Draft analysis – Time

And I’m back! In case you missed it, I’m trying to do a series of articles that analyzes each faction, card-by-card. My last article was on Primal, which you can find here. This article will be on Time.

A note before we continue: There was a little, shall we say, disagreement between my card evaluations in the last article and what other people thought many cards should have been rated. While I tried to briefly respond to some of those comments over on Reddit, I’ll take a second to address that criticism here.

First off, I’ll concede that my analysis of card values did show an inherent bias for a style of drafting that I tend to prefer, namely tempo-focused aggressive decks. The reasons is clear in my mind: these strategies are, by far, the ones I’ve had the most success with in Eternal draft. I laid out many of the reasons in my first RNGEternal article. Feln in particular tends to have a lot of cards that sacrifice power for tempo and the Infiltrate mechanic is one which rewards hitting the opponent with whatever means necessary.

Understand that these ratings are not the be-all-end-all of Eternal rankings. They are malleable, from person to person and from draft to draft. Cards like Staff of Stories are not very good in these tempo types of strategies which I prefer; it is obviously much better in control strategies. (Although, to be frank, I still do not believe it’s a particularly good card in limited due to being inherently fragile). If a control deck is what you’re looking to draft, either by personal preference or simply the way your draft is evolving, keep that in mind.

Fortunately for all, I think my rating in this article and moving forward will track much more closely with more traditional values… I hope. There’s less of a personal archetype preference when I draft these factions, and I’ve found myself drafting more traditionally in non-Primal factions..

Still, I stand by my assessments. That having been said, I’ll stress that this undertaking was a large one and much more time consuming that I had originally anticipated, so I wasn’t able to hem and haw too much about each individual card. I often had to go by my gut instinct.

Regardless, I still am interested in hearing what thoughts folks have on these lists, both good and bad. At the end of the day, I’m hoping to provide an overall helpful idea of a card’s overarching power level. There will always be disagreements between folks on whether a card is good or not. If others believe that my analyses are incorrect, please sound off in the comments either here or in Reddit.

 

Accelerate – 0

Even if this card costs 0 mana, I’m not sure it would be playable even then. As it is though, there’s just no way to justify spending an entire card–one that costs two mana to boot—for such an unimpressive effect. Accelerate is literally self-imposed card disadvantage; generally try to avoid that in draft.

Ageless Mentor – 4.5

Ageless Mentor can be one of the best turn-three plays in the game if you have the right hand. Even just boosting a single unit means that you’ve likely gained a ton of value since you’re paying 3 mana for a “4/5.” Those times when you hit 3 or 4 units! Woo wee! Like, it almost doesn’t even matter what they are.

Amber Acolyte – 4

Amber Acolyte is one of those units that I’m always happy to draft. Even though it doesn’t impact the board like its Cobalt or Amethyst brethren, replacing itself is a huge plus in limited, especially in faction that has an affinity for power. I also tend to be very greedy and try to splash things like Feeding Time in my Elysian deck, so keep that in mind as well. Note: I usually drop my power count by about 1 for every Amber Acolyte I have. Don’t want to get flooded!

Amber Monument – 4

While not as bomb ass insane as Cobalt Monument, a 5/5 with Overwhelm is nothing to scoff at in limited. The fact that it doubles as a sigil early on is just icing on the cake. Easily a high pick if I’m in Time.

Ancient Lore – .5

See my critique of Whisper of the Elders in my Primal write up. Everything that I wrote there holds true here except Ancient Lore is even worse due to both its higher cost and not being a fast spell. Where’s the big payoff?! Maybe a slight bonus on a unit or two. If you’ve got a solid defensive deck, go ahead and try it, but I can’t ever bring myself to run it.

Ancient Terrazon – 3.5

Ancient Terrazon is a juggernaut. Unless your opponent has a kill spell, he’s going to crash in turn after turn, either taking huge chunks of health or demanding a sacrifice. He costs 7 mana which is certainly reasonable for his stats, but that’s still a hefty price tag.

Bold Adventurer – 2.5

Again, vanilla doesn’t seem all that incredible, but in a world of 2/2 two-drops, the 2/3 is king. A really solid card for decks looking to brick the ground while winning through the air.

Clockroach – 6

In reality, this card is probably a 2.5, but considering Clockroach is one of my favorite cards, I figured I throw it a bone.  It’s still a weak body for its cost, but you do get two of them. If you have any sort of way to boost it (e.g.Dark Return, Second Sight), its rating increases exponentially.

