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

Hey everybody! This is the last of the mono faction reviews! Following this will be an evaluation of all the multi-faction cards and on Thursday, 28/12, I will be unveiling the new tier list! The past evaluations can be found here: Fire, Time, Justice, Primal. Shadow definitely drew the short end of the stick with set 2, but DWD was quite to give it new toys, including the best common removal in set 3, Extinguish! Before we jump in, let’s just refresh our rating scale!

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 Shadow Cards

Amethyst Waystone

Amethyst-Waystone

Draft Rating: 1.5

Nightfall matters can be a deck, but outside of that archetype, it’s often hard to say whether playing Amethyst Waystone is better or worse than a sigil. In my experience, the more aggressively slanted your deck is, the happier it is with playing this Waystone. This might seem counter-intuitive since digging more gives the defensive deck more chances to find their answers, but in the famous words of an aggro player “Count the number of cards left in their hand when they die, that’s your card advantage”.

Affliction

Affliction

Draft Rating: 1.5

This is a marginally better Temper in most decks and significantly better in curse matters decks. Notably, this card is not a dead draw late game as you can often just play it on your opponent’s biggest unit and not give him any good swings.

Arachnophobia

Arachnophobia

Draft Rating: 1.0

Even in a curse matters deck, I think I’m often happier playing a Direfang Spider over this card. I would really only consider playing this card in a deck which is able to utilizes both the Nightfall trigger AND the curse effect.

Grenamender

Grenamender

Draft Rating: 0.5

The evil and worse twin of Ticking Grenadin, this card is very bad. A 1/1 body is mostly irrelevant and the entomb only really matters if you are running a lifeforce deck.

Stonescar Sneak

Stonescar-Sneak

Draft Rating: 4.0

I think this probably replaces Oni Ronin and Minotaur Oathkeeper as the best 1-drop in the format. The text is extremely powerful, being able to repeatedly give an ally unit a 3-cost “rapid-shot” can easily snowball the game in your favor. The one criticism of this card is that it dies to a ping (which is true of almost all 1-drops), but that is relevant for cards encroaching onto 4.5 territory.

Trusty Revolver

Trusty-RevolverDraft Rating: 1.0

Think about Ornamental Daggers. Remember how mediocre they are? Well, at least they carry warcries well and can be both played on the same unit to form a large enough unit to punch through some blockers. Now, take away all the upsides I just mentioned, and throw in a vulnerability to silence, and you get this bad card.

Vara’s Intervention

Varas-InterventionDraft Rating: 1.5

Vara’s Intervention is a sum of 3 relevant, but weak, options. The weaker Temper is probably the most common utilization of Vara’s Intervention, but the ability to push through a unit (potentially for lethal), makes this card less of a dead draw in the late game.

Wisplight

WisplightDraft Rating: 1.5

This card is a reasonable power sink, sapping 2 power to become a 2/1 flier. The issue though, is that Wisplight can’t block well and a 2/1 flier loses relevance quite quickly in most games.

Battlefield Scavenger

Battlefield-ScavengerDraft Rating: 2.5

This is basically a Minotaur Grunt with a tagged-on pseudo-Dark Return for Valkyries. As long as I have 4+ valkyries, I would definitely want this card in my deck.

Corrupt

CorruptDraft Rating: 0.5

Narrow cards are extremely bad in draft, narrow cards that require you to hold up 2 power is even worse, Sure, everyone can recount the 1 game where the stars aligned and you redirected an annihilate on your Worldbearer to your opponent’s Mystic Ascendent, but I think it’s much more likely that you die thanks to this card being dead in your hand or being forced to use it suboptimally.

Cowardice

CowardiceDraft Rating: 1.5

I think that the utility of this card varies drastically depending on whether you are the beatdown or not. It does absolutely nothing when you are being beaten down, but at parity or ahead, this card can remove one of your opponent’s biggest blockers. It is important to note that this card acts immediately, so if your opponent only left a single blocker behind, you can potentially steal a game by playing Cowardice on it and swinging with your entire board for lethal.

