Welcome to Lights Out, my old article series revitalized and newly hosted by Team Rankstar! I wrote weekly or biweekly articles throughout 2017 and most of 2018, but website changes and life events kept me out of the article-writing game for most of 2019. Now I’m back, though – expect to see plenty more of me in 2020! If you are not familiar with my work, you can check submission history on reddit or my youtube channel. I’m most known for Xenan decks, Scrappy Hour and various other grindy midrange and control decks.

If you’ve been paying attention to Expedition, you know Shadow decks are good. Like, really good. Like, in my opinion it is a mistake to not play a deck with Incarnus in it good. What makes Shadow so strong? There are two main reasons:

It has answers to everything. Removal is fairly weak in Expedition, so having access to cheap spot removal in Devouring Shadow, a cheap sweeper in Malediction, and Deadly units is invaluable.

It has the best card advantage and threats. The Incarnus-Tasbu-Karvet curve is unmatched in racing ability, and the cards are all 2-for-1s or better (barring Edict of Kodosh or similar).

Now that we’ve established you should play Shadow, let’s look at building  Shadow decks in Expedition.

The Core

It is absolutely essential to play four of each of the following cards:

Fenris Nightshade
Vara’s Favor
Devouring Shadow
Incarnus, Makkar’s Listener
Tasbu, the Forbidden
Karvet, Solar Dragon

These are the best cards at their costs in the format, and are also card advantage while being relevant threats. You should also have Vara, Fate-Touched in your market for the nigh-unbeatable late game synergy with Karvet.

The Flex Slots

There are a lot of options to customize your last few slots. Ripknife Assassin is a supplemental proactive 2-drop if you don’t pair Shadow with Fire or Justice for cheap removal. Marionette Cross and Vishni are aggressive 3-drop options (Vishni is especially spicy in Stonescar with Uldra to bring him back). Fell Ritual is an expensive, but serviceable removal spell if you are Argenport (so you don’t nuke your own influence) or Stonescar (because of the synergy with Voprex’s Choice) and don’t want In Cold Blood. Impending Doom and Lethrai Provocateur are good attackers and blockers, with Doom being better against Daring Gryffyn and Provocateur being better against Varret. Dizo’s Office and Wingbrewer are the best grindy options, and most decks should play an Office or three.

For the market, you have three slots to work with besides your Vara and Malediction. Edict of Makkar is an excellent option, as it is a great way to double spell on crucial turns against aggressive Combrei, Hooru, and Elysian decks. Other Edicts that hit Shadow units are great, as well, for the mirrors. I’m not a fan of expensive cards that can die to a single spell like Eremot or Azindel’s Gift, so for grinding I recommend Hostile Takeover. Be careful stealing Karvets or Incarnuses, as Exalted or Mastery can push it over 4 strength and return the unit to your opponent!

While Shadow does have enough good cards to play Mono-Shadow, the gain from Seal of Devotion isn’t enough to outweigh the supplemental removal spell and Smuggler a second faction grants you. As such, you get a splash faction.

Argenport

Justice gives Cast Into Shadow, probably the best removal spell, and market Regent’s Tomb for control killing. Siraf is another strong option for grinding, but isn’t as good of a blocker as you’d think since she doesn’t prevent mastery progress or force the opponent to use a trick at an awkward time. Here’s a grindy take on Argenport:

4 Seek Power (Set1 #408)
2 Fall Short (Set5 #84)
4 Fenris Nightshade (Set4 #204)
2 Ripknife Assassin (Set1003 #13)
2 Siraf, Grand Strategist (Set6 #103)
4 Vara’s Favor (Set0 #35)
4 Cast into Shadow (Set7 #198)
4 Devouring Shadow (Set0 #36)
4 Hidden Road Smuggler (Set5 #210)
3 Wingbrewer (Set4 #223)
2 Fell Ritual (Set7 #143)
4 Incarnus, Makkar’s Listener (Set7 #144)
4 Tasbu, the Forbidden (Set6 #217)
4 Karvet, Solar Dragon (Set7 #146)
3 Dizo’s Office (Set5 #182)
1 Justice Sigil (Set1 #126)
14 Shadow Sigil (Set1 #249)
4 Argenport Insignia (Set7 #195)
2 Emblem of Makkar (Set7 #121)
4 Seat of Vengeance (Set0 #55)
————–MARKET—————
1 Edict of Makkar (Set7 #123)
1 Edict of Kodosh (Set7 #68)
1 Malediction (Set6 #208)
1 Regent’s Tomb (Set5 #213)
1 Vara, Fate-Touched (Set1 #307)

Of note, I don’t like playing 4 Emblem of Makkar in grindy, power-hungry Shadow decks, since you rarely want to decimate before 8 power, and dealing damage to yourself for no reason can cost you games.

Stonescar

Fire gives Conflagrate and Voprex’s Choice for strong early removal, and Cen Wastes Smuggler having Shift makes Uldra an attractive market option if you play Vishni. Uldra getting back Smuggler to get Vara to bring back Uldra and dump your whole void into play is a delight! I’ve played a Dragon Forge package in the past, but with the advent of Tasbu that durdly nonsense isn’t necessary anymore.

