Lights Out – Your Deck Sucks

Normally I write about whatever I think is good, and try to help people and foster collaboration by presenting a deck or strategy that has been working for me. Right now, though, I don’t think anything is good. There are 20 decks, and all of them suck. I’m not sure why you would want to play any of them! Now let me tell you why your deck sucks.

TJP Midrange

TJP is the boogeyman – it has a fast clock, powerful stand-alone threats and protection, efficient removal, and a pedigree of tournament success. And a miserable power base, like always. You’re giving away at least one game each tournament set to power or influence screw. TJP wins a lot, and also dies with six unplayable cards in hand a lot.

It also isn’t new anymore, and people are figuring out how to beat it – Svetya isn’t good if your opponent chuckles at the trigger and plays a Sandstorm Titan. It might be time to turn elsewhere if you want to be aggressive, like…

Haunted Highway

Everything has Charge, you get to play Torch and Bandit Queen, and you also take all of the power struggles of TJP and add more influence requirements and remove the Seek Powers. Hmm…

In all seriousness, Haunted Highway is great. It’s relaxing to take a break from intense combat math and instead focus on A+Spacing and deciding which of the 10 unplayable cards in your hand to discard to hand size at end of turn. Sometimes the decision is even easier because you have a hand of Madness/Devour/Combust against decks without units!

Argenport

Argenport has been on top of the heap for a long time, and it’s still as obnoxious as ever. It’s extremely powerful as long as you draw 4 power by turn 4 and no more than 6 by turn 8. The game’s outcome is out of your hands so often because all of your cards trade and you just have to hope you have the last one left. Argenport also doesn’t have great game against the field anymore, as various removal pile decks can outlast it’s cheap units pretty easily, and it doesn’t have a good way to grind card advantage.

It may sound like I’m bagging on Argenport, but it is still tier 1 along with TJP and whatever 71 cards people feel like playing alongside Heart of the Vault on this particular day. Just don’t count on it working if it isn’t your lucky day.

Praxis

 

Praxis has a lot going for it. It can stabilize against aggro if you draw a Titan or two backed up by a Heart of the Vault, can out-grind any control deck if you draw a couple Heart of the Vaults, and out-muscles other midrange if you draw a couple Heart of the Vaults. Have I mentioned that Heart of the Vault is absurd? That card is great.

The problem, then, comes when you DON’T draw Heart of the Vault. The rest of your deck is 3 drops that block poorly and expensive fatties that die at a massive tempo loss to Madness and Slay and friends. Praxis when Heart doesn’t show up is like the Cavs with LeBron – I guess the other cards are constructed playable, but they don’t really ACCOMPLISH anything. How about you try putting some other cards around your superstar?

Praxis Tokens

Now that’s what I’m talking about! You can win when you draw Obelisk, and lose when you don’t! You can win when you draw Rally with 4+ units in play, and lose when you don’t! Even without those cards, you can play Heart of the Vault and maybe win anyways! What’s even the problem with Praxis tokens?

Well, it really sucks if you enjoy games where either player makes any decisions that have an influence on the outcome. Praxis tokens is basically playing War, and that got boring for most people when they turned 6 years old. All the fun of winning when you draw Obelisk and losing when you don’t with all of the interactivity of Rally and Obliterate. It’s kind of impressive how almost every negative and problematic play pattern was fit into this one deck. If you want to play some aggro, why not try…

Skycrag

Oh boy, look at all those 1-drops and Aegis, and you get Champion of Fury, who is completely fair and balanced as a 4/2 Charge Overwhelm for a whole 2 power. You get to plow right through early blockers, shrug off removal, and get completely stonewalled by Sandstorm Titan! As a bonus, your deck sputters and dies if you ever draw more than 5 power, and you basically can’t win if your opponentis on the play and you miss your 1 drop. Hard pass. Let’s get a REAL aggro deck in here…

Stonescar

Oh baby, now we’re talking! Tons of charge, a combat trick in Rapid Shot that lets you get through Titan, a bunch of overpowered threats from 1-4 on the curve, and a complete inability to survive a Hailstorm! Also, you have to choose between having Obliterate so you can actually win games where you lose control of the board, or not having Obliterate so you don’t lose the board with crappy 5 drops stuck in your hand. Also, you get to spend the whole game looking at your deck and reminiscing about when it was tier 0 rather than mediocre and reliant on opponents keeping slow hands.

