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Pantheon’s 10 Best Card Images (Exclusive Bonus)

Foreword

Epic is a phenomenal two-player dueling game; I’ve spent excessive amounts of time writing about it because I love the mechanics/depth of play, it has the best limited formats I’ve experienced, and I can actually afford to obtain the cards to compete competitively for money. All that being said, it also has great art (something I can’t remember consciously caring about before).

Pantheon specifically, blew me away. When I was opening my packs at Worlds I just kept gushing about how much I liked individual cards over and over again. On a whole the set is great, but I reached out to WWG to see if I could get the full resolution art for 10 of my subjective favorites (in addition to the clear objectively best one, Cast Out, at the top of the page). Every image can be clicked for its full resolution.

#10

My favorite part of this piece is the use of past champions’ art to clearly illustrate the mechanical effect of the card.

#9

The detail on the titular champion in this piece stands out, and the underlying city in it works well too.

#8

Okay, so I’m biased on this one since it’s one of my favorite cards mechanically from the set, but the vanguard charge into the horde with the backup visibly framed by the champion works great.

#7

The mass gathering extending beyond the card boundaries, the detailed markings, and the ritual being cast create a haunting and intriguing scene.

#6

While I liked the original art on the promo version of this card, the new artwork is even better.

#5

I know people who actively dislike this piece, but I just think the art’s story works beautifully to depict the cards mechanics.

#4

The artwork exceeds the expectation of the card’s name.

#3

OH $#&T!!

#2

I initially thought this was my favorite card art in the set before I looked through them all again for this. The pose, the spear, the clouds.

#1

I would pay to read an Ian Taylor short story about this scene. Epic.

Afterword

These are my 10 (technically 11) favorite pieces from Epic Pantheon. Let me know your favorites either from this set or Epic as a whole. (Yes Cast Out is based on me.) Also not all of the Pantheon art is spectacular **cough**ScrapGolem**cough**.

In the meantime, I have started filming my Epic Constructed Tiered Card Ratings. I am also contemplating starting a massive scale project to work on concurrently. If I go through with it, it’ll probably take weeks to months but would be awesome (hopefully).

Scarred Cultist Walker

Foreword

Now that my Constructed Card Ratings are up (except for the card by card analysis videos), I’m more determined than ever to use/break low rated cards. Erwin here we come.

Decklist

Evil (30) [+3 Erwin]

Slow (11)
3x Angel of Death
2x Necromancer Lord
2x Steed of Zaltessa
2x The Gudgeon
2x Winged Death

Fast (9)
3x Drain Essence
3x Final Task
3x Medusa

0-Cost (10)
2x Corpsemonger
3x Guilt Demon
2x Little Devil
3x Scarred Cultist

Good (0)

Sage (24)

Slow (4)
1x Mist Guide Herald
3x Time Walker

Fast (12)
3x Ancient Chant
3x Erase
2x Fairy Trickster
3x Reset
1x Teleport

0-Cost (8)
3x Erwin, Architect of War
3x Forcemage Apprentice
2x Muse

Wild (6)

Slow ()

Fast (4)
1x Fiery Demise
3x Surprise Attack

0-Cost (1)
2x Hunting Pterosaur

Discussion

The potentially underrated cards that formed the core of what I wanted to do were Erwin, Time Walker, and Scarred Cultist. (Cultist got an incognito tier bump partially because of this). Erwin could theoretically let me hit loyalty in two different alignments which is interesting. Cultist seems like it could be quite powerful, but I wasn’t able to find a deck for it. Time Walker works with both, and it’s the card that keeps making me want to build a 30/30 Evil/Sage 0-cost champion deck. So, that’s where I started.

I’ve built 0-cost blitzer decks in the past (bounce-based and Banishment/No Escape-based), and the biggest hurdle is always Raxxa’s Curse. If I play Little Devil, attack, and it gets Cursed, I fall so far behind. Therefore, instead of focusing on blitzing 0’s for my bounce deck, I wanted to focus on value 0’s, namely Scarred Cultist, Hunting Pterosaur, and Forcemage Apprentice. All of these give immediate value when they enter play, are worthwhile threats if not removed, and are great to get back to hand. If one of these gets Cursed after I’ve already retrieved a card or broken a Muse/Plucker, I’m okay with that.

Next, I worked out which Loyalty 2 champions I wanted to pursue, since Erwin needs a justification for inclusion (beyond playing it before Time Walker/Reset for a free recycle). Obviously I needed to be able to hit Evil loyalty for Cultist, I always want Medusa if possible, Angel of Death is amazing, and Necromancer Lord has some nice tricks in this deck (Final Task, Time Walker, Scarred Cultist). For Sage though, the only particularly interesting one was Time Walker. Therefore, since it is impossible to get 33 of 60 cards in both alignments, I decided to focus on Evil (since I want to hit Evil Loyalty early and often) and drop my Sage count to 24, making room for the Hunting Pterosaurs.

While I seriously dislike including Loyalty 2 cards in factions with less than 33 cards of that alignment or 55% (see my Epic Constructed Process article), in theory, this deck has some tricks to subvert that soft-restriction. First, I only have 3 cards that need loyalty outside of my main faction. Second, these are cards I believe I’ll generally want to wait until a bit later in the game to use. Third, Erwin, once drawn, will spend most of the rest of the game in my hand, meaning I only need 1 more card to activate Walker. Fourth, Ancient Chant Recall off-turn can potentially provide that second Loyalty card, so can Scarred Cultist (although I cut most of my other 1-cost Sage champions…). I’ll be curious to see how well this works. I don’t want to play it safe and go down to 2 Walkers because it is one of the strongest cards in the deck. On the plus side, if I do draw all 3 Walkers, at least I’ll have loyalty for them.

So, the goal of this deck is to win by chipping down the opponent with 0-cost champions while outvaluing them by repeatedly playing incredibly powerful loyalty 2 champions. While less of a focus as in the past, playing a 0-cost champion and attacking or passing is a strong option for this deck. Where similar decks falter, however, is that they don’t have strong on-turn gold punishers to follow up. This is particularly true because Evil has historically had little to no worthwhile on-turn gold punishers. Steed of Zaltessa changes that. If your opponent spends their gold first on your turn, you get to hit them for 11 and leave a 7 defense airborne champion in play, incredible. (I think I want space for 3.) The fact that Evil now has a powerful on-turn gold punisher is a huge deal, and it is one of the reasons why a 6/5 version of Corpse Taker (Cultist) can actually be a powerful card, more on this in the constructed ratings videos. Winged Death is also a strong board-control gold-punisher.

Fairy Trickster is the final interesting piece of this build. Ideally, I’ll ambush it in off-turn, expend it to target my deck, and flip any of my 0-cost champions, effectively drawing and playing that card, not bad. I’ve used it in the past in similar decks, and it’s been okay, but I’m curious about experimenting with it in this deck. One interesting note is that if you use this off-turn and/or during combat and you turn up a slow champion, you can actually play that champion (effectively as if it had ambush). Surprise Attack on a body could be interesting, particularly with Winged Death, Necromancer Lord, Time Walker, Mist Guide Herald, and Winged Death. We’ll see.

Current Concerns

Right now, I’m a bit lighter on card draw than I like to be, especially since I’m being overly generous and counting Fairy Trickster as card draw. Theoretically, the AoE bounces from Time Walker and Reset could keep me stocked with cards, but I won’t know until testing. Due to this lack of card draw concern, I shifted a bit away from Mist Guide Herald, which can in theory be pretty strong when it hits Time Walker. Due to the decreased MGH count, Final Task becomes worse, as does Teleport.

If I continue with this deck, I would probably end up cutting the Tricksters, MGH, Teleport, and decreasing the Final Task count. The 2-2 Little Devil Corpsemonger ratio might shift too. Hopefully the final two as of yet unspoiled Pantheon packs will give the final cards needed for these slots.

Epic: Constructed Tiered Card Ratings

Foreword

Below are the 264 currently-legal cards for Epic constructed divided into 9 tiers (Core, Tyrants, Uprising, and 4 of 6 Pantheon packs [not yet available for retail]). In constructed, the power level of each card is heavily influenced by the other cards that are being played, the “meta.” For example, if everyone is playing untargetable champions, non-targeted removal (Scara’s Will and Winged Death) are effectively better while targeted removal (Erase and Drain Essence) are effectively worthless.

Therefore, since I want this first rating to be relevant for as long as possible, I have tried to keep it as meta-agnostic as reasonable. Instead of rating the cards based on their power level at this exact moment, I have grouped them by relative power level that can fluctuate based on the meta. From these tier groupings, I plan on making around 9 videos (about 1 per tier) to explain the cards’ strengths and weaknesses and my rationale for their placements. I recommend focusing on tiers 1-5 when building decks. (I might also write a meta-based ranking to accompany this article that I can update as the meta shifts.)

If you disagree or want clarification on any of the cards’ positions below, let me know in the comments. I’ll plan on spending a bit more time talking about those cards in my videos. Also, I know this clashes with most players’ views on at least a few cards, so tell me why I’m wrong!

Since limited formats (like Dark Draft) are entirely different animals, I have a separate Dark Draft Card Ratings as well.

Ratings Formatting

The below formatting is as follow

Tier Name (# of cards in tier / # of cards total legal cards)

Brief description of tier

Alignment (# of cards in alignment in tier / # of legal cards of that alignment total) [# of cards in the alignment for this and all previous tiers]

Individual cards are searchable with ctrl + f / cmd + f. Clicking on a card name will currently open the card’s linked image in a new tab. Once the videos are up I’ll, ideally, switch the link to the timestamped video where I discuss it.

Banned Cards (3/264)

These cards were banned from constructed largely because of their interaction with Chamberlain Kark Combo/Control decks.

Good (2/66)

Blind Faith, Ceasefire

Sage (1/66)

Fumble

Tier 1: Meta Shaping (28/261) [31]

These cards are absurdly powerful and/or have heavily influenced the meta at some point.

Evil (10/66)

Drain Essence, Drinker of Blood, Medusa, Necromancer Lord, Raxxa’s Curse, Rift Summoner, Scara’s Gift, Scara’s Will, Soul Hunter, Zannos Corpse Lord

Good (4/64) [4]

Angel of Light, Chamberlain Kark, Noble Unicorn, Silver Wing Savior

Sage (8/65) [8]

Amnesia, Ancient Chant, Erase, Lesson Learned, Muse, Sea Titan, Thought Plucker, Wave of Transformation

Wild (6/66)

Brachiosaurus, Kong, Raging T-Rex, Smash and Burn, Strafing Dragon, Surprise Attack

Tier 2: Powerful Support (31/261) [62]

These are cards that play important roles in powerful decks and/or cards not quite strong enough to make tier 1.

Evil (5/66) [15]

Angel of Death, Dark One’s Fury, Dirge of Scara, Guilt Demon, Zombie Apocalypse

Good (12/64) [16]

Bodyguard, Brave Squire, Cast Out, Divine Judgement, Gold Dragon, Inheritance of the Meek, Insurgency, Martial Law, Palace Guard, Priest of Kalnor, Silver Wing Guardian, Silver Wing Lancer

Sage (5/65) [13]

Forcemage Apprentice, Force Lance, Frantic Digging, Hasty Retreat, Mist Guide Herald

Wild (9/66) [15]

Draka Dragon Tyrant, Draka’s Enforcer, Feeding Frenzy, Flame Spike, Hunting Pack, Kalani Woodreader, Lightning Strike, Rage, Wolf’s Bite

Tier 3: Powerful Filler (45/261) [107]

These are powerful cards that fill very specific roles for very specific decks.

