Lights Out – TPS Control, or How I Learned to Love The Last Word

The ranked ladder in Eternal is an interesting place. Beyond the few mainstays that are always present (Rakano Warcry, Stonescar Burn), the make-up of the ladder is highly dependent on what has been in the public eye lately.  After the ETS Season 2 Invitational last week, Big Combrei, Feln and Felnscar control, and 4F Control all had an uptick in popularity due to their performances and high turnout at the Invitational. To combat a rise in certain decks, there is a rise in decks that beat those decks. This is the deck that beats Combrei and control:

the-last-word

tps-control

2 Permafrost (Set1 #193)
2 Seek Power (Set1 #408)
1 Annihilate (Set1 #269)
2 Eilyn’s Favor (Set0 #24)
2 Find the Way (Set0 #513)
4 Lightning Storm (Set1 #206)
2 Lightning Strike (Set1 #197)
2 Vara’s Favor (Set0 #35)
4 Feln Bloodcaster (Set1 #386)
4 Scorpion Wasp (Set1 #96)
4 Wisdom of the Elders (Set1 #218)
2 Deathstrike (Set1 #290)
4 Steward of the Past (Set1 #287)
3 Lumen Defender (Set1 #115)
1 Staff of Stories (Set1 #234)
3 Withering Witch (Set1 #368)
4 Black-Sky Harbinger (Set1 #385)
1 Celestial Omen (Set1 #241)
1 Azindel’s Gift (Set1 #306)
1 Touch of the Umbren (Set1 #308)
1 The Last Word (Set1 #309)
3 Primal Sigil (Set1 #187)
3 Shadow Sigil (Set1 #249)
3 Time Sigil (Set1 #63)
4 Feln Banner (Set1 #417)
4 Seat of Cunning (Set0 #62)
4 Seat of Mystery (Set0 #61)
4 Seat of Wisdom (Set0 #63)

The goal is to stall forever until you can establish complete control (often with Azindel’s Gift) and finish the opponent off with The Last Word. Since all of the cards that could accidentally win the game before turn 15 are gone (Sandstorm Titan, Champion of Cunning, Mystic Ascendant, Mistveil Drake, etc.) you will usually get the chance to draw lots of cards and kill them with The Last Word.

The Deck

There are some strange looking choices here, but I assure you that I’ve thought a lot about this.

Two each of Seek Power, Find the Way, Vara’s Favor, and Eilyn’s Favor. Find the Way is the best power searcher since you get TWO power with it, but it takes time influence to play, so a couple Seek Power are necessary to ensure that you have the time influence necessary. Find the Way is great because it helps you get to 8, 9, 10 power for various expensive cards. Vara’s Favor and Eilyn’s Favor both shine in certain situations, but you can’t play to many power searchers or you’ll run out of sigils to fetch. The 2-2-2-2 has worked well for me thus far, and I haven’t had much trouble with influence or power flooding. A single extra Shadow sigil wouldn’t be horrible, but there are so many spells and units I want to play!

The removal spells are 1 or 2-ofs. It’s better to draw one copy each several different removal spells than a lot of the same one, so I’m mixing them up. Permafrost is best against Stonescar, Lightning Strike is best against relic weapons, and Deathstrike is best against Big Combrei. You can find some use for all of them in every matchup, so you’re rarely stuck with unusable removal. If anything would be changed, it would be to add more answers to Champion of Chaos. Permafrost is fairly bad against Combrei and medium against Rakano, so sacrifices must be made. Adjust the spot removal as you see fit for what matchups you’re facing the most of. Scorpion Wasp is present as a 4-of since it is almost always great, against everything from Champion of Cunning to Sandstorm Titan to Umbren Reaper. Lumen Defender is basically a removal spell + gain 5 health, which helps bridge you from early game 1-for-1s to late game swing cards.lumen20defender

Lumen Defender over Sandstorm Titan. I wanted it to count as a budget deck, alright? No, I’m just kidding. The whole deck has no targets for Vanquish, so that’s one thing. The matchups where Titan would be better (non-Justice ones, so Stonescar and some control) Defender is still serviceable. 5 health means your opponent needs one more Obliterate to kill you against Stonescar, and you are already a massive favorite against control. The deck also has no targets that die 1-for-1 to Torch except Scorpion Wasp, but against fire decks you can usually find a turn where the opponent spends all of their power for Hammer of Might or Soulfire Drake and you can sneak the Wasp down to remove something.

The most deadly units you’ve ever seen: this deck has 11(!) deadly units – the full pack of Scorpion Wasps and Steward of the Past, plus 3 Lumen Defender. These are great against Rakano, as Finest Hour does basically nothing against you, and against aegis threats in general like Throne Warden, Champion of Cunning, and Silverwing Familiar. It also helps that the deadly units function as removal spells that you throw out proactively, so your power rarely goes to waste.azindels-gift

The end-game package is one copy each of Celestial Omen, Azindel’s Gift, Touch of the Umbren, and The Last Word. The latter three each win the game nearly on their own in certain situations, and Omen is there to function as a second copy of whichever you need. Omen also frequently gets the other half of the Withering Witch + Lightning Storm board-wipe combo. The Last Word is the main win condition, so protect if at all possible. That means play it when your opponent has no power available so you can protect it with fast spells and Scorpion Wasp the next turn, play it with aegis backup from Eilyn’s Favor, or play it after your opponent has discarded their hand with Azindel’s Gift. When you can afford to set it up (basically only against Big Combrei and control) Gift into The Last Word is almost unbeatable. Against control decks, if the game goes really long, the best plan is to set up Gift into Last Word + ultimate in the same turn after clearing the board the previous turn. This takes 18 power, but it comes up. Touch of the Umbren isn’t played very frequently, but it’s a great 2-for-1 in grindy matchups and a game-ending swing against Umbren Reaper (steal it, attack for 5 lifesteal, then opponent kills it for a 20-point swing!).

