The Deepbranch forest is dark and full of terrors, but an official SolForge preview from Stoneblade is enough to make the heart soar! We at Forge Watch are back again with a second preview! We once again put our heads together to match the many maws of the Deepbranch Ancient.
Noetherian: “What I like most about Deepbranch Ancient is that you don’t need to level it early. You can focus on first leveling cards that help you fill the board, and then use Deepbranch Ancient as an 8/8 Level 1 play mid-game.”
The Hydra’s ability is quite interesting because filling all of your lanes in the early game is quite the feat. Aside from a lucky Hunting Pack or double Echowisp, it is unlikely that you can get the buff to trigger before Player Level 2. But even as a Level 1 creature in Player Level 2, an 8/8 is a very strong play on a full board.
CerebralPaladin: “Deepbranch Ancient wouldn’t be very good in an average deck. But in a deck that’s designed to take advantage of Uterra’s unique swarming abilities (combining it with Echowisp, Hunting Pack, Frostwild Tracker, and Talisin, Bard of Abundance), it can become very strong. If you can consistently hit the trigger requirement, a 8/8, 16/16, 24/24 card is huge.”
With the large toolbox of Uterra cards that let you play extra creatures in a turn, filling up the board is much easier in Player Level 2. When aggressively leveled in the correct deck, Deepbranch Ancient is massive. Combined with a full board, your opponent is going to be hard pressed to battle his way back into the game.
Hoywolf: “With all the “free” to play cards with Echowisp and Hunting Pack I think you can build a deck around this card, he seems to be a core part of the swarming Uterra deck! I feel like the whole argument of Echowisp > Hunting Pack is about to change just slightly. I would not be playing Deepbranch Ancient without Hunting Pack AND Echowisp in the deck.”
Racecar0: “I would disagree. I don’t think there’s still ever a case where I’d rather play a Hunting Pack over something else. Too swingy, even for what it means for a card like this.”
While possible that Hunting Pack can help you trigger Deepbranch Ancient, I worry that the 50% chance of triggering is just too inconsistent for constructed play. That said, the potential power level of Deepbranch Ancient may be high enough that it warrants the inclusion of Hunting Pack just for the additional chances at a full board.
grim2103: “This card is really effective as a finisher in a Packmaster deck that is focused on keep lanes alive anyway. Additionally, if combined with Nekrium, it can be rather effective with creatures like Flesh Fiend, Death Seeker, and Yuru, Necromancer which are adept at keeping creatures on the field.”
I’m glad that grim2103 pointed this out. Between Fell Walker, Zimus the Undying, and the cards that grim2103 mentioned, your opponent will be hard pressed to keep your board clear of creatures. Redundancy is the key to making sure you trigger your Deepbranch Ancient as often as possible.
As for myself, I consider this the niche cousin of Runegrove Guardian. the Guardian has a far more generalized trigger while Deepbranch Ancient fits in a very specific arch-type. Because of the very specific building requirements for Deepbranch Ancient to trigger, he is not a very flexible card outside of the Uterra swarming strategy. While I doubt he will be considered an Uterra staple, he does a great job of being another large creature that doesn’t need to be leveled at every opportunity to be useful. I must however say, when fully unleashed at Level 3, he is a sight to behold. Do you dare face the Hydra?