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

Hi everyone! Originally, NorthernPolarity (NP) was supposed to be doing the Justice Set Review, given his long tirades on reddit about Set 3 Justice being way too powerful and his strange obsession with Emerald Spear. Sadly, it seems as though the removal of Emerald Spear from the format has tilted NP out of orbit, and so the rest of us had to pick up the slack. The previous set reviews are available here: Fire, Time.

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)

Crownwatch Standard

Crownwatch-StandardAverage Rating: 3.5

Drifter (3.5)
Crownwatch Standard has really impressed me and I would say it is the best standard. The combination of +3/+3 and lifesteal is such a huge swing in terms of life total that it often makes racing very difficult for opponents. It usually eats an opposing creature and gains 6 or 7 life, the combination of which is really powerful even late game.

Harmless Question

Harmless-QuestionAverage Rating: 0.5

Drifter (0.5)
Putting daze at 0 mana is not really enough to make the card playable… there could be a deck out there with enough spell synergy that it wants this card (pyre elemental + this on t2 is a pretty huge swing if you’re on the draw) but that kind of deck will be very rare.

Ironfist Faithful

Ironfist-FaithfulAverage Rating: 1.0

Drifter (1.0)
Ironfist Faithful is rarely a 2/2 flier until quite late in the game – tribute is not so easy to enable that you can rely on this card. Gravetender costing 2 more mana and having +1/+1 actually makes it far better since a 3/3 flier is much more impactful on turns 5 or 6.

Lingering Influence

Lingering-InfluenceAverage Rating: 1.0

Drifter (1.0)
I would never replace a power with Lingering Influence unless I had minimum 10 justice sources alongside it – you increase your chances of being screwed off justice and that’s generally not worth the potential for a scout. However, with spell synergy, lingering influence can be well worth it as it makes the card impactful enough to justify inclusion.
Mgallop (1.0)
The fact that this can never be your first justice source is just brutal.

Peacekeeper’s Helm

Peacekeepers-HelmAverage Rating: 3.0

Drifter (3.0)
While Peacekeeper’s Helm doesn’t provide much in the way of stats, the rebuke ability is very strong – paying 5 mana for a rebuke and a minor stat upgrade (but still often enough to enable attacks that you couldn’t otherwise make) is generally a good deal. It’s also a weapon that you don’t mind running out a lot of the time in order to make good attacks with value creatures like Fearless Yeti or Brightmace Paladin.
Mgallop (3.0)
Note: this card gets significantly worse in multiples unless you’re very aggressive because the first silence is nearly worth a card, but subsequent ones are more low impact.

Sharpened Reflex

Sharpened-ReflexAverage Rating: 2.5

Drifter (2.5)
I’ve been very impressed with Reflex. It’s very hard to play around a 1 mana trick and when the card is good, it’s a total blow-out – providing a permanent stat increase to a unit, eating their unit and scouting. The card also combines extremely well with Brightmace Paladin and is very cheap spell synergy.

Spire Spellsword

Spire-SpellswordAverage Rating: 0.5

Drifter (0.5)
Having to play a spell a turn to make your Spellsword a reasonable body is just not really a feasible thing to do, especially when the body is not that exciting even when you do.

Arcane Defense

Arcane-DefenseAverage Rating: 0.5

Drifter (0.5)
Arcane Defense is kind of the bottom of the barrel of spell synergy – it’s the definition of low impact and often rots in your hand without doing anything for many turns.

Bar the Gates

Bar-the-GatesAverage Rating: 0.0

Drifter (0.0)
This is not an effect that you want in draft at all – throwing away 2 power and a card to essentially do nothing is not where you want to be. Slowing your opponents down becomes a lot less impactful when you’ve just spent 2 power on a card and when it doesn’t actually hinder them that much… if they have other cards to play in hand, they can just play those cards.
Isomorphic (0.5)
As usual with these bad spells, you should only consider running them if you have extreme spell synergy (3 wurmstones etc).

Barricade

BarricadeAverage Rating: 1.0

Drifter (1.0)
Barricade is a very mediocre trick – the fact that it requires you to leave a blocker back, plays into their removal, costs 2 power to hold up and enables tribute for them means I don’t like this card very much at all.
Isomorphic (1.5)
I think this is a decent trick in a more defensive deck in this format, since you often will have dedicated blockers like Canary lying around.

