Epic: Utilizing Revealed Information

Foreword

In Epic, many powerful effects involve showing your opponent cards in your hand. The most obvious of these are Loyalty 2 effects: when a champion with a Loyalty 2 ability enters play, you may reveal 2 cards of that champion’s alignment from your hand to get the effect after the arrow. Other effects that show your opponent a card in your hand include Recall effects (Lightning Storm), Memory Spirit-type cards, and bounce effects (Time Walker). Being able to effectively utilize this information allows you to play at a higher level.

The Basics

First off, there are a few simple practices that can make a big difference.

Loyalty 2: Reveal the Same 2 Cards

When you play a Loyalty 2 champion and reveal 2 cards to your opponent, try to remember which cards you showed them. (Moving the revealed cards to one side of your hand can help you remember.) If you play another Loyalty 2 card on a future turn, reveal the same 2 cards if they are still in your hand. Doing this restricts the amount of information you give your opponent.

Record Cards Your Opponent Reveals

If you want to play at a competitive level, tracking revealed information is critical. When playing in person, writing down the names of revealed cards (as well as cards returned to hand) can be helpful as it is difficult to remember everything. As your opponent plays these cards, cross them off your list. Personally, I prefer to leave all revealed cards face up to save time.

When playing in the app, you can go through the game log to check what cards your opponent has revealed in the past. (Open the game log and click on the “Player resolved effect: Loyalty 2: etc.” to see cards revealed to Loyalty.)

Playing Around Information

Once you start keeping track of revealed cards, the next step is to play around those cards to weaken their effectiveness.

Avoiding Opponent’s Best Plays

On a basic level, playing around the cards you know are in your opponent’s hand involves denying those cards their best possible use cases. In order to do this, understanding the best possible use cases of your opponent’s cards is critical. Therefore, this is something you only get better at by gaining a better understanding of the game. The best way to improve is to lose to a new tactic, think about why you lost, and try to avoid losing the same way again.

Playing Around Examples

Ceasefire Example

Ceasefire is one of the most controversial cards at the writing of this article because it is an essential part of Chamberlain Kark decks. When played in conjunction with a Bodyguard block, Fumble, etc., it can essentially negate an entire turns worth of attack damage bridging Kark decks into their next turn to safely gain health while also drawing 2 cards.

If you know your opponent has a Ceasefire in hand, attacking with multiple champions in a group attack might be the only way to get significant damage through. However, if they have ways to negate that attack with a 0-cost card like Spike Trap, attacking in a group can be very dangerous.

Ceasefire is also a prime example of a card that when you see one of them, in a format that allows multiple copies, it can pay to preemptively play around the card even if you don’t know if they have one in hand. Any turn where an opponent can spend their gold first to draw 2 and limit combat damage to approximately 4 is a strong turn, usually.

Preemptively playing around cards has a lot of caveats, relies on knowing your opponent’s deck/being able to deduce it based on cards played or revealed, and is out of the scope of this article. Essentially it boils down to learning when making the “wrong play” is the best play.

Hide Your Best Plays

While in many situations you only have 2 cards you can reveal to a Loyalty 2 ability, determining which cards to reveal when you have more than 2 is important. Generally, you do not want to reveal your most impactful plays or your plays that are the easiest to play around.

Card Hiding Examples

Hasty Retreat is a card I like to hide whenever possible. The reason for this is that it protects me from most Gold-Punishers if I’m forced to use my gold first on my opponent’s turn. It also protects me if my opponent commits a Lash/Rage to a blocked champion. If my opponent knows I have a Hasty Retreat in hand, they generally won’t commit resources that allow my Hasty Retreat to really shine.

Army of the Apocalypse is another card I like to hide. If my opponent knows I have Army, they can focus their discard pile banish effects on my champions to preemptively neuter my Army.

Amnesia is nice to hide in Dark Draft because your opponent could try to go for a draw out victory. If they do, you can punish them at the last moment and negate multiple gold spent to draw cards to a full-hand.

Inner Peace and other health gain can be nice to hide. Being able to lull your opponent into committing their burn to your face can be devastating.

Hiding a Winged Death to punish a Sea Titan is great.

In general, it is also usually great to hide your unusual inclusions. For instance, if you are going for a Drinker of Blood combo kill, revealing your Drinker early lets your opponent know they need to hold onto a Flash Fire or Wither to answer a board of small champions before you can play your Drinker.

Deciding which cards to reveal depends on what cards are in play, what you have in hand, and what you expect your opponent to do. As a rule of thumb, I like to reveal duplicates to only reveal 1 potential play. I also like to reveal cards I plan on using before my opponent spends their gold, such as Triceratops and other establishing champions. Cards I plan on using just to draw 2 can frequently be strong choices as well.

Playing Into Information

One thing that can be even better than playing around your opponent’s answers is to purposefully play into them. When playing against experienced players that won’t make weak plays, guiding them into the “wrong” strong play can be critical.

Examples: Playing Into Your Opponent

Below are 3 examples of playing into your opponent’s revealed cards in order to guide their plays to your benefit.

Muse (Draw Out Removal)

If you watch my streams or read certain articles of mine, you know that I think Muse is a frustratingly powerful card. It is a 0-cost card that can grant you a major advantage and is difficult to deal with efficiently (particularly in core-only). However, if removed in a 1 for 1 trade (Wither, Flash Fire, Fireball, etc.) or better (Forcemage Apprentice, Wolf’s Bite, Siren’s Song, etc.), Muse can be worthless. Therefore, if your opponent reveals a Wither, playing something your opponent can Wither (Guilt Demon for instance) can draw out their Muse-Removal before you play your Muse. Even though your opponent using Wither to break Guilt Demon is strong, if it costs them their only Muse-Removal, they are in a terrible situation.

Noble Unicorn Bait

In a recent Dark Draft I played, I had drafted Amnesia and a bunch of strong defensive cards in order to pursue a draw out victory. Near the middle of the game, my opponent played Angel of Death and revealed Succubus and one other Evil card.

In order to bait out the Succubus, I played Noble Unicorn on my turn. On their turn, after attacking with Angel of Death, they played Succubus to draw a card and Banish my Noble Unicorn, a very strong play. However, this allowed me to play Forked Lightning on their turn, break both of their 6/5 airborne champions, leave them with just a zombie, and get back into a defensible position. While drawing a card and removing a champion is strong, me being able to essentially off-turn board clear with no downside was much more important in that game.

Ambush Blocker?

In my Bo7 showmatch against John Tatian, I was in a situation where my opponent played Memory Spirit the turn before to return a Drain Essence to hand. Then, on his turn he attacked with the Memory Spirit. I played my Memory Spirit and here is what the casters (cnoz and CJ Moynihan) thought about the play, what my opponent thought about the play, and my explained reasoning at the time.

