Event Primer – Company of Exiles 2, Electric Bugaloo

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Friends,

As you likely know, there is an event on our hands. Tomorrow is the second round of the “Company of Exiles” event. My reaction to the first time this event was run last November was as follows:

After having done the event once, I can say my reaction last time was an understatement. My reaction this time is closer to the following:

I’m going to do my best to contain my gushing, but this event was insanely fun last time, and this time it will be different enough that it will be a totally new format. If you didn’t play last time I would describe the format as a cross between something like cube, Un-set limited, and no banned list Modern: all the decks are super charged with power, there is very little in the way of guard rails, and basically anything could happen. This is not quite a format for everyone, but if you are into nonsense, there will be no shortage of that. I couldn’t be more excited.

This article will be broken into 3 parts: first is a primer on the rules. For those of you who did not play before, the way these rules actually play out are a bit whacky, so it is worth reviewing the fundamentals. Second, I am going to run through general deckbuilding advice for those who want to build their own deck – while we have technically played this format before, there are a few really important differences that should be spelled out. Finally, I will give you a handful of decks that make sense as starting points.

Follow the Rules

(This is largely a repeat of my last article, but has a few new points)

The special rule as it is stated is very simple, but things are slightly more complicated. I wanted to run down a few implications of this rule, so you know how to build your decks and navigate the event.

1. The “free unit” effect will always resolve before your spell resolves. The means that global effects like Harsh Rule or Stand Together will hit your new unit as well.

2. Summon effects on units resolve before the spell resolves, if that is relevant.

3. Negate effects like Backlash and Spell Swipe will not stop the unit from being made. It is worth playing these cards in some numbers still, but they are not as good as they may seem.

4. Playing a spell to generate a unit in response to a weapon or killer attack does not act like ambush. Do not expect that you can redirect weapon attacks by playing a Torch.

5. If the cost of a spell changes as a result of effects like Trail Stories, Slow, or Firemaw the revised cost determines the unit that is summoned rather than the original cost.

6. Units with variable costs, such as Sindok or North Wind Herald, are only summoned by spells that match their original cost.

7. Spells that are cast for “free” from effects like destiny, (original) Eilyn’s ability, or West-Wind Herald will give you a unit.

8. Spellcraft weapons actually cast spells, meaning that if you pay a Spellcraft cost you will also get a unit. It should be noted that the cost of the unit will be associated with the natural cost of the spell rather than the Spellcraft cost. For example, Changee Stick lets you cast Polymorph for 4 additional power, but the spell costs 3, meaning you will get a 3 cost unit.

These are important notes for both deckbuilding and gameplay, so be sure to remember them! With all this out of the way, let’s go over some general suggestions around deckbuilding.

Deckbuilding

From playing the event last time, there is one piece of advice I can give with great confidence: your deck should be almost entirely spells. I remember day 1 of the last event there were a few people playing some fairly conventional lists. These people got worked. It was embarrassing. Now, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t play non-spells under any conditions – in fact you will see a few of my decks are playing a couple of non-spell cards – but these need to pull some massive weight. Cards like Obelisk or Svetya sound interesting, but stuff like Tavrod or Sandstorm Titan are nonsense.

Now, there are some really important changes from last time. The two most important costs in the last event were 0 and 10. 0 was important because Sand Warrior was the only 0, and 10 was important because Scourge of Frostholm was the only 10. This lead to an extremely polarized format. Some loaded up their decks with Trail Stories and Stranger’s Mark to vomit out a horde of 3/3s that could consistently win the game by turn 3. Others loaded up on cheap removal with the plan of turboing out a Scourge, which often locked the opponent out of playing the game. A couple of specific printings have changed this: Helpful Doorbot, Foraging Sauropod and Royal Guardian. The more impactful of the two is probably the Doorbot, as he renders all the hyper aggro strategies basically unplayable. I mean, I guess you could still try, but powering out three 0/3s on turn 1 is not going to impress anyone. The plan of playing Scourge via Decimate or A New Tomorrow is probably at least moderately realistic, given that actual spells are decent, and the “bad” outcomes are still playable. Personally, I would prefer other methods for playing big dumb dinos.