Evil (15/66) [30]

Apocalypse, Army of the Apocalypse, Consume, Demonic Rising, Final Task, Forbidden Research, Murderous Necromancer, Plague, Plentiful Dead, Raxxa Demon Tyrant, Reaper, Steed of Zaltessa, Unquenchable Thirst, Winged Death, Wither

Good (8/64) [24]

Brand Rebel Fighter, Faithful Pegasus, Justice Prevails, Markus Watch Captain, Rescue Griffin, Resurrection, Revolt, Urgent Messengers

Sage (10/65) [23]

Helion the Dominator, Ice Drake, Juggernaut, Keeper of Secrets, Knight of Shadows, Siren’s Song, Steel Titan, Vanishing, Velden Frost Titan, War Machine

Wild (12/66) [27]

Brak Fist of Lashnok, Fiery Demise, Fires of Rebellion, Flames of Furios, Flash Fire, Go Wild, Greater Lightning WurmHerald of Lashnok, Hunting Pterosaur, Hurricane, Scarros Hound of Draka, Spore Beast

Tier 4: Tech Cards (44/261) [150]

These cards fill even narrower roles based on the meta and/or are linchpins in specialized decks.

Evil (9/66) [39]

Corpsemonger, Heinous Feast, Little Devil, Plague Zombies, Raxxa’s DispleasureScarred Cultist, Scarred Priestess, Spawning Demon, The Gugeon

Good (8/64) [32]

Ambush Party, Angel of Mercy, Angeline’s Will, Master Zo, New Dawn, Paros Rebel Leader, Watchful Gargoyle, White Dragon

Sage (15/65) [38]

Arcane Research, Citadel Raven, Crystal Golem, Deadly Raid, Djinn of the Sands, Elara the Lycomancer, Ethereal Dragon, Knight of Elara, Memory Spirit, Reset, Reusable Knowledge, Shadow ImpSpike Trap, Teleport, Time Walker

Wild (12/66) [39]

Cave Troll, Draka’s Fire, Fire Shaman, Fire Spirit, Flame Strike, Hunting Raptors, Lash, Lashnok’s Will, Pyromancer, Pyrosaur, Savage Uprising, Stampeding Einiosaur

Tier 5: Reasonably Powerful (36/261) [187]

These are okay cards on their own. They might make it into competitive decks or find homes in highly synergistic decks.

Evil (7/66) [46]

Dark Knight, Grave Demon, Necromancer Apprentice, Necrovirus, No Escape, Raxxa’s Enforcer, Zealous Necromancer

Good (14/64) [46]

Angel of the Gate, Avenger of Covenant, Avenging Angel, Banishment, Courageous Soul, Helena’s Chosen, High King, Inner Peace, Knight of the Dawn, Lord of the Arena, Quell, Second Wind, Secret Legion, White Knight

Sage (10/65) [48]

Erratic Research, Frost Giant, Gareth’s Juggernaut, Gareth’s Will, Master Forcemage, Psionic Assault, Steel Golem, Temporal Enforcer, Temporal Shift, Warrior Golem

Wild (5/66) [44]

Den Mother, Keira Wolf Caller, Rybas Canopy Sniper, Triceratops, Wurm Hatchling

Tier 6: Might Play (22/261) [209]

These are the weakest cards I can feasibly see myself playing in a competitive deck.

Evil (7/66) [53]

Dark Offering, Hands from Below, Herald of Scara, Krieg Dark One’s Chosen, Reap or Sow, Run Riot, Thrasher Demon

Good (5/64) [51]

Angeline’s Favor, Noble Martyr, Priestess of Angeline, Royal Escort, Silver Dragon

Sage (6/65) [54]

Alchemist Assassin, Fairy Entrancer, Mystic Researcher, Scrap Golem, Stand Alone, Winter Fairy

Wild (4/66) [48]

Lightning Storm, Mighty Blow, Mythic Monster, Rain of Fire

Tier 7: Might Experiment (26/261) [235]

These cards are the bottom of the barrel of cards I would theoretically play.

Evil (6/66) [59]

Corpse Taker, Dark Assassin, Demon Breach, Inner Demon, Succubus, Word of Summoning

Good (6/64) [57]

Angelic Protector, Feint, Hand of Angeline, Herald of Angeline, The People’s Champion, Village Protector

Sage (7/65) [61]

Blue Dragon, Citadel Scholar, Erwin Architect of War, Fairy Trickster, Helion’s Fury, Lying in Wait, Turn

Wild (7/66) [55]

AnkylosarusBattle CryGreat Horned Lizard, Jungle Queen, Lurking Giant, Pack Alpha, Winds of Change

Tier 8: Effectively Unplayable (20/261) [255]

I can’t see myself ever playing these cards in constructed at this point.

Evil (4/) [63]

Bitten, Saren Night Stalker, The Risen, Vampire Lord

Good (6/64) [63]

Forced Exile, Gladius the DefenderRabble Rouser, Standard Bearer, Thundarus, Vital Mission

Sage (4/65) [65]

Force Field, Ogre Mercenary, Time Bender, Transform

Wild (6/66) [61]

Bruger the Pathfinder, Chomp!, Entangling Vines, Fireball, Rampaging Wurm, Sea Hydra

Tier 9: Nothing to See Here (9/261) [264]

You can basically forget these cards exist for constructed.

Evil (3/66) [66]

Dark Leader, Infernal Gatekeeper, Trihorror

Good (1/64) [64]

Rally the People

Sage (0/65) [65]

Wild (5/66) [66]

Bellowing Minotaur, Burrowing Wurm, Forked Lightning, Wolf Companion, Wolf’s Call

Disclaimer

I am a better limited player than a constructed player. I tried to factor out my personal biases for these rankings as much as possible, but doing so completely is impossible and ultimately undesirable.

Maligus vs Furios Draft Ratings

Foreword

Part 3 of my Pantheon review for Dark Draft. For my non-Pantheon reviews check out the full article. Gareth vs Lashnok ratings , Scara vs Angeline ratings , Zaltessa vs Helena ratings

So excited that I finally get to write about Krieg, my favorite card of the set (followed by Silver Wing Savior, Scarred Priestess, Cast Out, and Scara’s Will).

Maligus vs Furios

Fiery Demise Rating

Always Desirable

“Draw 2 ands” are amazing, particularly off-turn ones. Eventually you’ll need to spend a gold to draw 2, and if you can remove a Thought Plucker, Muse, Winged Death, etc. with that draw 2, amazing. If nothing else, it’s a free 3 damage to your opponent.

Greater Lightning Wurm Rating

Situationally Desirable +

6 damage is enough to break a lot of important champions, such as Noble Unicorn, Avenging Angel, Strafing Dragon, and Murderous Necromancer. Attaching that to a 10 defense minion (which is out of range of Drain Essence, Hurricane, and Savage Uprising) is solid, even more so since that 12 breakthrough offense makes that big leftover booty a real threat.

And of course, the 6 damage can always hit your opponent, which is quite powerful if they’re at 6 health, if they have no health gain, or if they are relying on bounce effects for removal (Erase, Sea Titan, etc.). To reiterate though, when I draft this, I will almost always want to use it to remove an opponent’s champion because reestablishing champions are gods in limited. Would not draft a 12/10 Burrowing Wurm outside of Wild though.

Kalani, Woodreader Rating

Always First Pickable

0-cost 5/5 blitz, sold.

5 offense means this can kill your opponent in 6 attacks, and 5 defense means that the only 0s that can meaningfully remove it are Spike Trap, Lightning Strike, and Raxxa’s Curse. (Actually, Brand Rebel Fighter, Dark Knight, and Brave Squire can break it in combat too.)

All of that makes this an Always First Pickable card by itself, but preventing your opponent from gaining health also has value. If your opponent can’t remove this (you’re probably winning anyways but), they can’t effectively use Second Wind, Righteous is turned off, and Inner Peace becomes a dead card.

This can also help setup a burnout kill. Normally, spending your gold on your turn to get your opponent in range of an off-turn burn effect (like Flame Strike), is a risky move, even if their gold is down. This is because they can always go to their turn and immediately spend their gold to gain health before you get initiative to play your burn effect. However, if you play Kalani on your turn, after your opponent’s spends their gold, and don’t attack, they need exactly Raxxa’s Curse, Lightning Strike, Vanishing, or Siren’s Song otherwise all of their 1-cost health gain is worthless. (If they don’t have a 1-cost answer to Kalani, all of their 0-cost health gain is worthless too.)

Rules Interaction: If you play Drain Essence targeting an opponent’s Kalani, you will gain 9 health. This is because Kalani immediately breaks after taking 9 damage, and it is therefore not in play when Drain Essence tries to gain you 9 health. This also applies to blocking and breaking Kalani with a righteous champion, since Righteous is a triggered effect, it waits to resolve until after champions break to combat damage.

Herald of Angeline Rating

Rarely Playable

Worst Herald (so far). In addition to generically not liking the Herald effect in Dark Draft, Herald of Angeline is in the worst Dark Draft alignment, Good. Therefore, in order to get enough cards for me to feel comfortable successfully drawing a card off this Herald, I need to draft about 19 other Good cards, not going to happen. (On the plus side, since Good is so weak in Dark Draft, you’re more likely to get Good cards passed to you enabling you to get closer to my arbitrary 19.) Then, once you have your 20 Good card Dark Draft deck, this card asks you to play a 1-cost, slow, 5 defense champion without blitz; I really dislike 5 or less defense 1-cost champions because of 0-cost cards like Lightning Strike and Spike Trap.

Further, even if you draw a card from Herald and even if it isn’t removed before it can attack, it still breaks for nothing but 7 health gain against powerful 6/8 airborne champions like Ice Drake and Ethereal Dragon. It also only trades with most other 1-cost airborne champions. Although, when put that way, draw a card, gain 7 health, and break an airborne champion like Angel of the Gate, that doesn’t sound too bad. If it manages to live through that first attack it might gain 14+ health. However, that is a lot of easily preventable if’s.

Angeline’s Will Rating

Situationally Acceptable +

As mentioned, I don’t value the “Will” effect highly in Dark Draft, and the fact that this doesn’t even have an “Or Draw 2” option really plummets my evaluation of the card. While 10 health gain could be strong against an opponent who heavily drafts burn, and I do highly value Inner Peace, spending a gold and a card just to gain 10 health feels weak.

Further, unlike Scara’s Will, the removal effect doesn’t deal with untargetable champions (which are hard to deal with already), it can’t remove an ambush champion before it blocks, and it requires the champion to be expended to even be used. It does banish though, which is almost always better than break. Also, Good has better on-turn gold-punishers than Evil, for example Silver Wing Savior (which could get this back), Silver Wing Lancer, and Gold Dragon. Hmmmm, that actually seems fairly strong, if I’ve already drafted 2+ on-turn, 1-cost, Good, gold-punishers, I’ll value this higher going forward. Otherwise, no thank you. (As a side note, Two Time World Champion John Tatian does like this card “quite a lot.”)

Knight of the Dawn Rating

Always First Pickable

Another 0-cost blitz champion. Can banish a demon when played too, so it is a nice answer to your opponent Raxxa’s Cursing your first 0-cost blitz champion. It’s also a human so it can ride Faithful Pegasus.

Scara’s Gift Rating

Situationally Acceptable +

This card is a beast in constructed, as The Flock demonstrated by putting John Tatian and James Moreland into top 8 with it. If you can repeatedly trigger this, it can gain a ridiculous amount of incidental health and do a ridiculous amount of incidental damage, which is great if you are using a bunch of Evil 1-cost cards to control the board.

