Hi everybody! For those who don’t know me, my name is stormguard798, and I’m the newest member of TEJ.
Over the past week or so, the rest of the team and I have been working on Stonescar specifically as a meta call against Yetis and Kira (which comprised a shocking 0% of the tournament metagame, but more on that later.) So, let’s see how it all broke down!
(Btw, I’m going to skip through all the cards that go into a SS deck, like the Champion of Chaos, the Annihilates, and so forth, because frankly, you’re not all buffoons!)
Deck List Link:
- Yushkov the Usurper – Following the Instigator and Cutpurse nerfs, the tempo of the deck has been hit pretty badly since it’s less likely that we have the curve of 2, 3, and 4-smash. That’s where Yushkov comes in: by being able to exhaust blockers, it’s akin to giving our units charge, which allows to still get past them. Whilst not impressive stat-wise as a 4/4, being able to dodge Torch, Defiance and Hailstorm is still super crucial against Control and Aggro, and the Urn-like effect still works through Permafrost. With true midrange and SS being less popular, Yushkov is perhaps more resilient than one might think. In addition, the exhaust effect also breaks Aegis on the likes of Svetya, Lightbringer or Jennev Merchant, which saves us that extra removal spell against units that might otherwise be quite a roadblock. Finally, don’t think that 1-time extra power boost isn’t super valuable – it allows you to cash in that Treasure Trove that you get from Jekk, or perhaps sink it into a Fenris (more on that next paragraph.)
- Fenris Nightshade – A unit that somehow sparked a serious amount of discussion in the Discord Server, now that Blackhall Warleader is the only viable 3 health unit in SS, we’ve been going through all the viable 3 attack 2 drops (since you don’t have 3 health, you better have 3 attack), and Fenris just happened to be the most viable one. Whilst drawing a card with their ability is costly, it’s quite helpful in a faction-pair that doesn’t have a Cylix and that generally doesn’t have good card draw options. (apart from Jekk, of course). In any case, it’s a perfectly fine attacker, and being able to reap card advantage in situations such as the mirror really can help swing the tide in your favor. Having the option to sit back and draw cards or just spend your power on what you have in hand favours knowing your deck, as well the matchup very well, so you know when to drive, and when to hold back.
- Condemn – Probably the most controversial choice, to be blunt. It’s a very low impact card, and the market options that it provides are also incredibly low-impact, which is also why I was initially very skeptical of it. However, since we’re not in Primal, we don’t have access to Snowballs, which have proven to be crucial in matchups such as Yetis and Kira – having that single targeted point of damage, particularly at fast speed, has swung many matchups; you love/hate to see it when this blows up a Thudrock’s Masterwork. In any case, although it’s low impact, quite a number of the market cards you would normally play with full access to the suite of Fire/Shadow cards are 1 cost anyway, so it frankly just works out rather serendipitously.
- Shakedown – Another massive deviation from my previous iteration of SS is this, which is frankly only possible because you’re not clamoring to hit double Fire on Turn 2 for Cutpurse. In any case, Shakedown has proved immensely helpful for disassembling an opponent’s hand; taking their Kira, or their lord (Wump or Masterwork), a tricky Elysian Wump and Mizo, or perhaps a Merchant from the combo decks. Either way, right now, many decks in the meta are overly reliant on key pieces that amplify the power of the deck or require a cornerstone piece; take those away, and they’re significantly weakened, which is aptly demonstrated through the use of From Beyond in the TJS decks. Since there’s no way to trigger the transmute part of From Beyond, Shakedown just seems like a better option since it’s more diverse in its available targets, and since we’re (usually) the aggressor, the Nightfall tends to favor us.
- Seek Power – Even though this is an aggro deck, this deck is still unbelievably power-hungry. I would even go as to say that the deck needs to hit 4 power every game for you to stand a chance since we are running 13 4 drops. As such, you need the extra 2 virtual power to guarantee that you hit your 4th power, and besides, you can always ditch the Sigils to Jekk if you need to. Seriously. This deck is unbelievably power-hungry, and you’ve got ways to sink it if you need to.
- Bandit Queen – The previous iterations of SS had 12 2 drops, which as I pointed out, made the play of 2-3-4 all the more likely. However, since we’re less likely to curve out now, coupled with the fact that Intrusion makes the Quickdraw bestowed through Queen significantly worse since they can get plenty of profitable blocks on us. Sorry Queen, but your reign is over.
- Argenport Instigator – I’ve seen some build still pack Instigator, which I think is just holdover from previous iterations of the deck. Need I remind you that Instigator’s effect is symmetrical, and rarely do you end up benefiting from it except perhaps against midrange: you usually have to end playing defensive against Yetis anyway, so the damage is a knock against yourself, and Garden Control doesn’t have enough units to make the incidental ping worthwhile, and instead clocks you for a chunk when they hit you with a board wipe. I just think you have plenty of better options right now, and hence while they were good, now is not the time to instigate things.
