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Forging the Deck #9: Hellion Lays an Egg

Note: This article includes only those cards and changes available on the Steam Client as of the 7/16/13 update.

Since the latest card update, I’ve been experimenting a lot with deck designs.  In today’s Forging the Deck, I’ve decided to write up my favorite (and most successful) of these experiments.  Before I describe the deck, let me start by saying that the deck has three paths to victory: Rageborn Hellion, Enrage and Scorchmane Dragon.  If you don’t think that those can comfortably coexist in the same deck… well, read on.  I hope to prove you wrong.  Also, while you read this article please keep in mind that this deck relies on building Card Advantage quickly, and using that Card Advantage to either win quickly or to allow it to get away with playing a Level 1 Scorchmane Dragon (aka an Egg) early in the game.  If you do not understand Card Advantage, I strongly recommend that you go read both Noetherian’s and Cerebral Paladin’s excellent discussions of the subject before you continue reading this article.

The Deck:

Creatures: (all cards x3)

Spells: (all cards x3)

Releasing the Inner Fire

Card #1: Scorchmane Dragon is normally thought of as a late-game bomb.  You stall out, get to Level 3, and let the big fire-breathing monstrosity win the game for you.  And sure, if you get that far, go ahead and play Scorchmane 3.  But Scorchmane is really here because of his Level 2 stats.  12/12, Move 1 is incredible.  Now, what if put an Enrage 2 on him, and have a 19/19, Move 1 creature?  Or instead, put him on a board with a Hellion 2 so after he attacks he is just gave +2 attack to the whole board?  In short, don’t think about Dragon as just a Level 3 bomb.  Think of him as an extremely powerful Level 2 creature.

The problem with this deck is laying that egg without getting too far behind on the board.  We’ll get to that.

Card #2: Rageborn Hellion will functionally win you most games.  If nothing else, it’s the card that will draw the most attention in most games, thereby freeing up your other creatures.  Hellion is wonderful for growing your creatures, especially if you can get multiple copies of it on the board at the same time.  Hellion is also a good target for Enrage; a 5/11 creature can be annoying to deal with, and it keeps the Hellion buff on the field for that much longer.

Card #3: Ashurian Mystic has two roles in this deck, the same two that he serves in most decks.  First, Mystic’s job is to proc Hellion, growing the attack power of all the other creatures on the board.  And second, Mystic is a great finisher, especially if you’ve been leveling Enrage (and yes, you’ve been leveling Enrage, right?)

Card #4: Cavern Hydra is one of the great Card Advantage generators in all of SolForge, so of course it is in this deck.  And you should never be afraid to play it.  In fact, with this deck, Turn 1 Hydra is my favorite play.  If my opponent ignores it, because its base Attack is a bit low, I’ll make him pay for it with Enrage or Hellion.  If my opponent tries to kill it, in most cases doing so will only give me the Card Advantage that I’m looking for.

Card #5: Deepbranch Prowler is mostly here as a low-depreciation card to minimize the negative impact of late-game Level 1 draws, although Prowler’s natural Breakthrough does make it a fabulous target for Enrage.   A 10/10 Prowler is difficult enough for your opponent to deal with that it’s not a horrible play on Turn 2; a 19/19 Prowler (which is a Prowler 1 + Enrage 3) is never a bad play anytime.

Card #6: Echowisp is a low-depreciation card that is excellent at recovering from bad board positions.  It plays a much smaller role in this deck than in most decks you’ll find it in; leveling Echowisp is by no means a priority.  But sometimes you’ll find that your opponent has you out-gunned and you just need to clear out the lanes, and Echowisp does that admirably.

Card #7: Magma Hound serves a very similar function–recovery from bad board positions–although it’s special ability is also often useful at helping to take down Grimgaunt Devourers (in tandem with another attack, of course) before they can feed.  Of course, both Echowisp and Magma Hound are useful cards in their own right, both of them can be grown by Hellion, and both can be Enraged.  That’s just not their primary function.

Card #8: Enrage is one of the primary leveling concerns of the deck, along with Hellion and Dragon.  Early game, Enrage can help you generate Card Advantage; late game it can help you push through a punishing amount of damage.

Card #9: Lightning Spark is the primary creature removal in the deck.  I have a slight preference for it right now over Uranti Bolt, although either spell works just fine here.  It is mostly here to protect Hellion and to kill Grimgaunt Devourers, Spring Dryads, and other dangerous creatures before they can wreak havoc.

Card #10: Firestorm is here as an anti-Uterra spell.  To be blunt, I would just as soon replace this spell with a creature like Flameblade Champion, Flamestoke Shaman, or Flameshaper Savant.   But nothing takes out Echowisp (and Hunting Pack) like Firestorm, Echowisp is ubiquitous in competitive play right now, and this deck does have a little trouble against the fastest Growth decks without Firestorm.   For all of those reasons, I cannot justify removing Firestorm from the deck at this time.  As it is, if you are playing against anyone playing Echowisp, then you should plan on leveling Firestorm.  Otherwise, it’s highly situational.

The Gameplan

Early Game (Turns 1-4)

Try to get through this phase of the game, if possible, having played at least one each of Enrage and Scorchmane Dragon.  Other than that, focus on generating Card Advantage using Cavern Hydra and Echowisp, and try to get the most out of your Rageborn Hellions, playing your Ashurian Mystics, Deepbranch Prowlers, and Magma Hounds only as needed to maintain Card Advantage and trigger your Hellion.  If playing against a Growth deck, make sure to level at least one Firestorm.

