Hot Takes for Filthy Net Deckers - Neon - Jan 17, 2019

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Well boys and girls, it looks like we are getting a big fat balance patch today. A lot of us were saying that Winchest was busted, and it turns out it was in so busted that DWD decided to flip the table! This article is not discussing the balance changes (I think they are largely good) but rather explores where the meta might go from here. I have started streaming, so if want to hear me talk about the balance changes you should come by my stream after the patch. For those of you who might not be familiar with the “Hot Takes for Filthy Netdeckers” series, the purpose is to shoot off a handful of interesting deck ideas. None are super polished given that I can’t test them yet, but they give you an idea of where to start! Let’s start off with an old favorite…

(Note: pictures and decklists were composed pre-patch. Please let me know if you have trouble importing decklists)

Feln Reanimator 

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2 Permafrost (Set1 #193)
4 Seek Power (Set1 #408)
2 Annihilate (Set1 #269)
3 Back-Alley Delinquent (Set4 #200)
4 Strategize (Set3 #165)
4 Vara's Favor (Set0 #35)
4 Kerendon Merchant (Set4 #217
4 Nocturnal Observer (Set3 #173)
2 Wisdom of the Elders (Set1 #218)
2 Feeding Time (Set1 #381)
4 Vara, Vengeance-Seeker (Set1004 #19)
3 Champion of Cunning (Set1 #371)
3 Grasping at Shadows (Set1 #292)
4 Black-Sky Harbinger (Set1 #385)
1 Snowcrush Animist (Set1 #384)
3 Vara, Fate-Touched (Set1 #307)
1 Acantha, the Huntress (Set5 #185)
3 Primal Sigil (Set1 #187)
3 Cobalt Waystone (Set3 #151)
4 Shadow Sigil (Set1 #249)
3 Amethyst Waystone (Set3 #201)
4 Crest of Cunning (Set3 #267)
2 Feln Banner (Set1 #417)
4 Seat of Cunning (Set0 #62)
2 Chairman's Contract (Set4 #271)
--------------MARKET---------------
1 Dark Return (Set1 #250)
1 Back-Alley Delinquent (Set4 #200)
1 Feeding Time (Set1 #381)
1 Grasping at Shadows (Set1 #292)
1 Vara, Fate-Touched (Set1 #307)

For those of you who weren’t around last year, you may not appreciate the significance of the change to big Vara. “Reanimator” type strategies are typically more fun than good, but that has not always been the case. After Steward of the Past was nerfed last February there was a two-week period where Feln Reanimator and Feln Control with Vara as a finisher were top of the metagame. It was a fun ride, but I think DWD was right to lock her up for the year. It seems like she is being let out again, but only on parole. Things have clearly changed while Vara was behind bars, but I suspect she can still get up to some mischief, especially with her new best buddy Kerrendon Merchant.

 I have 4 Vara decks to start things off. The first is a classic Reanimator build. The game plan should be pretty obvious – cheat a giant monster into play with the help of Grasping at Shadows. Vara is great for setting up chains, as you can bring her back and then she will bring along a friend. The Shadow Merchant seems absolutely broken in this deck, as you can use him to find any piece you are missing (Vara, Grasp, or a discard outlet) and then set up the combo a couple turns later. Baby Vara is a decent stop-gap 4-drop, and plays well being brought back multiple times if that is what is what the game is about. I thought about building the deck with Xo just as a source of card draw who can then be discarded and Grasped back, but since he doesn’t work with Vara I decided to skip it here. There is probably a decent FPS (and maybe even JPS) version of the deck as well.

Scream Reanimator

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3 Dark Return (Set1 #250)
2 Permafrost (Set1 #193)
4 Seek Power (Set1 #408)
1 Suffocate (Set1 #251)
2 Annihilate (Set1 #269)
2 Back-Alley Delinquent (Set4 #200)
3 Devour (Set1 #261)
3 Haunting Scream (Set1 #374)
4 Sporefolk (Set1 #262)
4 Strategize (Set3 #165)
4 Gorgon Fanatic (Set1 #375)
4 Kerendon Merchant (Set4 #217)
4 Nocturnal Observer (Set3 #173)
1 Feeding Time (Set1 #381)
3 Grasping at Shadows (Set1 #292)
3 Black-Sky Harbinger (Set1 #385)
3 Vara, Fate-Touched (Set1 #307)
4 Primal Sigil (Set1 #187)
2 Cobalt Waystone (Set3 #151)
3 Shadow Sigil (Set1 #249)
4 Amethyst Waystone (Set3 #201)
4 Crest of Cunning (Set3 #267)
2 Feln Banner (Set1 #417)
4 Seat of Cunning (Set0 #62)
2 Chairman's Contract (Set4 #271)
--------------MARKET---------------
1 Dark Return (Set1 #250)
1 Haunting Scream (Set1 #374)
1 Feeding Time (Set1 #381)
1 Grasping at Shadows (Set1 #292)
1 Vara, Fate-Touched (Set1 #307) 

Similar to the last deck, but pairing it with a Scream shell to turn up the nonsense. Scream works really well in a deck like this as the cards from Fanatic help you find more combo pieces, and then when you actually play Vara you have a high-value card to return. There is no Direwood Beastcaller in this build, but that could easily be wrong.

