Drafting Pick By Pick: Nekrium/Uterra

Greeting Forgeborn and welcome to another Drafting Pick By Pick. After several Weekend Warriors I figured I’d go for a regular draft this week (plus I’ve really been struggling with the 6 Card Heroic drafts- nothing past a 2-2 out of three drafts). Now normally I go in with an idea or two of what I would like to draft, but today I’m going in completely happy to fly by the seat of my pants and see what happens. So with that, let’s get to it!

The Draft

P1P1: Scout Drone, Bornean Mystic, Sonic Pulse, Progeny of Xith, Forge Guardian Gamma, Phytobomb – Wow. I don’t think I’ve seen such an unimpressive pack 1 for quite some time. Nothing here is really standout. I think the pick is the Progeny for the potential synergies and maybe try and push NU.

P1P2: Metamind Operator, Magma Hound, Metamind Adept, Fell Walker, Spiritleash – Still not blown away here; may as well continue in the same way as Pick 1 and take the Walker for the “I like to blow up my own creature” synergies.

P1P3: Swampmoss Lurker, Brighttusk Sower, Palladium Pulsemage, Tanglesprout – Okay, now we’re getting somewhere. Plenty of Uterra to choose from, and all reasonable. Based on previous drafts I will pick the token spawner (the number of times I’ve passed them in the early draft then panicked half-way through because I don’t have enough yet…) There’s still plenty of time for the underdrops.

P1P4: Harbinger of Spring, Experian Wartusk, Weirwood Ranger – And here’s the payoff. Harbinger #1 in the bag.

P1P5: Zombie Infantry, Dissolve – Only one way this pack could go.

P2P1: Grapplevine, Grave Pact, Undying Legacy, Group Meal, Blight Walker, Corpse Crawler – And this time we have too many good picks. Mass buff and debuff in one is massive, Legacy makes any one creature sticky, Walker is a removal on legs, Crawler is really big legs, and ‘Vine stops their mobility from being mobile. But in the end free removal at level 3 was the pick.

P2P2: Corpse Crawler, Spiritbloom Dryad, Brambleaxe Warrior, Scavenger Scorpion, Fangwood Ravager – On level it’s a beast and as an underdrop it is one of the best options at common.

P2P3: Corpse Crawler, Bitterfrost Totem, Stranglevine Hydra, Poisoncoil – But you don’t want too many without more sacrifice creatures. And as removal, Poisoncoil is very effective.

P2P4: Scatterspore Tiller, Fell Walker, Grapplevine – Repeatable tokens? Sign me up!

P2P5: Experian Wartusk, Scavenger Scorpion – There’s other rares I would rather see in multiple packs, but the Wartusk scales well, and never underestimate the power of breakthrough.

P3P1: Fell Walker, Deepwood Bear Rider, Verdant Sphere, Spiritleash, Poisoncoil, Scatterspore Tiller – Again, a no brainer.

P3P2: Sorrow Harvester, Abyssal Maw, Charnel Titan, Victory Rush, Byzerak Drake – A tough one here; I haven’t seen enough pump, but Maws are brutal with enough other Aboms. I think it’s early enough, so I will add an Abomination subtheme as well.

P3P3: Festering Ooze, Scavenger Scorpion, Dissolve, Dendrify – After the last pick I almost took the Scorpion, but Dendrify is just too good.

P3P4: Corpse Crawler, Abyssal Brute, Sorrow Harvester – I will pick Brute very highly, regardless of faction pairing.

P3P5: Stouthide Stegadon, Gemhide Basher – Stouthide is the comparative best here.

P4P1: Charnel Titan, Stag of Lys, Spiritleash, Necroslime, Swampmoss Lurker, Uterradon Mauler – Necroslime is also a consideration here; however, at this point I need an underdrop more than I need another bomb.

P4P2: Witherfrost Banshee, Zombie Infantry, Oxidon Spitter, Spiritbloom Dryad, Cull the Weak – Hmmm… Not a particularly good pack here. I think that Cull is the pick just for some extra removal, but it may be that Dryad is a better call. Hard to say until I actually play.

P4P3: Blightskull Phantasm, Swampmoss Lurker, Fell Walker, Rot Wanderer – Came down to either the underdrop or the sticky creature; I have loads of spawn/sticky, so time for another underdrop.

P4P4: Oxidon Spitter, Grapplevine, Lysian Rain – Being able to stop my opponent’s mobility is never a bad, and the ‘Vine does have a suitably big butt. The other two are just kinda meh.

P4P5: Fangwood Ravager, Scavenger Scorpion – The Ravager levels much better, but the Scorpion is an Abomination and I still don’t have very many of them.

P5P1: Victory Rush, Charnel Titan, Gemhide Basher, Mimicleaf, Scavenger Scorpion, Uterradon Mauler – This one’s a bit more of a gamble; given the opportunity, the Mimicleaf can be an absolute ass to get rid of, but it is definitely on the smaller side and dies to a lot of removal. It came down to this or Victory Rush for some much needed pump. Not my most confident pick here…

P5P2: Zombie Infantry, Shardplate Delver, Graveborn Glutton, Death Seeker, Hive Empress – Ooh- a tricky call here, between the Glutton and the Empress. Both are very good cards, and both will work well with this deck. I think I’ll take the Empress now and hope for a Glutton later.

P5P3: Vyric’s Embrace, Ruthless Wanderers, Stouthide Stegadon, Victory Rush – And finally the Rush is the pick.

P5P4: Tanglesprout, Bitterfrost Totem, Brighttusk Sower – Any of the three could work here, but I think I’ll go with more token spam (it’s been a little while…)

P5P5: Sorrow Harvester, Grapplevine – Another ‘Vine is tempting, but we do have enough other Aboms that the Harvester may be worth it. Plus it scales more aggressively.

P6P1: Witherfrost Banshee, Zombie Infantry, Grove Matriarch, Nyrali Ooze, Rot Wanderer, Roaming Warclaw – Ooze is a not-so-good Matriarch substitute, so we can rule that one out, bringing it down to Matriarch or Warclaw. And Warclaw is a dinosaur. I’m a big kid; so sue me…

P6P2: Spiritbloom Dryad, Scavenger Scorpion, Venomfang, Fangwood Ravager, Vyric’s Embrace – Poison and an okay body make the snake the pick.

P6P3: Crypt Wail, Verdant Sphere, Rot Wanderer, Charnel Titan – Well, I guess it’s Titan and hope for the proc. Wanderer is a close second here, but neither are stellar. Still miles better than the spells though.

P6P4: Stranglevine Hydra, Tanglesprout, Fangwood Ravager – I think the Hydra is the pick, but again nothing is particularly standout.

P6P5: Tigrin Nomad, Verdant Grace – The Nomad has a body. The only deciding factor here, really.

And we’re done. On the whole I’m relatively okay with the deck; the NU Grow Wide is one of the staples. I’m concerned by the lack of mass pump that normally pushes this deck to better levels, and a spot more removal would make me feel more comfortable (at the very least a second Grave Pact). It’s also disappointing to not pull more Abyssal Maws or Harbingers, as either can really make a deck. We’ll just have to see how it performs.

The Games

Game 1: First up was an NT Mobility/Control type deck, with Spite Hydra and Arc Wurm along with numerous “move my creatures” cards like Borean Mystic and Uranti Elementalist. My opponent got a lot of value out of his Hydra, especially once we hit Rank 3 and I really struggled to get rid of them. I managed to fill the board several times but just couldn’t really do much when I had. I eventually lost in early Rank 4. Well played to dorkchop.

