Cowtipper’s Draft Journal, Chapter 2


January 30, 2015 by Guest Author

Article by Jason Anesini (@tmm_cowtipper)

Welcome back to my Draft Journal! In this week’s installment, I’ll be detailing a few of my important picks throughout one Draft, commenting on the overall construction of my deck, and finally discussing a few notable plays in my tournament games.

Based on feedback from the first article, I will now include a list of the other cards available in each pack to help you get a better understanding of how to value cards against one another. If the pick is particularly interesting, I’ll make sure to explain my reasoning in the pick I make. Without any further ado, let’s get to the Draft!


The Draft


My first pack presented me with the following cards:


As a general rule, the first pick of any Draft shouldn’t be a card that is going to require a ton of build-around. Right off the bat, I can rule out Xrath’s Will and Forge Guardian Delta. If you recall from Chapter 1, this is the same reason I didn’t pick Venomous Netherscale.

– Xrath’s Will: This card requires a ton of support to even be remotely useful. There are very few utility creatures in Draft that are going to fall under its 3 Attack target requirement. In addition, there are only seven Zombies left in the draft pool – only a handful of which see play in competitive draft decks (e.g. Tomb Pillager, Corpulent Shambler, Zombie Titan, and Abyssal Brute). The probability of having a creature with low enough attack to cast Xrath’s Will on, drafting enough playable Zombies, and drawing both Xrath’s Will and a playable Zombie make this card too much of a glass cannon to first pick in draft.

– Forge Guardian Delta: Forge Guardian Omega is certainly a powerful card, but the simple fact that I can’t draft any extra Forge Guardian Alphas, Betas, or Gammas (Set 1 cards are no longer in the Draft pool) makes this card a slightly above average body at best. The Solbind ability of the card will also dilute the draft deck, making it less likely to draw leveled cards in later Player Levels.

This leaves us with Spite Hydra, Tomb Pillager, Doomwing, Dire Drake, and Onyxium Allomancer. All of these cards are relatively playable in their respective archetypes. Spite Hydra is a very powerful card in an NT draft because it serves as both a creature and removal.

However, Spite Hydra isn’t the only card in this pack that shares that ability. Doomwing, Dire Drake is arguably an even better form of removal than the Spite Hydra is. Though its not as beefy as the Hydra, its ability is incredibly abusable with Mobility enablers – the most notable being Uranti Elementalist.

On the other hand, Tomb Pillager and Onyxium Allomancer are both cards that help to smooth out draws in later Player Levels and in a general sense increase deck consistency. I rank Tomb Pillager a bit higher than Onyxium Allomancer because it has both Consistent and the ability to thin out a deck. It also packs more of a punch than the Allomancer does in combat.

At this point in the first pack, we’re stuck between two separate playable archetypes. Spite Hydra and Doomwing, Dire Drake are both going to lead us in the direction of NT, especially Spite Hydra due to its Allied trigger. Conversely, Tomb Pillager and Onyxium Allomancer are instead going to push us into a more consistency based deck. The choice now becomes one based on play style and less on what the actual cards in the pack are. Since my last article focused on an NT build, I’m going to go with the consistency build this time around.

This narrows the first pick down to just Tomb Pillager and Onyxium Allomancer. Tomb Pillager’s average body, Consistent keyword, and ability to combine well with any faction make it the stronger first pick over the more limiting Allomancer. While it may be unfortunate to pass on picking a Legendary, I consistently find that Heroic cards perform better in draft than Legendary cards (excluding a few power Legendaries like Thundersaur, for example).

As an aside, if you were presented a similar pack like the one I was, picking either Spite Hydra or Doomwing, Dire Drake would also be a perfectly acceptable first pick.


The card in bold is my pick in the pack.


Pick 2: Seal of Kadras, Uranti Elementalist, Shardbound Invoker, Cinderbound Barbarian, Shimmerfang Serpent

It’s unfortunate how many playable cards are in this pack. I would easily take every card in this pack with the exception of Seal of Kadras. Shimmerfang Serpent is a great form of creature-removal. However, -bound cards help smooth out later draws in draft much better than the Seprent does so the final pick is between Shardbound Invoker and Cinderbound Barbarian. Since NU is usually a stronger Draft combination than NT, my pick in this pack is Shardbound Invoker.


