Here is the deal if you are reading this it is because a friend hooked you up, or you are one of our closer followers. On a personal level I really appreciate that, and I’d like to keep this article a little quieter. Tournament prep is a lot of work, and it took me almost 8 hours to type this up and do all the research. Usually high end tournament players won’t write a pre-tournament article because it is in their own best interest to only work within their own play group. They talk about what they discovered afterwards in post tournament reports instead of beforehand. Here is what I am proposing and you are by no means obligated to do this, but if you money in the tournament and you think I really helped you out chip me $20 as a thank you (Paypal – email@example.com). Don’t get me wrong I’m not gonna stop doing what I do regardless if people chip in or not, but I’m not above saying “Hey I do a lot of work, maybe hook a brother up.” Whatever happens I hope you guys find this helpful, and that you do well this coming weekend. Best of luck!
In this article I will be talking about preparing for tournaments run with the unlimited format, how unlimited differs from standard, the conquest rules set and how to play it.
The Trials of Mythron Launch tournaments is going to be run based on the unlimited format. And I’d say that oh… roughly… 100% of my play testing has been in standard. So you know I am well prepared. 😉
Luckily the unlimited format adds only one set, the infamous Denizens of Shimzar.
Having recently come back to Duelyst I had to crash course myself on “what mattered from Shimzar” and so I started by going back over the Shimzar set and making a list of every card that “could” matter. You can find that list at the very bottom, though it isn’t necessary for the article. After taking a look at that I realized there really is only one full deck that is going to get added to the existing standard meta, and the question becomes how strong is that deck? Outside of that one full deck there will be a handful of card adjustments to the existing standard decks. So it turns out I am actually more prepared for unlimited than I had originally thought. 🙂
Critical rules to know for playing in the tournament:
Unlimited format – all cards from Duelyst
Conquest Rules set – Must win with each of your generals.
Day 1 is two generals from two different factions, no side boarding, but may fully edit decks between rounds.
Day 2 is three generals from three different factions with submitted deck lists.
Special Note: Mnemovore is banned for this format.
The Rules do not forbid intentionally drawing.
Lets Start by taking a look at a deck that is not currently in standard that will now be available, Cassy Creep. Cassy creep was not viable in standard because it did not have a good way to “finish” or exploit the creep it had generated. This of course goes away in the unlimited format. Now many players are going to jump straight into testing Cassy creep with Obliterate, but I recommend you hold off on putting that clunky spell back in your deck. Instead I recommend using Abyssal Tormentor.
“But wait GGH isn’t abyssal tormentor already in standard?” It is but what it was lacking was a way to put creep directly under the enemy general. We have access to that now with Sphere of Darkness. Here is my justification, in a pinch Tormentor is better because it can provoke and body block, and can assist with the board state without “resetting” your creep development.
Here is a look at how to start testing that deck:
In this list there are a lot of moving parts but nothing is going to be too in the way while you try things out. Lets talk about what to replace if things are not working as you might like. Nocturne becomes either primus fist, maw, celebrant, or Cryptographer according to your preference. Abyssal tormentor isn’t working cut it and add obliterates. If abyssal tormentor is more than enough cut obliterate for an extra whip, necrotic sphere, grasp of agony or Loremaster. If Alcuin Fugitive proves to be really solid then add an additional 1 by cutting one of the experiment cards. If mulch is good the bump it to 2 possibly cutting a punish. If Mulch isn’t good make it the 3rd punish. Finally, unless necrotic sphere and Alcuin fugitive are both awesome make room for Thunderhorn who is going to play well in a deck that causes this many positioning problems. As a minor note I would not play Ooz because of thunderhorn.
5/4/18 Nocturne just not that good. Necrotic sphere is awesome, punish is awesome. Abyssal tormentor has done work.
Now lets take a look at some decks that will see play and may get adjusted from their standard format shells.
Deck lists from standard to consider-
Strategoes Brome –
Not a lot of adaption to be had here maybe the inclusion of Afterblaze as a transitioning card that also replaces itself. You might want to consider adjusting Rhacker’s version of the list, but again the deck list is tight so finding that adjustment will be a challenge.
Highlander Brome –
I added this list because I expect Highlander to be over represented, and I will talk more about that later. But selecting three generals from three different factions can sometimes be harder than it looks, and when you are looking for that third deck you may want to opt for something that has a familiar feel and highlander is becoming the “norm” for some competitive pilots. So if you take Highlander Reva and Rag which are know to be good and you want to round out the slots with a third list that will play in a similar fashion this deck might be right up your alley. Adjustments to the deck probably include Afterblaze and Lucient beam.
After a talk with Rhacker recently, I can suggest that you put a higher priority on testing this list. More will follow as I figure stuff out.
