Greetings everyone! I’m Herko Kerghans, and I’ll be your host this evening. Joining us are Master Drafters arthurmauk and Conansson — I’ll bring the Token, they’ll bring the experience.
And speaking of experience, let me introduce our experts!
With an average of 4.85 wins per trial, and reaching 7 wins in 118 out of 285 Trials, arthurmauk is currently top 8 in LoR Guardian’s ranking of most 7-win Trials.
With a very stats-heavy approach to drafting, arthurmauk tracks win rate stats from all cards on the LoR Guardian’s Expedition Insights page and then calculates their averages to gauge how they fit the deck he’s currently drafting based on curve and the deck’s gameplan.
Only a few positions below arthurmauk on the Lor Guardian’s leaderboard, Conansson currently holds an average of 4.76 wins per Trial, having reached 7 wins 65 times in 170 Trials.
Our lead drafter today will be arthurmauk: we’ll follow his choices whenever there’s a disagreement between our Masters. Readers wishing to hone their drafting skills are warmly encouraged to try and predict what the Masters will choose for each pick. Readers wishing to hone their skills a lot are also encouraged to try predicting why each choice will be made.
So, without further ado, here’s our first pick!
Herko: Okay, I see Ziggs, I want Ziggs. But perhaps that’s my dark Constructed side talking…
arthurmauk: Ashe, on the left pack, looks to be by far the strongest.
Herko: Even if Ziggs is the Constructed Ladder Bully?
arthurmauk: Yes, Expeditions are pretty different from Constructed – in the latter, decks are much more synergistic.
Conansson: Ziggs is a decent Loyal Badgerbear, but his Archetype doesn’t pack a punch in my opinion.
Herko: So, we should go with Ashe?
Conansson: If we consider the Champions alone, the strongest would be Lee Sin: Better stats and he packs a removal spell on himself. Ashe would be second in my view: She has a powerful effect, but she is hard to use sometimes, and she’s fairly fragile.
Looking at the rest of our picks, I like Claws of the Dragon: It’s a two-drop that sometimes costs zero. And I like having some life gain from Spirit’s Refuge.
Starlit Seer is strong, but I don’t like Shatter. It’s slow, therefore not a combat trick.
And as removal it’s too cumbersome: It’s only useful as a Slow follow-up to other Frostbite effects, which means it can be countered by combat tricks.
I like Kingpin. Contraption, being Slow, is quite bad in my opinion.
Herko: Shatter is a two mana Frostbite. That’s not bad, right?
Conansson: Slow spells can’t be used in combat, which makes them quite less useful than Fast or Burst spells. You can use Flash Freeze in response to a combat trick, for example, since it’s Burst speed. But you can’t use Shatter in that situation.
Or, say you use Shatter before an attack, to Frostbite a blocker. Since Shatter is a Slow spell, now you’ve given your foe the chance to just play another blocker. And in the opposite case, when you are defending and your opponent open-attacks, Shatter is also useless.
Herko: In other words, you wouldn’t pick Ashe’s pack?
Conansson: No. I would take Lee Sin here.
arthurmauk: (chuckles) Well, that is interesting.
Conansson: (smiles) As Herko said, arthurmauk is the lead today, so…
Herko: … so, Ashe it is then.
arthurmauk: For our second Champion, I think the left or rightmost choices are decent. Nami’s pack is the weakest—none of those cards are great in Expeditions.
Draven is great himself, but both Vision and Noble Rebel require a lot of Discard synergy—if we miss those, things could go wrong. Thresh’s pack, on the other hand, is a bit more balanced. Nothing outstanding, though.
I think Noxus, as a region, is in general stronger than SI, but in this specific case, I would opt for the Thresh pack because I prefer the lower-risk approach that doesn’t involve having to draft for Discard synergies.
Herko: Why do you think Fleet Admiral Shelly is weak? That’s another Constructed name-taker.
arthurmauk: To be fair, I don’t have much experience with Shelly in Expeditions. His win rate is low (although higher relative to Bilgewater on average, because Bilgewater is so low already). I just think it’s hard to get both the cheap creatures and cheap spells that Shelly needs to work well.