Mid Game (Turns 5-10)

The Level 2 versions of Enrage, Hellion, and especially Scorchmane Dragon are your priorities at this point.  Focus on playing and getting the most out of those cards, using them to push through as much damage as possible.  Alternatively, if you are playing against a faster deck, you will probably need to just survive–stall the game out until Level 3, when you can win with your bigger Dragon and your Level 3 Enrage.  In that case, use your Echowisp, Magma Hound, and Firestorm to drag the game out, although do your best to level your Enrages and try to make sure you have at least one Level 3 Scorchmane in your deck.

Late Game (Turn 11 and beyond)

At this point you are reliant on Enrage 3 and Scorchmane 3 to win the game for you, so do your best to get those cards into your deck if they are not there yet.  In particular, look for opportunities to play an Enrage 3 on a Prowler or a Mystic, which can thereby push through damage even if you do not control the board.

Summary

I’ve found this deck is a bit complicated to play, but also a lot of fun.  Enrage and Hellion both have great synergy in their own ways with Scorchmane 2, Hydra, Prowler, and Mystic.  And of course, it is always nice to have that bomb in your deck if the game goes long.  I’ve won with this deck on Turn 6 by stacking Hellions, I’ve won on Turn 9 by putting an Enrage 3 on a Mystic 2, and I’ve won on Turn 20 with a belated Scorchmane 3.  Moreover, I like it because it doesn’t neatly fit into any of the current deck archetypes; I’m not sure what this deck is.  And if nothing else, I hope it demonstrates that the latest patch opened up new metagame possibilities that we haven’t yet explored.

[Editor’s Note: At the time of publication, the card tooltips still reflect the old card text.  We’ll get that updated as soon as possible for future readers. Sorry for the inconvenience!]

Forging the Deck #7: Brimstone Control

Welcome back to another installment of Forging the Deck, our SolForge deck-building column! This installment is brought to you today by grim2103.

The Deck

Creatures:

2x Scorchmane Dragon
2x Flameblade Champion
3x Magma Hound
3x Vengeful Spirit
3x Graveborn Glutton 

Spells:

3x Uranti Bolt
2x Lightning Spark
3x Epidemic
3x Firestorm
3x Cull the Weak

Structures:

3x Brimstone Field

Creating an Impassable Field

This deck’s objective is to develop a board state in which your opponent is incapable of having creatures surviving a full turn cycle. This way, they never enter the offensive and therefor never get to attack. In light of that, games with this deck take a very long time, frequently going over 20 turns. Your weakest matchup is any deck that utilizes the keyword Swiftness, and you are strongest against decks that try to produce a strong late game.

Card #1: Scorchmane Dragon (2 copies). This is almost your only win condition. You do have Glutton, but he is a very low priority to play. The Dragon is something you want to focus on playing when you get the chance in Player Level 1. However, given the deck, even playing a Dragon 1 in Player Level 3 is fine. This deck starts its process in securing a win once it has set up a field it is comfortable with leaving put to take care of itself. If you are playing an aggressive (e.g., Swiftness) deck, you want to play these in Player Level 1, but otherwise, its OK to take time to set up the field and your deck (with respect to what cards you have leveled) for the first eight turns or so.

Card #2: Flameblade Champion (2 copies). It will be exceptionally rare for the Champion not to connect with an opponent (based on being blocked). If you are playing against a resilient deck with cards that keep coming back (such as a Nekrium deck filled with Yuru, Fleshfiend, and Death Seeker), then Champion is one of your best ways to repeatedly clear the board. It is a possibility to add a third Champion to the deck in exchange for only 2x Graveborn Gluttons.

Card #3: Magma Hound (3 copies). Magma Hound is an effective way to create a two for one. His burn combined with Brimstone will bring down most things, so he often will allow you to spend a play on a card that you simply need to level (like a Dragon or Brimstone). While he has decent attack, don’t look to be trying to deal damage to your opponent with him. When you are playing him, you should either be doing it simply to level him up for later, or for clearing the board now. You have much better plays if you are considering playing him for the sake of getting damage on your opponent.

Card #4: Vengeful Spirit (3 copies). Essentially, consider him removal for situations in which you don’t draw the right kill spells at the right time. If you are playing against Armor decks (Alloyin) then you should level these up regularly (as well as Cull the Weak). There are very few creatures that the Vengeful Spirit will not kill. However, it typically only provides a one-for-one at best. It will be more likely to not kill a card, than to kill a card and survive. This means that sometimes, against the strongest creatures, the Vengeful Spirit won’t be good enough to kill something like a Scrapforge Titan 3 on its own. Even though it buys you time to deal with the Titan in other ways, try to focus on other forms of removal like Epidemic and Cull the Weak for dealing with global board control or single target removal more effectively.

Card #5: Graveborn Glutton (3 copies). He is in the deck for two primary reasons: he has high Attack and deals damage on death. If you happen to have an awful hand full of cards that can’t deal with a creature, then use the Glutton to block in this circumstance. Over time, the damage his death trigger adds up to be quite significant, since you are planning a very long game. However, he is rather poor in terms of controlling the board long term, so it is much more efficient to level up almost any other card in your deck. He is simply useful for providing a high Attack stat for harder-to-kill monsters in the case of a bad draw.

