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NewSchoolBoxer here in my first article for Team Rankstar. iowa’s Season 3 guide influenced me both as a player and content creator and I am honored to follow him here. Excited to help you play one of my two favorite Hero Arts! Dark Destruction (DD) seems very powerful on the surface – and it is. Instant destruction of any targetable unit that costs 5 MP or less. Unit stat total and shielding make no difference. Two color decks can’t even charge past 5 MP. Is hard removal and Black has the best unit removal cards as well.
Dark Destruction has always had a place in the meta. Defined by a strong matchup against Mono Red and a struggle against Resonate Purple. In particular, a nice deck to climb with from fresh account to Rank A5, as is budget-friendly and Red is the most common color at low rank. The Red legendaries gifted at Ranks C and E certainly help.
This guide is divided into seven sections:
- Deck Lists
- New Beginnings
- Start of Ranked Play
- Gameplay Tips
- Push from C to B
- Prep Talk Before the Climb to A5
- Most Important B Rank Matchups
There are two deck lists:
- F5 to B5: Budget with CORE commons and rares only
- B5 to A5: Semi-Budget with minimum recommended crafts
I am providing lists in English and Japanese. Deck and QR Codes are universal. The only two recommended Day of Nightmares cards for an optimal list are [High Max] and (0/3) [Albert Wesker].
F5 to B5: Budget
Almost no one will stand a chance with the above list at F, E and D. You should cruise through C winning at least 2 out of every 3 games (67%). This list finds a balance between increasing the power level while keeping the crafting cost as small as possible.
Before making budget replacements, considering leveling heroes up against the one star AI in Practice Mode. Levels 7, 11 and 15 for each hero award a CORE pack and the last Zenny reward comes at 22. The single player Chronicles levels also award Zenny and packs. The priority is getting Nergigante to Level 14 for the third [Murderous Spikes] that is meta at A Rank.
Although budget already, we do not have many packs to open the desired commons and rares. You can downgrade, so to speak, with the following:
- Replace [Mad Massacre] with [Psycho Power], else [Heartless Experiment] or last choice [Inheriting Ambition].
- Replace (2/3) [Cerberus] with (2/3) [Zombie].
- Replace [Gathered Souls] with (2/5) [Arkham] and/or [Summon Minions]. Preferably 2x for 2x of the same card.
- Replace [Bishamon] with [Greater Girros], else [Isoc].
- Replace [Sodom] with [Seth], else [T-002 Tyrant].
- Replace [Destructive Instinct] with [Sample Collection].
- Replace [Devilijho] with your choice of [Vaal Hazak] or [Nergigante].
Craft [Selfish Predation] now if you don’t have and nothing else.
- Replace [Gathering Effluvium] with [Dynamo].
- Replace [Destructive Instinct] with [Obliteration].
- Replace 1x [Sodom] and [Devilijho] with 2x [High Max].
- Replace 3x (2/4) [Vile] with 2x (4/1) [Tyrant] and [Spreading Infection].
Make what upgrades you can for the cards that you have. Fine to keep the 1x [Destructive Instinct] for a [Sample Collection] if you prefer. Depending on the decks you face, you may wish later to swap 1x [Bishamon] for a third [Murderous Spikes].
If you already happen to have, epic upgrades:
- Replace the other [Sodom] with (0/3) [Albert Wesker].
- Replace 2x [Bishamon] with 2x (3/7) [Vile].
A quick note about [Dynamo]: First play [Dynamo] is a cheese move that inexperienced players fold to by spending much more than 4 MP to stop. Countered by rushing the other two lanes to force you on the defensive. His best use is to block and trade with [Devilijho], [Tigrex] and other threats that cost more.
B5 to A5: Semi-Budget
You may start to struggle at B Rank with the first list. It cannot climb in A.
Simply go back to the F5 to B5 Upgrades and change in reverse. For instance:
- Replace 2x (4/1) [Tyrant] and [Spreading Infection] with 3x (2/4) [Vile].
However, [Tyrant] and [Spreading Infection] deserve special mention as the most powerful cards in the deck and are worth crafting now. When I ranked up to B4 as a new player in August, I crafted:
- 1x [Tyrant] since I opened the first one.
