New Dead of Winter archetypes with Androod

Introduction

Hey everyone! Androod here taking a look at some potential sweet new decks that are made possible by Dead of Winter. With new sets come new brews and I’ve been itching to get started since the beginning of spoiler season. What I have for you today is a few points I’ve been kicking around waiting for the new set to drop. Without further adieu let’s hop right in!

 

Blood/Diamond Verdict

 

Verdict is a mechanic I’ve heard a lot of varying opinions on. While the mechanic in a vacuum is not very powerful since your opponent gets to choose and will likely have a choice that isn’t greatly impactful presented to them I think there is some potential here. The Hex design team has made it very clear that single instances of verdict are not intended to be powerful. Many verdict cards have either a repeatable trigger, multiple instances of the keyword, or simply have the word verdict stapled onto a card that could still be reasonable otherwise. All these factors give us the workings of a reasonable engine which brings me to the following shell that has a few things going for it.

 

Champion: Adoni-Zeddek

Troops:

4x Sunrise Specter
4x Dawn Charger
4x Umbral Guard – Gems: 4x Minor Blood of Tombs
2x Day Rider

Spells:

4x Guidance
4x Guiding Light
2x Winter’s Grasp
4x Gloaming Edict
3x Hailstorm
4x Herofall
4x Zeddek’s Judgment

Resources:

4x Blood Ice
5x Blood Shard
4x Diamond Ice
4x Wax Sacrament
4x Well of Retribution

 

  • The deck has a low-curve, proactive game plan which is always a bonus in a new format.
  • The deck is FULL of fateweave meaning it’s going to have a wide range of keepable opening hands and be able to consistently make plays every turn.
  • It is more than happy to take a nightfall or daybreak off of a verdict trigger due to Day Rider and Dawn Charger
  • It is an aggressive game plan with a bit of reach. It is not unreasonable to think Umbral Guard can get buffed up to 5 ATK between the Minor gem of Tombs, Gloaming Edict, and verdicts. This means your verdict triggers are hitting the face for five! In addition to this direct damage you also have the evasive troops in Hail Hawks, Sunrise Specter, and random Phantoms from verdicts.
  • Incidental life gain is also nothing to scoff at. The deck has ways to gain little bits of life between Daybreaks, Sunrise Specter, and Guiding Light.
  • Dawn Charger also has a lot of synergy with the rest of the shell. Bouncing our Guiding Light over and over gives us repeatable fateweave which means control over our draw step and more Hail Hawks. Even when it has to bounce itself it triggers additional verdicts off the Gloaming Edict. These combined with the whole being a 4/4 for two thing bring a lot to the deck.
  • Zeddek’s cheap charge power lets us get away with playing some chargeless Wax Sacraments. These free bodies can act as roadblocks when we are racing another aggressive deck or even grow a little bigger with our verdict triggers and be a real threat against a control deck.

 

Wild/Sapphire Transform

 

The Pippet revolution is upon us! Corey has been Jonesing for a good transform deck and I wouldn’t be surprised if some of these new additions where from him bribing Burkhart to make it happen. I tried REAL hard last season to make a Puff deck work but it just didn’t have all the pieces. However we got some new toys with Dead of Winter so let us take a look at what this shell could look like!

 

Champion: Puff the Rainbow

Troops:

4x Merrymaker
4x Whimsy’s Familiar
4x Party Fungi
4x Sour Grum’puss
3x Vision of Zeota
4x Whimsy Witch
4x Changeling Cuties
3x Jinglejinx Witch – Gems: 4x Major Sapphire of Clarity

Spells:

4x Evaporate
4x Runebind
2x Jubilant Destiny

Resources:

4x Ludicrous Libations
4x Sapphire Ice
4x Sapphire Shard
4x Well of Instinct
4x Wild Ice

 

This is an archetype that is hard to evaluate without getting a feel for it first hand since it has not really existed before but it has some cool tools and synergies.

 

  • The curve in this deck is obnoxiously low. Especially when you throw a Major gem of Clarity in the Jinglejinx Witch to make it a two cost. Eight upgradable one cost troops backed up by Runebind and Evaporate leads to some fast openers.
  • Our Drop of Whimsy from Ludicrous Libration combos nicely with our Puff power giving us a free upgrade to a five cost troop. I wouldn’t be surprised if this interaction is what prompted the Puff nerf lowering the cost of the Butterfly and increasing the activation cost.
  • This deck has a high level of synergy but individually weak cards. When this thing is firing on all cylinders it can steamroll someone but it won’t have much in terms of come back potential.
  • Merrymaker is a great addition that the archetype did not have last season. It was hurting for more recurring transforms and this one drop fits that bill while being relativly easy to enable with Ice and Vision.  
  • I’m not convinced Runebind is a great card for this deck but wanted to try it before dismissing it. There is notable anti-synergy with Vision of Zeota giving the opponent the ability to Fateweave a resource and Mat Bimonte’s vanity card Sour Grump’puss preventing our own cards from returning to their normal state.