Pick 3: Ruthless Wanderers, Glowhive Siren, Deepmoss Raptor, Abyssal Brute

Easy pick here. Abyssal Brute affects multiple lanes while having a very powerful and relevant ability.


Pick 4Grave Geist, Duskspire Zombie, Perdition Guard

Grave Geist is a solid underdrop whereas the other two cards are not.


Pick 5Seal of Tarsus, Verdant Grace

Seal of Tarsus is great Consistent removal. In addition, if I don’t have the opportunity to level it in Player Level 1 (PL1), I can exile it with Tomb Pillager’s ability to help thin out my deck.


Pick 6: Gemheart Sprout, Deepmoss Raptor, Esperian Steelplate, Sorrow Harvester, Mimicleaf, Spiritstone Druid

While I won’t be able to trigger Steelplate’s Allied ability, its ability to affect multiple lanes with healing goodness makes it a must pick. As an aside, Mimicleaf is a deceptively bad card. Its activate seems promising, but its body is way too small to have an actual impact on the board state.


Pick 7Dirge Banshee, Venomdrinker, Crypt Slime, Spiritleash, Vyric’s Embrace

Removal on a creature in the form of an Attack debuff? I’ll take it!


Pick 8: Verdant Grace, Ruthless Wanderers, Twinstrength, Tarsian Pact

Twinstrength is a great pump spell that’s going to affect multiple lanes.


Pick 9Seal of Tarsus, Ossuary Spirit, Xithian Host

Consistent removal is much better than sub-par creatures.


Pick 10: Mending Spring, Scatter the Seeds

Having possible bodies to chump block with is better than trying to gain a few measly points of life – bleh.


Pick 11: Grave Geist, Mending Spring, Nyrali Ooze, Verdant Grace, Xithian Crusher, Venomdrinker

Xithian Crusher has a fantastic body in L2 and L3. It’s a late-game bomb I’m happy to take.


Pick 12: Verdant Grace, Gloomspire Wurm, Lysian Hydra, Seal of Tarsus, Misery Demon

Lysian Hydra holds buffs very well (either Abyssal Brute’s triggered ability or Twinstrength). Another Seal of Tarsus may seem powerful, but this will seriously weaken the strength of the draft deck in PL1.


Pick 13Dryad’s Boon, Ghastly Renewal, Blightskull Phantasm, Poisoncoil

Dryad’s Boon can help us grow a creature out of control. Combined with Abyssal Brute’s ability, we now have a chance of making a growing, regenerating, virtually indestructible threat.


Pick 14: Vyric’s Embrace, Lysian Rain, Umbraglim Mantis

I’m just taking the Mantis for its body. It’s not a card I’m going to consider actively leveling whatsoever.


Pick 15: Blightskull Phantasm, Tanglesprout

Rank up cards are not cards I enjoy playing in draft. I don’t want to have to rely on both drawing the card and drawing the card at the right time to profit off of the card. Tanglesprout has a fantastic body in L1 and L2 that only becomes more dangerous with the buffs we have already drafted (Abyssal Brute and Twinstrength).


Pick 16: Twinstrength, Sorrow Harvester, Shardbound Invoker, Fangwood Bear, Misery Demon, Abyssal Brute

This pack makes me very sad. In separate packs I would take Twinstrength, Shardbound Invoker, Fangwood Bear, and Abyssal Brute. However, due to the powerful nature and almost necessity of -bound cards in draft, I’m picking Shardbound Invoker. Abyssal Brute is a VERY close second.


Pick 17: Grave Geist, Stouthide Stegadon, Spore Torrent, Corpulent Shambler, Crypt Slime

While Grave Geist is a powerful underdrop, Corpulent Shambler can block a creature twice and synergizes nicely with the Dryad’s Boon we picked up earlier.


Pick 18: Sorrow Harvester, Ruthless Wanderers, Brambleaxe Warrior, Dirge Banshee

Removal on a creature in the form of an Attack debuff? I’ll take it! Sound familiar?


Pick 19: Seal of Tarsus, Venomstrike, Fangwood Bear

I don’t want to saturate my deck with too many Seal of Tarsus PL1.


Pick 20Umbraglim Mantis, Gemheart Sprout

Sprout is so much worse than Mantis it isn’t even close.


