This is the best iteration we've come up with so far!
Quick links: v0.1
. =====UNITS===== Dusk Raider
- This gives every unit you draw Berserk. This guy seems innocuous because it's usually not the endgame unit that actually beats the opponent's face in, but it plays a super important role in the deck. It draws you extra cards off its Nightfall trigger, and it can be Screamed back for lethal if they're at 3 or less.
- This guy gives us access to the specifically chosen cards in the Market, in exchange for a not-as-useful card from our hand. I'll get into this a little later. He also gums up the ground, and his Aegis makes him stick around after a Harsh Rule. Often times I've won by simply having a Merchant with berserk (from Dusk Raider or Gift of Battle), and use the Mirror Image from the market to make another copy. If you're not seeing your other units, he can sometimes represent a solid clock.
- The hands-down best rare for your money in Justice. This card silences opposing Highwaymen, Sandstorm Titans, Varas, and other random units. Also, it is a respectable body on an evasive unit. 3 damage in the air is no laughing matter, and pump spells can quickly end a game. In this most recent list, I wanted a couple more units to maximize my threat density. We simply weren't drawing enough units.
- Each of these beefy boys get a temporary bonus when you play a spell:
- Rilgon's Disciple
This gets Double Damage when you play a spell.
- Kosul Battlemage
gets +1/+1 until the end of turn when you play a spell.
- Geomar, The Steel Tempest, gets +2/+2 and lifelink until end of turn when you play a spell.
These three beefy boys are the ones you want to give berserk to so you can pump them up and hit your opponent hard. Twice.
Ideally, with set 5 we will get another great 2-drop that can slot right into the deck over Valkyrie Enforcer.
Now let's talk about the disruption in the deck. It's kind of small, but our pump spells can also double as removal if absolutely necessary.
- Since our first iteration, hand disruption has been on the list of things to try. Originally we had actual unit removal to clear the way, but we have found that Shakedown both removes problematic spells like Equivocate, Torch, and any non-fast spells, as well as turning on nightfall so that we can draw additional cards.
Now onto our spells that buff our beefy boys. Gift of Battle
- While not technically a pump spell, this gives any unit berserk, letting them attack twice. This is really useful if you don't happen to get Dusk Raider on turn 2. It also happens to be a spell, which buffs your beefy boys.
- This is the best pump spell available to us. It's the Torch of Justice. Finest Hour can also pop enemy aegises if need be. It gives Geomar, the Steel Tempest +5/+5 and Lifesteal for 1 power. How busted is that?
- This card previously cost 2 power, and was unplayable. With the recent draft nerf, this card is essentially Finest Hour 5-8 in this deck. When you are planning on just aiming the unit at your opponent's face, the lack of health-buffing is rarely an issue. Sometimes you'll have a Merchant and two Lock Horns and you'll feel silly, but it's rare.
- We have been testing different pump spells here, and haven't really been happy with any of them. Reinvigorate actually allows us to simply break out of a permafrost when they least expect it, as well as buff units up to +7/+7 in ideal conditions. Often this pumps +2/+2 or +3/+3, while granting endurance. It's a bit embarrassing on a Geomar, but any other unit with a Permafrost on it can be a huge surprise for your opponent if you pull this off.
- In addition to being a power when we need it early, this can transform into a 2 cost Finest Hour that also gives Lifesteal. This power is incredible, but it's also relatively hard to play. My rule of thumb is if this would be my 5th power, I will hold it unless my hand has a ton of other action. If it would be my 4th power, I'd rather play it and play mar, the Steel Tempest on time than hold it to be a spell later. However, if your hand has nothing else, you may want to hold it. Every situation is different.
- Thank you The_Rocke for this innovation. We previously had Jump Kick in this slot, and Ghostform both guarantees that a swing will connect (with no possibility of a surprise flying blockers) and also allows a bit of breathing room with Lifesteal when you're facing down a bunch of opposing units, but you're not quite ready to go off.
- We originally toyed with this card as a way to recur Rilgon's Disciple, as well as getting unblockable damage through. I don't believe we were ever up to a 4-of with this card. It was a 2-of, but I cut one and a Reinvigorate for the two Valkyrie Enforcers. This deck just doesn't have room for everything!
Both of these recursive spells turn on our beefy boys. We're running two forms of it because the meta is full of removal, and making the most of our 22 units is important.
- This is the bread and butter. The reason we are splashing Shadow is so that we can Scream back our beefy boys for a surprise finish. Scream will bring any of your units back (including Geomar) with flying and charge. This should need no introduction, as Haunted Highway is all over the ladder. Screaming and Pumping is an easy way to end the game.
