As we move into the full release of Tales of Aria, we place the spotlight back onto the draft and Limited season. When sitting at a draft table, there are many different factors continuously at play, and at times it can feel overwhelming if you’re not prepared. This is where drafting smartly, pre-planning your draft cards and knowing draft archetypes can make a huge difference. Going into drafts with a plan will astronomically boost your performance and deck consistency, allowing you to play the game plan you want and push over the lesser decks come game time.
Before I do break down this article though, I do want to note that being extremely rigid in your pre-draft plan can be equally dangerous if someone is drafting the same archetype as you. Realizing this is occurring and being able to somewhat pivot and adapt is key to successfully implementing draft plans.
Throughout this article, I’ll be showcasing different draft archetypes from different sets that I use and that have been used to strong effect throughout the game’s history. Although I won’t be able to hit all of them, I will try to keep most general enough to apply to most sets and throw in my personal favorite draft archetypes to go to set by set.
Plan or no plan, equipment is incredibly powerful in draft. Unless there’s a card you absolutely cannot pass up, I highly recommend prioritizing equipment as soon as possible come draft time. Filling up all your slots, even if your equipment doesn’t always synergize perfectly, can allow you to gain card advantage outside of the turn-to-turn cycles. Most of the common and rare equipment pieces have been designed with draft in mind, and present incredible value in those formats
The general rule around equipment (outside of purely defensive pieces) goes like so
- Head Slot 🡪 Card Manipulation
- Chest Slot 🡪 Resource Manipulation
- Arm Slot 🡪 Damage Buffs
- Leg Slot 🡪 Action Point Manipulation
Yellow Bellow Brute – Welcome to Rathe
Specific to Rhinar, Yellow Bellow Brute involves taking as many Primeval Bellows as humanly possible along with as many yellow 6-attack cards as you can. This assures that off a three-card hand with one Primeval bellow, you’ll discard one of your yellow six attack actions and have one to swing with the club. The buff from Primeval Bellow is incredibly powerful and applies to all Brute attacks. Add that buff of usually +4 to Romping Club’s +1 conditional buff off the discard and you get to swing for nine damage into an altered hand due to Intimidate. This can easily let you get the opponent down to 10 or so health, where they’re then easily killable once you string two or three intimidates in a row into an attack action or very buffed Club swing.
However, when playing Yellow Bellow, it’s incredibly important to keep in mind the threat density left in your deck and the damage you leak through. Regarding the former, you’ll be using and discarding part of your hand every turn, running your through your deck extremely quickly. Plan and pitch set your end game to avoid tricky situations. In terms of damage output, you’ll usually need to soak a turn to go and have your big finishing turn, so make sure you’re careful with your life total, falling underneath 10 life before your opponent is in the kill zone is usually a game state where the deck doesn’t have many options to come back from.
Prism Pile – Monarch
Seeing incredible success in Monarch Limited drafts, Prism Pile plays to the inherent power of her Heralds in a format where many may not have the ability to pop them with Phantasm. Really, you’re playing a value game. Your attacks hit for more and block pretty darn well at the same time compared to other classes. Since most of these Heralds and Illusionist power cards are commons and Rares, it’s easy to simply take as many of them as possible and deck out your opponent defensively or pound them into the ground with your offense.
When playing the Pile though, be wary to also draft an option B cycle through your deck with other attacks that draw cards out against opponents with many 6-attacks. Frontline Scout, Rally the Rearguard, Overload and Illuminate are all great options to do so. Adding in a few auras which supplement your deck as well is great if your draft them, as they allow you more flexibility into those pesky Levia decks.
Boost Dash – Arcane Rising
Taking a page from Constructed, Boost Dash works well in Limited as well due to her inherently relying on commons to Boost you into the ground. As with her Constructed counterpart, you need to be able to attack as fast and hard as humanly possible before you deck out. In most cases, this is going to give you about four or five turns before the game ends, meaning your output of damage must be strong.
To effectively use the Dash Boost, I highly recommend going for it early to capitalize on early indecisive players. You’re going to need every Boost card possible to win out. If you can manage to find Cognition Nodes, I would absolutely include that in this deck as an amazing starting item that brings this deck much more life and power than it would other wise have. In the bleaker side though, Boost Dash players must be incredibly aware of the threat density in their deck and make sure that when they are drafting, they shall have enough firepower to close the game out on their pace.
As many of you reading this piece must already know, draft is an incredible format which the designers take incredible care designing and making. As more and more weekly draft Armories pop up around the globe, I encourage players to put away their Classic decks for the bit and try to delve into the Limited format more earnestly. Although starting from scratch with new cards can be intimidating, playing into strong pre-defined draft archetypes from sets can make it less so, whilst keeping all the subtilties and on the fly deck making decisions so inherently tied with the draft experience.