- Yeti Pioneer – Another 2 drop up for discussion is the Yeti Pioneer, which honestly is perfectly fine even with the reckless since 3 power is enough to storm through most early-game plays. The biggest problem is that I don’t think that the extra power does too much. You need to play your Charge Units like Milos or Buhton pre-combat, and a lot of your top end has heavy influence requirements anyway, so the odds you’re going to be able to play out a Yushkov or Jekk on Turn 3 isn’t great. Not that you’d want to be discarding your 4th power to Jekk anyway just to get him out a turn early.
- All the 1 drops (Pyroknight, Oni Ronin, Kazuo, etc.) – I sort of grouped all of these units into a category here because I didn’t include them all for essentially the same reason: the 1 drop units are not impactful enough and just far too vulnerable, considering all the Snowballs flying around on the ladder lately. Being a non-Primal deck, card advantage is something the deck struggles with, and the way it wins is by having essentially must answer threats on board constantly instead of attempting to bury your opponent in cards. Hence, having low impact units that easily die I find is just antithetical to your overall strategy. If you want to play a bunch of 1 drops, play Skycrag instead.
(Honestly, I wasn’t entirely sure how to talk about this since there’s a lot of nuance and options to the market, so I’m just going to have a casual chit-chat on all the market cards and their considerations? Sound good? Excellent.)
- Open Contract – This was the card I have removed for Condemn in my original build since they’re both removal spells. Edict of Makkar was guaranteed a slot regardless because of how efficient a card it is, removing 5-6 power creatures for just 1, but the question was whether a 2nd one was necessary in the market. Primarily, Open Contract goes after Diana and Rolant since it’s really hard to kill those units using our deck’s removal suit otherwise. However, Open Contract does hit Jekk, Yushkov, and the like, and with Doc28 popularizing the Jarrallcrag archetype as of late with a particularly pesky 4 of Kenna main deck, I felt that it was worthwhile to include this card.
- Sabotage – Honestly, it’s a fantastic card against Control; snipes their sweeper or their game-changing Just Desserts. (more on that later.) However, I am very poor at playing this properly I must admit, and I seem to keep firing off when there are no good targets, especially since you tend to play this later in the game. In any case, the card is fantastic, but it’s really hard to play properly. Have at it.
- Flame Blast/Silverblade Menace – From my perspective at least, the 2 cards fulfil a very similar role: to blast your opponents in your face for a last hurrah. Yes, there is an argument to be made that Flame Blast can double up as removal, but frankly, it’s pretty awkward and clunky removal, and when my opponent spends their whole turn removing my unit and nothing else? It doesn’t tend to be that bad, because it’s hard to be able to do anything else meaningful whilst being able to kill a worthwhile unit. On the other hand, Silverblade Menace steals and snatches games against control decks if timed right, which is why I considered it to be worth the inclusion of Cen Wastes Smugglers just so I can play this unit. It’s that good, especially if Garden Control is making a comeback following Worlds.
- Dark Return – Whilst this card is occasionally quite dead, it’s part of why it makes such a good market card. Units like Champion of Chaos are extremely difficult to deal with for some decks, and buying back a 2nd copy just hammers the nail in some situations. In addition, getting back a double-damage Jekk is also quite worthwhile. Yes, it can be awkward against Decay in the form of Cen Wastes and Rolant, but just get a different market card in those cases. Against Control, getting back a charge unit could be potent at the right time, and getting another shot with Silverblade Menace is something that a lot of players often don’t see coming.
Playing this deck on Ladder:
As you might have noticed, I’ve conveniently left out some crucial cards that I have included in my deck, for discussion right now. I am packing 3 of Buhton and 2 Kaleb’s Persuader – despite losing his best partner in crime in the form of Cutpurse, but he’s still quite potent. However, I think his greatest potency is against SS or Control (with the 5 power charge damage), and is unfortunately rather awkward against a deck like Yetis which is packing Blazing Salvo. Plus, since we’re slower than Yetis, we often want to play defensive, and a 5/2 isn’t exactly the most robust defender. We run into similar issues with Persuader since you get the most benefit out of that weapon by attacking. As a result, whilst I like the split of 3 Buhton and 2 Persuader in a more open meta (the 3 Buhton due to the rather tough influence requirements, which means semi-often you just need to market them), I don’t think they’re particularly good against low to the ground aggro, which is what I’ve found predominantly on the ladder.
As such: here are the changes I would make, at least as an initial pass:
+4 Vara, Vengeance Seeker
-1 Cen Wastes Smuggler
-2 Kaleb’s Persuader
If you’re going to take a slower approach, Vara is a very strong card particularly against Yetis to stabilize. I probably would not lead with Vara to try and stabilise as I think both Yushkov and Jekk do a better job in the situation that Vara gets Permafrosted, but holding off and dropping her when they’re (probably) out of removal can be game-changing because 1 hit with her could decide the game. I’m not a huge fan of her in a more general meta given the popularity of cards like Send an Agent or Annihilate and she doesn’t have a fantastic summon effect if your opponent just going to clock her afterwards, but specifically against Yetis, she’s pretty good.