Game 2: Unfortunately game 2 was a drop-without-playing-anything. A quick win, but unsatisfying. Oh well, it happens.

Game 3: Next up was another NU deck, but where I went wide, he went tall. I took the early lead and managed to keep going wide, but again (like game 1) once I got there I just couldn’t really do anything. Once we hit Rank 3, his creatures really hit their stride- Necroslime, Torrent Soldier, Weirwood Ranger and Grove Huntress just crushed anything that I could play and the lead I got vanished really fast. I managed to stabilize somewhat going into Rank 4, but quickly lost it again. I ended up conceding in mid Rank 4. Well played indeed to superschiere.

That was a very disappointing draft. It turns out that my fears were extremely well founded: I was able to go wide and fill the board, but what I filled it with was so underwhelming. The almost total lack of pump was a serious mistake, and the one-ofs of Harbinger, Maw and Grave Pact had pretty much no impact on the games.

The main lesson to take away here is to be careful when you are drafting and make sure that you are paying close attention to the whole deck, not just one or two parts. Also, don’t let yourself get sidetracked by irrelevant stuff; the whole Abomination subtheme that I had hoped for really wasn’t a thing after all. And finally, I have always discounted the Borean Mystic but having actually seen it in use I may just have to rethink that and maybe give it a try. Is there a card that you’ve discounted without playing with it? Maybe you should give it a try next time and see if you are right. Who knows, you may be pleasantly surprised.

Regardless of my performance, a big thank you to my opponents and again very well played to both dorkchop and superschiere; my hat’s off to you both. And thank you all for reading and I hope to see you all in the queues!

Just For Funsies: Howling Angel

Greetings Forgeborn, and welcome once more to Just For Funsies.

But before we start, a couple of non-JFF related comments. As those of you who have been here before have probably noticed this site has had a slight make over and rebranding. I launched the blog as a place to talk about all kinds of games, and had kind of envisioned a slightly broader range of topic (some D&D, some DTCG, some paper TCG, a bit of board game stuff, and so on). However, I quickly realised that the lions share of content was SolForge related. Barring a few JFFs for Eternal, I found that it was a struggle to get motivated to write, let alone think of topics to write about. So to make it easier to write for (and avoid spreading my reader base too thin) I have made the call to drop all non-Forgey stuff.

I have also gone for a fresh look as well- I personally like the light text on dark background, but the other way round is meant to be better for your eyes and I want you all to enjoy my writing without hurting you. See- all heart, me…

Secondly I want to take the opportunity to thank everyone still active in the SolForge community- from Kaelari and his whole team who work hard to keep bringing us bigger and better stuff (I’m particularly happy with how KUSC is coming along; Kael and Naviln are both working wonders there and when I play on PC it is the one that I use most, and I just look forward to having it on iOS as well) right through to all of the players that still populate the queues (and I’m sure that numbers have actually crept up a bit lately, which can only ever be a good thing), all those still engaging on social media, and everyone that has taken the time to come here and read what I have to say. It is gratifying to see the readership figures (especially as I have never really done anything like this before) and hope to be seeing you all for a long time to come.

And finally, a quick personal plea to you, the community at large. SolForge does appear to be on the rise again. Like I said, player numbers appear to be going up, more content is on the horizon (Set 8 hype! No info, no timeline, but Set 8 hype!), we have new Weekend Warriors and WWs have been extended to week long events (smart move there, by the way). There are now multiple UIs, catering to different needs and tastes. But what we need now is more engagement and more content from the rest of the community. Post on social media. Visit the SolForge forums. Visit the reddit or the ladder. If you are feeling ambitious, start a new blog or website. If you think an anecdote is really cool or funny, share it. Those that are able to, stream the game. Share screenshots or YouTube videos. Start new teams. Let us make our game and community the best it can be.

Thank you for listening, and now to your scheduled reading.

Howling Angel

Howling Angel is an old deck of mine that has been tinkered with on and off since early 2015. A creature-light AN control deck, the idea is to use a combination of Ambriel Archangel and a whole slew of spells to nullify your opponent’s board, drop Lucid Echoes and Energy Surge to enable you to draw as much of your deck as possible each turn, Metasight and Perilous Insight to level all of your cards up, then kill them with repeated Howl of Xith. This deck is not one to reach for if you want a quick game, and may only really appeal to you if you enjoy pulling the wings off of flies.

Previous versions were, I’m embarrassed to admit, hindered by an horribly inflexible approach. By the time I built this deck I had quite a few years of TCG theory in my head, even if precious little practical experience, and I at least knew some of the bigger pitfalls to avoid. And inexplicably I threw it all out the window for the deck. I restricted myself to only three copies of Ambriel, but no other creatures. The deck had to be as close to mono Alloyin as possible, so I only allowed myself the three copies of Howl (and I also insisted that the Howl had to be the wincon- I would frequently Energy Prison my own Ambriel to stop it hitting). And I became fixated on nullifying, Prisoning and debuffing creatures instead of killing them. I told myself that it made more sense this way. If their creatures have a negative value for their attack, they can’t kill me. If their creatures are defendered, they can’t hurt me. And in the late game, it wasn’t unknown to draw all three leveled up Energy Prisons and be able to nullify their plays while still leaving my two plays open for either more debuff, more Lucid Echoes, or the Howls.

In my defence, it actually worked better than I had any right to expect. The win rate was around the 30% mark, which isn’t really that good and for most decks I would have written it off and moved on to pastures new, but also not a complete failure and the deck held a strange appeal that never fully left.

But in very recent history I have started to make a more concerted effort to get better at SolForge, and one way that I wanted to do that was to go back to Howling Angel and actually make it work. I dropped the unnecessary self-inflicted restrictions and tried to make a deck to be proud of. And I like to think that’s what I’ve done.

The Deck

HowlingAngel3pt1                          HowlingAngel3pt2

As a job, creature control has been returned to it’s more customary Nekrium home with full playsets of the old faithful Current and ‘Cleave pairing backed up with two-ofs of Edict and Epidemic (for mass removal) and Dreadbolt and Vyric’s Embrace (pinpoint removal).

Leveling remains a pair of pairs- Metasight becomes free at 2nd level, and the Perilous’ thin the deck nicely. As long as your opponent isn’t too aggressive, they should be fine in Rank 1 and even better in the late game. If you don’t see any of them in Rank 1, you may just have a problem though.

Ever since it took a hit in Stoneblade’s own big card shake up Energy Surge has seen much less play, and Echoes are unusual as a three-of; most decks that run it keep it to two or less, but you really do need to be drawing as much as possible with this deck, to make sure you draw into the answers you need. Between the two cards, you should be able to meet all of your drawing needs, and the Surge gaining overload at level 3 just helps to thin out the deck.

And finally, of course, you have the two cards that the deck is named for. Ambriel is still a potent go to when slowing down aggressive decks and has a reasonable body (especially with the proc), and Howl is a great finisher that requires no leveling to make it work.

The deck isn’t perfect- Zimus and Immortal Echoes can cause major problems (whereas the original was actually better- leaving your opponents side of the board gummed up with neutered creatures does leave no room for spawning), as can hyper aggressive decks. If you find that you are facing a lot of Zimus, dropping the Embraces and possibly Edicts for Metasculpts and Wipe Cleans will help a lot. Against the aggressive decks, there is a lot less you can do; all I can suggest is again replacing the Embraces with a third copy of Epidemic, Edict, and/or Dreadbolt.

So there you have it- another deck to go on the list of Decks People Love To Hate and two really really important lessons: Never forget your basics, and if a deck doesn’t work don’t be stupid and change it.

