Hello, everyone! Once again, I am Nathan “noverb” Overbay. Today I want to showcase the deck that most of Team Rankstar brought to the November 2019 ECQ: Promises by Firelight. The deck performed rather well for a lot of us and I wanted to walk you through the build step by step.
Why Eclipse Dragon?
There was a lot of focus on all the cards that got nerfed in the balance patch. One thing that piqued my interest was the “side-grade” to Desecrate. With the change to fast speed, my first thought went to being able to cast it off of Eclipse Dragon. Naturally, this combination could be played in Stonescar. But I began to ask myself, what else could be played off of Eclipse Dragon?
That led me to FJS because I was super interested in playing Display of Ambition off the Dragon’s power. The ability to curve Smuggler or Vara into Eclipse Dragon and then hold up Display for when they Harsh Rule was fantastic. Add in Defiance and Annihilate and you’ve got yourself a sweet Fast Spell package for Eclipse Dragon.
Eclipse Dragon served two more purposes in the deck. The Flying and Charge made it incredibly proficient at dealing with Sites like Regent’s Tomb, Garden of Omens, and Xulta Arcanum. In addition to that, the Quickdraw allowed it to safely attack through opposing Rizahns in the mirror or against FTJ. Then, as it becomes your opponent’s turn, you can remove the Rizahn with your new-found power.
The unit package was pretty simple. Two sets of Smugglers, a set of Varas, a set of Eclipse Dragons, a set of Rizahns, and a set of Xos. You may now be wondering, “But where’s the Icaria?” Early in testing it felt too clunky to have more units, and Icaria costing what she does, it was easier to use her as a finisher from the Market.
Next came the spells. Of course I started with the Eclipse Dragon package. A set of Displays, a set of Desecrates, two Annihilates, and two Defiances. Sadly, with the nerf, Torch no longer functions as part of the Fast Spell package, but it’s still a great card to answer early threats. Alongside Torch came two Suffocates for a total of eight cards to answer early threats as we play our crests. A set of Quarry and Seek Powers came in to finish off the “cookie cutter” build.
I quickly threw together this market:
If you were familiar with FJS decks from early 2019 this shouldn’t really surprise you. Tomb, Plate, Rule, and a finisher was a very common core. The last slot was Bore back then as a way to answer opposing Relics like Martyr’s Chains. That’s not entirely relevant anymore as both of those were nerfed. So instead of running Chains as the finisher I threw in Icaria.
The last market slot was pretty flexible. The options that I considered were Cast, Stormhalt Knife, and Pristine Light. Cast Into Shadow is great against Aggro and Midrange, while not being as all-in as Harsh Rule. So you can still set up your board and wreak havoc on theirs. Pristine Light also overlapped with Harsh Rule but is very good against Midrange and FTJ Control strategies.
In the end, GHP convinced me to lock in Stormhalt Knife. Knife was very good against Combrei Aggro as Harsh Rule didn’t perform well against Stand Together. Being able to both establish threats and remove theirs with a free Knife claws you out of some tough situations. In addition to that, Knife is also a clean answer to Icaria, getting around that pesky Aegis!
The Flex Slots
A “flex slot” is a card in your deck that isn’t essential to the strategy and can be swapped to fit another purpose.
If you were keeping track, I actually just listed out fifty cards in the section above. So you may be saying to yourself, “Alright, deck is done, let’s go!” It is a playable deck by all means, and I did actually play it like that for a few days. This was done to feel out what the deck did well and where it suffered.
One of the first things that came up was that Desecrate’s life loss was often more painful than I wanted. So I noted that while Desecrate was great with Eclipse Dragon, four might be too many. The next note was that I often found myself wanting more power, so Cargo came into the discussion.
Interestingly, I didn’t consider Cargo to be a replacement for any number of Desecrates, but rather Quarry. The reasoning here was that if I was cutting removal I would rather play other types of removal, and the same for card filtering. Often early on I would find myself Quarrying for a power more than I would for any other type of card. So, in turn, my version of the deck played a split of those cards. I removed one Quarry for a Cargo and one Desecrate for a Voprex’s Choice.
Now Choice may actually come as a shock to some. It was not something that I was considering until Doc brought an FJS list packing a set of Choices alongside a set of Karvets (replacing Rizahn) to testing. While I was unimpressed with the full package, Choice intrigued me. It was a removal spell adept at dealing with Icaria and Jotun Feast-Caller, cards we usually had problems with.
Voprex’s Choice also has a relevant secondary mode. The ability to re-draw a Dragon (Eclipse or Xo) or even a Weapon (like Knife from the Market) was something that I actually liked. Not enough to run a full set, but the flexibility was there. This was my final list.
I registered for the ECQ rather early. While I was playing, the rest of the team put their heads to make some finishing touches. Together they created a slightly different list. They elected to play the fourth Desecrate while dropping a Quarry for a basic Shadow Sigil.
I imagine this was done to draw the extra power un-depleted without having to pay a power to search for it. In doing so they increased the likelihood that they could play everything on curve. The downside was one less spell to give Rizahn Lifesteal. All things considered, that change was good.
Looking Back and Thinking Ahead
I finished 16-12 in the ECQ. My teammates finished much better with NotoriousGHP at 20-8 and CaptainTeembro and TheBoxer at 18-10, all moving on to Top 64. GHP finished with a strong Top 16 finish. So all things considered I think the deck did well, but knowing what I do now, what would I change?
One of the biggest questions coming out of the ECQ was if Icaria should be main deck or Market. Icaria is incredible if you feel that you are able to consistently get to seven power and survive the early turns against Aggro. I think it is quite good against Midrange mirrors for a myriad of reasons. Endurance, Aegis, and the Warcry are all great reasons to play it over Eclipse Dragon. Being able to run Icaria into Icaria is backbreaking for most decks to try to answer.
Following that line of thinking it may actually be correct to move away from a Black Market. Cutting down to four Merchants would allow you to play three Icaria main and one Market. This would assure you that you always have a way to finish the game. In addition, you could also move a Display of Ambition to the Market. This is what that deck might look like:
As I mentioned previously, going back to a regular Market allows you to play the Market cards more consistently. Not only can Icaria come out of the Market, but so can Harsh Rule and Stormhalt Knife! Beware that the above list is totally untested, but showcases the point I’m trying to make. You may find me streaming a version of this in the near future. If you try it let me know what you think!
I’m not done with Eclipse Dragon just yet, but it is definitely going on the backburner in a meta full of FJS with Icaria. While not great paired up against Icaria, I think it does serve an excellent role when fit with the right package in the right meta.
Be sure to check out my stream at Twitch.tv/noverb where I will be tweaking and testing the above four merchant list. See you then!
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