For The Throne — First Decks And Impressions From The Dusk Road

For The Throne — First Decks And Impressions From The Dusk Road

Christmas came early with the unexpected release of The Dusk Road! Later this week, I will once again be releasing the Team SPG Top 10 for the set. In the meantime, I’ll give you some of the first decks I’ve built as well some impressions on the format. Let’s start off with what you probably expected me to show you first: a new Fire aggro deck.

Stonescar Gunslingers

4 Oni Ronin (Set1 #13)
2 Sabotage (Set1 #252)
4 Stonescar Sneak (Set3 #205)
4 Torch (Set1 #8)
4 Argenport Instigator (Set1 #268)
4 Hideout Pistol (Set3 #215)
4 Rakano Outlaw (Set1 #20)
2 Rapid Shot (Set1 #259)
4 Cabal Countess (Set1 #506)
4 Milos Izalio, Heir to Rebellion (Set3 #19)
4 Bandit Queen (Set1 #389)
2 Vicious Highwayman (Set3 #275)
3 Jekk, Hunted Fugitive (Set3 #36)
2 Obliterate (Set1 #48)
7 Fire Sigil (Set1 #1)
1 Granite Monument (Set1 #423)
6 Shadow Sigil (Set1 #249)
2 Amethyst Waystone (Set3 #201)
1 Crest of Chaos (Set3 #268)
4 Seat of Chaos (Set0 #60)
4 Stonescar Banner (Set1 #419)
3 Diplomatic Seal (Set1 #425)

I’m normally skeptical of tribal decks, but so far Stonescar Gunslingers feels like an actual deck. The numbers are likely to be off a bit and may also need to be tuned as the metagame evolves, but I feel fairly confident about the cards here. Milos and Hideout Pistol are huge payoffs for Gunslingers and are worth the commitment to the unit type, with the pistol often being used as a 2 power Deathstrike and Milos often hitting the opponent for absurd amounts of damage. Stonescar Sneak was a card that seemed mediocre at first glance but is actually quite good. It does several things you want: he acts as a one drop attacker, is a Gunslinger, helps your other units push through (especially Milos, who is more than happy to receive +3 attack and Quickdraw), and helps ensure your Hideout Pistols can kill just about anything. The cost of 3 is really a sweetspot and is much easier to use than 4-cost activations on cards such as Ijin. Cabal Countess makes a return to the spotlight, with her high attack stat enabling a lot of kills with the Hideout Pistol. She also doesn’t need to rely on her ultimate as much to get through thanks to the many ways to grant Quickdraw in this deck.

Now is a good time to say that Jekk is the real deal. Not only is he very strong in this deck, but he is definitely the new premier 5-cost card, dethroning Soulfire Drake and even Obliterate as well, though the latter is mostly affected by the rise of new negate spells and huge units (both are still very strong and better in different situations, though.) He is a one-card-army, Fire’s real answer to Tavrod, and a bench-setter for all five drops—I would say he is only a slight notch below Tavrod considering the types of things Fire decks are trying to do.

Viscious Highwayman is decent but often more situational than Bandit Queen, who is an easy 4-of in this deck. Two copies of him feels good so far, but three or four may end up being correct. Oni Ronin is the only non-gunslinger card, and may eventually get cut from the deck, though right now feels great given the lack of one drops.

I thought this deck would be a bit of a “pre-con” with obvious choices, but it turns out there are a lot of good cards that may be correct for the deck either as mainstays or in certain metagames. Annihilate (which got cut for the Hideout Pistols), Ornate Katana, Rampage (as almost every unit already has quickdraw), Champion of Chaos (who was in the original list but got cut for Countess), Waystones, and more, are all worthy considerations. What I do know is that so far, this deck is pretty strong, and probably an upgrade from the old Burn Queen model.

Argenport Midrange

 

2 Protect (Set1 #132)
2 Seek Power (Set1 #408)
3 Wanted Poster (Set3 #106)
4 Annihilate (Set1 #269)
3 Copperhall Porter (Set3 #108)
4 Dreamsnatcher (Set3 #212)
1 Vanquish (Set1 #143)
3 Vara’s Favor (Set0 #35)
2 Inquisitor’s Halberd (Set3 #273)
4 Slay (Set2 #236)
4 Valkyrie Enforcer (Set1 #151)
4 Auric Runehammer (Set1 #166)
3 Steward of the Past (Set1 #287)
3 Amilli, Cloudmarshal (Set3 #136)
4 Harsh Rule (Set1 #172)
4 Tavrod, Auric Broker (Set1002 #18)
5 Justice Sigil (Set1 #126)
4 Emerald Waystone (Set3 #101)
4 Shadow Sigil (Set1 #249)
4 Argenport Banner (Set2 #231)
4 Crest of Vengeance (Set3 #264)
4 Seat of Vengeance (Set0 #55)

