Improvements can be critical pieces to winning a game of Artifact, and there are very few that contest the power level of Mist of Avernus, which sits at the very top of Hyped’s draft tier list. Now that about a month has passed since the game’s launch, most of the player base can understand why at a glance; It can be played in the first turn of the game. It belongs to a color that is known for its durability and range of creeps. Heroes deployed on a lane with Mist of Avernus get a permanent attack buff, which makes Kanna especially valuable in a draft with this improvement, or low-attack, high-health heroes with powerful effects (Earthshaker, Tidehunter, etc). Its power level is so high, players have even encouraged others to splash one Green hero just for a chance to use it.
It’s a win condition, but not a guaranteed one.
Games can go fast enough that you never see a card you only have one of. This is especially the case when queueing against Red / Black drafts who deploy into good combat positions, kill two-four of your heroes in the first couple turns, and swing the game with expensive items before you assemble a response in the mid-game. Though a worst case scenario, we must take into account the lack of mulligans and difficulty of accessing card draw in Artifact, even when playing Blue heroes. Mist of Avernus may be drawn late enough that it can’t swing the game as heavily as we’d like, let alone giving us a chance against more aggressive drafts.
This is not to say that cheap singleton cards are inherently bad. For readers familiar with Hearthstone, Mist of Avernus on the first turn is very much the equivalent of drawing Prince Keleseth by turn two, enabling Zoolock and Tempo Rogue to out-value opponents with sheer stats. A single copy of Emissary of the Quorum or Annihilation can also win games on their own in the limited format, though the major distinction between the two is Mist of Avernus’ cheap cost, making it far more relevant in the first turn of the match.
And like Keleseth, who’s effect is strongest in the first turns of the game, and who will only activate if there are no 2-mana cards in your deck, there’s a cost; We need a Green hero. This is not a big deal if we happen to find other good cards that give us the ability to play a strong deck that has plenty of Green value cards; Emissary of the Quorum, Thunderhide Pack, Selfish Cleric, Rebel Decoy… However, the early stages of our draft may orient us to draft other colors, before a Mist of Avernus appears on the fifth pack. The temptation to force a Green splash just for the opportunity to play Mist of Avernus may make an otherwise effective deck into a clunky hybrid. We may force a Green hero into an otherwise well-balanced deck, and never draw Mist of Avernus in those first two, crucial games that can become an 0-2.
Evaluating risk and opportunity is important for any limited format player to mind when improving their ability to draft solid, 5-0 decks, and some of those drafts may end up being a fifth pack Mist of Avernus in what would have been a Red / Black deck, but is now playing three colors. Decisions like this are made knowing the risk, and it can pay off for some.
Even with an effective Green deck, and drawing Mist of Avernus on turn one, AND assuming all other draws are perfect, the big takeaway of this article can still be relevant; it’s possible for a player to overvalue Mist of Avernus so much, that it loses them the game. This applies to the match itself as well as the drafting phase. Newer or distracted players can imagine the long term value of Mist of Avernus without realizing that the progression of the game relies on intentional deployment decisions. They may pour everything into their Mist of Avernus lane, and rush for the Ancient with exponential damage, without realizing that the time it takes to accrue that damage while fending off at least one of the other lanes may be too long. This is a one-dimensional strategy that a half-decent deck by an experienced player can dismantle, with more removal and creep for fewer targets across two lanes, or a hard push against the Mist of Avernus lane with the right cards.
Of course, this goes both ways. Both you and your opponent can easily over-invest into your Mist of Avernus lane, deploying several heroes and committing several creeps to a single lane. Without a mulligan phase, the decision to commit to this strategy can be difficult, when your opponent may have more access to early-game creeps than you do to make the most of your Mist of Avernus lane. Red /Green can more easily make this decision and compensate for those weaker openings than Blue / Green, due to the general strength of their heroes, but risk a weaker late game if they don’t capitalize effectively from this early game control.
These are few scenarios that we hope will help you make the most of Mist of Avernus in the draft, and countering it.