Getting Better: War of the Ancients Limited (Part 2)
This is a column that helps you get better at your favorite games. Whether it's knowing the odds to draw black trains that are left in the deck in Ticket to Ride, or understanding the ramifications of picking a Rocket Courier X-99 early in a game of Ascension, if you're looking to gain an edge over your friends, this is the column for you.
Welcome back to the second part of Getting Better: Drafting War of the Ancients. This part will look at the Tauren and Monster draft strategies as well as quests and class choices.
Taurens is the control deck for the Horde. Their Tribe ability is very strong as they trigger both off the Tauren that it is printed on and then all subsequent Taurens that come into play afterwards. Their protectors coupled with high health makes it difficult for the aggressive decks (Night Elves, Humans and Orcs) to punch through.
Mulgore Guardian and Timewalker Sunguard are early drops to help blunt the initial attack. If you can survive to drop Mulgore Deathwalker on turn 5, you should then be able to start cleaning up the other side of the board with relative ease. Thunder Bluff Wildheart is another common that will start undoing all your opponent's hard work. After that, selection gets a bit weak: Many of the mid-range taurens have only 1 ATK, which even as a protector is not enough to put off an aggressive opponent. Like Humans picking up Night Elves, you may need to dip into the Orc selection and pick up cards such as Durotar Flamecaster which may slightly dilute the impact of Tribe, but helps you better than a 1/5 Tauren Protector. In fact, even picking up Bloodsouls isn't a bad idea as a turn 1 Bloodsoul followed by turn two Mulgore Guardian is a very solid opener, even for a defensive Tauren deck.
Monster decks can be very rewarding, but comes with a significant risk of not obtaining enough playable cards. While there are cards that benefit very well for the Monster deck, often Alliance and Horde players will pick them up to fill up gaps in their ally curve. It gets even worse if there is a second player trying to force Monsters, which often ends up with both players having substandard decks while the six remaining players in the pod will be spoiled for choice with their Horde and Alliance allies. That said, don't even consider trying to force Monster-only in a draft with six or less players and be aware of the high risks trying it in a seven player pod.
For those trying for a Monster deck, drafting Monster ally cards such as Child of Goldrinn, Child of Ursoc, and Jadefire Netherseer as a higher priority and rely on tabling cards such as Strongroot or Mossbark, Ancient of War on the second pass. That said, you should still pick up cards such as Void Terror or Jadefire Soulstealer as they are just as good for your deck as well as for the Horde and Alliance.
The strength of the Monster deck should become apparent: solid ATK and Health values at all levels of your ally curve often mean that the opponent will have to end up throwing away two or three of their small allies in exchange for your bigger allies. Assuming your hero survives to the late game with enough health, your subsequent five, six and seven drop allies should be able to dominate the board.
Class Choice & Quests
Having covered allies heavily within this and the previous article, we now turn our attention to the non-ally cards within the set.
For quests, The Well of Eternity is a card nearly all decks will want multiples of, so snap them up as and when you can. Path to the Dragon Soul is also useful, trading a card for perhaps something more appropriate to the current situation. Even The Vainglorious is marginally helpful in an Orc matchup (where Bloodrush is dependent on which hero has more damage).
For classes, Blitz makes a strong case for playing Hunter, Warlock or Rogue. The reason I have ignored Mage is that the ability selection coupled with only 25 health is very weak. Firestorm is one of the two decent cards for the Mage and even then it costs five and inflicts damage upon your own allies. The fact that the only other useful Mage card (Ice Prison) also costs five does not help matter. Therefore (in my opinion) you should avoid Mage as a class.
Ruthless Execution, Furious George (great for triggering Haste), Holy Ground, and Wild Seeds are all example of uncommon cards you should look out for that encourage you to invest in that class. Strike is a very playable card for classes that are unable to play Blitz, while for plate users, Girdle of the Queen's Champion is a great defensive one drop going second.
Of course, opening rare and epic cards such as Legacy of the Legion, Nightfall, or Lions, Tigers, and Bears will naturally push you towards a particular class, but otherwise don't worry about forcing a class. If you have drafted a decent number of allies (15-20), you will only end up with about 4-6 class based cards. Most abilities and equipment should be geared towards helping change the tempo of the game in your favor (e.g. using Strike to kill your opponent's 2/1 ally on the first turn).
In addition, the Basic abilities associated with each individual hero should have little bearing on your choice: most of these will almost never get activated during the early part of the game due to the race to drop allies onto the board (with the exception of Malfurion or Illidan for example), but will still have a non-trivial influence in the mid to late game.
That's all for my look at War of the Ancients in Limited. Best of luck to you in your next booster drafts!