Pick 21: Ghastly Renewal, Glowhive Siren, Nyrali Ambusher, Stag of Lys, Shardbound Invoker, Tangle

3 Shardbound Invokers? Well, I certainly won’t complain!


Pick 22: Blightskull Phantasm, Organ Harvester, Lysian Rain, Scatter the Seeds, Weirwood Ranger

I’m not a huge fan of any of these cards since they don’t really do anything that well. Weirwood Ranger has the potential to buff my other, better creatures and combined with Esperian Steeplate could produce some draft shenanigans.


Pick 23Shimmerfang Serpent, Ruthless Wanderers, Spite Hydra, Sorrow Harvester

If I were in NT, Spite Hydra would be the obvious pick.


Pick 24: Progeny of Xith, Catacomb Spider, Gloomspire Wurm

I’m not confident enough in my ability to correctly play Progeny of Xith to play it in this draft. Catacomb Spider will help me build a battleship in PL2 or late PL1.


Pick 25Tanglesprout, Byzerak Frostmaiden

I don’t have any Mobility effects to take advantage of Byzerak Frostmaiden. Tanglesprout fits much better into the battleship plan I’m trying to execute with my draft deck.


Pick 26: Brambleaxe Warrior, Byzerak Frostmaiden, Stag of Lys, Xithian Rotfiend, Ebonbound Warlord, Nyrali Ooze

No Frostmaiden, I said NO! Xithian Rotfiend is also a fine pick here, but it doesn’t have the ability to affect multiple lanes like Ebonbound Warlord does.


Pick 27: Sorrow Harvester, Ebonbound Warlord, Ghastly Renewal, Xithian Crusher, Gemheart Sprout

At this point, I don’t want to draft yet another card I can’t level in PL1. Xithian Crusher is a fantastic late-game bomb. We’ll see if I get burned for not taking another Ebonbound Warlord once my draft is over.


Pick 28: Tarsian Pact, Spiritbloom Dryad, Shardbound Invoker, Spirit Torrent

Well then, guess the draft gods have decided I’m playing more -bound cards.


Pick 29Sorrow Harvester, Spirit Torrent, Ossuary Spirit


Pick 30Weirwood Ranger, Seal of Tarsus


Final Decklist

4 Shardbound Invoker
2 Dirge Banshee
2 Tanglesprout
2 Umbraglim Mantis
2 Weirwood Ranger
2 Xithian Crusher
1 Abyssal Brute
1 Catacomb Spider
1 Corpulent Shambler
1 Ebonbound Warlord
1 Esperian Steelplate
1 Fangwood Bear
1 Grave Geist
1 Lysian Hydra
1 Shimmerfang Serpent
1 Sorrow Harvester
1 Tomb Pillager

2 Seal of Tarsus
1 Dryad’s Boon
1 Scatter the Seeds
1 Twinstrength


Overall, I am incredibly happy about how this Draft went. The numerous -bound cards are going to add a huge amount of consistency and power to our later Player Levels. The game plan with this deck is simple: create a solid board presence in PL1 and ride the -bound creatures and leveled threats until the game is over. I’m confident this deck could 4-0 the draft.


The Games


Game 1

My opening hand is Shardbound Invoker, Fangwood Bear, Sorrow Harvester, Catacomb Spider, and Tanglesprout. My opponent on the play drops a Stouthide Stegadon in the right most lane. In turn, I respond with a Catacomb Spider and a Tanglesprout in lanes 2 and 4. Next turn, I draw into Dryad’s Boon and immediately cast it on my Tanglesprout after targeting it with the Catacomb Spider.

In only the second turn of the game, I’ve already created a must kill threat. My opponent is on an aggressive strategy using Borean Windweaver to push damage through. By PL3, I’ve leveled all 4 out of my 5 bound cards setting me up for a power L3! Ultimately, I was unable to survive the onslaught of damage and died in PL5 to Borean Windweaver’s Mobility ability. Looks like we’re not getting that 4-0!


Game 2

My opening hand is Esperian Steeplate, Dirge Banshee, Lysian Hydra, Seal of Tarsus, and Ebonbound Warlord. My opponent leads off with a Sorrow Maiden. In an effort to not get 2-for-1’d by the Sorrow Maiden, I play Lysian Hydra and then Seal of Tarsus on the Maiden. I then get an early drop on Abyssal Brute which then triggers on my Side-laned Xithian Crusher.

My opponent was on some kind of regeneration strategy playing cards like Zombie Titan and Ossuary Spirit. Again, my deck was overwhelmed in later Player Levels and I lost yet a second game.


Why 0-2?

