Ten Draft Tips
Valve's in it for the long haul...
Like a short relationship that has already run its course, Artifact isn't doing too well right now. But Valve doesn't want this relationship to end so quickly, they told us they are in it for the long haul. They want to move in already... If this relationship is going to go anywhere, we really need to put in the work. (Happy Valentine's Day, everyone! Ha!)
I'll be honest, I haven't been playing much Artifact lately, the overall mood in the community is pretty sour, but I'm trying my best to stay positive. Over the last few weeks, what time I have spent in game, has been in Draft Modes. As I've always been more of a Constructed type of guy, I wanted to learn more about this other fascinating way of playing cards. Also, there is a $30,000 Draft tournament coming up, Hosted by NoxFire League, with Open Qualifiers!
These last few weeks, I've been having a great time in Draft, really gaining appreciation for this way of interacting with card games. However, I've been pretty tilted from some of my games, just because -- Like -- Ugh, who would ever draft these cards?! Let me give you an example...
Both my opponent and I have already destroyed a tower. We're in Lane 1 of the last round of the game. Either one of us kills the other's tower, or we tie here. I've got exactly 8 mana in the lane and have the game winning play, slam down, which costs exactly 8 mana, blocking my opponent's only that's hitting my 1 Health tower, and my Thunderhide's Seige damage will take out my opponent's 2 Health tower. Game Over, I win.
Problem is, my opponent is playing Black. Uh-Oh. Okay, he might have in his hand. New plan, let's stall out until he's played all of this lane's mana, then slam the Thunderhide for the win! Yes! Okay, since I started the turn with Initiative, I'll just attach this . Alright... Let's see what he's got...
That puts me at 7 Mana. Not even enough to play the . Instant loss. While this is a great play for my opponent, how could I have ever prepared for someone to run ? Don't get me wrong, it's hilarious. And I love seeing this card be the game winning play. What could I have done differently? Was it the right choice to play attempting to bait his Mana out or should I have slammed Thunderhide immediately? Should deck lists be automatically shown in Draft Gauntlet? (The answer is yes)
After some time, I came back to this very scenario and I decided that it's okay, this is a great way to experience Artifact. When is the last time you saw an win a constructed game? I can tell you, never.
Instead of rage quitting, I kept playing Draft, trying to learn more about Draft. After some time, I put together a short list of tips I can offer our readers, that might help someone increase their skill rating...
1. Never commit to a color too early
This is the easiest mistake to make in Draft. First pack, first pick, there's a beautiful , right there. It's easy to lose sight of things, picking , and then jam every red card from every following pack. This is always a mistake.
In your first two whole packs, don't even focus on any particular color. Only pick the best cards offered to you. In my opinion, you don't really have to focus on the actual final deck list until you begin your fourth pack. That's when color comes into the conversation. You can decide, "Okay, my best cards I found in Blue are X and Y. But in Red I got three copies of Z!", making your final deck list much easier to put together and build around by the fourth and fifth pack.
2. Never commit to a color too late
There hasn't been any good Red cards or Red Heroes coming up in your four packs. Now, you rip open your final pack and bam! There it is, ! A lot of players will yank this right here, but this isn't always the correct play. Don't pick really good cards of a specific color, if you haven't been able to pick solid cards from that color.
However, that might have been a bad example. You should most certainly pick , even if you don't end up playing, merely to prevent an opponent from getting the card! It's important to note, we don't know for sure -- If you pass on a card if its actually sent to your opponent or not. This is how it works in Draft in other games, but we aren't certain for Artifact. I think in this case, it's better to be safe than sorry.
But back to my original point, just because an awesome Hero card comes up in your fifth pack, even though you don't have good cards in that color, I wouldn't recommend picking the Hero in every case. Sometimes, however, it could work? But you're taking a big risk, hoping that the following cards in that pack roll into that color. High risk, high reward.
3. The last two picks generate a random Hero
This is something that I continuously see players get confused over. If you go through an entire pack and haven't picked a hero, the final two cards in that pack will always present a RANDOMLY GENERATED HERO. It's important to understand this because there will come a time when you can use this to your advantage. Not seeing good Heroes in a pack, don't pick one. Let's roll the dice on our random Hero!
This should make you sad.
4. Basic Heroes are actually good
I want to tell you about another example I ran into during my time playing Draft. My first pack had and , and a bunch of other junk. By the time I was done drafting, I had TWO , THREE , and TWO . Game over, right? Easy 5-0.
Well, I ran into two different opponent's running MULTIPLE COPIES of ! With six in my deck, I was just setting myself up for failure. In hindsight, yeah, I absolutely should have ran a single instead of the second . In general, is pretty much a garbage card, and a second Enchantress is never a good idea, anyway. I should have considered the Basic Hero more seriously in this instance, because the deck could have used more Creep cards anyway. While this exact scenario wouldn't have changed much against , it would have done considerably less damage in those games.
