Drafters’ Corner: Dusk Road Draft Set Review (Fire)

Hi everyone! The Dusk Road is an exciting and complex set, so here to help you navigate it is my set review for Draft! I would recommend reading my initial impressions as well prior to this article, which would hopefully help make more sense of the rankings. For this article, I will cover all of the Fire cards.

Draft Rating Scale

For this new set, I’ve decided to adapt LSV’s rating scale (mainly for a reason that I’m keeping as a surprise xP). The lower half of the list is identical to LSV, while the top half is slightly different to better distinguish between 3.0/3.5/4.0/4.5 tiers.

When I release the new tier list, I will also migrate the current rating into the new system. Also, the scale has a relatively linear correspondence to my current scale (S -> 5.0, A- -> 3.5, C+ -> 1.5, F -> 0).

5.0: Premium bomb, card that consistently dominates the game and is hard to answer. (Xenan Obelisk, Accelerated Evolution)
4.5: Bomb, card that usually dominates the game if unanswered. (Pillar of Amar, Mistveil Drake, Memory Dredger)
4.0: High impact card that often generate strong value or tempo. (Annihilate, Cobalt Monument, Ageless Mentor)
3.5: Premium playable that pulls you into a color. (Awakened Student, Minotaur Lighthoof, Morningstar)
3.0: Good playable that basically always makes the cut. (Stormcrasher, Rebel Sharpshooter, Striped Araktodon)
2.5: Solid playable that rarely gets cut. (Stalwart Shield, Awakened Sentinel, Blinkwolf)
2.0: Good filler, but sometimes gets cut. (Alchemical Blast, Refresh, Thunderhoof Warrior)
1.5: Filler. Gets cut about half the time. (Amaran Camel, Amber Ring, Safe Return)
1.0: Bad filler. Gets cut most of the time. (Boltcrafter Shaman, Cirso’s Meddling, Plifer)
0.5: Very low-end playables and sideboard material. (Viper’s Bite, Decay, Centaur Outrider)
0.0: Completely unplayable. (A New Tomorrow, Mating Call, Forgotten Find)

The Fire Cards

Granite Waystone

Granite-Waystone
Draft rating: 2.0
In draft, Waystones are always better than sigils (except when fetches are involved.) However, while this card doesn’t cost you a slot in your deck, it cost you a pick (since you could have picked a playable over it). What this means is that you will always want this card over your 30th playable, but never over your 20th playable. This is very easy to see in pack 4, but becomes slightly more situational in pack 1. The relative strengths of the Waystones also come into play. I think Granite, Cobalt and Amethyst are probably the strongest ones and thus, they all get a 2.0 rating. A 1/1 grenadin is not extremely impactful if you are firmly established as a beatdown. However, in all other cases (racing or stalling), an additional free chump blocker can buy you the extra turn needed to swing the game in your favor.

Helpful Doorbot

Helpful-Doorbot
Draft rating: 1.0
A 0/3 is not a unit you will be happy to play in draft. However, the tribal mechanics are significantly pushed in draft, so the grenadine type can often matter. This card also bounces most 2 drops, so it could potentially stall the board. All said and done though, I would not be happy with this card in my deck, even with significant grenadine synergy.

Iceberg Frontrunner

Iceberg-Frontrunner
Draft Rating: 0.5
1/2 is probably the worst stat-line for a 1 drop. Being unable to attack into or block most 2-drops makes this card very bad. The charge text would rarely matter because of the measly 1 attack.

Kaleb’s Intervention

Kalebs-Intervention
Draft Rating: 1.0
Why is this spell not fast! It would easily be a 3.0 at fast speed, but right now, it is a bad version of all the common fire spells. Attachments are more common in set 3, making the third option slightly more appealing. Overall though, it is just alright. The bulk of the rating comes from the flexibility that this card offers.

Kennelmaster

Kennelmaster
Draft Rating: 0.5
Getting 3 spells into your void is no easy task, especially given that spells are much rarer in draft. Unactivated, this card is a 0.0. Even if you were to activate this on turn 4/5, a single 2/3 can halt the summoned hounds in their tracks.

Scrap Hound

Scrap-Hound
Draft Rating: 2.0
1/1 for 1 is not exciting, but it does have an interesting ultimate. Being able to sacrifice a grenadine to turn it into a 5/5 makes it a substantial threat. Moreover, it can synergize with other sacrifice-theme cards, such as Slumbering Stone, Dark Wisp, Stonescar Magus and most notably, the new Devious Drone which is also a drone! With the right synergies, I can see this card going up to 2.5 or 3 in pick order.

