Welcome back hombres.
Today, and presumably for the next few articles, I’m going to delve a little deeper into the cursory drafting overview that I provided in my last article. More specifically, I’m going to focus on devoting an article to discussing the inner workings of each of the various factions in draft.
Today, based on my preference for the faction, I’m going to start with Primal. I’ll try to illustrate instances when a card’s viability varies with different archetypes.
Finally, my limited analysis is rather simple. A “5” is top notch; a “0” is unplayable.
Aerial Ace – 2
I am disappointed if I ever end up with Aerial Ace in my deck. While flying + aegis is a powerful combination, having them on a 2/3 body for 5 mana is rather lackluster. It doesn’t impact the board when it’s summoned, it doesn’t stave off many attacks, and it can’t push through many flying blockers. I could see it being potent in a deck with a lot of buff effects, but those types of drafts just don’t really happen with Elysian or Feln.
Araktodon – .5
Araktodon costs approximately one zillion mana which is a lot for a 5/6 with no real relevant abilities. Hyperbole aside, I’m generally loathe to play a 6-drop in my decks, so costing 7 mana is asking an awful lot. There are plenty of 6-cost primal cards that are objectively better if I am in the market for one. I would never play this card in Feln–ever!–although I could see it being a late game Elysian card if you’re super hurting for playables.
Backlash – 1.5
Backlash is a card that I wish were a little more viable, both in draft and in constructed. Sadly, because it can’t hit units, it is not. Your opponent will generally only be playing 10 or fewer non-unit cards, and of those at least a few will be weapons, so on average we’re looking at maybe 6 or 7 targets for Backlash. Of those six how many are actually worth running a card to stop? You’re also in the awkward position of needing to hold open mana, meaning Backlash actively hinders your development in the early game if you lean too heavily on it. In theory, countering a trick, removal spell, or lethal Flame Blast feels great; in practice, it rarely happens.
Blind Storyteller – 2
In Feln, this guy is a no go. That archetype is all about tempo and aggressive, and there’s very few things that are less tempo-oriented and aggressive than a 0/1 that demands mana for an ability that doesn’t impact the board. In Elysian, this guy is ok. That archetype is all about winning via the air and stalling otherwise, so you tend to get a lot more uses out of him. Blind Storyteller still isn’t great, but I’d be inclined to play him so long as you (a) have a slower deck that’s likely to turtle up, and (b) don’t have a card that wants excess power like Pillar of Amar.
Borderlands Waykeeper – 4
Finally! A solid card! Borderlands Waykeeper is everything you want a two-drop to be in Elysian. It gums up the ground in the early game and transitions to a late-game, hard-to-deal-with flyer. A+. I’d still be inclined to play it in Feln since it is such a robust two-drop–especially if I had a few Blackguard sidearms or Cloaks–but recognize that it doesn’t quite fit in the ideal Feln gameplan.
Celestial Omen – 0
Do not play this card. I can think of very few cards where I’d be inclined to pay six additional mana to ensure that I found it in my deck. Slow, slow, slow, even for Elysian’s standards.
Channel the Tempest – 1
I love Channel the Tempest and I always want to live the dream, but 8 mana is a lot. You’re usually going to need to see about half of your deck before you can cast it, and quadruple primal influence is no joke. If you have an Elysian deck that’s super primed to go long, be my guest! Its ability is incredible, so getting it off should translate to a win a lot of the time. It’s not for every deck though.
Cloudsnake Saddle – 2
Cloudsnake Saddle is one of those weird cards that people seem to overvalue because of its rarity. In actuality though, it is often difficult to cast and is only slightly more powerful than, say, Ornamental Daggers. I’ve seen more than a few people include this in their draft decks despite a dearth of fliers and I wonder if they’ve even considered how often it will languish in their hand most of the time. Unless you’ve got like 8 or more targets, I’d usually leave it on the sidelines. One thing to note: If you Levitate something, the weapon does not fall off at the end of the turn, so keep that in mind!
Cobalt Acolyte – 3.5
Cobalt Acolyte is deceptively powerful. Flying is the most powerful ability you can have in limited, and being able to give it to any creature is as great as it sounds. What’s more scary than a Towering Terrazon? A flying Towering Terrazon! Generally, I value the primal Acolyte much more highly in Feln due to the obvious synergy with flying and creatures with infiltrate. I’ve won a lot of games on the back of a flying 4/4 Lethrai Ranger, Gorgon Fanatic, or Xenan Destroyer. In Elysian, it’s still solid and I’d still almost always play it, but many of the non-dino units that you want to play have flying already.
