Finally! The 700-Spirit ‘Ultrabudget’ Vanar Decks are Here!

Don’t worry, guys, I’m still here and still kickin’ ass. December is always a stupidly busy month for us advertising-savvy freelance copywriters, and I’ve been so busy I finally got back up to rank 10 like two days ago just from the games I played on the porcelain throne. But enough about me — it’s time to stop leaving Vanar out in the cold. No matter how much they claim to like it. Here are the four 700-spirit ‘Ultrabudget’ Vanar decks for y’all to enjoy just in time for the Frostfire Festival!

Playing Vespyrs

700 Spirit Vanar Upgrade

Commons Added: Bonechill Barrier x3, Hailstone Prison x3, Borean Bear x3

Rares Added: Glacial Elemental x3

This is your pretty classic inexpensive Vespyr Synergy deck. The idea here is to play a pretty standard tempo game for the first several turns, and Replace often until you nab a Bonechill Barrier. Then, you wait for either a Borean Bear to stick on the board in a useful position, or for a Glacial Elemental to pop up in your hand. With either the Bear ready to faceclaw or the Elemental ready to bombard, you move/drop the bear/elemental and then slam down a Bonechill Barrier to lock the opponent down while simultaneously either setting up a minimum-4-point claw to the face or, far more preferably, dropping 6 points of damage across his minions — ideally, wiping his board while leaving his movement severely restricted and leaving the Elemental somewhere that it will be difficult for him to deal with.

Of course, that’s not all this deck can do — not by far. With Borean Bears, Glacial Elementals, and Crystal Cloakers handy, there are no end of excellent targets for Frostfire, which can turn a game around right quick if played cleverly. Fenrir Warmaster and Brightmoss Golem provide a lot of excellent staying power to complement your more swingy Vespyr mechanics. And never underestimate the power of Hailstone Prison — in fact, teach yourself to hold the Prison until you can use it to not only clear a path toward a valuable target but also make the opponent waste at least 4 mana putting the whatever-it-is back down — that kind of tempo gain might seem small, but combined with the tempo gains from Glacial Elemental’s nukedowns and turns wasted by the enemy uselessly attacking Bonechill Barriers, this deck can…ahem…snowball quite rapidly out of control.

 

Bored Control

 

700 Spirit Vanar Board Control

Commons Added: Cryogenesis x3, Borean Bear x2, Frostbone Naga x3, Silhouette Tracer x2

Rares Added: Snowchaser x3

If there’s one thing Vanar does pretty decently, it’s this: keeping the opponent’s board from developing over multiple turns. Like everything else, Vanar can have issues dealing with threats that have immediate effects (Makantor Warprick), but especially if you can force (or trick) the fight onto your opponent’s side of the board (hint: Silhouette Tracer is for this), this deck can and should keep the opponent’s board from meaningfully progressing in most games. If it’s small, whack it with Infiltrators and/or Frostbones; if it’s medium: Cryogenesis or Brightmoss attacks. Big things eat an Aspect of the Fox or an attack from a buffed-up Bored Bear.

Key plays here: Use an Infiltrated Snowchaser to drop Frostbone Nagas so that they can be recast immediately and nothing else on your team gets hurt. (Or using a Brightmoss that doesn’t care so much about the 2 damage.) Keep a Bored Bear back while you repeatedly suicide attack with the same Snowchasers and replay them every turn for more buffing action. Finally, use a Silhouette Tracer to magically escape to the midline and drop an Avalanche that the opponent was sure you’d never do because you were in too deep. This deck isn’t easy to play, but the more clever you get, the more fun it is!

