Hi everyone! The First Blood Draft Event ran over the weekend, and through a combination of good luck and skillful drafting, I managed to clinch the first place with a record of 26-4! For today’s article, I’ll go over the three decks that I drafted and talk about my experience in the event.
Deck 1: Elysian Splash Shadow (10-0)
My first draft was a pretty typical Elysian list. The only notable difference was the lack of yetis. Surprisingly, I didn’t get passed much in pack 1, and the fact that pack 2 and 3 were generally loaded with good stuff meant the opportunity cost of picking yetis was much higher. The shadow splash was pretty sweet, but definitely a rarity in this format given the lack of fixing strangers.
This list generally revolved around surviving the first few turns, and then taking over the board with your huge dinosaurs. Cobalt Acolyte and Icebow were pretty good in this deck for enabling me to connect with Adaptive Predator. Insistent Automaton was also really powerful because firstly, I was low on early drops so for a fair chunk of games, it was just a 4/5 for 4 with no extra text. Secondly, my deck had quite a few powerful summon effects (Archive Curator, Jarrall’s Frostkin, Fishing Dinoch and to a lesser extent, Jotun Cyclops), so bouncing one of these was actually an upside. One of my victories revolved around bouncing my Archive Curator to silence my opponent’s Pillar of Amar.
Playing this deck also required me to aggressively trade my units at 4-6 power so as to clear the board for Adaptive Predator. For example, in one of my games, my opp had 2 4/4s and a 2/4 unit on board while I had an activated 6/6 Fishing Dinoch on board. While swinging with it only trades with a 4/4, it made sense to do so because it removed the opportunity for my opponent to double block my Adaptive Predator with his 2 4/4s.
Deck 2: Straight Elysian (9-1)
From my experience, Time definitely felt like the strongest faction. It already had decent playables in Set 3, and it was pretty full of goodies in the Draft packs in between. This Elysian deck definitely felt like the strongest deck out of my 3 decks in the event. 2 Permafrost was excellent removal, and the yeti package was decent, especially with a Jotun Punter. The 2 bond dinosaurs were slightly sketchy given that I only had 5 other dinosaurs, but I could also discard them with Slope Sergeant, so they weren’t the worst.
Similar to Deck 1, I had to pass up quite a few decent yetis in packs 2 and 3 because there were just much stronger cards (e.g. I took Towering Terrazon over Snowcrust Yeti). This was even more true because I only got my Jotun Punter in Pack 4. This deck was also pretty high on power, with 18 real power, 1 Amber Acolyte and 2 cantrips in the form of Levitate. This was a very intentional choice because this deck will easily lose if it is unable to hit 5 power at a reasonable time given that most of my powerful plays are 5+ cost. And this was indeed the case, my 1 loss was due to being stuck on 3, with a hand full of powerful cards.
Sauropod Wrangler was definitely a MVP as well, because acted as a pretty powerful ramp with all my 5+ attack units. For example, I had a game with active Sauropod Wrangler that I just went Plated Goliath, bond out Bellowing Thunderfoot on turn 5! Refresh was also extremely powerful in this deck, especially because all my units were naturally huge and thus, able to abuse the permanent +4 hp very effectively.
This deck is also much more comfortable sitting back and just winning the long game, since Pillar of Amar outvalues almost everything in the long run. I also had a good air force in the form of hatchlings and Windflyers, plus a Cobalt Acolyte that could make a huge fatty fly. Jotun Punter also shines in huge board stalls, turning my yetis into huge, threatening fliers.
Deck 3: Praxis Splash Primal (7-3)
This was a pretty insane pool, but unfortunately, it ended up slightly short on playables, hence the questionable Primal splash. I stayed pretty open pack 1, but cracked quite a few nice Primal and Fire playables. Thus, I started to move into Skycrag, but the Primal dried up really quickly, while I got something like a p2p7 Pillar of Amar. So I pivoted into Praxis, and was rewarded with a sweet p3p2 Waystone Infuser. Unfortunately, pack 4 didn’t have much good fire cards, so I ended up just slightly short on playables, thus forcing me into a pretty greedy Primal Splash.
At first glance, I have 6 Primal sources for my 3 Primal cards, which seems like a pretty reasonable amount. However, a fair chunk of my deck requires TT to function, while my topend wanted FFF for flamestoker and TTT for Pillar, which means that I can’t always afford to use my Seek Power, Trail Maker or Amber Acolyte for a Primal Source. There is also some argument for going +1 Time sigil and -1 Fire sigil, especially since 2 of my 3 fixing is in T, and I have a lot more TT cards than FF cards. However, my rationale was that I also really wanted to cast Flamestoker on 6, so going under 8 Fire sources seemed too iffy.
