush (Jungle Queen), the +2/+2 buff would be a lot more interesting. (This does really intrigue me though. Throw in the Wolf Companions, could be interesting.)
This card could potentially work with a Wave of Transformation and token based strategy, but the odds of putting that together in a draft are not great.
Burrowing Wurm Rating
This card is unlikely to ever do anything in a draft. If you play this when your opponent has their gold available, they get a window to spend a gold to remove it on your turn, on their turn, and on your next turn when you attack with it. In high level play, it is highly unlikely to survive that long.
With Surprise Attack/Jungle Queen and/or Royal Escort it can become a real threat, but none of those cards are great in their own right either. I’d rather just draft more generically useful cards.
18/18 breakthrough is huge, but it is still removed by all non-damage based removal. Your opponent also has 3 windows to remove this card (or try to draw removal) before it can do anything: On the turn you play it, on their turn, and when you try to attack with it on your next turn. At least it can’t be chump blocked.
If you can starve your opponent of break/banish/board clear effects this can be a monster. Or, if you can run a control strategy that restricts their hand size, this could be strong. In general, it doesn’t do anything the turn it comes into play, so I don’t like it in draft.
Cave Troll Rating
I generally don’t have the Wild to support this card so I haven’t drafted it much, but I love it in theory. A recurrable chump attacker/blocker is pretty nice, and it has reasonable offense.
Rating: 3 with partial Wild investment (4+ with heavy Wild investment, 1 with no Wild investment), Counter Pick
This is one of my favorite cards of the set. A 5/3 for 0-cost isn’t great, but being able to block or attack with it every turn is excellent. A slow reusable 0-cost 5/3 blocker that doesn’t cost a health is respectable (unlike Plentiful Dead). It is also worthwhile to attack with since it will come back anyways if broken, and 5 damage to the face can’t be ignored. In addition, it can draw out a blocker before you attack with something more important.
If you can’t recall this though, spending a card on a 5/3 with nothing else will just get you behind.
Overall, an incredibly solid card. I would possibly counter pick it if my opponent had a heavy Wild investment. If either player gets it, discard removal is important to control.
Fast targeted removal that leaves nothing behind for my opponent, yes please. This card is criminally underrated in draft. Drain Essence is much better, but Drain Essence is one of the best cards in the game so that isn’t saying much. The +2/+2 to dinosaurs is usually meaningless, but my blocker and I were on the wrong end of a Triceratops once when this was played. That hurt.
Fast 12 damage removal with no draw back is quite strong. I have yet to see the +2 offense +2 defense for dinosaurs do anything, but could be nice with Triceratops etc.
Fire Shaman Rating
0-cost slow 3 damage that requires a Wild 1-cost card to activate is not great. However, it is repeatable if the fragile 3/2 body lives through the start of your opponent’s next turn, unlikely. If you drafted a lot of Wild direct damage this gets better, but it is weak otherwise.
Rating: 3 with at least partial Wild Investment (1 with no Wild Investment)
Fire Shaman will usually only get 1 ally ability off before it is removed. So as long as you can trigger it once, it is generally at its peak performance. It can help you finish off champions, deal damage to the face, or pick off targets like Muse.
With no Wild Investment, a 3/2 won’t do much.
Fireball is fairly average card. It can hit a decent number of high priority targets: Muse, off-turn Juggernaut/Dark Knight, Shadow Imp, etc. It can also clear tokens if desperate. Its best use is picking off an ambushed in chump blocker before it can get in front of your big, non-airborne, non-breakthrough attacking champion. It can also finish off someone.
0-cost fast removal that can hit Muse, etc. for an even trade is nice. The 1-cost ability is also nice especially since it can be used on your opponent’s turn. If your opponent has a lot of 3 or less defense champions, this card becomes stronger. Great against non-demon tokens, and if you are going non-demon tokens you should counter pick this.
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 –
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.
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.
Off-turn board clears with no benefit to your opponent are great. The fact that this can be a one-sided board clear if you (or your opponent) has 10+ defense champions is great. At the very least, you can always draw 2 with it too.
Rating: 3+, 5 First Pick, Counter Pick
Probably my favorite board clear in the game (and it’s fast). I generally value 10+ defense champions highly so I can frequently clear my opponent’s board without clearing my own. If they get most of the 10+ defense champions this is definitely counter pick material.