Similarly, under most circumstances, I don’t think Sear is a particularly efficient card as both removal and burn, but being able to hit crucial sites like Garden and Masterwork that Torch normally isn’t able to target. In addition, being fast speed is crucial for interacting with the protection spells out of Kira decks, even if you are power negative. It may even be correct to ditch the remaining 2 Merchants since our market isn’t particularly good against Yetis so that you could play 4 Sears instead, but more testing is required.
… (Play lilting musical interlude as we transition to the next part.)
So instead of having a typical play-advice section with tips and tricks here, I just played in a Tuesday Night Eternal tournament with this deck, so I think it’d be best to talk about my thoughts and how I played around each match up.
For anyone interested in watching the VODs of the games, here it is! I play in Round 3, semis, and the finals. 😊 I would strongly recommend pairing the VOD with my notes here, just to have a clearer picture of what is going on.
Round 1: YurickYu on Garden Control.
In this matchup, your focus is really on charge units and milking that Silverblade Menace as hard as you can. Ideally, you get to pull off an early Shakedown to dismantle their hand or suss out any removal. Whilst Champion of Chaos is usually a pretty good card here it merely gets eaten by Defiance. Or Just Desserts. In addition, Garden Control decks, this one included, now generally run Jennev Merchant with Royal Decree, so if you do decide to run Sabotage, remember to preserve that. Also save your Dark Return for buying back Menace. Finally, since everyone packs 4 of Knife, keep their life total in mind – it might be worthwhile to keep their life total above 10 in some spots so that they don’t get a free Knife.
I keep an opening hand with 4 power, Milos, Condemn, and Yushkov. Although this is kind of a slow hand, I do have a charge unit, and a pretty decent piece of bait in the form of Yushkov. Fortunately, my opponent was rather strapped on power, so they spent most of their turns drawing cards and Petitioning. On Turn 4, I decided to play Yushkov over the Smuggler, instead choosing to hold it to try for a more opportune time to blast them in the face. Fortunately, I just kept applying pressure with units as they kept being strapped and power, and I was able to blast them with a relatively small Menace to finish them off.
Overall this game was a little more balanced because they were able to find some power. They went Turn 3 Jennev Merchant into Turn 4 Wasteland Broker, so they already have a surprisingly decent board presence for a control deck. Here, I decided that it was worthwhile to trade my Champion of Chaos for their Merchant and Broker because it’s fairly easy for them to kill the Champion of Chaos, honestly, so getting rid of 2 blockers and Torching their face seems pretty worthwhile. Without Open Contract main, it is rather difficult for us to deal with Broker, so I’m happy to just get it out of the way to get some pressure going. Knowing that they probably just took their Royal Decree, I hold the Cen Wastes Smuggler in hand so that at some point, I hopefully get enough power to play the Smuggler and the Menace in the same turn. I was able to stick a Fenris to just bash in and draw some cards and is also why I ended up deciding to Condemn and grab Dark Return to get back the Fenris, simply because I felt that I was already pressuring them well enough whilst still keeping card parity. Eventually, I had enough power to slap a Persuader on a Buhton all in the same turn, and I guess that caught them a little off guard, clinching me the round.
Round 2: Duocat on Garden Control
As so aptly mentioned in their deck title description, they are quite literally on the exact 80 that LightsOutAce piloted to victory at Worlds. Having said that, even though there aren’t things such as the 1 of Ageworn Vestige like in YurickYu’s list, our gameplan against this deck is pretty much the same.
I open by keeping what I consider a pretty dicey hand with 3 power and 2 Yushkovs, although it pans out in the end. Side note: if you have 2 or more 4 drops in hand, do NOT keep a 2 power hand. Period. The risk is not worth it. I end up running out Yushkov first on Turn 4 since he’s a less important unit particularly in this matchup, and I’d rather spend their Vanquish on this rather than the Buhton. Afterwards when there had been some trading back and forth, removal for units, I end up running out the double Champion of Chaos just to try and get them dead quickly since I was unable to find a Cen Wastes Smuggler. From the pattern of cards in their hand off the previous Shakedown, I knew that they didn’t have a Harsh Rule since the only cards not revealed to me were the Hurlers; therefore I felt comfortable doing so. They eventually do kill my Champions of Chaos and slap down with a free Knife to kill my 2 drop. At that point, even though they had a Garden out, I opt to Milos their face and take out their Knife, despite them possibly having another one in hand. I reasoned that since I had just kept drawing power the last few turns, my best hope of stealing this game is hoping that they A. Draw a Firebomb, and B. Don’t have another Knife since I had a Torch in hand, and would be at 8 after the Milos attack. Unfortunately, they have another Knife and take that game.