- 1x [Obliteration] to run 2x at a time when the meta dictated it. Do not craft at the moment as is less needed than pre-Day of Nightmares.
- [Spreading Infection] with the Season Pass Single-Use 50% discount. I found myself losing the Black Mirror without it. No regrets.
Again, if you happen to have, epic upgrades:
- Replace the other [Sodom] with (0/3) [Albert Wesker].
- Replace 2x [Bishamon] with (3/7) [Vile].
Optimal lists make these changes, if not also swap in a second [Albert Wesker] for a [High Max] but is overkill at B Rank. Let some time pass to try to open up the cards you intend to craft. I hit Top 1000 Champion in September with [High Max] but no epic Wesker. [Vile] is only a slight upgrade over [Bishamon] and is arguably worse against Ryu.
For the record, I’m not telling you to do this. If you’re a masochist or want a handicap, see how high you can climb with this Basic-only deck. Is the best I could come up with. No image or QR code given because I don’t want to encourage you to lose.
New accounts originally started with 30 CORE packs but with the release of the first expansion, Day of Nightmares, this changed to 10+3 CORE and 10 Day packs. It would not be unreasonable to reroll accounts until you get a playable legendary. While rerolling is outside the scope of this guide, these are the most playable, meta legendaries:
- Brainwashed (CORE)
- Devil Hunter Dante (CORE)
- Dragonlord’s Judgment (CORE)
- Fate-Defying Ryu (Rank E Reward)
- Heavenly Kicks Chun-Li (CORE)
- Living Death (Day)
- Spreading Infection (CORE)
- State of Nothingness (Day)
[Spreading Infection] and [Living Death] are Black. Both are used in Uroboros and [Spreading Infection] finds a home in every Black deck ever made, single or two color. [State of Nothingness] is a buff card and therefore more easily substituted than the others.
For epics, the most important for Dark Destruction are (4/1) [Tyrant] and [Obliteration] in CORE and (0/3) [Albert Wesker] from Day. No need to craft epics at this stage but opening any would make an account a stronger keep. With the cost of 3200 souls to craft a single legendary, this cost is equivalent to 4 epics, 16 rares or 64 commons.
The Hero Stories function something as a tutorial and story mode. As mentioned in Deck Lists, the single player Chronicles awards Zenny and some free packs. Complete them in the first two weeks at your leisure. In the first month, get each hero up to Level 15 for all CORE packs rewards and then to Level 22 for the last Zenny reward. Grind Practice Mode versus one star AI for this purpose for the fastest results.
START OF RANKED PLAY
You should only play Ranked Match games on a new account. Why? Because it guarantees your opponent to be within one rank of you and you cannot lose stars until Rank D. Rank E must be matched against D, E or F. Free Match (Casual) has no such guarantee, as you can see me matched against a Champion player in my first day of TEPPEN:
TEPPEN gameplay knowledge demonstrated in Hero Stories is assumed.
You should very quickly move up from F to D. Generally, Wesker strategy is to hold off the early game aggression and later overwhelm with cheap Revenge units. [Selfish Predation] is an amazing heal card that can make this possible.
For each consecutive win of four or more in a row, you earn one bonus star. Carries over to the next rank as well except Chain Bonus ends at A Rank. The extra stars can substantially reduce the time it takes to rank up. Focus then especially on the fourth game of a winstreak.
Tips for Every Deck
- Watch your opponent’s AP total. Best examples are facing enemy Dark Destruction or Shinku Hadoken. If at 14 AP, they can activate by playing almost any card in their deck. It is NOT the time to play a powerful Revenge unit that will be killed on sight.
- It’s okay to take damage! Your life is a resource. You don’t lose the game until it hits 0. A normal attack line from a unit takes 10 seconds to hit and during this time you gain 3.0 MP. Is sometimes better to take the damage the first time to be able to play a stronger card or two cards that cost more MP when the attack comes back.
- We can define tempo to mean the MP difference in our plays that affect the board. If we use [Murderous Spikes] to kill 6 cost Chris, we spent 2 and cost them 6. We gained 4 MP of tempo. Positive tempo plays add up and win games. Dark Destruction converts AP into tempo. Sometimes we must make negative tempo plays. Losing two units in trades to defeat a bigger one. Using a removal action to kill a unit that costs less. Do what you have to do to stay in the game.
