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NT has been my favorite faction pairing for the current draft format. Here's a draft showing what sort of strategies I look for and how that influences my picks.

Drafting

Pack 1
This is not a close pick. Borean Windweaver has the best combination of power and flexibility of any heroic in draft. It doesn't require any specific archetype or deck construction to be useful and can be potent as both a leveled threat or an underleveled utility creature. And it leaves us open to follow whatever faction or archetype the packs lead us to.

Crypt Conjurer, Aether Root and Ice Grasp are not cards that you can successfully build around in draft. Firefist Uranti is ok paired with Uterra where you can pump it into a serious threat, but otherwise is easily shut down by common debuff spells like Bitterfrost Totem and Metatransfer. I like Frostspeaker Shaman a little bit better that Firefist because it is harder to deal with, but there are still a lot of situations where it won't do enough control the board.

Pick: Borean Windweaver

Borean Windweaver 1
Borean Windweaver
Frostspeaker Shaman 1
Frostspeaker Shaman
Crypt Conjurer 1
Crypt Conjurer
Aether Root 1
Aether Root
Firefist Uranti 1
Firefist Uranti
Ice Grasp 1
Ice Grasp
Catacomb Spider feels like the best card in the pack and I really like playing NT. If we're lucky enough to pick up a Zarox, the Raging, that would be the perfect compliment to Windweaver.

Pick: Catacomb Spider
Catacomb Spider 1
Catacomb Spider
Cinder Colossus 1
Cinder Colossus
Contagion Surge 1
Contagion Surge
Aetherguard 1
Aetherguard
Rimehorn Charger 1
Rimehorn Charger
For me, the pick is between Aethertap Shaman and Bitterfrost Totem. Shaman is a solid creature with a relavent ability but I feel like the creature quality is high enough in NT that I don't have to worry about picking enough playable bodies. Bitterfrost Totem is a premium spell and is incredibly useful as an underdrop play in decks that are trying to be aggressive. I'll take Totem but Shaman would be fine as well.

Pick: Bitterfrost Totem
Blood Boil 1
Blood Boil
Aethertap Shaman 1
Aethertap Shaman
Bitterfrost Totem 1
Bitterfrost Totem
Conflagrate 1
Conflagrate
Spider is the only good card in the pack so it's the clear pick.

Pick: Catacomb Spider
Catacomb Spider 1
Catacomb Spider
Stormspear 1
Stormspear
Contagion Surge 1
Contagion Surge
This is a nice place to pick up a Sparkstone Elemental. I've played NT defender decks in the past and they've worked pretty well. It doesn't necessarily put us into that archetype but it will give us the option if the picks are there.

Pick: Sparkstone Elemental
Sparkstone Elemental 1
Sparkstone Elemental
Rot Wanderer 1
Rot Wanderer


Pack 2
There are three reasonable cards in this pack; Blood Bindings, Shatterbolt and Flamestoke Shaman. Shaman actually has some decent targets that I could pick up like Ashurian Brawler and Razortooth Stalker and it fills the high attack creature role. Shatterbolt is a nice answer for armor but is less necessary in NT where debuff is available. Blood Bindings isn't quite at the same level as Bitterfrost Totem so I'll stick with Shaman.

Pick: Flamestoke Shaman
Vigor Leech 1
Vigor Leech
Blood Bindings 1
Blood Bindings
Shatterbolt 1
Shatterbolt
Chant of Dragonwatch 1
Chant of Dragonwatch
Umbruk Icecrusher 1
Umbruk Icecrusher
Flamestoke Shaman 1
Flamestoke Shaman
Glad I didn't take a spell in the last pack. I'll pass all of the average creatures and take more debuff.

Pick: Bitterfrost Totem
Rimehorn Charger 1
Rimehorn Charger
Scavenger Scorpion 1
Scavenger Scorpion
Demonweb Watcher 1
Demonweb Watcher
Zombie Infantry 1
Zombie Infantry
Bitterfrost Totem 1
Bitterfrost Totem
Frostshatter Strike is another premium trick in NT and I'm ok taking it over an average creature like Zombie Infantry.