I keep an opening hand with a lot of depleted power, but it did have a Condemn and Cen Wastes Smuggler, so right there and then I decided that my primary gameplan would be just to clock them for a bunch with Menace. Twice. Here’s my 1st punt: I take a Hailstorm with my first Shakedown, but I take a Torch over Defiance with my 2nd. My reasoning here was that I didn’t want them to kill my Buhton, but I also had a Champion of Chaos in hand at the time, which they then promptly killed with Defiance. And then they killed my Buhton with Vanquish. 😦
Here’s my glorious 2nd punt: instead of saving the Dark Return for Menace like I had originally planned, I end up grabbing the Buhton who just died instead, getting in for 6 but promptly dying the next turn to a Torch. We stall around for a couple of turns when I feel like I finally have the window to drop the Menace on them; however, they made the excellent heads-up play to grab the Just Desserts off their Garden about 5 turns before, and completely blow me out. I do have a massive life buffer off the Menace, but they’ve found a Knife and are just absolutely crunching me with it. I don’t find enough burn to finish them off even with a Double Torch in hand, and they take the round.
I would just like it noted that my opponent played gloriously well this round: going into this, my teammate and I knew that our primary path to victory would be Menace, and given that this is open decklists, unless they’re stuck on power as in Round 1, Game 1, Garden Control is far favoured in this matchup as long as they properly play around the Menace. A well-deserved victory.
Round 3: Kal_Shadowstep on Feln Midrange splashing 2 cylices.
Now contrary to the previous 2 rounds, I feel very good about this matchup. They don’t have a lot of cheap removal outside the Annihilate, and most of their early units are fairly easy for this deck to handle – as long as we can run them over before they get a chance to get to that Icaria, I like our chances. That being said, an unanswered Lifestealing Rindra or Vara will swing the game heavily in their favor, so ideally, I want to try and save removal particularly for those units. Or just leave them in Torch’able range.
Also, being on the same team as Kal, I know that my teammate, Iplongno, apparently smoked Kal in Round 1, and we’re on a similar deck. So there’s that too.
I keep perhaps what is one of the most questionable hands so far this tournament, with 4 power, a Seek Power, a Jekk and a Buhton. Fortunately, Kal is also off to a very slow start, so I’m not punished too badly here. (I hear from the VOD that it was unfortunate I couldn’t get a faster start to punish their power base, which is definitely fair, but I felt that having the Jekk to eat a Merchant or Rindra on 4 would just be the bees’ knees.) I decide to hold off on Turn 4 Jekk simply because they do run a decent number of units, so I feel that I could get the 2nd target off Jekk pretty easily. Right here, I completely punt by forgetting that the Champion of Cunning can reasonably block my Buhton, but I still feel that it was acceptable to just get the Champion of Cunning off the board before either of its 5 influence abilities kick in. And as expected, they make the trade instead of taking 10 to the face. I think it could definitely be argued that my deck has almost no ways of getting Champion of Cunning off the board, so although it wasn’t what I was thinking, it still panned out fine.
(P.S. It’s great having the VODs to reference when making these tournament reports. Makes it far, far easier.)
So the next turn, Kal drops a Smuggler, which is the perfect target for a double-damaged Jekk even if my Jekk does get plucked off by Annihilate. Here, given the open decklists, I am very surprised Kal goes for Rindra especially given we have open decklists, and knowing what’s in their hand: I’m almost tempted to either go straight for the Vara or Malediction here from their side. They have no clean way of killing Buhton in their deck period outside of Shadow Icaria, and my only way of dealing with Vara main deck is an Annihilate. I think the Rindra play is more defensible if he had a spell to buff it on his turn such as a Dazzle or Send an Agent, but running out the naked Rindra is just very risky here. Eh. Back to me and my bad plays. I pitch the Milos here to the Rindra simply because I have another one. Next turn I draw the Torch, so I go for Torching the Rindra, playing Milos, and then Torching post-combat. I think had I not drawn the Torch, the safer play would have been to go for Persuader on Buhton and save the Milos for next turn, but since I know that they have no 1 drop interaction, I’m fine with going for this line.
I see 4 power, a Shakedown, a 2 drop and a 3 drop, and I know I’m good to go. My gameplan right now is just to completely curve out on them and take Kal down before he has a chance to deploy any units. I notice the commentators mention possibly taking Petition over the Blight Pass Smuggler, but given the composition and curve on my hand, I am more than happy for Kal to just spend their turns finding power instead of impacting the board. Which is exactly what they do, and I even draw a Buhton to top off my curve. I don’t have the Fire influence for Buhton, but I top deck a Yushkov anyway, so all is well and good – they can’t even win through blockers now since I have the charge unit in hand that I know I can deploy next turn. And that’s exactly what happens.
Round 4: Iplongno on Stonescar.
