Had a lot of fun playing in the season 2 Vassal League and was fortunate enough to actually win the thing, which is always good. While the play-ins and finals were 3v3 & 5v5 Pick & Ban, respectively, the final itself was a 31 hero draft on Scorched Earth. Drafts can be pretty daunting, particularly when we are talking about 31 heroes, and by the time it got to the final, I was quite keen to win so I sat down and starting to write a drafting strategy. This proved more difficult than I initially thought, because, where do you start?
Eventually I got some ideas down and then these formed into, what I believe, is a solid template for anyone wishing to do well in draft formats. I thought I would share it with everyone to get their opinions and also to help you get better at draft mode.
Step 1: Draft Priorities
The 1st thing, for me, was to recognise which heroes would be a priority for me as this would form the basis for the rest of my draft. After considering all my options, these were the top 4.
Kvarto and Styx are considered top tier, mainly due to their ability to move things around out of sequence. Positioning is so important in Judgement so the ability to move a piece, particularly after it has activated, is huge. Nephenee is just fantastic at lots of things and in the hands of an experienced player, she can dominate. Skye is a defender I have really come to love of late, and the buffs he received from patch #6 elevated his utility a lot.
As things worked out in the Vassal League final draft, I did get Kvarto & Skye, denied my opponent Styx and decided, due to the way the draft was going, to ban Nephenee and take Fazeal (a hero she counters heavily). I came out of the draft feeling like I had nailed it, based on my prior planning, and that was very satisfying.
Step 2: Combinations
In this step, I identified the classic combinations of heroes so that I had something to reference should I manage to secure one of the heroes at the start of the chain. It is no coincidence that my top 2 priorities are also 2 of the best combination heroes in the game.
- Skoll -> Xyvera
- Bastian -> Skoll, Nephenee, Piper
- Kvarto -> Zaffen, Thrommel
- Styx -> Zaffen, Thrommel, Kogan
- Sharn -> Zaffen, Kogan, Thrommel
- Loribela -> All Dwarfs & Minotaurs
- Zaron -> Rakkir
In hindsight, I didn't manage to get any of these combinations off, however I still ended up with a decent Warband.
Step 3: Dependencies
This step is to identify any red flags where certain heroes really need another to perform at the top level. These heroes can still work well in pick & ban, however I find they are potentially pit falls in draft.
- Xyvera -> Doenrakkar or Skoll
- Thrommel -> Kvarto or Loribela
Step 4: Avoidance Combos
This is a fairly advanced step where I identified combinations of heroes that I believe do not work well together, for various reasons. That is not to say you cannot do well combining them, just that you have to be aware of why they do not synergise perfectly.
- Zaffen & Allandir - both want Heart Seeker and both suffer from the same problems such as hard cover or getting dived by high manoeuvrability heroes
- Zhonyja & Rakkir - both are fate heavy. They want to spend a fate every turn to gain the most out of them.
- Nephenee & Rakkir - both have 1" reach. I never like my 2 melee aggressors to be reach 1
- Kvarto & Styx - I feel these two overlap too much in their abilities and they provide too many tricks and not enough substance. Sure you can use Styx for movement and Kvarto for just damage however you may as well get either Istariel . who is better at ranged, or a melee aggressor, to replace Kvarto.
These were the Warbands that Chunky and I ended up with:
Guns: Fazeal, Svetlana, Kvarto, Skye, Istariel
Chunky: Kogan, Sharn, Brok, Skoll, Kruul
I was really happy with my Warband. I felt I got the the Istariel counter for Kogan, Brok & Skoll. One of the top 2 disruptors in the game with Kvarto and a solid core with Svetlana, Fazeal and Skye. Chunky's looked solid as well, and was very tanky however, if you watch the battle, he made a few early mistakes in deployment, followed up by some poor rolls trying to kill the monsters on his side which let me get the ascendency and never take my foot of the accelerator, except for a decent mistake right at the end. 😉
Interested in everyone's thoughts on this, particularly if you have additions to each of the steps that I missed.
If you are interested in watching the battle you can do so here.