Pick: Frostshatter Strike
Blood Boil 1
Blood Boil
Rot Wanderer 1
Rot Wanderer
Frostshatter Strike 1
Frostshatter Strike
Zombie Infantry 1
Zombie Infantry
Here's a pick that is influenced or enabled by our earlier Sparkstone Elemental. Without the animator, Flame Jet is the best card in the pack, but I would be getting pretty spell heavy in my card selection. Sparkstone makes Cinder Colossus a legitimate pick as a late game win condition and potentially pushes me towards a more focused plan, rather than a generic good-stuff deck.

Pick: Cinder Colossus
Cinder Colossus 1
Cinder Colossus
Spirit Torrent 1
Spirit Torrent
Flame Jet 1
Flame Jet
Windcaller Shaman lines up with the defender plan since I can use it to move damaged walls around for additional blocks. It's also just a great utility card to have in your deck.

Pick: Windcaller Shaman
Spirit Torrent 1
Spirit Torrent
Windcaller Shaman 1
Windcaller Shaman


Pack 3
I could pick another Cinder Colossus to really commit to the defender deck, but I'm not ready to do that yet. I'm still thinking of it as my plan B if I don't get the aggressive NT cards that I want and Kadrasian Stoneback is too good of a card to pass for plan B. It's a little bit of a nonbo with the defender strategy because your walls clog up the board but also a little bit of a combo because of surprise attacks with Sparkstone. We'll see how it works out.

Pick: Kadrasian Stoneback
Witherfrost Banshee 1
Witherfrost Banshee
Cinder Colossus 1
Cinder Colossus
Necrotic Wurm 1
Necrotic Wurm
Kadrasian Stoneback 1
Kadrasian Stoneback
Duskspire Zombie 1
Duskspire Zombie
Conflagrate 1
Conflagrate
I took the Steam Sentinel here to lean a bit more towards the late game defender deck, but it's still a fine underdrop/high attack creature in non-defender decks. It's not that committing of a pick. Plunder Imp would edge out Zombie Titan for the more neutral pick.

Pick: Steam Sentinel
Plunder Imp 1
Plunder Imp
Zombie Titan 1
Zombie Titan
Necrotic Wurm 1
Necrotic Wurm
Grimgaunt Spectre 1
Grimgaunt Spectre
Steam Sentinel 1
Steam Sentinel
Another Windcaller Shaman will be great for a defender deck. So far I have Borean Windweaver, two Windcaller Shaman and a Sparkstone Elemental to make use of my defenders. That should be enough to support the strategy.

A side note. Dirge Banshee plus Windcaller Shaman is my favorite gimmicky combo in draft so I'm sad that I don't get to pick both of these cards.

Pick: Windcaller Shaman

Windcaller Shaman 1
Windcaller Shaman
Dirge Banshee 1
Dirge Banshee
Demonweb Watcher 1
Demonweb Watcher
Flowstone Primordial 1
Flowstone Primordial
Not. Close.

Pick: Death Current
Death Current 1
Death Current
Contagion Surge 1
Contagion Surge
Conflagrate 1
Conflagrate
I'm getting some pretty nice fifth picks in this draft. I'll take the Cloudcleaver Titan because it diversifies my win condiditons. In my Oratek primer I talk about how having high mobility finishers is a good compliment to a defender strategy and that's the reasoning that underlies this pick.

Pick: Cloudcleaver Titan
Cinder Colossus 1
Cinder Colossus
Cloudcleaver Titan 1
Cloudcleaver Titan


Pack 4
Avalanche Guardian is a nice card for defender decks because it does work without relying any support cards. With beefy stats and mobility, the card can often get 2-for-1's all by itself.

Pick: Avalanche Guardian
Blood Boil 1
Blood Boil
Witherfrost Banshee 1
Witherfrost Banshee
Ashurian Mystic 1
Ashurian Mystic
Avalanche Guardian 1
Avalanche Guardian
Grave Ghast 1
Grave Ghast
Unrelenting Dead 1
Unrelenting Dead
This Stoneback is a little bit riskier than the first but it's just so much better than all the other cards in the pack.

