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TonyGeeeee's Updated Guide to Armory

Guide by TonyGeeeee - 17 November 2017

This Guide is an update to an older version. It has been written for Patch 1.26.

Hi! My name is Antoine, but some people may know me as TonyGeeeee. Since I’ve started playing Eternal more seriously, I’ve been obsessed with one deck: Armory. When other high ranked players see my name, they know what they are up against. I have won an ETS and gotten multiple top 8s. I have also finished in the Top 5 of ranked ladder multiple times, only with Armory.

I will do my best to make this guide as complete as possible. This means it will be a very long read. This guide is mainly focused towards Ranked play, but will mention Tournament play from time to time. Also, keep in mind that what’s written is based on one single player’s perspective. I do not claim to have the universal truth. However, I feel like I’ve gathered enough knowledge over the time to help you become a better player, or at least better at Armory.

Here are the 7 sections included in this Guide:
1) What is Armory?
2) Cards that define the archetype
3) Decklists
4) Mulligans (Redraws)
5) Tips and Tricks
6) Matchups
7) Closing thoughts

Please enjoy.



1) What is Armory?

Armory is a very peculiar control deck. It uses cheap removals and weapons to go through the early game and aims to crush its opponents with late game finishers.
Armory has two main factions: Fire and Justice. It also splashes Shadow for cards like Slay, Quarry, and Smuggler's Stash.

What makes it different from most control decks is that it rarely builds card advantage, unlike Feln Control, for example. You rely on pure value to grind out your opponent. You have multiple ways to buff your weapons, giving you the tools to destroy a good number of your opponent’s units. If they opt for a go-wide strategy, Harsh Rule gains an insane amount of value. Most of your weapons go 2-for-1 and then, you get them back with Smuggler's Stash. All in all, you will often have fewer cards than your opponent, but their quality will be through the roof.

A comparison could be made with Hearthstone’s Control Warrior. Their overall strategy is similar. Control the board early, gain armor, play big units/weapons and win.

This archetype will, in my mind, stay alive for a very long time. Relic weapons are extremely good at removing units, no matter their attributes. They can have flying, Aegis, deadly, overwhelm, unblockable or quickdraw; we don’t care. We've seen Armory survive through a myriad of nerfs to its key cards, but it still stayed a very competitive deck.

Pros:
  • Can unlock its win condition earlier than most control decks (turns 5 with Harsh Rule, to 7 with Icaria, the Liberator)
  • Insane topdeck potential
  • High snowball potential with your warcries
  • Easy to pick up, hard to master


Cons:
  • Heavily relies on topdecking
  • Has a hard time against go-wide strategies
  • Auto-loss if you get Power screwed
  • Has a hard time dealing with Dawnwalker




2) Cards that define the archetype

While the optimal deck is meta-dependent, a good number of cards stay the same. Here is a brief analysis on these cards and the numbers you should run.

Torch: Always 4. Torch is one of your best cards against aggro. It can also help you trade up when your weapon just falls short. Torch is good. You’ve heard it here first!

Quarry: Always 4. This is your best cycle card. It’s pretty nice to be able to play your win condition one turn earlier!

Rakano Artisan: Always 4. Artisan is one of the best Armory cards. It’s a good early blocker and it makes your weapons much better. Playing 1-2 and then drawing a weapon is often game winning.

Vanquish: Between 0 and 4. I was going to put Vanquish and Slay together because they fit the same role. However, they have slight differences. Vanquish is better in a deck that has Statuary Maiden. Being able to play Maiden and a removal on turn 6 is often crucial. In a world of Midrange decks, this card is very useful. If Feln is popular, cut it.

Slay: Between 2 and 4. One of the best removal spells in the game. Usually as good or better than Vanquish. The 50% increase in cost is not very important since you will usually float Power. In the games I've played, it happened very few times that I wanted a Vanquish over a Slay. The opposite happened more often. The numbers of Vanquishes and Slays are variable, depending on the meta, but having a split between both is usually right.

Sword of Icaria: Between 3 and 4, but usually 3. Your bread and butter in the early game. Can be used to remove units or just for the warcry. I suggest going aggressive with this weapon. If you are not against Aggro, this weapon can and should be used for the warcry only, creating an unstoppable snowball. An unstoppaball, if you will.

Auric Runehammer: Between 3 and 4, but usually 3. Your best defensive weapon. Unbuffed, it kills a good number of early units. Buffed, it becomes a Midrange killing machine. Having this card buffed to 6 damage against Combrei will win you the game (Thanks, Rise to the Challenge!). This card tends to fall off late-game, but in the mid-game, it is your best removal tool. This weapon is the very definition of 2-for-1. Another nice interaction is with Starsteel Daisho. If you have 10 Power and both weapons in hand, you can play Runehammer first, then kill something with Daisho without hurting yourself. It’s a fringe situation, but sometimes it will help you.