Encouragement

EncouragementAverage Rating: 1.0

Drifter (1.0)
Slow speed is very painful on this particular trick (which would be very good without it). Unless your deck is very aggressive or needs spell synergy badly, throwing away a card to potentially deal 6 damage IF they don’t have a flier is not really where you want to be. About half the time, you don’t actually have to throw away the card but this card is still situational and low impact and having to spend 2 mana on it rather than your advance your board is really not what an aggressive deck wants to do most of the time.
Mgallop (1.0)
It is worth noting that this card does get better if you have berserkers, especially big ones like Enraged Araktadon or Daring Rapscallion.

Ironfist Chancellor

Ironfist-ChancellorAverage Rating: 4.5

Mgallop (4.5)
The best way to think of this card is as a really good 7 drop, since you can usually play him and immediately get 2 4/4s and then get another one every turn and easily win, so he’s sort of like a better pillar of amar. An important difference is that in extremis you can play him as a 2 drop, play him on 2 or 3 as a 4/4 with tribute, or play him with tribute on 4 and then activate him starting on 5.

Drifter (4.5)
I think playing this card early as a 4/4 with tribute won’t be that unlikely since it can dominate the board early, be a huge threat and then you can immediately use the ability on 5 to get another 4/4 which might well be better than your other 5 mana plays. Even as early game, this card will be a lot better than your other options if you can tribute it.

Miner’s Canary

Miners-CanaryAverage Rating: 2.5

Mgallop (2.5)
This card matches up really well with the format. It blocks units in the early game while denying tribute, and it can effectively block all the common fliers in the format. It also can wear a weapon or a master at arms buff if you’re in a board stall and need to do some damage. You dont want too many 0 attack units, but this dude is very useful.

Rilgon’s Disciple

Rilgons-DiscipleAverage Rating: 3.5

Mgallop (3.5)
Disciple makes combat really unpleasant for your opponent, because if they dont block him and you have a combat trick, they often lose an intolerable amount of life, and if they do block him and you have a combat trick, they either lose a big unit, or you can play the trick on another unit and still trade while winning another combat. And this is a 2/3 for 2 which is a fine base case.

Shamebearer

ShamebearerAverage Rating: 2.0

Mgallop (2.0)
2/2s for 2 are pretty bad in this format, and the upside on this guy isn’t really there because mark of shame is also quite bad. This sort of works as a tribute enabler, but J doesn’t really have any tributes where this is worth it.
Drifter (2.5)
I’m slightly higher on Shamebearer since Mark of Shame disabling a flier in the late game can be very useful and enabling tribute with that can be a very strong play.

Vanquisher’s Blade

Vanquishers-BladeAverage Rating: 4.0

Mgallop (4.0)
If you spellcraft this, its absurd. If you don’t, its a slightly harder to cast crownwatch longsword, so you should basically always spellcraft this, but 5 power for +2/+2 and kill a big unit is such value.

Workshop Tinker

Workshop-TinkerAverage Rating: 3.0

Mgallop (3.0)
This is what you want in a 2 drop in this format. Most importantly because in the late game, if you draw this you can convert a power into a tinker, and in the early game you can either discard a non-power to dig for power, or a power if you’re flooding. Tinker is bad, but its often better than the worst card in your hand.

Auric Herdward

Auric-HerdwardAverage Rating: 0.5

Mgallop (0.5)
If you have spells matter stuff, this is a tolerable way of activating them and sometimes getting value out of countering a removal spell, but its mostly the world’s worst protect, and protect was bad in limited.

Copperhall Bracers

Copperhall-BracersAverage Rating: 4.0

Mgallop (4.0)
The turn you play these and spellcraft them is going to be very unpleasant for your opponent. The spellcraft is cheap enough that you will usually use it, but sometimes you just want to play this on a Canary or Illumination Wisp and do a bunch of damage (and get a sigil).
Isomorphic (3.5)
It’s worth noting that the opponent can respond to the Copperhall Blessing with fast removal, so this isn’t as safe a play as it might appear at first.