At this point in the queue, I can’t start blaming things on RNG or what my opponents drafted. Losing comes down to two main things. First, how you play the draft deck. I went into this draft thinking I would utilize my deck to stabilize in PL1 and then overpower my opponent with value in PL2 – this was certainly not the case as I’ll discuss. Second, the cards you drafted. Looking at my decklist after playing with the list in two games, I’ve found a couple of holes in the list that have been keeping me from winning these games.

Most importantly, I don’t have a ton of threats. I have many cards that level well, but most of the deck is support cards, not game-winning cards. Cards like the -bound cycle and Abyssal Brute are strong support cards, but not must level or game-ending bombs. Ideally, I would have picked more Xithian Crusher-esque cards so that I would not just be playing support cards in later Player Levels.

Because of the swath of support cards I have without a significant number of powerful bombs, I’m left with a deck that can only do one thing successfully – build a battleship creature. While this can be a powerful strategy, I don’t really have the cards to successfully execute this. What’s even more important, however, is that my deck doesn’t have the ability to switch game plans. This is what cost me the above two losses. Both of my opponents had the ability to stop my battleship strategy which in turn left me with a bunch of subpar cards.


Game 3

I start on the play with Scatter the Seeds, Lysian Hydra, Corpulent Shambler, Sharbound Invoker, and Catacomb Spider. I level Catacomb Spider due to its ability to affect multiple lanes and because I don’t want to draw its crummy L1 body in later Player Levels. My opponent then played a mishmash of Nekrium cards as the game progressed: Sorrow Harvester, Contagion Lord, Crypt Conjurer, and Ossuary Spirit. His game plan felt a little loose and I abused this by filling my board while getting bonuses off of my Abyssal Brute. Towards the middle of PL2, my opponent was below 30 life while I sat comfortably above 70 life with a full board. My opponent conceded at the end of PL2.

In this game we saw the power of the battleship strategy. Looking at the combination of Sorrow Harvester and Contagion Lord, my guess is that my opponent wanted to use these two creatures’ abilities to create card advantage without compromising board state. This strategy doesn’t hold water against a battleship strategy which allowed me to dominate the board in PL1 and continue to ride this momentum to victory in PL2.


Game 4

My opening hand is Twinstrength, Shardbound Invoker, Corpulent Shambler, Dirge Banshee, and Xithian Crusher. My opponent leads off with an Overgrown Spinelaf in the Center lane. I counter with a Dirge Banshee in front of the Spineleaf and my Xithian Crusher in lane 4. I executed the same strategy I used in Game 3 and to my luck and surprise I was able to pull out a close victory in the middle of PL3. I drew very well in the beginning of PL3 and the combination of my Dryad’s Boon buffed L3 Lysian Hydra and my L3 Dirgee Banshee was too much for my opponent to handle.


Chapter Review


As for how my deck performed, I can’t say that I’m unhappy with the 2-2 finish, but that I’m disappointed in how the Draft went. Looking ahead to future Drafts with NU, I’m going to focus less on the battleship strategy and more on drafting good cards and taking advantage of the grow-wide nature of Uterra – something I neglected to include in my deck this go- around.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this write-up as much as I enjoyed writing it! For those of you who asked for the full card packs did you like this format better than the last article? Also would you want me to film myself playing the games with the Draft deck or do you prefer the quick write-ups I do on the games?

From the chambers of the Synapsis Oracle,

-Jason Anesini


  1. snouty says:

    You were punished for not picking the legendary :’D

    Great read, hope you continue with the journal.

  2. kal says:

    I’m kind of new but why did you drop the Tanglesprout on turn 1? While it gives you the stronger board now, isn’t it a better play to save it as an underdrop and level up another better-scaling card instead? Or is the immediate impact of such a strong minion better?

    • Cowtipper says:

      My reasoning for immediately going for the Tanglesprout was to hopefully create a growing, regenerating threat that my opponent couldn’t handle. Ultimately, I compromised late-game strength in an attempt to create a large board advantage right out of the gates in PL1.

  3. Kestralb says:

    I’m glad I’m not the only person this happens to!
    Whenever I finish drafting and think “This deck rocks, 4-0 here I come!” I end up with a 2-2. =P Maybe it’s over-confidence or something – my winning drafts always end up being with decks I’m a little nervous about or felt like I didn’t get any good picks.
    That’s how it feels sometimes, anyhow. 🙂

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