However, in Dark Draft I generally don’t draft that many 1-cost cards that could trigger this. Even though I go Evil frequently, that is usually off the back of multiple powerful 0-cost cards and just a couple key 1-cost cards. (As a reminder, spending a gold on a 0-cost card’s Draw 2 ability does not trigger ally abilities.) So, when you take into consideration the fact that I probably won’t cast this more than a few times a game, and the fact that it doesn’t impact the board at all, I am not convinced that this is a consistently worthwhile Dark Draft card.

Krieg, Dark One’s Chosen Rating

Situationally Acceptable

I didn’t think much of this card when I saw it, but then I realized how it’s ally trigger interacts. Now it is my favorite card of the set (even if it isn’t consistently that strong). Setting aside the ally trigger for now, an 8/8 that produces two 2/2 zombie tokens isn’t all that impressive, but at least it’s a human for Pegasus and Cast Out. Not a great start though.

However, the Ally ability is sick. In Epic, any effects triggered by another effect “triggered effects” (denoted by a trigger and an arrow such as Ally -> , Tribute -> , Loyalty 2 -> , and When this attacks -> ) are put into a heap until that “triggering effect” is finished resolving. Then, you choose the order in which those heaped triggers resolve.

Example 1 (Event)

Say I have Krieg in play and Necrovirus in my discard pile. If I play Apocalypse, both Krieg’s triggered Ally ability and Necrovirus‘ triggered Ally ability are put into a heap, then I fully resolve Apocalypse and break all champions. Now that Apocalypse has fully resolved, I choose to resolve Necrovirus‘ triggered Ally ability first to put 3 zombie tokens into play. Then, I resolve Krieg’s triggered Ally ability, put 1 zombie token into play and give all of my zombie tokens +1/+1 and blitz. This leaves me with 4 3/3 blitzing zombies after I cleared the board, good stuff.

Example 2 (Champion)

Say I have Krieg in play. If I play Zannos Corpse Lord, both Krieg’s triggered Ally ability and Zannos‘ triggered Loyalty X ability are put into a heap. I choose to resolve Zannos‘ triggered Loyalty X ability first, reveal 5 cards, drain my opponent for 5 health, and make 5 zombie tokens. Then I resolve Krieg’s triggered Ally ability, put 1 zombie token into play and give all of my zombie tokens +1/+1 and blitz. This leaves me with 6 3/3 blitzing zombies, in addition to Krieg’s 8/8 body and Zannos‘ 9/9 body. I like it, I like it a lot.

If you have a Krieg in play and you play a second Krieg, you would end up with 3 3/3 blitzing zombies.

I love this interaction because it is cool, and it rewards a deep understanding of how cards actually resolve in Epic. It also works quite nicely with Forbidden Research (make the zombie first then break the zombie to recall) and Scarred Priestess (use the made zombie as fodder to break an opponent’s champion every time you play a 1-cost Evil card). The problem though, is getting Krieg into play.

As we mentioned, playing Krieg for an 8/8 and two 2/2s isn’t that strong, but at least it isn’t horrible. Further, to get great use out of it’s triggered ally ability we need cards that aren’t great in Dark Draft: Scarred Priestess, Zannos Corpse Lord, Necrovirus etc. (Necrovirus is actually the best of the 3 in limited, and Murderous Necromancer is actually quite strong.) Therefore, the odds of both this being strong in your deck and finding a time to play it are low, and I’d usually much rather draft an always acceptable card in its spot. I will try long and hard to break it in constructed though, but it won’t be easy.

Dark One’s Fury Rating

Frequently Desirable

I value Draws 2s. I frequently draft Evil. One-sided board clears are amazing. Even if your opponent is going Evil and you aren’t, counter drafting this to keep it out of their hands is still strong, especially since it’s always at least a draw 2.

Erwin, Architect of War Rating

Always Acceptable +

I’ve hit loyalty in 3 different alignments in one game because of this card. When focusing on 0-cost cards and “best cards in pack” over drafting “In Alignment,” this can be quite nice to help hit loyalty effects in your secondary, possibly tertiary, and even just primary alignment that you naturally fell into. For the most part, you just want to keep this in your hand to help hit loyalty for much of the game. But, if you need to find a new card, you can always just play it and recycle. 5 defense is not irrelevant either, since it survives a demon attack each turn.

Solid card, I’d pick actively strong cards over it, but I’m always up for drafting it if there’s nothing else crazy in the pack.

Ethereal Dragon Rating

Always Desirable

Ambush, Airborne champions are powerful. 8 defense makes it hard to kill in the air, and it even survives Flames of Furios. 6 offense is a real threat. Untargetable is incredible, and it lets you ambush this in while your opponent’s gold is up to use as a hard to punish blocker. Big fan.

Scrap Golem Rating

Situationally ????

(Scrap Tokens are token versions of this without Recall or Loyalty 2 -> blitz)

I was in love with this card when I first saw it as a promo (because my favorite card in Magic is Chronozoa), but now that I have it, it just doesn’t seem strong enough (even though they buffed it by giving it a recall ability).

Obviously, without loyalty this card is awful because it’s just a slow 6/6. With loyalty, it’s two slow 6/6s, meh? However, if at least one of them survives both the turn you play it and your opponent’s turn (which is reasonably likely because two 6/6 bodies aren’t easy to remove without a board clear), you can produce even moar 6/6 bodies! Then, theoretically, as long as any of these 6/6s survive until your next turn, you can continue to pump out 6/6s for just that one initial gold. Ignoring the fact that this also gets shut down by Amnesia effects or just running out of cards in your discard pile, is this even worth it? If yes, is it still worth it when you do consider those restrictions? I honestly don’t know yet.

(As a quick side note, since the Scrap Tokens are Tokens, they can be banished by Markus Watch Captain and Silver Dragon.)

Overall

This pack has a lot of interesting cards, and it does come with a few particularly strong 0s. Kalani is probably the strongest card in the pack for Dark Draft (Scara’s Gift is the strongest for constructed), but Knight of the Dawn and Ethereal Dragon are up there too. Krieg is going to be one of my new pet cards (like Knight of Elara) that I constantly try (and probably fail) to build decks around. Looking forward to it.

Zaltessa vs Helena

Foreword

Part 3 of my Pantheon review for Dark Draft. For my non-Pantheon reviews check out the full article. Gareth vs Lashnok ratings , Scara vs Angeline ratings

Zaltessa vs Helena

Ambush Party Rating

Always Acceptable –

If you are going tokens, particularly human tokens, this card can be quite strong. Not only does it threaten 9 damage by itself and draw a card (the addition of a card draw is a huge deal), but it can also combo with other champions you have in play. Like Secret Legion, it gives all humans blitz meaning you can play Courageous Soul first, then play this to give it blitz and attack for 21. (Scarred Cultist appreciates this card too). This card is everything the human token deck wants (except unbreakable tokens).

Off-turn though, this is generally a worse Urgent Messengers. It sacrifices 1 card for 1 token and a frequently irrelevant +2 offense buff. However, it can allow you to trigger the expend abilities of Murderous Necromancer and Gladius the Defender early.

Outside of a human token deck, 9 blitzing damage with a card draw is a reasonable gold punisher, although it is weak to Flash Fire/Wither, and 3 chump blockers off turn with a card draw isn’t terrible either. While a significant portion of the time I’d rather have the extra card from a draw 2, if your opponent can’t answer the tokens, you can get multiple blocks or multiple attacks through.

Cast Out Rating

Always First Pickable

Yes, that is me in the art. No, that is not John Tatian. And yes, this card is actually incredibly powerful.

The ability to banish a champion, namely Muse as depicted in the art, (or Thought Plucker/Mist Guide Herald/Necromancer Lord [preventing Final Task], Bodyguard [preventing it from being recalled], Dark Knight [getting around unbreakable], Warrior Golem [preventing the recycle], Spore Beast, Courageous Soul, Fire Shaman, Guilt Demon, etc.) without any other help is insane. Getting 2 humans while doing that also makes this a threat/gives you chump blockers.

Where this gets even crazier though is when you have other human champions in play, not just human tokens (Citadel Scholar, Scarred Cultist, Master Zo, etc.). With just one extra human in play, this can banish champions like Juggernaut, Pyrosaur, Shadow Imp, Cave TrollWinged Death, and Winter Fairy. Play Insurgency first and then you can banish a 6 defense champion. (I believe Hampus Eriksson banished my Gold Dragon with this card in constructed.)

Ignoring all of that, this is also one of only three 0-cost Good cards with an or draw 2 option (Revolt and Angeline’s Favor being the other 2). Like Raxxa’s Curse, this is an incredibly high pick for me, regardless of what else I’ve drafted.

 

Helena’s Chosen Rating

Situationally Desirable

I am a fan of Tribute -> Draw a card. In addition, putting that on a champion that needs to be removed otherwise it will generate two 3/1 tokens every turn is quite a real threat. However, the loyalty ability is tied to Good which remains the worst overall Dark Draft faction, since it relies so much on specific synergies which are hard to come by in limited. In addition, the 5 defense means 0-cost cards can remove it, like Lightning Strike (but not Spike Trap since this usually won’t attack).

Generally, if I’m already in Good, I’ll take this, otherwise I’ll pick it over 1-cost cards that don’t have ambush, draw a card, blitz, or untargetable.

Alchemist Assassin Rating

Frequently Desirable –

0-cost blitz champions are strong. Play this while your gold is up and attack. If they spend their gold, you spend yours. Otherwise you probably get 3 unblockable damage through and pass. The 1 defense makes it so everything breaks it, which makes it worse than some other 0-cost blitzers, but unblockable is a big bonus.

This can also be strong with unbreakable effects such as Brave Squire, Force Lance, or Mighty Blow. If your opponent’s gold is down, and you have an unbreakable effect, or possibly just a defense buff like Go Wild, the gold ability can be relevant. Otherwise, I wouldn’t use it unless you’ve seen every card in your opponent’s deck, and you know they won’t have a way to remove this after you pump it; Spending a gold to pump this just for it to get removed by Lash, Wolf’s Bite, or Cast Out would be a huge loss and could easily cost you the game.

Gareth’s Will Rating

Always Acceptable +

As I explained in my first Pantheon review, I don’t value the Will effect highly in Dark Draft. I also delved into this card’s potential, with a comparison of it to Vanishing, in my visual spoiler for it.

Overall, the only-on-your-turn (fast-combat) bounce effect isn’t quite worth a gold, particularly when compared to Erase, Temporal Shift, or even Helion’s Fury (not to mention Sea Titan and Velden). However, Sage does have great on-turn gold punishers that this can bait your opponent into playing into, such as Velden, Steel Golem, War Machine, etc.

In general, I’d rather draft something that is always strong even if I don’t have another worthwhile Sage 1-cost effect in hand, but if I’m in Sage or there aren’t any better draw 2s in the pack, I’ll draft this.

Mystic Researcher Rating

Situationally Diserable

This just seems like a worse, Sage-Loyalty dependent Winter Fairy. If in Sage, it draws 2 cards immediately, then threatens to draw an extra card each turn. Hmmmm, getting a guaranteed 2 cards does make this better against removal effects, particularly bounce and banish, but it doesn’t threaten 4 airborne damage each turn.

In general, this card is pretty awful to play when behind because it doesn’t do anything to impact the board by itself; however, with a lot of 0-cost cards in your deck, since this is Dark Draft, it could draw you into some reasonable plays…It is quite strong to play when your opponent’s gold is down when you are either at parity or ahead though.

