(3) Deck Properties
(4) Boss Matchups
(5) Card Breakdown
(5.1) Power Base
(5.2) Power Fetching, With Utility
(5.3) Other Utility and Removal
(5.4) The Enforcers (Units)
In February 2021, gauntlet is in a great place. DWD has recently made some silent improvements to the experience. They've expanded the variety of bosses, and they've seemingly increased the frequency of single-player chests. If you have 5 minutes here or there (and a lot of us have more), it's a great time to hop on and play some gauntlet!
As a long-time gauntlet grinder, I think this deck is among the best I've ever built. The main ideas are: resist early aggression, don't miss power drops, trade with midrange units, and win quickly with big attacks. The backup plan is to grind with lifegain, 2-for-1s, and card draw.
(3) Deck Properties Resilience to power screw.
A key to gauntlet is consistency. If you want to win 7 games in a row, you can't get power screwed even once. This deck has 39 ways to draw power, and it's only 1 faction.
Resistant to aggro.
In gauntlet, aggressive unit spam is a problem, and this deck is built to fight it, recover with lifegain, and then quickly win with large units. 4x Vara's Favor
, 2x Blightmoth
are key to beating swarm decks, tribal, and x/1s. 14 3-drop units can get on board quickly and start blocking. 6 4-drops gain life while presenting large blockers, and 4x Feartracker
helps stabilize on 5. 3 ways to gain life in the market. Dizo's Office
to get your life total completely out of the danger zone.
Stonewalls midrange and voltron strategies.
One of the common ways the AI highrolls is by putting a giant weapon on a unit. 18 deadly units in this deck means the AI is facing a 2-for-1 if they ever want to attack. 6 of those deadly units also fly. Annihilate
, Icaria, First Reaper
, and Dizo's Office
take care of problems while opening up 2-for-1s. Aegis is handled with Vara's Favor
, Vara, Vengeance-Seeker
, and Pale Rider's Timepiece
Resistant to control strategies.
There isn't much control in gauntlet, but the armory decks can occasionally be annoying. Eremot, Mindsplinter
is extremely good against relic weapons and against most removal in general. Many cards in the deck are great against Harsh Rule
because they have a good summon, corrupt, or draw on death.
Gauntlet AI can get free wins by flying right over if you're unprepared. Blightmoth
and Eremot, Mindsplinter
can help slow them down, or Slimespitter Slug can just massacre them. Annihilate
is great against the mono J decks - just wait for them to equip.
This deck grinds like no other, with dark return, many deadly units, many 2-for-1s, tons of lifegain, and large amounts of card draw with Auric Interrogator
and Tasbu, the Forbidden
I believe Dizo's Office
and Slimespitter Slug
are two of the best gauntlet market cards in the game, and we also have space for removal spells to solve general problems.
(4) Boss Matchups
We know that bosses make or break any run. So it's important to match up well against them.
Vara's favor takes out early units. Large butts help block. Annihilate
kills a lot of their stuff. Lifesteal is crucial in this matchup, and units like Vara,Vengeance-Seeker and Feartracker
gain double life. Dizo's Office
or Pale Rider's Timepiece
are your best market fetches.
5-influence in every faction
This deck can kill you in a lot of ways. Large units: our many deadly units nullify the AI's deckbuilding advantage. Voltron: our removal creates straightforward 2-for-1s. Champion of Cunning
: this is one of the worst cards to see, but we have lots of ways to pop aegis and either block or kill it. In general, our lifesteal keeps us in the game and resists a death by Flash Fire
, while our deadly units stall the board and we erase their units with 2-for-1s.
You basically can't attack until quite late in the game due to their infiltrate units, and this deck's many blockers plus Annihilate
help slow them down. A good market card is Slimespitter Slug
since it can deal with their flyers. You won't really feel safe until you land a lifesteal unit or a large flyer.
Units get random skill
This deck can high roll you with destiny or other BS, but often it just grinds you out with many souped-up echo units. But this deck can grind harder. Deadly units help stall the board, while Tasbu, the Forbidden
and Auric Interrogator
do their jobs well as they easily overtake the AI in the late game.
5-influence for free scion
Once again Vara's Favor
deals with early units, while Annihilate
or Icaria kills their free scion.
The best market card for this deck is surprisingly Slimespitter Slug
. It has kind of a resistance to decay, since it just grows bigger anyway, while also gaining life.
Spells for free units
We have enough spells and inherent grindability that we can overpower their inherent deckbuilding advantage.
(5) Card Breakdown (5.1) Power Base
21x Shadow Sigil
4x Emblem of Makkar
A core idea of this deck as a gauntlet deck is consistency. Counting all power fetching, plunder, and market access, we have 39 sources of power in this 75 card deck. This means power screw almost never happens, and flooding gets mitigated by the utility of the power fetching cards. We do run the minimum power of 25. But we also have 14 other ways to get more power while having only 2 or 3 currently. Emblem of Makkar is a dual-mode card that can block any giant fatty if needed. Try to think of what you're going to do on turn 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and how you can hit the power you need for the key plays you want to make.
(5.2) Power Fetching, With Utility
We have 14 ways to get more power, minimizing power screw.
The best discard spell, easily. Scopes out the AI's hand, removes their best thing. Try to think of what you can or can't answer. Plunder smooths our draws. Often you'll plunder away a 5 or 6-drop early game, or plunder away a card that's bad in the matchup. Sometimes you throw this at an empty hand to cash in an extra power you've been saving.
4x Vara's Favor
One of the best cards. Very strong vs aggro; breaks unit aegis for your removals; breaks face aegis for your direct damage. AND it draws a power.
2x Shadow Etchings
Extra ways to access the market, plus power draw. Why not 4? 6 ways to access the market plus dark return to recycle the merchant is enough.