Copper Conduit – 4

Like with most Powersurge cards, Copper Conduit has some inherent power just from its flexibility. Late game, this card just wins easily. I’d prefer not to play it as a 3/3 on turn 3, but sometimes you gotta stem the bleeding. While I don’t often splash Time cards, Copper Conduit is a powerful option considering you don’t particularly want to cast it until later in the game anyway.

Dawnwalker – 2

Let’s be real: You’re likely not returning this guy to play all that often. Most decks won’t run but a few 5-power units, so the dream of trading this early and often isn’t really feasible in draft. How good is a 4/1 with Overwhelm for 3 mana? It’s “meh.” The more False Princes, Terrazons and other beefy monsters you have, the better he gets obviously.

Decay – 1

Decay always seems to be one of my last few cuts but I always wonder if I should try to play it more. Every color has plenty of targets, be they powerful relics like Paladin Oathbook or Winter’s Eye, weapons like Blackguard Sidearm or Stonescar Maul, or even a curse like Permafrost. No one expects it either, meaning you’re often able to get some surprising trades in combat if you nab a weapon on a creature. Still, it has the unfortunate potential of being uncastable frequently which deters me from including it.

Determined Stranger – 2

If you’re in the Stranger archetype, this guy is an all-star. If not, he’s a 3/3 for three that might pump some guys on either side of the table. If I’m not running any strangers, I’d prefer just to keep him on the sideline lest I help my opponent.

Dispel – 2

Surprisingly effective. Both Elysian and Combrei don’t have access to traditional removal. Fortunately, silencing a unit often acts can often be tantamount to removal. How good is a Serpent Trainer without any abilities? The fact that Dispel draws a card is what puts it over the edge, as the ability would likely be too weak to run otherwise.

Divining Rod – 1

You’ve got to have a ridiculous deck to want to run Diving Rod. By that I mean you’d have to expect to nab at least one unit off the trigger to really “break even” on running a +3/+3 weapon that costs six. If you’ve got a bevy of fliers in your deck, that’s likely the easiest way to ensure you end up with value. Bonus points if they’re Silverwing Familiars or Karmic Guardians.

Dormant Sentinel – 1.5

This costs a lot, but is also big. I’d generally prefer to run more impressive 7-drops (if any), but sometimes Dormant Sentinel gets the job done.

Dune Phantom – 1.5

I’d normally shy away from playing a 0/6, but flying means it can be a really great wall for opposing creatures that might otherwise prove irksome. While ambush means that it can save a creature from a relic weapon for a turn, more often than not that’s not enough to justify its inclusion.

Elysian Pathfinder – 2.5

Compared to the Primal Pathfinder, I’ll play the Elysian version much more frequently. You’re more likely to see the Echoed card (since you’re likely running more creatures) and I’ve found the targets tend to be better on average. I’ll still cut the 3/3 if I have plenty of 5-drops clogging up that slot.

Ephemeral Wisp – .5

Unless you have some weird synergies, I’d probably stay away. Wisp can be an annoying blocker, but it’s not going to stave off an otherwise scary attacker indefinitely.

Excavate – .5

Like Accelerate, Excavate is inherent card disadvantage. You’re spending a card and getting “nothing” in return. Just compare this to Dark Return! The exception to this rule is if you’re putting a card with Echo or a Static Bolt on top of your deck; in that case you’re getting additional value beyond a single card. Still, I’d probably not run this even if my deck was replete with Echo cards.

Find the Way – 1.5

Extremely slow. If you’re splashing for a powerful card, this can be an appropriate way to find that missing influence. If you’re not, I’d generally just run an extra sigil over Find the Way.

Friendly Wisp – 1

Like Dawnwalker, this card isn’t nearly as good here as it is in constructed because there just isn’t that critical mass of 5-attack units in most draft decks. Even if you get to draw two cards, this card is only marginally better than Yeti Spy. Even in that ideal world where you have a bunch of 5-power dudes (due to Warcry or just base stats), I’d still be wary of playing this. Spending your early turns to cast a 1/1 is a line that can get run over quickly.

Hall of Lost Kings – 0

A self-fulfilling card, because if you’re including this in your deck you’ve probably lost. Compare this to Towering Terrazon, then imagine a scenario where it might make more than one 5/5.

Healer’s Cloak – 3

I have a soft spot for Healer’s Cloak as it’s helped me win more than a few races. It is a weapon after all which means that it’s inherently susceptible to card disadvantage, but I can’t help hoping to win the dream of slapping this on a flier or, better yet, a False Prince.

Horned Vorlunk – 1.5

Filler. There are much better cards than a 3/4 for 4. Sometimes though, you just need dudes.