Combustion Cell

Combustion-Cell
Draft Rating: 0.0
This feels like a very clear constructed only card to me. Most decks in draft do not have the luxury to sacrifice units for ramp and you can’t really build a draft around a 1-of combustion cell in your deck.

Disassembler

Disassembler
Draft Rating: 2.0
2/2 for 2 is the average stat-line for a 2-drop. The text is mostly flavor unless you have multiple grenadins, but it can potentially be useful to push for lethal or trigger spark. Moreover, the grenadin tribal does show some promise in this draft format, so the grenadin type could matter.

Into the Furnace

Into-the-Furnace
Draft Rating: 3.0
This format feels just as light on removal as the previous, so being a 2 or 4 damage spell makes this card superbly attractive. Given how common grenadins are, this card can often turn into a 2-cost slow mortar, giving you a huge tempo advantage.

Miner’s Musket

Miners-Musket
Draft Rating: 3.0
This card is almost always a strictly better Talon of Nostrix. The difference between 1 and 2 armor is rarely significant, but this card “refunds” the power for the next card. This could enable powerful tempo plays in future turns, especially if the cost reduction hits a huge unit. Odds are though, it will just hit a small unit and allow you to flood the board faster (less impactful, but still significant). Even then, the tempo potential of this card pushes it to a 3.0.

Oni Cavediver

Oni-Cavediver
Draft Rating: 2.5
2/2 for 2 is solid, 4/2 for 2 is extremely good. Moreover, it has an additional text of being able to pay 2 to scout, which acts as a nice sink for additional power while also potentially digging you out of influence or power screw. This card is probably pushing the top of 2.5 tier for me.

Spark Hatcher

Spark-Hatcher
Draft Rating: 2.5
This is a pretty decent 2-drop. The loss of 1 health matters only in about 20% of games and granting an additional 1/1 on death is sweet. Whether this card remains at 2.5 or gets bumped up to 3.0 depends on how pushed grenadin synergies are.

Unpredictable Outlaw

Unpredictable-Outlaw
Draft Rating: 3.0
Another 2/2 for 2 with a powerful text. The threat of being able to exhaust a blocker can often deter your opponents from trying to race or force them to leave back multiple blockers. The gunslinger tribal is also another well-supported tribe in my first impressions, so the unit type confers an additional benefit.

Yeti Sage

Yeti-Sage
Draft Rating: 2.0
As a floor, a 2/1 that gives Trail Stories on death is not very exciting. The double damage text does make it a good target for buffs and weapons. However, 1 health is still relatively fragile so without quickdraw, it can still be traded with easily. Yeti tribal also feels weaker than the other tribals, so I would not give much weight to the yeti sub-type (Unless you manage to draft this together with Jotun Punter, in which case, you are guaranteed a easy 7-0 =P).

Backpacker’s Machete

Backpackers-Machete
Draft Rating: 2.5
Scout generally counts for half of a card draw, which is what gives this card a significant edge over Crownwatch Longsword. Card draw is extremely relevant in draft given it’s resource light nature (see Ornate Katana vs Heavy Axe, Dispel vs Rebuke) Scout is also much stronger on cheaper cards since the filtering effect can often be extremely relevant early on to negate flood/screw.

Coalscrounger

Coalscrounger
Draft Rating: 1.5
The Entomb is mostly flavor text for this card. A 2/2 for 3 body is also below the curve. Giving +1 to all your grenadins might work well if you have at least 5 other grenadins (and preferably cards that generate multiple, such as Grenadin Drone or Assembly Line). The biggest problem I forsee is that most grenadins have 1 or 2 health, so it is unlikely to trade up efficiently on the attack.

First-Shot Rioter

First-Shot-Rioter
Draft Rating: 3.0
This, and Unpredictable Outlaw, are the main reasons why you want to be in the Fire Gunslinger tribal. A 3/2 is slightly below par, but if you are reliably activate it, a 4/3 for 3 is a great deal. The +1/+1 being a weapon is also a plus because of the multiple weapon matters theme for this set.