Ah…so it had to be. My teammate and I who worked on the same deck, facing against each other in the Round to decide the Top 4. (Or not really, you’ll see what happens) Truly a very fun battle. In any case, this matchup is a complete toss-up. Since there are no Open Contracts main deck, it’s hard for both of us to deal with each other’s Champions of Chaos, hence, the person who can stick their 2nd Champion of Chaos (the 1st one being a must answer) is probably going to be the victor. So let’s see how this panned out.
Not really too much to stay here: I have Torch for Street Urchin, Torch for Blackhall Warleader, and Condemn into Open Contract for their Champion of Chaos. Unfortunately, they have an Annihilate for my Milos, and I just draw only power after that. People may frequently question the viability of Stonescar as a deck, but this is a deck that heavily punishes you for stumbling. Even just a little bit.
I end up going to 6 on the play since my 1st hand had 1 power and my 2nd had 2 sigils and no Seeks, which is awful for such an influence heavy deck. On Turn 1, I shake them down, and am very disappointed to not see a Champion of Chaos here: that’s probably the biggest advantage of this iteration, to be able to snipe Champions of Chaos before they hit the board. I take the Instigator over the Condemn here, which may have been wrong since I did have the Torch to deal with the Instigator. Whilst Condemn doesn’t kill anything in their deck, providing access to Open Contract is crucial. And lo and behold, I draw the Champion of Chaos the next turn, which they proceed to Open Contract on Turn 3. On Turn 4, I go for Milos and a depleted power before they deploy a Yushkov. Here, there are some very interesting Yushkov interactions as I play a Yushkov the following turn, they play a 2nd one, and now everything’s just completely exhausted, my brain included trying to navigate this.
The turn after their 2nd Yushkov, I decide to go for a Persuader on Milos since they don’t have enough power for Annihilate, so I’m confident I can get at least 1 proc off my weapon, which lines up perfectly with the Jekk I top-deck the following turn. However, they Torch the Jekk, and I’m unable to find any more gas. I make a Persuasive Milos attack into a double block just to try and reduce the number of blocks, but it didn’t matter as I didn’t draw anything else relevant that game. (I did draw a Milos, which did nothing unfortunately. :P)
(At this point, I’m 2-2, and given how the bracket panned out, I’m pretty sure I’m just out at this point, so I log off Eternal and go to brush my teeth because it was almost midnight Singapore time at this juncture. Then I get pinged by Iplongno and in the tournament chat, telling me to get ready for the Top 4, and I’m so confused. Turns out because of the way people got paired up and down, there were only 2 3-1s, and I somehow got the best breakers out of everybody at 2-2. So I guess it didn’t matter who between Iplongno and I won Round 4 since we would have both made Top 4 either way, which I do find kind of amusing. And then I get paired up against them in the semi-finals, and honestly? I’m just ready for a repeat of Round 4 right now.)
Semi-Finals: Iplongno on Stonescar.
I keep a rather sketchy hand with only 2 power, both of them Sigils, especially on the play, but I’m hoping between the Nightfall on the Shakedown and the Fenris I can hopefully draw into some extra power. Fortunately for me, Iplongno took a mull to 6, which is fantastic. However, when I don’t draw a 2nd Fire source, I’m sort of immediately regretting my decision, which is why I immediately go for the draw of Fenris, unfortunately missing. Next turn, they drop a Milos, which I Annihilate at slow speed once I get the opportunity to because right now, I don’t have anything to block it particularly well.
The next turn after Ip drops their Cen Wastes Smuggler and gets back the Champion of Chaos, I’m just digging for that 4th power. I can’t play either Milos, exposing the Champion of Chass to Torch is a horrible idea, and everything else is not particularly power-efficient. At least the Champion of Chaos isn’t on board right now, and so I have a 1 turn window for me to try and keep digging. Perhaps I shouldn’t have blocked the Cen Wastes Smuggler there with Fenris, but since I know that I’m going to go Condemn into Open Contract the next turn regardless, and I was getting kind of low off the Fenris draws, I felt that would be a defensible play.
I do let the Warleader get through for an attack but promptly kill it the next turn with Annihilate, unfortunately, as I had previously mentioned, this 2nd Champion of Chaos is a huge problem for me, especially since I still don’t have a 4th power. I finally draw my 4th power, and just stuff some blockers hopefully to take out the opposing Champion: at this point, I’m so low on life, and my only hope is that Ip completely punts here. He drops a Milos, and I’m pretty much screwed regardless since no matter how I block, that Champion is going to live. I do drop to 1, but there’s nothing left for me to do.
