Author Topic: Drafting Basics - Strong Individual Cards, Combos, and Faction Strats (+video!)  (Read 13900 times)

Offline TheRealTuna

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Hi folks,

I have been getting questions from newer players with regard to drafting successful decks.

While I definitely don't consider myself to be the best drafter, I have enjoyed pretty solid results by sticking to certain fundamentals, and almost always at least break even with the decks I draft. I have also been towards / at the top of the weekly draft boards pretty much every week for the last month or however long, so I do have some idea of what I'm talkin' bout!

I am sure that other people will have other drafting strategies or different perspectives regarding certain cards. This is not a be-all-end-all post; this is just what I've experienced in my time drafting and over all thousands of hours of game time logged on steam.

I won't include Epics or Legs in any of these lists, as they are extremely uncommon during rift runs.

Also, I'm sure there are some things I'll miss, so feel free to comment / PM with that stuff.


What's Generally Good in Draft?

Consistent Flow of Creatures, Efficient Creatures, and Removal/Control. You should only ever pick something other than these if you have no other choice, or see something that particularly compliments a strategy you're trying to build.

Command Strategy + Ideal Commanders

The commanders you select for draft determine the rest of your deck's desired resource curve.

For example, if you have 4 and 5 cost commanders, you're going to want to heavily saturate your deck with lower cost cards to make sure you have plays to make earlier. If you have low cost commanders, you can more heavily saturate your deck with higher cost cards to ensure proper scaling into mid-game.

You should always try to get solid, low resource commanders, because that will solidify plays on your earlier turns and allow you to saturate your deck more heavily with stronger, high cost cards to ensure your transition into mid game

Something like Genesis Researcher, which is low cost but with horrendous stats, would not apply here. The card should be low cost but have decent stats or effects.

If you aren't given an option to choose an efficient low cost, and have to pick between a crappy low cost and a solid high cost, go for the high cost, and accommodate your heavy command zone with low cost picks throughout the draft.

Ideal Commanders

- Aleta, Immortal Caretaker
- Rita, Mistress of Shadow
- Aleta, Immortal Sufferer
- Aleta, Immortal Tinkerer

(Aleta OP)

Etc.

Examples of Solid Commanders that are More Common

- Diseased Zombie
- Torchbearer
- Neophyte Summoner
- Support Drone

Etc.

Strong Individual Cards by Faction


These are cards that I will nearly always pick if available, regardless of the rest of my deck and purity combinations. If there are two or more of these cards within one pick, I pick the one I think best compliments what is already in my deck, or what I am hoping for from my following picks.


FlameDawn

- Flame Dawn Commando
- Sacullas, the Final Hammer
- Intimidating Rally
- Harbinger of Light
- Pyr, Fortress of the Flame Dawn

Cult of Verore

- Verore Kidnapper
- Rubble Golem
- Lightning Blast
- Word of Command
- Death Ray
- Overcharged Storm
- Chain Lightning
- Mass Death
- The Hellmouth

Descendants of the Dragon

- Glorious Warrior
- Infected Monk
- Zunshen, the Resolute General
- Xi, Who Honors the Dead
- Xi, Ascended
- Chef
- Monk of the Second Moon
- Balance
- Yuanshi's Wrath
- Daode's Protection
- Humble

Warpath

- Hulking Sniper
- Hehkeem
- Rakarl
- Dropbear
- Skraar
- Pack Leader
- Granthar, Elder Ape
- Subdues the Meek
- Aunissial
- Fight!
- Denial of Magic
- Primal Rage
- Eucalyptus Tree
- Hunted Down

Genesis Industries

- Support Drone
- Splitter Bot
- Upgrade
- Scouting Mission
- Controlled Temporal Anomaly

Sleepers of Avarrach

- Evolving Parasite
- Hekheem, the Corrupted
- Inevitable Dead
- Overwhelming Dead
- Raise Dead

Exiles

- Adaptive Ritualist
- Infected Devil
- Splat
- Chaos in the Ranks
- Demonize
- Descent into Madness
- Descension
- Kidnapped by Demons

Overseers of Solace

- Harbinger of Law
- Cassial, the Selfless
- Banish
- Guns of Goliath
- Heaven's Assistance
- Higher Calling
- Mysterious Box of Wonders

Factionless

- Shikana, who Demands Tribute
- Zuza, Angelic Siren
- Winds of War
- Gather Thoughts (more of a good filler than an ideal pick)


Cool list! But what about all the other cards in the game that I encounter!?

