I’ve experimented with a lot of cards and strategies with Omens of the Past, and I think I’ve found the best deck right now: Chalice Control. Now it isn’t the best deck for ladder, since the games take forever, but I’m fairly sure it has the highest win rate of any deck right now, at least for me.
What makes Chalice Control so strong? There are a lot of reasons, but the main ones are that it can out-grind any midrange on control deck, it has tons of blockers and health gain against aggro and burn, and it has a lot of units and when it needs to be pro-active against combo decks. The only weakness is the relative lack of single-target removal for units like Siraf and Mystic Ascendant and the sometimes-awkward 3-faction power base with heavy influence requirements.
Chalice Control was a strong contender pre-Omens, but it got several new tools that really put it over the top.
Kothon, the Far-Watcher is the most obvious addition to any deck that can produce both Justice and Primal influence. He just does everything – early blocker, late pressure, power sink, Chalice target. The addition of Kothon as a card that can produce multiple sizable threats in the air also remove the necessity for The Great Parliament, so you can durdle even harder by removing win conditions for 2 drops. If that doesn’t bring joy to your heart, Chalice might not be the deck for you.
On that note, The Great Parliament was always a card that didn’t really contribute to the Chalice game plan, but was played anyways so that you could actually end the game in grindy matchups before you decked yourself. Kothon lets you end the game without having to play such an off-plan card, and Channel the Tempest is still in the deck so you can reach out and kill someone when you have to. At least it draws 3 cards while ending the game, so you don’t need to feel so bad about not being able to draw any more cards.
EIlyn’s Choice is the next no-brainer addition from Omens, although I’m not as high on it as some people are. It is really bad at removing threats with abilities that can take over the game without attacking like Marshall Ironthron and Mystic Ascendant, so I have 2-2 split of Choice and Vanquish. Vanquish is the gold standard removal spell for large units, costing only 2 and being playable even when the unit isn’t attacking, but Choice is more versatile since it can stop cards you have trouble interacting with using only units and removal like Flame Blast, Rise to the Challenge, and Smuggler’s Stash. Sometimes you can surprise negate an enemy Harsh Rule for lethal, as well!
The last amazing addition is Waystone Infuser, which does everything you want: draws cards, blocks well, and has 2 strength so you can hit it with Chalice to draw a card. Infuser is a card like Black-Sky Harbinger that doesn’t look that impressive when you’re just reading the card, but once you play with it you will feel its power. The first time you Warp it in from the top of your deck and play another power from the top of your deck you will fall in love. I just want to play more free Wisdom of the Elders!
4 Seek Power (Set1 #408)
4 Desert Marshal (Set1 #332)
4 Kothon, the Far-Watcher (Set2 #218)
4 Temple Scribe (Set1 #502)
2 Vanquish (Set1 #143)
4 Amber Acolyte (Set1 #93)
4 Combrei Healer (Set1 #333)
2 Eilyn’s Choice (Set2 #220)
1 Scorpion Wasp (Set1 #96)
4 Wisdom of the Elders (Set1 #218)
4 Crystalline Chalice (Set1 #359)
2 Marisen’s Disciple (Set1 #104)
4 Harsh Rule (Set1 #172)
2 Lumen Defender (Set1 #115)
2 Waystone Infuser (Set2 #63)
3 Channel the Tempest (Set1 #244)
2 Justice Sigil (Set1 #126)
4 Primal Sigil (Set1 #187)
2 Time Sigil (Set1 #63)
2 Combrei Banner (Set1 #424)
2 Elysian Banner (Set1 #421)
3 Hooru Banner (Set2 #216)
4 Seat of Order (Set0 #51)
3 Seat of Progress (Set0 #58)
3 Seat of Wisdom (Set0 #63)
Chalice has a relatively simple plan that it executes consistently: clog up the board with throw-away units, draw cards, play Chalice and buff the units while drawing more cards, and eventually bury the opponent in card advantage and finish them off with whatever units you have left. The plan is difficult to interact with, as there are only a few playable relic destruction cards and you don’t care if your units get destroyed since almost all of them have summon effects and/or are cheap to play. A lot people find Chalice boring to play against, and that’s a common reaction to decks like this where the game is effectively won many turns before the opponent’s health goes to 0. If your Chalice opponent has 9 cards in hand, an active Chalice, and is ahead on board, you can just concede. You don’t need to sit there bored for 10 more turns while they get ahead enough to actually reduce your health to 0. That said, if you want to stick it out, your opponent will be more than happy to draw more cards. 🙂
Chalice is a relatively pro-active deck since it has so many units, so no matchups are truly horrible. Any time you can go 2-3-4 drop units and follow up with some card draw you are in fine shape.