 4 Seek Power (Set1 #408)
4 Conflagrate (Set5 #7)
4 Fenris Nightshade (Set4 #204)
4 Vara’s Favor (Set0 #35)
4 Voprex’s Choice (Set7 #168)
4 Cen Wastes Smuggler (Set6 #229)
4 Devouring Shadow (Set0 #36)
4 Vishni, Lethrai Highblood (Set6 #204)
3 Wingbrewer (Set4 #223)
4 Incarnus, Makkar’s Listener (Set7 #144)
4 Tasbu, the Forbidden (Set6 #217)
4 Karvet, Solar Dragon (Set7 #146)
3 Dizo’s Office (Set5 #182)
2 Fire Sigil (Set1 #1)
13 Shadow Sigil (Set1 #249)
2 Emblem of Makkar (Set7 #121)
4 Seat of Chaos (Set0 #60)
4 Stonescar Insignia (Set6 #228)
————–MARKET—————
1 Draconic Ire (Set7 #11)
1 Fell Ritual (Set7 #143)
1 Malediction (Set6 #208)
1 Uldra, Veilripper (Set1006 #20)
1 Vara, Fate-Touched (Set1 #307)

Feln

All of the good control-oriented Primal cards are double Primal, like Wisdom of the Elders and Sodi, Wingbreaker, so you can’t really cast them with a Tasbu power base. I don’t see a reason to play Feln over the other options unless you are doing something wild and Tasbu-less, like Blitrock with Vara’s Sanctum. That sort of thing is fun, but not that good and not within the scope of this article. Maybe in a future one!

Xenan

There are a lot of strong Time cards – Xenan Temple, Scorpion Wasp, Nahid’s Choice, but the Slumbering Stone Stone nerf marked the end of the tier 0 Xenan deck with a cultist package. Xenan Temple is TT, but it’s so powerful it is worth building a slightly less consistent, but more powerful deck with it. You want a couple extra Time sources to cast High Prophet of Sol and Nahid’s Faithful early anyways. Ark of Sol takes the place of Malediction in the market for this Faithful-Nahid’s Choice deck since you have enough early game presence most games that you don’t need the sweeper. If you find yourself falling behind, some Shadowlands Guide may be needed. Tasbu is a lot worse in this deck, and I am less confident in it than the other lists in this article.


4 Nahid’s Faithful (Set7 #185)
4 Seek Power (Set1 #408)
2 Slumbering Stone (Set1 #255)
4 Devour (Set1 #261)
4 High Prophet of Sol (Set7 #41)
4 Nahid’s Choice (Set7 #187)
4 Worthy Cause (Set7 #186)
4 Devouring Shadow (Set0 #36)
4 Ebon Dune Smuggler (Set5 #221)
4 Scorpion Wasp (Set1 #96)
4 Incarnus, Makkar’s Listener (Set7 #144)
4 Tasbu, the Forbidden (Set6 #217)
4 Karvet, Solar Dragon (Set7 #146)
3 Time Sigil (Set1 #63)
10 Shadow Sigil (Set1 #249)
4 Emblem of Makkar (Set7 #121)
4 Seat of Mystery (Set0 #61)
4 Xenan Insignia (Set7 #184)
————–MARKET—————
1 Ark of Sol (Set7 #34)
1 Edict of Grodov (Set7 #46)
1 Malediction (Set6 #208)
1 Xenan Temple (Set5 #224)
1 Vara, Fate-Touched (Set1 #307)

Three Faction Decks

You CAN try to build 3 faction decks with Tasbu, but it is pretty rough on the power base. FJS is the most popular and the best of these. You end up with a lot of depleted power in exchange for slightly more grinding power with Display of Ambition, but the 2-faction Shadow decks already never run out of cards, so I don’t think it’s worth doing unless the meta is overwhelmingly slow control decks Wingbrewers aren’t enough. Here’s an FJS list that I think isn’t terrible, as it avoids a lot of traps like playing to many non-Shadow cards and non-Shadow sigils.

4 Defiance (Set5 #77)
4 Seek Power (Set1 #408)
4 Conflagrate (Set5 #7)
4 Vara’s Favor (Set0 #35)
2 Voprex’s Choice (Set7 #168)
4 Cast into Shadow (Set7 #198)
4 Cen Wastes Smuggler (Set6 #229)
4 Devouring Shadow (Set0 #36)
4 Display of Ambition (Set5 #239)
2 Wingbrewer (Set4 #223)
4 Incarnus, Makkar’s Listener (Set7 #144)
4 Tasbu, the Forbidden (Set6 #217)
4 Karvet, Solar Dragon (Set7 #146)
2 Dizo’s Office (Set5 #182)
1 Fire Sigil (Set1 #1)
1 Justice Sigil (Set1 #126)
7 Shadow Sigil (Set1 #249)
4 Seat of Chaos (Set0 #60)
4 Stonescar Insignia (Set6 #228)
4 Argenport Insignia (Set7 #195)
4 Seat of Vengeance (Set0 #55)
————–MARKET—————
1 Edict of Makkar (Set7 #123)
1 Malediction (Set6 #208)
1 Regent’s Tomb (Set5 #213)
1 Vara, Fate-Touched (Set1 #307)
1 Token of Ambition (Set5 #236)

I prefer to stay 2-faction, and Argenport and Stonescar are the decks I most believe in.

What do you think? Are there playable Expedition decks without Incarnus? Is TJS secretly busted? Let me know in the comments.

Until next time, may your Incarnus always discover the perfect card.

LightsOutAce

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One Response

  1. I’ve only skimmed the article so far, but I’m a big fan of that banner at the top, lol.

    Seriously though, it looks like a great article that I’ll read over later today.
    Thanks for the content!

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