Rise to the Challenge: Between 2 and 3. The only tutor in the deck. Too slow for aggro matchups, but crucial against the rest. You can Rise for a 6 damage Runehammer to kill a Titan, or go for a 6-4 Daisho to kill your opponent. Every matchup has its own rule regarding which card is best to get. One thing is sure: this card is very much needed.

Harsh Rule: Always 4. A staple in any Justice-based control deck. A win condition against flood decks and the card you’ll most likely topdeck the turn after it was needed. Not much to say about it. This card is vital.

Smuggler's Stash: Between 2 and 3. Your best value card. Period. It has great synergy with any sort of weapon buff or cost reduction. It is your best topdeck when you are running out of cards and will often straight up make your opponent concede. Having Stash might also change your Quarry decisions. You can now safely discard a weapon in favor of a spell, since you’re going to get the weapon later in the game. Do not do this if you absolutely need the weapon now.

Throne Warden: Between 3 and 4, but usually 3. In a deck with so few units, Throne Warden shines. It’s sticky, gives armor to your weapons and is a great blocker. It is game winning against Aggro but doesn't contest a Sandstorm Titan or another big threat. Sticking the 4 armor onto a weapon, and then using Stash, is often part of your win condition.

Tavrod, Auric Broker: Always 4. The Tale of Horus Traver gave us a shiny new toy: Tavgod, Auric Broken. This beefy pile of stats is a long awaited addition to our artillery. It serves as a good blocker against aggro, but the reason you play this card is for its effect. To nobody's surprise, discarding Sigils to get a 9-1 Runehammer is prettttttty good! This is the card that will win you the Midrange matchups. Yes, sometimes, you'll draw nothing while discarding 3 Harsh Rules, but this card will singlehandedly win you more games than any other card in this deck. Some people argue that adding Tavrod makes the deck worse, since it enables ''dead cards'' from your opponent's hand, like Slay or Vanquish. This is a fair point that is worth looking at. To analyze it, let's break down the matchups where Tavrod can or can't be removed by a 1-for-1 removal. Torch + Obliterate or other combinations of cards will not be counted for this argument, since you effectively gained value out of Tavrod.

Aggro: No aggro deck can use a spot removal to kill Tavrod, with the exception of Rakano, which is rarely seen, both in competitive and on ladder.

Midrange: Praxis and Elysian, two decks that have done extremely well in the past against Armory cannot remove Tavrod. This matchup has been changed drastically since Tavrod's release. I'd argue that Armory is now favored vs Elysian and that the Praxis matchup is 50/50, solely because of our favorite cow. Big Combrei is nowhere to be seen on ladder and is seeing little (but effective) play in tournament. I would not build Armory to beat that matchup, since it's already favored. Argenport Midrange is one of the rare matchups where they can remove Tavrod while making a tempo play, but since the Bartholo nerf, this deck has disappeared. Even if it was popular, Armory is very good against it.

Control: Feln Control is still a very favorable matchup for Armory, even if they can use Deathstrike/Feeding Time to kill Tavrod. The gameplan stays the same: get a 5dmg weapon. Chalice was already a god-awful matchup for Armory. I agree that Tavrod accentuates Armory's weaknesses in this matchup, but if you expect a lot of chalice, never ever bring this deck to the table. As far as the Armory mirror goes, a Tavrod that's not removed will win you the game. Cards like Stash, Rise, Icaria and Daisho are other, very effective win conditions in this matchup, but Tavrod is simply another one. Control matchups are in general, centered around value. You want to get as much value as possible out of every card in your hand. If you go 1-for-1 with a card, you are OK with it. Tempo plays are much harder to make as a control deck. So you went even with your opponent. You then use Stash and you gain an insane amount of value. By using Stash, you converted a 1-for-1 situation into a favorable trade for you. You want to grind your opponent out of ressources, even if it's a formely dead card in the matchup. Once again, this piece of removal would've been used on something else, either a Maiden or an Icaria, so it wouldn't have been dead anyway.

In general, Tavrod adds another dimension to Armory's plan. It is a one card wincon on turn 5. You don't have to pray for an icaria to get you a huge Daisho anymore, or cry everytime your opponent plays Heart of the Vault. You can now play proactively! This is Tavrod's biggest strength in Armory.

Starsteel Daisho: Always 2. This is where people might disagree. If I were right, which I am, I would say Daisho is the best card in your deck (next to Tavrod). This card has won me more games than Icaria, the Liberator and Smuggler's Stash combined. Having this buffed to a 6-6 or more is instantly game over in most matchups. You can kill two units for one card or deal copious amount of damage to your opponent. This card gives the most armor out of any card in the deck once buffed and trust me, you want to buff this card. Even going 1-for-1 is alright. There's nothing more satisfying than topdecking a big juicy Daisho. Even better, the foil version is absolutely gorgeous.