Dreamsnatcher

DreamsnatcherDraft Rating: 3.0

A 2/3 for 2 is always going to be a great statline, and the addition of Lifesteal is very powerful. The Ultimate is also very powerful if a game gets to a stall-mate since discarding the top 15 cards of your opponent’s deck will allow you to mill your opponent out. That said, I think board stalls are less common in Set 3 draft, so the ultimate may not come into play that much.

Flashy Duelist

Flashy-DuelistDraft Rating: 2.0

Now, a 3/1 for 2 might seem average, but being a Gunslinger is the crux here. A reasonably stated 2-cost gunslinger that can activate cards like First-shot Rioter and so on is very valuable. Gunslingers are a tribe that is very easy to get there with, so speculating on an early Flashy Duelist isn’t the worst thing.

Grenadin Bellower

Grenadin-BellowerDraft Rating: 2.5

Now this is a grenadin I can get behind. A 2/1 for 2 is acceptable, and the entomb is pretty powerful, especially on a full board. This makes Grenadin Bellower less of a bad topdeck later on.

Hideout Pistol

Hideout-PistolDraft Rating: 2.5

Without any gunslingers in the deck, this card is an easy 0.0. However, with a few reasonably stated gunslingers, this card turns into a very powerful removal spell. This is an extremely powerful card in gunslinger tribal as it can remove a flier (something that gunslingers don’t deal well with). I would be happy to speculate with this card, but will need at least 5+ gunslingers before I’m happy running this in my final deck.

Infused Strike

Infused-StrikeDraft Rating: 2.0

The shadow version of Rampage is very comparable to the original, simply trading in Overwhelm for Lifesteal. Both keywords could be potentially useful in different circumstances, and I feel that they are very similar in power levels.

Miris Nightshade

Miris-NightshadeDraft Rating: 2.5

This card feels very comparable to an Argenport Soldier since I don’t think there are enough curses to trigger her +1/+1. The Ultimate is cute, but paying 5 to deal 2 extra damage and give her +1/+1 is just alright. That said, Nyctophobia does trigger Nightfall, so in a Night matters deck, I could see prioritizing this card slightly more.

Sleeping Draught

Sleeping-DraughtDraft Rating: 1.5

The power level of this card varies greatly with the power level of your units. With powerful units, Sleeping Draught becomes very powerful whereas with weak units and powerful weapons, Sleeping Draught becomes very weak. The cost of holding up 2 power is quite significant through, so I would be cautious about prioritizing this card too highly. That said, being able to revive a bomb can often win you the game on the spot.

Unseen Agent

Unseen-AgentDraft Rating: 1.0

A 2 power 1/1 unblockable is not where you want to be. This card is too fragile to do much. With powerful weapons though (such as Beastcaller’s Amulet, Stonescar Sawed-off), I can potentially see myself playing this card if I’m desperate enough.

Ashara, Ruthless Assassin

Ashara-Ruthless-AssassinDraft Rating: 3.5

Dying to torch seems to be the Ashara trend, but with only 1 pack to find torches and costing 3, this is much less of a worry. A 3/3 deadly for 3 is perfectly serviceable and if you have enough tokens, you can often swing in and activate Ashara’s text. There will be occassions though, where Ashara’s text is slightly awkward (e.g. you have a flier and Ashara on an empty board and can’t swing with both). I find that Ashara is a much better fit in grenadin decks because they have multiple token generators and powerful entomb effects while gunslingers and valkyries generally want to keep their units alive.