The main problem is that you have basically no defensive capability, so other aggro decks and even midrange decks can turn the corner on you and you can’ really do anything about it with your terrible blockers, and those decks have Lifesteal or Champion of Fury and you don’t. So how about sticking some Lifesteal in your Fire aggro deck…

Rakano

Finally, we have it all – aggressive and powerful units at 1, 2, and 3, Charge, Lifesteal, and Weapons. And the complete inability to beat Hooru Pacifier with anything in your deck since it survives Torch and you can’t play weapons to get your 3 strength guys over it. And weapons suck against the abundant removal everyone is playing. Screw it, they probably had Hailstorm anyways.

Moment of Creation

Moment looks like it has it all on paper – Hailstorm, Sandstorm Titan, Heart of the Vault, MOLOT AND FREAKING NAKOVA – but in practice it loses against aggro because of the clunky 3-faction power base and Aegis. It also loses against control because it can’t beat Azindel’s Gift or Channel the Tempest. At least it can beat up midrange with all of its beefy ground guys…what’s that? Everything flies now? Nice deck, idiot.

Feln Control

Big, Flying, Aegis finishers for less than 8 power, that’s what we need! Well, we also need other cards to surround it, but you work with what you have. And Feln has…not much. With such meager options, it’s no wonder people jam unplayable crap like Rain of Frogs and Azindel’s Gift in their decks – there just aren’t good options. Maybe someday someone will build a Feln deck that can beat an opponent who does something before turn 4.

Unitless Control

Here you take Feln, and remove the good card (Champion of Cunning) for Harsh Rule and some Channel the Tempests or Sword of the Sky Kings or something. I don’t know, I’ve never actually seen unitless do anything. My typical game against them is: draw a bad opening hand, do nothing the first three turns, get the one relevant card in my deck against them hit by Devastating Setback (What non-units do they even care about? Dark Return or maybe Obelisk?), get two units in my hand hit by Rain of Frogs, and win anyway. Seriously, I don’t know how anyone wins with this deck. Maybe if you added a good win condition on the top end, like…

Icaria Blue

Now THAT’s a card that end the game – Icaria, the Liberator, savior of durdle control. Unless the opponent has In Cold Blood. Or Sandstorm Titan. Or your 5/5 for 7 isn’t good enough to stabilize the board. Or your horrible influence didn’t come together (at least it’s better than Haunted Highway). Last time I tried playing Icaria Blue I gave up after two consecutive games of dying with multiple uncastable Icarias in hand on turn 12. Perhaps splashing Torch and Icaria isn’t the way to make Hooru control viable. Stick to the tried-and-true Icaria archetype.

Removal Pile

It’s pretty vulnerable to Charge, Aegis, and Relic Weapons, but Removal Pile has some legs. Except that the most popular decks all have Stand Together, Sabotage, Dawnwalker, or a million tokens they don’t care about you killing. The metagame positioning of removal pile is…questionable.

“Jund”

To fix that, you could add a bunch of Charge units and Makto or something. Maybe Statuary Maiden? Some people even keep the Wanted Posters when they cut all the removal, or keep the Harsh Rules when they add all the units. Nothing says “Jund” like curving Whirling Duo-Vicious Highwayman-Statuary Maiden-Harsh Rule. Hey, Harsh Ruling your own Makto is kind of a combo, because it might come back in 1-10 turns!

