The ultimate draft guide - Part 2

By Isenberg

The first part of the KARDS draft guide was focused mostly on general things. The second one goes into the detail: we’ll cover nation and ally pick, best cards, sample decks and gameplay tips. Let’s get it started.

Nation pick

If you have read the first part of the guide, you know that it’s based on 100 draft runs, which should be considered a decent sample size. My nation tier-list goes as follows:

  1. USA (stats: 46 runs (23 7-win runs), 255-97, 72.4% winrate, 5.5 average wins)

  2. Germany (21 runs (11 7-win runs), 117-40, 74.5% winrate, 5.5 average wins)

  3. Japan (14 runs, (6 7-win runs), 71-31, 69.6% winrate, 5.0 average wins)

  4. Britain (7 runs (1 7-win run), 26-17, 60.4% winrate, 3.7 average wins)

  5. USSR (11 runs (1 7-wins run), 41-27, 60.2% winrate, 3.7 average wins)

Side note: the guide was largely compiled before the Theaters of War expansion and most of the games in the stats above played before 34th infantry regiment/Katyusha nerfs. This tier-list was made considering the new cards and changes.

As you can see, I played most of the games with two best nations, USA and Germany. After the Theaters of War release I have played some drafts as well and can assure you that these two still reign the draft metagame. However, both Britain and USSR benefited a lot from the expansion, which provided these nations with a handful of good units, making the overall draft pool better on average and the decks significantly stronger. That said, the tier-list might be divided at two parts: tier-1 choices (USA, Germany) and tier-2 choices (Japan, closely followed by Britain and USSR). I’ll also cover each of the Theaters of War cards in a two-part draft review.

I won’t bother you with the ally stats, because the ally performance is highly dependent on main nation and card quality, just a couple of thoughts: never pick Italy and France, the cards are just not good enough, UNLESS you try to build an aggressive Japanese or German deck, than Italy might be your pick, but that does not happen often (between 5-10% of the draft runs) judging from my experience. Your goal while picking an ally is either maximizing your strengths or covering your weaknesses. That said, going mono is also a good option, especially for Germany and USA, where the average card quality won’t be diluted by weaker cards of not so strong nations. For example, a couple of early Shermans signalize that you should go Mono-US if such opportunity is presented to you since it maximizes your chance to have an American unit on the frontline at any given time to activate the tank’s ability.

So, what’s the deal with each of the nations?
USA

Keyword: Midrange

Suggested ally: Germany, Britain

The USA card pool is so good, that it checks not only all the boxes we want it to according to KARD principle stated in the first part of the guide (card advantage, artillery, removal, big units), but even brings some extra. Good planes, a variety of orders, strong units, often with upside on every stage of the game – America has no weaknesses. It might seem a bit low on great tanks, while having some good ones and has no guards, but these questions might be easily answered by allying it with Germany or Britain. USA decks usually out resource their opponents, using the card advantage tools in different ways.

Top-5 best standard/limited cards for USA (side note: the Theaters of War cards are not included, you can find evaluation of those in the corresponding review):

  1. M4 Sherman

This machine might be the best American card overall in every rarity and one of the primary reason to pick USA over any other nation in draft. A 4/4 2K operation tank is ok itself, but its ability makes it the absolute unit of the card advantage tactics. Draft Shermans and watch you opponent drawn in your cards.

  1. 17th infantry regiment

This card is actually 3/3 for 2 Kredits, which is very good. Buffing up your artillery early might be the key to victory.

  1. 1st marines

Very versatile and fast unit with a good ability and a great stat line. It’s useful both when you’re playing defensively and launching the attack.

  1. Death from above

Great removal which needs some set up, but almost always turns out to be a very effective answer since it’s able to destroy very chunky units including those with immunity to orders kike Panther G.

  1. We can do it!

Oh yes, we can. Buffing multiple units to set up efficient trades while drawing a card? Gimme those! Yes, it needs some board to be effective, and running three in certain decks might be too much, but I really love this card.

 

Germany

Keyword: Tempo

Suggested ally: USA, Japan, USSR

Germany, while being very good, uses a different playstyle comparing to the American decks. It usually aims to run away with the game relatively early for draft, playing tempo (i.e. effective for the Kredit cost) units, controlling the frontline and going for destroying the HQ if the opponent’s action allow that. This can be achieved with a mix of good tanks, infantry and artillery units, retreat effects and cheap but insanely effective removal like Tactical Strike or Joint Operation. USA ally can provide you with better planes, Japan with both early game aggression or late-game finishers such as Empire of the Sun or Blitz fighters, while USSR piles up the count on effective units. I also think that drafting German countermeasures is a bait, most of them being easy to play around. The only one to consider (except the elite one, which I do not like much too) is Careless talk, but I suggest you opt for it only if other cards in the pick are worse.

Top-5 best standard/limited cards for Germany:

  1. 980 Volksgrenadier

One of the best 3-drops in the game, the stat line makes it hard to kill, which often sets up the possibility to trade this card for at least two of the opponents’.

  1. T-IV F2

A great effect+beefy body, what else do we need? You usually want to bounce a unit to enemy’s hand but retreating something from frontline like a big infantry or a single unit that does not allow you to take it usually proves to be good enough.

  1. Nebelwerfer 42

A cheap artillery unit with a very good deployment effect, nothing more, nothing less.

  1. Sky barons

This card is one of the most cost-efficient removals in the game which also replaces itself. Avoid picking too many of those especially if your deck includes Blackouts, since you might be stuck with too many dead cards against a deck that runs little to no planes.

