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LCQ Expedition Primer

Guide by stormguard798 - December 16, 2021

(I rate my content with a M16 rating. Proceed with caution.)

One. Last. Chance. To play at Worlds, and win it all.
(If you're new/not very good at this game, like me. Good luck to the 25 players playing in the closed LCQ, however. All y'all have got this!)

Hey, it's stormguard798, and what we're here today is to give everyone who's been a little busy:
A brief rundown of the current Expedition format,
The key cards and decks everyone should be keeping in mind regarding deck selection and building, and
For those who just want to grab a list and go, a couple of options (not all of them mine) which I think could be good.

Hopefully that'll give you a good idea of what to expect jumping into this LCQ. Let's hop to it!

Key Format Cards

Helena, Skyguide - This card is the reason Permafrost isn't great right now since it breaks the stun and provides some extra damage to boot. Being an Endurance unit, it's also very difficult for the more aggressive decks to deal with - that's why you see the Fire Aggro decks packing Searing Fist, because Torch just doesn't cut it.

Zido, Cabal Housecat - Another format, another card that makes you discard things. This sort of falls into the same category as Eavesdrop - the 1st hit isn't so bad, but later in the game, if there are some Destiny felines floating around in your opponent's deck, then you HAVE to be prepared and perhaps sandbag an extra power or 2 in hand. On that note, the presence of Eavesdrop that typically comes with the Zido package makes grinding your opponent into the ground a very real possibility, and also make it difficult to pull off consistent void shenanigans.

Stormhalt Plating - The go-to finisher for the Control decks in this format (and then some), this card is why all the defensive decks are packing 4 copies of Bullseye. Even if you think you're a unit-based deck, don't forget that these defensive Justice decks also tend to run a lot of board wipes. A lot. As such, whether it's beating down hard enough before they can get Plating up, or having unconditional relic removal like Mandatory Retirement or Bullseye waiting in the wings, you better have a plan for this very ubiquitous card.

Plunk Wumpkin - Quite possibly the objectively best card in Expedition right now. There really is no good way to get rid of this card from your opponent - even Discard doesn't work. All the Shadow Control decks are all running Vara's Authority to break their Aegis - which has incidentally made Sites in this format particularly lackluster. With its recent buff, it has also led to an uptick of Ice Bolt being played - a Gold-Plated Revolver on a Plunk previously spiraled out of control way too quickly.

Javan, the Steel Crest - The only non-Cold Hunt card from my list, you need to be prepared that some games may go very long in this format, and in such situations, Javan is a complete house. Combined with Sindain's Bracers, but not always, you need to be able to proactively remove it. That is something the Feln or Hooru control decks certainly struggle with: Chloric Mix or Defiance don't work if the unit isn't attacking, and any reasonably experienced player will know not to attack. Be sure to pack Ice Bolts or Trick Throws.

Every Deck You Will (Probably) Need to Be Aware Of

*Look, I'm not psychic. There's a decent probability that some people rock up with some weird brews and destroy face. If you're the person who brings the deck that breaks open the meta...I congratulate you. Good job.

I've decided to organize the decks into 4 broad categories: Fire Aggro, Heroes, Control, and other assorted nonsense. Keep in mind this is not a comprehensive list of everything you might see (there is some weird stuff on ladder), but rather just a pleasant cross-section. Let's hop to it!

1. Aggro

Mono Fire (Deck by SRFS)

Why mess with perfection? Maybe you've been keeping tabs on Reddit, but maybe not, but The Misplay recently released a primer of budget Expedition decks, and this list is by far the most upgradeable. For anyone getting back into the game, or for anyone new, this is an incredibly accessible deck to both play and upgrade, which means I expect to see it a decent amount, at least on Day 1.

Skycrag Aggro (Deck by yours truly)

Are you sick of it yet? Probably, but people are still playing it because it slaps. I've dropped the Feral Serpents so that I could still run League Explorers in this deck, but otherwise it still slaps. (I've seen versions running both, and I think that's a little dicey with the powerbase.) Alternatively, you could also go a little bigger, and run Velise, Bear Riders as well. I think Permafrost isn't in a fantastic place right now because Helena can break it so easily (not even counting cards like Dismantle), but it should be enough if you beat down hard enough.

Lukewarm take: I don't think Raging Jackal should be in the deck - it is by far the 1st drop, and doesn't help you at all if you're behind or to push damage. I know a lot of iterations are running the card. Outside of Grenadin synergy: don't.