Hoof Slash

Hoof-Slash
Draft Rating: 1.5
Tricks get substantially worse the more they cost because there is an associated opportunity cost with holding up or playing the trick. That said, despite being a worse Rampage or Finest Hour, Hoof Slash still gets a 1.5 rating because tricks are less common in this set, making it important to pick tricks higher.

Milos Izalio, Heir to Rebellion

Milos-Izalio-Heir-to-Rebellion
Draft Rating: 3.0
Stats-wise, Milos is extremely similar to First-Shot Rider. However, the 2 key points pushing it up to 3.0 are: 1) Milos is a better blocker if it’s unactivated as it can stop all 2/2s and 2) Double damage makes it a great weapons holder. This also synergizes well with his other text, allowing you to ramp up significantly.

Purge the Darkness

Purge-the-Darkness
Draft Rating: 1.0
The playability of this card will vary highly on the average population of nightfall and night matters cards. So far, there seems to be a substantial amount of nightfall cards, but very few critical night matters cards. This card pretty much reads deal 4 damage to your opponent 50% of the time, deal 3 damage and deny your opponent a card draw 50% of the time. This really isn’t what you want to spend 3 power on most of the time.

Ruby Catalyst

Ruby-Catalyst
Draft Rating: 2.5
Being able to pay 2 and exhaust an enemy blocker makes this card feel like Eye of Winter’s littler brother. Exhaust is substantially weaker than stun though as it is much less effective if you are on the defensive. However, you shouldn’t expect to be on the defensive for long since you will get a nice 5/4 after activating this card 3 times. Notably, this card gets significantly stronger the more aggressive your deck is.

Ruincrawler Yeti

Ruincrawler-Yeti
Draft Rating: 2.0
Like Furnace Mage, attachment hate is the selling point of this card. However, unlike furnace mage, Ruincrawler Yeti’s body is significantly below curve, making it a bad play unless you get value off the summon effect.

Scrap Heap

Scrap-Heap
Draft Rating: 1.0
This card basically reads: Like Amber Ring, but costlier. Giving grenadins charge is a nice flavor addition, but I have serious reservations as to its relevance.

Skycrag Huntsman

Skycrag-Huntsman
Draft Rating: 1.0
Hello Stormcaller reprint. This card plays very similarly to Stormcaller, with the exception that it is conditional and costs 4 power. It has the upsides of being both a better blocker and both an explorer and gunslinger, but neither of which are redeeming it from the nerfs of the conditional 4-cost activation.

Temple Raider

Temple-Raider
Draft Rating: 2.0
Turn 3 4/4 charge sounds broken, but unfortunately, that is never going to happen. The cheapest sentinel cost 4 (except Copper Conduit), which means that you are often playing this as just a 2/2 charge early on. That said, even if it comes down later, a 4/4 for 3 can greatly impact the board state and steal games on its own. This card is easily 2.5 or 3.0 with sufficient explorer-sentinel synergies.

Toppletower

Toppletower
Draft Rating: 2.0
Without grenadins in your deck, this card is an easy 0.5. However, as long as you are able to reliably play a single grenadin before Toppletower (~5 to 6 grenadins), this card turns into a very valuable blocker. With more than 8 other grenadins in the deck, I could see this card pushing the top tier of 3.0.

Tumblebang

Tumblebang
Draft Rating: 1.5
A 3 power 3/1 is really not where you want to be. While you can theoretically get the power investment back from it’s entomb effect, this is not really the case if it is removed on the enemy’s turn (due to removal or you are forced to block with it). I did give it a slight bump because of the sacrifice synergies that the grenadine tribal presents.

Ancient Defenses

Ancient-Defenses
Draft Rating: 2.5
Giving your sentinels +2/0 is rarely significant given they are usually already the biggest beaters around. As Yottabyte has shown though, it sometimes allows you to do some crazy shenanigans. However, it being a 4 power, deal 3 to target unit makes it at worst, a bad torch that can enable some relic synergies. This card has a pretty poor floor (a slow, bad torch), but the synergy with bonding sentinels and relic matters cards makes it a good card to speculate on.

Barbarian Camp

Barbarian-Camp
Draft Rating: 1.5
This is half of a Xenan Obelisk, so it makes sense that it’s rating is half of Xenan Obelisk right? Unfortunately, no. While this card takes arguably the better half of the Obelisk effect and allows you to push through damage aggressively, the board-wide +1/0 is rarely worth a card unless you have multiple Sharpshooters. Praxis also seems to be the relic matters faction, making this card an acceptable speculative pick as well.

