The ultimate draft guide

By Isenberg

Hello, this article was writter by doge34 and this is KARDS draft guide for all the players who want to step up their performance in this game mode. I tried to balance this article so that both new and experienced players could benefit from it. 

I decided to share my thoughts on KARDS limited format after playing exactly 100 drafts in a span of approximately 40 days just before the 34th regiment/Katyusha June nerfs, with 70.3% winrate (which translates into 5.1 wins/draft), taking home 44 7-win runs. First of all, props to Gearbot, whose crisp draft tierlist I used a lot (and you should too). Just bear in mind that cards listed as below average or worse can find their slot in a specific deck. I remember getting run over by an American ramp deck (yes, that was a draft game) that draw like 4+ cards off a couple 106th Quartermasters, while in a default draft deck those are a horrible 2/3 unit for 4 Kredits.

 

Draft profits and KARD principle

Why do I have to play draft, one might ask? The answer is simple – this is by far (and I can’t stress this enough) the most efficient way to farm resources and build up your collection for constructed games (unless you are willing to commit a decent amount of money to buy packs; side note – as a long-time CCG player I believe that it’s wise to support the developers buying stuff, in case this does not hurt your budget). For starters, any 6-win run is essentially free (you get 15 gold (=draft entry) for such result on top of two gold that are earned for winning three games twice), 7-win runs allow you to pile up the gold a bit, but that’s not the only good thing. The speed of accomplishing the achievements is pretty high, there is also a chance to make those that cannot be made in constructed due to your collection limitations (play X cards of a nation you don’t have. Between the achievement bonuses, daily quests and draft gold you should be able to play at least a draft a day. Moreover, the matchmaking is random as of now and it’s possible to queue a game into not-so-good deck while having a good record.

We are going to start with one catchy principle I decided to name KARD (those of you who played MTG might be familiar with the limited formats BREAD principle, the idea of making such an acronym is not mine). What does that stand for? K for K(c)ard advantage, A for Artillery, R for Removal, D is for (big) Dudes. Let’s look into each of those.

Card advantage

Card advantage sounds easy – that’s having more cards than your opponent, which in fact, is your long-term goal on two levels – draft process and in-game. About 85-90% decks in the draft are midrange, where your main win condition is to out-resource your opponent one way or another, trading your cards 1-for-2 or more in the first place. How can you achieve that? During drafting, you have to prioritize the cards that do the following:

  1. Draw more cards (while doing something):
    Those are units and orders, such as Sherman, FW 190 A, Bloody sickle, Awoken giant etc. Please note that cards that ONLY draw ONE card (Supply Chain, Spoils of war) without any other effect DO NOT create card advantage – they just ‘cycle’ your deck. On the other hand, We can do it! does because of health bonus on your units, which leads to favorable trades.

  2. Deny the draw for your opponent or discard his cards:

Those are units like Panther A, Takasagi regiment etc. and orders such as Wolfpack. Note that orders that only discard one card, like U-375, do not create card advantage because they trade 1-for-1.

  1. Deal damage with no response:

These are bombers and artillery. Artillery is always almost good – I’ve won countless games with unanswered guns dominating the battlefield and lost a fair share in similar cases. Bombers are bit more tricky – they are hard countered by fighters (which could be encountered in large numbers during the draft and usually are good cards) and mostly are good when you’re ahead on board or it is empty, so don’t pick too many of those. A few exceptions to the rule are the ones with a good effect – Avenger, B-17, Ju 87 B2 etc. – and those hard to kill – F1M2Pete, Aichi D3A-2.

  1. Area of effect’ or AOE damage:

These are orders which damage multiple enemy cards at once. There are not many such cards in the game as of now, but most of them are pretty decent – Naval Operation, Eagle claws, Strategic bombing, Shelling and probably the best of the kind – Carpet bombing. Try to play around those during your games! You can also consider AOE damage Long Tom, M8 Howitzer and similar effects, but those are not that reliable though pretty decent.

 

Artillery

Artillery is a very important part of your draft deck. Try to land you guns on an empty board or at least like that it can’t be taken out easily enough. Unless the opponent has a removal or other efficient way to deal with it, you threaten them with a way to end the game in the long run, just sniping anything enemy plays. This is one of the most efficient ways of creating both tempo and card advantage for just a couple of Kredits. However, not all of the guns are created equal. Some of them are too expensive or die too easily – like those with 1 health.

My top-5 artillery of standard/limited rarity (you probably should already know that Leopold is good if you’re reading this) units are (in no particular order): 45-mm anti-tank gun (USSR), type 88 AA gun (Japan), 28 cm coastal Howitzer (Japan), Nebelwerfer 42 (Germany), Hummel (Germany).