 

College Rules

700 Spirit Vanar Golem Crusher

Commons Added: Polarity x2, Hailstone Prison x3, Cyrogenesis x2, Void Hunter x3

Rares Added: Golem Metallurgist x3

Why is a sheet of college-ruled paper like a lazy dog? Well, a sheet of paper is an ink-lined plane. An inclined plane is  a slope up. And a slow pup is a lazy dog. (Ba-dum cha!) This deck is the closest that budget Duelyst gets to the classic Hearthstone Ramp Druid, and thus, the slope-up joke inherent in the name. Between Crystal Wisps, Golem Metallurgists, and the everyday Mana Springs, this deck should handily start pumping out Hailstones and Brightmosses on turns 2 and 3 on about half your games. On the other half, no worries, you got Cloakers and Mystics and whatnot to hold things down until the beasts arrive.

To keep the golems coming fast and furious, we have Cyrogenesis which thins the deck of non-Golems while dealing with enemy threats, and Void Hunter to just accelerate drawing in general. Crystal Wisp is a straight-up tempo loss (paying 2 for a 1/1 is bad, mmkay?), but we can regain it pretty easily by playing big, hard-to-kill beasties that can crush the enemy’s board. If they play something you can’t deal with, Hailstone Prison it and go face as hard as possible. Preferably by Polarity-ing a Brightmoss so you can facepunch for 9. Once you’ve stuck a Hailstone or Brightmoss and they’ve shown that they can’t deal with it, then and only then should you start dropping Stormmetals and Dragonbones. If you drop them onto an opponent-controlled board, you’re going to be unhappy more often than not. (Sometimes, it’s the only play you can make, of course — and if you have a handful of them, it’s totally kosher to drop 1 in order to clear some removal and make room to drop the others — but in general, you want to see the opponent starting to flounder before you play the finishers.)

This deck is not insanely consistent in this form — it needs a few hundred more Spirit (primarily in the form of Snowchasers) in order to really start to blossom — but it will handily get you to Gold League if you learn it’s ins and outs, and it’s the current-best form of the stronger version which you might just learn to love a little later on.

 

My Little Friend
700 Spirit Vanar Mobster

Commons Added: Hailstone Prison x3, Cyrogenesis x3, Primus Fist x3, Ash Mephyt x2

Rares Added: Razorback x3

(Hmm…I just noticed that I screwed this one up. Replace one Ash Mephyt with a third Ephemeral Shroud and/or Thorn Needler, and I apologize for the error.) This deck is built to exploit the almighty Razorback by mobbing up and then cutting loose. Play conservatively for the first few turns, looking to play minions that either negate his minions and don’t die while doing it (Repulsors, Shrouds, Warmasters) or that will deal more damage than their mana value might indicate (Cloakers, Thorn Needlers). The idea is to build up a board of 3+ small minions while getting useful effects out of summoning them — then cast Razorback and swoop in to deal half or more of the enemy’s life total in one round.

As the enemy deals with that assault (hopefully, at least one or two of your minions survived the attack) and the fact that they’re suddenly very much looking at losing this game, you have two options depending on your hand. You can press the attack with high-damage but sturdy cards like Thorn Needler, Fenrir Warmaster, and the Razorback itself, using Hailstone Prison and Cryogenesis to keep your board presence while you smash face. Or, you can pull back and play a few rounds of the control game, using Healing Mystics, Repulsor Beasts, and similar minions the same way you did at the start of the game. Then, drop a second Razorback (ideally just after sticking at least 2 bodies of an Ash Mephyt) and finish the game.

Oh — and don’t forget to do your best Tony Montana impression when you slap your Razorbacks down. It really does help you win games.

Special: The Frostfire Festival!

If you don’t know/haven’t logged in yet, go open Duelyst and log in immediately! Everyone who logs in (even new accounts created after today) between now and January 6th gets a free Gift Box. The devs even added a new ‘Gift Box’ line to the main menu for the occasion! I don’t know what the ‘rules’ are, but I’m positive the each gift box contains a unique Snowchaser emote that’s perfect for the Frostfire festival (and for using while playing these Vanar decks!)

