Drafters’ Corner: TDC’s FoA Set Review – Fire

Hi everyone! Apologies for the long hiatus but I have been busy, both with real life stuff, as well as playing in this new set! The new set has felt great and hugely refreshing. The introduction of a whole host of new combat tricks and the new keywords have made gameplay significantly more interesting. The drafting process itself has also become pretty interesting, because the power level between factions feels pretty even, and all combinations feel just as viable as the next. For this set review, I’ve recruited some of the other top drafters from Team Draft Chaff (Isomorphic, Mgallop, the current rank 1 and 2 on the leaderboard) and some actual draft chaff (Drifter, a 2/1 for 1F), so you get a nice balance of opinions. (Just to clarify, Drifter is actually a frequent name on the top of the Draft leaderboard as well) Each of us took charge of one faction, and if there were any dissenting or additional opinions, they would be included in the commentary. So, without further ado, let me present the set review, to help you navigate the complex draft format.

Draft Rating Scale

For this set, I’ll be using the same rating scale as my previous tier list, which is a slight modification to LSV’s rating scale. The lower half of the list is identical to LSV, while the top half is slightly different to better distinguish between 3.0/3.5/4.0/4.5 tiers.

5.0: Premium bomb, card that consistently dominates the game and is hard to answer. (Accelerated Evolution, Black-Sky Harbinger)
4.5: Bomb, card that usually dominates the game if unanswered. (Unseen Commando, Sky Terror, Paladin Oathbook)
4.0: High impact card that often generate strong value or tempo. (Annihilate, Shogun’s Scepter, Archive Curator)
3.5: Premium playable that pulls you into a color. (Torch, Amber Acolyte, Dark Return)
3.0: Good playable that basically always makes the cut. (Brightmace Paladin, Ornate Katana, Jotun Cyclops)
2.5: Solid playable that rarely gets cut. (Nocturnal Creeper, Argenport Soldier, Predator’s Instinct)
2.0: Good filler, but sometimes gets cut. (Teleport, Flashy Duelist, Hipshot)
1.5: Filler. Gets cut about half the time. (Rebuke, Aerialist’s Khopesh, Crownwatch Legionnaire)
1.0: Bad filler. Gets cut most of the time. (Pit Fighter, Tinker, Belching Behemoth)
0.5: Mostly unplayable card that is worse than playing an extra sigil in most decks. (Water of Life, Cult Aspirant, Slow)
0.0: Completely unplayable. (Mind Link, Temporal Distortion, Azurite Prixis)

Shugo Standard

Shugo-StandardAverage Rating: 3.0

Flash (3.0)
A power that can become a spell is always a huge plus (see the monument cycle). Moreover, it transmutes into a better hoof slash/rampage, which would already be a 2.5 (without the transmute component).

Drifter (3.0)
The ability to play an extra power and yet have protection from flooding is very useful and I have been impressed by the trick half of this card – overwhelm is a huge boon when added to hoof slash. This card would be a 2 without the ability to play it as a power so that demonstrates how good the ability to play it as one is.

Isomorphic (3.5)
Berserk makes this trick very scary, and I like good monuments/standards a lot in general.

Drifter

DrifterAverage Rating: 1.5

Flash (0.0)
Why would you play a card named after a mediocre drafter?

Drifter (5.0)
Look at the name, nuff said.

Mgallop (1.5)
Obviously worse than brash shorthorn just on aesthetics. Also, 2/1s are worse than usual in this format because they suck on defense thanks to tribute, and all the anti-tribute blockers people are playing blank him. Good if you have triggermen, worth considering if you get some Iceberg Frontrunners and Rallies.

Isomorphic (1.0)
I’m puzzled by why anyone would choose such a mediocre card as their username.

Feed the Flames

Feed-the-FlamesAverage Rating: 0.5

Flash (0.5)
I thought this card was very similar to On the Hunt. Then I realize it costs FF and decided it was insanely worse. The only real use of this card is a tribute enabler and reducing the cost of Pyre Elemental. That said, even then, there are often better choices.

