Hi everyone! As you’ve probably already seen, we have released our sparkling new tier list for the FoA draft format. The introduction of the new cards have changed the format substantially, thus, it wasn’t as simple as copying our Set 3 card ratings for the draft packs. In today’s article, I’m going to be talking about the contents of the curated packs and what are the biggest winners and losers from the transition from Set 3 to Set 4.
Nightfall cards are probably the biggest winners in the transition from Set 3 to Set 4. Previously, cards like Winter’s Grasp, Twilight Hermit, are a huge risk to take. There is only packs 1 and 4 for you to draft enough nightfall AND payoff cards to justify moving in. As such, it is often correct to simply ignore Nightfall as an overarching theme and just draft solid, individually good cards.
So what changed? Well, for starters, Primal got another premier Nightfall card at Common, Lethrai Darkstalker, or more affectionately known as BARK (Blue Auric Record Keeper). This unit is HUGE for its cost, and often worth picking up early. Being both an enabler and a payoff card makes this card a great asset if your deck is going to have a Nightfall theme. BARK is a significant upgrade over Baying Serasaur because it is also able to block as a 4/4, whereas Baying Serasaur is extremely bad on the defensive.
There are also quite a few other Nightfall enablers, such as Dusk Raider, Moonlight Huntress, Shiver, etc, in Set 4. Thus. being able to pick up enablers and payoffs in all 4 packs makes drafting Nightfall decks much more consistent and much easier for players to hit the critical mass of Nightfall cards for your combo to go off.
2. Lifeforce cards
Lifeforce cards were somewhat of a theme in Set 2, but was nearly non-existent in Set 3 draft. The main issue then was the lack of payoffs (because you only had 1 pack of Set 2 as payoffs) and the lack of good enablers. Well, Set 4 draft format fixed both problems. Firstly, with 2 curated packs, you have a much higher chance of cracking good lifeforce cards, such as Katra, the Devoted and Umbren Thirster. This is a much more minor reason though, and the main reason for the increase in Lifeforce viability is the surge in good enablers. Set 4 introduced a whole host of cards that have incidental lifegain, including Learned Herbalist, Veteran Strategist and Vital Arcana. Moreover, Shadow received a premier lifesteal unit in the form of Corrupted Umbren, while also picking up Xenan Lifespeaker and Surgeon’s Saw at common.
Lifeforce, however, is not a buildaround theme. Often, it’s a side advantage that your deck can garner due to the incidental lifegain that your deck has. I would simply pick cards like Umbren Thirster and Cabal Slasher higher if my deck already has the incidental lifegain, or if I’m in the right factions (Xenan). I would still avoid bad lifeforce payoffs (Bloodcall Invocation) and bad enablers (Harbringer’s Bite) though.
3. Weapons/Spells Matters Cards
The additional of Spellcraft into the format has made decks much more spell and weapons dense. In turn, this has made Weapons and Spells Matters cards much more powerful than before because you can trigger them with much more ease. Weapons matter cards, such as Cabal Bludgeoner, Oni Quartermaster, are clear beneficiaries from the higher weapon count, but in additional to them, units with double damage are also incidental beneficiaries, with cards like Renegade Valkyrie and Stonepowder Heretic getting a nice bump up.
Spells Matters cards (Fevered Scout, Kaleb Reborn, Sandglass Sentinel) also received a nice buff, not just due to Spellcraft, but also due to the new cycle of Standards as well as the introduction of good cheap spells (Sharpened Reflex, Training Grounds, etc).
4. Situational Cards
Situational cards have also gotten slightly better in this format. Set 4 has introduced quite a lot of looting and loot-like effects, where you can discard a card to: 1) draw a card from your market (Merchants), 2) Create a specific spell (Cycle of bears) or 3) Draw a card from your discard/deck (Lumen Attendent, Honored Skyguard).
With this amount of looting, powerful, but situational, cards are less of an liability. Moreover, these cards can easily be played in the Market if you are able to pick up a Merchant. Speaking of which, Merchants add a lot to deck building and drafting in general, and I’m extremely happy about their introduction. I would also like to showcase one of the most interesting uses of Merchants, that I proudly dub: splaschant! Splashing cards with the merchant not only ensured that I won’t end up with a handful of shadow cards with no shadow influence, but it also allowed me to run situational cards that can be fetched for the right situation.
Gunslingers are probably the biggest loser, with a huge chunk of them being simply cut from the curated packs. First Shot Rioter was a powerful role player in the gunslinger tribal and multiple 2-3 cost slingers helped to ensure Triggerman came down fast and aggressive. But now, with most of the gunslingers out of the format, Triggerman sufffers a huge knock, because a 5 power 3/3 is really not where you want to be in this format.
In general, tribal seems to be on the way out, and gunslingers probably got the biggest kick of them all. As such, I would assign little to no value to the Gunslinger tag now, and simply pick the units based on their stats.
Yetis also suffered a huge blow in the loss of Yeti Windflyer. This card was the most powerful common payoff for being yetis and also one of the main reasons why primal was so powerful in Set 3.
Outside of Yeti Windflyer though, the rest of the yeti package remained untouched. This puts the yetis in an interesting spot, where while not as busted as Set 3 yetis, it’s still decently powerful, with payoffs such as Slope Sergeant and Jotun Punter if you manage to draft enough yetis. These cards, however, become riskier picks as well, since you really don’t want to play them with fewer than 3 yetis. That said, I have managed to draft quite a few sweet primal decks with yetis, and would still pick these payoff cards reasonably highly in pack 2, especially if I’ve picked up a few yetis in pack 1 already.
Wild Rider is the only yeti that I’ve become much more down on. It was great in Set 3 because the curve of Yeti Windflyer into Wild Rider was a scary one. Moreover, there were a lot more ways to grant evasion in Set 3 (Cobalt Acolyte, Freewing Glider, etc) so the text on Wild Rider was pretty relevant. In Set 4 though, you are rarely able to connect with Wild Rider, and without Yeti Windflyer and being a poor Bond target for Slope Sergeant, Wild Rider has felt much like pre-buff Scaly Gruan to me in a lot of decks. I would say though, that the card can still do work if you manage to pick up payoffs like Jotun Punter and Slushdumper.
Set 4 draft is definitely a whole new ball game compared to Set 3 draft, and I am definitely having a blast with it. The curated packs have felt well-tuned, and I’m glad to see that DWD has clearly moved off the Bond mechanic (of which I have spoken at length about why I dislike it). This format has felt pretty fun to draft, with the general pool of good cards, but also the introduction of fun themes (nightfall, lifeforce, sacrifice, etc) that can either be your entire strategy, or simply a fringe benefit that your deck can run at no cost. As always, let me know your thoughts on the Reddit thread! And before I go, let me leave you with this extremely fun Argenport Sacrifice (Rolant’s Memorial) deck that I drafted!
For the Greater Good!