Herko: Your pick, Conansson?
Conansson: Draven seems reasonable with Ashe. He is an aggressive Champion, so he works well with Frostbites and attacking. I agree that Vision or Noble Rebel is not ideal, though.
Nami is okay, Pilfered Goods is just filler. Fleet Admiral Shelly is insane, I think.
Thresh works very well with Ashe. I don’t like Mist’s Call though, and Grasp of the Undying is mediocre.
So we have three champions that are decent with Ashe. Draven is the most likely to get us the most wins, but I’d go for Thresh because I like to play Control more.
Herko: Excellent. I love Thresh, so let’s grab the spooky green lantern boy.
arthurmauk: Yikes, none of these packs are great. Troll Chant, Brittle Steel, and Crumble are all decent, but the cards they come with are all pretty bad. I think we should go left, to lean towards Freljord more than Shadow Isles–that’s what would be best for this deck in my opinion.
Conansson: Agreed. Mist’s Call is ugly, and so is Haunted Relic. The left pack has a very good card, Troll Chant, and a mediocre card, Succumb to the Cold, which makes it the best choice.
Herko: Perfect, we’ll go left. A general question first, though: Would you guys agree that, in general, it’s better to avoid bad cards than to grab good cards?
Conansson: I would. I don’t like picking a good card plus a bad card, hoping to later trade the bad card away. You simply might not get the chance to trade the bad card away, or you might be forced to pick more bad cards and you won’t be able to trade them all. Always pick two mediocre cards, over one bad card plus one good card. It’s just more consistent that way.
arthurmauk: Great question and I don’t think there is an easy answer. I think it’s on a case-by-case basis. I’m very risk-averse so I would take two medium cards over one good and one bad. You can argue that you have a chance of swapping out the bad card, but as Conansson said, that’s not guaranteed.
Herko: Alright, so that makes it one of the two universal rules for Expeditions. The other being “See Screeching Dragon, snap-pick Screeching Dragon.”
Conansson: Ah, that’s true! There’s no such thing as too many Screeching Dragons.
Herko: Alright, taking left. Frozen Solid, here we come.
Conansson: This is an easy right for me. The middle choice is dead. The left choice has a three-drop with no synergy in our deck and a very expensive removal spell. It sucks having to pick up Shadows and Dust, since we don’t want to see that archetype this run, but I would grab the double two-drops here.
arthurmauk: I agree that the middle pack is unplayable. But I think the leftmost pack is quite a bit better than the rightmost pack in power level. If we were late in the draft, and we were low on two drops I might lean to the right, as Conansson suggests. But I think that it’s early enough for us to go left and grab what I think is the stronger pack. We can try to mold the curve later.
Herko: (smiles) Interesting!
Conansson: (chuckles) That’s why rule number one of Draft Club is: If you’re asking for advice, make sure beforehand whose advice you’re going to follow. arthurmauk’s in the driver’s seat today, so left it is.
arthurmauk: Another bunch of mediocre choices. I don’t want another Mist’s Call, so the middle is out of the question. The left pack is probably a tiny bit stronger in power level, but I wouldn’t miss either of those cards. So here I’d take the right pack, so at least we get a two-drop to start filling our curve.
Herko: Sounds reasonable. I was thinking I’m a bit nervous about not having enough early units.
Conansson: Agreed. Not a fan of neither Shatter nor Mist’s Call, so taking the two decent cards from the rightmost pack is the correct choice for me.
Herko: Superb. Hard right!
Herko: Sheesh, we just can’t catch a break. More meh choices.
Conansson: Yup. I would steer left here: A two-drop and a removal spell. Cursed Keeper is not a right fit for our deck, and Warden’s Prey is a pretty bad card as well. And Elixir of Wrath is unplayable.
Herko: Plus, thus far, only Ashe triggers our Trifarian Assessor, correct?
Conansson: Indeed. And, also: Taking the right pack would get us into a third color, which we don’t want.