Mine also contained a Spirit Orb and 100 Spirit — and the Spirit Orb gave me my first Sarlac, so Joyous Frostfire Festival to me! I’d love it if you commented and told me what you got, especially if it’s totally sweet.

See you in 2016 — and until then, keep on Duelying!

700 Spirit ‘Ultrabudget’ Magmar Duelyst Decks

Hi again, Duelyrs! It’s Arananthi with the fifth installment of the Ultrabudget Duelyst Decks series: Magmar! None of these decks are specifically a lot more or less solid than the other; Magmar has so many strong options within their faction that you can almost slap any 13 sets of 3 cards together and figure out a way to win with them. Personally, I find the last one the most rewarding, but that’s because I like to catch my opponents off-guard. Magmar’s big weaknesses are its lack of mobility on the board, it’s inability to deal with several successive big threats, and the fact that its spells aren’t terribly redundant — if you don’t draw the spell you need when you need it, none of the other spells will do in a pinch, so bad luck can make a really solid deck feel weak-saucy. So don’t give up on any of these decks until you’ve played at least several games with them — passing up on a great deck and possibly a great faction because of a back luck streak is a real shame.

 

The All-Arounder 

700 Spirit Magmar Upgrade

Commons Added: Diretide Frenzy (x3), Young Silithar (x3), Veteran Silithar (x3)

Rares Added: Elucidator (x3)

It’s often said on the forums that Magmar is the faction that can do anything — they have all the answers, all the extreme minions, all the healing, etc. The problem is that they can’t do it all in the same deck. There’s only so much space to fill with cards. This deck attempts to ‘ride the line,’ using cards that can go either direction — are you going to use your Saberspine Tiger with Diretide Frenzy to wipe out a small crowd of enemies, or are you going to use it with Primordial Gazer for a 5-point facepunch that leaves a significant threat on the board? Are you going to use your huge Rush minions — the Elucidators — to swing for the face and enjoy the one-point damage swing in your favor? Or are you going to use it in conjunction with Planar Scout and Mana Burn to take down that Spectral Revenant without having to fear the swarm?

The key in playing this deck is to Replace Every Turn, unless you feel that your hand is already perfect for the situation. You’ve got a lot of tools — it’s better to cycle for the right one than it is to try to force the wrong one to fit the job. That said, you will also benefit a lot from being creative, and taking your whole turn every turn to consider all of your options before you commit.

 

Control Magmar

700 Spirit Magmar Control

Commons Added: Diretide Frenzy (x2), Earth Sphere (x2), Young Silithar (x3), Grimrock (x3)

Rares Added: Spirit Harvester (x3)

This deck focuses on Total Board Control (TM). There’s a host of smaller stuff that can keep the early game well in hand — or if you draw a Plasma Storm early, you can let a Songhai, Abyssian or Vetruvian think they’re gaining an advantage just to wipe it out and drop a few beasties of your own. (Don’t try that against Lyonar or Magmar, and it’s a real coinflip against Vanar.) Also note that you can combine Plasma Storm with Natural Selection to wipe out a big field of pissants and then one big guy — this happens somewhat regularly against Deathwatch Abyssian and some Vanar decks.

The midgame looks like Grimrocks and Golems with a Spirit Harvester somewhere making certain that the enemy’s attempts at building a board are gently mocked into oblivion. If the enemy comes on hard and fast, and Plasma Storm is either irrelevant or nowhere to be seen, you have Earth Sphere to help you eek out a few more draws so that you can get your answers. Slapping a Rock Pulverizer down next to their biggest threats, stepping away, and popping a Sphere is rarely a horrible turn. The end ususally comes with a Grimrock that has grown to lethal proportions or a set of Adamantine Claws in the enemy’s face — though I have had at least one recent very fun game end with a Diretided Brightmoss Golem that just would not stop Frenzying through the enemy’s face to get to her board.