Originally I had a powerbase with Diplomatic Seals, Sigils, and a mix of Seats and Banners. I originally omitted Crests because this deck REALLY doesn't want its power to come down depleted. The deck is relatively power hungry in the first 5 turns or so, and after that it's a delicate balance of trying to find the opening to deal lethal. Surprisingly, that powerbase was a catastrophe. I took a look at TJP Blitz decks from back in July and August, and adapted from there. It has been much smoother ever since.
- This doubles as a pump spell in the late game, reducing the number of power in the deck once we get to the 5th power. Our deck is power light, and doesn't want to ever flood.
- This may end up being a 3rd Crownwatch Standard, as the lifesteal is usually way more important than buffing two separate units. We oftentimes don't even have two units in play to buff! However, there have been a few games won based solely on this card, and it's hard to give it up.
Now, as for that market. Jennev Merchant
allows you to swap a card in your hand for a primal card in your market. Lets look at our choices.
Gift of Battle
- Berserk is important to our plan, and you only have 4 Dusk Raiders, 3 Gift of Battles, and 4 Jennev Merchants to get you there. We toyed with trying the Shadow market to include a kill spell, Scream, Ghostform, hand disruption, and Rapid Shot, but that makes Berserk so much harder to achieve. Primal market is correct.
- The original Blitz deck ran 4 Levitates, since it draws a card to replace. But with the cost hike from 1 to 2, Jump Kick is the spell of choice for hopping over units. It's also the best option Primal has for a pump spell.
- is pretty much only here to deal with Sandstorm Titan. I tried Unstable Form for the double spell trigger, but I would rather KNOW that the Titan is going to be a 3/3 dinosaur when I attack than possibly roll it into a flying or lifesteal blocker. Did you know that as of Into Shadows, there are 112 units that cost 5? Did you know that 24 of those have Flying, with a few more that could if conditions are right? Playing Unstable Form on a Sandstorm Titan has roughly a 1 in 5 chance of giving your opponent a flying blocker anyway. If you use the other Unstable Form to bring it up to a 6-cost unit, there are again 24 of those with flying, out of 82 possible 6-cost units, this turns into a conservatively rounded 1 in 4 chance. I did that math to prove that Substitute was better than Unstable Form, and I'm sticking to my guns now.
- As discussed above, this is the powerhouse card we want most in our deck, and having access to it in the market makes the deck much more consistent. Screaming and Pumping is an easy way to end the game. Mirror Image
- This is probably the most common card to get when you're not sure what you need yet. You can copy the Jennev Merchant again to get another spell from your market next turn while clogging up the board. Additionally, it causes spell triggers, copies units with permanent buffs, and can make our Haunting Screams absolutely terrifying (Though hopefully not, as we don't generally want the games to last long enough for this).
There are a bunch of other cards we thought of, but here's a few key iterations of the deck when we were testing other cards out.
Dark Infect v0.1
This was our first iteration. Here, we were playing with some different cards: Territorial Elf
- This little guy has Berserk naturally, and can do some real damage with pump spells. Not to mention his low cost. It turned out that we lost many games due to him not being able to block, as well as being susceptible to Highwayman, Vara's Favor, and other ping effects. (Not to mention he dies to Lock Horns, which we started playing in later versions) We chopped him relatively early and never really looked back. Dark Return
- We were initially looking for ways to recur some of our units (since we played so few in a meta full of removal) and Dark Return was a great way to do so, especially after they'd been Screamed once.
- We started our list with a little bit of removal to squeeze our units through a line of blockers. This was to stop most lifesteal units, as well as protect our life total long enough to combo off.
- This was the other end of our removal, to stop Vara and Sandstorm Titan. The best thing about this one was that it let you remove their blocker on their turn, leaving you power free for pump spells on you turn. We eventually dumped the removal suite in place of an Unblockable suite.
- Initially we wanted a way to protect our unit from being removed after investing our pump spells into it. Savage Denial stopped the fast spells, but it ultimately added too much cost to the turn we needed to spend our power pumping. Also, it doesn't stop Ambush units like Desert Marshall and Ayan, the Abductor.
- This does the same transformation as described above under Crownwatch Standard, only it turns into a Rapid Shot, and splits it among two targets. This thing, when put on Geomar and Rilgon's Disciple is basically two Rapid Shots. I like it a lot, but it can't be used defensively, so we were trying 1.
- Was a huge reason why we went Shadow. This card, coupled with a berserk unit gives +8 damage for 2 power if left unblocked. Not to mention the buff your beefy boy gets naturally. On a berserking Rilgon's Disciple, you can do 24 damage with Rapid Shot. The problem was, holding multiples was awkward. Often times we only made it to 4-5 power, and if we're screaming a unit that didn't leave a lot of room for other spells to pump. These eventually turned into Lock Horns.