Casters perspective – 1:46:46 to 1:49:44

Opponent’s perspective – 1:49:37 to 1:51:40

My Explanation – 12:17 to 15:18

When I assembled these clips I was “remembering” that I was talking/thinking about playing Memory Spirit to “play into” his Drain Essence for multiple reasons. Since I knew he had Drain Essence, the obvious play would have been for him to Drain my Memory Spirit to prevent me from blocking/trading, and to get 5 damage through. I was fine with this for these 3 primary reasons:

In the clip, however, I primarily talk about “playing around” Drain Essence by not playing my Ice Drake. Then, I talked about not blocking to “play around” a possible Steel Golem. While John was incredibly close to taking my bait, unfortunately for me he proved again why he is the World Champion by passing up the obvious play. Looking back at it now, I still think this was the correct play for me in this situation though. (I also think John made the correct play in response: gain 9 health fairly safely, not overcommit to the board, and remove my 7 damage threat/card drawer.)

Feeding Your Opponent Information Examples

Sometimes, revealing a card to your opponent to force them to play around it can be beneficial. Basically, if you can force your opponent to disrupt their play in such a way that you can exploit it, you can gain an advantage.

Flame Strike

Fellow Pluck You team member and Epic personality Tom Dixon has gone on the record multiple times discussing one such example: include 1 Flame Strike in your constructed deck and reveal it as soon as possible. By doing this, you let your opponent know that 8 health is effectively 0 for the entire match. Therefore, your opponent will make sub-optimal plays to stay above 8 health, regardless of whether or not Flame Strike is in your hand at that point.

In addition, since you have already gained the advantage of influencing your opponent’s play, you can freely use your Flame Strike as removal. Since your opponent will probably expect you to have more copies in your constructed deck, they will still feel the need to play around it.

Ceasefire/Ice Drake

As mentioned in my Ceasefire example above, Ceasefire/Ice Drake are two powerful cards that encourage your opponent to attack in groups to play around them. Attacking in groups in Epic is usually “wrong” since 1 champion can block multiple. In addition, cards like Spike Trap and Hands from Below can punish group attacks. By showing your opponent Ceasefire/Ice Drake, you encourage them to play in a way that you can punish with your other cards.

Conclusion

Effectively utilizing revealed information is an important step in becoming a better Epic player. By playing around (and occasionally into) your opponent’s revealed cards, you can lessen their effectiveness, and by strategically revealing your Loyalty 2 cards, you can influence your opponent’s plays. From here, the next step is learning how to deduce the cards that might be in your opponent’s deck/hand, and to utilize this information in the same way.

Epic Cube Draft

Foreword

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

Format Rules

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

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

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

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

Pre-Worlds Thoughts

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

Good

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

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

Evil

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

Sage

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

Wild

Worlds Drafts

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

I also did 2 cube drafts on Friday.

Forcing Good

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

Human Tokens

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

Good Commons

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

Overall, Good was incredibly underwhelming for me at Worlds.

Evil

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

Evil dramatically overperformed my expectations.

Sage

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

Average.

Wild

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

Overall, seemed pretty solid.

My (approximate) Worlds Draft

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

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

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

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

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

1x Blind Faith
1x Rescue Griffin

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

Sage (2)
2x Erratic Research

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

Cut
1x Winter Fairy
1x Dark Assassin

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

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

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

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

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

Match 1

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

0-Cost Blitzers

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

Blind Faith

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

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

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

Match 2

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

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

Importance of Card Reveals

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

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

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

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

Post Worlds Cube Draft Thoughts

Evil

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

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

Forcing an Alignment?

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

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

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

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

0-Cost Cards

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

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

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

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

Epic: Kark – Why It Doesn’t Scare Me

Epic Box

First Impressions

chamberlain_kark

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

Precursor Meta

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

Sage/Wild Tempo Discard

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

Derek Arnold’s Control Deck

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

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

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

Honorable Mentions

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

Analysis

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

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

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

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

Chamberlain Kark Decks

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

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

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

Results

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

Clearly, Kark is a strong card.

World’s Kark Lists Card Crossover

Beating Kark

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reasonable Decks Against Kark

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

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

pyrosaurworlds

Link to My World’s Pyrosaur Deck article

Uprising Demons

Brute Force

Angels Humans

Conclusion

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

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

My World’s Pyrosaur Deck

Epic Box

Foreword

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

Worlds Deck List

pyrosaurworlds

Evil (9)

Slow (3)
3x Winged Death

Fast (3)
3x Drain Essence

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

Good (0)

Sage (6)

Slow (0)

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

0-Cost (2)
2x Muse

Wild (45)

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

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

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

Post Worlds (Untested) Modifications

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

Wild
-1 Pyrosaur | +1 Brachiosaurus

Post Worlds Explanation

Brief Meta Analysis (Thought Plucker/Muse)

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

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

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

Guiding Principle (Wither Targets)

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

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

Citadel Raven Deck

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

Wild Core (Raging T-Rex)

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

Midrange (Consistent Pressure)

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

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

Early Game (Establishing Champions, Draw, or Pass)

Going First

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

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

Going Second

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

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

Mid Game (Push Damage Through)

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

You’re Ahead

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

You’re Behind (Spore Beast + Worlds Example)

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

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

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

You’re Behind (Reestablishing Plays + Deck Synergy)

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

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

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

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

Mid Game Periphery Support

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

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

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

Late Game (Finish with Small Burn)

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

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

Post Worlds Conclusion

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

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

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

pyrosaur

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

Epic: 8 cards rating 10/29/16

dark_knight

Dark Knight Rating: Usually Desirable

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

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

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

dark_leader

Dark Leader Rating: Practically Unplayable

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

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

ceasefire

Ceasefire Rating: Always Desirable

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

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

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

courageous_soul

Courageous Soul Rating: Situationally Desirable

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

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

erase

Erase Rating: Always First Pickable +

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

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

forcemage_apprentice

Forcemage Apprentice Rating: Situationally Desirable

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

flame_strike

Flame Strike Rating: Always First Pickable

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

flash_fire

Flash Fire Rating: Always First Pickable –

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

Updates

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

Avenging Angel
Gold Dragon
Rampaging Wurm

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

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

 

Epic: Dark Draft Tier List

Epic Box

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

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

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

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

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

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

I will update the detailed ratings soon.

Epic: 8 cards rating 10/19/16

corpse_taker

Corpse Taker Rating

Draft Frequency: 2

Draft Power: 7

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

dark_assassin

Dark Assassin Rating

Draft Frequency: 1

Draft Power: 6

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

banishment

Banishment Rating

Draft Frequency: 1

Draft Power: 3

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

brave_squire

Brave Squire Rating

Draft Frequency: 4

Draft Power: 6

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

deadly_raid

Deadly Raid Rating

Draft Frequency: 1

Draft Power: 5

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

djinn_of_the_sands

Djinn of the Sands Rating

Draft Frequency: 6

Draft Power: 8

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

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

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

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

fire_shaman

Fire Shaman Rating

Draft Frequency: 1

Draft Power: 2

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

fireball

Fireball Rating

Draft Frequency: 2

Draft Power: 5

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

Updates

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

Epic Card Game: Dark Draft Card Ratings

Foreword

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

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

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

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

Tier List

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

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

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

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

Important Concepts

These are concepts that will apply to multiple cards.

