Drafters’ Corner: Dusk Road Mechanics Discussion

Hi everyone! For today’s article, I’m going to talk about the three new mechanics that came with the Dusk Road (Nightfall, Ally and Bond). The introduction of these new mechanics definitely added a new dimension to the game and I’ve been liking the added degree of complexity that they introduce into the drafting phase. I also talked about the new drafting environment as a guest on Neon’s podcast, which you should definitely check out here!

Nightfall

First and foremost, I want to clarify how nightfall works. It seems that after our testing (https://www.reddit.com/r/EternalCardGame/comments/7lbrel/psa_how_nightfall_works_with_test_results_and/), DWD has recently “fixed” nightfall and LSV seemingly alluded to it on his stream yesterday. Now, what happens is that for the first nightfall card played on the turn, it adds 1 turn of night for each player. On top of that, if it is not yet night, the nightfall card turns it into night. This means that regardless of when you play nightfall cards, both players will get 1 extra draw from it.

I am a huge fan of the Nightfall mechanic. The added card draw for both players (together with scout) drastically reduced the number of non-games due to power screw or flood. Moreover, because you are generally playing with more cards in hand, that increases the number of meaningful decisions that you will have to make over the course of the game.

Evaluating Cards with Nightfall

When drafting, I tend to ignore the Nightfall text on the card itself. For most decks, I tend to view it as a very slight negative because 1) your opponent might be on a night matters deck and have multiple night matters cards and 2) your opp gets the first extra draw. However, I want to stress that this is VERY VERY slight negative. To give a example, I would pick a vanilla 5T 5/5 with Nightfall over a vanilla 5TT 5/5.

Night Matters Deck

Winter's GraspI have seen a few successful night matters deck and the lynch-pin of the strategy seems to be Winter’s Grasp. I wasn’t that blown away with this card in my initial impressions, but playing with it has certainly sold me on it’s strengths. This card feels extremely strong if you are able to pick up multiple copies of it and a few other random nightfall triggers. There are also occasional random night cards in the opponent’s deck which also activates Winter’s Grasp for you. Given that Primal has been widely regarded as the weakest faction, it’s not uncommon to easily pick up multiple copies of Winter’s Grasp.

Of course, Winter’s Grasp alone is not the only good Night matters card. There are 3 other key payoffs:

  1. Baying Serasaur
    Baying Serasaur doesn’t have a direct dependence on Nightfall, but the extra card draw from Night is pretty significant most of the time to buff Serasaur to a 4/4. Moreover, if you get additional draw in the form of Amber Acolyte, Echo cards, etc, you can buff Serasaur to 5/5 or 6/6 and force awkward chump blocks or trades from your opponent.
  2. Nocturnal Observer
    Outside of nightfall decks, Nocturnal Observer is already a very powerful card since it can loot twice. With more nightfall triggers, Nocturnal Observer can loot for multiple times, easily digging you through your deck for your game-winning bombs.
  3. Moonlight Guardian
    5/3 fliers for 5 is a very great rate. Even without Nightfall triggers, the mere threat of being able to activate Moonlight Guardian on your turn can force your opponent to play more conservatively than they would like to.
  4. Darkbolt
    A 5 damage for 2 power spell seems amazing. However, I haven’t been as amazed with this card as the other payoffs though. The main reason being you need to play the nightfall card the turn before or on the same turn as Darkbolt, which means you either need to wait a turn to set up this card or play an awkward sequence to enable it. This is in contrast to the other Night matters cards that gain value from simply being on board when you play the Nightfall card.

On top of these payoff cards, you generally also want a nice density of Nightfall triggers. There are quite a few good cards that are playable even without Nightfall triggers (Twilight Hunt, Extinguish, Duskwalker) and also a few filler Nightfall cards that you might pick more highly because you have the critical density of payoff (Duskcaller, Nocturnal Kyrex, Cover of Darkness).

Ally

From a design perspective, I absolutely love the design of Ally. Because of the versatility of Ally’s buff, this means that there is a huge amount of maneuverability and freedom for balancing the design of the card. For example, if they wanted to push synergies more without buffing the card, they can simply move the stats from base to Ally (so Tandem Watchwing becomes a 1/1 flier with Ally: +2/+1). Similarly, they can do the opposite to reduce the dependence on synergies. Overall, I feel that DWD has struck a very nice balance in terms of Ally costing; most cards with Ally are bad filler unactivated and reasonably powerful when activated (Yeti Snowflier, First-shot Rioter, Tandem Watchwing, etc).

Evaluating Cards with Ally

Cards with Ally are much harder to evaluate as compared to Nightfall. For the first few picks, I generally take the average value of the cards activated and unactivated. As the decks shape up, I generally get a better idea of the deck and how likely I am to get there and can adjust my picks accordingly. Most of the tribes do feel reasonably likely to get there and I would delve into the individual tribals for future articles.

Bond

Bellowing ThunderfootNow, this is the one mechanic from the Dusk Road that I do NOT like. Bond cards generally feel extremely swingy and it’s very hard to strike a balance between the bonded and unbonded power level. To make matters worse, DWD tags on multiple additional text that are dependent on bond. This basically makes those cards extremely powerful when bonded out and very bad when not bonded out. For example, I don’t understand why Bellowing Thunderfoot’s stun needs to be conditional on bonding. The card would be significantly more playable and less swingy if the stun was unconditional. Similar arguments can be made regarding cards like Slope Sergeant (although that card could be a little busted if the double loot was unconditional).

Another issue with bond is that you often want multiple payoffs so that you can generate powerful chains, such as Fearless Yeti, into Slope Sergeant, into another Slope Sergeant, or Wandering Forge into multiple Scourstone Sentinels. This means that 1 of 2 things generally end up happening: 1) you get a ridiculous chain off and your opponent can’t do anything against 2 7/8s on turn 6 or 2) you end up with multiple Scourstone Sentinels in hand with no low drop to bond off of.

Evaluating Cards with Bond

Now, Bond cards are much harder to evaluate. By the nature of requiring a board to be able to bond the card out, Bond is a bad mechanic if you are far behind. Moreover, they are quite weak in the developing stage as well since they are reasonably late drops. However, if you are able to bond them out, these cards often put you into a very advantageous position. In general, Bond cards are a pretty low priority in terms of pick order for me unless I have already picked up multiple activators for it. Slope Sergeant is the main exception because I do love yetis unreasonably much and bonding out Slope Sergeants are extremely powerful.

Conclusion

All in all, I’m quite happy with the tribal synergies introduced in draft as I feel that they add a lot of depth to drafting. While I’m not as huge on Bond, it is quite a rare mechanic in draft so it doesn’t matter that much in the grand scheme of things. What are your opinions of the new mechanics! Do you agree with my evaluations? Let me know what you think in the reddit thread!

Yetis is love, yetis is life,
Flash2351