Jungle Queen Rating
Tribute -> Draw a card means this can’t be lower than always acceptable. The fact that it gives the ability to play your Wild champions as if they had ambush also makes it a lightning rod for removal. “You better remove my Jungle Queen or I might ambush in Kong.”
In addition, the +1/+1 to other wild champions is very easy to overlook and underestimate. In a lot of situations it won’t do anything, but it makes your wolves survive Flash Fire, and it can make blocks a bit more annoying for your opponent.
Tribute -> Draw a card is excellent, since you don’t lose a card by playing this. A 5/7 slow champion is not great though, and the +1/+1 to Wild champions is minor (except in token vs token battles). Being able to play your Wild champions as if they had ambush is crazy though (Kong, Burrowing Wurm, and Raging T-Rex). If you can make any of those slow, massive, high tempo cards fast, you will probably be in good shape.
Tyrants Updated Rating: 4
This card is frequently picked when I see it. The Tribute -> draw a card is excellent, and giving Wild champions ambush is enough of a threat to draw out removal.
Always First Pickable +
One of the best cards in dark draft hands down. A 13/14 body is huge, and it removes most champions in the game. Incredible reestablishing card.
Rating: 5 First Pick
Possibly the strongest card in the base set for how I play the game. A 13/14 body that breaks all but 6 champions (Thundarus, Crystal Golem, etc.) when it comes into play is incredible. Removal + a massive threat is basically perfect for tempo.
While I haven’t been playing with or against Lash as much recently, it has done a lot of work for and against me since the game released. Giving breakthrough and an extra 4 damage can be incredibly nasty after you chump block their previously non-breakthrough Kong or Rampaging Wurm.
Lash has also killed a decent number of Necromancer Lords and Thought Pluckers. Recall can be desirable in dark draft as well for those situations where you were just going to draw 2 anyway.
Rating: 5 First Pick, Counter Pick
One of the 3 best 0-cost cards in the game (Muse and Amnesia being the other 2). 0-cost card that can remove High King and Necromancer Lord. 0-cost to give +4 offense and breakthrough is amazing, especially with big bodies like Kong. In addition, you could use Lash, then immediately recall it and use it again that turn. This is also one of the best recall cards in the base set. This card is incredibly powerful.
Lightning Storm Rating
Always First Pickable +++
Best card in dark draft aside from the mass discard pile banish cards.
I’ve won multiple games playing this at the end of my opponent’s turn, recalling it immediately on my turn, and playing it again to kill my opponent when they attack on their next turn. 12 damage over 3 gold before your opponent can get another attack through is strong.
In addition, it can also be used to pick off a decent amount of champions because of its 6 damage. The ability to divide that damage can also be great for removing multiple small champions. Even just using it and recalling it as a 6 damage removal spell has significant value.
Rating: 5 First Pick, Counter Pick
This was the second card that absolutely destroyed me in the top 4 of Gen Con 2015. (Psionic Assault was the first.) The existence of this card makes all 6 defense or less champions weaker. When drafting, you need to be careful not to overload on 6 defense champions or lower because this one card can shut you down. You play a 6 defense champion, they use this. You play a second 6 defense champion, they recall and use this next turn. This loop effectively locks you out from playing 6 defense champions entirely, since you can’t get ahead in cards with them.
In addition, this card can put you on a short clock if you are already behind. 6 damage to face, recall, 6 damage to face, etc. This card is ridiculously versatile and powerful, draft it. (It also largely stops Courageous Soul + Secret Legion.)
This is another one of the cards that makes discard removal so important.
Lurking Giant Rating
Usually Desirable +
Great off-turn gold-punisher. Your opponent spends their gold on their turn to board clear? You drop this and start your next turn by attacking with an 11/11 champion, solid.
If your opponent has already spent their gold for the turn, you can even play this to block a champion that was just declared as an attacker. White Knight with loyalty and attack? Okay, Lurking Giant, block, break the Knight, and start my turn with an 11/11, good deal.
A fast 11/11 body is quite strong. You can usually ambush this in after an attack is declared to remove a champion. Then you have an 11/11 ready to attack on your next turn. The only reason I hesitate to give this a 4 is fast removal, when your opponent attacks before spending their gold. In that case, you might miss an important block and be put into a really bad position (Turn).
Mighty Blow Rating
I’ve liked this card in theory with tokens for a long time. Attack with a token, they choose not to block the 1 to 4 damage. Play this after blockers making it unbreakable and dealing 10 damage.
