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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 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.

Epic Worlds Trip Booked!

I have finally booked my flight for Epic Worlds 2017 from Nov 18-Nov 20, getting in Thursday, 16th night. I’ve even begun testing decks, and I’ve discovered a new one that I love. We’ll see how it holds up when we find out what the formats and legal sets will be for Worlds though. Looking forward to seeing everyone who is going to be there. With only 2 more full weeks until the event, I might not get any more major posts up before then, since I’ll be practicing/testing, but I’ll have plenty to talk about when Worlds is over.

Epic Progression (2): Basic Strategy Advice

Foreword

Now that you’ve played a couple games to learn the rules and flow of Epic, I am going to go over 3 general principles that will help you understand the game quicker and better: attack with 1 champion at a time, spend your gold after attacking, and spend your gold every turn (especially on your opponent’s turn). These principles are correct in the vast majority of cases, and if you follow them you will discover some of Epic’s subtler aspects sooner.

Attack with One Champion at a Time

In Epic, unlike Magic, you may declare as many individual attack “phases” in a turn as you want (as long as you can declare at least one attacking champion per attack phase). Further, it is almost always better to attack with one champion at a time, instead of attacking as a group. Attacking in a group allows one champion to block multiple, it can negate keywords like Airborne, and it gives your opponent a chance to break multiple champions in combat.

One Blocker Stops an Entire Attacking Group

No matter how many champions you declare in a single attack, if your opponent declares a single champion as a blocker, all of your simultaneously attacking champions are blocked. Therefore, none of them will deal damage to your opponent (unless breakthrough).

In this example, a 1/1 human token blocked 6 group-attacking demons, preventing 24 damage to the defending player. If the demons would have attacked alone, they could have dealt 20 damage to the defending player instead.

Attacking in Groups can Negate Keywords

If you group-attack with multiple, hard-to-block champions, your opponent only needs to be able to block one of them to block all of them. This can negate a champion’s airborne or unblockable keyword(s).

In addition, when determining how much breakthrough damage is dealt to an opposing player, you add up only the offense of the attacking breakthrough champions and subtract the defense of all defending champions; the difference is dealt to the defending player, and all other offense in the attack is irrelevant for this calculation.

In this example, the defending player is able to block the entire group because it can block either the Triceratops or human token (even though Medusa could not normally block Avenging Angel or Thought Plucker). By blocking the group with Medusa, the defending player would only take Triceratops‘ 2 breakthrough damage, and the defending player could choose to break either the Avenging Angel or Thought Plucker + human token.

If the champions would have attacked alone (preventing the defending player from blocking either Avenging Angel or Thought Plucker), those champions could have dealt an extra 8+ damage to the defending player, let the attacking player draw a card, forced the defending player to discard a card, and only risked losing the human token.

Multiple Attackers can Break to a Surprise in Combat

If you group-attack with multiple champions, even when your opponent has nothing in play, you risk losing all of them together.

In this example, an ambushed Lurking Giant can block, break all 4 group-attacking wolves, and prevent all damage to the defending player. If the wolves would have attacked alone, 3 wolves might have lived and dealt 6 damage to the defending player.

Spend Your Gold After Attacking
(Not Before)

The most common mistake I see new players make is spending their gold/playing cards before attacking. Instead, it is almost always correct to attack with your champions already in play before you do anything else. As long as you have advantageous attacks (opponent has no champions that can block effectively), attacking and waiting to play cards is your safest and most powerful play. If you spend your gold/play cards before attacking, you become more vulnerable to board clears, you restrict your future plays that turn, and you give your opponent free information.

Become More Vulnerable to Board Clears

If you play cards/spend your gold to put more champions into play before attacking with your existing champions, your opponent can use a board clear to both prevent the damage from your attacking champion, and to remove all of your champions from play.

In this example, you have a Jungle Queen in play that can attack. If you spend your gold first (to play Fire Shaman and Bellowing Minotaur), you allow your opponent to remove all of your champions with Hurricane before either Jungle Queen or Bellowing Minotaur can deal damage. If you attack with Jungle Queen first and your opponent plays Hurricane, you can then play Fire Shaman and Bellowing Minotaur, get 12 damage through, and leave yourself with 2 champions in play.

Restrict Your Options that Turn

If you spend your gold before attacking (before your opponent has a chance to play cards/spend their gold), you lose your ability to spend your gold to react to what they do that turn.