Icaria, the Liberator: Between 0 and 2. (4 if your name is Camat0). Bae herself. The classic late game finisher. When people think about Armory, they think about Icaria. The card has a good body, but what really makes this card go over the top is its effect: Warcry 5. Do you want a 9-6 Auric Runehammer? Yes. Do you want a 9-9 Starsteel Daisho? YES! Its only problem is that, for some reason, it has a 75% chance of hitting Rakano Artisan. This card has the potential to give you the win on the turn it’s played. However, Icaria is not perfect. It costs 7 Power with 3 Fire and 3 Justice, which is not always what you have by turn 7. It is a slow card against aggro and is weak to Sandstorm Titan. Icaria is still a very strong card, but I was inclined to put it in the meta-dependent section since a meta controlled by Praxis Midrange is not a good time for our favorite Valkyrie.

The next few cards are not staples but will see on-and-off play depending on the meta

Statuary Maiden: Between 0 and 4. In a meta controlled by Dawnwalker, this card shines. It is your best card in many matchups, especially Praxis. It is somewhat hard to kill it on turn 4 and you don’t mind it getting Permafrosted. Maiden also gives you more value out of an early Stash. This card struggles against silences, so in a Combrei dominated meta, forget about Maiden.

Furnace Mage: Between 0 and 2. The only Relic-Hate Armory can have. More often than not, it will stay a sideboard card, but when you are tired of seeing Crystalline Chalice and Xenan Obelisk, Furnace Mage is a lifesaver. Since it’s a unit, you can Stash it back to kill another relic!

Reforge: Between 0 and 2. My favorite set 2 card. While it pales in comparison with Smuggler’s Stash in terms of value, it’s still a good card. In many matchups, having access to a weapon is primordial. This card will sometimes be better than Rise to the Challenge. In a meta controlled my Midrange, having the opportunity to get back a 6-3 Auric Runehammer is immensely valuable.

Talon of Nostrix: Between 0 and 3. Very good against aggro, but your worst card against anything else. If you are facing too many aggro, this could be an inclusion, but you will cry when Combrei plays a Sandstorm Titan and you only have a 2-2 weapon in hand.

Valkyrie Enforcer: Between 0 and 3. This used to be an auto inclusion in set 1. This card has a great body for its cost and a very important effect. In this deck though, you mostly play it for the silence. I found that Statuary Maiden is often better than Enforcer, but it still has a place as a sideboard card or if you feel like you need to silence a unit immediately.

Armorsmith: Between 0 and 3. I don’t think this card is good anymore. Even against Aggro, it just doesn’t do much. The dream scenario is to play a Sword of Icaria on turn 3 and then have 1-2 free Armorsmiths. The problem is that your hand is now empty. You’re lacking answers for their bigger units, the ones Armorsmith cannot block. I honestly don’t see this card coming back in Armory, but it could be a consideration in some unknown meta.

Copperhall Bailiff: Between 0 and 3. A very strong addition when you are facing an army of small units. Playing this after a Scouting Party is one of the best feelings in the world. When the meta rather aims at going tall, this card is unplayable. It’s still a good sideboard option.

Annihilate: Between 0 and 2. One of my go-to sideboard card. I don't think it fits quite well in a main board since we already have cheap and efficient removal. In matchups where you need as many removals as possible, it is a good inclusion.

Auric Sentry: Between 0 and 0. When Tavrod was first released, Armory players began to tinker around the Minotaur synergy. The deck basically had 2 options: Coperhall Bailiff or Auric Sentry. The latter was thought to be the best option, since it is a very good blocker early on and can warcry a couple of times before it gets removed. After further testing, having this card in Armory wasn't worth it. It is a low value card that you want to cast on turn 3. It quickly becomes a dead card to draw. When Tavrod comes into play and attacks, you're likely to have played at least one Sentry, so you're only adding 2 Tavrod hits. Adding more valuable cards will win you more games in the long run. If you're looking for another 3-cost Minotaur, play Bailiff.

Steward of the Past: Between 0 and 0. This card would be an auto-include in a meta revolving around Midrange. The problem is its requirement. Having 2 Shadow influence by turn 4 is simply too much for this card to be playable in Armory. If you want a 4-cost unit that destroys Void-centric strategies, play Statuary Maiden.

Inquisitor Makto: Between 0 and 0. Let’s make one thing clear: Makto is a good card. It’s just not good in Armory. Makto is better in decks that have other silenceable units. If you don’t have those other units, you then need to put 3-4 Maktos in your deck. So the question is: what do you cut? Icaria? Daisho? Stash? No. Besides, you would need to rework your Sigil count to make sure you can get 2 Shadow by turn 5. Maktos are cute and will win you games because they came back the turn after they got killed, but the other win conditions mentioned above are more consistent and will yield better results. We’ve seen some ETS decks do great with 4 Maktos, but they were not Armory decks, they were Midrange decks that shared the same influence.

Stonescar Maul: DO NOT PLAY STONESCAR MAUL IN ARMORY, I REPEAT, MAUL IN ARMORY IS BAD! Here’s why. Do you want to push damage? Starsteel Daisho is better. Do you want to kill a big threat? Auric Runehammer is better. Do you want to kill multiple units? Daisho is better. Do you want to have a more valuable card when buffed? Daisho is better. Do you want your 6-cost weapon to survive Torch? Guess what, Daisho is better. The only situation where Maul is better is when your opponent has multiple small units on board and he has 1-4 HP left. Def Leppard’s drummer could count the number of time this situation has happened with his left hand. (I’ll save you a Google search: he doesn’t have a left hand.)



