Hello godlings. It’s been a couple weeks since the last time I wrote about this outstanding game, in part because of my own hectic life (I just moved, after all!), and in part because I wasn’t sure where to take the series. I think now I’ve survived both situations. I know I’m relieved!
While all my previous installments have been taking the bare-bones Starter decks provided to the newest of the new players in Mythgard and making them somewhat better, I wanted to undertake something a bit more practical – and flex my deckbuilding muscles a bit here. You may have noticed the title change. I’m super excited.
From this point on, I’m planning to take the deck we tweaked last time and set it loose into the real world. I’m going to update the list weekly, giving myself a soft cap on how much Essence I can spend to improve it, which should help keep it more in-line with the new-player focus I’ve been maintaining. Since this is my first week, I’ll make it a bit conservative: 1500 Essence. Technically that’s enough for 3 Rares if you wanted, and since packs average out to about 240 Essence if you unmake it all, I feel it’s a good number. It’s reasonable to earn in a week of play.
In short, I’m going to try to show what it’s like for me to build a deck and tune it from the ground up.
Oh, but I’m sort of going to cheat my self-imposed limit this week.
You may also be asking yourself, “Why on Earth would he do that? He just set the limit!” Because, to put it simply, the way I brew usually requires … inspiration. This week was no different.
I opened a card.
And not just any card.
I opened this card!
Yes, friends, this is a Prestige copy of the Mythic Master of Shadows. And I want to brew with him so badly.
Does he get your creative juices flowing too?
He doesn’t exactly fit into our previous decklist, and we will talk about what I mean by that in a little while. But we are going to dive into this, because he’s just too cool to pass up, and clearly the game wanted me to brew this list. Otherwise, why would it have given me such a spicy dude as one of my first Mythics?
He’s also coincidentally my in-game avatar now. Go figure.
The Recap: What these Factions Do
Previously, I wrote about the midrange prowess of Green and mixing it together with the item-generating minions of Purple. In fact, from top to bottom, there are solid cards in Purple’s curve. Our last deck leaned a little higher on that curve. I think for this version, I’m going to want to pull it down some, play a bit lower-end midrange. We were not going in on the Canine tribe, though, nor were we choosing the Reanimator path (as much as it hurts me to admit it). However, that will work to our advantage here. Instead, we’re going to embrace the other major part of Purple’s identity:
We’re going deep on Stealth!
What does Stealth really do for Purple?
To quote my last article, “You get to play mind games with your opponent! How badly do they want to uncover what your newly-played minion truly is? Can they afford to let it potentially grow and do something unchecked?”
It’s the uncertainty that makes Stealth so dangerous to your opponent. Until they interact with your minion, they have no idea what to expect other than this nifty gray silhouette:
We’re hoping to expand and exploit this still further by utilizing the extra text on the Master of Shadows, thus putting all our minions into Stealth — even those that don’t normally have it. Thus we’ll hopefully have a huge advantage in dealing with some of our opponent’s better minions!
And yes, before you say anything, I am aware that as a Mythic card, I’ll only have one copy of it in my deck, thus limiting it’s effect by diminishing its reliability. I’m totally aware of that. And I still don’t care, so nyah! I’m going to have fun! That’s what brewing is for me, after all.
The “Upgraded” Crafty Starter: AKA Where We Left Off
So this was the list we ended up with last time. If you want to see how we got there, check this article out. For the most part we took the base cards, added a few from the Story, crafted or pulled a few more, and called it “good enough.”
But good enough isn’t good enough any longer. If you’re like me, you’ve been noticing how powerful many opponents’ decks have gotten. We need to similarly boost our deck’s power, or we’ll fall further and further behind in the grind.
With my shiny new Master of Shadows, I can start to bridge that gap some, but he surely won’t be enough on his own. Besides, we need to build a deck around him that works well with what he’s trying to do: namely, get extra value by our opponent not knowing what we’re doing!
