This is part 2 of my 2-part article on the Dark Draft top 4 portion of my qualifying limited run at Gen Con 2017. (Part 1)
My finals match was against Nathan Overbay. These were our decks:
My Interesting Picks
While I do not remember all of my picks, a few stand out.
Strong Start, Human Tokens Though?
My first pack was one of those lamented 1 great, 4 terrible packs. I got Rescue Griffin, and I passed Winds of Change with 3 other mediocre 1-cost cards. The rest of the early packs felt a bit underpowered too; however, they did contain the makings of a decent (human) token deck. I’ve learned not to chase human tokens because it is awful, unless specific cards materialize in 2nd/3rd picks of packs. (I credit this mistake as a contributing factor to my loss at Origins 2017.) But, I know it has the potential to take surprise wins. While I didn’t expect my opponent to go for it, I made a mental note to draft some counter cards, just in case. Especially since I passed some actually strong token cards, namely Hunting Pack and Den Mother, as well.
Token Counter Picks
One of my first token counter picks was Pyrosaur. I do not remember if it was a 1st or 2nd/3rd pick, but I did take it well before I had committed to Wild. At that point, I was not expecting to go deeper in Wild, and I was planning on relying primarily on the tribute effect. (I also picked Spore Beast before I was committed to Wild because it was the only decent card in a 2nd/3rd pick of a pack.)
Savage Uprising was a mid-draft first pick for me because I was lacking any form of board clear at this point, I passed my opponent some strong 1-cost mid-sized champions like White Knight and Avenging Angel, I wanted to deny my potentially token opponent from getting it, and, least-importantly, I figured it might work with my 0-cost champions.
First picking Hurricane was the toughest choice in the draft. I knew that I needed board clears and anti-token cards, I knew that I had at least 1 of Sea Titan or Kong at that point, I knew I needed some more card draw, but I really, really wanted to take Angel of the Gate. AotG is one of my pet cards that I think is amazing in draft, and I almost ignored all of the reasons I knew I needed to draft Hurricane to take it. However, after losing my Dark Draft match at worlds where I picked AotG over Palace Guard, I was finally able to force myself to take the Hurricane.
I have been fairly vocal about my dislike of Deadly Raid, and I stand by that dislike. That being said, I’m fairly sure I first picked it from a pack this draft. I remember the pack wasn’t too amazing, I figured I might need it to get past my opponent’s tokens, and I do like it more with big untargetable champions (Sea Titan). In hindsight, I also prevented my potentially token opponent from getting it when my draft had few ways to stop an unblockable token attack (off-turn board clears and/or Blind Faith).
I had a pack with both Little Devil and Dark Knight. I first picked the Little Devil and left my opponent the Dark Knight. The only card that can punish this choice hard is if my opponent got Raxxa’s Curse. Aside from that, the 4 defense on Little Devil actually makes it harder to efficiently remove than Dark Knight‘s unbreakable on turn and its 2 defense. In addition, Little Devil‘s airborne makes it significantly harder to block.
In the final 2nd/3rd pick of the final pack I picked Rally the People over Demonic Rising (and 1 other bad card). While I like Demonic Rising much better than Rally the People, especially because it has a draw 2 option, I expected it would be incredibly unlikely that I would be able to use the non-draw option against my token opponent. Due to that, I decided I would rather have a 0-cost ambush chump blocker than a card that would probably only ever draw 2 in an alignment where I drafted no loyalty or ally effects.
My Thoughts/Concerns Post-Draft
I felt great about my deck. 13 0-cost cards, Sea Titan and Kong, a mass-discard pile banish, and some close-out burn. The only thing I was a bit worried about was my lack of health gain, but I didn’t remember passing too much burn. There were a few cards I wasn’t happy about passing though, Drain Essence and Hunting Pack + Smash and Burn for instance. Finally, I felt like I passed a lot more mediocre packs than I received.
Match Interesting Moments
These were also very intense games where my choices above were critical.
Holding Hasty Retreat
Game 1, turn 1, my opponent plays White Knight with Loyalty (drawing a card) and attacks for 9. I have Hasty Retreat in hand, but no ambush champions to declare as a blocker to prevent my opponent from drawing a card. Looking for an ambush 0-cost blocker, I Ceasefire to draw 2. Not finding one, I seriously consider Hasty Retreating anyway to save myself 9 damage. However, I am unwilling to trade 1 card in my hand, 9 health, and the tempo gained by removing my opponent’s champion for +2 cards in hand for my opponent (White Knight and the draw from Hasty Retreat). This would have put them at 7 cards in hand after taking the first turn with me at 5 (6 at the start of my turn).