Even with all of these notes, I feel like I have only scratched the surface of what is going on in this format. I could easily write a few thousand words on different strategic considerations for both deckbuilding and gameplay, but we really don’t have time for all of that. I am going to give some bullet point suggestions, in no particular order, which will help you out. I don’t have time to give detailed explanations for each, but if you want clarification be sure to comment in the Reddit thread!

1. The average unit is probably smaller than you think, meaning that cards like Torch, Hailstorm, or Devastating Setback are probably better than you think.

2. Sweepers like Harsh Rule are generally not where you want to be. Obviously if you roll Bait or Makto you will feel like a god, but these cards are awkward to use effectively.

3. Card draw is incredibly powerful. It is possible to play a deck of mono-card draw and do well in the event.

4. Games can end up being really grindy, and given #3, players are not going to run out of resources very quickly. Think about tools that allow you to go over top of what your opponent is doing in a board stall.

5. Crystallize and Cloud of Ash are really powerful (see #4).

6. Counter spells are way better than last time, given that the mono-Sand Warrior decks are gone. I still wouldn’t go crazy (I’m looking at you Hesitate) but cards like Long Live the Queen might be busted. They will also stop you from losing to #5.

7. Discard effects like Sabotage can be very good. This also means that face Aegis is very good.

8. I’m not sure exactly how fast the format will be, but Spellcraft weapons might be busted.

9. End of the Barrel might be insane. “Ritual” effects generally are quite good, but, there is specifically a chance that End of the Barrel might be format defining. I have thrown it into a couple of the decks here, but there is a chance I have not gone nearly far enough.

10. A deck with Svetya, some card draw, some removal, and like 12 copy effects might be really good. I have one below, but you should think about what this does for deckbuilding (Deathstrike goes way up in value for example).

11. Echo spells are gross. Giving units flying is gross. This means Accelerated Evolution is double gross.

12. Most of your units will probably be really bad, meaning that cards like Devour and Combust are really good.

13. It is often correct to play spells before combat. There are lots of units that buff your own units, hurt your opponent’s units, or have charge. Obviously it depends on the exact situation, but don’t just time all your spells after combat, and think about when is most strategically advantageous.

14. Don’t expect your opponents to do anything that makes sense. I have generally learned that events like this totally baffle some players, and they will make endless bizarre deckbuilding choices. If you think something like “it doesn’t make sense for my opponent to play Harsh Rule” just totally ignore that. Expect to see some truly whacky decks.

15. I haven’t included Merchants in any of these decks, but I could honestly think of some pretty sick possibilities. I haven’t worked on them here since I am going to need to think about it more, but if you have a clever idea, don’t be afraid to try it out. I could imagine Merchants being amazing, or totally unplayable.

16. You should be prepared to shell out some Shiftstone for an event like this. It is obviously possible to build a deck using entirely “meta” cards, but you will have a lot more fun if you splurge on some nonsense. When else are you going to have an excuse to play 4 copies of Long Live the Queen or End of the Barrel?

17. Have fun. This event is defined by nonsense, so you better be prepared for that when you sign up. There are millions of ways for you to get savagely highrolled by your opponents, and you need to accept that. This is not a serious competitive event. This is a gong show. If you get hit by nonsense like the Harsh Rule into Bait mondo combo, you should just laugh it off and try again (maybe with some light BM emotes).

Decks

As a reminder: these decks are totally untested, and are really just coming from my predictions for the event. My hit rate for finding good event decks is fairly high, but I still don’t promise that these are actually where you want to be. You are strongly encouraged to season to your personal taste.

JPS Control

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4 Seek Power (Set1 #408)
4 Suffocate (Set1 #251)
4 Annihilate (Set1 #269)
4 Strategize (Set3 #165)
3 Vanquish (Set1 #143)
2 Vanquisher’s Blade (Set4 #112)
4 Vara’s Favor (Set0 #35)
4 Devastating Setback (Set3 #226)
3 Eilyn’s Choice (Set2 #220)
4 Slay (Set2 #236)
4 Wisdom of the Elders (Set1 #218)
2 Deathstrike (Set1 #290)
4 Feeding Time (Set1 #381)
4 Long Live the Queen (Set4 #255)
2 Justice Sigil (Set1 #126)
2 Primal Sigil (Set1 #187)
3 Cobalt Waystone (Set3 #151)
3 Shadow Sigil (Set1 #249)
4 Crest of Order (Set4 #253)
1 Seat of Order (Set0 #51)
4 Crest of Vengeance (Set3 #264)
1 Seat of Vengeance (Set0 #55)
4 Crest of Cunning (Set3 #267)
1 Seat of Cunning (Set0 #62)

My method for creating this deck basically went as follows: First setting the search to Justice, Primal and Shadow. Next, I searching for “kill”, and added a bunch of cards. Third, I searched for “draw” and added a bunch of cards. Finally, I put together a powerbase that looked tolerable. Obviously I am being abit facetious here, but this isn’t far off the truth, and I honestly think the deck could be quite good.

