Going Deep – New Year? New Decks!

 

Jotun_Feast-Caller

Happy New Year Friends!

2017 was quite the year, but I wanted to kick the New Year off in the best way that I know how – new decks! Like many people my holidays are wrapping up, so my hiatus from writing will resume, but I have had a chance for the last couple of days to work on some decks which I thought you all might like! Unlike my “Hot Takes” article from before, these are builds I have actually spent some time with these lists. They are no where near perfection yet, but they are certainly a lot more polished than other stuff I have put out. You will also see that these represent new decks in most cases. My objective here was not to take pre-Dusk road decks and just slot in half a dozen new cards, but I wanted to actually come up with something a little different. Before we start into the decks, I wanted to answer a question a lot of people have been asking:

Top 5 Safe Crafts for Dusk Road

Have a couple thousand Shiftstone that you don’t know what to do with? Got burned before when you got excited about Jank Legendaries from Omens of the Past? While I cannot promise you that any card you craft will remain competitive forever, I wanted to give what I think are the safest crafts from Dusk Road. I will give a brief explanation for each, as well as the number you should craft.

5. Temporal Distortion (x2)

This one is safe for some very particular reasons. First, you really will only ever need 2 of them. I find it very hard to believe that any competitive deck will be jamming 4 Temporal Distortions, and even 3 is a stretch. Second, after you get Temporal Distortion, you don’t really need any additional cards to play a new deck. Temporal control is probably not top-tier competitive, but it is pretty good and pretty interesting. If you enjoy the play style of Chalice, this is an interesting alternative.

4. Jotun Feast-Caller (x2)

I know that I am higher on this card than many others, but I really think ol’ Feasty is very strong. This is the Primal member of the Diesel cycle, and he has won me a ton of games in remarkable fashion. Although you need to put in the work, I really love how he plays. Since Feast-Caller can fit into a wider range of decks I think he is a safer craft than Distortion. He also only needs to be a 2-of in any primal deck, and you suddenly have a whole new dimension that you can operate on.

3. Gearcruncher (x4) and Stonescar Scrapper (x4)

I am going to come out bold on this one: I think Grenadins is tier 1, and people are just not respecting the deck yet. Whenever I play with it I win a lot, and it just feels like I am doing more powerful stuff than my opponents. There are variations on builds, and mine is shared at the end of this article, but I think they are all very good. Even though this deck needs 4x Gearcruncher and 4x Scrapper, I really think it is a pretty safe investment of stones.

2. Worldbearer Behemoth (1-4)

Everyone knows this one by now – Worldbearer is a monster. He fits into basically any Time deck without any issue, and even if you only have enough Shiftstones for the first one, I don’t really think that is a problem. No matter how the meta shakes out I expect Worldbearer Behemoth will be a fixture in tier 1 and 2 decks.

1. Crests (all of them)

I think a lot of people have been saying this, but Crests are exceptional. Hyper-aggro decks will skip on Crests, but any midrange, control or combo deck will try to play as many Crests as they can. These are basically a lock to see a ton of competitive play, and it almost doesn’t matter which one we are talking about. Easily the safest craft of them all, even if they are not too flashy.

With that, let’s talk about some decks!

Spellcrag

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2 Levitate (Set1 #190)
4 Permafrost (Set1 #193)
4 Powderglider (Set3 #155)
1 Pummel (Set2 #6)
4 Torch (Set1 #8)
4 Champion of Fury (Set2 #187)
3 Kaleb’s Choice (Set2 #188)
2 Rockslide (Set2 #189)
4 Strategize (Set3 #165)
2 Polymorph (Set1 #211)
4 Vadius, Clan Father (Set2 #191)
4 Wisdom of the Elders (Set1 #218)
4 Kaleb, Reborn (Set3 #255)
4 Jotun Feast-Caller (Set3 #187)
4 Obliterate (Set1 #48)
3 Fire Sigil (Set1 #1)
4 Granite Waystone (Set3 #1)
4 Primal Sigil (Set1 #187)
4 Cobalt Waystone (Set3 #151)
4 Crest of Fury (Set3 #266)
4 Seat of Fury (Set0 #53)
2 Skycrag Banner (Set2 #186)

This deck is a tempo deck looking to capitalize on Skycrag’s spell synergy cards a little. If you listen to my Podcast, I was talking about a deck like this with SirRhino, inspired by a Skycrag list from Jank Junction. Cards like Kaleb and Jotun Feast-Caller are extremely potent threat, and when you build you deck to maximize the chance to find them, or push them through, they can quickly take over the game. Kaleb’s Choice is a card that stuck out to me here. I have long been a bigger fan of this card compared to many others, but I really feel like it is very good in a world where people are often relying on a Permafrost, Power Stone, Harsh Rule, Deathstrike or Runehammer to operate. Banish, Slay and Daisho are much less popular than they have been in the past.