Most of the time, is a great Hero to run in your Draft decks. Armor, Creep units, High Health, this guy has got it all. But another great Draft Basic Hero is . Direct damage, High Attack, she is a powerhouse all in her own. It's important to learn and fully understand the usefulness of these Heroes when building a deck in Draft!
5. Avoid most item cards...
Just in case you haven't spent a lot of time in Draft, Gold is very hard to come by. In most of my games, I won't even make more than 20 to 30 gold, overall. While Drafting, you can actually ignore most item cards. There are important item cards, like and , which you can pick most of the time (but hardly ever a first pick in a pack).
There are other niche scenarios where the item cards can play a bigger part. You've got ? Well yeah, pick the when it comes up. That's a great Hero Item combination that can single handedly win you a Draft game. Of course there are exceptions to this rule, but in general, avoid high cost Item cards, you aren't going to make a lot of money...
6. But always pick
Movement cards in Draft are literally a dime a dozen. It's extremely difficult to come across Movement or Cross-Lane cards. This is why every time you see , you should take it. And personally, I think is one of the absolute best cards for Draft. I think you could really make an argument for it even being the best card in Draft.
I think it goes without saying, you can really surprise an opponent with this card. Draft in general is a slower paced game, decks aren't as consistent and fast as Constructed. Many times Heroes will be stuck in lanes, doing whatever they can where they are stuck. Giving up Lanes, which is a pivotal part of Constructed, isn't as much an impact strategy in Draft.
With , you don't really have to ever give up a lane. You can also put a Hero in a mostly lost lane, force your opponent to deal with that lane being contested, and THEN drop and leap out of the lane! Resources are also much harder to come by, so any time you can force an opponent to use them, the better.
7. Pay attention to card rarity
Card Rarity is actually a big deal in Draft. Obviously, we're dealing with packs here, but it's an important thing to mention. Let's say we're early in the Draft and we haven't committed to anything yet. In a pack, you would obviously take , but you also see two really good Blue cards you would want to take. Ignoring what the actual cards are, one is Common and one is Uncommon.
In most cases, you would take the Uncommon card. If you think about it, the chances of seeing the Common card again is higher than the Uncommon, and you have to take that into consideration when making your pick selection. Unless the common card is something like , almost always take !
8. Always pick Value Generating cards in your early packs
Value Generating Cards are essentially cards that have increasing value over time or by specific requirements. Things like or are good examples. These are typically very good cards that either force your opponent to commit multiple resources into eliminating or can cause an opponent to abandon a lane much earlier than they would have liked. This is part of the reason that you see cards like with such a high win rate in Draft, his signature Creep card is a value generating card!
You want to take these cards early because they are a great base to build your deck's color around. Regardless of the Hero's you've selected, these types of cards are always amazing pick ups!
9. Creep cards are the most powerful card type
This should go without saying, but Creep cards are unbelievably important in Draft. Because of the slower paced games, and decks in general not having an answer at every turn, being able to slam a powerful creep down and it stick to the board for more than a turn or two is huge. Especially when you factor in high Attack and Health values for cards like , , and .
But those aren't the only powerful Creep cards in Draft. Creeps that have lasted effects on the board can be extremely useful tools, as well. Cards like , , , and of course . These cards are even more of a pain to deal with because they have impact outside of combat (Well, Emissary applies, but you get what I mean).
Many times in Draft I will pick and build my decks similar to how I do in Constructed. I've lost many games just because my opponent keeps dropping down Creep units, going wide, and I can't stop them. Creeps are extremely powerful, and most of the time, I'd probably recommend you run as many as you can!
10. Understanding why Tri-Color works really well
Tri-Color isn't really a thing in Constructed. Sure, people have tried and have had some minor success, but in general it's not an optimal way of building a deck. In Draft, however, this is very different. Because the number of top tier cards you will come across in Draft is less, and they might be split up among multiple colors, often times it's not a bad idea to run Tri-Color.
Maybe running a single Red Hero for access to , , and isn't a bad idea. "Splashing", as it's called, is when you run a single color in a deck for access to a handful of powerful cards in that color.
If you were able to draft powerful cards across three separate colors, running a 2-2-1 line-up of Heroes might not be a bad idea. At the end of the day, having as many high impact cards in your deck is often the best strategy, and if that means running three (or even sometimes all four colors), then so be it.
But it's important not to get carried away. No single Hero is good enough to be jammed into a deck, just because. And no single card is good enough to run a Basic Hero just to enable that one card. This is a very delicate concept to understand and implement correctly, so that's why I listed it as my tenth and final tip. Just remember, running Tri-Color is sometimes the correct play, but not always.