Mass Discard Pile Banish

A mass discard pile banish card is the single most important card in Dark Draft and other limited formats. Its importance is so great, my top tier consists of exclusively these cards (Amnesia, Erratic Research, Grave Demon, and Heinous Feast).

As long as you have at least 1 mass discard pile banish card and recycle it as soon as possible after playing it, you should have an almost 0% chance of losing to your opponent drawing through their entire deck.

5 Defense vs 6 Defense

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

3 Defense vs 4 Defense

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

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

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

2 Defense vs 3 Defense

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

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

Alignment Strength

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

Sage (6 out of 10)

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

Wild (2 out of 10)

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

Evil (1.5 out of 10)

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

Good (.5 out of 10)

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

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

Evil Core Cards

angel_of_death

Angel of Death Rating
Situationally Desirable +

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

apocalypse

Apocalypse Rating
Always Desirable +

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

army_of_the_apocalypse

Army of the Apocalypse Rating
Situationally Desirable

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

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

bitten

Bitten Rating
Always Desirable

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

corpse_taker

Corpse Taker Rating
Always Acceptable

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

dark_assassin

Dark Assassin Rating
Situationally Desirable

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

dark_knight

Dark Knight Rating
Usually Desirable ++

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

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

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

dark_leader

Dark Leader Rating
Practically Unplayable

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

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

demon_breach

Demon Breach Rating
Always Acceptable

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

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

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

drain_essence

Drain Essence Rating
Always First Pickable ++

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

drinker_of_blood

Drinker of Blood Rating
Situationally Desirable –

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

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

final_task

Final Task Rating
Always Acceptable

With its draw 2 option this card is never bad, and with its other option it can be incredible. Using this to return a Necromancer Lord to play off-turn (without needing to reveal for loyalty since Final Task gives blitz) and then return any champion in a discard pile to play is fantastic. While the Necromancer Lord breaks at the end of the turn, the other returned champion does not.

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

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

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

guilt_demon

Guilt Demon Rating
Always Desirable +

Guilt Demon is a great card because it is a

  • 0-cost champion
  • airborne
  • blitz
  • targeted discard pile banishment
  • (ambush, demon)

Unlike Little Devil with its 4 defense, however, there exist a lot of 0-cost answers to this card. It also dies to a lot of incidental damage attached to other champions like Blue Dragon or Draka Dragon Tyrant. Due to this, you do not want to play this card out as 0-cost blitz champion gold bait on turn 1. It is highly likely to be removed giving you no advantage.

Instead, this is a card you generally want to hold onto until there is at least 1 or 2 cards in your opponent’s discard pile that you want to banish. Use it on your turn to banish 2 cards and either deal 3 damage to your opponent or force them to use a card from their hand. If it can make multiple attacks, great, but with its 2 defense it probably won’t.

infernal_gatekeeper

Infernal Gatekeeper Rating
Situationally Desirable

13/13 stats over 2 bodies for the cost of 1 health and a gold isn’t great, but it isn’t terrible either. The fact that this can keep producing demons if not removed makes it a real threat though, if you have enough Evil. Also, it is a demon so it survives Raxxa’s Displeasure while also putting another demon into play.

If you are going Evil and there is nothing better, this is a reasonable card to pick up. It also works better in a deck that can already produce some amount of tokens to add to the pressure. In addition, attaching a demon to your Evil draw 2’s is another way to get slightly further ahead while not risking over-extending.

inner_demon

Inner Demon Rating
Always Desirable –

I like targeted removal and “or draw 2 cards” cards. Unfortunately, since I like to use my targeted removal off-turn, leaving my opponent a demon is a disincentive compared to other targeted removal cards.

medusa

Medusa Rating
Situationally Desriable ++

This is one of the absolute best possible cards for a deck with an Evil Investment. It is a reasonably sized ambush champion with targeted removal included. Both of those are incredibly powerful in Dark Draft. It’s also a demon.

If you have the Evil Investment, there are not a lot of cards I would take over this. It’s also a major incentive to start going Evil itself.

murderous_necromancer

Murderous Necromancer Rating
Situationally Desirable

I was impressed by this card in my cube draft at Worlds. Without loyalty, it is a 6 defense champion that can break a champion every turn. Hitting that 6 defense means there is no single 0-cost card that can break/banish this (Smash and Burn being a special case). Therefore, the opponent has to spend a gold to break Murderous Necromancer, and if they don’t, they can’t keep a champion in play.

When you add on the 3 zombies, you get tiny threats that can push damage through while Murderous Necromancer stays in play. In other words, unless your opponent can deal with the zombies, Murderous Necromancer is able to push damage while shutting down your opponent’s ability to come back into the game.

In addition, Murderous Necromancer works great as a target for Final Task, and it isn’t a big deal if it gets bounced. I was definitely underestimating that 6 defense before.

necromancer_lord

Necromancer Lord Rating
Situationally Desirable ++

One of the strongest cards in the game, as long as you have loyalty for it. When you play it, you get the best champion from either discard pile immediately. Then, if Necromancer Lord survives until the next turn, you get the next best one, etc. Even if you are only able to return 1 champion before this gets Lashed, you still put a champion into play while making your opponent lose a card.

Generally, it is better to return your own champions with this card in case your opponent is able to bounce the returned champion. If you returned your own champion, you essentially drew a card if it gets bounced. If you returned one of theirs, you gave them a card.

Loyalty and Tribute abilities do trigger when the target champion is put into play, but ally abilities would not. For example, if you have Necromancer Lord and Blue Dragon in play and you use Necromancer Lord to return Steel Golem to play, you could reveal 2 Sage cards to give Steel Golem blitz, but Blue Dragon would not deal 2 damage to a target.

If you are able to reliably hit the loyalty for this card, you want to draft it. It is awful without loyalty, but due to its potential power, it can be worth counter drafting.

plague

Plague Rating
Always Desirable +

Break all champions is great. The other effect is also usually better than just draw 2 (unless you don’t have 2 cards in your discard pile); it can clear out human tokens and break champions like Necromancer Lord and Thought Plucker. Great card.

plentiful_dead

Plentiful Dead Rating
Situationally Desirable

With a decent amount of 1-cost Evil cards in your deck, this card can be quite useful. Essentially, you can spend 1 health to get a zombie with every 1-cost Evil card you play each turn. These zombies can potentially push through extra damage or chump block.