Elysian Obelisk

Elysian

4 Seek Power (Set1 #408)
4 Accelerated Evolution (Set1 #351)
4 Backlash (Set1 #200)
4 Changeestik (Set4 #152)
4 Equivocate (Set1003 #21)
2 Read the Stars (Set4 #160)
4 Strategize (Set3 #165)
4 Trailblaze (Set2 #111)
4 Xenan Initiation (Set2 #44)
4 Wisdom of the Elders (Set1 #218)
4 Xenan Obelisk (Set1 #103)
4 Crystallize (Set1 #232)
4 Scouting Party (Set1 #488)
3 Time Sigil (Set1 #63)
3 Amber Waystone (Set3 #51)
5 Primal Sigil (Set1 #187)
4 Cobalt Waystone (Set3 #151)
4 Crest of Wisdom (Set3 #261)
4 Seat of Wisdom (Set0 #63)
2 Diplomatic Seal (Set1 #425)

This deck features a bunch of card draw, some Obelisks, and Crystallize. As you might guess, the game plan of the deck is to play a bunch of card draw, set up so Obelisks, and then chain Crystallizes until your opponent’s face explodes. Obelisk is one of the very few non-spell cards I am willing to play in the event, as it can turn your rag-tag band of draft chaff into serious threats.

Obelisk Hour

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4 Seek Power (Set1 #408)
4 Annihilate (Set1 #269)
4 Cull the Deck (Set4 #202)
4 Devour (Set1 #261)
4 Find the Way (Set1 #513)
4 Vara’s Favor (Set0 #35)
3 Banish (Set2 #207)
4 Devastating Setback (Set3 #226)
2 Extract (Set2 #155)
1 Torrent of Spiders (Set1 #272)
4 Deathstrike (Set1 #290)
4 Subvert (Set1 #289)
4 Xenan Obelisk (Set1 #103)
4 The Witching Hour (Set1 #310)
1 Time Sigil (Set1 #63)
4 Amber Waystone (Set3 #51)
6 Shadow Sigil (Set1 #249)
2 Amethyst Waystone (Set3 #201)
4 Crest of Mystery (Set4 #266)
4 Seat of Mystery (Set0 #61)
4 Xenan Banner (Set2 #201)

Witching Hour seems stupid. No, it doesn’t give you 24/24 Golems, but it seems like it would easily be played really quickly in the game. The fact that every spell is double counted for reducing its cost is very interesting. This particular build probably doesn’t have enough card draw, but it certainly has a ton of removal. Also, as I said above, Obelisk is probably dumb.

Warp Forge

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4 Seek Power (Set1 #408)
4 Torch (Set1 #8)
4 Equivocate (Set1003 #21)
2 Find the Way (Set1 #513)
4 Second Sight (Set1 #207)
4 Strategize (Set3 #165)
4 Hailstorm (Set1003 #11)
4 Brilliant Discovery (Set2 #177)
3 Resurface (Set4 #177)
4 Workshop Forge (Set2 #182)
2 Bad News (Set2 #30)
2 End of Days (Set4 #91)
3 End of Hostilities (Set4 #187)
3 End of the Barrel (Set4 #44)
4 Heart of the Vault (Set2 #183)
4 Fire Sigil (Set1 #1)
3 Time Sigil (Set1 #63)
3 Primal Sigil (Set1 #187)
4 Crest of Impulse (Set3 #251)
1 Seat of Impulse (Set0 #54)
4 Crest of Wisdom (Set3 #261)
1 Seat of Wisdom (Set0 #63)
3 Crest of Fury (Set3 #266)
1 Seat of Fury (Set0 #53)

I’ll admit, this is one of the more Avant-garde lists of this article. These big warp cards seem really powerful, and Workshop Forge seems like an interesting way to enable this kind of strategy. This is probably the most likely deck to just fall on its face and not even operate, but I’m feeling adventurous so I will include it. I think there is something really powerful here, but I have no idea how to build it properly.

