Cowtipper’s Draft Journal, Chapter 1


January 23, 2015 by Guest Author

Article by Jason Anesini (@tmm_cowtipper)

With the release of Set 4.2, I thought I’d treat myself to a couple of Draft games this weekend. In this article, I’ll be detailing a few of my important picks throughout one Draft, comment on the overall construction of my deck, and finally discuss a few notable plays. Without any further ado, let’s get to the Draft!


The Draft


My first pack presented me with the following cards:

Right off the bat, I rule out Metamorphosis and Oreian Scavenger. Metamorphosis is a card that I need to actively level throughout the game to use effectively and can give my opponent a significant body in PL1. While there may be situations where I could Metamorphosis my own creature, this potentially puts me in a 2-for-1 situation. Oreian Scavenger, while a major contender in constructed formats, simply doesn’t have the same support in the Draft environment. Its low health makes it a risky play against Nekrium based decks. In addition, its large armor is only granted when it replaces another creature. Similar to Metamorphosis, this card can create 2-for-1 situations in my opponent’s favor.

Next, I look at the remaining cards in the pool and decide which one is going to get me the most value on its own. I want to have a card that isn’t going to require a ton of support to prove effective in my games. Venomous Netherscale, though it has slightly above average stats at each level, has text that is fairly irrelevant at this point in the Draft. I don’t have the poison support cards to really make a card like Netherscale shine.

This leaves me with the remaining three Allied cards. One tricky aspect of drafting these cards is that you may not be presented with a card in the paired faction in the next pack. Because of this, I want to pick the card that provides the most utility without its Allied ability.

Obviously I’m hoping I can draft the Allied deck, but if the case arises where I can’t, I need to be sure my first pick is still playable. Based on these criteria, I rule out Oratek Warhammer. Without its Allied ability, Warhammer is an Avalanche Guardian-esque card without Defender.

We’ve narrowed down the first pick of this Draft to either Esperian Steelplate or Byzerak Frostmaiden. At this point, I look to see how abusable each card’s ability is taking into account the cards I may be able to pick up in Draft. Esperian Steeplate fares well in a grow-wide deck as the more creatures in play the more potent its ability is. In addition, it synergizes with Phalanx Squadron.

On the other hand, Byzerak Frostmaiden permanently lowers the attack of the creature placed in front of it and has an effect that is easily exploited even without its Allied trigger. Uranti Elementalist, a card that is great in Draft by itself, helps to bolster the strength of the Frostmaiden.

Ultimately, the choice here depends on what kind of deck I want to play in this Draft. Esperian Steelplate will guide me in an Alloyin-Uterra (AU) grow-wide direction. Byzerak Frostmaiden will guide me in a NT movement direction. Based on my playstyle, I’ll be picking Byzerak Frostmaiden as my first pick.

Before I move on to the next part of the Draft, I want to emphasize how important it is to evaluate the first pack thoroughly. Careful consideration of the deck you want to build, how the first pick stands by itself, and how it compares to the other cards in the pack will help to create a successful Draft experience.


Picks 1-5

Byzerak Frostmaiden
Uranti Warstoker
Thundergale Invoker
Nyrali Ambusher

Already a small Mobility theme is starting to develop in our Draft deck. We also have a great underdrop in the form of Nyrali Ambusher.


Picks 6-10

2 Nyrali Symbiote
Thranik Ambusher
Abyssal Brute
Vyric’s Embrace

I’m especially pumped to pick up an Abyssal Brute! This is going to add extra value to cards we play in the Side Lanes. In addition, I’m going to try to pick up an Infernal Visage to synergize with Brute’s ability.


Picks 11-15

Borean Stormweaver
2 Frostshatter Strike
Spiritfrost Shaman
Cinder Mystic

Not only did we manage to grab a Borean Stormweaver, but we also grabbed not one, but TWO copies of Frostshatter Strike.

These cards are great to have because of their ability to affect multiple lanes. This allows us to make plays more efficiently than an opponent because we don’t need to spend two actions to affect two lanes.


Picks 16-20

Vyric Ebonskull
Nyrali Ambusher
Crag Walker
Xithian Crusher
Catacomb Spider

In these last picks we’ve acquired two more great underdrops – Nyrali Ambusher and Crag Walker. In addition, we managed to snag a Vyric Ebonskull. This card has the ability to completely dominate the board in later player levels. Xithian Crusher is also a great grab due to its large L2 and L3 stats.


Picks 21-25

Cinderbound Barbarian
Flowstone Primordial
Grave Geist
Tarsian Pact
Nyrali Symbiote

-bound cards (like Cinderbound or Ebonbound Warlord) are incredibly important in smoothing out draws in later player levels.

I usually snap-pick -bound cards in my factions unless there is a card that is supremely important to the Draft archetype I’m playing.


Picks 26-30

Cloudcleaver Titan
2 Grave Geist
Firemane Steed
Uranti Warstoker

I’m very happy to pick up another Uranti Warstoker and nab the powerful Cloudcleaver Titan.


Final Decklist

3 Grave Geist
3 Nyrali Symbiote
2 Nyrali Ambusher
2 Uranti Warstoker
1 Abyssal Brute
1 Borean Stormweaver
1 Byzerak Frostmaiden
1 Catacomb Spider
1 Cinder Mystic
1 Cinderbound Barbarian
1 Cloudcleaver Titan
1 Crag Walker
1 Firemane Steed
1 Flowstone Primordial
1 Spiritfrost Shaman
1 Thranik Ambusher
1 Thundergale Invoker
1 Vyric Ebonskull
1 Xithian Crusher

2 Frostshatter Strike
1 Tarsian Pact
1 Tremorcharge
1 Vyric’s Embrace

Overall, I’m very happy with the way this Draft deck turned out. I was able to support my first pick Byzerak Frostmaiden with a slew of Nekrium and Tempys cards. In particular, I’m happy with the number of multi-lane effects I have available to me. Both Frostshatter Strike and Abyssal Brute serve as ways for me to deal with problematic threats in a two-lane split or push damage.