 

Diamond/Ruby Candles

 

Candles is a deck that never really caught fire. It saw some play shortly after the release of Frostheart but was quickly pushed out by Eternal Seeker and Lazgar’s Vengeance. Now that Lazgar’s is banned and Kagu has rotated it may be time to bust out these cute little fire hazards again. Below is what I would consider a reasonable starting point.

 

Champion: Cassia Goldenlight

Troops:

4x Scion of Lyvaanth
2x Lyvaanth

Spells:

4x Guidance
4x Light the Votives
2x Return to Cinder
4x Wrath of Elements
4x Runic Candescence
4x Wax Dawn
2x Wings of Wax
3x Confession of Embers
4x Choir of Lumos

Resources:

4x Diamond Ice
4x Diamond Shard
4x Ruby Ice
3x Ruby Shard
4x Wax Sacrament
4x Well of Conquest

 

  • Dead of Winter gave us quite a few of quality Illuminate cards. If the last few seasons have taught us anything it’s that cost reduction should be respected and Choir of Lumos gives us the potential to have a heavily reduced Illuminate three. It is almost arguable you should just be playing Wax Sacrament in any diamond deck and it’s obviously much stronger in this shell than any other.
  • Wrath of elements is the best piece of removal we have seen in a long time (ever?) but due to its elemental stipulation this is one of the only decks that can really abuse that. Combined with Return to Cinder and Confession of Embers Candles has access to some top shelf removal.  Note that it can also be used to get rid of pesky constants and artifacts.
  • Confession of Embers also combos nicely with Lyvaanth himself. This dragon doesn’t mind taking a hit for three and gives us a few candlekin for our troubles.
  • This deck also has an easier time refueling than most aggressive decks. A Light the Votives into a Confession of Embers can bring your board from 0 to 100 real quick when the game enters top deck mode.
  • Wings of Wax also gives us a nice bit of evasion by letting our candles take to the air with Lyvaanth

 

Closing

Rotation is always an exciting time, no one knows what is good, bad, or otherwise but hopefully this is a good starting point. Dead of winter brought us some exciting new mechanics as well as new tools for existing ones. I look forward to experimenting with these new cards and hopefully bringing you all some new brews once the set releases. Happy hexing!

 

-Mike Kletz (Androod)

@Androod27

Coral Reanimator: Spamming Seekers in Standard

Introduction

Disclaimer

So, I’ve written about Haraza Ardent decks and Turbo-PA.  Uh, soo…last bash had 25 Haraza decks, and the turbo-PA decks won 68% of their matches.  The only other deck with over 5 entries were 9 valiant BW Kagulichu decks who clocked in at a whopping 41% win percentage.  Roughly speaking, this puts the state of the format at:  Turbo-PA beats everything but Ardent, and Ardent beats Turbo-PA while also being an aggressive/straightforward deck that punishes slow draws.

I’m not here to tell you I’ve found the deck that beats Turbo-PA and Haraza Ardent.  Because I have not.  What we do have is a deck that is fun as hell to play, favored against Ardent and a lot of other stuff, and not favored against Turbo-PA.  I’m going to repeat this, and also probably write 500 words on it in a later section:  This deck is not favored against Turbo-PA.  Best case it’s about a 60/40 underdog.

The Deck

Credit where credit’s due:  This is a fusion of the player Yasi’s “Crow Combo” deck and an old idea for Reanimator. One of the things I like to do as a deckbuilder is, any time I see an interesting deck on the ladder, just play it and try to figure out:  Is there a part of this that’s powerful and re-usable, and if so, what’s the right shell for that powerful component.  So let’s take a look at Crow Combo:

Champion: Blue Sparrow
8x Sapphire Shard
2x Blood Shard
4x Arcane Focus
4x Ruinforge Rummager
4x Sorcerous Sculpting – Gems: 4x Major Sapphire of Sorcery
2x Crowbones
4x Change Course
4x Well of Cunning
4x Coralcove Witch
4x Heart’s Whisper
4x Mordrom’s Gift – Gems: 4x Major Sapphire of Clarity
4x Eternal Seeker
4x Sapphire Ice
4x Blood Ice
4x Runebind

This deck is cheating resource cost in two ways:  first, by putting big troops in the crypt and reanimating them, and second, by using Coralcove Witch’s -2 Cost power to play cards like Eternal Seeker ahead of schedule.  Finally, if you reduce the cost of Sorcerous Sculpting to 0, and sculpting a Crowbones, that sculpted crowbones can return the 0-cost sculpting to your hand, giving you infinite 3/3 flying speed troops.  Cute, huh?

