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

Hi everyone! For the Primal set review, we have none other than the top connoisseur of bad primal cards, Mgallop to lead the reviews. While he is definitely an impressive drafter in his own right, there is always a risk of drafting a 30 power deck with 8 Fosoras and 7 Weather the Storms if he’s involved. The previous set reviews are available here: FireTime, Justice.

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)

Clan Standard

Clan-StandardAverage Rating: 3.5

Mgallop (3.5)
Standards are great and this one especially.
Isomorphic (3.5)
This type of removal spell is worse in this format because of tribute, but a power that turns into a removal spell is still great.

Gift of Battle

Gift-of-BattleAverage Rating: 0.5

Mgallop (0.5)
Not worth a power or a card for its effect, maybe if you have 3 wurmstones. Save this card for ranked.
Isomorphic (0.5)
I see this as similar to Light ’em Up – playable only if you are desperate for spells.

Savage Denial

Savage-DenialAverage Rating: 0.0

Mgallop (0.0)
Don’t play negates in draft. And this is the worst one.
Drifter (0.0)
If I could give this card a negative grade, I would.

Shiver

ShiverAverage Rating: 1.5

Mgallop (1.5)
Really bad removal since it only kills small creatures and can’t remove blockers. This will still often be better than the 20th power, and the nightfall enabling isn’t terrible.
Drifter (1.5)
Unfortunately, I think 2 damage is worse in this format since there are a lot of high health low attack creatures but Shiver is a fine playable in a nightfall deck since it will usually find a target, even if not a very exciting one.
Isomorphic (1.5)
This is a mediocre nightfall enabler because it can’t always be played, but it’s still a passable bad removal spell.

Snowrager

SnowragerAverage Rating: 1.0

Mgallop (1.0)
Need tribute to be worth a card. Even if you guaranteed that it’s meh.
Isomorphic (1.0)
This isn’t a tribute card, it’s a Jotun Punter card. I wouldn’t consider playing this without at least 2 Punters (preferably 3), but punting for 10 is no joke.

Substitute

SubstituteAverage Rating: 1.0

Mgallop (1.0)
Card is flexible but both modes (shit Polymorph and shit buff) are not good. Still playable in extremis.
Flash (0.5)
The problem with being a bad Polymorph is that Polymorph has already gotten worse in this weapons heavy format, transforming an opposing unit to a 3/3 often doesn’t help much. Using it as a buff is also sketchy, since at best, its only a +2/+2 if you have multiple 1/1s in your deck

Campfire Watchman

Campfire-WatchmanAverage Rating: 2.5

Mgallop (2.5)
If you plan to win in the air this card is a really good defender. If you plan to attack on the ground its much worse.
Isomorphic (2.5)
Even if you plan to attack on the ground, having a couple blockers like this that shut off tribute and make it hard to race can be pretty good.

Changeestik

ChangeestikAverage Rating: 4.0

Mgallop (4.0)
Best nonrare in the set. You make a wincon and kill one of your opponents, with the backup plan of elders feather.
Isomorphic (4.0)
There are only about 10 rares/legendaries I’d take over this p1p1, too.

Dusk Raider

Dusk-RaiderAverage Rating: 3.0

Mgallop (3.0)
Both abilities are kinda medium but 2/2s for 2 don’t need much to be good.
Isomorphic (2.5)
I think 2/2s for 2 need a lot to be good in this format. This is one of the better ones, though, enabling nightfall and giving a small amount of value with inspire.

Gruanform

GruanformAverage Rating: 1.5

Mgallop (1.5)
2 power for a trick that’s not good at killing things in fights is a bit steep, but this card is pretty good at saving dudes, and ok at having them win fights. I’d like card more if 1 less power and didn’t buff attack. I miss Weather The Storm.
Isomorphic (1.5)
Slightly better than Weather the Storm despite costing 2 because it can turn a losing combat into a winning combat.
Flash (1.5)
The irony when a trick is better than the unit it’s based on.

Honored Skyguard

Honored-SkyguardAverage Rating: 3.5

Mgallop (3.5)
Double influence is rough but this is a really solid flier with added value.
Flash (4.0)
Rather than thinking of this as a hard to cast 2 drop, think of this as a 4 power 3/3 flier with loot that you can occasionally play on 2 instead or split apart to fit your curve.
Isomorphic (4.0)
Even ignoring the possibility of playing this on turn 2 or turn 3, a 4PP 3/3 flier that cycles one of your cards would be very good, especially in this format.

