The Dusk Road spoiler season is in full swing, and the full set is expected to drop this week. It’s an exciting time!
We’ve seen slightly over 50 cards, or about 1/6 of the full set, so it’s too early to start building decks with the new cards and theorycrafting with any sort of reliability, but we can certainly evaluate the cards on their own merits and based on existing synergies. There are a lot of cards that look like they will see constructed play, but it’s more interesting and more fun to make bold calls. So here are my top five Dusk Road cards for constructed as of 12/17/2018:
5. Jotun Feast-Caller
A lot of people have been panning this card, and I think that’s insane. Jotun Feast-Caller has the ability to snowball a game harder than any other card in the game, including Tavrod.
Now Tavrod obviously has a much better body and doesn’t need to draw cards to win the game, but needing to be built around more doesn’t disqualify a card form being powerful. There are two cards that come to mind when drawing comparisons for Jotun Feast-Caller.
The first is the original control game-winner that snowballed a lead into a victory: Staff of Stories. Feast-Caller draws even MORE cards if you can keep the way clear, and will be played in the same sort of removal-heavy decks. If JPS were ever going to have a reason to exist, it would be this. Feast-Caller can take the spot of Champion of Cunning (which you can’t play reasonably in a 3-faction deck) and allow you to run all of the spot removal your heart desires. Feast-Caller is easier to kill than Staff on an empty board, but doesn’t require an empty board to be played. Your opponent can’t attack all-out when you have one, as the counter-attack will let you keep drawing more answers and eventually stop their offense. The fear that Feast-Caller will inspire when on board is reminiscent of the second card for comparison: Gorgon Fanatic.
Both Gorgon Fanatic and Feast-Caller will be played in decks with lots of removal that seek to trade spells with units and refuel by drawing a big burst of cards. One Fanatic hit draws three immediately, and one Feast-Caller hit draws one and he can attack the next turn to draw the other two. Feast-Caller can’t be Haunting Screamed because he costs two more, but in exchange he gets a crucial Aegis and can draw more than three cards.
I think Jotun Feast-Caller is being criminally under-rated, and any deck that can simplify a board state or protect one threat will be hard-pressed to find a better unit to be the last card standing. You think Tavrod is snowbally? You haven’t seen anything yet.
4. Miris Nightshade
The stats really speak for themselves – a 3/2 for 2 is pretty mediocre, but one Permafrost or Wanted Poster or even just activating Miris’s Ultimate makes her a brutal 4/3 for 2. That Ultimate is also reach in the aggressive Feln decks that will likely want Miris – it deals 2 damage on its own and 2 more every time you play a Nightfall card.
Miris isn’t that interesting functionally (she’s just an undercosted beater), but she will create interesting synergy-based decisions in deckbuilding and gameplay. A well-designed aggressive card, although I worry that having three new machanics that promote aggressive play will mean the death of reactive play, which is already struggling in ranked.
3. Worldbearer Behemoth
Fresh off of a couple cards that will encourage creative balance of synergy and power in deckbuilding, we have the biggest and dumbest beater in the set so far. A 6/7 Overwhelm for 5 that ramps you is pretty obvious in application – you know what decks will want it and you know it will see play.
Will Worldbearer Behemoth enable big ramp decks like Vodakombo or Owl Ramp to take center stage? I doubt it, as aggro is omnipresent, consistent, and extremely powerful, but big Time isn’t going anywhere. There are many decks that will take advantage of the Behemoth’s literally Overwhelming power and won’t mind the power acceleration, but he will just be another big card-advantage fatty in a game full of card-advantage fatties. I don’t think this is the dawn of a new ramp-heavy greed pile metagame.
Interestingly, although Behemoth looks like he would be great in Praxis, his existence is actually terrible for Praxis, as it means there will be more 7 health units running around out of range of Obliterate and Predatory Carnosaur. Perhaps Great Kiln Fiend will be needed to go over the top? Seems better than Cloud of Ash in any case.
2. Amilli, Cloudmarshal
Take Worldbearer Behemoth, make it even more unkillable in combat, make it have better evasion, and give it a better “X+1” ability, and you have Amilli. Amilli is basically never dying to anything besides Vanquish or Annihilate, and while he crashes in the air every turn he leaves back increasingly-larger blockers until they are also big enough to dominate the board. Amilli gives “protect the king” Tavrod decks another in-faction 5-drop that wins the game by itself in short order and doesn’t lose in combat. Vulnerability to Annihilate is real and relevant, but 8 health and Flying turns off so many avenues of interaction. I’m definitely going to be playing a lot of Amillis once the Dusk Road releases, and I won’t be the only one. Amilli is going to be dropping Valkyrie bombs all over ranked – Amilli in here, Amilli in there, a young Marshal Milli in air.
The rest of the cards on this list are extremely powerful and will warp games and influence deck building. Strategize won’t have nearly as large of a visible influence on Eternal, but it is quietly the biggest paradigm shift in The Dusk Road. A great Primal card! A reason to splash Primal!
Powerful deck manipulation like this has a subtle but extremely powerful effect on consistency – Primal decks will flood or screw less, they will run out of cards in the late game less often, and they will find the answers they need slightly more frequently. The decision to run more or less power in your deck when you have access to powerful card draw is also meaningful. More power so you can always curve out, then use Strategize to ditch extra in the late game, or less power so that you can dig for it if you need it? it will vary by archetype, and add more deckbuilding decisions.
Playing a card like Strategize in-game is also very interesting, When you have to get rid a card basically forever (the deck never shuffles in Eternal, so a card put on the bottom will not be seen again unless you deck out), it is often right to hold it until you have a card in hand you already want to get rid of. If the matchup is about tempo and you need an answer right away, you need to evaluate your hand and what you can afford to lose out on for later. I love cards that are easy to play, but difficult to play perfectly.
And those are my picks for the top 5 spoilers of The Dusk Road so far! I’m not saying these will be the 5 most-played cards of the set (those will probably be the Waystones), but they are the cards that I think are going to have the biggest impact on deckbuilding and gameplay.
So what do you think? Am I wrong? Am I right? Am I silly for not considering Temporal Distortion or Novaquake Titan? Let me know what you’re excited about! I’m looking forward to seeing all of the new decks that come out of The Dusk Road!
Until next time, may the sunset come quickly.
PS. Eilyn, Clan Mother is obviously BAE, but I don’t think she is quite as powerful as the cards on this list. Seven is a lot of power. That said, remember how hard Tavrod was to kill? Now give him Flying, Silence two units on Summon, and an Ultimate that kills those units (and maybe some others). Beautiful.