Cobalt Monument – 4.5
If you’ve ever watched my stream or YouTube draft videos, you’ll hear me echo how powerful monuments are in general. They are essentially “extra” cards you get to play in your deck and the perfect kind of split card, staving off early game mana woes while providing a nice surprise in the late game. Cobalt Monument is by far the best of the bunch. I’d play a 4/4 flyer for 5 even without the ability to play it for mana early. Just insane.
Crystallize – 5
Crystalize may the best rare in all of Eternal limited. Even if it’s not, it’s darn near close as you would expect from most one-sided, five-mana Harsh Rules. With any sort of reasonable start, Crystallize should equate to a win.
Deranged Dinomancer – 3.5
Deranged Dinomancer–my avatar of choice!–is a solid, albeit fragile unit. At worst, he’s a delayed 5/5 for 4 mana which is a great stat-to-cost ratio. Generally though, he’ll do so much more than that. He not only upgrades your own dudes, he can also occasionally downgrade your opponent’s–take that Rolant’s Honor Guard! I’m usually very happy to pick him up in either primal archetype, although he’s better in Elysian due to the expected value increasing over time and with board stalls.
East-Wind Herald – 2.5
This 1/3 is innocuous. I used to ignore him, but he’s staved off more than his fair share of Oni Ronin, Pteriax Hatchlings, and other X/1s. He conveniently holds off obnoxious infiltrate creates like Ranger and Serpent Trainer as well, which makes him a really top notch early game blocker.
Eilyn, Queen of the Wilds – 1
Like Channel the Tempest, you’ve got to have a really specific deck to want to run this 8-drop. Since you’re almost never going to be able to capitalize on the ability, she’s really a 6/6 flier and nothing more. Is that good? You can get almost the same deal from Sapphire Drake for 75% of the cost.
Elysian Trailblazer – 1.5
Unlike the time Trailblazer which I’ll almost always run, I don’t really like the spell-echoing one. Her stats are bad, so her power depends exclusively on the number of spells you’re running and their relative power. If you’ve got a bunch of Teleports, Levitates, and the like, she’s likely not playable. If you’ve got a bunch of Static Bolts, I’m more interested.
Eye of Winter – 5
One of the most powerful–and annoying–rares in the game. Imagine having your best creature constantly locked down, and always at risk of having a lone blocker removed for a powerful onslaught. Eye of Winter is even splashable, and I’d probably play it in any deck in which I can make 2-3 incidental source of primal mana (e.g. Seek Power, Feln Stranger, Amber Acolyte, etc.).
Flash Freeze – 2
Flash Freeze’s power depends on the deck it’s in. Do you have a lot of infiltrate dudes? Do you have a lot of flyers? Are you aggressive? You may want one or two of these, especially if you’re lacking actual removal spells. Notably, Flash Freeze does function as quasi removal, either by removing attackers from charging in, (and potentially leading to better defending blocks) or even by removing a blocker from combat!
Hatchery Hunter – 4
People constantly tell me that Hatchery Hunter is a bomb. Frankly, I’m unconvinced. In addition to being a 4/4 for 6 mana and requiring triple influence, you need to have multiple cards in your hand which you don’t mind turning into 3/3 flyers. That’s a lot that needs to go right in order to really raise him to “bomb” status. I’d probably pass if I was an aggressive Feln deck, but I’d be interested if I was Elysian.
Herald’s Song / Second Sight / Wisdom of the Elders – 1.5
I’m including all three of these cards together because I have the same general feelings toward them all: they’re incredibly slow in a format that’s largely about tempo. Song is the weakest of the bunch, with the relative power level of the other two being largely dependant on the number of echo / fate cards in your deck. At the end of the day though, you’re in trouble if you don’t have a way to mitigate the tempo loss. I prefer these in the more controlling Elysian builds rather than Feln but am also happy about not running them to begin with.
Ice Sprite – 4
The only reason Ice Sprite isn’t higher (i.e. a 4.5) is because of how fragile she is. It’s not a great removal spell if your opponent can easily undo the stun. It’s a super awkward situation indeed when the removal is mid-combat and leads to a blowout block. Still, I take these highly and play them often. Be careful about Executes if you can.
Icebreaker – 0 or 5
How many stun spells are in your deck? Unless the answer is “Enough that I could probably stun something every turn for the rest of the game,” Icebreaker is really a lackluster minion. It’s rare that I would include this in my deck regardless, but I could see the stars aligning when he’s a repeatable Deathstrike every turn.
Jarrall Iceheart – 1.5
Let’s make one thing clear: being a Legendary does not make you a good card. A 6-mana 6/7 is fine deal (triple influence though, ugh), so if that’s something you’re in the market for then by all means play him. But ask yourself this: how often am I actually getting through my opponent’s forces with this guy? Even in the best case scenario, what’s the likelihood that his ability is remotely good? How many one-mana or two-mana spells am I running? I’d usually sit him in on the sidelines.
