In my previous Masterlist article on JPS Control, I claimed that JPS Control had “the best late game plan of any control deck.” After playing Echscavate, I’m no longer sure that claim is true. Originally built as a fun combo deck, I continued to experiment with the deck once I reached Masters and discovered that it’s actually a pretty solid control deck in its own right. While it has a weaker aggro matchup than many other control decks, it has great matchups against most midrange and control decks. For a more detailed breakdown of the deck, read on:
Importable Decklist – Echoscavate
3 Excavate (Set1 #71)
4 Seek Power (Set1 #408)
3 Desert Marshal (Set1 #332)
2 East-Wind Herald (Set1 #201)
3 Lightning Storm (Set1 #206)
3 Lightning Strike (Set1 #197)
4 Secret Pages (Set1 #81)
2 Vanquish (Set1 #143)
1 Decay (Set1 #95)
4 Eye of Winter (Set1 #210)
4 Wisdom of the Elders (Set1 #218)
4 Stronghold’s Visage (Set1 #339)
2 Elysian Trailblazer (Set1 #228)
4 Harsh Rule (Set1 #172)
1 Staff of Stories (Set1 #234)
2 Celestial Omen (Set1 #241)
2 Curiox, the Collector (Set1 #366)
2 Sword of the Sky King (Set1 #186)
4 Justice Sigil (Set1 #126)
5 Primal Sigil (Set1 #187)
4 Time Sigil (Set1 #63)
4 Seat of Order (Set0 #51)
4 Seat of Progress (Set0 #58)
4 Seat of Wisdom (Set0 #63)
15 Rares, 4 Legendaries
Total Shiftstone Cost (excluding Power): 30000
This deck shares many of the cards and primary gameplan of many other TJP Control decks – use your sweepers and removal to control the board while making power drops. Once the deck has stabilized, it searches out its win condition, which in this case is a combo that doesn’t win the game on its own, but it ensures that you will never run out of answer and will eventually win the game once your opponent runs out of threats. Opposing unit removal is mostly useless against Echoscavate, because while the deck plays a couple units it doesn’t need any of them to survive in order to win.
The Basic Combo
The core part of the combo, and the part that must be established first, requires two copies of Excavate and one copy of Elysian Trailblazer. You only need one Excavate and the Trailblazer in hand, the second Excavate can be in the void. Simply cast Excavate, putting Excavate on top of your deck, then use Trailblazer to give that Excavate echo (hence the deck name Echoscavate). Once you’ve got an echo’d Excavate, you’re ready to go off. The first copy will allow you to draw whatever you need from the void, allowing you to choose what you draw. The second copy will ALWAYS put an Echo’d Excavate back on top, to ensure that you never run out of copies. While this combo is effective on its own, it is very slow. Using only natural draws, you’ll alternate between drawing the card you want and a copy of Excavate. Drawing more cards through something like Staff of Stories or the second half of the combo allows you to do much more with your turns.
Extending the Combo
In order to truly combo off, we’re going to need to be able to draw two cards a turn. You need to put Wisdom of the Elders back on top of your deck, then give it echo with Elysian Trailblazer. This part can take a while to set up, but once its in place the game is more or less on lockdown. Once both Wisdom and Excavate have echo, you can do the following combo. It requires 10 power, resets you to the beggining of the sequence, and can be performed at fast speed:
- Excavate the card you want.
- Excavate an Echo’d Excavate.
- Use Wisdom to draw the card you want plus Excavate.
- Excavate an Echo’d Wisdom of the Elders.
- Excavate an Echo’d Excavate.
- Use your second Wisdom to draw Echo’d Wisdom + Excavate, resetting your hand.
Ten power is a lot of power, but this method doesn’t interfere with your natural draws and doesn’t need to be performed all at once. Just make sure you complete the whole combo before going back to step one, otherwise you’ll run out of combo pieces very quickly.
For some players, spending that much power to durdle was just unacceptably inefficient. Fortunately, you can do everything the previous combo did for 0 power. Not ten, not one, zero. Completely free. However, you can’t do it at fast spell speed (unless you go really deep). Drawing Curiox, the Collector will put a Dragon’s Eye (pictured above) somewhere in your deck. Celestial Omen or natural draws will eventually allow you to find the Eye, and giving the Eye echo will allow you to perform the Wisdom combo mentioned in the last section for six fewer power. To make our combo completely free, we need one more card – East-Wind Herald. EWH will reduce the cost of the top spell of our deck, which we can easily manipulate with Excavate into ensuring EWH hits another Excavate. This will reduce Excavate’s cost from one power to zero, allowing you to combo off for free with Dragon’s Eye. While most opponents will have conceded long before now, this combo allows you to draw through your entire deck and void and your leisure. Just be aware that the hand size limit is 9 cards at end of turn and 12 cards otherwise – drawing over twelve cards will cause the new cards you drew to be discarded automatically. This happens frequenly with Dragon’s Eye, since it draws you two extra cards per combo cycle.
Just because this deck has a combo in it does NOT mean that it is a combo deck. Establishing the combo is not an early or midgame priority. It’s perfectly fine to use the combo pieces for value, as long as you keep in mind how many you have left. The third Excavate you cast must establish the combo, or you cannot get it started.
Echoscavate plays as a control deck with a combo finish. In the early game, your priority is to figure out what your opponent is playing and make power drops. If you opponent is playing an aggressive deck, you need to do everything you can to slow them down and survive. If they are playing a midrange deck, you need to ration your resources while dealing with their threats. Against control, card draw and power drops are top priority. You can try to establish the combo more aggressively in this matchup.
This deck shares many of its strengths with other TJP Control decks – strong sweepers, card draw, and a powerful nonunit finisher in Sword of the Sky King. However, the combo gives other control decks something to worry about and helps ensure that you won’t run out of answers against an aggro or midrange opponent.
Like many control decks, if you don’t draw your sweepers this deck can be weak to all in aggressive decks. Eye of Winter makes it fairly well positioned against Aegis decks, but the list has limited ways to deal with Relic Weapons. The combo also means the the deck is playing some lower powered cards, and is totally dead in the water to a well timed Backlash on a combo piece.
Card Specific Summary
I’m going to do an actual summary of cards this time, as you’ve seen many of these cards in TJP control decks before: Seek Power, Secret Pages, Harsh Rule, Lightning Storm… East-Wind Herald, Elysian Trailblazer, and Curiox, the Collector are all included as combo pieces. Excavate is also a combo pieces that serves double duty as improving your midgame draws. Celestial Omen helps filter through our deck for combo pieces, answers, or tough to find cards like Dragon’s Eye. Eye of Winter and Stronghold’s Visage help us stay alive, with Visage additionally buffing Staff of Stories and Sword of the Sky King. The removal suite includes two Vanquish to deal with Endurance threats like Sandstorm Titan and Icaria, the Liberator, three Lightning Strike to protect against charge and Relic Weapons, and a single Decay to deal with huge Relic Weapons or Azindel’s Gift. Rounding out the list is Desert Marshall, who silences Aegis, Dawnwalker, Endurance units, and Champions of Cunning, while also bravely blocking Relic weapons in a pinch.
Echoscavate is a pretty fun control deck to play as it allows you to do pretty much whatever you want once you’ve stabalized. It’s a reasonable control deck at the moment, having game against Rakano Midrange and Mono Justice as well as solid midrange and control matchups. If you enjoy TJP but are looking for an interesting twist on the archetype, or loved the old Excavate Prison decks, this is the deck for you!