Here we were also only running 2x Geomar, the Steel Tempest because of his high cost. Later we upped his numbers.
Dark Infect v0.2 Ripknife Assassin
- We cut the Territorial Elf after losing many games due to it. This was the first substitute I tried. Ofter it ate a removal spell, or kept a Vara at bay from attacking. It was fine, but it was real awkward when it was the unit we had to try and get pump value from.
As we'll discuss later, there were many other units we wanted to try in this slot.
Dark Infect v0.3 Lock Horns
- We started experimenting with less Rapid Shots here and brought in Lock Horns. Since we are rarely using them to block with, it feels like we are running 8 Finest Hours which is something any aggressive deck would love to do.
- This was a very brief, very unsuccessful test for the extra unit slot where Territorial Elf used to be. 2/2 for 2 is not what we want most of the time, unless it gives berserk (thank you Dusk Raider <3)
- Hand disruption turned out to be better than counterspells. And Sabotage didn't hit units that would come down early enough to block us, so we went with Shakedown. Being able to get rid of Torch, Desert Marshall, Valkyrie Enforcer, and Annihilate is a HUGE boon for the deck. Dark Infect v0.4
In this version we upped the number of Jump Kicks to try and both pump and give evasion to our Beefy Boys, and also went to 3x Geomar to increase our threat density.
- This guy was a pretty decent test for the extra 2-drop slot. He gave Rilgon's Disciple aegis if he lived, and soaked up removal if he didn't. He also turned on nightfall so we drew more cards. He didn't fit the aggressive theme though, and was an embarassing topdeck in the late game.
- Here is where we tested out an Unblockable spell, which conveniently could also return a Rilgon's Disciple to our hand, or remove a tiny blocker if need be. This could also pop aegis, and was just an all-around decent spell to have in our hand.
Dark Infect v0.5
This is where we started tweaking the numbers. We dropped the Shakedowns to increase the amount of pump we had in the deck. This was, decidedly, a short-lived version of the deck.
Dark Infect v0.6
Here we leaned solely on the Finest Hours, Jump Kicks, and Lock Horns as our only pump (aside from the Standards). Rapid Shots were too expensive.
- We tried this in the 2-drop slot. Yes, I know, it's a 3-drop. However, it did some interesting things. We learned that sometimes we just needed a little more time and the chump blocker with lifesteal gave us just that. Also, it recurring with revenge was pretty awesome. Dark Infect v0.7 ft. Dwayne Johnson
After sharing the deck multiple times with multiple people, TheRocke came back to us with a version he'd been testing. This was that list. He went up to 4x Geomar, which we should have done a while ago.
- This card is the real deal. It lets our units go unblocked, also allows us to live longer with the lifesteal, as well as causing the Beefy Boys to activate their bonuses.
- This was interesting, but ultimately too costly for no pump. It was a lot like playing a counterspell.
- This does double duty in this deck. Not only is it a mid-sized flyer that can sometimes just chip away at the opponent's life total, but it also stops Sandstorm Titan. This can also drop a flyer to the ground, letting you Haunting Scream with impunity.
Other units we wanted to try were as follows:
- Another unit that gets buffed by spells, but the weakest one. Lifesteal is helpful, but its 1/1 body is very fragile. Still have yet to test it.
- This was to pop opponents' Permafrosts, while also preventing the NightMaul deck from destroying us with a thousand nightfall cuts. Not to mention the great 3/2 for 2 stats. Still have yet to test it.
- The deck's biggest weakness is silence effects, much like any Scream deck. This would fix that issue, but at the cost of being a simple 2/3 with no aggressive qualities. This was not tested, but I don't have high hopes for it.
- Without a way to give this unit evasion, he was a simple 2/2 for 2. Sometimes he would eat a Vanquish, but our units don't usually allow opportunities for our opponents to play Vanquish anyway, as all of our pumps happen on our own turns, while Vanquish is not a fast spell. Kothon, the Far-Watcher
- The last unit slot is one for either dealing tons of damage, soaking up removal, or advancing our game plan in some way. This one avoided Permafrosts, which were just put on our better units anyway. It also was very expensive to activate. Our deck didn't really want to hit 6 power, and if it did, it wanted to win the game, not make a 4/4 flying.
- We didn't actually test this one, but I have a feeling it wouldn't have enough effect on the board.
- This was a way to both have more units, and also fit in Sabotage. Additionally, it allowed us to scream Geomar on turn 3 if we had the right hand. Unfortunately, it proved too cute. The unit itself was lackluster, and we found Shakedown to be much better than Sabotage anyway.