If you can’t recall it multiple times, it is considerably weaker, but, if you do use it multiple times, 5+ health loss can add up quickly.

soul_hunter

Soul Hunter Rating
Rarely Playable

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

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

succubus

Succubus Rating
Always Acceptable

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

5 defense is a big weakness though.

the_risen

The Risen Rating
Rarely Playable

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

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

thrasher_demon

Thrasher Demon Rating
Always Acceptable

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

trihorror

Trihorror Rating
Practically Unplayable

Incredibly slow card with no immediate effect when played.

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

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

unquenchable_thirst

Unquenchable Thirst Rating
Situationally Acceptable

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

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

vampire_lord

Vampire Lord Rating
Situationally Acceptable

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

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

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

wither

Wither Rating
Always Desirable

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

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

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

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

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

word_of_summoning

Word of Summoning Rating
Always Acceptable

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

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

zombie_apocalypse

Zombie Apocalypse Rating
Always First Pickable +

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

Evil Tyrants Cards

dark_offering

Dark Offering Rating
Always Acceptable –

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

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

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

hands_from_below

Hands from Below Rating
Always Acceptable –

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

In addition, 2 zombies is a nice bonus.

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

heinous_feast

Heinous Feast Rating
Always First Pick –

Mass discard pile banish is the most important aspect in Dark Draft and other limited formats.

0-cost, fast discard pile banish is nice, but I’d rather the mass discard pile banish card either recycle, give me an 8/8 ambush body, or draw 2 cards than gain some health.

necrovirus

Necrovirus Rating
Frequently Desirable

Off-turn targeted removal that doesn’t put your opponent any further ahead than you is excellent. The fact that it also gives you a chump blocker for that turn is a big deal too. 3 Zombies with your next 1-Cost Evil spell is also relevant.

Unfortunately, if used on your turn, it leaves behind a chump blocker for your opponent. It also can’t draw 2 if you don’t need the removal.

raxxa_demon_tyrant

Raxxa, Demon Tyrant Rating
Always Desirable

18/18 worth of stats spread over 3 bodies without loyalty is great. The fact that if Raxxa gets bounced you can get 2 more 6/6 demons is also great. Raxxa can even buff your other demons in play, even if Raxxa is your only 1-cost Evil card in deck. (If Raxxa is removed the demons automatically revert to 4/4s.)

The loyalty effect is also excellent. 2 damage is nice for breaking all non-demon tokens, Muse, and other troublesome low defense champions. Off-turn Zombie Apocalypse/Wave of Transformation is already incredibly strong. Follow it up with Raxxa with loyalty on your turn to completely wipe their board and establish multiple threats.

Great without loyalty, potentially amazing with loyalty.

raxxas_curse

Raxxa’s Curse Rating
Always First Pickable

Raxxa’s Curse is a faction-independent powerhouse. Breaking any 0-cost champion and giving you a demon token is a strong swing in your favor. (I have put myself significantly ahead in at least one draft where I Raxxa’s Cursed a Muse that my opponent was relying on early.)

Since every faction has strong 0-cost minions (Guilt Demon/Spawning Demon, White Dragon/Paros Rebel Leader, Keeper of Secrets/Shadow Imp, Fire Shaman/Ankylosaurus) this will usually have a target to hit. In addition, even using it on a token is valuable.

Aside from breaking Muses, my favorite use of this card is to break an ambushed in 0-cost blocker. If I can draw my opponent’s gold out before mine, play a Rampaging Wurm, and break my opponent’s zombie from Plentiful Dead before blocks, I am happy.

If nothing else, you can always draw 2 with it.

raxxas_displeasure

Raxxa’s Displeasure Rating
Always Desirable +

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

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

reap_or_sow

Reap or Sow Rating
Situationally Desirable

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

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

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

reaper

Reaper Rating
Always Desirable

Great card.

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

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

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

spawning_demon

Spawning Demon Rating
Situationally Desirable

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

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

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

the_gudgeon

The Gudgeon Rating
Always Acceptable

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

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

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

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

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

zealous_necromancer

Zealous Necromancer Rating
Situationally Acceptable

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

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

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

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

Evil Uprising Cards

Consume Rating
Always Desirable

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

Corpsemonger Rating
Usually Desirable

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

Demonic Rising Rating
Situationally Desirable

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

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

Grave Demon Rating
Always First Pick

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

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

Little Devil Rating
Always First Pickable

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

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

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

No Escape Rating
Situationally Desirable +

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

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

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

Plague Zombies Rating
Rarely Playable

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

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

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

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

Raxxa’s Enforcer Rating
Always Acceptable

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

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

Rift Summoner Rating
Frequently Desirable

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saren, Night Stalker Rating
Situationally Acceptable

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

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

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

Winged Death Rating
Always Desirable

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

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

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

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

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

Beware Rescue Griffin!

Zannos, Corpse Lord Rating
Situationally Desirable

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

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

Good Core Cards

angel_of_light

Angel of Light Rating
Situationally Acceptable

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

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

angel_of_mercy

Angel of Mercy Rating
Situationally Desirable +

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

angelic_protector

Angelic Protector Rating
Always Acceptable

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

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

Lines up nicely with Juggernaut.

avenging_angel

Avenging Angel Rating
Frequently Desirable

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

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

banishment

Banishment Rating
Situationally Desirable

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

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

brave_squire

Brave Squire Rating
Usually Desirable

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

ceasefire

Ceasefire Rating
Always Desirable

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

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

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

courageous_soul

Courageous Soul Rating
Situationally Desirable

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

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

divine_judgment

Divine Judgement Rating
Always Desirable +

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

Draw 2 cards is always an appreciated secondary option.

faithful_pegasus

Faithful Pegasus Rating
Situationally Desirable

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

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

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

feint

Feint Rating
Always Acceptable –

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

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

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

gold_dragon

Gold Dragon Rating
Frequently Desirable

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

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

high_king

High King Rating
Situationally Desirable

If you are already going Good, it is banish-based, slow, possibly repeating removal. One use is pretty strong, two uses is incredible, and if your opponent has to use a 1-cost card specifically to remove this (instead of a 0-cost card or incidentally with another card), it can answer 2+ gold for the price of 1.

inheritance_of_the_meek

Inheritance of the Meek Rating
Always First Pickable

An off-turn banish-based board clear is always powerful. Drawing a card for your opponent isn’t great, but it can potentially get you back into a game.

Since it doesn’t effect tokens, it can be incredible in a demon/zombie deck, but if your opponent is going tokens it could be largely worthless. At least it has its “or draw 2 cards” option.

inner_peace

Inner Peace Rating
Situationally Desirable

I don’t rate this card too highly because it can’t get you ahead, and it can’t bring you back when behind. It can only get you further ahead or keep you from losing. I would rather have cards that advance me towards winning.

That being said, an extra 10 health can be enough to close out a game. This is especially true against decks with significant amounts of burn. If you can recall it even once in that type of match up, and you never give your opponent an opportunity to use two 1-cost burn cards in a row before you can play this, you pretty much can’t be burned out. This can also be a nice way to increase your advantage on a turn when you are already ahead on the board and your opponent has already spent their gold.

