Lights Out – Clockroaches

Clockroaches is my pick for the most fun deck in Eternal when it’s running at max capacity. Trying to keep track of the amount of combat skills on your units is frantic and exhilarating. The saddest thing in the world is when you start to really go off and your opponent concedes before you can play all of your giant 1-cost charge double damage overwhelm lifesteal units, so if you’re playing against a Clockroaches player, let them have their fun!

clockroach

The deck is based on the interaction between Crown of Possibilities and echo units, which gives you two copies of unit when drawn, one with one additional battle skill, and another with TWO additional battle skills. Using cards like Second Sight, Cloudsnake Harrier, and Sandform, you can repeatedly draw the same unit card with Crown of Possibilities in play, which gives it yet more skills – if you put  Clockroach with two skills back on top of your deck, when you draw it will trigger echo again, giving you one Roach with three skills and one with four! If you have multiple ways to draw the same unit, you can quickly build a unit with an absurd array of skills.

clockroaches

4 Initiate of the Sands (Set1 #74)
3 Permafrost (Set1 #193)
3 Lightning Storm (Set1 #206)
3 Sandform (Set1 #79)
4 Second Sight (Set1 #207)
3 Secret Pages (Set1 #81)
4 Temple Scribe (Set0 #12)
4 Clockroach (Set1 #94)
4 Crown of Possibilities (Set1 #355)
4 Push Onward (Set1 #213)
4 Scorpion Wasp (Set1 #96)
4 Cloudsnake Harrier (Set1 #225)
4 Twinbrood Sauropod (Set1 #113)
7 Primal Sigil (Set1 #187)
10 Time Sigil (Set1 #63)
2 Diplomatic Seal (Set1 #425)
4 Elysian Banner (Set1 #421)
4 Seat of Wisdom (Set0 #63)

When it comes to specific decklists, there are some variations. A card I’ve seen a fair amount of is New Stranger, which is a cheaper echo unit than the traditional Twinbrood Sauropod. Many battle skills scale very well with larger units, like killer, lifesteal, and double damage. Clockroach is the best echo unit, because it has a relatively cheap cost and quickly grows to a size where it can utilize those skills to the fullest. Twinbrood Sauropod is better than New Stranger in my opinion because it starts out at a good size and doesn’t need multiple Sandforms or Dark Returns to be a threat like New Stranger does (unless the Stranger gains the deadly skill early on). I like having the full 8 echo units since you cannot win without one, and often the only thing you want to draw once you have a Crown in play is more echo units.

Another card some people splash is Dark Return, which is very powerful with Echo since you draw two buffed units. I don’t like it because it has high setup cost – you need a shadow influence, which makes your deck less consistent (a problem with an already inconsistent deck) and a unit in the void, which often doesn’t happen until it’s too late.

Playing the Deck

Clockroaches is a combo deck at heart, so a matchup guide isn’t as useful as a general sequencing guide. It’s mostly a ‘goldfish’ deck that wants to ignore what the opponent is doing and go way over the top. I’ll try to cover all of the common sequences and a few niche situations I messed up the first time so you can have more success than me.

The Mulligan

crown_of_possibilities

First things first: you CAN win without Crown of Possibilities, but it is definitely hard mode. Games you win without Crown generally come down to overwhelming the opponent with sheer numbers of units (even without skills, the seventh Twinbrood Sauropod sometimes gets them). As such, you should mulligan almost any initial hand without Crown, and keep almost any hand with it. Even one power hands on the draw are worth considering if they have Crown, an echo unit, and a way to multiply it for 2 power (Second Sight or Sandform). Sometimes you don’t get there, but a hand with Crown is so much better than a hand without it that you should err towards Crown = keep and no Crown = mulligan.

Some example hands I would keep:

3x Time sigil, Crown of Possibilities, Initiate of Sands, Push Onward, Twinbrood Sauropod

1x Elysian Banner, 2x Crown of Possibilities, Secret Pages, Second Sight, Clockroach, Permafrost

Time Sigil, Elysian Banner, Secret Pages, Crown of Possibilities, Cloudsnake Harrier, 2x Sandform

Time Sigil, 2x Seat of Wisdom, Cloudsnake Harrier, Clockroach, Second Sight, Push Onward

That last hand has no Crown, but it has Push Onward to dig for one, and even if you whiff with the Push Onward you have the ability to make 5 Clockroaches to stall the game with. I would NOT use the Second Sight turn 2, even if it meant passing the turn without doing anything. Playing it with a Crown in play is so much better than playing it without one – the difference is drawing two units with additional battle skills versus drawing two units without any.