Problem is that the best decks in the format are killing you fast, and playing a 6-drop is probably a bit too slow.  Playing Yasi’s version, I felt like I had too many clunky cards, but boy was reanimating an Eternal Seeker on 4 great.  And going Coralcove Witch on 4 into Seeker on 5 was also great.  Once I had a seeker out, it was easy to get more seeker triggers with Sorcerous Sculpting and Runebind, and it felt like I couldn’t lose.

Unfortunately, the Hex Devs have forbidden me from putting 7 or 8 Eternal Seekers in one deck.  However, there’s a card that does a remarkably okay Seeker impression against decks that are light on removal:  Chronodaemon.  So what if we just focused on a simple game play:  delay for the first 3-4 turns, and then wipe their board repeatedly while playing enormous fatties on 4, 5, 6, etc?  Here’s the result:

Decklist

Champion: Blue Sparrow
8x Sapphire Shard
2x Blood Shard
4x Arcane Focus
4x Transmogrifade
3x Chronodaemon
4x Change Course
4x Well of Cunning
4x Coralcove Witch
4x Heart’s Whisper
4x Mordrom’s Gift – Gems: 4x Major Sapphire of Clarity
4x Eternal Seeker
4x Sapphire Ice
4x Blood Ice
4x Runebind
3x Sorcerous Sculpting – Gems: 3x Major Sapphire of Sorcery
Reserves:
2x Verdict of the Ancient Kings
2x Cheap Shot
3x Rizzix
4x Underworld Officer
2x Aegilus
2x Confounding Ire

Card Breakdown

This deck has almost all 4-ofs (good sign), and the cards break down as follows:

Arcane Focus, Change Course and Heart’s Whisper help us filter through our deck.  The first few turns, we’re just trying to slow the opponent down and set up a board wipe.  All of these cards have some other uses, but mostly they’re there to make sure that on turn 4 or 5 we can do something dumb.

These cards enter the battlefield and immediately stabilize a board.  In a world where Massacre and Clash of Steel are the best action-based board wipes, it’s almost hilarious how much better these troops are.  They clean up the best threats and also present a clock.  But obviously, we’re not going to be paying 7 and 8 resources for them.  That would be too honest.

…and cheating costs pays off.  Mordom’s gift, gemmed with Major Sapphire of Clarity, allows us to reanimate a troop from the crypt (ideally one of these big bad boys) on turn 4, after using our champion power or Change Course to put it there.  Sorcerous Sculpting lets us run out copy after copy of these troops until our opponent stops playing.  And Coralcove Witch provides a reasonable ambush blocker (quick 2/4) that simultaneously allows us to hard-cast Seeker on 5, or store up resources for a future turn by making interaction or filtering cheaper.

We gem Sorcerous Sculpting with Major Sapphire of Sorcery because then it’s a Sorcerous Sculpting of Sorcery.  Also because we can discard the extra action created with our champion power if it’s bad.

Finally, we play 4 transmogrifade, because we’re trying to stall, and it’s efficient and cheap removal.  Nice and easy, right?

How to Play It

This deck packs more value than any other popular deck in the game.  If the game goes long, you will be getting 5 or 6 seeker and chronodaemon triggers, while slamming 5/5 and 6/6 fliers onto the battlefield and doing grotesque and unfortunate things with runebind.  But it’s also a board-wipe deck – it doesn’t aim to counter everything your opponent does, just clear it off the board.  So against decks that have potent action-based threats, remember that you do need to actually kill them.

Your #1 priority is to set up something silly to do on turn 4 or turn 5.  Your #2 priority is to slow down your opponents’ primary game plan.  Try to spend your resources efficiently, because in the games where you do, you will probably win.

Reserves

Our reserves are pretty simple.  We’re rarely changing more than a half-dozen cards in our deck because its game plan is pretty solid.

 

These are all cards we play to give our deck some more early-game plays.  Cheap Shot is a great way to have stuff to do in the early turns vs. aggressive decks.  It frequently gains you some life by producing a blocker, and it can eliminate threats like Intrepid Conjurer, Righteous Outlaw and Wartorn General.

Verdict of the Ancient Kings and Confounding Ire help us deal with action-based decks like Furiko, as well as Culmination in Blood and other problematic actions.

Aegilus is here because some decks have a relatively easy time removing Chronodaemon…but have absolutely no answer for double Aegilus.

Finally, we have a legion of unblockable troops because I haven’t found a better way to deal with Turbo-PA other than trying to kill them through their infinite blockers.

