The ladder has been all over the place recently, with all manner of decks both reasonable and unreasonable seeing a fair amount of play. With such a wide-open field, there has been a shift towards greed piles now that they aren’t punished by a field of 40% Oni Ronin decks. I’ve never been one to turn down a good greed pile, so naturally I started to brew with one of my favorite cards, The Last Word.
This deck was a lot of fun and reasonably successful, but I only won one game in 30 with The Last Word, and in many other games where it would have been god and I COULD have won with it, I didn’t need to because the other cards in the deck were so good. The base idea was good, but needed some refinement. What was the base idea that was working? It was two things:
Devoted Theurge is good. You would expect to see Sandstorm titan in the 4 slot, but Devoted Theurge actually takes his job as aggro-stuffer here. The original deck skeleton had 4 each of Combrei Healer, Devoted Theurge, and Lumen Defender, but Defender was swapped for Throne Warden to get some armor gain to protect The Last Word from Torch. I’ve trimmed a bit on the health-gaining blockers, but Theurge and Healer really pulled their weight. There’s no better feeling than dropping big health-gaining blockers three turns in a row against Rally. The larger stats of Titan are somewhat missed against midrange decks, but even there the board usually bogs down to the point where he would be irrelevant, and Theurge CAN become bigger in the late game after a couple of activations. Another power sink is nice, even a rarely-used one. With the addition of The Great Parliament to later versions of the deck, the anti-synergy with Titan is also avoided. I think Theurge is slightly better on ladder when Rally and Skycrag are prevalent, but if they diminish in number Titan should be swapped in, since it is obviously a better card when health gain doesn’t matter.
Tavrod ends games by himself even with minimal other targets. The dream of drawing The Last Word off of Tavrod’s ability rarely came to fruition, and the minotaur was fine all on his own. Just the small chance to draw another copy of himself is good enough, and we all know how annoying it is to deal with a 5/7 multifaction endurance unit by now. Suiciding Tavrod for a chance to draw a card isn’t recommended in this deck, but thankfully you can win board stalls in other ways thanks to the classic Combrei core of Siraf, Harsh Rule, and Mystic Ascendant.
With the idea that I wanted to play Combrei health-gaining cards and Tavrod, but didn’t need to play The Last Word, I began tuning up the deck into something less goofy and more of a consistent contender. The Great Parliament and Auric Runehammer were the obvious next cards in line, and cutting the expensive Shadow cards let me cut a power and add a 4th Mystic Ascendant. Sarius brought up Stand Together + The Great Parliament as a game-winning play at 8 power, and that became my new board-stall breaker (since I was cutting The Last Word). I ended up here:
2 Desert Marshal (Set1 #332)
2 Find the Way (Set1 #513)
4 Temple Scribe (Set1 #502)
2 Vanquish (Set1 #143)
2 Banish (Set2 #207)
3 Combrei Healer (Set1 #333)
4 Knight-Chancellor Siraf (Set1 #335)
4 Slay (Set2 #236)
2 Stand Together (Set1 #334)
2 Auric Runehammer (Set1 #166)
3 Devoted Theurge (Set1002 #6)
4 The Great Parliament (Set1 #338)
4 Harsh Rule (Set1 #172)
4 Tavrod, Auric Broker (Set1002 #18)
4 Mystic Ascendant (Set1 #116)
5 Time Sigil (Set1 #63)
3 Justice Sigil (Set1 #126)
3 Shadow Sigil (Set1 #249)
2 Combrei Banner (Set1 #424)
4 Seat of Progress (Set0 #58)
4 Seat of Vengeance (Set0 #55)
4 Seat of Mystery (Set0 #61)
Temple Scribe is still rather iffy, both because the 3-faction power base makes it inconsistent to cast it turn 2 and because the card is just generally filler. If you prefer, the Scribes could be swapped out to finish the playsets of Desert Marshall, Combrei Healer, and Devoted Theurge. That change makes you slightly better against aggro since you have more big blockers that gain health, but worse in midrange and control matchups since Scribe can cycle towards your relevant cards in those matchups while still serving as an excellent roadblock against aggro a decent portion of the time.
On the topic of Combrei Healer, I think the card is mis-used a lot. In matchups where a 2/5 isn’t a relevant card, you shouldn’t just run it out on turn 3. Save it to create a big unit with enough health to stall the board, like a 7 health unit against Praxis or a 6 health unit against Elysian. It is okay to not play cards even if you could when tempo isn’t important.
When building a deck like this, the question you have to answer is, “why is this better than regular Big Combrei?” in this case, the answer is that Slay and Banish are the best removal spells in the game, and Tavrod is worth stretching the power for. He really is a tier above other threats in the 5 slot like Marshall Ironthorn or Reality Warden. If you can afford the greed of the extra faction against aggro there’s no reason not to play the more powerful cards, and Combrei Healer and Devoted Theurge make the aggro matchup good enough to afford them.
I started out with a super-defensive deck aiming to play The Last Word, and ended up playing Dark Combrei with Tavrod, but that’s okay. A big part of brewing is figuring out if your deck is just a worse version of something else, and in this case The Last Word wasn’t needed for inevitability and the Combrei core with everyone’s favorite cow turned out to be good enough and less clunky. There are just so many ways to be these three-faction decks! There is also a new set with several hundred new cards coming out soon, so the possibilities will only increase.
Until next time, may your power base always come together.