Okay, so the world of competitive SolForge is starting to get rumbling again, so this column will start to get moving again as well. The First Forge Watch Invitational was a huge success, so after some lengthy discussions amongst ourselves, some consultations with SBE, and some lengthy nap times, we’ve decided to do it again! Details about the invitational can be found here; here details about the tournament series, which will earn you invites to the invitational. The first qualifying tournament is February 15; sign-ups will start next week, but it’s never too early to start thinking about your decks!
Also, last week saw the first major Unheroic Tournament since the patch. Congratulations to SilverTail on an impressive victory. From a metagame perspective, Tarsus Deathweaver decks were clearly dominant. Only time will tell if another deck will arise to defeat it, or if Tarsus is simply master of the unheroic format in the current card pool.
Okay, enough with the Spring Cleaning, let’s talk about draft. I’ve been playing a lot of draft, and I’ve noticed my opponents making the same three mistakes over and over again. So, in case any of you happen to be reading this column, I thought I might try to offer some constructive criticism. I’ll call those three mistakes:
- Too Much of a Good Thing
- Stallin’ for Nothin’
- Limpin’ Outta the Gate
Too Much of a Good Thing
Just because a card is good in draft, doesn’t mean that you want to draft it and play it every time that you see it.
The most obvious example of this is Nexus Pilot. Nexus Pilot is an incredibly strong card in draft—when played in the middle lane. But that one little restriction means that you only want two copies in your deck and you probably only want to level one copy in any given game. Extra copies become “dead draws”–cards that show up in your hand that you don’t actually want to play on the board.
But the same basic principal applies to most “good” cards in draft. Metamind Adept is a “good” card in draft: it has a special ability that can turn bad draws into good ones and has decent stats. But in draft you don’t need or want to level four of them (as one of my opponents recently did). Why? Because you generally want to avoid playing Adept as the second play on a turn (when you get no benefit from its special ability). While the stats are decent, without the special ability you could probably do a bit better. If you level too many copies of Metamind, you will surely be forced to play it as your second play on a turn eventually.
In fact, the list of commons that you should consider taking more than 2 or 3 copies of is remarkably short, unless you have a very unusual set of circumstances.
- Ionic Warcharger
- Spark Bot
- Forgeplate Sentry
- Stonefist Giant
- Volcanic Giant
- Magma Hound
- Nargath Bruiser
- Wind Primordial
- Grove Matriarch
- Grove Huntress
- Fangwood Ravager
- Brighttusk Sower
- Graveborn Glutton
- Zombie Infantry
- Xithian Hulk
Notice that that was not a list of the best commons–far from it. There are many cases where I would take a Corpse Crawler over Hulk, a Storm Caller over a Bruiser, or a Matrix Warden over a Spark Bot. But if I have five Corpse Crawlers in my deck, eventually I’ll end up with a hand of 3 Crawlers, 2 spells and an empty board–a real problem for a creature that requires a sacrifice before it can come into play! But if I end up with five Hulks, while I may not be thrilled about it, I can certainly make that deck work (especially if I have a Battle Techtician or Ferocious Roar).
Stallin’ for Nothin’
I see this most often when playing against Nekrium decks. At the end of Turn 4, the board is empty, neither of us have taken significant damage, and my opponent has played the following cards:
Death Seeker, Epidemic, Cull the Weak (2), Xithian Hulk, Fell Walker, Nargath Bruiser, Magma Hound.
Those are good cards, don’t get me wrong. And clearly, if those are the cards he’s leveling up, this game will go on for a while. But how is he going to win? None of those cards hit particularly hard or are especially good at pushing through damage. Maybe he’s hoping to poke me to death with the Bruiser and Xithian Hulk, but if that was his strategy then one each is likely not going to be enough.
It isn’t enough in SolForge to counter the other guy. You also have to have some way of dealing damage to your opponent. Otherwise, you end up in late game keeping the board empty but unable to deal damage, until eventually you don’t draw your removal when you need it and you lose.