Rakano Aggro (Deck by Applechips, piloted by JNL)

Probably the most popular variation of Fire Aggro (at least from what I've seen on ladder lately), you're playing Torch, you're playing Helena, and you smash your opponent really hard. I'm not sure how good Varbuk, Hand of Anarchy is these days - a lot of threats are monofaction these days. (Where'd all the Azindel, Revealeds go?) However, if you're expecting a lot of control decks, the Charge comes in very handy to slam for damage after a board wipe. Otherwise, I've quite liked Ijin, Mithril Daimyo as of late: it gives your early drops some solid staying power as you transition into the late-game, and would probably slot it in over Varbuk.

Stonescar Aggro (Deck by theovermaster, piloted by Frafa)

Ah, Syl. The card that I still find impossibly difficult to play around. I'm a little skeptical of how good this deck is in the face of the slew of Hero decks given that they don't run too many spells, but I will gladly be amazed. For my personal taste, I do think I would run Oni Inciter over Raging Jackal in this deck, which is a card I have not been remotely impressed by. (See above) Glen Pathcutter giving buffs to units like D'Angolo Houndmaster or Inferno Phoenix makes them tricker to tangle with in combat, but no health buff means they're equally susceptible to getting destroyed by Obstructive Flicker. Stonebreaker Bow is also a very good card, but you probably need more ways to recur it to make it truly shine. (Really, what I'm saying is that you need an Oni Forgesmith. Or 4.) If you Contract the bow and it breaks from Kehanya, Skilled Caster or Obstructive Flicker, you are going to be very sad.

2. Heroes

Elysian Heroes (Deck by Mail, tweaked slightly by me)

Probably the 1st iteration of Heroes that we saw when Cold Hunt 1st dropped, and still around and kicking pretty well. I've dropped the Trials and Tribulations as the aggro decks has slowly shifted from a very go wide, low to the ground approach, and focused on suiting up giant units, replacing it with the newly buffed Torgov's Wares. I'm currently going with a 3/1 split on the Inscribe cards, though I could see playing the full 4 Dismantle. By far the most important 2-card combo in the deck is Sindain's Bracers and Javan, the Steel Crest - in certain matchups, you should prioritize dropping Bracers since it'll be tricky for them to answer, and it's very possible you just run away with the game drawing 5+ cards a turn.

Another hot take: I am not a huge fan of Jufi, Sprite Seer. Maybe it's because I never draw my Dragon's Eyes (even with 4 Torgov's Wares) but it feels like Jufi is a win-more card, and requires a lot of help to actually to be good. If you have no way to support it, a 3-cost 1/3 is...awful. That's why I've swapped it out for Torgov, Icecap Trader, who has a lower floor, but is more consistently good when you need it. (And hopefully not have my void repeatedly stolen by Eavesdrop.) The other consideration for that slot would be Sive, Desert Herder to give your deck a little more interaction, but since your units aren't that big, giving them Killer isn't terribly helpful. (Having tried Curiox's Hunt in this deck after it got buffed, it was...OK-ish at most.)

Hooru Tempo Heroes (Deck by TheBoxer)

Classic Hooru Heroes (My take)

Okay, the 1st deck is a spicy little number brought to the recent FETL playoffs, trading some longevity with Xultan Ambassador with more aggressive elements. TRS elected to go with Permafrost, but I think in an open environment I would lean towards Ice Bolt since Frost is awful in the mirror, and you'd rather have Ice Bolt to deal with the Plunk + Gold-Plated Revolver combo.

The 2nd one, is more, quote, traditional take, with a few more defensive elements. I think there's an argument to running Stormhalt Plating as an Inscribe card, but I've found that you rarely get there - out of all the Hero decks, this build is probably the most aggressive. That being said, it is an incredible card in the mirror, so if you're expecting to face down a lot of HooHe mirrors, could be a solid choice. To me, Spire Loyalist is not only a great way to close out the game as a Flier, but can also help you stabilize if you've taken some early aggression with the Lifesteal, and just seems like the better Inscribe card here.

Feln Heroes (Deck by Applechips)

This was the breakout deck from the 2nd week of the FETL: you've got Ulixa/Moon, a tried and true combination, backed up by a sacrifice sub-theme from The Uncountable and The Rat King and some solid removal. It also took advantage of a huge weakness of the HooHe decks with their inability to answer relics by simply grinding out the victory with Waxing Moon. It is, of course, also the best deck to play Night Dojo, since you have plenty of units for the opponent to target. Of course, I could see some copies of Minotaur Lighthoof slotting into the list if you're concerned about the mirror.

*An aside: Some people have said Elding of the Final Hour is bugged, but my teammates and I were trying it out earlier, and had zero success recreating the bugs. So...yay? Maybe it's finally fixed? But try it out and let me - and everyone else - in the comments.