This deck is extremely powerful, but also more prone to influence screw due to influence requirements. In fact, all 3 losses were simply due to power issues, 2 of them due to missing Time influence, and 1 loss due to being stuck on 2. However, the highs of this deck definitely made up for it. In one of my games, I went t1 Initiate into t2 warp Avirax Familiar off the top of my deck and into t4 Flamestoker. Despite that, my opponent actually still put up a really good fight, and made the game a lot closer than it should have been.
I also briefly considered making this into a simple 30 power deck instead, to abuse the power of my 3 bombs (Waystone Infuser, Flamestoker, Pillar of Amar). If this was a standard draft, I probably would’ve done so. However, with my 19-1 record prior to this, I didn’t want to risk everything, and went for the more conservative route.
This event was definitely a lot of fun, and I do think the curated packs were an improvement from the previous event. My impression of the previous event was that DWD wanted to push synergy, and a lot of decks ended up being able to do pretty busted things. Games in turn devolved into simply who can do their busted thing first, or who can do the more busted thing. In contrast, this event felt as though DWD simply took out the bad filler in Set 1 and 2, which made drafting solid decks the optimal strategy (rather than forcing some synergy). In fact, synergy picks are made a lot worse since they are weaker than the new average power level of the draft packs, and you might not be guaranteed to be paid off in the last pack.
My main gripe was the removal of fixing strangers. I feel that it caused three huge problems. Firstly, splashing became extremely costly, and nearly impossible for some decks. This made drafting pretty much on rails once you’ve settled on your factions. Secondly, this in turn makes Time a lot stronger, because they have access to Trail Maker and Amber Acolyte, which allows them to splash more greedily, and easily assemble a much stronger deck. Lastly, not only do strangers fix your influence, they fill a crucial role of being a 2/2 bear for 2. Even though I was aware of this, and consciously prioritized picking 2 drops for the sake of my curve, I still found myself pretty low on 2 drops, averaging something like 4.5 2 drops across my 3 decks. This effect is also very apparent in my opponents’ deck, where I had games where I simply rolled over them with my early drops because they didn’t have a turn 2 or 3 play.
Another issue (not necessarily a problem though), was that packs 2 and 3 were significantly stronger than the Dusk Road packs. What this meant is that it is often best to stay extremely open in pack 1 and only move into your factions in pack 2. While this is reasonable, what it results in is that your last Dusk Road pack often ends up in a coin flip, since what was taken in pack 1 has next to no impact on what is likely to be taken in pack 4. I feel that if DWD were to implement curated packs for Set 4 draft (a sneaky suspicion of mine since DWD seems to be testing it out), they need to ensure that all 4 packs have comparable power level.
Lastly, I think it would be extremely helpful for future events with curated packs to have an open contents list. That would help inform a lot more of the draft picks and make it less of a shot in the dark.
Thoughts on Prize Structure
This is probably one of the most contentious issue with the event and despite being probably the biggest beneficiary of this prize structure, I must say I’m not a fan of it. The lack of per run rewards makes it such that you often have to weigh the pros and cons of going for another run. For example, if you are at 4500 with 1 run, its most efficient to not go for a second run, since you are unlikely to climb up to the next prize bracket. This creates a whole lot of confusion and uncertainty and adds an additional burden to the whole event experience. It would also feel exceptionally bad to spend 7.5k and not move a single prize bracket.
Moreover, I can imagine the event being pretty offputting to newer players. Imagine someone going on a hot streak for one of your event runs and going 10-0. That’s gotta feel amazing. But then because he either doesn’t have the gold for the next 2 runs, or did badly for his other runs, he basically gets next to no reward for going 10-0 instead of 0-10. That is definitely a feelsbad moment that I don’t think should be in the game.
I feel that the ideal structure should have the bulk of the prizing being tied to the per run rewards, with a small bonus (for example, the draft tickets) being tied to the leaderboard. If DWD is concerned about events being too efficient gold to packs/dust convertors, they can simply implement a cap on the rewards. For example, you get full rewards for your first 5 runs (which also count to the leaderboard), and subsequent runs only net you half the prizes.
I really enjoy this type of draft-style events and I’m really glad that DWD is implementing more and more of it. I would also love to have some draft events with the funky gauntlet boss rules (such as +3 starting power, draw 2 cards, etc). What about you? As always, let me know your thoughts in the reddit thread!
I also want to give a special shoutout to my teammates/subs (Tobbo, BashingTwan, MillerTool and Pringles) in the Team Draft tournament for carrying me to Finals despite me playing like an idiot because I exhausted all my brain power for this event.
As Buck would say, “Rank 1 btw”;