Legends tell of a deck that was so powerful that it almost destroyed Duelyst itself, you may have heard talk of it in hushed whispers, yes it’s Arcanyst Vanar. Not satisfied with the budget decks I had seen for Kara I thought it would make sense to whip out the old powerhouse, the core of which is centered around a number of excellent Rare Arcanysts, and update it for how I would play it on a budget. With Midrange Reva and Aggro Zirix in the bag, going into Vanar would round out my offerings with a more control-oriented list and would give an alternative to the excellent budget Aggro Faie decks I have seen for Vanar players on a budget. I’d also add that this deck is probably a little harder to play than the previous two I’ve shown.
Partway through my climb the seismic Patch 1.96 hit, nerfing 2 of the cards in the deck, I was almost deterred from continuing, but then I realised that the world hadn’t ended and the deck was still perfectly playable, though I will in a second briefly get into what was nerfed and how it affected the deck. I didn’t change the list at all during the climb, including after the patch, so here is the list:
You’ll notice in the above decklist those Deathgrips showing up as costing 1, so before we go on I will address that, visualizations of the Patch 1.96 changes courtesy of F8:
Mana Deathgrip went from being one of the best cards in the deck to one of the most awkward, the deck is pretty greedy for mana to get off combos of spells and arcanysts at the same time, so getting the ramp off is very nice. But at 2 mana it’s competing with all your other spells that are better removal tools. After the nerf the were times where it was good still, but there were also many times where the cost increase had a very noticeable impact on how the turn could be played out, unable to cast it conveniently, and thus the whole game continued without that bonus mana that you would have pre-nerf.
I think that replacing one with a Flash Freeze be a good idea, not sure if cutting MDG entirely is the way to go, but it may be one of the things to consider cutting if you upgrade the deck.
The nerf to Frigid Corona absolutely hurts in a very tangible way, firstly it can no longer be used as an emergency P1 opener, but this deck never looked to do that anyway as contesting mana is so important, but it’s a blow nonetheless for when you had no ther choice. The biggest way the nerf hurts is that it’s a crucial loss in the Sajj and Vaath matchups, and now I suppose the returning Arti-hai builds, basically any one-man army style deck where they were relying on their general’s attacks and mobility is now a worse matchup. Plus you lose some utility in any situation where they circumstantially don’t have a minion in play but you want a spell proc or to draw off it.
That all said, after the nerf I was still pretty happy with how it performed, there were a couple of situations where I was wishing it could still hit generals, but by and large this deck looks to cast it on their threatening minions anyways, so I don’t think you’d need to cut this as a result of the nerf.
So how did the deck perform?
Here are the stats for this month’s climb, notably a little worse than last month and also a worse climb through diamond than March’s Reva, but not a terrible climb overall, a 66% winrate is something I’ll take. I had one pretty bad day in diamond that quite impacted the stats, so a little advice for climbing might be that it’s okay to take a break if you’re not having much success of a day. Even if you don’t think you’re tilted it can help, maybe you will come back when there are different players with different matchups for you to play against.
With all that out the way let’s get into discussing the meat of the deck, and meet the Arcanysts:So this here would be the namesake of the deck, the Arcanysts themselves, an all neutral core of rares, and these actually make up the majority of the spirit expenditure of the deck. Incidentally this could be a decent curve if you can take mana tiles as you go or hit your Flash Freezes. The Arcanyst package can get quite snowbally if they do not get answered and can result in you spiraling out of control with a huge army of unreasonable toughness. When these guys all get online you can be spawning more and more unkillable units every turn and never running out of cards as you go. To give you an idea of the value I’m talking about I feel that when rolling you will outvalue Stragetos and I won a game chewing through a Winter’s Waked Ice Age.
The flip side is that if your arcanyst is getting answered each turn and you never get going then things can get very hairy for you. It’s for this reason that I chose Kara as the General, you expect to win late game value wars most of the time, so don’t necessarily need that Warbird inevitability, and you very badly need to stick your board. To this end the extra point of toughness can be critical, and extra attack on illusions you produce from Prismatic Illustionist can offer some beatdown too.
Heading into each individually Manaforger is your best 2 drop opening, and the cost reduction can be very critical for getting the spell triggers of your other Arcanysts, which you always prefer to cast alongside a spell to get value immediately. Illusionist is your swarm engine, and gets you bodies on board to contest with, with Kara BBS these guys are actually capable of putting away games surprisingly fast. Owlbeast is likely your best Arcanyst and combines real well with Illusionist, if it sticks around a turn or two it pretty much can guarantee that your Arcanysts will not die to damage based removal. Finally Blue Conjurer is the primary draw Engine of the deck and can sometimes produce you win conditions, feels great to get a Death Knell.