3. Control

Feln Control (Deck by Roshi)

Granted, I'm not in love with all the card choices here - for instance, Night Dojo seems rather suspicious with few ways to protect it and few units to target - but I do think the bones of the deck are there. Davia, Azurebreaker remains a fantastic card even after the nerf, particularly now that less Ulixa, Unspoken Terrors are floating around in the meta. Feln Moon, you are...still a pretty annoying scourge, let's be honest. My biggest concern with the defensive Feln decks is definitely the relic interaction: Minotaur Lighthoof is nice, but you have no use for its other mode, and being at slow speed means you still end up taking huge whacks from Stormhalt Plating to the face. One possible solution is to dip your toes into Fire for the likes of Kaleb's Choice and Bullseye, but how that pans out remains to be seen.

Argenport Control (Deck by Applechips)

Board wipes and the Crownwatch Press-Gang/Zido, Cabal Housecat package - what could possibly go wrong? (The Rat King, perma-debuffing your units, that's how) But this deck grinds out an endless stream of 2 for 1s and 3 for 1s before taking over in the late-game with Stormhalt Plating. I haven't been super impressed by Raniya, Wings of the Cabal. The influence requirement is a little tough, and you don't have a lot of targets for it alongside no way to engineer a good target. Mindbreaker's Staff is my pet card that would probably slot well in this deck, if not for the plentiful relic removal right now. Nothing Remains also has some anti-synergy with your recursion and Revenge units, so swapping that out for Harsh Rule is also worth considering.

Stonescar Control (Deck by Mail)

I would probably swap to 4 Bullseye and 2 Oni Inciter, dropping the Kans altogether, but the deck still looks pretty good a month after it's been posted. I think 1 could also make the case for Stonebreaker Bow to be included as well as a fairly clean answer to Plunk. If you're looking to really ratchet up the spice level, Heartstopper (not my idea, but it seemed so funny) is a very fun way to get way too much value out of your Discard - and possibly cause your opponent to salt rope you.

4. Other nonsense!

Argenport Mid (Deck by colacoma)

This deck is trading board wipes for strong Midrange creatures as of late, such as Unseen Marksman or Helena, Skyguide, which honestly isn't too rough of a deal. I think it's possible to run the Crownwatch Press-Gang and Zido, Cabal Housecat as well should you wish, though card advantage isn't really the axis on which you are attacking people. I've seen some decks running Shadowcreeper to try and combat the flood of Aegis units since you're not in a faction with Ice Bolt, which is...amusing, though I'm not sure if that's very good. With its recent buff, I also think that Minotaur Lighthoof is certainly worth a look to give the deck a way to combat relics.

Xenan Tokens (Deck by Roshi)

I think the concept of recurring Ephemeral Wisp over and over again is rather interesting with Toxic Wisp buffs and Expedition Gear, but given that The Rat King gives a permanent debuff, and so does Unseen Marksman, I do think it's a little bit tenuous. That being said, you do have a lot of sacrifice outlets, so it might be good. I am, however, not sold on using Expedition Gear or Supply Lines as the top-end for the deck: expensive relics that need additional support to be good are really not where you want to be in this format with everyone already running relic removal for Plating. One card that I do think is glaringly missing from this list is Waystone Ignitor: it kills relics, it makes tokens, and sometimes? You just have it to block. That being said, I do think the concept certainly has potential, and wonder if anyone will able to piece together the puzzle for this event.

Praxis (Deck by me!)

On the day of the balance patch, I mentioned in Applechips' stream that I thought that Ramba's Challenge might now be good after it was buffed. Spoiler alert: it was not. However, the rest of the Praxis shell might still have some potential. lawwarrior did secure a spot at Worlds with many of these cards, after all. And while we may no longer have Powercell or Sandstorm Titan, as it turns out, Azrog, Streetbreaker is still an amazing card. With its massive haymakers, it just pumps out threat after threat that demands answers, and can definitely catch some decks off-guard. It doesn't go as over the top as decks like Combrei Ramp, but hey! It's still delightfully solid.

Concluding Remarks

Is Expedition in a healthy place? Debatable. But I think there are a lot of viable and interesting archetypes as opposed to a straight midrange slog (I'm looking at you, EXP: SST) and you've got solid representation across all major types of decks. Even if there's a little disagreement on where exactly each archetype sits on their Tier List, I do believe any of the above decks are capable of taking home the W. Good luck to everyone playing on Friday/Saturday! ^-^


Almost Eternal Version: 21.12.16
Oh neat, an article on EternalWarcry! Pretty well written and thorough.
Jedi_EJ Eternal Version: 21.12.16
Great write-up friend, I feel like I know what I'm doing meow! I appreciate your hard work!