The movement effects I have allow me to potentially abuse Abyssal Brute’s ability for shenanigans at any point in a game. I also have a number of late-game threats like Byzerak Frostmaiden, Vyric Ebonskull, and Xithian Crusher. I do wish I had been presented with two more -bound cards as I like to have three in a Draft deck.


The Games


Game 1

My opening hand is Thranik Ambusher, Flowstone Primordial, Xithian Crusher, Frostshatter Strike, and Borean Stormweaver. I choose to level Stormweaver here due to its ability to affect another lane next turn. Ideally I would have liked to draw Xithian Crusher later in the Player Level (PL).

Unfortunately those are all the plays I made the entire game. My opponent neglected to make any plays at all and just let the timer run down. We’ll take the free win in stride and head on over to game 2.


Game 2

My opponent starts off with an interesting Misery Demon play. I respond with Cloudcleaver Titan in the Center lane and Flowstone Primordial opposing the Misery Demon. Already from the first turn of the game I have leveled better cards than my opponent. A few turns later, in PL2, my opponent is very behind.

Though he drew L2 Forgeplate Minotaur, I had drawn my Abyssal Brute and had used my Thundergale Invoker to push a previously placed L2 Catacomb Spider into the Side Lane. With four creatures on my board and none on my opponent’s side in 2.2, my opponent conceded.

While it’s unusual to get a concession that early in Draft, I believe there is one main reason my opponent fell so far behind. My opponent played cards in PL1 that do not level well. In particular, he leveled a Misery Demon and a Battletech Inventor. These cards can serve niche roles later in Draft games, but really have no use being leveled in PL1. My opponent went into PL2 weaker than I did and was unable to respond to my plays when I applied pressure.


Game 3

My opponent leads off with an Esperian Steelplate – hitting the Allied trigger. My opening hand is Borean Stormweaver, Xithian Crusher, Grave Geist, Nyrali Symbiote, and Uranti Warstoker. I respond with an open lane Borean Stormweaver and a Nyrali Symbiote opposing the Steelplate. One important detail to note is that since Steelplate’s Allied ability triggered, I now know my opponent is without a doubt playing AU. I want to make sure to structure my game plan around this fact, taking note of possible grow-wide strategies.

Toward the middle of PL2, my opponent has me in a bind. In combination with the Esperian Steelplate, his Alloyin Strategist has been wreaking havoc on my lane placement. The numerous attack buffs and debuffs he’s been employing (e.g. Ironbound Reinforcements) leave me with a lone Byzerak Frostmaiden.

Ultimately, my opponent played too many cards that affected multiple lanes. Though I did have multiple lane effects, he simply had more than I did. While it may be disappointing to experience, losing allows you to learn what went wrong with the deck you drafted and improve in your next attempt. In this game, I learned that my deck played best when ahead and that I had very few catch up cards. Once I fell behind in PL1, it was very difficult for me to regain any board position. I passed a Group Meal while drafting this deck. Looking back on this game, a card like Group Meal would have been perfect in helping me recover in PL2 or late PL1.


Game 4

I led this game off with a Cloudcleaver Titan in the Center lane. In making this play, I hope to draw attention to this threat so I can set up other plays on other parts of the board. Fortunately, I then drew into my Abyssal Brute and Byzerak Frostmaiden – a perfect combination!

In 3.1, I drew L3 Vyric Ebonskull while having L2 Byzerak Frostmaiden in play previously buffed by L2 Abyssal Brute. My opponent conceded as I dropped the Vyric Ebonskull. Part of why this deck drew such early concessions in 2 out of my 4 games is because of the battleship tendency of the cards I drafted.

The Mobility creatures in combination with Abyssal Brute allowed for potential abuse given the correct setup. Unfortunately this dependence on synergy made it impossible to recover once I was behind on board in game 3. In future Drafts with this archetype, I would grab more cards like Group Meal instead of focusing so much on Mobility and Abyssal Brute interactions. However, I am by no means disappointed by my 3-1 Draft performance.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this write up as much as I enjoyed writing it!

From inside of an Epoch Hawk,



  1. diablo says:

    Thanks for the article!

    I’m curious about some of your blocking decisions. In game 2, you chose to block their inactive 5/2 Demon with your 6/7 Primordial. Doesn’t this just open you up for a trick of some kind, which may not cost a whole card and may allow their 5/2 to trade with your 6/7? Or even if combat goes through untricked, you’re now left with an easily killable 6/2 instead of a pretty fearsome 6/7. I personally would have open-laned the 6/7 and dealt with the 5/2 once it was on the offensive and I could either trade a small (but good in later levels) creature for it, or at least eat it with a big creature with the insurance that no combat tricks will occur. The small amount of life you lose by not blocking it for one attack shouldn’t be a big deal, especially for an aggressive deck like yours that probably wants to present as many open-lane threats as possible.

    For your opening play of game 3, I think it’s a little more debatable, since the 5/5 regen 2 Symbiote does eat the 3/5 armor 2 annoying healer Steelplate (over two turns, and again, barring no tricks). However, with three 7/3s in your deck, I probably would have opted to open-lane a Xithian Crusher (better in later levels than the Symbiote, in my opinion) and hoped to draw a 7/3 to trade with the active Steelplate next turn, for many of the same reasons as above.

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