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

Hi everyone! 3 down, 2 to go! Today, we will be doing the set review for Primal. For the past 2 sets, while being slightly depressing in constructed, Primal was always a powerhouse in draft. DWD obviously took steps to correct that, and now Primal is argubly the worst faction in draft, to go along with being the worst faction in constructed. To quote our dear Tournament Organizer, Rekenner, “I’m glad to see the Primal faction identity of ‘bad’ is being maintained”. My previous reviews can be found here: Fire, Time, Justice. Once again, let me just go over my draft rating scale again.

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.

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 Primal Cards

Cobalt Waystone

Cobalt-Waystone

Draft Rating: 2.0

Face Aegis may seem useless most of the time, but that’s simply because your opponent isn’t wasting the intended spell to pop it. While direct burn is less common in this format, relic removal has become more commonplace and face aegis also defends against that. I would caution against picking them early in p1 though, because primal feels quite shallow and you might end up scrambling for playables.

Eilyn’s Intervention

Eilyns-Intervention

Draft Rating: 2.0

Eilyn’s Intervention seems narrow at first glance, but it actually felt amazing in my decks. A mini Violent Gust is often sufficient to deal with most flying units and there is actually a whole host of 3-cost spells that are commonly played in draft, including: Assembly Line, Hoof Slash, Entrapment, Dispel, Flash Freeze, Polymorph, Execute, Extract, Plague, Eilyn’s Choice, Slay and Banish.

Farplace Finder

Farplace-Finder

Draft Rating: 1.5

A 1/1 that draws half a card isn’t the worst, and activating any tribal synergy is nice as well. I feel that yeti tribals can occasionally fall short though since you really need some of the uncommon yetis to round out the deck.

Jump Kick

Jump-Kick

Draft Rating: 1.5

Levitate’s weaker, but cuter younger brother makes an appearance and unfortunately falls spectacularly short. The loss of card draw is VERY painful and the only reason this card is playable is because aerial combat is very important in this format.

Powderglider

Powderglider

Draft Rating: 1.5

1/2 for 1 is a bad rate, but it gets the slight bump for being able to stun a flier and activate the yeti tribal. I would only really play this card in a yeti deck.

Savage Skybrood

Savage-Skybrood

Draft Rating: 0.5

Savage Skybrood seems good on paper, but the lack of 2 and 3 cost dinosaurs means that this card only really starts becoming a threat on turn 5 or 6, assuming you have a high concentration of dinosaurs in your deck. Moreover, dinosaurs played prior to Savage Skybrood doesn’t activate it, making it a horrible topdeck.

Sinister Opportunist

Sinister-Opportunist

Draft Rating: 1.0

In a curse matters deck, I can definitely see this card being played, a 1/1 for 1 that can turn into a 4/4 for 4 is excellent. The condition is slightly restrictive, but with enough copies of affliction and winter’s grasp, I could see this card becoming playable.

Snow Pelting

Snow-Pelting

Draft Rating: 3.5

In a deck with 0 yetis, this is still a decent card (2.5), dealing 2 damage to an enemy for 1 power is very similar to Talon of Nostrix. However, in a yeti-themed deck, this card is a ridiculous payoff, being able to kill a whole array of 2 health units.

Darkbolt

Darkbolt

Draft Rating: 2.5

This card has huge potential, being able to be a 2 cost Gun Down is crazy good. Unfortunately, it’s very hard to control the night cycles and often, you end up simply playing this as a ping. Even in a deck with 5 nightfall triggers, I often had to wait multiple turns to play this card for 5 damage. I think you would need a deck with at least 6 nightfall triggers to be happy playing this card.

Darkveil Agent

Darkveil-Agent

Draft Rating: 2.5

If the unseen tribal is actually a thing, this card would be so powerful in that deck. A 2/2 that summons night and gives aegis to all your unseens next turn is pretty crazy. Moreover, you can often do something like play Darkveil Agent out first and give it aegis (since opps don’t like to waste removal on a 2/2). In subsequent turns, when you play another unseen and trigger night, they can’t simply toss a Torch or something at your Darkveil Agent to prevent the Aegis from being granted to all your unseen.

Fearless Yeti

Fearless-Yeti

Draft Rating: 2.5

Remember the uncommon support that I mentioned yeti tribal needed? Well this is the first of them. A 3/1 yeti is great because you can bond out Slope Sergeant (the best common payoff) on turn 3 off of it. Moreover, you almost always get the scout effect at least once because the 3/1 tends to trade with a 2/2 and the single point of overwhelm damage grants the scout.