Darkclaw Ravager

Darkclaw-RavagerDraft Rating: 1.5

A shadow dinosaur for the dinosaur tribal is a huge question mark for me. Most of the dinosaurs are in the Elysian faction, and hence, you will rarely be able to fit Darkclaw Ravager’s SS requirement into that deck. Xenan dinosaurs could be a thing, but the support doesn’t seem to be there. Moreover, Darkclaw Ravager’s text is only active at night, so you either need to play a dinosaur immediately on the following turn, or have more Nightfall triggers. A 1.5 rating is pretty generous and mainly because if you can activate the text and get something like a 6/4 Striped Araktodon or a 8/5 Towering Terrazon, it is still quite powerful.

Duskcaller

Duskcaller

Draft Rating: 1.5

A 3-power Argenport Soldier that can trigger Nightfall is not something I would be happy playing. Even in a night matters deck, I would only play this if I am short on Nightfall triggers and have multiple night matters cards.

Maimed Watchwing

Maimed-WatchwingDraft Rating: 1.5

The irony behind this card is hilarious, a defensively-stated unit that can’t block… The huge lack of versatility makes this card extremely narrow, and a very costly include in the deck. Even in a valkyrie tribal, there are many other cards that I would happily play over this.

Prickly Grenadin

Prickly-GrenadinDraft Rating: 2.0

I think this card is currently a 2.0 because players are still new to the format and not aware of such hand-attack cards. The stats are very underwhelming, but if this card is played early, the opponent might make a suboptimal discard and on occasion, the opponent might aggressively play out power to try and play their game-ending bomb, which you can then play Prickly Grenadin when they only have 1 card left in hand to force them to discard their bomb. That said, as the format matures, I believe players would be better able to play around such cards and this card would drop to 1.5 or 1.0.

Deadly Confrontation

Deadly-Confrontation

Draft Rating: 4.0

Even with no unseen in the deck, this card is still a 4.0. Unconditional removal is extremely powerful in a removal light format (since people are jumping aboard the voltron strategy) and SSS isn’t a huge deal given that this is often a card played in the late game. The unseen synergy is a niche bonus, but if you are able to utilize it, this card almost turns into a 1-sided Harsh rule!

Devastating Setback

Devastating-Setback

Draft Rating: 1.5

This card is just so close to being good, and yet so bad. A 4-cost sabotage is a definite no-no in draft and a -2/-2 effect sounds good, until you realize it hits your own units too. The worst thing is that this stat reduction is permanent. With cards like Lightning Storm, you can build your decks around it, by playing 1/3, 2/3 units that survive the Storm and can swing in post-storm. However, with the permanent stat reduction, they become -1/1 and 0/1, which can only serve as chump blockers. This card is only really good from behind and building/playing your deck around a one-of is not a great idea.

Devious Drone

Devious-DroneDraft Rating: 3.5

Deathstrike as an Entomb effect is very powerful. The 1/1 body is, if anything, a blessing since it dies to a stiff breeze and is able to easily trigger the Entomb effect (which is the main reason to play this card). You also would ideally want to pick up a few sacrifice outlets to enable this card (Devour, Scrap Hound, Direwood Prowler). The inability to answer fliers (without a sacrifice outlet) and vulnerability to silence is the main reason why this card is not a 4.0.

Extinguish

ExtinguishDraft Rating: 3.5

Suffocate’s bigger brother actually hits a whole range more units that I first expected and is argubly the best removal in Set 3. Nightfall is another nice tagalong text if you are running a night matters deck. I’m actually tempted to give this card a 4.0 due to the lack of removal in the format. However, given the tendency for giant Voltrons being a viable strat in removal light format, the 4 attack restriction is a potentially huge drawback.

Final-Shot Rioter

Final-Shot-RioterDraft Rating: 2.5

The dream curve of First-shot Rioter into Final-shot Rioter is not that hard, and a 2/4 deadly unit is very powerful for holding back opponents. The 2/4 body is awkward to deal with for most decks as well. However, I feel that most gunslinger tribals are pretty aggressive, so you would rarely want more than 1 or 2 copies of Final-Shot Rioter in your deck. Thus, while not unhappy to have this in my deck, I don’t think I will prioritize Final-shot Rioter that highly.