There are many cards I have not listed here that are still very usable in rift, such as Hubris of the Strong, Call the Crusade, Zombie Scavenger, and many, many more.

It is extremely important to maintain a focused metacognitive state while you draft. You need to actively ask yourself which card is most efficient for your current faction combo, which card is most efficient on its own, etc.

Be able to identify efficient and non-efficient cards is a function of experience.

An experienced player will never, ever picked Genesis Researcher in draft. Why? It has a horrendous effect and has piss-poor stats. This card should literally never be picked.

By the same token, an experienced player will recognized that, even though Glorious Warrior is just a common, it has a hugely impactful effect and has extremely good stats for its cost, and will almost always pick it if it comes up.

I will try to compile a full list of cards at a later date though to provide a more accurate picture of what cards should be considered for a pick and what cards should just never be picked.


Drafting for Combos

More often than not, drafting is more about picking individually efficient cards than trying to fish for strong combos.

That doesn't mean, however, that you can't have combos in your draft deck.

I have found that the most reliable combos and decks derive naturally from strong card picks.

Let's look at one of my favorite combos, for example: Jetpack + Anti Air missile.

As you sift through your draft picks, you shouldn't prioritize Anti Air missile just because you want to employ this combo. Anti Air missile is a situational card at best.

However, Jetpack is an extremely useful card, and you might elect to pick it on the card's own merit, not because you want to use it for a combo.

As you go through your picks, you notice an anti-air missile pop up, and you already have 2 jetpacks in your deck that you picked because jetpack in and of itself is a potent card. You may NOW pick up an anti-air missile if you have no better choice, since you already have the cards to support the combo.

You can think of combos in draft as being dependent and independent parts. You always want to try and pick up the independent, or individually efficient, part of the combo before you pick up the dependent, or individually situational, part.

As a rule, I always take 1 less of the situational piece than the amount of efficient pieces in my deck. For example, if I were using 3 jetpacks, I would include no more than 2 missiles. If I were using 2 jetpacks, I would include no more than 1 missile. If I only drafted 1 jetpack, I would probably not opt to take any missiles.

Fundamental Faction Strategies and Combos by Faction and Purity


Flamedawn

In draft (and in general), regardless of purity, FD excels at two things: rush and stumbling.

Stumble, Exhaust, Intimidating Rally, Flagbearer, Harbinger of Light, Flashbang, and so on are going to be your best bets. Early chargers like Fleeting Footman, FD Paladin, FD Hound, etc will serve you well.

I always try to get 1 Timely Strike as well, maybe 2 if I really have a ton of stumbles. These are amazing and unexpected removal options in draft, and can be easily combined with various stumbling options for reliable removal. An extremely reliable way to deal with Zuza as well.

Personal Purity Preference: 1p. You get all essential tools from FD with just 1p. The further you delve into FD purity, the more fixated it becomes around the central rush strategy of FD, which I really haven't had much success with in draft. This doesn't mean that 2p FD is bad per se, only that I don't do great with it in draft.

Potent + Reasonably Attainable Faction Combos:
 - FD + SoA: Fear + Ferocity, Fear + Call the Crusade
 - FD + OoS: Access to Ferocious Flyer, Mysterious Box + Sacullas
 - FD: Zuza + Timely Strike (the fork of legends)


Cult of Verore

In draft, CoV shines due to its control-oriented capabilities.

Lightning blast, Death Ray, Verore Kidnapper, and Overcharged Storms/Mass Deaths are insanely useful cards in pretty much every draft matchup you'll encounter. Word of Command is also a very versatile card that can help you in pretty much any situation.

