So, set 10 is here, and brings some new goodies. These new goodies turn a deck that was previously competitive but maybe a bit under the radar due to a clumsy early game into...an utter monstrosity.
For those not familiar with it, this is Xenan Vowerglass/Reanimator--a deck that aims to ramp out a bunch of power ahead of curve in order to play threats with massive summons that completely dominate the board while also being able to disrupt the opponent to various extents. The original creator of the deck is isomorphic, as with many other fascinating combo/synergy-driven decks, but I updated the list after running into Duccio Patane who was at Rank 2 with it, the last time I checked.
So, the mechanics of the deck are as follows:
Step 1: Mill yourself to put power into the void using cards like Darkwater Vines
, and possibly cards like Sunset Priest
Step 2: Play power from the void using Arcanum Hourglass
or Katra, The First Seal
Step 3: Use that extra power to hard-cast Icaria, First Reaper
on turn 5 to completely take over the game, or down the stretch, hard-cast Azindel, Revealed
or Vara, Fate-Touched
Step 4: The game-breaking combination: Vara revives another Vara that revives Azindel that creates 2 shadow/time units, allowing both Varas 2 more reanimations to create a 9-unit board from nowhere. If you have a bunch of power in the void, one of those last units should be a Katra to play a bunch of power and gain you a ton of life. Additionally, you can replay some dead self-mill units to restock your void, play a dead merchant to go to your market again, yadda yadda. Basically, big Vara ahead of curve is one of the game's most notorious game-breakers in the history of Eternal. At one point, she didn't even give voidbound to the units she reanimated, so a reanimator deck was essentially unbeatable lategame, which...is still kind of the case.
In my opinion, a lot of this deck is basically core at this point.
Let's go down the list, card by card. Darkwater Vines
: a new addition from set 10, and this exact deck is the reason that the card isn't as utterly busted at first blush--namely because the moment someone wants to play it just to fuel a Bloodseeker
, they'll run into *this* deck and question all their life choices. However, in *this* particular deck, the card is absolutely nuts. As a cheap regenerator card, it's a huge roadblock against aggro, being able to trade into even a 3/2 like a Teacher of Humility
or Argenport Instigator
. Prior to now, reanimator lacked an on-rate body that committed to the board in its early turns. Not anymore, and that's scary. Shadow Etchings
: power and market access 2-in-1. Some people prefer Crack the Earth
while some might prefer [/card]Ebon Dune Smuggler[/card]. Having struggled with Feln reanimator in gauntlet, one of the ways a deck like this can just die is to get stuck on power in the development phase, when a reanimator deck is at its weakest. Unlike any other form of market access, this card solves that at 1 power. The one potential downside here is running out of shadow sigils, with only 5 in the deck to fuel 8 vows and 4 etchings. Arcanum Hourglass
: crazy hyper-ramp in a 2-cost relic so long as self-discard permits. A build-around to be sure, but when you're casting 8-cost bombs, this card is very, very good. Obviously at its best when you go crest -> vow + hourglass (hence, vowerglass), but the foundation of the archetype. Back-Alley Delinquent
: self-discard to dump early fatties from your hand in favor of sabotage. Not as potent as in Feln when it can potentially cheat out a turn 3 Felrauk, but still very much a necessity IMO, because A) a 1/3 body on 2 is a good blocker for 2/1s and B) the sabotage can be absolutely vital when attacking the hands of decks playing Harsh Rule
and Shen-ra Speaks. Sporefolk
: the OG self-mill card. Mills you for 5, no questions asked, then sticks around to either allow Katra to play more power, or just chump-block something. Kerendon Merchant
: deadly blocker. Again, some people might prefer Ebon Dune Smuggler
here. Go with what you like best IMO. Sunset Priest
: self-mill that passes the vanilla test, so, again, board presence when the deck is at its weakest. However, this can easily be substituted for Malaise
if rushing to fill your void is more important than board presence, or even Spitefeeder
if cheapness is more important than raw board presence. Additionally, if you're encountering a lot of aggro or even Rolants, Blightmoth
is still very feasible as either a stall tool, or a card to clear the way from Rolant's deadly blockers. Katra, The First Seal
: and now we're talking. She's not as prolific as say, Rolant, Iron Tyrant
because she requires more effort to build around, but oh *boy* does she have an insane ceiling. If you manage to stick 2 units before turn 4 while milling 3 power, she'll ramp you from 4 to **7**, and then your next turn, you can potentially make that 8th undepleted power drop and completely blow the game open. Even with one other unit on the board, she gets you to a turn 5 Icaria, First Reaper
. Icaria, First Reaper
: tempo swing: the unit. Simply, contesting the board against her without a bunch of aegis is an exercise in futility. Her summon is an unconditional kill, and since it belongs to a unit, it can't be negated, either. The only way to avoid it is with a protection spell like Bubble Shield
, but even then, one would still need to contend with a 5/5 deadly flier with a nasty entomb that induces various awkward lines of play from opponents. Azindel, Revealed
: big fatty that threatens to be a card advantage engine, and a the least, creates ground stall blockers even if he winds up eating a vanquish. But mostly, it's that he creates shadow units. Vara, Fate-Touched
: well, it's not a reanimator deck without Eternal's queen of reanimation. For those that haven't played with her, 8 is a ridiculously high number, but the way she completely dominates games is an experience onto itself. Even if she doesn't revive Azindel for the big wombo combo that the deck is notorious for, if she revives Icaria, that's still "I played 2 huge deadly units and killed one of yours". Shoaldredger
: a new addition from set 10 that I saw Duccio Patane experimenting with. Completely experimental at this point, but given that the deck is basically entirely units outside of shadow etchings and the hourglass, this card's cost, in theory, should be going down *quickly*, so again, board presence during the time the deck is softest is a good thing. However, this card offers absolutely zero utility, so it'd be understandable to try something else in this slot.
