Day 49 – A First Look at Darkforge Uprising draft

Set 6 came out yesterday. While I don’t have enough tickets for a draft today, I did a whole bunch of drafts yesterday on my non-F2P account, Gard, and today I thought I’d share my thoughts on the draft format.

The Format

This format is a little slower than Set 5 draft, from my experiences. I seldom had games in set 5 draft go past rank 3 – here, the cards have weaker power and bigger butts, plus the lack of Howl of Xith, mean games tend to drag on for a couple more turns and give you more room to play around in the late game. My games in this format generally end in late rank 3 or rank 4.

You’d think that this means that level screw is pretty problematic, since games tend to go longer giving whoever draws more leveled cards the edge. I actually haven’t found that to be the case. There are tons of creatures with high power at rank 1 and 2 (especially in Tempys and Alloyin), meaning you can combat rank 2 level screw pretty appropriately. This, along with a cool cycle of spells (the “Blood” spells), gives you more chances to play from behind, as they all get better when a creature has died this turn. Additionally, the Darkforge are all pretty small stats-wise, but get significantly better in multiples, meaning you can play several underleveled Darkforged and their abilities will combine to give you a fighting chance.

Now I want to go through the factions a bit. I have played only 12 or so drafts thus far, so my knowledge of the format is incomplete. Plus, most of my decks contained either Alloyin or Tempys, since I was trying to find missing heroics in those factions, so I have greater experience with Alloyin and/or Tempys decks.

Alloyin

In the last format, I hated Alloyin. It’s creatures were mediocre and all of its strong heroics required a second faction to be good (like Esperian Sage). This time Alloyin is great. SBE decided to add several really good heroics to the pool – Alloyin Strategist, all of the Alloyin heroics from set 6 are good, and Battle Techtician. For those of you who weren’t around during set 1 and 2 draft, Battle Techtician is a house. Remember how disgusting Snowdrift Alpha was in set 5 draft? Battle Techtician was even more disgusting than that in its heyday. It used to give a disgusting +3/+6/+9 attack at its ranks. It has since been nerfed to +2/+4/+8, but is still one of the best heroics in the format.

As far as commons and rares, Alloyin has a very good slew of creatures this time around. Vault Intruder leads the way with a massive 7/5 body that scales well and lets you see your opponent’s hand. Darksteel Enforcer replaces Matrix Warden and does mostly the same job – worse without Darkforged, much better with. Some favorites from set five like Nexus Overwatch and Batterbot return. The shrink theme in Alloyin also finally seems to be at a good spot – with Nanoswarm and Metatransfer for utility, and Electro Net and Sonic Burst fro full de-powering, there is a shrink spell for every occasion now.

I have most frequently paired Alloyin with Tempys for the mobility synergy most prevalent in Tempys. I’ve also drafted Darkforge-heavy decks that play many Darkstone Asirs to clear the way for a creature pumped to insanity by Darksteel Enforcer.

Nekrium

I’m not sure quite what to make of Nekrium in this set. In set 5, it was undoubtedly one of the best factions alongside Uterra. But now, the faction has lost several cards that defined it – Graveborn Glutton, Abyssal Brute, and Infernal Visage are all nowhere to be found. It is also not a braindead combination with Uterra any more, as Dysian Broodqueen and Dysian Siphon are no longer with us.

The new heroics are both good and bad. Zombie Dreadknight is situational, but the situation is only “have a creature with regen” and it’s excellent – and there are many good commons and rares with regen. Darkheart Conjurer is likely the best Nekrium heroic now, since it Solbinds an absolutely incredible Uterra pump spell to your deck (+4/+4 and Regen 1 at rank 1… and it scales better from there). The creature itself is not too shabby either, since you get to give regen off your spells. The Grimgaunt Betrayer is a Darkforged and likely the worst of the Heroic Darkforged, as it supports when your Darkforged die. That said, I haven’t played much with it, so it may be better than I think.

In the commons and rares spot, Nekrium’s creatures kind of suck now. There’s still Scourge Hydra and Corpse Crawler, but other than that your creatures will generally be either small in health (Cavern Slime, Marrow Fiend), small in power (Demonweb Watcher, Torrent Witch), or both (Necrotic Wurm, Fell Walker, Vengeful Spirit, etc). They do have Nyrali Symbiote and Darkshard Witch, which are both solid creatures that scale well. Other than that though, Nekrium creatures are mostly role players as opposed to just strong creatures, which makes it harder to build a deck around – but more rewarding when you do.

Nekrium is in a strange place where it *still* really wants to pair with Uterra or Tempys. It has Ossuary Spirit again, and the new Cavern Slime. Both of these really love pairing with Uterra for pump, or drafting the Zombie Dreadknight to combo with them. In Tempys, you get Nargath Bruiser to help win combat with your small health creatures, plus the mobility tricks with Witherfrost Banshee. Blood Boil also becomes far stronger in a Nekrium shell when you add Corpse Crawler into the mix, making it a potent removal spell.

Tempys

Tempys is quite strong in the new format. Though it lost fan favorites Volcano Giant, Uranti Elementalist, and Uranti Warbringer, the faction is standing strong with the crazy good commons it received, especially Aethertap Shaman.

