Last week I talked about Fall of Argenport draft, presenting Sunyveil’s pick order list for all the cards in the format. As I mentioned back then, the curated packs are just as important, if not more, than set 4 packs to shape this format. In this article, I will discuss what cards are in these packs, talk about key cards, how they changed in value in this new draft setting and what are the synergy-based strategies you can develop through these packs.
Since you should be somewhat settled on factions by pack 2, instead of showing the bombs in the curated packs I wanted to show the cards that you should strongly consider splashing:
Paladin Oathbook is the trickiest one of these, as you will want to deploy it as soon as possible, but its effect is strong enough that it is worth considering adding a faction if it fits your strategy. As you can see, most of these cards either dominate the game when played or provide very strong 2-for-1’s. Naturally, the multi-faction cards should only be considered if you are already in one of their factions.
Following these, there are the single influence removal spells (Vanquish, Annihilate, Slay), but they do lose some efficiency once they are in your splash factions, so in general, you shouldn’t take them over good cards in your factions unless you already have a lot of fixing.
The Best Commons by Faction
Let's see the best commons by faction based on Sunyveil's ratings:
Fire gets the best common of the set in Torch. The rest of Sunyveil’s gradings are a bit more controversial. Oni Ronin would easily take the second spot for me, as it almost always forces your opponent to trade down and can generate so much value if they stumble. Scrap Hound clearly needs some Grenadin friends, but units in this draft format are way smaller, so it will usually be the biggest body on the board while also being aggressive. Gun Down is a fine removal spell, but there are enough cards that do similar things so you will usually have enough of this effect.
Finest Hour has also benefited from the smaller stats in this format, so it can easily win most combats. There are a couple of strong cards I’m not sure should have been left off of this list such as Entrapment and Frontier Confessor.
This may be a bit biased towards Yeti, but Slope Sergeant is a really powerful card in the right deck. Jotun Cyclops is more of a generically strong card that always delivers and so is Yeti Snowslinger. Wisdom is a strong card when you are trying to make power to play your spellcraft weapons. At the same time, you really can’t have more than two of such effects in your deck if you expect to beat the faster decks. Note that Primal is a bit weaker in terms of fliers in these packs; the best one is Skysnapper, which does need a specific deck to deliver.
Rapid Shot, even after the nerf, was always a strong combat trick and Berserk pushes it over the top. You can just randomly kill your opponent with it or gain a billion life in conjunction with Corrupted Umbren. Bludgeoner does need you to play weapons, but you probably would already be anyway and it becomes a must kill threat once it wears one. Dark Return is a very splashable card if you have a good amount of fixing.
Time is really missing a (good) signature fatty in the curated packs and that ends up having consequences across the whole draft format. Xenan Guardian is probably the closest thing to it and its absurd stats after the ultimate should be even more game ending. I think Initiate of the Sands is a bit overrated by Suny and somehow I have never felt that this type of ramp was what won games of limited in Eternal. Everyone knows that Amber Acolyte is great value, but it is worth saying that it is one of the best Tribute enablers in the set.
(After publishing I realized I am missing Archive Curator from Suny's list as the best common in Time).
I love drafting Yetis! So much so that I get jealous every time my opponent bonds a Slope Sergeant, even if I end up winning the game. I may be a bit biased, but I believe that even restricted to curated packs, Yetis is a good archetype in this draft format. Yeti units are basically divided into 'enablers' and 'payoffs'. These are the best pay off cards for this archetype:
As for enablers, take the cheap ones that are not below curve (stay away from the 1 attack ones):
Even though this is a Skycrag Tribe, so much of it is in Primal that you can draft it by pairing with other factions.
Similarly to Yetis, Grenadins get a lot of love from the curated packs. I have always found Grenadins quite hard to draft, but it is equally powerful and one of the best strategies to punish stumbles from the opponent. This is a go wide aggressive strategy that mixes up with sacrifice themes. It may not be obvious, but a hand with several Grenadin Drones and one or two pieces of interaction can easily swarm your opponent. The best payoffs are:
Ravenous Thornbeast has good baseline stats and there are enough good disposable units (Wisps, Copperhall Porter) in this format that it can slot into decks from several factions.
The challenge comes when you look at the enablers for this deck:
Grenadin Drone is perfect, but then there is a very big drop. There are some sacrifice outlets but then you lose a lot of the aggression aspect and unlike Ranked, it is harder to play a control game with this deck in Draft.
Feln Infiltrate was one of the best draft strategies in Set 1. The curated packs contain some key cards from that archetype, but a lot of the support is missing and it is hard to rely only on two packs. That being said, if you grab a few Gorgon Fanatics and Desperados it is worth investing in cards that allow your units to get through.
