Welcome everybody to a new installment—and new home—of Cabal Therapy. It is an honor and a privilege to write for and be a part of the new fiveshards.com community. You can look forward to seeing more of me here, and bringing outside-the-box thinking to the Hex meta game.
Today, we take a short look at a Set 1 card that I just can’t put down. Whenever I go to brew a deck (which is often, even in the currently pseudo-stale environment), I keep coming back to Spirit Dance. The irony of my fondness with this card lies in the fact that I am known to love cards that provide tempo, board presence, and card advantage. By itself, Spirit Dance does exactly none of these things. So why, then, am I so infatuated with this card?
Spirit Dance interacts so well with a large number of cards and strategies. Let us take a short look at some of my favorite interactions involving the ethereal jig:
Large wild troops
Large troops from other shards
The obvious combo with Spirit Dance is to simply combine it with large and expensive wild troops. Wrathwood Colossus suddenly costs a fairly reasonable 7, Battle Beetle is a downright bargain at 4, and the previously mentioned Crazed Squirrel Titan is a monstrous 6/6 removal on a stick (or perhaps crazed power line) for only 4 resources. When combined with other shards or artifacts, we can add many more troops to the list. Argus, the Herald of Doom is further sped along in its development, Eternal Guardian becomes cheaper and less frail, and the same trend can be seen across the board. Sniper of Gawaine (another pet card of mine, though typically for draft) becomes a cheap, versatile, and powerful cannon at 4/4 for 3 resources that can point 4 damage pretty much anywhere as it enters play.
Outside of obvious uses, it is important to look at Spirit Dance as a cog to an engine. In my opening statement, I discussed some of the drawbacks Spirit Dance had. Thus, when designing a deck around it, it is important to understand those weaknesses so that they can either be corrected for, or otherwise placed within a certain acceptable framework so that they do not become critical weaknesses. One way to overcome this is by sheer value of every troop you draw after playing Spirit Dance. The previous paragraph suggests some easy examples of how this can be done. However, if we want to see that advantage happen more often, we would ideally play with more troops in our deck. In order to keep the probabilities of drawing and playing Spirit Dance high, we do not wish to achieve this by simply starting with a bigger deck featuring more troops. Thus, we need a method to either add more troops to the deck, or increase the chances of finding those troops. Briar Legion and the Briar Patch Conjuror provide a method to start seeing an engine of troops come out after Spirit Dance. Ideally, Pack Raptor can also add more troops to your deck, but with an initial cost of 1 resource and a fairly small frame, it doesn’t seem to pack the same punch as Briar Legions.
The problem I have with Briar Legions, however, is the rate of drawing them. Now, it is entirely possible to have such deck saturation, that you are likely to draw one every turn. However, that is exactly what you are going to do… draw 1… every turn. Powerful? Potentially. Overwhelming? Well, not for a few turns, at least. Cards that either draw more cards or search for troops (such as Oakhenge Ceremony) can provide consistency and a small boost to the amount of Briar Legions drawn—but as the number of Legions go up, the chance to draw these helpers goes down. We are then stuck in the above scenario of simply drawing one Briar Legion a turn for the rest of the game.
Enter the best 1-drop in Set 1: The Ancestor’s Chosen is an amazing little gem that already sees plenty of play in other decks, mostly mono sapphire builds. This is the card that brings all the prior weaknesses of Spirit Dance back into an area of strength. The more Ancestral Spirits that get added to the deck (and thanks to the cheap cost of The Ancestor’s Chosen, that can start early), the more ridiculous Spirit Dance gets. What were once already cheap cantrip (cards that draw you a card on top of their other effects) fliers, now become FREE, large fliers. The fact that they become free gives us tons of room to work with other cards and effects for our deck.
Champion: Wyatt, the Sapper
4x Shards of Fate
11x Sapphire Shard
10x Wild Shard
4x The Ancestor’s Chosen
4x Moon’ariu Sensei
3x Menacing Gralk
3x Spirit Dance
3x Mastery of Time
2x Time Ripple
2x Replicator’s Gambit
3x Oracle Song
This deck plays out in a way that can be deceiving at first, but also maintains versatility—even before adding reserves. Interestingly, the deck has a combo feel to it. Spirit Danced ghosts into Menacing Gralk or Mastery of Time typically provides an inevitable tide of huge flying apparitions for the win. The rest of the deck is set up as a supporting cast, either making the deck flow along, providing further combo situations, or protecting the established game plan.
Reserves for this type of deck is highly dependent on your tastes. I am a big fan of Verdant Wyldeboar and the additional copies of Replicator’s Gambit. This allows for a lot of threats against control decks that are extremely hard for them to deal with. There is plenty of room to fill in reserves slots with cards from the deck that are not maxed out in number, as well as diversified options not already here, such as Nature Reigns, Yesterday, Winds of Change, or even Glimmerglen Witch.
Feel free to try out this deck, and let me know your thoughts in the comments section for this article. What changes did you make? What are your favorite strategies for the reserves? How many Ancestral Spirits did you chain together?
Until next time…