Thanks again for reading and I’ll see you in the queues!

Drafting Pick by Pick: Weekend Warrior – High Rarity Draft

Greetings Forgeborn, and welcome to another Drafting Pick by Pick, and this time we’ve got a real doozy for you; this weekend’s Weekend Warrior is the High Rarity Draft. Woo!

So, what is a High Rarity Draft? As the name suggests, all of the cards drafted are higher rarities. Each 6-card pack consists of nothing but legendaries, and each other pack is all heroics. Now it’s a shadow draft (you don’t keep the cards) so it is still behind Guaranteed Legendary Drafting in popularity, but not by much and certainly it’s a nice change of pace.

The Draft

P1P1: Shardplate Behemoth, Ebonskull Diabolist, Synapsis Oracle, Ghox, Metamind Paragon, Everflow Eidolon, Grimgaunt Devourer – Okay, so first pack and we have three nicely playable cards here. Shardplate is the king of underdrops (but it doesn’t feel right picking an underdrop for P1P1), Ghox is a serious card advantage beast, and left unchecked Devourer (especially levels 2 and 3) can be insane. All of the others require too much work to pull off successfully. All things considered, I would rather pick the kick ass bomb first.

P1P2: Shadowsmith, Metamorphosis, Firestorm, Aetherphage, Patron of Kadras – This pack came down to the ‘Smith or the Metamorphosis for me. The ‘Smith locks me nicely into AN, which is my personal favourite faction pairing and leveling is always nice. However, the Metamorphosis is one of the rare removal cards actually present in the format. It took a wee while to decide, but in the end faction loyalty won out.

P1P3: Soulscourge Grimgaunt, Patron of Tarsus, War Tinker, Discordant Strike – I did briefly lean towards the Strike, but the body won out (and it can be an insane body if you play right/get lucky).

P1P4: Energy Prison, Grimgaunt Betrayer, Repress – Not even close; it’s a body and it’s a Darkforged.

P1P5: Patron of Anvillon, Necroplasm – I rarely like taking the patrons in any kind of draft anyway(except Mono-Faction Draft, obviously), and Necroplasm has a better body at every level. I’m not even too fussed about getting the formation proc.

P2P1: Oreian Warwalker, Suruzal, Emissary of Varna, Nethershriek, Scythe of Chiron, Immortal Echoes, Drix, the Mindwelder – After pack 1, I feel that any of the four Nekrium cards would have been a good pick. Ultimately, it was the potential for Darkforged fun that swung it for me. Probably too little Darkforged to be focusing on so far, but I like them.

P2P2: Apocrymancer, Steelforged Avatar, Grimgaunt Betrayer, Repress, Overwhelming Force – And speaking of the Darkforged, here’s another one. Plus, in this format most of the others are too underwhelming (you need better/more spells to make Apocrymancer work, Avatars are in the same group as the Patrons, Repress is meh in all formats.) Overwhelming Force is a nice mass buff, but is it nice enough? Not really sure here.

P2P3: Xrath’s Will, Ebonskull Knight, War Merchant, Cercee’s Call – Will and Call are both awesome if you’re playing zombies, but I’m not. War Merchant is a helpful if somewhat restricted buff. But in the end, the massive underdrop was the way to go.

P2P4: Patron of Anvillon, Metasculpt, Unrelenting Dead – And then to make me look silly, the zombie is the pick here.

P2P5: Discordant Strike, Scout Drone – If you are able to level it Scout Drone is a useful little free body, but otherwise it is just too insignificant. Even without leveling, the multi-lane combat trick can still be relevant.

P3P1: Sparky, Forge Guardian Dog, Frontline Combatant, Iniog, Carrion Demon, Dread, Arcflight Squadron, Ironbeard, Hammer of Anvillon – Sparky and Iniog are both too build around, Arcflight requires at least some other robots, and Dread isn’t relevant enough (and only 50/50 chance of respawning). Of the other two, Ironbeard is definitely very nice (and a Forgeborn- major cool factor), but the Combatant is more immediate removal in a format without much. One-eyed man, Kingdom of the Blind, and all that.

P3P2: Scout Drone, Shardthief Druid, Tomb Pillager, Soul Harvest, Aeromind Squadron – The best of a mediocre bunch here is all.

P3P3: Alloyin Highlander, Cercee’s Call, Portal Shade, Rite of the Grimgaunt – Another uninspiring pack. I did consider the Rite, and the lack of removal would make this  a slightly stronger pick than normal, but the potential for extra bodies on rank up is still just better.

P3P4: Explosive Demise, Hellforged Avatar, Discordant Strike – The Strike is really the only choice. Would be more excited if I hadn’t already picked one.

P3P5: Grimgaunt Warrior, War Tinker – This is seriously starting to look like a Grimgaunt deck here. On the bright side, this one is definitely a decent one for draft.

P4P1: Lucid Echoes, Epoch Hawk, Woebringer, Doppelbot, Xerxes, Immortal Echoes – This pick was made simply for the possibility of copying their coolest big level 3 before they are able to play it themselves. Very funny…

P4P2: Cercee’s Call, Byzerak Frostmaiden, Omnomnom, Nexus Techtician, Sonic Pulse – Yet again, not much to excite me here. Obviously came down to Techtician or Pulse; Pulse just feels more useful.

P4P3: Rite of the Grimgaunt, Onyxium Allomancer, Alloyin Highlander, Dysian Broodqueen – Didn’t even need to think about this one- Allomancer all the way, baby.

P4P4: Grimgaunt Betrayer, War Merchant, Warmonger Mod – Again, it’s a Darkforged.

P4P5: Explosive Demise, Esperian Scarab – Ugh. Both are pretty much useless here. Grudgingly taking the body.

P5P1: Synapsis Oracle, Ghox, Metamind Paragon, Ironmind Acolyte, Doomwing, Dire Drake, Dread, Ambriel Archangel – Definitely the weakest of the legendary packs so far. Ghox is the only pick here.

P5P2: Xrath, Dreadknight of Varna, Necroplasm, Patron of Anvillon, Shardthief Druid, Forge Guardian Delta – With so few zombie cards so far Xrath loses a lot of his value, but he is still the best of what’s there.

P5P3: Oratek Explosives, Onyxium Allomancer, Spitesower Acolyte, Nexus Techtician – A second Allomancer? Don’t mind if I do! And the rest were somewhat underwhelming, so…

P5P4: Cacklebones, Oreian Battledroid, Xithian Tormentor – Both Nekrium creatures here have drawbacks that can be worked around or negated in constructed, but in limited can be lethal to you- certainly not worth playing. Which only leaves one option.

P5P5: Ceaseless Grimgaunt, Spitesower Acolyte – And ANOTHER unimpressive pack. Ceaseless is another constructed rather than limited staple, and Spitesower is that bit too small and fragile to be of much use. Suicide combat trick on a stick. Meh.

P6P1: Spiritstone Sentry, Oreian Warwalker, Frontline Combatant, Specimen 001, Keeper of the Damned, Immortal Echoes – I’ve passed on the previous two Echoes, I can’t really skip the third as well; the card is just too useful, especially at level 3. An extra creature on your board at the end of your turn for free is never to be sneezed at.

P6P2: Soul Harvest, Tomb Pillager, Explosive Demise, Unrelenting Dead, Repress – Tomb Pillager has a couple of things going for it here- as a zombie it gets buffed by Xrath, and it allows you to trim the unleveled chaff and thin your deck. Add an average sort of body and we have a winner.