3) Decklist



As of November 2017, this is the deck I've had the most success with. VSarius and I worked together to bring this list, after we decided Icaria wasn't worth it. With some help from ManuS with the Power base, we were left with a very optimised version.

The first thing you’ve probably noticed is the lack of Icaria. I found this card to be problematic for two reasons.
First of all, there is a lot of aggro on ladder right now. A 7-cost unit that creates half of its value on a later turn is not very useful. The other decks you’ll often encounter are Time Midrange decks. Cards like Sandstorm Titan and Predatory Carnosaur are extremely good against Icaria. Control decks are few and far between right now, and even then, not having Icaria doesn’t hurt you that much.

The other reason is because of its requirements. When playtesting an earlier iteration of this deck, I was immediately satisfied with the lack of Icaria. Your Power requirements are met much easier now, since you only need FFJJSS, instead of FFFJJJSS. You can now play your other cards quickly and mapping out your next turns is easier.

With the added space, Throne Warden was a seemless addition. This unit is immensely valuable in both Aggro and Control matchups. After being cut from every list I tried since Tavrod's release, it feels good to have Warden back in Armory. All in all, this version is slightly lower to the ground, but your lategame is not affected that much. You can still Stash for a lot of value to win the game and you have more ways to counter Aggro.

Right now, the meta is all about Time Midrange and Aggro, with a few other decks slipping through the cracks. This list tackles those archetypes very well, without making big compromises. If you feel you are flooding a bit too much, you could remove 1 Shadow Sigil for 1 Maiden.

Replacements

If you are a new player, you may lack certain legendaries included in this decklist. While I strongly recommend trying the deck as-is, here are some possible replacements.

Starsteel Daisho: The hardest weapon to replace. There is no other weapon that allows you to hit multiple targets in one turn. As much as I dislike Stonescar Maul, it might be the best replacement, but other weapons will do fine as well.

Statuary Maiden: The best option is Steward of the Past. While you may have trouble casting it on turn 4, their effects are very similar.

Icaria, the Liberator: This card is not in those suggested decklists, but it’s still important to think about a replacement. Just like Daisho, there are no clear replacement, since this card has a unique effect. Once again, I recommend adding weapons.

Tavrod, Auric Broker: This legendary is obtained through The Tale of Horus Traver adventure. If you don't have this card, I suggest going with a more ''Traditional'' build and add more Throne Wardens. Once again, the usual tip is to add more weapons as a last resort.



4) Mulligans (Redraws)

This section is for ranked play only. In a tournament setting, you know what you are up against, so your mulligan decisions will change depending on the matchup. In ranked, the safest thing is to assume everyone is playing an aggressive deck. If you are right, you will have the tools to deal with your opponent’s deck. If you are wrong, you are playing against a deck that will give you the time to react and adapt.

The sweet spot is at 3-4 Power in your opening hand. The perfect influence is FJJS, but having FJJ or FJS will unlock a majority of your cards. If you have a Quarry and no Shadow influence, you cannot keep the hand. Keeping a 2 Sigils hand will likely result in a Power Screw. Even if you have 2 Rakano Artisans and a Torch, you cannot realistically keep a 2 Power hand. On the contrary, keeping a 5 Power hand will reduce the chances of having a good answer for the board state.

The ideal cards to have in your opening hand are Torch, Quarry, Rakano Artisan, and Sword of Icaria. Auric Runehammer is also a good choice, but you will need earlier answers to make sure it stays relevant.



5) Tips and Tricks

Here is some advice for common mistakes people make. It is in no particular order but should help you in most matchups.

A) When using Quarry, it is better to discard a good weapon than to get Power screwed. In some cases, this is not the correct line of play, but in most situations, you need to get to 5-6 Power to unlock the deck’s potential. Missing a Power for a weapon might mean you won’t be able to Harsh Rule on 5.

B) Use your Health total as a resource. This might be the most important advice I can give you if you aim to be good at any control deck. In matchups where you don't have to worry about taking 12 from two Obliterate in a row, it's okay to take significant damage in order to improve your board presence. You can usually wait for one or two more turns to pull off a Harsh Rule that gets you more value. You can lose your armor to make sure you’ll have enough blockers to kill an incoming Sandstorm Titan next turn. You should take some amount of damage against Rakano to play around Finest Hour or Torch. Taking 5-6 more damage on turn 4 might mean you’ll save 10-12 health on turn 6. There is a fine line between taking enough damage to win and taking too much then lose. It’s all about practice and experience, but the first step is to learn this rule of thumb.

C) Saving your weapon sometimes means saving your life. This somewhat goes against my previous advice, but in the situation when you have a weapon and a unit, it is usually correct to chump block in order to preserve your weapon. A weapon that goes 2-for-1 in any matchup will increase your likeliness of winning the game by a significant margin. This advice doesn’t have to be followed every time. There are clear situations where losing your weapon is the right play, but knowing when to do it and when not to, is the key to victory.