The Hellmouth is also an extremely useful location that provides a steady stream of flying tokens, and grants tremendous card advantage.

Personal Purity Preference: 1p or 2p. 1p provides excellent control capabilities while allowing for other stronger double purity combinations. 2p provides even greater control, but 2p CoV doesn't really have too many beatsticks or practical win cons in draft in my experience, or at least not as many as other factions.

Potent + Reasonably Attainable Faction Combos:
 - CoV + SoA: Fear + Word of Command, Access to Infest
 - CoV + DoD: Access to Yuanshi's Wrath, Rubble Golem + Balance (+ WoC)


Descendants of the Dragon

I don't love DoD in draft.

Fundamentally, DoD is a defensive faction, and especially when you approach 2p and 3p DoD, you get pigeonholed into very defensive styles of play typically.

There are some great perks to DoD, however.

Balance is extremely versatile and in most cases beneficial to have. Yuanshi's wrath is fantastic removal. Xi, Who Honors the Dead is great token gen. Humble is still amazing. Chefs are nice unit maintenance.
Zunshen and Glorious Warriors are also nice.

Personal Purity Preference: 1p. Everything good in DoD for draft are all 1p, therefore we don't need to go to 2p. 2p is actually detrimental in my opinion because it brings in things like Adorable Monkeys, Masked Warriors, etc which are so inexcusably sad for draft. 1p or nothing.

Potent + Reasonably Attainable Faction Combos:
 - DoD + Exiles: Access to Tibat, Yuanshi's + Spont Combust, Hyper Removal in General
 - DoD + CoV: Access to Heat Wave, Lightning Blast, etc, Rubble Golem + Balance (+ WoC)
 - DoD + OoS: Access to Xi, Ascended
 - DoD: Balance + Rubble Golem

Warpath

Warpath is phenomenal in draft because of its bulky creatures and reliable resource curve.

Eucalyptus Trees, Pack Leaders, Skraars, Aunis, Hekheem, and so much more. Fight! and Hunted Down are both extremely reliable removal options. BLBPs combined with Wealthy Nobles can ensure a solid resource curve if you are stuck with bulky commanders. WP has so many bulky units that crappy choices you'll be faced with while drafting will end up in something like tusked behemoth at worst, which is still a 12/14 at your disposal. At least it's not a genesis researcher!

Super common creatures, such as one of many, enraged hulker, and so on are actually really potent in draft. 8/9 for 3 is definitely a solid play, especially from such a common card.

Personal Purity Preference: 2p or 3p if you're lucky. Almost everything that makes WP stand out as a monster faction in draft is in 2p or higher. There is really just not that much in 1p WP that makes it worth aiming for.

Potent + Reasonably Attainable Faction Combos:
 - WP + Exiles: Access to Spawn, Splat + Rite of Rage
 - WP + CoV: Black Bind Witch + Fight!
 - WP: Fight! + Rite of Rage

Genesis Industries

GI is great because of easily accessible buffing and universally strong buffing.

Support Drones, Splitter Bots, Upgrade, and so on available from only 1p. CTA, Laser Cannon, Cannon Fire all decent removal.

2p opens up a lot more options and starts to make GI feel much more tribal, and is when you'll really be excited to see your Luccas pop up.

Don't forget the godly Jetpack + Anti Air Missle combo! Especially great if you have already drafted a few jetpacks (as they are universally useful) and are stuck with Anti Air Missle and other crappy cards in a pick.

Personal Purity Preference: 2p or 3p if you're lucky. 1p is definitely not bad, but 2p opens up a more consistent flow of artificials, such as Treasure Hunter, Scouting Mission, etc. This makes any Luccas you draw devastating. 3p is ideal if you are lucky enough to get it.

