Constructed Pioneering: Dreaming of Dragons

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we discussed approaching the Constructed metagame from an angle of attack in order to build an exciting new competitive deck. This week, I would like to focus on another way to build competitive decks. We will start with a selection of cards that will form the core of a plan and try to build around that plan.

The Dreaming Dragon

avaricefull

A new card that has gotten my imagination running is Avarice, the Insatiable. The new dragon share the thematic spell synergy with one of my favorite cards, Master of Elements. But while Master of Elements lets you choose the spell you cast off of its ability, Avarice lets the whims of fate decide for you… until rank three. Level three Avarice cares not about the level of the spell you cast, nor is it subject to randomness. This allows you to build powerful late game engines, particularly with another favorite card of mine – Lucid Echoes.

So, the end goal is a late game where a lot of cards are being drawn. How do we utilize an increased hand? Free spells! Energy Prison becomes free at level 3 and can stop many an opposing threat. Together with a free companion, Glacial Crush, you have a tandem 1-2 punch to kill opposing creatures for free. And when your removal is free, your actions can be focused on other things than just surviving, such as casting more Lucid Echoes. The value train is rolling, next stop full control!

What I’ve described here is the pipe dream, the Magical Christmas Land, but it does happen. Particularly against slower decks with no means on direct damage. Here is the package to which I’ve tried to build a proper home:

  • 3 Avarice, the Insatiable
  • 3 Lucid Echoes
  • 3 Energy Prison
  • 2 Glacial Crush
  • 2 Uranti Bolt

This 13 card package is a perfectly valid late game plan. So how did I go about to complete the deck? Let’s look at a first iteration:

Ladder Link

  • 3 Ambriel Archangel
  • 2 Ambriel’s Edict
  • 3 Avarice, the Insatiable
  • 3 Burnout
  • 3 Energy Prison
  • 2 Firestorm
  • 2 Glacial Crush
  • 3 Ironmind Acolyte
  • 3 Lucid Echoes
  • 3 Oratek Battlebrand
  • 2 Uranti Bolt
  • 1 Wipe Clean

Avarice rewards you for playing a large number of spells and for playing a lot of similar spells so that you may plan your extra action regardless of which card Avarice selects for you. This deck does the former well but the latter quite poorly. Cards like Ambriel’s Edict and Wipe Clean which are highly situational are oftentimes the wrong card to be given, however their roles in certain matchups should not be understated. The poor interaction between Avarice level two (which you do not want to pass on) and Ambriel’s Edict is a problem with the deck and one big reason to look at other options for board control such as Firestorm or Sonic Pulse.

Apart from the main package, Oratek Battlebrand is an invaluable piece of the puzzle. When you can use your first play to level up a creature it removes a miss from your hand to increase the power of your Avarice. When you are under pressure it allows you to level those Energy Prisons that you need for the late game or the Glacial Crushes that you just don’t have time to play.

fullambrielarchangelAmbriel Archangel is an amazing roadblock that can help you to buy you enough time to reach that rank three that you so crave to really get your game going. While there may be bit of synergistic issues with playing both Ironmind Acolyte and Ambriel, I believe that they are both vital to the success of this configuration of the deck. And frankly, Ironmind Acolyte can be used to trade with the opposing attackers on your turn, catching you back up on board just to have Ambriel put her shields up when your opponent’s turn comes around.

I want to mention the combination of Avarice with cards such as Perilous Research and Metasight. The leveling spells removes three cards from your hand when you play them which allows you to pick the spell for Avarice to target. This interaction is very powerful, but you are not well advised to use precious card slots to improve your late game. Maybe there room for these cards along with Avarice in slower metagames, the time is not right for them right now.

The deck is a pure control deck that aims to have answers to all your opponent’s threats by early rank three. I enjoy a deck like this in contrast to the more common control decks that aims to drop a large creature such as a level three Chrogias and call it a day. Drawing extra cards and making extra plays just feels so rewarding!

One aspect of this deck that I really enjoy is that the late game engine sets up itself on the grounds that Avarice, Lucid Echoes and Energy Prison is your plan at every player level. This version plays very well against Poison and Control decks, which struggle to deal direct damage to you, and it is the best at setting up the late game engine. Against other prevalent decks such as Burn, AT Aggressive and Nekrium Ignir you are much too slow to win to reliably withstand the threats of an aggressive strategy or Ignir. This figuration of the deck was geared to work well in rank three, where it was already great on the expense on the early game which made matchups quite polarized, either really good or really bad.

In an effort to create a slightly more proactive game plan I added some sturdy creatures that I imagined could help fight a good fight against the faster opponents. I’ve been very impressed by Frontline Combatant in the aggressive decks, and wanted to see how it would perform in a defensive deck. Combatant along with Gauntlets of Sulgrim (which is an absolute gem to level up with Avarice since at level three you get a sturdy threat instead of another reactive spell) and a couple of Nexus Bubble would be used. Here’s the deck list:

Ladder Link

  • 1 Ambriel’s Edict
  • 3 Avarice, the Insatiable
  • 2 Barrier Soldier
  • 3 Energy Prison
  • 2 Frontline Combatant
  • 2 Gauntlets of Sulgrim
  • 2 Glacial Crush
  • 3 Ironmind Acolyte
  • 3 Lucid Echoes
  • 2 Nexus Bubble
  • 3 Oratek Battlebrand
  • 2 Sonic Pulse
  • 2 Uranti Bolt