How do we do that?
We need to get tricky! We will also (likely) need to spend some Essence.
Initial (Eyeball) Changes
Let’s start with the cards we want to remove. We’re looking to take out cards that 1) don’t do enough and/or 2) give away their identity instantly.
Not enough impact, and 1/1s that clog lanes aren’t exactly what this deck will be aiming for, since we are lowering the curve somewhat.
A solid card to be sure, he just doesn’t do what this deck wants. A 4/4 for 4 that needs to activate immediately gives away his identity. And besides, we can do more interesting things in the 4 slot.
-1 Racer in
A card that doesn’t stick around at all doesn’t exactly serve our purposes. It’s still an interesting removal-spell-minion, but not for this deck.
I know, he’s a minion with built-in Stealth, but he just doesn’t do enough for me to warrant those spots! I’d rather he was a different Shinobi. (We’ll add those later.)
-2 Volkov Pointman
Yes, he’s an awesome minion. He does a lot of things well. But he falls into the “not doing enough” realm here. +1 strength and Overwhelm only on minions that are beside him is a dead giveaway. And when given the choice of how I want my buffs to come along, I want a bit more diversity (meaning I’m keeping in Ruslan’s Bight instead, as it is a more-permanent addition).
If you’ve been trying to play the deck from last time, you might have realized that having so many singles, with so few full playsets, has really limited the deck’s reliability and consistency. Well, the first thing I want to do is see if we can fix that issue by finishing up a few of our Common sets.
In considering other cards that might create value under a Master of Shadows-style deck, I’m trying to consider both minions with Stealth built-in, but also those that might be extra tricky.
Since we’re predominantly trying to play mindgames with our opponent, making them wonder what our Stealthed dudes are, I want to begin with Shinobi of Wind. His body may be a bit small for a 3-drop, but his Breach is compelling. Dealing two extra damage, wherever you choose it’ll do the most good, is incredibly powerful.
+2 Shinobi of Wind (= 100 Ess.)
Next, I want to create value with my dudes. I want my opponent to swing into a “stealthed minion” and be upset that he attacked it. That’s why I feel that the second copy of Born-Again is a must-include.
+1 Born-Again (= 500 Ess.)
In the same vein, I’m looking for other minions that create similarly-unexpected results. Gallows Boy is bigger than usual for a 2-drop and by being Warded he can really mess with an opponent’s play. But when I consider whether I want to add more copies of him or not, I need to look at the other card sharing his spot in the curve (excluding Born-Again). Bold Omega is a potent 2-drop with Breach. But how often will he? We can’t expect him to get the Master’s Stealth often, since he’ll come down two turns earlier. Is either good enough to be a full playset? I’m not sure. A typical brewer’s answer to this dilemma is to run a 2:2 split until you determine which you prefer, then finish that playset and remove the other. So that’s what we’ll do for now.
+1 Gallows Boy (=50 Ess.)
For total transparency, I had considered Mavka for that same spot. A 2/2 for 2[G]G isn’t awesome, until you remember that she’s Deadly. Having a Deadly minion in stealth means that no matter what swings into it, it will die. Mavka likely will too, but the opponent only needs to do lose something great once, and then they’ll at least have to consider every single swing from then on. And Mavka will have done her job.
Why didn’t I include her then? She’s an Uncommon, and you may recall that I put myself on an “Essence budget.” Since I’d already spent 500 on Born-Again, I had to prioritize. These are real, new-player Mythgard problems! We’re already at 650 spent. We’ve got to make this 1500 go as far as possible! Especially when considering other possible cards.
Like Ravenoush She. A 5/5 for 5[G], She hides her identity well. But best of all is how She ambushes an opponent that unsuspectingly swings into her. A lot of things won’t survive that 2 damage they “must first take.” That’s a big upside. It also allows her to trade aggressively on defense. She is an Uncommon, though, and that’s where some of our budget is going. But She is worth it.
