Hello all, aReNGee here. My previous article on Rakano created a fair amount of discussion over what makes a card stock, and rather than force my own definition into the mix I decided I’d rather write a more in depth, laid back article. It is by no means a definitive take on the archetype, and is heavily biased towards my own personal playstyle and how I look at the metagame at the moment. I did not discuss the list at length with any masters of the archetype, so what follows will be merely a discussion of my list, how I’ve fared with it and why I built it the way I did.
How did this particular list come about? finkel shared a Feln list that was working for himway back in the middle of September, shortly before we worked on the tier list. I ran it for a week and was mildly satisfied with the list. I put it back on the shelf and in early October, I had to bash out a very large number of games in order to grind gold to purchase Tales of Horus Traver. I played a lot Rakano and Skycrag aggro to make that happen, but quickly after the release of Horus Traver (and my Rakano article) found that aggro decks were running into a few problems. Cow problems. Rather than keep smashing aggro into midrange, I decided I’d like to go over the top, but play plenty of removal. I came back to finkel’s original list and gave that a spin. It had some promise, and I tuned the list over the next week to its current form. It served me well during that time, and at time of writing has taken me to top 20 masters.
We’ve strayed pretty far from our original designs, and there’s a number of weird choices in this list. Feeding Time? Two maindeck Azindel’s Gift? I do think the curve of this deck could use some work, but I’m trying to build a deck that has the tools to fight aggro, crush midrange, and have outs against control. That’s a tall ask and I definitely haven’t perfected the list, but the general idea is sound.
vs Aggressive Decks
You’ve got 13 pieces of cheap interaction to help you blunt the early aggression and survive to the midgame, where you start playing large blockers and removal. Black-Sky Harbinger offers a powerful trump against any aggressive deck, often clearing the board and stabilizing your life total all in one go. Card advantage is less important that surviving in these matchups – your opponent will throw their cards on the table and try to finish you, so prioritize your life total. Without a Harbinger you’re vulnerable to burn, so try to stay above Soulfire Drake/Obliterate range. You’re pretty well set up for this matchup, difficulties usually only arise when you don’t draw any of your early interaction and your blockers are answered.
vs Midrange Decks
Midrange decks don’t generally get going until turn 3 or 4, when your expensive but unconditional removal is online. You’ve got 6 single card answers to Tavrod plus Witch, which is generally enough. Trading 1 for 1 is generally okay early on, as is sacrificing a few points of life to develop. Witch combos can generate 2 for 1s and they often flood out before you do because their curve stops earlier. Gift can come into play if you’ve been focusing on removal and your oppoenent’s hand fills up with removal and weapons. Prioritize limiting your opponents card draw and removing key threats and you’ll generally grind them out.
Problems arise when they draw their 2 for 1s and you don’t, or when they start off with an aggressive start and you’re unable to answer until turn 4, putting you far enough on the back foot you’re unable to stabilize.
vs True Control Decks
We’ll talk about specific matchups later on, but there’s only three cards in Feln that matter in control mirrors that this list plays, and Vara (the third) only matters because of Champion (the second). Gift is the most important card, and landing it is usually the difference between winning and losing since you’re not set up to play a true control vs control game. Line of play vary based on exactly what deck it is (pushing damage and expending removal vs sitting back etc) but you only win the game one of two ways – Champion of Cunning or landing a Gift. Everything else you do is just noise. Don’t get buried in card advantage before you find your Gift, and don’t play Champion without Aegis. Hope to draw Gift early.
Explanations of Weird Cards
This may not cover all the potential questions about the deck but I’m happy to answer those in the comments. For the most part, I’m not going to mention why I’m not playing certain cards, and focus on why I want the ones I am playing.
finkel built this to sustain Champion of Cunning in his original Feln build and I kept it. It’s perfromed really well for me, I’ve almost never been power or color screwed. Having a 5P champion on turn 5 or 6 is a very real possibility with this setup and annoys all kind of opponents, but isn’t that unlikely. I always focus on seeking for Primal sources to enable Champion once I’ve got double shadow. Your key Influence breakpoints, in order of importance are: SS (Bloodcaster/Steward/Removal), PP (Wisdom), PPPPPS (Champion), SSS (Gift, Vara) and SSSSS (Champion again). I always get PS immediately to open myself up to SS whenever I need it, but I don’t actually play the second shadow unless I’m casting something or I have a dual source, in order to leave the chance open for a turn 5 or 6 active Champion.