Horizon Seeker

Horizon-Seeker

Draft Rating: 1.0

A 1 power 1/1 is very iffy, a 2 power 1/1 is unplayable without some great text. Flying is a good start for Horizon Seeker, but the rest of it’s text is basically inconsequential. As such, Horizon Seeker would only make my deck if I was desperate for playables.

Iceberg Mason

Iceberg-Mason

Draft Rating: 2.5

This is the new Bold Adventurer. The text is interesting and similar in nature to that of Fallen Oni. In the late game, you always rather draw gas, so the summon effect is always beneficial. However, early on, you have equal chances of flood or screw, so the summon effect has an equal chance of helping or screwing you. As such, if I was stuck at 2 power, I might consider actually not playing Iceberg Mason so as to not reduce my chances of drawing power.

Storm Talisman

Storm-Talisman

Draft Rating: 0.0

8 power for 2 damage is bad in case you had not realized.

Strategize

Strategize

Draft Rating: 3.5

This is arguably the best draw spell in the format. In the late game, you will often end up holding power, so this card simply becomes a Wisdom of the Elders. In the early game, putting a card at the bottom of the deck might hurt slightly, but significantly less in draft since you can just put one of your filler cards there. Now, if only Primal had some good cards to draw into…

Twilight Hermit

Twilight-Hermit

Draft Rating: 0.5

There are very few turn 1 or 2 night cards, which means that despite being 2 cost, Twilight Hermit is rarely going to become a 5/3 prior to turn 4. There is also an additional problem that Twilight Hermit needs to be in play to trigger the text, which means that it often spends 2 turns as a 1/1 (unless you can play Twilight Hermit and a nightfall trigger on the same turn. To compound all of these, a 5/3 reckless is not great. At best, it trades for 2 strangers and at worst, it trades for a single Argenport Soldier. This card just isn’t worth it for the hoops that you have to jump through.

Unseal

Unseal

Draft Rating: 0.5

This card is basically backlash, with a marginally wider hit rate. The curse cause isn’t that relevant most of the time, and is comparable to the 2 damage that you get off backlash.

Winter’s Grasp

Winters-Grasp

Draft Rating: 2.5

I do notice that the night matter cards seem to have very high draft ratings despite how situational they are. However, I think that the gigantic potential upside if your nightfall deck comes together makes picking these cards early worth it. Similar to Darkbolt, I would want 6+ Nightfall triggers before I’m happy playing Winter’s Grasp. However, even at lower Nightfall triggers, I’m alright with playing this card as it is a 2-cost stun that can potentially be reactivated.

Yeti Windflyer

Yeti-Windflyer

Draft Rating: 2.5

Despite being a non-flashy card, Yeti Windflyer is argubly the most important pickup in Set 3 if you want to play yeti tribal. A 2/2 flier for 2 is extremely powerful and makes for a good bond target. It is also the only enabler yeti at common in set 3.

Daring Pioneer

Daring-Pioneer

Draft Rating: 3.0

I absolutely love this card. Sure, it can occasionally die to the random Seek Power or Snowball, but such “throwaway” spells are much rarer in draft. Many people compare this card to False Prince, but that ignores one additional aspect that Daring Pioneer provides. In the late game, when you have much bigger units/fliers, playing Daring Pioneer is effectively playing a pre-emptive Backlash. Now, the opponent can no longer directly target your main threat with their removal and instead, need to waste a removal/spell on Daring Pioneer instead.

Electropy

Electropy

Draft Rating: 0.0

Just… no.

Lastlight Druid

Lastlight-Druid

Draft Rating: 2.5

A 3 power 1/5 is bearable, and Lastlight Druid has some interesting text. There is definitely some associated randomness with the “buff” effect, but you can try to use it to your advantage (e.g. playing acolytes or other understated creatures at night, playing Sandstorm Titan in the day)

Nocturnal Observer

Nocturnal-Observer

Draft Rating: 2.5

Repeatable loot is a very powerful effect, so I would be extremely happy to have Nocturnal Observer in my deck with multiple Nightfall triggers. In the worst case scenario, a 2/3 for 3 that can loot twice is still very strong.

Snowfort

Snowfort

Draft Rating: 0.5

Being the weaker half of the Obelisk makes this card almost unplayable. The 1 health really, rarely matters and without relic synergy arguments to prop this card up, it is so much worse than its companion, Barbarian Camp.

