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Future Tech: the Evolution is Real

After writing my first article on a GoreKnights I thought the topic was closed, as I hoped that Shattered Destiny would shake the meta a bit harder than it did—but the deck not only survived the transition, it gained some tools that made it even stronger. That being the case, I felt obligated to revisit it even at the risk of being known as “the GoreKnights guy” (let’s be honest, this has already happened anyway).

So, to kick off our talk about new cards for the deck, let’s skip the main dishes and get straight to dessert: between all the rares and legendaries introduced in Shattered Destiny, there’s one common that outshines them all. Its power level is so incredible that I wouldn’t hesitate to call it the best card released in hex. I’m speaking—of course—about Subterranean Spy. Being able to play around your opponent’s options is a huge deal and, as we’ll discuss later, there’re plenty of good tunnelers for the deck. This means the opponent is never really sure if we know what’s in his hand or not. Plus, he provides an attacking body right on the turn Gore Feast becomes available. There’s no way to justify not playing at least 3 copies of Spy in any RS feast deck (and, probably, in any sapphire deck at all).

As we’ve started talking about Tunneling, that leads into two of Spy’s best friends: Scraptech Brawler and Reese the Crustcrawler. The brawler serves well for multiple purposes: against a more aggressive deck, he’s an effective null-cost  blocker on turn 3. Against a control it’s a way to either cast Cerulean Mirror Knight and Royal Falconer in one turn or play a Gore Feast of Kog’Tepetl protected with an interrupt or Time Ripple. Yes, a 2/2 body for 3 is nothing spectacular, but the added utility makes up for that. Reese, on other and, is straight up and easy—he disguises as a Spy / Brawler and goes straight to late game where he shines if you are not unlucky enough to spawn multiple Tower Hulks.

The fourth and the last tunneller that suits the deck well is a Fissuresmith. Once you show your opponent one, every tunneller you play becomes a Fissuresmith too. You might even have sided it out and your opponent still won’t attack into your just-burrowed troop with his Wrathwood Master Moss.

Our next highlight is the infamous Storm Cloud. Along with Shard of Innovation replacing Shards of Fate and access to the newly-released Crackling Bolt, the card pays for itself even when you don’t draw  Mirror Knight first. But when you manage to combo those two small troops, the Card Advantage race instantly turns in your favor. At release the Storm Cloud was highly underestimated (some people even said the card is bad and won’t see much play), but the recent increase in its price indicates that the majority have finally realized how good it is.

The set 2 interrupt Verdict of the Ancient Kings lets us remove the last double-threshold we had in Countermagic. Yes, it works worse against Vampire Kings and Xentoth’s Inquisitors, but lower threshold and resource cost still makes it a good replacement.

The new members of the Inspire Party—Jags, the Blademaster and Azurefate Sorceress—both amplify our damage output, but they share the same problem: a 2-health body. You do have to be careful when playing either of those.

Also the deck has received a few potential late-game threats: Army of Arcane Cinder, War Bot Dropship and Heroic Outlaw. They all are good under different circumstances and could replace our old good Crown of the Primals.

So, one of the possible ways for the deck to evolve is going underground and focusing on the tunneling synergy to win the game. Shinshire has successfully implemented that idea, and despite Fissuresmith being banned I’ve managed to pilot the following list to crown the Hextechs Oberon tournament:

Tunnel Feast

Champion: Poca, the Conflagrater

 Troops (24)

4x Cerulean Mirror Knight
4x Storm Cloud
4x Buccaneer
3x Scraptech Brawler
4x Royal Falconer
1x Reese the Crustcrawler
4x Subterranean Spy

Actions (12)

2x Burn
3x Crackling Bolt
3x Gore Feast of Kog’Tepetl
2x Time Ripple
2x Verdict of the Ancient Kings

Resources (24)

9x Sapphire Shard
11x Ruby Shard
4x Shard of Innovation

Reserves (15)

2x Burn
4x Heat Wave
2x Time Ripple
1x Heroic Outlaw
2x Verdict of the Ancient Kings
1x Scraptech Brawler
1x Crackling Bolt
1x War Bot Dropship
1x Army of the Arcane Cinder

Here we are coming back to our Combo-Aggro roots. This deck’s peak turns are almost always 4th and 5th—but it can still maintain some late-game pressure with the card advantage and the reserve bombs.

As another direction for the GoreKnights evolution, I suggest you to open THIS LINK and find the names ‘Hapson’ and ‘GPrime’. The first question will probably be “Will they ever stop imitating Jax and fight with a real weapon?” Good question, but I don’t know the answer—so let’s move on to the one that I can explain: “How could a 150-card deck ever do a double 4-0 on VIP weekend?”. The answer lies in the card pool itself: there are so many good cards in those colors that they not only allow you to form a 150-card deck, but even give some  difficult decisions while building it. This sounds insane, but we were never able to fit everything we wanted into the list. The deep strength of the deck lies in an ability to curve out differently every game—lots of 2- and 3-drops replace each other for a different victory strategy each time, and it’s hard for opponents to predict at which angle you will attack next time so it can be difficult to reserve against. Add 8 ways to give Jank Bot speed, and your opponent will never feel safe. The deck turned from a fun Johnny build into a serious contender in no time—but be ready for people not acknowledging this because, if you win, there will be salt. Every opponent (with a few exceptions) you beat with Jank Feast will call you lucky and claim they would have won if not your insane topdecks. No one cares that every topdeck in your deck is good and that their 60-card well-tuned list is worse than your 150-card pile-of-jank. I won’t paste the list here so you don’t have to scroll through the page forever—here’s the link for those who’ve missed it for the first time.

But what if I don’t like the mutations and would rather stick to the main branch of evolution, you might ask? That’s a perfectly viable option, and that’s what I did for the VIP weekend myself:

GoreKnights 2015

Champion: Poca, the Conflagrater

 Troops (26)

4x Cerulean Mirror Knight
2x Fissuresmith
4x Cerulean Mentalist
3x Lord Alexander, the Courageous
4x Buccaneer
4x Royal Falconer
2x Legionnaire of Gawaine
3x Subterranean Spy

Actions (10)

3x Burn
3x Gore Feast of Kog’Tepetl
2x Time Ripple
2x Verdict of the Ancient Kings

Resources (24)

10x Ruby Shard
10x Sapphire Shard
4x Shard of Innovation

Reserves (15)

4x Crackling Bolt
2x Crown of the Primals
4x Heat Wave
4x Storm Cloud
1x Verdict of the Ancient Kings

As you see, we’re not going in with a Tunnel-powered explosive t4-t5 and instead stick to the controlling style we played in the late Shards of Fate metagame. Just like in Tunnel Feast, Spy lets us cut the number of the interrupts in deck by enabling us to play around opposing threats and answers—I only have 2+1 Verdicts in the latest lists for that reason. The Burns take the place of maindeck removal for an instant removal—which the deck otherwise lacks—but Bolt does often come in for the 2nd game of the match.

So, here you have the three new builds of the RS Feast deck. To take one into battle yourself or use this knowledge to fight them is your choice. Make a wise one.

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.

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