Card #6: Uranti Bolt (3 copies). This is enormously helpful in dealing with large creatures like Grimgaunt, Chrogias, and Titan. Since you deal damage over time through a series of cumulative effects, giving a creature Defender allows you enough time to bring these big creatures down in the late game (whether by holding off for Epidemic or Cull the Weaks).

Card #7: Lightning Spark (2 copies). This is one of the less useful cards in the deck. Again, its purpose is similar to the Glutton’s role. It is seldom used, but is great in the situations where it is needed. If you are unable to get your Dragon’s leveled, Glutton, Spark, and Firestorm provide your next best combination for a win condition. Early game you use it to clear out smaller creatures such as Fleshfiend or Graveborn Glutton. In the late game, when you have Brimstones to take care of the resilient monsters, you will use Lightning Spark as a primary method of burning an opponent.

Card #8: Epidemic (3 copies). This is your most effective removal. Level this any time you get the chance without causing a serious drawback to yourself. When you have Brimstones filling up the lanes, an Epidemic 3 is all you need to completely clear a board. Other than Brimstone itself, this has your highest priority to level.

Card #9: Firestorm (3 copies). This removal is almost as good as Epidemic since you should have Brimstones everywhere. Plus, over a long game you will notice the opponent’s hit points drop significantly from all the uses of this card. Again, you are playing for a long game that consists of dealing small amounts of damage to all of his creatures consistently. You win by either A) Scorchmane Dragon or B) random consistent damage that eventually kills your opponent (from Glutton/Firestorm/Spark).

Card #10: Cull the Weak (3 copies). Level up Cull whenever you have to deal with a midrange or late game deck that utilizes a strategy around a particular card (such as Grimgaunt, Packmaster, or Titan). It’s good removal, but it isn’t consistent with your strategy (burning with Brimstone and finishing a creature with things like Firestorm or Magma Hound triggers). To that end, you should only branch into Cull to deal with threats that either have to be dealt with immediately, or threats that you otherwise poorly handle (mainly Titan).

Cards #11: Brimstone Field (3 copies). You want to level up two of these in Player Level 1 if it is remotely possible. If you don’t have much choice in the matter, you can often get away with leveling only one as long as your level a lot of global removal (Firestorms and Epidemics). This deck is designed to create value over time. Brimstone Field and global removal effects synergize to create a board state that has one card killing many, many cards of opponents.

Dealing with Swiftness Decks

Your matchup against a Tempys’ Swiftness deck is bad enough to call for special attention. Against these decks, you want to forgo Brimstone Field altogether (Note: This is the only matchup where you do not want to fill the lanes with Brimstone). In this matchup, focus as much as you can on your creatures, particularly Flameblade and Dragon. Additionally, if you have enough trouble with the matchup, consider putting in two Rumbling Earthshakers in place of the Lightning Sparks in order to create a high Health mobile creature to simply stay on the field to deal with Swift creatures. You can furthermore attempt to stabilize this matchup by removing 1-3 Uranti Bolts in favor of a third of Dragon, Champion, or Earthshaker.

Essentially, your goal while playing against a Swiftness deck is to set up for a short-term defense rather than a long-term one with Brimstone. Your best method of winning is getting a Dragon 3 on the field in Player Level 3.

Other Card Considerations

Grave Pact: Don’t play it. You don’t have enough creatures to be able to play it consistently. You do have Vengeful Spirit, but you don’t have a way to create a consistent method of getting Grave Pact at the perfect times.

Volcanic Giant: He is another good method to try and put a stop to Swiftness decks and worth considering. He also likes to accidentally kill the opponent over time, though if you are playing him, you are playing him because you need him as a blocker, not as a damage dealer.

Flameshaper Acolyte: You do often get the chance to level up lower level cards than most decks do, since you will have many turns that kill off your opponent’s creatures easily. However, the deck relies too much on specific cards being leveled early, and the Acolyte needs to be leveled consistently to be effective. Furthermore, since you have such a reliance on cards like Epidemic, your Flameshaper doesn’t stay around long enough to be truly effective.

Darkshaper Savant: Similar to Flameshaper, but even less useful. More times than not, the Acolyte will be dealing damage to the opponent since your removal typically takes care of the creatures anyway. Darkshaper does not synergize with the goal of the deck, so he is a bad idea to get mixed up in it.

Fleshfiend: He is probably a better option than Volcanic Giant in creating a resilient body to stave off Swiftness creatures, since he keeps coming back and survives several Epidemics. Still, the deck doesn’t focus on creatures, and while he can be good at blocking for the Swiftness creatures, so you should only be playing him if you find you can’t deal with the Swiftness deck matchup at all.

Blight Walker: He is a much weaker version of Cull the Weak. Again, he can be a good option against Swiftness creatures since he has high Health, he is almost useless in any other matchup.

The Gameplan

Early Game (Turns 1-4)

You need to level the right cards to deal with your opponent. Focus on getting two Brimstones down. Your next big priorities should be Epidemics and Firestorms, and if you get a spare play, dropping a Dragon. More times than not, you will not be able to level more than one Dragon. Wasting plays is the biggest way to lose with this deck, and your goal is to set up for a long game, where you will only need one good bomb to play repeatedly. Otherwise, focus on leveling up cards to counter your opponent: Cull if they play late-game bombs or Champion and Spark if they play resilient creatures. 