Light ’em Up

Light-em-UpAverage Rating: 0.5

Flash (0.5)
This is a much weaker Rally, but being 1-cost makes it much easier to hold up or allow you to double spell. Cheap spells in fire are also a great way to enable Pyre Elemental. Going 1 drop, 2 drop, Light ’em Up+Pyre Elemental turn 3 is an easy way to run over your opponent. That said, I would not run this card is a slow decks or without significant synergy.

Isomorphic (0.5)
I think you need 3 Wurmstones and a low spell count or something like that to consider running this. Even playing Pyre Elemental with this on turn 3 is not very good.

Longbarrel

LongbarrelAverage Rating: 3.0

Flash (3.0)
If you manage to kick this card, it’s basically equivalent to playing an Ornate Katana, drawing a Piercing Shot, and playing it. That is a pretty decent chain of plays. Moreover, having the option to play it as 1-cost 2/0 is great. Although a 1 cost 2/0 is pretty mediocre, the fact that you can choose to do so in the exact situations that you need it to be a 1 cost weapon still makes it a decent option.

Drifter (3.0)
This card reminds me a lot of outlands sniper but unlike sniper, it’s a lot more reliant on the units you have to put this weapon on. This card can range from anywhere between a 2.5 to a 3.5 assuming your opponent has an x/2 and you have a creature to put it on and that really depends on the quality of that creature. As such, going to give it a 3.0 since I think that reflects the average case of it.

Mindfire

MindfireAverage Rating: 0.5

Flash (0.5)
This is very similar to Dustblind. The edge that Dustblind has is that having warp on a finisher allows you to effectively draw into it earlier. However, a 1-cost spell is a very good at enabling spellcraft and also allows you to double spell with weapons or charge units as a finisher. That said, I think around 80% of the decks would rather have Dustblind (if forced to play either). However, the 20% of the decks that prefer Mindfire, much strongly prefer it because Mindfire is actually decent in the deck. Given that you would almost never play either cards in your deck, you rather pick the card with the higher upside, in this case, Mindfire. (Of course, this is all theoretical ramblings since Mindfire and Dustblind are not in the same packs.)

Rambot

RambotAverage Rating: 0.5

Flash (0.5)
1/1s for 1 are bad. Guaranteeing tribute (assuming your opponent doesn’t have a 0/x blocker) is great, but out of all the tributes that we’ve seen, very few of them are worth going down a card for.

Ankle Cutter

Ankle-CutterAverage Rating: 2.0

Flash (2.0)
The text is mostly flavor, because there aren’t that many pings in the format. That said, I think this card gets quite a bit better if you are able to draft multiple ping effects, such as snowballs from the primal deck or from cards like hotblood barbarian. In general, I think 3/1s for 2 is better than 2/2s for 2 in this format. They are great for forcing tribute since 3 damage a turn is significantly more threatening than 2 damage a turn.

Consuming Flames

Consuming-FlamesAverage Rating: 1.0

Flash (0.5)
More expensive and worse torch makes me really down on this card. Warp on a situational card is also much less valuable (compared to something like Blinkwolf). It is a fringe tribute enabler, but again, 2-for-1-ing yourself to enable tribute is not great.

Drifter (1.0)
Unlike Burn Out, this card is not very useful for killing big creatures but can be playable in decks with lots of small units that also want tribute.

Flamebelcher

FlamebelcherAverage Rating: 1.0

Flash (1.0)
It has cute flavor text, but honestly, it is not worth the steep FF influence. That said, I wouldn’t mind running this card in a heavy fire deck for the off-chance of a fire bomb lethal (which is ridiculously unlikely since you would probably be a more aggressive deck and games would be over before your opponent even gets to their bottom 20 cards).

Isomorphic (0.5) I think 2/2s are bad in this format unless they give value on summon or while sitting in play, and this does neither (while being hard to play on turn 2).

Grenarender

GrenarenderAverage Rating: 2.5

Flash (2.5)
Grenarender is the second worst card of the 2/2 for 2, pay 1 to sacrifice said card for an ability. Not only is paying 3 power and a card for ruin bad, it is also a situational ability, so you can’t even guarantee tribute with this card.

Isomorphic (2.0)
I don’t think you should be eager to play this card unless you are doing the Scrap Hound thing, since it’s not a reliable tribute enabler and the Ruin effect is not great.