In this example, if you spend your gold before attacking with your Triceratops (to play T-Rex), you always lose your Triceratops and are left with a T-Rex to your opponent’s Lurking Giant. If you wait to spend your gold, you can either:

Give Your Opponent Free Information

If you spend your gold before attacking, your opponent knows what you spent your gold on, so they can react to it when they spend their gold.

In this example, if you play Flame Strike before attacking with Ice Drake, your opponent knows they will go to 0 health when Ice Drake hits them, so they use Inner Peace to gain 10 health before Ice Drake deals combat damage. If you wait to play Flame Strike until after Ice Drake hits, you can finish your opponent off immediately (since they can’t play Inner Peace before Flame Strike kills them).

Spend Your Gold Every Turn
(Especially on Your Opponent’s Turn)

1-cost cards in Epic are incredibly powerful. Any turn in which your opponent uses a gold and you do not, you get significantly far behind.

One mistake I see a lot of new players make is not using an “or draw 2” card to draw cards on their opponent’s turn. While saving a card like Apocalypse for its break all effect can be powerful, if you don’t use cards to draw 2, you will eventually run out of cards in hand. This will prevent you from spending your gold every turn and cause you to fall significantly far behind. Since most cards in Epic are incredibly powerful, using 1 card to draw 2 is strong.

Also, don’t forget to use your recall abilities on cards like Lightning Storm and Demon Breach (especially when you can’t spend your gold otherwise).

Conclusion

These are the 3 most important pieces of advice for new players. While it is not universally correct to follow them, they are correct around 90% of the time. By internalizing these rules, you enable yourself to focus on the deeper, emergent aspects of Epic.

I recommend playing multiple games of Epic to understand and internalize these 3 principles before moving onto the next article in this series. In it I plan on going into more complicated, less absolute strategic concepts.

Furi

Introduction

I first saw this played on Penny Arcade’s First 15, and I was intrigued. When I incidentally got it in last month’s Humble Monthly, I decided to try it.

It is amazing. If you enjoy Bullet-Hell boss battles, I highly recommend this, so much so that I had to take time away from my Epic content to write about it.

Quick Description

Furi is a game of boss fights (I’m currently past the fifth). Each boss fight consists of multiple stages. Each stage has a mobility/ranged-attack-focused part (where you can use ranged rapid-fire or charged attacks in addition to melee attacks) and a close-range, melee-only part. In both parts you have an invulnerable dash and a parry. The final stage of each fight is a Bullet-Hell/Other Finale that you need to survive until you can finish off the boss.

[Screenshots from early bosses and don’t do the game justice]

(Mobility/Ranged-Attack-Focused Part Picture 1)

(Mobility/Ranged-Attack-Focused Part Picture 2)

(Close-Range, Melee-Only Part)
(Bullet-Hell/Other Finale)

Game Feels Great

Simply put, the game feels great to play. The difficulty is perfect in that it generally takes me a couple tries to beat each boss, yet I’m always excited to start the fight over to apply what I learned (patterns, tactics, responses, etc). Similarly, the game speed is great; its fast and exciting, but the character still feels like it is entirely under my control. The invulnerable dash enhances this even further because it enables you to exploit opportunities to dodge projectiles/attacks, close gaps quickly to attack in melee, or even strategically retreat. Everything about the pace of the gameplay just feels right.

Against melee attacks, split second parrying is incredibly satisfying (especially when you get a perfect parry), and it leads into the satisfying chain of four melee attacks that ends with a big solid down swing that knocks the boss down and away. Completing that attack chain with that finisher, after nailing a parry or dashing in during/after a massive ranged attack, is gaming bliss. Finally, each boss feels different both stylistically and gameplay wise (although the Close-Range, Melee-Only parts are a bit similar).

My only complaint is that the scenes between bosses are a bit too long and boring, but they function as a pallet cleanser so it’s fine. As a side note, many people seem to love the soundtrack, but I haven’t noticed it much while playing. It probably helps to pull me into the game, and not being overtly noticeable is not a bad thing, but I don’t have strong feelings about it.

Conclusion

Overall, Furi is a stand-out example in the Bullet-Hell genre, and I highly recommend it. The pacing, controls, and difficulty are excellent and provide an adrenaline rush that lasts for a while after stopping. As a heads up, they do recommend using a controller, and that is how I’m playing it.

Gen Con 2017 Random 60 Qualification

Foreword

I went 3-0-1 during the Random 60 portion of this qualifier. I lost a game in the final round.