Huddle Together

Huddle-TogetherAverage Rating: 1.0

Mgallop (1.0)
This can get you a 2 for 1 and the art is adorable but it’s still too situational and low impact for its power cost. Also gives you some depleted 7/9 wurms!

Iceberg Hailshrieker

Iceberg-HailshriekerAverage Rating: 2.0

Mgallop (2.0)
The yeti tag lost a lot of it’s value but this is still a 2/2 with real upside.
Flash (2.0)
Notably, this is a 2-drop that can enable BOTH tribute and spark.

Lida’s Apprentice

Lidas-ApprenticeAverage Rating: 3.0

Mgallop (3.0)
2/3 for 2 and the ability is real value since theres a lot of silence in the format. Not worth taking over good cards, but fills out your curve with some bonuses.

Portent Reader

Portent-ReaderAverage Rating: 1.0

Mgallop (1.0)
1/1 fliers for 2 are bad unless you can get a lot of value out of the spells matter or discard thing.
Isomorphic (1.0)
This is also one of the more reliable spark enablers for Clan Hero if you are in Skycrag.

Read the Stars

Read-the-StarsAverage Rating: 1.0

Mgallop (1.0)
If you’re in nightfall, this is a fine way of refreshing your guys without losing value. Otherwise, paying 2 for a do nothing, taking a damage, and letting your opponent draw the first card is a great way to die.
Isomorphic (1.5)
This also serves as a spell for Wurmstone.

Snowfort Trumpeter

Snowfort-TrumpeterAverage Rating: 2.0

Mgallop (2.0)
The yeti tag lost a lot of it’s value but this is still a 2/2 with real upside. Oh I already said that. Anyway, you’re most likely not tributing on 2, but this does get a bit better than most 2s in the lategame.
Isomorphic (1.5)
I don’t like a 2/2 for 2 in this format and playing a 3/3 on turn 4 or 5 is not great either, so I’m not really in for this without yeti synergy.

Tend the Flock

Tend-the-FlockAverage Rating: 0.5

Mgallop (0.5)
If you have a ton of spells matter stuff, or like a bunch of xenan obelisks, this might be playable, albeit bad.

Torrential Downpour

Torrential-DownpourAverage Rating: 1.5

Mgallop (1.5)
You are basically able to play about 1 card that kills x/1s, and this is a very solid one. Rating would be higher but you basically never want 2 in your deck since if they don’t have a target and you draw 2, you’re so behind.
Flash (2.0)
This is my favorite bad card in this set. I feel like there are enough powerful X/1s (Living Example, Fearless Yeti, Pteriax Hatchlings and so on) in this format that I am rarely disappointed to draw this card. Being non-symmetric also makes this card less likely to be dead, since you can do stuff like swing with a 3/3 into a 2/4 and Downpour post-combat. The scout is just the cherry on top of the cake. I do agree with mgallop that the second copy is much worse than the first, but I think running 2 is acceptable in a deck light on playables since you are quite unlikely to draw both within the span of a game.

Acquisitive Crow

Acquisitive-CrowAverage Rating: 4.0

Mgallop (4.0)
This is the only way to get weather the storm in the format, so value it highly. Also, a 2/1 flying berserk for 3 would be very solid, and this gives you card advantage, or bloodhall invocations…
Drifter (4.0)
I think if you even get one attack with this card and it’s blocked by a 2/2 flier, the average case of 1 cost spells is enough that you got some real value, especially in a set with a lot of cards that care about spell synergy.
Flash (4.0)
Notably, there are a lot of loot and loot-like effects (such as the 2-drop discard a card for a spell cycle) so even if your Acquisitive Crow likes to draw Bloodcall Invocations, you can still convert it into card advantage.
Isomorphic (3.5)
Double influence is rough and there is a lot of silence in this format, so I’m a little down on this.

Advance Scout

Advance-ScoutAverage Rating: 2.5

Mgallop (2.5)
Evasion is good as is scout, but the body is really unimpressive and behind curve, and it dies to a stiff breeze.
Isomorphic (3.0)
I think a 2/1 flier for 3 is fine in this format, and the infiltrate is real upside.