Sunken Tower

Sunken-Tower

Draft Rating: 1.5

This card is effectively a 3-use mirror image, but conferring both units with reckless. Given you are often targeting your biggest unit with mirror image anyway, reckless is not a huge drawback. The AOE stun though, feels like quite a drawback because your opponent gets to swing into a stunned board a turn later while you don’t. The redeeming factor is that you can choose when to activate this, and if the board state is unfavorable, you can simply not use the 3rd mirror image.

Voracious Fosora

Voracious-Fosora

Draft Rating: 0.5

A 4/2 reckless for 3 is bad because it just runs into a random 2/2 or 2/1 and dies. The only reasons to play this card are if I have multiple ways to enable it, e.g. Blackguard Sidearm, Cobalt Acolyte or I have multiple large bond dinosaurs so playing this card allows me to chain them out aggressively.

Wild Rider

Wild-Rider

Draft Rating: 1.5

A 1/4 for 3 is nothing to write home about, but if you were able to sneak in damage with him a few times, this guy becomes a very reasonable threat. He is also able to proc off Icebow, which is a nice synergy. The Yeti tribal often matters as well.

Yeti Furflinger

Yeti-Furflinger

Draft Rating: 2.0

While PPP is very hard to hit on 3, I’m not super unhappy to play this card later. Moreover, the low cost means I can often go Furflinger into Slope Sergeant on the same turn. The ultimate is also very powerful, being able to generate a 2/2 flier on your board or “remove” a huge opposing threat (e.g. Pillar of Amar, Fourth-Tree Elder)

Clutchmate

Clutchmate

Draft Rating: 1.0

The +1/+1 is occasionally relevant, but most of the time, this just ends up being a more expensive Mirror Image.

Cutbrush Cartographer

Cutbrush-Cartographer

Draft Rating: 1.5

This card faces the exact same problem that Cabal Slasher has, a flat 3 health and no evasion. The good news, though, is that Primal is a much better enabling faction, with multiple cards that grant flying.

Freewing Glider

Freewing-Glider

Draft Rating: 3.0

This is a very good card given the lack of fliers and ways to interact with them. +3 health on a reasonably sized unit makes it extremely hard to deal with (the same advantage that Stalwart Shield confers). The flying text is great and drawing half a card is a sweet bonus. All in all, every component of this card matters and does work, so I might even consider bumping this up to 3.5.

Meditation Trainer

Meditation-Trainer

Draft Rating: 1.5

1/5 is a very bad statline and you need to confer at least 2 +1/+1 for this card to be worth it. I’m not sure if unseen tribal will be a thing, but if it is, this is definitely a card that I’ll be happy to have in the deck. You generally want to be looking at 6+ payoff cards before running this.

Nocturnal Kyrex

Nocturnal-Kyrex

Draft Rating: 1.0

This is pretty much a 4-cost Alchemical Blast that gets countered by any fast speed removal. Hitting fliers and Nightfall triggers are relevant, but neither of them good enough to salvage the horrible statline.

Regression

Regression

Draft Rating: 1.0

This is a way overcosted, extremely slow removal spell, but it is still interaction nonetheless. The ability to answer a flier or a overstated fatty important. That said, I would only ever play this card as a last ditch attempt for interaction.

Slushdumper

Slushdumper

Draft Rating: 3.0

Another uncommon yeti, another powerful card for the yeti tribal. This card is a huge payoff, being able to become a 6+/6+ unit while pinging your opponent with every yeti (which can also activate some yeti’s text). Picking up this card early will definitely incentivize me to try and make a yeti tribal deck.

Thudrock, Arctic Artisan

Thudrock-Arctic-Artisan

Draft Rating: 2.5

A 5/3 for 4 isn’t the worst, and summoning a small snowman every turn is pretty neat. In general though, you really need to give Thudrock evasion to take full advantage of his text. Luckily, Primal is the best faction for enabling such evasion.

Jotun Feast-Caller

Jotun-Feast-Caller

Draft Rating: 2.0

This card is often coming down very late due to PPP influence requirements. In such cases, the text is rarely relevant because there is no good swing with Feast-caller available. Similar to Thudrock, you really want good enabler cards to go along with it. That said, this card still gets a solid 2.0 because if you manage to swing with him more than twice, you will probably run away with the game.

Jotun Punter

Jotun-Punter

Draft Rating: 2.5

Now, we all know 2/6 for 5 is the most OP statline (Boltcrafter Shaman xP), but truthfully, Jotun Punter’s value almost completely stems from his text. Being able to give a yeti flying and +4 attack each turn can often steal you the game and break a board stall. It can also trigger the infiltrate effects of the yetis. That said, at the cutting stage, Jotun punter will only make my final deck wtih 5+ yetis.

