While I was working on a video that was meant to highlight Swift Strike and the different synergies I like to build around it I was dusting off my old monk deck. It was the first deck I ever made top 100 legend with and I had a ton of fun playing with it on the ladder last winter. The problem was, this deck needs to maintain a presence on the board to get the lethal combo and with control decks running so many removals and shackles I just couldn’t reliably finish off opponents. insert ShadowMaster.
This delightful fellow right here gives a unit of our choice (he can also self proc) both cover and resistance from targeted actions. That means the only interactions your opponent can have with that card are with summon abilities of creatures (i.e. Ancano’s damage or a harpy’s shackle) or with AoE actions. Carefully placed this can create an almost unremovable card and utilizing this we can set up our lethal a turn in advance and watch that Tribunal who thought he had the game stabilized helplessly look at his lack of options to counter imminent virtual death.
Over time I realized Shdowmaster plays a bigger role in this deck then just setting up lethal, but before we go into that lets break down the decklist:
The core synergy here is based around swift strike and cards that interact with it in different ways. Essentially any 3 card combination that includes at least one swift strike with the other two from the core package (Swift strike, Monk Strike, Gavel of the Ordinator, Dawnbreaker, clockwork apostle and Haafinger Marauder) Turns your 3 power Hive defender into a potential finisher.
The early game, much like the finish has plenty of tricks up the sleeve. The first card we would like to get on the field lane would usually be an Aspirant, A Marshblade or a Pawnbroker. The opponent with the ability to counter with a 2 or a 3 cost would usually try to play a creature that would give him an advantage in trading against these fragile drops. A Harpy, a warded creature or 3 health creatures would give your opponent a leg up in fighting for the field lane. But in most cases hiding our first drop with a shadow master or a Gloomlurker (6 cards), killing your opponent with a gavel (2 cards, super cool with Aspirant) or transforming them into a pastry with Grisly gourmet (3 cards) can make his counter attempt backfire. In situation where the opponent played a creature on the field lane first, playing a Shadowmaster opposite him and procing on itself allows us take away his advantage and gain initiative as we will likely be able to pick the interaction on our turn. Once again a well placed gavel or illusionist can then be used to take control of the field on our next turn.
This deck does not play out like a proper combo deck, I would say it’s more of a midrange then a combo deck. In fact the deck depends on breaking runes both for card drew (Crusader) and buffs (Haafinger), besides it’s much easier to set up a 20 damage combo for a finish then it is to set up 30, although not at all impossible.
Other noteworthy synergies:
Cloudrest Illusionist + Grisly gourmet can turn any creature with 6 or less power into a lovely cake (and not proc last gasp)
Suran’s random 0 cost card is a great way to use the gambler without risking anything significant.
Lets see what these combinations look like with some highlights, first the of Swift strike with my favorite pairings:
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