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Combrei Valuetown

Gauntlet Deck By
Petycar

Work in Progress
+10

Cost Curve

Type

Faction

Information

EDIT: I was wondering where I got the original decklist from, as I seem to have had it for ages. I did a bit of digging and it turns out it was Squidzkrieg's version that inspired me back then to tweak Combrei for gauntlet greatness. Credit where credit is due, so thanks, man!

Here is the original list for reference: https://eternalwarcry.com/decks/details/a7nqc-r5V5o/big-combrei-gauntlet-grinder

Intro

I love gauntlet, but after the changes at the tail-end of last year, the AI got noticeably more ruthless. I've tried the myriad of decks posted here on Eternal Warcry, but the results were never quite satisfactory. Many times the deck would fold once the AI stabilized or removed their early threats.

So I went back to the drawing board and thought to myself - what's the most resilient deck that will simply win inevitably if unchecked? The answer, of course, was an old Set 1 favorite, Big Combrei.

This isn't a fast deck. It's not as slow as a control deck, of course, but your strength lies in building an unassailable position and just grinding out value until you can completely run the AI over. If you're skilled at reading the AI, you can always bait out removal/combat tricks, leaving the board full of fatties that the opponent won't even dare attack.

Your win cons

Aside from just beating the enemy over the head with overstatted units, once you've got a lockdown, there are three (and a half) win conditions that you should build towards.

Mystic Ascendant + Sword of Unity - grow him big enough, slap a sword on him and swing for lethal. If you've got SoU on your mystic, it will also act as a phenomenal wall and speed up the process of drawing to your other win cons.
Marshal Ironthorn - not only does he combo very well with Mystic Ascendant, at 15 power, you get to press his IWIN button and, well, win the game. I debated putting Worldbearer Behemoth in its slot, as it arguably has a better ramp function and a fantastic body, but Marshall is a relevant draw even very late in the game, whereas Behemoth just becomes another fatty.
Martyr's Chains - the biggest addition to Combrei in Set 5. 95% of the time, if you play this, you win. Keep growing your aegis'ed unit with SoU, watch the AI stand there like a doofus and eventually swing for lethal.
Knight-Chancellor Siraf - not really a win condition, but getting to 8 with Siraf on board generates an infinite number of beefy chump blockers (or even legit threats) that allow you to dig your way to your real wincons.

The supporting cast

Desert Marshal - a key player in many matchups. To use him to the utmost, you really need to know what the AI deck is bringing. He can shut down breakaway flyers if you have no titan on board; pop aegis before you harsh rule; stop hero of the people shenanigans dead in their tracks; silence deadly units; and redirect weapon swings in Armory matchups.
Temple Scribe - perhaps the most flexible slot in the deck, but there just aren't that many good anti-AI two drops in our colors. Trail Maker can help us ramp and fix, but you lose too much tempo if it dies. Teacher has a great body for her cost, but weights aren't that great vs the AI and it becomes a dead card late-game. Temple Scribe is a good chump blocker, can trade with opposing X/1s and - most importantly - isn't a dead draw in the late game, since it replaces itself with a new card.
Knight-Chancellor Siraf - I love this card. It was one of the first legendaries I crafted back when I started, and for good reason. It provides a great blocking body and allows you to gum up the board in the late game without committing cards (if you're holding back a harsh rule due to an unfavorable position, for example).
Lunar Magus - initially, this was Combrei Healer, but the latter was phased out due to being a dead draw past the mid-game. Nightfall is amazing, since you're usually better than the AI at using your cards efficiently. It is especially useful to mitigate the effects of power screw. Magus is weaker than Healer when it comes to pure anti-aggro (since it can't survive a 1/1 + torch/finest hour, prompting AI attacks), but it's never a dead draw, even in the late game.
Sandstorm Titan - the original fatty, SST serves three very important roles in the deck. 1) Unless silenced or destroyed, it completely shuts down flying decks; 2) With aegis + SOU, it can sneak in attacks to keep your health total topped up and still deter attacks later; 3) it's an efficient blocker that doesn't fold to permafrost, which is disastrous against certain high-tempo decks.

Tricks and trinkets

Nothing here that's out of the ordinary in any Combrei midrange deck. Vanquish is best saved for threats that can threaten your stall (like gigantic warcried units, big flyers when you don't have a SST out, Ashara, the Deadshot) or units that threaten to snowball the game if left unchecked (Navani, Warsinger; quickdraw units with multiple buffs on them).