Matchups

TPS Control has surprisingly polarized matchups for a control deck. It is great against Feln control, Big Combrei, and various midrange decks like Stonescar without Flame Blast and Haunting Scream. It is quite bad against Stonescar Burn and slightly unfavored against Rakano.

Rakano Warcry

The name of the game against Rakano is denying Warcries. If you can kill each unit after one attack you are in good shape, and if you stumble you will lose. Weapons and Finest Hours are nearly useless against all of your deadly units, so hopefully the opponent draws a lot of them. The best plan is to slow the early onslaught as well as you can and then race with Black-sky Harbingers once you’ve locked down the ground with high-health defenders. Save your removal for flying units or Deepforged Plates once you’ve hit that stage of the game.

Stonescar Burn

There is a cost to every change you make to a deck, and the cost to removing big units like Sandstorm Titan and Champion of Cunning is that your Stonescar Burn matchup is awful. Even with the health gain from Lumen Defender, your finishing speed is just too slow against burn most of the time, and they have more than enough ways to kill Black-Sky Harbinger and prevent you from gaining a lot of health. On top of all of that, sometimes you brick on answers to Champion of Chaos for a turn and take 10-14 from her, which just ends the game on turn 6.black-sky-harbinger

To have a chance, you need to remove every unit the Stonescar deck plays before it can damage you, then deploy several units to draw out your opponent’s removal and hopefully land a Black-Sky Harbinger unopposed. Once you get a couple of lifesteal hits you can survive long enough to finish the opponent off.

Shimmerpack

This version of control has many more bodies than usual, so you can usually lock up the ground for a while with Feln Bloodcaster, Steward of the Past and Lumen Defender. The way to win is to build up as large of a board as you can while picking away in the air with Black-Sky Harbinger (always save removal for Sandstorm Titan). Failing that, save a Withering Witch + Lightning Storm combo as long as possible so that you can wipe your opponent’s board and finish them off over one or two turns with your units. After a late-game board wipe you can also usually defend yourself well enough to pick off everything and finish your opponent off with The Last Word.

Combrei

Now we’re getting to the good stuff. TPS Control was built to beat Big Combrei, and it does a fine job against Combrei Aggro as well. All of the deadly units hold down the ground, so there is no need to use removal (besides Scorpion Wasp) on early units or Sandstorm Titans. You need to save your removal spells for units that have devastating effects without attacking – Knight-Chancellor Siraf, Mystic Ascendant, and sometimes Marshall Ironthorn if the board is big and his ultimate would kill you.

Combrei Aggro can’t really break out of the deadly units + Black-Sky Harbinger board stall, so that’s a fairly simple matchup. Big Combrei can play into the late game with the best of them, though, so you need to plan yours out. Don’t run out units if you are going to play Azindel’s Gift soon; that just gives your opponent targets for their silence and Harsh Rule that they would have just discarded. The ultimate plan is to force them to discard their hand with Gift and then win with The Last Word once it is protected from ambush units. Combrei is another matchup where you want to hold onto your Withering Witch for as long as possible – the board can get out of control fast between Siraf, Ironthorn and Ascendant, so you need to have that reset button available if things go wrong.

Control

feln-bloodcasterThe matchup against control is similar to the matchup against Big Combrei, but even easier since they put on les pressure and have more removal spells that are just going to be discarded by Azindel’s Gift. Be sure to ration your answers based on the opponent: if they could have Champion of Cunning use Permafrost or Deathstrike first and save Scorpion Wasps. If they could have Siraf, do the opposite. Save Eilyn’s Favor for at late as you can if you don’t need the power. Your aegis can be incidentally popped by Vara’s Favor, Steward of the Past, or Black-Sky Harbinger’s summon effects, so hold onto the Favor so you don’t get Gifted turn 7 and can deploy your Gift first (if the opponent even has Gift; this list is greedy and most people don’t play Gift).

As long as you ration your removal properly, your superior endgame should prove the deciding factor. Winning with 15 cards left in your deck by playing and using The Last Word’s ultimate in the same turn is not uncommon, so don’t be in any rush to end the game and expose yourself to sweepers or surprise attackers. In a similar vein, it is usually correct to hold your Feln Bloodcasters until you have 10 power and can play and ultimate them in the same turn so removal or silence can’t deny you card draw.

Armory

Relic weapon decks are a pretty tough match for control decks, and this one is no exception. You have some interaction with several early units and 2 Lightning Strikes, but usually this is not enough and a relic weapon with more than 4 armor is hard to deal with. You have to try to rush the opponent down as fast as possible, and this is where cutting the high-strength units gets you. There just aren’t enough big units to punish relic weapons in the deck.

Keep in mind that Scorpion Wasp can redirect a relic weapon attack, so you might be able to get in an extra hit with a Steward or Harbinger that way.

Conclusion

TPS Control is a metagame deck – it hits a very specific segment of the metagame very hard while having a big weakness against another portion. If your ever find yourself facing a lot of Flame Blasts, put this deck away. If you find yourself facing a lot of Sandstorm Titans and Wisdom of the Elders, pick it back up again. I hope that those of you that enjoy drawing cards and winning as an afterthought have fun with this one.

Until next time, may you always have time to ultimate your Feln Bloodcasters.

LightsOutAce

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