As one could expect from a post-wipe environment, especially one that has seen a lot of balance changes, the meta for Eternal since the start of Open Beta has been somewhat unexciting for jank lovers like myself. Lots of aggro, lots of burn, lots of face-going and not much in the way of innovation. Fortunately, we now start to have a significant amount of people hitting Master and getting larger collections, which is when the serious brewing starts to happen. I’ve been keeping busy myself, and here is one of the pile of shenanigans I’ve been entertaining myself with.
If you’ve grown bored with the Stonescar Burn or Midrange deck you’ve crafted and find yourself longing for something more fun to do, this might just be the deck for you ! Most of the cards in there are the same stuff you’ll find in Stonescar decks. But with a few key modifications, you get a radically different, much spicier flavor of deck.
The Core : Dreams of Fury
As the title somewhat indicates, this deck revolves around the card Righteous Fury. It’s an extremely powerful buff that can instantly and completely turn a game, with the right unit and the right timing.
This deck’s juiciest scenario involves Umbren Reaper as the unit in question. Righteous Fury on him works exactly as you would hope it does, and applies to all damage he deals including his Entomb. This means that just by dying, a Fury Reaper will deal 10 damage and heal you for 15. If he connects once, that’s 20 damage and 35 life gained.
This is, however, a slow and vulnerable combo. Silence in particular will ruin a regular Reapers day enough, and would be even more disastrous on a buffed Reaper. To prevent this (and other unpleasant things), we run a full set of Protects.
Even with Protect, the Fury Reaper (as hilarious as it is when it happens) is not a reliable way of closing games. This deck’s most common finisher is rather Champion of Chaos. This card is a powerhouse on her own already, enough to be one of the major reasons to be playing Stonescar at all. She also has the particularity of making your opponent not want to block her, even though she deals very decent damage. Your 5/5 champion going through unblocked is where the cheese kicks in : now you can use your Righteous Fury (which is a fast spell, that’s very important) to multiply that damage. That’s already 10 lifesteal damage going through, which is a strong play ; but it gets worse for your opponent, because you’re also holding a Rapid Shot, which is worth an additional 8 lifesteal damage ! One of the awesome properties of Champion of Chaos is that you can do this even if your opponent decided to block her, because each blocker will only absorb 1 point of damage. Sometimes they’ll make an unfavorable block to kill your Champion, and a Rapid Shot to foil that plan can be enough to turn the game in your favor.
Here is the list I am currently settling on in order to try and make the core game plan above work :
3 Dark Return (Set1 #250)
4 Protect (Set1 #132)
4 Pyroknight (Set1 #16)
4 Rapid Shot (Set1 #259)
4 Seek Power (Set1 #408)
4 Torch (Set1 #8)
3 Argenport Instigator (Set1 #268)
2 Vanquish (Set1 #143)
2 Cabal Countess (Set1 #506)
4 Champion of Chaos (Set1 #402)
1 Furnace Mage (Set1 #40)
4 Righteous Fury (Set1 #322)
3 Rise to the Challenge (Set1 #320)
3 Statuary Maiden (Set1 #387)
1 Soulfire Drake (Set1 #47)
2 Umbren Reaper (Set1 #299)
6 Fire Sigil (Set1 #1)
3 Justice Sigil (Set1 #126)
6 Shadow Sigil (Set1 #249)
4 Seat of Chaos (Set0 #60)
2 Seat of Glory (Set0 #56)
2 Seat of Vengeance (Set0 #55)
4 Stonescar Banner (Set1 #419)
The Supporting Cast
As mentioned earlier, Protect is essential to keep your opponent from interfering with your evil plans. When your opponent whips out a Desert Marshal to neuter your Champion or Reaper, when they use Feeding Time or Deathstrike, Protect is the 1 mana difference between a win and a loss. Use them wisely and sparsely. Especially if you know your opponent has silences, it’s sometimes preferable to let a unit die to straight removal and keep the protect for silence effects down the road. Protect is also great in a burn heavy meta as a cheap counter to Obliterate and Flameblast.
Dark Return is for when Protect either didn’t show up or wasn’t enough to save your unit. Bringing a unit back with Protect after the opponent spent 2 removal spells on it is often backbreaking. This also lets us bring back a Fury’d unit, which is even more backbreaking.
These guys round up our selection of units. They’re Stonescar’s classic powerhouses. Pyro meshes greatly with our Fury plan, as you can make her huge and go over with Overwhelm. Instigator is more of an early game blocker, but he’s also a funny Fury target against token decks (he’ll do 2 damage and heal you for 2 each time one of their things dies, yet do no harm to you when your own stuff dies). Maiden is a great blocker that negates many very dangerous cards, including your opponent’s Reapers. Her cudgels can help you pump a unit before using Fury on it. Countess is great at both producing surprise attacks and being a high attack unit people don’t like blocking. When someone decides not to block her with their precious Titan, make them pay for it!
Torch and Vanquish make up our short list of removal. The former takes care of some small stuff, and the latter is for the big guys. With our plan A involving going right through or over the enemy defenses, as well as having a lot of lifesteal, I feel like we can afford being a bit low on answers. Rapid Shot can also often double as removal. It can pay off to hold on your removal to pair them with Maiden, especially if your opponent is fielding strong Entomb effects and you’re not in immediate danger.