Vanquisher's Blade hasn't really been performing as well as I hoped. It shuts down reanimator strategies, but only two AI decks really use them and they both can be outvalued anyway. Most of the time it acts as an additional copy of Vanquish. I've been debating about cutting it, but I can't think of a worthy replacement.

Sword of Unity is one of the best cards in the game, especially VS the AI. It instantly shuts down certain aggro decks, as the combat math no longer works in their favor with lifesteal factored in. Most importantly, it provides aegis, which completely confuses the AI (I believe it starts popping aegis at random instead of trying to remove it from the real threats) and protects your board against Harsh Rule and certain combat tricks like torch.

Harsh Rule is there because shit happens. The AI can get nut draws; you may not draw your STT in time vs one of the many flyer decks that infest the gauntlet; or you might just be powerscrewed too long and forced into a losing battle with chump blockers. While not ideal, unlike you, the AI WILL overcommit to the board. Sometimes I plan a Harsh Rule early, committing the bare minimum needed to stem the flow of damage and draw the AI's big guns out.

The market

Infinite Hourglass - you're only gonna grab this in a few games, but when you do, it's completely clutch. One of the deadliest regular AI decks is Deep Freeze, which can completely lock down your board and simply roll over you at leisure. It has no way of dealing with Hourglass. It also helps against permafrost/winter's grasp heavy decks if your key units get shut down.
Sword of Unity - I've already said why this card is amazing. Since it can be fetched by both merchants, you're effectively running *11* copies of it in your deck.
Combrei Banner - I see many gauntlet decks nowadays eschew putting power in the market. I think that's a huge mistake. You want to cast all your guys on or ahead of curve, and a banner in the market effectively gives you 8 more chances to draw the power/influence you need in the game.
Harsh Rule - because it's so important to be able to reset the game on demand.
Martyr's Chains - one of your wincons. If you let this run for a few turns, you win the game.

Your starting hand

Your No1 priority is to stabilize, so your starting hand depends heavily on the deck you face.

Against aggro, you want at least 3 power and something to cast by turn 3, ideally a Lunar Magus (Auralian Merchant can grab Sword, but it won't stop AI attacks).

Against slower decks, you want STT and Sword/Auralian Merchant to gum up the board ASAP. Against flyer decks, STT is the best card, hands down.

Against Deep Freeze and Freezing Touch, you want to mulligan even otherwise great hands if they don't have Auralian Merchant in it.

Sequencing and AI idiocy

The key to not getting overrun is reading AI plays, watching out for key turns and sequencing your threats properly to get max value out of them. If the AI deck runs suffocate or Permafrost, run Merchants/Lunar Magus out before your Sirafs, because they'll get value upon hitting the board. If the AI runs vanquishes/slays/feeding times, sequence your big boys in the way that the least valuable ones will eat removal first.

Unless you're facing aggro or desperately need a blocker, don't run threats on an empty board without a backup. Ironthorn is usually safe to drop on turn 6 for the extra power. Never drop Ascendant without power in hand, unless you already have one protected by aegis and just need a lightningrod (AI will prioritize units without aegis over actual threats).

Your goal is to equip a body with a spellcrafted SOU and control the board until your wincons are in place. Only attack if you can take the crackback OR you're offering the AI a trade (like attacking with Ironthorn into a wall of flyers to relieve the pressure in the air).

Bosses

You have a fairly decent match-up against most bosses except for Sudden Death.

Sudden Death is sadly a coinflip even with decks designed to beat it, since so much depends on you going first, them not having Infernus in hand and not curving out to Bandit Queen unmolested. To maximize your chances, look for Temple Scribes/Lunar Maguses, and consider playing SOU on Siraf (the AI runs annihilate) even without spellcraft, just to start getting life back.

You have a decent shot against Defender of the Spire, since you have many ways to reset the board, plenty of removal and ways to stall out the game until you're ready to win. You have to be aware of Champion of Cunning, because it has aegis and will grow the whole board if unanswered. If you can, save a Desert Marshal/Vanquish to pop aegis and don't hesitate to Harsh Rule if you have to.

Against Power of Progress, you need to decide what you want to do by turn 2-3. If you have a good hand, you can try racing them, since you benefit from extra power just as much as they do. If your hand is mediocre/downright awful and they're ramping out with students/Order of the Spire, then the best plan is to commit as little as possible to stem the early aggression and drop a harsh rule for the most value.

Company of Exiles would normally be a bad match-up because we're running so few spells, but not all is lost. Your priority is to get an aegis on the board. The AI will aggressively target your Siraf, so equipping her with the sword is not a bad idea. If you can get to 8, Siraf's summons can be suicided into the AI lines to keep the board manageable.

