Hi everyone! SET 3 IS OUT!!!! It’s a brave new world out there and I’m here to give you my first take on set 3 draft. Personally, I am super hyped for set 3 and having already plunged head-first into 5 drafts (climbing from rank 75-> rank 18), I must say I really enjoy the new format. The format is refreshing and tribal synergies add an interesting new dimension to the draft. In this article, I will sum up my preliminary thoughts and impressions on this draft format. I will also be doing set reviews for each of the 5 factions and the multifaction cards over the course of this week.
Set 3 draft does NOT feel terrible
First and foremost, to address a certain reddit thread, I want to emphasis that set 3 draft does NOT feel terrible. It is definitely different from Omens draft format, and drafters would need to take some time to adapt, but straight up calling the format terrible is flat out wrong. On average, the power level of the cards do feel lower, but that actually evens out the playing field in my opinion. With the lower average power level, decks are less likely to snowball, and games are more often about grinding out incremental advantages and making smart trades, rather than simply: “o, you missed power for 2 turns? GG ez!”
I also find it extremely surprising that people are claiming that the Empty Throne draft format was significantly better than Omens draft format, which in turn is significantly better than the current draft format. If anything, this format feels extremely reminiscent of the Empty Throne draft format. For both Empty Throne and Dusk Road draft formats, you are able to draft extremely powerful synergistic decks and are strongly discouraged from playing more than 2.5f. The payoffs for drafting synergy cards are also there in both formats, such as valkyrie or gunslinger tribal.
A Fresh Perspective on Old Cards
One important thing to do when starting a new draft format is to re-evaluate old cards as well. (I made the exact same mistake when Omens came out and my rankings plummeted.) Some cards that were previously bad, may now become good because of new synergies, while some previously good cards may now become bad because of new counters. I think most tribal cards received a substantial boost, and spells have also become much more valuable. For example, Loyal Watchwing is probably bumped up by 2 tiers, because an evasive, warcry flier has become significantly better and the valkyrie synergy component is non-negligible.
Justice is the new Time, Primal is the new Shadow
Move over Time, there’s a new sheriff in Town and it’s the gun-slinging Valkyries of Justice. With some of the best new commons (Frontier Confessor, Valkyrie Arcanist, Spiritbreak Stalker) and argubly the best dual-faction cards (Rooftop Vigilante, Whirling Duo AND Auric Record-keeper), it’s no surprise that Justice feels like the strongest faction currently. Piled on top of the already deep pool of Justice cards, there are a decent amount of playable Justice Gunslingers AND Valkyries, meaning that you can layer tribal synergies on top of your deck. Before the drafting mechanics even itself out, I would recommend leaning towards Justice as the faction just feels so powerful.
Draft Primal, like it’s constructed brethren, seems to have drawn the short straw. With the lack of good commons, centering your draft about Primal seems like a poor idea. Moreover, both the Unseen and Yeti tribals have yet to impress me, making Primal drafts feel like just relying on good stuff without the tribal safety net. Elysian Dinosaurs seems quite viable, but in that faction, Primal acts as a supporting faction rather than a core. Without strong Primal signals in pack 1, I would hesitate to move into Primal at this time.
I was really worried about tribal mechanics when it was first announced (especially when the draft format was also announced to be 3-1-2-3). I feared that the format would devolve to either force a tribal synergy and cruise to an easy 7-0, or fail to do so and flame out at 0-3. However, I must say the developers have done an excellent job in balancing the tribal mechanics. While they are neither extremely overpowered when activated nor significantly underpowered when unactivated, it still feels rewarding to pull off the synergies. Drafts often feel like putting together a good deck of 2 factions, with an added layer of tribal synergy, rather than a force synergy or die situation.
Gunslingers, Valkyries and Grenadins are all excellent tribes and their synergy is easily worth investing in. Dinosaurs and Sentinels seem viable as well, but the heavy reliance on bond makes it costly if you draw the cards in the wrong order. The lack of multiple playable Yetis at set 3 commons makes me tentative about investing too much into the Yeti Tribal dream.
In terms of Relics matter, Weapons matter and Curses matter sub-themes, the former two seem to have gotten some strong support in set 3 with a fair few good weapons and relics and a wide array of passable ones. However, curses (like primal) seem to have the short end of the stick, with very few good curses and a hanful of passable ones. This means that cards of the weapons and relic matters genre can make for good speculative picks, while curse matter cards are probably just binder fodder unless they can stand on their own (e.g. Miris Nightshade).
Nightfall and Scout
The added card draw due to Nightfall as well as Scout being tagged onto multiple cards has also greatly improved my play experience in draft. Decks feel significantly more consistent and I am generally able to execute my game plan to a certain extent. Nightfall definitely makes for very interesting game play decisions and also allows both players to maintain resources in their hands for longer. While screw and flood is still an unavoidable component of this game, I do feel that they have played a much smaller role in my recent games.
Limited Removal and Tricks
One of the key features of this draft format that has stood out to me is that both removal and fast spells are much less common. This has an extremely interesting and powerful trickle down effect. Firstly, fliers get substantially more powerful because they are much harder to interact with. Secondly, prioritizing tricks and removal in your picks would probably strengthen your deck substantially. Even mediocre tricks can be worth picking over average units if you have a substantial unit count already. Thirdly, suiting up units become significantly less risky because of the lower blowout potential. This makes weapons much more appealing. Lastly, pseudo-removal, such as relic weapons, bounce, stun and exhaust effects, become much more valuable because they provide an additional avenue of interacting with the board state. Previously, tricks and removal outclassed this class of pseudo-removals, but with limited removal, this class of tricks really shine through.
It is a brave new world out there, and I am learning so much with each passing draft! Let me know how your draft experience goes and what new synergies you discover in the reddit thread! Also, if you are having trouble with your drafts, I would recommend checking out #draft in the Eternal discord for some drafting advice! I can’t wait to jump back into this new draft format so TTFN! Stay tuned for my draft set reviews coming out later!
See you in draft!