- If you aren’t under board pressure from your opponent, it’s smart to actually play nothing at all to charge MP. We are saving MP for when we really need it. Exceptions when playing aggressively is correct you can feel out with experience or logic, such as you or your opponent at low life. Constantly spending all your MP is hyper aggressive play and can work until Rank A5 but no higher. Better ease off of constant-aggressiveness now.
Tips Specific to Dark Destruction
- Do no waste Dark Destruction. Just because you have 18 AP doesn’t mean you should use it on the first thing that comes along. Generally, you want to take out 4 and 5 cost units, ones with Flight or ones that have received buffs. In fact, just being able to use Dark Destruction often keeps the opponent from playing their main threats. The later sections cover Dark Destruction use in more detail.
- Your removal cards can be countered. In particular, if you cast [Murderous Spikes] on a unit whose attack is buffed in response to over 2, Spikes fails but you still lose 3 life. With a second Spikes in hand, can then plan the second copy in response to the buff to kill the unit. Keep track of Explore cards in the opponent’s EX Pocket. Most are buffs and you should not play Spikes if it can be countered for free in Active Response by a card you know your opponent is holding, unless you’re trying to bait the buff card out. The reverse is also true. It’s usually great to play a removal action in response to your opponent playing a buff. If the unit is killed then the buff is lost.
- There are two tricks to [Sample Collection]. Veil from Gaea Armor Hero Art, [Dee], [Xeno’jiva] and [Jill, Seeker of Truth] cannot be targeted by removal actions or Dark Destruction. [Sample Collection], however, does NOT target and can remove them. Secondly, you do NOT need a unit yourself in play. An opponent mistakenly using an action in response to kill your unit Sample already selected is great for us. This differs from [Just Desserts] which works like Sample for the opponent but MUST have a friendly target. An opponent removing our unit in response WILL prevent Desserts from killing theirs. Same requirement with [Mad Massacre] that also does not target.
- With two enemy units in play, use Dark Destruction immediately before casting [Sample Collection]. One common use case is against Mono Red where we can DD their small unit to leave [Fate-Defying Ryu] or [Rathalos] no chance to dodge Sample.
Finally, while not a tip of strategy, you should know what happens when a game runs out of time. The player with the higher life total wins. Before Day of Nightmares substantially increased the pace of the meta, timeouts versus enemy Dark Destruction and Purple/Black Zombie Morrigan could hit 25-50%. Also, there is no tie at equal life. You BOTH lose a star or points at Champion. This is what it looks like:
PUSH FROM C TO B
We’re starting to see decks that resemble those in the meta. Decks that start playing good cards versus the ones we start with. We should still be doing well and ranking up. Upgrading to the Semi-Budget list still not necessary. Winning less than two-thirds (67%) of your games at C Rank implies either a deck or skill improvement is warranted. Visit the Deck Lists section again and review your replays looking for mistakes. Even if you find none, spending time in the review process will help you during your live games.
You should start to notice the relative strong and weak matchups. Dark Destruction is inherently good against Mono Red and every X Hero Art but Yawn Chun-Li and Darkness Illusion Morrigan are difficult if built correctly. Uroboros is a favorable matchup but takes substantial experience, as our side is more difficult to pilot in the game than theirs.
Let’s talk about timing. Is an advanced skill that increases with experience and now is the time to build this experience. Wouldn’t be crazy to compare to playing the piano. Skill increases with practice and some players are naturally better at it than others. I want to credit iowa for introducing me to timing and the terminology through his Twitch stream when I was a new player.
Last Second Blocking to Perfect Blocking
What do we mean here? Every deck will have threats and counters. Could be unit removal in Black or shields in Green. Dark Destruction itself also counts. TEPPEN being a real-time strategy card game, players are rewarded for thinking ahead and hovering actions to perfectly time their counter. With proactive timing, we strive to play a card right before an attack hits so that that there is not enough time for the counter to be used.
Say we’re facing down a weakened (2/4) and have a costly [(4/1) Tyrant] that can be played as a blocker to trade. There is real risk of our opponent responding as soon as they see the Tyrant hit the board. The way to prevent any unit removal or buff on their unit is to play our Tyrant at the last possible moment before the attacker would hit us. Let’s call this a last second block.
