3 More Pauper Duelyst Decks with Detailed Guides for Newbies — 440 Spirit for VICTORY!

Hey, there, Duelyrs! It’s Arananthi back again with 3 more Pauper decks — 440 Spirit each, for Abyssian, Magmar, and Vanar players. Enjoy!

 

Midrange Abyssian Pauper
Abyssian Tempo Pauper

The Theory Behind This Deck
In general, in card games, there are four archetypes of deck: Control decks, Aggro decks, Combo decks, and Tempo decks. Aggro decks have the goal of reducing your life total to zero as quickly as possible. Control decks have the goal of forcing you into a topdecking situation while they still have a hand full of options. Tempo decks have the goal of owning the playing field. And Combo decks have the goal of delaying their own death until they can finish you off with a nigh-unto-unstoppable play.  It’s generally accepted that Combo beats Control beats Tempo beats Aggro beats Combo, with matches between Combo-Tempo and Control-Aggro being determined by the specific decks rather than archetypal weaknesses.

So what then is a ‘midrange’ deck? Well…it’s a deck that sits in the middle. Midrange decks focus on flexibility: they can move quickly and capitalize on an opponent’s weak start or early mistake like an aggro deck, or they can play the tempo game and win by playing a big, on-curve threat every turn, or they can play a strong controlly game, retreating and hiding behind a wall of meat while they rustle up the tools for a lethal blow.

This deck is quite deliberately built to allow you to play super-efficient high-stat threats every turn, turn after turn, forcing your opponents to come up with more and more answers until they run out and have to answer with their lives.

  • 2 mana: Blood Siren, Primus Fist, Rust Crawler
  • 3 mana: Bloodshard Golem, Blaze Hound
  • 4 mana: Thorn Needler, Hailstone Golem
  • 6 mana: Stormmetal Golem

But, the deck also packs a number of cheap tempo-building cards like Daemonic Lure, Bloodtear Alchemist, Saberspine Tiger, and Ephemeral Shroud that can undo a lot of your opponent’s effort for only a little of your own. Heck, Rust Crawler and Blood Siren are both high-stat and potential big tempo gains.

This allows you to play to your opponent’s weaknesses: the moment they over-invest in a single tool (say they grab a Mana Spring and plant an Ironcliffe Guardian on turn 2), you play a solid threat on the remaining Mana Spring (Blaze Hound), and then counter their 5-mana investment with a 2-mana investment (Daemonic Lure). Now they have to face off against a beast that can do 8 face damage if left alone, and their 5 mana is dinking off 3 full turns away in the corner, and your next turn is going to bring more big threats down.

Midrange decks are complex to play, because they involve continually assessing what your opponent is likely to be capable of, and trying to choose threats that most effectively prevent those plays. For example, you generally want to choose Thorn Needler against Songhai and Vetruvian, because they have just about as much difficulty removing the Needler as they would a Hailstone Golem, but the Needler is a more critical threat (Songhai because General health is a big resource for them, Vet because of Obelysk health). Against Lyonar (Holy Immolation), Magmar (Makantor Warbeat), and Vanar (Cryogenesis), Hailstone Golem is stronger. (Abyssian is a wash.)

If you memorize the Big List of Geography-Based Spells, it’ll help a lot in playing this deck.

In general, though, your goal is to play big, on-curve threats, and once you get one to stick, use your cheap toolset to make it count.  You’ll be surprised once you get started just how much foresight it can take — but I can tell you that this is the Pauper with the best win percentage  (around Rank 15) that I’ve tested so far. (I’m 8 for 10.)

That said, every deck has its weakness, and this decks weakness is hard removal. Nothing sucks worse than slapping down a 4/6 on turn 2 going first, laughing maniacally, and then having it get Martyrdomed and gaining no life because you’re already at 25. Or working the Mana Springs perfectly and nailing that third-turn Stormmetal Golem just to get Hailstone Prisoned and have to wait 2 more turns to play it again. Fortunately, this deck should be able to bulldoze past it and lay down another, even bigger threat next turn in most instances, so it’s not game-ending…just a major setback.

Preferred General: Lilithe Blightchaser. While there is a strong argument to be made for Cass’ 1-damage ping as a valuable tempo tool, Lilithe’s ability to add bodies to the board makes for a of opportunities to harass the enemy in clever and useful ways. Cut off escape routes, delay the re-entry of a Lured fattie back into the battle, land a surprise finisher on an important minion with Primus Fist on a Wraithling, and of course there’s always the time-honored technique of just wearing your opponent down with one-damage slaps while you hide behind a Stormmetal Golem and two Blaze Hounds.

Mulligans: It doesn’t matter who the opponent is, you always want to aim for a solid curve for the first three turns. Aim for a 2-3-4 if you’re going first, and a 3-4-5 or 2-2-4-5 or 3-4-2+3 going second. But along the way, also look for one or more of the following early-game tools to use against each faction’s most common openers:

  • Lyonar: Daemonic Lure to break Zeal, or Blood Siren to counteract its effects so that your Blaze Hound doesn’t die to the Windblade Adept it kills.
  • Songhai: Bloodtear Alchemist to deal with Heartseeker/Mini-Jax (esp. vs. Reva), Ephemeral Shroud to take off Killing Edge and remove Backstab (esp. vs. Kaleos).
  • Vetruvian: Bloodtear Alchemist to deal with Pyromancer, either Ephemeral Shroud or Daemonic Lure to deal with Obelysks.
  • Abyssian: Ephemeral Shroud for Shadow Walkers, Rust Crawler for Spectral Blades/Horns of the Forsaken.
  • Magmar: Primus Fist to allow a smaller minion to trade up into their bigger ones, Bloodtear Alchemist to remove an Egg while still developing your board.
  • Vanar: Daemonic Lure to get Infiltrate creatures out of Infiltrate positioning, Ephemeral Shroud because just about every creature they put down has some sort of dispellable annoying effect. Start Replacing for Dark Transformation around turn 3 because it’s the best way in the game to deal with Draugar Lord.

Early Game (Turns 1-3)
Ideally, you’ll land, in order, a 2/3, a 3/4, and a 4/6 on turns 1, 2, and 3 (going first). This should put you in a pretty clear position to dominate the board. If the opponent posts a threat too big to ignore — as in, it can kill your largest minion without risking death (most often a Ranged or Blast dude with buffs) — skip the curve and play whatever tool you need to remove the risk alongside a spare smaller dude.  Your creatures should essentially focus on killing their creatures, hitting face only if there’s not a solid board-control-improving move you can make.

Midgame (Turns 4-6)
If the gameplan is working, at some point in these turns you’ll reach a place where you have to choose between playing another huge threat or just not. There’s some strong arguments in favor of ‘not,’ primarily being that overcommitting to the board leaves you vulnerable to board clearing power moves. (I’ve gotten eaten by Flash Reincarnation –> Makantor –> Great Fortitude more than I care to admit.) So carefully consider your opponent’s faction and what they’ve played so far before you slap down that fourth huge beast — it may be wiser to keep it for after they’ve dealt with the current threat.

Late Game (Turns 7+)
Similarly, you’ll reach a point where you have to choose to keep fighting the board-control war, or switch to the face race. If you’re playing a control deck, you can and will lose the board control war if you try to play straight into their gameplan, so you have to kill them before the game reaches that point. Generally speaking, a combo deck is similar, except you won’t really notice their gameplan (it looks like ‘my deck sucks’) until it comes out of nowhere and kills you, so don’t dink around with opponents who seem weak, either. (I got utterly pwned by an extraordinary Twin Fang+Kujata+Dance of Dreams+1-cc/1-health minion deck that just started dropping craptons of free minions that died instantly to Kujata and powered up Twin Fang by dying…facepunched for 22 from the clear blue sky. Don’t let it happen to you!) The earlier you switch to face, the more opportunity you give your opponent to come back by fighting for board control, but the longer you wait, the more opportunity you give them to obtain an insurmountable card advantage. That’s why it’s called ‘midrange,’ guys. You win by playing to whichever situation your opponent’s deck seems less ready to take advantage of.

Swaps
Swaps for this deck are

  • Swap Blaze Hound for Void Hunter if you’re worried about giving your opponent cards.
  • Swap Bloodshard Golem for Healing Mystic and 2x Rust Crawler for 2x Sand Burrower to shift the deck into a more value-oriented early game.
  • Swap 2x Thorn Needler for 2x Primus Shieldmaster if you’re getting aggroed (or possibly 3x Hailstone Golem for 3x Shieldmaster, if you prefer.)
  • Swap 2x Thorn Needler for 2x Breath of the Unknown for a sometimes-vital bit of midgame tempo swing (heal your big-HP beasts and kill some weenies). (Requires 80 additional Spirit.)

Upgrades
This deck upgrades differently than most, because quite frankly there’s just few Rare/Epic minions that have the raw board power that the basic Golems do, so you have to wait a while to move on from the Golem horde.

  • Necroseer –> Dancing Blades
  • 2x Dark Transformation –> 2x Ritual Banishing
  • 2x Thorn Needler –> 2x Lightbender
  • 1x Ephemeral Shroud –> 1x Ritual Banishing
  • Bloodshard Golem –> Spectral Blade
  • Hailstone Golem –>Black Solus
  • 2x Ephemeral Shroud –> 2x Spelljammer (This one is optional.)
  • Stormmetal Golem –> Spectral Revenant

 

Once fully upgraded, this deck is easily Diamond-worthy, even without the Legendaries. Depending on the meta, it’s capable of making S-rank with a bit of time put in. Good luck!

 

Control Magmar Pauper

Control Magmar Pauper

The Theory Behind This Deck
Control decks in Duelyst have a bit more to them than they do in simpler games, because aggressive decks have more options — playing on a board means you can’t just put one big fat dude in the way and have him shieldmaiden you  (unless he has Provoke and your back is against a wall, but even that’s pretty hard to maintain for any length of time.)  That means your focus has to be on eliminating the opponent’s threats rather than keeping them at bay.

Much like a Value deck (see the Lyonar Pauper), a Control deck wants to win by ending up having more cards to play than the opponent does. That means they have to either play fewer cards or draw more cards during the early and midgames. The Value deck wants to do that by using single cards to eliminate two or more cards — the Control deck wants to do it by using one card to eliminate several of the opponent’s cards.  In this case, those cards are Adamantite Claws, Plasma Storm, and possibly Grimrock, and indirectly (by combining it with Overload & Claws) with Earth Sphere.  This particular Control deck also provides some clever double-purposing insofar as Claws and Grimrock can also be used as finishers, which is nice. (More often, though, Grimrock is how you draw out your opponent’s oh-sh*t cards in the midgame — drop it just outside their reach, wink, and try to make it look like you’re walling it off, and they’ll often go to some silly lengths to take it out.)

The playstyle Control rolls with is one of minimalism in the early game — you want to encourage your opponent to play out as many threats as possible as quickly as possible, so your board clears have maximum effect.  That said, in this particular control deck, you don’t really want to leave creatures with less than 4 attack just sitting around, because they’ll screw up your opportunity to use Natural Selection on bigger targets and they’ll make Plasma Storm a harder decision to make.

Preferred General: Vaath the Immortal. Simply put, Vaath’s Overload allows him to make ever-more-efficient use of his face when it comes to removing the enemy’s threats — and ultimately, if the game reaches the late stages, he can make himself a lethal threat.

