Eternal Brews – Ironthorn Impossible

If you asked me to point out my favorite legendary in Eternal’s first set, it would hands down be Marshal Ironthorn.  I like his stats: a 5/5 body for 5 with enough pressure to close out a game if left unattended, perfect for the slow, midrange to control deck archetypes I love.  I like his abilities – first, the only direct ramping power skill in the game, awkwardly positioned late in the game when you’re trying to jump from 6 power to 8 or 10.  The second, a gorgeous, one-sided Harsh Rule, an Ultimate ability that has the prominent position of both the most board-altering and most expensive effect in the game.  There’s something strong to be said for this type of design – giving you an ability, then also giving you a dazzling, extravagant objective for that ability, something that encourages you to use it.

I also like his art.  

marshal-ironthorn
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To be clear: Ironthorn’s art is goofy. It makes me giggle every time I look at it.  He’s an authoritarian bandido playing the role of medieval tank, wearing heavy plate armor over a trenchcoat.  He is carrying a giant shield in one hand and a shotgun in the other.  Or, judging from the barrel, an actual cannon.   

It raises a lot of questions, like: how can he fire this thing? One can only assume the plate must serve as a brace of some sort to keep the gun from tearing his arm off. How can he possibly reload it with one hand?  Isn’t this configuration functionally impossible?

But here’s the thing.  Marshal Ironthorn clearly doesn’t care about any of that.  He follows the Rule of Cool, and he dreams big.  Marshal Ironthorn’s job is to put on the most badass cowboy outfit he can think of, then put the most badass knight outfit he can think of on top of that, then go out into the middle of a firefight and win the day for Argenport in the most stupendously, unnecessarily explosive way there is.  Because, at the end of the day, nothing is impossible for Marshal Ironthorn.

Today’s deck is an Ironthorn deck, and it operates in that spirit completely.  Today we’re going to do goofy, flashy, entirely inadvisable things.  We’re going to use cards that are downright awful in other situations, and we’re going to do spectacular, greedy, wonderful things with them.   Here’s the list:

1 Excavate (Set1 #71)
4 Seek Power (Set1 #408)
1 Accelerate (Set1 #85)
3 Desert Marshal (Set1 #332)
4 Lightning Storm (Set1 #206)
4 Secret Pages (Set1 #81)
1 Decay (Set1 #95)
4 Knight-Chancellor Siraf (Set1 #335)
4 Push Onward (Set1 #213)
4 Wisdom of the Elders (Set1 #218)
1 Feeding Time (Set1 #381)
4 Harsh Rule (Set1 #172)
4 Marshal Ironthorn (Set1 #174)
1 Spell Swipe (Set1 #373)
1 Black-Sky Harbinger (Set1 #385)
2 Celestial Omen (Set1 #241)
1 Mistveil Drake (Set1 #242)
1 Azindel’s Gift (Set1 #306)
1 Cabal Mastermind (Set1 #376)
1 The Last Word (Set1 #309)
1 A New Tomorrow (Set1 #348)
2 Dimensional Rift (Set1 #380)
2 Justice Sigil (Set1 #126)
2 Primal Sigil (Set1 #187)
3 Shadow Sigil (Set1 #249)
3 Time Sigil (Set1 #63)
4 Seat of Order (Set0 #51)
4 Seat of Progress (Set0 #58)
3 Seat of Vengeance (Set0 #55)
4 Seat of Wisdom (Set0 #63)

 

The Core

There are two deck archetypes we’re borrowing heavily from here: the Combrei Ramp deck and 4 Faction control. Of the two, we slide more towards the control style – delaying the game and slowing our opponents roll as we deplete them of useful cards, while keeping our own engines running off of sheer greed until we steamroll over our opponent.

The Combrei Ramp side has many iterations, but the cards they always have in common are Siraf, Harsh Rule, and Marshal Ironthorn, all of which are four-ofs here.

Marshal Ironthorn himself slots in as the premier five drop, although you almost always put him down on six, after a Harsh Rule but before you play your sixth power (which immediately becomes your seventh).  That uninterruptable ramp is the minimum value you’ll get out of him, and the maximum, as we know, is quite high.  Ironthorn is the key card in this deck due to his ability to quickly catapult you into the late game, where ten drop topdecks and giant powersinks win the day.