Potent + Reasonably Attainable Faction Combos:
 - GI + OoS: Access to Lucca Ascended, Mysterious Box + Lucca
 - GI + Exiles: Splat + Reborn
 - GI: Secluded Constructor + Reborn
 - GI: Jetpack + Anti-Air Missle


Sleepers of Avarrach

Sleepers are extremely hit or miss for me, and depend on a few cards to really perform well.

There is a major gap in performance between 1p and 2p sleepers and 3p sleepers.

1p sleepers feels very lackluster. 1p is not enough to take advantage of the mechanics that make sleepers shine.

2p is definitely a major step up from 1p. You gain access to overwhelming dead, Kyrallic, plaguebearers, boomy, and more.

3p is where sleepers go crazy, and you will definitely have fun if you get 3p. Access to Hekheem is tremendously significant, and inevitable dead is also great for solidifying your curve.

Personal Purity Preference: 2p or 3p if you're lucky. 2p opens up access to the tribal stuff that makes sleepers potent, and 3p is what puts it over the top.

Potent + Reasonably Attainable Faction Combos:
- SoA + FD: Fear + Ferocity, Fear + Call the Crusade
- SoA + CoV: Fear + WoC, Access to Infest

Exiles

I find exiles to be a little inconsistent in draft.

If you can manage to pull some demonborns and then a lot of demons, it can work. Otherwise, a lot of exiles is too random to do well.

Splat, Kidnapped by Demons, Demonize, Chaos in the Ranks, and Descension are some of the best cards you can get from the faction. The rest of it is mostly pretty lackluster.

Personal Purity Preference: 1p or 2p. You can get a lot of good stuff from 1p Exiles, such as Splat, Kidnapped, Chaos, etc, but a lot of the time you'll also end up with crap like waste chucker, scramble, etc. 2p allows you to delve a little further into the demon tribal, which CAN make for a nice deck, but you also run the risk of getting garbage like reckless abandon, demonic presence (in draft without a real game plan this is pretty bad), etc.


Potent + Reasonably Attainable Faction Combos:
 - Exiles + WP: Access to Spawn, Splat + Rite of Rage
 - Exiles + CoV: Demon Tribal / Master of Demons, Kidnapper + Kidnapped for lots of removal
 - Exiles + DoD: Access to Tibat, Hyper Removal


Overseers of Solace

Overseers are a forced to be reckoned with with the right draws.

Mysterious Box, Higher Calling, Banish, Harbinger of Law, and an armada of flyers is the essence of OoS in draft. Flying is incredibly difficult to deal with for some decks, which is a nice perk for OoS.

With the right picks, the champ mechanic can be truly devastating. This requires 2p, however, and you won't always get the stuff you want.

Personal Purity Preference: 2p or 3p if you're lucky. 1p definitely has some great cards, such as higher calling, mysterious box, etc, but they are not too common and can't fully be relied upon in my experience. 2p opens a ton of possibility with tricky champ mechanics, champ's herald, banish, etc. 3p would be even better yet, as the likelihood of getting the stuff you need would increase significantly.


Potent + Reasonably Attainable Faction Combos:
 - OoS + GI: Access to Lucca Ascended, Mysterious Box + Lucca
 - OoS + FD: Mysterious Box + Sacullas


Factionless

Make no mistake: sometimes, drafting a factionless commander is a tactically desirable play! There have been many times that I got 2p WP, with the choices for a final commander being really unappealing. Sometimes, picking a factionless commander is great to ensure that your draft pool doesn't get muddied up with crappy single purity stuff, and will help to ensure you draw more of the stuff of your 2 other commanders.


Personal Faction Tier List in Draft


1. GI / WP
2. FD
3. OoS
4. CoV
5. Exiles
6. DoD


Faction Combos I've had Success With

2 GI / 1 OoS

With access to Lucca Ascended and access to a ton of artificials, this is a purity combo that I find myself gravitating to a lot. It is extremely safe and has a strong chance, between the 2 luccas and guns of goliath, to provide AoE buffs reliably.

Higher Callings and Boxes are icing on the cake.