Kaleb hits really hard, and can swing games almost out of nowhere, but a card that has really impressed me is Powderglider. In small unit combat you can set up cute blow outs when you block your opponent’s Oni Ronin and then Torch their Instigator for example. Stunning a Valkyrie Enforcer is often a major boost in tempo, and stunning a Black Sky Harbinger can often feel like a Time Walk.

There is quite the diversity of spells in the deck since you see so many cards. Do you need Pummel, Levitate, Polymorph or Rockslide in every situation? No, but having access to them when you are churning through your deck is very useful, especially when we are talking about a card like Feast-Caller that just wants cheap interaction. This deck also takes advantage of the Granite Waystone in some interesting ways. If you have the Grenadin in your hand you can use that as the “pitch” card for Strategize. Also, if you activate Kaleb, that Grenadin is considered a card, allowing you to get further into your deck.

Of the decks I describe in this article, this is the one I have had the most success with. It does some very interesting things, and could honestly be a real contender with some more work. Obviously we are a little weak to big endurance units, but there are ways around it.

Rakano Commandos

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4 Finest Hour (Set1 #130)
4 Oni Ronin (Set1 #13)
2 Protect (Set1 #132)
4 Steady Marshal (Set3 #105)
4 Torch (Set1 #8)
4 Champion of Glory (Set1 #314)
4 Crownwatch Paladin (Set1 #139)
4 Rakano Outlaw (Set1 #20)
3 Vanquish (Set1 #143)
3 Shogun’s Scepter (Set1 #26)
4 Unseen Commando (Set3 #122)
3 Valkyrie Enforcer (Set1 #151)
4 Whirling Duo (Set3 #254)
2 Deepforged Plate (Set1 #317)
6 Fire Sigil (Set1 #1)
6 Justice Sigil (Set1 #126)
2 Emerald Monument (Set1 #422)
4 Rakano Banner (Set1 #427)
4 Seat of Glory (Set0 #56)
4 Diplomatic Seal (Set1 #425)

Decks of this nature have been circulating around, and this is merely my take on the archetype. Unseen Commando is a powerful and fun card, and playing a deck that attempts to maximize that power is just a great place to be.

For those how have not really played with Unseen Commando, I am going to describe things to you. In case you don’t recall his ability, he gives units with 2 or more battle skills get +1/+1 when they attack. That ability is active the turn you play him, works on himself, and will stack with multiple instances of Unseen Commando, making it way more powerful than it might seem at first glance.

Whirling Duo is also a great addition to the deck, as it is so potent as an anti-aggro threat. Lifesteal makes racing really hard, and when you are able to attack with 4/4 or 5/5 charging lifesteal units it totally ruins any combat math your opponent was trying to set up.

My particular spin on the list has a few changes. First, I am using Crownwatch Paladin. She is clearly past her prime, but we are now living in a meta where there seem to be fewer Temple Scribes than ever before. In addition, Unseen Commando can help her even attack into an Argenport Instigator or a Valkyrie Enforcer. Second, I have opted for playing 2 Deepforged Plate, while other lists played Soulfire Drake. Both act as 5 “charging” damage, but I often find that the Plate is much more versatile, as it can allow you to attack into a Titan, free a unit from Permafrost, or get hooked up to a lifesteal unit to deliver a massive life swing.

Unseen Midrange

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4 Permafrost (Set1 #193)
4 Sabotage (Set1 #252)
2 Seek Power (Set1 #408)
2 Vara’s Intervention (Set3 #207)
4 Annihilate (Set1 #269)
2 Darkveil Agent (Set3 #160)
4 Miris Nightshade (Set3 #217)
4 Strategize (Set3 #165)
2 Vara’s Favor (Set0 #35)
2 Extract (Set2 #155)
4 Wisdom of the Elders (Set1 #218)
2 Deadly Confrontation (Set3 #225)
2 Deathstrike (Set1 #290)
1 Feeding Time (Set1 #381)
3 Rindra, the Duskblade (Set3 #277)
2 Champion of Cunning (Set1 #371)
2 Jotun Feast-Caller (Set3 #187)
2 Black-Sky Harbinger (Set1 #385)
2 Zelia, the Vain (Set3 #244)
6 Primal Sigil (Set1 #187)
3 Shadow Sigil (Set1 #249)
4 Amethyst Waystone (Set3 #201)
4 Crest of Cunning (Set3 #267)
4 Feln Banner (Set1 #417)
4 Seat of Cunning (Set0 #62)

