Edit: got rank 2
, a personal best! This deck is fire right now.
Aristocrat-style decks are my jam. I did an Expedition version after the previous set dropped
, which surprised some people with Kennelmaster
. Even after the meta settled, it was still probably a tier 2-3 deck, but it was overshadowed by Xenan cultists, which ended up top tier. In any case, I stand by the belief that it was one of the most fun decks in the format, and I was delighted to see how many people also enjoyed it.
So I'm back at it with the Echoes of Eternity update, which gave FTS tokens a LOT of new toys. It feels much more powerful, and I wouldn't be surprised if it were better situated competitively in the long run, but who really knows this early on, right? So far, in the midst of the random, unoptimized brews after a new set drops, this deck tore through diamond landing me at rank 20 masters after a few hours, from which I continued to climb to top 10. I didn't keep stats - I'm sure the winrate was at least 75%. But again, none of these numbers mean much this early in a new meta, so take it all with a grain of salt.
Anyway, first, I thought I'd quickly review what we lost with the set rotation.
Out with the Old: Torrent of Spiders
is probably the biggest loss. The card is gas in this kind of archetype and can stone wall a variety of decks. If it were still in, I'd have considered a Condemn
market with Sandstorm Scarf
is no longer available, though honestly, I'm not sure it would make the cut anymore - there are so many powerful cards for this archetype right now. Regardless, he was niche, interesting, and I loved it while it lasted.
is still here, but it's been nerfed into unplayability. This kind of archetype is generally interested in the #-of-bodies/cost ratio. Now it's 3 power for 2 bodies, which is a terrible rate. Don't bother.
While we're on nerfs, Worthy Cause
is sadly no longer as absurd as it was at 1-cost, yet I still think it's a 4-of. This is ultimately a control deck, so we'll take as much removal as we can get our hands on, and 2-cost removal at fast speed that also silences is good enough (the card really was ridiculous at 1).
Smugglers are out and the market spells are in. Whether that's an improvement or not, everyone's in the same boat, so it's probably a wash overall. I do believe that when choosing which of these spells to use, the immediate effect generally is secondary to the cost bracket that you get in the market. It largely comes down to what cards you want market access to (and what cards you'd rather have in your main deck, since they're black markets). That said, Crack the Earth
's immediate effect is exactly what we want. It gives you a body to sacrifice (and at fast speed, which let's you surprise opponents who maybe looked at your empty board and thought you wouldn't be able to Worthy Cause
or use your next Profane Nexus
spell at the beginning of your turn), and it's a cultist, which let's you play it turn 1 and set up for a turn 2 Ark of Sol
when appropriate (not always the right line, but if it aids your curve or you need to fix for color, you certainly do it).
In with the New: Kato, Arena Herald
is ridiculous and easily outclasses any 2-drop token generator we've seen in Eternal so far (with the exception of maybe Ephemeral Wisp
). It's 3 bodies for 2 power, one of which has 2 attack and can trade with a fair number of things, and in the super late game, it gives you a win condition or a way to wall your opponent in a board stall while you dig through your deck. Keep in mind that the back half of Kato himself has to be sacrificed the same turn (if it's your turn) or on your following turn (if it's your opponent's), or alternatively you can spend a power to hold onto the body longer, so plan accordingly.
Display of Destruction
was also clearly designed to make someone like me happy. Assembly Line
usually made these kinds of lists, but was always right on the edge getting cut. Make Assembly Line
fast speed, change the tokens into cultists which enable Ark of Sol
, and add 2 alternative modes: removal+life gain or acceleration when you have enough bodies but not enough time. Now you've got Assembly Line
on crack, and it's exactly what the doctor ordered.
seriously outperformed my expectations. I tested it almost on a whim, and now I think it's one of the most powerful cards in the deck. It's a reliable card draw a heavy majority of the time, which is insane on a 1-drop 0-cost activation. Some things to keep in mind: A large chunk of the card advantage from Kindling Carver
is lands, so make sure you carve BEFORE your land drop for turn, when possible. Also, as a reminder, milling 1 doesn't actually hurt you at all, so it's okay to carve even if you're likely to whiff (like after your land drop) - the real cost here is losing a body to the activation, so weigh the risk of whiffing against your current supply of sac fodder. A very common and successful early game plan is carving to dig for land drops, and I'll often keep hands with this in mind. Obviously, don't play Kindling Carver
turn 1, and Ephemeral Wisp
, Kato, Arena Herald
, or Nahid's Choice
turn 2 into an immediate carve - you're pretty much guaranteed to whiff. Wait until turn 3 and carve BEFORE your land drop. In fact, I likely wouldn't even develop the Kindling Carver
until turn 3, just to protect him from removal in the meantime, even though it means you carve with access to 1 less power. Oh, and this is also obvious, but you can market away a whiff before you discard it at end of turn.