I am once again blessed by the luck-sack gods as Ip mulls to 6 again (although seeing the VOD, in his position, I would have done exactly the same thing. Don’t be greedy, cause as you literally just read/saw, it never pans out.) I keep an honestly fantastic hand with 3 power, Shakedown, Annihilate, and some units. I once again snipe the Champion out of their hand (hehe), and manage to Annihilate their Milos before getting in with my own, and so far, I’m in great shape – I’m just looking for 1 more power for my 4 drops. Seeing the VOD, I understand why they’d go for the Open Contract if they’re concerned I have a Champion in hand, but in their position, I might actually be tempted to go for the Dark Return and get back the copy I had discarded, simply because it’s such a good card. And besides, on a mull to 6, you want to be as offensive as possible in the mirror. As luck would have it, I top deck the 4th power, and slap that Persuader onto Milos while Annihilate is down.
Here, the Open Contract looks fantastic as it gets rid of Milos, but the Persuader has absolutely done its work and gotten me that sweet Sigil to pitch to Jekk and ruin Ip’s Yushkov. I was kind of surprised by the non-lethal Jekk on my Jekk there, but looking back, Ip was definitely in a tough spot, and it makes sense that he’d try and go for the redraw. Next turn, I’m fine trading away my Jekk for their Smuggler here since I have 5 cards to their 1, and even if they Annihilate away the Yushkov there they’re still not in fantastic shape. Next turn, I play my 2nd Yushkov to really shut down any out-of-the-blue damage in the form of charge units (which looking at Ip’s hand now, is honestly super painful to watch) and since the Jekk doesn’t have any stats left thanks to Decay, I opt instead for the Open Contract in case Ip does draw a ChaCha. He doesn’t and scoops it up there.
(Honestly, I was extremely excited since this was the first Game 3 that I had played all night; the anticipation is tantalizing.)
So I manage to keep a pretty glorious hand should I be able to find a 4th power; getting Turn 2 Warleader is exactly where you want it. They do remove it, and the reason I don’t run out Jekk is because I’m thinking they’re probably sandbagging some big units if they instead choose to pass Turn 2 with Annihilate up, so I figure that there’s no point in going for a low-value Jekk here since they’ll probably be plenty of blockers. In the Stonescar mirror, it’s so important to eke every last ounce of value for every single card. I go for the Yushkov over Jekk on Turn 4 even though I could just pitch the banner, mainly because I’m greedy, and hopefully I can snipe a Yushkov at some point. :} Ip removes Yushkov with Open Contract and plops down a Street Urchin, which I’m more than happy to kill before it takes 1 of my cards. Here, because I’m playing the exact same archetype as Ip, the odds that whatever card that he grabs is synergistic with his game plan and the rest of his hand is very high, so I don’t even want them to have the chance to twist here.
Here, I see them deploy a 2nd smuggler, probably for either Dark Return or Menace, not too sure which at this point honestly, which tells me they probably don’t have a Champion in hand since I feel like that would be a better play, nor do they have a Yushkov since I’d just plop that in front of the Jekk. As a result, I feel comfortable firing off my 2nd Jekk here because even if it does eat removal, I still get a Trove out of it. I end up pitching the Milos because since I suspect they have removal and either Return/Menace, then Milos is the least impactful card in this spot – if they do have the Menace, they’d just play it next turn and not wait until I have a Milos out. Here, I do disagree with their play of getting Cen Wastes Smuggler over Street Urchin with their Dark Return, and here’s why: getting that card off me is so important when we’re both running out of cards, and there’s nothing in the market that you really want with your 3rd Cen Wastes anyway. It is a slightly better unit, but if you get 2 twists off of Urchin, you could draw into cards that will get you back in this game, considering we’re both relatively healthy right now.
I choose to Annihilate the Milos over the Torch since I know they have the Smuggler whom I can’t Annihilate in hand, alongside what I still suspect is some kind of removal. They play the Smuggler and not do anything with it, so I Torch it, and now, the card advantage from the Troves is ridiculous to the point that I think it’d be really hard to lose from here, especially since Open Contract is out of the picture. And I win! On to the finals after defeating the bane of the Swiss himself. :PP
(Love you, Ip. The only bane you are is your opponents’.)
Finals: Theo Ver Master on Elysian Spells.
Whilst I don’t have anything that dies to a single Snowball, those Wump and Mizoss get out of hand very quickly, especially since main deck I only have Torch and Jekk to deal with them – here, I think this is one of the few matchups where it makes sense to play aggressively with Jekk just to get rid of my favourite furry yeti boi. However, another thing to note is that they don’t really have any hard removal – just a lot of bounce spells – so my true 4 drops in Yushkov and Buhton are going to be key in this matchup. I disagree with the commentators here, and I actually think that Yushkov is not as bad in this match-up even if their deck is named Elysian Spells because they do play a surprising number of units. The 2 key interactions with Yushkov here are exhausting the Conjurer and their dancing army, as well as delaying the Killer attack from Huntress by a turn. Kaleb’s Persuader is probably at its worst in this matchup purely because of the 8+1 bounce spells, but with the lack of hard removal, if I can find the right time to deploy it this could be game-changing.