Mulligans
In general, you want to keep a Plasma Storm (just one), a Grimrock (just one), or any Young Silithars you get ahold of. In addition, you want to look for certain tools that you can use to efficiently get through the early game:

  • Lyonar: Either Repulsor Beast or Ephemeral Shroud to deal with Silverguard Knight (don’t waste them on Windblade Adepts),  Adamantite Claws for taking out Knights, Shieldmasters, Suntide Maidens, and so on.
  • Songhai: Primus Shieldmaster to drop at your back to keep Backstabbers at bay, Ephemeral Shroud to disable fast-growing Chakri Avatars.
  • Vetruvian: Bloodtear Alchemist to eliminate turn-1 Pyromancers, Repulsor Beasts or Ephemeral Shrouds to deal with various Obelysks.
  • Abyssian: Gotta nail an Ephemeral Shroud for the Shadow Watchers and put extra emphasis on finding a Plasma Storm ASAP.
  • Magmar: Definitely your hardest matchup; look for Adamantite Claws and Repulsor Beast to keep their big beasties at bay. Don’t ditch a Bloodtear Alchemist, though, just in case they bring a Phalanxar out to play.
  • Vanar: Definitely your second-hardest matchup; try to keep Crystal Cloakers out of Infiltrate so that Plasma Storm will kill them, and seek out Phalanxar to either kill off those Infiltrates ASAP or bait out a Chromatic Cold/Cryogenesis so your later creatures won’t have to deal with it.

Early Game (Turns 1-3)
Play your first turn like normal (walk up 2, drop something), and watch the opponent carefully. If they’re playing something prone to dropping big early drops (Big Abyssian, anything Magmar, and most Songhai (using Killing Edge or just speedcasting with a Chakri Avatar out), you need to kind of get in their face and carefully use Adamantite Claws, Phalanxar, and Natural Selection to slow their roll. If it’s anything else, promptly back up and let them take the Mana Springs and use them to put out their threats.

Midgame (Turns 4-6)
Watch for the first opportunity to bring out your several-for-one cards to good effect, but try to make sure you land Overload when it’s available — it’ll save your butt in the long game.  If there’s no clear opportunity to use Claws or Plasma Storm, drop your Void Hunters and Necroseers and try to keep their board presence minimized that way, and try to force a chance to drop Grimrock somewhere that he can grow. Generally speaking, Replace your Earth Spheres unless you get below about 15 HP (20 vs. Songhai or Kara-Vanar)

Late Game (Turns 7+)
As the game moves on, you should be Overloading every turn. If you draw your third Adamantite Claws, don’t play it — save it for a surprise bit of ‘burst,’ possibly alongside a Saberspine Tiger. Most games that last this long are pretty firmly in your favor, but watch out for late-game power drops like Aymara Healer from a Vetruvian or Silithar Elder from a Magmar. It might be in your best interest to keep an Ephemeral Shroud in your pocket for those moments, as well. Generally, though, your late game will consist of playing chess with them, keeping them close enough to threaten with your General’s huge claws but far enough away that you don’t get surrounded and beaten down.

Swaps
Potential swaps for this deck include:

  • Grimrock –> Veteran Silithar (less oh-sh*t factor, but tougher – def. do this at rank 15+)
  • 1x Phalanxar –> 1x Ephemeral Shroud (tough to say which is more critical more often)
  • 1x Phalanxar –> 1x Earth Sphere (requires 40 add’l Spirit)
  • 2x Earth Sphere –> 2x Silhouette Tracer (dangerous, but makes for surprise finishing punches)
  • Void Hunter –> Dancing Blades

Upgrades
The upgrades make this deck even more capable of dealing with both single large threats and swarms of small-to-midsize threats.

  • Phalanxar –> Jaxi
  • Void Hunter –> Sojourner (Option #1: harder to use Plasma Storm, but better drawing)
  • Void Hunter –> Chaos Elemental (Option #2: worse drawing, better board presence)
  • Grimrock –> Egg Morph
  • 2x Earth Sphere –> 2x Emerald Rejuvinator
  • Necroseer –> Makantor Warbeast
  • 2x Repulsor Beast –> 2x Silithar Elder
  • Bloodtear Alchemist –> Vindicator

Even without the legendaries, this is easily a Gold-division deck when upgraded. With them, and with plenty of practice, this deck should take you to Diamond really sacrificing too much of your life to Duelyst. 🙂

 

 

Vanar Tempo Pauper

Vanar Tempo Pauper

The Theory Behind This Deck
‘Tempo’ is a term that essentially means ‘you’re the aggressor.’ Sun Tzu says (paraphrased), the aggressor decides when the fight occurs; the defender decides where the fight occurs. When you have the tempo in Duelyst, it means you’re the one deciding which minion gets attacked — range permitting. The ideal way to do that is to ensure that you’re the player whose minions have already been in play for a turn (and thus are able to attack), and your opponent’s minions die before they get out of summoning sickness. This deck is designed to put you in that driver’s seat.

The downside to tempo is that it will naturally swing back and forth over the course of a game, and generally speaking, in order to get it back once it’s swung to your opponent, you have to expend more resources in a single turn than your opponent does — some to get the opponent’s board clear, and some more to ensure that you have a minion left after your opponent’s board is clear. To that end, tempo decks can have a hard time dealing with control decks that seek to expand the card disadvantage that tempo decks innately tend to create for themselves.

The upside is that it’s often possible to kill a control deck before they can capitalize on their card advantage. 🙂

This deck relies on a number of tricks to keep tempo. First, it packs a hell of a lot of removal, and often that removal can eliminate more mana worth of enemy creatures than it costs. When you have 5 mana and you can use 3 of it to remove the enemy’s 5-cost Magi of the Four Winds/Shadowdancer/whatever and then 2 more to put down a Crystal Cloaker, you just made a strong tempo play.

Second, Snowpiercer is a huge tempo-gaining tool, albeit at the cost of your face. Eliminating 2 or more 5-HP creatures with General swings and simultaneously putting down some decent threats of your own is what the tempo game is all about.

Third, the deck is pretty good at trading up — in other words, taking out a creature worth X mana using a creature the cost less than X mana. Crystal Cloaker (when Infiltrated), Blaze Hound, and Arctic Displacer are good at doing this just normally, and Frostfire and Aspect of the Fox both allow you to do this more powerfully but generally at a card disadvantage.

 Mulligans
As you can probably guess, your first priority is nailing a good t1 play — gotta start strong on the board if you’re going to take the tempo right away. Saberspine Tiger doesn’t count as a t1 play going second; you want either 2x 2-drops, Blaze Hound, or Fenrir Warmaster. (Always mulligan away an Arctic Displacer and the second/third Crystal Cloaker; you’ll get them back from Cryogenesis.) After that, you want to focus on nailing the plays that are the most likely for your opponent’s faction to have problems with:

  • Lyonar: Snowpiercer for Silverguard Knight, Primus Shieldmaster for Windblade Adept/Azurite Lion.
  • Songhai: Fenrir Warmaster for surviving Phoenix Flame and taking out Assassins and Gore Horns, Chromatic Cold/Aspect of the Fox to remove flurries of buffs.
  • Vetruvian: Cryogenesis/Chromatic Cold for eliminating Pyromancer and Obelysks (with General attack if using Cryogenesis), Primus Shieldmaster to keep those annoying Rush Dervishes off your back.
  • Abyssian: Fenrir Warmaster/Primus Shieldmaster to circumnavigate Grasp of Agony, Chromatic Cold/Aspect of the Wolf/Cryogenesis to deal with Shadow Watcher, Bloodmoon Priestess, and Shadowdancer.
  • Magmar: Snowpiercer for Veteran Silithar, Fenrir Warmaster for surviving getting attacked more effectively than Rebirth does.
  • Vanar: Chromatic Cold/Cryogenesis for dealing with Glacial Elemental or Fenrir Warmaster, Hearth-Sister for pulling Infiltrate minions off of your half of the board.

Early Game (Turns 1-3)
Your ideal first moves are to try to push onto your opponent’s side of the field so you can bust out 4/3 minions for 2 mana, and to keep your opponent’s side of the field clean. Setting up blockages so that your opponent has to play into Faie’s Warbird BBS is beneficial if you can pull it off, but it’s not super-vital.

Midgame (Turns 4-6)
Look for opportunities to play a cantrip (Blaze Hound, Cryogenesis, Necroseer) without losing tempo — it’s important to keep your hand full so you don’t run out of plays before they run out of HP!  Similarly, look for chances to use Aspect of the Fox and Frostfire to take out an enemy’s big threat without losing a minion of your own. The midgame is where tempo decks thrive, but you need to be careful not to overextend and play into a big value play like Holy Immolation, Makantor Warbeast, or Breath of the Unborn.  If you start to feel like you’re unable to keep up, retreat onto your side and hit them with Avalanche when they chase you. (You can also use Arctic Displacer as a lure if they don’t seem to have a deck that could easily remove it with spells.)

Late Game (Turns 7+)
Your opponent should be getting a bit desperate as your BBS keeps whittling their HP away even as you maintain board dominance with your creatures and spells. Try to keep a Chromatic Cold  or Aspect of the Fox at the ready to disable a desperation gambit killshot. In the end, your big finisher is playing Arctic Displacer out of their reach and then using Hearth-Sister to warp it in for the titanic facepunch. Bonus points if you can throw Frostfire on it as it comes in.

Swaps

  • 2x Avalanche –> 1x Hearth-Sister & 1x Snowpiercer (requires 40 extra Spirit)
  • 2x Arctic Displacer –> 2x Brightmoss Golem if the meta demands a more stable board presence
  • 2x Frostfire –> 2x Healing Mystic if you’re going with the above (Frostfire too inconsistent)
  • 1x Primus Fist –> 1x Hearth-Sister if the position-swapping is stronger than the trading-up

Upgrades
The upgrades to this deck shift it toward a setup that is remarkably hard to kill, utilizing all manner of creatures that just don’t die and adding some surprise burstdown.

  • Necroseer –> Dancing Blades
  • 2x Avalanche + 1x Arctic Displacer –> 3x Snow Chaser
  • 1x Arctic Displacer + 1x Frostfire –> 2x Razorback
  • 1x Frostfire + 1x Snowpiercer  –> 2x Aspect of the Drake
  • 1x Snowpiercer –> 1x Aspect of the Mountains
  • 2x Aspect of the Fox –> 2x Jax Truesight

Fully upgraded, the win conditions you can get from Jax+Razorback or just using Aspects of the Drake and Mountains to turn innocent little Snowchasers into big beasts and either kill a bunch of enemy minions or send some big hairy minions of your own sailing across the board for a gang beatdown finisher will take you to Diamond with some work. Without the Legendaries, you should still be able to get Gold pretty handily.

 

 

…and that’s it for now! I’ll try to come back in a couple more weeks with a few more decks of a slightly higher cost, maybe 1500 or so, with similar guides for y’all. Until then, keep on Duelyng!