P6P3: Darkfrost Reaper, Tomb Pillager, Patron of Anvillon, Ambriel’s Edict – Still the best answer to unpleasant swarm problems, the Edict was a gimme.

P6P4: Crypt Conjurer, Automaton Prime, Spite Hydra – Conjurer has too few targets to work, and we are in the wrong faction pairing for the Hydra (and without the proc it is mediocre at best really), so it’s the Automaton as an underdrop here.

P6P5: Indomitable Fiend, Progeny of Xith – Not really the best pack it could be, but both creatures have some potential, especially the Fiend if I get lucky with the reanimation.

So there we have it- a sort of slower controly-reanimation-with-Grimgaunts-and-Darkforged sort of deck. We have a couple of ropey picks in there (and I should probably have picked at least one more Echoes in place of either Suruzal or the Doppelbot), but on the whole I’m feeling relatively confident with it. To the queues!

The Play

Game 1 – My first match was against an AT level up deck. Highlights included at least one Ignir, Synapsis Oracle and a rather annoying Leyline Sentry that kept popping in. Unfortunately for my opponent, they were unable to stop the GGD (I finished with a 29/14 GGD on board eating their blockers and smacking face for lots); I also got really lucky with both the Darkforged and Fiend. My opponent conceded mid Rank 2. 1-0

Game 2 – Next up was an AU Grow wide, with Nova, Tuskin Sporelord, H.E.R.M.E.S., and Ironbeard, Ascendant. The Anvilbreakers kept interferring with my game plan, but in the end the Devourers took the game for me; I had both a level 2 and a level 3 sat on board at the end. The Betrayers and Discordant Strikes also played an important role. 2-0

Game 3 – Game 3 was an AN control mirror. Extremely good use of his (at least) two Contagion Lords allowed my opponent to level a fair bit of his deck, along with decent reanimation from both Immortal Echoes and Varna. His top end consisted of a Zimus and a Scrapforge; I had to concede early in Rank 4. Well played indeed to yjlbl6ka (hope I got that right!). 2-1

Game 4 – The final match was against AU Grow wide, with Forge Guardians, Guardians Assemble, Bramblewood Tracker and Energy Prison. The latter did a lot of work for my opponent, managing to keep my level 1, level 2, and reanimated level 2 Devourers from getting in even one hit. Thankfully for me the level 3 managed to stay Prison free though, and finally managed to swing for the win (with help from a well timed Discordant Strike) in my 3.4. Final score 3-1

Well, the take home from this is that AN still appears to be a powerhouse in limited at the moment, even in the more unusual formats. Good fun was had by all, and GGD proved once again that there’s still enough life left in some of the old guard of Alpha- all three wins were at least in part down to how insanely they can grow.

I shouldn’t have gotten quite so fixated on the Darkforged; they worked for me, but in honesty it was more luck than anything with them. The fiend was also more of a lucky than skillful heavy hitter. And I really should have picked up one or more of the extra Echoes, as Suruzal and Doppelbot both saw no playtime. Something to remember for next time.

I just want to thank all of my opponents for a fun time with this draft and Kaelari and all at team Reforged (I think they’re still running off that name…) for another fun Weekend Warrior. Here’s to next time, and until then, I’ll see you in the queues!

Drafting Pick by Pick: Ixalan Special

Greetings Forgeborn, and welcome to another Drafting Pick by Pick. After last weeks Weekend Warrior, we are back to a normal draft today. However, in honour of the fact that this weekend sees the prerelease for Magic: the Gatherings latest expansion Ixalan and I find myself unable to go I wanted to do something a little different here, something a little more Vorthosy.

WotC have very much been playing up the tribal nature of Ixalan. It seems appropriate then to try and draft a tribal deck. But which tribe to go for? Well, in honesty we are somewhat hampered in SolForge. We have no merfolk or pirates, and there are nowhere near enough vampires to be practical- all we have in the draft pool at the moment are the Disciple of Vyric at rare and the legendaries Ebonskull Diabolist, Soul Drinker, and Vyric Ebonskull. Not gonna happen. So that only leaves us with one choice, the perennial favourite of fantasy fans the world over- dinosaurs!

Long a staple of Solforge (in part because, well, dinosaurs…), several dinosaurs have seen regular play in draft ever since the format first appeared. We may not see dedicated dinosaur draft decks as much these days as they are currently missing some of the cards that pushed them to be a real force in draft (mainly Uterradon Rex and Mosstodon), but there are still enough.

Before we go any further I need to add a little disclaimer here- like I said before, this is a Vorthos deck. I am not looking to deliberately lose, but I am looking at style over substance here. I would rather pick a not so good dinosaur over a better non-dinosaur card.

So before we begin drafting, let’s take a quick look what we have available to us. Firstly, we know that we are restricted to an Umbruk deck because Alloyin only has one dinosaur (Batterbot) and Nekrium doesn’t even have that. Tempys may only have a handful in the draft pool, but it’s still better than one. At common we have both Kadrasian Stoneback and Razortooth Stalker, both of which are solid draft picks. We also have the Stampeding Mongosaur which has the potential for chip damage to the face if you have enough creatures attacking but is otherwise nothing spectacular (not bad per se, but not terribly exciting). We have no rare Tempys dinos and only one heroic dinosaur- Umbruk Icecrusher. The potential damage output for Icecrusher is very respectable, especially if you manage to get the allied proc, but it does ideally need either a buff to its butt to keep it alive or some way of giving it aggressive because it will have a dirty great “nuke me” sign on its back.

Uterra brings a better crop of Jurassic joy to your board. At common we currently have Roaming Warclaw filling boards, Stouthide Stegadon for gumming up the board at rank up, and both Swampmoss Lurker and Uterradon Mauler have respectable bodies. The Lurker also is the Uterra poster boy for underdrops in draft. Rare is a bit more of a mixed bag; Gemhide Basher is a mediocre “creature as a kill spell”, Oxidon Spitter has a relevant ability in draft (especially as TU has the hardest time dealing with armour) and a reasonable front end but horribly small butt, and Shardplate Delver, if left unchecked has the potential to be a massive back breaker. And finally at heroic we have the Gemhide Ravager and Umbruk Lasher. Both are solid cards in draft, especially if you are able to get the allied procs.

So that is what we ideally need to be looking out for. But what do the packs actually have in store for us? Only one way to find out…

The Draft

P1P1: Umbruk Lasher, Onyxium Allomancer, Leyline Tyrant, Soothsayer Hermit, Restless Wanderers, Zombie Dreadknight – Never in any doubt.

P1P2: Storm Caller, Tower Scout, Stonefist Giant, Electro Net, Fit of Rage – Not a particularly stellar pack, the pick comes down to Storm Caller or Stonefist. Storm Caller is better for rushing and as an under drop, Stonefist is Tempys’ common late game bomb. As drafts tend to run longer, I want the better late game card.

P1P3: Swampmoss Lurker, Flamerift Instigator, Dendrify, Frostshatter Strike – Dinosaur.

P1P4: Ashurian Mystic, Verdant Sphere, Tanglesprout – Ashurian Mystic is tempting here as a surprise extra bit of damage, and later game they can grow fairly well if left unchecked, but the under drop is the better pick here.

P1P5: Grove Huntress, Verdant Grace – Any body is usually going to be the right pick next to Verdant Grace, and Huntress is a decent card in its own right anyway.

P2P1: Flame Jet, Stouthide Stegadon, Flamestoke Shaman, Steam Sentinel, Volcanic Giant, Fit of Rage – Dinosaur.