In this matchup, I’m going to be leaning a lot on Open Contract and Edict of Makkar. They may be a spells deck, but Stonescar wins by having just tough to deal with value units. Conjurer and Wump are just 2 units that, much like of what Stonescar’s units do, absolutely take over the game if left unchecked. Since they don’t have sweepers, you can push through by attacking a decent chunk of the time, and whilst it’s nice to have Menace as a back-up plan, I don’t think you necessarily need it to win, unlike in the Garden Control matchup. (DM me if you disagree.)
I keep an opening hand that I tell no one to keep because of the 2 power, but I had already taken my free one, and as per usual, I get greedy since I have the Fenris in hand. Fortunately, I rip the power off the top like a boss, and now I’m just looking for another 1. Seeing that they’re off to a slow-ish start, I just try and keep the pressure on with a Milos on Turn 3. The following turn after they deploy Wump, I want to try and get that off the board as soon as possible, and since I didn’t draw a 4th power, I’m more than happy to Condemn, Edict, and shake it all about here, snagging a Jarrall – I am kind of disappointed to not see another Wump or Conjurer to snag here, but Jarrall is still a pretty good hit.
The turn after, I still don’t manage to draw the 4th power, so in my mind, the Menace plan is off the table for now. I debate whether I should go for the Cen Wastes or the Fenris here, but I decide to deploy another Fenris on the chance that my best move next turn is to just draw off of that – which pans out pretty well when I Condemn that Huntress. I do punt here by not putting away the Persuader here: I’m quite far behind now, and I’d rather have a unit than a card with a terribly low floor such as the Persuader. I do get very fortunate with the Jarrall missing over and over again on the draw, however, so that Theo isn’t running away with card advantage as I had expected. I am completely punished for my earlier misplay when 2 turns later, I slap a Persuader on Fenris and get completely blown out by Theo’s topdecked Pause. Oops. So now I’m in a really bad spot, and the spell count is unfortunately not quite high enough for me to be able to clock them with Menace, so I may have punted the game away there.
Next turn, I go for an Annihilate on Jarrall, but they counter it with Dazzle, which gives them the chance to get the 8th Primal, but either way, Theo rips a Primal symbol off the top. At this point, I’m completely panicking and play the Fenris instead of the Cen Wastes Smuggler and putting away the Fenris. (Look, it’s 1am and my brain isn’t exactly functional.) I go for Condemn into a Dark Return into a Milos, which honestly is all kinds of wrong: they have all kind of fast speed interaction that makes it awful. I think here, I should have put away the 2nd Cen Wastes Smuggler and grabbed Menace on the off chance, having the Condemn to pop a face Aegis if need be; I don’t think it wins me the game at that point, but I’m getting so low on life, I need to get the life buffer from Menace just to give me a chance to draw something. Either way, I played pretty horribly that game and lost as a result. XD
I keep a 3 power opening hand, and have a 2 and 3 drop, which is exactly what I’m looking for to just absolutely run over Theo here, and that 4th power on Turn 3 is just the cherry on the top of a really strong opening hand. My Milos does get hit with Pause for Reflection, which is unfortunate, but fortunately, it’s still around and kicking in its original form, unlike with an Equivocate. Given the open decklists, I actually really like Theo’s play of Jennev Merchant over the Conjurer here, simply because he knows that I have Buhton in my deck, and getting that Conjurer removed for free would be absolutely backbreaking. Perhaps it was a little aggressive to offer the trade with Fenris for Merchant, but Jennev Merchant is actually kind of a pain for me to deal with once it’s on the board, and as the commentators pointed out, I think it’d be tough for me to outgrind the Elysian deck anyway, so I’m just pressing while I still can.
Here, I’m not a huge fan of hitting the Yushkov with Permafrost: I think there are way better targets in my deck like Jekk or Buhton that don’t actually do anything once you’ve got the Permafrost down on them, especially if I’ve imbued a unit with Buhton. I understand the desire to stymie some of the damage here, but I don’t think the body on Yushkov is horribly relevant, especially once Theo starts spitting out Stormdancers. Here, they go for the double Snowball play on Fenris, which makes complete sense; I’m faced with an interesting decision here on whether to go for just the Buhton and save my Sigil for Jekk, or go with Buhton + Annihilate. Ultimately, I decide to press my advantage whilst I’ve got it, especially since they won’t be able to put up more blockers at least through Yushkov, and kill the Conjurer with Buhton and the Stormdancer with Annihilate, and just crash in for 8 while the Merchant is down. I understand why Theo went for the attack with Merchant now based off the information on the vod, but I think it’s just such a risky play, particularly if I have any more charge units in hand, such as a top-decked Milos and a Firebomb.