Hotblood Barbarian

Hotblood-BarbarianAverage Rating: 3.0

Flash (3.0)
In contrast to the above, Hotblood Barbarian is the second best card of the Summon: Discard a card for another spell cycle. Trading the worst card in your hand for a temper is often pretty good. Beserk on a small unit is pretty underwhelming, but with the heavier focus on weapons in this set, this 2/1 can often be upgraded to a scary threat.

Quicktrigger Outlaw

Quicktrigger-OutlawAverage Rating: 2.0

Flash (1.5)
This unit just has too bad of a fail case to be rated any higher. Playing this as a 1/2 on 2 feels SOOOOO bad. The text and tribute makes it kind of bearable, but this is definitely not a card that I would pick highly.

Ruination Sledge

Ruination-SledgeAverage Rating: 3.0

Flash (3.0)
Weapons removal has gotten a lot better in this set with so many weapons flying around. Add on to the fact that this card is still great without kicking it makes it a very good card.

Isomorphic (3.0)
I think you end up playing this without spellcraft at least 75% of the time – don’t let it rot in your hand hoping for a good Ruin target.

Scale Seeker

Scale-SeekerAverage Rating: 4.0

Flash (4.0)
In all honesty, I think this card would be a 4.5 if it was in a slower faction (such as Time). 5 mana for a 5/5 flier is a ridiculously good rate, and trading a 3 turn delay for 3 scouts and spreading out the cost is a pretty even trade, if not slightly favorable. If you are able to drop this card turn 2 unanswered, you are going to be extremely favored, since you can just play 1 behind curve, and suddenly, BOOM, take over the game with a 5/5 flier and a 4 drop on turn 5.

Trick Shot

Trick-ShotAverage Rating: 0.5

Flash (0.5)
What? The only case where i can see this card being good is if the unit already has deadly. Unfortunately, you aren’t in the right faction for that keyword. Otherwise, this card is just a very expensive and very situational trick that will probably remain stuck in your hand until you die.

Factory Quota

Factory-QuotaAverage Rating: 0.0

Flash (0.0)
I don’t think you would ever want to play this card mainboard. 3 mana do nothing in most matchups is not what you want in an aggressive deck (where I think this card belongs). Most decks in draft are unit-centric, so you are rarely getting the 2 damage. The only place I can see this card is in the market of aggressive Fire decks where you can fetch it if you opponent drops a big lifesteal unit.

Flamefang Charmer

Flamefang-CharmerAverage Rating: 1.0

Flash (1.0)
A 2/3 for 3 is already a bad starting point. Tag on the fact that it is hard to cast (FF on 3) and a way too mediocre infiltrate effect makes this card the poster child of cards with too much text but still way too bad to consider playing.

Frontier Bard

Frontier-BardAverage Rating: 3.0

Flash (3.0)
Inspiring Overwhelm is a pretty underwhelming keyword, but 2/4 for 3 is a good baseline body. In aggressive decks, this card can often grow to a 3/4 the moment it hits the board, and snowball into a scary threat. There is also somewhat of a synergy with it’s inspire since Overwhelm helps to push damage, which then activates it’s ability.

Drifter (2.5)
I think this card looks good on paper but actually doesn’t synergise well with itself – overwhelm is a solid ability in aggressive decks which would want creatures with better starting bodies than this card which is very defensively statted and doesn’t attack well. Also the non-time creatures in the format tend to be small and not benefit that much from overwhelm. Still, it’s a fine card and it gets a lot better in praxis.

Honor the Ancestors

Honor-the-AncestorsAverage Rating: 0.0

Flash (0.0)
I mean, props to DWD. Despite not giving me a card to spoil, they clearly matched the nature of the card with the spoiler. So, here’s a terrible card, spoiled by a terrible player, playing a terrible deck. (j.k. <3 you tony)

Drifter (0.5)
I could see a very strange deck that would want this – one with a lot of weapons and a lot of looting. However, that is the only deck that will really want this and I don’t think it will crop up very much at all.

Ixtun Merchant

Ixtun-MerchantAverage Rating: 3.5

Flash (3.5)
Merchants are AMAZING. Markets in draft are soooooo huge. I’ve went over this in my previous article, but the ability to loot yourself out of a screw, or ditch an extra power for another fatty is amazing. Merchants also allow you to play more situational cards (or even sketchy splashes) since you can only “draw” them if you want to.

