Lights Out – Putting Dead Reckoning Through the Paces

It’s been a while since I’ve posted an article, but that’s Dire Wolf Digital’s fault – they keep putting out big patches and new cards the day before my articles go up! This time, though, I don’t think any huge changes are coming in the next week, because we just got 25 new cards!

Dead Reckoning has several obvious standouts – Hailstorm, In Cold Blood, Hooru Pacifier – and several more build-arounds that I’ve been exploring and trying to find good shells for. Here are my thoughts after one week.

In Cold Blood


Let’s start with the most controversial card in Dead Reckoning, and the first faction hate card we’ve seen in Eternal. While many fear the precedent it might be setting, as hate cards are generally considered un-fun and boring, ICB is innocuous enough that it isn’t a problem by itself. It’s only crippling against decks running only one or two different units, like the Makto-Icaria removal pile decks, and is pretty mediocre everywhere else. It’s only great against decks like Argenport midrange and Rakano if they draw two copies of a Justice unit and have one in play and another in hand when you play ICB, and that is fairly rare. Neither deck is particularly upset if you play a slow-speed 4 cost removal spell.

That said, I think In Cold Blood is still the best 4 cost removal spell. Feeding Time is better against exactly Dawnwalker, and Deathstrike’s fast speed isn’t better than possible 2-for-1 upside when almost every Shadow deck operates almost entirely at slow speed. I would expect to see a lot of Cold Bloods in ranked, and a corresponding decrease in 8 unit, Rise to the Challenge-based removal piles.

Icaria, Valkyrie Captain


Icaria is the face of the expansion, so I thought she must be better than she looked, and started trying her out in the only place she really makes sense: mono-Justice control. You could splash another faction with duals and one non-Justice Sigil (for Seek Power) for more Valkyries, but Makto is double Shadow and Icaria, the Liberator is triple Fire, so mono-Justice is the easiest. The deck wasn’t as good as I hoped, but 5 is he sweet spot for Justice cards and mono-Justice wants to get up to 8 power, so she was a decent fit.

monojustice control.PNG

4 Copperhall Porter (Set3 #108)
4 Icaria, Valkyrie Captain (Set1003 #7)
4 Vanquish (Set1 #143)
4 Auric Sentry (Set1 #146)
2 Privilege of Rank (Set1 #157)
4 Valkyrie Enforcer (Set1 #151)
4 Unseen Commando (Set3 #122)
4 Auric Runehammer (Set1 #166)
4 Amilli, Cloudmarshal (Set3 #136)
4 Harsh Rule (Set1 #172)
4 Marshal Ironthorn (Set1 #174)
3 Throne Warden (Set1 #514)
2 Elias, the Broken Wing (Set2 #101)
3 Sword of the Sky King (Set1 #186)
17 Justice Sigil (Set1 #126)
4 Crest of Vengeance (Set3 #264)
4 Emerald Waystone (Set3 #101)

You could also cut Harsh Rule or Rolant’s Intervention if you are facing fewer midrange decks and more control decks. 1 cost Protect is pretty good, it turns out.

This deck is very good against aggro and unit-light control decks that can’t beat Sword of the Sky King, but is easily overpowered by Dawnwalker decks and isn’t great against removal pile if it doesn’t draw relic weapons. With Stonescar’s heyday behind us, mono-Justice’s heyday is also in the past.