Removal

Orders that remove enemy units are one of the most vital parts of any good draft deck. Those come in two different forms – AOEs and single-target removals (for instance, Amphibious assault), both of which are good and important, because they give you an option to deal with enemy’s threats without having to throw units at them – in a lot of situations you do not even have the chance to get to that pesky bomber since the frontline is occupied or you have no units on the battlefield while having no blitz units in hand and also building your card advantage in case of AoEs. Can the units be considered removal? The answer is yes, but there are obviously some caveats, first of all – most of those are conditional. Sure, the orders are too, but they tend to be more universal in terms of removal exactly. Nevertheless, Flammpanzer, Avenger, B-17 and similar cards could be considered removal. The common term for such cards is ‘removal on a stick’, meaning the unit itself. The bounce effects (retreats and send to hand abilities) are a fringe case, because they remove the enemy units from board only for some time, making those more of a tempo-gain cards, but most of them are good. T-IV F2, RAAF Lightning F-4, M16 half-track etc. are cards which any given deck wants to run. You usually try to bounce cards that cost more than the bouncer itself, gaining even more tempo advantage this way or cards which get in the way of a specific action (favorable trade, taking the frontline, destroying bombers or artillery, or even lethal damage).

(big) Dudes

This category is for big units that can single-handedly turn the combat around. The lion share of those are huge Heavy armor tanks like KVs or Tigers, but that can be also 17th regiment for 10 or 12 mana which can end the game in a couple of turns. Unless enemy has a clean way to deal with those (usually removal) they can trade into 3 or 4 of opponents’ cards, creating a game-winning card advantage or just destroy enemy’s HQ because such units are very difficult to get rid of. Remember though that they are susceptible to removal and/or retreat effects, which are in 90% percent cases cheaper than your big tank which leads to your opponent having significant tempo advantage.

Orders, units and Kredit curve

An issue that some players struggle a lot is orders to units balance. Usually I prefer my decks to have from 6 to 10 order cards with 40-60% of those being card draw orders (in some form) and the rest being removal and buffs. However, I’ve managed to have good runs with decks including a bit more orders, up to 13. In such cases the more card draw you have the better. The rule of thumb is that you do not want to be stuck with a hand full of orders which might be very condition-dependent. This takes us to my next point – when you reach the stated above threshold, even below average units should be picked over orders (except the very best one) based only on those being actually units, that fight for board.

The most crucial thing to keep in mind is your Kredit curve. It can be seen here while you draft and before you get into the next battle. Expensive tanks are good and all but they are of no use if you’re dead before you can even put them on a battlefield. The curve should be balanced so that you have cards to play at any stage of the game, not running out of cards fast while being able to play some, so try not to be too greedy making a lot of expensive picks. You want to have the core of your deck built around 2-4-cost units, having some beefy 5-Kredit cards and a bit of expensive cards for the late game. It’s extremely difficult to provide the exact amount needed in each category (sample decks will be available in the second part), so just try not to be extremely greedy and you should be fine. Also bear in mind that a lot of the 1-Kredit units are bad. That happens simply because they are not able to trade into opponent’s cards thus creating a card advantage for him out of the gates. The decent 1-cost units have to either be 2/2 (34th infantry) or have some kind of upside making them worth including (109th combat engineers, 1st airborne, SdKfz 222, 33rd Recon etc).

What to avoid?

We found out above which cards are good. Let’s go over which cards should be avoided during the draft. Sure, Gearbot’s list covers the below average/bad/terrible categories extensively, but it’s good to understand why each card is suboptimal, especially when you’re forced to pick between bad ones.

  1. Cards that do not affect the battlefield and card advantage fight

These are orders that do nothing or close to nothing in terms of fighting for board, for instance, Imperial Strength, Fortification, Elusive force, Mud, Air Blitz etc. The 7-point healing won’t save you in the end but it will create card advantage for your opponent. Note that draw effects are not included in this category

  1. Cards that do not pass the vanilla test

Vanilla test is very simple – you sum up card’s attack and defense and divide by 2. The result is 2 or more – the vanilla test is passed, anything less has to have a really good ability to be included in your draft deck, just because in battling for board which is a huge part of the draft the raw stats are too important. The bad stats units might be ok to pick if you have too many orders already, as stated above.

  1. Cards which require difficult conditions to be played

Some of those might seem powerful, like Patriotic firestorm or Close combat, but the chance you’ll get value of them is pretty thin. Not-so difficult conditions (Blitzkrieg, for instance) mean that you’ll not be able to use your card in some cases, so think twice before picking it. This particular one is only good as a finisher or when you’re winning already. Such cards are called win-more and should be avoided too.

  1. Cards that make you discard your own cards

This is just one of the smaller cases of point 1 but I wanted to focus on it exclusively. There are very few of those, and each one is bad.

  1. 1-health units

They just die easily to a lot of things from Bloody sickle and Air superiority with no planes on the battlefield to Nebelwerfers and Zeros, which are already good cards. Why make them better for your opponent? The only exception are 16th Rifles and 1st Airborne because they quickly get out of that range.

This is it for now from me, in the second part of this guide I’ll cover the nation and ally pick, go over some draft gameplay tips and finish off with top-5 cards of standard/limited rarity for each nation as well as some sample decks. Play Kards and stay tuned!