Xenan Reanimator

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2 Dark Return (Set1 #250)
3 Back-Alley Delinquent (Set4 #200)
4 Blistersting Wasp (Set2 #202)
4 Sporefolk (Set1 #262)
4 Temple Scribe (Set1 #502)
4 Vara's Favor (Set0 #35)
3 Xenan Initiation (Set2 #44)
4 Ayan, the Abductor (Set2 #204)
2 Banish (Set2 #207)
4 Kerendon Merchant (Set4 #217)
2 In Cold Blood (Set1003 #15)
4 Vara, Vengeance-Seeker (Set1004 #19)
3 Grasping at Shadows (Set1 #292)
1 Xenan Temple (Set5 #224)
3 Azindel, Revealed (Set1004 #21)
3 Vara, Fate-Touched (Set1 #307)
2 Time Sigil (Set1 #63)
3 Amber Waystone (Set3 #51)
2 Shadow Sigil (Set1 #249)
4 Amethyst Waystone (Set3 #201)
4 Crest of Mystery (Set4 #266)
4 Seat of Mystery (Set0 #61)
4 Xenan Banner (Set2 #201)
2 Chairman's Contract (Set4 #271)
--------------MARKET---------------
1 Back-Alley Delinquent (Set4 #200)
1 Banish (Set2 #207)
1 Grasping at Shadows (Set1 #292)
1 Azindel, Revealed (Set1004 #21)
1 Vara, Fate-Touched (Set1 #307) 

Big Vara can Return Big Azindel. Big Azindel creates 2 Shadow units. Those Shadow units will trigger Vara to bring back more units. I hope you see where this is going. I’m not sure how Xenan Reanimator should be built, but I think there is something in here that is broken. It is possible this deck should play Mask, or Dread (or both). It is also possible that this deck should ditch the Reanimator package, and just pivot to a ramp deck. Imma let you guys figure that out, but I feel like Azindel + Vara is a spooky combo.

Feln Control

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2 Permafrost (Set1 #193)
4 Seek Power (Set1 #408)
3 Annihilate (Set1 #269)
3 Rindra's Choice (Set4 #261)
4 Strategize (Set3 #165)
3 Vara's Favor (Set0 #35)
4 Hailstorm (Set1003 #11)
4 Kerendon Merchant (Set4 #217)
4 Wisdom of the Elders (Set1 #218)
1 Feeding Time (Set1 #381)
2 In Cold Blood (Set1003 #15)
4 Vara, Vengeance-Seeker (Set1004 #19)
4 Champion of Cunning (Set1 #371)
2 Jotun Feast-Caller (Set3 #187)
4 Black-Sky Harbinger (Set1 #385)
1 Dizo's Office (Set5 #182)
1 Vara, Fate-Touched (Set1 #307)
4 Primal Sigil (Set1 #187)
3 Cobalt Waystone (Set3 #151)
6 Shadow Sigil (Set1 #249)
4 Crest of Cunning (Set3 #267)
4 Feln Banner (Set1 #417)
4 Seat of Cunning (Set0 #62)
--------------MARKET---------------
1 Dark Return (Set1 #250)
1 Burglarize (Set4 #224)
1 Feeding Time (Set1 #381)
1 Azindel's Gift (Set1 #306)
1 Vara, Fate-Touched (Set1 #307)

Ok, ok, enough with the Reanimator decks! Vara can actually play a decent “fair” game as well. This is a pretty normal Feln Control deck featuring a Shadow Market, but we have added a copy of Vara to the main deck and the Market. This may seem like a small change, but this will add a huge amount of sustain power, especially against decks without Harsh Rule. There is part of me that feels I should drop Feastcaller given the anti-synergy with both Varas, but I can’t quit on my Feasty-boi. 