Hailstorm is a pretty obvious include over Lightning Storm in every Primal control deck, as it hits everything in Rakano and two copies can kill beefy Time units. There’s not much novel to say about a basic, powerful effect like this, but here’s an update to Calcium Control:

calcium control.PNG

4 Seek Power (Set1 #408)
3 Levitate (Set1 #190)
4 Torch (Set1 #8)
2 Eilyn’s Favor (Set0 #24)
2 Lightning Strike (Set1 #197)
2 Kaleb’s Choice (Set2 #188)
4 Strategize (Set3 #165)
3 Vanquish (Set1 #143)
2 Eilyn’s Choice (Set2 #220)
1 Eye of Winter (Set1 #210)
4 Hailstorm (Set1003 #11)
4 Wisdom of the Elders (Set1 #218)
3 Auric Runehammer (Set1 #166)
4 Harsh Rule (Set1 #172)
2 Throne Warden (Set1 #514)
1 Celestial Omen (Set1 #241)
4 Knucklebones (Set2 #197)
1 Fire Sigil (Set1 #1)
4 Justice Sigil (Set1 #126)
2 Primal Sigil (Set1 #187)
4 Crest of Fury (Set3 #266)
3 Crest of Vengeance (Set3 #264)
2 Seat of Fury (Set0 #53)
4 Seat of Glory (Set0 #56)
4 Seat of Order (Set0 #51)
2 Cobalt Waystone (Set3 #151)

Knucklebones will provide.

Daraka, Queensguard


Daraka competes with predatory Carnosaur for a spot in Elysian, which is high praise. I’ve also had decent success with him in Feln in the slots formerly occupied by Vara and currently occupied by Channel the Tempest and Dark Return in stock lists. Feln has basically been midrange beatdown for a while now; you might as well embrace it.

Ripknife Assassin


This little Unseen looks pretty innocuous, but he actually does a ton of work and ties a lot of decks together. He finally gives Argenport midrange another good 2-drop alongside Argenport Instigator, and helps tie together Unseen tribal decks that weren’t quite there pre-Dead Reckoning. You could play Unseen as straight Feln with Champion of Cunning, but here’s my take on 3-faction Unseen:


4 Permafrost (Set1 #193)
3 Sabotage (Set1 #252)
4 Seek Power (Set1 #408)
4 Vara’s Intervention (Set3 #207)
4 Darkveil Agent (Set3 #160)
2 Kothon, the Far-Watcher (Set2 #218)
4 Ripknife Assassin (Set1003 #13)
4 Hooru Pacifier (Set1003 #23)
4 Slay (Set2 #236)
4 Unseen Commando (Set3 #122)
4 Rindra, the Duskblade (Set3 #277)
4 Shelterwing Rider (Set2 #223)
4 Zelia, the Vain (Set3 #244)
3 Justice Sigil (Set1 #126)
2 Primal Sigil (Set1 #187)
3 Shadow Sigil (Set1 #249)
4 Seat of Order (Set0 #51)
4 Crest of Vengeance (Set3 #264)
2 Seat of Vengeance (Set0 #55)
4 Crest of Cunning (Set3 #267)
4 Common Cause (Set3 #279)



Equivocate is my pick for the best card in Dead Reckoning. Hailstorm might be more impactful on the ladder meta, and In Cold Blood might see more play, but both are upgrades over previously-existing cards. Equivocate fills a niche that previously was unfilled, which is an Elysian removal spell. It looks like a slightly-better Teleport, but it plays out much better in practice.

You play cards in constructed because they are the best card for their cost and the best card for your deck. The card your opponent gets off of Equivocate is likely to be draft chaff, or at the very least not the best card in their deck, so they likely won’t even play it right away. If the game doesn’t go to topdecking, it is basically a hard removal spell. Transforming a unit into a random one works better the higher up the curve you go, as most 2 and 3 drops are fairly replaceable curve-fillers, so by the time your opponent is playing units worthy of removal spells, Equivocate is likely to cripple whatever they play. It also takes care of weapons, to boot!

There are also some funny Equivocate moments, too. I was playing against PChapin on ladder last week and Equivocated his Scraptank, then played a Cirso. He played a Cirso off the Equivocate transformation and gave me the “I like you style” emote. Perfection.

Besides the obvious Elysian midrange, what deck is slow to get started and needs a removal spell in Elysian? Why, Roaches, of course!