3 New 1.63-Ready Pauper Duelyst Decks (440 Spirit!) With Guides

Alright, Duelyrs, this last big patch has made a lot of changes, but we adapt and move forward with glee! I’ve only had time so far to test and write up pauper decks for Lyonar, Songhai, and Vetruvian, but I wanted to get them out to you so that all y’all new players have an idea of what you can do and what you should shoot for. Let’s not dilly-dally — here’s the first deck:

Lyonar Value Pauper

Lyonar Value Pauper 

The Theory Behind the Deck

Value in the game of Duelyst means card advantage, which you accrue every time a single one of your cards is able to perform any TWO (or more) of the following (can totally do the same one twice):

  • Draw a card
  • Destroy an enemy card
  • Generate a body
  • Requires 2 or more enemy cards to remove

So for example Sojourner will nearly always draw two or more cards — instant card advantage.  Necroseer draws a card and generates a body — instant card advantage.  Dancing Blades destroys an enemy card and generates a body. Suntide Maiden can, conditionally, eliminate several enemy cards before she gets mobbed down. And so on.

(There are other concerns, realistically, like not consistently using a 5-mana card to clear a 2-drop and leave behind a body worth 1/3 of a mana (looking at you, Dark Transformation), but in general, counting card by card is more important, value-wise, than counting mana by mana because ultimately, the value deck wants to win by having more resources than the opponent .)

This deck is built around the idea of extracting maximum value from every turn. You want to look, every turn, for every way that you can eliminate 1 more of his cards than you have to spend doing the eliminating without putting your General at risk. The ‘rock’ to value’s scissors is an aggressive deck that doesn’t care about having resources linger, but rather simply throws them wantonly at your face the moment they hit the board. Because your deck is built to contest the board, a deck plans to beat you even though you have control of the board is your worst nightmare.

Yeah, I’m talking about 90% of Songhai decks, 50% of Magmar decks, and 20%ish of Abyssian decks. Vetruvian and Vanar almost have to play the board-control game, so they tend to be decent matchups for you if you play well.

Speaking of playing well, let’s get away from theory and into how the  deck plays out.

Preferred General: Argeon Highmane. The +2 Attack bonus can allow your cheap minions to ‘trade up’ into the opponent’s expensive minions, which is good. More importantly, Suntide Maiden can become a total wrecking ball with 5 attack and the ability to heal herself every turn. Most importantly, Lysian Brawler can become a certifiable win condition with one Roar from Argeon and a Divine Bond — that’s 20 damage to the dome right there.

Mulligans

In almost every game, you want to mulligan first and foremost for a 2-drop or a 3-drop.  But if you have some form of board presence to keep yourself from getting aggroed to death, you want to spend your other mulligans looking for value-building tools. In the general sense, your early-game value building tools are Windblade Adept, Silverguard Knight, Void Hunter, Tempest, Suntide Maiden, and Lysian Brawler.  More specifically, there are certain cards you want against certain factions:

  • Lyonar: Lyonar’s powerful minions and Zeal effect make it very likely that Sun Bloom can get you lots of value.
  • Songhai: Songhai’s easy access to fast ranged and dangerous levels of mobility+backstab make Tempest a huge boon, but it’s at least as important to get a 4+ HP minion (to avoid Phoenix Fire)  at your back to prevent Backstab shenanigans.
  • Vetruvian: Vetruvian’s biggest value generators are Pyromancer and the Obelysks. That makes Tempest, Martyrdom, and Sun Bloom better than your other early-game options.
  • Abyssian: Tempest for clearing Wraithling swarms, then Martyrdom or Sun Bloom for runaway Shadow Watchers.
  • Magmar: Magmar’s early game largely consists of Young Silithar, Natural Selection, and neutral 2/3s. This makes Windblade Adept, which survives Natural Selection as long as they have a 2-drop down but also trades with that 2-drop without dying, a primary goal, with Silverguard Knight and Suntide Maiden decent backup plans.
  • Vanar: Chromatic Cold is a huge setback to this deck, because for the first few turns, everything you do is going to be dispellable. What you want to do vs. Vanar is try to mulligan into Windblade Adepts and Void Hunters so they’ll use their Chromatic Colds on those, and you can then play Suntide Maiden (ideally) or Silverguard Knight without getting immediately dispelled.

Early Game (Turns 1-3)

In the first few turns, you’re going to want to lay down minions with more stats than theirs (Windblade, Silverguard, Suntide) and stay out of the way of their attacks. Don’t attack their general, and try (though it’s all but impossible sometimes) to avoid situations where their general obviously benefits from attacking one of your minions. If they stay at 23+ health, Martyrdom stays a viable play that only gets more valuable as they cast larger and larger cards.

Midgame (Turns 4-6)

As the board develops and their plan becomes evident, start looking at which of your cards can most easily build card advantage against their strategy. Your best bets are often going to be a well-timed Tempest (either when your creatures can survive and theirs will die, or when you can usefully suicide whatever you have so there’s nothing to lose when you Tempest), a Suntide Maiden that can eat a weenie on their side every turn and keep moving, and a Dancing Blades that will finish off a creature of theirs and leave behind a body big enough to be a significant threat.

Late Game (Turns 7+)

If your gameplan works out, by this point, the enemy is running out of resources by now. Playing a Void hunter or Necroseer can often take out a creature of theirs and draw you a new threat; once you can land a threat like Necroseer or Lysian Brawler and it doesn’t immediately die (and not before), drop Stormmetal Golem and bring it to their face for some serious poundage.

Swaps

A few tweaks to the deck that might make it better (or worse) for your particular playstyle — try them and see which you like better:

  • Swap out 1 Martyrdom for another Sun Bloom (requires 40 more Spirit)
  • Swap out Void Hunters for Blaze Hounds (dangerous, but some people swear by it)
  • Swap out Lysian Brawlers for Primus Shieldmasters (less vulnerable to getting killed before it acts, but less likely to take out 2 full cards and incapable of the 8-to-the-face finishing blow.)
  • Swap out Necroseers for Brightmoss Golem (more vulnerable to removal, but better at board control, probably about the same in terms of value overall.)

Upgrading

This deck upgrades highly effectively. In order, you want to build toward:

  1. Void Hunter –> Sojourner
  2. Rock Pulverizer –> Primus Fist
  3. Lysian Brawler –> Holy Immolation
  4. Necroseer –> Twilight Sorcerer
  5. 2x Stormmetal Golem –> 2x Archon Spellbinder
  6. Suntide Maiden –> Arclyte Regalia

That’s a long list, but by the time you’re done, you will have a definitively S-rank-worthy deck on your hands. Without the Legendaries, Diamond rank should still be yours with some practice.

 

 



Songhai Combo Pauper

Songhai Combo Pauper

The Theory Behind this Deck

Combo decks in Duelyst play a ‘skate by’ game for the first several turns, looking to draw and Replace as many cards as possible as quickly as possible while doing whatever they can to prevent the opponent from building a threatening board. Meanwhile, you’re collecting in your hand a combo that can produce lethal results either instantly, or if the opponent can’t answer a single minion played on the opposite corner of the board.

Songhai offers the opportunity to go for the ‘instant lethal combo’ using Inner Focus, but at the lower ranks it’s generally actually better to rely on the second variation because Inner Focus is so often a dead card if you’re still combo-hunting. You’d rather draw something that you can use to either contest the board or draw more. In this deck, your ‘killer combo’ is [Bloodletter or (less desirable) Scarlet Viper] + [any combination of Killing Edge, Primus Fist, or Saberspine Seal]

Combo can be a highly counter-intuitive style to play, because you feel aggressive — you know you’re going to punch his face in for a ton of damage — but you have to play defense for most of the game. You’re going to want to mostly move away from the enemy, ‘saving face’ as it were, and dropping units behind you to tie them up. If you’re clever with your positioning, you can often convince the enemy General to waste actions and take damage by putting a Void Hunter where only the General can reach it, which is a triple-win for you: you draw, they take face damage, they wasted an action helping you get to your goal. Similarly, cards like Primus Shieldmaster force the enemy to use their actions on their turn to remove your dude, and can often take a few minions either out completely or into Twin Strike/Phoenix Fire range as they burn the enemy’s rope.

That said, every archetype has a weakness, and combo’s weakness is healing. There are few combos in Duelyst which can consistently take an enemy general down from 20+ life, and if they have too many HP for your combo to win with, it doesn’t matter how quickly you drew it. You’re counting on being able to tempt the enemy General into bringing down their own HP removing your minions (or sneaking in a few solid hits on your own turn), and if they refuse and heal up what you’ve already done, your only choice is to bring your game to them — which is mostly a game you’re going to lose.

This makes many Lyonar, some Abyssian, and occasional Magmar decks really annoying, as each has their own efficient healing cards. Emerald Rejuvinator, a solid Neutral Rare, can also mess you up no matter what the enemy is playing.

Preferred General: Kaleos Xaan. The Bloodborn Spell ‘Blink’ moves a friendly minion two spaces, which gives you extraordinary access to the opponent’s backside for Backstabbing via Kaido Assassin or Scarlet Viper, but also allows you to summon a Necroseer and then bump it two spaces even further away from the enemy’s position, making it even harder to kill so you can then Mist Dragon Seal it back to the enemy General’s side for a huge combo finish.

Mulligans: Contrary to what you might think, you don’t want to mulligan for Saberspine Seal, Mist Dragon Seal, Scarlet Viper, or Bloodletter right off the bat, because you can’t use those combo pieces to perform the dual function of slowing the opponent down and drawing more cards. Killing Edge is great only if you have a Kaido Assassin. Other than that, you want to Mulligan for any given 2-drop (going first) or 2-3 drop (going second). If you already have a decent 1st-turn play in hand, dump whatever isn’t Twin Strike, Void Hunter, Primus Shieldmaster, or Phoenix Fire, and look for more of those.  In specific matchups:

  • Lyonar: Put extra emphasis on finding Phoenix Fire (for dealing with annoying Windblade Adepts and Silverguard Knights), Void Hunter (to tempt out Tempest before you put down a more serious minion), and Repulsor Beast (for moving those damn Ironcliffe Defenders far, far away.)
  • Songhai: The mirror match calls for Twin Strike (to finish off Mini-Jax and/or Heartseeker), Rock Pulverizer/Primus Shieldmaster (to stand at your back and keep enemy backstabbers at bay), and Necroseer (to tempt out removal).
  • Vetruvian: Ditch everything in the quest for Phoenix Fire (to clear the almost-inevitable first-turn Pyromancer that will make your life miserable if you can’t kill it before it’s buffed) and Repulsor Beast (for moving those Obelysks into the corner where they won’t bother you anymore.)
  • Abyssian: Twin Strike isn’t bad here, but Primus Shieldmaster and Rock Pulverizer are your MVPs vs. swarms. If it happens to be Big Abyss, you can generally still make use of them in the early game, and Replace like crazy looking for Scarlet Viper so you can Backstab any offending giant critter from across the board.
  • Magmar: Magmar’s combination of big Rush minions and buffs can deal massive damage to the dome really quickly. Your best tools are going to be Twin Strike (for taking out Makantor Warbeasts or Elucidators that are down 2 HP after attacking) and Void Hunter/Necroseer (for taking out their beasties while you draw toward your combo.)
  • Vanar:  Vanar’s Chromatic Cold can make your combo efforts useless in one stroke by removing the purpose behind Bloodletter/Scarlet Viper, so your goal is to bait them out quickly. Void Hunter is a great way to do that, but because Vanar love to Infiltrate and get cheap bonuses, they hate Provoke enough to blow their dispels on Primus Shieldmaster and occasionally even Rock Pulverizer, so hunt them down, too.

Early Game (Turns 1-3)

The first priorities here are laying down a 2-drop so that you don’t just get flat-out overwhelmed out of the gate, and nibbling away at the enemy’s initial tempo burst with cards that keep your hand full (Twin Strike, Void Hunter, and Killing Strike if you can get it onto a Kaido Assassin.)  If none of those are handy, just run forward, drop whatever you can to slow them down, and then retreat.

