Hi everyone! In case you were living under a rock for the past few months, Set 4 is nearly upon us. It brought with it 5 whole new mechanics (Markets, Beserk, Inspire, Spellcraft and Tribute) as well as custom draft packs! I’ve covered Markets and Beserk in my previous article, and today, I will talk about the three new mechanics as well as my initial impressions on the new draft packs.
Unfortunately, this is not the 1-cost inspire that Tony was praying for. This is a new mechanic that gives a buff to units drawn when cards with Inspire are in play. For example, if you have Temple Shihan in play, units you draw would all get flying. In terms of power level in draft, I think that cards with Inspire: X are only marginally worse than the card having X itself. You can plug the numbers into a hypergeometric calculator yourself, but it’s approximately ~40% chance to hit a unit on your first draw and ~65% with 2 draws in an average draft deck. You also have ~35% chance to hit 2 units in 3 draws. In that way, Inspire: X is a slightly weaker, but a much higher variance ability than simply X.
Inspire gains increasing value with each card you draw. Thus, there are 3 important things that you want with (or on) Inspire cards. Firstly, you want your cards with Inspire to be as cheap as possible. You play cheaper cards earlier, so a 1-cost card with Inspire: Flying is often going to be many orders of magnitude better than a 7-cost card with Inspire: Flying. Secondly, Inspire ability is better suited on a defensive body since it allows the card to survive for longer and allow you to extract more value. Lastly, card draw couples really well Inspire since you get to see more cards. Nightfall is a great enabler, and so cards such as Dusk Raider are able to extract more value from it’s Inspire text.
Spellcraft is a very powerful ability where if you have enough power left over after casting a weapon, you can choose to activate it to cast the spell. The ability to choose between 2 modes is huge, and if both options are good, it makes the card significantly better than the sum of it’s parts. For example, looking at Wielding Torch, both cases are just decent (3/2 weapon for 4 is somewhere between Morningstar and Crownwatch Longsword, while a 7 power Hotbarrel Revolver is just alright), but because you have the option to choose between two decent options based on your situation, this makes Wielding Torch a very powerful card (much more so that either cases on it’s own).
However, note that this requires both options to be good. For example, if your deck doesn’t have any weapons-matter cards, Alchemist Concoction is just terrible because it is not worth a card if you don’t activate Spellcraft. This means that the card is effectively just a 5 power card in 95% of the cases.
Tribute is a bonus that activates if a unit goes to your void (whether by dying or discard) that turn prior to summoning the unit. In draft, Tribute is much easier to activate as compared to ranked because so much of draft is centered around creature combat. As a conservative estimate, I would think most Tribute cards would be played with Tribute activated 60% of the time. Cards with more powerful Tribute effects might also be worth holding back until you can activate Tribute (e.g. Jekk, Lone Gun). In a way, I think Tribute bonus is very comparable to Spark bonus in terms of evaluation. Moreover, there is also a new cycle of 2 power 2/2s that can sacrifice for 1 power and do something (deal 2 damage, destroy attachment, etc). These cards are extremely potent at enabling Tribute as well.
Interestingly, Tribute is also a great complement to Spark. When your opponent made an obviously bad attack with a 1/1 token, you might be tempted to let it through to avoid Tribute, but you might just end up allowing your opponent to Spark a card indeed.
New Draft Packs
First and foremost, I want to give a huge shoutout to DWD for releasing the list of cards on their website. I really love the idea of curated draft packs because it allows DWD to easily shake up the draft format if needed (although they currently don’t have any plans to do so according to Scarlatch) and it also allows DWD to quickly fix any problems with the format by altering the Draft pack contents.
I have honestly been too busy to give the curated list more than a cursory glance, but I also wanted to share some of my hot takes. Firstly, with just Banners, Seek Power and Amber Acolyte for fixing, the standard is likely going to be centred around 2 or 2.5f decks. 3 faction piles or greedier are pretty unlikely given the low amount of fixing. Each multifaction pairing only have 1 card at common (excluding banner) with most of their density being at rare or legendary. This too contributes to an increase likelihood to be straight-up 2 faction while also reducing the feelsbad when you just get multi-faction cards that you can’t play as your last few picks.
There’s also much less flyers while keeping in most of the silences from the past packs. While I don’t agree with the common sentiment that a lot of draft games boils down to whoever sticks the first unanswered flier, this is clearly something that DWD is worried about and reacted accordingly. Alternatively, this could also be me reading too much into the situation and DWD is just changing up the format to prevent it from feeling too similar. I’m not sure about the resultant impact on the draft format, but it’ll definitely be interesting.
Next, there is also much less hard removal in the curated packs, but the good tricks (Finest Hour, Torch, etc) are all still in the pack. I’m really happy about this because this would make games a lot more interactive and adds in more room for outplaying your opponent. This is actually one of my biggest complaint regarding Set 3 draft because a lot of the games were very linear to play out, and I’m hopeful that a higher density of tricks (as well as all the new decision intensive cards) would help alleviate that complaint.
So far, this is all speculation and a huge determining factor of how Set 4 draft looks like is the actual contents of Set 4. Regardless, I’m a huge fan of the new keywords introduced into this set and I have high hopes for the Set 4 draft format. I am super excited to start drafting so see y’all in game! As always, feel free to let me know your thoughts on the reddit thread!
Wake me up when Set 4 arrives,