Lights Out – the Great Combrei Migration

The ranked metagame in Eternal has taken quite a turn since the balance changes 2 weeks ago. A ladder once dominated by Oni Ronin has expanded, and now the largest and most value-packed units out there roam wild and free – the Combrei units.

Combrei of all varieties was mostly pushed out of the meta by Stonescar Burn – the big, expensive value units usually can’t outrace the Flame Blasts and Obliterates Stonescar sends its way. With Stonescar on the down turn thanks to the Champion of Chaos nerf (about time!), Sandstorm Titan, Siraf, and company can come out to play. I’m a big fan of more Combrei in the metagame, as the games are more interactive and there is a lot of play to the mirror. Grindy incremental value games are fun!

An interesting thing about Combrei is just how customizable the deck is – you can go aggressive with Awakened Student and Xenan Obelisk, midrange with Harsh Rule and Mystic Ascendant, or way over the top with Vodakhan and Marshal Ironthorn. You can even mix and-and-match the approaches, adding a Vodakhan or two to your midrange deck, or splash any faction you want! I’m going to take a look at several approaches to the Combrei base and investigate why you would want to play each one.

Big CombreiBig Combrei

4 Seek Power (Set1 #408)
4 Desert Marshal (Set1 #332)
2 Find the Way (Set1 #513)
4 Temple Scribe (Set1 #502)
3 Vanquish (Set1 #143)
4 Combrei Healer (Set1 #333)
4 Knight-Chancellor Siraf (Set1 #335)
3 Scorpion Wasp (Set1 #96)
4 Valkyrie Enforcer (Set1 #151)
4 Sandstorm Titan (Set1 #99)
3 The Great Parliament (Set1 #338)
4 Harsh Rule (Set1 #172)
3 Marshal Ironthorn (Set1 #174)
4 Mystic Ascendant (Set1 #116)
7 Justice Sigil (Set1 #126)
8 Time Sigil (Set1 #63)
4 Combrei Banner (Set1 #424)
2 Diplomatic Seal (Set1 #425)
4 Seat of Progress (Set0 #58)

Why play this list?

Big Combrei is the gold standard for midrange-control decks in Eternal. It has a consistent two-faction power base and plays the strongest units at every point in the curve – Desert Marshal, Knight-Chancellor Siraf, Sandstorm Titan, Marshal Ironthorn, and Mystic Ascendant. That’s a hell of a curve that includes a ton of late-game value from Siraf’s ability, Ironthorn’s ultimate, and Ascendant’s card advantage. One of the things that makes Combrei such a strong deck is that it can use basically any amount of power – 7 for Mystic Ascendant (you almost always want to play Ascendant with a power the same turn), 8 for activating Siraf, 11 for playing and activating Siraf in the same turn, 15 for Ironthorn’s ultimate, 20 for playing Ironthorn and activating his ultimate in the same turn. You are rarely overrun early because your units have decent base stats, and you rarely flood out late because your cards are more effective when you have a lot of power. I wish more decks were like this, but there are’t quite enough good card draw spells or power sinks yet.

The Great Parliament has been gaining popularity in all varieties of Time/Justice decks, and for good reason. It is a fine card on 4 power, a great card at 8 power, and an absurd card at 12+ power. Many decks are weak to flyers, and particularly multiple large flyers. Short of a board wipe or a Backlash, it is hard to answer a late-game Great Parliament efficiently. The addition of Parliament really helps the control matchups, where it taxes the opponent’s removal and is a great way to recover after a sweeper.  It also really helps against Shimmerpack, where your late-game is eclipsed by multiple Xenan Obelisk so you must be aggressive. Combrei has plenty of silence effects and Vanquishes, so Sandstorm Titan can usually be dealt with so that your owls can soar over for the win.

VodakomboVodakombo

4 Initiate of the Sands (Set1 #74)

4 Seek Power (Set1 #408)
2 Desert Marshal (Set1 #332)
4 Find the Way (Set1 #513)
4 Talir’s Favored (Set0 #11)
2 Vanquish (Set1 #143)
3 Voice of the Speaker (Set1 #78)
2 Amber Acolyte (Set1 #93)
3 Combrei Emissary (Set1001 #12)
4 Combrei Healer (Set1 #333)
4 Knight-Chancellor Siraf (Set1 #335)
3 The Great Parliament (Set1 #338)
3 Marshal Ironthorn (Set1 #174)
4 Mystic Ascendant (Set1 #116)
4 Vodakhan, Temple Speaker (Set1 #347)
8 Justice Sigil (Set1 #126)
9 Time Sigil (Set1 #63)
2 Combrei Banner (Set1 #424)
2 Diplomatic Seal (Set1 #425)
4 Seat of Progress (Set0 #58)

Why play this list?

Vodakombo goes waaaaaaay over the top of any other deck in the game. The slower the metagame, the better-positioned Vodakombo is. Once you get your engine running, you can present a lethal board with a looming Marshal Ironthorn ultimate to clear the blockers out of the way while having a full hand to present the same threat again the next turn. You simply cannot control Vodakombo once it gets up to double-digit power amounts and has a large hand. The deck doesn’t even pay Harsh Rule – the plan against getting behind on the board is to simply out-size and out-muscle your opponent a couple of turns down the line.