Midgame (Turns 4-6)

As you get some distance, up your delay game with Primus Shieldmaster, and if you can, drop your first kill unit somewhere that none of the enemy’s minions can reach. In the meantime, keep Replacing looking for combo pieces that you don’t already have, and keep looking for ways to draw and eliminate threats at the same time.

Late Game (Turns 7+)

The second you get a kill-minion down and it survives a turn, hit it with every buff you have, move it to the enemy minion with Mist Dragon Seal (or the Scarlet Viper’s innate Flying), and hit it for as much as you can. Don’t bother saving anything for a second strike or second kill-minion; you might not ever see them. Instead, just pile on as much damage as you can, and if it doesn’t kill them, finish them off with Saberspine Tigers and Phoenix Fires over the next turn or three.

Swaps

This deck has a few cards that could easily be switched out for others in ways that make it weak to different things or effective in different ways.

  • Swap out the Healing Mystics and the Saberspine Seals for +1 Necroseer and 3xEphemeral Shroud. (Currently my favorite setup for this deck.)
  • Swap out the Rock Pulverizers for Chakri Avatars if you feel like you need to draw out Dispels (or that the people you’re facing just aren’t packing any)
  • Swap out the Repulsor Beasts for Thorn Needlers if you feel you need more threats.
  • Swap out the Healing Mystics for +1 Saberspine Seal and +1 Scarlet Viper (40 more Spirit.)

Upgrading

This deck’s upgrades aren’t cheap — but they’re powerful.

  1. Bloodletter –> Dagger Kiri
  2. Void Hunter –> Sojourner  (or Mogwai, your choice)
  3. Saberspine Seal –> Juxtaposition
  4. Repulsor Beast –> Gore Horn (You can make one of these for each Juxtaposition you’re using)
  5. Scarlet Viper –> Spiral Technique
  6. Necroseer –> Spelljammer (or Aethermaster, your choice, but Spelljammer is probably better)
  7. Healing Mystic +1 Rock Pulverizer –> Tusk Boar

Fully upgraded, this deck will handily get you to Diamond, possibly S-Rank depending on the meta of the month, with or without the Legendaries (they’re nice, but mostly optional.)

 


 

Vetruvian Board Control Pauper

Vet Lockdown Pauper

 

The Theory Behind This Deck

Unlike most other card games, Duelyst is played on a board, which means tactical positioning can and will win and lose games. That means that, unlike in simpler games, there are more than just your basic breakdowns of ‘aggro,’ ‘tempo,’ ‘value,’ and ‘combo’ — there are also decks that sacrifice both power and value in order to play cards that affect the positioning of units. This is seen offensively in the Songhai Combo Pauper, above, with Mist Dragon Seal and Kaleos’ Bloodborn Spell, Blink. This deck uses mass Provokes to achieve the opposite effect, locking the opponent down so your Provokes can absorb the enemy’s removal and damage while you build a huge lead in cards using your wealth of draw power.

You’ll notice that, like the Lyonar Pauper above, the Board Control Vetruvian is also looking to build card advantage — that’s because as much as Board Control is a style of play, it alone can’t win games. If all you do is lock the opponent down and you never build either a tempo advantage or a card advantage, you’re going to end up with the opponent killing you before you kill him, or killing all of your minions and coming after you with a big finisher that you can’t answer.

In this case, all that draw power you have is building toward an endgame that revolves around one of two finishers: either you lock them down, run away, and rain down Flying and Rush minions from afar until they kick it, or you plant a Bloodletter with one or both of Scion’s Second Wish and Cosmic Flesh after they’ve spent their hand trying to deal with your endless line of Provokes.  Cosmic Flesh on a Bloodletter they can’t remove is an especially sweet moment, because they really, really don’t want to attack into it, but clearing a 5/9 without hard removal is nigh unto impossible.

The difference between Board Control and a straight Value deck like the Lyonar one above is that the Value deck loses when the opponent brings heavy removal to the game, because it’s counting on getting lots of value from its minions, removing 2+ of the enemies’ minions with 1 of its own. The Board Control deck is actually counting on the enemy bringing removal, and deliberately baiting out that removal with Provokes so that it can freely rain hell down upon you.

You might assume that this means the Board Control deck loses to a minion-heavy, Tempo-oriented deck…and you’d be right! Decks that play high-tempo creatures that can remove your Provokes and live to keep coming are your worst nightmare. Nothing sucks more than to put down a perfectly-placed Primus Shieldmaster and watch your opponent respond with a Primus Fist on his Infiltrated Crystal Cloaker, killing your 4-mana minion for 2 mana and laying down a new threat for you to deal with at the same time.

Preferred General: Zirix Starstrider. Zirix’ Wind Shroud ability gives him the edge in a controlled situation, as he can wear his opponents and minions down from outside of their range by summoning Dervishes and using them to get free hits.  If you stand one square away from a target in a straight line, and there are no other obstacles, any summoned Dervish will be able to hit that target — take full advantage!

Mulligans:  Much like you expect, your first priority should be to obtain a turn-one play, preferably Rock Pulverizer, but really anything will do. After that, you’re looking for, in order of awesomeness, a Primus Shieldmaster, a Void Hunter, a Blaze Hound, or a Scion’s First Wish to play on your t1 minion.  You also want to keep the following cards against the following factions:

  • Lyonar: Argeon is one of your worst nightmares; his high-tempo playstyle can really make short work of your efforts to pen him in. To counter, you’re going to want to stay well away and work hard to draw out his resources with your draw-minions, so keep Wind Shrike, Necroseer (only going 2nd), and above all else, Siphon Energy to negate his OP Zeal crap (mostly Silverguard Knight, but also Suntide Maiden and/or Windblade Adept) and/or to get away from an Ironcliffe Defender that’s ready to be Divine Bonded.
  • Songhai: Kaleos’ Blink is less annoying than you think, but it’s still annoying; you want an extra Provoke minion at your back if at all possible, so hunt for two. Past that, a Saberspine Tiger can often save you from a punishing (but not Inner Focused) Kaido Assassin and/or Gore Horn. If it’s Reva, look for a Wind Shrike, because you’re going to want something that can get across the board quickly to deal with her Ranged spawns.
  • Vetruvian: Your ideal starting hand will contain a Saberspine Tiger and a Scion’s First Wish, so that you can efficiently take out his opening Pyromancer or Obelysk without your kitty dying. Failing that, just remember that Vets have lots of ways of dealing 2 damage, but not that many ways of dealing 3 — so try to Replace your Void Hunters unless you have nothing better to do with the mana.
  • Abyssian: Against Lillithe, you want to open with a Rock Pulverizer if at all possible, and hold a Cosmic Flesh as well, for horde-clearing power. (This is especially good on a Wind Shrike or Young Flamewing as they can’t be dealt with using Daemonic Lure.) Against Cass, you’re gonna need math — use your buffs carefully to keep your minions away from the 1-HP mark so that you can minimize the damage her nasty Bloodborn Spell can do over the long game.
  • Magmar: You’re not going to be able to Board Control a decent Magmar; there’s just too much Rush/Frenzy going on. Fortunately, their early game is fairly weak — take advantage by swinging for the face right out of the gate with whatever early drop you have. Past that, look for Void Hunters and Blaze Hounds to throw up as a defensive wall while you drop Flyers outside of his Rush range, buff the crap out of them, and throw them at his face.
  • Vanar: You need to lure out Vanar’s signature removal (Chromatic Cold, Cryogenesis, and Hailstone Prison) before you invest too much in buffs. First Wish is fine because it replaces itself, but against Vanar you really want to land Rock Pulverizer and Primus Shieldmaster early so Mulligan for them, and pray that you can convince them to blow a Chromatic on Void Hunter. Once you’ve seen a few removals, you can start planting buffs, but try to avoid keeping Second Wish and Cosmic Flesh in your opening hand.

Early Game (Turns 1-3)

Don’t hesitate to put down a Primus Fist with no targets on turn 1 if it means you have something on the board. If not, in general, lead with your draw minions (Void Hunter, Blaze Hound), and buff them with First Wish if you have a spare mana. If you get the chance, drop Primus Shieldmaster in their face or Shrike/Dragon away from them., to be buffed and thrown into the mix next turn.

Midgame (Turns 4-6)

Use your Provokes (natural and Cosmic Fleshed) to hamper the enemy’s plans, and make ample use of your powerful Bloodborn Spell to help your Provokes finish off the minions they have locked down.  Don’t buff your Wind Shrikes though, because they vanish at the end of the turn (again, First Wish is acceptable if it allows you to get a big advantage.)

Late Game (Turns 7+)

When you reach the 9-mana stage, you need to make an important decision: can you afford to leave your General close enough to the fight to take advantage of your 2-damage Bloodborn Spell every turn? Or do you have to back off a bit and use Provokes and Flying to keep them at bay but still taking damage? Ultimately, your goal is to land a Bloodletter with Cosmic Flesh or Scion’s Second Wish and get it up to their face to deliver their final punishment, but it’s often just as easy to win by putting Second Wish on a Young Dragon or Wind Shrike and fly it to whatever side of their General is away from most of their minions so it can beat face.

Swaps

The swaps you can make in this deck are largely ones that sacrifice a bit of the draw-heavy nature in order to keep up more strongly on the board.

  • Swap out Blaze Hounds  for Sand Burrowers to gain a lot of value over time and keep an effect somewhat similar to draw.
  • Swap out the Void Hunters for Wings of Paradise for more scary Flying beatdown (that will also encourage you to Replace every turn, which is good.)
  • Swap out the Necroseers for Brightmoss Golems for some great, hard-to-kill board presence that can take powerful advantage of your Cosmic Flesh.
  • Swap out a single Blaze Hound for one more Siphon Energy if you need more Dispel to keep up with enemy buffs.

Upgrades

This deck’s upgrades slowly morph it away from focus on Flying and excessive drawing and toward an even more value-heavy approach.

  1. 2x Bloodletter –> 2x Dagger Kiri
  2. Wind Shrike –> Dancing Blades
  3. Blaze Hound –> Sojourner  (excellent with Second Wish!)
  4. 2x Young Flamewing –> 2x Dominate Will
  5. 1x Primus Fist and 1x Scion’s Second Wish –> 2x Rasha’s Curse
  6. (Optionally, at this point, replace Void Hunter –> Dunecaster)
  7. Necroseer –> Golden Justicar or Sworn Defender  (Note Golden Justicar + Cosmic Flesh!)
  8. Void Hunter/Dunecaster –> Spelljammer
  9. 2x Dagger Kiri –> 2x Aymara Healer (Yep, a 2nd upgrade.)

Once this long list of expensive upgrades is complete, you’ll have a killer late-game Vet on your hands that will be able to carry you easily to Diamond, possibly even S-Rank with practice and depending on the meta.

 

…And that’s all for now, guys! You can expect it to take me a couple more weeks of testing and writing-up to get pauper decks for the other three factions. Hopefully, by then, most of you will be past the Pauper stage and waiting anxiously for the Ultrabudget decks that are coming after that. 🙂  Until then, keep on Duelying!

The Slow Rehaul

Hey, guys, it’s Arananthi here with the announcement y’all pretty much knew was coming. 🙂

With the radical change that happened to Duelyst with the April patch (dropping to 1 card drawn per turn and changing about 5% of the total cardbase), basically everything in this blog is outdatedDo not read this blog. 

 

Yet.

 

I am, of course, still working hard for you guys, trying to find decently optimized pauper decks that work well in the new meta, under the new rules. I have proofs-of-concept for four of the six factions now, and I should be able to get the other two done in the next few days. Rather than go back and re-update my previous “X deck” posts, however, I’m simply going to start over again, and label all those posts before today with a big old [OUTDATED] label and a link to the newer version as they become available.

The non-deck posts, like the Big List of Geography-Based Spells and other similar posts, I will update and keep in place as I know there are at least several, if not dozens of people who view those regularly. (I know, right? Dozens. I’m big-time. X)

But basically I just wanted y’all to know that I’m here, and I’m working on the much-needed new-player-friendly decklists. With the legit Full Release planned for the end of the month, we’re going to see a LOT of new players, so I expect that there will be a LOT of demand. I’m going to try to get a few pauper decks for each faction up first, and work upward from there like I did the first time around.

Hopefully, y’all will like what you see. Until then, thanks for scanning this lame ‘thanks for your patience’ note, and keep on Duelying!

My Decks (February 2016)

Hi, Duelyrs! It’s Arananthi here, and it’s finally time for me to submit to the people who have been asking me to post my decks. I’ve barely played at all this month — honestly, I’m so fed up with the Third Wish meta that I’m basically done with this game until they fix it. I made it to Rank 10 so I’d get the Legendary, and headed off to play Block n’ Load until Counterplay can get its shit together. So there’s no guarantee that these decks could be S-Rank worthy, because I haven’t been willing to put in that kind of time.

That said, they are pretty damn good ladder climbers, and they are custom-crafted to beat the Third Wish meta and the psycho hosebeast Midrange Vanar that rose up to counter it. So there is that. 🙂 Let’s jump right in:

Pirate Lyonar

DMCA Notice

A.K.A. “DMCA Notice” — because of the pirating.

The theory here is simple: about half of your deck is capable of removing or damaging an enemy unit when it’s played, so keeping your enemy very low on creatures isn’t that difficult of a thing. And when your enemy has few to no creatures on the board, locking them down with Silverguard Knight/Ironcliffe Guardian and/or beating their face with an unkillable Silvertongue Corsair is easy-peasy!  This deck absolutely wrecks decks with low amounts of removal (Abyssian, some Magmar) and decks with relatively few creatures (Songhai, some Vetruvian).

The gameplan against Vetruvian is pretty simple: don’t let them stick a creature, ever, unless you can lock it down with Provoke — and even then, kill it ASAP regardless. Against Midrange Vanar, you’re in for a long game, but because damn near every creature you play has some potent Opening Gambit effect, their Hailstones are pretty useless, which robs them of a  lot of their power.

The “secret combo” here is Azure Horn Shaman onto Silvertongue Corsair — makes her really hard to get rid of without hard removal, because she ignores General damage and the entire deck is built to keep other creatures off of her back.

I have totally played this deck without any Emerald Rejuvenators, with 3 each of Ironcliffe, Lasting Judgement, and Sun Bloom. Honestly, it’s about the same against most decks, but with the Rejuvenators it does slightly better against the ubiquitous and annoying Midrange Vanar.

 

Big Zero Six

Big Zero Six

 

A relatively minor variation on a classic: Mech Vanar FTW.  Put out a bunch of cheap creatures that are annoying to kill (Jaxi, Wings, Fenrir Warmaster, Twilight Sorcerer) and use them to keep their board low on threats so that you can save your actual spells for the critical removal moments. When the time comes, pop Mechaz0r into Spirit of the Wild for a big burst, or pop Razorback on your mess of annoying minions and facepunch into oblivion.

Against Vetruvian, mulligan/replace like hell for multiple Chromatic/Hailstones and Twilight Sorcerers; everything else will fall into place if you can keep STW off the board. Against midrange Vanar, it’s frequently going to come down to ‘who gets their finisher out first’ — if they can Jax+Razorback before you can either swarm them with Razorback-buffed Mech parts or land MECHAZ0R! + Spirit of the Wild, you might just be screwed.

The ‘tech’ in this deck is Aspect of the Mountains — your opponent will be watching for you to look like you’ve run out of Chromatic Colds and Hailstone Prisons, so if you let them build up a few threats at once, they’ll often pounce. Then you slap a spare Wings down right in the middle of their pile, kill them all with Aspect, and have a big old facepuncher ready for the Razorback and/or Spirit of the Wild the turn after. Pure gold.

I have totally seen this deck with Akari Headhunter x3 in the place of Aspect of the Mountains x2 and Crossbones x1; it’s more aggressive with that build, which a lot of players may like — I prefer the extra late-game turnaround this build has.

 

Everything You Need to Know about the February Update

 

Hey, Duelyrs! I know I promised a post unveiling my decks, but life got busy, and this update changed basically everything, so the post I had like four paragraphs of is now completely obsolete. So let’s talk about what changed and how awesome it all is.

Card Changes:

  • Mist Dragon Seal changed to 2cc.
  • Lantern Fox is now: 3cc. 2/4. Whenever this minion takes damage, but a Phoenix Fire in your Action Bar.

Mist Dragon SealLantern Fox

 

New Cards:

  • Wings of Paradise: 3/3. Flying. Whenever you Replace a card, this minion gains +2 Attack.
  • White Widow: 3/4. Whenever you Replace a card, this minion deals 2 damage to a random enemy minion or General.
  • Dreamgazer: 2/2. When you Replace this card, instead summon it in a random nearby space and your General takes 2 damage.
  • Astral Crusader: 7/6. Whenever you Replace this card, it gains +1/+1 and it’s cc goes down by 1.

 February New Cards

Answers To Your Questions

  • Lantern Fox: Yes, this works from absolutely any source of damage. No, it cannot exceed 6 cards in your Action Bar.
  • Wings of Paradise: Yes, if you have 3 Aethermasters in play and you replace 4 cards that turn, your Wings of Paradise becomes 11/3 flying. No, this isn’t even worth attempting.
  • White Widow: Yes, Aethermaster allows her to deal lots of random damage.
  • Dreamgazer: Yes, Replace-summoning Dreamgazer does actually remove it from your deck just as though you actually summoned it. Yes, this is a good thing.
  • Astral Crusader: Yes, each Astral Crusader does track its own buffs separately from the others. Yes, the buffs are recorded as buffs and can be dispelled. Yes, if you Hailstone Prison an Astral Crusader, it becomes a 7cc 7/6 all over again.

Review:

Mist Dragon Seal: C+ is probably just a tiny bit weak right now, but honestly it’s fine. You wouldn’t want it to be +2/+1, and being +1/+2 is just kind of…not very Songhai. So leaving it alone for flavor reasons is probably actually better.

Lantern Fox: A-…WOW. This card didn’t, in fact, make Arcanysts a thing (sorry), but it DID bring about the rise of Spellhai and enable a very interesting kind of board-control-oriented Tempo Songhai that has always been available, just far inferior to Stabhai. With a low-cost minion that acts as effective card draw and combos well with Frostbone Naga as well as offering another purpose for Bloodtear Alchemist (beyond killing Mini-Jax), Lantern Fox is a significant addition to the Songhai arsenal. (That said, the people who think Dagger Kiri can take over the spot the Fox had in Stabhai…they’re wrong. For a lot of reasons. But that’s a different rant.)

Wings of Paradise: B- Solid budget card. It succeeds where Putrid Mindflayer fails, because it can kill Healing Mystic/Primus Fist without dying right out of the box, and if not dealt with, can take down a much bigger threat like a Veteran Silithar or Silverguard Knight from across the board. That said, it’s only just barely on the border of playable, and probably won’t see much play, even given the (ridiculously unlikely) combo-finisher potential.  Probably most likely to see play in Vetruvian with Cosmic Flesh/Third Wish.

White Widow: C- Probably not worth it. 4 cc for a 3/4 is a big kick in the tempos, and a 50% chance (worst-case) to deliver a huge 2 face damage in exchange for not being able to Replace until after you cast her (which is a much more significant thing than it might seem!) doesn’t make up the difference between her and a Hailstone Golem. IF you can keep an Aethermaster in play, it becomes potentially worthwhile, but that’s not a mistake many people are going to make in the current meta.

Dreamgazer: S- This card is HUGE. HUUUGE. Why? Because for aggro decks, it’s a free body with no effective downside, because they’re gonna kill you before you kill them anyway. For combo decks, it’s like playing with a 36-card deck because it doesn’t get shuffled back in when you Replace it, so it’s basically like “pay 2 life: draw card,” at which point the 2/2 body is just a bonus. For midrange decks, it’s another body with which to manipulate the board, and they universally run 3x Emerald Rejuvinator at the minimum, so the 2 damage is like whatevs. And control decks don’t exist in Duelyst, so that’s literally every deck type that loves this little dude. And it gives your turn-1 Healing Mystics a reason to do their job, which is great!

Astral Crusader: D+ As bad as Dreamgazer is good. There’s just no deck that can consistently survive long enough while consistently keeping a minion (Aethermaster) in play to make Astral Crusader worth yourwhile. Even if you did manage, you would absolutely have to do it in Vanar (for Spirit of the Wild) or Magmar (for Vindicator), because there’s no way this beast isn’t getting hard-removed or dispelled before it takes a single action unless you give it Rush.

The Big Picture

The meta is going to shift a lot in the short run with lots of people experimenting with these new cards — but I think in the long run, the whole Aethermaster theme will filter out as people realize how bad White Widow actually is, and Dreamgazer will be the only card out of this month that will stick around. The exception will be the one or two genuinely decent combo decks that would be running Aethermaster anyway just to get their lethal combos out — they might still tap White Widow occasionally, but even then, it’s dubious at best. In the end, the #1 result of these changes will be this: Welcome back, Tempest!

MECHAZ0R!: 1000 Spirit to Victory!

Greetings, Duelyrs! I’m back with a set of six decks for you today — one for each faction, all based around the idea of summoning MECHAZ0R! If you don’t know, MECHAZ0R! (and yes, his name includes the capitals and exclamation mark) is summoned by successfully playing 5 of his various parts from your hand onto the field. It doesn’t matter which 5 parts you summon — you can build a MECHAZ0rR! out of 3 Heads of MECHAZ0R and 2 Wings of MECHAZ0R (note the lack of exclamation mark in the components’ names).

OK, I’m not going to keep capitalizing that whole name. That just looks atrocious. Let’s skip the annoying extra punctuation as well.

So basically, the idea behind budget Mechaz0r decks is that you summon minions that are really just barely sub-par for their cost, and then all those tiny, tiny tempo losses suddenly flip around when an 8/8 Airdrop Frenzy Ranged Spell-Immune boss monster hits the table. If your opponent can’t deal with it right away, he’s going to fuck shit right the hell up.

But that means that you have to do one of two basic things. You either have to be able to draw more cards than normal so that you can consistently get Mechaz0r out quickly enough to not die due to those tiny tempo losses (harder than it sounds), OR you have to have a deck that can consistently win without ever summoning Mechaz0r despite those tiny tempo hits for summoning just barely sub-par minions.

(ASIDE: What do I mean by ‘sub-par’? Well, consider: for 1 mana, you could summon Komodo Charger, which can kill a Planar Scout and live, or you could summon Maw, which can trade up with a Healing Mystic. Helm of Mechaz0r, while it has the same total number of stats as either one, can’t perform the functions of either one, so it’s just barely less valuable. All of the Mechaz0r minions, with the possible exception of Sword of Mechaz0r, are similar.)

For these decks, I consistently went with the ‘let’s be able to win without Mechaz0r’ plan, because it’s more reliable, which generally means its better for play on the ladder. I also tried to work in a theme of ‘using the Mechaz0r minions more effectively than a random deck would.’ You’ll hopefully see what I mean as we go through the decks.

Note that not all of these decks are equally effective — Mechaz0r just lends itself better to some factions than others. In particular, the Songhai Mechaz0r deck just wrecks face. None of them are particularly bad, but Songhai definitively outshines the others (at least, at this amount of Spirit.)

So, here we go!

Temp0z0r! 

1000 Spirit Lyonar Mechz0r Deck

Rares: Cannon of Mechaz0r (x2), Sword of Mechaz0r

Commons: Helm of Mechaz0r, Wings of Mechaz0r, Suntide Maiden, Sun Bloom (x2)

This deck is designed to seize the board fairly early with Lyonar’s sweet supply of super-efficient minions and cheap removal. Focus on the enemy’s minions for the first few turns, so that any Martyrdoms you draw can just be played off-hand because the enemy will have taken minimal damage.

As you get into the midgame, don’t hesitate to use Wings of Mechaz0r either to drop a Cannon off in a far corner, or to just plop down right in the middle of an enemy cluster. If they have any experience at all playing against Holy Immolation, you’ll be surprised at how big of a priority that 2-drop will become. Really, though, the midgame for this deck is all about Suntide Maiden.

When properly supported with well-placed Provoke units (and maybe even a little cover fire from a Cannon), Suntide Maiden becomes a value machine — basically a Phoenix Fire on wheels, dealing 3 damage every turn and healing up what she takes from dealing it. Because Provokes absolutely require an answer immediately, they can be used to extract some insane value from the Maiden — and if they prove to have no answer to a Silverguard Knight, it’s a great time to drop Divine Bond and make her a 9/6 stupidly-tough-to-kill death monster.

Then, while your opponent is busy dealing with the problems your Cannons and Maidens and Provokes are jamming into their faces…ooops, out comes Mechaz0r!  Ideally, this deck wants to drop Mechaz0r closeby, threatening a huge Frenzy in the middle of your knot of Provokes and whatnot. That’s because, if it gets Dispelled, you can drop Divine Bond on it and facepunch for 16. That feels good. Really good.

The backup plan, of course, is ye old Brightmoss Golem + Divine Bond for a 13/9 beast of a finisher.

The hardest card for this deck to properly use is Tempest — Tempest is basically there to help you deal with other high-tempo decks who are managing to keep your board clear despite your best efforts. Freely Replace them if you’re owning the board properly; if you’re struggling for board control, Replace everything BUT Tempests and Mechaz0r units, and trickle out the parts until you can Tempest-Tempest-Part and wipe his board and summon Mechaz0r all at once. That’s a really nice way to get tempo back and keep it.

Improving This Deck: Replace Brightmoss Golem with Ironcliffe Defender, Suntide Maiden with Emerald Rejuvinator, and Tempest with Holy Immolation. That’ll keep you in the game through Rank 5 easy.

Mechassassinati0n!

1000 Spirit Songhai Mechaz0r

Rares: Sword of Mechaz0r, Cannon of Mechaz0r (x2)

Commons: Helm of Mechaz0r, Wings of Mechaz0r, Killing Edge, Scarlet Viper (x2)

This deck is so combo-riffic, it’s coming out the deck’s ears. You’ve got the classic Songhai stuff you’ve been playing with for a while now. You’ve also got Wings+Cannon/Vale Hunter to drop a ranged unit in the corner far from battle without distraction, Cannon/Vale Hunter + Killing Edge for a brutal ranged minion if they dare let a ranged unit live for a turn, Inner Focus + Sword of Mechazor for an instant pseudo-Holy Immolation, and of course Mist Dragon Seal to ensure that a Mechaz0r! that got dispelled on the other side of the board can become instantly relevant again.

This deck wants to spend it’s early turns doing three things, in order of priority: 1) Keeping the enemy’s board as clear as possible, 2) Vomiting Mecha-minions as quickly as possible, and 3) Looking for combo pieces (Inner Focus, Mist Dragon Seal, and Killing Edge). If you can do something to remove an enemy minion, do that. If not, Replace something looking for a Mecha minion. If you don’t get one, play whatever isn’t a combo piece in the most effective manner you can.

In the midgame, try to stick a Ranged creature far from the main battle (this means trying to deliberately lure the battle to one side or the other unless the opponent is Vanar. Then stick to the middle as much as possible to minimize both Avalanche and Infiltrate.) If you have a Ranged creature, you’re awesome — Saberspine Tiger and Killing Edge become godly removal. Both of your ranged creatures can trade with a Mini-Jax and survive, which is clutch in this Jaxi-heavy environment.

If you can’t stick a ranged creature, shift gears and try to stick a Backstab that you can then Killing Edge to cycle and create a big-ass threat. Note that because Scarlet Viper has flying, you want to drop her on the far side of the field as well.

Eventually, you’ll pop Mechaz0r — and ideally, you’ll do it on the same turn that you drop another serious threat like a Cannon or a Scarlet Viper. The larger the fork you can cause in your opponent’s attention, the more likely you are to win — if that means waiting a turn so that you can drop Scarlet Viper and that last Helm on the same turn, do it. Tempo is not as important as dropping an overwhelming number and variety of threats at once — and the threats in this deck are threatening enough that often that overwhelming number is “two.”

The backup plan here is Scarlet Viper + Killing Edge. If your opponent deals well with Mechaz0r and plays wisely with a high-health creature behind him at all times, Replace for a Repulsor Beast and use it to get inside his defenses. An effectively 10/7 attacker that doesn’t take counterattacks is stupidly hard to deal with, but it only works when she’s backstabbing, so do your best to keep her in that position.

This deck’s big weakness is drawing a bunch of low-tempo cards in the early game (Vale Hunter, Repulsor Beast, Cannon) and getting overwhelmed by a high-tempo start from the opponent. That does happen, but it doesn’t happen all that often. Just keep off tilt, reload, and dominate the next guy.

Improving This Deck: Replace Vale Hunters with Jaxis, the Saberspine Tigers with Gore Horns, and eventually the Repulsor Beasts with Juxtapositions and the Scarlet Vipers with Lantern Foxes. (Get the foxes first; juxtapositions are less important.) This is easily an S-Rank deck if you keep up with it all the way up.

Mechartillery

1000 Spirit Vetruvian Mechaz0r

Rares: Sword of Mechaz0r, Cannon of Mechaz0r (x2)

Commons: Helm of Mechaz0r, Wings of Mechazor, Starfire Scarab, Bone Storm (x2)

This deck is a little bit less reliable than the first two because of the fundamental necessity of low-level Vetruvian play: the cardset essentially forces your General up to the front (for Entropic Decay and the cheap, strong Staff of Y’kir) and your best minions (Starfire Scarab, Pyromancer) are best suited for the rear — which means you take face damage. A lot. This deck mitigates that by playing Rock Pulverizer and Cosmic Flesh, both of which are cheap sources of Provoke — able to draw fire away from your General and keep enemies from closing in on your Blast/Ranged minions at the same time.

The secondary theme here is buffs — almost every Mecha Part is massively better after you slap a First Wish on it. A 3/3 Cannon and 4/4 Sword can take out a much greater number of enemies than their unbuffed counterparts; a 2/5 Wings and a 3/3 Helm each threaten 6 points of face damage instead of only 2. With Cosmic Flesh and Wings, you can drop a 2/7 Provoke anywhere on the board with no warning — that’s huge, especially if you’ve managed to get your opponent to blow some early removal on a Pyromancer/Cannon or two. Generally speaking, you’re better off using the buffs on your non-Blast minions unless you absolutely need to in order to remove an annoying enemy minion. What you very much don’t want is to use First Wish on a Pyromancer and then have it and an unbuffed Cannon both die to the same Tempest/Breath of the Unborn/Kinetic Equilibrium.

In the early game, you want to advance and fight hard for the Mana Springs — mulligan for Pyro/Wings/Rocky — and try to set yourself up to drop either a 2nd turn Hailstone or a 3rd turn Scarab. Keep your General toward the middle of the board, and use Wings to drop Blast minions and Cannons toward the back, with Provokes in between. Use your First Wishes liberally, but preferably on Parts.

In the midgame, you want to keep your opponent’s attention divided between your threatening General and a constant rain of Blast and Ranged minions on your back row — with Provokes forcing his attention away from both occasionally. The more  removal he is forced to use either freeing his units from Provoke or killing off your ranged stuff, the better off you are when Mechaz0r lands. Just watch your life total and constantly count how much damage he has within range of your face — you have no healing and your strategy requires you to use your General as one of the distractions, so you will die to face burst occasionally. This will become a lot less of a deal once you can invest a few hundred more Spirit in the deck; until then, get used to being paranoid. It’s a skill that will help you a lot in the long run anyway.

The backup plan for this deck is more complex than the others — setting up a Starfire Scarab behind a Cosmic Fleshed Hailstone Golem. Especially if you’ve managed to summon Mechaz0r and your opponent has had to expend some decent resources to cope with it, a setup like that can easily become Game Over for most Bronze and some Silver-league decks.

This deck’s huge gaping weakness is AoE dispels. A Sun Bloom or Lightbender will just screw your entire day right over. (Shadow Nova mostly will, too.) Unfortunately, there’s not a lot you can do to mitigate this except by summoning Mechazor on the opposite side of the field from your artillery units.

Improving This Deck: Replace Hailstone Golems with Emerald Rejuvinators, Ephemeral Shroud with Dispel Energy, then one Entropic Decay and one Rock Pulverizers with two Wildfire Ankhs, and eventually, the other two Rock Pulverizers with Scion’s Third Wish. This deck should get you up to Rank 5, but it will take more practice and patience than the others.

Facialz0r!

1000 Spirit Abyssian Mechz0r

Rares: Sword of Mechaz0r, Cannon of Mechaz0r (x2)

Commons: Helm of Mechaz0r, Wings of Mechaz0r, Nightsorrow Assassin, Shadow Reflection (x2)

Yes, Virgina, Mechaz0r does go face. This deck is designed to do one of the things that Abyssian does best — burst damage. Mulligan out all of the Saberspines, Shadow Reflections, and Nightsorrow Assassins; those are for later. Start with your basic cheap minions — if you can land a Helm and an Abyss Crawler on turn 1, do it! Play through the early game as though you’re a pretty typical deck, using your Demonic Lures to earn a couple of turns by throwing minions into the far corners and planting your various minions around so they can hit as much face as possible.

Ideally, during the midgame, you’ll be able to use Shadow Reflection on either a Cannon to wipe out a big creature safely or on a Sword to clear the enemy’s board. Either way, it’s OK to use the first Reflection as a control stick if you need to in order to keep going face. There’s no shame in that. (Do remember that you have 3 Ephemeral Shrouds, though, and don’t waste a big nuke on a Kolossus or something that you might be able to Shroud on the next turn.) Keep going face, but if you draw a Rush minion, pretend you didn’t draw it, and wait.

Hopefully, you can summon Mechaz0r with at least a couple of rush minions in your hand. If you’re playing against Lyonar, or there’s no corner of the board the opponent couldn’t get to by chaining a Saberspine into an Ephemeral Shroud, summon the big guy right in the middle of things (just not where he’ll get eaten before he attacks.) Otherwise, summon him in ranged mode. Either way, the turn after you summon him, carefully count your lethal — chances are good that your opponent isn’t quite panicking, so he won’t go full healing/run away mode, and that will be his undoing. 8 from Mechaz0r and 8/11 more from Saberspine+Nightsorrow or Nightsorrow+Reflection will finish off most opponents with relative ease.

As with all face decks, your weakness is healing: if your opponent gets off 2 Emerald Rejuvenators and an Earth Sphere, you’re kinda of up a creek unless Mechazor really sticks. That’s when you start cycling like crazy looking for your backup plan: Abyssal Creepers to suicide, chained into a pair of Shadow Novas. If the game is going long enough that it looks like your opponent will recover, Shadow Novas can eek out 12-18 damage all by themselves, in an unpreventable and AoE fashion — if you can live that long.

Mechontr0l!

1000 Spirit Magmar Mechz0r

Rares: Sword of Mechaz0r, Cannon of Mechaz0r (x2)

Commons: Helm of Mechaz0r, Wings of Mechaz0r, Veteran Silithar, Diretide Frenzy (x2)

A “control” deck with only 5 spells? Welcome to Duelyst, my friend. There is no such thing as a traditional control deck in Duelyst, because there’s no real way to stem the tide of oncoming creatures when the enemy can draw 2/replace 1. The effective equivalent of a ‘control’ deck is a midrange deck that is built around wiping the board occasionally, which thus allows it the opportunity for some facetime in the midgame in addition to when it finishes off the opponent. (Maybe that’ll be a post soon. Why control in Duelyst isn’t.)

Anyway, this deck relies almost entirely on the the Mech Parts to skate past the early game. In fact, there are only 9 2cc-or-below minions in the deck, which is fairly risky. If you have 9 2cc minions, even if you mulligan for everything you have, you’re still going to start about 10% of your games with no 2-cost minions in hand, which can really screw you if you’re player 1 and the enemy has a strong tempo start. (Bump that number of 2-cc-or-less minions up to 12, and your chances of getting a poor start like that drop to less than 5%, which is about what you would normally want to shoot for.)

But! This deck aims to make up for its occasional crappy start by stepping powerfully into the game with a combination of big, tough-to-kill minions (Bloodshard Golem, Veteran Silithar, Brightmoss Golem, Stormmetal Golem) and the best board wipe in the game: Plasma Storm. Just in case Plasma Storm doesn’t come up, though, you have Sword of Mechaz0r and Diretide Frenzy to clear some space until you can draw your big wipe. Just do remember to suicide all of your Mech Parts into something before you wipe, though, ok?

Seemingly-innocent cards that have to be used carefully:

  • Cannon of Mechaz0r: don’t drop this unless you have just wiped his board, or you’re going to summon Mechaz0r when you do, or not dropping it will kill you. There’s nothing demoralizing like dropping Wings+Cannon way out of reach and then getting swarmed and having to wipe your own Cannon.
  • Saberspine Tiger: If you’re playing against a swarm deck, keep one of these in your hand so you can pair it with Diretide Frenzy for an unpleasant surprise.
  • Adamantite Claws: If you’re playing against a deck that plays big creatures, you’re going to need this to remove them. Watch your HP carefully, and be surgical. If you’re playing against any form of face deck, equip these and go face with your face — racing them down is easier than trying to play the control game.
  • Stormmetal Golem: Ideally, you’ll be able to set up a situation where you can summon Mechaz0r on one turn and then this on the next, or vice versa, or (bonus!) both of them on the same turn. This is the kind of serial threat that ends games hard.

This deck’s big weakness, as is probably obvious after the Adamantite Claws comment, is other decks playing big huge creatures. Fortunately, that becomes a lot less common after about rank 15…unfortunately, after rank 15, the ones that do get played are often far more lethal (Spectral Revenant, Archon Spellbinder, Keeper of the Vale, Elder Silithar…yeah.) Unfortunately, you just don’t have the Spirit necessary at this point to equip the solutions — but see the next section.

Improving This Deck: Swap out the Bloodshard Golems for Emerald Rejuvinators, and 1x Adamantine Claws/2x Diretide Frenzy for 3x Egg Morph. Then trade the Brightmoss Golems for Dancing Swords, and the Saberspine Tigers for Alcuin Loremasters. Finally, upgrade your Stormmetal Golems to Elder Silithar (and optionally  your other 2 Adamantine Claws to Metamorphosis) and you have a deck that will take you to S-rank with some effort. (Without all the upgrades, don’t expect to get past rank 5, and that will take some serious dedication.)

Nukaz0r!

1000 Spirit Vanar Mechaz0r

Rares: Sword of Mechaz0r, Cannon of Mechaz0r (x2)

Commons: Helm of Mechaz0r, Wings of Mechaz0r, Hailstone Prison, Cryogenesis (x2)

This deck is the very definition of ‘midrange’. Some games, you will get a slower start more filled with removal than with creatures; others, you’ll get a handful of creatures and be cycling frantically for that much-needed Aspect/Chromatic/Hailstone to deal with the enemy’s turn-1 Silverguard Knight or their buffed Mini-Jax in the far corner. You have to be adaptable — but that also means that, with this deck, nothing is ever really lost until that last point of damage is dealt. I’ve come back from a 2-24 HP deficit to win not once, but twice with this deck — because all it takes is one instance of you being able to clear their board while having something left on yours, and you can use your huge amount of removal and fat Golems to keep them from developing a threat ever again. (Note: This doesn’t apply to Songhai or Abyssian. Or some Vetruvian decks. Rush is a bitch.)

You have almost a dozen single-target removal spells that have powerful secondary effects attached to them, but removing creatures at a rate of one-for-one isn’t really a winning strategy — you need to be able to get ahead at some point. This happens in one of two ways.

  1. They make a huge play that costs a lot of mana but can be removed with one card (i.e Songhai Tusk Boar–>Inner Focus–>Killing Edge–>Mist Dragon Seal, and you take it out with one Chromatic Cold and a general attack; or Abyssian sacrifices a token to Ritual Banishing and plays a turn 2 Brightmoss Golem, which you hit with Hailstone Prision and also nab a Mana Spring and put down a Fenrir Warmaster.) OR
  2. You stick a creature that takes out more than one of his creatures before it dies, thus creating the x-for-1 advantage that your spells can’t. Brightmoss Golem and Hailstone Golem are the obvious ones, but Fenrir Warmaster is also insanely good at this, and Cannon of Mechaz0r can contribute as well.

Because of the potential extremes in hand content, it’s really tough to write a play guide for this deck, because it really amounts to “Constantly pitch anything you can’t play this turn unless you’re sure you can make use of it next turn, and be ever-vigilant for the two scenarios mentioned above.” Your goal is to gain advantage incrementally, not to try to overwhelm them — put down your Mech Parts first if you just need to cast a couple of things in order to make use of your draw2, but keep your opponent’s geography-based spells in mind and don’t hesitate to cast them outside of their range even if it looks like they won’t be immediately relevant (IF you’re already ahead enough on the board that you’re feeling confident. If not, of course, go for whatever it takes to catch up!)

Ideally, you’ll slap down Mechaz0r within one turn in either direction of a Stormmetal or Brightmoss, with the Golem ending up in their face and the Mechaz0r ending up at range so that they have the worst possible kind of ‘fork’ to deal with.

This deck’s backup plan is exactly what it looks like: keep piling on Golems until they run out of ways to deal with them, and bury them in living rubble.

The deck has a ridiculously hard time against Face Abyssian and against Backstab Songhai — both of those use their resources in one turn, and with fairly extreme mobility, so it’s really tough to make use of your removal in a decent fashion. The best tips are to (against Songhai) keep a Fenrir at your back, and (against Abyssian) do your damnedest to cast the biggest on-curve threat in their face every turn and hope to race them down.

Improving This Deck: Replace Hailstone Golem with Emerald Rejuvinator. Then replace Cryogenesis with Spirit of the Wild. Then replace Crystal Cloaker with Jaxi, then Brightmoss Golem with Twilight Sorcerer. Finally, replace Aspect of the Fox with Razorback (yep!) and, ultimately, replace Stormmetal Golem with either Ancient Grove or Voice of the Wild. Fully improved, this is easily a Rank 5 deck and might, depending on the meta that season, take you to S-rank. In it’s original state, it would be a real stretch to take Rank 5, but it will easily get you into Gold League.

 

Man, my posts are getting longer and longer. I need to calm down. XD  Next time, at request, I’ll show y’all the decks that I’m currently playing with. Until then, have fun, summon Mechz0r, and keep on Duelying!

 

 

Tempo: What it Means in Duelyst

WARNING: Wall of Text Ahead. Do not operate heavy machinery while reading this post. Void where prosecuted. All writes reversed. This warning brought to you by Mini-Jax. Mini-Jax: The Donut That Bites Back!

Tempo is a hard enough concept to describe in a simple game like Hearthstone where positioning is almost nil. In Duelyst, there’s an entire second layer to tempo. But I’m getting ahead of myself. In order to properly talk about tempo, we have to start with a more fundamental concept: the value chain.

The Value Chain
Cards start in your Deck. By Drawing, you move them to your Bar. By Summoning, you move them to the Board. By Moving, you bring them (when necessary) to the Fight. And by Swinging, you deal Damage.  The ultimate goal, of course, being to build 25 Damage on the enemy General.  (Spells, naturally, have effects on all stages of this chain, but 99% of games are won by minions on the board, with spells as elements that swing, but rarely win, a game.)

So the Value Chain looks like this:

 

DeckDraw-> BarSummon-> BoardMove-> FightSwing-> Damage.

 

So, how does this relate to Tempo? Simple enough — the deck that currently ‘has the Tempo’ is the deck that is moving cards down the value chain more effectively than the opponent.  There’s a lot of writing on the Interwebs about how Tempo is basically “the initiative” — the player who is on the offense, deciding which minions Swing at what rather than the one being swung at against his will — but the truth is that, if you’ve moved your cards down the value chain more effectively than your opponent, you will be that player.

In Hearthstone, this is simply a matter of “establishing greater board presence” followed by “having a board presence that resists your enemy’s attempts to remove it,” which is why Paladin (Shielded Minibot, Muster to Battle) and Mage (Flamewaker, Frost Bolt) are the Tempo classes in Hearthstone — one whips out phenomenal hard-to-remove minions, the other removes minions cheaply enough to put down other minions at the same time. But in Duelyst, there’s an entire second layer to tempo — board position.

See, in Duelyst, it’s fully possible to have a huge board presence that is simply irrelevant because it’s too far away from the fight to Swing at anything. Or, more often, it’s fully possible that the player that is “on the offense” — that in Hearthstone would fully be “the one with the Tempo” — is forced because of clever positioning or Provoke or other factors to attack inefficiently.