Let’s move on to some of the spells:I’ve left out a couple of the spells I’m playing here, but I’m grouping all the removal here all in one spot, and will deal with the others separately. So aye, most of the spells in the deck are removal or pseudo-removal. As much as we can cram in and as cheap as possible, this allows us to build our own board and benefit from the spell triggers while simultaneously cheaply halting or delaying the opponent’s development.
The idea here is that casting these is advancing your gameplan by triggering your arcanysts, and even if it doesn’t dismantle your opponent’s board it’s enough of a setback that you just gain ground again and again until your arcanyst snowball takes off. This is mostly point removal that will work best against on-curve single targets, there isn’t much in the way of anti-swarm, so that’s a potential weakness to look out for.
It’s hard for me to give exact advice, but knowing which of these are good in each matchup and for each board state will definitely help improve your gameplay with the deck, as a small example Aspect of The ravager is worse vs Wanderer decks and Hailstone Prison is better. Stuns will be weaker if you think they may EMP etc etc.Next up is this deck’s party trick, Polarity is your combo-style finisher for when your Owlbeast got to stay on board for a turn or two and can buff up a unit’s defense to be equal to your opponent’s HP. Worth mentioning is when you cast Polarity Owlbeast will Trigger first so Polarity itself will account for 2 damage (or 2 damage per Owlbeast I suppose). This can definitely catch opponents off-guard and is a pretty good way to get a surprise lethal. It’s pretty weak outside of this situation though, there are occasional uses for it if you’re quite desperate for a spell trigger or to deal with an Obelysk for example, but these are more like situations that you should be mindful when they crop up rather than something to plan for.
The final spell to look at is one that’s included as a concession to how this deck can run out of cards when it tries to play 2 or 3 per turn. Endless Hunt could be renamed to Endless Spell Triggers in this deck and can sometimes provide the lategame fuel in being a reliable spell alongside your BBS (which it synergizes very well with). Ideally you are casting this in addition to one of your cheaper spells while you have some Arcanysts that are benefiting from it on board already, and when discounted by Manaforger it’s a lot more palatable. Sometimes you can get by for a turn or two casting this as your only board presence, but usually those are games that aren’t going too well. That said having an extra body on board is definitely nice and it is possible to get ahead in certain scenarios by casting this every turn, or have the bodies beat down on your opponent.
I did by and large find it to be outclassed by Blue Conjurer, but it did have added reliability as something always in hand and with both in play you can VERY quickly find yourself flying back to full hand size (and beyond). I mentioned it before, you really can run dry, but having just Conjurer to remedy alone that isn’t enough since you won’t always draw it. With both you can yourself with endless Arcanysts AND endless spells to go with them, beautiful.
Lastly we need to fit in some 2 drops with our remaining 160 spirit, I would talk about how as Player 2 you could use Hearth-Sister and MDG to get ahead on mana early, but that no longer exists, so RIP that. Nonetheless Hearth-Sister is still an excellent utility card that you can use to pull priority minions in to be cleared, transport threats you cannot clear away and to get your minions in range, for example to get a Polarity lethal off. If you have to play it P1 as a Skyrock Golem it’s not the worst.
Lastly is Healing Mystic, the deck does have a bit of a weakness to aggro decks so shoring that up whilst offering the ability to preserve the HP of our critical Arcansyts is perfect to round out the deck with a basic card.
If you are looking to craft higher higher rarity upgrades to the deck then I do have a couple of suggestions for what you might like to consider, this is NOT me telling you to go craft all of these at once to boost your winrate:
If you want to shake up your 2 drops, which I think would be a good place to start, then consider this package of Circulus and Aethermaster. Which lets you conveniently replace all the illisionists that Circulus gives you that you don’t want to play. Filling your hand with effective options.
Another option at the 2 slot is Gravity Well, which can fill the slot of an opening minion as well as being a spell proc later. Like a lot of the other spells in the deck this slows your opponent down more than it stops them, but sometimes this is exactly what you need and Gravity Well helps in some of the matchups where Corona no longer can, putting the brake on the enemy general for a turn. In addition it has good Synergy with Kara BBS and as a result can be more than just a minor nuisance.
Trinity Wing is likely an upgrade Over Endless Hunt, albeit a less reliable one, since there can be situations where you don’t have an Arcanyst or need those unconditional repeating bodies/spell to grind out a game. It’s also possible to run a split of T-wing and Conjurers, feel free to experiment. If you do cut the Mystics for example then having some access to healing it gives could just save your bacon. Additionally as an Arcanyst with flying it does slot nicely into an Owlbeast/Polarity plan.
I almost put this guy into the list here since it’s so very good with Kara BBS, and gives you a nice little extra immediate reach with the rush bodies. This guy happens to combine really well with Bloodbound mentor and you can consider building the deck in that direction as I think it’s a pretty fun way to take it with huge potential burst.