Grit

GritAverage Rating: 0.5

Mgallop (0.5)
Only in spells matter decks, and the warp does sort of help it there.
Flash (0.0)
Even in spells matter decks, 3 power for a spell is not where I want to be.
Drifter (0.0)
I feel like in having cards like this in spells matters decks, you still give up a lot of value in that you’re 1 for 2ing yourself in order to get a wurmstone off. I can get behind cards like this when they do something along with enabling spell synergy, even something minor, but this one really doesn’t.

Guard Dog

Guard-DogAverage Rating: 2.5

Mgallop (2.5)
The doggy is very comparable to Highbranch Sentry from the last format. If you’re on the play and your opponent trades 2 drops with you, this puts them under a lot of pressure, but its much worse on the draw, and 3/3s become pretty blah in the mid-late game of this format.

Herald of the Parliament

Herald-of-the-ParliamentAverage Rating: 4.0

Mgallop (4.0)
Probably the best uncommon in the format. 2/2 fliers for 3 are already good (although this one has an awkward influence cost) but the ultimate here is pretty insane in limited where 4/4 fliers are just game winners. If you can, you’d like to play and ultimate this for 7 to avoid getting silenced or killed, but don’t do that if it hurts your curve too much. The +1/+1 is basically flavor text.
Isomorphic (4.0)
Uncommon Kothon.

Kosul Battlemage

Kosul-BattlemageAverage Rating: 3.0

Mgallop (3.0)
This guy makes combat really difficult for your opponent because of the potential to play combat tricks on other dudes and get 2 for 1s. The biggest downside here is how much harder 3JJ is than 3J, since this unit loses a lot of value if you’re casting it on turn 4 or 5.

Longhorn Treasurer

Longhorn-TreasurerAverage Rating: 3.0

Mgallop (3.0)
J has A LOT of endurance in this set, especially if you’re Combrei, and if this guy turns on, he’s as big as most 6 drops in the format. Even if you don’t have an endurance guy, its still a 2/3 for 3, which is bad but not embarrassing, and one your opponent may have to spew removal on to avoid getting blown out by you playing a Workshop Tinker and attacking for 5.

Master-at-Arms

Master-at-ArmsAverage Rating: 3.5

Flash (3.5)
The best Justice common in the format, hands down. Going turn 2 2-drop into turn 3 Master-at-arms is a real beating. Even if you were to draw this card later on, being able to put the buff on your biggest unit or flier can also be backbreaking for your opponent to deal with.

Reinforced Baton

Reinforced-BatonAverage Rating: 1.5

Flash (1.5)
This card is often a harder to cast AND more expensive Talon of Nostrix. The extra point of health rarely matters, but JJ and 3 power is a real cost. This is a card that I’ll be pretty reluctant to have in my deck.

Rolant’s Memorial

Rolants-MemorialAverage Rating: 1.5

Flash (1.5)
This card is pretty decent on the turn you play it, since it has a tribute like effect, and giving a unit +2/+2 is great. However, the issue is that in subsequent turns, your opponent would be playing around the effect. The relic is also dead if you don’t have any spells in your void. Thus, despite being very powerful in the right deck, I’m quite reluctant to pick this card highly. I could see this working out in a loot-heavy, spell-heavy deck though, since you are able to activate the text without sacrificing a unit in combat.
Isomorphic (0.5)
I think this card requires too much and gives too little in return. You need lots of spells, but you also need units to die, but you also need good units in play to grow.

Saddle Up

Saddle-UpAverage Rating: 2.0

Flash (2.0)
3 power for a +4/+4 trick is not great. It is overcosted, and will rarely net you more value than a Finest Hour or Strength of Many. The secret to fast spells is that they get exponentially worse for each extra power they cost (a huge reason why entrapment was decently good at 3, but very bad at 4). In a similar vein, this card is just way too expensive for what it does.
Isomorphic (2.0)
Maybe I’ll steal this space to mention that Entrapment got even worse in this set thanks to there being more/better nightfall cards and it enabling tribute for your opponent.

