The Slow Rehaul

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

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(dropping to 1 card drawn per turn and changing about 5% of the total cardbase), basically everything in this blog is outdated. Do 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“X deck” posts, however, I’m simply going to start over again, and label all those posts before today with a big old [OUTDATED] label and a link to the newer version as they become available.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!

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‚Ķwell, 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‚Ķsad.)

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!

A Smattering of Useful Links for New Duelyst Players to Read

Hey, guys! Just a quick toss-out here, nothing super special — just if you haven’t read all these threads from the Duelyst forums yet,¬†do it now!

The Core Rules by The Dev Team

The Beginners Guide to Duelyst by ASH

The Epic and Legendary Disenchanting Guide by PepprmintButler and Ryan

The Deckbuilding Guide by Sarasin and Quincy (with links to faction-by-faction card values inside!)

The Positioning Guide by Firebat

That’s all! ¬†Keep on duelying!

DuelystDecks: One Newb’s Collection of Decks for Newer Duelyst Players

Hi, everyone. My name is Michael Danielson, aka Arananthi, and I’m a longtime armchair game developer, tactics aficionado, and CCG player. That’s all you need to know about me. Let’s get started playing some Duelyst!

New Player Experience: Solid…Mostly.

As of right now, in the Open Beta, the new player experience in Duelyst is pretty damn amazing. This game is more generous than most others in many ways, and you will spend your week or two just getting rained on, with new cards and free packs seemingly everywhere. There are, however, a couple of ‘traps’ that new players should be aware of and need to watch for.

  • First, while you cannot lose Rank until you get to rank 20,¬†be fully prepared to sit at rank 20 for a week or so. Because Rank 20¬†is the first rank you can lose, there are a¬†lot of experienced, good-deck-having, but simply bad players at Rank 20. And because they have good decks, they¬†will get lucky and suddenly whomp your butt out of nowhere, turning around games using cards and combos you couldn’t possibly have played around. Especially because you will reach Rank 20 before you level all of your factions up to Level 11 (thus obtaining all of the basic cards), this will probably frustrate you a little. Bear with it. It sucks, but it’s a short period in your Duelyst career.
  • Second, there are some factions that simply don’t play well using only basic cards. Vetruvian is the worst of these, but to a lesser degree Songhai and Vanar aren’t great, either. Don’t expect to be able to put together a deck that¬†feels like a well-oiled machine with these three factions until you can get some key commons (I’ll talk about that later.)

OK, let’s begin:

First Steps

Before you start actually playing Duelyst ‘for reals,’ take the time to complete as many of the optional Tutorial Challenges as you can. They’ll teach you a lot about how to¬†think¬†when playing the game, because it’s a unique hybrid of TBS tactics arena and CCG. Equally importantly, they’ll get you some gold to spend on¬†packs Spirit Orbs. Go for it; there’s no real point to playing Gauntlet at this point, and if you nail a not-entirely-amazing Legendary, you can Disenchant it to get the commons you need for one of those off-kilter factions I mentioned.

After you’ve completed all of the tutorials, go to the Ranked Ladder, and¬†choose a starter deck. Don’t custom-make your own decks yet, and here’s why: the starter decks are only 28 cards big, and they add more cards to the deck as you unlock more cards for your faction. If you try to build a legit deck using only the Basic cards you get a level 0, you’re going to end up with¬†a lot of filler. So commit now to playing with the starter decks until you get to level 11 in each faction. (Also, the starter decks are fairly well-made, so it’s not¬†that likely you could do better on your own just yet.)

Making Gold as you Level Up

Each day, look at your Quests. There are, I believe, 8 quests total: six “Play 4 games with this faction” quests, plus a quest to kill 5 minions in a single game, and a quest to deal 40 damage in a single game. At this point, just exchange all of the faction quests in an attempt to get the other two; they pay out more gold and it’s not that difficult to accomplish. If you have a faction quest or two you can’t exchange, just do them and get the gold.

You’ll also get Gold for your first win every day, plus an additional 5 gold per two wins all day long,¬†plus an additional 10 gold per two wins for the first 10 wins each day. That’s a total of 100g for winning 10 times each day — that’s a Spirit Orb, without even doing any quests!

Other ‘Secret’ Achievements: Makyng It Rayn!

You’ll get free Spirit Orbs for

  • Getting to level 11 with a faction (one for each faction!)
  • Playing a Challenge/Friendly game
  • Getting to Rank 20

You’ll get free Gold for

  • Losing 3 games (100g)
  • Losing 15 games (100g)
  • Completing 100 quests (300g)

You’ll get free cards for

  • Completing 5 quests (Epic)
  • Completing 13 quests (Legendary)
  • Collecting all common cards (2x Rare, 1x Epic

And a couple of others

  • Disenchant a card (90 Spirit)
  • Play¬†20 Ranked games (Gauntlet ticket)

That’s all for now — play the starter decks, get some cards, and have fun! I’ll be back in a couple of days to talk about pauper (350 spirit or less) decks for each class that can get you up to rank 20 or higher, and about the various disenchanting strategies you can use to aim for higher-tier decks.

‘Till then, keep duelying!