In practice, I usually just use it to draw 2. It can be nasty with breakthrough champions, but I just haven’t had many times I wanted to play it for its ability.
As mentioned by others elsewhere: Final Task -> Brachiosaurus then play this on Brachiosaurus with the extra Wild gold for an 18/12 unbreakable, breakthrough, blitz champion that won’t break to Final Task‘s end of turn trigger.
Rating: 3+, 4
This card is an excellent way to get that extra 10 damage in, but it can be neutralized. You generally want to play this on an unblocked champion you control, but only after blockers have been assigned. Attack with a little 1/1 human token, they don’t block, drop this and you have an 11/1 unbreakable, unblockable champion. The only answers at that point are fast banishment or bounce. This is one of the strongest cards in a token based strategy, in my opinion.
This can also be used for removal if needed, just use it on your blocker.
Pack Alpha Rating
This card has consistently performed reasonably for me, which is better than I expected. A 5/6 that immediately puts 2 3/3 wolf tokens into play (11/12 stats spread over 3 bodies) is not bad. The fact that Pack Alpha will keep producing wolves until removed is also a real threat. Finally, at 6 health it essentially requires a gold to remove it.
I like this card and draft it, but there are a lot of better ones.
This card is frequently just, put 2 wolf tokens into play, and force a removal card from your opponent. It is important to remove this champion because it can put a lot of 3/3 wolves into play. However, it isn’t hard to remove, and I don’t just want 2 wolves for my gold on my turn. In addition, I don’t see tokens as incredibly viable for attacking.
Ambush 5/7 is reasonable. Attaching a Tribute -> deal 4 damage is quite nice because 4 is a nice damage break point for removing certain champions. Pushing 4 damage to the face can also be a nice addition.
The (1 gold): deal 4 damage to a target is incredibly poor gold value by itself, but if your opponent is at 4 or less health, it is all you need. It can effectively function as a 2-gold, 1-card Flame Strike for winning games in many situations.
This card is very similar to Hunting Raptors, except it has 2 extra defense, the 4 damage doesn’t require a Wild investment, you need to spend your gold to do more damage on future turns, and you can attack with it. I generally like Pyromancer better. I prefer cards that don’t require faction investments, and if I am going to damage face with the ability, I generally want to be fairly assured it will win me the game anyways. In that case, it doesn’t make that much difference that I need to spend my gold to use the ability.
With the possibility of only 1 Blind Faith max in a draft, the ability to grant breakthrough with a 0-cost event can be quite strong. Any chump blocked champion can turn into a a decent amount of damage to the face. In addition, the +4 defense is a nice combat trick that can let your attacking/blocking champion survive combat while the +4 offense lets it break your opponent’s champion. Both of these application are a great use of a card.
Rating: 3+, 3+
+4/+4 and breakthrough for 0-cost is respectable. The +4/+4 can win you an attack or block while protecting your champion, and the breakthrough gets around chump blockers. In addition, since there is no “responding” in Epic. You will get the defense no matter what, and your champion can’t be broken by a Flamestrike before this “resolves” (since it “resolves” immediately).
Raging T-Rex Rating
Situationally Desirable ++
The best card for a Wild deck (not counting mass discard pile banish).
Draw 2 cards is nice, and a 12/10 champion is a very real threat. If you have the Wild to support T-Rex, take it. T-Rex is also enough incentive to start going Wild.
Rating: 5 (Wild investment required) First Pick, Counter Pick
12/10 for a gold isn’t bad, but the draw 2 cards in addition to a 12/10 is incredible. This is one of the best draw 2 + cards in the game (Erase, Ceasefire). It is also the only draw 2 card that leaves a massive threat on the board. Erase is good for tempo and Noble Unicorn can draw a lot of cards, but Raging T-Rex can directly win you the game.
Rain of Fire Rating
Rain of Fire has been impressing me a lot more than I was originally anticipating. There are a significant number of situations where you can have 3 viable targets for this (1 of which being your opponent’s face). This is another card I recommend playing with/against because it can be easy to underestimate.
The fact that this can also draw 2 is a big advantage over Forked Lightning.
Rules clarification: Targets are chosen when an event resolves. Therefore, you do not need 3 legal targets to be able to play this. If there are no champions in play, you can still play this, choose yourself as the first target to take 3, and your opponent for the second target to take 4. Since there is no legal third target, the 5 damage is lost.