 

Naked Lizards

700 Spirit Magmar Aggro-Buffinator

Commons Added: Diretide Frenzy (x2), Young Silithar (x3), Veteran Silithar (x3), Dagger Kiri (x2)

Rares Added: Elucidator (x3)

 

Oh, yeah: reptiles in the buff. This is your all-purpose Magmar face deck. Yeah, we kept Mana Burn around, but that’s mostly to clear taunts — don’t just waste it all willy-nilly on turn 1. Let your minions do the work of clearing the board, and once you have a clear shot at the face, drop 1-2 Greater Fortitude/Primordial Gazers and start punching. Save the Diretide Frenzy+Elucidator combo for a surprise ‘Makantorish Event’ if you’re facing a deck that seems to be spitting out a lot of minions — and use it to clear the path for your nearest facepuncher.

Dagger Kiri is the greedy play, but don’t put it down and buff it on the same turn — ever. Only ever lay on the pluses if you know you can either clear an otherwise unclearable obstacle or you can hit face twice that turn. With six Rush minions in addition to Mana Burn, this deck has a surprising amount of burst, and that’s not even factoring in the buffs. Don’t play braindead — this isn’t Hearthstone, and this isn’t Face Hunter — but do be aware that the more incidental-looking damage you can stack on the face while you make what look like board-control (but are actually obstacle-clearing) efforts, the easier it will be to achieve the final burst down. (Ba-na-naa-naaaaaa! Ba-nana-na-na! The Final Burstdown! (I’m not sorry.))

 

The Big Red Button

700 Spirit Magmar Nukeinator

Commons Added: Diretide Frenzy (x2), Young Silithar (x3), Void Hunter (x2), Veteran Silithar (x3)

Rares Added: Kinetic Equilibrium

This is one of those decks that tends to catch people by surprise. It looks and acts like most other Magmar decks at first, but very few people use Kinetic Equilibrium, and so you can pull some huge tempo swings with it. Be aware that it totally kills Void Hunter and Saberspine Tiger — either move them or suicide them. Everything else in this deck not only survives Kinetic Equilibrium, but is immune to Plasma Storm once they’ve survived said Equilibrium, so stacking the two on top of one another can sometimes be exactly the right answer.

What you’re aiming to do with this deck is set up a situation where your Equilibrium will kill a bunch of their stuff, buff a bunch of your stuff, and clear a path for your stuff to hit their general in the face. This is particularly true with Brightmoss Golem and Veteran Silithar, which can take the 2 from Equilibrium and the 2 from the General and still live to punch again. (That said, I’ve tried Hailstone Golems in the place of Thorn Needlers, and for some reason I’ve had better luck with the Needlers. YMMV; feel free to switch it back if you feel more successful with Golems — but do try it both ways first.)

 

And that’s it for today! Go do some Magmar quests, pwn some nwbs, and long live the Immortals! Next time, you guessed it, it’s the 700-Spirit Vanar decks. Until then, keep on Duelying!

December’s New Duelyst Cards

Hi, Duelyrs! It’s Arananthi here, totally neglecting the article I promised about Tempo in Duelyst — that’s going to have to wait until after the last two 700-spirit posts. But it is in the works; it’s just a pretty deep subject and I want to be able to get into it rigorously. So instead, I’m posting about the four new units that came out today: Jaxi, Firestarter, Grailmaster, and The Khymera.

First, though, a word about how to judge cards in general.

 

Judging Cards

When you judge cards, you need to look at three basic factors.

  1. It’s base stats (if it’s a minion). The base stats for a ‘good’ minion are determined, roughly, by the Golems you see at each cc. 2cc is 5 total stats, 3cc is 7, 4cc is 10, 5cc is 13, 6cc is 16, and 7cc is 20. By that logic, 8cc would presumably be 24.  So right off the bat, you can see that all of these minions are sub-par in terms of base stats. But that’s OK; most minions are. The question then is:
  2. Does their ability make up for their stat loss vs. a Golem? If you could have a Firestarter or a Brightmoss Golem, how often is the Firestarter’s ability going to win you a game that the Brightmoss would have lost? How often would having a Brightmoss in that spot win the game instead? And finally,
  3. Is there a mechanic that exists that can exploit this card’s ability in a way that makes it stronger than it first appears? If so, is the exploited ability strong enough to warrant putting in as a combo piece given that you will, quite regularly, only draw half of the necessary combo?