Jarrall’s Frostkin – 4.5
I have an unnatural love for this card, so take everything I have to say about Jarrall’s Frostkin with a grain of salt. Stun is a powerful mechanic. In any aggressive strategy, it enables you to develop your board while dealing with a troublesome blocker for TWO turns. You also don’t have to worry about a scary crack back from the creature either. He’s obviously better in Feln, but I’ll play as many of him as I can pick up in Elysian as well.
Jotun Hurler – 3.5
Honestly, the best part of Jotun Hurler is the surprise snowball. Whether it’s clearing out a turn one Oni Ronin or letting your 2/3 kill their three-power guy, the early interaction is where Hurler shines. His 4/4 body is fine, but that’s not why you’re running him.
Jotun Warrior – .5
More like “No Fun Warrior,” amirite? To be serious, he’s underpowered by just about every metric and has no neat ability to make up for that shortcoming.
Levitate – 3.5
A surprisingly powerful spell in Feln and a mediocre trick in Elysian. The fact that it draws a card means that I’ll play it in almost all decks, but I could leave some on the sidelines if you’re deck is filled to the brim with powerful Elysian cards. Pairs very well with Violent Gust.
Lightning Storm – ?
A very hard card to evaluate. In Feln, it’s probably bad – most of your guys will die. In Elysian, it’s likely better – you have access to a lot of dinosaurs. I’d be inclined to play Lightning Storm if I could, but be aware that it’s potency depends almost entirely on your creature base.
Lightning Strike – 3
Lightning Strike is removal. It is not, however, proactive removal. For that reason, I tend to not run it in my Feln decks. After all, you’re aiming to move things out of the way to get your attackers through. Only addressing attacking minions doesn’t help with that plan. I’ll run it in Feln if I’m hurting for playables, but it’s significantly better in Elysian imho. Note that it stops both relic weapons and creatures with killer as well!
Magus of the Mist – 4
Truth be told, I’ve never cast this card in limited, but it seems totally insane. Can your opponent kill your 3/3? If not, you probably win the game.
Mirror Image – 2
Other people like this card a lot more than I. Unless I’ve got some serious threats, I’d rather just run another unit.
Mistveil Drake – 2.5
Again, a card that others value higher than I do. Here’s why I don’t like it all that much: (1) Aegis on a player is largely unimportant. Unless you’re stopping a Flameblast, the best you can hope to stop is something like the two damage from an Execute. (2) Seven mana is expensive. Unless you’re able to build up a massive fort, you’d be better served with a cheaper threat. A 6/6 flier with Aegis is insane, but not if it’s stuck in your hand while you die on board. (3) Seven mana is really bad for a 3/3 flyer. If your Aegis is removed, there’s likely no way to reinstall it, meaning that your 7-drop is now super pathetic for a 7-drop. You can only have but so many 7-drops in your deck. I’d prefer a Pillar of Amar.
North-Wind Herald – 0
You are (almost) never casting this card for free. And your big payoff?!?! A creature that’s weaker than a 4-drop.
Permafrost – 4.5
Removal spells are great in limited, cheap removal spells are even better, and hard removal spells (i.e. ones that have no limitations on what they can kill) are even better still. Permafrost is soooo close to checking off all three of these boxes. Unfortunately, there are quite a few units with endurance / endurance granting cards that can undo your hard work here. Still, I’d generally always draft and play these.
Polymorph – 2
Polymorph, on the other hand, is a garbage removal spell. It doesn’t remove a blocker; it doesn’t deal with weapons; it’s expensive for a removal spell that does so little. Although I once looked at this card as an awesome removal option, I’ve come to only begrudgingly include it. It still deals with stuff, but it’s no Feeding Time.
Psionic Savant – 2.5
Solid in Elysian, mediocre in Feln, Psionic Savant can end games in a hurry if unaddressed. If you need a 5-drop flier that can eventually push through any defense, look no further.
Rain of Frogs – .5
I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade, but this effect is bad in limited. If it were a physical card, I would ribbit it half rather than let my friends put it in their draft deck.
Rimescale Draconus – 4.5
Now this is a 7-drop! Why this card is good should be a no-brainer and the only thing holding it back from 5-star status is its cost. Note that you can attack into your opponent’s blockers to exhaust them. Plus, since it’s a Legendary, no one will see it coming!
Sapphire Dragon – 3.5
In Feln, I tend not to run this card despite its powerful stats on a flier. It’s just too expensive for what I hope a good Feln deck wants to look like. In Elysian on the other hand, it’s a solid way to finish the game. It even has overwhelm to put the kibosh on chump blocking.
Scaly Gruan – 2
If you’re looking for a blocker, he’s fine. Four health is annoying to break past. That being said, compared to a East-Wind Herald, he’s really a downgrade.