D) The correct play might not be Power efficient. In general, Control decks don’t aim at pure Power efficiency. Unlike Aggro and Midrange decks, Armory doesn’t mind using its Power inefficiently to achieve its win condition. Of course, in a perfect world, using 100% of your Power every turn will make you win, but sadly, this is not a perfect world. Taking a turn to fix your Power to make sure you Harsh Rule on 5, or using Quarry to dig further into your deck for the specific answer you’re going to need soon is usually the correct line of play. Once again, it means you’re going to take more damage, but as we discussed earlier, your health is a resource.

E) Against Aggro, do not use your last weapon aggressively. This is a rule that doesn’t need to be followed all the time. You have to use your judgment, but keep in mind that aggro has many ways to topdeck something that will kill your weapon. Dealing 4-8 damage to your opponent means nothing if you can’t answer a unit 2 turns later.

F) Do not be scared to kill a single unit with your Harsh Rules. While Harsh Rule is your best cards in certain matchups, using one to kill a single unit is often a fine trade against Aggro and Midrange. Think of this card as a more expensive Slay. Would you have slayed the 6-4 Champion of Chaos? Yes? Then use Harsh Rule.

G) When in doubt, Rise for a Runehammer. There are very few situations where a 6-1 Auric Runehammer is a bad thing to have in hand. If you’re on the fence about whether to rise for a finisher like Starsteel Daisho or a more defensive option like Runehammer, the latter is probably the correct choice. You should Rise for a finisher when a clear window of opportunity presents itself.

H) 2 Artisans is the sweet spot. In the rare cases where you are presented with 3+ Artisans, redraw the hand. Having 2 Artisans enables your Runehammers to kill 6HP creatures, which is a very big threshold in Eternal. On the other hand, a third one doesn't have the same impact. It actually hinders you quite a bit, because that card could be a Power, a removal or a weapon, but instead, it's a 2-1 body that won't do much. The same rule applies if you have to choose between an Artisan or another card when playing Quarry.

I) Bait out removal with your Cudgels. Do you want to play Tavrod but you're certain your opponent has a removal spell? Use your hard-earned Cudgels on your Maiden. Most players would use Vanquish in that situation. If they do, play Tavrod. If they don't, enjoy your big Maiden!

J) Don't be greedy with your Smuggler's Stash. In a majority of matchups, you don't need to get back 2 Units and 2 Weapons out of Stash. Drawing 1 or 2 things from it is good enough. Stash will sometimes feel like a very high-cost Dark Return, but that can be just what you need. Paying 10 Power for a 4-1 Runehammer is value enough when you need it to win. Of course, in some matchups, you can afford to be greedy, but those are few and far between.

K) Against decks with Dawnwalkers, be sure to gain value with your Maiden. This one is pretty self-explanatory. Try to couple your Maiden with a removal like Torch on the same turn. If you just play the Maiden without doing anything else, you are giving your opponent a chance to remove it. Waiting one more turn to Maiden + Torch will mean you'll take more damage, but it will be 100% worth it.



6) Matchups

Here is a list of the most popular matchups right now on ladder (as of November 2017). I will assign a value, from 1 to 10 for every matchup. A "1" represents a very easy matchup. As long as you recognize your win condition, you will win. A "10" represents a very hard matchup. You better pray to your deity of choice when you see this deck on ladder because you're going to need some divine intervention.

I intentionally omitted to put percentage points in my analysis. This scale is about pure matchup difficulty. You can still lose a 1/10 matchup as well as win a 10/10 since variance is very much a thing in Eternal.

The value is based on 3 variables: Likeliness to recognize your win condition, how big the window of opportunity can be, and your draw quality.
By win condition, I mean the usual way you will win the game in a specific matchup. For example, having a clear board against Rakano is your win condition. As long as they don’t have units, they will lose. The win conditions explained in this section are not the only ways you can win a certain matchup, but they are the usual strategies one can use to increase your win-rate.

By window of opportunity, I mean the number of turns you have to achieve your win condition. In some matchups, like Chalice Control, your window is very small. Therefore, you must be much more aggressive in order to get to your win condition. On the other hand, against Feln control, your window is much wider. You can skip multiple turns and still have a way to win the game.

Draw quality is pretty simple. Can you draw what you need at the time you need it? This one is mostly out of your hands, but knowing what to pick from Quarry, or what to Rise, as well as knowing what hand to redraw away increases your likeliness to draw well.

Aggro

Burn Queen

Difficulty: 5/10
Win Condition: Clearing the board early and then making sure you are out of burn range.
Key Cards: Torch, Auric Runehammer, Throne Warden, Vanquish/Slay
Watch out for: Bandit Queen, Impending Doom, Soulfire Drake

This is a matchup where every piece of removal is vital. Use Torch to remove early units, then go 2-for-1 with your Runehammer. Use your Torch on your opponent’s turn, except when you want to kill a unit with Warcry. This is another matchup where every point of health matters. Play around Bandit Queen as much as you can. Use your weak units to chump block if necessary. Rising for a Runehammer is almost always right. When you have stabilized, use a Daisho or a Tavrod to close out the game. A good Smuggler’s Stash should gain you enough value to win on the spot.