Chalice has tons of early blockers and health gain, so these matchups should be fairly straightforward. Block as much as you can, preserve your health total, and turn the corner once you have the board stabilized. Don’t start attacking unless you are a burn spell or two away from dying and need to close the game. If you can, wait until you have an extra blocker beyond your opponent’s number of units s a Charge unit or removal spell still won’t allow any damage to make it through to your face. Never has a Lumen Defender been such a welcome sight.
The card Crystalline Chalice itself is pretty suspect here, as you don’t want to exhaust blockers and it costs a ton of power to start up and running. Try to overwhelm the opponent with unit quality and don’t deploy and activate Chalice until you have the board under control.
Rakano is a little tougher than the other Fire aggro matchups because they go big instead of using burn, and all the health gain in the world doesn’t matter if you’re taking 10 per turn. Save Harsh Rule, Vanquish, and Eilyn’s Choice for after a weapon is deployed if possible, and prioritize holding a Combrei Healer or Desert Marshall to pop Aegis in case a Deepforged Plate or Warcried Hammer of Might gets equipped to a Crownwatch Paladin or Silverwing Familiar.
Despite all these difficulties, the matchup isn’t that bad for Chalice. With all of the early blockers you often enter the mid-game around 15-20 health, which lets you take a hit or two from a weapon-ed up unit while digging for answers.
Here we come to the tougher one. Chalice goes relatively wide, but Armory has Harsh Rule, a few blockers, and Chalice’s units aren’t particularly well-statted for offense. Try to grind through the weapons and Harsh Rules by always keeping 2-3 units in play and buffing them with Chalice whenever possible. One of the most back-breaking plays available is using Eilyn’s Choice to negate a key Smuggler’s Stash or Harsh Rule, so if you have a Choice try to keep 3 power open on crucial turns where those cards would beat you. Channel the Tempest at face is your best way to deal with big weapons, so don’t use it for face damage unless you’re killing a key weapon or it sets up lethal.
This is a large category, encompassing Praxis, Combrei, and 3-faction lists based on either of those. All are great matchups, however.
Praxis is more aggressive and has Flame Blast and Obliterate, so be more defensive there by not Chalice-ing your last blocker and such. Eilyn’s Favor can negate their reach, but often you can’t hold it up after Harsh Rule. The turning point here is generally when you Channel their last big threat and power up with a clear board and cards in hand. They have little card advantage outside of Heart of the Vault, so if you can weather the storm for the first 7-10 turns they should run out gas and you should be golden.
Decks with Siraf and Mystic Ascendant don’t keel over quite so quickly to your card advantage game, but they have much less pressure so you can afford to take your time. If you Chalice a Combrei Healer and take 5 from a Sandstorm titan as a result it isn’t going to punish you. A key play in this and the Praxis matchup is to set up a blocker with more than 5 health using Combrei Healer(s) so the opponent can’t easily punch through and has to commit more to the board, at which point Harsh Rule becomes better for you. If the opponent doesn’t commit, you don’t have to either, and the waiting game favors you since your late-game power is overwhelming. Draw-pass-draw-pass is the ideal state while you build towards a Harsh Rule with tons of backup of consecutive Channel the Tempests for 12 to face for lethal.
Chalice control isn’t for everyone, and it isn’t as simple to play as it first appears, but if you enjoy long games and high win rates I highly recommend Chalice Control. The mirror can get pretty miserable (if the opponent ever Channels a unit the plan becomes to deck them), but every matchup feels winnable.
Until next time, may you always find Chalice before you die.