The 4 cost Removal
Not only have I maxed out on Deathstrikes, I’ve brought some Feeding Times along. I’m playing this many copies because I really want an answer to Tavrod on curve, before he can attack. Feeding Time not costing double shadow lets you keep up my PPPPPS gameplan and does have a transform effect, but it’s primary purpose is as Deathstrikes 5 and 6. I don’t think you can play more than 6 of these since they are clunky, but I’m considering switching a Deathstrike for a Feeding Time – they’ve been pretty good.
I know, in theory, you can beat Chalice without Gift by recurring Champions. In practice, I generally can’t win if they draw chalice early and even if its slow as long as it shows up eventually I get buried if I don’t draw 4 or more effective copies of Champion out of 6 in the deck. So, dropping Gift on 7 is much more satisfying. Most players are using passive Aegis from Eilyn’s Favor or something if they have it at all, and Feln has a million ways to break that. The second copy is for added redundancy in drawing it, protects against getting it destroyed/discarded, and I don’t like Celestial Omen – I’d rather slam Gift the turn I draw it. Plus, Omen can get Eilyn’s Choiced and they generally have nothing else to use it on.
You need a late game card, and this is the best available because of the power of Champion. I tried Channel the Tempest but was less impressed, especially after I went the Gift route – getting backlashed sucks. Most people run three but I didn’t think you could afford that much top end given the Gifts.
Run 3 if you see less control and more midrange. I took out one for a second Gift. Witch is a good card and I’d be happy to have more, but its a combo card and you can only have so much air in your top end.
Matchups I do not feel disadvantaged in
Stonescar Aggro, Skycrag Aggro, Argenport Aggro, Rakano Aggro
Feln is pretty well set up against what Stonescar is doing. Skycrag is very vulnerable to Favor and Lightning Storm. Argenport Aggro is only a problem if they draw lots of protects and have an early snowball. Rakano is a bit of a tossup because of the power and flexibility of the Rakano cardpool, plus the snowball nature of warcry.
Argenport Midrange, Xenan, Combrei, Elysian Midrange, TJP Midrange
Argenport and Xenan are what you’re set up to destroy. Argenports medium cows and hammers don’t do much vs your Stewards and Deathstrikes, and Xenan is not well set up to beat Feln. No reach, a Dawnwalker plan, and leaning on banish makes it tough to remove your Champions. Combrei gets better for you the more Midrange it looks, a big Witch Storm can clear out the game after a stall and you can generally kill all their real threats. If it goes too tall you can be in trouble. Elysian’s False Prince is an all star or Vara’s Favor bait, and Crystallize can steal wins. If they run out of units before you run out of removal, you win. TJP Midrange is less common but often plays Stand Together, which is an annoying card. If that (and crystallize) doesn’t blow you out, you’ll usually be okay.
Matchups I feel disadvantaged in
This is pretty boring. I alluded to it earlier, but the high skillcap is this – draw Gift before you’re far enough behind that you die to their board. I use my removal freely to deny chalice draws and push damage, hoping that Champion or four might get the job done. Usually it doesn’t so I consider this a Gift or (slowly) die matchup.
Artisans, Icarias, Diashos. Yuck. You end up with a million removal spells and them with a 7/5 Diasho. Then you lose. This is by far this decks worst matchup and it sucks to play. If they get a 5 power weapon you’re in very bad shape. You have to push damage and contest their weapons with units. Champion is critical, but they can usually kill the first one. Gift can give you a chance but you can’t be already dead – it’s much worse vs Armory than real control decks.
The problems are the same as True Armory, but the problems are diluted by a lot of units you can actually kill. It’s rare to get a huge weapon out and Gift is actually effective here. Much better than True Armory, but still disfavored. Don’t let Torvod attack ever and don’t get blown out by Icaria and you’ll have a chance, especially if you get Champion or Gift down early.
This is less a “disadvantaged” and more one with pitfalls. Warp is strong and Heart is nuts. YEAAAAAAAAHHH I mean Shatterglass Mage is really good here as well – 5/3 is a relevant body and killing Permafrost is very annoying. Obliterate is their only real removla, but they can take to the skies with dragons. Beware of dropping too low and getting burned out. You need to prioritize your life total here more than against other midrange decks – you never know when a big turn is going to swing the game back, even if you’ve started to grab hold.
This Feln deck is not very big on adaptation. If you’re looking for a deck where you need to strategize on the fly, this is probably not the deck for you. This deck, despite being somewhat reactive, works best when things play out more the less the same for it. However, its lines of play are effective and the deck is not without its decision points. Playing Feln means accepting you will simply lose some games, Chalice without Gift and Armory comes to mind. If you can stomach that, and don’t mind methodical gameplay, this could be a solid choice for you. Avoid the aggro vs midrange question by taking another angle with Feln.