However, if there are 3 legal targets, you must choose all of them. For example. If your opponent has The Gudgeon in play and you have Thought Plucker in play, you must target yourself, the The Gudgeon, and your Thought Plucker (you can’t target your opponent because they are untargetable when you choose targets). However, with the official take back rule, you could choose to return this to hand instead of playing it if you can’t target what you wanted to.
Rating: 3+, 3+
You do not need 3 targets to play this event, but if there are 3 available targets, you must assign damage to each of them (you are a potential target). This is similar to Forked Lightning, except it can draw 2 cards instead. It is generally break a token, break/finish off a champion, and do some damage to your opponent’s face.
Rampaging Wurm Rating
14/14 blitz is an incredibly destructive on-turn gold-punisher. Cards like Lash/Rage make it stronger because it means it can’t be effectively chump blocked by 0-cost champions. Raxxa’s Curse, Wolf’s Bite, etc. are great with it because they can break potential 0-cost ambush chump blockers.
In addition, with its permanent 14/14 stats, it remains a hard to remove threat even after the turn it possibly hits for 14. Few things are as satisfying in Epic as playing and attacking with Rampaging Wurm when your opponent’s gold is down. (If you play it while their gold is up, there are a plethora of 1-cost targeted removal answers to it. If they have one, and they frequently will, they can remove your Wurm without giving you basically any advantage from it.)
I generally don’t enjoy playing this card. If it hits face for 14 damage that’s great, but if my opponent has an answer, I don’t get any further ahead in board position. If you can force out your opponent’s gold before playing this, it gets much better.
Sea Hydra Rating
Always Desirable –
I like Tribute -> draw a card. 10 defense is also a great value. The ability to grow is cool, but not amazing and frequently irrelevant (great with Hurricane though).
Recall on this is also powerful, since when you recall it, you get a Tribute -> draw a card champion back. This can be a nice way to come back if you get low on cards in hand.
Tribute -> Draw a card, makes me happy. 10 defense is a solid amount of defense, and it has the possibility to grow bigger. It also has recall just in case you can’t spend your gold for the turn. If this card had ambush (Jungle Queen) instead of recall, it would be crazy. As is, it’s fine.
Strafing Dragon Rating
Situationally Desirable +
6/6 airborne, ambush, blitz is a solid group of abilities on its own: it lets this function as both an on-turn and off-turn gold-punisher. 5 targeted damage with the loyalty trigger is another big boost. 11 damage gold-punish is great, and so is a 6/6 airborne champion that removes a champion when played. I’ve been undervaluing this card.
Rating: 3 (Wild Investment required)
A 6/6 airborne, blitz body is okay. The 5 targetable damage is decent. If you ambush it into play before blockers are declared, it can do 11 damage to one target. Without a Wild Investment it is significantly worse, but with one, it is average.
Surprise Attack Rating
Always Acceptable +
This card generally won’t do worse than at least replacing itself when you would play a champion anyway. “It’s my opponent’s turn and my hand is all ambush champions and this? Might as well use this to put one of those ambush champions in play, draw a new card, and get a card in my discard pile.”
Best case scenario, on the other hand, involves putting an incredibly powerful slow champion into play off turn like Sea Titan/Kong, Angel of Death/Time Walker, Raging T-Rex/Triceratops, Raxxa Demon Tyrant/Den Mother, etc.
Still, it is possible, with a champion light deck, to be in a situation where you have Surprise Attack in a hand full of events and 0-cost champions. In that situation you can’t even effectively cycle it.
While Surprise Attack is always acceptable, I would generally rather have the slot filled with a card that is either more versatile or can perform a specific role better, in Dark Draft (in constructed it is usually the first 3 cards I add when I want to include 0-cost Wild cards).
Surprise Attack has incredible potential (Kong, Angel of Death, Thundarus, etc.). It also draws a card to replace itself, so you don’t lose anything by playing it. If you have really powerful slow champions, this can be great. In addition, if you just want to draw through your deck a bit more and are planning on playing a champion anyway, you can just play this then.
However, if you don’t have a champion in hand, draw 1 card isn’t great. In addition, if you don’t have that many slow champions, you won’t gain much by drafting this. This is especially true if you pass up something better to take this.
In constructed this is generally an automatic 3 of in most decks. In draft, it isn’t guaranteed to be as worthwhile.
Speaks for itself.