The premise here is pretty simple: Argenport was already one of the best decks in the game, Tavrod didn’t really get any worse, and Amilli adds to the mix by doing an okay Tavrod impression. Like before, the deck doesn’t go full minotaurs and also opts away from full Valkyries, instead choosing to take very small synergies and focusing on cards that are good on their own. Many of the cards probably need to change depending on the metagame, but this seems like a fine starting place. Wanted Poster is probably very usable in this deck where you can guarantee you will kill most units, though it may end up not being good enough. Dreamsnatcher is not a Valkyrie or a Minotaur but seems to be one of the hidden sleepers of the set, providing much-needed lifegain and early game units to defend against aggro decks. Emerald Waystone is a bit of a bet here, as it’s unclear whether this deck would prefer using Night late game where it likely has higher value targets than the opponent.

Jurassic Park (aka Elysian Dinosaurs)

4 Permafrost (Set1 #193)
3 Seek Power (Set1 #408)
4 Twilight Hunt (Set3 #59)
4 Evelina, Valley Searcher (Set2 #48)
4 Trail Maker (Set3 #65)
3 Avirax Familiar (Set2 #46)
3 Daring Pioneer (Set3 #170)
2 Nocturnal Observer (Set3 #173)
4 Avisaur Patriarch (Set1001 #13)
4 Sandstorm Titan (Set1 #99)
2 Xenan Obelisk (Set1 #103)
2 Crystallize (Set1 #232)
4 Worldbearer Behemoth (Set3 #87)
4 Predatory Carnosaur (Set1 #118)
2 Serasaur Bull (Set3 #92)
1 Clutchkeeper (Set3 #200)
5 Time Sigil (Set1 #63)
2 Amber Monument (Set1 #420)
3 Amber Waystone (Set3 #51)
2 Primal Sigil (Set1 #187)
2 Cobalt Waystone (Set3 #151)
3 Crest of Wisdom (Set3 #261)
4 Elysian Banner (Set1 #421)
4 Seat of Wisdom (Set0 #63)

Dinosaurs seem to have a lot more going for it than before. Worldbearer Behemoth fixes up the 5 drop slot that was fine but not outstanding before, and Serasaur Bull and Clutchkeeper are both scary late-game bombs. The deck actually has a few pieces of card draw between Twilight Hunt and Nocturnal Observer, which should smooth out the draws and provide extra fuel later on—Jurassic park is frightening in the dark. The biggest concern with this deck is whether it can survive aggro. Dilphex Stalker seems almost good enough to play over the Avirax Familiars as it would match up well against aggro decks, but they need more testing. There may also be too few power in this deck as it mostly is relying on sticking a Trail Maker, Avirax Familiar, or Avisaur Patriarch.

Big Praxis

4 Seek Power (Set1 #408)
4 Torch (Set1 #8)
4 Power Stone (Set1002 #4)
2 Purify (Set2 #176)
4 Temple Scribe (Set1 #502)
4 Trail Maker (Set3 #65)
3 Amber Acolyte (Set1 #93)
2 Devoted Theurge (Set1002 #6)
4 Sandstorm Titan (Set1 #99)
2 Xenan Obelisk (Set1 #103)
2 Shatterglass Mage (Set2 #181)
4 Worldbearer Behemoth (Set3 #87)
4 Heart of the Vault (Set2 #183)
3 Mystic Ascendant (Set1 #116)
2 Predatory Carnosaur (Set1 #118)
2 Great-Kiln Titan (Set3 #49)
4 Fire Sigil (Set1 #1)
2 Granite Waystone (Set3 #1)
9 Time Sigil (Set1 #63)
4 Crest of Impulse (Set3 #251)
2 Praxis Banner (Set2 #171)
4 Seat of Impulse (Set0 #54)

This deck, courtesy of fellow teammate Bradykin, takes a slightly different approach on the Praxis Midrange decks that dominated at the end of the Tale of Horus Traver metagame. It opts out of some midrange power, namely Obliterate and Crimson Firemaw, for very powerful top-end cards in Mystic Ascendent, Great-Kiln Titan, and Worldbearer Behemoth to get you there. The deck mostly relies on just killing the opponent with an overwhelming board—a true praxis approach. Trail Maker also makes for a great inclusion that helps shore up some of the influence issues that Praxis has had in the past to ensure all your Hearts come down when you have the power to cast them.