Power Dino

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4 Levitate (Set1 #190)
4 Seek Power (Set1 #408)
4 Torch (Set1 #8)
2 Backlash (Set1 #200)
2 Changeestik (Set4 #152)
4 Combustion Cell (Set3 #7)
4 Strategize (Set3 #165)
4 Hailstorm (Set1003 #11)
4 Kindle (Set1002 #2)
4 Wisdom of the Elders (Set1 #218)
2 Swindle (Set2 #129)
4 End of the Barrel (Set4 #44)
4 Decimate (Set2 #200)
4 Scourge of Frosthome (Set1 #248)
4 Fire Sigil (Set1 #1)
2 Granite Waystone (Set3 #1)
8 Primal Sigil (Set1 #187)
3 Cobalt Waystone (Set3 #151)
4 Crest of Fury (Set3 #266)
4 Seat of Fury (Set0 #53)

Do you like big dinosaurs that lock your opponent out of the game? I like big dinosaurs that lock my opponent out of the game! This deck is built around powering out Scourge of Frostholm via “ritual” effects like Combustion Cell, Kindle and End of the Barrel. This is certainly a glass cannon strategy, but is probably pretty consistent honestly. I did note above that Decimate will only give you Scourge 33.3% of the time, but it is at least some redundancy. If you are feeling squeamish, you can swap this for some additional card draw effect or extra counters if you like.

Svetya Lock

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4 Lingering Influence (Set4 #100)
4 Seek Power (Set1 #408)
2 Linebreaker’s Shield (Set4 #254)
4 Strategize (Set3 #165)
4 Vanquish (Set1 #143)
4 Hailstorm (Set1003 #11)
4 Mirror Image (Set1 #217)
4 Wisdom of the Elders (Set1 #218)
2 Clutchmate (Set3 #179)
4 Long Live the Queen (Set4 #255)
4 Svetya, Orene of Kosul (Set3 #304)
4 Crystallize (Set1 #232)
4 Harsh Rule (Set1 #172)
2 End of Hostilities (Set4 #187)
4 Justice Sigil (Set1 #126)
2 Emerald Waystone (Set3 #101)
5 Primal Sigil (Set1 #187)
4 Cobalt Waystone (Set3 #151)
4 Crest of Order (Set4 #253)
4 Seat of Order (Set0 #51)
2 Diplomatic Seal (Set1 #425)

If you are not quite bold enough to go all the way up to the Frosty Dino, maybe I could interest you in this cheap knock off? This is essentially a control/prison style deck, which trades with its opponent for the first few turns of the game, but eventually starts chaining Svetya into Svetya, locking the opponent out of the game. This might be a touch too fragile, but it seems worth trying. Copy effects seem decent in general, as it allows you to double down on the best units that you happen to roll. I did mention above that I am not really into Harsh Rule, but it is probably worth trying in a deck like this.

Frosty Feln

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4 Seek Power (Set1 #408)
4 Annihilate (Set1 #269)
4 Back-Alley Delinquent (Set4 #200)
4 Backlash (Set1 #200)
4 Herald’s Song (Set1 #196)
4 Strategize (Set3 #165)
4 Vara’s Favor (Set0 #35)
4 Devastating Setback (Set3 #226)
2 Hailstorm (Set1003 #11)
4 Wisdom of the Elders (Set1 #218)
4 Deathstrike (Set1 #290)
4 Grasping at Shadows (Set1 #292)
4 Scourge of Frosthome (Set1 #248)
2 Primal Sigil (Set1 #187)
2 Clan Standard (Set4 #145)
4 Cobalt Waystone (Set3 #151)
7 Shadow Sigil (Set1 #249)
4 Crest of Cunning (Set3 #267)
4 Seat of Cunning (Set0 #62)
2 Diplomatic Seal (Set1 #425)

Back on the Frostholm train, this deck goes back in the direction of cheating that bad boy into play. Unfortunately there are not quite enough spells with discard effects but Back-Ally Delinquent seems tight in this strategy, and Nocturnal Observer is a pretty obvious inclusion. Beyond that, the rest of the deck are cards that say “draw a card” or “kill a thing” which each have pretty obvious applications (drawing cards, and killing things, respectively).

