Drafters’ Corner: 10 common mistakes to avoid in Draft (Part 2: Gameplay Mistakes)!

Hi everyone! Continuing on from last week’s article on common drafting mistakes, I’m going to talk about 5 of the most common gameplay mistakes. Gameplay mistakes can often be a lot more inconspicuous and hard to spot, especially since there are a multitude of factors that can influence your decisions. Worse still, you can often win with a suboptimal line, or even end up “throwing” a game simply because you took the optimal line. As such, it is often hard to really realize where you go wrong. The 5 gameplay mistakes that I’ll cover are as follows:

Gameplay Mistakes

6. Playing Too Fast
7. Underestimating your opponent
8. Not holding power in hand
9. Too afraid to trade units
10. Salt instead of self-reflection

6. Playing Too Fast

“People play fast because they think it makes them look cool. You know what is better than looking cool? Winning.” – Amnesiac

This is an excellent quote by Amnesiac and basically sums up my thoughts on the situation. Playing fast on it’s own isn’t a problem, but doing so makes you much more prone to mistakes and punts. If you’ve watched/played against the top drafters, you will notice they will often take a long time between turns, and might even rope you for multiple turns. They aren’t BM-ing you, rather, they are considering all the different lines and their relative pros and cons.

It is important to think through your turns carefully, and weighing the pros and cons of each line, even if the optimal line might seem obvious. Besides the current turn itself, it is also a good habit to plan out your future turns. For example, you might want to play a Valkyrie Militant instead of a Brightmace Paladin on turn 4 even though your opponent also has a Copperhall Marshal because this allows you to cast both Brightmace Paladin and a 2-drop next turn.

7. Underestimating Your Opponent

This is probably the most common trap that I’ve seen drafters fall into. Your opponents are not monkeys pressing random buttons, as much as you wish for that to be the case. If they are making a clearly bad attack, it is very likely that they are holding a trick in hand. In fact, whenever you are doing combat, you should be asking yourself questions such as “What is the worst that can happen?”, “What if he has a Finest Hour?”, “Am I happy to trade a unit for a trick?” and so on.

This is something that I’ve gone into quite a bit of depth in my previous articles on attacking and blocking and I would definitely recommend checking them out. As a short summary, you should always think about all the different possible outcomes that can happen and play to maximize the probability of a favorable outcome for yourself, regardless of what your opponent does.

8. Not Holding Power in Hand

This is another common misplay, but also probably the easiest to fix. A lot of drafters like to play out every single power in their hand, which is often the wrong thing to do because of a few reasons. Firstly, if you have any form of looting (Crafty Yeti, Slope Sergeant, Strategize), holding 1 power allows you to convert the loot into basically a draw. Secondly, it also protects your other cards in hand from hand attack effects by the opponent, such as Prlckly Grenadin or Subvert. In fact, I would argue that the only reason Prickly Grenadin is borderline playable is because players don’t hold power in their hand when they should.

Now, the pendulum also swings the other way for some players, who instead hold too many power in hand. This becomes a problem because you might occasionally need the power to cast multiple cards in one turn. This is possible, even if you only have power in hand because of cards with draw effects, cards with warp and Nightfall triggers by either players.

As a general guideline, the most common correct number of power to hold in hand is 1. This allows you to discard it if needed, and also play it out if you need to cast multiple cards in one turn. On some occasions, it is right to play out all your power, namely when you are trying to get to enough power to hit your high drops in hand. For example, if you are at 4 power, with a Cannonbearer and a sigil in hand, you should always play out the sigil so that if you draw another sigil on your next turn, you can immediately cast Cannonbearer. On the flip side, if you have Slope Sergeants in your deck, it might sometimes be correct to hold 2 power, so that you can loot both power away if you draw 2 real cards off of Slope.

9. Too afraid to trade units

Another frequent mistake made by drafters is that they often tend to get overly attached to their units and not want to trade them. I suspect this is also why there are frequent complaints of games becoming gigantic board stalls and whoever sticks the first unanswered flier wins.

It is very important to recognize your role in the game, and if you are the beatdown, you should aggressively trade units, or sometimes, even throw away units so that you can get in more damage. For example, if you have 4 2/1s on the field and your opponent has a lone 1/4, it is likely to be correct to just swing in with all 4 2/1s. While your opponent gets to eat a 2/1 for free, you have also managed to push 6 damage, which might end up winning you the game. In a way, you’ve effectively converted the 2/1 unit into 6 face damage. Even as the defensive deck, it is also good to keep the board small so as to remove the probability of a multi-block on your game ending bombs.

10. Salt instead of self-reflection

Lastly, and probably most importantly, a lot of players like to blame RNG or variance for their loss. While I don’t disagree that variance is a huge part of card games in general, I think that it is super unproductive to focus on the aspect that you cannot change. Instead, you should be focusing on how you could have improved your play. Sure, your opponent needed to topdeck exactly that removal to stop your flier lethal, but perhaps you could’ve swung in more aggressively a few turns ago and had lethal the turn before your opponent topdecked removal?

I think that it is extremely important to go over your past games and think about how you can improve or where you’ve went wrong. Thinking over alternate lines of play will be helpful for future games and prevent you from making similar mistakes. Personally, I’ve found it very helpful to record down my games and go over them afterwards. Looking at each line from a new perspective helps me realize sloppy plays and missed damage opportunities.

Now, I know there will be games where you draw 10 power in your top 14 cards, or games where your opponent goes T5 Frenzied Omnivore, T6 Frenzied Omnivore+Predator’s Instinct, but as I’ve stressed before, rather than focus on what you cannot change, you should simply ignore those games and focus on those games where you can improve.


Gameplay mistakes are often more inconspicuous, but that doesn’t make them any less costly than drafting mistakes. It’s important to take your time to think through the different lines available to you during the game and spend time doing some post-game reflection. Do you have any other mistakes that you think should make the list? As always, let me know in the reddit thread!

Focus on what you can improve, rather than what you can’t control,