2 WP / 1 FD

The concept of this combo is heavy hitters + stumbling. 2 WP is likely the strongest double purity in the game -- rivaled perhaps only by 2p GI -- and will offer access to extremely bulky, yet cost-efficient creatures. Stumbles allow these creatures to push through uninhibited, and is just very difficult to reclaim tempo from once the game plan gets started.


2 CoV / 1 Exiles OR 1 CoV / 2 Exiles

I personally have a great time with the tremendous removal of these factions combined, and also tend to do well with the demon tribal. 2 CoV leans more towards removal heaviness, while 2 Exiles leans more towards demon tribal heaviness. Both can work, but somewhat reliant on decent draws in the 2 CoV version.



Final Word

Fundamentally, no matter what cards you pick, you must have a firm grasp of the mechanics of the game to perform well in rift. A worse player with better cards will lose 9/10 times to a better player with worse cards. Experience goes a long way in this game. If you are new, and you just don't get why you keep losing rift, have no fear -- we were all there at one point. Just keep playing and, as with all things, you will become more and more experienced with the game and continue to improve.


Update: 10/9/2015

Here is a video of me picking cards during a rift run. I do my best to outline my thought process for each pick.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3cqhzeFNGUQ


Go git em!
« Last Edit: October 09, 2015, 02:31:09 AM by TheRealTuna »

Offline Quickslip

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Re: Drafting Basics - Strong Individual Cards, Combos, and Faction Strats
« Reply #1 on: October 07, 2015, 04:27:44 PM »
Yessss. Someone has finally decided to do this. Now I don't have to post my bad and watered down version of this xD

I'll just say that I agree with pretty  much everything Tuna has said at the time of this post, and thought I'd say a few things about stuff I see on streams and extrapolate from others decks I see. This-is-my-experience-in-draft-so-feel-free-to-point-out-how-it-may-be-wrong rules apply.

On combos: Drafting for combos is nice, but keep in mind the relative usefulness of the cards without their accompanying combo card. You are not guaranteed that fear for your ferocity and infected knight you already have drafted. Don't go picking a second ferocity over other solid cards until you have at -least- one fear. In the case of some of the weaker combo cards like, say, genetic splicing, don't pick it at all unless you already have that zomBgone.(or there really is just nothing better to pick of course)

On deck strategy: Know your factions and what they are capable of achieving. Try to figure out what is the most likely and strong strategy that you can achieve given your commanders and go for it, but always keep it in mind. If about halfway through, you find that your cards are more geared for a slightly different strategy than what you originally intended, recognize it and be sure to switch up your picks. AKA yes, your 2GI/WP deck is 2 purity GI, but if most of your card choices at 28 picks in happen to make your deck look like a beast deck with lasers, support drones, and jetpack support, that lucca may not be as good as it looks.


Offline MerliniX

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Re: Drafting Basics - Strong Individual Cards, Combos, and Faction Strats
« Reply #2 on: October 07, 2015, 04:45:33 PM »
I generally agree with what is posted here with two notable exceptions;

In my opinion CoV is one of the weakest factions available in rift - due to the poor stat::cost ratio their characters have. Their removal is top notch, but a lot of the time large efficient characters are just more useful than removal in Rift.

Also Flame Dawn in my opinion really shines in 2p, and is much less potent in 1p. I do not think I have ever had a 2p FD draft get less than 18 wins. That might just be my experience though and may not be indicative of overall faction strengths.

Also; one of the largest factors in Rift is how people play the game - inefficient play is by far the number one reason people lose in Rift, not the RNG of the cards you got or how you drafted. I've watched numerous people Rift on twitch, and for the most part they generally pick the correct cards - and then they get into game and they cannot get out of their own way and throw games that are easily winnable.

Offline ecliptix

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Re: Drafting Basics - Strong Individual Cards, Combos, and Faction Strats
« Reply #3 on: October 07, 2015, 06:28:56 PM »
I also want to throw in my 2 cents.