Scourge of Frosthome – 0
How are you casting this thing?
Scouting Party – 2
By the time you’re casting this, your opponent will have blockers. More to the point, you almost certainly won’t have Xenan Obelisk, so your motley crew isn’t ever going to be terribly threatening. I’d usually pass on Scouting Party in limited.
Serpent Trainer – 4
Another seemingly innocuous card, Serpent Trainer is surprisingly powerful. Getting a second 2-power flyer is a quick way to end games, and I’m usually pretty happy to run a couple of these in my primal decks.
Skycrag Wyvarch – 4
A 3/3 flier that kills your opponent’s Serpent Trainer or whatever? Sign me up.
Skysnapper – 3
Skysnapper is a solid role player in Feln decks. He’s a 3-power evasive flyer whose drawback is what you want to be doing anyway. He’s fragile, dying to a lot of random fliers and Amethyst Acolyte among other things, but I usually take them if I’m aggressive. In Elysian, you often can lean on less fragile flyers to get the job done (e.g. Pteriax Hatchling).
Soaring Stranger – 4
Great stats for its cost and awesome even outside of a Stranger deck. He also lets your Strangers fly!
Staff of Stories – 1
Unless you’ve got a really solid defense set up, Staff isn’t going to be nearly as powerful as it is in constructed. I usually pass on including this in my decks, but I could envision a draft where it’s playable.
Static Bolt – 1 or 5
Every single draft where I’ve had 5 or more Static Bolts I’ve gone on to 7 wins. Even in times when you don’t get that many, it’s still an ok removal spell. If I only have one, I’ll usually only include it if I have little to no removal. I generally overvalue these early in the draft in an attempt to live the dream.
Stormcaller – 2.5
This card’s value varies wildly depending on your opponent’s deck. Sometimes you kill all of their dudes; sometimes you do nothing. It combos with the weapon that grants deadly, but I usually don’t bother with either personally.
Strength of the Pack – 4
Usually insane, its one shortcoming is again its cost. If you can cast it on a flier or a creature with a summon ability, you’ll probably win the game.
Thunderstrike Dragon – 4.5
Cost and influence aside, Thunderstrike Dragon is insane for obvious reasons. I’d play it in all but the most aggressive of decks.
Tundra Explorer – 2.5
Is a 3/3 for 3 a good deal? Because 90% of the time you will not be drawing anything. Take the occasional card draw as a nice surprise and base your decision entirely around whether you’d play it without that line of text.
Unstable Form – 3.5
Surprisingly powerful. Turning a “used” Serpent Trainer or Jarrall’s Frostkin into a 6-drop is the dream. You can even use this defensively to deal with an opposing unit that’s been buffed via non-weapon means, i.e. warcry or something like Awakened Student. Be wary though: there are “misses” like Idol of Destran that can make your “upgrade” into a real downgrade.
Violent Gust – 3
I’m probably rating this a little high, but I almost always include at least one Violent Gust in my decks. Flyers are important, and whoever controls the skies is likely to win. You can also couple it with cards like Levitate and Cobalt Acolyte to ensure you have a target.
West-Wind Herald – 1.5
See Aerial Ace. Getting to cast a spell again is nice, especially if it’s something like Feeding Time, but I usually leave this guy out unless I’ve got insane spell options or desperately need flyers.
Whispering Wind – 4
Would you like to only draw gas for the rest of the game? Whispering Wind’s only shortcoming is its mediocre stats. There are a lot of two-power fliers which make attacking with it sometimes difficult. Nevertheless, WW is a great card I will almost always play.
Wild Cloudsnake – 1 or 5
How many fliers do you have? Generally I try to pick these guys up early, as a turn 2 Snake followed up by a parade of fliers is an easy recipe for success.
Windshaper – 3
Was she nerfed or buffed in the latest patch? I’m leaning toward the latter, as getting her down earlier is a great way to provide a medium sized roadblock that has a potentially powerful benefit. Even with only a few fliers, I’d probably try and make room for her. Fun sidenote: she turns Levitate into a combat trick!
Yeti Snowslinger – 3
A solid two-drop role player. Trade it with the myriad other 2-drops around, or occasionally get lucky and net yourself a snowball!
Yeti Spy – 0
Best case scenario: you replace the card you wasted on including Yeti Spy in your deck.
Yeti Troublemaker – 1
This card really suffers from its two points of health. As a four drop, you really can’t afford to be trading with 2-drops. Even though it’s technically “card advantage,” you’re rarely going to be getting much out of a pair of 3/2s.
HOLY COW. That’s a lot of cards. I didn’t realize how many there were before I started, and while I tried to devote attention to each, I imagine that I got progressively less detailed with each passing analysis. Let me know in the comments your thoughts. Disagree with anything?
Thanks for reading!