Pick: Kadrasian Stoneback
Demonweb Watcher 1
Demonweb Watcher
Contagion Surge 1
Contagion Surge
Zombie Titan 1
Zombie Titan
Kadrasian Stoneback 1
Kadrasian Stoneback
Grave Ghast 1
Grave Ghast
I already have two Bitterfrost Totems and a Frostshatter Strike so I'll take the Nargath Bruiser.

Pick: Nargath Bruiser
Ashurian Brawler 1
Ashurian Brawler
Nargath Bruiser 1
Nargath Bruiser
Bitterfrost Totem 1
Bitterfrost Totem
Frostshatter Strike 1
Frostshatter Strike
I'll take this Frostshatter Strike. It puts me at five total spells after four packs, but I'm ok going a little spell heavy if they are all top quality.

Pick: Frostshatter Strike
Flowstone Primordial 1
Flowstone Primordial
Frostshatter Strike 1
Frostshatter Strike
Grave Ghast 1
Grave Ghast
This pick might be wrong. I was starting to get hesitant about the defender strategy after I picked up my second Kadrasian Stoneback since I wanted to be able to freely use their mobility. Flowstone is a decent underdrop in rank 2 but otherwise it's decidedly average.

Pick: Flowstone Primordial
Flowstone Primordial 1
Flowstone Primordial
Steam Sentinel 1
Steam Sentinel


Pack 5
Hmm. Windborn Hellion is the best card in the pack by quite a ways. Combined with Borean Windweaver it can blow up out of nowhere. Unfortunately, it doesn't fit into a defender strategy very well. Hellion needs a mostly clear board with one or two mobilty creatures moving between lanes. I'm going to take it simply because its potential power level is so much higher than the defender deck that it's worth the risk.

Pick: Windborn Hellion
Sparktail Manticore 1
Sparktail Manticore
Razortooth Stalker 1
Razortooth Stalker
Windborn Hellion 1
Windborn Hellion
Grave Ghast 1
Grave Ghast
Stormspear 1
Stormspear
Glacial Crush 1
Glacial Crush
Alright, change of plans. We're a mobility deck now. The first two thirds of the draft are not a total loss, though. Avalanche Guardian works pretty well with this strategy because it's a persistent source of mobility triggers and the Windcaller Shamans that I picked to move walls around work just as well on Hellion. Steam Sentinel will shift to an underdrop blocker rather than a leveling priority and Sparkstone Elemental can be a good trick with our Stonebacks. The only card that becomes (mostly) dead is Cinder Colossus.

Pick: Windborn Hellion
Shatterbolt 1
Shatterbolt
Necrotic Wurm 1
Necrotic Wurm
Stormspear 1
Stormspear
Contagion Surge 1
Contagion Surge
Windborn Hellion 1
Windborn Hellion
Rimehorn Charger is a fine mobility creature. I don't plan on playing it too aggressively in rank 1, probably save it for winning a trade in rank 2 then squeezing a mobility trigger out of it.

Pick: Rimehorn Charger
Rimehorn Charger 1
Rimehorn Charger
Vyric's Embrace 1
Vyric's Embrace
Glacial Crush 1
Glacial Crush
Infernal Visage 1
Infernal Visage
Banshee has some good applications and you get to do the Windcaller Shaman tricks with it, too. I'll take it.

Pick: Witherfrost Banshee
Crypt Conjurer 1
Crypt Conjurer
Witherfrost Banshee 1
Witherfrost Banshee
Necrotic Wurm 1
Necrotic Wurm


Excellent, another last pick mobility creature.

Pick: Razortooth Stalker
Razortooth Stalker 1
Razortooth Stalker
Stormspear 1
Stormspear


Pack 6
I could take the another Razortooth Stalker but I'm not hurting for Hellion support. I currently have nine cards to create triggers for it. I will take the Magma Hound instead and add some flexibility to my plays.