Mid Game (Turns 5-10)

Keep the pressure on with more Brimstone Fields, hopefully being able to play both Brimstones that you leveled up in Player Level 1. Keep in mind that your Brimstones are only as effective as the weakest lanes. If you have an empty lane, then your opponent can play into that and ignore the rest. You need to fill your lanes as quickly as possible. Further, simply try to develop more of your global removal to be as potent late game as you can make it. If you can’t play your Dragon 2, don’t worry about it too much. You should only be concerned with staying alive. Don’t thinking about hurting your opponent or even winning until you have locked down your opponent in position where they can’t win themselves. 

Late Game (Turn 11 and beyond)

Now, fill up your last empty lanes with Brimstones and start working on replacing your Brimstone 1s. Again, your Brimstones are only as effective as your weakest ones, so keep them all as powerful as possible. Once you have secured the board without a doubt, start thinking about playing Glutton 1s (yes, assuming you haven’t been leveling them yet because you are busy leveling the global removal), Lightning Spark, or Dragon to finish off your opponent.

Summary

This deck is pretty easy to win with against any deck that does not try to win before the end of Player Level 2. Against those decks, you will have to mold your strategy and be much more careful not to waste a single play in order to beat them. Think up some strategies on how deal with creatures (particular Swiftness ones) that avoid your primary long-term and slow removal strategies. Also, keep in mind that, with this deck especially, your life is a resource. Use your life as an indicator on how much time you have to spend setting up your method to win. Don’t spend it too quickly, but also don’t hesitate to take some hits early. There will be very few games that you don’t end low on hit points.

Let us know what you think of this deck in the comments below!

Forging the Deck #6: Running the Insurrection with Packmaster (RIP)

Welcome back to another installment of Forging the Deck, our SolForge deck-building column! This installment is brought to you today by grim2103.

The Deck

Creatures:

3x Uterran Packmaster
3x Synapsis Oracle
3x Spring Dryad
3x Echowisp
3x Grove Huntress
3x Lifeshaper Savant
2x Deepbranch Prowler
2x Hunting Pack

Spells:

3x Sonic Pulse
2x Soothing Radiance

Structures:

3x Fangwood Field

Building the Indestructible Army

The goal of the deck is to get to a field position where the opponent cannot kill your creatures as fast as they are growing. You accomplish this by setting up your field full of cards like Packmaster, Fangwood Field, and Spring Dryad. The deck couples up with Alloyin because the deck requires a vast variety of cards to set up properly. On account of this, the deck has to utilize the leveling effect from Synapsis Oracle.

Card #1: Uterran Packmaster (3 copies). This is your number one priority in leveling. If you can level him without getting slaughtered, then you should. He is very weak if he doesn’t level. He shines the most at the end of the game in his Level 3 version. However, you have to get him there. Don’t be afraid to let him trade with creatures at early levels or to fall behind on the board a little bit. You can always regain control of the board with bulk power like Echowisp. Once Packmaster gets rolling as a Level 3, he is nearly impossible to stop, especially when combined with healing and buffing spells.

Card #2: Synapsis Oracle (3 copies). You should very rarely block with this card. This is in the deck because the deck needs its prime cards leveled. You need to get your activations out of her, which means keeping her in the open. Don’t be afraid to not play Oracle if it means surviving, but Oracle is definitely a priority in terms of getting your deck properly set up for later. On account of this, you should try to find an opportunity to sneak her onto the field, especially alongside other threats like Packmaster or Dryad so she can be easily ignored.

Card #3: Spring Dryad (3 copies). This is the second most important card to have leveled in your deck. Packmaster with this card creates a situation where you often have to choose which to kill, and leaving either as a Level 3 on the field will typically mean the end of the game. When you combine this with Echowisps or late-game Hunting Packs, you get a very, very large Dryad quickly. Even at early ranks it will be a 6/6 or 11/11 before it ever sees combat (it should always be played in an open lane, unless you are playing it to kill a weak offensive creature). And it gets even larger if you play cards like Echowisp or Hunting Pack.

Card #4: Echowisp (3 copies). This is the primary card that allows you to not die early in the game. It will be your go to in order to reclaim a board position you fall behind by playing Dryads and Oracles into open lanes. It also provides a great catalyst for your Dryad to get out of control very quickly, especially in its Level 3 version. Make sure you always leave room to play an Echowisp the turns that follow by leaving at least one set of adjacent lanes open. This means you should play creatures next to each other to force your opponents to keep their creatures clumped up as well. (Then, you can often use the Echowisp to double block.)

Card #5: Fangwood Field (3 copies). This is a card that you ought to be leveling when you get the opportunity. You want at least one leveled and preferably two if you can manage it. Again, this is where Oracle comes in handy, but sometimes you won’t have that luxury. A lot of your creatures start small, but turn out large through repetitive buffing. On account of this, starting off a Packmaster 3 or Dryad 3 on a Field 3 means that these creatures have a very high chance of being well into the 20s with their stats before seeing combat.