In other words, I would only want to draft this if I knew I passed my opponent a significant amount of burn: 2+ burn cards.

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

lord_of_the_arena

Lord of the Arena Rating
Situationally Desirable

A 13/9 unbreakable, blitzer is a nice on-turn gold-punisher.

I am not a huge fan of how easy it is to remove (at 9 defense) on my opponent’s next turn though, nor the fact that a 5/9 champion isn’t a huge threat on my next turn. However, if you have a significant amount of 1-cost Good cards (generally weaker than other alignments in dark draft), the threat of being able to make it unbreakable the instant your opponent passes initiative each turn is real.

The “must be blocked if able” ability is cool, but it almost never matters.

noble_unicorn

Noble Unicorn Rating
Situationally Desirable +/Always Acceptable

Ambush, tribute -> draw a card makes this always a decent play as an off-turn gold-punisher. The fact that it threatens to draw even more cards means your opponent needs to deal with it. This is one of my highest priority cards when I’m going Good, but it is also very easy to counter-draft if your opponent is going Good.

palace_guard

Palace Guard Rating
Always Desirable +

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

priest_of_kalnor

Priest of Kalnor Rating
Practically Unplayble

I used this card to chip my opponent down from 9 health to 8 in the 2015 Gen Con quarter-finals allowing me to Flame Strike my opponent. It has done practically nothing for me since then.

The 1/4 body is pretty weak. 4 health gain is appreciated but not worth a card. It’s loyalty 2 ability is tied to Good (the weakest alignment), and its application is very narrow. The best way to use the unbreakable/untargetable is on a champion before it attacks, either a non-deploying champion or a blitz champion. This on a Surprise Attacked Burrowing Wurm would be terrifying. It can also be used on an Avenging Angel you just played before an opponent spends their gold on your turn.

priestess_of_angeline

Priestess of Angeline Rating
Rarely Playable

Tribute -> recycle makes this playable, but I don’t want a slot dedicated to getting out a 1/2 champion that might give me 3 to 9 health and only if I draft and play 1-cost Good cards.

If it is late in the draft and I already have a lot of 1-cost Good cards, I might draft this.

rally_the_people

Rally the People Rating
Practically Unplayable

Terrible.

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

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

resurrection

Resurrection Rating
Always Acceptable

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

secret_legion

Secret Legion Rating
Situationally Desirable

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

standard_bearer

Standard Bearer Rating
Situationally Acceptable

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

the_people_s_champion

The People’s Champion Rating
Situationally Desirable

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

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

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

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

thundarus

Thundarus Rating
Situationally Acceptable

Slow, but powerful.

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

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

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

vital_mission

Vital Mission Rating
Rarely Playable

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

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

watchful_gargoyle

Watchful Gargoyle Rating
Always Acceptable

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

white_dragon

White Dragon Rating
Situationally Desirable

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

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

white_knight

White Knight Rating
Usually Desirable

One of my favorite cards.

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

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

Good Tyrants Cards

blind_faith

Blind Faith Rating
Usually Desirable

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

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

forced_exile

Forced Exile Rating
Always Desirable

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

insurgency

Insurgency Rating
Situationally Desirable +

By itself, this is weak. Attack for 8 over 4 unbreakable bodies is more reliable than Wolf’s Call, but no card wants to be compared to Wolf’s Call. 4 off-turn unbreakable blockers can save your life, but not a great use of a gold.

Where this card really shines is with other human token cards generally and AoE buffs specifically. Insurgency and then Revolt gives you 4 unbreakable, blitz 4/1 human tokens and 1 blitz 3/1 human token. Unless your opponent can AoE banish, Ceasefire, Ice Drake, Force Field, Surprise Attack -> Time Walker/Frost Giant/Velden Frost Titan, Blind Faith, or make a lot of blocks, they could take 19 damage from 2 cards (assuming you had no other human tokens in play).

This is one of the most important cards for a human token deck, and one of the strongest 2 card combinations in the game.

markus_watch_captain

Markus, Watch Captain Rating
Situationally Desirable +

Thought Pluckering me? How about I put a 10/10 into play instead of discarding, seems nice.

Oh yeah, and I actually drafted some other Good alignment cards, so I’ll reveal these 2 to draw a card to replace him.

You have 3 Demons in play too, not any more you don’t. At least you still get your ambushed in 1/1 unblockable champion.

10 defense is great. Put it into play if discarded is great. Banish up to 3 tokens, particularly demons is great. Loyalty 2 -> draw a card is excellent (except that it is Good Loyalty 2). If you can trigger at least one of its abilities this is a strong card. If you get all 3 (you almost certainly won’t), it is incredible. In any other alignment, this would be really difficult to pass up, since Loyalty 2 -> draw a card is my favorite part.

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

noble_martyr

Noble Martyr Rating
Situationally Acceptable

4 defense on a ground based champion that doesn’t deal 4 damage when it is played and attacks (Pyrosaur call-out), is really weak. It dies to so many champions and multiple 0-cost cards. If it survives, it can at least sneak 7 damage through (weak for an on-turn gold-punisher).

However, Unbanishable on a card with a discard pile ally trigger is a nice combination. Unless they transform it or bounce it (or banish it from your discard pile), you’ll be able to trigger the loyalty ability for 5 humans. Do this at the end of your opponent’s turn, then Insurgency on your turn and you have 9 unbreakable, blitz 2/1 champions for 18 damage. Or you can just trigger it for chump blockers.

paros_rebel_leader

Paros, Rebel Leader Rating
Situationally Desirable

Great card for Good-focused decks or human token decks. +1 offense for humans is a big deal. Human tokens now trade with non-demon tokens and bigger humans sneak a bit of extra damage through too.

In addition, being able to continually put out chump blockers either forces your opponent not to attack, or lets you attack with your champions more freely. Also, 4 defense is a nice breakpoint.

quell

Quell Rating
Situationally Desirable

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

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

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

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

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

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

rabble_rouser

Rabble Rouser Rating
Situationally Desirable

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

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

revolt

Revolt Rating
Situationally Desirable ++

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

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

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

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

royal_escort

Royal Escort Rating
Situationally Acceptable

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

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

second_wind

Second Wind Rating
Always Desirable

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

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

Without recycle this would be so much worse.

urgent_messengers

Urgent Messengers Rating
Always Desirable

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

Good Uprising Cards

Angel of the Gate Rating
Always Desirable

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

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

Avenger of Covenant
Always Acceptable

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

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

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

Bodyguard Rating
Situationally Desirable

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

The biggest problems are:

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

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

Brand, Rebel Fighter Rating
Situationlly Acceptable

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

Chamberlain Kark Rating
Practically Unplayable

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

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

Gladius, the Defender
Rarely Playable

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

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

Justice Prevails Rating
Situationally Desirable

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

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

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

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

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

Martial Law Rating
Frequently Desirable

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

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

Master Zo Rating
Always Acceptable

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

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

Rescue Griffin Rating
Always Desirable +

Crazy strong.

