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From the Deck: The Quest for Perfection

When the Frost Arena was released last week, I, like most of you, dove in head first. I had two goals: 1) Find and defeat Uruunaz, and 2) Get a perfect run. I found Urunaaz on day 2 but I wasn’t using a deck built for Arena, and he crushed me. It was here I realized that in order to clear the arena with a perfect record, I was going to have to bring in a deck specifically tailored to do so.

I originally went with the Charge-based deck that has been making the rounds. This is a Ruby/Wild deck that has either Kishimoto or Lionel Flynn as the champion. The main pieces of it are Lightning Elemental with the Aqua Mask helm, Stink Troll (Stink Boots optional), and Goremaster. With these three in play you can easily kill your opponent in a single swing; since Lightning Elementals have swiftstrike and can do their damage to the champion before Goremaster, you will gain the charges off the Aqua Mask and Goremaster (who has Crush from the Stink Troll) will deal lethal most of the time.

The deck was fast. The deck was efficient. The deck kept failing me on War Bot.

War Bot is the Arena champion with the charge power of “10: Void all non-artifacts” and all he has is artifacts and Crackling Vortexes in his deck. With the amount of Reactor Bots and Charge Bot/Charge Hulks he has in his deck he can easily have you down to a sliver of health on turn 3 or 4. Then if you can mount any sort of comeback he uses his charge power and wipes you out.

So I looked at another deck that was making the rounds, put together by Infam0usNe0. This was a dwarf/robot deck built to take advantage of Construct Foreman and Construct Guild Underboss. The Hulk Helm on the Construction Plans: War Hulk is amazing as it gives you a free worker when it comes into play—and I found the speed of lethality of this deck to be unmatched. 0-cost Hex Geode and Forge of Cadoc being changed into War Bots with Construct Foremans mean that you can have potentially 8 Atk on the board, swinging, on turn 2. From what I have seen, this is THE deck being used in speed runs while tied together with a War Machinist and his Tinkerer’s Robes.

I was still not getting that perfect I was seeking, though. With only 19 shards in the build, I risked getting shard screwed all too often (although many 1-shard wins were had). So I decided to rethink things. In one run I got a Darkspire Longblade and that gave me the idea that I could build a Darkspire deck for the arena—an archetype I became very familiar with the nuances of from PvP.

The deck started its life as Ruby/Blood because I wanted to take advantage of Zoltog’s Arena power. I wanted -my- orcs to create Savage Raiders for me if I had the threshold. Unfortunately I found out later that even having the threshold doesn’t bestow this benefit onto the player. After learning this I looked seriously at the Ruby I had in the deck, and it was mostly there for removal: Crackling Bolt. There was a Ruby Enchantress and Ruby Aura as well (I had learned from the Charge deck that the AI is not the sharpest processor on the motherboard when it comes to swiftstrike).

I also found that the Paladin of Naagan was a problem. The deck just could not recover from a use of his charge power if I was lower on health (he gives a troop the ability of “This troop has +X/+X where X is the amount of health he has over you). Then there was War Bot. No artifacts meant I was susceptible to his charge power. So I went Mono-Blood. I swapped the Ruby Auras for Blood Auras to get some lifedrain onto my side. Swapped the Enchantress for Relentless Corruption (which was my anti War Bot tech). Crackling Bolt became Crackling Rot.

The deck is centered around the primary win-condition of “Darkspire”. There are four Darkspire Priestess (with the forementioned Longblade) and four Darkspire Punisher (with their Accursed Jerkin). These PvE equipments effectively double their “on death” abilities. For example, the Priestess would normally deal 3 damage or search your deck for a Darkspire card. With the Longblade it will deal 6 damage, search your deck for two Darkspire cards, or a combination of the two (3 damage and one Darkspire card). Anyone who’s played with normal Priestess can appreciate just how insane this equipment can be.

The Killipede is in the deck as an alternate win-condition. Again the AI wasn’t too bright when it comes to Swiftstrike, and it was likewise really dumb when it came to Toxifiy counters (both of these may have changed with the 3/18 patch). I hope this really was fixed because there have been a couple games where I won dealing only 2 points of damage to the opponent with Killipede, while he had a board full of blockers.

I found myself never using the Blood Auras, so I replaced them with a card that did a similar job and cost only 1 more resource: Vampire King. I now had a flyer, lifedrain on a troop, and the ability to gnaw at my opponent’s hand. I was in a happy place.

Finally we’ll talk about the PvE card gracing the deck with its presence: Soul Cube. This card was built for this deck. With Extinction in the deck to save you from a flood from War Bot, Uzume, Zoltog or Sniper of Gawaine, a well timed Soul Cube can start using your opponent’s board against him—or simply use it to dig out Bunoshi’ed Darkspire Priestesses for more on-death threat.

Since I was now mono-Blood, Terrible Transfer was a fine addition for the games that got too close for comfort. I hit the Arena with the deck and promptly went 14-1 three times in a row due to RNG hating me, but on one of the runs I got Eternal Drifter‘s trinket Drifter’s Lament. Since I wasn’t using a trinket to this point, a single Drifter replaced a Killipede.

That last run I went 15-0, got my “Perfect” sleeves and in general was really satisfied with the deck.

The deck isn’t as fast as the other two, but it is super effective. The AI seems to have a “thing” for going all-in when you are 9 or lower health, dumping their hand of troops for a final lethal swing. This is where you having four Extinctions really helps out.


[PvE] Darkspire Domination

Champion: Bunoshi the Ruthless

Troops (18)

4x Darkspire Priestess
4x Darkspire Punisher
2x Darkspire Tyrant
3x The Killipede
4x Vampire King
1x Eternal Drifter

Actions  (16)

4x Crackling Rot
4x Extinction
4x Relentless Corruption
4x Terrible Transfer

Artifacts/Constants (2)

2x Soul Cube

Resources (24)

24x Blood Shards

Equipment (6)

Head: Hood of the Darkspire
Chest: Accursed Jerkin
Feet: Chain Shoes of Oblivion
Trinket: Drifter’s Lament
Hands: Rotting Gloves
Weapon: Darkspire Longblade

In case you’re wondering, no you don’t get to take advantage of Darkspire Enforcer’s Arena rule either. Hopefully this is a bug and will be fixed soon.

Budget Alternates:

Vampire King – Giant Mosquito, Corrupt Harvester
The Killipede/Eternal Drifter – Killblade of the Milky Eye, Paladin of the Necropolis, Cockatwice

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.

3 Comments on From the Deck: The Quest for Perfection

  1. I’ve gone 15-0 with a variation of Kaldhiem’s Rock League/PVP deck that focuses on fast aggro plus Reactor Bots, Inductocopters and Pterobots. I’ve also fooled around with variations that include Warbot Dropship with Hex Engine, Reese with Excavation Bot and done okay with those as well.

    • That’s 15-0 three times since Saturday. I haven’t tested it since the patch. I forgot to mention the first time I ran perfect I also had two Teapots of Prosperity. Not bad, but not great.

  2. Is there any chance any one can direct me to a link for Ne0s speed run deck list?

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