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 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.)

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.

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.

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

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.

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.


  • 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

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.


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.


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.)


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.


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.)


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.


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.


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!