Random 60

Random 60 is a “limited” Epic Card Game format where you build your deck from a random pool of cards at the beginning of the event. In Random 60, each player is given their own unique list of 60 cards with between 13 and 17 cards of each alignment. Each player uses only the cards on their list to construct a deck of exactly 30 cards. (Constructed Epic deck-building restrictions do not apply, you may include as many 0-cost cards as you have access to in your pool.)

60 Card Pool

If you don’t like your first card pool, you are able to mulligan. If you do, you get a new list of 56 cards with between 12 and 16 cards of each alignment. If you don’t like your second pool, you are stuck with it.

Would you mulligan this pool? Why or why not?

First Pass

When I first go over my list, I look for

  • auto-includes (star: )
  • strong alignment-independent cards (solid arrow:FactionIndependentArrow)
  • strong alignment-dependent cards (dashed arrow: FactionDependentArrow)
  • strategy-dependent cards like Revolt (line:StrategyDependentLine)
  • effectively unplayable cards (line through: StrikeThrough)
  • generally unplayable cards (dashed line through: GenerallyUnplayable)

All cards without a mark are viable, but not incredible.

Wild

Raging T-Rex is a huge incentive to play Wild because it is the best card to play turn 1 going first. I also have other solid Wild cards such as Smash and Burn + Fire Spirit/Fire Shaman + Rain of Fire/Hurricane/Savage Uprising/Draka’s Fire/Fires of Rebellion. Unfortunately, I’m missing many of the rewards for going Wild: Spore Beast, Draka Dragon Tyrant, Draka’s Enforcer, Strafing Dragon, Pyrosaur, Scarros Hound of Draka, Brachiosaurus, and Feeding Frenzy.

Sage

Knight of Elara is my only incentive to go Sage, but there are plenty of other strong Sage cards.

Evil

Evil is by far my most rewarding alignment with Murderous Necromancer, Rift Summoner, Plentiful Dead, Spawning Demon, and Angel of Death. Unfortunately, Spawning Demon and Plentiful Dead require 1-cost, Evil, draw 2s to make them all-stars. In addition, Trihorror, Soul Hunter, and Heinous Feast (since I have Grave Demon) aren’t amazing. Luckily, Grave Demon, Corpsemonger, and Dark Knight are always powerful.

Overall

I kept this list because of Kong, Palace Guard, Grave Demon (a mass discard pile banish effect), and a supported T-Rex. Also having Blind Faith, Dark Knight, Corpsemonger, Ogre Mercenary, and the other auto-includes solidified that choice.

Second Pass

Once I complete my first pass with the deck list provided, I gather all of the cards I can play and divide them into cards I am certainly playing (star), cards I want to play (dotted star), cards I might play (unmarked), and cards I won’t play (strikethrough).

While getting out and dividing the cards, I initially separate them by alignment and cost (as seen below). In addition, I separated the 1-cost cards I am likely to cut into the right column of each alignment.

The only notable card that did not make this first rough cut was Mist Guide Herald. I think MGH can be a powerful card because it can dig you to a card you need, or at least a card that is playable, while also giving you a 3/2 airborne body, which is far from irrelevant. When you put MGH into play, particularly off-turn with Final Task, Surprise Attack, or Resurrection and hit something like Sea Titan, Kong, or Time Walker, it can be insane. However, if it turns up no 1-cost champions you want to play, it can be terrible. Without Final Task, Surprise Attack, Resurrection, or Dark Offering, I have no desire to take that risk. (It can also accidentally banish key cards like Amnesia in Control/Midgrange decks.)

Distributions Pass

Once I have the general shell of the deck, I make sure I have an acceptable amount of cards for the 8 distributions mentioned below (sometimes there are special distributions like 1-cost cards to recall Inner Peace). Meeting these distributions almost always guarantees a reasonable deck.

Distribution Breakdown

  • 14 Wild (Primary Alignment)

Den Mother, Draka’s Fire, Entangling Vines, Fire Shaman, Fire Spirit, Fireball, Fires of Rebellion, Hurricane, Kong, Raging T-Rex, Rain of Fire, Savage Uprising, Smash and Burn, Wolf’s Bite

I have a bit more than I need (10+), so I may cut a couple.

  • 25 Card Draw

Draka’s Fire, Fire Spirit, Fires of Rebellion, Hurricane, Raging T-Rex, Rain of Fire, Savage Uprising, Smash and Burn, Wolf’s Bite, Crystal Golem, Djinn of the Sands, Erase, Knight of Shadows, Lesson Learned, Memory Spirit, Ogre Mercenary, Reusable Knowledge, Spike Trap, Heinous Feast, Inner Demon, The Gudgeon, Blind Faith, Inheritance of the Meek, Noble Unicorn, Urgent Messengers

I have significantly more than I need (15+), so I’ll probably cut multiple.

