Hey everyone, Alexicon1 here. Today myself and Ardent Dawn will be walking through the basics of deckbuilding, one of the more important skills in a player’s arsenal.
Step 1 – Have A Goal
So, for starters, you definitely need to have a goal to achieve with your deck. Plenty of players put very powerful cards together, that independently are very good cards, but together lose effectiveness. This is where we start talking about synergy which is how effective cards are when used in conjunction with others. Sometimes, cards aren’t that good by themselves, but when grouped with others are very good. For example, the Baconator/Meldhai archetype that was popularised by Nowayitsj was very reliant on the synergies within the deck in order to win. A common mistake that beginners make is they include cards in, that they only have 1 of, because the card is powerful or suitably awesome. You don’t really want that. In Duelyst, you want to have two things above all else, deck synergy and deck consistency. Aim for have 2x or 3x a card in your deck.
So today, we are going to start with Argeon Highmayne, the Lyonar general. I have my General, now I need to find my goal. This is absolutely key as without a goal, the deck will just fall over. Think of it as choosing a specialization in an MMO. You could build your Warrior to be a hard-hitting brawler or a damage-soaking tank. Your Ranger could be a long-distance sniper, or they could lead an animal pack in close-quarter combat. By choosing a specific goal for each of your decks, you can streamline your deck until it excels at that goal - and those are the decks that win.
We’re going to try and build a Tempo Lyonar deck, the goal being, as with the majority of Tempo decks, is to “Continuously aim to remove or trade your own minions into your opponents in order to build a board presence, whilst retaining mana and minion efficiency”.
As a faction, Lyonar are suited for a tempo-based style of play for one main reason - several of their strongest cards require that you have minions on the board. Roar, Holy Immolation and Afterblaze all reward you for having a minion on the board that can immediately exploit their effects, rather than waiting a turn for your opponent to remove your buffed minion. That means that your game plan should involve pressuring your opponent so that you can reliably start your turn with a minion already on the board and in position to attack. Some decks accomplish this by swarming, while others accomplish this using individually durable minions - whichever strategy you prefer, Lyonar wants their minions to stick. Let’s start with the General, and we’ll build from there.
However, another mistake beginners make (and to be honest, I’ve done it as well), is that they put cards in based on their own merits, and not think how they affect the deck as a whole. For example, Slow Cassyva decks have plenty of tools to grind out your opponent’s resources and stall into her powerhouse late-game cards (Spectral Revenant and Obliterate), while Fast Cassyva decks aims to turbo out cards and then refill her hand with Rite of the Undervault. If you try to mix-and-match between those playstyles, then you can’t empty your hand fast enough to optimise Rite of the Undervault, and you can’t protect yourself well enough to exploit your late-game power spikes.
Not to say that those are the only successful deck forms of these Generals, but trying to blend two playstyles together means that you sacrifice the advantages of both. If you want a successful deck, wholeheartedly commit to a certain archetype and not try to deckbuild with the “best of both worlds” ethos, it will only lead to a subpar deck as it loses out on our next point, synergy.
Some playstyles happen to overlap a lot - Argeon has enough universal staples (Windblade Adept and Silverguard Knight, etc.) that your secondary win condition might be defaulting to a different playstyle. But you want your primary win condition to be as streamlined and efficient as possible - if the cards happen to overlap with another win condition, then it’s a helpful bonus.
Step 2 – Choose Synergistic Cards
Generally, there are staples for factions that appear in most decks. For Lyonar, they tend to be in the form of the Basic cards Windblade Adept and Silverguard Knight. These cards are frequently used in Lyonar decks, as Windblade Adept and Silverguard Knight have some of the strongest stat distributions at 2 and 3 mana respectively, as well as having the Zeal keyword to synergise with Afterblaze. That isn’t changing here, so 3 of both can be put in. Afterblaze provides some much-needed card draw (which Lyonar sorely lacks) and synergises extremely well with most of our early-game minions.
In a Tempo deck it can be very hard to draw cards while keeping up on the deck’s namesake - minions such as L’Kian and Sojourner can refill your hand in the long-term but are extremely weak bodies in the short-term, which defeats our plan of building the strongest possible board over the first few turns. Afterblaze lets us maintain our hand size while making our board much more powerful.
Tempo is all about playing cheap minions and lots of them, so Tempo decks often have very low curves (The range of mana costs in your deck). Azurite Lion is a solid 2-drop that synergises really well with Argeon’s BBS, Roar. Other synergies, such as Afterblaze, works well with Azurite Lion because it allows Azurite Lion to survive attacking twice. Afterblaze also works well with Divine Bond, since it converts the health boost into damage. What does it work even better with?
Both at the same time.
If you start the turn with an un-dispelled 2/3 Azurite Lion, Roar makes it a 4/3 Celerity. Afterblaze makes it a 6/7 Celerity, then Divine Bond makes it a 13/7, which adds up to a whopping 26 damage to your opponent's face. It’s uncommon that you’ll actually assemble that combo, since most players know how much damage Azurite Lion can unload and will prioritise answering Azurite Lion as quickly as possible. But all of those cards are independently powerful and worth running on their own - the fact that they can be assembled into a game-ending combo is just a happy coincidence. The best sort of secondary win condition - one that uses the same cards that you’re already using for your primary win condition, being used in a different way.
Another slightly more costly Lyonar staple is the epic card Holy Immolation. If one of your minions survives until the start of your turn, you can walk it into the middle of your opponent’s units and attack, then Holy Immolation and deal enormous AoE damage while healing your minion in the process. If your opponent starts chipping down one of your durable minions but can’t finish it off, then you can Holy Immolation to heal it, usually while damaging at least one of their units. It also allows you to clear the board during the early stages of the game, or finish off your opponent’s general during the later stages of the game. Holy Immolation is one of the strongest reasons to play Tempo Lyonar - if you can consistently start your turn with minions on the board, then Holy Immolation becomes incredibly powerful.