Rally Queen

Difficulty: 8/10
Win Condition: Clearing the board
Key Cards: Torch, Harsh Rule, Sword of Icaria, Throne Warden
Watch out for: Rally, Bandit Queen, Shadowlands Guide

If you don’t draw Harsh Rule by turn 5, you will most likely lose this matchup. The first two turns are very similar to Burn Queen. On turn 3, they will play Assembly line then Queen on turn 4. Use torch to kill an Oni Ronin or a Bandit Queen. You cannot be greedy with your removal. Use everything as soon as possible. Using a Slay to kill a 1-1 is a fine strategy. After having used Harsh Rule, turn the tides with big weapons and Throne Wardens. Usually, the only burn spell this deck has is Torch, so don’t play around burn too much. You can play a unit, like a Maiden or Tavrod to bait out Rapid Shots and/or Torches. If they use these cards to destroy your units, they won't have enough damage to kill you.

Rakano Plate

Difficulty: 2/10
Win Condition: Clearing the board
Key Cards: Torch, Harsh Rule, any weapon
Watch out for: Finest Hour, Torch, Silverwing Familiar

As explained earlier, this matchup revolves around board control. Rakano has 3 types of cards: Units, Fast Spells and Weapons. When they don’t have any more units, the other 2 types are useless. This is a matchup where you can get hit multiple times without fear. They do not have burn and their fast spells only deal 3 damage each. Rise for any weapon that fits the situation best. It can either be Runehammer or Daisho. Focus on the units with Aegis first, then use your removal for the other ones. In Ranked, few people have Protect, so your harsh Rules should wreak havoc.

Skycrag Aggro

Difficulty: 7/10
Win Condition: Clearing the board early and then making sure you are out of burn range
Key Cards: Torch, Auric Runehammer, Throne Warden, Tavrod, Auric Broker
Watch out for: Torch, Champion of Fury, Soulfire Drake

This is a matchup where every single point of health is important. Don’t expect your units not named Tavrod to survive. This is a matchup where your ability to read fast spells will be of great use. When your opponent is tapped out, use your Sword of Icaria. If they have some Power leftover, use your Runehammer instead. Prioritize weapon use over trying to block with units. If you decide to play a Maiden, it will most likely be Permafrosted. Using a Runehammer, even as a 1-for-1 is much better. Focus on killing units with Aegis to make sure you can Harsh Rule to clear the board. If you have some room to breathe, Rise for a Throne Warden or a Tavrod. When you have stabilized, leave a unit for defense to play around charge units. The moment they have no more cards in hand, try to kill them as soon as possible. Tavrod is a key card in this matchup. Besides the occasional Polymorph, they won't be able to remove it. If you have enough HP, you can opt not to block with Tavrod to ensure it doesn't die.

Midrange

Argenport Midrange

Difficulty: 3/10
Win Condition: Clearing the board
Key Cards: Torch, Harsh Rule, Vanquish/Slay, any weapon
Watch out for: Tavrod, Auric Broker, Impending Doom, Protect, Auric Runehammer

This matchup is very similar to Rakano and revolves around board control. Be sure to remove every single threat the turn they are played. The most important unit to take care of is Tavrod. You can get hit multiple times by other units, but if Tavrod attacks once, you've most likely lost the game. Try to use removal other than Vanquish/Slay for all the other units. If you see a Fast Spell, it's likely to be Protect. If you've played 1 Artisan, Rising for a 7-dmg Runehammer is vital. They will have a lot of removal for your units, so don't expect them to live very long. Argenport doesn't have very good ways to draw cards, so by turn 7-8, they should be out of threats. Use this opportunity to strike back and kill them quickly. Smuggler's Stash is also a very valuable card in this matchup, especially if you have a 7-dmg weapon.

Big Combrei

Difficulty: 5/10
Win Condition: Grinding them out of threats
Key Cards: 6 damage Auric Runehammer, Harsh Rule, Vanquish/Slay
Watch out for: The Great Parliament, Mystic Ascendant, Stand Together/Protect, Desert Marshal

This is probably my favorite matchup. You’re going to have to make sure your weapons gain some value. Lots of it. Every unit they play will have 6 or less health. This means Rising for a Runehammer is almost always right. While Titans are annoying to deal with, they are the least of your worries. Make sure you have some removal left for the Mystic Ascendants. Use your Harsh Rules as a last resort, because the owls from The Great Parliament will kill you very quickly. This is a matchup where your health total doesn’t matter. Getting hit multiple times by Titan is normal. Read the pauses well. If you know they have a Desert Marshal in hand, only attack with your weapon (if it has more than 2 armor). This way, your unit will block the Ambush unit and you will preserve your weapon. When they are out of threats, finish them with Daisho.