All of this late-game power comes with a cost, of course – your early game is much weaker without Scorpion Wasp, Sandstorm Titan, or Harsh Rule to defend you early. Once you start adding these cards, you don’t have as many engine cards and can’t combo off as consistently or as hard – you really need all of those sigil searchers to combo with Vodakhan and those Voice of the Speakers and Combrei Emissaries to ramp up hard enough to play Vodakhan before you die. It’s certainly possible to play a hybrid build, but you should cut down on Vodakhans as you cut support cards. I think it’s best to just accept your losses to hyper-aggro decks and beat the slow decks when the metagame calls for it.

Icaria Gold/Fiery CombreiIcaria Gold

4 Seek Power (Set1 #408)
4 Torch (Set1 #8)
4 Desert Marshal (Set1 #332)
2 Find the Way (Set1 #513)
3 Vanquish (Set1 #143)
2 Amber Acolyte (Set1 #93)
4 Knight-Chancellor Siraf (Set1 #335)
2 Valkyrie Enforcer (Set1 #151)
2 Auric Runehammer (Set1 #166)
1 Furnace Mage (Set1 #40)
3 Rise to the Challenge (Set1 #320)
4 Sandstorm Titan (Set1 #99)
3 The Great Parliament (Set1 #338)
4 Harsh Rule (Set1 #172)
3 Marshal Ironthorn (Set1 #174)
2 Reality Warden (Set1 #343)
1 Jekk, the Bounty Hunter (Set1001 #11)
2 Icaria, the Liberator (Set1 #329)
3 Fire Sigil (Set1 #1)
5 Justice Sigil (Set1 #126)
5 Time Sigil (Set1 #63)
4 Seat of Glory (Set0 #56)
4 Seat of Impulse (Set0 #54)
4 Seat of Progress (Set0 #58)

 

Why play this list?

Splashing Fire gives you a more aggressive version of the traditional Combrei deck. Instead of trying to grind out the late game with Mystic Ascendant, Icaria Gold tries to just kill the opponent with Icaria and the cards she buffs. You need to take slightly more aggressive lines in the mirror and other slow decks since you don’t have the late-game card advantage engine, but with Icaria’s aegis you can extend more comfortably onto the board. 

Rise to the Challenge gives you access to a nice toolbox, which in this list is Auric Runehammer, Furnace Mage, Reality Warden, Jekk, and Icaria. Auric Runehammer, especially with 6 strength, is an easy 2-for-1 with some unit protection. Furnace Mage is excellent against Armory and Xenan Obelisk. Reality Warden is one of the hardest threats for Stonescar to deal with, as they rarely play Deathstrike and it is out of Obliterate range. The 7/7 for 5 can usually out-race Stonescar’s burn spells with a little support. Jekk is a great way to turn a race around by taking a problematic unit of of the way for 2 turns, and he is nearly impossible to block as a 6-strength quickdraw. Icaria is the big draw to fire – she is a massive threat that generally requires two answers, and she makes your next unit or weapon a game-ending threat. Also, she’s really cool – I mean, what’s not to love about Warcry 5? I’ve had 15/15 Icarias and 40/41 Sandstorm Titans, and that’s just awesome.

Dark CombreiDark Combrei

2 Sabotage (Set1 #252)
4 Seek Power (Set1 #408)
2 Suffocate (Set1 #251)
2 Annihilate (Set1 #269)
4 Desert Marshal (Set1 #332)
2 Find the Way (Set1 #513)
3 Vanquish (Set1 #143)
4 Combrei Healer (Set1 #333)
4 Knight-Chancellor Siraf (Set1 #335)
2 Scorpion Wasp (Set1 #96)
1 Valkyrie Enforcer (Set1 #151)
4 Sandstorm Titan (Set1 #99)
2 Subvert (Set1 #289)
3 The Great Parliament (Set1 #338)
4 Harsh Rule (Set1 #172)
3 Marshal Ironthorn (Set1 #174)
4 Mystic Ascendant (Set1 #116)
6 Justice Sigil (Set1 #126)
2 Shadow Sigil (Set1 #249)
5 Time Sigil (Set1 #63)
4 Combrei Banner (Set1 #424)
2 Seat of Mystery (Set0 #61)
4 Seat of Progress (Set0 #58)
2 Seat of Vengeance (Set0 #55)

Why play this list?

Adding Shadow takes you in the opposite direction as adding Fire – it makes you more controlling.  You get excellent answers for aggro and the mirror with Suffocate and Annihilate, and you get great disruption tools for control and grindy matchups with Sabotage and Subvert. Dark Combrei particularly shines in tournaments, as the sideboard format allows you to run heavy-hitting but narrow answers like Deathstrike and Azindel’s Gift.

The discard gives you a better chance against Stonescar Burn than traditional Combrei, as you have more cards to help you win a race against a hand of Obliterates and Flame Blasts. The Annihilates and Subverts are also pretty big game in the mirror, where answering each card-advantage generating threat is of the utmost importance and the opponent will almost always have useful cards in hand for you to steal with Subvert to get a 2-for-1. These advantages come at a cost, however, as being more reactive makes you more vulnerable to linear strategies when you draw the wrong part of your deck. The influence inconsistency can also hurt you, as this list requires double Time, double Justice, and double Shadow to play all of its cards.

Conclusion

Combrei decks are a perennial contender with a robust core that you can build onto in a multitude of ways. Each possibility has strengths and weaknesses, and it is really up to player and playstyle preference. There’s no wrong answer when you’re dealing with cards this powerful and versatile.

Until next time, may all of your Siraf hits be wonderful.

LightsOutAce

2 thoughts on “Lights Out – the Great Combrei Migration

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