Humbug – .5

I once died to an Accelerated Humbug, which I’m pretty sure is the most ridiculous way I’ve ever died in draft. Generally though, without that insane two-card combo, a 1/1 with no abilities beyond flying isn’t the way to go. That said, if you’ve got enough buffs like Paladin Oathbook or Ornamental Daggers, you could do worse than a turn 1 evasive threat.

Idol of Destran – 2

The best Idol of Destran is one your opponent gets when Unstable Form is cast on his 4-drop. To be more serious, it’s probably slightly worse than Towering Terrazon. At 5 or less creatures, it’s bad; at 6 or more, it’s better. It’s also susceptible to silence like no one’s business.

Infinite Hourglass – 1.5

Infinite Hourglass can range from mediocre to downright incredible. Against Primal for instance, you immediately invalidate all of their stun-based interaction, which is often a lot. Infinite Hourglass also lets you race really well. At the end of the day though, it doesn’t really impact the board. I’d play it if I was hurting for playables, but would usually leave it on the side if I wasn’t.

Initiate of the Sands – 1.5

Despite its prevalence in constructed, Initiate of the Sands isn’t really what you want in a draft deck. It’s pretty much only good on the first turn, as beyond that it’s just about the most lackluster card you could possible draw. It doesn’t even trigger Empower! I would generally not play this card, but if I had a ton of 3- and 4-drops and lacked 2-drops, I’d happily run it.

Lumen Defender – 3

Deadly is a great keyword to have on a high-health unit in limited. I’m not sold on Lumen Defender vs. Towering Terrazon as one can go on the offensive whereas the other is just a nice bulwark. The life gain might put it over the edge. Regardless, it’s still a solid 5-drop if you’re trying to win in the air.

Lumen Shepherd – 2

I don’t really like Lumen Shepherd all that much honestly. It’s great at holding down the fort for sure, but it’s never really good at breaking through the opponent’s defenses. That means you’re playing a 6-drop that isn’t going to win the game, and I like my 6-drops to be able to potentially put things away. The 1/1 Wisp is occasionally relevant, but past the first turn it largely isn’t.

Marisen, the Eldest – 2.5

If you can get to 8 mana, Marisen will probably win the game. The fact that she triggers every turn is gas, and all three summons are solid. That said, getting to 8-mana is often obnoxious. I would guess on average it’ll take you 12 turns to get there with no extra card draw which means you’ll need to hole up well.

Marisen’s Disciple – 4

Split cards are great. With the extra body being able to address any situation, Marisen’s Disciple is rarely bad.

Mystic Ascendant – 3.5

I love Mystic Ascendant and it’s one of my favorite cards in the game. Like Marisen though, it suffers from being expensive. It’s less of a de facto 7-drop like in constructed since your opponent will be less likely to have removal.

Ornamental Daggers – 2.5

Ornamental Daggers are an objectively better Crownwatch Longsword. It costs the same (or better) and has the same bonus, but (1) this bonus can be split between creatures, (2) it’s boosted by Warcry much better, and (3) it has some Echo synergies if you have Second Sight. Heck, it’s even better in the face of weapon removal like Decay or Furnace Mage.

Rant aside, Daggers (and Longsword) are solid pickups for most decks. They can let you structure your attack or defense to ensure maximum trades or defensive capabilities. Unless you have a lot of Karmic Guardians or other units with Lifesteal, I probably wouldn’t run more than one though.

Pillar of Amar – 4

PIllar of Amar is an incredible value-generating unit. It practically guarantees to break any stalemate as topdecked sigils go from horrendous draws to threatening 5/5s. It suffers from the same drawback as all six-mana-or-more cards do, namely its casting cost which also demands triple Time influence. Notwithstanding that shortcoming, I usually pick these up if I’m in either Elysian or Combrei.

Two notes: First, if you’re running Pillars, sandbag (i.e. hold onto) extra sigils. Nothing feels sillier than drawing this guy after you’ve burned a couple of sigils unnecessarily. Also, this guy is one of the better units to pair with Sauropod Wrangler, essentially netting you an extra 5/5 for your synergy.

Praxis Displacer – 3.5

Praxis Displacer is great in a tempo deck. Unfortunately, neither Combrei nor Elysian really lend themselves to tempo decks all that often. Sure, you could nab a few Awakened Students and just go HAM, but more often than not you’re going to be winning a longer game. That being said, the 3/2 Teleport-on-a-stick is still a solid pick up as you’ll generally be able to deal with an annoying blocker for a turn or a unit with a meddlesome weapon.

Predator’s Instinct – 2.5

One of Time’s only actual “removal” options. It demands you have a creature and that the creature is bigger than your opponent’s and that they don’t have a pump or kill spell, but for one mana what do you expect? The more big units you have, the more effective this will be.