Street Leecher

Street-LeecherDraft Rating: 3.0

A 3/4 for 4 with Warcry is nothing to scoff at and the ultimate is pretty powerful, especially if it hits a X/1 unit that your opponent has multiple copies of (e.g. Vainglory Patrol). Weapons are not in short supply in Stonescar so activating the ultimate is not a huge worry.

Vainglory Patrol

Vainglory-PatrolDraft Rating: 2.5

A 3/1 for 4 is really, nothing to write home about, but the removal light format has definitely made fliers a lot better. The valkyrie type does come into play sometimes as well. Notably, this card doesn’t race well against most ground units, so you need to have good ground blockers to allow Vainglory Patrol to take over the game.

Cover of Darkness

Cover-of-DarknessDraft Rating: 1.0

A more expensive Spur On that resolves simultaneously can occasionally steal the game. This card isn’t really great in most decks, but in aggro decks, this can push through the critical last points of damage, and in decks that often get into board stalls, this can allow you to build a gigantic voltron and push it through. I’m definitely not happy playing this card in most of my decks, but in the 2 archetypes I mentioned above, the card is a bearable filler.

Headsman’s Axe

Headsmans-AxeDraft Rating: 0.5

More often than not, this card just turns into a more expensive Crownwatch Longsword. This card is only really powerful in the very late game when there is sufficient back and forth (or at least enough chumping on your end). This makes the card extremely narrow and not something that you would want in your deck.

Moonlit Gargoyle

Moonlit-GargoyleDraft Rating: 3.0

A 5/3 flier is very powerful, but unfortunately, Moonlit Gargoyle only gets it at night. That said, A 5/3 for 5 isn’t the worse on the defensive, and the persistent threat of a 5/3 flier can cause your opponent to hold back fliers or not play their Nightfall triggers. I would be very happy to play this if I have at least 5 other Nightfall triggers. Notably, Moonlit Gargoyle gets 2 turns of flying for every Nightfall card that you play.

Shadowlands Tyrant

Shadowlands-TyrantDraft Rating: 3.0

A 6/4 lifesteal unit is very powerful. While it doesn’t trade well aggressively, it can threaten to eat most ground units. The ping ability is also often relevant, and if you are able to swing with Shadowlands Tyrant multiple times, the ability can take out most units.

Stonescar Scrapper

Stonescar-Scrapper

Draft Rating: 2.5

4/6 is respectable stats for a 5 drop, and being able to cycle 2 units for 2 cards in the very late game is a good tag-on text (though rarely relevant, since even losing 2 2/2s can greatly weaken your board position).

Triggerman

Triggerman

Draft Rating: 3.0

Interestingly, I think the playability of this card depends more on the number of weapons in the deck rather than the number of gunslingers. Triggerman being a 5+/3+ quickdraw unit for 5 is more relevant than a 3/3 quickdraw for 3 (which is still nice). I think that as long as your deck has 5+ gunslingers or weapons in total, Triggerman is a solid inclusion in the deck.

Umbren Coaxer

Umbren-Coaxer

Draft Rating: 1.5

2 health is extremely low for a 5 drop without evasion. Lifesteal is nice, but being on such a fragile body means you’ll probably only get 1 use out of it. This guy is occasionally good for deterring attackers, but not much more.

Drifting Death

Drifting-DeathDraft Rating: 1.5

Flying, Lifesteal sounds like a powerful combination, but not when it costs 6 for a 3/2 body. The Entomb isn’t great unless you have a Permafrost in your void. That said, it is still a reasonable card to close games with, provided you can stall out the ground.

Finback Komonat

Finback-KomonatDraft Rating: 1.0

A 6 power 5/5 is pretty mediocre and you rarely want to activate the summon text since it costs you a card.