Card #6: Grove Huntress (3 copies). Grove Huntress provides you a lot of combat tricks of allowing you to keep your primary cards alive during close exchanges. It also give you the ability to get more Attack on your creatures at early Levels, since the deck–aside from Echowisp–has few ways to have five or more Attack at Player Level 1 while blocking the turn the creature comes out. Ideally you don’t want to have to play cards like Prowler early in the game to deal with high Health creatures.

Card #7: Sonic Pulse (3 copies). Sonic Pulse is your next best bet (after Echowisp) to slow down an enemy who is having their field start to build up on you. Sonic Pulse is incredibly effective at nullifying a bunch of attackers as well as keeping your valued targets alive (Packmaster/Oracle/Dryad). This card has pretty terrible scaling into Level 2, but its Level 3 is a shut down late game that will give you essentially a free turn of buffing from Packmasters and Dryads.

That is the core of the deck that you want to play. The remaining nine cards have a little more variability in which options you want to use. First off, let’s have a look at the cards in the decklist:

Card #8: Lifeshaper Savant (3 copies). Lifeshaper gives you a strong catalyst toward buffing up the cards that you need to keep alive. She works very well late game when you have Prowlers, Hunting Packs, and Soothing Radiance to play (none of which you should be leveling up aggressively, and are all useful late game). Since this strategy has a lot of cards that give you a good amount of benefit at low levels in the late-game, Lifeshaper can provide a game changing free buff to a Packmaster, Dryad, or Prowler.

Card #9: Deepbranch Prowler (2 copies). Once you are into Player Level 3 and 4 and your Field is starting to fill up with Fangwoods and Packmasters, you can dump out a Prowler onto a Field to immediately start with a large Breakthrough creature. This works exceptionally well with cards like Lifeshaper. You have to make sure you are ahead to play him though, as he really only reaches his true glory when you have a Packmaster or two staying on the field to get him to become  at times a Breakthrough creature as large as Chrogias.

Card #10: Hunting Pack (2 copies). Hunting Pack allows you to buff up a Spring Dryad massively in the late game. It isn’t a high priority to level, since its main use is to clog lanes late game to provide targets to get buffed from Packmaster as well as buff the Dryad. Its ability also makes a great combo with Lifeshaper. Additionally, since you should have Fangwood Fields all over the place, even a Level 1 Hunting Pack can be deadly late game.

Cards #11: Soothing Radiance: This allows you to keep the ball rolling in the late game. As the game goes on, your creatures will start to have a very large maximum Health pool from various buffs. This means that frequently your creatures will survive 1-2 combats. In light of this, you often can make your Field survive longer by adding back damage globally. Think of this card as a global buff on your creatures of +4 Health (in between a Ferocious Roar 2 and 3) as a Level 1 card. This allows you to have your creatures stay alive long enough for them to see buffs to their own Attack (from Spring Dryad or Packmaster). It all goes back to keeping your creatures alive as long as possible to allow them to get as many buffs as they can.

An alternative strategy is to forget the Lifeshaper (along with Prowler and Radiance) and to go with a strategy revolving around having a deck full of cards that keep themselves alive (such as with Cavern Hydra). This strategy however, requires a lot more cards that need to be leveled to be effective. This could allow you to have multiple strategies on what cards to level based on your opponent and what they are playing. However, it could just as easily lead you into a game where you get a hands full of dead Level 1 draws, since you no longer have Lifeshaper or Prowler to give you added value in those circumstances. Nevertheless, here are some other cards to consider:

Cavern Hydra: While he has low Attack (comparatively to a lot of cards) and only average Health, if you buff the Hydra he becomes incredibly hard to kill. Buffing him at all puts his Level 2 and 3 versions outside of kill range of most cards, and since you are playing a buffing deck, it is a pretty easy task to accomplish. Once you get him up to 15+ Attack along with 20+ Health, he often becomes self-sufficient at keeping himself alive, not to mention regularly getting additional buffs. If you choose to run this, I would replace the Lifeshapers or Prowlers with this.

Ferocious Roar: This works a lot better with self-sufficient cards as your focus (Hydra, Packmaster, Dryad) as a replacement of Radiance. Since your cards are more self-sufficient, you don’t have to worry about their Health as much. So you can afford to spend a couple of rounds buffing their Attack even more (and potentially giving them Breakthrough with the Level 3 version of this card). This has much more value at Level 3, so running this gives yet another card in your deck that you need to level in order to be most effective. On account of this, I would only run it if you choose to use Hydra and replace the Radiance with it.

Toxic Spores: This is really your only interaction with opposing cards outside of Sonic Pulse. This also means that it is the only form of removal you have. This can be particularly useful at dealing with cards like Grimgaunt since this deck has few ways of dealing with Grimgaunt once it gets large (mainly since the strategy with this deck requires cards to stay alive for multiple turns, and Grimgaunt on the offensive will just eat them immediately). This card is particularly strong at Levels 2 and 3 (6 damage per turn kills most Level 2s in two hits, and then it’s a free cast at Level 3). Spores is more optional as an only-answer-to-Grimgaunt kind of card.

Enrage: If you really want to delve into a Lifeshaper strategy, then you could try out Enrage. However, I think Radiance and Ferocious Roar overshadow it in this deck (designed around having a globally strong field).

Glowstride Stag: This card gives you a better method of surviving Tempys rush decks. However, if you find that you can find that you can survive the rush deck without the use of Stag, I highly encourage not running it, as there are better cards to use in its slot of the deck. If you are having trouble with rush decks, consider playing around with this card to help deal with a difficult early game. Fortunately, the Stag has a decently high Health pool which allows him to live long enough to receive buffs from Packmaster in most circumstances.