As far as Tempys heroics go, Borean Windweaver and Zarox – the two best Tempys heroics from last format – are back in the pool. Windweaver is good in any deck, whereas Zarox is good in Byzerak only. Byzerak took a dive with much less aggressive cards in Tempys and Nekrium individually, so Zarox is weaker than it was before, but not by a huge margin. Uranti Warlord makes its return to draft – draft this card if you see it. It is an incredible source of free removal, even if you have no other yetis.

The new Tempys heroics are mostly role players. Sparkweaver Acolyte is good in spell-heavy decks and only decent otherwise. Shadowflame Elemental is an excellent underdrop for decks with lots of Darkforge creatures. Frostspeaker Shaman is a solid card that lets you burn out your opponent when it hits rank 3.

For commons and rares, Tempys hit the jackpot. Not as strong as Alloyin’s, I think, but still very good. Aethertap Shaman and Kadrasian Stoneback are the standouts – each are large for their rank and a good source of gaining advantage on board through blocking and presenting a hard to pin down threat. Rares like Windborn Hellion and Arc Wurm lend itself to a more mobility-matters style of drafting, which can pay huge rewards and end games quickly. Nargath Bruiser is my favorite returning card, as it allows you to win combat in a way not normally expected of low-health Tempys creatures.

Tempys also has a great common Darkforge – Darkstone Asir. The Asir is a small Magma Hound that scales dramatically with each one you pick up. At rank 3, it’s an unkillable 10/20.

Tempys pairs pretty well with everything due to its card quality. I frequently pair it with either Uterra to make unkillable creatures along with Darkroot Shambler and Nargath Bruiser, or with Alloyin to scoot around and hit for huge damage with Darksteel Enforcer. Generally, my Tempys drafts are heavily darkforge-skewed, as Darkstone Asir is a great mechanism for board control.

Uterra

Initially, I thought Uterra was the weakest of the factions. After a few more drafts, I decided that it’s merely just harder to play than it was before.

It still has draft crusher Snowdrift Alpha, though changes to the environment make it much less oppressive than before. Namely, the emphasis on mobility make the Hunting Packs often detrimental, and lack of Upgrade and Spirit Leash does hurt their usage for bodies. Plus, several cards deal with it instantly – like Gemhide Basher.

Unfortunately, most of the new heroics are fairly situational. Dragon Slayer is huge and a decent creature, but rarely has an effect (since all Dragons in this format are legendary). Shroudthorn Splicer is an absolutely insane card… if you can draft enough darkforged. Otherwise, it is mediocre. Tremorsaur is a solid threat, but requires you to take damage to gain power and can be played around easily in early ranks.

As far as rares and commons go, my favorite common by far is Darkroot Shambler. It’s one of the very few darkforged with great stats – especially it’s level 2, which is a 12/9 on its own, and goes up from there based on how many darkforged you’ve put down. It screws up combat math pretty hard and saves creatures which otherwise would die, and powers your other Darkforge, which is useful because Dusk Hammer is a very strong threat with breakthrough that gets bigger for each Darkforge you play.

In fact, Uterra seems to pride itself on making its creatures hard to take down – Toorgmai Mender, Mosstodon, and Vigorwisp all work to either buff your creatures or heal them back up. This makes Uterra a pretty beefy faction.

I generally try to pair Uterra with Tempys or Nekrium. Tempys because you control a lot of combat with the various health buffs and Darkstone Asir, and allows you to control the board in a similar manner to the Dysian Siphon decks of old. Nekrium, on the other hand, is the “combo” pair – you slap Blood Boon or a large Darkroot Shambler buff on a Cavern Slime or Ossuary Spirit and go to town.

The Darkforged

The darkforged aren’t really a faction, but they are so prevalent in draft that they are worth talking about.

Rare darkforged are all Spring Dryad-esque creatures. They all get +1/+2/+3 to health and power when another Darkforged enters play, and they all have a faction-specific keyword – the Alloyin one has armor, the Uterra one Breakthrough, the Tempys one Mobility, and the Nekrium one Regeneration. They are all decently sized for an average creature, but quickly grow out of hand when you start playing Darkforged. The Uterra one is the greatest, followed by the Tempys. The Alloyin one has very small amounts of health and is difficult to utilize.

Common darkforged all have some sort of effect when they enter play, and this effect gets stronger with each Darkforged in play. All of the common Darkforged are at least decent, and become good and great with each one you draft. As of the time of this writing, the algorithm for drafting hasn’t quite settled, and I’m getting immense numbers of darkforged. But, having just 4-6 Darkforged in your deck greatly increases your chance of winning when the game goes long, as these cards have great board impact, even if they are a little smaller than average.

Heroic darkforged are all really “build around me” sort of cards. Shadowflame Elemental rewards drafting Darksteel Enforcers and one-shotting your opponent out of nowhere. Shardthorn Splicer makes really explosive turns if you have other Darkforged in your deck. Try out a bunch of different combos with these guys, they are all fairly good.

In short, Darkforged are a great tool to pick up in your draft deck. Remember, they get much, much better in multiples so start valuing them higher and higher over other cards as you get more and more of them.

That’s about all for now. As I said, I’ve only done a handful of drafts, so this is fairly new to me. But, I’ll do a draft video tomorrow and y’all can see a little of how I do things, and I will of course learn more about the format the more I play it.

Now, with all of that talk out of the way, let’s wrap up this week in F2P. Today is forgeday, the day where I smelt all my excess cards. Here’s how much silver I earned, largely thanks to the High Rarity draft weekend:

DAY 49 END TOTALS:

  • 2 Event Tickets
  • 317,930 Silver
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