I will be grading each card in the new Omens of the Past expansion for both ranked and draft play. I am going with a A+ to F grading scale this time out. A breakdown of the grading scale:
A’s: Straight bombs or very efficient cards, the best cards in the set.
B’s: Strong playables. Cards that push you into a given faction in draft.
C’s: Role players and cards you rarely cut from your deck in draft.
D’s: Narrow cards that usually don’t make the cut.
F’s: It would be a mistake to add this to your deck.
Lifeforce: Cards with Lifeforce have an effect when their owner gains health.
This is an excellent defensive two drop that plays great against both aggro and mid-range. The only downside is that it doesn’t apply much pressure on control decks and matches up badly with Sword of Icaria. All told, this is strong contender in decks capable of casting it on turn two reliably and are looking to play a longer game.
This blocks everything efficiently and will grind games to a halt until answered or until it trades up. This is perfect for a mid-range or controlling deck, but also it wields weapons very well and can end games in that way.
This has some high upside, but to maximize the card you either need to play with some weak life gain cards or play it a lot more slowly. The best scenario I have thought up for this card is to play two Water of Life into this to make a 6/6. This can happen on turn 3 with an Initiate of the Sands and is a strong play overall. The other appealing play pattern is to crash in with a large Lifesteal unit and then play the Invocation. Either way a decent amount of set up is required to make this good, and the payoff is solid but not game breaking. My guess is that this isn’t quite good enough, but the potential is there and any new life gain cards can change this equation quickly.
This is basically a build around card as it does nothing if you don’t have a lot of life gain cards that can gain life in at least 3 health chunks. I have played this alongside a few Waters of Life in draft and even pulled off the combo on turn 4, but it didn’t feel worth the trouble to make up for the times I just had Water of Life in my hand with no synergies, or just Bloodcall Invocation and no life gain worth casting it for. It is theoretically possible that you have so many burst life gain cards that this becomes a strong B, but I think most of the time it will be hard to pull that off.
Ayan, the Abductor
The rate is fantastic and this helps enable all kinds of Lifeforce shenanigans. The ultimate is just some nice extra value tossed in. This card is brutal against aggro decks if they don’t have a Torch at the ready. The play pattern of block your two drop, gain 3, and then attack for 3 is pretty much game against a lot of aggro decks. Ambush also is a key ability to punish Relic Weapons and control decks in general. This is just an all-star all the way around.
It is very easy to pick off a 2/2 with this in combat and then threaten a large amount of value with the ultimate. This also wields weapons quite well. It doesn’t get a perfect grade because there are less all in aggro decks to punish in draft and less control decks where the ambush punishes them. This is at its worst, while still being great, against decks with lots of mid-range units that can block it effectively.
The rate is there and the long-term value is very intriguing. The question is whether there is enough time to activate the ability as the payoff is strong, but there are probably more important things to spend your power on by turn 5. However, in a stalemate this can get out of hand. It may not make the cut, but I’m keeping my eye on it.
Strong rate and there is plenty of time in draft to take over a game with the ability.
This is a swingy card in that if the opponent doesn’t have a unit wielding a weapon, the only way to actually trade this for a card is for the opponent to have a unit in hand. This whiffs enough that it is a risky proposition. When it works, it is definitely a strong effect though.
This is effective at breaking weapons and most of the time this will hit for a card when you go for the discard effect but the times where you have no great targets on the board and whiff when you go for the hand brings this down a bit.
This kills some very high value targets, my favorites being Sandstorm Titan and Xenan Obelisk. It takes care of plenty of other threats as well and being fast speed is a big game. Most decks playing Xenan should be in the market for at least 2 copies but costing 4 can make it hard to fit in 4 copies in some decks.
This kills plenty of problematic units and every so often you will hit a nasty rare relic from the opponent.
Katra, the Devoted
This card is different from the Bloodcall Invocation in that you want incremental life gain to get as many triggers as possible. There are enough of these that this represents a lot of possible buffs but the strategy has a fundamental problem of being weak to Harsh Rule control decks and may be too slow to set up against the focused aggro decks. It seems you could overrun a mid-range deck with this strategy though.
Assuming you can get enough repeatable life gain effects, this will win games very easily for you. This pairs especially well with evasive Lifesteal units like Vampire Bat and it makes Sanctuary Priest a valuable addition.
