At the beginning of the month I was prepared that I may have to tell you that if you wanted to play Abyss on a budget you should go and play Swarm Lilithe, but I have been pleasantly surprised by how Maehv has performed, she does have a few tricks up her sleeve still, though her BBS is a double-edged sword when you can properly take advantage of it and plan around the drawback of the HP loss it’s still got plenty to offer. You can stick a board putting large minions on the field, and the HP loss doesn’t matter if they’re the ones that die after all. We’ve gone for a very tempo focused deck that looks to quickly build a board and then cash it in for a bursty lethal. I think it’s a pretty good deck, but your results may vary.
As I said I was pleasantly surprised, I thought Maehv might have done noticeably worse than a couple of my previous attempts, but that wasn’t the case at all really. The deck actually has a fine Wanderer matchup from what it felt like, I didn’t actually keep record, (and you know sometimes they have all the answers) but if you draw well you have already set up a durable board and can start wreaking havoc against them with Furor Chakram in response to them spending a turn playing Wanderer. You do much less well against aggro strategies in general, just since your gameplan does involve dealing 6 damage to yourself, hopefully the cost is worth it and you draw healing appropriately, but they typically try to kill you in around the same timeframe and if they have burn it can be tricky. At any rate I was able to do pretty well, could have probably turned a few of the losses into wins, but I find that to be a weak ground to stand on in arguing for the deck, how it did was how it did, and it did good:
I based the deck off a couple of other players experiments into Maehv, namely AlphaCentury and REE, who found that Tempo Heavy Maehv decks could play aggressively and close out games pretty quickly before the opponent had a chance to take advantage of the HP cost of playing Maehv. So how would I go about playing Maehv on a budget?
I’ll level with you, there’s one card that you want to draw every game. Furor Chakram is not only one of Abyssians best lower rarity cards, but one of the best Abyssian cards at all. So when building the deck I really wanted to build around it. Maehv’s other best play is to Play an Azure Horn Shaman among a group of duders, and then use your BBS on it. For those that don’t know, the interaction with Azure Horn Shaman and Maehv BBS creates the husk before the Dying Wish fires, meaning the husk you creates gets the buff also.
Therefore, primarily off the back of these 2 interactions, our gameplan is to quickly deploy a board, cash in a huge board clear and face damage with a furor chakram, and then finish the game before it goes on into lategame. There’s not much beyond that, the entire deck is built with a very low curve and tempo-positive plays in mind, there’s no hard removal and not much late game value generation, preserve your minions in the first couple of turns where it makes sense to do so, then use your board and a little extra burn damage to kill your opponent.
I already covered two of these above, but they’re obviously important, so it bears repeating, we’re on a budget here and we’ve got a couple of Maehv’s best tools available to us at rare, and they happen to work great together. Furor Chakram benefits from a board of durable units with advantageous forward positioning and Azure Horn Shaman sets that up for you. Perfect. We throw in Cryptographer, which I consider to be a real budget all-star, to have early and reliable access to this and more sizable bodies to hit with both buffs.
Next up is some minion based damage that synergizes with what we already have, blood tear is a cheap tempo tool that’s a decent target to hit with BBS or boost with Azure Horn Shaman, it’s a cheap body that can ping to clear artifact charges and get minor face damage or help to clear low HP minions. Tiger is in the deck solely because it helps get value from playing a Furor Chakram even when our board is a little tenuous, as a 5/2 rush frenzy it’s a valuable tool. Gnasher is there as a little extra aoe and face damage and a good target for BBS once you’re out of the early game.
Lure is pretty much a staple in most Abyss builds, and that’s certainly no exception here, it’s great tempo as it can remove a threat to a corner of the board for long enough that it’s hopefully never relevant again by the end of the game, but it also is extra relevant if we have a Chakram buffed Frenzy minion on board, or in conjunction with other aoe. Grasp of Agony is the perfect example, another cheap tool in our arsenal to push damage, add impact to some frenzy clears, punish our opponents misplays and have another tempo tool to quickly clear an extra minion or two to continue building board or pushing damage.
One thing you sometimes find when playing Maehv is that you’ve killed yourself, you cast your BBS to gain advantages on board, but sometimes it doesn’t pan out, your minions die and now you’re under pressure, to make matters worse your HP is dwindling and your quickly in range of their out of hand burst, then it’s lights out. In these situations it’s nice to have something that can cheaply bring you back out of the danger zone or let your HP total be in an area you feel you can safely cast your BBS again. Azure Herald is another 2 drop, and one that can viably survive to receive the HP and Attack buffs that are crucial to the success of the deck. Void pulse is the other source of healing that also gives us some very cheap and efficient burn to help us close out a game or chip on artifacts.