P2P2: Glowstride Stag, Stag of Lys, Borean Mystic, Tigrin Nomad, Iceborn Fortitude – This one came down to a battle of the stags. Glowstride has a bigger and more immediate effect, and the better body at level 1. Level 2 bodies are comparable and will trade with each other, and at level 3 the Stag of Lys is vastly superior body-wise. Stag of Lys also has the potential for more total life gain. In the end, the level 3 and greater potential life gain won.

P2P3: Tigrin Nomad, Fit of Rage, Verdant Sphere, Poisoncoil – Nothing here really sets me on fire, but Poisoncoil does have the potential to be useful as slow removal.

P2P4: Verdant Grace, Razortooth Stalker, Ashurian Mystic – Taking the dino again. It just so happens to be the better pick here regardless.

P2P5: Dissolve, Flame Jet – Dissolve is pretty dire in constructed, and you have more control over your own deck. Dissolve is almost never the Pick I draft.

P3P1: Brambleaxe Warrior, Frostshatter Strike, Wind Primordial, Cloudcleaver Titan, Flowstone Primordial, Tuskin Grovekeeper – This was another unimpressive pack. Both Primordials and the Titan are playable, but the multi-lane shenanigans of Frostshatter were just that little bit too appealing.

P3P2: Tigrin Nomad, Flame Lance, Grove Matriarch, Glowstride Stag, Lightning Tamer – The pick came down to Lance, Matriarch, or Stag. Back and forthed a little before settling on the removal.

P3P3: Fangwood Ravager, Warbringer Uranti, Verdant Sphere, Uranti Elementalist – Uranti Elementalist is one that I do like to try and always include as at least a one-of, simply because it is non-level gated movement.

P3P4: Stouthide Stegadon, Storm Caller, Fangwood Ravager – Normally I would have taken the Storm Caller as a good underdrop, but dinosaur…

P3P5: Cloudcleaver Titans, Razortooth Stalker – It’s a dinosaur.

P4P1: Stonefist Giant, Storm Caller, Volcanic Giant, Glowstride Stag, Flamerift Instigator, Victory Rush – One of the creatures may actually have been a better pick here, but so far I only have one combat trick (Frostshatter Strike) so… Definitely a “Not so sure” in the cold light of day.

P4P2: Dragonkeeper Shaman, Hammerfang, Uterradon Mauler, Verdant Sphere, Primordial Invoker – Hammerfang was the only other one that would be considered here normally.

P4P3: Borean Mystic, Sparktail Manticore, Scatterspore Tiller, Grove Matriarch – It came down to Matriarch or Tiller; Tiller has the better body and can create multiple tokens.

P4P4: Grove Matriarch, Stag of Lys, Burnout – One of the best damage spells at level 1.

P4P5: Gemhide Basher, Nargath Bruiser – Dinosaur.

P5P1: Burnout, Stonefist Giant, Deepwood Bear Rider, Tuskin Grovekeeper, Roaming Warclaw, Uterradon Mauler – A tough call here. Both of the dinosaurs are good ones. In the end, I went for the extra body on the board but a case could be made for either.

P5P2: Roaming Warclaw, Flowstone Primordial, Gemhide Ravager, Grove Huntress, Storm Caller – Again it’s a no-brainier, but I do find myself worried about the allied procs for both this and the Lasher. Ideally I need at least 12 Tempys cards in the final deck, and I only have 8 so far with 8 picks left.

P5P3: Steam Sentinel, Deepwood Bear Rider, Grove Matriarch, Flame Lance – So here we pick the defender because it has good stats and the right faction. The Flame Lance would also have been a good choice but the Sentinel can gum up a lane and does decidedly more damage to whatever’s in front.

P5P4: Verdant Sphere, Swampmoss Lurker, Tigrin Nomad – Another Lurker is always appreciated.

P5P5: Ashurian Mystic, Fit of Rage – Neither is brilliant here, but the Mystic could possibly be workable.

P6P1: Blood Boil, Gemhide Basher, Dragonkeeper Shaman, Cloudcleaver Titan, Flowstone Primordial – Well, it’s a dinosaur, so…

P6P2: Stag of Lys, Storm Caller, Flame Lance, Dragonkeeper Shaman, Wind Primordial – Ultimately this pack came down to Storm Caller or Wind Primordial. Storm Caller is a slightly more relevant underdrop, but the Primordial levels better and is more flexible.

P6P3: Lysian Rain, Blood Boon, Flamerift Instigator, Harbinger of Spring – One of the few rare times when the Harbinger is actually not the correct pick. I know- crazy, huh…? The Instigator has the decent power and is another Tempys card, so in it goes.

P6P4: Steam Sentinel, Wind Primordial, Blood Boon – Well, I’ve managed the twelve Tempys cards for the allied procs now, so I’ll pick another buff spell because I still don’t have all that many yet.

P6P5: Tigrin Nomad, Thranik Ambusher – And final pick we take the Ambusher because (a) it’s better and (b) it looks more like a dinosaur.

So there we have it- a dinosaur draft deck. Sure, other cards would have made a better deck, but were they dinosaurs? No. And that’s what matters…

The Play

Game 1 – The tournament got off to an inauspicious start when my opponent timed out without playing a single card. It’s some one I’ve played against before so I’m confident it was technical or personal issues. 1-0

Game 2 – This time the technical issues were my end; my internet dropped out near the end of rank 1 and didn’t come back up in time. My opponent was playing an AN control type of deck. Reyap, if you’re reading this, sorry for vanishing so abruptly. 1-1 and I’ve only managed to play half of a rank. *grumble grumble, darned internet, grumble*

Game 3 – And finally a game that made it to the end. By which I mean I got hamstrung by ieka and his well built AN control. Between his Blight Walker, Abyssals (Brute and Maw) and sweet Xithian Shambler, I did not really stand a chance. I had to concede mid rank 3. 1-2

And so there we have it- my Ixalan prerelease SolForge draft. Actually playing turned out to be a serious wet blanket, but the idea was certainly cool and I’m glad that I did this. On the bright side, we can still learn some valuable lessons from this. No matter how fun the idea may be, you still should take the better card, not the funnier one. And always make sure you internet is up to scratch.

Well, on that note I’m going to go. Thanks for joining me once more and I look forward to next week. See you in the queues!

Just For Funsies: Timmy Time

Welcome to another Just For Funsies. Today we’re returning to Eternal again to talk about a deck that has been giving me alternating bouts of happiness and teeth-gnashing frustration. If, like me, you enjoy high risk-high with some insane synergies then allow me to introduce you to the Elysian Value Train, also known as Timmy Time. Firstly, the deck.

The deck is very much a Timmy deck- it either wins big or it fizzles like a damp squib. Luckily, if you are a Timmy, that’s just how you like it.

The idea is to use the insane amounts of card draw and life gain to create a massive Cult Aspirant or Psionic Savant and then either trample over or just fly over your opponent’s board and hit them for massive damage. The deck contains a total of 19 actual card draw and a further 11 “virtual card draw”- cards that either have or enable echo. The life gain is smaller, consisting of only 4 Sanctuary Priests, 4 Temple Scribes, and 3 Amaranth Camels, but they also have great synergy with the card draw (Camel procs off of card draw, Scribe is one of the card draw, and several of the draw fetch powers, which give Priest procs).

Amber Ring is included simply as a source of blockers when needed. Once the deck properly kicks in you shouldn’t really have the board space for little tokens, but they can be a necessary lifesaver while you are setting up.

A less necessary card, and indeed one that could probably be replaced, is the pair of Infinite Hourglasses. I included them just because I like the card (and I find stunning to be really REALLY frustrating…), but they could be very easily replaced. I would look at adding a combination of Mystics and/or Camel. This bumps up the average cost of the deck, but both are really good here. Or you could just add another one each of Time and Primal sigil.