  • 11 0-cost Cards

Fire Shaman, Fireball, Wolf’s Bite, Forcemage Apprentice, Ogre Mercenary, Spike Trap, Corpsemonger, Dark Knight, Heinous Feast, Blind Faith, Courageous Soul

I’m barely above my minimum (10+), so I’m only willing to cut 1 max.

  • 8 Slow Champions (1 On-turn Gold-punishers)

Den Mother, Fire Spirit, Kong, Raging T-Rex, Knight of Shadows, The Gudgeon, Palace Guard, (Djinn of the Sands)

I’m under my maximum (10-). An extra on-turn gold-punisher would be nice, but since I have a mass discard pile banish effect, not 100% necessary

  • 6 Ambush Champions/Off-turn Gold-punishers

Entangling Vines, Crystal Golem, Memory Spirit, Grave Demon, Angelic Protector, Noble Unicorn

I’m above my absolute minimum (3), but I could take more.

  • 2 Mass Discard Pile Banish

Grave Demon, Heinous Feast

I only need 1.

  • 3 Board Clears

Hurricane, Savage Uprising, Inheritance of the Meek, (Draka’s Fire, Rain of Fire)

An acceptable amount.

  • 7 Targeted Removal (2 Slow/5 Fast)

Kong, Palace Guard, Fires of Rebellion, Smash and Burn, Erase, Inner Demon, Rain of Fire

Only 2 defense-independent off-turn removal effects, but that is probably fine.

  • 5 1-cost Good Cards that can Recall Inner Peace

Angelic Protector, Inheritance of the Meek, Noble Unicorn, Palace Guard, Urgent Messengers

I only need 3.

Distribution Considerations and Cuts

I unequivocally cut Lesson Learned, Knight of Shadows, The Gudgeon, and Heinous Feast. Lesson Learned: I didn’t have enough strong 1-cost events to use with it, and I didn’t have anything else I was willing to cut for it. Knight of Shadows: I didn’t need the card draw, I had no other discard effects, and I’m not a big fan of the 4 defense. The Gudgeon: I didn’t need the card draw. Heinous Feast: I didn’t need the mass discard pile banish nor the card draw.

The last four cuts were significantly more difficult. I ended up cutting what I did because

I’m personally not a huge fan of Inner Demon, so that got cut. Same with Savage Uprising, since I didn’t have too many 0-cost champions. Rain of Fire and Fire Spirit work great with Smash and Burn and Fire Shaman, so I wanted to keep those for the synergy. Urgent Messengers seemed too strong to cut. Therefore, I cut the only remaining questionable slow champion, Den Mother, and the least impactful ambush champion, Angelic Protector.

While making these final cuts, I reconsidered Demon Breach, Helion’s Fury, Knight of Elara, and Chomp!, but I ended up including none of them. Demon Breach could provide additional threats both on-turn and off-turn. Helion’s Fury was additional removal, but only on-turn. Knight of Elara has blitz, but I didn’t have enough Sage to draw a card, and Chomp! is off-turn removal, but not quite as strong as the rest of my options.

Last Minute Adjustment

Once I got down to the 30 cards above, I decided I wanted another off-turn hard-removal card that could answer Thundarus (or Burrowing Wurm). While I think these are bad cards, they can win the game if unanswered, and Erase was my only card that could answer Thundarus by itself (since Thundarus dodges my Palace Guard and Inheritance of the Meek, unless I have Blind Faith). Therefore, I swapped out Urgent Messengers for the generally weaker card Inner Demon, since I didn’t need the card draw.

Memorable Moments

I do not remember much about the matches played at this point, but I remember being surprised just how effective Courageous Soul was for me. I was able to play it frequently on my opponent’s turn to an empty board and attack for 4 damage with my gold up. Even though it was just a worse Dark Knight in those situations, that was still enough to get damage through. In addition, the +2 offense to my champions allowed me to threaten lethal damage on at least one occasion.

I also got the chance to go over a couple players’ 60 card pools with them after our matches (as well as going over my pool). As frequent readers know, I like talking about Epic, and being able to have discussions which can change my opinions in real time is even better, especially when we have common game examples to reference.

If you would like to read about my top 4 Dark Drafts which I won to qualify for Worlds 2017, check out my earlier articles (part 1, part 2).

Coming Soon

I am planning on recording at least one video of me building a Random 60 deck in real time.