+2 Ravenous She (=200 Ess.)
Now we’re leaning a little heavily into the Green side, so I want our last additions for this round to be something Purple. I think filling up a strong playset will do nicely. I’m thinking specifically of Thriving Shade. You may not understand why initially, but consider that she has the exact same cost as our Master of Shadows, innately comes down Stealthed, and enjoys not being attacked immediately. Because — let’s be clear — we’re going to be playing both her and Master into “protected” lanes when possible. We want their effects to be long-lasting.
+2 Thriving Shade (=200 Ess.)
The last of the “initial” changes, meaning just for now, will be the Path and Power. I don’t really want Journey of Souls in this deck, especially if I’m going to play two Born-Again. I think I’d rather be playing Disk of Circadia. Even though its discard won’t directly help us all the time, the control it will give us will be worth it. We will also be able to cheat it a bit. (More on that later.)
On the Power side, Smite is a fine ability, but since we’re going for the element of surprise, and often I may want to rearrange a minion before combat, I’m leaning toward Impel instead. Downside: Impel can’t be used on an empty board, and we may want that. Additionally, maybe Mend will allow us to handle longer games. With two initial inclinations, I’ll need to play test the deck to figure out which is truly better.
And I am not foolish enough to believe this deck is even close to finished. I know it needs too much work still. However, being on a budget, I think that this is as close as I can get it before playtesting can tell me with more certainty which cards shouldn’t be in the list.
The First Stealthy Runs
Let’s look at how our deck runs, shall we? Below, I’m going to show 5 starting hands.
Hand 1 didn’t have an immediate game plan upon first look. I ended up burning Purple to allow for T2 Sword Saint into T3 Shinobi, and that went OK. Not great. I lost the game in the end, but just because I got out-valued. My opponent had a couple Mythics I could not contend with (Sapo specifically). When I fell behind, it snowballed.
Hand 2 clearly does have a plan: burn a Green card (probably Detained), play the Bight, and on T2 get down Born-Again. Or, perhaps we use our Born-Again as discard fodder to use our Power (Mend, with Disk of Circadia) and set ourselves up to draw a card next time. That’s the route I went (my opponent didn’t have a lot of early pressure), and I set myself up for a lot of value using Born-Again against what he did play. But is that just an example of “Strong card is strong?” Hard to say.
Hand 3 gave me a fair number of options, which I chose to keep open T1 by burning my Shinobi — just in case I wanted that Saint T2. It turns out I didn’t draw the other Purple card I wanted (I didn’t want to burn Master), so I burned Avenging Alpha and set up the same play as before: use Mend to discard Born-Again to set up a draw later when I might need it more. Why Alpha? Because he’s not my ideal 4-drop, and his value is so dependent on whether or not he’s activated. A 6/6 for 4 is great, but rare early on. Again, this game I out-valued my opponent and won.
This final hand gave us a very similar start – which I’ve started taking as a good sign. I knew I was going to miss having more Purple cards, but that just led to a very-Green start. I ended up burning both initial Purples I drew just to be prepared for if I should see something good later. It ended up working out.
Based on these four games – not a suitable sample-size at all – I felt like the deck had serious potential. I also learned that it really wants to out-value its opponents, which means it needs to find a few more ways to get that value. Born-Again is a guaranteed all-star. As such, having a Power that we can use at ANY time is critical, thus why you see me running Mend over Impel in all these screenshots.
But I promised you a fifth screenshot too. And here it is.
I left it for last because, like the first hand I showed, it seemed to have no obvious plan, and since I was going second, I had that ever-tempting free-Power activation – but no Born-Again to pitch to it! I ended up burning the Terragon, in hopes of getting something to play my Saint into on T2. But I quickly realized that I didn’t have enough Purple to burn – and I drew a Gallows Boy. So I burned a Detained on T2 and played that Boy.