Haraza Ardent (…and other aggressive decks):

We are close to pre-boarded for this matchup – with 7 cards that wipe their board (and clear their banner), we are a strong favorite.  Most notably, current Haraza builds eschew removal and interaction, which means that Chronodaemon is just a 6/6 that wipes their board.  Post-board, we want to make ourselves a little bit more robust to interaction and also bring our curve down a little bit:

-2 Chronodaemon

-1 Sorcerous Sculpting

-1 Heart’s Whisper

+2 Aegilus

+2 Cheap Shot

Cheap shot lines up well with Wartorn General and Intrepid Conjurer, while also provided a body to throw in front of things.  Aegilus is more resilient than Chronodaemon to removal, and also effectively blanks their troops.  These matchups tend to be good for us – post Lazgar’s ban, most decks are a little bit too slow to effectively get under our cheated-out fatties

BW Kagulichu (…and any blood-based grindy deck)

Kagulichu was a powerful deck because of its ability to play effective 3-drops with deathcries (Promiscuous Succubus, Rune-Ear Heirophant and Underworld Crusader), as well as interaction (Strangle, Herofall) and, most importantly, being able to Rotten Rancor an Eternal Seeker on turn 5.

I am here to tell you that we are much, much better at cheating out Eternal Seekers than BW Kagu, and that voiding all of their 3-drops is an absolute beating.  In this matchup, you need to:  not let culmination in blood resolve and not let your Eternal Seeker get Herofall’d.  If you do this, you will very likely win.  This matchup is great (…most of our midrange matchups are great).

Because we’re just throwing bombs, Aegilus is better than Chronodemon.  Eternal Seeker is the only way they have to get double-Aegilus off the table, and we have ample ways to interact with it.  We trim some transmogrifades to make room for hard counters for culmination in blood.

-2 Transmog

-2 Chronodaemon

+2 Confounding Ire

+2 Aegilus

Furiko

This matchup is very tough, because you are actually the beatdown here.  Given enough time, they are going to draw cards and build up a critical mass of runebinds, and arcane soil/hero power you for a million damage.  We are a board wipe deck, and they’re a deck that can win from hand.

However, if you don’t get Arcane Soil’d, this matchup is virtually impossible to lose.  So we’re going to bring in 4 hard counters to Arcane Soil.  We bring in Aegilus because it also addresses their primary game plan of combo-ing us from hand.  While they have a lot of ways to deal with it (their own Transmogrifades, Pippit Hustler), it forces them to have more interaction.

-4 Transmogrifade

-2 Chronodaemon

+2 Aegilus

+2 Verdict of the Ancient Kings

+2 Confounding Ire

Constants

Easy matchup.  All our board wipes hit constants.  Whee!  Just make life a little bit better in the post-board:

-4 Transmogrifade

+2 Verdict of the Ancient Kings

+2 Confounding Ire (…they’re usually blood)

Turbo-PA

…well, we saved this one for last because I have the most to say about it.  First, let me say that this matchup is bad.  Not unwinnable bad, but nothing I can do to get it over 50% when both decks are played by good players.  I have tried, with little success:

  • Fifth Book of D’Harsis: It turns out that spending 6 resources just to make sure your opponent won’t cast Psychic Ascension isn’t really worth it.  They are going to murder you with candles.
  • Demented Ascension, The Librarian, Cult of the Nameless City: While you sometimes get to have a lot of fun screwing with fateweave, this isn’t close to fast enough.  These are long-term game plans against a speedy combo deck.
  • Interacting With Them (Subterfuge, Indigo Trickster with Speed Gem, Verdict of the Ancient Kings, Transmogrifade, Massacre):   They have more redundancy and card draw than you do.  If the game goes on long enough, they’re going to do their thing – without a good clock, this disruption isn’t a winning plan.
  • Tribunal Magistrate and Blight Knight: Too slow, and too easy to interact with for them.  Good Turbo-PA players know these are coming and can play around them easily.
  • Bogberg, the Great Gobbler: …desperate times, desperate measures.  I just wanted you to know how deep the attempts went.

Looking at my reserves, I bet you can guess what game plan I settled on:  Over whelm them with threats and pressure their life total.  Underworld Officer and Rizzix effectively act as reach, and you will rarely have problems casting Rizzix on 3 against them (plenty of cards in the crypt).  You want to slam these cards on the table and race.  We play 3 Rizzix because he’s unique and significantly worse with Sorcerous Sculpting.  When this primary plan (play unblockables) does not work, Turbo-PA can also stumble by lacking the interaction required to stop our flying fatties from resolving.

In this matchup, you want to focus on establishing an early threat, and then forcing your reanimation actions through.  You are the beatdown – eventually, they’re going to ascend and make arbitrary numbers blockers/damage.   You need to kill them.  Here’s the board I settled on – this matchup is not great, but you can punish stumbles:

-4 Transmogrifade

–1 Sorcerous Sculpting

-2 Coralcove Witch

+3 Rizzix

+4 Underworld Officer

Tips and Tricks

This deck is the best Runebind deck in Hex, and it cheats resources in a weird way.  It’s tough to play.  So here are some tips that might help you:

  • Two Aegiluses are a hard lock against decks that can only destroy troops (most non-sapphire/diamond decks). Use Sorcerous Sculpting to get two Aegiluses into play as soon as you can against aggressive decks.
  • Aegilus doesn’t make you immune to life loss, like Necropolis Coin.  It does make you immune to damage.  Note that you can also die from running out of cards in your deck.
  • Runebind can save your giant troops from removal. If you can afford to, don’t reanimate them until you can protect them.
  • Runebind can re-buy triggers from Chronodaemon and Eternal Seeker, enabling multiple board wipes. Notably, Runebinding Chronodaemon doesn’t give them their board back­, because it hasn’t left the board yet.  When it reverts and you re-cast it, it will give them their stuff back…at which point you can promptly remove it all again.
  • Remember that you can runebind opponents’ actions, and then void them with Chronodaemon and Seeker. This is a reasonable way not to get Culmination in Blood-ed.
  • Sapphire decks have relatively few ways of getting their stuff back from Chronodaemon – transformation effects don’t do it.
  • If you think you’re about to get into a Runebind fight, you can give yourself some edges:
    • Leave up resources for Change Course – if somebody Runebinds your Runebind on the chain, you can get another one into your hand at quick speed and revert/replay it.
    • Fateweave a resource to the top of your deck and use your hero power to draw it.
    • Use Arcane Focus or Heart’s Whisper to find a resource to re-flip your
  • In general, don’t put troops into your crypt until you’re about to reanimate them – you’re just turning on your opponent’s crypt hate or Culmination in Blood.
  • Coralcove Witch can also be used to give Spellshield to one of your fatties – it and runebind are very important against blood-based Herofall decks for this reason.
  • Mordrom’s Gift and Sorcerous Sculpting grant the gemmed powers to the targeted troop. This comes into play in a few ways:
    • A Sorcerous Sculpting’d troop is better than the original. If you reanimate it, it will give you another random action.  If you Sculpting it again, it will give you two random actions.
    • Casting Mordrom’s Gift repeatedly lowers the resource cost of a card. When you can, try not to have too many cards of the same resource cost on the board; you never know when you’re going to need to cast Eternal Seeker for that number.
  • Feel free to tuck an Eternal Seeker or two under your Chronodaemon. This puts your opponent in a bad spot:  Either his board is gone forever, or when he gets it back you get to get rid of some of it with your new Eternal Seeker triggers.

Wrapping Up

…this deck is super fun.  I don’t want to mislead you – it’s not unbeatable by any stretch, and I think I’ve laid out its weaknesses: if your opponent is playing to the board, it’s an excellent deck.  If they’re not, it’s less good because the fatties we currently have selected don’t help much.

However, I also expect this deck to be consistently good in the future:  It’s only losing Arcane Focus, Transmogrifade and Chronodaemon at rotation.  As it’s in Sapphire, I expect that Arcane Focus’s filtering will be replaceable (perhaps with Theorize), and that there will be some cheap, efficient blood removal or interaction to replace Transmogrifade.  If the format slows down and a dual-shard appears, it may even be reasonable to maindeck Herofall and take a more controlling role.  Finally, Chronodaemon is only dramatically better than Aegilus vs. Turbo-PA, a deck which preys on this deck.  If you’re budget-conscious, I’d recommend replacing Chronodaemon with Aegilus maindeck, and playing Shackling Strands.  The rest of this deck should be a staple of this format for a while.

The Price is Wrong: Cyclone Shaper Turbo-PA

Introduction

Repeat after me: cost-reduction mechanics are busted.  Behind every hilarious design mistake, behind every truly screwed-in-half deck, you will find a person who looked at a cost-reduction mechanic and innocently mused, “this seems fine.”  The Hex Dev Team is very ambitious – they are always printing cards  that reduce costs, and in the average deck, they’re usually fine.  But, as brewers and deckbuilders, we should always be on the lookout for these mechanics – they can be used to propel the right deck far ahead of the field.

Cost Reduction in Hex

Don’t believe me?  Let’s look at the last format, dominated by Ruby Tork, Slagpot Dreadlings, Diamond Sapphire Control, with a splash of Blood-Wild midrange in the form of Takahiro Deathcry or Kagulichu.  Take a peek at the mechanics they employed.

Lazgar’s Vengeance: Nobody thought that 4-damage to the face and a board wipe should cost 0 resources.  But that’s frequently what aggressive decks like Tork and Slagpot got to do.  This card single-handedly rendered a dozen decks unplayable, and was one of the only recent bans in standard.

Culmination of Blood: Should you be able to empty your opponent’s hand, effectively locking the game up, as early as turn 4?  Probably not.  But that’s what decks like Kagu and Takahiro Deathcry could do, by creating a bunch of small troops, feeding them to sacrifice outlets like Emperor’s Lackey, powering out a game-ending effect before the game has gotten going.

Major Sapphire of Clarity: Dark Heart of Nulzann was a really good 5-drop the previous format.  Turns out it’s an even better 4-drop.  While this gem only reduces the cost of a thing by 1, we should always be on the lookout for places that matters – for example, it allows Sapphire-Diamond Sockets to re-buy an Animus of Nulzann with Bishop Elijah’s hero power.