Speaking of the power base, on the whole it is fairly forgiving. A fair bit of the deck is fairly low-costed, and influence requirements are pretty minimal.

As I said above, this is a Timmy deck; it won’t work every time. I have lost count of the number of times I’ve been stuck with just Priests, Camels and sigils but no finisher. Or I’ve played a finisher ready to start buffing them next turn only for them to not even see next turn. Or massively grown a Savant big enough to survive against an entire board of creatures killed on the attack with Annihilate. But no matter how fragile the deck may be, few things can match the satisfaction of being able to crush your opponent for several hundred damage in one go. So next time you feel lucky give it a try, and hopefully I’ll see you in the queues!

Drafting Pick by Pick: Weekend Warrior- Precision Draft

Welcome once more, Forgeborn, to my series of drafting posts. Today I am having a try at this weeks’ Weekend Warrior- Precision Draft. One of the newer draft formats created in recent months by Kaelari, it isn’t one that I have a lot of experience with yet but it certainly looks to be an interesting and challenging format.

For those that don’t know about Precision Draft, it is a relatively normal shadow draft (i.e. You don’t keep the deck that you draft) except you only draft a 20 card deck, and each pick is from 6 cards instead of the diminishing packs. This obviously does make some changes to both what you draft and how you play. From a consistency point of view it’s great, because you will never (barring solbound cards) not draw a card that you have levelled up. As an aside, this should also theoretically make Alloyin the most likely go-to for the levelling. But with a smaller deck, bad or wasted picks can and will hurt you more. So just what did I manage to pick? Read on and find out!
The Draft

P1P1: Runebark Guardian, Experian Sage, Experian Steelplate, Onyxium Phantasm, Aetherphage, Undying Legacy – As I said above, you really should consider running Alloyin for the levelling up. With this pack, this means that you could make a case for both the Sage (and go AU) and the Phantasm (and go AN). In the end, it came down to personal preference, and I’ve always been an Onyxium boy, so Phantasm it is.

P1P2: Stonefist Giant, Thranik Ambusher, Grove Matriarch, Metamind Explorer, Blightskull Phantasm, Experian Wartusk – Having made the AN call with the first pick, there is only one card I can choose here to lock in the faction pairing. If I was willing to change tack, there are some really nice Tempys and Uterra cards here, but once I choose the pairing I am extremely loathe to change with pick 2; nothing short of an extreme bomb would turn me.

P1P3: Nanoswarm, Tech Explorer, Cypien Infiltrator,  Charnel Titan, Corpse Crawler, Hungering Strike – I have to admit to a serious fondness for Tech Explorer- the little leveller that turns into a late game bomb (whilst continuing to level your other creatures). Any time I draft an Alloyin deck, this is one that I always look for and value very highly.

P1P4: Nexus Pilot, Ionic Warcharger, Ruthless Wanderers, Blight Walker, Contagion Lord, Portal Shade – This came down to a really tough choice between the Lord and the Shade. Everything other than the Wanderers was good and I would happily take them, but at lower rarity they have more chance of showing up again. Contagion Lord has the down side of solbinding in the Contagion Fiend (which as a creature is pretty damn sucky) and means that barring card draw or overload you will miss seeing one card each rank. This is still better than the normal not-seeing-ten-out-of-thirty, but could potentially be frustrating. But it is easier to draft more support (in the form of other abominations) and slightly less situational with its ability. Shade is an okay creature normally, but you only really get the value if it’s in play on rank up. If you draw it on a x.1, you need to keep it alive which could lead to suboptimal plays. Lord just pipped it, but it was close.

P1P5: Tower Scout, Vyric’s Embrace, Nexus Pilot, Festering Slime, Onyxium Marauder, Nether Decay – Scout and Pilot are both decent, but with the combination of armour and regeneration I just prefer Marauder.

P2P1: Xithian Direhound, Xithian Hulk, Matrix Warden, Dirge Banshee, Forgeplate Sentry, Forge Guardian Beta – A bit of a tough pack, as several cards were tempting. Both Xithians are abominations for Lord, and the Direhound overloads to thin the deck back down again. Matrix Wardens are so rarely a bad pick. In the end, though, it came down to a battle of the armoured bombs. After a fair bit of back and forthing I went for the slightly smaller butt and less armour in favour of the higher attack.

P2P2: Witherfrost Banshee, Anvillon Arbiter, Metadata Redacter, Aetherguard, Metatransfer, Sonic Pulse – I do like Witherfrosts, and Metatransfer is a reasonable leveller, but ultimately Sonic Pulse is just too good against any grow wide.

P2P3: Ordnance Captain, Onyxium Allomancer, Phalanx Squadron, Scavenger Scorpion, Dirge Banshee, Cull the Weak – I must admit, Onyxium Allomancer is just one of my personal favourite cards in the game. If you are able to get him to stick, Allomancer is a real levelling beast and the regeneration is just absolute gravy.

P2P4: Sparkblade Assassin, Bitterfrost Totem, Cacklebones, Xithian Direhound, Ironbound Reinforcements, Phalanx Squadron – Direhound is an Abomination for Lord, is a nice underdrop, and overloads to thin the deck. What’s not to like here?

P2P5: Death Seeker, Vyric’s Embrace, Rot Wanderer, Ordnance Captain, Fell Walker, Abyssal Maw – In limited, Abyssal Maw can be a massive swinger (especially in large enough numbers…). At the very least, it’s a multi-lane Abomination.

P3P1: Rite of Undeath, Nyrali Ooze, Ordnance Captain, Metamind Adept, Zombie Infantry, Electro Net – This is definitely a subpar pack for this deck. Metamind Adept could also be the pick as an additional work around for the solbound Fiend, but I’ve passed on two Captains already, and that extra 2 damage across the board can soon add up.

P3P2: Metatransfer, Ruthless Wanderers, Metamind Adept, Fell Walker, Electro Net, Rite of Undeath – I would rather pick another body here, but I don’t have anywhere near enough levelling up yet so I have little choice but to take the Metatransfer.

P3P3: Spiritleash, Corpse Crawler, Ruthless Wanderers, Nether Decay, Fleshfiend, Zombie Infantry – Corpse Crawler is the only other consideration here but I don’t have enough sticky or sacrificial creatures to make it worthwhile.

P3P4: Nanoswarm, Batterbot, Scavenger Scorpion, Bulwark Bash, Hungering Strike, Metamind Operator – I am aware that the Batterbot is probably the better pick in general, but I do like multi-lane combat tricks and I have more low-attack creatures that is ideal.

P3P5: Metamind Explorer, Steelspark Tinkerer, Spitesower Acolyte, Ionic Warcharger, Aegis Pulse, Fell Strider – Spitesower Acolyte is a creature that I do like, but only in constructed. She requires too much support to really make her worthwhile in limited. I almost picked the Tinkerer for its levelling, but in the end I went with the otherwise all round better card.

P4P1: Munitions Drone, Scrapforge Titan, Necroslime, Tech Explorer, Jet Pack, Spite Hydra – This was a mean pack. I still need more levelling, and I did find myself torn, but in the end the level 3 on the Titan swung it.

P4P2: Aegis Conscript, Forgeplate Sentry, Technognome, Technosmith, Jet Pack, Vault Intruder – Intruder and Sentry are both good picks, and Technognome has a good level 3, but I’m still short of levelling, so ‘Smith it is.