I need to experiment more with this card, but only when I’m in Sage. (A slow 3/2 champion that draws 1 card and doesn’t threaten to do anything else until your next turn is terrible.)

Bruger, the Pathfinder Rating

Always Acceptable –

Ambush, unblockable, 6 defense, reasonable off-turn gold-punisher. If you can play this when your opponent’s gold is down on their turn, they need to spend a gold, Smash and Burn, or multiple cards to remove it (since it survives Spike Trap, Lightning Strike, etc.). In addition, the turn you play it, it is an 8/9 body, so it can block some non-airborne champions favorably. Aside from that, I don’t see the tribute/when this damages an opponent effect being too relevant, unless you have the highly valuable card Hunting Pack and/or Den Mother.

I’d generally rather have my 1-cost cards affect the board and/or draw me cards, but off-turn gold-punishers are important too.

Herald of Lashnok Rating

Situationally Acceptable

Best Herald (so far), but I’m still not a huge fan of them in Dark Draft. If you have a high density of Wild cards (I’d personally want around 19 others for this card), this can be an establishing/gold-punishing on-turn blitzer, similar to Juggernaut. Without a buff, this runs the risk of hitting an ambushed Lurking Giant (or even Bruger) if used as an establishing blitzer though. Otherwise, it forces your opponent to have an immediate answer or take up to 8 breakthrough damage (since you wouldn’t play and attack with this if your opponent already had a way to effectively block it in play). Also, unlike Juggernaut, it isn’t easily breakable off-turn with its 6 defense.

Still though, I don’t see myself being happy about drafting a herald in Dark Draft often. (Great in Pluck You’s constructed deck at Worlds though.)

Hunting Pterosaur Rating

Always First Pickable

0-cost ambush, airborne champion that can break Muse, Thought Plucker, etc. Amazing. I’ve even just thrown it in front of Little Devil multiple times and been fairly happy.

Dirge of Scara Rating

Always Acceptable +

In Dark Draft you generally need to spend a gold to draw 2 multiple times. With this, you eventually get a demon too. I’ll take a free demon with an effect I wanted anyway. It can also be recalled to get another draw 2 to hand, in addition to the demon.

Similar to Ancient Chant, if you play Lesson Learned targeting this card, the “when this card leaves your discard pile” trigger will happen twice, so you’ll draw 2 cards and get 2 demons.

Necromancer Apprentice Rating

Frequently Desirable

0-cost cards are important, and this card has been surprisingly effective for me. Getting a free chump blocker every turn, while whittling away my opponent’s discard pile, has given me the time to get back into games I might have lost otherwise.

Steed of Zaltessa Rating

Situationally Desirable

6/7 airborne blitz is a strong on-turn gold-punisher stat line. At 7 defense it generally requires a gold to remove, and 6 airborne offense is a real threat. If in Evil, an extra 5 damage can be pretty devastating too, especially since 11 damage can be quite unexpected from an Evil deck. The ability to turn off health gain doesn’t seem that great, but if you do end up playing this while the opponent’s gold is up, at least they can’t gain health in response, requiring them to block/remove this or take 6 more damage. Also, if they bounce it, you can replay it for 5 more damage later. It’s even a demon for Raxxa’s Displeasure.

Overall

This is the pack to get if you want to play human tokens. Cast Out is insane and the best card in the pack. For Dark Draft, Hunting Pterosaur is a close second. The weakest card is Bruger, the Pathfinder.

Aside from human token constructed decks, Dirge of Scara will be a staple in Evil non-aggro decks as it is one of Evil’s few draw 2+ cards. I’m even experimenting with a sub 30 draw-effects constructed deck due to this and Forbidden Research. Herald of Lashnok is another solid threat/establishing champion for the Wild arsenal. Gareth’s Will is an incredibly intriguing card because it allows interesting Master Forcemage shenanigans, but I haven’t found a Sage deck for it yet that can compete with either the Wild or Evil Worlds decks.

Only 1 final pack to review. I plan to get it up before I head out on Friday.

Scara vs Angeline Draft Ratings

Foreword

Part 2 of my Pantheon review for Dark Draft. For my non-Pantheon reviews check out the full article. Gareth vs Lashnok ratings

“Herald” Cards (Pantheon Specific)

Pantheon introduces a cycle of Herald cards: Herald of Scara, Herald of Angeline, Herald of Lashnok, and probably a Herald of Gareth in the final two unspoiled packs. They are 1-cost champions with a Tribute effect that lets you reveal the top 3 cards of your deck and chose a card of the same alignment to add to your hand. (Banish the other revealed cards.)

Just like the Will cards, these are weak for my draft strategy because I frequently don’t have much more than 10 to 12 cards of my dominant alignment. Therefore, my likelihood of revealing 3 non-alignment matching cards is greater than I am willing to accept. I’d much rather draft either a more reliable alignment-independent card or an alignment-dependent card that I can be sure will activate when I choose to play it.

That being said, if you have recycled through your entire deck and have been keeping track of the order of your banished cards, these can be great to get you to the card you need that you know is coming (assuming it is in your Herald’s alignment). It could even just burn you past 3 cards you didn’t want to draw. Also, if you are in the draft-as-much-of-1-alignment-as-possible camp, these cards becomes much better because you are more likely to get at least 1 alignment-matching card; you might even be able to choose between 2 alignment-matching cards.

Scara vs Angeline

Angeline’s Favor Rating

Always Acceptable

Draw 2, always acceptable. 0-cost, I’m listening. Jump with a +2/+2 attached, hmm. Best case scenario, you use this to give a Kong airborne and hit your opponent for 15 damage, past whatever non-airborne blockers they might have in play. 0-cost deal 15, seems strong. It also bypasses a potential ambush, non-airborne chump blocker, since you can use it in combat, before blockers are declared.

However, for a 0-cost card that can get damage through, I’d generally rather have breakthrough (Rage/Lash), chump blocker removal (Wither/Raxxa’s Curse/etc), or potential big removal (Vanishing/Feeding Frenzy). In all of these scenarios, not only do I still potentially get damage through (although possibly less damage), but I also remove the chump blocker so it can’t stop me next turn either. Granted, if you just kill your opponent with that one attack, removing a potential chump blocker doesn’t matter.

In addition, I’d draft 0-cost champions over this or high-value champions like Kong, but if I need card draw (and I usually do), this is a perfectly acceptable card that could potentially win me the game.

Also, nearly forgot to mention that this can be used to surprise block an opponent’s attacking airborne champion. “Well hello there Avenging Angel.” #StealingFromTheAmazingSpiderTankGamingBlog

Silver Wing Guardian Rating

Usually Desirable

Ambush champions in Dark Draft are great. Airborne champions in Dark Draft are great. Health gain in Dark Draft is pretty strong. Put all that together and you have a solid card, especially since it doesn’t rely on Loyalty or Ally effects.

This is particularly strong with combat tricks, namely Brave Squire. Ambush this in on your opponent’s turn during an attack, gain 4 health, Brave Squire it and block with it (if opponent’s gold is up, Brave Squire before passing initiative, otherwise Brave Squire after blocking), break the opponent’s attacking champion, gain 11 more health, and have a 6/6 airborne righteous champion to attack with on your next turn. (Tom Dixon figured this one out and it was incredibly strong in constructed.)

The reason this isn’t always desirable or better is because it isn’t as absurdly powerful/game-swinging as other cards, it can’t draw cards, and it breaks to Smash and Burn Ally trigger.

Silver Wing Lancer Rating

Usually Desirable

Effectively the best on-turn punisher to play after your opponent spends their gold on your turn. Without a gold, the only way your opponent can prevent 10 damage to their face is Hasty Retreat, Spore Beast, Blind Faith, Fumble, or a combination of cards such as combat tricks. After it his your opponent, at 8 defense, your opponent will be forced to use a gold (or multiple effects/Vanishing) to remove it, and since it is unbanishable, cards like Divine Judgement can’t sweep it up. It’s hard to appreciate just how strong this card is until you play with or against it.

Force Lance Rating

Frequently Desirable

This is the best enabling card for playing your gold first on your turn.

Most of the time, playing a 1-cost blitz champion and attacking with it while your opponent’s gold is up is a bad idea; your opponent can remove your champion with cards like Medusa, Drain Essence, Erase, Chomp!, etc. and you gain almost no value from them. However, if you Force Lance that champion before passing initiative when you attack, your opponent’s possible answers drop dramatically. Further, since you recycled when you played this, even if your opponent has that Erase, you don’t get completely screwed.

This can also be used on an ambush champion you played last turn, before either player spends their gold, if you think your opponent wants to Medusa it. As a reminder, this only gives unbreakable on your turn, not your opponent’s.

Steel Titan Rating Rating

First Pickable –

This card, if unanswered, can win you the game in two attacks (because 13 offense, effectively unblockable), and it is pretty hard to answer (because untargetable). If your opponent doesn’t have a board clear, Scara’s Will, Winged Death, Lying in Wait, or Mythic Monster/Kong, you basically win. Assuming you can play this without dying since it doesn’t do much the turn it is played, aside from being a big untargetable blocker.

While there are still cards I would pick over this, I would only do so if I either A) already have ways to remove this or B) it’s early enough in the draft that I can pick ways to remove it. This card terrifies me, and I’ve already seen it almost single-handedly win multiple games. One benefit of first picking this card is that your opponent won’t know to prioritize answers for it.

Pretty strong with Surprise Attack (and Final Task) too.

Teleport Rating Rating

Situationally Acceptable

I’m not a huge fan of this card, now that the card draw is conditional on expending the target champion. (This also means that if you Teleport a token, the token disappears before you can expend it, so you can’t draw a card. Also true if you play this with no legal targets.)

Best case scenario is that you use this on your turn on a Kong or Brak, get the Tribute effect and then attack with that champion a second time… Now that I think about it though, using this on your Kong off-turn to break a champion and draw a card (by expending Kong) seems pretty strong… Anyways though, my main problem with this card is that it requires you to already have a strong champion already in play to have a strong effect.

Using it defensively to stop an attacking champion feels weak since it triggers that champions tribute/loyalty effect again for your opponent. It can save you if desperate (even against a Force Lanced Silver Wing Lancer), but I would much rather have a card that is strong when behind, can always draw me cards, or can punish an opponent after they spend their gold when I have nothing else in play.

Herald of Scara Rating

Situationally Acceptable

I don’t like the Herald cards in draft as I explain above. Therefore, if you ignore the tribute ability, this is a slow 9/7 airborne champion, which I would not draft.

On the bright side though, at 7 defense, your opponent needs to use a gold to remove it, and it can survive in combat against better airborne champions like Ice Drake, Ethereal Dragon, Gold Dragon, Strafing Dragon, etc. It is also a demon, so it lives through Raxxa’s Displeasure (and Dark One’s Fury), which, as a 9/7 airborne champion, is not to be underestimated. Therefore, if you have either of those board clears (which will continue to be less likely as the card pool grows) or you have 15 to 20 other Evil cards, this is a perfectly reasonable 2nd/3rd pick. Otherwise, I’d avoid it.

Scara’s Will Rating

Always Desireable

Best Will. I would draft this card even if it didn’t give me an extra Evil gold the turn I play it.

A Fast, only-on-your-turn removal card that can hit Sea Titan/Steel Titan is incredibly valuable, especially since it’s a removal option that doesn’t involve breaking/banishing all your champions too. In addition, it can draw 2. The fact that I can play this and, at minimum, bluff that I could play another 1-cost Evil card makes this absurd. If playing against this, I would recommend practically always spending your gold if they pass while their Evil-locked gold is up though, especially since there aren’t a ton of amazing Evil on-turn gold-punishers.