Harsh Rule is a key card in any green deck this slow, as the biggest and best reset button for an early board state.  It’s the required card for turning off early game decks like Rakano Warcry and Combrei Tempo, often netting three or four for one card advantage in these instances, and it’s a definitive cleanup tool against any problem too big for the deck to handle.  

Siraf’s already known as one of the stronger, more flexible legendaries in the game: being both a late game power sink and a tough early game drop (immune to most forms of early removal including Vanquish, Annihilate and Torch, with a handy offense ability and a defense that stats well against equivalently costed units). Her ability demands power, and lots of it, which Ironthorn is more than happy to provide.  She has a different effect on the board at 3 power, just before hitting that magic number 8, and at 11 power when you can both play her and use her ability at the same time. All of these are good times to drop her depending on the deck you’re running against – it depends on whether you need a simple boost in board state, a strong engine of inevitability, or immediate value to force a big spell before the silences inevitably descend from the sky.  Since we have a lot of gas in this deck, it’s fine to use her on defense and for pressure, but don’t attack into blue decks as Lightning Strike is one of the few cards that fully shuts her down.

In addition, we pull in control cards to enhance our super late game strategy.  Lightning Storm provides us a secondary Harsh Rule effect that cleans up decks that can kill us before Harsh Rule is castable, namely Stonescar Jito and the faster Rakano variants.  Desert Marshal helps with this as well, and becomes a helpful solution to some of the bigger threats later in the game. Wisdom of the Elders provides us with early gas, enough to spend our cards relatively inefficiently and still be holding a handful of options when the dust clears.  And Push Onward hitches us onto the cards we need at the prices we want, namely four power Harsh Rules and whatever singleton is best for the situation.  

The abundance of single cards are not a mistake – as a control deck, we are trying to cover a lot of different bases at once, and entertain a variety of different victory conditions to push through the weaknesses in our opponents deck.  Push Onward helps for this, but the real powerhouse here is Celestial Omen.  Omen understands that being able to pick whatever card you want out of your deck is one of the more powerful effects in the game, so its prohibitive cost requires that you spend an entire turn doing basically nothing before you can do it.  Against aggro decks, this happens to be a crucial turn, so we limit Omen to a two of in this deck to keep it from being a commonly dead card – but the slower the meta, the more of these we can run.  Combined with the rest of our draw effects, Omen provides us with enough selectability to grab any particular vision we want for this deck and make the dream real.

Finally, the deck runs four-of Seek Power and Secret Pages both, which close to guarantees we will be playing a power a turn while thinning out the deck of power draws and allowing us to keep to the minimum one-third requirement.  The influence fixing here is important as well, and we keep enough basic power on hand to be able to draw any of the requirements we need.  

Because we’re four colors, we try to keep these influence requirements somewhat light.  When Seeking, remember that the decks maximum influence requirements are : 2 Time (only for A New Tomorrow, one will usually do), 2 Primal (key for Wisdom, a useful pick), 2 Justice (crucial for cards like Ironthorn and Harsh Rule) and 3 Shadow (2 will do in most situations, as there is only one 3).  Try to pick up on the first three colors first, leaving Shadow cards for last, as the deck deliberately keeps the Shadow light until the dreams start coming true.

The Dreams

Now let’s talk about the fun stuff.

First things first, we’re going to outgreed every other slow deck out there.  At the top of the decks power curve is Dimensional Rift, a card that simply blows other decks out of the water with its proposed value.  Dimensional Rift is six-for-one card advantage at best, and usually nets at least four cards worth of advantage against any deck.  It brings many powerful units back from the void, namely Ironthorn, Siraf and Desert Marshal – while also functioning as the ninth and tenth board clears in the deck, clearing two units and potentially stunning more if the board state is completely out of hand.  Couple that with a two card draw and you have a phenomenal value engine that guarantees your deck will have gas for the next three or four turns.  We choose Rift over Channel the Tempest due to its reduced influence requirements and tendency to solve several problems at once: board state, card advantage, and general lack of Ironthorns.

You’ve probably noticed the insane finishers already, so we’ll start with the kookiest one – our only straight two card combo, Accelerate into Cabal Mastermind.  While they’re two of the most useless cards against standard decks, they deal a crushing blow to midrange and control archetypes that’s almost impossible to recover from.  There’s few things more satisfying than stealing your opponents entire hand of cards on a turn where he committed his attackers to an empty board, and the mere threat of this kind of swing is enough to keep players who know your deck from getting too frisky with you.  