 

December’s Cards

December New Cards

Jaxi

This unassuming little dude is of massive importance to a couple of factions, and pretty good almost anywhere. Stats-wise, it’s a total of 6 for 2cc, which is above the curve. The risk of getting Dispelled or Transformed is fairly small, since most decks are going to want to save their big effects for bigger creatures, so it’s fairly reasonable to put Jaxi in just as a tempo card.

But the Deathwatch ability will trigger twice off of one Jaxi — once for Jaxi and once for the Mini-Jax — so it’s particularly strong in Abyssian. The ranged-dude-in-a-corner effect will frequently draw out enemy AoE even if it’s the only minion on the board, because it’s hard to get to, making it particularly strong in any kind of weenie deck. Having a ranged unit that deals even modest damage is super-strong, so Jaxi is strong in a deck that buffs specific minions (Songhai’s Killing Blade, Vetruvian’s First Wish) and particularly in a deck that buffs all minions (Lyonar’s War Surge, Vanar’s Razorback).

In short, if you’re looking to build a ‘core’ of common cards that can go in as the ‘base’ of several different decks, Jaxi should be on your “to craft” list probably just after Primus Fist, simply because Primus Fist is an Opening Gambit and thus has an instant effect on the board, whereas Jaxi is not only a Dying Wish, but the Mini-Jax has to wait until next turn to do anything.

 

Firestarter

Firstarter has pretty awful stats for the cost — 6 points below Brightmoss Golem. As a standalone ability, in your average deck, Firestarter isn’t great, either. Most decks run between 9 and 15 spells, and you need to get at least 2 Spellsparks to hit before you have exceeded the attack value of a Brightmoss. This means that (unlike, say, Four Winds Magi or Bloodrage Mask) you’re limited to a 2-square range away from wherever the Firestarter is standing, making Firestarter’s low(er than a Brightmoss’) health a significant liability. Either that, or you’ll just have a stream of Sparks meandering toward the fight which will probably end up getting removed before they get there.

That said, there are a few solid occasions in which the Firestarter’s special ability might make it perfect for a deck. Because it’s based on spellcasting and it’s a triggered ability (meaning it will happen even if the Firestarter can’t act because it was just summoned), a late-game Songhai play consisting of dropping a Firestarter and playing a series of 3-5 cheap spells could be gamewinning. It’s also 3-atk, so it works with Inner Focus if that’s relevant.

Similarly, Spellsparks are probably going to die the turn they’re summoned, making Firestarter another excellent focus for Deathwatch decks. With a Manaforger down, an Abyssian can pop off some Void Pulses, use one Spellspark to Ritually Banish an annoying enemy creature and get a replacement Spellspark for it, and use the deaths of all of those Sparks to power a Moondancer or Bloodmoon Priestess.

Finally, since Firestarter is an Arcanyst, it benefits from Owl Sage, which automatically makes it some sort of synergetic with a Lyonar Divine Bond spellcasting deck. (Unfortunately, as with Prismatic Illusionist, if you cast War Surge, the buff happens to all creatures on board, then the Spellspark is summoned, sans buff. Oh, well.)

tl;dr: it’s better than Prismatic Illusionist, but is that enough? Probably only in very specific decks.

