This deck takes Argenport's greatest win conditions, and adds Keelo for consistency, value, ramp, and flexibility. It includes a lot of deck manipulation tech to ensure you always find whatever you need at each stage of the game.
I find it really fun to play as you have plenty of ways around bad draws, plenty lines of play when shit hits the fan. Great feeling of being in control of the game and not left to your luck.
I average 80%+ runs completed since I started keeping track, and made a few changes prior to publishing that improve it even more for the last version. Also, many of my losses I've noticed afterward a suboptimal play of mine or another out I didn't think about at the time, so there's room for improvement.
Lastly, it is quite easy on the shifstone as it's easy to cut expensive cards without too much impact given the amount of tutor effects. However many you actually have of Rolant, Iron Tyrant
or cylixes, doesn't matter too much as long as you can play them consistently. I made a budget version where you should only need to craft Rolant and uncommons: [Budget] Keelo, Iron Tutor - 8.3k shiftstone, 2 campaigns - roadmap to upgrade
This is my first deck, and it's the shell I've been grinding gauntlet with since I started almost 3 months ago. It made it very enjoyable to get enough gold to unlock campaigns, improving the deck each time up to the current version.
I'm still under budget restriction, and the list is shown as I run it now. There are potentially quite a few upgrades to do still with a few extra legendaries. Make sure to check the last section about improvements
and see if you can play them. Thanks to many feedback there are a lot of promising ideas there!
I'll be glad to answer any questions or discuss adaptations with you, just leave a comment or contact me in-game: Pix's+3162
While Rolant is the star of the show and wins you the game, Keelo is actually the cornerstone that makes everything possible. Rolant is not meant to be cast from the hand, but rather tutored with her.
This is the most important thing to understand to pilote this deck properly. "Keelo cycles", as in which unit can bring up which when sacrificed to Keelo. Listed below, explained after. Maybe skip the list to read about it first if the list alone is confusing.
: Crownwatch Paladin
, Ripknife Assassin
, Blight Pass Smuggler
--> Rolant, Iron Tyrant
, Vara, Vengeance-Seeker Cycle 2
: Blightmoth Shade
, Blight Pass Smuggler
, Deathwing Cycle 3
--> Icaria, First Reaper Cycle 4
: Silverblade Reaper
--> Vorlunk Corps Cycle 5
: Vorlunk Corps
--> Vara, Limitless Cycle 6
: Vara, Vengeance-Seeker
--> Vorlunk Corps
OR Icaria, First Reaper
The numbers are only for future reference, not meant to imply there's a necessary sequential relationship between every cycles.
Cycle 1 - Slam that Rolant!:
Cycle 1 is your bread and butter, you should use it once or twice per game and its setup is your first priority for turns 1-4, sometimes 5. Finding a proper unit to fuel Keelo is easy since you have so many in the deck (14), wich means Keelo is a high priority in the mulligan as the other pieces are in abundance.
Getting Rolant reliably by turn 4-5 is already a lot for the AI to deal with in many cases, but for the next turns (assuming Keelo lives) you will be able to spam a few more using any of your 14 low units.
And it's not like these units are a dead weight either. They all hold their weight pretty well and will help you hold the board for turns 2-5 until the magic happen.
Vara is tech against aegis units, especially in the air. Sometimes they start pounding your face and you can't get Rolan'ts minions out to stop it because of those aegis. Vara sloves that, with either a kill or a 5/5 lifesteal to boot. Cycle 2 - Recursion & Stabilization:
This one is often a turn 5 play. You played T3 Blightmoth, T4 Keelo into Rolant, now T5 use Keelo into another Blightmoss. Might weaken or kill a few units, gives you fuel for anoter Rolant next turn, all that while you still have three mana left and start building up card advantage.
Also a great occasion to stabilize. Wide board ? Blightmoth. Heavy hitter ? Deathwing. Need something from the market ? Sure.
Very flexible. That's why Blightmoss is your favorite T3 play.
Cycle 3 - Icaria on a pinch:
This one capitalizes on the inclusion of the recent and excellent Deathwing
. It's such a great unit it would probably deserves the spot without Icaria, but with her included any Deathwing on board can summon her for the mere cost of a Keelo activation. Backbreaking.
Cycle 4 and 5 - Finisher:
This cycle arises by turn 5-7, when you got Rolant(s) and a Silverblade Reaper
by killing a unit. By then the game is probably stabilized enough that you'll surely win it, but you don't want to ping the face to death for 10 turns. Now this cycle turns your idle Silverblade into a 4/2 killer invulnerable Vorlunk Corps
, use it to make a new corpse and a new Silverblade.
