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Future Tech: Buried Alive

I have been trying to build a Sapphire/Wild deck for quite a while. The shard combination looked like it could excel at what I like the most: stalling the game and drawing cards. However, every time I’ve returned to the idea, I’ve been unsatisfied with the win condition. The stall/draw engine took too much space, and I was left with a very few slots for cards that could actually push to the win. With Yesterday being one of the main parts of the stall, Sapphire powerhouses like Reese and Dreamer, as well as the recurring threats like Crash of Beasts and even Wrathwood Colossus that I tried to use felt a bit out-of-place. And at one point, I just thought: why not bury?

The bury deck, as a strategy, was always considered non-competitive by definition. Its main problem is every bury card you play means nothing—until the last one, which actually brings your opponent to 0 and gives you the win. To negate that huge downside, you should either have an insane card advantage engine or use the cards that do something relevant besides burying. To push your deck towards being an actual top-tier contender, you need both.

Card advantage is what Sapphire excels at, having tools like Archmage Wrenlocke, Oracle Song and the underrated Zodiac Divination. However, gaining access to Sight of the Sun brings this to a whole new level. Also, Sun’s health-gaining effect is a big part of our stall engine—so that should be the time when you force yourself to play a unique troop as a four-of.

With “doing something besides bury” the choices are trickier. We certainly want to play Chronic Madness yet we just can’t gain any value from it on the first use. The solution for this is saying “We are not going to play Madness without Wrenlocke in play. Ever.” This way, the card becomes a conditional one-cost cantrip that eventually wins us the game. A bit better. But in an average game, you will have to play Madness five times to actually win (as four uses only bury 40 cards total) which would probably require even more time than we could buy. That leads us to choosing a second bury card for the deck to accelerate it: Arborean Rootfather with Quick and Bury gems. This card is the definition of “does lots of valuable things by itself”; it’s a two-cost cycle when you are setting up, it’s an instant blocker for the big late-game threats your opponent produces, it works perfectly with Yesterday, and it’s flexible since you can switch the gems during the reserves process.

So, here’s the list I ended up with after testing:

Sappphire/Wild Bury

Champion: Running Deer

Troops (11)

4x Sight of the Sun
3x Archmage Wrenlocke
4x Arborean Rootfather
(Quick + Bury)

Actions  (25)

4x Chlorophyllia
4x Chronic Madness
4x Countermagic
2x Verdict of the Ancient Kings
4x Yesterday
3x Zodiac Divination
4x Oracle Song

Resources (24)

10x Wild Shard
10x Sapphire Shard
4x Shard of Instinct

Reserves (15)

2x Verdict of the Ancient Kings
1x Zodiac Divination
4x Succulent Cluckodon
4x Nature Reigns
4x Menacing Gralk

The deck that was initially built pretty much out of despair has almost immediately started showing surprising results—ultimately making the short-list of two decks I was deciding between for the Season 2 Blood Cup. (I ended up picking a Ruby/Sapphire control deck, which I still consider the absolutely strongest deck of the metagame). The Sapphire/Wild deck delivered impressive results against most of the archetypes that I was meeting in 8-man queues (variants of WS/MonoS tempo-controls, blood controls) and was okay-ish against Ruby/Sapphire Gore Feast; but, as expected, had a very tough matchup against Dwarves. I was ready to give up on it as Ruby/Sapphire Robot Aggro was getting popular, but Shinshire suggested adding Succulent Cluckodons—which I had completely forgotten about—to the reserves. Also, playing four Sight of the Sun not only supported drawing it in every game, but the improved chance of having two in the hand enabled the high-risk/high-reward plays where you would go for the Coyotle with no interrupt support (on turns 3-4) against decks that are fielding some removal.

The deck contains 8 actions that you want to hold until you play Wrenlocke whenever you can, and that is the playsets of both Chronic Madness and Chlorophyllia. Yes, you heard that right: if you can play what you need without acceleration, you want to hold Chloro for the Wrenlocke. I thought about replacing it with Peek or Crackling Wit (or do a 2/2 split of Chlorophyllia and one of those) but sometimes the boost it provided felt very important.