Hellfire Oni

Hellfire-Oni
Draft Rating: 2.0
This is pretty much Cabal Bludgeoner’s twin brother. It works better with some cards (Stonescar Sawed-off), worse with others (Ornamental Daggers), and comparable for most (Ornate Katana, Crownwatch Longsword, etc). This means that his rating would also be comparable to that of Bludgeoner (2.0). The upside of being a gunslinger might matter occasionally, but not enough to bump it up a tier.

Kyojun, Grand Shugo

Kyojun,-Grand-Shugo
Draft Rating: 2.0
Oni does not seem to be a strongly supported archetype in this format, making Kyojun’s text much less appealing. Being able to hit an opponent with a 3/2 on turn 5 is optimistic at best, but there is potential with enablers such as Levitate or Minotaur Lighthoof. This is not a legendary that I would be happy to speculate on, but I would be happy to play it if I’m able to pick up at least 4 other Oni.

Stonescar Sawed-Off

Stonescar-Sawed-Off
Draft Rating: 3.5
Think Peacekeeper’s Prod, but trading stun for exhaust to reduce the steep influence cost. +4/+1 is also a better stat line for aggressive decks. This format is also lighter on interaction, reducing the risk of running aggressive weapons.

Wandering Forge

Wandering-Forge
Draft Rating: 2.0
Our first relic matters card! Unfortunately, the stats are very underwhelming if it’s unactivated. Even activated, this card doesn’t do much and often trades down while pushing some damage. The only redeeming quality of this card is that it makes an excellent target for Bond, allowing you to ramp out sentinels if you have them. Without bond cards in your deck, this card would probably be 1.5 or 1.0.

Hotbarrel Revolver

Hotbarrel-Revolver
Draft Rating: 3.5
This is another quality weapon for fire and being able to deal 3 damage to an opponent’s unit (hopefully) makes it very good. Gunslingers are not lacking in fire and most of them would wear this weapon well. Less removal again means that bulky weapons often pushes significant board advantage.

Inner Fire

Inner-Fire
Draft Rating: 0.5
I can see this card as a late game surprise lethal card in a grenadin heavy deck, but even then, it is super costly. You also often have to chump with your grenadins to get to the late game, making it extremely awkward to get multiple infernus off this card. Even in a grenadine tribal, I must be severely short on playables to consider this.

Jekk, Hunted Fugitive

Jekk,-Hunted-Fugitive
Draft Rating: 4.5
7/5 quickdraw is crazy good, even if this card comes down on turn 6/7 (because of the FFF influence cost). Moreover, it has a huge snowball potential because it effectively gives all your attackers +1/+1 permanently the first time, +2/+2 the second. Also notably, if you have weaker units that can be eaten on the first swing, you can wait to attack with those units on the second or third swing by Jekk, as a +2/+2 or +3/+3 can push them to at least trade with the opposing blockers. The only thing holding it back from a perfect 5.0 is that it is on the slow side and might not be able to do enough on the defensive if your board isn’t strong enough.

Parapet Sentry

Parapet-Sentry
Draft Rating: 3.5
Another relic matters sentinel! The body is slightly embarrassing without the relic buff, but being able to knock most fliers out of the air on summon makes this a great unit to have. If you are able to activated the buff on Parapet Sentry and get full value out of the summon effect, this card is an easy 4.5. It is also another great bond target in most decks.

Powderkeg Rider

Powderkeg-Rider
Draft Rating: 2.5
This is a cute grenadin pay-off card that can help push through damage with it’s overwhelm keyword. However, the 4 health is indeed a substantial drawback and could make a alpha strike difficult. It’s rarely wrong to play this in any deck with at least 4 grenadins. Without grenadins though, this card is definitely going onto the chopping board.

Staff of the Arch-Magister

Staff-of-the-Arch-Magister
Draft Rating: 0.5
Spell matters is just not going to get there and this is another card that is simply not good enough. Most draft decks will often only have at most 2 or 3 spells in the void, making this card an overcosted Crownwatch Longsword.

Barkeep’s Friend

Barkeeps-Friend
Draft Rating: 2.5
This card is probably at the very bottom of 2.5, but it’s still a 2.5 regardless. It is almost always a worse Magma Javelin (with a free dagger on Entomb), but in this removal-light format, pseudo-removal is still removal. Relic weapons are important in preventing fliers from simply overrunning you.