and Dova, the Fearmonger
are both engines in a deck like this, that will drown your opponent in value. Vault of the Praxis
is still in Expedition, but it just doesn't make the cut anymore. Ideally, you play either Dova or the Burglar with the ability to get immediate value (6 power to play and activate Strange Burglar
, or 6/7 power to Dova, the Fearmonger
, etc. - you can also get Dova value on 5 if you have a Kindling Carver
on board). That said, the deck has a LOT of refill and engines, and generally tempo is more of an issue than card advantage, so if you need to slam a body, sometimes you just do it. If I were to trim a card (maybe for a third Destruction Chant
), it would probably be one of these two. I like Burglar more as a body - both cheaper to play on curve if you just need to develop, and more reliably gives you value when you can wait until 6, since it doesn't require a sac outlet and immediately goes 4-for-1 with removal rather than Dova's likely 2-for-1. That said, don't underestimate 3-faction pledge. Dova's pledge has saved me from many auto-losses, and that alone might mean Strange Burglar gets the cut first. I would NOT cut Kindling Carver
- the card is seriously better than both of them.
I'm sure brings back many happy memories
for MtG players out there. It almost feels like bullying the way this just denies your opponent any possibly productive lines of play. However, Induce Madness
is generally the nail in the coffin when you were already doing well, and spending 5 to cast this is probably suicide when you don't have tokens to sac or ways to sac them, or you're simply facing down lethal. That said, even if you're a tad behind, if you can find a turn off to squeeze this in, you can easily flip the board on the following turn - I've swept some ridiculous boards from nothing when starting the turn with this in play already. ALSO, this works the way you'd like it to with Combust
, Worthy Cause
and Sol's Fury
- the target unit is killed before they get to choose a unit to sac, taking out 2 units for the price of 1!
is not new to the game but new to Expedition, and it's a top tier aristocrats card. An early wisp can net you something like 5 or 6 sac activations and chump blocks over the course of the game. Between this and Kato, Arena Herald
, our 2 slot is an all-star cast right now.
The new markets are weird, since considering an alternative market-accessing spell means completely revamping what goes into the market, and likely adjusting the main deck as well to accommodate. I already talked about how the immediate effect of Crack the Earth
is perfect for this deck, and so far the 5-cost market has done well for me, so I'll just discuss those slots. If anyone decides to give Blazing Salvo
a shot, let me know how it goes!
In terms of the cards I included in the market, I would never cut Ark of Sol
, and I've gotten a lot of use out of Induce Madness
(finisher against unit decks), Oblivion Spike
(finisher against control decks) and Scraptank
(gas and board presence when you need it). I haven't grabbed Eclipse Dragon
even once, but the idea is that he can answer a site that isn't defended in the air. However, most times I've seen a site, I've honestly been able to ignore it, because they just don't matter against this deck. Sites are generally about a little bit of card advantage, and this deck generates so much more. Den of Ordeals
might be the most worrisome, because Nakova & Molot
is scary, though not impossible to deal with. Anyway, you could probably experiment with something else in Eclipse Dragon
In terms of gameplay, pilot this much like the last one. You're a control/attrition deck with probably more inevitability than most. There are lots of moving cogs, so plan out your turns and count the bodies you need for sacrifice effects. If you expect sweepers, don't unnecessarily over-commit. We're weak to flyers and overwhelm units so prioritize them with removal. Similarly, don't throw away your removal on early game units if they don't matter - you can let your life total drop pretty low if it helps you set up to go off sooner. Don't forget the passive on Profane Nexus
which can help you dance pretty close to zero life while you turn the corner, or maybe even get lethal. Similarly, the buff to your board when you summon Strange Burglar
can get an easily-missed lethal, possibly mixed with some aggressive removal (using removal in ways I wouldn't if I didn't have lethal).
I'm not going to visit every card in the list, or what didn't make the cut, but I'm more than happy to respond to any comments if people want to talk about other card options below!