Manufacture

ManufactureAverage Rating: 1.0

Flash (1.0)
This card is extremely situational. In most cases, it’s just a much more expensive assembly line. That said, with more than 3 good inspire units (such as Living Example, Temple Shihan or Amaran Armadilo) in the deck, this card is worth considering.

Isomorphic (1.5)
The rate on this card isn’t bad at all if you warp it – 6-cost 3/3 draw a card that can be split over multiple turns is passable. You do want some synergy to be happy with this, though.

Oni Eulogist

Oni-EulogistAverage Rating: 1.0

Flash (1.0)
A slight upgrade to Lethrai Memory-Keeper makes it marginally less bad, but still pretty bad. I won’t really be happy if I’m forced to play this card in my decks. I would also like to point out that Drifter rated this card 1.0, but Daggerclaw Howler 1.5. Clearly, Drifter is a closet Fire hater, ironic given his own faction alignment.

Refracted Sentinel

Refracted-SentinelAverage Rating: 3.0

Flash (3.0)
This card is pretty powerful on turn 3 and can often get you a 2-for-1 at least, if not better. Ramping your opponent is a slight downside, but the seriously over-stated body on turn 3 is very scary. Moreover, in the late game, this card can allow you to double spell and out-tempo your opponent and the downside of ramping your opponent is much less relevant.

Rika, Desert Navigator

Rika-Desert-NavigatorAverage Rating: 3.0

Flash (2.5)
In most games, this card is just going to read as a 1/5 for 3, no text. It’s pretty hard to connect with a 1/5 unit, but the threat of warping COULD buy you a few turns. It also pales in comparison to its green cousin, Auric Sentry, because Warcry doesn’t require you to hit face and endurance allows you to both attack and defend with it. The defensive nature of this card is also at odds with Fire’s identity. That said, if you were able to push this card through, be it with weapons or giving it flying, this card becomes a lot stronger. Hence, Skycrag (ironically) may be the best home for this card, despite being one of the most aggressive factions.

Mgallop (3.0)
1/5 for 3 is a solid statline, and this can warp your opponent’s play by forcing them to leave back too many blockers or get behind on value. Its not at its best in an aggro deck, which leads to some tension with fire, but this is usually worth picking and almost always worth playing.

Rusty Grenamotive

Rusty-GrenamotiveAverage Rating: 2.5

Flash (2.5)
Ramping once is pretty great, and the ability to burst ramp for two is actually very scary with the right draw. Having to attack to ramp is a bit of a downer, but a 1/4 body can attack into a lot of boards pretty safely.

Isomorphic (3.0)
It’s worth noting that this wears weapons like Sledge or Welding Torch quite well.

Warpainter

WarpainterAverage Rating: 1.5

Flash (1.5)
The inspire is pretty lacklustre and a 0/4 body for 3 is really not where I want to be, with cards like Dune Phantom, Corrupt Watchman and Miner’s Canary in the set.

Drifter (1.5)
The inspire on this card is pretty weak though I could see it being useful in a defensive deck with cards like Brightmace Paladin or with flying/quickdraw units and is a significant, though minor, buff to other units.

Isomorphic (2.0)
0/4 for 3 is not a ridiculous statline in this format because of how well it blanks tribute, and this does give half of a Living Example’s value.

Won’t Be Pretty

Wont-Be-PrettyAverage Rating: 0.5

Flash (0.5)
The only time this card is really playable is if your deck consists of 30 removal spells and 15 power, or something close to that. If you are able to just kill the other unit afterwards, then this card is actually somewhat acceptable, but I somewhat doubt that will ever be the case.

Clan Wallbreaker

Clan-WallbreakerAverage Rating: 1.0

Flash (1.0)
4/2 for 4 is another lacklustre stat-line, but having overwhelm at least allows Clanbreaker to push a few points of damage before dying to a crappy 2-drop. Still, I won’t be happy to play this in any of my decks unless I have multiple tricks or a very aggressive deck.