Tribute -> draw a card on a 10/10 breakthrough body with no alignment requirement. All of those things are great, regardless of what else is in your deck.
10/10 breakthrough and Tribute -> Draw a card is excellent. This is one of my favorite cards to play on the the first turn of the game.
Tyrants Updated Rating:4.5
This card isn’t quite as strong as the 5s, but it is consistently solid.
Wolf Companion Rating
+2/+2 can be worthwhile in certain situations, but usually isn’t. Spending a gold to get back this weak effect even with a wolf is largely a waste of a gold, but it can save you in a desperate situation. A better way to get the wolf would be to recycle this card though; that way you don’t have to return it to your hand.
I like Wolf Companion. That small +2/+2 can be just enough to save your champion from a trade. The wolf tokens are also appreciated in an emergency. In addition, I like 0-cost events with 1 gold recall abilities since you can play them twice in 1 turn.
Tyrants Updated Rating: 2
I almost never draft it, and it hasn’t done much. Even though I like the idea, it hasn’t proved that it deserves to keep its 3 rating.
Wolf’s Call Rating
Practically Unplayble +
Not a huge fan of this card because it can be easily countered by a Wither, Flash Fire, Blind Faith, etc. However, without those effects it could potentially work as an 8 damage on-turn gold-punisher, meh. 4 wolves off turn is also meh, and the lack of a draw 2 option is disappointing.
There is one situation where I might draft it though, to be cheeky. If earlier in the draft I was forced to pass my opponent Wave of Transformation (to get an Amnesia, etc.), this can be a nasty punish. They Wave of Transformation on my turn while my gold is up, I play this to attack for 8 +2 for each champion I had in play (now wolves). In a wide/token deck, that could add up quickly.
4 wolves + all wolves gain blitz generally doesn’t do that much. With Pack Alpha it’s a bit better, but you will usually just lose some wolves, and then you end up holding onto the rest for chump blockers. I don’t want to spend my gold for just 4 chump blockers, especially since I can’t draw 2 cards instead.
Tyrants Updated Rating: 1
I just wanted to say that it is interesting in theory for a token deck in a heavy Wave of Transformation constructed meta. Still weak in draft though.
Wurm Hatchling Rating
Without Wild, a 0-cost 4/4 breakthrough champion is not a card I want.
With a significant amount of Wild, this can quickly grow into a real threat. Immediately jumping to 6/6 makes it so no 0-cost, damage-based removal can deal with this by itself. In addition, it can attack as an 8/8 breakthough champion on your next turn, assuming you played a second 1 cost Wild card. At 8/8, it only loses in combat to 24 of the 91 1-cost champions. At 10/10, it only loses to 11 champions. That is pretty crazy (even taking into account that a lot of those champions would never be in combat).
So, if you have a lot of 1-cost Wild cards, this can grow into a very real threat. Forcing your opponent to use a 1-cost card to answer a 0-cost card is powerful.
Rating: 3 with partial Wild investment (4 with heavy Wild investment, 1 with no Wild investment)
A 0-cost 4/4 breakthrough wurm that can get bigger can be pretty intimidating, especially if it can get a lot bigger. At just 4/4 breakthrough though, it is weak.
Wild Tyrants Cards
7/7 breakthrough champion is a real threat. Playing this without spending your gold and passing is a very reasonable play because of that.
Being able to spend a gold to draw a card with it also has value when needed, but 0-cost breakthrough 7/7 is usually better.
A 0-cost 7/7 breakthrough is nothing to sneeze at. In addition, if you have nothing better to do with your gold for the turn, a mini Triceratops isn’t a terrible play.
Battle Cry Rating
Always Acceptable –
Since the draw 2 option can only be used off-turn, it is slightly weaker than other draw 2 cards. And, since most games won’t want its primary effect, it is primarily just a less versatile “or draw 2” card.
If you have a bunch of tokens or big untargetable champions, +offense and AoE breakthrough can potentially win games. In addition, +3 defense puts even human tokens out of range of breaking to Wither/Flash Fire, which is appreciated. However, I almost never want to commit a gold to potentially win the game, assuming my opponent has no answer, at the risk of gaining nothing.
The +3/+3 off-turn can make some otherwise chump blocking tokens into real threats though (in addition to the draw 2).
Rating: 3+, 3
I haven’t really decided how I feel about this card yet. It is a finisher for a token deck. It can give your untargetable champions breakthrough. It draws 2 cards off turn and gives the buff. Overall, I just need to play with and against this card more.