Scarred Cultist Rating

Frequently Desirable

0-cost champions are inherently desirable, and a 6/5 stat line is no joke. If you are in Evil, this becomes amazing. A threatening 0-cost champion that can return your best 1-cost champion is fantastic. It can even jump onto a Faithful Pegasus (on offense or defense), and it can make Cast Out stronger (since it is a human).

Flames of Furios Rating

Situationally Desirable

I don’t know how to rate this card yet. It’s a draw 2 so its never bad. In addition, it can break practically all 0-cost champions, which is great if your opponent plays multiple. Further, any 8+ defense champions you have in play survive this, and it can be played off-turn as a one-sided board clear. Finally, in Dark Draft your opponent will almost certainly have at least 1 reasonable 7 or less defense champion.

Overall, I think it is worth spending a significant amount of time analyzing how powerful this card would be in any given draft in which you see this. If either player is going tokens, this is amazing. Or, as mentioned, if your opponent has strong 7- defense champions and/or you have strong 8+ defense champion, this could be powerful.

Keira, Wolf Caller Rating

Always Acceptable

Ambush 10/10 worth of stats, with blitz, not bad. In addition, it can’t be fully removed by a 0-cost card, namely Flash Fire/Wither or Hasty Retreat/Vanishing/Fumble/Lightning Strike. The dream will always be to use this after your opponent plays Wave of Transformation on your turn while your gold is up, but unlike Wolf’s Call, it is significantly harder to casually answer, and the +1/+1 buff means your opponent can’t trade wolves 1 for 1. (Lightning Strike would at least prevent any additional wolves from attacking that turn though.)

Stampeding Einiosaurus Rating

Frequently Desirable

The effective replacement for Rampaging Wurm. This is a fantastic on-turn gold-punisher because it hits for a lot of damage, and it can’t be effectively chump blocked. In addition, the permanent 11 defense means this can’t be broken by Drain Essence, without help, on your opponent’s next turn (which is a nice bonus over Great Horned Lizard, Gold Dragon, etc.).

There is one situation where this is worse than Rampaging Wurm though, if you play this while your opponent’s gold is up and they have Chomp! in hand…Dang you Tatian! (for reference)

Overall

Every card in this pack is exciting for Dark Draft. Silver Wing Guardian, Silver Wing Lancer, Keira Wolf Caller, and Einiosaurus are all solid gold-punishers. Steel Titan is a worthwhile slow champion which forcibly alters drafting when seen. Herald of Scara could theoretically be powerful, and it will be fun in the game where it works (or frustrating in the game where you drafted it anyway). Scarred Cultist is a solid 0-cost card. Angeline’s Favor, Force Lance, and Teleport can create interesting combat situations. Scara’s Will is sick removal, and Flames of Furios would feel great against a token deck. Of the 2 packs I’ve reviewed so far, if you were only to buy 1 for Dark Draft, I’d buy this one.

The weakest card for my Dark Draft style (even though Evil is currently my most drafted alignment) is definitely Herald of Scara. The most powerful card is probably Steel Titan, followed closely by Scara’s Will.

For constructed, Silver Wing Lancer, Silver Wing Guardian, and Force Lance were all in the deck I played at Worlds. Flames of Furios and Scara’s Will made it into other constructed decks of mine. Keira probably replaces Pack Alpha in Elara’s Hunting Pack. Finally, if Scara’s Will doesn’t become too prevalent, Steel Titan is a real card in constructed too.

First Priest of Gold Dragon Video

My first video about the deck I almost ran at Worlds this year is now up. It is a midrange Good deck titled Priest of Gold Dragon.

This first video gives a general overview of the deck and describes its powerful synergies. In the next video about it, I plan on going over how to play this deck in various matchups (particularly Wild Aggro and Evil Control), how the deck has evolved since its creation (a couple weeks before Pantheon was announced), and I’ll answer any additional questions that get asked about it in the meantime.

I love this deck.

Gareth vs Lashnok pack Draft Ratings

Foreword

Seeing as how I don’t plan on starting to record videos for my article on my almost-Worlds 2017 deck “Priest of Gold Dragon” until Saturday, and due to the fact that WWG uploaded all of the Pantheon images that were legal at worlds, it seems like a good time to start reviewing the cards for my dark draft card rating article (that needs its ratings updated, again). Also, I figured it makes sense to go over them pack by pack.

“Will” Cards (Pantheon Specific)

Pantheon introduces a cycle of Will cards: Scara’s Will, Angeline’s Will, Gareth’s Will, and Lashnok’s Will. They are 1-cost cards with an option to get an effect and then gain a second gold which can only be used on an effect of the same alignment as the Will. (Play Gareth’s Will for the effect, get a second Gold that can only be spent on a Sage effect that turn.) You cannot gain more than one bonus gold per turn with Will cards.

In general, I’ve found the bonus alignment-locked gold to be underwhelming in draft. This is largely due to the draft philosophy I share with multiple other players: take the best cards in the pack with a focus on 0-cost champions and card draw over in-alignment cards for Loyalty/Ally. Due to this, I generally end up with only a bit over 10 cards in my primary alignment and multiple of those are 0-cost cards that I couldn’t spend a bonus gold on anyways.

Therefore, if I play a Will card, I’ll usually be locking myself into exactly one possible 1-cost play for that bonus gold. If I pass and my opponent passes, that is great for me, but if my opponent spends their gold on a powerful effect after I play the Will, I lose the opportunity to use other off-alignment 1-cost effects to react. I’d generally much rather have either a stronger effect for a gold then the watered down Will effects or just another actual 0.

All of this being said, there are incredibly powerful Dark Draft players, such as Lead Developer Darwin Kastle, who focus on drafting in-alignment cards to make their Loyalty 2/Ally champions more reliably-powerful. In decks with more 1-cost effects in the same alignment, the Wills become much stronger. They can also be quite powerful in constructed.

Gareth vs Lashnok

Fairy Entrancer Rating

Situationally Desirable

I think I like this card, but I haven’t been able to experiment with it much. In theory, it immediately steals an opponent’s champion and attacks for 2. If unremoved, it can threaten to do this again in two more turns. Due to the prevalence and power of bounce effects (Sea Titan, Erase, etc), permanent gain control effects are inherently risky (since your opponent can bounce the champion you stole back to their [the owner’s] hand), but the fact that this also leaves a body in play that they have to answer might make this worthwhile. At minimum, you force them to have a bounce effect and hopefully spend a card, if able, to answer the Entrancer.

Also, the dream will always be to have this survive for a turn, play Winds of Change on it next turn, and then immediately steal two more of your opponent’s champions. (Not exactly practical in draft, but could be fun in multiplayer/multi-gold god play.)

Gareth’s Juggernaut

Situationally Desirable

If you are in Sage, another 0-cost 5/5 blitzer is always solid. In draft, the Ally ability is underwhelming because the greatest strength of 0-cost blitzers is that you don’t have to commit your gold to apply pressure. At minimum, if your opponent commits their gold to try to put a blocker in front of this to break it, you can spend a Sage gold to make it unbreakable before damage, meh.

Also, important to note, if you use Stand Alone while this in play, it won’t gain unbreakable until after Stand Alone finishes resolving, so if you don’t choose it, it will break.

Master Forcemage Rating

Always Acceptable +

This card intrigues me. With no other synergy, it’s a 4/7 ambush champion that can break Muse and Thought Plucker immediately when played, so it’s pretty solid. If you have other 1-cost Sage cards, you can break up to four 2-defense champions on your turn, deal up to 4 damage to 2 champions, deal up to 4 damage to the enemy player, or anything in between. All of these seem quite nice.

However, what really intrigues me is attacking (or blocking) multiple times in a turn with this champion, using the ally trigger to prepare it after it expends (or flips). I really want to declare an attack without passing, play Deadly Raid to prepare this and make it unblockable, then play Force Lance to recycle and make this unbreakable. Now it is an 8/7 unbreakable, unblockable, prepared champion attacking for 8 that can attack for another 8 after this combat resolves. (It could even use its expend ability during combat if needed, at the cost of being able to attack a second time. Gareth’s Will can enable it to attack 3 times in one turn, and it’s a Human, so it can ride Faithful Pegasus.)

On defense, I want to block with Master Forcemage and then Brave Squire it, making it a 9/7 unbreakable. Then, after combat smile as wide as I can at my opponent while they agonize over whether or not to attack with their Herald of Lashnok while I’m at 7 health (even better if I don’t actually have a way to prepare the Master Forcemage in hand). Hmmm… that would be glorious… Get to say, go ahead, attack, I probably don’t have a 1-cost Sage card to prepare Master Forcemage.

Forbidden Research Rating

Always Acceptable –

A draw 2 is always reasonable, but if you aren’t in Evil and/or don’t have ways to produce disposable champions (Plentiful Dead, Soul Hunter, Murderous Necromancer, etc.) this won’t do much else. While I love this card in constructed because Evil has needed reliable card draw, most other draw 2s will be better in draft because they can potentially do something else.

On a side note, this was modified from the Kickstarter Promo of the same name. The promo version let you break a champion you controlled any time you had initiative to recall this. That was much stronger, particularly with effects like Helion.

Also, you can’t combo this with unbreakable champions like Dark Knight, since you can only recall this if a champion you control actually breaks to the Ally effect.

Run Riot Rating

Always Acceptable

A draw 2 that can also be on-turn removal with a perk is never bad. When compared to Bitten though, losing the ability to break a champion off-turn and trading the zombie from playing it on your turn for +3/+3 to Evil champions you might not have in play seems undesirable. Bitten can be played with any other cards and be solid. Run Riot’s perk only really seems to apply to decks with Evil tokens.

That being said, someone did point out that +3/+3 on even just two tokens is actually fairly threatening. It can deal the equivalent of a Lightning Storm to the face, if unblocked. So, maybe I’m underestimating the Evil champion buff. Interestingly enough it seems that you don’t need to break a champion to get the +3/+3 buff; therefore, it can always function as an underpowered, on-turn Justice Prevails if needed. I’d still draft Bitten over this most of the time though.

Scarred Priestess Rating

Situationally Desirable –

There is only one word to describe this card, but the closest I can get while remaining family-friendly is hardcore.

This is a champion that can break an enemy champion immediately when played, then break a champion off-turn, then break 2 (theoretically 3) champions on your next turn. It can also multi-attack/block like Master Forcemage, but it hits for 9 each swing (27 in one turn if it attacks 3 times with Scara’s Will). It can also block (flipping it), then expend to break a champion while combat is resolving, then get prepared by a 1-cost Evil card so it can block and expend again.

In addition, at 7 health it not only dodges all solitary 0-cost removal (except Vanishing), but it also dodges Smash and Burn! This, combined with its multi-removal ability, is theoretically absurd. However, it has been underwhelming for me in draft.

In draft, not only do you need to be in Evil to hit its loyalty, but it’s also slow (no ambush), and requires you to break one of your champions every time you want to break an opponent’s champion. While this can be fine if you have cards like Soul Hunter (in play) or Plentiful Dead, the odds of you assembling all of that in Dark Draft is small. I played it multiple times and just ran out of fodder and was forced to break 1-cost champions because I needed to break something of my opponent’s; that wasn’t great. While I once again love this card in constructed, it is too unwieldy to draft regularly in limited.

As a side note, it can break itself to its own ability to get that one final removal off. My inner Vorthos (player archetype that loves card flavor) adores this card so much.