In the particular case of the N/T deck I laid out above, cards such as Corpse Crawler, Wind Primordial, or Graveborn Glutton are all the kinds of offensive-minded creatures that can complement a stall-heavy strategy. Alternatively, my opponent could have replaced the Death Seeker and Fell Walker with a couple more high-health creatures like Hulk, Bruiser, or (preferably) Stonefist Giant. This works especially well if he has a couple Primordial Slams in his deck. Hulk, Bruiser, and Stonefist can all trade evenly and survive at low-health, which allows Slam to be used as a finisher.
Limpin’ Outta the Gate
Oh, Metasight and Technosmith, how I see thee abused.
First of all, we need to understand these cards.
At Level 1 and 2, Metasight levels two extra cards at the cost of not affecting the current state of the board. At Level 3, Metasight levels two cards for free.
To understand Technosmith, it’s best to think of it as replacing the card on the board that you are leveling. You play Technosmith and level an additional card—instead of playing the “additional card” on the board. The real benefit of playing Technosmith is that you get to level Technosmith in addition to whatever else you would have leveled anyway. Furthermore, anytime you use Technosmith to level a creature with weaker base stats, you essentially gain the benefit of the stat difference—and anytime you level a stronger creature than Technosmith, you lose the stat difference.
When played properly, both cards can improve your late game, giving you a couple extra leveled up cards in your deck going into Player Level 3. And if you have the proper finishers in your deck—see the previous point—this can translate into an improved chance of victory.
But there is a downside: both cards can put you behind on the board early in the game. For that reason, I strongly recommend against playing either card on the first turn. For instance, recently, my opponent was going first and led with a Metasight. I responded with Alloyin General next to Nexus Pilot; from that point on, he was so far back on his heels that it didn’t matter that he would eventually be drawing into a better deck than me. The game didn’t last that long.
Of course, Technosmith is certainly better than nothing—but it can still put you in the hole, and I would strongly recommend you wait on playing it until you understand how your opponent is playing before blindly throwing a 2/2 body onto the board.
Of course, even then you need to be careful when and where you put that 2/2 body. In another game, I had a 5/3 Matrix Warden in Lane 1, a 5/6 Stonefist Giant in Lane 5, and a 6/7 Battle Tectician in Lane 3 (thanks to the Matrix Warden) on the fourth turn. My opponent double blocked the Battle Techtician with a pair of 2/2 Technosmiths. He should have just conceded; it would have saved us both time.
The right way to play both of these cards is to slip them in through ways that don’t lose you board position. If your opponent is playing low-attack creatures early game, then this can be fairly easy; it’s okay to let a 3/6 Stonefist Giant go unblocked for a couple turns in order to level a Metasight. This is especially fine to do late in Player Level 1; the power level of the creatures on the board is about to jump, so getting rid of remaining Level 1 creatures should be a lot easier for you, especially if you have the extra cards in your deck from the Metasight.
As for Technosmith, you can also look for opportunities to level it up against wounded creatures. For instance, it is common in SolForge to see these sorts of exchanges:
Opponent plays a 5/5 Lightbringer Cleric; I play a 5/5 Fangwood Ravager opposite the Cleric; my opponent uses a Grove Huntress to give a 1/1 buff to the Cleric, which kills the Ravager and is now 6/1.
In that circumstance, playing a Technosmith in front of the Cleric is perfectly appropriate. Just about anything you play in front of the 6/1 Cleric will trade evenly with it, so you might as well get the added benefit of the extra leveled up creature. Ionic Warcharger, by the way, is great at setting up these exchanges; I can block my opponent’s 5/5 creature with my Warcharger without killing either creature, then move my Warcharger out of the way and let my Technosmith get the killing blow. Although, again, be careful about doing this against decks that are pushing too hard on the board as this trade does sacrifice some board position.
So there you have it: three common drafting mistakes and how to avoid them. Now, go, draft, win!