4x Kerendon Merchant
Role: Special acquisitions. We'll discuss the market later. Often, he's grabbing another power on turn 3. Being deadly, he blocks any size of donkey, while also attacking through anything. Incredibly good in this deck.
(5.3) Other Utility and Removal
4x Dark Return
So cheap and does so much. Most of our units have a summon, so this gives immediate access to a variety of effects in the late game. It combos well with the many deadly units, letting them trade off repeatedly. The core combo with this card is Auric Interrogator
Role: Anti-aggro, anti-tribal. Great utility, on a weak body. The effect obviously obliterates many aggro and tribal decks, while breaking aegis. Its carcass can always chump block. Why not 4? While the card has great utility, you probably don't want to draw more than 1 due to its poor body.
Kills any size of monster while being cheap enough to acceptably fight aggro. Fast speed helps set up 2-for-1s. This is the most flexible removal spell shadow has without going up in cost. It's bad against some decks, so get rid of it with the market or plunder.
(5.4) The Enforcers (Units)
This is the A-team. This squad is full of deadliness, summons, large attacks, large buttocks, and 2-for-1s.
4x Auric Interrogator
Role: Early board presence; long-term income generation. He trades with so many things. He presents a fast clock. And he draws SO many cards. Dark Return
is in the deck primarily to let you start drawing 2 cards a turn on turn 4. Sometimes you chump attack just because you're immediately going to dark return, draw a card, and draw a card every turn for the rest of the game. You should be eager to trade this card off so you can Dark Return
it. Great target for Threaten
4x Dizo, Cabal Racketeer
Role: Anti-aggro and 3-for-1 generation. On 4, Dizo steals so many cards like Ice Sprite
and Initiate of the Sands
. Beyond that, anything he steals is massive value. On 3, he can simply block many aggro units as a 1/4. He survives most common gauntlet removal like Torch
. His unblockable doesn't do much, but it synergizes with Threaten
and Pale Rider's Timepiece
2x Eremot, Mindsplinter
Role: Blocking and anti-control. This card may be the most efficient 4-drop blocker in the game. Almost nothing attacks through him, including flyers. When attacking, he's great against slow removal and incredible against armory decks, as he breaks their weapon on their turn, and his large bottom prevents relic weapon attacks. Why not 4? Vara, Vengeance-Seeker
is a more generically powerful beater, and I don't want to cut 5 drops.
4x Vara, Vengeance-Seeker
Role: Ass beating, it's that simple. Vara is just a giant chungus, often deadly, and has the crucial lifesteal ability. She also destroys aegis, for some reason. What an incredible card. Great with Dark Return
Role: Direct damage, sustenance, grinding. This card is an absolute grindlord. It's basically Siege Rhino. It gains SO much life, with no need to survive. It attacks into many things, creates a 5-turn clock, and its carcass even blocks well. Playing this card is often the turning point when being beaten down by aggro. Always try to pay the corrupt cost, which also draws off Tasbu, the Forbidden
. It actually gains 6 life if you have out Dizo's Office. Grinds brutally with Dark Return
4x Tasbu, the Forbidden
Role: Attacking, card advantage, being one of the best midrange cards ever. Tasbu kills the enemy player in basically 4 turns. He is absolutely gigantic. Almost nothing attacks through him. Almost nothing can block him. He trades with anything. He has warp, for some reason. And he draws SO many cards. Often you want to play other 5 drops first, then play him before attacking to trade those cards into more cards. Great with the corrupted units.
4x Icaria, First Reaper
Role: Assassination. She assassinates units with her summon. She assassinates players in 5 turns with her large flying body. She sometimes even assassinates cards with her entomb ability. Recycle her with Dark Return
, and do it all again. Vara's Favor
clears aegis so she can take the shot. Always wait for something juicy to kill unless you really need to close the game.
At the end of each card I have rated the flexibility of the card's slot. 100% indicates you could change it. 0% indicates I believe this card to be irreplaceable.
1x In Cold Blood
This is the most flexible and powerful catch-all removal spell available. I try to save this for a 2-for-1 on an equipped unit if I can. It's obviously great against Makto specifically. Another option: Desecrate
. Though, the 3 life is a real cost against gauntlet aggro. Flexibility: 30%.
1x Pale Rider's Timepiece
It's removal and lifegain in one. There are a lot of Gauntlet decks that just can't beat a giant lifesteal unit with evasion. Goes great with Dizo. I would consider this the biggest flex spot in this market. Another option would be Vara, Fate-Touched
. Flexibility: 100%
1x Slimespitter Slug
Role: Anti-air, grinding. I love this card. It turns the tables SO quickly. Besides obviously obliterating the many flyer decks in gauntlet, it also just grows so large against smallish aggro decks. Dark Return
is once again fantastic as you can just bring it back and summon it again, while maintaining the previously cultivated mass. Just try to avoid friendly fire, as we do run 8 flyers. Flexibility: 0%
1x Dizo's Office
The Death Star of this deck. When you play this card, you win. The large units in this deck start gaining you so much life. Auric Interrogator
and Tasbu don't even cost you life anymore. Feartracker
gains you double life now. Threaten
even has its uses with lil' Dizo and Auric Interrogator
. When big Dizo comes out, I almost never sac a unit because the AI always chooses to give you their crappy cards. Just protect this site, and you'll win. Flexibility: 0%
1x Shadow Sigil
Having a power card in the market is the responsible thing to do in a gauntlet deck. You will fetch this card so often, and you'll always be glad you did. Flexibility: 50% - other options are Amethyst Monument
, Amethyst Waystone
, Cabal Standard
, or maybe even Rhysta.