The best way to use this is to play it while your opponent’s gold is up and pass. They will either:
allowing you to play an on-turn gold-punisher, removal on their ambush champion (Kong for instance), or draw cards
- pass out of fear of an on-turn gold-punisher/removal
essentially making this an 8/12 breakthrough dinosaur with tribute -> target opponent loses their gold. I’d play that card.
If you spend your gold immediately after playing Brachiosaurus, your opponent will have full gold information. If you played a second champion, they could just board clear you, which would make Brachiosaurus just 2 for 1 yourself. However, this can double trigger Wild ally triggers like Fire Spirit or Fire Shaman, which can be quite powerful.
Rating: 5, 2 with no Wild investment
An 8/12 breakthrough body is very solid, and, if you are going Wild, it is better than free (it let you get 2 Wild Ally triggers in 1 turn). In addition, it is a dinosaur, so it works with Great Horned Lizard and Chomp! If you have no Wild cards, it is a much worse Burrowing Wurm.
Draka, Dragon Tyrant Rating
Situationally Desirable +
9/9 airborne, blitz (with Wild Loyalty) is great. An excellent, hard to block, heavy hitting, on-turn gold-punisher. It also clears out non-demon tokens, in addition to a lot of 0-cost champions like Muse.
Works great with Feeding Frenzy.
Rating: 4- with Wild investment
The best part of this card is the “when this card attacks” effect. 3 damage will frequently break something, and it is excellent for stopping a non-demon token build up. A 9/9 airborne, blitz champion is also pretty threatening. If your opponent has minimal 3 or less defense champions and a lot of fast removal, this drops down to a 2, since it doesn’t do anything of value when it comes into play and can be broken, banished, or bounced with no downside.
Draka’s Enforcer Rating
Frequently Desirable +
One of the best off-turn gold-punishers. 7/7 airborne can even break a lot of airborne champions in combat and survive. Loyalty 2 -> draw a card is always appreciated.
Rating: 4 with Wild investment
7/7 Airborne is a solid body. Ambush is excellent. Loyalty 2 -> Draw a card is amazing. This card could potentially make it to a 4.5. It also works with Thundarus.
Draka’s Fire Rating
Deal 5 damage to all opposing champions and draw a card has been surprisingly powerful more often than I was expecting. It is a great way to clear out tokens (incidental or otherwise), it sweeps up most other 0-cost champions too, and it can finish off damaged champions as well. All without affecting your champions in play. This + Lightning Strike has worked wonders for me.
5 damage to everything has won me games. It can also stop non-Insurgency surprise token assaults.
In general, this card does better than I expect it to. (I did drop it from Usually Desirable to Frequently Desirable on 1/18/17 though. I don’t think I would usually want it, and I probably just didn’t think about it when I created the Frequently Desirable column.)
It breaks all generic tokens and most 0-cost champions in general. It can also draw a card. This is a powerful card to pick if you or your opponent is going tokens.
Feeding Frenzy Rating
I haven’t played this card much in draft, but it has been incredible in my World’s Pyrosaur constructed deck.
Best case scenario with this card is to use it after attacking with Draka, Dragon Tyrant or Pyrosaur as a 0-cost break anything. It can also work nicely with Fire Shaman, Fire Spirit, Flash Fire, Wolf’s Bite, Lightning Storm, Rain of Fire, Smash and Burn, etc. In theory, it can even be strong in a token deck. Attack with a token, they block it, you finish off their champion with this (hasn’t happened for me yet though).
Without any of these specific scenarios, it becomes a lot less reliable and a lot less effective. Using 2 non-recycle cards to break 1 champion isn’t ideal (Fireball into this), nor is getting your 1-cost champion broken in combat in order to finish off the champion that blocked it. Not being able to use the effect on your opponent’s turn keeps this card from being too crazy.
If I have a few of the cards mentioned above, I would prioritize this highly, if not, it’s at least an “or draw 2.”
Rating: 3+, 3+
I am not sure how great this card is in draft yet. (In theory, it is excellent in Constructed.) Without necessarily having cards like Fire Shaman, Fire Spirit, Draka Dragon Tyrant, Flash Fire, etc., it might just finish off something inefficiently. It could be nice for token decks.