Dark Combrei

Difficulty: 5/10
Win Condition: Grinding them out of threats
Key Cards: 6 damage Auric Runehammer, Harsh Rule, Vanquish/Slay
Watch out for: Banish/Protect, Desert Marshal, Dark Return

This matchup is very similar to Big Combrei, except they have more removal. This, once again, is a matchup where your weapons, not your units, will win you the game. Try to bait out Banish early on so your 6-dmg Runehammer will be safe. Always try to keep a removal spell in your hand at all time. If you can kill a unit with a weapon + Torch, do it.

Elysian Midrange

Difficulty: 4/10
Win Condition: Grinding them out of threats, Tavrod
Key Cards: Tavrod, Auric Broker, 6 damage Auric Runehammer, Harsh Rule, Vanquish/Slay
Watch out for: Predatory Carnosaur, Backlash, Cirso, the Great Glutton

Elysian Midrange’s gameplan is very straightforward: play big units one by one. If you can contain their aggression, you will win. Save your Torches for False Prince. Rise for a Tavrod or a Runehammer. Elysian cannot kill Tavrod except with Obelisk and Carnosaur. Play this unit as early as possible, then remove any unit that could block Tavrod and kill it. This is where you are going to have to make the most out of your removal. You can get hit by a couple of units to preserve your board presence. Try to be patient with your Harsh Rule. If you can kill a unit in a way that doesn’t require a spell, do it, even if it’s not efficient. Your spells are used as a last resort. Once they are out of threats, quickly go on the offensive to win the game.

Praxis Midrange

Difficulty: 6/10
Win Condition: Tavrod and Maiden
Key Cards: Tavrod, Auric Broker, Statuary Maiden, Vanquish/Slay
Watch out for: Dawnwalker, Obliterate, Crimson Firemaw

The Praxis matchup is very peculiar. This is a matchup where your units are key. If you can't draw Tavrod or Maiden, you will lose this game in quick fashion. Rise for Tavrod when you can. In the meantime, try to remove as many threats as possible. It is usually correct to Harsh Rule on turn 5 then play Tavrod on turn 6. When you've established Tavrod, do not block with it. You opponent has a multitude of ways to kill it. The goal is to take a maximum of 10-13 points of damage before you can attack with Tavrod. You then have to make sure it survives. Couple it with Maiden and you're in business. Praxis can usually play only one unit per turn. If you are able to remove a unit and establish a threat on the same turn, you are likely to win this matchup. Don't be scared to Harsh Rule a board with 1 threat.

TJP Midrange/Combrei Party

Difficulty: 5/10
Win Condition: Grinding them out of threats
Key Cards: Harsh Rule, Any weapon
Watch out for: Xenan Obelisk, Desert Marshal, Stand Together, Scouting Party

This matchup has two very distinct phases: before and after turn 6. Before turn 6, your goal is to remove every single threat as soon as it's played. You can freely use your Slay on a Titan or a Siraf because TJP prefers going wide. Try not to use Harsh Rule before turn 6. The real threat in this deck is Scouting Party. This is where you want to Harsh Rule. If your opponent draws more than 1 card from the Party, you are likely to lose. If you can successfully fend off the yeti inquisition, you will win. TJP's strength is in its deck's synergy. Make them unable to synergize and you win.

Xenan Killers

Difficulty: 5/10
Win Condition: Clearing the Board
Key Cards: Harsh Rule, Vanquish/Slay, Statuary Maiden, Tavrod, Auric Broker
Watch out for: Ayan, the Abductor, Banish, Predatory Carnosaur, Dawnwalker

This deck revolves around recursion, so Maiden is the MVP. Be careful when your opponent has with 3 Power available. Ayan and Banish are two very good cards against you. Speaking of Banish, try to bait it out with lesser cards, like Sword of Icaria before you play your Maiden. Their early units are pretty easy to take care of but they can quickly overwhelm you. Auric Interrogator is their only source of card draw. Be sure to kill it ASAP so they draw as few cards as possible. They usually have very few answers for Tavrod, except for Deathstrike, so this card is another win condition in this matchup. A well-timed Smuggler's Stash should also win you the game.

Control

Armory

Difficulty: X/10
Win Condition: Daisho, Grinding out your opponent
Key Cards: Starsteel Daisho, Rakano Artisan, Throne Warden, Smuggler's Stash, Rise to the Challenge
Watch out for: Starsteel Daisho, Rakano Artisan, Throne Warden, Smuggler's Stash, Rise to the Challenge

Ahhh, the good old mirror matchup. While this one is very much draw dependant, you can make a lot of decisions that can affect the game’s outcome. Do not trade an Artisan for another Artisan. You will want at least one unit on the board at any time. This matchup revolves around weapons. Do not, in any situation, Rise for Tavrod. Sometimes, you will win with Tavrod but you can't expect your opponent to have no answer for it. Save your Torches to kill weapons, not units. Use your Sword of Icaria as a Warcry engine. If you have bigger weapons than your opponent, you will have a significant edge. Smuggler's Stash is very much a MVP. If you have one in hand, you can use your weapons a bit more carelessly. There will be odd situations where one person plays a weapon, the other breaks it with their own and vice versa. If you don’t have 3+ weapons in your hand, do not commit to this trading war. Always Rise for a Daisho and only use it if you are certain it will not be broken by another weapon. This is done by having units on the board. If you stick a Daisho for more than one turn, you will most likely win. This matchup is a marathon, not a race. Do not try to be more aggressive than what’s needed. Taking big risks will most likely be punished.