As someone who is perpetually scared of being burned out (losing to direct damage from cards like Flame Strike), this was a difficult decision to make, but I felt I couldn’t afford to sacrifice that much card advantage that early. Further, I wanted to save Hasty Retreat just in case I needed it to stop a Lash/Raged blitz champion while my gold was down. I ended up holding onto that card for most of the game, and I either never played it or used it to draw 2. In addition, I was able to prevent myself from taking much if anymore damage that game, thanks to the Bash Brothers: Sea Titan and Kong.
Pyrosaur, Loyalty, Pass (No Attack)
In both games, there was a situation where I had a big champion in play, and my opponent played Den Mother with Necrovirus in their discard pile. Both times, I played my Pyrosaur, breaking all of the wolf tokens, revealed for loyalty (to give Pyrosaur blitz), and passed without attacking. I did this for a couple reasons:
- If I attacked with Pyrosaur, I would get a guaranteed 2 damage to my opponent through, but my Pyrosaur could be blocked and broken by Den Mother in combat with my opponent not needing to spend their gold.
- This would negate my opponent’s only in play blocker for my big champion, but then they could play any 1-cost Evil card to get 3 more zombie chump blockers, or they could just spend their gold to remove my big champion.
- By not attacking after spending my gold, my opponent either had to pass without spending their gold or risk getting attacked by my big champion and Pyrosaur.
In both situations, however, my opponent Hunting Packed my Pyrosaur. On the bright side, I was able to hold back my big champion to block the Den Mother next turn instead of just having it get chump blocked when I attacked.
Due to my opponent’s Hunting Pack, Den Mother, Necrovirus, Zombie Apocalypse, Hands from Below, and 0-cost champions, I found myself in a situation both games where my opponent had significantly more champions in play than me. Due to this, they were in a position where they could both attack with small champions to get damage past my big champion(s) and leave a chump blocker to stop my aggression. In both of these games I found myself desperately digging (drawing multiple cards and/or using cards like Arcane Research) to find my only strong answer, Hurricane. Playing Hurricane with Sea Titan/Kong/Velden in play essentially won me both games. It allowed me to halt my opponent’s aggression without disrupting my own.
In the second game, I played Hurricane on my turn with Sea Titan in play. This cleared out all of my opponent’s blockers, but instead of attacking with Sea Titan, I passed. At this point, I was unwilling to risk my opponent playing an ambush champion, blocking, and trading with my Sea Titan. In other words, I valued preserving my 11/14 untargetable champion over possibly dealing 11 damage to my opponent. Further, I was afraid of 0-cost Spike Trap finishing off my damaged Sea Titan allowing my opponent to spend their gold purely on a 1-cost ambush champion to start applying pressure to me. Even though I had not seen Spike Trap in the first game or the draft, I was not willing to take that risk, even if my opponent spent their gold on a non-ambush champion.
In that situation, my opponent decided to pass without spending their gold. Then they played Divine Judgement on their turn, allowing me to freely ambush in Angelic Protector. When I attacked with Angelic Protector on my next turn, he Spike Trapped -> Reusable Knowledged -> Spike Trapped.
Talking with my opponent after the game, they had no answer for Sea Titan on my turn in hand. However, if I would have attacked, they would have spent their gold to draw 2, and this would have drawn them into their Spike Trap. By not attacking, I denied them a draw 2, and both their gold and Divine Judgement on their turn.
One thing that almost got me to declare my attack anyways was the fact that my opponent said something along the lines of, “that is really bad for me,” after I played my Hurricane. Due to this statement, I figured they probably did not have any answer if I were to attack with Sea Titan. However, not being 100% certain this wasn’t a bluff, and not willing to risk compromising my chance of winning the game later by attacking now, I still held back.
Forcing myself to look past my individual card preferences while drafting, namely taking Hurricane which I’m lukewarm towards over Angel of the Gate which I love, allowed me to counter my opponent’s draft and win me the match (even though my opponent didn’t go quite as heavy tokens as I was fearing). While drafting I felt like I was getting the significantly better pool of cards, and even though I would say my deck’s overall card quality was higher, my opponent built a better deck than I was expecting, given my impression of what I was passing.
With Dark Draft complete, next up, before coming back to Random 60 and my Epic Progression series, is my top 8 constructed Wolf deck: Elara’s Hunting Pack.