Since the Core Set released, decks that contain mostly spells have been on a lot of people’s radar. Why? Because it is a new, unique way to play the game. The challenge of beating an opponent with only a few creatures in your deck is hard to pass up. As someone who likes a challenge, during Gen Con I built my first version of spells; Tempys/Nekrium. The deck had 2 win conditions. A single copy of Lyria, and 1 Scorchmane Dragon (I didn’t have Zimus). The deck was not great. It could win a few games, but not with any consistency. It felt powerful, but there was something missing.
Enter Flameshaper Savant, the man of the hour. Finally I wasn’t just trying to get bits of value with Master of Elements and Static Shock, I now had an engine. But an engine needs fuel, and realizing that Flameshaper Savant was the real centerpiece of the deck, not the fact it was mostly spells, I switched over to Alloyin as my Faction Pair.
The deck’s improvement was immediately noticeable. Ghox and Energy Surge allowed me to consistently find Flameshapers, as well as create far superior spell chains. I settled on 8 creatures for the deck because every creature I added made the spell chains less consistent. After a bit of theory crafting and testing, I settled on this list.
3 x Flameshaper Savant
3 x Master of Elements
2 x Ghox, Metamind Paragon
3 x Energy Prison
3 x Energy Surge
3 x Static Shock
3 x Lightning Spark
3 x Uranti Bolt
3 x Firestorm
2 x Metasculpt
2 x Disintegrate
The deck may be named spells, but this is the true engine of the deck. One of the mistakes people seem to make is clogging their deck with other… stuff. The deck doesn’t need stuff, it needs Flameshaper and cards that make Flameshaper better.
Master of Elements
Massive body and free spells = winner.
Ghox, Metamind Paragon
“Why Ghox?” some ask. “Why not Stasis Warden?” others inquire. The answer is actually very simple.
You don’t have to level Ghox.
I must stress the importance of leveling in this deck. When you level the wrong cards at the wrong times, you lose. It’s that simple. There are already 9 cards that are completely level dependent, why would you want to add more? Every level dependant card that is added is another card that is useless after Player Level 1.
The obvious use is to lock down creatures that are too large for your damage based removal to handle, but there is an even more important function this card provides…
Giving your own creatures Defender.
One of the most powerful plays this deck has is locking down either your Flameshaper or your Ghox from attacking. Unless your opponent has a removal spell or large Aggressive creature, your engines will sit on the field for the rest of the game.
Free spells without a large body still = winner.
Kills creatures, goes to the face when the board is clear.
This one is more interesting. Leveling this card is not really a priorit,y because the Defender clause remains useful all game. I’ll often cast one a turn on an abnormally difficult creature while I wait for an Energy Prison.
Aggressive Echowisp is a problem, this is your answer.
I saw someone on the SolForgeGame Forums say, “…and we all know Metasculpt is terrible.” I couldn’t believe it. This is subtly one of the most powerful cards in the game. Can’t kill a Grimgaunt when its about to get huge? Sculpt it. Arboris 100/101? Sculpt it. Fleshfiend 3? You get the picture. On top of this, the card doesn’t need to be leveled until Player Level 2. That’s very important as card leveling order is critical.
This is the card that I get the most flak about. I will be the first to admit that this card is awful. I hate that I need to play this in the deck. Looking at the current card pool, I’ve exhausted all the playable removal that doesn’t need to be leveled (except for Sonic Pulse and Electro Net, but those cards playtested awfully). On top of that, the problem I started running into was not a “need more removal” problem, but a “need cards that don’t target creatures” problem. Disintegrate is a card I can cast that doesn’t need a target, and until better options come along, its probably staying in.
Spells is hands down the most difficult deck to pilot that I’ve used in SolForge. Spell sequencing, draw percentages, spell and combat math, as well as when to block, when to take damage, and when to just race your opponent to 0. Even in the finals match of the Tournament, I made many mistakes and I’m very practiced with the deck.
