Drafters Corner: Deck Spotlight (4F Madness)

Hi everyone! The throwback to Set 1 draft was definitely fun, but don’t you wish you could go back to the good ole Set 2 draft format and simply pick the best cards in every set? Well, I got that chance recently with a ridiculous 4F greed pile that I will talk about in this week’s article. So, without further ado, let us look at the deck itself!

The Deck

7w0l_4f-shadow_11_5.PNG

This is a pretty powerful deck. While the 2 drops are all basically 2 power 2/2s that fix for influence, the higher drops are all extrmely powerful because I had a free pick of factions. The 2 Stonescar Sawed-Off did a ton of work, often pushing through a surprise 6 or 7 damage, if not lethal. Valkyrie Wings is pretty much the definition of a bomb in limited.

Stampede Driver may look like a pretty weak card with just 3 dinosaurs in the deck, but 2 out of the 3 (Pteriax Hatchling and Nesting Avisaur) are extremely good targets for the buff. The small yeti package was also fine, because all 3 cards are individually good, and gets better if you draw them together.

The only 2 potentially questionable cards in this deck are Talir’s Intervention and Hissing Spiketail. I have been coming round to Talir’s Intervention more and more, and buffing it to silence any enemy unit instead of only an attacking enemy unit was pretty significant. This card can now also answer defensive deadly or flying units, making it much more powerful. Hissing Spiketail is a pretty mediocre card, even in this deck, and I would definitely be happy to play any other decent 4 drops over it.

Notable Exclusions:

Now that we know what made the deck, I also wanted to go over my last few cuts for this deck to highlight the marginal cards that almost made it and explain why they didn’t.

1 Farplace Finder, 1 Windflyer and 2 Slope Sergeants

I actually had a pretty sizable yeti package, with 2 other cheap yetis and 2 slope sergeants. However, with the low density of cheap yetis, the windflyer was unlikely to become a 2/2 before turn 4, if at all. On top of that, I already have more than enough 2 drops from my strangers and Trail Makers. Thus, it was an easy cut. Similarly, the farplace finder served little purpose without a Windflyer to activate. Now, with those 2 yetis gone, I only had 3 bond targets for the Slope Sergeants, which made bonding the Slope Sergeants too unreliable. Moreover, Slope Sergeants were my only PP cards, so cutting them also relaxed the influence requirements of the deck.

That said, this is a deck with a high density of good cards, and that is why this yeti package was cut. If the deck had more subpar cards, such as multiple Hissing Spiketails and whatnot, I can easily see including the entire yeti package and cutting the subpar cards instead.

Extinguish

This is probably the most surprising cut in the list, but it is a great illustration of the point that many players miss; Just because you can afford to splash something, it doesn’t mean you MUST splash something. Sure, with 3 free sources of S (2 in the deck, and 1 from the Xenan stranger I cut), it seems very tempting to just play Extinguish in the deck with no sigils given that I have 2 Trail Makers. However, it’s important to remember that these Trail Makers also have to fix for my other influence sources, so it is wrong to count them as additional shadow sources. All in all, I felt that the loss in consistency by running 1 extra shadow sigil and potentially have to use Trail Maker for S was not worth the upgrade from Hissing Spiketail into Extinguish. This is definitely the closest cut though.

Xenan Stranger

My last cut was my second Xenan Stranger. I think 9 2-drops is slightly on the high side, especially when all of them are vanilla 2/1s or 2/2s. Now, which stranger to cut was actually a very interesting question. The obvious first criteria is that I should cut a half-on stranger over a full-on stranger, so that narrows the possibility down to either the Stonescar Stranger or the Xenan Stranger.

From here on, it might seem like a moot point, since I could easily swap a Stonescar Stranger and a Time Sigil for a Xenan Stranger and a Fire Sigil and have the same number of sources overall. However, Xenan Stranger is actually the correct cut because of 2 reasons. Firstly, while your first hand is basically natural, your second hand is artificial because of the mulligan system. As such, you are more likely to see a specific sigil (3/17 chance) than a specific non-power card (4/28 chance). As such, playing the Time sigil and Stonescar Stranger actually makes it more likely (~3.4%) to have Time influence in my starting hand. Secondly, I have 2 Trail Makers that I would like to play on 2. Having a Time sigil in my hand would allow me to do that, but if my only source of Time influence was Xenan Stranger, I would only be able to play my Trail Maker on 3, making it much less impactful.

Building the Power Base

The power base for 4F decks are often confusing and hard to work out, but that doesn’t mean you should just press the Add Power button and be done with it. Taking the time to work out the correct power base significantly increases the consistency of your deck and reduces the non games. It also get easier with practice, and the two main things to look out for are:

1. What are your influence requirements and when do you need them?

The first thing to look at is how many of each influence does your deck need? In this deck, I only have Ageless Sentinel as my double T card and Valkyrie Wings as my double J card while everything else functions off a single influence. That puts my influence requirements as TTJJFP. Next, I note that I only need double J for one card, and this card only comes down on turn 6, so it is not THAT restrictive. I also have 4 Fire cards, 2 of which are pseudo-finishers, which means that Fire is probably the influence that I can most afford to miss.

2. How many sources do you have in total?

Our final decision is with regards to how many of each sigil to add, but what we are actually interested in is the number of sources of each influence in our deck. So, figuring out the total number of sources of influence in our deck should be our first step. We can do this by taking the number of Power cards we are running, and then adding 1 for each banner and half-on stranger and 2 for each full-on stranger. In the case of this deck, that gives us a total of 28 sources (17 power cards + 1 banner + 2 half-on strangers + 2*4 full-on strangers). I generally exclude Trail Makers/Seek Power/Amber Acolyte for this initial calculations.

Now, with 28 sources, we know that we generally want at least 8 sources for our main factions, so we could consider something like 8T/8J/8P/4F. However, with 4 Fire cards, 4F is a little low and without any double P cards, 8P is on the high side. Next, Trail Maker also helps fixes, but only if we have T influence, as such, we generally want to have 9T. So putting in this tweaks gives us 9T/8J/7P/5F. That is 1 more than our total influence count though, so we have to sacrifice something, and in this case, I chose to go down to 7J, since we only have 1 double J card and less Justice cards overall than Primal cards.

With the ideal distribution of sources (9T/7J/7P/5F) in mind, we can now add sigils to match that distribtion. For example, I added 6 time sigils so that together with the 3 extra sources from the strangers, I get 9 sources of Time influence.

Conclusion

4F decks are definitely fun to draft and play, and on occasion, I do miss them. However, I do think that the Set 2 draft format was probably the most boring of the 3, and besides the occasional throwback, I’m glad the 4F greedpile draft meta is behind us. This deck also went 7-0 with some lucky draws and good plays, so if it’s open, drafting 4f is definitely still viable. What about you? Have you had any interesting draft decks recently? Feel free to share it on the reddit thread! Also, I have some RL stuff that require attending to over the next few weeks, so my articles might be slightly sporadic (apologies in advance to my loyal followers, if there are any =P).

You can never have too many factions!
Flash2351