Note: I do not yet have a plugin to link card images like I do for the Magic articles. I’m not sure one exists. If not, I’ll work on writing one.
The Dusk Road has been here for quite a while now. I had a rocky start to the format, but since I finally learned to embrace the Justice life, I’ve had a good deal of success. I usually hover around upper diamond, into master if I have enough time during a given month.
I’ll give more detailed thoughts on the 3-2-1-3 format at the end of the article. I certainly enjoyed sets 1 and 2 more than this, but that won’t stop me from drafting as often as I’m able. It’s just a bit of a shame that they went to all the trouble of designing these cool tribal mechanics, when it’s often correct to ignore them in favor of less greedy, more consistent picks.
The recent minor nerfs to several justice cards have helped bring the format a little more into balance. I think that justice is still top dog, but not by quite the same margin.
This deck had a few subpar cards in it, but it also had Rooftop Vigilante and two copies of Spiritblade Stalker, which are enough to carry you to six wins, apparently. I didn’t take too many notes on this draft, but I did note that I felt very lucky to get to 6, won a lot of games I probably shouldn’t have.
This deck felt a a little more solid than the last one, up until that top-end. I went in wanting to draft something other than Rakano or Argenport, but…then I opened Rakano Sheriff and got passed Extinguish and Vainglory Patrol. Midway through pack 1, I thought that justice was not open, and I was right. The deck ended up mostly shadow, but I’m playing some pretty sweet justice cards.
My 6-drops really suck, but you can’t have everything. My early pressure is enough that pretty much any big dumb threat should be good enough.
Sadly, I wound up 5-3 despite feeling quite good about the deck. Inquisitor’s Halberd was a card I had yet to draft, and it was very good in combination with Rooftop Vigilante.
I evidently forgot a screenshot of this one, but I drafted Elysian dinosaurs, splashing some shadow cards. I had a Shimmerpack, but didn’t play it because most of my creatures were at least 3/3s, and it didn’t seem worth playing an 8-drop that might give them +1/+1.
I wound up 3-3 with this one, but the deck felt better than that. My first opponent had the nutso curve of Ageless Mentor into Xenan Obelisk. I did not win that game.
This draft started off with a first-pick Stonescar Sneak. He was as good as I thought he’d be, turning my stupid little dorks into real threats. This is probably the most aggressive deck I’ve ever drafted. I wish I hadn’t had to play junk like Iceberg Frontrunner. I’d rather have not played the expensive removals either, but at least I had some flood insurance from Scrap Hound, Stonescar Sneak, and Thunderhoof Warrior.
Stonescar Sneak did right by me last time, so I figured I’d take him out for a nice dinner and murderfest. This one was justice-flavored, and just as solid as the last one. Valkyrie Arcanist definitely still has what it takes. You just can’t draft a pile of 4 of them anymore, which is probably for the best.
Every now and then, after a hundred or a thousand tries, you create a masterpiece. This deck was incredible to play. It had lots of neat little synergies, good faction-fixing, enough removal, tons of mana sinks, and SWORD OF THE SKY KING.
Battlefield Scavenger was an over-performer in this one, several times bringing Valkyrie Denouncer straight into play and drawing me a card. Also gotta give a shoutout to Initiate of the Sands. More than once she bravely ramped me to 7 and then volunteered herself to feed the big dino, who crippled my opponent’s board.
The deck had such fantastic faction-fixing that I was always able to play Auric Record Keeper on turn 2 or 3 if I wanted, and hitting the full SSTTJJ was a piece of cake.
In case you were wondering, yes, Sword of the Sky King is a stone-cold bomb in draft. If you have any sort of blocking ability, you just slowly munch through your opponent’s stuff.
Card of the Week goes to Vainglory Patrol. I want at least 2 of these in any shadow deck. Yeah, they die if you look at ’em funny, but there are lots of good ways to gum up the ground, and 3 flying strength for 4 power is a fantastic rate. If you’re justice and can slap an aegis weapon on them, they’ll carry you all the way.
This week I did six drafts, falling into justice in four and a half of them. I tried not to draft it so much, I really did. But they just keep sending me cheap dudes and weapons, and their door-to-door game is strong. They just want to tell me about their Lord and Savior Rolant, who they say can prevent all the damage I’ll take for all eternity as long as I’m justice.
My final record for the week was 32-17, good enough to put me at something like 85/100 in Diamond. I have a little gold in the bank, so I might try and hit a home run with my next couple drafts, then retire them if they don’t get there. All I need to do is start 2-0 to hit Master for the month.
None of my drafts took too big of an advantage of the new bond or ally mechanics. The only one that did any of that was the Elysian draft where I went a paltry 3-3. I don’t really understand the rationale behind loading up the set with these mechanics that want you to reach a critical mass of certain types of creature, then only having two packs in which to do it.
Furthermore, Set 2 seems even more out of place, as the themes there don’t mix at all with the Set 3 themes. Lifeforce cards are god-awful in the Xenan dinosaur/sentinel tribal deck. All those cute “if this becomes a student” cards in Hooru…don’t have any mentors in any other set.
While Set 1 also doesn’t directly support the tribal mechanics, it at least had more broad, efficient cards that didn’t ask for specific synergies in other cards. Empower cards work just fine in a Set 3-focused deck because they just ask you to play some power. The Elysian theme of “play big dumb creatures and stun your opponent’s blockers” works just fine alongside the dinosaur synergies. The Stonescar theme of generating value on death just requires some combat to happen. Set 1’s themes were accentuated by having, say, Ravenous Thornbeasts to sacrifice your Dark Wisps, but neither of those cards was stone unplayable without the other like so many of the Set 3 cards are. Lots of Set 3 cards are absolute garbage unless you’re lucky enough to see enough cards of that tribe, and it’s not a winning proposition to gamble on it when you could just be taking a medium 3/3 for 3 with minor upside.
3-1-3-1 would have been a much, much better format, in my opinion. Set 2’s power level as a whole is already a lot weaker than Sets 1 and 3, and when you add to that the complete lack of any synergy cards coming together, I think you have a pretty good argument for cutting it from the format completely.