Entangling Vines and Changeestik are strong Fall of Argenport cards that work well with the infiltrate units. Jump Kick is another card to consider for this type of strategy, but its power level is too low, so you should only include such effects if you have a lot of cards that benefit from getting one turn of flying.
The good thing is that the infiltrate units are all strong anyway, so they can go in any deck of those colours. Even if you don’t have any great ways to help them get through, your opponents will have to respect them.
Lifeforce is another sub-theme present in the curated packs. This strategy never really took off, even in Set 2 when it had a lot of support, so you shouldn’t go all-in. Lifeforce has two premium payoffs:
Even though they are really strong cards, you shouldn't move factions for them nor play dedicated lifegain cards for them (such as Water of Life). Instead, increase how you value incidental lifegain with cards like Learned Herbalist and Corrupted Umbren.
You can still play a lifeforce deck if you have several of the early drops with this ability, but then you need to have several cards that care about lifeforce, as the payoff from each single one of them isn't that high enough.
Similarly to Xenan, Hooru has support for a theme that wasn’t that good the first time around: units with two or more abilities. Unlike Lifeforce, there aren’t any high rarity cards with a super strong pay off and it relies solely on three uncommons:
None of these are strong enough to completely warp your draft around them, so my advice is to take them speculatively when the pack is weak and at the end of the draft assess if you have enough cards to play a skill matters deck. If halfway through the draft you have two of these units then it might be worth it to value units with multiple skills slightly higher. From these cards, Humble Instructor is the one that has the greatest ability to take over a game, especially in conjunction with lifesteal units.
One interesting aspect that might come unnoticed is that berserk is an enabler for skills-matter synergies, as during the enraged attack it gains Reckless.
It may seem like all faction pairs would have some sort of supported sub-theme to build around, but once you dig deeper there isn't that much in the other factions.
I wanted to highlight a few cards that might be stronger/weaker from the previous time they were around.
Friendly Wisp is a playable card in Ranked. In Draft it has always been awkward, in a few decks with many Towering Terrazons it ended up working really well, but in most cases, it was a draw two that you had to wait for several turns to make it work and fear snowballs and silence effects. In the current Draft format there are way fewer 5+ attack units, so I don’t think there will be many circumstances where you will reliably activate it. On the other hand, if you are really deep into Wisp synergies, it might make up for the cases where you can’t activate it. Overall, I think Friendly Wisp will more often than not be a trap card that is picked higher than it should because it is an uncommon.
Hero of the People has improved from previous sets. It does have a weakness to Snowballs and Tempers, which are pretty common right now, but at the same time there are more different skills in the game and Berserk can also count double for him, so it is easier to make it into a must deal threat. It is worth noting that there are almost no units with more than one skill at common in Fall of Argenport (excluding Berserk), so if you pick it late, it might be harder to support. In the curated packs there are a couple of units that work really well with the Hero, so watch out for Crownwatch Legionnaire, Renegade Valkyrie, Loyal Watchwing and Silverwing Familiar.
Spellcraft weapons are a defining factor of this format and they affect several cards in the curated packs. Ruincrawler Yeti is even better, now that it will almost always be able to eat an attachment. Oni Quartermaster was one of my favourite build around cards back in Set 1 and it should have improved. Don't forget that it is great with Ornate Katanas and Granite Acolytes. Renegade Valkyrie is another card I played a lot in Set 1 and has gotten stronger. It threatens a lot of damage out of nowhere, so often your opponent has to spend their removal before you start putting your weapons on it.
Smuggler's Stash is another relevant card that cares about weapons, but it is in a trickier spot. Spellcraft weapons are very power hungry and you can easily be overrun in the quest for value if you try to use them for maximum profit and then get them back. So while it is a very strong spell, you should adjust your strategy once you have it in your deck by using your weapons for cheap if your opponent is applying a lot of pressure early in the game. If you manage to stay at parity, Stash should almost always be enough to win you the game.
Winter’s Grasp is Lethrai Darkstalker’s best friend as they are always active together and very strong in conjunction. So once you are in this Nightfall archetype, Winter’s Grasp becomes one of Primal’s best commons. On the other hand, there seem to be fewer Nightfall cards in the format, so it should be weaker if you are not really a deck dedicated to keeping the game at night.
Frontier Confessor is worse than it used to be. Now that units are smaller you care more about having bigger stats than their abilities. Also, it competes with Peacekeeper’s Helm, which is a slightly better version of this effect. Yet, Is till believe it is one of the best Justice commons and that Suny undervalued it by not including it in its top 5.
Excavate is as bad as always, but it is always good to remind players never to play this card in limited.
Well, there is a lot going on in the curated packs and I am sure there will be a couple of strategies that I have missed. It is important to know what is possible, so you can steer your deck and give it shape during these midpacks.