Winchest

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2 Defiance (Set5 #77)
4 Seek Power (Set1 #408)
4 Torch (Set1 #8)
1 Annihilate (Set1 #269)
4 Lost Scroll (Set5 #208)
3 Quarry (Set1001 #15)
2 Devastating Setback (Set3 #226)
4 Display of Ambition (Set5 #239)
4 Red Canyon Smuggler (Set5 #198)
4 Slay (Set2 #236)
2 Statuary Maiden (Set1 #387)
4 Vara, Vengeance-Seeker (Set1004 #19)
4 Harsh Rule (Set1 #172)
4 Rizahn, Greatbow Master (Set4 #246)
4 Xo of the Endless Hoard (Set5 #36)
3 Fire Sigil (Set1 #1)
3 Justice Sigil (Set1 #126)
2 Shadow Sigil (Set1 #249)
4 Crest of Glory (Set4 #243)
2 Seat of Glory (Set0 #56)
4 Crest of Chaos (Set3 #268)
3 Seat of Chaos (Set0 #60)
2 Crest of Vengeance (Set3 #264)
2 Seat of Vengeance (Set0 #55)
--------------MARKET---------------
1 Adjudicator's Gavel (Set5 #76)
1 Bore (Set1003 #1)
1 Vanquish (Set1 #143)
1 Regent's Tomb (Set5 #213)
1 Deepforged Plate (Set1 #317) 

Winchest may be down, but it is certainly not out. I think the deck is going to have to pivot to a more dedicated control deck, as it can no longer count on the Smugglers to fix their relatively weak early game. I’m not excited about it, but I feel like we need to go back to main deck Harsh Rule, especially in a world where we are facing off against Big Vara. I decided to drop Hidden Road Smuggler, and stick with Red Canyon Smuggler as I want to keep up the Xo recycling nonsense, as well as have access to Bore, but this could easily be wrong. I am not excited about playing Gavel, but I worry it might be necessary.

Blitz-Post

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 4 Alessi, Combrei Archmage (Set4 #248)
4 Finest Hour (Set1 #130)
4 Seek Power (Set1 #408)
4 Awakened Student (Set1 #331)
3 Equivocate (Set1003 #21)
4 Hojan, Crownbreaker (Set5 #86)
3 Levitate (Set1 #190)
4 Rilgon's Disciple (Set4 #110)
4 Torgov's Trading Post (Set5 #203)
2 Vanquish (Set1 #143)
2 Xenan Initiation (Set2 #44)
4 Great Valley Smuggler (Set5 #204)
3 Mirror Image (Set1 #217)
2 Stand Together (Set1 #334)
3 Crownwatch Press-Gang (Set2 #92)
3 Time Sigil (Set1 #63)
5 Justice Sigil (Set1 #126)
2 Primal Sigil (Set1 #187)
4 Seat of Progress (Set0 #58)
4 Seat of Wisdom (Set0 #63)
4 Seat of Order (Set0 #51)
3 Diplomatic Seal (Set1 #425)
--------------MARKET---------------
1 Gift of Battle (Set4 #146)
1 Permafrost (Set1 #193)
1 Accelerated Evolution (Set1 #351)
1 Svetya, Orene of Kosul (Set3 #304)
1 Xenan Obelisk (Set1 #103) 

Speaking about things that I actually am excited about, Blitz is back! The Levitate semi-unnerf seems like a big deal, and has the possibility to bring back one of my favorite decks, even with some new toys! Hojan + Levitate is just good clean fun. The nerf to Jennev Merchant is annoying, so I want to try out Great Valley Smuggler before going back to ol’ Jenny. This particular build of the deck was adapted from Isomorphic’s “Alessi-Post” deck, which is surprisingly good. If you don’t want to pull the trigger on crafting Trading Posts (I don’t blame you) there is no shortage of other great cards to choose between, like Battlemage, or more copies of Stand Together.

Oni Aggro

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 4 Grenadin Drone (Set1 #5)
2 Longbarrel (Set4 #5)
4 Oni Ronin (Set1 #13)
2 Pummel (Set2 #6)
4 Torch (Set1 #8)
3 Ankle Cutter (Set4 #8)
4 Bladekin Apprentice (Set1 #22)
4 Flamefang Charmer (Set4 #18)
4 Oni Cavediver (Set3 #11)
4 Oni Forgemaster (Set5 #10)
3 Factory Quota (Set4 #17)
2 Granite Acolyte (Set1 #31)
4 Ixtun Merchant (Set4 #21)
3 Shogun's Scepter (Set1 #26)
3 Kyojun, Grand Shugo (Set3 #31)
17 Fire Sigil (Set1 #1)
4 Granite Waystone (Set3 #1)
4 Shugo Standard (Set4 #1)
--------------MARKET---------------
1 Bore (Set1003 #1)
1 Mindfire (Set4 #6)
1 Ankle Cutter (Set4 #8)
1 Factory Quota (Set4 #17)
1 Kyojun, Grand Shugo (Set3 #31) 

Ankle Cutter and Factory Quota both got meaningful upgrades, and I think these will see a good deal of play across multiple decks, but it isn’t very exciting to say “yeah, Skycrag will play Quota in the market”. Instead, let’s take a look at something a little spicier! Kyojun has seen a bit of success in tournament play, as I know Kaelos got a top 8 with the card, so here is a refreshed take on that deck given our new tools. It is entirely possible a more traditional mono Fire deck is just better, but this looks fun at least!