Fire Spirit Rating
Tribute -> draw a card is one of my favorite abilities. 9 or less defense is also significantly less important in limited formats than it is in constructed (Max 1 Drain Essence).
In addition, the ally trigger of Fire Spirit is pretty great. It can incidentally take out most 0-cost champions and some 1-cost champions just by being triggered. This + Rain of Fire, Smash and Burn, Feeding Frenzy, Pyrosaur, Draka’s Fire, etc. can let you semi-incidentally take out 1-cost champions too.
This card significantly overperforms my expectations.
An 11/9 with tribute -> draw a card isn’t bad at all. Unfortunately, it needs to survive and you need more Wild cards to activate its loyalty ability. It also does not survive Hurricane without a buff.
Great Horned Lizard Rating
It’s both an on-turn and off-turn gold-punisher, but I am not a huge fan of it in either of those roles.
Reverting to 8 defense after being played makes it susceptible to more removal than I like, and 7 offense isn’t amazing even with breakthrough. 10/11 is a strong off-turn blocker and 10/11 breakthrough, blitz is no slouch on-turn either, but it doesn’t give as much to me as other on-turn gold-punishers.
For example, Rampaging Wurm hits harder and leaves a 14/14 in play. Avenging Angel and Gold Dragon are airborne, gain me some health, and largely need to be removed. Draka, Dragon Tyrant is a 9/9 airborne champion that sweeps away a lot of 0-cost champions every turn it attacks. Djinn of the Sands can draw if I don’t need the airborne 8/8 blitzer. Knight of Elara and White Knight draw me a card. I would happily take any of these over Great Horned Lizard, even though Great Horned Lizard is the only one with breakthrough.
Tribute -> +3/+3 to dinosaurs could be nice, especially with Ankylosaurus and Triceratops, especially since this can be played mid-combat as a combat trick, and it has worked great for multiple people I know. But, the AoE dinosaur buff has never made a difference in any game I have played.
This card intrigues me, mainly for constructed though. When played on your opponent’s turn, it is a weaker Lurking Giant, but with breakthrough. When played on your turn, it can potentially buff an Ankylosaurus or other dinosaur, then attack as a 10/11 breakthrough.
Lightning Strike Rating
Always First Pickable
One of the best 0-cost cards in the game.
5 damage breaks:
All tokens (removing chump blockers), Little Devil, Raxxa’s Enforcer, Winged Death, Corpsemonger, Rift Summoner, Spawning Demon, The Gudgeon, Zealous Necromancer, Angel of Death, Corpse Taker, Dark Assassin, Dark Knight off-turn, Dark Leader, Drinker of Blood off-turn, Guilt Demon, Necromancer Lord, Soul Hunter, Succubus, Thrasher Demon, Vampire Lord off-turn,
Bodyguard, Village Protector unprotected, Brand Rebel Fighter, Noble Martyr, Paros Rebel Leader, Rabble Rouser, Angel of Mercy, Courageous Soul, Faithful Pegasus, High King, Priest of Kalnor, Priestess of Angeline, Standard Bearer, Watchful Gargoyle, White Dragon,
Citadel Raven, Fairy Trickster, Citadel Scholar even with a draw 2, Elara the Lycomaner, Knight of Shadows, Mist Guide Herald, Shadow Imp, Temporal Enforcer, Forcemage Apprentice, Juggernaut off-turn, Keeper of Secrets, Memory Spirit, Muse, Ogre Mercenary, Thought Plucker, Time Bender, Warrior Golem, Winter Fairy, Blue Dragon,
Pyrosaur, Spore Beast, Bellowing Minotaur next turn, Cave Troll, Hunting Raptors, Wurm Hatchling if played without ally trigger, and Fire Shaman
It can also draw 2 instead.
Rating: 3+, 3
5 damage is enough to break a lot of champions.
Smash and Burn Rating
One of my favorite cards.
9 times out of 10, I use this purely to draw 2 cards largely ignoring the +5/+5 buff. Then, a few turns later, I trigger it to break one of a plethora of 6 or less defense champions including Avenging Angel, Strafing Dragon, Thought Plucker, etc. This alone makes this one of the best “draw 2 and” cards in the game. Even if you only have 3 other Wild 1-cost cards in your deck, you’ll still probably get the trigger, or at least force the use of a discard pile banish card after you’ve already resolved the draw 2 effect.
