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!
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.
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!
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.
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!