Psychic Ascension:  A 15-cost card that reads “Win the game, unless you’re embarrassingly far behind” isn’t very good – heck, we can already do that for 8 with Absolute Power.  But with cantrips like Guidance and Arcane Focus able to cycle through our deck and reduce its cost, it frequently became reasonable to ascend for 5 or 6, holding up resources to spend to protect your action.  This action has been a staple win condition for control decks since its initial printing.

Now let’s look at the current format.  The most popular deck is Blood Wild Kagulichu, an innocent-looking pile of incredible cards:  blood removal, powerful 3-cost cards like Underworld Crusader and Rune Ear Heirophant, and…cost reduction.  That’s right – Rotten Rancor frequently lets you put a 7 or 8 cost troop onto the battlefield on turn 5.  In the case of Eternal Seeker, it has a Lazgar’s-y effect: it can destroy an opponent’s big board and establish a huge blocker.  This tempo swing, combined with the threat of Culmination of Blood, has lead this deck to take up 50% of the top-8 slots in bashes.

The biggest overperformer from last week’s bash, though, was RDent Sockets, which five people played, resulting in two 5-2 records, a 6-1 record, and two entries into the top 8.  This deck has a wide range of draws, but the ones where your opponent is never had a chance tend to prominently feature Sentry of Nulzann.  For a 1-resource investment, 19 troops in your deck all cost less, which often allows you to giddily spew your hand onto the table while your opponent is stuck honestly playing on curve.

What’s Busted Next: Cyclone Shaper Turbo-PA

So this deck began popping up on the ladder last week with an interesting fundamental idea:  What if we just played 1-resource actions that filtered through our deck, Cyclone Shaper, and Psychic Ascension?  In case you missed the theme of this article, Cyclone Shaper is a 3-cost flying coyotle that…reduces the cost of every action you play by 1.  Eventually, all these actions find you a Psychic Ascension that costs virtually nothing, and the opponent is buried under an avalanche of cheap troops.  Let’s go through this deck design, because it’s beautifully simple:

Decklist

Champion: Cassia Goldenlight
6x Sapphire Shard
4x Arcane Focus
2x Transmogrifade
4x Well of Purpose
2x Psychic Ascension
4x Thunderfield Seer
4x Cyclone Shaper
4x Consult the Talon
4x Cosmic Calling
4x Heart’s Whisper
4x Guidance
2x Evaporate
4x Diamond Ice
4x Sapphire Ice
4x Runebind
4x Light the Votives

Reserves:
2x Tribunal Magistrate
2x Transmogrifade
2x Verdict of the Ancient Kings
2x Scouring Light
3x Into the Unknown
3x Confounding Ire
1x Martyr

Cost-Reducers

 

First, we’ve got all these cards that reduce the cost of our actions.  Cyclone Shaper is the big payoff in this deck.  With Cyclone Shaper and enough troops on board, you can play TWENTY-EIGHT of the actions in this deck for free.  

As for Light the Votives and Thunderfield Seer…bet you thought that these were just great chump blockers that generated value.  Little did you know that they allowed you access to extra resources!  We play Cosmic Calling and Consult the Talon, so every troop on the board will usually give you about 2 free resources of cost reduction per turn.  Light the Votives and Thunderfield Seer, plus candles from our champion Cassia Goldenlight, are both great ways to have access to far more effective resources than you should have.

Cards That We Play For Free (to find other cards)

With Cyclone Shaper out, these cards all cost 0.  Notably, the card you find with Cosmic Calling will also have mobilize.  So we can use that to make a Heart’s Whisper effectively also cost 0 (-1 from Cyclone Shaper, -2 from Mobilize).  You want to use these cards to help you find your payoffs and smooth out your draws.

Cards That We Play for Free (for protection)

 

Runebind doubles as pseudo-removal (it will generally prevent you from taking damage from an opposing troop for two turns), as well as protection for Cyclone Shaper.  Given that you’re an overwhelming favorite to win any game where Cyclone Shaper sticks to the board, the strong game plan against this deck is to try to keep Cyclone Shaper off it.  Runebind lets you protect Cyclone Shaper for the low, low cost of 0 resources.

Evaporate, in this case, represents a 5th and 6th Runebind – it can buy us time, or protect Shaper.  Transmogrifade is a flexible spell that can be used to delay aggressive decks until we can combo off with Cyclone Shaper.

Cards That We Play For Free (to draw more cards…to play for free…)

 

 

Consult The Talon, mobilized with 3 troops, costs 1.  With Cyclone Shaper, it costs 0.  A 0 cost action that draws 3 cards is pretty good.  As a general rule, if you cast Consult the Talon with Cyclone Shaper out and it resolves, you’re going to run your opponent over with cards.

