This deck deck started as a deckbuilding challenge to find a way to curve Heart of the Vault
into Icaria, the Liberator
, but then changed into the quest of finding if a midrange deck could be made to beat the dominant aggros of the current patch.
The result is better than what I expected: this deck has a good matchup against all the common played aggro (stonescar, rakano and skykragg), while keeping a reasonable winrate against midrange and control decks. In fact, the control matchup is pretty great, as 3+2 Icarias and 4 HotV make for a great lategame. Midrange decks are this list Achille's hell, as all the cheap removal we are packing don't do much against Champion of Mistery and similar midgame bombs.
Strategy and gameplay:
The deck is an aggressive midrange, and the general strategy should be the one of playing threat after threat only stopping to remove enemy blockers or lifelinkers, evenutally overwhelming them by sheer card value. However, between the presence of only one effective two drop - Awakened Student
, and the necessary influence fixing, the deck can be kinda slow in starting to deploy creatures. To compensate that, there are a lot of reactive early play in the form of Torch
and Desert Marshal
to not fall behind in tempo against aggro and faster midrange. Random note on how to play :
I usually attack with Whirling Duo
against aggro if they are tapped out. If you leave it to block and eats a Torch or a random removal, you lose effectively 3 life, and almost always they can remove it.
While waiting for 11 influence for Knight-Chancellor Siraf
may look good, it is usually better to just play it even around 8 or 9 influence, as it forces premium removal out of their hand, and clears the way for Icaria and HotV to stick.
Similarly, don't play Siraf into open 4JJ if you don't have Whirling Duo or HotV. Auric Runehammer punish that play hard.
Against feln, rise to the challenge should almost always get a Runehammer. Both black sky harbringer and champion of cunning can run with the game and you only have 4 vanquish to 1 for 1 them.
Don't play awakened student on turn two on the draw against deck playing Valkirie Enforcer or silences. As a 2/2 he's not going to block anything, while as a 3/3 it usually trades.
NEVER play a sandstorm titan against a justice aggro to block if you can play a removal instead. They can just vanquish and tempo you out. Similarly, play removals before Siraf etc. against other aggro. Purify
can be used to counter permafrost or wanted poster. I once got a scoop on turn 5, by silencing my titan with two posters!
You should always win against Icaria Blue, for some reason. They just have the wrong answer for the threats in the deck.
Similarly with scream reanimato: between the silences and How to fetch influence
One of the trickiest part of playing the deck is fetching influence with Find the Way in the first turns without slowing down too much. I Usually prioritize getting mana against decks which are slower than this one, and playing cards even in a mana shortage against faster ones.
After getting JJ and TT, go for FFF, then TTT before getting the third J.
Some note on card inclusion Desert Marshal
the card is there because it is amazing against Stonescar. It acts as an answer in their turn to bandit queen or Vicious Highwayman. It can also allow nice blocks on champion of chaos. Against Rakano it gets huge value by turning champion of glory into a 1/1, and trading with all their 2 drops. Budget replacement:
It is hard to play a budget version of the deck, as it wins by raw card quality, and there is not so much outside legendaries.
Still it is possible to replace:
with Combrei Healer
which improves aggro a lot, but is bad vs control
Some Icaria or HotV for copies 3 and 4 of Rise to the Challenge
without harming the deck much. Sandstorm Titan
can be replaced by Crimson Firemaw Possible card inclusion:
The list posted is tuned for aggro, if you find playing mostly against grindy deck (like current masters):
-1 Desert Marshal
-1 Auric Runehammer
+2 The Great Parliament
+2 Rise to the Challenge