Rise to the Challenge can be either more Champions or more Reapers, depending on what you need at the time. The 2 extra attack is particularly relevant with the former. Rise also lets us run a couple of one-ofs, namely Drake (which can be 7 damage out of the blue, but also does fun things to the rest of your deck when you suspect the game is going to be a while still) and Furnace Mage which can answer some of the most dangerous attachments out there (Gift, Obelisk) or get one of your units out of Permafrost.
The Tips and Tricks
- Combo and Patience
This deck can almost play like a combo deck. Sometimes you want to get your unit in place, hold your Fury and Rapid Shot, and preferably your Protect, before you make your deciding move. This can take a fair amount of time, and the parts could simply never show up. There is a delicate balance to be struck between holding on to combo pieces for the blow out later, and use that Rapid Shot right now to clear the board of a threat while keeping your unit alive. I’d be hard pressed to give definitive guidelines on this tricky subject, but so far I seem to be doing the best when I hold out. The nature of Righteous Fury means that you can afford to see your life go low, as a successful hit could easily bring it back to full or higher. We’re also playing a deck with effectively no draw at all, so you need to make those cards count – if you use them once, there’s no guarantee you’ll see another copy by the end of the game.
We run a fairly low number of units. It’s important to make sure you have at least one of those playable by turn 3 in your starting hand, or you may find yourself in quite the pickle turn 4 when you still have nothing on the board. Pyroknight, Torch, Instigator are obviously cards you’ll be happy to begin the game with. On the power front, you should favor hands with 3 or more sources – 2 power hands are dangerous and better avoided. Shadow and Fire influence is obviously a lot more valuable than Justice early game. I’ve mulliganed into 5 power hands and won multiple times, so I’d say floody hands are probably better than screwy hands here.
- Rise and Shine
Choosing what unit to Rise for is a tricky question that depends hugely on the board state, your hand, and the matchup. Reaper is a target of choice in the matchups that lack dispel, or when you have a Protect to back him up. Otherwise Champion of Chaos is always a safe bet, assuming she’s activated. Remember you can also rise for Furnace Mage, and picking a Pyro when at 5 power with a sigil in hand lets you put her down on the same turn and then activate her on the next.
The Performance and Matchups
At the time of this writing, this deck has a total record of 48-37 (56% win rate), but that’s across a large number of iterations. The exact list above is on a record of 23-16 (59% win rate). All those matches have been done at Master rank, near the bottom of the ranking – which is probably equivalent to somewhere in Diamond, I guess ? Anyway, it has won more than lost, which is good enough for me. This deck never set out to be the new OP, it’s meant to be a silly thing to have fun with, and I think it does that job admirably. While the amount of matches is a little low to render a clear judgement, and the usual meta-changes-all-the-time caveats apply, a near 60% win rate seems to indicate that this would be good enough to climb the ladder with if one wanted to.
Here’s some matchup information, in order of descending frequency I faced them in the last few days :
- Stonescar Burn : 60-40 in favor
Protect is your MVP. Don’t waste them on low impact early turns plays, that 1 mana could be key to neutering the overwhelm they try to kill your buffed unit with, or the 8 mana flameblast they try to kill you with. Stonescar has nothing to deal with Reaper besides Maiden, which burn lists typically don’t run (and Steward which even fewer run), so you can go greedy with them. Always assume they are holding a Torch, don’t ever put out your champions without at least half an activation.
- Combrei : 60-40 in favor
I was expecting to struggle with that matchup, but my actual number is actually over 70-30. Even accounting for some statistical anomalies, I think it’s safe to say we’re favored. The obvious danger is those pesky Fun Police 8 silences, so again Protect is your star player. Other things to look out for are Vanquish and Scorpion Wasp. You’ll probably want to go easy on the Reapers here, unless you managed to lure out a good amount of silence earlier (Maiden typically does a good job of this). Also avoid Drake unless they’re at <2 power or you’re sitting on a Protect.
- Shimmerpack and other go-wides : unclear, but not very good
Here you’ll suffer your lack of board wipes, like regular Stonescar does. You’ll have to ignore their board and gather your pieces ASAP to race them before Shimmer hits. The good news is they have very few good answers to our threats, and overwhelm means you should be able to vault over their defense without too much trouble. Rising for Furnace Mage is usually a good idea, assuming you already have a proper threat unit at your disposal.
- Armory / Icaria Blue : unclear, but should be favored
I’m bundling those two as controlly decks with at least a good amount of relic weapons. Here your protects are nowhere near as useful compared to other matchups (although they’ll dodge Vanquish, Harsh Rule and Valkyrie Enforcer often enough). Auric Runehammer is your nemesis, as it will get rid of most of your threats cleanly. On the other hand, there are very amusing plays you can make with Righteous Fury + Rapid Shot, particularly in response to a relic weapon attack (extra style points if on an Ambushing Countess). Very few people expect that one !
- Rakano : unclear, but probably unfavored
Being light on removal hurts in this matchup. We’re also lacking in answers to flying units, so that can be a bit of an issue here. Being aggressive with early torches and trades often pays off. Don’t be afraid to trade with Maiden or pop Aegis with your Protects (how ironic!).
- Feln control : unclear, but expected to be bad
Removal.dec is not really the thing you want to be facing, especially when it maindecks Stewards. There’s a fragile balance of not overcommitting to the board while still remaining dangerous, or so I imagine – for some reason I have met zero Feln opponents while playing this deck, so it’s a bit hard to say…