While [Tyrant] is the best example, this applies to any blocker. About the only time where we want to play a blocker in advance of the enemy’s attack is if it will trade favorably. A favorable trade leaving our unit on the board to push an attack to the opponent gives them less time to play a new unit in the lane.
A perfect block is the best form of a last second block where a defending unit is played at the last possible moment before combat that the opponent cannot respond to, even if they’re hovering an action or Hero Art for this purpose.
New players or those at low rank may not consider timing as a strategy, or do so inconsistently. Practice your timing skill in each game you play as you push to B Rank.
Last Second Blocker Removal
Reactive timing is the reverse from above. We are pushing damage with a powerful 3 or 4 attack unit that the opponent will try to place a blocker to stop. Almost every single game I hold and hover Dark Destruction or [Murderous Spikes] on the opponent’s empty lane spot for a block. As soon as the effect lights up, I release. This is reactive because our timing window depends on the opponent’s skill. If the opponent can perfect block then we can’t stop but even the best players cannot do so consistently. Champion to A to B Rank timing is very noticeable and gets looser as ranking descends. Weak timing could be the entire reason a player is not at Champion.
One caveat where you may not want to hover [Murderous Spikes] is against Uroboros in which a meta list will run 3x [Tyrant (T-103)]. Losing a card and 2 MP to transform their unit probably loses the game on the spot. Nergigante lists sometimes run [Tyrant (T-103)]. Is extremely rare in Dark Destruction. Worth hovering for Nergigante as well since it’s the best answer to the occasionally seen [Sliding Worm] that dodges DD.
Generally speaking, your proactive timing should be more successful than your reactive timing.
Hero Art Denial
The other form of reactive timing is denying Wrath Awoken and Antibody Activation value. It goes without saying that your Rathalos and Jill opponents know you can use DD to remove their chosen Hero Art target and waste their AP. Their plan is often to use the Hero Art immediately before an attack or block where you could use DD to remove. Again, our success rate depends on their skill. Rathalos and Jill games are often entirely decided by Hero Art Denial or the lack thereof. Wrath Awoken is an unfavored matchup while Antibody Activation is arguably our strongest, though losing every timing battle throws the game.
PREP TALK BEFORE THE CLIMB TO A5
B Rank is where things start getting real. There are five factors that keep a player from moving up:
- Sloppy or loose timing, covered the previous section.
- Playing non-meta Hero Arts. NOT a problem with Dark Destruction.
- Playing wonky cards that don’t synergize with what the Hero Art is best at.
- Your experience. Card game skill doesn’t come from lack of play.
- Your mental state. Real life stress translates to poor performance here.
There are five ranks where we lose a star/points from a loss: Champion, A, B, C and D. Count each factor you don’t have nailed down. Sloppy timing counts twice. Subtract one. You know, you don’t have to play perfect or use a complete meta net deck. Tally up the results.
Staring at Champion, drop one rank for each tally mark. That’s where you’ll hang. With all five in step, Top 1000 Champion is achievable. I would know. If missing one factor other than timing, you can still reach Champion. All nine heroes can make it, though the path is harder for Dante, Jill, Nergigante and X.
Nothing wrong with playing off-meta cards and Hero Art if you can accept the loss in winrate. I play to win because I’m competitive and I enjoy winning. My advice for this casual player though, is play the meta to climb to Champion for the special icon and max end of season rewards then play what you most enjoy. End of season resets Champion through A4 ranks down to A5 and A5 down to B5. Plus we have Free Match for off-meta decks.
MOST IMPORTANT B RANK MATCHUPS
With basic and advanced strategy covered and opponent decks resembling the meta, we can describe the most important matchups. Cannot be in full detail for a beginner’s guide because opponent decks are less predictable below A Rank, less skill for both players is assumed and you may have budget card replacements yourself. Note that you will occasionally be matched up with A opponents who are a good test of what is to come.