Heart’s Whisper…isn’t free.  It costs a few cost.  But, unlike just about every other card in our deck, it requires no enablers – neither Cyclone Shaper nor a troop for Mobilize.  And sometimes it’s convenient to be able to draw more cards to set up a really big next turn.

Cards That We Play For Free (to win the game)

Psychic Ascension is the bomb of bombs.  Even decks that don’t play an overwhelming amount of actions can use this to generate a reliable stream of troops and free actions.  But our deck…our deck is all actions.  And we can cast many of them a turn.  The turn we play psychic ascension, we’ll usually create an incredibly wide board.  The turn after, we probably kill our opponent.  This deck is called Turbo-PA because it can power this card out as early as turn 3, and will regularly power it out by turn 5.

See?  This is a deck that knows what it’s doing.  It gets to play 18 resources because of its excellent selection and low curve, it plays 2 win conditions, some cards to cheat cost, and a whole ton of ways to find cards to cheat cost.  This deck knows how to win TCGs.

Reserves

Like any deck with a phenomenal Plan A, we don’t have a lot of cards to bring in and out in any given matchup.  In general, we don’t want to mess with drawing cards, cheating cost, and winning the game (…after all, those are the only things we want to do) – we want to mess with the card we use to delay the game and protect our important pieces.  So we’re usually looking at siding out some set of Transmogrifade, Evaporate or Runebind and siding in cards that are better in a particular matchup.

To anybody who read my article on RDent Sockets, we’re going to take an awfully similar approach to using reserves:  Keep the pro-active cards the same, and change out the interaction to line up better with our opponent.  Our options for alternative interaction are:

Transmogrifade and Martyr are flexible interaction for troops.  Notably, always bring in martyr if you suspect Misery or Crackling Magma.  Being able to preserve your board as well as be flexible maneuver is terrific.  Into the Unknown gets brought in if the opponent has a specific troops(e.g. Wise Magistrate, Tribunal Magistrate, Vampire Princess) that’s incredible against us.

We also have specific answers targeted at decks that can interact with us:  Confounding Ire for blood disruption, Tribunal Magistrate and Verdict of the Ancient Kings for control decks and the mirror.

Specific Matchups

Kagulichu

Kagulichu is the midrange deck that beats other midrange decks.  Thanks to powerful hand interaction like Culmination of Blood and Primordial Cockatwice, it can also grind out control decks.  But, compared to what we’re doing, its cheating on cost is adorably honest – its best draws cheat out a 7 drop on turn 5.  We might well have drawn our entire deck by then.

The only thing that’s scary for us in this matchup is Culmination of Blood, so we’re going to bring in Confounding Ire.  This doubles as protection for Cyclone Shaper, and they usually board out removal (it’s a little embarrassing to strangle a candle):

-2 Evaporate

-1 Runebind

+3 Confounding Ire

If the deck looks like it’s pre-boarded for this matchup, it’s because it is – Kagu has been the most popular deck at both of the previous bashes, and I imagine it will continue to be so, so it behooves us to be ready for it.

Mono-Blood Decks (Renner, Zorath)

I usually don’t mention these decks, as they’re not much of the metagame, but Mono-Blood decks, such as the one that placed 10th at last week’s bash, are some of the hardest decks to beat with Turbo-PA.  They have some early disruption in the form of Withering Gaze, early evasive/disruptive threats like Vampire Prince and Vampire Princess, and actions that end the game in the form of Culmination of blood.  Bride of the Damned will kill a card every turn.  Finally, drawing your whole deck is a lot less fun when your deck is full of spiders from Xentoth’s Malice.  Massacre’s one of the only genuinely clean answers to our board.

In this matchup, our goal is to keep Vampire Princess and Bride of the Damned off the table, build up card advantage, stick a cyclone shaper, and power out a Psychic Ascension.  We want the Into the Unknowns and Confounding Ires in the reserves, and they’re going to replace less useful interaction.  We’re also going to trim thunderfield seers, as 1/1s get picked on by Bride of the Damned.

+3 Into the Unknown

+3 Confounding Ire

+1 Martyr

-1 Transmog

-2 Evaporate

-2 Thunderfield Seer

-2 Runebind

Control Decks (Dreaming Fox DS and Wintermoon)

These decks are basically byes.  We are the beautiful, troop-less flower they wished they could be.  Their removal is bad against us.  Cards like Dark Heart of Nulzann are bad against us.  They have to hold up resources to try to 1-for-1 us when our entire deck is filled with cards that draw other cards, and our interaction is cheaper.

In these matchups, Runebind is often bad – runebinding your cyclone shaper does not save you from Into the Unknown or Pippit Hustler.  Further, you tend to have plenty of time to draw multiple shapers and bury them under a mountain of cards.  

