Schaab Blog*: A Dozen Drafts

*Schaab Blog: Considering starting something like this as its own segment. My long articles try to teach people broad concepts about limited – and they take me a long time to write. Might use the Schaab Blog term to differentiate full-form articles from stuff like this, which is just me sitting down and writing down a few thoughts on the format. Never planned to write this much about Eternal so I’m not exactly sure what I’m doing and would greatly appreciate feedback about whether you find shorter pieces like this helpful/enjoyable. Anyway, on to content.

Delving in to a new Eternal draft format is like Christmas morning for me. Bots and rare drafters make it hard to learn about the format once a set is released but I can’t help myself. Drafters end up with obscene numbers of rares/legendaries and some absurdly powerful decks. It almost feels like drafting cube-lite. It’s not a great time to draw large conclusions but we can certainly start collecting some data points and looking for trends.   

As mentioned briefly in “Listen,” exploring a new draft format on my own is a fairly new experience for me. I can’t explain in detail how I approach a new format because I don’t know. Honestly, I’m pretty curious myself. Posting my drafts in the Farming Eternal Discord is the closest I’ve come to tracking my decks and their results. So far, I’ve done twelve drafts and am currently 1-1 with my 13th. At the beginning of an Eternal draft format (the first week or so), I strongly recommend you try to just enjoy it.

This is not in any way meant to be a guide for any part of the format. It’s just a few things I’ve noticed early on while drafting and playing my games. My decks have mostly been, ya know, boring. My opponents, however, drafted some sweet decks that I’ll be keeping an eye out for. Here are some early Thursday morning (11/5/2020) thoughts on the draft format.

  • More playables

 Now that I’ve experienced a few format changes in Eternal draft, the boosted cards in the curated packs seem to almost define the format. That being the case, I’ve started paying close attention to the changes when they occur. The best place to find that information for me personally is this chart at Shiftstoned (Thank you so much to @Pusillanimous and anyone else involved with putting it together.) Knowing what cards are 10x boosted helps immensely in game (e.g. what combat tricks you might see) but also impacts card selection during the draft process.

Not putting it under a microscope today, but this format feels like it has a lot more playable cards than the previous Argent Depths format. We’re still in the land of bot-pack weirdness but I find myself cutting a lot of playable cards from my final lists. If that holds true when the dust settles, that will change the way I value certain cards. In this new format filled with playable cards, here are some things on my mind:

  • Unique Effects

In a format filled with good cards, your draft choices are a lot tougher. Players always have their preferences, of course, but most drafters can agree on what the best couple of cards are in a pack of Argent Depths. That doesn’t feel like the case at all right now with this format. Here’s a P1P1 I put in the Farming Eternal Discord:

There are a lot of good cards here.  Quick version of draft analysis for some of them

Champion of Fury: Not taking a 2-color card this early

Outlands sniper: Good four-drop. Not sure if the 4-drop spot is crowded in fire. Don’t like the double influence early in draft.

Linrei Evangel: good 2-drop, would be happy with it in my final deck, but also might cut from final list because there are a lot of good primal 2-drops

Kodosh Evangel: same as above, though I doubt I’m cutting Kodosh Evangel from many justice decks.

Gravewatch Ancestor: Good 3-drop. Have cut it from a couple of time lists already, so it’s replaceable.

Felrauk’s Infiltrator: Hard to cast 3-drop that’s really good in the right deck. Usually happy with one in my lists, certainly not looking to pick it first.

Sky Worshipper: Nothing else in the format does this. Not only that, but this is a power sink in the late game when the board stalls out. This is a unique effect. So the question becomes, are there enough flyers in the format to justify taking this card first? Based on my experience so far, yes. Looking at the weight changes and seeing Humbug Nest, Platinum Qirin, and Humbug Swarm all 10x boosted tells me yes. The boosted primal flyers tell me yes.  Elysian flyers might actually be really good in this format.

Seek Power: Goes in 100% of decks, fixes my power, and it’s unique. I took the boring Seek Power. And then another Pick 2.

I could see arguments for a lot of the cards in this pack. But if the format is full of good cards, you need a way to separate the good cards from the slightly-better-than-good. I could see myself cutting all of the above units from decks because I have other cards that do effectively the same thing. That’s not the case with Sky Worshipper. Even though I didn’t take it out of this pack, I might look back on it in a month and think differently.

Speaking of unique effects, let’s talk about a card whose value shifts wildly from format to format: BladeCrafter

Helloooo unique effect. Played against a really sweet Stonescar deck built around Corrosive Dagger maybe? The deck had at least three corrosive dagger, Morningstar, and Claw of the First Dragon. It was a fun game but in hindsight that game was over when that first bladecrafter hit the board. One of the insanely hard parts about limited is trying to answer the following question: Was my opponent’s deck supposed to do that or did I just get unlucky? Remains to be seen if there’s a midrange Bladecrafter deck in the format but I certainly have my eye out for it now.