Dark Destruction Mirror
An opponent of culture is still an opponent. Dark Destruction is best used early game to remove 4 and 5 cost units for the tempo gain. Removing full health Revenge units is good too. Late game used to push damage from 3 and 4 attack units or a huge Day of Nightmares [Albert Wesker], but he can be removed with Dark Destruction himself. Don’t play him or (4/9) [Tyrant] when opponent is sitting on 14 AP. Much dependence on winning timing battles with DD and [Murderous Spikes]. Spikes is low value here unless they run [High Max]. Can dump on the first available target to draw into something more useful. [Gathering Effluvium] would be very strong as the Revenge forms of [Tyrant] and [High Max] can be targeted.
Other consideration is the heal with [Selfish Predation]. Often worth denying the heal with removal in response. Not healing for 7 can be equivalent to dealing 7 damage! Your 5 and 6 cost hard removal actions have no value targets and should be dumped in Active Response when possible, hopefully on a 4 or 5 cost unit. Don’t lose by having a hand full of expensive cards that limits your options and ability to react.
(4/1) [Tyrant] can be played offensively if you have the MP open. Getting blocked by a 3 cost unit is a small tempo loss but puts the all-powerful Revenge form into your deck sooner and gets a clunky card out of your hand. Ideally protect with DD to push damage.
Mirror is skill-based but if one player draws into Revenge units much faster than the other then it’s game over. On that note, not having [Spreading Infection] is a huge disadvantage as it stuffs three Revenge units into the deck.
Hadoken optimal strategy is much weaker lacking epics [BB Hood] and [Lady], the occasional [Kirin] and legendary [Dragonlord’s Judgment]. In fact, most Ryu decks you see may not make much attempt at a unit-based damage build. This is to your advantage. While Dark Destruction is favored over Hadoken due to Revenge unit swarming, Hadoken can snowball an early lead off of the instant damage. Your first play always on an empty board is two units at a once to keep [Lagiacrus] and [BB Hood] from focus firing down a single target. Losing a 3 cost unit for free to 4 cost [Lagiacrus] at full health is a huge tempo loss. Other Red theme is Rush. First attack lands in 2 seconds versus the normal 10. Good skill test at placing a blocker in front of [Guy] before he hits.
Ryu folds late game to Revenge swarm. Against a properly built deck, you will be behind in life until then. Is fine. Be careful of [Selfish Predation] getting denied by [Lightning Bolt] or [Spread Shot] or other, less common direct damage spells in response. Watch opponent’s MP displayed in the Active Response gauge. At 0 or 1 remaining in an action chain, you’re 100% safe.
Cheese first play [Rathalos] is not uncommon. A single card shows in opening hand 1 game in 6. Experienced players are smart enough to know your deck has 3-4x hard removal cards that can deal with it on sight for less MP, but this is not Champion level. The risk there is then not getting hard removal in opening hand and subsequently not saving up 5-6 MP to bluff that we do have it. [Mad Massacre] is a clutch card to beat damaged [Rathalos] and you can flood the board to try to draw into hard removal and limit the red dragon’s 5 damage per attack impact. Blocking with [High Max] prevents the damage as well.
Outside of first play, be weary of Ryu not playing cards for a while. Could be [Lady] who dies to Spikes but [Rathalos] and [Fate-Defying Ryu] can win the game on their own. Hold hard removal for them and keep 5-6 MP available when you can to kill on sight. Alternately, could win a damage race against Ryu in the other two lanes. His 3 attack with agility is equivalent to 6 attack with your units. Tap the Ryu unit to check their action count – it really does tell you. Don’t place a blocker whose health is less than that, as the special ability damage happens before combat.
This is deck was not played as much as Champion in the past due to its inconsistency, and while remaining inconsistent, received a major power boost in [Rebirth]. Being an epic only played in Uroboros, we cannot assume the opponent runs [Rebirth] in the full 3x copies below A Rank but we must still play around it as a precaution.
Also beware of [Living Death]. May not be run at B Rank but what it does is, clear the existing board without Death or Revenge triggers occurring and randomly select 3 units for each player from their respective Graveyards. If a player has less than 3 units then only those are pulled. Late game, an opponent keeping an empty board is suspicious and we should play 2 units max. Hold enough MP to play a hard removal action to hit an expected [Devilijho] post-[Living Death] before it hits the blocker.