Brak, Fist of Lashnok Rating

Situationally Desirable ++

This card is powerful because it’s a massive threat that can kill a player in two essentially unblockable attacks, it draws a card so you get guaranteed value even if it is immediately removed, and it dodges break effects the turn it is played, which is great for Getting Ahead so you can Stay Ahead. Essentially it is a stronger Triceratops, if you’ve committed to Wild.

Brad Minnigh has also pointed out that this card is pretty strong with Final Task (draw a card, attack for 14 unblockable unbreakable blitz damage from a champion that won’t break at the end of the turn to Final Task). You can see his pre-Worlds reviews on his blog: The Amazing Spider-Tank Gaming Blog.

Lashnok’s Will Rating

Always Acceptable

Lashnok’s Will is the only “Will” card that can be used on your opponent’s turn. Aside from that, I’m not a big fan. I don’t want to spend a gold to give a champion +5/+5 for the turn, and I explain at the top of the article why the bonus alignment-locked gold is unappealing to me in draft. At least it’s a draw 2.

Rybas, Canopy Sniper Rating

Situationally Desirable +

The obvious comparison to make to Rybas is Fire Shaman because they are both 0-cost Wild champions that can deal 3 damage to a minion or player. Fire Shaman can deal 3 damage (or more with Lashnok’s Will/Brachiosaurus) every turn, while Rybas can deal 3 damage every other turn. However, Rybas doesn’t require a 1-cost Wild card to be played in order to deal its damage. Therefore, you can play Rybas without committing a gold or after you’ve already committed your gold for the turn. It can also attack for 5 damage if you aren’t afraid of 2 damage effects or if you have Force Lance/Brave Squire protection.

Due to the flexibility of not requiring gold to be spent, I would draft this over Fire Shaman almost always, but only if I was in Wild. (I also wouldn’t draft Fire Shaman if I wasn’t in Wild, and I frequently don’t even draft Fire Shaman if I am.)

The other card that is more similar to this is Forcemage Apprentice. Like Rybas, the Apprentice can deal its damage without needing a gold expenditure, but Sage gold expenditure allows the Apprentice to deal 4 damage to a target, 2 damage to 2 targets, or even 2 damage off-turn. The Apprentice also doesn’t need any other Sage cards to get that first 2 damage off. For those reasons, I would basically always draft the Apprentice over Rybas. However, Rybas’ 3 damage does allow it to easily answer 3-defense cards like Keeper of Secrets, Winged Death, or Pyrosaur, so Forcemage Apprentice isn’t always better.

Hand of Angeline Rating

Always Acceptable –

It’s an airborne 0-cost card so it’s not terrible. However, it requires you to play 1-cost Good cards to Recycle, and Good is the weakest faction in Dark Draft. For that reason, you might not get a single Recycle with it let alone the multiple Recycles it teases. I would much rather draft Watchful Gargoyle, especially since Hand of Angeline doesn’t have Ambush.

New Dawn Rating

Frequently Desirable

Combining this with cards like Sea Titan, Kong, Winged Death, Brak Fist of Lashnok, Mist Guide Herald, Den Mother, Steel Golem, etc is incredibly powerful. Banish the board and put a champion into play that immediately gives you value, threatens your opponent directly, and/or threatens to answer your opponent’s potential champion, nice.

(If you play this and both players pick cards with Loyalty/Tribute effects, both players’ effects will resolve [yours first] even if your effect removes your opponent’s champion from play immediately. For example, you put in Palace Guard, your opponent puts in Kong: You Banish Kong first, then Kong deals 13 damage to your Palace Guard. If you put in Kong and they put in Brak, your Kong would deal 13 damage to Brak, immediately breaking it, then they could draw a card even though the broken Brak can’t gain unbreakable.)

Where this card is weak though is the fact that you reveal what champion you are going to put into play first. With that information, your opponent has the possibility to counter what you are going to do. For example, you pick Sea Titan and your opponent chooses Winged Death or Steel Titan. As another example, you pick Kong and your opponent picks Burrowing Wurm; they could also choose to put nothing into play, force your Kong to do 13 damage to itself, play Lash to finish it off, and then ambush in a champion while your gold is down. Essentially, letting your opponent “Surprise Attack” in a slow champion while your gold is down might not work out great for you. In draft though, your opponent is probably less likely to be able to punish you hard for playing this, especially if you know most of the cards in their deck.

Silver Wing Savior

Frequently Desirable +

This card is sick. It is one of the main reasons I built a Pantheon Epic Humans constructed deck.

Best case scenario, this is a 7/7 airborne blitzer that essentially draws a card. Therefore, we can compare it with cards like Herald of Lashnok, Knight of Elara, Juggernaut, White Knight, and Succubus. The first four of those cards are pretty solid in Dark Draft, and this is arguably better than all of them. Airborne makes this significantly more likely to hit your opponent, and 7 defense makes this unremovable by Smash and Burn or any single 0-cost effect (aside from Hasty Retreat/Vanishing). Therefore, purely as a gold-punisher when your opponent spends their gold first on your turn, it is unrivaled. (The others do have different scenarios where they are better though.)

With regard to its tribute effect, it’s obviously worthless if you have no Good cards in your discard pile, but a textless 7/7 airborne blitzer is still respectable. However, if you can return a Good card, that is always powerful. This is particularly true because, if there is a Good card in your discard pile, that usually means it was strong enough for you to actually want to play it earlier in the game; therefore, it is probably strong enough for you to want to play it again that game. If it worked once, it’ll probably work again. Further, if you have multiple Good cards in your discard pile, you can choose the one that best fits what you need now or in the future. The only downside is that your opponent gets to see the card you get back.

Just a couple great cards to return to hand: Brave Squire, Noble Unicorn, a Good draw 2 (Cast Out), Knight of the Dawn, or Priest of Kalnor (then immediately play Priest of Kalnor on this, gain 4 health, get a 1/4 body, and make a 7/7 airborne blitz unbreakable untargetable champion). There is another strong combination with this card, but I’ll save that for my Priest of Gold Dragon article.

Overall

Fairy Entrancer, Master Forcemage, and New Dawn are exciting cards for Dark Draft because they can lead to interesting plays without being too overpowered. Forbidden Research, Scarred Priestess, and Silver Wing Savior are dripping with interesting constructed potential, and I’ve already built two decks around them (an Evil Krieg deck with the first two and my Priest of Gold Dragon deck with the Savior). I’d say the weakest card is Hand of Angeline, but it at least teases an interesting effect and is playable. Silver Wing Savior has the most raw, consistent power (and not just because I’m biased towards aggressive Good champions).

Worlds 2017 Matches Recap

 

Foreword

I got my face on a card, and it’s a Good card that banishes Muse (or Thought Plucker). Value.

Now that I am back from Epic Worlds 2017 I plan on writing multiple articles about my experiences and improved understanding of the game. I managed to make top 8 as the second seed (2-0-1 in Dark Draft, 2-1 in constructed; James Moreland conceded to me at the start of round 6 since he was guaranteed top 8).

I was on a Wild List (Wild Combat Tricks) created by Jonah Acosta and optimized by Tom Dixon with input from Pluck U (Anthony Lowry and Rich Shay) in addition to Hampus Eriksson and Isac Calmroth.

In this article, I’m going to do a quick breakdown of my matches.

Dark Draft

For the three Dark Draft rounds I am going to discuss two primary things: “The” Pick and “The” Play of each match.

“The” pick refers to the most important and/or least generically powerful card I drafted in order to either syngergize with my deck or counter my opponents.

“The” play refers to the most important series of plays that directly resulted in me either winning or losing a game.

Round 1

Opponent: Calvin Keeney

Format: Dark Draft

“The” Pick: Savage Uprising

I’m usually not a huge fan of Savage Uprising; however, at least half way through the draft I picked it because I felt I could make strong use of it with my 0-cost champions. In the first game, it functioned as an off-turn, one-sided board clear that broke a blitzing Silver Wing Lancer and a couple other champions. In the second game, it broke another blitzer without heavily impacting my champions in play.

“The” Play: Play Stampeding Einiosaurus, Group Attack with Ankylosaurus

In game 2 the situation was incredibly dire for me. It was my turn, my opponent was at 22 health with a Silver Wing Lancer and 2 human tokens in play. I was at 13 health with an Ankylosaurus, zombie, and demon in play. I have Rescue Griffin, Stampeding Einiosaurus, and Juggernaut in hand with a Dirge of Scara in my discard pile. My opponent has a revealed Rift Summoner and a few other cards in hand.

I attack with Ankylosaurus, and get my opponent down to 15 health. Then I pass with both players’ gold up. After thinking about it for awhile I came to the conclusion that if my opponent spends their gold on my turn I would lose regardless of what else I did. If I play and attack with one of my 2 blitzers, my opponent takes it, goes down to 4, plays Rift Summoner and kills me on their turn. If I play Einiosaurus to try to block Lancer, Rift Summoner still kills me. Therefore, my only hope was that by passing without spending my gold, my opponent would pass without spending their gold, and hopefully they won’t be able to deal 3 damage in addition to the Silver Wing Lancer hit to finish me off. My opponent passes.

My opponent attacks with Lancer and knocks me down to 3. After thinking for a bit, they attack with a human token. Seeing as how I have two blockers in play that will break the humans, the only explanations I can think of for this attack are 1) my opponent is trying to draw out my blockers to get through with a bigger blitz champion or 2) my opponent drafted the Flash Fire I passed them, and they are trying to get me to two health. To avoid losing to Flash Fire, I block each token.

My opponent then plays Kalani Woodreader and attacks. My Rescue Griffin protects me. Finally, they play War Machine with Loyalty, banish my 0-cost champions and attack. I recall Dirge of Scara, make a demon, and block. With no further plays, my opponent passes. **Edit** It was pointed out that War Machine would have banished my Anky too, so it must have been some other blitzer, maybe Velden. **Edit**

On my turn I draw Lash. With Silver Wing Lancer and War Machine in play, I know I have to win this turn or lose the game. In order to win, I’m thinking that I need to connect with both Ankylosaurus and either of my other blitzers. Juggernaut without loyalty is interesting, for the unbreakable, but, since if Anky dies I lose anyway, I decide to go with the extra 2 offense from Einiosaurus. Further, since my opponent played Lying in Wait in game 1, I decide to attack with my 2 breakthrough champions in a group (since both champions have breakthrough, all excess damage from the attack will be dealt to my opponent).

My opponent plays Draka’s Enforcer without loyalty and blocks. I Lash my Einiosaurus and deal exact lethal damage (15) to win the game. After the game I ask my opponent if they had Lying in Wait in hand. They did not, but they did have the Flash Fire.

Match Results: 2-0 (win)

Round 2

Opponent: Gabe

Format: Dark Draft

(I believe the Wild 0-cost ambush champion that is hidden is Hunting Pterosaur, and the Wild 1-cost hidden event is Flames of Furios.)

“The” Pick: Raxxa’s Enforcer

Once again, Raxxa’s Enforcer isn’t generally a high-priority pick for me, and I’ll frequently take draw twos over it. However, at least halfway through the draft I realized my opponent was getting better 0-cost champions than me, and a lot of them. If I tried to fight my opponent normally, I would lose. Therefore, I first picked the Enforcer out of a pack with generically stronger cards. In both games, each time I played the Enforcer it was devastating. It negated what my opponent was trying to do so hard that I even returned it to hand with a No Escape in at least one of the games.

However, in order to take Raxxa’s Enforcer and a late first pick Sea Titan, I ended up two cards under my minimum 15 cards that can draw/recycle (and that counts Savage Uprising and Fires of Rebellion as card draw).

