Praise be! The weekend is over and Hexent has successfully launched Frostheart. Despite a few little bugs here and there, the launch has felt great with a slew of new PvP and PvE content to play around with. Today we’re going to tackle a deck that uses a few of the new Escalation cards to make for a powerful ‘draw-go’ style control shell that out-draws and out-values the opponent to death, eventually finishing them off with a gentle Violet’s Caress.
Here’s the decklist I’ve been tinkering around with.
Champion: Bar’dak the Butcher
First let’s talk about the champion choice, since it’s definitely something that can be adjusted if you decide to run the deck or a variant there of. Dreaming Fox has been the go-to choice for champions in control decks that don’t run Wintermoon for a very long time now, and before him there was Kranok. Bar’Dak is not just the ancestor of Kranok revived in glacial form by Hogarth, but basically a double-downed version of his kin. Instead of “Four charges, pay two health and draw a card” we get “Six charges, draw two cards and lose 4 health.” This makes Bar’dak slightly more efficient at drawing cards than Dreaming Fox at the ‘slight’ cost of reducing our own health. We could easily go to Dreaming Fox if we feared the meta was rotating to something more aggressive and our health total was more important to maintain.
We run a diverse suite of removal cards in the form of Herofall, Massacre, Ryaalinth, Strangle, Into the Unknown, and Violet’s Caress. This gives us a slew of actions to deal with almost any board situation, whether we need to remove a single threat from the board, clear our opponents entire deck of a more important threat, or completely clear the board to give us breathing room. Ideally we get to use Violet’s Caress for most removal situations to both return the card to our deck escalated, and to buffer our health total. The addition of Into the Unknown allows us to more liberally remove playset threats from our opponents decks instead of saving Herofall for just the most important targets, although you have to be careful since you can end up giving your opponent some rather surprising bombs. Violet’s Caress and Ryaalinth double down as our win conditions for the deck, if a giant 5/5 flying dragon isn’t enough to push through our victory, we can just start caressing our opponents face until they’re nothing but dust and bones.
In this particular version of the deck I’ve elected not to run any counter cards, Deny could (And maybe should) easily find a home here to deal with pesky actions like Lazgar’s Vengence that our opponents might be playing, but generally we’re just looking to keep the board clear and slowly chip our opponents down.
Card advantage is a powerful tool for us, and we’ve got a few different ways to get a hold of it. First and foremost we have the new Bounty of the Magus card, our second escalation card and an incredibly powerful way of gaining card advantage. This is one of the best reasons for us to even try and play a ‘draw-go’ style control shell here. Turn three, we can hold onto Herofall or Into the Unknown -and- Bounty of the Magus, electing to play whichever benefits us the most during our opponents end-step. While the first play of Bounty isn’t -spectacular-, every play thereafter is a step towards our eventual value-victory over the opponent. Secondly we’ve got Alchemite. I was wary adding the frost-horse (at least in the AA, the regular art is a squid-thing?) at first, but after a few matches I’ve come to believe this is a comfortable home for it. The frostform on Alchemite allows it to be versatile, either hitting the board as a 3 or 5 drop, and the ability to evade REMOVAL at the cost of a card in hand is super valuable. Opponents will be wary to play any sort of valuable single target removal on Alchemite, not wanting to trade away a strong card for possibly a shard from your hand, and every single swing with Alchemite is another step towards drawing your powerful escalate actions to take control of the game. Finally, we sneak in two “Fun-of” style cards to finish off our card-advantage suite. The Librarian and Into the Nightmare both allow us to steal cards from our opponents decks, and are cards our opponents will feel compelled to spend resources dealing with.
Finally, we have a rather simple set of troops. A few thunderfield Coyotle give us both speed-bumps to slow down our opponents early aggressive threats and powerful prophecy additions to our actions, allowing us to ‘build a bomb’ effectively. If we can hit a ‘copy’ from a Thunderfield Elder on an escalation card we can start to quickly burn through them in our deck to overtake a game. Now, in a ‘perfect’ world I think I would go four seers and four elders, but I’ve brought two Zip Zappers in for testing recently and I have to say they’re rather effective. A single connection from a Zip Zapper turns both of our escalation playsets into average value cards without needing to play one first, and if we manage to get in two or three times? Yeesh, it can get out of control QUICK. I’d almost wonder if there were room for two more? Perhaps drop a massacre and one of the ‘fun-ofs’? Hmmm… Ryaalinth is here too, but I consider him more of a removal combo card and finisher than just a ‘troop’, so he’s been talked about already above.
In the Reserves we have a few obvious bring-ins against aggro in the form of Vampire Prince and Vampire Princess, the health gain allowing us to more easily find our way to the late-game where our card advantage will guide us to victory. A few Blight Knights because I’ve encountered so many candlekin decks on the ladder… Hogarth the Mad and Dreamcalls for the control matchups, although a Steal Intel or Psychic Ascension wouldn’t be too out of place here… And Withering Gaze to snag away enemy Lazgar’s or again, for the control mirrors.
I’ve had a reasonable amount of success with this build, but I’m not going to say it’s ‘perfect’ by any stretch of the imagination. I feel like you could easily tweak any number of things to make the deck play more to your personal style. Maybe you’d rather have Deny in the maindeck, perhaps you’d rather not run both escalation cards and wanna go a more Psychic Ascension style of deck… Maybe you just don’t like Bar’dak? Four Massacre might be too many, and maybe the deck wants Dreamcall in the main in your build. Either way, this is a nice place to start, and I hope it goes well for you.
Have fun in your games, thanks for reading, and stay lucky.