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

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

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

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

Silver Dragon Rating
Always Desirable

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

Great card.

Village Protector Rating
Situationally Desirable

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

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

Sage Core Cards

amnesia

Amnesia Rating
Always First Pick

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

ancient_chant

Ancient Chant Rating
Usually Desirable

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

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

blue_dragon

Blue Dragon Rating
Always Acceptable

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

crystal_golem

Crystal Golem Rating
Always Desirable

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

deadly_raid

Deadly Raid Rating
Always Acceptable

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

djinn_of_the_sands

Djinn of the Sands Rating
Usually Desirable +

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

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

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

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

erase

Erase Rating
Always First Pickable +

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

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

forcemage_apprentice

Forcemage Apprentice Rating Situationally Desirable

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

frost_giant

Frost Giant Rating
Frequently Desirable

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

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

hasty_retreat

Hasty Retreat Rating
Always First Pickable –

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

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

ice_drake

Ice Drake Rating
Frequently Desirable

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

juggernaut

Juggernaut Rating
Frequently Desirable +

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

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

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

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

keeper_of_secrets

Keeper of Secrets Rating
Usually Desirable

Other people value this higher than I do, and they are probably correct. Targeted discard removal is great. Essentially tribute -> recycle is great (assuming you play a 1-cost Sage card immediately after playing this). The fact that it also threatens to recycle every turn thereafter is also great. If needed, it can always attack for 2 too.

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

lying_in_wait

Lying in Wait Rating
Always Desirable –

I like off-turn targeted removal that leaves my opponent with nothing a lot; I used to absolutely love this card because it does that incredibly well. A lot of champions are only threats because they can attack. Attacking with 1 champion at a time (attacking alone) is usually correct. So, when a threatening champion attacks alone, you can use this to remove it. The ability to remove Sea Titan, Steel Golem, Juggernaut, etc., and the fact that it banishes the champion are also big deals.

However, if your opponent still has their gold up when you play this, you leave yourself open to an on-turn gold-punisher. In addition, this card can never deal with non-attacking threats like Necromancer Lord or Hunting Raptors.

If nothing else, it is a Sage “or draw 2” which has value.

memory_spirit

Memory Spirit Rating
Always Desirable

This is a nice off-turn gold-punisher. Throw this down after your opponent spent their gold on their turn and you get a 5/4 airborne champion that can attack next turn, and you get your best event back from your discard pile.

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

muse

Muse Rating
Always First Pickable

One of the most powerful cards in the game.

Drawing a card at the start of each of your turns can get out of control quickly. Play this at the end of your opponent’s turn, and then if it survives for 2 turns (don’t need to attack with it) you were able to draw 2 cards with a 0-cost card. In other words, your opponent must remove it as soon as possible. If they don’t have a 0-cost answer immediately, it at minimum replaces itself on your turn and will force your opponent to use a card/effect on it later.

Muse (and Thought Plucker) is the primary reason why 2+ damage 0-cost cards are so powerful/important.

ogre_mercenary

Ogre Mercenary Rating
Situationally Acceptable

I’ve never been a big fan of this card, but I lost to someone in dark draft, fairly convincingly too, who loves this card. 4/3 is a decent 0-cost body, and tribute -> recycle is always appreciated, but the fact that it is slow and lacks any evasion or other abilities makes me not like it. At least it’s Sage.

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

psionic_assault

Psionic Assault Rating
Always Desirable –

This card is nasty. It can easily chew through an opponent’s hand if they aren’t careful. Playing this when an opponent has spent their gold and has 5 or fewer cards in hand is particularly strong because 3 or fewer cards in hand is a very weak position. Once you reduce an opponent to 4 or less, you can potentially keep recalling and replaying this to prevent them from ever being able to come back, as long as you can keep control of the board simultaneously.

If you have strong reestablishing champions like Kong, you can remove their champion while forcing them to remove your new threat. When they remove your threat, they give you another safe window to play this again.

sea_titan

Sea Titan Rating
Always First Pickable +

Insanely powerful card. 11/14 is a huge body. Untargetable makes it hard to deal with, and tribute -> bounce a champion is ridiculous.

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

Absolute monster.

spike_trap

Spike Trap Rating
Always Acceptable

5 damage is enough to kill a lot of champions, including all of the unblockable champions (like Thought Plucker or Knight of Shadows) and a decent number of airborne champions (like Angel of Death or Memory Spirit). Recycle is also quite nice.

While this does hit all attacking champions, and you can bait people into group attacking if they know you have Ceasefire/Ice Drake, this will usually only hit 1 champion. Despite that, removing 1 champion (especially a 1-cost champion) and recycling is a great deal.

stand_alone

Stand Alone Rating
Situationally Desirable

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

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

steel_golem

Steel Golem Rating
Always Desirable

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

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

Great card.

thought_plucker

Thought Plucker Rating
Always First Pickable

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

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

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

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

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

time_bender

Time Bender Rating
Situationally Desirable

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

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

time_walker

Time Walker Rating
Situationally Desirable

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

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

Amazing against token decks.

transform

Transform Rating
Always Desirable –

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

turn

Turn Rating
Usually Desirable

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

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

warrior_golem

Warrior Golem Rating
Situationally Desirable +

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

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

wave_of_transformation

Wave of Transformation Rating
Always First Pickable

The most reliable off-turn board clear.

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

winter_fairy

Winter Fairy Rating
Always Acceptable

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sage Tyrants Cards

arcane_research

Arcane Research Rating
Always Acceptable-

I don’t like this card in Dark Draft.

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

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

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

**Update**

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

 

****

elara_the_lycomancer

Elara, the Lycomancer Rating
Situationally Desirable +

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

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

fumble

Fumble Rating
Always Desirable

Love this card.

0-cost card that shuts down most attacks completely while recycling. Also, unlike Watchful Gargoyle, it can’t be countered by an opponent’s 0-cost card (although champions can be buffed over the -10 offense). Fumble is the card that makes me feel safe.

It is also Sage and can draw 2 if needed.

helion_the_dominator

Helion, the Dominator Rating
Frequently Desirable +

8/8 ambush means it can’t be bad. It is also Sage with a loyalty 2 ability, interesting. Steal a champion for a turn and give it blitz, yeah, I like that. So many great applications for it.

One of the best case scenarios: opponent attacks with a champion (Infernal Gatekeeper for instance). You play this to steal another one of their champions (White Knight). Assuming they don’t remove their White Knight you now control, you declare it as a blocker. Before both champions break each other, you rub it in by expending White Knight to break one of their demon tokens. Pretty valuable use of a gold; break 2 champions (and a demon token) and put an 8/8 into play, off-turn.

This can also steal an ambushed in champion before it can be declared as a blocker. Once you finish your initial attack, you can then attack with your opponent’s champion.

If needed, it can also just steal an attacking champion for the turn, completely negating the attack.