Lida, Most Skilled

Lida-Most-Skilled

Draft Rating: 3.5

I might be slightly underrating Lida because I’m not 100% sold on the unseen tribal, but if you are able to effectively activate killer on her (6+ unseen), I can see her becoming a 4.0 pick. The 4/5 statline is very powerful, being able to eat most 4-drops and staying alive.

Stampede Driver

Stampede-Driver

Draft Rating: 1.5

A 3/5 for 5 is not very exciting, and discarding a card for +2/+2 and Overwhelm isn’t amazing as well. This card is just a decent filler in the dinosaur tribal deck and can occasionally force through lethal by giving a giant dinosaur overwhelm.

Unchecked Rage

Unchecked-Rage

Draft Rating: 1.5

I definitely evaluated this card wrongly at first sight. While seemingly flat out bad, it can completely destroy board stalls as it forces your opponent to swing in with his entire board, giving you good blocks all round. Defensively stated units are all ruined by this card too. HOWEVER, it is not pure-upside. You need to be ahead on board or at least close enough to board parity to utilize this card. It does nothing when you are behind and 5 power is still a lot. I’m tentatively putting this at 1.5, but I may well be wrong because this is a very complex card to evaluate.

Alu, Death-Dreamer

Alu-Death-Dreamer

Draft Rating: 1.5

Good curses in this format consist of Permafrost, Winter’s Grasp and erm…. Affliction. There just isn’t enough curse support in this format for Alu to utilize her text. That said, a 2/5 flier for 6 is not the worst, and i’ll play here as a filler if needed.

Eilyn’s Frostrider

Eilyns-Frostrider

Draft Rating: 4.0

The saving grace of Primal, this card is A-MAZING. A 4/4 flier for 6 is already decent, outsizing the most common flier size of 3/3. The additional summon effect just makes Eilyn’s Frostrider a top tier card, allowing you to push through huge chunks of damage.

Riddle Game

Riddle-Game

Draft Rating: 0.0

After a brief interlude of a good Primal card, we are back to the theme of bad Primal cards. Don’t play this card. Even the 25th sigil is better than this card.

Slope Sergeant

Slope-Sergeant

Draft Rating: 3.0

This is the best common yeti payoff card, and thus, an important part of the yeti tribal deck. I’m never unhappy to run multiple copies of this in my yeti tribal, but will probably stop at 4 copies. A 4/4 for 3~4 is very good, and being able to loot twice is very powerful. The only issue this card faces is the lack of good yeti enablers.

Jotun Birth Song

Jotun-Birth-Song

Draft Rating: 1.0

A 6/6 for 7 power is not amazing, transforming a yeti into a 6/6 is even more lackluster. Drawing 2 different yetis is nice, but there really isn’t any amazing late game yeti cards that you can draw with this to turn the tide.

Novice Herdrider

Novice-Herdrider

Draft Rating: 1.5

This is like Primal’s Dormant Sentinel. The fate effect is cute, but the inability to control it renders it much less powerful. A 6/8 is pretty much comparable to a 7/7, but the lack of overwhelm means this fatty can be chump blocked for days.

Bellowing Thunderfoot

Bellowing-Thunderfoot

Draft Rating: 3.0

This card feels very similar to Jarrall’s Frostkin. A turn 4~5 4/5 with the stun effect is very powerful, but it really depends on whether the dinosaur tribal gets there. I do think that if you pick this up early, it is worth speculating on the dinosaur tribal deck.

Surveying Mantasaur

Surveying-Mantasaur

Draft Rating: 2.0

While this unit is reasonably sized and aggressive when bonded out, it just isn’t as impactful as the other dinosaur payoff cards. This card also often ends up available quite late in the pack, making it much less of a priority pick in my opinion (despite being better than 2.0 in most dinosaur decks).

Clutchkeeper

Clutchkeeper

Draft Rating: 0.5

Exact same problem as Novaquake Titan, being near impossible to get out in draft. The killer and summon 2 3/3s on attack is nice, but overall, it’s just not worth the risk of playing a card that could get stuck in your hand forever.

Conclusion

Primal really seems to be hit hard this set, but if you are able to make the unseen, dinosaur, yeti tribal work, I think you can still end up with a decent deck. The tribal enablers and payoff cards are still there and reasonably stated, but it feels like the vanilla good stuff units that Primal really lacks. What do you think? Do let me know on the reddit thread! Also, stay tuned for the Shadow set review.

Nightfall awaits at the end of the Dusk Road,
Flash2351

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