I propose that in Eternal vernacular, we have “Jund” mean “a pile of cards with no cohesive gameplan or synergy.” The FJS does a good job of contorting itself to beat the non-existent removal pile mirror and the cost of making its matchup against decks with units bad. 3/3 for 3 and 4/2 for 2 aren’t exactly inspiring against Time or Justice cards. Good thing none of the popular decks play units! Oh, wait. Crap.

Xenan

Finally, a deck that makes sense! Some efficient units, some efficient removal, and a power base that refuses to function sometimes because for some inscrutable reason we don’t have a Xenan Crest yet. I just want to be able to play Dawnwalker and Ayan in the same deck!

You can also play big Xenan a la BruisedByGod, but I wouldn’t recommend for anyone who isn’t a literal god. It does everything worse than another deck can, and Mystic Ascendant isn’t exactly lighting the world on fire when everyone is playing Slay, Heart of the Vault, Shelterwing Rider, and Unseen Commando. If you want to go big or play Predatory Carnosaur, stick to Praxis.

Combrei

Or Combrei, I guess. It can technically do all of those things, but without Heart of the Vault. Combrei aggro or aggressive midrange gets a lot of strong cards backed by Stand Together at least, but it still gets bopped by Argenport. Big Combrei is fine if you haven’t played since 2016, but doesn’t match up well against decks full of Flyers or Slays. Vodakombo is like Moment without any of its cheap removal or sweepers – bad and full of bricks. Also, where’s my Crest?

Grenadins

Scrappy Hour is a favorite of mine, but man does it feel bad to play now. Your plan is to block with 1/1s? Too bad, everything flies or has Overwhelm. Or has no targets for your Madness and Combust. Even Argenport, which was once a great matchup, got Inquisitor’s Blade for a surprise airstrike at any time. Good luck killing everything immediately forever and staying ahead of that.

There’s also the problem that plagues a lot of decks on this list (Moment, Unitless, Icaria Blue, Removal Pile, Feln sometimes) of wanting to cast 7+ drops on ladder. Why are you doing that to yourself?! Half of the player base are degenerates playing Rain of Frogs and Azindel’s Gift on ladder with no respect for aggro, and the other half are trying to kill you by turn 5 with a bunch of Aegis units and Charge or Flying. Who do you want these 7 drops against?? Other people playing trashy 7 drops?

Argenport Snacks

THIS is your attempt to fix Scrappy Hour’s problems? Cut the cards that actually let you cast The Witching Hour before turn 10 for a bunch of draft chaff and Makto? There’s a reason Makto hasn’t been popular since In Cold Blood was printed. Or before that, really. I’m sure adding an over-the-hill, over-rated roleplayer as the central figure of your slow deck’s late-game plan will go well. At least you can block with your 1/1s in the meantime!

Hooru

So you took TJP, then removed the good cards, then played two factions that don’t get a Crest, and your payoff is NOSTRIX? Nostrix. The 5/7 for 6 that has the upside for exhausting one of your other units. Yeah. Think about that. Next.

Elysian

I’m only including this for completeness sake, as I have not played or played against Elysian in months. You get to cherry-pick the weakest part of every other Time deck and mash it all up into one thoroughly mediocre package, and your upside is getting to play some fatties that attack and block and die to Slay and Harsh Rule for no value like everybody else, only they cost more. Oh, and sometimes your big payoff for being Elysian upgrades all of your opponent’s Grenadin into Pigs. Nope.

Mask

Jajajajaja

Chalice

If you just woke up from a coma you’ve been in since July 2017, you may shocked to not see Chalice higher up in this article. Everyone else is unsurprised.

This is a deck whose gameplan is to durdle for approximately forever while blocking on the ground and casting 8 drops. Does that sound familiar? Yeah, it’s the plan of every other bad control deck, only slower and clunkier, AND dependent on drawing a certain Relic. Why? Just…why.

That’s about all I can take today. There are just too many bad decks and too little time. I’m sure you’ve had a modicum of success with one or more of the decks in this article. Good. Tell me how wrong I am in the comments.

Set 4 can’t come soon enough.

LightsOutAce