Some example hands I would mulligan:

2x Primal Sigil, 2x Seat of Wisdom, Clockroach, Twinbrood Sauropod, Scorpion Wasp

Diplomatic Seal, 2x Time Sigil, Lightning Storm, Temple Scribe, Initiate of Sands, Second Sight

Primal Sigil, Elysian Banner, Push Onward, Permafrost, Lightning Storm, 2x Temple Scribe

These hands look totally reasonable, but in the context of this deck they don’t really DO anything. You might neutralize a couple units and draw a couple cards, but you have the option to draw SEVEN new cards without any penalty, so you might as well take advantage of it and try to get your best card.

The Early Turns

push-onward

As alluded to earlier, Second Sight is best saved for after Crown of Possibilities so that you can put back an echo unit and give it a bunch of skills. The ideal turn 2 plays are Temple Scribe, Secret Pages, of Lightning Storm. Lightning Storm to kill even one unit is usually correct, as your next few turns will often be taken up with setting up Crowns and playing units, so the Storm will save you 6-8 damage by killing an Oni Ronin.

Turn 3 is for Crown of Possibilities or Push Onward to dig for a Crown. Getting down a Crown (or a second, or a third) is better than playing a unit on any turn (not just turn 3) if you aren’t facing imminent defeat or pushing for lethal.

Cloudsnake Harrier is a great turn 4 to take some pressure off by blocking, and reducing the cost of an echo unit is great. If you don’t have a Crown by turn 4, you need to start shifting into ‘fair’ mode and just playing units and copying them with your Harriers, Second Sights, and Sandforms.

Sequencing

When you have all options available to you, the best order to duplicate echo units is Cloudsnake Harrier -> Sandform ->Second Sight. Using Harrier first is recommended because it is the most expensive card, so it keeps your options open for playing multiple cards in later turns. Reduced cost is also more important than increased size in most situations. Sandform and Harrier come before Second Sight because you want to duplicate units that are already buffed in size or reduced in cost.

If things are going well and you have a Crown in play, keep your unit with the most skills in your hand and play the ones with the second most if you can. This preserves the absolute best possible target for future Harriers, Sandforms, and Second Sights. It’s always recommended to keep one powerful unit with many abilities in hand so that future copies of those duplicators aren’t weak draws, and in case you put back your best unit and it gains destiny as you draw it (because then it will automatically go into play and you won’t be able to duplicate it any more). You know you’re doing well when your WORST case scenario is you putting multiple units into play for free and drawing extra cards.

Occasionally a Temple Scribe, Scorpion Wasp, or Cloudsnake Harrier will gain echo with Crown of Possibilities, which will allow you to combo them with your unit-duplicating cards without waiting to draw a Clockroach or Twinbrood Sauropod.

If things are going poorly and you have Crown in play, such as against aggressive decks when you spent your turn 3 playing a Crown and not affecting the board, you often need to play as if you are going to draw a unit with destiny. Spending your last power to draw cards instead of play units to block seems crazy, but it is correct if blocking isn’t going to stabilize the board – you are one miracle destiny from having 2 more blockers in play, which is hopefully enough to survive. Also, don’t forget that a Lightning Storm you draw with Push Onward will only cost 1 mana, which lets you wipe a board of small units on turn 4 sometimes.

Another strange-seeming play that is often correct to use Sandform on Scorpion Wasp. Sometimes a couple Clockroaches are just buying time chump blocking against a 10/10 Crownwatch Paladin, and you have the option to draw more Scorpion Wasps if you want – you don’t have to only Sandform echo units!

screen-shot-2016-11-15-at-6-49-07-pm

Conclusion

Clockroaches is not the best choice in a metagame dominated by aggro, so I can’t recommend it as the best deck to play before diamond league early in the season when people are trying to climb fast. That said, I played it from rank 25 master to rank 5 two seasons ago, so it is capable of success at the highest levels of ranked.

Clockroaches is by far the most fun you can have in Eternal when it is firing on all cylinders. Take a screenshot of your most absurd Roaches turn and tweet @LightsOutAce – I’d love to see it!

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