Herko: This is our sixth pick, so after this one, we won’t get offered regions we don’t already have, correct?
arthurmauk: Correct. It’s only possible to grab the third color in picks 1 through 6. I wouldn’t go that route in our case, but it brings up an interesting discussion of whether you want to pick up a 3rd faction. Overall, Noxus is stronger than Freljord and Shadow Isles, so in general, it’s worth considering—not for those two cards, though, in my opinion. It’s also worth considering that our current setup may want us to be more synergy-driven (like for example picking up more Frostbite effects to level up Ashe), which Noxus would dilute.
So, from our current choices, I’d take left here as well: I like Black Spear and another two-drop. Our middle pack is not awful, but I don’t think it’s better than the left one.
Herko: Let’s check our curve here.
arthurmauk: We’ll stay away from the left pack because I don’t want too many spells. I like Trapper, but not Chronicler. And I’m meh about both cards on our right.
All in all, I prefer the middle pack. The cards on the left may be slightly stronger, but in this case I’d rather increase the creature count.
Conansson: Same here. Two solid units. We don’t really have the sacrifice fodder to use Crumble and Spirit Leech effectively.
Herko: Grand. Yeah, I like taking units here.
Conansson: Please, Drafting Algorithm, could you please stop Shattering our hopes for a good deck?
arthurmauk: Yeah, this is looking like an “All picks have a Shatter” draft.
Conansson: These packs are terrible. We already have one Piercing Darkness and one Mist’s Call. And the middle pack would crush our 7-wins hope for sure.
arthurmauk: I do like Piercing Darkness, but not Mist’s Call. No disagreement about the middle pack: Too many spells. And one of them is Shatter.
Herko: We’re taking a right, then?
Conansson: I would. Brood Awakening is okay with Thresh.
arthurmauk: I would too. It’s more creatures, even though neither card is impressive nor synergistic with what we’ve got thus far. But Brood Awakening could work with our Skitterer.
Conansson: Snap middle. Left and right are unplayable in our deck.
arthurmauk: I’d take the middle here and be sad because both are mediocre cards. I think the rightmost pack is worth consideration: Glimpse is decent, and Haunted Relic can be okay with Thresh or Kalista, which we could pick up later down the road (note: When reaching 1 and 3 wins in an Expedition Trial, there’s a choice to add an extra Champion to the deck).
Conansson: Ah, that’s a good point. I didn’t factor Thresh with Haunted Relic, so the Sand and Ashes pack is indeed worth considering. I still think the middle pack is stronger, though.
arthurmauk: Yes, me too. Taking the middle option with Tavernkeeper is safer. I don’t think Entreat is great, especially with just 2 champions. And doubly so with Thresh, who’s an Entreat on steroids when leveled up. Champions are certainly better value than followers, but usually not two-spell-mana-better, so to speak. But hopefully, we’ll get more champs along the road.
arthurmauk: Some good cards, finally! And a very easy left here. Alpha Wildclaw is great and Brittle Steel is good, whereas Faces of the Old One is hideous, Tavernkeeper is mediocre, and the Sand and Ashes cards are both dreadful.
Conansson: Agreed, snap-pick left, those are just good cards. Mark of the Isles is decent in my opinion, but I don’t like Prankster in general, and in our deck even less since we don’t have enough fodder. Faces of the Old Ones is garbage.
Herko: Just let me check the curve real quick here, please.
arthurmauk: I’d take the rightmost pack here, both are decent cards. Rimetusk Shaman is great and Warmother is decent, but Shatter is mediocre (especially now with our deck), and Wyrding Stones is terrible.
Herko: Right. The “Don’t pick good cards if they come with bad cards” rule of thumb we discussed earlier.
Conansson: Exactly. Warmother’s Call is great, and Rimetusk is insane, but I agree that taking the pack on the right is probably the most consistent pick.
arthurmauk: Here we have another example of needing to compare packs that have both good and bad cards.
I like Black Spear and Vengeance, but Sapling Toss and Absorb Soul are pretty bad. Tavernkeeper is playable, but Succumb to the Cold is rather weak… If we’re feeling risky, I’d say we can opt for taking Vengeance and hope we can trade Absorb Soul later on.
Herko: Yeah, I just might gamble on a trade by now, and pick Vengeance hoping for a lucky swap.