Shardplate Delver: If you go with a self-sufficient strategy with Hydra and Roar, you may want to consider this card. While he is vastly inferior to Dryad in this deck, he still can grow quite large if you can force attention to other cards. I wouldn’t recommend running this unless you are heavily committed to going with the “self-sufficiency” approach.

Chrogias: Don’t do it. He takes too long to get going. You already lose too much board position from other cards you need to level, so you don’t need another card that you have to level up. Additionally, the deck is already hard pressed to find room in it for all of the cards it needs to function with the goal it has in mind – creating an invincible army (and armies have more than one soldier).

The Gameplan

Early Game (Turns 1-4)

Your focus is to level the right cards and to survive. You should have zero concerns about putting any damage in on your opponent. In fact, damage does not matter on your opponent. If this deck wins, it is because you created a field that is snowballing to the point where it can’t lose. An extra 20-30 points of damage won’t change whether or not you win; only making sure your deck has the potential to rocket off can allow you to win. With that in mind, you want to focus on getting Packmaster, Dryad, Fangwood, and Echowisp leveled. Meanwhile whenever you can get an Oracle, Pulse or Lifeshaper leveled up, it can greatly help you late game. Grove Huntress is a backup plan to deal with high Health creatures you have no other option for. Save the Pack, Prowler, and Radiance for later.

Mid Game (Turns 5-10)

Now, you need to focus on making sure your field is set up to start snowballing out of control with Packmasters. Make sure at least two lanes are clear going into Turn 9 so that you can play major cards like Dryad or Packmaster into an empty lane when possible. You want to set up one or two of these cards to start getting stronger. Once you have a couple of lanes snowballing from Dryad/Packmaster buffs, you can focus on reclaiming the other lanes with cards like Echowisp. Remember, make sure your Packmasters, Wisps, and Dryads are all Level 3 going into Player Level 3.

Late Game (Turn 11 and beyond)

If you made it this far, the game ought to be won. Buffing strategies crush Armor-Robots late game and Grimgaunt strategies are starting to fall off in effectiveness. You should have 1-2 lanes at this point with a large self-sustaining set up (Packmaster and/or Dryad) so that you can now reclaim the other lanes easily with Echowisps on top of Fangwood Fields. After Echowisp reclaims the board by killing your opponents creatures (other than your 1-2 bomb lanes), you can start playing more creatures so that they can get buffed by the Packmaster each turn. Above all, focus on keeping the lanes you have up going rather than adding more new lanes. This is where Soothing Radiance can really come into play with a Lifeshaper.

At the end of it all, the deck is designed for the late game. Most of your play should be geared towards setting up the right cards to win in the late game, while spending only as many resources as you have to in order to stay alive. Thankfully, some cards you want leveled, such as Echowisp, are good at keeping you alive for that purpose. This deck functions very well against most late game decks like Alloyin Robots, and very well against midrange decks. The rush match up can give it a little bit of trouble, but the deck is decently adept at surviving that onslaught. The major decks that will give this one trouble is a hard control deck, like a Tempys/Nekrium variant (which will definitely be the featured in a future article).

Let us know what you think of this deck in the comments below!

Forging the Deck #5: Grimgaunt Goes Organic

Welcome back to another installment of Forging the Deck, our SolForge deck-building column! This installment of Forging the Deck is brought to you today by the authors MnMike2002 and Noetherian, and by the number 10.

The Deck

Creatures:
3x Grimgaunt Devourer
3x Corpse Crawler
3x Yuru, Necromancer
3x Death Seeker
3x Echowisp
3x Deepbranch Prowler
3x Hunting Pack
3x Vengeful Spirit

Spells:
3x Grave Pact
3x Cull the Weak Read More »

Forging the Deck #4: Movers and Shakers

Welcome back to another installment of Forging the Deck, our SolForge deck-building column!

Grautur has taken somewhat of a hiatus away from the game, but that’s no reason to stop building decks and sharing them with you!  I’ve decided to hop in for today’s feature and talk a little bit about my Community Tournament 4 deck.  It’s true that I didn’t make it out of pool play, but the deck did go 4-1 (only missing the Top 8 cut by tie-breakers).  So, it seems like it was definitely headed in the right direction.  Maybe with some tweaks this could serve as a good foundation for a deck going forward!  And with that, let’s take a look at Movers and Shakers: Read More »

Forging the Deck #3: The Phalanx

Welcome back to another installment of Forging the Deck, our bi-weekly SolForge deck-building column!