Pick: Magma Hound
Avalanche Guardian 1
Avalanche Guardian
Blood Bindings 1
Blood Bindings
Razortooth Stalker 1
Razortooth Stalker
Ghastly Renewal 1
Ghastly Renewal
Organ Harvester 1
Organ Harvester
Magma Hound 1
Magma Hound
Here's another pick between Hellion support and a generically good card. Again, I already have two Windcaller Shamans and Ebonskull is a really nice high attack creature. It's close but I think Ebonskull is the pick.

Pick: Ebonskull Knight
Windcaller Shaman 1
Windcaller Shaman
Ebonskull Knight 1
Ebonskull Knight
Explosive Demise 1
Explosive Demise
Stormspear 1
Stormspear
Ghastly Renewal 1
Ghastly Renewal
Honenstly, the last few picks have been kind of a toss up for me, all of them being between quality cards that play different roles in the deck. It's hard for me to say what the correct amounts are for each type of card but I do know that even with powerful synergies, you still need high attack creatures, multi-lane effects and single target removal to make your deck run well. I mostly do it by feel.

In this pack, it's between a synergy card (Razortooth Stalker) and a utility card (Bitterfrost Totem). I'm still at just five spells in the deck and I really value the options that a powerful debuff spell like Totem gives me in draft so that's what I'm taking here.

Pick: Bitterfrost Totem

Razortooth Stalker 1
Razortooth Stalker
Organ Harvester 1
Organ Harvester
Storm Caller 1
Storm Caller
Bitterfrost Totem 1
Bitterfrost Totem
Nothing exciting. I'll take the creature with the highest attack.

Pick: Cavern Slime
Cavern Slime 1
Cavern Slime
Grave Ghast 1
Grave Ghast
Necrotic Wurm 1
Necrotic Wurm
Either of these cards would be fine. I don't think seven spells is too many in a deck like this but I'll pick the Rimehorn Charger for one more mobility creature.

Pick: Rimehorn Charger
Frostshatter Strike 1
Frostshatter Strike
Rimehorn Charger 1
Rimehorn Charger

Game Summaries

Game 1: I was up against an AN midrange deck that was packing a bunch of removal. They leveled two Fleshreavers in rank 1 and was able to get really good value from them throughout the game. Between that and Death Current three, I was never able to setup my board the way I needed to. The game was close but I felt on the back foot for the majority of it. Things ended with a spectacular misplay when I tried to block lethal damage with an Ebonskull Knight...on the rank up. I was dead anyway, but it was salt in the wound of a particularly painful game.

Game 2: Another AN opponent. This time I hit Windweaver plus Hellion in rank 1 then again in rank 2. The second time around was a little too much for them to handle and I built enough of a lead to finish things in the middle of rank 3.

Game 3: Round 3, my opponent was playing an NU deck with a lot of pump spells. Bitterfrost Totem and Frostshatter Strike were able to keep his board under control while Hellion did its thing. Once I got ahead on board, keeping the pressure on was pretty easy. Spiking two level threes at the second rank up might have helped, too.

Game 4: This one didn't even make it to rank 3. They had an aggressive start with Grave Ghast into Zombie Dreadknight but Bitterfrost Totem let me clear the giant zombie without falling behind. Windborn Hellion showed up in rank 2 with triggers on board and my opponent conceded. They were already behind and probably looking at a hand of blanks to deal with a growing level 2 threat.

So a successful run with a deck that started out heading in one direction, then did a complete 180 half way through the draft. It's actually one of the things I really like about drafting NT, a lot of the cards are good at supporting multiple archetypes. If I had seen a bunch of Graveborn Gluttons and Necroslimes instead of the Windborn Hellions, I could've stayed on the late game control plan and still had a pretty decent deck. NT also has really high card quality so you often have the luxury of picking the solid stats vs the utility creature vs the synergy card based on what your deck needs rather than "whatever's not terrible". Hopefully seeing the thought process behind the picks helps you the next time you go Byzerak.

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