Icaria Blue

1 Permafrost (Set1 #193)
4 Seek Power (Set1 #408)
4 Torch (Set1 #8)
2 Eilyn’s Favor (Set0 #24)
2 Rockslide (Set2 #189)
2 Rolant’s Favor (Set0 #18)
4 Strategize (Set3 #165)
2 Unseal (Set3 #167)
4 Vanquish (Set1 #143)
2 Valkyrie Enforcer (Set1 #151)
4 Wisdom of the Elders (Set1 #218)
1 Auric Runehammer (Set1 #166)
1 Furnace Mage (Set1 #40)
3 Rise to the Challenge (Set1 #320)
4 Harsh Rule (Set1 #172)
1 Jotun Feast-Caller (Set3 #187)
3 Throne Warden (Set1 #514)
2 Molten Fist (Set3 #41)
2 Icaria, the Liberator (Set1 #329)
2 Channel the Tempest (Set1 #244)
2 Fire Sigil (Set1 #1)
2 Justice Sigil (Set1 #126)
2 Primal Sigil (Set1 #187)
2 Rakano Banner (Set1 #427)
4 Seat of Glory (Set0 #56)
1 Hooru Banner (Set2 #216)
4 Seat of Order (Set0 #51)
4 Crest of Fury (Set3 #266)
4 Seat of Fury (Set0 #53)

Strategize helps this deck tremendously. Not only does it smooth out draws and help sculpt your hand, it lets you put back expensive cards that you don’t want to draw, such as Icaria, and fetch them later with Rise to the Challenge. Speaking of, Jotun Feast-Caller, Furnace Mage, and Auric Runehammer all exist as nice one-of’s to fetch (Auric seems to have gone down in power with all the Nightfall existing, so 1 should be acceptable, if at all.) I think this type of deck would like Molten Fist more than Daisho, but I could very well be wrong as I haven’t gotten to test it much. Lightning Storms are absent for Rockslides, as Rockslides tend to do most of what you need outside of heavy token metagames while also giving you the ability to hit face and cast at fast speed. Like the other decks here, this is just a first pass and may be off; it may be too light on removal and too heavy on finishers.

Predictions and Impressions

Where do you even begin? This set added so much to the game it’s hard to even comprehend. For the first time in Eternal we’re seeing what looks to be a tremendous change in the landscape, and everything we knew before will have to be re-evaluated in the landscape of dozens of new, playable cards. It’s a brewers paradise; an exciting, entirely uncertain metagame.

For ladder, I’m going to make a somewhat bold prediction and say that it’s likely there will be a multitude of top-tier decks for a long time to come. With such a varied field, it seems probable that there will be no extremely clear tier 1 decks for at least a month or two, and even then, those decks will likely not be too far ahead from the tier 2 decks. My recommendation is that you just find what you like playing and just play it. Every style of play—aggro, midrange, control, and probably some form of combo, such as Echo Makto—seems to have multiple playable decks, and every faction will likely be represented within each of those styles of play.

That said, I do think that it’s likely some sort of Argenport and Praxis decks will be the best decks in both ladder and tournament, at least at the beginning. Both decks were very powerful before the set dropped, and they both gained a plethora of strong options. The one thing this set lacked is many new removal options, which was expected as adding too many removal options can make for lopsided formats. Tavrod will remain very hard to kill, but now he is facing a bit more competition and may not win “on the spot” as much as he did before—playing Tavrod into Jekk, Hunted Fugitive will do little to save you if you’re already low.

I do believe the biggest change will come from the presence of having stronger control decks, particularly Primal-based control decks. Feln gained several options and looks like it will likely be one of the best control decks, if not the best. While it was fairly strong before, it now looks to be much more powerful and consistent with Strategize, Jotun Feast-Caller, and more. Meanwhile, the rise of control decks and the introduction of new, small lifesteal cards like Dreamsnatcher will likely be the death of Rally-token based aggro decks (which will not be missed.) More conventional and less extreme aggro decks that were somewhat weak before did not seem to gain too many obscenely powerful cards other than Jekk. The field becoming more varied is likely the best thing for aggressive decks as it makes it less easy to hate them out in the mainboard—far too easy of a task in the past metagame. Various midrange decks, including the ones mentioned before, will likely remain very strong in tournament going forward. Beyond that, it’s too early to say much more given just how many new powerful cards we have.

Look forward to the SPG Top 10 in the upcoming days. Until then, it’s paradise in Eternal. Have fun!

Paradox


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