While I agree DoD isn't strong by itself or even as a 2p, it has some pretty potent 1p splash options. Right now, for example I'm running a 2p GI/ DoD deck and have both Aleta Tinkerer and chef as commanders. The problem with DoD is they don't really have any offensive power, so have a hard time winning but when paired with something that hits hard really make a noticable difference in sending a deck that extra mile - especially important as many rift matches seem to become tests of endurance.

Plus you really notice it when you are able to tinker a balanced defense golem and give him a jetpack.
No matter the problem, the solution is always a flying emberstarter.

Offline TheRealTuna

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Re: Drafting Basics - Strong Individual Cards, Combos, and Faction Strats
« Reply #4 on: October 07, 2015, 06:31:07 PM »
@Quick: Good point about the combos, totally agree with you. I included a section about fishing for combos in draft and the way I think a player should go about comboing in draft.

@Merlin: I definitely expected someone to bring that up about 2p FD. I naturally view FD as a more supportive faction in draft than primary, and that reflects in my card selections and overall choices while picking/playing draft. I definitely don't consider 2p FD bad, I just personally don't perform as well with it.

I also agree that CoV is not anywhere near the best faction in draft, but definitely contains useful tools. I consider it to be pretty inconsistent since there is a lot of crap in there mixed in with the good stuff, much like exiles.
« Last Edit: October 07, 2015, 06:32:56 PM by TheRealTuna »

Offline Teremus

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Re: Drafting Basics - Strong Individual Cards, Combos, and Faction Strats
« Reply #5 on: October 07, 2015, 06:39:19 PM »
Mind if I share this?
No seriously, I really like cheese.

Quote from: Poga
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Offline TheRealTuna

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Re: Drafting Basics - Strong Individual Cards, Combos, and Faction Strats
« Reply #6 on: October 07, 2015, 06:41:33 PM »
Mind if I share this?

Go for it Moosito

Offline Heyheuhei

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Re: Drafting Basics - Strong Individual Cards, Combos, and Faction Strats
« Reply #7 on: October 07, 2015, 07:25:58 PM »
Wow. incredible work! Thanks

Offline Teremus

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Re: Drafting Basics - Strong Individual Cards, Combos, and Faction Strats
« Reply #8 on: October 07, 2015, 08:48:40 PM »
Moosito. Is that like a mosquito, but a moose? Sounds terrifying.

Anyways, shared on the front page for greatness.
No seriously, I really like cheese.

Quote from: Poga
I make this game, James.

Offline TheRealTuna

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Re: Drafting Basics - Strong Individual Cards, Combos, and Faction Strats
« Reply #9 on: October 07, 2015, 09:30:58 PM »
Moosito. Is that like a mosquito, but a moose? Sounds terrifying.

Anyways, shared on the front page for greatness.


Offline Cesaltionius

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Re: Drafting Basics - Strong Individual Cards, Combos, and Faction Strats
« Reply #10 on: October 08, 2015, 12:38:25 AM »
Mosquito the size of a moose. Lightmare is an Austrailian group

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Re: Drafting Basics - Strong Individual Cards, Combos, and Faction Strats
« Reply #11 on: October 08, 2015, 04:06:24 AM »
I think mentality might have big impacts on outcome. Short brake after rift match might make trip more enjoyable (dodge those who want their fair share of revenge  ::) ).

Offline Teremus

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Re: Drafting Basics - Strong Individual Cards, Combos, and Faction Strats
« Reply #12 on: October 08, 2015, 05:47:57 AM »
That is now my Avatar, and I have no regrets.
No seriously, I really like cheese.

Quote from: Poga
I make this game, James.

Offline tyuiotyui

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Re: Drafting Basics - Strong Individual Cards, Combos, and Faction Strats
« Reply #13 on: October 08, 2015, 06:53:20 AM »
Great stuff) But i thought you can't draft factionles commanders anymore?

Offline tomuchmayo

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Re: Drafting Basics - Strong Individual Cards, Combos, and Faction Strats
« Reply #14 on: October 08, 2015, 07:26:11 AM »
You can't have zuza in command, every other factionless still can be chosen as commanders I think.