Drafters’ Corner: Justice Got Nerfhammered! (First Impressions on Patch Changes)

Hi everyone!

The new patch just went live and a whole host of changes just happened! While there were less draft balance changes then what I expected, most of the changes are definitely welcome and I do think that they will lead to a better draft environment. For today’s article, I will talk about my thoughts on the change to the draft format as well as highlight some significant nerfs/buffs to cards. Insignificant changes (such as Emerald spear LUL) will be glossed over.

Draft Format Changes

To provide increased control over The Dusk Road draft experience, both Dusk Road packs passed in a draft will come from the same player (player A), and the Omens of the Past and The Empty Throne packs will come from the same other player (player B). We have also introduced a new collation system that will be used with Dusk Road packs (and other packs going forward) to help increase diversity among commons. These changes allow for better use of the signals from the first pack of The Dusk Road, in predicting what might show up in the second pack of The Dusk Road.

The changes are mostly in the back-end for this and there is no straight-forward visual differences at first glance. The pack order remains the same (TDR/OoTP/TET/TDR). However, instead of getting the first and third pack from the player A and the other two packs from player B, you now get the first and last pack from player A and packs 2 and 3 from player B.

I am pretty happy with this change. Notably, DWD did not change the pack order, which was a huge concern for me when I first read the patch notes. I believe that having The Dusk Road packs at the start and end of the draft makes the most sense (and it seems that DWD agrees with me). The first pack allows you to get a feel of what is open and speculate on certain tribals. Having it as the last pack allows us to pick our tribal payoff AFTER getting all the enablers in OoTP and TET packs, which I think is very crucial. Admittedly, it did not cross my mind that we could swap the passing order without touching the pack order (hence my strong arguments against swapping passing), but I do think that DWD has found a very happy compromise here and I am certain that this will not hurt draft. Whether it will benefit draft is yet to be seen, but I am definitely hopeful.

Individual Balance Changes

Valkyrie Arcanist – Now 6JJ (instead of 5JJ)Valkyrie_Arcanist.png

This is a huge nerf to Arcanist, and definitely a much needed one. Valkyrie Arcanist is argubly head and shoulders over any other common in The Dusk Road and a huge reason why Justice was so overpowered. I am happy with this nerf and I think Arcanist is now probably down to 3.0 on the draft rating scale. That said, I do wish that DWD had chosen a different direction for the nerf as it was an opportunity to try and push the valkyrie tribal. Instead of putting Arcanist to 6JJ, an alternative could have been to change her Entomb to only trigger by Valkyrie Ally.

Frontier Confessor – Now 4J 3/2 (instead of 5J 3/4)Frontier_Confessor.png

Now, this is more debatable as to whether this is a nerf or buff. On one hand, having a silence one turn earlier and being able to better combo this card with another late game is definitely a plus. However, a 3/2 body is a significant downgrade. Notably, a 3/2 body is what you expect out of a 2-drop, while a 3/4 body is somewhere between a 3 and 4-drop. By that comparison, I feel that it is valid to call the Confessor change a nerf since you lost 1.5 units of stats for a 1 cost reduction. Moreover, you don’t necessarily want to silence on curve, so being able to come down one turn earlier is not a huge boon.

On a more subtle level, I think that this has even more impact on justice playstyles. The previously defensive statline makes it a much better defender rather than attacker and makes it well suited to stalling out the ground and just chipping away with Justice fliers. This playstyle has been a common point of complaint by players and it seems that DWD is not a huge fan of it either. Switching Confessor to an aggressively slatted body makes it much worse for defense and encourages players to attack more proactively. This should end up promoting more aggression, and thus, more interactivity between players in games.

Alu, Death-Dreamer – Now 5-cost (instead of 6-cost)Alu,_Death-Dreamer.png

I was definitely looking at DWD to buff some of the curses matter deck, but this buff to Alu is not enough to push it and the archetype into play-ability. Alu remains something that I would pick for the stones, and something that I only play if I am desperate for playables.

Hideout Pistol – Now +2/+0 (instead of +1/+0)Hideout_Pistol.png

This card is now pretty amazing in my opinion. It’s like a Ornate Katana that draws and plays a suffocate for you! Of course, this is only conditional on you finding enough gunslingers to enable the text, but a 2-power +2/0 weapon is not that embarrassing to speculate on. Moreover, gunslingers are a powerful and sufficiently densely populated tribal in this draft format, thus it’s not a tribal that I’m hesitant to move into if open.

Yeti Furflinger – Now 3/4 (instead of 3/3)Yeti_Furflinger.png

A 3/4 for 3 without any text is already amazing. Throw on the yeti tribal tag and a text that can effectively remove a huge unit or transform one of your tiny tokens into a 2/2 flier makes this card pretty bonkers. Triple primal definitely makes me slightly hesitant. This is definitely a card I can see myself playing, but not something that I will pick highly since I am rarely going to be able to cast it on 3.

Scrap Hound – Now gets +5/+5 when you sacrifice a Grenadin (instead of +4/+4)Scrap_Hound.png

Grenadins is another tribal that I think needs some help in draft, but again, I don’t think this buff by DWD is sufficient. Scrap Hound was always worth speculating on, and this buff doesn’t really change that.

Conclusion

The justice nerfs were definitely warranted, and I am especially happy with the Frontier Confessor change because it suggests that DWD has a good grasp of what is going on in draft and is actively balancing to promote more interactive playstyles. That said, I do think they missed the point with some of the other changes, notably the Emerald Spear nerf. Moreover, I would have loved to see the support for some of the weaker tribal archetypes (Curses, Unseen, Grenadins) getting some buffs so that they become more viable. There are some attempts at that, but it seems to be much more relevant for constructed than draft. All in all, I’m pretty happy with the patch and can’t wait to draft again! What do you think? Let me know your thoughts on the reddit thread!

Justice has been served and Justice has been nerfed!
Flash2351