This is Blob’s list and is pretty well tuned already, you might need to tinker to see if you can find some space.
Wizard Brome –
I will talk more about why this deck is on the list later, but for now know that maybe lucient beam could find a home in this deck. And that sun wisp could be relevant if you want to retool the list to have some early game.
Midrange Ziran –
Someone always plays this, and it is good against me so if you want to beat me specifically then this is your deck of choice. 😉
You need to find space for lucient beam, but I am not nearly experienced enough to know where that is.
Mantra Shidai –
The reality is that I do not have the piloting experience to speak to this deck and how well Crescent Spear will perform. On the surface it looks very solid but you will need a much more experienced pilot to tell you if it is good or not. I am certain that you can stick to the stock list and do well though so taking your time to get in a handful of games trying out spear would not be out of your way if you are considering playing this deck.
I think EursianJay has put in the raw hours on this to have a very well tuned list.
Midrange Kaleos – Katara is almost an immediate upgrade over anything you might be playing in the early game of Kaleos and it is only a matter of finding out how to fit it into the deck. If your deck has Inner focus you need to think about how you might fit this into your deck. Although there are a few other minor things worth trying the midrange Kaleos decks have started to get pretty tuned so you can easily build off of them. Here is a copy of Intellectpresent’s:
Highlander Reva -It feels a little redundant to say Katara, but again you need to make sure that you find some space for it. It is the only cards in the game that can suddenly become a win-con as a 1 drop without being a crap play in the early game. The highlander reva decks have gotten so tight it is a legitimate argument whether to run fox or oni, so finding that space might be a challenge. Here is a copy of EJ’s Highlander reva and his heathen oni ways.
Aggro/Golem Zirix –
Both of these decks are going to need some serious tuning. They may not make any changes at all but with Whisper of the Sands, Allomancer, Nimbus, and most importantly Falcius now being avalible to them you would be foolish to not at least try some of those options.
If you want to work off of Golem zirix here is TM25MD’s list he picked up the Ostracon with:
Or if you want to work off of Aggro Zirix here is my own rendition I’ve been tinkering with:
Some important questions to answer here include: does accumulonimbus make whisper of the sands too redundant, and is allomancer unnecessary in supporting whisper of the sands. In the past Allomancer was a so-so card for me, but it was still one of the better four drops I could work with. Allomancer may not be necessary anymore with high powered five drops to cover that mid-late spread.
Allomancer did work in testing but it felt really clunky.
The deck could use some card draw.
Aggro Cass – The stock standard list is just fine for this deck.
Highlander Lilithe – Sphere of Darkness and Void Steal might find a home in this list, but they probably are not going to change any win percentages by more than 1/2 a percent.
Midrange Maev – Inkfathom gaze looks kind of intriguing here, but I can’t find a home for it in the stock list. So again for this deck I would stick to the standard Stock list.
Highlander Rag –
Possible additions include lava lance, thumping wave, and nature’s confluence. I modified Blob’s list to try out these cards. I cut one of the flash reincarnates which is a personal preference. Since the upcoming tournament is swiss I would recommend reducing your high roll hand in favor of a more consistent deck anyways a la GGH’s guide to winning tournaments. I cut upper hand for thumping wave, and Earth Sister for Nature’s Confluence. Again you would need to play around and see what works best.
Rhacker is thinking that flash should be a 2 of, and that it isn’t a two of. If someone wanted to crack the numbers on seeing flash before mana six that would be helpful. I’ve seen a couple people knock out the % for seeing it before four mana, but that is a best case scenario, what you want to know is how often does having two flash hurt you in comparison.
Midrange Decimus –
Add Thumping wave?
Although thumping wave is a very powerful card the Decimus lists have become very tuned to the meta. At 4 mana the spell is probably not worth the hard inclusion. If I was going to try and fit it in I would cut one natural selection form the more controlling versions of this list or from the more mid range versions.
I would recommend AlphaCentury’s more midrange version of this deck over the more controlling versions, as it can go toe-to-toe with aggro lists better.
Midrange Vaath – Add Thumping wave?
Midrange Vaath is already insanely well tuned, and again finding space for Thumping wave is difficult. However, Vaath can handle the early game pressure better than almost any other general so an adjustment of 1 or 2 natural selection to thumping wave could end up being a performance boost for the list. Especially if you opt to include Elucidator.
Buffseverwhere’s list is still preforming well and is a great list to either take as stock or to tune to your own style:
Ramp Faie – Possible adjustments include white asp, has synergies with aspect of the bear, but competes for space with aspect of the mountain and frost burn. No Adjustment recommended from standard shell.