Molten Fist

Molten-Fist
Draft Rating: 3.0
This card feels similar to Stonescar Maul in that it is able to answer a huge threat. However, while Maul is able to push damage for lethal, Molten Fist can often kill multiple small threats in consecutive turns. With sufficient build-round (especially with the armor Valkyries and Streetwise Informant), this card can easy smack your opponent for gigantic amounts of damage.

Oni Gunwright

Oni-Gunwright
Draft Rating: 1.5
Without strong weapons in your deck, this card becomes an overcosted and weaker Outlands Brawler or Pit Fighter. However, the Entomb ability is nothing to be scoffed at and being able to get a weapon like Stonescar Sawed-off or Magma Javelin back can be game-changing. In the right decks, I can easily see this card go up to 2.5 or even 3.

Sky Terror

Sky-Terror
Draft Rating: 4.5
Sky Terror is a card that is a must answer threat for your opponent. An a+space with this card is often lethal, or at least forces multiple chump blocks out of your opponent. As long as this card is in play, the threat of an a+space is always there, pressurizing your opponent to close out the game as soon as possible. The body itself is also nothing to scoff at, being strictly better than a sapphire dragon.

Sureshot

SureshotDraft Rating: 3.5
While a 6 cost 6/5 seems sub-par, any weapon turns this into an overwhelming 9+/8+. This card is hard to trade with and often forces your opponent to chump block and try to race. If you are able to slap an overwhelm (Morningstar) or lifesteal (Lethrai Falchion) onto this unit, the game becomes close to unloseable.

Tempered Sentinel

Tempered-Sentinel
Draft Rating: 1.5
A 5/3 charging unit for 6 is not that impressive. Even with bond, this unit is rarely coming down earlier than turn 5, at which point your opponent often has sufficient blockers to trade with your 5/3. That said, if you are able to chain off multiple sentinels in a turn, the tempo swing could be difficult for your opponent to answer.

Gearcruncher

Gearcruncher
Draft Rating: 2.5
This is definitely a card that you have to build around by drafting a good amount(5+) grenadins. If you do, this card can easily become a 4.5 or 5.0 as you are able to effectively remove an unit every turn. Moreover the summon effect can often provide you with sufficient chump blockers to stall the game.

Improvised Rubbler

Improvised-Rubbler
Draft Rating: 3.0
This is often just a more expensive Molten’s Fist, but it comes with 2 free chump blockers, which means you can usually get a 2-for-1 trade with this card, if not more. The difference between 6 and 5 attack feels much less significant in this draft format.

Rock Carapace

Rock-Carapace
Draft Rating: 2.5
While it seems bad on first glance, the drawback is non-existent on endurance units. However, most endurance units are in Justice, making this card much stronger in Rakano. Moreover, you don’t neccesarily have to swing with this card, and you could just play it on a 1/1 Grenadin to choke up the ground while chipping away in the air. Regardless, this card definitely requires a fair bit of build-around, but can definitely be strong in the right decks.

Great-Kiln Titan

Great-Kiln-Titan
Draft Rating: 3.5
This is another big fatty in Fire and while it’s hard to cast, being able to resolve his text for a few turns can easily win you a game. There will be occasional feelsbad moments when you draw and play a purify with his ability and have no other valid targets, but I think those cases would be few and far in-between. Most of the time, this card just provides you with sheer and overwhelming card advantage that it is worth building your deck around.

Heroic Bravo

Heroic-Bravo
Draft Rating: 2.5
Given that most gunslingers have 3 or 4 attack, this card will often be bonded out on turn 4 or 5, which is a great tempo play. Being able to deal 2 damage to an enemy unit is a very powerful ability and another way to deal with evasive units. This card has a pretty bad fail case of being a 8 power 4/4, but the upside makes this card worth building around. I would need at least 5 gunslingers to be happy playing this card in my deck, but as I have repeatedly said throughout this review, gunslingers seems to be a decent tribal to build around.

Conclusion

Wow, that was a long post! Set reviews are really hard work, but it definitely pushed me to think more deeply about the cards. Do you agree or disagree with my ratings and reasoning? Let me know your opinions on the reddit thread! Also, stay tuned for the set review on Time coming out soon!

Blazing down the Dusk Road,
Flash2351