Conansson: I’d go for the left option myself. Vengeance is way stronger than Black Spear, no doubt, but we already have two Piercing Darkness, and Absorb Soul is abhorrent. I don’t think I’ve ever played the card, to be honest. It’s that bad. Sapling Toss is okay-ish, I think—it’s mostly a matter of timing it properly.
arthurmauk: I think the middle pack would be the safest. If you look at our curve…
… we are too high on spells at the moment. I’d like to focus on having more creatures.
Herko: What would be an optimal split, ballparking speaking?
arthurmauk: I normally want a 20:10 split, erring on the side of more creatures since I prefer aggro-midrange decks. I usually don’t like more spells than that unless I have specific spell synergies, like Lux.
Conansson: Ah, right. I usually like my spell count a bit higher. My 7-win runs tend to finish with a 22:14 split (note: Expeditions decks have 30 cards by the end of the drafting phase, and add 6 more cards during a full run).
arthurmauk: It’s also worth considering, in our specific case, that we have spells like Frostbites effects, Troll Chant, and Black Spear, all of which need creatures to back them up. Otherwise, they’re just delaying, rather than providing value.
Herko: That sounds reasonable, yeah. Okay, the middle pack it is, then, and we’ll err on the side of creatures on later picks.
arthurmauk: I like both the middle and rightmost packs, to add units. I’d lean towards taking the middle as I like Trapper the most out of all of those. Chronicler of Ruin is not very useful in our deck, but neither Soulgorger nor Deadbloom Wanderer is great. The middle pack is our safest choice, I think.
Conansson: I would take the left pick here. Three Sisters is the strongest non-Epic Freljord card in my opinion, and Troll Chant is nutty as well. But as we discussed, I tend not to mind a few more spells. I can see arguments for the middle pick, though.
Herko: Middle of the road it is, then.
Herko: The Ancient Evil pack, I think? Like, I know we said we want creatures, but those are solid spells?
arthurmauk: It’s a fairly easy middle here. Two decent two-drops, which I think we’re still pretty lacking in. I like Harsh Winds, but not Wyrding Stones. The Ancient Evil pack offers two decent spells…
Herko: … but we’re taking decent creatures over decent spells now. Yeah.
Conansson: No disagreement from me. Glimpse would be a fine card in our deck (and great if we had enough sacrifice fodder), but Grasp of the Undying is too expensive for my taste, and Weirding Stones is horrible. On the other hand, Stalking Wolf works well with Frostbite effects, and Ruthless Raider is a good unit, so easy middle for me too.
Conansson: Snap top trade in my opinion. The rest seem like downgrades.
arthurmauk: Easy top trade for me as well, and we’ll hope to get more Champions to trigger Rekindler. I could consider the middle trade, but the bottom trade is a downgrade.
Herko: Alright! Swapping the top cards, and here’s the deck we’ve just drafted:
Conansson: Well… This deck is not the most powerful out there, to be honest. Reaching 5 wins would be quite a commendable achievement.
arthurmauk: I concur, sadly. It’s an underwhelming deck, but that’s what Expeditions are about: Making the most of what you get offered. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst!
Herko: Good to know, to avoid getting my hopes too high. But it does lead me to ask: how would you pilot this deck?
Conansson: I would mulligan for my good units; never keep combat tricks unless we already have a curve. Our champions are probably a must-keep: remember, in the first game, we have a much lower Champion count when compared to Constructed decks, so our odds of drawing them are small.
We are a Tempo/Midrange deck. We’re trying to level up Ashe with a few attacks, or pulling her out with Thresh and trying to win the midgame with our removals and combat tricks. Since we lack a strong late game, we have to be a bit more aggressive than most Freljord/SI decks. That strategy changes that strategy if you manage to trade some powerful late-game card, but off the bat better aim for shorter games. We can outlast most aggressive decks, but versus midrange lists, we want to win through Enchanted Crystal Arrow and Alpha Wildclaw attacks.
Herko: Alright, folks. Thanks for joining us for this draft!
Conansson’s YouTube channel, with instructional videos on how to draft in Expeditions: