[This post is no longer relevant, as Duelyst has changed significantly since it was made. Please see this post for the updated version.]
In most games, ‘pauper’ decks are defined as ‘decks without cards above Rare.’ Well, at this point in Duelyst, there are enough really super brand new players that I feel like ‘pauper’ needs to really be something you could build that is
- Better than your starter deck, but,
- Something you could build by disenchanting a single Legendary.
Now, because disenchanting a single Legendary will net you 440 Spirit (due to the +90 Spirit bonus for disenchanting your first card), I thought I might start there. Then, I decided I’d be happy just going with 360 — nine common cards among a stack of all basics. Let’s see what that can get you:
Lyonar’s “Super Starter” Pauper
Commons Added: Azurite Lion, Frostbone Naga, Primus Fist (x3 each)
The Lyonar pauper you see here plays more -or-less exactly like the starter deck, only better. You play lots of small, efficient minions, and you have six cards to buff them with: 3 War Surge, and 3 Primus Fist. That’s a lot of swarm power. Ideally, while your opponent is dealing with that, you can get a Brightmoss Golem or Hailstone Golem to stick and then Divine Bond-facepunch for 13 or 10 damage respectively — a solid finisher.
The deck also features Frostbone Naga, a crowd-clearing card that makes life a little easier against Abyssian right off, and can help your weenies more handily take down a small group of midrange creatures. Just be careful, because the Naga hits your stuff, too, and while most of the creatures in the deck have 3+ HP on their faces, you don’t want to go wasting them — that’s what lets them punch face once and keep sticking around next turn. 🙂
Songhai’s “Backstab Combo” Pauper
Commons Added: Ancestral Divination, Killing Edge, Scarlet Viper (x3 Each)
The ‘combos’ in the Songhai pauper are “Ancestral Divination + Cheap Creatures = Cycle Through Mad Cards” and “Scarlet Viper with Killing Edge is a Sick-Ass Machine of Doom and Also Cycles.” Don’t be afraid to use Killing Edge on a Kaido Assassin in the early game if you can sneak in a big hit or two, though, but do try to save them for the Backstab minions unless the advantage you get by putting them on a normal is just too good.
The crucial question here are the Repulsor Beasts. On the one hand, 3 mana for a 2/2 is really miserable tempo, and there are times when they just evit the inevitable and you die anyway, just 2 turns later. But I’ve had enough foes play “backs to the backs to the backs to the wall” that I’ve learned to love Repulsors. Move a minion, stab a minion, kill a minion, enjoy the 2 bonus damage from the Beast just for fun.
Vetruvian’s “Dervish” Pauper
Commons Added: Dunecaster, Orb Weaver, Windstorm Obelisk (x3 each)
The Vetruvian pauper‘s theme of Dervish-based awesomeness begins with a few Common cards that work together to allow for pretty intense board presence pretty quickly. While the +1 Health from the Windstorm Obelisk isn’t anywhere near as great as the +1 attack you can get from the Rare Fireblaze Obelisk, it’s sure fine to spend 3 mana on 2 2/3 Orb Weavers! The Dunecasters you can use on the Orb Weavers in a pinch, but they’re significantly better for your board presence when they can get a ‘normal’ Dervish to stick around.
This deck relies on a ton of low-cost creatures with the draw from the Scion’s Wishes to keep pumping them out. Ideally, you’ll have a back row with Pyromancers, a middle row with Obelisks and Rock Pulverizers to keep hits off the Obelisks, and a front row including your General so you can bust out some Entropic Decay shenanigans. The Planar Scouts are there for first-turn Mana Spring denial, but just as much for dropping a clutch Ephemeral Shroud/Saberspine Tiger in the enemy’s back row to cut off a threat before it’s realized.
Abyssian’s “Burstdown” Pauper
Commons Added: Shadow Reflection, Void Pulse, Nightsorrow Assassin (x3 each)
This deck can play a lot like Abyssian’s starter deck, only with moments when you have a card or two in your hand that you don’t want to play immediately. Or, you can play it as it should be played: as a SMOrc! Go face, and then go face, and then go face again. Don’t forget that Shadow Reflection is a permanent buff — so an active Brightmoss Golem is just as good, if not better, a target as Nightsorrow Assassin.
In general, you want to be right up in the opponent’s face (unless they equip an attack-buffing artifact), using your limited number of Demonic Lures and Ephemeral Shrouds to remove any defensive obstacles they put up, and waiting for the magic moment where a Soulshatter Pact, Shadow Reflection, or Void Pulse can win you the game. That said, if you are forced to run for your life, don’t give up — the deck’s midgame is surprisingly solid given it’s playstyle.
Magmar’s “Midrange” Pauper
Commons Added: Young Silithar, Veteran Silithar, Dagger Kiri (x3 each)
This deck is all about maximizing your cheap buffs. It WILL die to an opponent that has a decent supply of Dispel effects, but that’s just a risk you take. Between Great Fortitude and Primordial Gazer, you have six +2/+2 buffs to hand out, and some great targets to hand them out to. Vale Hunter becomes a frightening turn-1 (off the draw) beast with Great Fortitude. Saberspine Tiger can drop, get buffed, hit the enemy’s face for 5, and still sit next to him threatening everything. But the dream, of course, is sticking a Dagger Kiri.
In fact, the main reason to run the Silithar in this deck is that they do an excellent job of eating removal, which you’re going to want them to do because if they don’t, the Dagger Kiri will vanish before it can act. Sticking it and following up next turn with just one buff nets you an effectively 8/8 beast that can move four squares per round…yeah, that’s painful. Also, don’t ever forget about the Plasma Storm + Natural Selection combo — you can often use it to eliminate all of your opponent’s little creatures and then one big one, leaving you with a couple of fat minions on the board.
Vanar’s “Vespyr Ramp” Pauper
Commons Added: Crystal Cloaker, Borean Bear, Arctic Displacer (x3 each)
The Vanar pauper is reliant on two obvious synergies and subtle one. The obvious ones are Borean Bear and Cryogenesis plus Vespyr minions. The subtle one is Stuns + Crystal Wisp + Cyrogenesis. The idea is that an early Crystal Wisp can net you an extra Core to spend every turn, and the various Stun cards (Chromatic Cold, Avalanche, Flash Freeze) can slow your opponent down enough to let you take enough advantage of that extra core that you can build a small amount of tempo each turn until you overwhelm them.
Because your gameplan involves a lot of stunning the opponent, the Hailstone Golems are kind of clutch, and in fact in my rough drafts they were Brightmoss Golems instead — but the difference in health wasn’t worth the mana curve befoulment that occurred. This means, however, that Healing Mystics can be surprisingly clutch; if you can afford to not cast them as tempo plays, don’t — when your opponent is stunned and your Hailstone is bashing their board presence into the snowdrift, being able to heal it up for one more punch can mean the difference. Also, watch carefully for the right moment to drop the Arctic Displacer. Right next to a minion on the same turn that you stunned it is clutch, but don’t forget that you can also use it as bait — getting your opponent to run onto your side to take out the threat (i.e. Vetruivan General closing for Entropic Decay) and then dropping Avalanche on their head is a sweet, sweet feeling.
And there you have the decks. Now for just a few quick playing tips:
Contest the Mana Springs
At the opening of the game, no matter how controlly your deck, you cannot just sit back and let the opponent make use of all three mana fountains — the tempo gain they’ll get on you if they’re even a little good is all but impossible to overcome. Always contest them, even if it’s just by fishing for a Planar Scout that you can use to pop one before they get to it and continue with your plan. Even if you can’t use the mana spring that turn, if the opponent is nearby, don’t try to save it — because if he steals it, you never know what kind of tempo swing is coming your way.
Play to Your Strengths
With the exception of Songhai, every faction can play both control and aggro games, so unless you get high enough in ranks that the meta is fairly stable, you don’t really know what to expect from your opponent –but you do know what your deck’s win condition is. Play to it. If you’re playing a deck with big, heavy creatures, don’t just run your early minions into the enemy general’s face. By running up to his face but not into it, you force him to either spend his time beating on your minions (thus, your fatty beasts get closer to realization) or risk getting entirely walled in (meaning he can’t summon anything unless he kills a minion first). If you’re playing a lightning-fast aggro, don’t hesitate to trade damage-for-damage by attacking his General with your General every turn .
Learn the Opponent’s Geography-Contingent Abilities
The more you know about each faction’s geography-related cards (i.e. Vanar’s Avalanche, Lyonar’s Sun Bloom, Vetruvian’s Blast), the more you’ll be able to play around them. In fact, my next post I think will be a big list of all of the game’s AoE effects sorted by faction so you can reference it and keep the enemy’s options in mind as you choose how to position your minions.
Until then, keep duelying!