This deck has a lot of interesting stuff going on. It is an Unseen Deck, but the tribal synergies are fairly limited, but those that we are using are pretty significant. Zelia as a mid-game tempo play has been great for me, and I am still surprised I haven’t seen many other people taking advantage of this card. Against decks like Praxis there have actually been a number of times when she just totally takes over the game by herself. You get to shrink their big idiots so that they all lose to Zelia in combat, or you can keep the Dawnwalkers off the table. This card is very versatile.

Rindra has impressed me a ton as well. 5/5 for 4 is a lot in any faction, and the lifsteal overwhelm you get access to are really felt. Rindra is especially important tool in the aggro match up as he provides a hard body that can recuperate some of the life lost in the early game. This deck obviously has the capacity to keep Rindra active for several turns, which really adds to his power.

Deadly Confrontation is in the list as a 2-of, and I am quite happy with it. As I have said elsewhere, 4SSS for a Slay is not remarkable, but if you use this to kill 2 units this card is devastating. I think in my experience it has been a “kill 1” about 60-75% of the time, but that other 25-40% of the time it feels like a massive swing.

You can see from the list that I also prioritize cheap interaction. Permafrost is a no-brainer 4-of in a Miris Nightshade list, but Sabotage as a 4-of and Vara’s Intervention as a 2-of is less common. Sabotage is just amazing right now. I am the guy who tends to shave copies of Sabotage when I am using someone else’s list, but now is the first time I have happily put 4 in my own decks. A deck like this really leverages it as well. It may seem weird to say Nightfall and Sabotage is a combo, but it is in a way. You basically just want cheap interaction so that you can effect the game state more effectively than your opponent. Nightfall also ensures there is basically always a target. It is hard to break down the tension between these two effects in detail, but it is better than it looks on paper I promise. Vara’s Intervention has also been great. A split card that can act as a late-game burn spell, a value spell or a removal spell is so good.

There are a ton of ways to tune a deck like this. The current build looks very much like a Neon deck as there is a smattering of everything. There is a lot more work to be done here to really figure out what we want to focus on, but outside of that I have been having a lot of fun with the list. Some possibilities I have been thinking of include upping the Cunning count, including Dreamstealers as an additional early play, or going deeper into the Unseen synergy.

Elysian Explorers

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4 Permafrost (Set1 #193)
2 Twilight Hunt (Set3 #59)
2 Ask for Directions (Set3 #61)
1 Disjunction (Set3 #63)
4 Oasis Seeker (Set2 #41)
4 Strategize (Set3 #165)
4 Trail Maker (Set3 #65)
3 Whispering Wind (Set1 #202)
4 Baying Serasaur (Set3 #66)
3 Daring Pioneer (Set3 #170)
4 Nocturnal Observer (Set3 #173)
1 Polymorph (Set1 #211)
4 Champion of Wisdom (Set1 #358)
4 Torgov, Icecap Trader (Set2 #126)
2 Crystallize (Set1 #232)
3 Jotun Feast-Caller (Set3 #187)
1 Predatory Carnosaur (Set1 #118)
6 Time Sigil (Set1 #63)
1 Amber Waystone (Set3 #51)
5 Primal Sigil (Set1 #187)
2 Cobalt Waystone (Set3 #151)
4 Crest of Wisdom (Set3 #261)
3 Elysian Banner (Set1 #421)
4 Seat of Wisdom (Set0 #63)

Ok, so the story about this deck is kind of funny. When Ask for Directions was first revealed everyone said the card was garbage, but I said “Hey, hold on a second guys! What if this card is secretly great because it has some combos? This effect seems like it could be powerful under the right conditions!” When I came around to the set review, I trashed the card, and said we didn’t get enough juice to make it work. At that point I thought to myself “You know, doesn’t Ask for Directions deserve a shot? Shouldn’t you at least try to make it work?” From that point I was set off on the path that eventually lead here.