Player Level 1: Cast Flameshaper
The spell order is as follows:
Master of Elements
If you have Flameshaper in hand, find a way to cast it. I don’t care how much damage you are taking, if you can’t cast Flameshaper you lose. Of course there is the rare game where you draw only 1 or even 0 Flameshapers. That’s ok; don’t panic. That’s why you are allowed to level Energy Surge. Even in the games where you don’t have Flameshapers leveled, Energy Surge will dig them up for you. There was at least one occasion during the tournament where I only leveled one Flameshaper the entire game, and Ghox/Energy Surge made sure I found it every time.
Player Level 2: Stay Alive
Flameshapers and Masters usually do a pretty good job of clogging the board but you are often battling from behind at this point. Now you finally get the opportunity to cast all those other spells you haven’t even looked at yet. It’s common to be able to play Flameshaper 2, Master 2, Static Shock 1, and any other spell. This will easily help you battle back from most board states. You’re objective is to clear the board and keep it clear for the rest of the game.
Player Level 3 and Beyond: Win the Game
Once Player Level 3 gets going, you’ll have a large percentage of your engines leveled. You are likely drawing extra cards and generating excess damage which you send at the opponent. Besides continuing to keep the board clear, your priorities now change to locking your own Flameshaper with an Energy Prison, or just chaining tons of cards with Ghox and Energy Surge. Usually, if you have made it this far and are above 40 life, you are golden.
In the minutes before the tournament, I’ll admit I was sweating a bit. I had spent some time looking through the decks, and while a majority of the tournament was playing Nekrium or Uterra midrange style decks (both of which are great matchups for Spells), there were a couple of decks I knew would be problematic with if pairings did not go in my favor. SeomanReborn, I’m looking at you and your 3 Jet Packs.
Pairings went up and I breathed a sigh of relief. While I was in one of the pods where I would have to play a winner (which means a potentially stronger deck) both builds were Nekrium midrange and therefore pretty favorable with my Energy Prisons and Metasculpts set to snap off the scariest of the threats. The Jet Pack deck was safely on the other side of the bracket, so I wouldn’t need to worry about facing it early on. Sadly for MNPaladin, who was playing the same 30 as myself, he got paired up with SeomanReborn and lost a close 3-game match.
Both seraphimscall and Voidhawk played very well. Early on, I had to stave off aggressively-leveled Fleshfiends, Zimus, and Lyria from seraphimscall as well as the Xrath, the Dreadknight of Varna in conjunction with Unrelenting Dead from Voidhawk. Its value and ability combinations like these where Metasculpt really shined for me. If I couldn’t kill or lock down a creature with Flameshaper or Energy Prison, Metasculpt made sure I would be able to do so on the following turn. Four intense matches later, I faced MrHyde.
MrHyde played a card that I hadn’t considered during testing, and it bit me hard in that first game. During Game 1, he aggressively leveled 2 Explosive Demise which countered my Prisons and in the end killed me only a turn or two before I could have had the game myself. I needed a change in strategy. Game 2, I mostly eschewed Energy Prison in favor of aggressively leveling Energy Surge. This would allow me better chains in the mid and late game for the extra damage needed to remove his creatures from the board instead of locking them down with Prison. The strategy was very effective. While I had to make concessions in the early game and take a lot of damage, I was able to stabilize at around 40 life each game and render his Explosive Demises useless by never leaving a creature alive on his side of the field.
Skies had me worried; the combination of large Aggressive creatures and Phoenix to finish off my life total during the end-game seemed very dangerous. I was fortunate in the fact that instead he played a more controlling role with the deck. I was able to out chain his Flameshapers with my own and move on to the quarterfinals.
Decurion’s deck had an interesting focus on recurring creatures and removal using Scourgeflame Sorcerer as its main engine. Sadly, he was unprepared for Metasculpt and Energy Prison. Once the Flameshaper engine was revved, I raced to the finals.
The final match was the only match that got officially recorded. You can watch the match yourself here. The pressure and length of time I had been playing must have started getting to me because there are a number of misplays I made that, while not costing me the match, show that I still have much to learn about this game.
I have to say, its pretty fantastic to have won my first official Stoneblade sponsored SolForge tournament. I had played in many of the previous community tournaments, and while I had fun, I didn’t do as well as I could have. This was an awesome tournament put on by an amazing community of people. I’d like to specifically thank Kit101, Racecar0, and MNPaladin for all their help just letting me grind games against them all. May you all draw your Flameshapers and play them often.