In Hearthstone, there is no ‘retreat.’  In Duelyst, there are entire factions (at least one) that can barely win a fight without retreating. So in Duelyst, a big part of Tempo is being able to play your minions in such a way that they are — and remain — relevant to the fight. This is why pinning your opponent to the side of the board with a Bonechill Barrier and two Snowchasers is often a game-winning move for a Vanar. It’s also why Songhai can win games by running away just as often as it wins games by charging face — because the simple act of moving your General can stall out your opponent’s Tempo for a couple of turns, and that’s sometimes all Songhai needs to whip out a lethal combo. Which means that there are a couple of layers of depth behind Tempo decks in Duelyst that there simply aren’t in Hearthstone.

How to Build a Deck with Tempo in Mind
In Hearthstone, a ‘tempo’ deck is simply one that is devoted to maximizing board presence. Every card should be oriented toward either accelerating your own board presence or destroying your opponent’s board presence. No draw, no face-only DD spells, no dinking about. Just build a big, sticky board and crush face.

In Duelyst, because of the draw-2 and Replace mechanics, you can afford to be just slightly more loose with your focus. For example, you can run a pair of Scion’s Second Wishes in a Tempo deck, because the likelihood that you’ll see both at once is slim, and even if you do (and you don’t want to cast them yet), you can Replace one. In fact, it’s beneficial to your Tempo to have access to a few (1-3) draw effects, because Tempo decks tend to run lots of lower-cc minions and thus run out of steam much faster than decks that play 5+cc minions regularly.

But unlike Hearthstone, merely drawing and playing a unit isn’t enough to guarantee that it’s relevant to the fight, because placement is also a concern. If you drop a Flash Incarnationed Unstable Leviathan on Turn 5 and then get it Daemonic Lured to the other side of the board, you just effectively failed to summon that unit until turn 7 or 8. That’s why it’s also beneficial to your Tempo to have access to just a couple of mobility effects when they’re convenient.  If you’re Songhai, you run Mist Dragon Seal. If you’re Lyonar, you run like 1 or maybe 2 Magnetism. If you’re Vanar, you run Hearth Sister. If you’re Vetruvian, you run Scion’s Third Wish so that moving a minion instead of removing it becomes a lethal mistake. (You don’t ever run Astral Phasing.)  If you’re Magmar or Abyssian…well, you could run Ghost Lynx, but more likely you just suck it up and hope you can lure the opponent toward the middle of the board.

Assuming they’re not already in your deck for other reasons (i.e. Mist Dragon Seal, Scion’s Third Wish), you now have at most 5 deckslots taken up: 3 draw effects and 2 mobility effects. Your other 34 cards should be efficient minions and efficient removal, tilted fairly strongly toward minions, and adhering to a fairly low mana curve. I’m not going to offer any specific advice because every faction, playstyle, and individual deck is and should be different, but I’ll tell you this much: I never ever ever build a Tempo-style deck with less than:

  • 12x 2-drops
  • 8x 3-drops

Here’s why:

Striking the Mana Balance
In Hearthstone, there are Tempo decks that run cards up to 7 and 8 cc (Boom and Fordring). But in Hearthstone, you only draw one card per turn. In Duelyst, you draw 2, and you cap out at 9 mana. Because your goal is to move down that chain to the “swing at face” point as quickly as possible, you want to keep casting everything every turn (even when you do play the occasional draw card.) But you also want to be able to get as close to spending all of your cores as possible every turn, because unspent cores essentially amount to ‘wasted Tempo potential.’

This means that you generally want a Tempo-oriented Duelyst deck to peak out around 5cc, with a few 4cc as well so that you can, optimally, drop a 4cc and a 5cc card on 9 mana. Mostly, though, you want 2- and 3-drops so that you have a high chance of dropping something on turn 1, and because 2- and 3-drops together can easily fill up your first five turns (2-6 cores) with 2 cards per turn with no net card loss (and thus no effective punishment for overextending.)

(Sidenote: This is the major reason why it’s so hard to balance board clears in Duelyst. In Hearthstone, the dramatically higher hand size means that Tempo decks benefit by not playing cards once they’ve achieved a modestly reasonable board. In Duelyst, Tempo decks basically have to overextend, because if they don’t, they reach the point where their hand is full on the third turn, tops. This means that board clears are very nearly as devastating to Tempo-oriented decks as they are to Face-oriented decks, which in turn makes them very difficult to position in a space where they can be relevant without being OP. Adding another 1-2 slots to the Action bar would go a long way toward making Control decks more conceivable and toward allowing Tempo decks to refrain from overextending in the face of a board clear — which would, in turn, make it more reasonable to have decent board clears. The fact that right now literally every AoE except Holy Immolation does 2 or less damage is just…sad.)

The Best Cheap Tempo Minions
The makings of good cheap tempo minions are simple:

  • It should have good, if not great, stats for its cost. (1cc: 4 stats; 2cc: 5 stats, 3cc: 7 stats, 4cc: 9 stats, 5cc: 13 stats. Generally speaking, tempo decks don’t want to cast minions above 5cc because it’s too easy to love titanic amounts of board presence to a single removal if you invest in an Dragonbone Golem or an Archon Spellbinder.)
  • Those stats should be geared toward either a more-or-less even distribution, to ensure a good balance between resisting removal and successfully removing. Exception: sufficiently cheap cards (1-2cc) can be heavily skewed towards attack for the purpose of enabling a ‘trade up,’ taking out his 3-4cc minion with your 1-2cc minion so you have come cc left over to play other things.
  • If it has a secondary effect, that effect should either remove the opponent’s cards, move them backwards along the value chain, or accelerate your own cards’ progress down the value chain.
  • It should be independently strong, and if it’s going to combo, the combo should take it from ‘independently strong’ to ‘freaking amazing.’ For example, Primus Fist is independently strong at 2/3 for 2, and Orb Weaver is independently strong at 4/4 for 3. Together, they can create 15 for 5, which is a HUGE pile of stats for the cost.

 

This means that the Basic and Common high-Tempo Neutrals are:

  • 1cc: Maw
  • 2cc: Healing Mystic, Primus Fist, Jaxi
  • 3cc: Saberspine Tiger, Bloodshard Golem (cheapest creature that is immune to both Plasma Storm and Tempest/Breath of the Unborn/Mana Burn)
  • 4cc: Hailstone Golem, Thorn Needler
  • 5cc: Brightmoss Golem, Dancing Swords

Honorable Mention goes to Rock Pulverizer, Helm of Mechazor, and Ash Mephyt. (I know Ash Mephyt gets a bad rap, but it’s amazing how much stronger it feels now that Plasma Storm and Tempest have been nerfed!)

So if you’re going to start learning the Tempo game early on in Duelyst, you’d do well to pack your deck with several of those and then put in other high-tempo faction-specific minions like:

  • Lyonar: Windblade Adept, Silverguard Knight (high stats for cost),
  • Songhai: Jade Monk (solid stats w/useful special), Phoenix Fire (cheap spot removal)
  • Vetruvian: Bone Swarm (cheap AoE), Starfire Scarab (cheap repeating AoE).
  • Abyssian: Grasp of Agony (cheap AoE), Gloomchaser (stats + # of bodies)
  • Magmar: Young Silithar (stats), Phalanxar (stats!), Adamantite Claws (cheap repeating removal)
  • Vanar: Fenrir Warmaster (stats!), Cloaked Creeper (stats), Snowpiercer (cheap repeating removal), Hailstone Prison (return something expensive for a big Tempo boost).

Then, add some solid faction removal spells. There are almost no bad removal spells in Duelyst, at least from a tempo perspective. Ghost Lightning possibly the worst. Oh, wait — there’s Deathstrike Seal. Yeah, you don’t want to use a ‘removal’ that is going to cost you more cards than it costs them, and frequently, Deathstrike Seal is something you slap down on a minion that is otherwise worthless so it can trade into their Emerald Rejuvinator or whatever. That’s strict card disadvantage. Compare that to killing the same creature with your creature plus a Twin Strike — you draw a card to compensate for the Twin Strike, and you get a spare 2 damage on their other creature at the same time.

Optionally (but it’s a good idea), add in just a few cards that allow you to draw, preferably immediately and preferably while doing something else at the same time and/or being free:

  • Lyonar: Lionheart’s Blessing (free, draws immediately if you attack just after casting it)
  • Songhai: Killing Edge (draws while adding HUGELY to board presence, but conditional)
  • Vetruvian: Scion’s First Wish (cheap, adds to board presence while drawing)
  • Abyssian: Rite of the Undervault, sadly, is the best they have, but you could also go Magmar style without any real
  • Magmar: Just play a slightly higher curve than other Tempo decks and let the D2R1 do it’s job.
  • Vanar: Cryogenesis (draws while removing enemy board presence — win/win!)
  • Neutral: Don’t even bother with Void Hunter.

Also note the single card in the game that serves as both mobility-enabling and as a draw effect:

  • Lyonar: Arial Rift (Airdrop anything, draw a card, dirt cheap)

 

And (only if there are open deckslots after everything else is accounted for) you run one or two of the mobility-developing cards mentioned earlier (Magnetize, Mist Dragon Seal, Third Wish, Hearth Sister).

What About Buff Spells?
In general, Tempo decks want to avoid buff spells. Buff spells are removed when the creature ‘wearing’ them is removed, which makes it super-easy for your opponent to use one card that he has moved down the value chain to remove two cards that you have moved down the value chain — and your cards have usually moved even further down the chain than his one, since removal is cast from hand and creatures have to swing from a relevant place on the board. That’s just too much of a setback to invest in.

UNLESS, that is, your buff spell comes with some other usefulness attached. For example, Scion’s First Wish also acts as a draw effect. Scion’s Third Wish stands in for a mobility effect and an AoE removal. Diretide Frenzy stands in for an AoE removal.  And buffs like Shadow Reflection and Saberspine Seal can easily be used as finishers — you don’t need to worry about tempo if your current action is going to win the game! Just keep the finishers to a small amount — 1, maybe 2 — or you’ll end up in the same situation as with Deathstrike Seal, above.

Conditional Cards and Tempo
Also, buff spells are conditional: they’re worthless if you don’t have a minion to cast them on. Tempo decks loathe conditional cards, because they’re difficult to move down the value chain. This is why War Surge isn’t a good Tempo card — because if your opponent is effectively keeping your board clear, you’ll never cast it, and it’ll just sit there like dookie in the street. Stinking.  Compare this to Razorback, where the stats for Razorback if cast with just one other creature in play are 9 for 4 — not quite ideal, but good enough that I wouldn’t hesitate to put a Razorback or three in a strong Tempo deck.  (Similarly, Divine Bond is not a good Tempo card. Sorry, Lyonar.)

Weaknesses of Tempo Decks
Tempo decks feel strong, like barreling your opponent down in a freight train. But they aren’t without their weaknesses. Tempo relies a lot on momentum, and if your opponent ever firmly shatters that momentum (What do you mean, Makantor Warbeast!??!), it can feel nearly impossible to get it back. Also, Tempo decks rely on board control to keep the opponent from hurting you, not packing a lot by way of healing because those cards don’t contribute to the Tempo effort. This means that decks that just kill you from the hand (What do you mean,Triple Nightsorrow Assassin?!!?) can finish you off despite your apparent immanent victory. Don’t let those moments get you on tilt — this is Duelyst. Everything is OP.

 

 

Wow, that was hella longer than I had expected. Hopefully, y’all have a better understanding of the idea of Tempo, and how to keep Tempo in mind while you’re building a deck in the game of Duelyst. Next time, I’ll have a fun post — a set of 1000-spirit Mechaz0r! decks for every faction and some advice on what makes a good Mechaz0r! deck.

Until then, keep on Duelying!