What we have so far is a very low curve deck that missing some 3 drops, ideally we want 3 drops that give us some durable board presence that can make use of Azure Horn Shaman and Furor Chakram, and since our curve is so low and aggressive we’re in need of options to refill our hand. These 3 cards all do the job excellently in various scenarios, Bound Tormentor gives us more cheap bodies, often pretty good ones, Xerroloth is our Trump card against spell-heavy decks and is a card that I feel is sometimes underrated, perhaps at the time due to comparison with Mind-Cage Oni (which has now been nerfed to that same stat line), Sojourner is the only card that draws cards from our actual deck, which is nice to dig for key cards, and has a great interaction with Chakram drawing a card for each Frenzy hit. Blaze Hound would also be acceptable in this slot if you dislike one of the above options.
And that’s it, we’re running 3 of everything, so deck complete. Beautifully in budget.
I feel like I’ve already decently outlined the gameplan for the deck, which by and large is pretty straightforward, build an advantageous board, and then win the game with Furor Chakram. This means you probably need to be heavily replacing to find Furor Chakram since it’s usually how you win, good cards to replace of course depend on the matchup and game state, but in general I find Void Pulse, Tiger, extra copies of 3 drops when our hand is full, extra aoe when they’re not swarm, Crypto when we don’t have good targets or our HP is low etc. Once Chakram is in our hand we can play safe in the knowledge that if our opponent missteps we can blow them out.
If we do have Chakram in hand then manipulating a situation where we can play it is our primary concern, that means having high HP minions on board, but also having positioning where the Frenzy is effective. This can be harder than it sounds, but it often means that we don’t want to go face early, and depending on who’s favoured on board we either play aggressively forward to lower their good positions to play around frenzy if advantaged, or play defensively to preserve our unit HP if disfavoured, hopefully in this situation they get baited in and you get to flip it on them.
Even a modest board can suddenly become quite a favored situation for you when Chakram comes down.
I’ve already gone over what I consider to be good replaces but it’s worth going over an example for an opening hand, going first is usually fairly easy since you want a 2 drop and a Furor Chakram in hand and then anything than qualifies as a follow up play, you’re good to go. It’s pretty achievable to spend your second turn protecting a mana tile and then take the globe to get an early Chakram. Playing as player 2 there’s a few more possible openings.
In this hand we want to replace 2 cards to give us best odds of finding Chakram. Cryptographer is an opening play that I quite like because it’s pretty flexible, you can set up an early 4/4 and it’s possible to nick their diagonal mana tile by BBS’ing a Cryptographer onto it, especially when they play a 1 Atk minion. Another option with it is to take centre tile with the husk by playing it below the mana tile and BBS’ing the husk to centre. Of course it’s perfectly reasonable to save the BBS for next turn, particularly if you have Shaman in hand. Bloodtear can be combined into these starts to punish certain 1 HP minions, or can be held back in hand otherwise, particularly good if you know they will play 1 HP targets. A lot of the 3 mana minions are also acceptable openers, but sometimes lack a bit of punch in the opening salvos.
In the above hand Tiger and Void Pulse are pretty easily the replaces, we’re full HP and don’t have any of our draw options available, so Pulse is looking quite weak, Tiger is okay and could serve a purpose clearing the last wraithling off a board or such, but is much weaker without an equipped Chakram, so I often replace it until I have that in hand, then they become much better to hold onto.
I thought it might be helpful to include a replay showing the deck in action, obviously I picked one where things go well to show how it works under ‘ideal’ circumstances, but often you’ll have to make tough decisions and compromises.
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:
Spelljammer is one of the premier options for neutral card draw in aggressive decks, it could easily find a place in this deck, I’m not sure what I’d cut, one of the draw options seems like a logical switch, but they’ve all performed pretty decently so this could come down to your preference, but adding a ‘real’ 4 drop that you actually want to play on 4 mana seems like a good addition.
Reaper is slightly moving away from the Tempo aspect of the deck, but it’s undeniably one of the best cards to combo with Furor Chakram, not only flying in for a perfectly placed Frenzy, but then providing another body to keep dishing out the fun.
Desolator is another of Abyssian’s great cards, for this deck it would provide a little of that extra reach and a way to keep casting BBS if a game goes too long. This isn’t exactly how the deck was built to play, but if you do find yourself in that sort of situation often adding a pair of Desolators might be the remedy you need.
Spectral Revenant gets an honorable mentions here because of how well it interacts with Chakram, triggering the 4 damage proc on every minion it frenzies. If you’re needing some extra oomph to end a game then Spectral Revenant is still capable, even if it’s not the powerhouse it once was when it cost 7 mana.
Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed it, I’d love to hear any feedback, positive or negative for the article, and I also hope to see you all succeeding on ladder.