The following turn, I just want to set myself up as best as possible to win on the following turn, because I’ve gone through the lines, and there’s just no way for me to win in that spot through the Jennev Merchant with Aegis. Hence, I pitch a Jekk to Condemn, use Open Contract to get the Merchant off the board, and crack in with Milos. At least this way, I force them to have the Pause for Reflection next turn in order to stay alive. I go for the Jekk straight out of the gate to force it out of them, which they do, and just swing in with Buhton to force the chump block – Theo only has 1 power left, so I’m not worried about Equivocate at this point. The next turn, I understand where Theo was coming from wanting to make blockers with Conjurer and using all those bounce spells at sorcery speed, but this Yushkov coming in absolutely clutch and exhausting all those blockers for a clear path to victory and tie up the round.
I keep an honestly kind of sketchy hand with 3 power, a Smuggler, a Condemn, a Jekk and a Persuader: given that I have the 2 market access cards, I will likely be heavily leaning on the Menace plan this game assuming I can find another power, and probably market away the Persuader. The biggest problem with the hand is that it really doesn’t apply pressure in the same way that the previous hands do, which is a concern because it might give Theo some time to set up. I am, however, super fortunate to rip the Shakedown – a little late on Turn 3, but still allows me to nab the Conjurer – I have units with strong summon effects that I don’t mind being Equivocated at this point, and the Primal Etchings doesn’t do anything with their board – to hopefully buy myself a little more time before they get set up.
Following that, I drop the Cen Wastes Smuggler – no point in running out Jekk here – and I guess my reasoning at the time is to put away the non-Sigil power, so that if I do slap a Persuader onto my Smuggler, then I’ll have the Sigil I need to empower Jekk with; I grab Edict since I know they have a Conjurer, and I’d rather save the Open Contract for a Jarrall down the line. Seeing them drop the Conjurer here and only have 1 power left incentivizes me to go for the Persuader line here since I know they can’t Equivocate it, at least this turn; they don’t hit Cen Wastes Smuggler with Pause here and instead save Conjurer with the very telegraphed removal spell, which I can appreciate given the composition of the hand. Besides, they can just hit Smuggler with Equivocate next turn, and I won’t be able to clock the Conjurer with Jekk given that it only does 4 damage.
Funnily enough, Theo electing to not play out the Conjurer again actually puts me in a really bad spot, because I don’t want to run out any of my Jekks like that at this point, which is why I go for the Cen Wastes Smuggler into the Silverblade Menace – learning from Game 1, you see. Here, I decide to go for the Menace since the Condemn can fetch an Open Contract later on if need be. Jekk is great, but 3 of them with no Sigils in hand is a bit much, and there’s definitely diminishing returns with each copy here given how many of Theo’s units have 3 or more health, requiring me to just keep finding Sigils. This is why I opt for the Condemn at the end of Theo’s turn instead of waiting, because if I don’t get a Sigil, then I still want to Open Contract the Conjurer before it gets out of hand. Of course, being the luck sack that I am, the turn after I immediately draw a Sigil, but it’s not something I could have necessarily predicted, and I clear their board and put myself firmly in the driver’s seat.
Theo actually comes back really well with a Wump, a Huntress and a Wisdom to refuel their hand; unfortunately, the luck of the RNG gods once again smile on me with the Shakedown able to take the Wump out of their hand even after they return it with Pause; I guess there’s an argument for me taking Etchings here to ensure they can’t get their Decree, but seeing no cheap Primal units to exhaust, I feel like my best play here is to simply contest the board as best I can. Though Wump is still a bit from transforming, I don’t have any more ways to deal with it, so I don’t want to chance the Wump transforming into a Party Pair because that could completely swing this game in their favour.
Theo doesn’t really find anything super helpful here, running out the Jotun Hurler to grab the Permafrost – maybe they should have just gone for Royal Decree here, but there is, of course, the concern of just dying on board. I fire off the Menace because if they don’t have Pause then they’re dead – they do, but does put them precariously close to being dead; right now, my plan is to possibly just grab the Dark Return next turn if they find a way to kill Menace, or just grab another Jekk from my market if need be. Fortunately, they don’t have anything, and I pull off the win by blasting their face with Jekk, staple of Stonescar.
It was a great tournament: thank you again for Telemokos for organizing it, Essarefess for being the TO on Friday, and gatosujo for commentating my sweet, sweet punts. As this has amply demonstrated, just because the deck has been nerfed doesn’t mean Stonescar can’t still pack a massive punch, especially when you’re unprepared. I plan on writing 1 of these every 2 weeks in line with Tuesday Night Eternal, so hopefully, you’ll see a few more coming around shortly.
Do you disagree with my card choices? Do you disagree with my lines for certain situations? Do you just want to finish what you started in Twitch chat and continue to flame me for my deck choice in general? If you do, you can find me on Twitter @stormguard798 and lurking around the Friends of Eternal or Team Eternal Journey Discord. Thanks for reading!
One thought on “Tuesday Night Eternal 4/12/20 – Deck Tech and Tournament Report – Stonescar Aggro (SS)”