 

Grailmaster

A 7cc 6/6 is, again, awful. And random abilities are probably not going to make up for the +4/+4 that an (already-unplayed) Dragonbone Golem will get you. The full list of abilities a Grailmaster can gain includes:  Provoke, Celerity, Ranged, Frenzy, and Flying. It can gain only 1 of each, and it only gains ones it doesn’t already have. On the minus side, this means no crazy Rook-like stunts of attaining “Deathwatch: Gain +4|+4.” On the plus side, if you can manage to summon five creatures in a hurry, you can nab a 6/6 Flying Ranged Frenzy Celerity Provoke, which isn’t a bad thing.,,except that it’s never going to happen.

In general, this card is going to suck balls. Once you get to the point where you’re investing more than half your total possible turn’s cores into a single body, it had damn well better do something RIGHT THEN, or be almost impossible to remove, because the tempo loss you feel if your Grailmaster gets Natural Selectioned, Ritual Banished, or even Spiral Techniqued is just crippling. If Grailmaster had been able to gain Rush, it might be totally worthwhile to play in a deck that can summon 3+ minions in one turn for 2 or less total mana (Abyssian, Vanar) just for the 50% chance at Rushing with it. As it is, it’s essentially bollocks, even if you can pop out all five keywords for 2 mana on turn 7.

tl;dr: This card is 100 Spirit toward your next Holy Immolation/Star’s Fury, and that’s sadly all.

 

Khymera

Once again, paying 8 mana for 17 points of stats is kind of crazy bad, and this thing  again does nothing when it hits the board unless you’re playing Magmar and cast it via either Kujata or Flash Reincarnation. Even then, getting a single token minion is generally not all that amazing, considering the list you get to choose from is:

0/2 ‘Unattackable’ Panddo
1/1 Magma
1/1 Wraithling
1/1 ‘Rush’ Spellspark
1/1 ‘Provoke’ Treant
1/1 ‘Ranged’ Mini Jax
2/1 Illusion
2/2 Maerid
3/3 Ghost Wolf
4/4 Whyte Drake
5/5 Seismic Elemental
4/8 Ice Drake
And finally… 8/8 ‘Ranged Frenzy Shroud’ MECHAZ0R!

So, some maths:

  • In order to make up for the assumed total value of 8 mana, you have to summon another 7 points worth of stats through Khymera’s ability. But…
  • 71% of the time, you’re going to get 6 or fewer points of total stats.
  • 25% of the time, you’re not going to get 7 more points over two consecutive activations.
  • And the only one of these tokens that has an immediate board impact is the 1/1 Rush Spellspark (and, very rarely, the 1/1 Provoke Treant could pin something down usefully — and in ridiculously extreme edge cases, the 0/2 unattackable Panddo could theoretically appear in the space directly behind something that a Songhai wanted to backstab and thwart the backstabbing attempt.)

In short, if you were going to spend this much on a creature, you want one that has some kind of immediate impact, even if it’s an Archon Spellbinder whose impact is to make spellcasting more annoying for your opponent. The only factions that might care about Khymera are Magmar, who can easily spawn tokens as part of casting the thing, and Abyssian, who can use the 1/1s it spawns…but even then, they’d almost always rather have Firestarter.

 

So in total: craft the hell out of Jaxi, it’s awesome. Firestarter has a place in a few specific decks. Grailmaster and Khymera are a waste of space.

 

Grailmaster could be redeemed quite easily by adding Rush to its list of potential Keywords, so you could get a huge swing out of Grailmaster+Bonechill Barrier by nabbing Rush+Ranged or Rush+Frenzy or Rush+Celerity. The chanciness of it would make for a great comeback mechanic, but not something so reliable that you’d want to use it as your tempo play if you were already in the lead — exactly the kind of card Duelyst needs a few more of. (Don’t understand what I mean? Watch this:)

Khymera could easily also be made Rush on top of everything else it already is without coming even close to breaking it. It might occasionally see play if it were Rush…but even then, it would probably be less for it’s token-spawning ability and more for being a big Rush threat with a Kardashian-sized backside. Yeah, it’s really bad.

 

Ok, that’s it for today! Later this week: the 700 Spirit Magmar decks! Until then, keep on Duelying!