While this combo can be set up for seven in a pinch, I typically opt to wait until I have nine power, as playing the Accelerate is a dead giveaway for a weird trick.   We’ve reluctantly included Azindel’s Gift as a second offering against slow decks, as it’s a more reliable if less completely swingy method of dealing with an overstuffed hand.  Still, having two directions to approach this situation is better than one!

The next card doesn’t affect the board state – but if you can ever spare a turn to cast A New Tomorrow, you have probably won the game.  Playing the top 12 power of the deck guarantees every draw will be a non-power card (although you’ll still pull cards like Seek Power and Secret Pages, an unavoidable consequence for this four color monstrosity).  It also gives you enough power to perform some stupidly fun plays.  You can drop an Ironthorn and trigger it immediately, destroying your opponents entire board.  You can throw down Siraf and trigger her two to three times in a row.  You can Dimensional Rift and then play the cards that you drew immediately.  And, best of all, you can Harsh Rule, play The Last Word, activate it, and kill your opponent all in one dramatically disgusting turn.  This level of ridiculousness gets turned up to eleven if you manage to keep Ironthorn on the board long enough, as every single power you play off of A New Tomorrow is doubled by Ironthorn, putting you at a whopping 30+ power to do with as you please.  Triggering Siraf five times on the turn she is played is a great joy in life; aim for it.

Toolkits

To keep the dream alive, we need a wide base of cards that answer tough problems and counter cards.

Mistveil Drake keeps us healthy against Rain of Frogs (not that we need it, the deck is diverse enough that a single Rain will rarely impact our strategy) and burn spells.  Its best use is when it’s not in our hand, as using Celestial Omen into Mistveil Drake provides us with a six power negate effect that also stops cards like Azindel’s Gift.  But just in case we miss the Gift, we also run a Decay, which deals with other tough customers as well.  Spell Swipe provides us a critical swing against control and burn decks in our usual, terrifically greedy fashion; it’s especially useful for grabbing the known quantities of Channel the Tempest or the echoed Excavate from an Elysian Trailblazer deck.  We run an Excavate ourselves, as a seventh tutor that fetches life-saving singletons and advantage engines back from the void and allows us to repeat specific answers if we somehow fail to cover any one base twice.  Feeding Time gives us a little wiggle room against Dawnwalkers, Vara’s, Worldpyre Pheonixes and other recurring threats, and Black Sky Harbinger gives us a wide variety of useful tools, including Aegis popping, regaining health, and serving as one last board clear against Jito decks.  The numbers on any of these cards can come up in response to a particular meta, but in general we keep it as wide as possible to maximize the use of Push Onward and Omen for problem solving.

Variants

Of course, these particular dream combos are all just personal favorites.  The deck can be modified to support whatever weird setup you want – Scourge of Frosthome leads our sideboard for the control matchup, and helped lead us to a dramatic finish in last weeks tournament that generally has to be seen to be believed.  We keep the rest of the side simple, but if you want to do a more dramatic restructure, you can try some fun things with upping the Accelerates and adding West-Wind Herald and Gemini Ritual (psst: Jarall Frostheart for style points). You could also opt for an Eilyn, Queen of the Wilds strategy that plays with the decks late game spell fun.

With the base of this deck intact, you can plop whatever kooky plan you want in here and be able to pay for it, but remember that stretching the influence base sharply decreases its consistency – be leery of Vodakhan Combos or Channel The Tempest shenanigans unless you’re taking out some of the purple on your wishlist. Likewise, avoid splashing heavy into early game deep-influence cards like Feln Bloodcaster without significantly altering your base of power.  If you’re planning on laddering with this deck, remember that the more you struggle against early aggression, the more you should cut cards that have no board state effect and are dead early like Omen, Excavate and Accelerate.  In the heavy burn meta that’s arisen in the last few days, Combrei Healers and other cards that gain health back in amounts are strong includes in place of some of your late game cards.

But if the decklists get slower… go nuts.  Because however slow they are – they’ll never outgreed the Ironthorn.

And we’re done!

Marshal Ironthorn offers an extremely strong shell for big dreaming control decks and monstrous midrange beaters, and he enables a good portion of your collection that might otherwise waste away unused.  There’s a ton of fun options to try in this archetype and I encourage you to fiddle around with this brew and make it into your own.   If you want to see this deck in action we have a companion piece up on Youtube.  Dream big!

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