Aerial Battle

Aerial-BattleAverage Rating: 1.5

Mgallop (1.5)
Very contextual rating. If you have a lot of fliers this card is unplayable. If you have only a few, this is a violent gust or thereabout, if you have none, this can potentially save you.
Drifter (1.5)
Goes well in decks that would play Sandstorm Scarf.
Flash (1.0)
The problem is that the majority of the good fliers in the format is in Primal, so you would rarely want to play this card if you are in Primal. If you are in Primal, and don’t have enough good fliers, you probably have bigger problems than worrying whether Aerial Battle is rated 1 or 1.5. This is a pretty good Market card though since you can fetch it on the rare occasions where your opponent has removed all your fliers and still have multiple of his own.
Isomorphic (1.0)
Even in decks with few fliers, this has the usual risks of Violent Gust (being a dead card if your opponent doesn’t play a flier) as well as additional risks from being double-influence.

Entangling Vines

Entangling-VinesAverage Rating: 1.5

Mgallop (1.5)
Better than flash freeze just on aesthetics, but way worse on play. Slow stun loses half a turn of value, and warp doesn’t compensate because most of the time you’d rather develop your board.
Isomorphic (1.5)
In more aggressive decks I’m usually happy enough to play one of these.
Flash (1.0)
Slow flash freeze loses a ton of value. It’s a lot worse on the defensive since it only stops 1 turn of attack, instead of 2. Moreover, you lose the ability to blow out double blocks by the opponent and also does not provide you with any counter-play to an opponent’s fast spell. Unlike what some redditors would like you to believe, picking this card highly is a huge mistake.

Horde Plunderer

Horde-PlundererAverage Rating: 2.5

Mgallop (2.5)
Huh? You dont want to play 1/4s for 3 without much more upside than this gives, tho I do want to live the dream of playing a bunch of changeestiks, thats mostly because I want a bunch of changeestiks.
Flash (2.5)
I think this card is worth picking relatively highly because decks often tend to end up with about 3 or 4 spellcraft weapons. Being able to play all your weapons kicked for free is huge and the amount of tempo that you gain is huge. The beserk also synergizes nicely with playing weapons on this body.
Isomorphic (3.0)
I don’t think a 1/4 for 3 is that bad a base rate, and the upside on this is very real. Especially good with Welding Torch.

Jennev Merchant

Jennev-MerchantAverage Rating: 3.5

Mgallop (3.5)
This is sort of like crafty yeti. The body is better because of aegis, and market is usually better than looting (and no need for spark). Still, I don’t think this is as good as the other merchants just because of the body’s low quality.

Lethrai Darkstalker

Lethrai-DarkstalkerAverage Rating: 3.0

Mgallop (3.0)
This card is very comparable to Auric Record Keeper. At the worst you get an attack and a block as a 4/4 and then every further nightfall gives you two attacks. A key reason night is less embarrassing in this format.
Drifter (3.0)
The 0/4 body is a lot more useful in this than previous formats since it denies tribute so even getting one attack through as a 4/4 and then having an 0/4 for a while until you find more nightfall can be fine.
Isomorphic (3.0)
Drafting a bunch of these in packs 1/4 and Winter’s Grasps in packs 2/3 is a real deck now, unlike Set 3 nightfall.

Lethrai Secretweaver

Lethrai-SecretweaverAverage Rating: 2.0

Mgallop (2.0)
3PP is SOO much harder than 3P, and the ability is just not that good. You dont have that many real spells and paying 4 to make one a wisdom of the elders is rarely worth it since your average spell will only draw 1.2 non-power in a game.
Drifter (2.5)
I’m slightly higher on this card since I think there are enough situational spells in primal to make the ability quite good (such as Torrential Downpour), to say nothing of snowballs from cards like Hurler and Jotun Cyclops. Also, it does not exhaust to use its ability unlike many similar cards so you can attack and block and use this ability which reduces the tempo loss.

Rabid Yeti

Rabid-YetiAverage Rating: 1.5

Mgallop (1.5)
If you can buff this it gets real, but otherwise, this is probably not much better than Nocturnal Kyrex, either in cost or in effect. Note that this becomes decent with punter, but doesnt really pay off the other yeti synergy cards.

Temple Shihan

Temple-ShihanAverage Rating: 4.0

Mgallop (4.0)
I would complain about the 3PP cost, but well, this effect is worth it. This card gives you tons of inevitability, and the curse gives one of your opponent’s units a relevant battle skill. My one concern is that when you’re under pressure, this doesn’t stem the bleeding that well and reckless is just upside since it means your opponent can’t forget to a+space.
Isomorphic (3.5)
I’ll complain about the 3PP cost, since gallop refused to do so… I think this card is great but a lot of the upside is situational (reckless sometimes doesn’t have good targets, and you still need to draw non-flying units after playing this for inspire to do anything) and you can’t even play it reliably on turn 3 because of the influence cost.

