Did you know that you need calcium for strong bones? Well, this deck can give it to you. Thanks Mr Skeltal!
1 Inspire (Set1 #129)
2 Permafrost (Set1 #193)
4 Seek Power (Set1 #408)
4 Torch (Set1 #8)
4 Borderlands Waykeeper (Set1 #517)
1 Bring Down (Set2 #217)
4 Eilyn’s Favor (Set0 #24)
2 Kaleb’s Choice (Set2 #188)
2 Lightning Storm (Set1 #206)
1 Lightning Strike (Set1 #197)
3 Trailblaze (Set2 #111)
2 Vanquish (Set1 #143)
1 Eilyn’s Choice (Set2 #220)
3 Sword of Icaria (Set1 #315)
4 Wisdom of the Elders (Set1 #218)
2 Auric Runehammer (Set1 #166)
4 Harsh Rule (Set1 #172)
1 Celestial Omen (Set1 #241)
4 Knucklebones (Set2 #197)
1 Leave a Witness (Set2 #100)
2 Fire Sigil (Set1 #1)
3 Justice Sigil (Set1 #126)
4 Primal Sigil (Set1 #187)
4 Diplomatic Seal (Set1 #425)
4 Seat of Fury (Set0 #53)
4 Seat of Glory (Set0 #56)
4 Seat of Order (Set0 #51)
So what exactly is going on here? Well, I’ll give you a hint:
Knucklebones is the control finisher we’ve been waiting for – it’s a 1-card win condition that allows you to fill the rest of your deck with removal and card draw. One more great thing – premium Knucklebones transforms your whole deck into premium cards!
This shell may look somewhat familiar – FJP control is a deck that has been around for a long time. Calcium control eschews the Icarias, Rise to the Challenge, and Throne Warden/Staff of Stories card advantage engine for Knucklebones, a card advantage and win condition all rolled up into one card. The extra slots allow you to maximize digging power with Wisdom of the Elders and Trailblaze, and one Celestial Omen to make sure you can find a Knucklebones or a Harsh Rule when you need it. By switching from weapon and unit-based win conditions to an expensive multi-faction relic one (which dodges commonly played relic removal spells Kaleb’s Choice and Banish), you make your win condition much more resilient and likely to win the game by itself, rather than needing to draw Icaria than draw the weapon it buffed (and hope she didn’t buff a unit). Knucklebones also can’t be killed as easily as Staff of Stories, so your card advantage can’t be cut off by burn or a beefy attacker. Knucklebones is a much more powerful card advantage engine than Staff, anyways.
So why is Knucklebones good? Well, for starters, it transforms all of your power into random cards, too, and with only 36 “useless” cards (power and cards that only search for power) you are drawing about 1.9 cards per turn to your opponent’s .65 (their deck still has power). Even though the cards are random and there is a lot of draft chaff in the game, there are plenty of good cards, too, and even 2 garbage cards per turn can overwhelm an opponent who is drawing only .65 real cards per turn. It says random on the card, but Knucklebones is very consistent in what it does – buries your opponent in card advantage if they don’t finish you off quickly.
I started with Skycrag since those are the factions on Knucklebones, but the lack of a sweeper hurt a lot for a control deck that needs a stable board to play a 7-drop that does nothing the turn it comes down. Eventually I cut the spot removal and blockers from Fire (Obliterate and Assembly Line) to try Harsh Rule and some relic weapons. I ended up backing down on the number of relic weapons I was running since there are a lot of fatties running around right now, and as a result I also cut a few Inspires since they are best with relic weapons.
I also cut the Valkyrie Enforcers, Kothons, and Torgovs, which makes the deck completely immune to Torch and Vanquish pre-Knucklebones. The opponent is often sitting on dead removal until the late game, and at the point you’re deploying units from Knucklebones you don’t really care about spot removal since you’re drawing so many units. The lone unit left in the deck is Borderlands Waykeeper, who I’ve loved against aggro and go-wide decks as a way to avoid using removal on every little unit the opponent plays. The Ultimate that lets you fly in for 2 a turn is often used to turn the corner once you’ve gained control of the game or drawn a weapon from Knucklebones. Sometimes you just want a cheap blocker who’s immune to Torch! If there isn’t much Oni Ronin running around for some reason, the Waykeepers can easily be swapped for Kothons or more removal.
A main weakness of Knucklebones is that if the relic is destroyed you’re stuck drawing one mediocre card per turn. You’re still drawing more gas than the opponent, but their card quality is higher, so you can fall behind. To avoid this grim fate (and to help the burn matchup), I play the full 4 Eilyn’s Favor. Player Aegis has long been under-valued, but it is very good in a wide variety of matchups. It’s generally gaining you around 2 health at worst, and at best it straight-up counters an Obliterate or Sabotage. It even prevents your opponent from stealing one of your cards with Feln Bloodcaster’s Ultimate!
The other new cards I’m playing are Leave a Witness as a 5th Harsh Rule, Bring Down as a Violent Gust with more versatility against stuff like Makto and Soulfire Drake, Kaleb’s Choice as a way to stop a burn spell or Xenan Obelisk or relic weapon, Eilyn’s Choice as a bad Vanquish/bad Backlash split card, and Trailblaze. Trailblaze isn’t amazing, but in a deck like this that NEEDS one certain card to win, it’s a good way to dig. There comes a point where you’ve stabilized the board and need to find a Knucklebones before the opponent can claw back into the game, and that’s where Trailblaze shines as a digging spell, bottoming anything that isn’t Knucklebones (or sometimes, the power to play it). Calcium control also has a lot of fast spells, so sometimes you can hold up Kaleb’s Choice or Lightning Strike and then Trailblaze if you aren’t forced to use either of those.
I’m not certain on the correct mix of draw spells, and ideally you would max out on both Trailblaze for digging and Inspire for buffing Sword of Icaria and Auric Runehammer, but there just isn’t room to play that many cantrips. You need 4 Seek Power since this is a 3 faction deck and you need 4 Eilyn’s Favor for the reasons enumerated above. Playing 8 cantrips in addition would lead to drawing too many draw spells and power instead of interaction for turns 1-6. Playing tons of cheap draw spells also functionally increases the amount of power in your deck, and even though you can afford to draw a lot of power since Knucklebones transforms all of the power in your deck into draw spells, you can’t afford to flood THAT hard since your payoff card requires a stable board to come down safely.
So Knucklebones buries the opponent if you can keep the board stable. Harsh Rule on 6, Knucks on 7, easy game, right? Well, the density of removal in your deck is going to be very low post-bones, so threats that aren’t easily removed in combat by the abundant units you will be drawing can be an issue. Against decks with threats like Champion of Cunning or Mystic Ascendant you need to stockpile a few answers to units like that before you play Knucklebones. Thankfully, decks like that are usually pretty slow and give you time to set up. Decks with both difficult threats and a fast clock (basically Rakano) are the bad matchups. Sometimes you just need to slam Knucklebones and hope it provides you with Trail Stories + Decimate (it’s happened to me).
So, that’s my latest build of Knucklebones control. It’s certainly not perfect yet, but it’s getting there, and the deck is very strong already. For those looking to play a reactive deck or something different and fun, give Knucklebones a try. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how powerful it is.
Until next time, may all of your Knucklebones be premium.