4 Initiate of the Sands (Set1 #74)
4 Permafrost (Set1 #193)
3 Equivocate (Set1003 #21)
4 Second Sight (Set1 #207)
4 Strategize (Set3 #165)
4 Temple Scribe (Set1 #502)
4 Twinning Ritual (Set1 #79)
2 Amber Acolyte (Set1 #93)
4 Clockroach (Set1 #94)
4 Crown of Possibilities (Set1 #355)
4 Wisdom of the Elders (Set1 #218)
4 Nesting Avisaur (Set1 #225)
3 Twinbrood Sauropod (Set1 #113)
2 Thunderstrike Dragon (Set1 #243)
4 Time Sigil (Set1 #63)
4 Amber Waystone (Set3 #51)
3 Primal Sigil (Set1 #187)
4 Cobalt Waystone (Set3 #151)
4 Crest of Wisdom (Set3 #261)
2 Elysian Banner (Set1 #421)
4 Seat of Wisdom (Set0 #63)

Equivocate takes the slots previous occupied by the more expensive and more conditional Scorpion Wasp. A cheap removal spell that can be used proactively is exactly what Elysian needed!

Clockroaches actually isn’t too bad right now, as there are a lot of removal piles, unit-less control decks, and clunky midrange decks floating around. It is somewhat vulnerable to the plague of Rain of Frogs that has been gaining popularity, but four Cobalt Waystone and three different Echo units makes it not too bad. Eight Twinbrood Sauropods wins the game just as well as eight Clockroaches, it just takes a little longer.

As a side note, stop playing Rain of Frogs on ladder! Even against slow decks it often isn’t that great, and any midrange or aggro deck will kill you for playing it instead of affecting the board. Even with the meta getting REALLY slow, there are better options, like Azindel’s Gift for the actual game-winning haymaker or  big relic weapons to be good against unit-less decks as well as the usual midrange, aggro, and control suspects.

Also, Sabotage is really bad in nearly unit-less control. Sabotage is used to protect threats, of which you have none. 90% of the time when you Sabotage you are either going to whiff completely or hit a dead removal spell. The whole point of your deck is to blank enemy removal spells, so why are you trading a card for one? What spells and attachments are people playing that you’re afraid of? Your possible targets are removal spells (which you don’t care about), and relic weapons, which you are better off running Lightning Strike or Extract to take care of. Play cards that matter!

Hooru Pacifier


Hooru Pacifier is another super straight-forward and powerful card, and he was already featured in the Unseen deck above, but I thought I’d toss up my Hooru midrange list for completeness sake:


 4 Permafrost (Set1 #193)
4 Seek Power (Set1 #408)
1 Eilyn’s Favor (Set0 #24)
4 Kothon, the Far-Watcher (Set2 #218)
4 Strategize (Set3 #165)
2 Unseal (Set3 #167)
4 Vanquish (Set1 #143)
1 Eilyn’s Choice (Set2 #220)
4 Hooru Pacifier (Set1003 #23)
4 Unseen Commando (Set3 #122)
4 Valkyrie Enforcer (Set1 #151)
4 Shelterwing Rider (Set2 #223)
4 Amilli, Cloudmarshal (Set3 #136)
4 Nostrix, Lord of Visions (Set2 #229)
2 Eilyn, Clan Mother (Set3 #263)
5 Justice Sigil (Set1 #126)
4 Primal Sigil (Set1 #187)
4 Hooru Banner (Set2 #216)
4 Seat of Order (Set0 #51)
4 Common Cause (Set3 #279)
4 Diplomatic Seal (Set1 #425)

Hooru is good because all of its units Fly, and none of them sacrifice abilities or size for the evasion. You get to dictate when to race and when to stall, because only you get to block. Also, the cards are just good. You could play Hailstorm in this list if aggro was popular, but it isn’t so I don’t.

That’s my week one wrap-up of Dead Reckoning! I’m sure there are a lot more decks to discover and refinements to be made, but the framework has been set. What have you got cooking up?

Until next time, may your brews prove successful.