One of the recurring events in every format (at least in card games that I’ve played) is that it can be attacked anytime by a balls-to-the-wall aggressive decks. Magic has its timeless RDW/Sligh, WoW has its Omedus aggro, Hearthstone has its Deathrattle Hunters, and I think FoW had something similar from the starter decks. Granted, there are certain circumstances that should exist before they become a dominant force (of will :P), and I think that we’re seeing some of these in the Grimm Block.
1) Healing isn’t a dominant part of any strategy at the moment.
The most common healing strategies are Vampire’s Staff, Bloodsucking Impulse, and Death Sentence from the Queen. Of these three, Vampire’s Staff is the most versatile, but heals very little and is vulnerable to removal. Bloodsucking Impulse has a very strict requirement (playing Vampires), and can only be maximized by a few of them (Carmillia, Dracula, and huge Vampire Bats). Finally Death Sentence from the Queen only works well on certain decks, and requires some setup to maximize its use, and can be played around.
And none of these heal for a huge amount most of the time.
2) Reach is very good.
Reach can be defined as spells or combat tricks that allow damage through despite the opponent’s defenses. These are handy because they allow us to deal the last few bits of damage to kill them regardless of whether we’re at a disadvantage or not. The burn spells we have available on the Grimm Block out-damage the healing cards by a respectable margin: Thunder deals 500, Dragon’s Flame deals 600 or 800, and Purifying Fire does 700. Assuming we put four copies of each, that’s 7200 to 8000 damage – nearly double the player’s life, in the deck.
And that’s not even counting the other threats we have on board.
3) The format is moving away from mid-range strategies and leaning towards more aggro, or more control.
When Grimm block first came out, the deck to beat was definitely Grimm toolbox, a (arguably) mid-range deck with a lot of tools at its disposal, and shines in the mid-game. A couple of things can be attributed to its success – first, the whole CMF set is mainly about Fairy Tales, which allows Grimm to play the most powerful Resonators the set had to offer. Secondly, there weren’t a lot of cards in the first place – leaving most other strategies (particularly control) wanting.
Nearly a month ago, the talk of the town had been Kaguya control, which is primed to be the control deck in the block (so far). That’s because the selection of tools that came with TAT plugged the necessary holes that rendered a control deck impossible to play during CMF. One could argue that they are still a couple of cards short in order to make a true control deck (such as a way to… well, heal huge amounts of life), but regardless, its match-up versus the Grimm deck proved to be good… even favorable. It could grind out the match and force Grimm out of options, or simply do the infinite loop combo just because it can.
And then we have the Japan Winter Open 2015, which might be the basis of Grimm Block’s new metagame. Notice how decks have evolved: Grimm was now packed with threats instead of other control elements, Alucard/Alhazred seemed to move towards the control end of things with all of its removal, counters, and Mephistopheles. In fact, the closest deck that vaguely resembles the old, mid-range Grimm can be found at the bottom of the Top 8, and I’m willing to think that it was beaten by one of the Alhazred/Alucard matchups.
4) The other threats available are good.
We have 300/300 with Swiftness, 500/300 for 1, 700/700 (or 900/900) for two. Notice how these are either fast or resilient – which are good characteristics when pushing for damage.
So with that in mind, it’s time to punish those who thought the format is too slow, and those who think that they’re actually faster.
With fire, of course.
Ruler: Falltgold, the Dragoon / Bahamut, the Dragon King
10 Magic Stone of Flame
4 Hunter in Black Forest
4 Wolf Haunted in Black Forest
4 Seven Dwarfs
4 Moon Night Pouncer
4 Murderous Snowman
4 Rapid Decay
4 Duel of Truth
4 Purifying Fire
4 Dragon King’s Flame
4 Blood Moon
4 Beowulf, the Blazing Wolf
4 Redbird of Omen
3 Realm of the Dragon King
If you’ve read about my previous post on Snow White, this deck follows the same game plan, but instead on relying on the unwieldy power of lucky apples, we use the more satisfying and consistent method called “burning our opponent to the ground”.
Bahamut is probably the best Ruler that people aren’t using right now: He has access to the best burn in Grimm block, he can fly, occasionally Imperishable, and turns your excess Resonator into removal. In fact, his J-Activate is a huge tempo swing early on since it usually trades 1-for-1 but leaves a huge 1000/1000 flyer on your side. He’s so good in fact, that he can solo Vampire decks which aren’t prepared for him (e.g. no way to block flying J-Rulers).
My main complaint about Snow White is that in the event that your opponent managed to kill her, the rest of the deck drops in power level. Bahamut on the other hand, still has enough burn to kill them twice over even if he dies, and that he only needs to get two swings in before they are within killing range… and the whole deck works on two resources!
Moving on, I’d like to talk about a couple of cards in the deck that I haven’t covered in the Snow White Article:
I was initially unimpressed with Moon Night Pouncer. Stat-wise he’s weaker than the other two drops, can’t do damage like Beowulf (the Amazing Wolf), but only after testing him a bit did I notice that his ability grants first strike as well. This is huge because it means he can win fights with most Resonators of the same cost. So if we have three resources, play him, and Rapid Decay/Thunder/Duel another opposing resonator, it’s very likely that the opponent will allow his attack in, which puts them closer to being burned out. His swiftness means that he’s useful at any stage of the game, as long as you can set him up to get an attack in.
The sideboard slots are dedicated for fighting either against aggro or control. Against the former, we board in Realm of the Dragon King, and Redbird to keep smaller Resonators in check, which is good against Crimson Girl Aggro, and the mirror match.
Against control, we shift to adding more threats in the form of Beowulf and Blood Moon. Beowulf isn’t as good here without Poison Apple, but he’s still one of the better Flame Resonators available. Blood Moon on the other hand, saw its breakout performance at the Japan Open – with everyone running Special Magic Stones, it’s a very easy inclusion in the deck, and can eke out advantage by setting the control deck’s resources back a turn – all while buffing our 12 werewolves when it’s in play.
So that’s it for Bahamut aggro. That makes two red decks in a row that I’m writing about. I should go explore more of FoW, and probably will, but I’d like to play a little bit longer.
With fire, of course.