Gunrustler

GunrustlerDraft Rating: 1.5

This guy is literally saying “I’m the VOLTRON now!”. He is extremely effective at countering voltron strategies, but that is pretty much it. If your opponent plays very few, or no, weapons, this guy is basically a 6 power 4/2, which is extremely lackluster. Given the weapon-heavy nature of the format though, I guess he will often snatch at least one decent weapon.

Malediction Reader

Malediction-ReaderDraft Rating: 4.0

There we go, this guy is a card that I can get behind. 6 power, 5/5 flier is extremely hard to answer, and can easily run away with the game. The rest of the text is mostly flavor, but it is still a nice 4 health swing per curse, and could net you a surprise lethal.

Solitude

SolitudeDraft Rating: 0.5

Rolant looks depressed in this card, similar to how I feel when I see this card. This card just doesn’t do anything, except win you a game when your opponent has ~15 cards in the discard. Playing a card for that niche scenerio is a very, very desperate move.

Zelia, the Vain

Zelia-the-VainDraft Rating: 4.0

If there is ever a reason to go into unseen tribal, Zelia, the Vain would be a very good reason. A 4/4 for 6 on turn 4/5 is very powerful, and growing by +2/+1 (or more) each turn while shrinking the opposing threat/removing random 1-drops is near broken. Even if she gets hard-casted, she can still contest the board very well after 1 or 2 turns.

Dangerous Bargain

Dangerous-BargainDraft Rating: 2.5

Without sufficient nightfall triggers to back this up, this card often turns into a 7-cost, 2 turn madness. Notably, it does not ready the unit, so if it has already swung the previous turn, you have to wait a turn to swing with it. This card does have potential though, especially if you were able to sustain night for a few turns, with which it turns into a Touch of the Umbren. It is definitely a card worth picking highly initially and trying to build around.

Repulsive Gorger

Repulsive-GorgerDraft Rating: 3.0

This card feels like DWD trying to test the breakpoint of Plague. It’s like ok, 3-cost Plague is nuts. 5-cost Plague (Rolant’s Choice)? Nuts too. How about 7-cost Plague? Well, turns out if you staple it onto a decent body, it is still pretty stellar.

Encroaching Darkness

Encroaching-DarknessDraft Rating: 0.0

Even if you had a night matters deck, this is not a card that you really want to play because it is pretty much a 8-cost, do nothing relic. Nightfall decks often tend to be more aggressive, since they can only sustain Night for so many turns, so a 8-cost relic would often end up being extremely clunky.

Nametaker

NametakerDraft Rating: 0.5

Duplicates in draft is not that common, so paying an extra 2 power (compared to Stonescar Maul) is definitely not worth it. Also, 8 is A LOT more than 6, compared to say 5 and 3.

Valkyrie Harvester

Valkyrie-HarvesterDraft Rating: 3.5

8-drops then to be rated on a much stiffer scale, especially because they have the potential to be just stuck in your hand for some games. That said, Valkyrie Harvester passes the test reasonably well. A 6/5 flier for 8 is pretty decent, and the ability to reload your hand with all the threats that died this turn (and give them flying) is a very, very powerful ability. Notably, Valkyrie Harvester interacts very well with Revenge/Destiny, since if any of those units died this turn, you immediately replay them with Harvester’s ability and get a card draw to top it all off.

Callous Survivalist

Callous-SurvivalistDraft Rating: 1.5

Callous Survivalist’s text can often end up whiffing, or only hitting a single spell. As such, it is often just an expensive gunslinger that you can bond out. At 9 cost, this is a card coming out on turn 5/6 earilest, which makes this card pretty average.

Conclusion

Wowee, that was certainly a ride! 250 cards down, a mere 40+ multifaction cards left! Shadow definitely picked up some powerful cards this set and being part of the valkyrie tribal and a small part of the gunslinger tribal definitely adds to its power level. What do you think? Let me know your thoughts in the reddit thread!

Shadows grow as the dusk road winds,
Flash2351

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