  • Praxis Ramp

Just this morning I went 1-1 against someone playing what looked like an excellent praxis deck with Omenscar Wurm at the top. Either they had multiple Wurms or drew it in both games. Decks with Omenscar Wurm might be a little more common now because taking one P2P1 after you already have some time cards doesn’t feel nearly as committal as taking it P1P1.

Don’t know my opponent’s whole list, obviously, but it had all the usual suspects of trail maker, amber acolyte, and ancient machinist (which worked quite nicely with Vital Arcana now x10 boosted). Wish I could give you more details but all I know is that the deck ran beautifully and would’ve beaten me twice if I didn’t have Disappear ready to go in the second game.

Also in Praxis Ramp’s favor: Wurm Calling is 10x boosted. I didn’t need to look that one up. You’ll notice it pretty quickly when you start playing your games.

  • Xenan Ambush

Xenan Ambush was kind of a nightmare to play against in the original Argent Depths format and it might be making a bit of comeback. Of all the data points I’ve gathered, I’m most skeptical of my experience with the Xenan decks I’ve built so I’m waiting for things to cool down before building this deck more often. I’ve been happy with the results so far, but most decks won’t have 3 defile and 2 desert alchemists, so Xenan ambush is something I’m on the lookout for but not convinced about.

  • Feln Update:

Not sure if I’ll do another full writeup about Feln in this format but here are a couple of things I’ve noticed so far.

Card draw is back! Wisdom of the Elders is back to 10x and I’m right back to putting 2-3 of them in my Feln decks. Especially with the acolytes being so good, it’s easy to build a deck with too many 3-cost cards, so look out for that. We also have Swindle now but I suspect that goes more in an Elysian deck and the five-drop slot in Feln is already crowded thanks to False Demise. Oh! And a little card called FearTracker is 10x boosted. Just an absurdly good card in Feln.  

Annihilate is 10x boosted again. It’s easy to splash, so first pick early and often. Lightning strike is 10x boosted again. Defile and Cut Ties are 10x boosted. Lightning storm is only x1 boosted now and is definitely a unique effect so I’ll draft it highly. Not removal, but Feln now gets Plagued Gryffin at 10x as well.

This is much more like set 9 Feln Control than it is set 1 Feln Flyers. The formula is basically the same one I laid out here. Don’t die, don’t die, don’t die, kill you with something.

There are a lot of playable 2-drops in Feln and you really need to know how you’re going to be killing your opponent’s creatures. You don’t want cheerful shephard if your removal is annihiliate and defile instead of grisly contest. I played Scaly Gruan in my last 7-0 list. It just needs to block for long enough to let your other, more powerful cards take over the game. What’s your plan?  

  • Fire update:

Duh, I’m not drafting fire decks. Not well anyway. Considering the games I’ve played against them and looking at the 10x boosted rares, fire is full of huge flyers. No doubt they’ve got finishers. I’ve lost to some very aggressive decks so far in this format, and while I wouldn’t expect them to be the norm, it definitely looks like fire has the tools to close games at the top end. I’ll just wait, see what the fire drafters do over the next couple weeks, and then recalibrate.  

  • Justice:

Fourth-Tree Elder. Draft this card.

I’m hopeful that it’s time to draft the hard way in Eternal again. Thus far, it feels like it is. Draft decisions are tough. Deckbuilding cuts are tough. A lot of your wins and losses will be decided during the draft, not games (though it will be extraordinarily difficult to see this at the time). Maybe I’m just seeing what I want to see. Maybe I was just sick of the old format. Maybe I’m biased because I’ve done fairly well so far. Whatever it is, I’m enjoying the draft changes immensely.

My first dozen drafts or so were just meant to be fun and try some new things. Now, it’s time to start looking a little deeper. I’m not sure what that means for me yet, but I’m glad to have you along for the ride. Here are the results of my drafts so far. You can find full decklists in the Farming Eternal Discord. Feel free to drop by, say hello, and ask a ton of questions. Happy drafting!

Xenan 3-3

Argenport 7-2

Feln 1-3

Xenan 7-0

Stonescar 3-3

Hooru 0-3

Xenan 7-1

Elysian 7-0

Feln 4-3

Elysian 3-3

Xenan 2-3

Feln 7-0

51-24 = 68% win rate (meaningless at this point in a format and with such a small sample. Just thought people might be curious)

Highest rank: 1

Rank at time of writing: 2

Fun had: Lots

Distraction from the US Election: Hours upon hours.

Future Drafts planned: Lots


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