Warrant Officer

Warrant-OfficerAverage Rating: 1.0

Flash (1.0)
The fail case for this card is just too bad for most decks. A 0/3 for 3 is just depressing, and while being able to stun is good, stunning post combat is much worse since you are only removing the blocker for 1 turn, rather than 2.

Winchest Merchant

Winchest-MerchantAverage Rating: 3.5

Flash (3.5)
Merchants are great, and a 3 power 2/2 flier with no additional text is already playable as is. A 3 power 2/2 flier, with the Merchant ability is a easy snap pick out of most packs

Citywide Ban

Citywide-BanAverage Rating: 0.0

Flash (0.0)
4 power do-nothings are a great way to lose the game. To make matters worse, your opponent might not even draw the card you’ve banned. Talk about feelsbadman.

Geomar, the Steel Tempest

Geomar-the-Steel-TempestAverage Rating: 4.0

Flash (4.0)
4 power 3/2 flier, with 2 relevant keywords is good, but what makes Geomar stand out is the additional text. This card is very hard for your opponent to block and attack into, and with the Lifesteal buff, racing against this is also not an option. Justice also has quite a few good tricks at <2 cost, making this card active a decent among of the time.

Graceful Calligrapher

Graceful-CalligrapherAverage Rating: 3.0

Flash (3.0)
A 3/4 for 4 is not exciting, but still a decent statline regardless. There is also somewhat of a small endurance matters sub-theme in the format, so that is another notch in it’s favor. Endurance also helps it to wear buffs and weapons better.
Drifter (2.5)
I’m slightly lower on this card since there aren’t really that many cards that benefit from endurance and a horned vorlunk doesn’t attack well for very long so the endurance on this card often goes wasted (for example if your opponent has two 2/2s or a 3/3 and a 1/3).

Resolute Paladin

Resolute-PaladinAverage Rating: 1.5

Flash (1.5)
4/1 for 4 means it just rolls over to a stiff breeze. Being invulnerable to damage is nice, but being forced to play a fast spell to eat a 1/1 is not what I want from my 4 drops.
Drifter (2.0)
I think this card is a fine playable, rising to a 2.5 in Combrei. It combines well with sharpened reflexes, most tricks and predator’s instinct effects in time and your Combrei decks are naturally going to have a lot of spells to enable this and it carries weapons quite well. I don’t think enough decks have 1/1s just lying around to really hinder this.

Sheriff Marley

Sheriff-MarleyAverage Rating: 4.0

Flash (4.0)
4/4 for 4 with Aegis is already a great starting point, and the ability just means that Sheriff Marley can often take over the board if unanswered. Flooding the board with 1/1s means that your opponent will almost never be able to push through on the ground.
Isomorphic (4.0)
It’s easy to forget about the tribute effect given how much this card has going on, but it’s nice upside as well…

Sheriff’s Hat

Sheriffs-HatAverage Rating: 3.5

Flash (3.5)
The new Morningstar is almost as good as the old one. Trading overwhelm for the spellcraft Detain is perfectly acceptable. I expect this card to be played unkicked 50~60% of the time, but occasionally, Detain could help you force out awkward chump blocks on your opponent and prevent trades.
Isomorphic (3.5)
I think this is worse than Morningstar given how nice overwhelm is on huge weaponed units, but still very good.

Sky Crew

Sky-CrewAverage Rating: 2.0

Isomorphic (2.0)
A 2/4 for 4 is a passable midgame body and the ability can be very strong if you get to 8 power in a stalled board. That said, I feel like this card doesn’t line up well in the format – stalls are usually broken earlier by powerful 6/7-cost spellcraft plays, and J is one of the most aggressive colors.
Drifter (2.5)
J can also be a very solid support colour for non-aggressive decks (in combrei, for example). The combination of blocking quite well and having a very strong late game effect that usually requires a silence (at a time where your opponent will hopefully have lots of things to silence) means I’m slightly higher on this card than the other reviewers. Also, having to spend 8 mana isn’t as big a deal when you can often kill your opponents in just 1 or 2 activations.
Flash (2.0)
The main problem is that 8 power is A LOT in this format with lots of good power sinks and discard outlets. You also need the board to be sufficiently stalled such that you can afford to exhaust two units and spend 8 power. That said, this card gives you a lot of reach, and somewhat of an inevitability.