This was the game where the deck played more “fairly,” and I didn’t love it. All the cards were fine. But Shinobi never got to start Breaching. I felt like I was playing from behind constantly. This was the game that made me strongly consider whether I truly wanted Gallows Boy over Bold Omega. My verdict: Bold Omega simply does more for the deck.
It was only once my Ravenous She hit the field that I started to take back control, because my opponent was playing lots of little Parsan dudes that all couldn’t attack through. That at least felt good. But the “middle” part of the deck was really on display this game. I think it needs more tweaking.
Now I’d like to point out that I have played many more than 5 games with this list. (Almost triple that number, in fact.) So don’t feel that what I’ve based these coming changes off of is a small handful of games. One of my biggest challenges as a brewer, in fact, is to let the deck try and prove itself before I tweak too much. Otherwise I won’t know how the list truly plays. Making “reactionary changes” based off only a few experiences is something I try to guard against.
That said, with the tweaks to this list already (and NOT counting Master of Shadows), I’ve already put the equivalent of 850 Essence into this deck. That means I have 650 Essence left for today’s budget (1500-850). Not a whole lot to work with, if I’m considering upper-rarity cards. The deck has clearly improved, but to what degree can we finish it off? What cards still need to be considered?
Well, based on my full run of playtesting, and as I briefly mentioned above, I’m going to swap out the 2 Gallows Boys for the remaining Bold Omegas. They might not always be better, but they’re good enough and they follow this deck’s plan.
-2 Gallows Boy
+2 Bold Omega (=100 Ess., 550 remaining)
Next up, let’s address the 4-drops: Back Alley Ronin vs Avenging Alpha.
Ronin is not quite as strong as Alpha if both are activated, but he’s much easier to activate. He’s also a Purple card, which I’ve found numerous times to be wanting. If we want to keep the 2:1 split for further testing, I think it should be the other way (2 Ronin: 1 Alpha), but I’m ready to take it further and say that they could all 3 change over to Ronins. This also fits our theme a bit better – Master of Shadows is a ninja too, after all.
-2 Avenging Alpha
+2 Back Alley Ronin (=200 Ess., 350 remaining)
Adding in extra Purple cards above also lets us discuss how mediocre Lantern Colossus has been in this list. As a 6-drop, he’s supposed to bring a lot to the table, but I’ve always ended up finding his body rather lacking. Then having to pay 1 more for his Cloak (the best reason to play him), which doesn’t even add stats… I’ve grown a bit cold to him in this list. I think we want to cap our curve at 5, at last for now. So if we’re removing him, what do we replace him with?
-1 Lantern Colossus
+1 Shinobi of Smoke (=100 Ess., 250 remaining)
This change lowers our curve, provides us another Stealth minion, and keeps it on-theme as a Ninja. That’s a triple win in my book. Sure, he may not be as strong individually, but I believe that what he adds to the deck overall makes it worth the investment. Also, I already had a second in my card list, so it wasn’t even a craft for me (though his Essence DOES count against my budget).
Are there any other changes I’d like to make at this juncture? Probably. But this is already a lot. I do believe it’s still worth looking at our removal suite as well as our curve-toppers, but those are both probably “fine enough” for now. Besides, that will likely be something fun to do next week, when my budget replenishes and Rares become reachable again. 😀
The List: Week 2
Here’s where we’ve ended up this week — and we’re still up 250 Essence from our budget!
I’m not foolish enough to say this list is finished or tuned by any stretch of the imagination, but it has improved. And next week, with the addition of 1500 more Essence, it’ll get better still. That’s beauty of this new series of articles: I get to keep brewing and brewing until, maybe eventually, I’ll switch gears and brew something else!
For now, I hope you’ve enjoyed this list. It’s not going to get you to the top immediately, and it definitely still has a lot of improvements to be made, but it IS fun to play.
Until next time, I’m bearsman6, and I want you to keep playing, keep learning, and most importantly… keep brewing!
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