“Fair” Feln

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4 Seek Power (Set1 #408)
4 Annihilate (Set1 #269)
4 Backlash (Set1 #200)
4 Cull the Deck (Set4 #202)
4 Devour (Set1 #261)
4 Strategize (Set3 #165)
4 Vara’s Favor (Set0 #35)
4 Devastating Setback (Set3 #226)
3 Hailstorm (Set1003 #11)
4 Wisdom of the Elders (Set1 #218)
4 Deathstrike (Set1 #290)
4 Subvert (Set1 #289)
3 Crystallize (Set1 #232)
2 Primal Sigil (Set1 #187)
2 Clan Standard (Set4 #145)
4 Cobalt Waystone (Set3 #151)
7 Shadow Sigil (Set1 #249)
4 Crest of Cunning (Set3 #267)
4 Seat of Cunning (Set0 #62)
2 Diplomatic Seal (Set1 #425)

If you are a little less adventurous than Frostholm reanimator, this Feln deck seems like a nice alternative. Very similar shell, but with more card draw and removal, and fewer dinosaurs.

FJP Control

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2 Lingering Influence (Set4 #100)
4 Seek Power (Set1 #408)
4 Torch (Set1 #8)
4 Changeestik (Set4 #152)
4 Strategize (Set3 #165)
4 Vanquish (Set1 #143)
4 Vanquisher’s Blade (Set4 #112)
2 Copperhall Bracers (Set4 #115)
4 Hailstorm (Set1003 #11)
4 Wisdom of the Elders (Set1 #218)
4 Long Live the Queen (Set4 #255)
4 Obliterate (Set1 #48)
2 End of Hostilities (Set4 #187)
4 End of the Barrel (Set4 #44)
2 Fire Sigil (Set1 #1)
2 Justice Sigil (Set1 #126)
3 Primal Sigil (Set1 #187)
4 Crest of Glory (Set4 #243)
2 Seat of Glory (Set0 #56)
4 Crest of Order (Set4 #253)
2 Seat of Order (Set0 #51)
4 Crest of Fury (Set3 #266)
2 Seat of Fury (Set0 #53)

Keeping on the “fair” theme, lets take a look at FJP control. We can draw cards, kill stuff, and occasional cheese someone with an explosive End of the Barrel turn. I am particularly interesting in Copperhall Bracers, as this could lead to some seriously dangerous alpha stikes.

Combrei Beatdown

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4 Finest Hour (Set1 #130)
4 Lingering Influence (Set4 #100)
2 Sharpened Reflex (Set4 #102)
4 Sandstorm (Set2 #43)
4 Strength of Many (Set2 #73)
4 Vanquish (Set1 #143)
2 Vanquisher’s Blade (Set4 #112)
4 Xenan Initiation (Set2 #44)
2 Copperhall Bracers (Set4 #115)
4 Stand Together (Set1 #334)
4 Wurmcalling (Set4 #76)
4 Sword of Unity (Set4 #249)
4 The Great Parliament (Set1 #338)
2 Humbug Swarm (Set2 #60)
2 Striking Snake Formation (Set1 #112)
3 Time Sigil (Set1 #63)
4 Amber Waystone (Set3 #51)
8 Justice Sigil (Set1 #126)
4 Crest of Progress (Set4 #247)
4 Seat of Progress (Set0 #58)
2 Diplomatic Seal (Set1 #425)

After going through a lot of lists, I am going to finish off on one that I am probably the most confident in. Stand Together is truly remarkable in this event, and this deck lets you play 8 copies. Sword of Unity is particularly nasty. I have been tempted to put Wurmcalling in some of the other decks, but here is the first one where I actually pulled the trigger. It might be too slow, but 7/7s are really big, and they might just stick on the board. Striking Snake Formation could also end up being an all-star in this event.


Well, hopefully that gives you some ideas. I honestly have tons more, but I gotta stop somewhere. Be sure to let me know how these decks do in the Reddit thread! Also, please send me your stupid/crazy/amazing screenshots on Twitter! I love to see the mischief my decks cause. This is a very difficult event to build for given the wild possibilities that are available, so I could easily imagine a couple of these decks being stone-cold unplayable. Also, feel free to share your own decklists so we can compare notes.

See you all in the queues!

Neon