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From the Deck: Starter Deck Augmentation

Greetings! With the arrival of the Frost Ring Arena tomorrow, I thought I would take a moment to look at the four Starter Decks that are available and see what cards can be added to them to make them more formidable, giving them a stronger chance of surviving the entire Frost Ring gauntlet.

It has been mentioned by the developers that they want Starter Decks to be capable of clearing Tier 1 (and if that’s not happening, they will probably tweak Tier 1 so they can). But this doesn’t mean that a Starter Deck shouldn’t be able to clear Tier 2 or go all the way with some basic additions. I’ll go over each of the four starter and look at (mostly) commons and uncommons that can easily be added to these decks, swapping out the cards that don’t do as much for you as you’d like them to. (Remember, you don’t want to go over 60 cards and you want to replace a card with one of similar cost if you can).

Orc Starter

Obvious additions here are getting your Gore Feast of Kog’Tepetl count to 3 or 4. While a rare, it still doesn’t demand the price it should on the Auction House. A couple Arena Regulars as well can add some early, consistent damage for when you can’t squeeze attacks in. Throw in some Murders or Killblade of the Milky Eye to deal with large threats. Crackling Bolt and Crackling Rot will go a long way in the removal department as well. Just remember that Bolts are Basic Actions, so if you are thinking about replacing your Burns with them, keep in mind when they can be played.

Tormented Ritualist is a great troop with his (her?) ability to become unblockable. If you go this route, you might consider switching your champion to Bunoshi, the Ruthless to pump this guy (gal?) up.

Another champion option is Sir Giles Rowan, if your deck is all orcs. He’ll be adding to the offense of every orc in your deck, which is quite potent for a champion power.

Human Starter

The first thing you want to do is change your champion to Dimmid or Rutherford Banks. You should probably do this before you even take the Starter into the Starter Trials, in all honesty. Lady Elizabeth is simply out-shined by other champions in Diamond.

Next you’ll want to add four Time Ripples to your deck. These can be great during MC Challenges that add off-shard cards to your opponent’s board, like the Headless Executioner challenge. You’ll also want to pick up some Repels and/or Solitary Exiles to add some strong defense (or to simply take care of a threat you couldn’t handle).

There’s a ton of great humans added to the mix in Shattered Destiny: Kraken Guard Seapriest, Town Crier, Timestep Magistrate, and Vanguard of Cerulea to name a few. You can easily cycle out all the non-humans in the starter to humans and make Hero of Adamanth much, much stronger. You can possibly find deals on Hero and Lord Benjamin, The Wise on the auction house as well, or find someone willing to trade or you them. At the very least pick up a few Rallying Banners and start inspiring your entire field with +1/+1.

Dwarf Starter

(Before you begin here, remember to put a gem into your Master Theorycrafter—I recommend the Major Ruby of Destruction.)

Another race that got a huge boost with Shattered Destiny is dwarves. Since the AI opponents like to play combat tricks, Subterranean Spy is a good tunneled card to have. Other strong tunnellers are Launchpad Specialist and Underground Overdriver.

Volcannon should be added to your deck as soon as possible. Using this in your opponent’s End phase guarantees damage every turn with little risk to yourself. In addition Construct Foreman and Charge Hulk make excellent additions, as well as any of the new Construction Plans introduced in Shattered Destiny. Finally, take a peek at the Robots added in the latest set. If you find your deck tilting heavy in robots, an Augmentation Bot can make them a threat that the arena champions simply can’t deal with.

Since Dwarves are running Sapphire, they could use a few Time Ripples and interrupts as well (Verdict of the Ancient Kings and Countermagic), so you can experiment by adding a couple of these to your deck and see how they fare against some of the stronger effects your opponents are playing.

Shin’hare Starter

Again, we have a champion switch. Here we want Warmaster Fuzzuko. You won’t be making as many Battle Hoppers with charges, but that’s where you want to put in a few Surprise Runt Gang cards into the mix.

Keeper of the Wounded Petal is a strong card if your deck is mostly shin’hare. You should also look into getting a Succulent Roostasaur as this card can be amazing when you have a ton of shin’hare out.

Crackling Sprout is an excellent combat trick for Wild as well, and of course Tormented Ritualist works just as great in this deck as it does the orc deck (if not better, because it’s a shin’hare). Spirit Oracle is a great late-game card that can quickly make threats out of even the smallest shin’hare troops, and of course Crazed Squirrel Titan can act as a combination removal and body when it hits the board.


A couple of cards were added that help out everyone. The dual shards are one such example. You should remove two each of the shards in your starter deck and replace these four cards with their dual shard equivalent as soon as possible.

Inductocopter Bots, Charge Bots and Charge Hulks can accelerate you to your champion power quickly, and S.P.A.M. Bots are good early drops that can become a threat if not dealt with. Mimeobot can help frugal players get multiple copies of rares and legendaries they have in their hand into their deck.

Rares & Legendaries

If you ever come across Rares and Legendaries that share a shard type with your starter, you might want to consider fitting them in. The power level on these cards is usually very strong, but some cards at this level are designed to combo off other cards, so if you don’t have the other part of the combo, you’re not getting full value for your played card. Some cards that should seriously be considered for your deck as long as your deck contains shards to play them are: The Ancestor’s Chosen, Soul Marble, Fissuresmith, Storm Cloud, Relentless Corruption, Spearcliff Cloud Knight, Royal Den Mother, Jags the Blademaster, Vampire King, Xentoth’s Inquisitor (with the Brutality Orb), Royal Falconer, The Killipede, Wrathwood Master Moss, Angel of Dawn, Mastery of Time, Reese the Crustcrawler, His Majesty King Gabriel, Ash Harpy, Eternal Drifter, Tiaanost, Army of the Arcane Cinder, Zakiir, Zeedu, Urunaaz, War Bot Dropship, Eternal Guardian, Wrathwood Colosuss, and Argus, Herald of Doom.

So there you have it. I don’t declare this to be a definitive guide to making your free starter deck into a Tier 1 constructed monster, but it should help you tweak your deck and make it fare better against the later opponents in the arena. Remember to look at any equipment you win and possibly acquire the cards for equipment you have. Equipment makes cards downright broken in some cases, and that will certainly help against the stronger Arena champions.

Matt Miller, known as DeckOfManyThings in-game, is a professional MMO designer by day, and a Hex Kickstarter backer by night. He's been playing TCG's since being taught by Peter Adkinson how to play Magic: the Gathering with Alpha cards, and is now devoting a lion's share of his free time to playing and improving his skills at Hex. Find him at @ManyThingsDeck on twitter or /u/ManyThingsDeck on reddit.

1 Comment on From the Deck: Starter Deck Augmentation

  1. Nice article!! I had been thinking about how much an article like this was needed in the community actually. “how can I improve x starter deck” is surely one of the most asked questions in general game chat.

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