Criva, the Crimson Scythe

Criva-the-Crimson-ScytheAverage Rating: 1.0

Flash (1.0)
This card has a nice flavor, and while 4 power is costly, the ability to dodge all slow removal is pretty great. However, trading with any 2 attack unit is pretty depressing and makes the card 100x worse. If only this card had quickdraw….

Dramatist’s Mask

Dramatists-MaskAverage Rating: 0.5

Flash (0.5)
It’s nice to see DWD being consistent and printing crappy legendaries every set. This could be a nice meme card in Constructed, but the only reason to pick this card in draft is for the stones.

Isomorphic (1.0)
It’s worth noting that this enables tribute for free every turn. I’d consider playing this in a deck with a bunch of 5+ cost units or 3/4-cost fliers, since it turns a 2-drop into a real threat.

Iceberg Scattershot

Iceberg-ScattershotAverage Rating: 1.5

Flash (2.0)
This card is pretty decent and you are often able to get 3+ damage off of his ability. If you have multiple token generators (Assembly Line, Grenadin Drone), you will be able to get even more damage off of this. Notably, this card also instantly triggers any infiltrate effects, so it has great synergy with cards like Wild Rider, Yeti Snowslinger, Big Brother and Direwood Beastcaller. Sadly, one big issue is that it doesn’t trigger spark for the first unit you’ve played since you get the ping post-summon.

Drifter (1.5)
This card adds up to a lot of damage over time and is solid in very aggressive decks but is a bad t4 play and usually not a great top deck in non-aggressive decks. Worth noting it does have synergy with cards like wild rider which can make it more valuable to you.

Jawbone Greatsword

Jawbone-GreatswordAverage Rating: 4.0

Flash (4.0)
Without tribute, this is a strictly better Magma Javelin, which is already a great starting point. If you are able to tribute it, Brand is a very powerful and scary card and can often end the game the moment he hits the board. I think relic weapons have also gotten quite a bit better in this format.

Overheat

OverheatAverage Rating: 0.5

Flash (0.5)
This card is almost purely a damage buff since 2 health isn’t much. Thus, it is pretty overcosted for what it does. That said, this card gets a lot better if you have multiple Overwhelm and/or Quickdraw units since they can extract a lot more value from the damage buff. Notably, this card is also not fast, which is another huge negative.

Scalechannel Sorcerer

Scalechannel-SorcererAverage Rating: 3.0

Flash (3.0)
Fire has a lot of cheap spells which makes Scalechannel Sorcerer a pretty scary card to block. That said, this card is always static at 4 health without buffs, so it isn’t that unanswerable.

Welding Torch

Welding-TorchAverage Rating: 3.5

Flash (3.5)
Wielding Torch is undeniably the best fire common in the set, and probably one of the top 5 commons in the set. Both modes of this card (kicked and unkicked) are pretty powerful individually. Unkicked, this card is a 4 mana 3/2 weapon (a slight downgrade from Morningstar), while kicked, this card is a 7 mana unconditional Hotbarrel Revolver. The ability to choose between these two modes depending on the situation makes this card both flexible and powerful, thus explaining it’s position at the top of the commons chart.

Zuberi, Outlands Warlord

Zuberi-Outlands-WarlordAverage Rating: 4.0

Flash (4.0)
3/5 for 4 is a great starting point as a body. Inspire Double damage is pretty decent as well, as long as your units have enough attack. Thankfully, Zuberi’s other line of text helps with that, granting the top unit of your deck +3 attack at least, if not more. If you are able to swing with this unit for a few times, you would probably find yourself in a very favorable position.

Fiery Fissure

Fiery-FissureAverage Rating: 2.5

Flash (2.5)
Sadly, 4 is a LOT less than 5, and being able to hit quickdraw units isn’t enough to redeem this card. It is significantly worse than its Gun Down cousin, and the only point in it’s favor is the ability to go face.

Gravemarker Oni

Gravemarker-OniAverage Rating: 2.0

Flash (2.5)
4/2 is a very bad baseline for a 5 drop, but the tribute ability is HUGE. Most fire decks will have multiple powerful weapons (Wielding Torches, Ruination Sledge, etc), so being able to draw one of them while summoning a 4/2 for 5 is extremely powerful. The main problem with this card is that it is very bad from behind since your opponent can always choose to not block to deny you the tribute.