I know that Late Bloomer is a solid deck, but for SolForge Community Tournament 3 I wanted to try something different. I’ve been thinking about a deck built around Alloyin General, so that’s what I decided to play. Let’s look at The Phalanx:

The Deck

The deck I’m actually playing in the tournament looks like this:

The Phalanx

Creatures:
3 Alloyin General
3 Cavern Hydra
3 Forgeplate Sentinel
3 Glowstride Stag
3 Magma Hound
3 Rumbling Earthshaker
3 Scorchmane Dragon
3 Volcanic Giant

Spells:
3 Cull the Weak

Structures:
3 Fangwood Field

As I said, the deck focuses on boosting creatures with Alloyin General. In my opinion, the creatures that get the most out of such a boost are creatures with high health or creatures that are good for direct damage, like Lightning Wyrm and Air Spirit. Cavern Hydra, Forgeplate Sentinel, Glowstride Stag, Rumbling Earthshaker and Volcanic Giant all have at least 5 health at level 1 (if you count Forgeplate Sentinel’s armor as 1 health) but most of them have low attack. So, if you can boost their attack they should, in theory, be able to make favorable trades. On top of that Glowstride Stag gives you extra life and Volcanic Giant deals direct damage to your opponents. I put in Magma Hound as he can often help in tough situations (like if your opponent has many high attack/low health creatures on the board) and Scorchmane Dragon serves as a really good late-game card, since this deck isn’t super fast. Cull the Weak is still our best removal spell and Fangwood Field serves a similar purpose as Alloyin General.

The Gameplan

Early Game

We are trying to get as many favorable trades as possible. Every time our opponent has to spend two cards to remove one creature of our creatures, we’re happy. Clever placement of Alloyin General and Fangwood Field will make our creatures big. A Cavern Hydra next to an Alloyin General becomes a 6/7 creature with Regenerate 1. That’s great for a Level 1 creature! We probably want to level at least one Scorchmane Dragon and, depending on what our opponent is playing, we may need a leveled up Magma Hound (if he is playing with Echowisp, for example). If he is playing creatures that have annoying powers (Yuru, Necromancer, Alloyin General, Darkshaper Savant to name a few) or other creatures that could cause trouble later on, we should use Cull the Weak to remove those threats as they level up.

Mid Game

This is more of the same, really. Use a leveled-up Alloyin General to boost our creatures in order to get favorable trades. If our opponent isn’t playing with Cull the Weak, Forgeplate is a solid creatures to put down. Glowstride Stag can really help us with our life total and Volcanic Giant should keep some pressure on him. If we’ve managed to level up some Scorchmane Dragons we obviously want to play those in order to get access to the really powerful Level 3 version. If our opponent is filling his board with either Brimstone Fields or Fangwood Fields we can use Rumbling Earthshaker to remove those, or at least make our opponent protect his Fields so we can put some pressure elsewhere on the field.

Late Game

We have to vary our play depending if we’re the long or short player. If we’re playing against a really aggressive deck (maybe one using Lightning Wyrms and Air Spirits) we should be in decent shape if we’ve survived to late game. As long as we keep card advantage we should get the damage through at this point and finish the game. On the other hand, if we’re facing a slower deck we need to finish the game as quickly as possible. Volcanic Giant can punch in the last damage we need and even Rumbling Earthshaker can use his move ability to help finish the game. If we draw a Level 3 Scorchmane Dragon, we need to get damage through with him; he isn’t here to kill creatures.

Testing and Fixing

To be honest, I haven’t been doing to well with the deck. Part of the reason for this has been some misplays on my part. Beyond that, the deck isn’t doing quite what I was hoping it would. The first thing I notice is that I haven’t been using Fangwood Fields at all. I’ve seen some players use the card really well, but I’ve never managed to use it correctly. I’ll replace it with Enrage, a card I like better. (The Cavern Hydra/Enrage combo is also pretty sweet.) Scorchmane Dragon is obviously very strong late game. Since playing it early loses you some tempo, we can’t afford to play all of them. So, I’ll cut one of them from the deck. Glowstride Stag isn’t doing a whole lot either. Even though the life gain can help, I think two are enough. Similarly, Volcanic Giant doesn’t do quite enough and Forgeplate is only really strong at Level 3 (although it’s not bad at the other levels), so I’ll cut one of each. That’s four cards we’ve cut. I’ll bring in two Spark Bots and two Lifeshaper Savants. The Shapers aren’t as strong in the 30-card decks, but I still think it’s a good addition in this deck. We aren’t leveling up many cards, and we don’t want the game to go too long, so we will probably be playing some Level 1’s later game. With these changes, I present you the deck I would’ve played in the tournament if I had tested it better before it started:

The Phalanx

Creatures:
3 Alloyin General
3 Cavern Hydra
2 Forgeplate Sentinel
2 Glowstride Stag
2 Lifeshaper Savant
3 Magma Hound
3 Rumbling Earthshaker
2 Scorchmane Dragon
2 Spark Bot
2 Volcanic Giant

Spells:
3 Cull the Weak
3 Enrage

 

Afterword

I feel like this is the most difficult deck to play out of the three I’ve talked about so far. It is far from obvious what cards you should play each turn, you want to keep pressure on your opponent, but at the same time you need to level up good cards. I can’t go too deep into how you should play the deck since it depends a lot on the board position and what kind of deck your opponent is playing. If you want some really good advice on how and when to play the correct cards, I’ll recommend Noetherian’s excellent series: SolForge Modules. Overall, I think the deck is alright. The problem with it is that, apart from Scorchmane Dragon, it doesn’t have any late game bombs. It depends on synergies between the individual cards. If you fail to draw these important cards at the right moment, it can fall apart. I’m sure we’ll see some more creatures in the beta that are similar to Alloyin General, so this deck could really come together later. At the moment, I think there are better decks around.

Please share your thoughts on the deck and the article in the comments.