Fortunately, this does not prepare a stolen champion.

Before I forget, Helion even has the ability to expend to deal 2 damage to up to 2 targets. It can push some damage to face while breaking Muse at the same time. You can even ambush Helion in and then target him with his own loyalty 2 ability to give him blitz for the turn (this can also make him an 8/8 on-turn gold-punisher instead of an off-turn gold-punisher). Great card.

When playing against a deck with Helion, it is important to attack with your most evasive champions first. If you have an unblockable champion, airborne champion, and a neither unblockable, nor airborne champion, attack with them in that order. By doing this, you prevent the possibility of your opponent stealing one of your champions and using it to block another one of your champions.

helions_fury

Helion’s Fury Rating
Always Acceptable –

I’ve never really been impressed by Helion’s Fury. It is only on-turn removal which isn’t great. In addition, it isn’t terribly common to want to bounce 2 champions on your turn instead of 1. At least it can remove a token when played. Drawing a card is nice though. It could also potentially be involved in an interesting combat situation, saving one of your attackers/blockers in a group attack/block while removing one of theirs in a group attack/block.

Essentially though, it is a Sage draw 2.

knight_of_shadows

Knight of Shadows Rating
Always Desirable

I like tribute -> draw a card, forcing my opponent to discard in limited formats is also usually great. 9 offense + unblockable is a strong combination as well. At 4 defense though, it gets removed by a decent amount of cards including Hands from Below and Spike Trap.

While I will frequently take this card happily, I do prefer my slow champions to have either an even more devastating effect or more defense.

lesson_learned

Lesson Learned Rating
Usually Desirable

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

At the very least, Sage draw 2.

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

mist_guide_herald

Mist Guide Herald Rating
Situationally Acceptable ++

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

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

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

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

shadow_imp

Shadow Imp Rating
Situationally Desirable

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

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

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

temporal_enforcer

Temporal Enforcer Rating
Situationally Desirable

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

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

temporal_shift

Temporal Shift Rating
Always Acceptable

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

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

vanishing

Vanishing Rating
Always Desirable

This can be brutal.

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

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

Sage Uprising Cards

Citadel Raven Rating
Situationally Desirable

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

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

Citadel Scholar Rating
Always Acceptable +

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

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

Erratic Research Rating
Always First Pick

Mass discard pile banish is critical.

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

Fairy Trickster Rating
Always Acceptable

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

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

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

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

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

Force Field Rating
Always Acceptable –

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

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

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

Frantic Digging Rating
Frequently Desirable

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

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

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

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

Knight of Elara Rating
Frequently Desirable +

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

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

Reset Rating
Usually Desirable

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

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

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

Reusable Knowledge Rating
Always Acceptable +

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

Siren’s Song Rating
Usually Desirable

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

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

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

Velden, Frost Titan Rating
Usually Desirable

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

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

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

War Machine Rating
Always Desirable

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

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

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

Wild Core Cards

bellowing_minotaur

Bellowing Minotaur Rating
Practically Unplayble

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

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

burrowing_wurm

Burrowing Wurm Rating
Practically Unplayable

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

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

cave_troll

Cave Troll Rating
Situationally Desirable

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

chomp

Chomp! Rating
Frequently Desirable

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

fire_shaman

Fire Shaman Rating
Situationally Acceptable

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

fireball

Fireball Rating
Usually Desirable

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

flame_strike

Flame Strike Rating
Always First Pickable

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

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

flash_fire

Flash Fire Rating
Always First Pickable –

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

Or draw 2 is always appreciated too.

forked_lightning

Forked Lightning Rating
Situationally Acceptable

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

hunting_raptors

Hunting Raptors Rating
Situationally Acceptable

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

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

hurricane

Hurricane Rating
Always Desirable

Off-turn board clears with no benefit to your opponent are great. The fact that this can be a one-sided board clear if you (or your opponent) has 10+ defense champions is great. At the very least, you can always draw 2 with it too.

jungle_queen

Jungle Queen Rating
Always Acceptable

Tribute -> Draw a card means this can’t be lower than always acceptable. The fact that it gives the ability to play your Wild champions as if they had ambush also makes it a lightning rod for removal. “You better remove my Jungle Queen or I might ambush in Kong.”

In addition, the +1/+1 to other wild champions is very easy to overlook and underestimate. In a lot of situations it won’t do anything, but it makes your wolves survive Flash Fire, and it can make blocks a bit more annoying for your opponent.

kong

Kong Rating
Always First Pickable +

One of the best cards in dark draft hands down. A 13/14 body is huge, and it removes most champions in the game. Incredible reestablishing card.

lash

Lash Rating
Always Desirable

While I haven’t been playing with or against Lash as much recently, it has done a lot of work for and against me since the game released. Giving breakthrough and an extra 4 damage can be incredibly nasty after you chump block their previously non-breakthrough Kong or Rampaging Wurm.

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

lightning_storm

Lightning Storm Rating
Always First Pickable +++

Best card in dark draft aside from the mass discard pile banish cards.

I’ve won multiple games playing this at the end of my opponent’s turn, recalling it immediately on my turn, and playing it again to kill my opponent when they attack on their next turn. 12 damage over 3 gold before your opponent can get another attack through is strong.

In addition, it can also be used to pick off a decent amount of champions because of its 6 damage. The ability to divide that damage can also be great for removing multiple small champions. Even just using it and recalling it as a 6 damage removal spell has significant value.

Great card.

lurking_giant

Lurking Giant Rating
Usually Desirable +

Great off-turn gold-punisher. Your opponent spends their gold on their turn to board clear? You drop this and start your next turn by attacking with an 11/11 champion, solid.

If your opponent has already spent their gold for the turn, you can even play this to block a champion that was just declared as an attacker. White Knight with loyalty and attack? Okay, Lurking Giant, block, break the Knight, and start my turn with an 11/11, good deal.

mighty_blow

Mighty Blow Rating
Always Acceptable

I’ve liked this card in theory with tokens for a long time. Attack with a token, they choose not to block the 1 to 4 damage. Play this after blockers making it unbreakable and dealing 10 damage.

In practice, I usually just use it to draw 2. It can be nasty with breakthrough champions, but I just haven’t had many times I wanted to play it for its ability.

As mentioned by others elsewhere: Final Task -> Brachiosaurus then play this on Brachiosaurus with the extra Wild gold for an 18/12 unbreakable, breakthrough, blitz champion that won’t break to Final Task‘s end of turn trigger.

pack_alpha

Pack Alpha Rating
Always Acceptable

This card has consistently performed reasonably for me, which is better than I expected. A 5/6 that immediately puts 2 3/3 wolf tokens into play (11/12 stats spread over 3 bodies) is not bad. The fact that Pack Alpha will keep producing wolves until removed is also a real threat. Finally, at 6 health it essentially requires a gold to remove it.

