Funstable Brews – Nictotraxian Control

Jekk’s bounty has arrived, o frabjous day!  Here at Funstable Brews we are all about new cards, and making the very best of them.  Thursday’s frenzied experiments included a working remake of Carpet Shuffle using Quarry, a midrange Rakano deck that used Copperhall Bailiff to help get to Navani and Jekk, and several failed attempts to make Dinosaurs a thing.  

derangeddinomancer
“It’ll work, I promise!”

But the clear Funstable darling was obvious from the get-go: the irascible Clank! Dragon and sister of Curiox, Nictotraxian.

Nictotraxian’s one of those great examples of Direwolf designing randomness in a way that feels sensible and fair. Sometimes she does magic things like fix your power perfectly or pull a Righteous Fury for your best unit, but she’s ALWAYS the biggest dragon around, requiring an answer to her and her card-plus of value.  At five colors of influence and seven power, you have to reach a little to properly fit her rewards, and typically you want several ways to repeat those rewards if you’re going to get a good card off her.  Like Curiox, adding this dragon’s treasure to your deck is noisy, and she loudly announces her presence to the opponent with each Fate trigger (although the random card is, happily, hidden from their view).  

nictotraxian-1
As I was thinking about how to get a five color deck going I remembered the old closed beta control archetypes, which fell out of popularity with the disappearance of Find the Way’s spiritual ancestor (the ancient Secret Pages, nothing like the current card).  Running in Time, Justice and Primal with a lot of power search and Celestial Omen, they usually found it worth it to splash a single Shadow for Azindel’s Gift to punish their mirrors. It turns out it’s just as easy to splash a single Fire, too.

Nictotraxian Control

1 Excavate (Set1 #71)
2 Permafrost (Set1 #193)
4 Seek Power (Set1 #408)
3 Desert Marshal (Set1 #332)
4 Find the Way (Set1 #513)
4 Lightning Storm (Set1 #206)
4 Second Sight (Set1 #207)
3 Twinning Ritual (Set1 #79)
1 Decay (Set1 #95)
1 Eye of Winter (Set1 #210)
4 Wisdom of the Elders (Set1 #218)
3 Auric Runehammer (Set1 #166)
1 Elysian Pathfinder (Set1 #108)
4 Harsh Rule (Set1 #172)
1 Lumen Defender (Set1 #115)
2 Celestial Omen (Set1 #241)
1 Azindel’s Gift (Set1 #306)
4 Nictotraxian (Set1001 #16)
1 Sword of the Sky King (Set1 #186)
1 Scourge of Frosthome (Set1 #248)
1 Fire Sigil (Set1 #1)
4 Justice Sigil (Set1 #126)
3 Primal Sigil (Set1 #187)
1 Shadow Sigil (Set1 #249)
5 Time Sigil (Set1 #63)
4 Seat of Order (Set0 #51)
4 Seat of Progress (Set0 #58)
4 Seat of Wisdom (Set0 #63)
Laws of Otraxion.PNG

The Goal

The basic plan here is the control bread and butter – keep your opponent at bay until you outweigh them on value trades and card draw.  If they’re not an aggro deck, you’ll typically need to pull into a big finisher (Scourge of Frosthome, Sword of the Sky King, Azindel’s Gift).  Which one is crucial usually depends on the matchup, which is why we use Celestial Omen to pick out the best options and occasionally answer a critical threat.  

Meanwhile, Nictotraxian churns in the background.  With each Second Sight and Sandform she adds a bonus card to the deck, ranging from explosive deathrays to adorable kittens.  She can even fetch extra power, which is usually, if not always, relevant to your interests.  Mind you, all of this extra card advantage is only card advantage if you can actually play Nictotraxian later, so she’ll usually end up as a finisher herself.  As an 8/8 multicolored dragon, she’s tough to kill with a demanding clock and can hold her own against pretty much anything on the table.

Playing the Deck

As you are fixing, prioritize cards you can play early first.  You need your three primary colors – Time, Justice and Primal – immediately, followed by your second Primal for Wisdom and your second Justice for Harsh Rule.  After that, the Shadow is most important for Gift, followed by the final Fire for none other than the great dragon herself.  If that sounds like a lot, don’t worry – Find the Way will get you there eventually, and the most complicated cards are both rare and played last of all.   However, you want to plan your turns ahead of time – knowing when to play a depleted power and when to bank it for later and answer a threat is crucial.

Control decks like this are complicated and require a lot of attention.  You want to save your best answers for their worst threats, getting maximum value out of cards like Harsh Rule and Lightning Storm, all while still keep your head above water against Aggro and Burn archetypes.  Knowing your opponent’s deck is extremely helpful here – for example, whether to throw a permafrost early to curtail a Stonescar Jito deck or save it for a midrangey Champion of Chaos or Impending Doom.   Most of the time you can let decks poke you with small threats in anticipation of Harsh Rule for massive card advantage, but don’t get too low if the deck has any way to close that gap rapidly.  Eye of Winter will force your opponent to play heavy onto the board for that kind of nonsense.

Unless you’re looking for something, hold onto your fast spells like Wisdom of the Elders and Second Sight until the end of your opponents turn.  It helps prevent overloading your hand with echo units and being forced to discard while holding up power for other answers like Decay or Desert Marshal.

Sideboarding

Modify the removal package based on what you’re seeing.  Backlash and Eilyn’s help against control and slow decks, while an abundance of Rakano might prompt more Lightning Strikes and early options like Storm Lynx.  The new Passage of Eons is a pretty good card for clearing tough boards, but be careful not to silence your own permafrosts.

Our sillier fun-ofs include Excavate and Elysian Pathfinder, both of which are there to add to Nictotraxian’s pile of random cards and flood your opponent out of threats.  You can play Pathfinder blind – it’s only got a few targets and they’re all grand – and Excavate’s recursion is good for renewing Harsh Rule or a key card as a last resort.  Don’t use it too early – denying yourself new cards is rarely a good idea.

Ease off on Nictotraxian and the finishers the more that dominant aggro and tempo decks are in the meta.  This deck is designed to outvalue most control decks, so it plays the slow game perhaps a little too well.  Cutting a Dragon or two in favor of some early removal will damage your value matchups but give you a bit more breathing room early.

If you’re looking to make the deck even sillier, I recommend Crown of Possibilities.  The Second Sight/Twinning Ritual package is already there, and Nictotraxian is the kind of stats that makes any skill look enticing.

Conclusion

That’s the whole package!  The deck is pretty straightforward in principle, but in practice, it’s a kick and a half and you’re going to have a lot of interesting decisions to make due to the random cards and shenanigans.  If you’re interested in a visual representation and some gameplay you can check out the corresponding brew video here.  Good luck, have fun, and try not to make too much Clank!  She hates that part.

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