Been playing and tweaking this for the past few weeks, and it feels really good against the current meta. Card choices Seek Power
- Not sure if this split is optimal, but I like including Seek for curve reasons and because you often need to grab the third Time for Behemoth. Power total of 30 + 4 Pledges has felt solid.
- I wanted any maindeck removal to be cheap to help with aggro matchups. The balance here will depend on what you're facing, but lately I've been facing far more FJS than aggro, so I switched from 3/3 to this.
- The classic combo and one of the best reasons to play Xenan. Your units are all huge and/or generate value when attacking, so recurring one with Killer is backbreaking. Initiation is often best saved until 6-7 power when you can play it on a fresh unit for a huge tempo swing.
- My favorite recent addition, I gave up on playing 3-drop units for this and haven't looked back. The discard effect improves your matchup against FJS/FTP and control decks by a ton, and being able to sweep aggro units, tokens, and ramp dorks is a huge benefit as well.
Ebon Dune Smuggler
- I haven't fully settled on which of these is better and what the right balance is, but 6 total merchants has felt like a good number. I ran 3/3 for a long time, but the more I faced FJS, the more I appreciated the ability to sneak in the Smuggler after they dropped a Tomb on 4. Merchant is better against Time decks and for combos with Killer and Dark Return, but you often want to use those effects on your bigger units instead.
- Your two most important units against aggro. They're also big enough threats on their own that they'll draw out premium removal early, which paves the way for your higher-value 5- and 6-drops.
- The late breakout star of Defiance, in my opinion. Must-answer value-generator that also defends extremely well against aggro. The Pledge effect is also highly relevant in a deck that needs at least 4 power to function - I'll always Pledge this if I have 2 other power in hand, and frequently Pledge it if I have 3.
- More value generators. You won't often get to fully go off with the combination of them, but the threat of doing so forces your opponent to have answers right away, assuming they didn't use them up on your earlier plays (or get them stripped by Setback). Behemoth's huge size and Overwhelm is also very nice for hitting Sites.
- Yet more big value when you can protect these. They both follow the ideal play pattern of "kill a unit when it comes down, draw gas the next turn", which can put you way ahead. Two Dizo's is a bit heavy, I'm just testing the second copy after facing more midrange/control recently, but I ran with just one for a long time.
Market choices: Banish
for fast removal against quicker decks, In Cold Blood
for unconditional removal against heavier decks. Steward of the Past
is strictly for Reanimator. Burglarize
wins games when it steals Chains and Pits, and Azindel, Revealed
is just your big power finisher when you don't need anything more specific.
Cards I tried and didn't like Auric Interrogator
- Fits the high-value theme of this deck very well, but there are just too many Torches around. Same for Ayan, the Abductor
- This is nice in some matchups, and can snipe an unprotected Tomb. Works well with all the Killer effects in the deck. It has a weird synergy with Azindel though - you're likely to have Scorpions out that your opponent doesn't want to block, but if you hit a Trap on Azindel's trigger, your opponent gets the Scorpion. Overall had some good experiences with it, but moved on from it.
- The #1 deck to beat, some days I would literally play 80% of my games against this, and I believe this version has a positive winrate against it. Setbacks are nice to strip cheap removal, Harsh Rule
, Display of Ambition
, and Martyr's Chains
, which clears the way for your units to do their thing. You can usually answer their big plays (Annihilate, ICB, Burglarize) and grind them out in the long run. Save a piece of removal for Xo of the Endless Hoard
if you can, since one attack from it can generate more value than you can deal with sometimes.
I've also seen a more controlling build of this popping up, running more sweepers, Rizahn, Greatbow Master
, and the like. This is a much harder matchup due to the quantity of their removal and Rizahn sniping your Temples, but I believe it's still fairly winnable.
- Pretty good matchup overall thanks to your huge 4-drops. Skycrag is the easiest, since Setback is a full-fledged sweeper and 8 big Endurance units will stop them cold. Haunted Highway can go either way, but pay special attention to try not to walk into Madness
, especially with a Vanguard, Behemoth, or Ascendant out. Rakano is probably the worst matchup, as your units are efficiently answered with Vanquish
, and Setback/Annihilate are below average against their unit composition. To improve the aggro matchups, start with adding in more Suffocates and cutting down on the 6- and 7-drops.
- This was popular for a hot minute, and seems to have died down a bit, but I still see it enough to warrant a market slot for Steward. If you can't get them with that angle, Setback to pull their Grasping at Shadows
is your best bet - you really need to disrupt them somehow, otherwise their unfair game plan is going to beat your fair one. With 10 draws that block their primary combo though, I think this is fairly favored.
- Similarly, you want to try and use Setback and Burglarize to disrupt their big relic plan when possible. The Great Parliament
is one of your biggest concerns once they hit 12+ power - you should value your Titans more highly than usual so you don't lose to a bunch of birds. Annihilates have some good hits here.
- Bad matchup. Your game plan is to play expensive units and draw cards, and their game plan is to punish exactly that. I haven't played this matchup since adding the Setbacks, so perhaps those help somewhat if you can time it right to nab a Maul.
- I haven't played this enough to be certain, but I assume this is a fairly bad matchup as well. Your pressure is slow and they have efficient answers to your big units, and enough of them that I don't expect that Setbacks will reliably clear the way.