-3 Runebind

-2 Evaporate

+2 Verdict of the Ancient Kings

+2 Tribunal Magistrate

Vs. Dreaming Fox

-2 Transmogrifade

+3 Into the Unknown

Vs. Wintermoon

+1 Transmogrifade

The difference in boards here is because casting Into the Unknown on multi-shard cards Pippit Hustler, Brown Fox Scout or Windsinger generally results in the opponent getting more hustlers, scouts and Windsingers.  Whereas casting it on Dark Heart of Nulzann generally results in the opponent getting resources and useless artifacts.

Furiko

They are an aggressive, turn 6 or 7 combo deck.  We are a turn 3-5 combo deck.  This is a good place to be.  But, as a general rule, this matchup goes to whoever gets to Consult the Talon more.  In this matchup, we adjust our board to counter their high-impact actions like Arcane Soil.  They generally don’t have enough pressure to beat us if they can’t resolve an Arcane Soil.

-2 Evaporate

-2 Transmog

+2 Confounding Ire

+2 Verdict of the Ancient Kings

BD Constants Decks (Goot, Fateweave, etc)

This deck is actually sometimes tricky, because you can’t block Twilight Eclipse or Twilight Archon.  Happily, we have plenty of space in our deck for scouring light, and these constants decks have plenty of extremely slow draws.  We change our board to focus a little less on interacting with troops and a little more on interacting with constants.

-2 Transmogrifade

-2 Evaporate

-1 Runebind

+2 Scouring Light

+3 Confounding Ire

Aggressive Decks (RDent Sockets, RD Ardent, Tork, Redlings)

These decks are surprisingly good matchups.  We have plenty of blockers, and we combo off extremely fast.  In these matchups, we’re just looking to bring in additional interaction, and worry a bit less about protecting Cyclone Shaper.  It can be tough for aggressive decks to continually hold open resources on your turn.

+2 Transmogrifade

+1 Martyr

-2 Evaporate

-1 Heart’s Whisper

Cyclone Shaper Turbo PA (The Mirror)

You might be seeing this mirror a lot.  Here’s what’s important:  Game 1, one of you is going to stick a cyclone shaper, disrupt your opponent, and ascend first.  That person is probably going to win, because you have almost no permament answers to an opposing cyclone shaper.  Try to be the person who combos off first.  In game 2, we board in more interaction and an alternate win con: Tribunal Magistrate.

-4 Runebind

-2 Evaporate

+2 Transmogrifade

+2 Verdict of the Ancient Kings

+2 Tribunal Magistrate

With our board, you want to use your verdicts to counter their big draw actions (Heart’s Whisper, Consult the Talon) and Psychic Ascension.  If you manage to stick a Tribunal Magistrate, protect it at all costs – it is virtually impossible to lose with one on the table, as an ascending opponent will fill their deck with spiders and give you an unblockable army before they can kill you.

Tips & Tricks

  • This deck is all cantrips.  It mulligans well.  If your opening 7 doesn’t have 3 cards that are cantrips you can cast or resources (ice counts as 2 cards for these purposes), mulligan it.
  • Remember that un-exhausted troops= 2 resources.  If you’re going to throw a candle in front of a charging Underworld Crusader, wait until it’s necessary, because that candle can generate a lot of resources first.
  • You can empower a Cyclone Shaper in your hand in response to a spell like Herofall which targets one on the battlefield.  Empowered Cyclone Shaper has a different name from Cyclone Shaper, so it won’t be taken out of your hand.  
  • Cyclone Shaper reduces the cost of actions in your hand by 1.  Once they are cast, they still have the regular cost.  So for the purposes of generating troops with Psychic Ascension, Consult the Talon will generate a 7-drop (…all of which are evasive), and most of your other cards will generate 1-drops
  • There is no Diamond-Sapphire 3-cost troop in Standard.  Cosmic Calling will never generate a troop with psychic ascension.
  • Don’t forget your champion power.  Either use it to get extra resources when you have a mobilize spell, or to power up a bunch of candles created by Light the Votives.
  • If the opponent doesn’t have pressure on the board, feel free to just poke and them with candles and draw cards.  There’s rarely any hurry to combo off – in addition to being a fast combo deck, we are generally the better late-game deck.
  • Try to think about which troops you use to mobilize – do you need to use one as a chump blocker?  Does cyclone shaper profitably block?  Remember that Cosmic Calling is quick – you can do it after blocks or at the end of the opponents’ turn.
  • If you see Crackling Magma or Misery out of your opponent, make sure to bring in Martyr – not only is it mostly unconditional removal, it can save your 1/1s from dying.

Conclusions

This was a bit of a two part article – I wanted to talk about how, as a brewer, you should always be on the lookout for cost reduction mechanics, and I wanted to show an example of an incredibly powerful new deck that exploits a couple of them (Cyclone Shaper, Mobilize, and Psychic Ascension).

The deck itself involves a lot of decision making, draws a ton of cards, and has aggressive draws that can race even the fastest decks in the format.  It is also the deck that I think will probably break the stranglehold that Kagulichu decks currently have on the format…by doing something even sillier.