Forging the Deck #2: Late Bloomer

Welcome to the second installment of Forging the Deck, our bi-weekly SolForge deck building column!  Last time we looked at a really fast Nekrium/Tempys deck. This time we’ll forge a slower deck that is legal in tournament 3. Let’s look at Late Bloomer:

The Deck

Here’s my first version of the deck:

Late Bloomer

Creatures

3 Chrogias
3 Echowisp
3 Alloyin General
3 Glowstride Stag
3 Magma Hound
3 Technosmith
3 Scorchmane Dragon
3 Scout Drone

Spells

3 Cull the Weak

Structures

3 Brimstone Field

Chrogias and Scorchmane Dragon are our best late game cards so we want to level those up. Since they are pretty weak in early stages, Technosmith is a good card to help level them up.  In fact, Technosmith should be used as often as possible since we want as many higher level cards as possible. Scout Drone also needs to be leveled up, and he can give us some card advantage later. Magma Hound and Mimicwisp are for those cases were we’re getting overwhelmed on the board, and Glowstride Stag can be helpful since it gives us extra life while still providing a creature you can block with. Alloyin General makes our weak creatures bigger and should give us some even trades. Cull the Weak is still our best removal spell. (Notice the recent changes to the card, though. It doesn’t give us the card advantage at level 3 now, but it can get rid of level 3 cards instead.) Brimstone Field helps us for the late game; clever placement can hinder our opponent.

The Gameplan

Early game

As said before, we really want to level up our good cards. We need to play Chrogias and Scorchmane Dragon every time we draw them, unless when we can use Technosmith to level them up. Scout Drone and Cull the Weak are also important cards we want leveled up. Our other creatures can wait until later or when we really need them. Getting a few Brimstones Fields on the board isn’t a bad idea since it will probably stay there for the rest of the game. We will probably get a bit behind on the board and lose some life, but we can’t worry to much about that. We are just trying to survive until our late game bombs come into play.

Mid game

Here we should level the playing field a bit. Scour Drone will help us, Technosmith is still a great play, and hopefully we will be drawing some Lv2 Scorchmane Dragons. We still need to level up Lv2 Chrogias during turns 5-8, and we can even play Lv1 Chrogias since the game might as well go to turns 13-16. Depending on our opponent’s deck, we probably still haven’t got as many good cards at this stage, but we should try to stabilize the board.

Late game

This is (hopefully) where our deck gets going. Lv3 Chrogias and Scorchmane Dragon can do huge damage to our opponent while Technosmith and Scout Drone help us level up our other cards. We’ve probably leveled up some Magma Hounds and Echowisps and they can help us against a strong board. Glowstride Stag is also useful since it will gain us life, something we probably need at this point in the game.

Testing and Fixing

I tried a similar deck when decks were 40 cards, and it worked surprisingly well. It was prone to luck, but if you managed to survive the early-to-mid game the deck was in good shape. With 30 cards in a deck, it’s much better since you should draw most of the cards you need. It isn’t always obvious what cards to play. Do you setup for late game or are you too much behind on the board that you just need to put down an Echowisp?

I liked most of the cards but to my surprise the Alloyin General was not very useful. It’s a card I like, but I couldn’t really get the use out of it I was hoping for. I had Yuru in the 40 card version of the deck for similar reasons, but it wasn’t working out well either. I think those cards could work in a deck like this, but you need to draw them at the right time. I decided to take the General out in my deck, but you should consider experimenting with one or both of these cards.  Maybe they will suit your playstyle more than they did mine.

Some players believe that Scout Drone is too weak for this deck. I actually think it’s a fine card and have chosen to keep it for now. You might consider replacing it for something like Forgeplate Sentry, Volcanic Giant or Rumbling Earthshaker.

After these changes, I present my current version of the deck:

Late Bloomer

Creatures

3 Chrogias
3 Echowisp
3 Forgeplate Sentry
3 Glowstride Stag
3 Magma Hound
3 Technosmith
3 Scorchmane Dragon
3 Scout Drone

Spells

3 Cull the Weak

Structures

3 Brimstone Field

Afterword

We’ve had some exciting few weeks now with new cards, rule changes and now a working iPad demo. Tournament 3 is starting, and it will be interesting to see how different decks will do in it. While I’ve got a feeling that a slow deck like we’ve talked about will perform the best, I’m kind of hoping someone does well with a really fast deck with Lightning Wyrm and other tempo-based cards.

The 30 card deck is a change I really like. It removes a lot of the luck out of the game, and we will see higher levels come into play more often. I expect we’ll see some card fixes soon since reducing the deck size changes card balance a lot. (For example, I believe that the shapers are pretty weak now after the change.) I’m glad the SolForge team isn’t afraid of making some radical changes, so long as they continue make the game even better.

Forging the Deck #1: Suicide Zombies

I’m Grautur and welcome to my first installment of Forging the Deck, a biweekly column focusing on deck building in SolForge. We’ll start this series with a Nekrium/Tempys deck I choose to call Suicide Zombies, it’s fast and furious and I hope you like it.

The Deck

Here’s my first attempt at this deck:

Suicide Zombies

Creatures:

4 Air Spirit
4 Bonescythe Reaver
4 Grimgaunt Devourer
4 Flameshaper Savant

4 Lightning Wyrm

4 Magma Hound

4 Vengeful Spirit

4 Yuru, Necromancer

Spells:

4 Cull the Weak

Structures:

4 Brimstone Field

Read More »

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