Breeze Dancer

Breeze-DancerAverage Rating: 4.0

Mgallop (4.0)
4PP for a 2/4 flier would be like a 3 on its own, and this ability is really threatening.

Galeprowler

GaleprowlerAverage Rating: 1.0

Mgallop (1.0)
If you have enough spells and a very aggressive deck this can get there, otherwise its too vulnerable to silences and pings.
Drifter (1.5)
While mostly a bad card, I’m inclined to give it an extra 0.5 due to the ability to ambush fliers with fast spells and to push damage through a stalled board (which an aggressive deck often struggles to do).

Icespear Chucker

Icespear-ChuckerAverage Rating: 0.5

Mgallop (0.5)
Just not enough effect for a really bad rate.

Resurface

ResurfaceAverage Rating: 0.5

Mgallop (0.5)
If you have harsh rule or end of the story, this is playable, otherwise this is AWFUL. You just lose so much tempo playing it that the card needs to have a profound effect to be worth it. And its -1 card unless you warp it.

Scavenging Spikeback

Scavenging-SpikebackAverage Rating: 3.0

Mgallop (2.5)
A very solid P tribute payoff that is not embarrassing if you don’t proc it. Better by a lot in aggro decks.
Isomorphic (3.0)
In my opinion, 3/3 for 4 is sort of embarrassing in this format, but P is good enough at getting tribute that I like this well enough in most P decks.

Spiritward Shaman

Spiritward-ShamanAverage Rating: 1.0

Mgallop (1.0)
Worse than meditation trainer by a lot, this is playable if you have a bunch of fliers and want a defensive body, but you can usually do better.

Aeva, Eilyn’s Elite

Aeva-Eilyns-EliteAverage Rating: 4.5

Mgallop (4.5)
Well a 4/5 Flying for 5PP is very very good, and the tribute is great and the infiltrate is great… (Artistic recreation of Mgallop rating Aeva)

Big Brother

Big-BrotherAverage Rating: 3.0

Mgallop (3.0)
An 8/8 for 5 with 2 relevant abilities! You probably need a few ways to enable this for it to be worth playing, either silences, ways to get the little brothers through, or ummm, I guess fear aggregator (dont do that one), but if you can enable it, the payoff is great for my Large Jotun Son.
Flash (3.0)
Having played with this card, I feel that it is extremely powerful. Firstly, you can draft other silences so that you don’t have to rely on your Little Brothers getting through. Secondly, even without silences, it’s often very costly for your opponent to block both Little Brothers, if they can even do so in the first place, since Little Brothers can remove a blocker for 2 turns and you can often abuse that to push a ton of damage. Lastly, Primal has quite a few ways to help you get Little Brothers through, with cards like Changeestik and Jump Kick.

First-Frost Shaman

First-Frost-ShamanAverage Rating: 2.0

Mgallop (2.0)
This is like, the best possible Jotun Warrior, so for decks that want Jotun Warrior(decks with good evasion and late game) this can really clog up the ground to let you win.

Gleaming Shield

Gleaming-ShieldAverage Rating: 3.0

Mgallop (3.0)
None of the rates on this look good at all, but spellcraft is good, and 5 for a bad shielded shortbarrel is tolerable, while 7 for a weapon + a copy of your best unit (with aegis!) is pretty great.
Isomorphic (3.5)
I disagree strongly that this is a bad shielded shortbarrel – one of the weaknesses of shielded shortbarrel was always that it didn’t do much to help the unit survive in combat or against killer/relic weapons, and this does.

Sack the City

Sack-the-CityAverage Rating: 0.5

Mgallop (0.5)
This is probably better than bad news, but berserk is just not worth enough en masse for this to be worth a card and a bunch of power. There are cute combos with the fact that berserk gives units 2 battle skills, but this seems not worth it.

Speardiver

SpeardiverAverage Rating: 3.0

Mgallop (3.0)
Just a great rate, would play this without berserk, and that creates a lot of incidental options. The body is just way bigger than most of the attackers, and flying is still good.