Market: Send an Agent
: kills Adjudicator's Gavel
, Prism Golem
, any mono-faction flyer (which is...all of them at this point), and other potentially nasty enemy mono-faction relics. On the downside, compared to banish, it does miss Rolant and enemy Katras. Silverblade Menace
: completely flex, but this can double dip against other grindy decks because you can revive it with Vara. Grasping at Shadows
: if you hit the nuts and manage to self-mill Vara and Azindel in the development phase, grab this, and just slam the door on the game. However, not a 4-of in the deck because by the time a Feln deck would need to cast its second, Xenan will have most likely hit 8 power and can actually hard-cast its monsters. Xenan Temple
: pops the enemy face aegis when one of their units die, restores some life, card selection, contests board, and the unit is...okay. If Worldjoiner
actually gets to start swinging, she snowballs the game hard, but it's mostly about the Xenan Augury
and Xenan Initiation
while drawing pressure from the opponent in some capacity. Krull, Xumuc Occultist
: and this is *the* reason to play Shadow Etchings. Once you hit 5 power, he becomes a 1-cost Grasping at Shadows for Katra or a Merchant. Also, this deck has a non-zero chance to actually *play* him.
Other cards to consider:
: the biggest single source of self-mill in the game, but at 2 power and a card that doesn't affect board, I'm not sure it's necessary anymore. Vara, Vengeance-Seeker
: if you're running into lots of aegis, "Baby Vara" still suppresses all of them while presenting a non-negligible threat that can also create a life buffer. Also, if you reanimate her while she's a 5/5, she can grow into a 7/7!
Crack the Earth
and Ebon Dune Smuggler
: other market mechanics. If you play Crack the Earth combined with Sunset Priest
, Ark of Sol
looks like a very legitimate possibility. Ebon Dune smuggler also provides the ability to get Forgotten Find
from your market, but playing that on turn 4 is just such a low-impact play. Banish
: hits just about everything Send An Agent hits, but also hits Rolant, Iron Tyrant
and Katra in the mirror. However, cost is everything, and banish does cost 1 more than agent. Exploit
: This is a REALLY good card if you have plunder fodder (Jotun Hurler
and Xo of the Endless Hoard
are the two prime targets). This deck doesn't really, but if the meta's slower in your neck of the ladder, this might be a card to try out. Blightmoth
: nerfed from 2 to 3, but the best card in the game to answer Rolant, Iron Tyrant
's valkyrie reapers, while also slowing down aggressive decks. Still very much can get the job done, but just isn't as outright "don't even bother playing oni ronin" as it was before. Shoal Stirrings
: another set 10 goody. Or as I like to call it, Grasping at Mandrakes. Probably a bit too cute, but if you're on the Shoaldredger
variant of this deck, this is worth consideration in a market.
Stray Into Shadow: if you're on a Crack the Earth
market in a meta with some more aggressive decks, this is a consideration. Ark of Sol
: market card if you're on crack the earth, and better still if you play Sunset Priest
. Vara, Limitless
: another potential tech slot card. Adds a substantial buff to your board once she's in play, her reanimation doesn't have a voidbound clause, and if revived by Vara, Fate-Touched
basically bricks spot removal against the duo. A bit expensive at 7 for a card that has no impact before combat, though.
Various other shadow removal: suffocate and defile may have some consideration in various markets, or even taking some of the 6 tech slots (currently occupied by Sunset Priest
Playing *against* the deck:
To attack this deck, you'll want relic destruction and sweepers. Ergo, something like Stormblessed's worlds deck would probably cause some amount of problems owing to the various silences, copious amounts of relic destruction, and Know Thy Enemy
cleaning up Azindel's summons. Ixtun Control might also be problematic, but the new set 10 cards might swing the matchup.
Another possible venue of attack is a strong air pressure game. A deck like Hooru flyers can fly over the early game dorks and possibly end the game if it can fade Icaria. Even various fire aggro decks can do a LOT of damage with Passionate Stonehammer
equipped with a Kaleb's Persuader
So yeah, enjoy the write-up, and enjoy the super-powerful deck.