Hey guys, I was thinking about doing another generic, “Top x cards of the expansion” article, but we see enough of those. This month, I wanted to write about something a little different, and I’m not sure how it’ll turn out. Rather than an article that provides a decklist and talks about it, I wanted to write about the process of getting to that decklist. The process of taking a rough idea for a deck, and refining it.
Not wanting to pick anything too complicated for the topic of the article, Thrive Monsters seemed like a good deck to play for this. Most people should be familiar with how the deck works, and it just got a bunch of new toys to play with in 4.0.
The New Stuff
4.0 brought along not only Iron Judgment, but a lot of card tweaks as well. With Arachas Queen changed, a lot of cards got shifted around in the Monsters faction in particular. The most important change for us from the patch notes is Griffin going all the way down to 5 provisions, from 7. This essentially makes Griffin a 7 for 5 that enables 9 point Ghouls down the line.
There were also some new cards in Iron Judgment I wanted to try with this deck. Yghern is a great early round card that gives the deck an incredible amount of reach. While high provision cards that you plan on playing in round 1 usually aren’t great, later on he’s providing a bunch of extra points on our Ozzrel.
Endrega Larva is another big boost for this archetype. While Nekker has always existed, it’s always been unreliable. Now, for 1 extra provision, you get to play a Nekker with 6 value guaranteed, instead of only 2. Larva is probably the best card monsters got this expansion.
The new Endregas are interesting additions to the deck. Endrega Eggs is a 7 for 4 which unlike Ancient Foglet, triggers your Thrives. Endrega Warrior is the first 4 Provision Consume deploy, which can be used to either be a big unit for Thrive, trigger your Eggs, or reset Fruit. Not sure how well they’ll fit into this deck, but they seem worth trying out.
The Starting Point
This initial list was the starting point. It’s day 1, and without knowing what decks people are playing on ladder, I don’t want to include any situational tech cards. Tech cards can be slotted into anything. If the deck’s core isn’t strong enough to beat decks people are playing, then it’s better to just give up and move on rather than trick ourselves into thinking the deck is good because we’re beating people with teched Ignis or Yrdens. We’ll lose more games this way, but learn a lot more about our deck.
Lambert might look a little too techy for this phase, but he makes a ton of sense in this deck overall. Being 6 power, he triggers thrive better than a lot of other cards that would replace him, and he helps line up your Glustyworp. Most decks are going to give you at least a 10 point Lambert at some point. A 10 for 9 that procs your thrives is exactly what this deck is looking for, even ignoring the potential to win the game against Arachas or Hemmelfart.
Aside from that though, everything else is pretty core to what the deck is trying to do. We have Thrives, big units, and some Consumes to reset our Fruit when it stops growing.
So after playing a few games, we were having some issues. The deck felt really soft to engines that grow. Seductresses and Hounds out of SY were tough to deal with. The games were fairly close despite our lack of tall removal, but we were just barely losing. However, the deck was incredibly good at winning round 1, typically winning the first round by over 20 points while exhausting very few provisions.
Winning round 1 by so many extra points is a little unnescessary, and while finding room for tall removal in our Gerni deck is kinda hard, maybe switching leaders over to Woodland Spirit to free some provisions up makes sense?
So next we tried a list playing Woodland Spirit instead of Gernichora. The bronzes skewed towards more typical thrives, but we were still playing around with the Weavess Yghern package. The extra provisions Woodland gave us allowed us to fit in a Geralt: Igni for tall removal.
We only played a few games with this version, we beat a Fran Dwarves and an Ardal Assimilate, but a loss to Eist made us reconsider some fundamental things the deck was doing. The loss to Eist, really more specifically the loss to the new Morkvarg, really had me reconsidering some things. With Woodland my round 1 was no longer good enough to bully Greatswords, or other engine decks out of round 1 which is a huge problem.
I really wanted to try to limit how good resets were against us. Spending a bunch of provisions on Yghern and Weavess only to get Morkvarged, Yrdened, Baroned, Petered, etc. was feeling really bad. With this, we decided to go back to Gernichora, but instead of trimming our tall removal, we cut the Weavess Yghern package. I had to mulligan Yghern a few too many times in round 3, and Weavess getting answered felt really bad the more it happened.
Back to Gernichora
This was the final list we played
The Igni Yrden swap was suggested by chat, mostly because it’s harder to play around for the opponent. Not sure how I feel about it. There are more matchups where Yrden is a total brick, but it’s certainly much harder to play around. While it always trades down with Portal Seductress, instead of trading up, at least your opponent can’t easily disalign it to make the trade even worse. The big thing that made me consider Yrden here was just how close the earlier games against Syndicate were. I don’t need a huge blowout Igni to win the game, I just needed a few more points to compete with the Hounds and Seductresses.
Another consideration for the tall removal slot was the new Geralt: Axii. Rather than having the ability to answer multiple things, Axii has a bigger body to him allowing him to trigger Thrive value, which ends up being a pretty big deal. When Axii is bad, he’s still a lot better than the other Geralts. Axii was a card I wanted to try, but never got around to it.
Additionally, we cut the 4 provision Endrega cards. The package was just a little too clunky, and with the deck’s power distribution, we didn’t need more ways to reset our fruit. With those cut, we added a more typical Nekker Warrior and Bruxa package in the 4s for a better thrive curve.
This list felt pretty good. We only played a couple games with this list before calling it quits, but we beat both Ardal and Calanthe. Still wasn’t sold on the Yrden, but I definitely liked playing some kind of Geralt in the deck. So what did we learn?
Lambert: Swordmaster was great. Wins the game singlehandedly against Arachas Queen, and could often find 10 value and thrive triggers against everything else. Notably against Dwarves, you can Lambert either the Rowdy Dwarf tokens, or Dwarven Mercenaries to line up a huge Glustyworp.
Speaking of Glustyworp, this guy reminds be of the first iteration of Gregoire, just instead of having a ceiling of 10, the sky is the limit. At base 6 he’ll almost always be triggering your thrives. With a single enemy unit at 1, he’s playing for 9. With two, he’s playing for 12. While this deck isn’t the best at lining Glustys up, you do have some tools, and I ate enough Scarabs and Endrega Larvas to really believe in Ol’ Trustyworp.
Anyways, overall I liked this list. Certainly not perfect, but I wanted to write about the process of building a deck on patch day from scratch. Hope this was an enjoyable read, and I’ll see you guys around.