Cliffside Caretaker

Cliffside-CaretakerAverage Rating: 1.0

Mgallop (1.0)
This card is great for breaking a board stall wide open, but its also a 6 drop that is a 2/4 and on average it takes about 2.5 turns to get the first relevant skill off of it.
Drifter (1.0)
I disagree that this card is “great for breaking a board stall wide open” since there’s a lot of silence in the set and it often takes 2 or 3 turns to draw your first creature off it. The cost of playing a 6 power 2/4 is often very real.
Flash (1.0)
Inspire is very similar to Warcry. It is extremely powerful on early units, and much less so on late units. Games are often going to end around the time you play your 6-drops, if not before, so you are rarely going to get much value off of this card.

End of Hostilities

End-of-HostilitiesAverage Rating: 4.0

Mgallop (4.0)
Clone is always good, the ability for you to copy your opponent’s units puts this miles ahead of Clutchmate and Mirror Image(which were never any good) since this guarantees you the best unit on the board. If you warp it, it’s insane. If you tribute it, it’s double insane. If you warp and tribute it…

Moonlight Huntress

Moonlight-HuntressAverage Rating: 3.0

Mgallop (3.0)
Very comparable to Malediction Reader. Of course, if you can consistently get nightfall, she’s as good as the reader, and if you can’t, well, 2/2s for 6 aren’t very good. But there’s enough incidental nightfall, and she’s good enough to make it worth warping your deck.
Isomorphic (3.0)
Like Lethrai Darkstalker, this always gets one turn of blocking and one turn of attacking while huge.

Shamanic Blast

Shamanic-BlastAverage Rating: 1.0

Mgallop (1.0)
This is a build around that really doesn’t pay you off for warping your deck. The base rate is abysmal, and the dream payoff is “a slightly more expensive torch that can’t hit players”.

Enraged Araktodon

Enraged-AraktodonAverage Rating: 2.5

Drifter (2.5)
I end up taking arak a little lower since primal has seemed to me a faction that doesn’t really need ground 7 drops in this format, since evasion is hard to give in this set and since arak doesn’t actually attack that well into many boards when not backed up by a trick or weapon, neither of which primal is great at. However, in skycrag or hooru decks with buffs and weapons or in a deck with exhaust or stun cards (or even in ely decks with ramp), I could see arak going up to a 3.

Kenna, Shaman of the Scale

Kenna-Shaman-of-the-ScaleAverage Rating: 4.0

Mgallop (4.0)
7 is a lot, but this is like “carnosaur + flying + possibly spell stuff”. If your deck can reach 7, she’s really really strong, though if you’re being swarmed, she won’t do much.

Thunder Giant

Thunder-GiantAverage Rating: 1.0

Mgallop (1.0)
If you can reach 8, and live for a turn with this unmolested and have a spell in hand, this ability is quite strong, but all of those conditions make this a card that is rarely going to be worth it.
Flash (1.0)
8 is a lot more than 7, which is a lot more than 6. I feel like this card is very powerful, but will often be stuck in your hand because you didn’t draw enough power. The 6/6 body also doesn’t do much to contest the board for a 8 drop, so it isn’t great if you are behind.

Closing Thoughts

Set 4 Primal is basically characterized by one card: Changeestik. This card is easily the strongest common in Set 4, and its a close fight between Changeestik and Archive Curator for the best common overall. This card alone pushes Primal way up in power level and having lots of other strong cards, including the 3rd best common (Pteriax Hatchlings), makes Primal easily one of the top 2 factions in my book (if not the best).

There are also a few interesting sub-themes that are present in Primal. Firstly, Nightfall seems to have become much more localized into Primal, and has also become a much more powerful and viable theme with triggers and payoffs in all 4 packs. Lethrai Darkstalker and Winter’s Grasp are great Nightfall commons that both trigger and reward you for nightfall while Moonlight Huntress is extremely powerful if you have enough nightfall in your deck. You generally want to be in either Elysian or Feln for these decks since you can get incidental nightfall in your secondary factions as well, though I’ve seen powerful Nightfall decks in Skycrag and Hooru as well.

The yetis tribal suffered a huge blow with the removal of Yeti Windflyer, but the rest of the yeti package remained mostly untouched. Set 4 also supplemented a few filler yetis, but most of the Yeti tribal’s power comes from the curated packs. Jotun Punter and Slope Sergeant are still as powerful, and Slushdumper can easily grow into the biggest threat on board. While no longer the powerhouse it was in Set 3 draft, the powerful yetis are often worth speculating on if you are in Primal.

What are your experiences with Primal? Feel free to share in the reddit thread!

Until Neext Tie,
Flash2351