Feln Control

Difficulty: 1/10
Win Condition: Having a 5 damage weapon
Key Cards: Rakano Artisan, Rise to the Challenge, Smuggler's Stash, any weapon
Watch out for: Champion of Cunning, Vara, Fate-Touched, Feln Bloodcaster approaching activation

This is your easiest matchup. All you need to do is to buff a weapon up to 5 damage. Use your Sword of Icaria for Warcries and pressure your opponent early. Since all of their units have 5 HP and a very low attack value, your weapons should go 2-for-1 almost all the time. The only units that differ from this rule are Champion of Cunning and Vara. Make sure you destroy them as soon as possible and you will be fine. Try to save a Harsh Rule to answer your opponent’s Vara.

TJP Chalice

Difficulty: 8/10
Win Condition: Putting an overwhelming amount of pressure with Daisho
Key Cards: Sword of Icaria, Starsteel Daisho, Throne Warden, Rise to the Challenge
Watch out for: Channel the Tempest, Desert Marshal, Eilyn's Choice

This is probably the matchup where your window of opportunity is the smallest. You are the beatdown. Try to be as aggressive as possible. Use your Sword of Icaria to get Warcries and use your Slays for tempo. Gain lots of armor using your Throne Warden and fish for a Daisho. Having a Daisho continuously killing your opponent’s units is close to the only way to win. Your opponent has to use their ambush units to counter your weapon. Use your Harsh Rules to gain tempo and focus on being the beatdown. Use your Slays for any units that would block your path, especially if it's a Combrei Healer or a Lumen Defender. You are fighting against a timer. There will be a point where Chalice will overwhelm you. Try not to take any turns off. Use your Power as efficiently as possible and it will increase your likeliness to win this match.

Xenan Control

Difficulty: 8/10
Win Condition: Grinding out your opponent
Key Cards: Smuggler's Stash, Starsteel Daisho, Throne Warden, Rise to the Challenge
Watch out for: Ayan, the Abductor, Banish, Waystone Infuser, Mystic Ascendant

This matchup is rarely seen, but 2 players brought this deck to the World Championship. This is a battle of pure value. You are unlikely to win by being hyper aggressive. Instead, try to stay back and remove threats one by one. You have to take care of their card advantage mechanisms, like Waystone Infuser and Mystic Ascendant. Leaving one or the other in play for a number of turns will result in a loss. Rise for a Daisho in this matchup, because it's your only weapon that can't be Banished. Pair it with a Throne Warden for maximum efficiency. When this combo is established, you can safely Harsh Rule to dish out as much damage as possible in a small number of turns. Smuggler's Stash is a godsend. Try to use it to gain maximum value.


7) Closing thoughts

Armory is a very interesting deck to pilot. While very reactive in the early stages of the game, it can turn the tides very quickly with strong removals and huge weapons. This deck needs to adapt to survive, especially in a new meta. Be on the lookout for updates to make sure your list is up to snuff.

Thank you very much to:

Camat0, Buckwheat and VSarius for their continuous effort in pushing Armory into a competitive deck.
ManuS for giving me my first look at what Armory could do.
Paradox, Swann, Reec0 and my awesome girlfriend Baconstrips for proof reading and support.
Stevercakes and EternalWarcry for letting me publish this piece.

And most importantly, thanks to you, dear reader. I hope you enjoyed this guide as much as I liked writing it. Now go on ladder and kick some ass!

Remember: it’s not a misplay if you didn’t get punished.

Comments

CONDOR Eternal Version: 1.26.3
Hi,

Thanks for the decklist, it seems fun. However, I've been trying to play this in masters, and over and over again I keep getting flooded with mana. It seems like all I ever draw is land, and very few creatures. I double checked, and I have the correct amount of land and everything. Am I just getting unlucky?

Thanks!
BadBug Eternal Version: 1.26.3
Thanks for sharing this guide !

I have a question to the author or to anyone who knows:
Which deck is better in the ladder in general - the Armory or 4F Echo Revenge ?

Thanks !
Buckwheat Eternal Version: 1.26.3
No comments on Protect and Sabotage? Good guide despite that.
kakoliveira Eternal Version: 1.26.3
Amazing guide. Thanks for the effort. I used a Tavrod Armory to reach masters this season (on the 12th). One of the lists i drew inspiration from was yours.
I have since stopped playing it to try other decks, but i really like the deck and it is very strong.
Again, thanks for the guide. I'm sure i can make some improvements to my list with some arguments you have presented :)