Lastly, we have Slo. Asides from synergising with Holy Immolation, as described above, this little guy also fills several important niches:
Slo is really a jack-of-all-trades minion, having loads of little uses, but the most important thing is that Slo is a 0-mana minion. You can summon Slo for one of many reasons, while still continuing to develop your board. With cards such as Repulsor Beast or Sun Bloom, it’s common that you won’t have enough mana to remove your opponent’s threats and also summon equally powerful effects in the same turn - tempo decks often struggle as soon as they’re put into a defensive position and can’t spare enough mana to protect themselves and rebuild their board at once. Slo provides a 0-mana roadblock that helps you to recover from a losing position - even if it only protects the rest of your minions for one turn, it can give you enough time to start your turn with another minion in play.
And then you can out-tempo them.
This is a perfect example of our synergy, so no reason not to have them in our deck. Now we have the basis of synergy down, let’s look at how our deck is shaping up, then we will move on.
Step 3 – Choose Curve-Fillers and Utility Cards
However, don’t focus solely on synergy. We still want to have minions to play on the first turns, otherwise our goal becomes that much harder to fulfil. Because Tempo wants to play large quantities of cheaper minions early, we need to fill our deck with predominantly 2 and 3-drops. In order to assist with the removal of your opponent’s board and therefore accomplish your goal, Dispel is needed. That means we need the most-used card in the game, Ephemeral Shroud. It is a low-cost dispel effect that comes with a 1/1 body attached, which is still good enough to restrict your opponent’s movement or become a 3/1 after buffing it with Argeon’s Roar.
Start filling your deck with cards that also help with your goal but accomplish filling your curve as well. Bloodtear Alchemist is a prime example, giving us cheap removal to finish off injured minions or annoying 1-health minions such as Abyssal Crawler and Heartseeker. You can either use the 2/1 body to remove another small minion, buff it to a 4/1 using Roar to remove larger minions or just use it as another low-cost minion that you can summon in exactly the right spot for Holy Immolation.
Repulsor Beast means you can temporarily ignore one of your opponent’s minions, either repositioning a Provoke minion so that you can kill your opponent’s general or just moving a powerful minion far enough away that you’ll end the game before it can rejoin the action. In a pinch, can also move small minions such as Heartseekers closer so that you can finish them off in melee. Once again, having a useful Opening Gambit attached to a minion means that we have more possible targets for Roar and Holy Immolation. The reason that we’re running Repulsor Beast instead of Martyrdom - we want the body to pressure our opponent with, and we don’t want to give our opponent life because we’re planning to end the game before they can burst us down or start casting their late-game cards.
Primus Fist is immensely flexible, allowing you to trade your injured minions into your opponent’s healthy minions, burst down your opponent in the late game or simply provide another 2/3 minion to summon on Turn 1. It happens to synergise well with Azurite Lion, since any attack-boosting effects can enable enormous burst combos alongside cheap Celerity minions.
Arclyte Sentinel doubles as both burst damage to finish the game with, in the same way as Primus Fist, and also allows you to get rid of your opponent’s minions while continuously building up a board. Because it has more health than the equivalent Neutral minion, Maw, it’s more likely to survive long enough to use Roar or Holy Immolation on, as well as having enough health to potentially attack twice using its increased attack. Most importantly, a tempo deck needs to end the game before your opponent can recover from your early-game aggression with powerful late-game cards - Arcylte Sentinel fulfills both of those roles.
Saberspine Tiger provides another way of removing your opponent’s rear-line minions using Saberspine Tiger + Roar, as well as helping to burst down your opponent’s general. From 8 mana onwards, an Argeon player can constantly threaten to add 9 damage to the board using Saberspine Tiger (3) + Roar (2) + Holy Immolation (4) on the opponent's general. As well as letting you remove clusters of minions near the back of the map using Holy Immolation, it acts as a vehicle for your attack-boosting effects if you don't have any minions on the board.
So now, our deck is filling up and we are almost there. Now we want to try and shore up the natural weaknesses of our deck with our remaining slots.
Step 4 – Try To Remove Your Weaknesses
One of Lyonar’s major weaknesses, is that it has very little card draw. We began to remedy that when we added Afterblaze but now we will address it a little bit more. Sun Wisp is a 2-drop that draws us a card, simultaneously solving a problem and filling our curve. It also provides another cheap minion to enable a 6-mana Holy Immolation in a pinch. So that’s definitely going in. Sworn Sister L’Kian is another really good card draw, and is a reasonable mana cost, meaning that it should be added.
After the most recent patch change, Inquisitor Kron took a hit but it still accomplishes our goal and adds some minor late game power to our deck. This also has the added bonus of holding your enemies in place while you beat them into submission. Against generals such as Reva, who mainly avoid damage by tactically retreating, you can place Kron on the front lines to cut off their escape. Against generals such as Zirix, who have strong short-ranged removal, you can place Kron near the back of the map to spawn tides of 2/2 Prisoners for you to buff using Roar. His Prisoners synergise extremely well with Argeon’s Roar:
Step 5 – Go Out There And Win!
And if your deck doesn’t perform the way it should, don’t feel disheartened. Just come back, tinker with it, and head back out again.
Thanks very much for reading, and I hope you came away with some valuable information.
Until next time, Alexicon1
On Turn 1 Mystic, we aim to teach new players how to climb to Gold Division as soon as possible, then from Gold Division to S-Rank as soon as you're interested and have time.