“The” Play: Spending my gold on my turn and not attacking with Sea Titan, repeatedly

In game 2, I played my Sea Titan and gained full control of the board. My opponent was unable to remove it, and they didn’t have many ways to block it. On my next turn, after thinking for awhile, I spent my gold and then did not attack with Sea Titan. In the draft I had passed Lying in Wait, so I was afraid of getting my Sea Titan banished by attacking alone, and I had no strong follow ups if this were to happen.

Therefore, by spending my gold and passing, I forced my opponent into a situation where they could either pass (losing a gold to my spent gold but saving 11 health from Sea Titan not attacking) or spend their gold (gaining value but risking taking 11 damage). My opponent elected to pass. This repeated on my next two turns, and then my opponent Surprise Attacked Kong to deal with my incidental attacker on my turn. I responded by playing Raxxa’s Enforcer and then attacking with Sea Titan. Kong blocked and died without trading.

This pattern continued for a couple more turns until eventually my opponent played a board clear to kill my Sea Titan. In that time, I managed to spend about 5 uncontested gold, but multiple of those were just Lightning Storm or Recall Lightning Storm. Because my uncontested golds were so weak (my deck was lacking in card draw) my opponent managed to survive the 5 uncontested gold, stabilize with the help of Heinous Feast blocking my recycle champions, and eventually kill me in extra turns.

After the game I asked my opponent if they drafted Lying in Wait. They did not. Therefore, if I would have actually attacked with Sea Titan I might have been able to hit with it and kill my opponent before they could stabilize.

Match Results: 1-1 (draw)

Round 3

Opponent: Jonathan Lewis (Secondary Feature Match, didn’t take picture)

A short glimpse of the match from 4:18:55-4:21:25

Format: Dark Draft

“The” Pick: The Risen

I believe The Risen was a 2nd/3rd pick from an underwhelming pack. I took it because I had Necrovirus (playing The Risen with Necrovirus in your discard pile will not give the Necrovirus zombies blitz), and possibly Raxxa at that point, and I thought I might be able to do something with it. In the first game I played The Risen and triggered my Necrovirus in response to my opponent playing and attacking with a blitz champion. I was able to block and break the attacking champion while leaving myself with 3 zombies. Those remaining zombies did good work, chipping away a lot of health over the following turns.

“The” Play: Playing Helion and chumping a Rampaging Wurm with it (blocking the Rampaging Wurm, losing my Helion without killing the Wurm)

Early on in the first game I realized my opponent had drafted a burn deck because they hit me with a Forked Lightning and revealed two other burn cards for a Wild loyalty effect. Further, my opponent played and attacked with a Rampaging Wurm while my gold was up. Since I had no way to get rid of the Wurm off-turn, I knew I had to block it or risk losing to burn damage (damage that can target a player). Therefore, since my only way to block it was with Helion, I did.

On my next turn, I bounced the Wurm with either Velden or Sea Titan, then I went on to kill my opponent before they could kill me or even hit me with another 1-cost champion.

Match Results: 2-0 (win)

Constructed

I have significantly less to say about my constructed matches. All three games from round 4 are on Twitch (links included below). So, I won’t spend much time explaining things, but I’ll be happy to answer any questions about any of my decisions in the comments below. Round 5 was a fairly standard, non-memorable set of games. Round 6 James Moreland conceded to me without playing since he was guaranteed a spot in top 8, and I needed a win to make top 8. Thank you again James! (As an interesting side note, 5 out of my 6 matches were against players who finished in the top 10.)

Therefore, I am only going to provide a brief explanation of each matchup. For more information on the deck I played, Hampus Ericksson (who tested with Pluck U and ran almost the exact same list as me) streamed a video on Twitch about decks we tested.

Round 4

Opponent: Sam Black (Primary Feature Match, didn’t take picture)

Format: Constructed (Me on Wild Combat Tricks, Sam on Thought Plucker Wild)

Game 1 – 5:32:50
Game 2 – 5:50:58
Game 3 – 6:03:30

The Matchup: As CJ mentioned on the stream, I’m the aggressive deck (that needs to get enough damage through before losing), Sam is the control deck (that needs to survive long enough to hit me with a couple big champions)

We have similar decks but my 0-cost cards are focused on getting extra damage through while my opponent’s 0-cost cards are focused on gaining extra value and removal. My opponent also has Thought Plucker which benefits from a longer game. The longer this game goes, the less chance I have of winning. Therefore, I need to kill my opponent before I get overrun by big guys or run out of cards against Thought Plucker.

Since all three games can be watched, feel free to ask any specific questions you have in the comments below. Unfortunately, I was unknowingly holding my cards off camera most of the match.

Round 5

Opponent: John Tatian (didn’t take picture, so here’s an old one)

Format: Constructed (Me on Wild Combat Tricks, John on Scara’s Gift Evil

John was essentially guaranteed a spot in top 8. I needed a win to lock myself into top 8. (Calculating now, if I double drew I probably would have gotten in with a 3-0-3 record with favorable tie-breakers.)

The Matchup: I’m the aggressive deck (that needs to kill my opponent by sustaining champion pressure and handsize), John is the control deck (that needs to survive for long enough for Scara’s Gift to kill me with the help of Zannos and possibly Rift Summoner/Steed of Zaltessa)

Game 1 my opponent held off my aggression long enough to win the game. Game 2 I was able to maintain aggression consistently enough to force enough damage through to win. Game 3, double Drain Essence with an early Scara’s Gift gave my opponent just enough time/health to kill me.

Round 6

Friend: James Moreland (didn’t think to take a picture and we actually have never played against each other in a physical tournament up to this point)

Format: Concession

Matchup: Same list as John Tatian above (maybe some slight differences?)

We ended up playing a match after top 8 to see what would have happened if we played. We were 1-1 going into the final game, but we got distracted and didn’t finish. When we stopped playing, we were in a position where either player could have won.

Top 8

Top 8 consisted of two games of Dark Draft (using the same deck for both games) followed by up to three games of Constructed (using the same lists we used on Sunday)

Opponent: Calvin Keeney rematch

Dark Draft

I actually got pictures of both decks this time!

My Deck:

My Opponent’s Deck:

“The” Pick: Grave Demon

I had a mass discard pile banish effect and my opponent did not.

Game 1

In this game my opponent forced me into a completely defensive position early. From this position, I managed to blunt my opponent’s aggression long enough to get to about 5 cards left in my deck before losing to a miscalculation on my end.

“The” Game-Defining Play: Using Apocalypse to draw 2 off-turn instead of using it to clear my opponent’s Kong and Rampaging Wurm

Early in the game my opponent Surprise Attacked Kong into play on my turn, removing my only champion. Since I had Apocalypse and Reap or Sow in my hand, I wasn’t too worried. However, they followed up with Rampaging Wurm on their turn and attacking. My only way to prevent 14 damage was to Reap or Sow for zombies. This then put me into a position where my only board clear was Apocalypse, and it was also my only off-turn play and my only draw 2.

Instead of clearing the board on my turn and leaving me with no off-turn play, I kept Apocalypse to draw 2 off-turn. Even though I was fairly certain I had no other reasonable way to clear off these champions, I was more willing to commit to negating their attacks until I could draw a recycled board clear than I was to missing a gold and running out of cards in hand.

Thanks to a combination of efficient chump blockers (Plentiful Dead, Shadow Imp, etc.), health gain (Inner Peace, Second Wind, and Vital Mission), and a mass discard pile banish effect (Grave Demon), I was able to stall the game out until I was at about five cards in deck to my opponents empty discard pile. However, I didn’t pay enough attention to the deck 2 idea explained by greylag in a guest post, and I lost playing around the wrong card.

The Misplay: Taking 6 damage from an attacking Strafing Dragon instead of spending my gold first to mitigate/remove it

I was at 8 health with around 5 cards in my deck. My relevant cards in hand were draw 2s, at least 1 non-airborne ambush chump blocker, Temporal Shift, and Inner Peace. My opponent had about 5 cards in hand, one of which was Rampaging Wurm. Both our golds were up. Earlier in the game my opponent played and recycled Rage.

In this situation, I know if my opponent has Rage in hand, I need my Temporal Shift to bounce the Wurm after it gets Raged or I lose. However, if I take 6 without playing Inner Peace first, I go down to 2 health. Not remembering any way my opponent could do 2 damage, I take the hit, and then get finished off by Flame Spike. I do not remember if I saw that card earlier in the game; however, I asked my opponent at the end of the match if they had Rage in hand, and they did not.

If I had been keeping track of the order in which my opponent had been recycling cards, I could have safely Inner Peaced and then chump blocked Rampaging Wurm if my opponent played it. This was probably my best option for extending the game for the 2 or 3 turns needed to draw out for a win. But, I lost instead.

Game 2 Strategy

Seeing as how we both went through and played basically all of the cards in our decks, we both had a strong idea what the other player was capable of doing. While I was forced into going for a deckout strategy, I felt like I could be the aggressor with the correct draw; however, in case I fell into the drawout roll again, there were a few cards I had to play in very precise situations.

High-Efficiency Chump Blockers vs Evasive Champions

Due to my impressive suite of high-efficiency chump blockers/attack-negaters (Plentiful Dead, Shadow Imp, Wolf’s Bite, Brave Squire, Fumble, Hands from Below [played at least a turn ahead of time], Urgent Messengers, Crystal Golem, Infernal Gatekeeper, Reap or Sow, Kalani Woodreader, Faithful Pegasus, White Dragon, Forcemage Apprentice, and Scarred Cultist), the only champions my opponent could realistically threaten me with were their evasive ones (Strafing Dragon, Wurm Hatchling, Brak Fist of Lashnok, Rescue Griffin, Temporal Enforcer, and Rage).

Besides those evasive champions listed, I could chump block anything else for days. Therefore, those were the only champions I had to actually remove, but my answers were limited.

My Mandatory Answers

(Herald of Scara/Steed of Zaltessa could also block Strafing Dragon in the air, and Faithful Pegasus almost got a chance to block in the air with Scarred Cultist for a major blowout, but War Machine prevented that)

Game 2

I get immediately forced into the drawout roll, but I sequence my answers correctly to survive until I deckout.

“The” Play: Vital Mission on Brak, Fist of Lashnok

My opponent opens the game with Brak, Fist of Lashnok with loyalty, showing Rage. I have Vital Mission and Temporal Shift in hand. After considering for a while, I use Vital Mission, banish Brak, give my opponent 14 health, and fully commit to winning by decking out. If I use Temporal Shift, not only do I lose one of my best answers for Rage, but I also allow my opponent to replay Brak which I still won’t have a way to deal with (unless I draw Apocalypse/Reap or Sow). By using Vital Mission I eliminate one of my opponent’s only real threats.

The rest of the game unfolds exactly how I want. I am able to answer every evasive threat my opponent plays in a reasonable amount of time with Inner Peace and Second Wind making up the few attacks that get through. The most interesting moments were when my opponent Raged their Temporal Enforcer before attacking to avoid my Hands from Below. This happened twice. The first time I used Temporal Shift (countering the Rage as intended), the second time I Fumbled, countering the Temporal Enforcer for the turn, and completing negating the Rage.

Even though I was able to execute my plan, both Dark Draft games were incredibly difficult and required near perfect play (with true perfect play I might have been been able to win game 1). My opponent applied constant pressure, and I never felt safe, even though I had a fairly strong deckout deck. (As a side note, since I was on the deckout plan Steed of Zaltessa became an almost completely dead card in the matchup.)

Constructed

Since I went for the deckout victory in both games of Dark Draft, we moved into constructed after the primary feature match had completely finished (good thing for no time limit in top 8). Therefore, we were moved into position to be the tertiary feature match and all of our constructed games were streamed. Unfortunately, they were fairly anti-climatic.