I like this card and draft it, but there are a lot of better ones.

pyromancer

Pyromancer Rating
Frequently Desirable

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

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

rage

Rage Rating
Always Desirable

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

raging_t_rex

Raging T-Rex Rating
Situationally Desirable ++

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

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

rain_of_fire

Rain of Fire Rating
Usually Desirable

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

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

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

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

rampaging_wurm

Rampaging Wurm Rating
Frequently Desirable

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

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

sea_hydra

Sea Hydra Rating
Always Desirable –

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

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

strafing_dragon

Strafing Dragon Rating
Situationally Desirable +

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

surprise_attack

Surprise Attack Rating
Always Acceptable +

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

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

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

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

triceratops

Triceratops Rating
Always Desirable

Speaks for itself.

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

wolf_companion

Wolf Companion Rating
Practically Unplayble

Terrible.

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

wolf_s_call

Wolf’s Call Rating
Practically Unplayble +

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

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

wurm_hatchling

Wurm Hatchling Rating
Situationally Desirable

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

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

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

Wild Tyrants Cards

ankylosaurus

Ankylosaurus Rating
Always Acceptable

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

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

battle_cry

Battle Cry Rating
Always Acceptable –

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

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

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

brachiosaurus

Brachiosaurus Rating
Situationally Desirable

The best way to use this is to play it while your opponent’s gold is up and pass. They will either:

  • use their gold

allowing you to play an on-turn gold-punisher, removal on their ambush champion (Kong for instance), or draw cards

  • pass out of fear of an on-turn gold-punisher/removal

essentially making this an 8/12 breakthrough dinosaur with tribute -> target opponent loses their gold. I’d play that card.

If you spend your gold immediately after playing Brachiosaurus, your opponent will have full gold information. If you played a second champion, they could just board clear you, which would make Brachiosaurus just 2 for 1 yourself. However, this can double trigger Wild ally triggers like Fire Spirit or Fire Shaman, which can be quite powerful.

draka_dragon_tyrant

Draka, Dragon Tyrant Rating
Situationally Desirable +

9/9 airborne, blitz (with Wild Loyalty) is great. An excellent, hard to block, heavy hitting, on-turn gold-punisher. It also clears out non-demon tokens, in addition to a lot of 0-cost champions like Muse.

Works great with Feeding Frenzy.

drakas_enforcer

Draka’s Enforcer Rating
Frequently Desirable +

One of the best off-turn gold-punishers. 7/7 airborne can even break a lot of airborne champions in combat and survive. Loyalty 2 -> draw a card is always appreciated.

drakas_fire

Draka’s Fire Rating
Frequently Desirable

Deal 5 damage to all opposing champions and draw a card has been surprisingly powerful more often than I was expecting. It is a great way to clear out tokens (incidental or otherwise), it sweeps up most other 0-cost champions too, and it can finish off damaged champions as well. All without affecting your champions in play. This + Lightning Strike has worked wonders for me.

5 damage to everything has won me games. It can also stop non-Insurgency surprise token assaults.

In general, this card does better than I expect it to. (I did drop it from Usually Desirable to Frequently Desirable on 1/18/17 though. I don’t think I would usually want it, and I probably just didn’t think about it when I created the Frequently Desirable column.)

feeding_frenzy

Feeding Frenzy Rating
Situationally Desirable

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

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

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

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

fire_spirit

Fire Spirit Rating
Usually Desirable

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

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

This card significantly overperforms my expectations.

great_horned_lizard

Great Horned Lizard Rating
Situationally Acceptable

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

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

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

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

lightning_strike

Lightning Strike Rating
Always First Pickable

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

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

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

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

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

It can also draw 2 instead.

smash_and_burn

Smash and Burn Rating
Always Desirable

One of my favorite cards.

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

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

wolfs_bite

Wolf’s Bite Rating
Always First Pickable

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

This breaks Muse and recycles and gives you a wolf.

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

I love this card.

Wild Uprising Cards

Den Mother Rating
Always Desirable

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

Entangling Vines Rating
Always Acceptable +

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

I’ve had success with this card.

Fires of Rebellion Rating
Always First Pickable

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

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

Flame Spike Rating
Always First Pickable –

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

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

Hunting Pack Rating
Always Desirable

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

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

Go Wild Rating
Always Acceptable

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

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

Mythic Monster Rating
Always Desirable

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

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

Pyrosaur Rating
Situationally Desirable

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

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

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

Savage Uprising Rating
Situationally Acceptable

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

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

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

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

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

Scarros, Hound of Draka
Situationally Desirable –

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

Spore Beast Rating
Situationally Desirable ++

I absolutely love this card.

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

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

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

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

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

Overall, this is one of my absolute favorite cards.

Winds of Change Rating
Rarely Playable

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

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

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

Glossary

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

Epic: Dark Draft

Epic BoxForeword

This article is an accumulation of my current thoughts on Dark Draft. (Re-rating of the cards for Dark Draft complete.) In general, cards vary in value throughout the dark draft. I talk about how and why.

(Glossary at the bottom of the article. Let me know if I should add anything to it.)

Dark Draft Structure

  • Each player is dealt 5 random cards face-down (a pack).
  • Each player picks 1 of those 5 cards and then passes their remaining 4 cards to their opponent.
  • Then, each player picks 2 of the remaining 4 cards and discards the rest.
  • This is repeated 10 times until each player has a 30 card deck.

You are not allowed to look at your drafted cards until you have your complete 30 card deck.

Implications

You will see 20 of the 30 cards your opponent has in their deck during the drafting process. But, since you don’t see the 10 cards they first-pick, it is difficult to accurately predict all 20 cards that they will chose from the 40 you pass them.

In addition, since you can’t look at the cards you draft or write down the cards in each pack, you have to rely on your memory, and there is a lot to remember.

Since Epic is filled with incredibly strong cards, you will open packs with jaw dropping power. For example, my most memorable pack was Sea Titan, Kong, Erase, and 2 irrelevant cards.

On the other hand, you can get a pack of 5 weaker cards. I don’t remember any specifically, but I would personally hate to see a Bellowing Minotaur, Dark Leader, Rally the People, Wolf Companion, and Priest of Kalnor pack.

The worst case scenario is if your opponent gets a 1 strong-card, 4 weak-card pack. For example, replace the Priest of Kalnor in the previous pack with Amnesia. If your opponent gets lucky like this multiple times and you do not, they could draft a better deck through no fault of your own.

Similarly, since the 100 of 168 possible cards that will be seen between you and your opponent are completely random (100 of approximately 216 once Epic: Uprising comes out), it is possible that a faction might be over- or under-represented. For example, if you first pick Raging T-Rex, it is possible that you won’t see too many more Wild cards in the future packs. This effect can be magnified if your opponent also decided to go Wild early and continually first picks Wild cards. Or, if you go Evil early and there is a lot of Evil in the pool, you can build a crazy strong deck (especially if your opponent isn’t going Evil, making cards like Necromancer Lord terrible for them).

Overall, I am a big