By next turn you should have quite a few Silverblades, throw your Vorlunk to the void to fetch Vara, Limitless
and double your damage output. Serves as a great insurance policy since if they have removal for your Rolant(s) you will bring them back next turn by attacking with her.
Cycle 6 - Once in a blue moon:
Very situational, but worth considering when the occasion arises. Depending on Vara's status (deadly or not), you can use her as a kill spell through either Vorlunk's killer or Icaria's summon. For the latter, note that aegis, if any, as already been conveniently stripped away.
Now abuse them cycles the best you can
If I am able to tell you turn by turn what play you're gonna want to make, it is because the deck is that consistent. Notice how I told you all about the gameplan and from turn 4 to finish without using a single card from your hand ? It's because Keelo is such an incredible value engine that she will take over the game all by herself if she lives, generating both virtual ramp and card advantage.
Now you still have cards in your hand, mostly removal, deck manipulation, and fuel for Keelo. What you want to avoid as much as possible is to draw Keelo targets, especially the 3 one offs: Icaria, Vorlunk, big Vara. Rolant is best left in the deck in many situations as well.
I'm not saying every single game you will be able to follow this plan, but many, and you have plenty of tools at your disposal to get back to it when your opponent messes with it.
Most important rule is to never put Keelo down without activating her immediatly.
Your priorities are, in order:
- 2+ power
- 2+ influence types (including Seek Power and Petition)
- No Icaria / Vorlunk / big Vara.
Being mana starved is really not that big an issue here, you can thrive for a good while on 4 mana. Not convinced ? Have a look at the curve again.
Market Bartholo's Keepsake
: Really helps if you're missing one piece of your Cycle 1, be it Keelo, fuel, or power/influence. Might be to reconsider once the etching bug is fixed though.
: The cheapest unconditional removal I have access to. Units are usually aplenty by the time you'd be looking into the market for removal. Mostly added as a panic button in case things went wrong, but also sometimes a quicker way to get lethal. I discarded it for a long time until it clicked, it's really amazing on the defensive when your Rolant came late and you're getting pounded. Block, sac the blocker, kill a unit, block a third one with the new Silverblade... Deals with 3 attacking units for 3 mana.
Know Thy Enemy
: Multipurpose tool. Boardwipe with a chance to spawn a Rolant ? Sign me in. Only drawback is it kills your Keelo, if any.
Grasping at Shadows
: Great fetch by turn 5+ when you got a Rolant but you're facing a deck with removal. Backbreaker
: Quite good enough to get included, not that necessay either. Helps against specific matchups like armorer or aggro with burn spells, if you got to low life.
Tips Playing around early removal
To stick your Cycle 1 fuel unit, and then keep Keelo on board as long as possible, sometimes you need to consider potential interactions. The best you can do is bait it out, but that's okay since your low-cost units are aplenty, and two of them will bait out 2 removals (AI will happily throw 2 torches at Crownwatch or Blightmoth).
Depending on the matchup and how many removal you think they could have in hand, open with either of them or Ripknife Assassin.
And of course, can't be said too much: play your precious Keelo only when you can activate it, don't let her go to waste.
Don't risk your Cycle 1 fuel by attacking early. Your opponent's life total is irrelevant, make sure not to stumble because of an ambush.
Death by flood
That's honestly a risk if you only trade 1-for-1 (typically that happens until you get Keelo running), because the list runs so much power fetching. If you find yourself in this position too often, you might be doing your mulligans wrong. Many 2 power hands are a keep, and a 2 power hand with keelo to boot is probably just great.
The deck can take it home on 4 power just fine, and I've smashed games with as low as 3
. You don't need
a 3 power hand to keep, and most 4s are sketchy.
Play it safe and steady
You will face many decisions whenever you have Keelo, about which cycle activate for the turn. I found out that what works best in most cases is to go for 2 cycles 1 as fast as possible. Having two Rolants makes you very resilient to targeted removal, which is the only way for the AI to come back at this point.
And two Rolants going into Cycle 4-5 is the usually the fastest way to close the game, flood the board with Silverblades and buff them. That speed helps going under board wipes.
Best market option after you got Rolant is often Grasping at Shadows
(in any matchup that does't involve silence or polymorph). At this point you basically have inevitability so long that you can keep him.
Don't forget about the many killer units, keeping some fast removal ready can avoid many a tricky situation.
When shit hits the fan
Not trying to fool anyone, of course it happens sometimes. Sometimes you get stuck on 3 mana, play Keelo and pray for her to survive the turn. Sometimes you simply can't get justice influence despite the gazillion sources. Well.