+5/+5 can be nice too. I have used it to buff a champion to win a combat on multiple occasions, but I almost always do it only after my opponent spends their gold. It would be pretty awful to use this to buff a champion just to have your opponent Erase or otherwise remove it before it can do damage.
Rating: 5 with partial Wild investment
I view this as similar to Feint. Most of the time, if my opponent still has their gold for the turn, I wouldn’t want to use this for the +5/+5 buff. I don’t want to leave myself exposed for such a minor effect, usually.
The strength of this card comes from the fact that you can draw 2 cards at the end of your opponent’s turn, and then deal damage to a champion later in the game. If you have no Wild, this drops to a normal draw 2 with a 3 rating.
Wolf’s Bite Rating
Always First Pickable
One of my most included cards in constructed, and it’s pretty great in limited formats too.
This breaks Muse and recycles and gives you a wolf.
There are few cards that can trade with a Muse and put you ahead, for that reason alone, this card is amazing. It can also be used to enable Feeding Frenzy, finish off a damaged champion, create an emergency chump blocker, or even convince an opponent to make a game losing block.
I love this card.
This hits a solid number of cards, and in a decent number of situations basically says break target Muse, gain a wolf, and recycle. This is especially valuable if you know/expect your opponent to have cards like Necromancer Lord.
Wild Uprising Cards
Den Mother Rating
12/12 worth of stats spread out over 4 bodies is pretty nice. It is especially nice that on your next turn you can attack with the wolf tokens first, and if your opponent breaks them, they only buff up your 8/8, 11/11, 14/14, 17/17+ breakthrough champion. You could even use your own Flash Fire to buff the Den Mother, if desired.
Entangling Vines Rating
Always Acceptable +
9/8 ambush is always reasonable. The tribute -> expend can also be great. Your opponent plays a slow champion like Kong, Soul Hunter, or Triceratops? You can play this, expend their champion, and then have an open path to attack your opponent’s face. Then, on future turns you can expend more potential attackers or blockers if you have more 1-cost Wild cards.
I’ve had success with this card.
Fires of Rebellion Rating
Always First Pickable
7 direct damage is the easiest way to finish off an opponent. Get them down to 7 life and then you can just win. In addition, 7 damage breaks a reasonable amount of champions and drawing a card is always appreciated. This + Flame Strike and you only have to deal 15 other damage including mulligans to win.
Also, when your opponent knows you have this card in your deck, they will frequently play like you have it in your hand. This can make them make non-ideal plays because they are afraid of reaching the burnout threshold. While this is frequently correct, it also might make your opponent play to not lose instead of to win. For example, this can lead to overly defensive chump blocking that removes their threats while only delaying yours.
Flame Spike Rating
Always First Pickable –
Most of the time this is a weaker Wolf’s Bite, but it can deal damage directly to an opponent too. The fact that I’m comparing this to one of the strongest cards in the game should show how much I value this card.
0-cost recycle removal is great, and there are plenty of 2 or less defense champions to use it on. Not to mention the fact that it can finish off damaged champions too if needed.
Hunting Pack Rating
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
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
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.
1-cost 3-defense-champions in dark draft are risky, since they can be removed by 0-cost cards which can be a massive tempo loss. For that reason, I generally would not want to draft this (although I love it in constructed). At minimum, assuming you can trigger loyalty, it deals 4 damage to all of your opponent’s champions and 4 damage to their face when played. That alone can be worth a gold in some situations.
If it isn’t immediately removed, all 4 or less champions that started the turn in play have already been broken so therefore can’t block it (most 0-cost cards and all legal tokens). And, any 10 or less defense champions that started the turn in play can only trade with it if they block. If Pyrosaur gets through to your opponent’s face instead, it just dealt 10 damage, solid. Then next turn, if it gets to attack again, it will at minimum deal 2 damage to your opponent and clear out all their non-demon tokens.
If I’m going Wild already and there aren’t any better choices, I would take Pyrosaur, and a reasonable situation would probably present itself to play it. If I’m not already going Wild, this wouldn’t be the card that convinces me to.
Savage Uprising Rating
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
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.
Wild Pantheon Cards
[temporary pantheon article links]
(Hunting Pterosaur, Herald of Lashnok, Bruger, the Pathfinder, Rybas, Canopy Sniper, Lashnok’s Will, Brak, Fist of Lashnok, Kalani, Woodreader, Greater Lightning Wurm, Fiery Demise, Stampeding Einiosaur, Keira, Wolf Caller, Flames of Furios)