You can tell an Uroboros player is inexperienced by immediately casting [False Throne] at the start of the game against another Black deck. This is heavily punished by [Spreading Infection] in response for 3 MP. Their gameplan is to dump an expensive unit in the Graveyard that can be recurred with Uroboros Hero Art, [Rebirth] and [Living Death]. Important for them to keep Graveyard “clean” for [Rebirth] and [Living Death] value and they are helped by the fact that Revenge units dying for the first time go back into the deck.
At low rank, the chosen reanimator target is not necessary [Devilijho], though it is optimal due to having Rush and being hardcast-able at 8 when necessary. In fact, a very strong Uroboros play is hardcasting [Devilijho] at 14 AP and combining with Hero Art to put 2x on the board at once. Whenever the opponent starts pushing towards 22 AP, you should start saving MP yourself to be able to afford a counter, such as [Sample Collection] or blockers before [Devilijho] can ever hit you.
We counter the big threats with hard removal and waves of the undead. The (3/2) and (5/2) [Zombie] is particularly good by recovering 1 MP for us after blocking. Can let us afford another blocker when the reanimated target comes back around. Against Devilijho, a (4/9) [Tyrant] or (4/7) [High Max] can trade evenly but barring that, it’s best to play a Revenge unit as the second blocker so that it trades favorably and pushes damage back to the opponent. [Dynamo] can also trade evenly.
Our gameplan is to trade efficiently, chip away at life early game and finish off late game with Revenge units. Meta Uroboros devotes many card slots to abuse the reanimation and runs a much lower Revenge count as a result. Denying the [Self Predation] heal with removal in response is not quite as important as against Dark Destruction, due to needing hard removal for the reanimator target and Uroboros being weak once our Revenge starts coming online.
The [Tyrant (T-103)] is their other win condition and in some ways stronger as a [Rebirth] target in the slow form that provides an ideal [Just Desserts] or [Mad Massacre] sacrifice. If you suspect they run it, you must hold [Murderous Spikes], else a (4/5) [Arkham] can trade evenly with the fast 2/8 form for just 1 MP. Full meta Uroboros runs 3x T-103 and 3x Jho.
While Chun-Li and X decks play differently, the general strategy against both is the same. Green is the only color with seal effects in the form of [Disarm] and [Tzitzi-Ya-Ku], better known as the Seal Dino. Seal prevents Revenge triggers so your (3/2) [Zombie] does not go back into the deck as a (5/2) or grow epic Wesker.
Seal effects are run in multiples, 2x Disarm and 2x Seal Dino are typical, with Seal Dino being cut before [Disarm]. This is preferable to us as we can sacrifice in response to [Disarm]. Not a big deal having one or two units sealed but the effect adds up.
[Evasive Action] resets either a friendly or enemy unit’s stats to the original values. (4/9) [Tyrant] becomes a (4/1) and [Albert Wesker] is reduced to a (0/3). Expect one or two copies per deck.
The big thing to stop against Green is MP Boost. Both [Felyne] ramp 20%, [Layer] is 30% while #1 threat [Iris] is 50%. The effect stacks. With a [Layer] and [Iris] in play, the opponent gains 80% more MP per second than you do. This is game-losing if you don’t stop it. Fortunately for us, [Iris] is an epic and is unlikely to be run as a 3x at B Rank. Notably, all MP Boost cards have 1 attack and are wiped out by [Tyrant] dying in either (4/1) or (4/9) form – assuming not sealed. Very good use of Spikes as well on [Iris] or [Layer] and since 1 attack, a 1 attack buff in response will not save. [Felyne] should just be traded with.
The other threats are [Kushala] and 6 cost [Felicia]. [Kushala] walls all our pre-Revenge units with a native [Besieged] so 2 and 3 damage only deal 1. Returns one of our units at random to the deck with 5 health or less remaining when its attack hits. Fortunately, [Kushala] costs 6 and dies to 2 MP [Murderous Spikes] for a massive tempo gain but don’t forget about any attack buffs sitting in opponent’s EX Pocket. Blocking with [High Max] shuts off the green dragon as well.
You will grow to hate [Felicia]. Each of the cats in play cost 6 so cannot be hit with Dark Destruction and we spend much more than 6 MP early game trading or using valuable Spikes to remove. A smart Green player can return [Felicia] to pocket with the epic [Dream of Restoration] to replay and heal for 7 life on top of that. First play [Felicia] against us is bad times.
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