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
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.)
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.
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
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
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
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.
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).