When piloting the deck, it is very important to realize that it is very slow. Not only does that mean that you will be on the defensive in most games, but that you should not panic or think that something is wrong when you are. If you are not dead from a turn-four Gore Feast, there’s a good chance that your champion power, Sight and Yesterday will buy you enough time to try assembling your win condition. Another thing to remember is that the CTRL key (hold priority) is your best friend. Play Yesterday on your turn then replenish your resources in response to afford getting your Sight back on the board; that’s one great play that might ruin your own day if you forget to press that crucial button.

Picking the reserves in this build is not an easy process. You want to add some Gralks most of the time (makes you wonder why aren’t they in the main deck), plus Verdicts and Zodiac Divinations are always welcome too. Against Diamond, you also want Nature Reigns in—and for dwarves, Cluckodon is a certain addition. But how do you fit all that in? You don’t, in fact. every time you have to sacrifice something, and that’s where it’s important to understand your game plan. I will try to explain a few sideboard patterns against popular decks.

Against mono-Sapphire:
-2 Chlorophillia
+2 Verdict of the Ancient Kings

Most of the things you want in against mono-Sapphire are already in by design, so you just want to some more counters to counter the counters that counter our counters.

Alternative option:
-1 to 3 Zodiac Divination
-0 to 2 Chrolophyllia
+2 to 4 Menacing Gralk

“Gralksterday” is an incredible stall combo, but requires a lot of resources each turn, so most of the time when you can pull it off you don’t really do anything else. If you feel that the opponent is plans on a slow win (and you will be able to reach 8+ resources) that might be a good option.

Against Blood/Diamond and Diamond/Sapphire:
-2 Chlorophillia
-1 Oracle Song
-1 Zodiac Divination
+2 Verdict of the Ancient Kings
+2 Nature Reigns
Optional: Switch Rootfather gem to Flight to block Angels and Vampire King
Optional: remove what you feel doesn’t work to add some Gralks

You want your Reigns in mostly as a counter to their Solitary Exile; you don’t really care THAT much about Soul Marble. I often waffle between a fourth verdict and third reigns, though—and maybe 3/3 is the right decision. The Oracle/Zodiac cut is tricky too: I want to have Oracle for early replenishment and I want to have Divination for the late game. When I feel my opponent doesn’t play well in one of those stages, I might cut two copies of one of those cards instead of splitting 1:1. Also, sometimes I cut 1-2 more Chloros and an extra draw action to add some Gralks—if my opponent is running a build with an above-average number of troops.

Against dwarves:
-4 Chronic Madness
-1 Archmage Wrenlocke
-3 Zodiac Divination
-1 Countermagic
-1 Chlorophillia
-1 Oracle Song
-1 Sight of the Sun
+4 Succulent Cluckodon
+4 Nature Reigns
+4 Menacing Gralk
Gems in Rootfather to Flight/Rhinos

Bury no more. We are going to battle dwarves on their field: by beating each-other’s face. The Cluckodon/Gralk/Yesterday chaining works incredibly well against the bunch of 1-cost troops, and the only two threats that are not killed or stopped by our mighty birdosaur are Pterobot and Tectonic Megahulk—that’s where Nature Reigns comes to rescue. Even with those changes, we still can die to a dwarven solitaire draw—but that’s a universal problem and otherwise our chances are very solid.

As you see, Chlorophyllia and Zodiac Divination are cut often while going to the reserves so it might look like they should be replaced in the main deck, but the reason why they hold their spots is being universal; both cards are quite good in any matchup in general You just have something better but more situational for each matchup.

That’s about covers my thoughts about this deck, and I would appreciate any feedback you have on it. There’s still some time before Armies of Myth  and I encourage you to try this list in action.

Future is a veteran Russian player coming from offline TCGs such as Berserk TCG and WoW TCG. A stalwart in the competitive scene both in community organized events and in official tournaments, Future provides expert analysis on strategy in both constructed and limited.

2 Comments on Future Tech: Buried Alive

  1. Funny I’ve been thinking of something in the same idea with Set 3 incoming. What do you think of using Chronic Madness in combination with these 2 new coyotles instead of Wrenlocke: Thunderfield Seer and Thunderfield Elder ?

    • I don’t think that it’s a viable way to go. The coyotles only buff one action, and you can’t control which one – you don’t really want a double-countermagic, for example.
      Wrenlocke, on the other hand, adds to any action you have in hand by that moment

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