The day before all Saint’s Day marks a major point in the local FoW history – 49 people attended! It was way past the expected 20-ish turnout for a tournament, and is a clear indicator of how far we’re come (and how far we have to go) in promoting the game locally.
With SKL around a month old, the local metagame hasn’t been entirely defined. However, all of the popular archetypes are present. Both control and mid-range decks are viable – they are represented by the ever reliable Vlad Tepes, although some variants of Scheherazade exists. Pricia became the go-to mid-range deck, although there are a couple of Grimms here and there. Aggro, as always, is very viable with Bahamut, Melgis, and Cain leading the pack. Then there’s the occasional combo deck utilizing Yamata-no-Orochi and Book of Eibon. Finally, there are off-the-radar decks (at least in the local metagame) such as Rezzard, Valentina, and various Blazer builds. This along with some remnant decks from the previous cluster makes for a really varied field.
I think the safest approach for such a field is to play proactively. Fire remains the strongest Attribute in FoW as long as the game doesn’t go beyond turn 6, and is the prime choice for most aggressive strategies. The big question is which variant to use: Pure Fire, Melgis Knights, Blazer Knights, Bahamut Aggro, or Cain Regalia? All of these have their pros and cons:
Bahamut Aggro is the strongest in terms of raw power, but I still find it too much of an all-in deck. The mirror match doesn’t allow much room for the second player to maneuver and try to win because of the limited defensive tools that red has. The match simply becomes “who’s the bigger dragon?”. On top of that, some players put in a number of Susanowos main deck regardless of the deck they use. I personally find this too risky.
The same goes for Cain Regalia – it has the potential to be unstoppable, but clunky Regalia draws can leave you way behind the opponent.
Blazer Knights is a stable, consistent deck. However, I don’t really like the idea of having a reactive ruler in a proactive strategy, since you’re losing a lot of offensive power (and damage) that a J-Ruler provides. This also makes the deck fall prey into more controlling variants of Vlad, or really good mid-range Grimm builds.
Fire aggro is great. It’s fast and consistent, plus you get to choose either Cain or Melgis. It has two main problems however – first is that it plays badly from behind. It has limited ways to search for potential answers outside of Guinevere, which means that you have to draw really well to win against an aggro mirror. Second is that Cain and Melgis rely a lot on Laevateinn, and the deck loses a lot of edge by not seeing a copy of it. It’s a small issue against control, where you are given a lot of chances to draw into a copy, but against the mirror, it matters a lot that you draw the Demon Sword as soon as possible. As it turns out, Percival is an important piece to solve the aggro mirror puzzle.
This brings us to Melgis Knights.
I won’t mince words here, Melgis is an offensive powerhouse. The ability to J-Activate for cheap without causing a resource disadvantage is really nuts, his First Strike makes him nearly unmatched at combat, and his God’s Art is one of the best at the moment. His weakness though, as I’ve mentioned above, is that he is reliant on his Regalia. You absolutely need Laevateinn for him to work, otherwise it’s risky to even consider J-Activating him since he’s very susceptible to Thunder, Dark Purge, and Flame of Outerworld. His God’s Art also becomes significantly more expensive without the Demon Sword around.
I think there’s a big difference in choosing between Melgis and Cain. I picked the latter though, because he’s more flexible, and will work a lot better in a varied field… at least in theory. While slower, Cain has the potential to win the game by himself when left unanswered because his Activate ability combined with Laevateinn can be used to easily pick off opposing Resonators while he attacks for respectable chunks of damage. He’s also a bit tougher too. 700 Health makes a huge difference when Marybell is involved, as it spells the difference between still dying to a Flame of Outerworld (or two Thunders), and completely surviving it.
As for the Knights part, I’m no stranger to the power of it – having won our Nationals on the back of our team’s very first brew, which also won the Singapore Open soon after. The aggression it brings is on a whole other level than existing decks during that time. However, I think most of the players have caught up with it, and both control and mid-range decks have adjusted accordingly to counter Knights-based strategies. Despite most Knight lists being streamlined, there are some aspects of it that doesn’t fit well with the play style of the deck I plan to use. I find Gawain and Galahad too defensive, and lacking in power versus slower decks.
I wanted something faster and more proactive.