  1. FW 190 A

I like this card a lot. The 5/5 fighter builds card advantage very effectively while also being possibly a game-ending threat.

Japan

Keyword: Aggro

Suggested allies: Germany, USA, Italy

Japan might be one of the most difficult nations to draft since the variety of options is significant and because of that you have to decide which way to go: aggressive or more value-oriented. Japan is the best nation if you want to go all-out aggro (sometimes you can build an aggressive deck with Germans, but the Japanese card pool is much more appealing in this case), but has a lot of good artillery, removal and draw options as well so at some point you have to decide what your deck’s win condition will be. The aggressive strategy became a bit worse since the 34th regiment nerf, but is still viable. In such case you want a lot of cheap units, some draw and fighters to finish the enemy off. The blitz planes do really excel at that.

Top-5 best standard/limited cards for Japan:

  1. A6M2 Zero

This fighter is very hard to kill because of ambush (and not being on the frontline), and if the opponent is short on removal, this machine can give them a hard time. The more you have of those, the better.

  1. Type 88 AA Gun

An extremely efficient cheap gun, which single-handedly keeps in check enemy aircrafts. Don’t forget that bombers that attack it also get pinned.

  1. Osaka regiment

Japan has a handful of good guard units, and this is one of the best (though all of them are decent). 7 Health makes it immune to almost any single-card removal.

  1. 28cm Coastal Howitzer

Despite its costly (pun intended) operation price and inability to attack HQ, this gun is good. 4 attack makes it able to remove a lot of the units from 2 to 5 Kredit cost and it does not die to 2 damage. Turn 3 Howitzer is usually very tough for opponent to deal with and might win you the game.

  1. Ki-61 Hien

This aircraft is one of the best finishers in the game. If you pick 3 or 4 of those, you sometimes can just burst down your opponent’s HQ over several turns.

 

Honorable mention: 34th regiment

It’s still a very good card since it operates for 0 Kredits. If you’re looking to build an aggressive deck, this is one of your best choices, but this infantry also finds its place in slower decks since the downside is almost non-existent (the draft games do not go that long for this effect to seriously hurt you).

Britain
Keyword: Control

Suggested allies: USA, Japan

British decks usually operate defensively with big guards, that create card advantage on their own, a lot of planes and artillery with a pinch of draw. A couple new cards from the Theaters of War (especially No.1 Commando and East Surrey regiment) made Britain stronger and more versatile. It often starts off slow and really shines closer to late game, but do not sleep on cheap units – you need those to make it to late game alive. Look for specific combos – some cards, like Close air support, while not being strong on their own, can really shine in specific decks.

Top-5 best standard/limited cards for Britain:

  1. Spitfire ?? V

Very beefy fighter, even without buffs it is a game-ending threat.

  1. Lend lease

One of the best drawing orders in the game. Hiding behind guards which Britain has many also allows you to play this card without fearing that the following tempo loss will result in losing the game.

  1. Lancashire fusiliers

Very good stats for its cost. Might be used both offensively and defensively.

  1. Matilda

Nothing flashy, just a good defensive tool, which is also hard to kill.

  1. 26 engineers regiment

A We can do it! on a stick. Complements the British decks playstyle amazingly well.

 

USSR

Keyword: Value

Suggested allies: USA, Britain, Germany

USSR draft decks are a pretty interesting case to build. You have a lot of really good units especially after the Theaters of War release and some decent removal, but short on good aircraft and draw. These are the primary weaknesses you should focus on while picking up your ally. Thankfully USA and Britain both could help with that. Other than that you just play your normal midrange game, trying to out-value your opponent. Keep in mind also that USSR packs different tricks like for instance Ural factories which can pull wins seemingly out of nowhere if used properly.

Top-5 best standard/limited cards for USSR:

  1. Bloody sickle

Great ping, which is actually free since it also draws you a card.

  1. Katyusha

Blitz artillery is always good, especially if it’s that cheap.

  1. The Hammer

Very efficient removal that can trade up with cards that are much more expensive creating a tempo advantage that way.

  1. T-34-85

Very beefy hard to kill tank that replaces itself if dies to removal. Mostly good when the situation on board is even or you’re launching the attack.

  1. 45-mm anti-tank gun

Another one great USSR artillery that eats small tanks for breakfast and does not die easily because of Ambush ability.

 

 

Gameplay tips:

  1. Be aware of your win condition

You build you draft deck with a win condition in mind. Be it out-valuing the opponent, rush the HQ or even ramping (yes, very rarely this happens in draft too) you have to try to force it during the game. The trick is to understand what it is and how it might change during certain games. For example, a value-oriented deck might sometimes find itself low on resources comparing to the opponent – then your chance is to play tempo game and go for the HQ destruction. It is not very easy, but you have to access the game state at any given time and adapt.

  1. Spend Kredits effectively

This is why you should build (see Part 1 of this guide) your Kredit curve effectively. Each turn you aim to spend all of your Kredits, playing cards and operating them. Floating (leaving unused Kredits at the end of the turn) is not always bad while you can also bluff with countermeasures but you have to be as efficient as possible.

  1. Do not rush

This one is simple: do not play fast. Draft decks provide you with more options than your constructed ones (with which you probably know the ins and outs) a lot of the time, while also including cards which you do not play on the daily basis on ladder, thus creating non-familiar interactions. Literally one misplay might cost you the game, so if you play fast and make mistakes, the joke’s on you.

I’ll leave you with a couple of my decks to give you an example how the final product should look like. Play draft and be excellent to each other.