The Great Armory
Had a discussion on Discord with Coffeeparasol about this matchup. A rough one due to their lack of units, many weapons, and harsh rule. Here's my take on this:
- The worst is getting to this state where your board is empty and they have a weapon
- Weapons are limited to one attack per turn though, I usually manage to turn the tide in my favor by playing 2 units in the same turn, 1 unit + backbreacker, or even just backbreacker if I can pop their weapon.
- That's one of the few matchups where warcry actually matters. Buffed up units make them struggle, and an empty board with warcries hitting the face every turn can easily snowball. Crownwatch Paladin
is also Harsh Rule-proof.
- Grasping from Shadows, Know Thy Ennemy, 7-Vara are good ways to recover from board wipes, obviously. Closing the game before Harsh Rule is golden ofc.
- Haven't faced this deck enough since Icaria's inclusion to be positive about it, but she very well might be your gameplan of choice exceptionnaly instead of Rolant.
In conclusion, heavily favor you little warcry hitters during the mulligan. Removal sucks here, and even Keelo goes down the priority list. Beatdown is the way to go since the board is mostly empty.
* to be completed *
Improvements, alternatives and justifications
Budget alternatives are rather discussed in the [Budget] Keelo, Iron Tutor - 8.3k shiftstone, 2 campaigns - roadmap to upgrade
Higher end options
The deck presented here is the list I'm currently running. However, due to me working on a budget there are plenty of potentially good rares/legendary that I simply didn't get to craft and try, that may very well bring some further improvements.
Thanks to a brainstorming session with drewbagel423, I have the following changes on sight. Untested as of yet:
- Move Vara, Vengeance-Seeker
to the market instead of Backbreaker
- Add Tasbu, the Forbidden
in her place. Alternatively Inquisitor Makto
or maybe Sediti, the Killing Steel
- Replace Know Thy Enemy
and Grisly Contest
with Eremot's Designs
and Dizo's Office
- Add crests, as much as you can up until the point where it slows you down too much I guess.
Stormguard798 and Coffeeparasol both suggested Vara, Fate-Touched
, and she might very much be an amazing fetch from Icaria or 7-Vara. Hopefully you can market her if drawn too early. Remove a Slay I guess ?
I'm just not sure we need help at this stage of the game.
Coffeeparasol suggested Hooru Pacifier
to help against The Great Armory. That's indeed a rough matchup, so if you're having issues maybe play a one-of instead of maybe one deathwing, slay, or cull.
is probably worth mentioning as well, as argenport lists seem happy with its inclusion. I'd maybe start with 2 instead of 1 cull and 1 slay, see from there.
Justifications and alternatives Powerbase:
- Why not all crests ?
I honestly don't think the deck would be better as a result. The best starting hands have one sigil, one crest, one seat. That way you can organize your plays to avoid the tempo loss.
- Why not more crests ?
Budget in my case, I'm hesitant to craft expensive cards I may remove after testing. I'm gradually increasing the crests proportions until I feel it's too much, but I'm not quite there yet so feel free to try different ratios.
- What's up with the split of Seek Powers, Etchings, and Petitions ?
I agree it looks weird theoretically, but I've tweaked it quite a bit and got to this point empirically. Each have their uses, and getting one of each in a game is usually better than two of any. T1 fixing is also very valuable, not much else do do there anyway. Note that there is a synergy between the seats and the Seek Powers/Etchings: remove one and the other goes down in value, potentially warranting some cuts.
- How about a S/J Symbol ?
Sure, the deck has included those in the past. Got cut because I didn't feel it was still needed anymore, YMMV.
Not sure it is really worth the effort to go too much in details here, waiting to see if someone is willing to discuss it. Mostly a few general notes till then.
- Getting screwed because the situational removal you drew doesn't work sucks. Hence only 2 Annihilate, and the cut of Defile (thanks drewbagel423).
- That being said, Slay is kinda slow, so maybe not perfect.
- I've found Suffocate
to have potential coupled with Blightmoss, might be worth looking into again.
- I'm eager to try out Desecrate
when I can unlock it, looks promising in small doses.
- Deadly units work pretty in situation where all you need from your removal is to trigger Rolant. How about...?
Just listing a few good alternatives to slot in if you feel rather like it. If anything seems better to you, please come back and tell us about it!
Severin of the Dark
Really fun with a Prize sow in the market. Biggest issue is the animations take forever...
Great utility one-of
Actually bonkers. Except for the animation...
(didn't like it previously, should try it again now. YMMV)
* to be completed *
I'll be coming back to it to complete where need be.
Let me know if you play and enjoy it (Pix's+3162, /u/Pix-s) !