After much thought, I figured out that the answer might lie somewhere in the middle – take the best parts of Knights (Lancelot, Guinevere, Percival, and Hector), and combine them with the best parts of Fire aggro (Ruhk Egg, Cthugha, Milest). They actually blended better than expected, and the resulting brew was tested for the better part of the week, which led to the deck I brought to the tournament:
Ruler: Apostle of Creation / Cain, the Traitor of Gods
4 Laevateinn, the Demon Sword
3 Marybell, the Steel Doll
4 Rukh Egg
4 Guinevere, the Jealous Queen
4 Percival, the Seeker of the Holy Grail
4 Milest, the Invisible Ghostly Flame
4 Lancelot, the Knight of Mad Demon
2 Hector de Maris, the Acolyte of Mad Demon
4 Cthugha, the Living Flame
3 Snow White, the Valkyrie of Passion
4 Magic Stone of Heat Ray
1 Little Red, the True Stone
5 Fire Magic Stone
1 Melgis the Flame King / Melgis, the One Charmed by the Demon Sword
1 Arla, the Winged Lord / Arla, the Hegemon of the Sky
3 Breath of the God
4 Artemis, the God’s Bow
2 Crime and Punishment
2 Flame King’s Shout
The general strategy of the deck is to play aggressively in Game 1, and then adjust accordingly for Game 2 – which could mean anything from putting in a couple of Flame King’s Shout to shifting to a more defensive strategy using Arla and Artemis. The sideboard works like a flowchart, and being able to shift into a more defensive deck helps a lot against the dreaded aggro mirror match. Here’s a rough guide on which Ruler I planned to use against certain match-ups:
Going first vs aggro – Melgis
Going second vs aggro – Cain / Melgis
Going first vs control – Melgis
Going second vs control – Cain / Melgis
Going first vs Bahamut – Melgis
Going second vs Bahamut – Arla
Going first vs Rezzard – Melgis
Going second vs Rezzard – Arla
Going first vs Blazer – Melgis
Going second vs Blazer – Melgis
So why not just Melgis all the way? This is just my personal opinion, but playing against Cain and Melgis have their subtle differences. One gradually gains advantage and grows into an unstoppable force, while the other can hit for huge damage out of the slightest openings, and I think this affects the pace that the opponent perceives the match. If they were under the impression that damage flows in at a constant, steady pace in game 1, they might expect the same in the next game. Then they get surprised when they get blown out for lethal because they’re unaware of Melgis’ damage potential and played their turn without accounting for it. However, this is just my take on the matter. Starting with Melgis instead is just as fine.
Here’s the breakdown of the matches I’ve had throughout the day:
R1 2-1 vs Bahamut Aggro
R2 2-1 vs Bahamut Aggro
R3 2-0 vs Crimson Girl Oz Aggro
R4 2-0 vs Bloody Snow White Aggro
R5 Draw into Top 8
Top 8 2-1 vs Bloody Snow White Aggro
Top 4 Opponent had to leave – free win!
Finals 2-1 vs Scheherazade Control
Given the opponents I’ve met throughout the tournament, Breath of the God in the sideboard was a complete miss, even after fighting a Blazer from the opponent’s sideboard in the Top 8. A much better sideboard option would have been Robe of Fire Rat, which shuts down any Lancelot or Susanowo shenanigans. Another miss was Snow White, the Valkyrie of Passion. I think she’s too slow for the deck, and is only great when you’re ahead. There are better ways to spend three stones to take control of the game, like the Lancelot-Hector combo.
Arla and Artemis performed well against both Bahamut matches, with the bow bring a constant threat to the Dragon King. This slows down the pace of the match enough for me to control the board and catch up on damage.
As I’ve mentioned before, one of the best characteristics of the deck is how nearly all of the cards work well together. Between Rukh Egg and Pervical, searching for Lancelot is very easy, and cracking the Egg through Guinevere or Cthugha is always satisfying. One resonator which stands out from the rest is Milest. He seems an oddball addition to the deck with all the Swiftness going on around. He makes the cut because of his versatility. Milest can affect the board immediately, and the 300 damage he does can be used for almost anything – from controlling the board to setting up Demonflame kills. In a pinch, it’s direct damage to the opponent, so even if he dies immediately on the same turn, he still provides a little value. His 600 ATK is also good, and even if only one attack gets in, he has more than paid for himself. Drawing multiple copies doesn’t hurt as a newly-summoned one adds a counter to the existing copies on the field. Finally, he fills that awkward 2nd turn when you don’t want to play a Lancelot yet, but don’t have any other relevant play.
Despite the deck’s successful run, there are still things that can be done to make it better. I’ll most likely be taking out Snow White and filling in the space with Susanowo, Blazer, the Eater of Dimensions, and Little Dread. These three excel in different match-ups (Dragons, Control, and Mid-range respectively), and can be searched with Rukh Egg when needed.
So there you have it, another boring ‘ol aggressive deck that’s added to the big list of proactive decks in the game. It’s nothing too flashy, and doesn’t win spectacularly (unless it’s one of those Melgis blowout turns), but it’s ruthlessly efficient in what it does without committing to too much risk like all-in builds or foregoing defense in hopes of winning the die roll. Give it a try on your next weekly, and let us know how it turns out!
Card images are from http://force-of-will-tcg.wikia.com