Increasing the creature count slightly, I decided to try Barrier Soldier instead of Ambriel, to be able to keep the shields up even when having a board presence. Having a Nexus Bubble active would help “Barry” (Barrier Soldier) stay alive much like an Ambriel. However, putting the shields up does not mean you are immortal these days. Shatterbolt is a large presence in the meta right now, often seeing play in AT Aggro and AT Burn. Furthermore, Frontline Combatant does like the Nexus Bubble, but the body at level one and level two is easily ignored by the more aggressive decks. I needed more impact at rank one and rank two, and AT has got access to two impactful Upgrade creatures – Brimstone Tyrant and Crux. But upgrading requires cards to overwrite, so I also added Relic Hunter. While Relic Hunter increases the size of your deck, decreasing the likelihood of seeing the right cards, the Relic Scouts play well to decrease your hand size to make your Avarice triggers hit the card you want more frequently. The increase deck size also made me want to include Killion to help level those cards you didn’t see in rank one. Here’s the list:

Ladder Link

  • 2 Ambriel’s Edict
  • 3 Avarice, the Insatiable
  • 2 Brimstone Tyrant
  • 2 Burnout
  • 2 Crux, Metamind Rogue
  • 3 Energy Prison
  • 1 Frontline Combatant
  • 2 Glacial Crush
  • 2 Ironmind Acolyte
  • 1 Killion, Infinity Warden
  • 3 Lucid Echoes
  • 3 Oratek Battlebrand
  • 2 Relic Hunter
  • 2 Uranti Bolt

I did not try to beat Burn decks with this list, but it tussles far better with AT Aggro, while still having a powerful lategame. Lucid Echoes of course helps find Relic Scouts more often in addition to Ironmind Acolytes, Energy Prisons and Glacial Crushes. This deck can really build a board, and its defenses are more like meeting your opponents in open battle rather than barricading the gates.

So what is the verdict on the deck? These decks all performed okay, but were unable to win consistently. My win rate playing all of these decks were around 50%, which is serviceable albeit not a result you would have with a top tier deck. I’ve been playing in the lower Platinum rank with them without losing nor gaining ground.

I tried a few more iterations of the list that were not as successful but also not as thoroughly played. One was a Metamind based strategy, but Stasis Indexer is not old Stasis Warden and the card drawing engine of Ghox and Metamind Archivist is too susceptible when you are not aggressive. Here’s a decklist:

Ladder Link

  • 3 Ambriel’s Edict
  • 3 Avarice, the Insatiable
  • 3 Crux, Metamind Rogue
  • 3 Energy Prison
  • 3 Ghox, Metamind Paragon
  • 1 Glacial Crush
  • 3 Ironmind Acolyte
  • 3 Lucid Echoes
  • 3 Metamind Archivist
  • 3 Oratek Battlebrand
  • 1 Stasis Indexer
  • 1 Uranti Bolt

fullironbeardascendant

On the grounds that free spells are good to guide Avarice triggers I also took the new Ironbeard, Ascendant for a spin. I had a lot of fun when the late game came around with reliably pumping Ironbeards by drawing extra cards and the deck can faster than the other ones. I tried to use Anvilbreaker to power Chaos Twister. Chaos Twister also has some nice synergy with Energy Prison, so maybe there is something to that card anyway. The deck turned out to be a little inconsistent and I still struggled against the same aggressive decks. The deck list is here below:

Ladder Link

  • 1 Ambriel’s Edict
  • 1 Apocrymancer
  • 3 Avarice, the Insatiable
  • 1 Burnout
  • 3 Chaos Twister
  • 3 Energy Prison
  • 2 Firestorm
  • 2 Glacial Crush
  • 3 Ironbeard, Ascendant
  • 3 Ironmind Acolyte
  • 3 Lucid Echoes
  • 3 Oratek Battlebrand
  • 2 Uranti Bolt

Finally, I felt like I needed a card that was able to win fast in AT on its own. The light fell on Alyssa. We are often playing a number of burn spells, maybe we can fit her and Avarice together? I quickly realized that in order for Avarice to find spells that trigger Alyssa consistently, I had to cut the Energy Prisons and Crushes. The deck would now have to beat control decks by going faster! I built the following deck:

Ladder Link

  • 3 Alyssa, Strifeborn
  • 3 Avarice, the Insatiable
  • 3 Cypien Experimentation
  • 3 Firestorm
  • 3 Frontline Combatant
  • 2 Gauntlets of Sulgrim
  • 2 Ironmind Acolyte
  • 2 Lucid Echoes
  • 3 Oratek Battlebrand
  • 3 Shatterbolt
  • 3 Trial by Combat

The deck plays a lot faster, and can win out of nowhere just like any Alyssa deck, primarily by using Trial by Combat. Against Burn decks if you can land an Alyssa and grow her with a spell and then setting her up with a Cypien Experimentation you are good to go. You can even Shatterbolt your own Alyssa to grow her despite her armor! The deck can play a control game against decks that do not play giant creatures, with Sulgrim and Frontline Combatant building a controlling board. This deck performed much better generally but specifically against the faster decks. I’ve been steadily climbing the Platinum standings with it.

To sum things up, I took a core of a deck and looked at the different possibilities for it to work. I tried a number of iterations of it to examine if the bad matchups could be swayed. It seemed as though the late game Defender package was powerful, but only against specific decks and the effort exerted to increase its win rate against the worse matchups were not effective enough to turn the deck from a 50% deck to something good. All in all, I’ve had a lot of fun trying these decks out, and executing the plan feels awesome! I’ve linked to my deck lists on solforgeladder.com here, and you can use the site to directly import the deck list to the client! So try it out for yourself! Enjoy it and improve it as you see fit! There are many things yet to try.

Thank you for reading.

I’ll see you in the queues!

Pion

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