One of the most exciting aspects of CCG gameplay is the productive interaction of cards in your deck, which we refer to as synergy. Here I’m going to break the idea of synergy into two separate categories while relating these concepts to the Aggro Sorcerer deck in The Elder Scrolls: Legends.
The first category is “direct synergy” which is the immediately apparent positive interaction between two cards. Looking to Aggro Sorcerer, we can see an example of this with Wardcrafter and Manic Jack. Placing a ward on Manic Jack not only gives him arguably the best keyword in the game, but it also gives him +1/+1. These interactions are a foundation for deck building and navigating your turn.
The second category I am going to define as “emergent synergy”. Emergent properties are things that can be attributed to a complex system as a whole, but not the system’s individual parts. This is inherently difficult to quantify, but we can think about it in card games as the overall game-plan(s) you end up with for a deck. Against control with Aggro Sorcerer you want to play out durable threats at a pace faster than they can remove them, and finish them off between turns 6 and 8. Against aggro and mid-range decks, you want to use your durable threats to win trades and secure a stronger board, while making sure that you can push more damage face than your opponent. The many direct synergistic interactions between your cards help you figure out how best to do this.
We can evaluate the strength of individual cards in a deck by the way they influence which other cards are included alongside them to pursue the game-plan. An excellent example comes from considering Siege Catapult and Royal Sage together. Siege Catapult is best with other cheap creatures so that you can quickly fill the lane and allow it to attack. Royal Sage costs 4 and is a single creature, which is not even close to ideal for getting the catapult going. From Royal Sage’s perspective, a player wants to get out to an early lead so that the Royal Sage can be activated by a health advantage to snowball a board of many other cheap creatures. However, Siege Catapult cannot attack early, so the player takes a tempo loss that makes a sage activation very difficult. It is apparent that these cards have negative direct synergy.
We have to look to emergent synergy to explain why Royal Sage is effective in decks with Siege Catapult. Because both cards are stronger with a very low curve, the payoff for morphing your deck in such a way is increased, which improves the deck’s ability to pursue its game-plan. Thus we can say that Royal Sage and Siege Catapult have great emergent synergy despite poor direct synergy. Aggro Sorcerer is actually littered with these sort of interactions, to the point that I believe that the key to constructing the deck lies in balancing the number of cards that capitalize on a low curve with creatures that make up the low curve itself. Before I point out more of these cards, I’m going to look at an example with the opposite synergies of Royal Sage/Siege Catapult.
It is becoming increasingly common to include Siege Catapult and Mighty Conjuring together in Aggro Sorcerer. Both cards are in every way ideal in Sorcerer decks. Mighty Conjuring produces a huge 8/8 warded creature with guard and breakthrough, in line with Sorcerer’s theme of “play big thing and laugh as your opponent struggles to deal with it”. Siege Catapult is a 2 magicka 5/5, which is a 4 mana 10/10 when compared to Hearthstone’s famous 4 mana 7/7. Furthermore, the cards have direct synergy. Siege Catapult is tied for the cheapest 5 power creature in the game (with my much-beloved Deranged Corprus), which in theory is awesome to activate Mighty Conjuring. However, playing these cards together leads to poor emergent synergy.
As mentioned before, Siege Catapult is ideal in very low-curve decks, and a 7-drop obviously contradicts this game-plan. We must also consider what Mighty Conjuring accomplishes in a deck and where it shines. We have seen it accomplish much in mid-range decks like Mid-Battlemage, where it can be played offensively and defensively. This works with the deck’s inverse game-plans against control and aggro. Things that the Lava Atronach is weak to are single target removal, shackle, and silence, as it is usually the only thing you can do with your magicka. As a defensive option, it’s usually best to include it in a deck with lots of other guards and removal options, because they attract your opponent’s silences or weaken their board in case they get through. As an offensive weapon, it’s great in decks with other huge threats like Bleakcoast Troll and Blood Dragon because they draw out the single target removal. Aggro Sorcerer doesn’t exactly satisfy these criteria. The deck does often (but not always) play Bleakcoast Troll and Corrupted Shade. However, the wide board often draws more attention from control decks looking to land an Ice Storm. Furthermore, it is on the end of the turn range where Sorcerer wants to win, so the control deck is more likely to have answers from taking face damage.
Mighty Conjuring is a powerful card, and perhaps it does have a place in Aggro Sorcerer due to raw power level. I find this unlikely, as it is too slow in aggro mirrors, there are too few other defensive options in Sorcerer, and it’s too likely to be removed by control. I think it exemplifies the argument that emergent synergy is actually more important than direct synergy when building a deck. With that said, let’s look at more options Aggro Sorcerer has to capitalize on a low curve.
Mentor’s Ring is most often seen in combo decks, but it also has a place in certain blue aggro and midrange decks. The card maximizes its value when it’s placed on a creature with a relevant keyword in combination with a wide board (lots of creatures). Modern Aggro Sorcerer is both extremely reliant on keywords while also trying to create a wide board. Warding even two creatures isn’t bad, while warding 5 of them seals the game against control and sometimes aggro. When behind against aggro, sorcerer usually still has some creatures on the board because its threats are so sticky. Thus a Mentor’s Ring/Barrow Stalker play pulls out some ridiculous comebacks. With Royal Sage and Manic Jack you never know what keyword you’re going to get, and even giving a few creatures rally is deceptively powerful.
Aundae Clan Sorcerer is yet another card that capitalizes on a low curve. Trading two small creatures into one larger one of your opponent’s often triggers it. I love the idea ofAundae as it shores up several of Sorcerer’s weaknesses while playing to its strengths. Aggro Sorcerer has trouble playing reactively against other aggro decks, and Blood Magic Spells are largely defensive. Sorcerer can often stick creatures on the board, or use a harpy to set up trades that you will make anyway while behind. This makes it good at activating Aundae and setting up a comeback. Against control Aggro Sorcerer struggles with resource extension. Sometimes the opponent will play a guard that you cannot silence making trades necessary, and Aundae can give you another impactful card in these situations. It is a very difficult card to use because it requires planning ahead for trades as well as deciding whether the Blood Magic Spell is even worth it.
A seemingly strange inclusion here is The Gatekeeper. This card actually leads to some negative direct synergy and arguably negative emergent synergy as well. It’s relatively expensive at 5, and it only allows one creature to attack in its lane which seems insane in aggro decks! So why is it worth including? As previously mentioned, sorcerer struggles to play from behind. It’s particularly bad against decks that can go wider than it, making Sorcerer’s trading power less useful. The Gatekeeper is designed to specifically slow down wide boards. Furthermore, a feature of Catapult decks is going all-in on a single lane. The Gatekeeper can go in the opposite lane with minimal downside for its user. Against control it is a big body that pushes damage in a lost field lane; control rarely has 6 power creatures, so dropping it in the field lane can be a tempo play where it takes the opponent 2+ turns to actually trade into it. Many highly respectable members of the Legends community think that this does not belong in Aggro Sorcerer, which shows that the measure of emergent synergy is often subjective and hard to define.
Now I will present a few Aggro Sorcerer lists that exemplify what I’ve talked about so far. Balancing a low curve with cards that utilize it will be an interesting thing to watch in the current meta while Aggro Sorcerer is likely tier 1. With more control decks around, expect to see more durable creatures like Bleakcoast Troll and Corrupted Shade. With more aggro decks expect a higher density of 2-drops.
mattyborch’s Aggro Sorc
EndoZoa’s Aggro Sorc
Burnthesky’s Aggro Sorc
Credits to Legends Decks and SzotyMAG for the images