P4P3: Metatransfer, Matrix Warden, Death Seeker, Metamind Operator, Charnel Titan, Xithian Hulk – Like many other players, I do like to pick Wardens where possible. I had to pass on one earlier, and the only other card I could consider here is ‘Transfer, and I don’t want to clutter my deck up with more that he one copy- without a body it just isn’t worth it.

P4P4: Graveborn Glutton, Festering Slime, Stasis Indexer, Aegis Conscript, Byzerak Drake, Vyric’s Embrace – Graveborn Glutton is one that I will prioritise anytime I play Nekrium- Byzerak, Dysian or Onyxium, all appreciate the Glutton as a good top end.

P4P5: Xithian Hulk, Blightsteel Phantasm, Jet Pack, Zombie Infantry, Vault Technician, Rite of Undeath – The final pick is another of the uninspiring packs. Nothing is an obvious stand out, so I’ll take the Hulk just for it’s tribal.

And there we have it- one Precision draft deck drafted. There’s a lot less levelling up than I’m happy with, but with the smaller deck it may just be enough. As long as I can make it to the late game I do have some really nice top end finishers, I just worry that I don’t have enough for the middle game to keep me alive. I’m also not entirely certain what ratio I need for allied procs in this format- twelve or thirteen is the generally accepted number to reliably trigger allied in a thirty card deck. Including the solbound Fiend I’m looking at a total of nine Nekrium cards in a 21 card deck (one of which has overload) to trigger two creatures.

Oh well- Carpe Diem

The Play

Game 1 – First round was the AN mirror, and it’s fair to say that my opponent outplayed me very well. He managed to win the Phantasm war (aided by a silly misplay on my part- I missed the allied proc on my Phantasm 2 without realising it; I didn’t spot it until the next turn, when I tried to activate it. Oops…) and just managed to keep pushing damage with his nicely on-level Alloyin Strategists. Early rank 4 he managed to get the lethal and put me out of my misery. A painful start for me, but very well played there Zaraphel. 0-1

Game 2 – Next up my opponent was running what appeared to be an AU grow tall. I got off to a better start this time and rank 1 was definitely mine, but once we hit rank 2 control slipped away and he managed to actually start spreading wider as well. Rank 3 saw him drop a Hive Empress, and the poison clock did put some serious pressure on me. Shortly after that, though, I managed to stabilise with a Scrapforge 3. Then Tech Explorer, Allomancer and Phantasm (all level 3) enabled me to start punching through, taking the win in mid rank 4. 1-1

Game 3 – The next round was against NT control, with a slew of Uranti Warlord, Cinderbound, Fleshfiend, Scourge Knights and Dr Frankenbaum. I felt comfortable in rank 1, but from rank 2 on I just got outplayed and outmanoeuvred; my Phantasms slowed down the pain, but between creature damage and debuff I just struggled to keep creatures on the board long enough to really affect the game. Very well played to DraftSilver. 1-2

Game 4 – The final round was against another AU deck, and yet again the pairing of Allomancer and Phantasm proved valuable. My opponent managed to outlevel me a touch (multiple Technosmiths and an Esperian Sage) but my top end was just that bit better than his. After a bit of manoeuvring and back-and-forthing, I finally managed to seal the game in my 4.1. 2-2

So, not the best run, but not horrendous. Game 1 I should have focused on removing the Strategists and not made the silly misplay with the allied proc on my Phantasm 2. I’m honestly not sure quite what I could have done better against NT there in game 3; I just never managed to make my creatures stick long enough to really make a difference. Frustrating somewhat, but there you go.

I still stand by my initial thoughts that Alloyin is quite powerful in this format thanks to the virtual consistent paired with levelling. My performance left a little to be desired, but I definitely think that this is a fun format for a Weekend Warrior, and certainly it should appeal to those that have a real problem with the normal amount of variance and level screw. Here’s hoping it returns soon!

Thanks again for joining me here and I’ll see you in the queues soon!

Drafting Pick By Pick: Alloyin / Uterra

Welcome to the first in a new series documenting some of my experiences with drafting in SolForge. The idea is to run through a draft pick by pick, then see how it performs. I hope to run each faction pair at least once per draft pool, but in part that will depend on how often I can draft and how quickly the draft pool rotates. I may also be including any interesting Weekend Warriors or possibly even Elite drafts when I am able to make them. I’m squeeing just thinking about it!

So without further ado, I present to you the first draft!

The draft

P1P1: Fervent Assault, Gemhide Ravager, Byzerak Spitemage, Energy Prison, Oreian Justicar, Esperian Scarab – Only three stand out here- Ravager, Justicar, and Scarab. I don’t want to draft TU right now (just a personal thing), so Ravager gets dropped. Justicar is a very real thing, especially in draft with all of its token spamming, but it is a reactive card; this early on I would rather focus on what my deck can do rather than what I want my opponents deck to not do.

P1P2: Blight Walker, Metamind Operator, Swampmoss Lurker, Stranglevine Hydra, Dissolve – With Scarab my first pick, this pack is to lock in the Uterra. Of the three, Dissolve is an automatic no this early on. Hydra can be great, especially with the buffs available in AU, but the Lurker is just generally better without buffs and a better under drop.

P1P3: Ferocious Roar, Nexus Pilot, Forge Guardian Alpha, Aegis Pulse – Not even close. Mass buff is king, or at least an influential crown prince in draft, especially in one of the two best multi-creature pairings.

P1P4: Forge Guardian Alpha, Glowstride Stag, Technognome – Technognome is a great late game bomb, especially if we manage to draft any level up. Neither of the others really stand out here.

P1P5: Aegis Pulse, Verdant Grace – Bleurgh. Neither makes me happy. Verdant just makes me less unhappy than Pulse.

P2P1: Shardplate Graft, Ordnance Captain, Metamind Adept, Metamind Operator, Blood Boon, Stouthide Stegadon – This pack comes down to Captain, Graft or Boon. Ultimately, captain is just a bit better as it has a body attached, and getting formation procs is rarely going to be a problem with AU.

P2P2: Brighttusk Sower, Grove Huntress, Blood Boon, Fangwood Ravager, Vault Technician – Not a bad pack here, but not a good one either. Comes down to a coin toss between Sower or Huntress for their multi-lane shenanigans. Huntress won.

P2P3: Bulwark Bash, Electro Net, Oreian Fieldmarshal, Grove Matriarch – It comes down to the creatures here. Both are good picks for AU. In the end, I figured I am more likely to see another matriarch before the end of drafting so took the Fieldmarshal.

P2P4: Aegis Pulse, Steelwelder Medic, Victory Rush – Pulse is still no good and Steelwelder is a creature, but not one that really helps either AU strategy. Victory Rush, however, is made for grow wide.

P2P5: Vault Technician, Fangwood Ravager – Battle of the Blands time. In the end, it was the slightly bigger butt on Ravager that won this.

P3P1: Forge Guardian Alpha, Metamind Explorer, Metatransfer, Ionic Warcharger, Onyxium Allomancer, Sparkblade Assassin – Between the (again) big butt and mobility, Warcharger was the only possibility here.

P3P2: Lysian Rain, Oreian Fieldmarshal, Tangle, Stygian Lotus, Savage Oath – Turns out I was wrong about the likelihood of seeing more Fieldmarshals earlier, but Lotus is one of the best board fillers when you are behind.

P3P3: Weirwood Ranger, Ordnance Captain, Blood Boon, Technognome – A bit of a close call again here; Ranger buffs power and health and is reusable, but only buffs one at a time and requires an activation. Captain is just less conditional.

P3P4: Deepwood Bear Rider, Metamind Explorer, Lysian Rain – Nothing here is great, but Bear Riders level up relatively well.

