There are basically two states that the Ranked ladder alternates between right now – super-greedy control decks meant to go over the top of Chalice Control, and hyper-aggro meant to punish those super-greedy decks. The correct deck to play varies by which state the ladder is currently in, so you have to monitor it and switch hour-to-hour. Fortunately, I have a deck that excels in each state today – just be sure to keep track of what you’re facing and switch as appropriate!
2 Seek Power (Set1 #408)
2 Suffocate (Set1 #251)
3 Annihilate (Set1 #269)
2 Eilyn’s Favor (Set0 #24)
4 Lightning Storm (Set1 #206)
2 Lightning Strike (Set1 #197)
4 Vara’s Favor (Set0 #35)
4 Feln Bloodcaster (Set1 #386)
4 Wisdom of the Elders (Set1 #218)
4 Deathstrike (Set1 #290)
4 Steward of the Past (Set1 #287)
3 Champion of Cunning (Set1 #371)
2 Staff of Stories (Set1 #234)
3 Withering Witch (Set1 #368)
4 Black-Sky Harbinger (Set1 #385)
2 Celestial Omen (Set1 #241)
1 Azindel’s Gift (Set1 #306)
8 Primal Sigil (Set1 #187)
9 Shadow Sigil (Set1 #249)
4 Feln Banner (Set1 #417)
4 Seat of Cunning (Set0 #62)
There are some ABSURDLY greedy lists out there for Feln control (I’m talking multiple Celestial Omen, Azindel’s GIft, multiple Vara, multiple Backlash greedy), but this is about as greedy as I am comfortable going. At the end of the day, the best decks and the decks most incentivized by the ladder structure are aggro decks, so you have to respect them. My greed is limited to 2 copies of Celestial Omen and an Azindel’s Gift, which should be more than enough to win any control mirror if you set up Staff of Stories properly. Omen is also quite good against midrange decks like Elysian fatties and Big Combrei, as it can find whatever piece of the Withering Witch + Lightning Storm combo you are missing, which is usually enough to lock up the game.
A lot of people have been cutting Staff of Stories from their Feln control decks, and for the life of me I can’t understand why. It is just as punishing to decks that can’t apply pressure as Azindel’s Gift, but more subtle in its effect so it isn’t noticed as much. If you have a Staff of Stories in play, you even stand a relevant chance of winning if you get Gifted! The real kicker is that it only costs 5, so you can use it in other matchups and even stop ⅔ of an Obliterate against burn (not great, but still better than unplayable Azindel’s Gift or Vara).
The rest of the deck is fairly standard Feln fare, with 4 Lightning Storm because I’ve been running into a lot of Rakano and Burn Queen lately. If the meta has a lot of Chalice and burn, Feln control is a great choice.
So what do you do when there is tons of Rakano (a slightly unfavored matchup for Feln, but gets worse as they add more relic weapons) and you don’t want to slog through the control mirrors? Why, you play a deck that utterly smashes them both:
1 Charchain Flail (Set1 #3)
4 Inspire (Set1 #129)
4 Seek Power (Set1 #408)
4 Torch (Set1 #8)
4 Quarry (Set1001 #15)
4 Rakano Artisan (Set1 #312)
1 Rolant’s Favor (Set0 #18)
3 Vanquish (Set1 #143)
4 Sword of Icaria (Set1 #315)
2 Valkyrie Enforcer (Set1 #151)
3 Auric Runehammer (Set1 #166)
1 Furnace Mage (Set1 #40)
2 Rise to the Challenge (Set1 #320)
4 Harsh Rule (Set1 #172)
2 Smuggler’s Stash (Set1 #396)
3 Throne Warden (Set1 #514)
2 Starsteel Daisho (Set1 #328)
2 Icaria, the Liberator (Set1 #329)
5 Fire Sigil (Set1 #1)
4 Justice Sigil (Set1 #126)
1 Shadow Sigil (Set1 #249)
1 Rakano Banner (Set1 #427)
4 Seat of Glory (Set0 #56)
1 Argenport Banner (Set0 #64)
4 Seat of Vengeance (Set0 #55)
4 Seat of Chaos (Set0 #60)
1 Stonescar Banner (Set1 #419)
Armory is quite good against all removal-heavy control decks, as all of your units are played for their summon abilities and/or have aegis. It also absolutely smashes Rakano Warcry. I’d venture to say that if Rakano isn’t playing Finest Hour, it cannot win a game against Armory where the Armory player has a functional draw. Finest Hour helps, but even with the trick to blow out weapon attacks Armory is a decent favorite.
The correct build of armory is very contentious, and no two people seem to agree on how the deck should look. Here are my thoughts on some commonly arguable cards:
Stonescar Maul is an absolutely atrocious card – it’s Obliterate that costs one more, dies to Torch, and makes you take some face damage. Sure, it can push some damage through 1/1 dorks, but Armory (and Icaria Blue – don’t play Stonescar Maul in Icaria Blue) isn’t aggressive enough to take advantage of that damage. Maul only belongs in aggressive Armory decks playing Warcry units like Oni Ronin and Rakano Outlaw.
“But Ace,” you say, “Maul is so great if you get a couple of buffs on it!” I agree, but any number of buffs on Maul is going to be worse than the equivalent number of buffs on Starsteel Daisho, which is the real payoff card for Armory. Throne Warden into Daisho DESTROYS so many decks, and is the reason Armory has a favorable matchup against Chalice control. That’s right – Armory beats Chalice. No one seems to agree with me, but a 6 or 7 strength Daisho is just lights out, and it’s not that hard to set up. It only takes one Rakano Artisan plus Rise to the Challenge or two Warcries in some capacity to get the Daisho into the sweet spot, and from there a Throne Warden to give it more swings locks it up.
tl;dr Starsteel Daisho is way more powerful in way more situations than Stonescar Maul, so you should play Daisho instead.
While we’re on the topic of expensive cards, I play two Icaria. I like her a lot when the meta is slower (she’s amazing against Feln and Chalice), and she gives you a fighting chance against go-wide decks that are normally the bane of Armory. It’s hard to win when you never get a 2-for-1 with weapons, so you need to cheese wins with a giant flyer. As a side note, Daisho is also great against go-wide decks, and is actually better than Maul there since you generally don’t care about the damage in those matchups and would rather kill two small dorks. The second Icaria is definitely the most cuttable card in the deck.
Furnace Mage and Valkyrie Enforcer are my tech slots, and are nice tutor-able answers to various problems, namely Dawnwalker, Crystalline Chalice, and the mirror. They follow the “played mostly for the summon effect” theme of the rest of the deck. I’ve seen a lot of people play Statuary Maiden in Armory, and I really dislike it because she gives your opponent a good target for Deathstrike, Suffocate, and Harsh Rules that would otherwise be fairly dead against you. It’s not that Maiden is a bad card, but the cards you can play instead are much better in Armory.
Rolant’s Favor is kind of a strange inclusion, but Armory really wants to hit 5 power on turn 5, and doesn’t mind hitting a few more if you have Smuggler’s Stash or Icaria. 25 power with 4 Seek Power and 4 Inspire isn’t quite enough t draw the power you need, so I added a Rolant’s Favor. You could play a 26th actual power instead, but I like the extra chance to have 3+ power in a re-draw hand and the 2 armor is sometimes useful.
These are the two decks I recommend for climbing the ladder if your goal is to rank up. Both have several very good matchups and solid plans against most decks, plus are quite enjoyable to play in my opinion.
Until next time, may you never get Azindel’s Gifted with a full hand.