Decklists: Me on Wild Combat Tricks, Calvin on Sage Wild with Buff Negation

Constructed Game 1: 2:41:57
Constructed Game 2: 2:53:40

Strategy

Going into the top 8, I felt fairly comfortable with the Wild matchups. As long as I didn’t overcommit into an Erase, Spore Beast, or Hasty Retreat, I felt like I could push hard enough to win before losing. Thought Plucker was also something I needed to worry about. Once again, for a more complete breakdown of the Pluck U deck, check out Hampus’ streamed video.

Constructed Game 1

2:41:57

I get put on the play (going first), which is fine because I thought I might want to be on the play anyway. I mulligan 4 cards looking for T-Rex, Herald of Lashnok, Brachiosaurus into T-Rex/Herald of Lashnok/Wild draw 2, or Mist Guide Herald into any of the above scenarios. Draka’s Enforcer/Silver Wing Lancer are also okay with a Mist Guide Herald. Thankfully I hit a Herald of Lashnok which I play turn 1, but then everything goes downhill from there.

I get 8 damage through and get a Flame Spike to break a future Spore Beast, but Fire Shaman + Hunting Raptors breaks my Herald of Lashnok on my opponent’s turn. Then, since I drew into no ambush champions (Draka’s Enforcer, Strafing Dragon, Silver Wing Guardian) or Surprise Attack, I am unable to get back onto the board when my opponent’s gold is down. Further, I am unable to play a strong on-turn Wild card, on my next turn and a revealed Spore Beast meant I couldn’t try to get in with Lancer. The game was essentially over at that point.

Looking at my opponent’s hand in the recording, they knew to keep a Spore Beast and an Erase (with a T-Rex) so it would have been a difficult game to win even if I had drawn better. Essentially though, no off-turn champion meant I lost regardless.

Constructed Game 2

2:53:40

After considering for a while, I decide to be on the play for game 2. I made this decision for a couple reasons. For me, the absolute best case scenario is that I am able to start with any of the scenarios listed under Constructed Game 1 above. If I can open like that, it is better than going second (being on the draw). Further, one of the worst case scenarios is I go second and my opponent opens with a Brachiosaurus and/or T-Rex (since I have basically no way to get back into a game where I fall behind on board). Therefore, I tried to make the best case scenario happen and go first. It did not happen.

Looking back at it now, I do not know if taking that chance was correct because I can draw many more acceptable hands when going second than I can when going first (Draka’s Enforcer, Surprise Attack into any of the turn 1 plays above/Lancer, Strafing Dragon, Silver Wing Guardian, Erase, Smash and Burn, or even a mediocre draw 2). Further, my opponent only has 3 Brachiosaurus, 3 T-Rex, and 3 Mist Guide Heralds that can punish me if I make them go first. (Cave Troll is also annoying.) Therefore, it is probably statistically better for me to go second because I’m more likely to get a reasonable going-second hand, and my opponent is unlikely to get a great going-first hand.

So, after mulliganing 5 cards, Mist Guide Herald is my only possibility at a strong turn 1 play. I flip into a second Mist Guide Herald (and no other ideal turn 1 plays), so I go with Mist Guide Herald again. This time I hit a Brachiosaurus, but I have no Wild draw 2s or other worthwhile Wild 1-cost plays. My opponent plays Thought Plucker and the game is over. I quickly get run out of cards.

What I should have done differently was hold onto one of my Rages instead of mulliganing all 5 cards. If I had done that, I would have guaranteed myself a mediocre Wild draw 2, just in case Brachiosaurus was my only turn 1 play I could have made. And, if I had kept the Rage in that game, I could have drawn 2 after getting Thought Pluckered and then recycled with my Flame Spike. In that scenario, we would have had a game on our hands. Unfortunately, since I decided to run the deck the night before the event, I wasn’t familiar enough with the deck to realize that at the time, and my overconfidence with the Wild matchup caused me to focus on testing the Evil matchup Sunday night and go to sleep around 11:30pm. In the end, Calvin forced me into a position my deck refused to get me out of in game 1, and my deck did not bail me out of my mismulligan in game 2.

Conclusion

I am very proud of how I played overall at Worlds this year. In my first match I felt like I was playing the best Epic of my life. I made excellent decisions and was rewarded for them. The Raxxa’s Enforcer pick in match 2 felt next level, but I wasn’t able to meet my required distributions to lockdown the win. Match 3 I was able to identify what my opponent was trying to do and completely shut them out of their strategy. Match 4 I found the narrow path to victory in game 3 (although looking back Sam Black could have won if he played Fire Shaman on his turn and used that [or Muse] to block my Kalani, but he didn’t know about Silver Wing Lancer).

In top 8 I lost because I had neglected practicing my Deck 2 play, I was unpracticed with my constructed deck, and my draws were weak. If I was a better player, I could have won game 1 of Dark Draft which would have put me in a position where I only needed to win 1 game of Constructed; I believe having three shots at getting a single strong draw with that deck was all I needed. But, since I can attribute my loss to a skill I can improve, and I legitimately enjoyed playing in the tournament generically and meeting the person I lost to specifically, I honestly felt fine getting knocked out where I did. (Although I would have loved to win, and I’m still coming for Tatian next year/this summer.)

One overarching reason for my acceptance of my loss comes from an idea a bunch of my competitors shared with me: Epic Worlds is just a much more enjoyable competitive experience than many other games. Not only is the game itself great, but the vast majority of the community is a pleasure to be around. Losing loses a bit of its sting when you legitimately enjoy the ride. Hopefully the game grows so more people can experience what we’ve experienced for quite some time to come.

Sneak Peak

Even though I didn’t end up playing my Good Human deck at Worlds, I still absolutely love it, and I plan on writing an article with multiple videos to do it justice. Deck’s name: Priest of Gold Dragon

Pantheon Card Visual Spoiler

[48-card Pantheon Text-Spoiler]

Gareth’s Will, a 1-cost Vanishing

I have been given the full art version of Gareth’s Will to spoil/preview, and once again, the artwork is phenomenal. (Dat Dragon with the swirls inside, ye.) From a gameplay perspective, Gareth’s Will is essentially a 1-cost Vanishing. On your turn, it can return a champion to its owner’s hand while keeping your gold available, or it can draw two. Therefore, most of the uses for Vanishing will naturally transfer over to Gareth’s Will:

  • Bounce an opponent’s ambush/already-in-play champion
  • Bounce then replay your [Sage] champion
  • Bounce a champion your opponent Turned/Helioned/Fairy Entrancered and get that champion back to your hand
  • Bounce a champion blocking your breakthrough champion after blockers (allowing you to do full damage to the opponent while preventing them from blocking with something else)
  • Bounce your champion before you use a board clear [Wave of Transformation]
  • etc

Differences

While these cards are very similar, the 1-cost vs 0-cost distinction creates some important differences with regard to Ally Effects, Play-Flexibility, and Deck Building.

Ally Effects


Since Vanishing is a 0-cost card, it can never trigger Sage Ally effects, even when used to draw 2. Gareth’s Will, on the other hand, does trigger Sage Ally effects, and it can even let you double trigger Sage Ally effects in a single turn.

While a single Sage Ally effect can be pretty nice in a single turn (and the fact that this triggers Sage Ally effects when used to draw 2 is one of its greatest strengths over Vanishing particularly in limited formats), double triggering Sage Ally effects doesn’t particularly wow me (unlike Evil, Good, and, to a lesser extent, Wild).


Before Pantheon, Sage Ally effects only included Shadow Imp, Temporal Enforcer, Forcemage Apprentice, Keeper of Secrets, Psionic Assault, and Blue Dragon. Of these, the only amazing one to trigger twice in one turn is Keeper for a double recycle. Imp/Forcemage Apprentice/Blue Dragon can do an extra 2 damage which is fine, Psionic Assault is strong but can’t be triggered twice in one turn (except for Frantic Digging shenanigans), and Enforcer is only interesting if built around (0-cost blitzers for instance) or if against tokens. In addition, none of these are amazing to trigger while maintaining an available gold or during combat.

However, Pantheon introduces Gareth’s Juggernaut and Master Forcemage which are both quite interesting with Gareth’s Will. Playing Gareth’s Juggernaut on your turn followed immediately by Gareth’s Will removes an opponent’s blocker, gives your Gareth’s Juggernaut unbreakable, and leaves your gold available to answer an opponent’s play. Solid.


It could also be nice in a dedicated 0-cost blitzer bounce deck. Play and attack with Dark Knight. Play Gareth’s Juggernaut, Gareth’s Will your Dark Knight (protecting Dark Knight from becoming vulnerable on your opponent’s turn, giving G’ Jugg unbreakable, and keeping your [Sage] gold up), and then attack. 10 unbreakable blitz damage from hand without committing your gold and only losing 1 card, pretty nice. (15 damage if you replay the Dark Knight and attack.)

Similarly, Master Forcemage‘s ambush and expend abilities synergize nicely with Gareth’s Will. If you ambush the Master Forcemage into play on your opponent’s turn, you can start your turn by attacking with it. If your opponent plays a champion in combat, you can use Gareth’s Will to remove that champion, prepare the Master, and leave the Master ready to either expend (possibly while still attacking) or make a second attack (or even possibly a third). As an interesting note, aside from Rift Summoner, no ambush champion can attack for that much damage [12] the turn after it is played (without buffs).

Play Flexibility

The greatest weakness Gareth’s Will has compared to Vanishing is that it isn’t as flexible. As a 1-cost card, Gareth’s Will can’t be played when your gold is already down, Vanishing can. Gareth’s Will also restricts your [second] gold to Sage cards the turn you play it, so you can’t do something like Vanishing an opponent’s champion and then play Winged Death/Scarra’s Will. Finally, Gareth’s Will only gives you an extra gold once on your turn, so you can’t use 3 in one turn, like you can with Vanishing (or Brachiosaurus).

Deck Building

As a 0-cost card, Vanishing requires you to run 2 1-cost Sage cards for every copy included. Therefore, running 3 Vanishings partially determines about 1/6 of your constructed deck. (3 of those 1-cost cards probably being Ancient Chant.)

As a 1-cost card, Gareth’s Will has no inherent deck-building requirements, so it could be run as your only Sage card(s) in your deck. But, if you want to make use of the second ability (which the card is bad in constructed if you don’t), you need to include a decent number of 1-cost Sage effects. This effectively limits it to Sage-focused decks (33+ Sage cards) partially determining at least 1/2 of your constructed deck.


On the bright side, in Sage-focused decks, Sage 0-cost slots are incredibly precious (Muse, Amnesia, Arcane Research, Shadow Imp, Forcemage Apprentice, Hasty Retreat, Keeper of Secrets, Spike Trap, Warrior Golem, Frantic Digging, Siren’s Song, Vanishing, [Ogre Mercenary/Citadel Scholar are less viable in constructed], and now Gareth’s Juggernaut, Force Lance, Alchemist Assassin, and Erwin Architect of War). Therefore, Gareth’s Will can give you a Vanishing-like effect without taking 0-cost slots, which could be quite valuable.

Conclusion

Overall, the card is certainly worth experimenting with in constructed, especially in a 0-cost blitzer, bounce deck with the addition of Gareth’s Juggernaut and Alchemist Assassin, since it doesn’t take your even-more-precious 0-cost slots. It also seems pretty nice in limited formats where you have a decent amount of Sage 1-cost effects (since a Vanishing effect is already strong). However, in limited formats, if I have the choice of Vanishing or this, I almost certainly pick Vanishing for the flexibility.