This feels too expensive to pull off and not end up too far behind, but on a stable board this is a strong effect.
This can be a high pick if you have some Lifeforce cards to go with it.
The rate isn’t quite there on this, but if a Lifesteal focused deck becomes a strong archetype it might be necessary.
This is a strong card that is essential in any Lifeforce deck. It wields weapons very well and blocks even better.
This can generate a lot of value but requires you to have a number of life gain cards in your deck. It remains to be seen if this style of deck is competitive but I think the payoff here is strong enough to experiment.
Assuming you have enough life gain cards, this will run away with most games it hits play.
Mask of Torment
This isn’t very exciting outside of triggering the Ultimate, which will often win the game. The question is how quickly and reliably can you pull this off, and I think it is possible in the right deck. Being a Relic, it is hard to interact with which is a solid plus in its favor. This could be worth exploring.
Assuming you have enough repetitive life gain cards, this triggers faster than you might think. The hard part is that if you don’t end up with enough life gain it is unplayable.
Champion of Mystery
I love the effects this gains, but the cost may just be too slow to pull off with success.
It can be hard to pull off the influence requirements, but the rate is strong enough that this is an appealing six drop.
The effect is strong, but the cost is probably too high to make an impact. I’d much rather have the 5 cost Stranger that pumps +2/+2.
If you have a lot Strangers this goes up a bit, but the rate on its own is not good.
This costs too much to be playable fairly, but this is a strong Reanimator target.
I can’t imagine ever losing with this in play, the only question is can you survive long enough to cast it.
Feln Stranger has been a key part of Feln decks in the past, primarily to help turn on Champion of Cunning and Witching Hour in the old days, but the point is these Strangers are playable in ranked. I think the tools may be there for an exciting Strangers deck and these additions will be key to making it work. There is also the exciting mono Fire deck that runs all of the Fire producing strangers in order to power up Flash Fire. Here is my build:
4 Flame Blast (Set1 #2)
4 Oni Ronin (Set1 #13)
4 Ruthless Stranger (Set1 #11)
4 Torch (Set1 #8)
4 Praxis Stranger (Set2 #248)
4 Rakano Stranger (Set1 #411)
4 Skycrag Stranger (Set2 #250)
4 Stonescar Stranger (Set1 #413)
4 Groundbreaker (Set2 #21)
4 Flash Fire (Set0 #6)
4 Obliterate (Set1 #48)
4 Sindok, Rage Incarnate (Set2 #34)
27 Fire Sigil (Set1 #1)
This build does quite well in the Gauntlet, but it also seems competitive in Ranked.
These cards, along with the Banners, are key to enabling three+ faction decks. The Strangers are important early blockers as well.
This is likely an important piece to any successful Stranger deck to find the right Stranger at the right time.
It is unlikely you have a Stranger powerful enough to warrant including this.
Spirit of Resistance
The cost is preposterously high, but if you can come up with a deck to get there the effect is worth it. Perhaps the Xenan big ramp cards will help get this done.
12 is just too much to reliably cast this in all but the most defensive and rampy decks. However, if you can pull it off it would be worth it.
Praxis, Hooru, Argenport, Skycrag, Xenan Banner
These are cornerstones for power-bases to help fix influence requirements.
These are key to enabling three+ faction decks as well as bolstering your two faction decks.
Top 10 Legendaries for Ranked:
- Inquisitor Makto
- Heart of the Vault
- Kothon, the Far-Watcher
- Vadius, Clan Father
- Ayan, the Abductor
- Bartholo, the Seducer
- Sindok, Rage Incarnate
- Pearlescent Drake
- Diogo Málaga
- Obrak, the Feaster
Top 10 Commons for Draft:
- Sand Viper
- Longshot Marksman
- Xenan Cupbearer
Top 5 Cards I want to Experiment With:
On the whole, I am really enjoying Omens of the Past. The shakeup to Ranked is quite significant and I feel we won’t have a strong picture of what is best for at least a month or two, if not longer. The draft format is right up my alley as it has slowed down significantly and 3+ faction decks are some of the best and require precise drafting/deck building to maximize. I am having a lot of fun with it, and I hope you are all too!
Thanks for reading,