Drafters’ Corner: 10 common mistakes to avoid in Draft (Part 1: Drafting Mistakes)!

Hi everyone! For today’s article, I am going to talk about some of the more common mistakes that drafters, both experienced and beginners, often make during the course of a draft. While it’s important to improve your gameplay and signal reading, I think that a lot of players will see a significant jump in winrate by simply paying attention to avoiding the following 10 mistakes. In the course of a single draft, I think most players would give up at least one game due to one of the mistakes below. For ease of reading, I’ve group them into Drafting Mistakes (which I will cover in this article) and Gamplay Mistakes (which I will talk about in the next article).

Drafting Mistakes

1. Committing to a Faction Too Early
2. Overly Optimistic Outlook
3. Poor Card Evaluation
4. Neglecting the Power Curve
5. Overly Greedy with Power Bases

1. Committing to a Faction Too Early

This is probably the most common pitfall that I see players stumble into. Too often in #draft, a drafter goes p1p1 Valkyrie Arcanist, p1p2 Frenzied Omnivore, and great, I’m Combrei now! This is absolutely, and horrendously, wrong. Your powerful first picks is just an incentive to be in those factions, but you are by no means tied to those factions. For example, with that opening, if you are offered a p1p3 Backpacker’s Machete or Hissing Spiketail (and all other filler cards), you should still pick the Backpacker’s Machete, simply because it is the stronger card. As I’ve talked about in my previous article, you generally want to just pick the strongest cards in the first 7+ picks. You should only really hammer down your factions in the middle of pack 2, where you get a good sense of what factions are open in both directions.

By picking the strongest cards and staying open, you will often get rewarded with very powerful cards going late, simply because the players passing to you are unable to play them because it’s not in their factions. Sure, if you end up in Combrei in that example, you might miss that Spiketail. However, majority of the time, you will be rewarded for staying open because you can move into factions that the drafters passing to you aren’t in.

2. Overly Optimistic Outlook

This is another common pitfall that players often fall into. When evaluating a card, or thinking about which cuts, players often tend to think of the best case scenerio, rather than considering the best, worst, average and most common cases. For example, I’ve had someone argue that Unseal is a strong playable because you can often get 2-for-1 with it by blowing out a combat trick. However, this sort of scenerio is extremely unlikely to happen because it requires a very specific series of events to occur. You need to be able to hold up 2 power, your opponent needs to have just 1 combat trick and your opponent needs to swing in to a combat he would otherwise lose (instead of just bouncing). This exact set of scenerios may occur in 1 game out of your entire run, but think about the other games where your opponent might simply beat you down with superior creatures, while Unseal is stuck in your hand or games where you couldn’t afford to hold up Unseal. Ultimately, the average, and most common case for Unseal is just not good enough for it to see play.

Similarly, I’ve also seen players being overly loose with Ally and Bond effects. For example, with just 3 other dinosaurs, I don’t think Fishing Dinoch should be played in that deck. Sure, getting a 6/6 for 5 is great, but how often is it going to occur? With such a low dinosaur count, Fishing Dinoch is usually going to be a 5 power 3/3, which is extremely underwhelming.

When considering cards, it’s important to consider the best, the worst and the average cases in order to accurately evaluate the card. Don’t get carried away by the optimal case (especially if it’s superbly unlikely) and think about what would usually happen.

3. Poor Card Evaluation

Another mistake that drafters often make is inaccurately evaluating cards and thus ending up with a much worse deck than average. Card evaluation is definitely tough, and if you haven’t checked it out yet, I would recommend using this compiled tier list as a starting point. It’s also important to note that cards that are good in constructed are not necessarily good in Draft (for example, Temple Scribe, Sabotage, Wanted Poster).

Set 3 Draft also introduced a lot of tribal synergies, and thus, card evaluations change very dynamically depending on your deck. For example, with 8 other dinosaurs in your deck, Fishing Dinoch suddenly becomes a lot stronger. Similarly, if you have 2 Surveying Mantasaur, picking up a Baying Serasaur becomes a lot more tempting (since you can go T3 Baying Serasaur into T4 Surveying Mantasaur). As such, it’s importantly to be aware of what you have in your pool and constantly update your evaluations based on that. This is also why argubly, tier lists become much less useful after the first few picks.

Card evaluation is a very tricky business, and even among the top drafters, there is a fair bit of disparity between their evaluations. A good starting point though, would be this old article by me. When looking at a card, you need to consider multiple aspects:

  1. How does this card fare on a vanilla test?
  2. If there is text, how often, or how likely are you to activate or utilize the text? How much advantage does that give you?
  3. How does this card fare when you are ahead on board, behind on board or at parity?
  4. How well does this card fit into your game plan?

Accurately evaluating a card requires careful consideration and weighing of these factors and as previously stated, often variable based on your current deck. Thus, it is also often helpful to talk through your draft with other players as well.

4. Neglecting the Power Curve

Another common trap that players fall into (and I, myself am often guilty of), is neglecting the power curve and over-prioritizing individual card power. For example, with 4 Valkyrie Arcanist and only 1 2-drop at p3p1, you should pick a random off-faction stranger over another late game 6-drop, such as Ceremonial Mask. While Ceremonial Mask is an extremely powerful card, making sure you don’t get run over early is just as important. With 4 powerful 6-drops already, you should be more concerned about shoring up your early game.

unknown-1Take the above deck for example. It has some extremely powerful cards, including a Frenzied Omnivore and 2 Jotun Punters. However, it only went 2-3 and a major contributing factor was too many 5-drops and too few 2-drops. With only 4 2-drops, this deck is pretty vulnerable to getting run over. If some of the weaker 5-drops, such as Amaran Archeologist or Staff of Stories was random Strangers instead, I could see this deck cruising to 7 wins.

As a general rule of thumb, you want to aim for at least 6 2-drops in your draft decks, and no more than 5 cards that cost 6 or more power. You also want enough 3 and 4 drops, rather than just a whole column of 2 drops so that you don’t get overwhelmed on t3 and t4.

5. Overly Greedy with Power Bases

In a sense, this is tied in with the previous point in being overly optimistic. Very often, I see players trying to splash cards which they don’t have the fixing for and end up completely distorting their power bases. In general, you want at least 4 sources for a splash, and 5~6 sources if you are running 3+ cards on the splash. Any less sources and you run a high risk of the cards being stuck in your hand. At the same time, you want at least 9 sources for each of your primary factions as a general guide.

Another rule to remember is that just because you can splash, doesn’t mean you have to. Even with good fixing, splashing comes with a inherent risk of being influence screwed. As such, it is important to weigh the pros and cons of splashing and decide whether it is actually worth the risk to splash the cards. If the splashed cards don’t significantly increase the power level of your deck, there is no reason to run them.

Another common inclination of drafters is to try and cheat on power. I think part of it stems from the inherent desire to want to play as many cards you’ve drafted as possible. However, without enough power, you can’t even play them! In general, sticking with 18 power is a good initial guide. In fact, it is often correct to play 19 power if there are multiple sources of looting in your deck (e.g. Slope Sergeant, Crafty Yeti, Nocturnal Observer) since more power helps you hit your power drops and you can often just loot away the excess power.

Conclusion

Drafting has definitely become much harder with Set 3 and it is often worth the time to deliberate over the picks carefully. It is often worth it to simply talk over your picks with other drafters, and #draft on the eternal discord is a great place to do that. Also, do stay tuned for my article next week on the other 5 common mistakes that players make during gameplay! Let me know if you have any thoughts in the reddit thread!

You will naturally win more games, if you threw less games,
Flash2351

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