Predatory Carnosaur – 4.5

Predatory Carnosaur sometimes feels like the most powerful card in limited. The literal only thing holding it back from being a 5 is its influence requirements; triple influence is difficult sometimes.

Refresh – 1.5

I used to cut Refresh frequently. Its Magic: the Gathering analogs have always been notoriously weak and I assumed the same would hold true in Eternal. To an extent, that’s accurate. There are better tricks out there. But in a faction with few tricks or removal options, sometimes you have to make due. After having been blowout on a few occasions, I’ve come to have newfound respect for Refresh, but I’m still leaving it on the sidelines more often than not.

Reliquary Raider – 3

On paper, Reliquary Raider is insane. It’s a card advantage machine and an awesome way to survive survive against an aggressive deck. In practice, I’ve found it to be merely ok. You’re rarely going to be drawing more than one card from it as it has a huge target on its head. In those cases where your opponent can’t deal with a 4/4, you’d probably be winning with any old 5-drop anyway.

Sanctuary Priest – .5

Sanctuary Priest is as weak as they come. Lifegain isn’t that important and it isn’t going to be able to favorably trade with most other units.

Sand Warrior – 1

Unless you’re heavy, heavy Time, I probably wouldn’t bother. A 3/3 isn’t that powerful in limited, especially if you’re unable to play it early due to its heavily influence cost. Note: Strangers can let you cast this as early as turn 2 if you’re lucky. Time’s not a color that’s really able to capitalize on tempo though, so even that powerful start is stymied by a 3/4.

Sandstorm Titan – 5

I hesitate to give out fives that often, but Sandstorm Titan is just so absurdly overpowered for its cost that it feels weird not to give him top honors. His ability can sometimes be at odds with what your deck is looking to do; sometimes it’s a great countermeasure to an opponent’s flyers. Endurance is just the icing on the cake as that means it’s immune to various common forms of limited removal like Ice Sprite, Permafrost, or Execute.

Sauropod Wrangler – 2.5

More often than not, Sauropod Wrangler is a 2/2 with no relevant ability. You’re often not going to be able to take advantage of its discount. You likely won’t have too many 5-power creatures in your deck, and you’ll often have power left over to pay an additional mana. It’s also a 2/2 meaning it trades with just about everything. Still, those time you can play a 5-power dude ahead of curve often translate to huge tempo swings. I usually value them a little higher than Strangers if I’ve got a fair number of big dudes I want to launch out.

Scorpion Wasp – 4.5

Scorpion Wasp is about as unadulterated removal as Time is likely going to see. It kills just about anything without Quickdraw, even through Aegis, and does so for the relatively cheap price of 3 mana. It’s also splashable, although generally if you’re in other colors you have some fine removal options as is.

Secret Pages – 1

How happy are you paying 3 mana for a sigil? My answer is “not very.” For me to want to play Secret Pages, I’d need several of the following to be true: (1) I don’t have very many playables; (2) I have a lot of units with Empower such that a mid combat Secret Pages translates to a combat trick; (3) I’m splashing for a bomb in a third color and don’t have much fixing otherwise; and (4) I have a lot of high-cost cards that I want to try to play ahead of curve.

Slow – .5

I have never played this card, but I’m refraining from giving it a 0 since I imagine some scenarios where it might be a last-ditch inclusion as a pseudo removal spell. If you’re hitting a 5-mana spell, chances are it’s the same as forcing them to discard it since the likelihood of getting to 10 mana in draft is relatively low. That having been said, this is an absolute miserable topdeck; hitting a card that costs 4 or less isn’t all that impactful, and even at its very best it’ll merely be a 1-for-1 trade. You do get to look at their hand, and information like that can be incredibly valuable.

Steward of Prophecy – 2.5

How often will his ability be good? If you’re playing it on turn 4, chances are you’ll hit something. If that unit has a summon ability or killer or aegis or something similar, he’s clearly putting in work. Fairly often though, it’ll whiff or be lackluster. How good is a 4/3 for 4 with no abilities? Fairly mediocre. In short, while I think Steward of Prophecy is a fine inclusion, don’t be lead to believe its powerful merely because it’s a rare.

Striking Snake Formation – 4.5

Striking Snake Formation can be an absolute blowout. If you have any sort of board, you’ll be able to Hearthstone your opponent for a turn which, as it turns out, is incredible for enabling good trades. It will occasionally languish in your hand if you are on the back foot though. This isn’t a great catch up card; it is a great way to win when you’re at parity or better.