Hourglass can protect you against a Crystallize alpha strike, but keep in mind that the boss deck runs Decay, so either pray that you're lucky or aggressively offer trades to the AI to keep the board manageable.

Mindless Aggression can be really annoying if it goes first, but you can generally stall it with your early boys. Again, your opening hand should inform you whether you're going for a Harsh Rule or not. You want to get a stall going, even at the expense of early life points - remember, chumping a Lethrai Ranger may save you 4 damage, but it could lead to a Beastmaster + 2 Direwood beasts next turn.

The other bosses aren't particularly noteworthy. Highly Skilled might seem to outvalue us, but without Eilyn can't usually break through your stall. Helpful Horns folds to Harsh Rule, so that's what you're looking for in your opening hand or market. It can also simply be stalled out, unless it has a nut draw with plenty of removal.

That's it. This took way longer than I expected, so I hope you find it useful. I'm open to any suggestions, so let me know if you can help me tune the deck even more.

Happy farming!

Details

Shiftstone Cost
Does not include campaign cost
80,600

Premium Cost
288,000

Influence Requirements
2 4

Power Sources
20 18 12

Power Calculator
Shiftstoned Icon View Deck on Shiftstoned

Deck Rarities
14 15 22 19

Card Types
34 7 13 26

Archetype
Combo Midrange

Updated
March 15, 2019

Added
March 14, 2019

Views
1,268

Eternal Version
v1.43 - Community Store

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Comments

squidfingers Eternal Version: 1.44
This deck is a blast. Really nice design. Thanks for posting!

I love Siraf, too -- did pretty well with her as my "commander" in that event a few weeks ago. Wish they'd make that a format!
Epsilon Eternal Version: 1.44
Great deck and fantastic guide! I love that there are people out there who treat Gauntlet with the respect it deserves. I had to quit playing Magic Arena because I just got so tired of facing the same decks repeatedly and being punished for ever trying anything off the beaten path. Gauntlet is great because at the highest levels it's just enough to keep you on your toes but you're not having the most efficient decks in the meta thrown at you game after game after game. And if I want to try something really wacky, I might not go 7-0, but I at least feel like I have a chance in hell at actually playing the game.

Thanks for all your effort here!
BadBug Eternal Version: 1.44
Good job, its not fast as you have said but its very consistent.
I prefer to win the boss slowly than loose to it fast after 6 battles..
Petycar Edited Eternal Version: 1.44
A lot of my speed probably comes from familiarity - I know what my deck does, what the AI decks do and what I need to set up to win. There are tense moments, but even when on the back foot, knowing the deck inside out helps you evaluate your choices and determine your outs quickly.

I know that whenever I try a new gauntlet deck, it takes a couple of days before I'm comfortable with it, and in that time the games go by agonizingly slowly - even with things like hooru flyers. :P

That being said, this IS a slow deck, especially against bosses. It's not as slow as some others I've played (like Xenan lifegain, for instance), but it certainly takes its time to secure the win. :P
BadBug Eternal Version: 1.44
Thanks for sharing all this, how good is it for you so far ?
Petycar Edited Eternal Version: 1.44
So far, I've went 42-0 with it in the last few days - so yes, I think it's great! Sometimes I got a little lucky, a few games were quite close, but there was always a way to pull ahead if I knew what the AI deck was capable of doing and sequenced my threats properly.

That being said, I only faced Sudden Death once, and I got very lucky (the AI durdled for a few turns due to lacking early plays, giving me some breathing room to start playing fatties). It's this deck's worst match-up by far - unless a miracle like the above happens, you're dead.

I've had two Company of Exiles bosses, which I also expected to give me tons of trouble, but despite the AI being a dick and removing my Siraf ad nauseum with Striking Snake Formation, aegis + hourglass eventually sealed the deal.

I've also had two run-ins with Defender of the Spire with fairly decent draws (I consider any DoS draw with removal and Champion of Cunning in it to be good), but I still won thanks to luring out threats into harsh rules, then stalling until my wincon was secured by exploiting the AI's unwillingness to attack unless it was safe or had lethal.

So I'd say it's pretty amazing. Do keep in mind that it isn't very fast - my runs average out around 30-35 minutes, sometimes a little longer if I'm facing a complicated board stall that can't be smashed through without a wincon in hand.
BadBug Eternal Version: 1.44
Thanks for the tips, testing it now.