FPS Cradle

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 4 Seek Power (Set1 #408)
4 Torch (Set1 #8)
3 Annihilate (Set1 #269)
4 Quarry (Set1001 #15)
3 Rindra's Choice (Set4 #261)
4 Strategize (Set3 #165)
3 Hailstorm (Set1003 #11)
4 Howling Peak Smuggler (Set5 #215)
4 Wisdom of the Elders (Set1 #218)
4 Calderan Cradle (Set2 #192)
2 Feeding Time (Set1 #381)
2 In Cold Blood (Set1003 #15)
2 Jotun Feast-Caller (Set3 #187)
4 Howling Peak (Set5 #219)
3 Xo of the Endless Hoard (Set5 #36)
3 Fire Sigil (Set1 #1)
3 Primal Sigil (Set1 #187)
3 Cobalt Waystone (Set3 #151)
1 Shadow Sigil (Set1 #249)
4 Crest of Fury (Set3 #266)
3 Seat of Fury (Set0 #53)
2 Crest of Chaos (Set3 #268)
1 Seat of Chaos (Set0 #60)
3 Crest of Cunning (Set3 #267)
2 Seat of Cunning (Set0 #62)
--------------MARKET---------------
1 Bore (Set1003 #1)
1 Burn Them All (Set5 #218)
1 Jotun Hurler (Set1 #227)
1 Channel the Tempest (Set1 #244)
1 Skycrag Banner (Set2 #186)

Cradle is a long-time pet card of mine. There was some event where I played cradle to great success, and since then I often find excuses to build with the card, even when I know it is wrong. I’m pretty sure this deck is stone-dead to Bore, but at least you summoned some sweet dragons!

Dinosaurs

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 2 Permafrost (Set1 #193)
4 Seek Power (Set1 #408)
3 Twilight Hunt (Set3 #59)
4 Derry Cathain, Ripclaw Rider (Set4 #251)
3 Equivocate (Set1003 #21)
4 Evelina, Valley Searcher (Set2 #48)
2 Torgov's Trading Post (Set5 #203)
4 Trail Maker (Set3 #65)
4 Auralian Merchant (Set4 #70)
4 Baying Serasaur (Set3 #66)
2 Avisaur Patriarch (Set1001 #13)
4 Sandstorm Titan (Set1 #99)
2 Twinbrood Sauropod (Set1 #113)
4 Worldbearer Behemoth (Set3 #87)
2 Thundering Kerasaur (Set4 #93)
2 Serasaur Bull (Set3 #92)
3 Time Sigil (Set1 #63)
2 Amber Monument (Set1 #420)
4 Amber Waystone (Set3 #51)
4 Primal Sigil (Set1 #187)
4 Crest of Wisdom (Set3 #261)
4 Elysian Banner (Set1 #421)
4 Seat of Wisdom (Set0 #63)
--------------MARKET---------------
1 Infinite Hourglass (Set1 #67)
1 Twilight Hunt (Set3 #59)
1 Equivocate (Set1003 #21)
1 Xenan Obelisk (Set1 #103)
1 Thundering Kerasaur (Set4 #93) 

Well, Dinosaurs got some buffs. I don’t really know what we are supposed to do with them, but I felt like I should make another attempt at dino tribal. I still don’t get it. In my mind, the Serasaur Bull is only playable if you consistently get charge, and you probably need at least 10-12 dinos to get there. Given that the 3 and 4 drop dinosaurs are crappy, I am just not excited by a deck like this. I strongly suspect that Derry would be best in an FTP like Jennev Peaks, but even that sounds unimpressive. Is +1 cost on a site really going to swing many games? Anyway, this is my low-enthusiasm attempt, maybe one of you has some better ideas. I just felt I needed to make an attempt at a dinosaur deck, as I have a 3-year-old son who has strong opinions on the subject (he is in favor of them).

Wrap up

 This patch is a big deal. Between the FJS nerfs and Vara coming back I am expecting a very different meta. Winchest will still be around, as will the Peaks decks, but I expect a lot more diversity. I’m so excited that I’m not even bitter about the 3000 word article I wrote that was effectively scooped by this patch! Thanks again for joining me, and I hope to spend some time streaming once that patch drops, so be sure to check me out on Twitch! You can also share your thoughts on the Reddit thread or in the A+Space discord!

Love,

Neon