I hope everyone had/has/will have a wonderful holiday! It’s the season for fun and relaxation, and I can think of no better way to relax and have fun than to play really long games of Eternal. Today’s deck may not take you to the top of ladder, but I’ve had a blast gunning down everything with Blitrok + Vara’s Sanctum:
4 Seek Power (Set1 #408)
2 Eremot’s Designs (Set1007 #9)
4 Fenris Nightshade (Set4 #204)
4 Lightning Strike (Set1 #197)
4 Vara’s Favor (Set0 #35)
4 Blight Pass Smuggler (Set6 #235)
4 Devouring Shadow (Set0 #36)
4 Wisdom of the Elders (Set1 #218)
4 Blitrok, Linrei’s Listener (Set7 #107)
4 In Cold Blood (Set1003 #15)
4 Incarnus, Makkar’s Listener (Set7 #144)
4 Malediction (Set6 #208)
4 Vara’s Sanctum (Set6 #223)
8 Primal Sigil (Set1 #187)
9 Shadow Sigil (Set1 #249)
4 Feln Insignia (Set6 #234)
4 Seat of Cunning (Set0 #62)
1 Edict of Makkar (Set7 #123)
1 Felrauk’s Choice (Set7 #202)
1 Immortalize (Set7 #126)
1 Fell Ritual (Set7 #143)
1 Dizo’s Office (Set5 #182)
It’s composed entirely of removal, units that are great when they are alone, and the chair. You don’t want TOO many units with Sanctum, but you want to be able to run one out at all times. I’ve found 16 to be about optimal, and Smuggler can even double dip by grabbing Immortalize from the market in case it dies.
I really dislike Permafrost in control decks in Expedition, as every deck will eventually find a way to break it and blow you out. Instead, we have the new cheap removal spell from Promises by Firelight, Eremot’s Designs, to shore up the aggro matchup. Alongside it there’s plenty of spot removal (four-packs of Lightning Strike, Devouring Shadow, and In Cold Blood) and Malediction to sweep up small units. Units with more than 4 health can be an issue in the midgame, but the market can hopefully pick up some slack when needed.
Card advantage is scant in expedition, with Wisdom of the Elders being the only good draw spell. As such, we turn to units. A deck looking to cast triple-Primal cards can’t play Tasbu, but eight Invokers and Fenris (who can draw cards without paying any life while Sanctum is out!) do an admirable job of keeping us gassed up. Both Invokers are absolutely insane with Sanctum – Incarnus Masteries in two hits and can never be raced, and Blitrok gives you infinite Slays that gain you 1 health. Blitrok’s Mastery is also trivial to achieve in the late game.
Casting triple Shadow AND triple Primal cards in the same in expedition is kind of sketchy, but I haven’t had too much trouble and there’s usually enough removal to tide you over until Blitrok comes online. Grab triple Shadow with your Seek Powers first if you have to choose, because Incarnus is better early on than Blitrok and it makes Devouring Shadow better. I think 33 power is the minimum you can play in controlling expedition decks, especially in this one with difficult influence requirements. Missing power drops often puts you too far behind to catch up in a format without cheap removal. Double spelling is almost impossible until the late game, so you can’t durdle around too much since it’s hard to catch up. I found myself rarely Decimating Emblems, so I cut them entirely so as to not deal myself 2-4 damage every game. It’s like adding a couple free Amber Waystones to your Feln deck!
The market features a couple removal spells, one for when tempo matters and one for when you just need stuff dead, Immortalize to ensure a flow of units in the late game, and Dizo’s Office for the late game. Vara is fairly weak here without Karvet, so Office gets the nod as the late-game finisher even if the Lifesteal from the passive is usually irrelevant.
The last slot, Felrauk’s Choice, looks a little odd in a deck without Permafrost, but it actually does serve an important Permafrost-related function. When an Invoker or Fenris is trapped in the ice you can remove it with Malediction, but unfortunately Blight Pass Smuggler has 4 health and stays there clogging up your board and deactivating Vara’s Sanctum! Felrauk’s Choice gives you a way to put that poor Smuggler out of her misery without 2-for-1ing yourself using Devouring Shadow, because at least you get a consolation Permafrost.
The gameplan of Invoke the Chair involves killing everything that moves as quickly and efficiently as possible until you land a Vara’s Sanctum, then either racing (with Incarnus or Smuggler) or grinding (with Blitrok or Fenris) to finish the game. You have a very tough time with Aegis units, especially Crownwatch Paladin into Rime Conclave Smuggler curves, and I don’t think it’s fixable. Daring Gryffyn is sometimes an issue (as it is with all reactive decks), but there are enough cheap spells in the deck that you are okay as long as you weren’t behind enough to get tempo-ed out by it and you have a hard removal spell for the unit that picks up the Exalted weapon. If you don’t have a Devouring Shadow, In Cold Blood, or Smuggler, then Gryffyn often just ends you.
Slow decks, such as Shadow control decks and Prodigious Sorcery decks, are solid matchups since they don’t have enough pressure to kill you before you get a Sanctum online. The health gain from Sanctum is usually enough to put you out of reach permanently, and them an Invoker can mop up.
Invoke the Chair isn’t the best deck in Expedition, but it’s a blast when you get it going. Just like spending the holidays with your relatives, it sucks sometimes, but hopefully the good times make up for it.
Until next time, may your Blitroks and Vara’a Sanctums always come together.