Crownwatch Recruiter

Crownwatch-RecruiterAverage Rating: 1.5

Isomorphic (1.0)
The tribute here isn’t very significant so this is mostly Jotun Warrior, but still this is fine filler if you want a somewhat defensive 5-drop unit.

Downfall

DownfallAverage Rating: 1.0

Isomorphic (1.0)
This is just too clunky… 5-cost removal that doesn’t have that many targets in the format. Having dead cards in your hand is very bad, and this is dead a lot of the time.

Rampart Arbalest

Rampart-ArbalestAverage Rating: 2.5

Isomorphic (2.5)
Compared with Downfall, this 5-cost removal card is rarely dead and has the potential to get a 2-for-1, though most often it will just kill one medium unit and gain some life.

Answer the Call

Answer-the-CallAverage Rating: 0.5

Isomorphic (0.5)
You need this to play a 5/5 or so on average for this to be worth considering, and most draft decks won’t come close since you need a combination of a lot of medium/big units and a lot of medium/big weapons.

End of the Story

End-of-the-StoryAverage Rating: 4.5

Isomorphic (4.5)
This is worse than Harsh Rule because sometimes you’ll die or miss the best moment to sweep the board before you get to 6 power, but Warp does compensate for that partially by letting you play it a turn sooner when in topdeck mode. Regardless, the format is slow enough that a 6-cost sweeper is still great.

Heirloom Blade

Heirloom-BladeAverage Rating: 1.0

Isomorphic (1.0)
This is weak at full price and usually not worth sacrificing a unit to play for cheap. If you have a bunch of good sacrifice fodder (Grenadin Drone, Dark Wisp, Slumbering Stone) then this goes up, but it’s still not a large payoff. Sanguine Sword is likely better than this.

Ironfist Archon

Ironfist-ArchonAverage Rating: 3.5

Isomorphic (3.5)
This gives you inevitability if it sticks around, but it is very slow. Unless the board is actually stalled, you probably can’t afford to activate this very frequently. A 5/5 body helps with stabilizing the board sometimes, but if you are being attacked by fliers then this is probably not going to search up blockers in time to help.

Silverwing Purgeleader

Silverwing-PurgeleaderAverage Rating: 3.0

Isomorphic (3.0)
This is tied (with Speardiver) for the largest non-rare flier in the format. 6-cost 3/4 flier might not sound like much if you are used to Stormcrashers and Cobalt Monuments, but we don’t have those cards any more. Getting lifesteal some fraction of the time is very nice, but don’t hesitate to play this without tribute.

Silverwing Augmentor

Silverwing-AugmentorAverage Rating: 2.0

Isomorphic (2.0)
This isn’t a particularly exciting 7-drop, but if you want one then this does give a reasonable amount of value, pushing damage the turn you play it and leaving a solid body behind.

Unbreakable Alliance

Unbreakable-AllianceAverage Rating: 0.0

Isomorphic (0.0)
This doesn’t do anything, and isn’t even a good spells-matter enabler because of how expensive it is.

Sigvard, the Last Bastion

Sigvard-the-Last-BastionAverage Rating: 1.5

Isomorphic (1.5)
This is a 5-cost 4/5 lifesteal that often isn’t playable on turn 5, but I think it gets there often enough thanks to the high spell count in this format. This rating is approximately what I would give to a 6JJ 4/5 lifesteal.

Closing Thoughts

Set 4 Justice feels surprisingly aggressive, with cheap and powerful tricks from both packs (Finest Hour, Sharpened Reflexes, etc) and one of the best aggressive turn 3 plays (Master-at-Arms). That doesn’t mean it can’t play the long game though, with the one of the biggest flier in the format (Purgeleader, at common too!) and some amazing value-orientated bombs (Ironfist Archon, Sheriff Marley). This faction definitely feels well-rounded and pretty easy to draft. What are your experiences with Justice in this format? As always, let me know your thoughts on the reddit thread!

Perhaps NP will return when Unbreakable Alliance gets nerfed =P,
Flash2351