Robobuddy

RobobuddyAverage Rating: 1.0

Flash (0.5)
1/6 for 5 is incredibly underwhelming, and it’s infiltrate is nothing to be impressed by. This card is extremely underwhelming in all aspects and has next to no redeeming qualities.

Mgallop (1.0)
Redeeming qualities: a) is adorable, b) decent blocker that prevents tribute while you win in the air, c) if you somehow hit, them even more value!!!

Wildfire Censari

Wildfire-CensariAverage Rating: 2.5

Flash (2.5)
This is another spells matter card and importantly, a very dangerous card for your opponent to block. A single quick spell can block out any sort of block that your opponent has lined up for this card. You can also often simply sneak in 5 damage by representing a fast spell, or force an awkward block. The mindgame potential of this card is extremely high, but the problem is, at the end of the day, it’s still a 5/3 for 5, and you need the right deck to support it.

Isomorphic (3.0)
A 5/3 for 5 isn’t that bad in this format given smaller units in general, and there are a lot of spells in this format between spellcraft weapons and cards like Training Ground.

Birthright

BirthrightAverage Rating: 0.0

Flash (0.0)
Another addition to the pile of unplayable legends. Click it for the 800 stones, and for no other reason.

Dashing Rapscallion

Dashing-RapscallionAverage Rating: 4.0

Flash (4.0)
This card is pretty amazing. Being able to attack as a 7/5 is already a great starting point, and if you are able to beserk it on an empty board, this card can easily seal your victory. I’ve won multiple games off the back of Dashing Rapscallion into Wielding Torch, and beserking for a million damage.

End of the Barrel

End-of-the-BarrelAverage Rating: 0.0

Flash (0.0)
There are cards that are bad, and then there are cards that are terrible, and then there are cards that so horrid that you should go 0-3 if you put them in your deck. And then, there is End of the Barrel.

Pyre Elemental

Pyre-ElementalAverage Rating: 1.5

Flash (1.5)
This card is about as high-rolly as they come. In the right decks (6+ cheap spells), this card can easily win you multiple games. Without the support though, this card is near unplayable. I wouldn’t pick this card highly or try and build around it, but if I happen to get a bunch of cheap spells in packs 1-3, I will definitely keep my eyes peeled for this card.

Core Scavenger

Core-ScavengerAverage Rating: 1.0

Flash (1.0)
5/4 for 7 is an utterly depressing rate, and the text does little to redeem it. Paying approximately 2.5 extra power for a weaker effect than Master-at-arms is pretty embarrassing. This is a card that I would really hesitate to include in my deck and only really play if I am desperate for top-end and if I have multiple good buff targets, such as fliers or quickdraw units.

Final Shot

Final-ShotAverage Rating: 2.0

Flash (2.0)
This is a card that you would rarely play unkicked since it’s only a difference of 1 power. Paying 8 for a Gun Down and a 5/1 quickdraw weapon is extremely powerful and can often just end games. That said, 8 power is a LOT in draft and that is the main drawback of this card. Having the option to play this card on 7 instead is nice, but much less valueable. I forsee this card will only get played without kicking 10% of the time, or even less.

First Flame

First-FlameAverage Rating: 0.0

Flash (0.0)
Decks run about 17~18 power. Having to draw nearly TWO THIRDS of your entire deck’s power to cast this card is ridiculous.

Closing Thoughts

There is a running joke in TDC that I like to force fire, but that said, set 4 fire definitely left me wanting. It was 3 amazing commons (Welding Torch, Hotblood Barbarian, Ruination Sledge), but then the card quality just falls off an absolute cliff. A lot of Fire’s power in this draft format actually comes from the curated packs, where some of its best commons (Oni Ronin, Torch, Ornate Katana) remained untouched. As such, I find that fire often ends up in a supporting role, where it supplies back-breaking weapons to an already solid unit pool.

What are your experiences with Fire in this format? As always, let me know your thoughts in the reddit thread. Also, stay tuned for the set reviews of the other factions that will be coming out over the course of this week!

And the award for most number of useless acronyms in an article title goes to,
Flash2351