Synchronized Strike – 2

I like Synchronized Strike more than most. It’s a trick in a color that is notorious for lack of tricks, and while it’s not particularly powerful, occasionally a +1/+1 boost can completely flip a trade. This spell gets a little bit more value from the fact that people generally don’t play around it, so keep that in mind. At the end of the day, I’d generally opt for other cards.

Talir, Who Sees Beyond – 1.5

If you can get even a single free unit from Talir, she’s likely worth it. There are a couple a reasons why she isn’t rated higher though. The first is cost; at 8 mana, she’s expensive which means she’s inherently problematic to cast. She’s also fairly understated for her cost. A 6/6 isn’t that impressive for an 8 drop, especially when Towering Terrazon is essentially the same for 3 mana less. Finally, in a two-color deck, there’s a high likelihood that you’re not going to actually have that many targets for her ability.

Teleport – 2

Others tend to like this card more than I. Personally, I see it largely as a tempo card in a faction that often isn’t tempo oriented (the same critique I have of Praxis Displacer). It is a fast spell however, which means it can lead to some mid-combat blowouts. I wouldn’t generally run more than one of these as they’re inherently card disadvantage, but I’ll generally include the first.

Temple Scribe – 1.5

Temple Scribe is a great constructed card. We’re not playing constructed though. The draft format is often very tempo focused, and spending a turn to ‘cycle’ a 1/1 for 2 mana isn’t really all that impressive. At the end of the day, I’ll include Scribe as filler, but I’d almost always rather run something that can hold the fort down a little better early on.

Towering Terrazon – 3

Vanilla creatures usually are frequently unimpressive. Not here. Towering Terrazon hits that sweet spot of size-to-cost that makes his total lack of abilities irrelevant. I prefer it in Elysian primarily because I like to give it flying if I can with Cobalt Acolyte, but I’ll usually play it in most Time decks.

Towertop Patrol – 2.5

Ol’ Faithful. When you need a blocker, Towertop Patrol is there. I’m never sad to play one or two, but only if I’ve got other beaters to go on the offensive.

Twinbrood Sauropod – 4.5

The premiere limited card with Echo, Twinbrood Sauropod is one of the best non-rares Time has to offer. If you’re in Time, there are few cards better.

Unlock Potential – 2

You need a pretty specific deck for Unlock Potential to really shine. I’m talking Karmic Guardians or Serpent Trainers galore. It’s still likely better than Strike since the bonus is permanent, although you do lose the surprise factor since it’s not a fast spell.

Vault of the Praxis – 0

I have a really hard time envisioning a deck where this would be worth including. While it’s an integral card for Praxis Constructed decks, how often are you ever going to draw a card in limited?

Voice of the Speaker – 1.5

Similar to Temple Scribe, I’m unimpressed with Voice of the Speaker in general. If you have a lot of Empower units  you might want to run her just to ensure you never run out of gas, especially if you’ve got ways to ensure power like Seek Power or Amber Acolyte. Generally though, a fairly slow card.

Water of Life – 0

I can’t imagine a deck where I would want to run this card. Pure life gain has always been a losing proposition in limited considering, you know, gaining life doesn’t actually win you the game.

Xenan Guardian – 4

Big fan. Good early; good late. I’ve won a lot of games on the back of an 8/8 unit with endurance.

Xenan Obelisk – 5

Xenan Obelisk is another contender for “best card in draft.” It turns any unit into a threat, and turns threats into super threats. It’s splashable and is good both early and late (once you’ve hit 8 power). I’d be very hard pressed not to draft this card if It was early enough in the draft, and I’d try to run it if at all possible.

Wrap up

Thanks again for reading! Join me tomorrow when I’ll be going over Justice!

4 thoughts on “Draft analysis – Time

  1. Dispel is a misunderstood card. The card doesn’t WIN you the game, but it does a fantastic job of keeping you from LOSING the game; it turns the opponent’s game-winning bombs into ordinary dudes that just get absorbed into the general ground stall defensive Combrei wants to generate.

    If you’re a typical slow Combrei deck, the way you lose a long game is that your opponent drops something you can’t deal with (because you have little to no removal), such as Pillar of Amar, Fourth Tree Elder, a Voltronned Quickdraw unit, or any one of many broken Rares and Legendaries. They are likely to have these, since your slow game plan gives them plenty of time to draw them.

    Dispel stops most of these cold, for the low, low cost of 3 power and no cards. It is the linchpin of slow Combrei decks.

    Sure, if you’ve got an aggressive Elysian deck, they’re much less good (though still pretty good; silencing a Towertop Patrol can be game-altering). But if you’re defensive Combrei, Dispel does exactly what you need most. Draft them pretty high and play them all (three is a totally reasonable number, though you probably won’t get them).

    Like

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