How are we using Ask for Directions? Well, we have a bunch of discard outlets that take advantage of it, as well as a bunch of explorers to help buy it back. When discarding cards to Nocturnal Observer, Torgov or Wispering Wind they don’t care how bad the card is that you are pitching. If you are able to bring back Ask even once or twice in a game you actually feel the card advantage, especially when you get to draw into more copies of Nocturnal Observer and Whispering Wind. I actually don’t cast Ask that often, and usually when I do it means I am in a really tight spot and need to draw something, or if I am about to attack with 2 Explorers right way.

The actual secret to this deck is Baying Serasaur. This card has really impressed me, as he packs a remarkable punch for a 3-drop. He is a combo with Whispering Wind because you get to draw the card off Wind before combat damage happens. He is also a combo with Nocturnal Observer as you are able to draw extra cards each turn. He is even a combo with Ask for Directions as you get to draw it from the void before combat. There is a lot going on here, and I feel like this card deserves a lot more attention.

Argenport Gunslingers

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1 Elder’s Feather (Set1 #128)
2 Finest Hour (Set1 #130)
2 Jack’s Knife (Set2 #139)
3 Sabotage (Set1 #252)
4 Steady Marshal (Set3 #105)
4 Annihilate (Set1 #269)
4 Argenport Instigator (Set1 #268)
3 Hideout Pistol (Set3 #215)
1 Ashara, Ruthless Assassin (Set3 #220)
2 Cabal Countess (Set1 #506)
4 Rooftop Vigilante (Set3 #274)
3 Slay (Set2 #236)
4 Stella, the Shotcaller (Set3 #120)
2 Unseen Commando (Set3 #122)
1 Valkyrie Enforcer (Set1 #151)
2 Bartholo, the Seducer (Set2 #234)
2 Dueling Pistols (Set1002 #15)
4 Lethrai Falchion (Set1 #285)
6 Justice Sigil (Set1 #126)
4 Emerald Monument (Set1 #422)
3 Shadow Sigil (Set1 #249)
4 Amethyst Waystone (Set3 #201)
2 Argenport Banner (Set2 #231)
4 Crest of Vengeance (Set3 #264)
4 Seat of Vengeance (Set0 #55)

This is a deck that I have started working on a lot recently to medium success. I want to point out right off the bat that this deck really needs another 1 or 2 drop. This deck is quite good at maintaining initiative once it gets the ball rolling, but it often is slow to the draw. Cards like Hideout Pistol or Duelling Pistols help with this, but not really enough to be totally honest. If you are able to get out of the early turns without falling behind, I feel like you are able to do some powerful stuff. Stella does take over games, and Rooftop Vigilante + Duelling Pistols is really good. I am interested to work on a 3F version soon, since having access to things like Torch and Rakano Outlaw will help solve some of the main problems.

As you can probably tell, I am not totally satisfied with the deck, but I am interested if others can solve some of the problems I have been having. It is functional though, so if you want to take it for a spin and try to improve it, you are totally welcome.

Grenadin

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4 Combust (Set1 #392)
4 Grenadin Drone (Set1 #5)
2 Seek Power (Set1 #408)
4 Torch (Set1 #8)
4 Devour (Set1 #261)
4 Quarry (Set1001 #15)
4 Spark Hatcher (Set3 #12)
4 Vara’s Favor (Set0 #35)
4 Assembly Line (Set1 #29)
4 Madness (Set1 #267)
4 Scraptank (Set1 #391)
4 Stonescar Scrapper (Set3 #236)
4 Gearcruncher (Set3 #46)
4 Fire Sigil (Set1 #1)
4 Granite Waystone (Set3 #1)
5 Shadow Sigil (Set1 #249)
4 Crest of Chaos (Set3 #268)
4 Seat of Chaos (Set0 #60)
4 Stonescar Banner (Set1 #419)

I mentioned in the “safe crafts” section that I would share my Grenadin list. This is what I have been using (I think taken from Bradykin originally, but I could be wrong). The deck is really good, and you should try it if you haven’t already.


So those are some decks to keep an eye on and try out! I know everyone is still chomping at the bit to see which decks will be the most influential moving forward, but I think decks like the ones shown here have a lot of potential! As I suggested above, now that the holiday and set release festivities are over you will be seeing a lot less of my articles. It has been a blast exploring the meta with all of you, and I look forward to what the Dusk Road has to offer!

Love,

Neon