P3P5: Verdant Sphere, Technosmith – Technosmith is a staple of Alloyin drafts when he is in the pool. Verdant Sphere is a staple in piles of cards not picked for drafts.

P4P1: Technosmith, Palladium Hindermind, Aetherguard, Aegis Pulse, Roaming Warclaw, Sparkblade Assassin – I would have loved to pick up a second Technosmith here, but the Warclaw is just that bit too good to pass on, especially considering just how little token generation I have so far.

P4P2: Oxidon Spitter, Blood Boon, Tanglesprout, Harbinger of Spring, Steelwelder Medic – Another tough call, I agonised over it for a wee while. Harbinger is a thing, there’s no denying it, but armour in draft can be a real game breaker so I like to try and make sure to have either a Shatterbolt (if I’m drafting Tempys) or Oxidon Spitter (if I’m in Uterra). After much back-and-forth I finally settled on the Harbinger.

P4P3: Cypien Infiltrator, Dissolve, Weirwood Ranger, Stranglevine Hydra – Again, Stranglevine can be a fine Voltron and Infiltrator is a very popular bomb in draft. But reusable creature buff to spread around cannot be ignored.

P4P4: Vault Technician, Technognome, Glowstride Stag – And in the very next pack I get another chance to take a late game bomb, so that works nicely for me.

P4P5: Chistlehearth Archer, Grove Matriarch – Armor hate in draft is important. Mobility hate feels less important. Possibly I’m wrong here, but I’m relatively sure I’ve lost to armour more often. And I did pass on that other Matriarch earlier.

P5P1: Glowstride Stag, Harbinger of Spring, Hive Empress, Savage Oath, Technosmith, Oxidon Spitter – The only one that I don’t want is the Stag. Harbingers are almost auto includes (up to a point- a fourth or fifth is probably excessive). Empress is a great one for grow wide; even after just one proc you put a major clock on your opponent. Oath is faction gated but breakthrough is one of Uterra’s more useful abilities. Levelling up is definitely Alloyin’s best ability and I haven’t been able to grab very much yet. And again, I really hate being locked out by armour in draft. In the end, the call of Harbinger proved just too strong (although I am hyper aware of the lack of token generation in my deck so far as well…)

P5P2: Grove Matriarch, Dissolve, Venomfang, Jet Pack, Blood Boon – And the very next pack gives us another Matriarch. Venomfang would have been more of a consideration if we already had more token spawning.

P5P3: Electro Net, Stouthide Stegadon, Verdant Sphere, Metamind Explorer – An unimpressive pack, the Stouthide does at least have the self healing ability on rank up.

P5P4: Stouthide Stegadon, Aegis Conscript, Forge Guardian Alpha – But we don’t need two of them. And a bit of armour for my own creatures can make all the difference.

P5P5: Nexus Pilot, Scrapforge Titan – Pilot is good, but late game Titan is just plain better.

P6P1: Oreian Fieldmarshal, Tangle, Esperian Scarab, Poisoncoil, Technognome, Matrix Warden – Are we sure that the fieldmarshal is rare?! Obviously, it could only be Scarab here.

P6P2: Shardplate Delver, Runebark Guardian, Tower Cannoneer, Verdant Sphere, Gemhide Basher – Besides the Delver, the only interesting card here is the Basher as semi-removal. However, there are just a few too many things that the Basher won’t kill whereas Delver will always be a bomb.

P6P3: Shardplate Delver, Lysian Rain, Nanoswarm, Forgeplate Sentry – This one came down to a matter of taste. Delver and Sentry are both great in draft, I just prefer more Uterra over Alloyin (if nothing else, gotta think of them Scarab allied procs…)

P6P4: Metamind Explorer, Electro Net, Aegis Conscript – An uninspiring choice here. As ever, the body with attached mini spell is the way to go even if he and it are somewhat *meh*.

P6P5: Tower Cannoneer, Vault Technician – Neither card is stellar, and Cannoneer has the extra point of health early on, but Technician just levels better.

And with that, we now have our deck which looks a little something like this:

On paper, the deck looks a little too indecisive- does it want to flood the board, or level up an unstoppable end game? In an ideal world I would have liked a little more grow wide to focus the deck more, but it doesn’t look too awful. All that remains is to try and play the deck.

The Play

So, just how did the deck do in the end? 

Game 1 was against a more Alloyin-based AU deck with lots of Ordnance Captains and a really annoying Sonic Pulse. I spent most of rank 1 on the back foot and having to trade lots of creatures to avoid falling too far behind. The scarabs saw a lot of play, and without them I would have struggled more. The Harbingers never showed until rank 3, by which time they were completely irrelevant unfortunately, but I was able to level up some late bombs. Once I hit rank 3 the tables got turned and I managed to start getting out levelled up Technognomes and Titans. 1-0

Game 2 was a super aggressive NT mobility deck. I spent the entire game on the back foot. I couldn’t get any creatures to stick long enough to slow him down, I couldn’t get anything through to hit face until rank two, and got amazingly outplayed. My opponent finished with over 100 life left, I finished with what felt like tyre marks up my back. Well played KingxOfxHarts, you were a worthy victor. 1-1

Game 3 was against another NT mobility and I did have a horrible feeling it would go the same way. This one was more of a slower control deck though, and I actually had a bit more time to build up. I held the early game with early and relatively well buffed Harbingers. End of rank 2/ early rank 3 my opponent made a massive comeback through Cinderbounds and Abyssal Maws, and it did really feel like I might end up losing the game. At the eleventh hour I managed to just pull it back; Shardplate Delver 3, Grove Matriarch 3, and Ferocious Roar 3 over 5.1 and 5.2 were just enough to squeak a win- both of us on single digit life before combat. 2-1

Game 4 was unfortunately a no-show. I appreciate the win, but would rather have battled and risked losing. Oh well. 3-1

Game 5 was against an AT level up deck that was heavy on the level up and bombs to be levelled, but didn’t see much to disrupt my board. As a result, I managed to stay wide the entire game and my opponent ended up conceding at the start of rank 3. 4-1

Game 6 was a mirror match. The main difference was his use of H.E.R.M.E.S. to try and keep his board alive. Unfortunately for my opponent, it wasn’t enough and I managed to get the win at the end of his rank 2. 5-1

Game 7 was an AT mobility deck with a spot of level up (Tech Explorers) and a pair of metagame Oreian Justicars. The Justicars did warp my play more than I wanted, but in the end all they ultimately did was just slow the game down (which I take as vindication of my choice back in P1P1). An Avalanche Invoker also caused some grief at the ends of both ranks 1 and 2 but failed to make any further appearances, and a one-of Emberwind Evoker did make his creatures that bit harder to remove. But ultimately I managed to keep wide enough, and ended up taking the win with a buffed raptor token. 6-1

Game 8 was against an AU grow tall deck; unfortunately for my opponent, he didn’t have a awful lot that I saw that was really worth growing tall (certainly I saw a lot of Grove Huntresses). Added to this, he didn’t make much effort to stop me growing wide and found himself getting overrun by a horde of moderately buffed weenies. He resigned in early rank 2. 7-1

So there you have it- despite appearances, the deck managed to hold its own. The no-show in game 4 was a definite shame, and I did feel bad for my final opponent- the kind of win where you just want to take your opponent aside and give him some pointers (the only real downside to playing online games without a single dedicated chat facility).

So thanks for joining me for this draft- it’s been fun writing things up and hopefully I (or maybe others) can learn the lessons from the experience. Until next time, happy drafting and I’ll see you in the queues!