I would recommend Minmaxer’s Ramp Faie which I believe is very well tuned, and will require no adjustment to compete in the tournament:
How to play a conquest rules set-
Although the Swiss portion will follow the same advice as my previous article on winning tournaments. Some special notes for conquest are to not try and play the tech deck on day 1. Day 1 is a grind fest with no certainty on who you will end up playing. You may call the meta perfectly and still not end up playing the meta. Stick to the known strong decks on the first day. On day 2 your number three deck is going to make all of the difference in the world. Your first two decks are going to do what they do because they are the “strongest decks” but often times in conquest your deck #3 is really the deciding factor. It is extremely common to see 3-2 victories in conquest, and for one, two or all three of their loses to be on their deck #3. You have to remember that day 2 is essentially a single elimination bracket, and if you are confident in your first two decks power it is okay to play a higher variance deck #3 because you should be able to put it in a position where it will get more than one shot to win. So my recommendations are “whatever you think the two most powerful decks are for your play style throughout day 1, and then adding a higher variance (although powerful) deck #3 on day 2. If apex was legal it would be the ideal deck #3.
What will the meta look like based on what I’ve heard and seem:
Initial Guess of the meta (not of which decks to play)
#1 Aggro Zirix
#2 Wanderer Rag
#3 Cassy Creep
#4 Wanderer Reva
#5 Strategos Brome
What is probably correct to play:
#1 Wanderer Rag
I don’t actually know if Cassy Creep is powerful but I’ve bumped into more of a handful of people who have said they can’t wait to play creep again, so I believe that some people are going to force it whether it is good or not.
There will be a smattering of dedicated players who stick to their deck no matter what and from them you can expect some aggro argy, spell shidai, ramp faie. Although I do not believe this will be a major part of the meta, at least one will top 8 because that is always how it goes.
Well guys I have been typing throughout my work day and for about 5 hours after getting off work. I would really appreciate any feedback you have. And I really do wish you guys the best of luck this coming Saturday.
Every Card that “could” matter
Slo -Thorn kills this as an option.
Sun Wisp – Could be a 2 drop but I think the deck that wants it is aggro argy and he seems under powered.
Lucient Beam – Probably worth remembering this can go face. The midrange version of ziran should find a home for it.
Afterblaze – Seems like a great card for brome. It should make the list for highlander at the very least.
Ironcliff heart – Always thought this card was underrated. It seems like it could find a nice home in Strategoes brome.
Katara – Straight upgrade to Kaido Assassin in many lists.
Xho – Thunder Horn! Ho!
Crescent Spear – Adaption to Mantra Shadai?
Mirror Meld – Return of Arcanyst combo hai?
Ki Beholder – Solid three drop in a world of bad three drops, seems particuarly relevant for Kaleos
Battle Pando – Same reasons as Ki beholder
Onyx Jaguar – Might be a deck here but probably not. It has some amusing synergy with Flame Wreath.
Pax – Thorn is probably still too good for this card even as good as pax is. The problem is that a well placed Thron from your opponent can end the game, so you are quite literally gambling the game to play battle pets.
Whisper of the sands – damage and draw a card its hard to argue
Falcius – This is the card that vet has missed the most post-rotation.
Psychic Conduit – Worth noting but is more of a sidebaord card and this tournament does not have sideboards.
Allomancer – Although 4 drops are alreayd good you may need this to back up whisper of the sands. So a couple of questions 1 is it good enough, 2 if it isnt good is whisper not that good without it.
Nimbus – Noteworthy because of how powerful it is. It interacts well with thunderhorn, and puts out very respectable damage. 5 drops are already good in Vet though.
Spinecleaver – MAYBE there is a control list that finds this thing a home. With Falcius coming back Sajj might be able to run this to some success. Although then you’d be running Sakk and you’d be a disgrace to the Sand Nation.
Sphere of Darkness – yes
Gor – Thorn kills
Ooz – Thorn kills
Lurking Fear – Not strong enough to support a seriously competitive list?
Inkfathom gaze – Removal with draw attached, can find a home
Void Steal – probably not it was already “just okay” in hyperswarm back in the day
Ghost Azalea – other better options
Klaxon – Probably doesn’t fit anymore but still a good card
Obliterate – Might not be necessary or might be 100% critical not sure yet.
Lava Lance – Ragnora?
Gro – Thunderhorn kills it
Thumping Wave – Yes!
Nature’s Confluence – Wanderer!
Aspect of Shimzar – made irrelevant by Bear
Iceblade Dryad – Sound 3 drop but not enough vespyr in the format
Wailing Overdrive – Probably not right for the only viable deck in the format
White Asp – Might see play
Huldra – Combo deck, but again not enough “good” vespyr
Rawr – maybe in some songhai list? Still seems risky with Thorn