Battle for Attoractia’s out, and while most players are out tinkering with machines of dancing with fairies, I’m sure some of you are a skeptical on jumping into a whole new archetype. So let’s take a step back and try to see what the new set has in store for one of the classic Alice Cluster decks.
Necrolance is probably the default aggro deck of the block even back in day 1. R/R’s multiple powers, plus the trusty Fire/Wind lineup of Lancelot and Pricia made for some quick kills, especially when the namesake card Necromancy of the Undead Lord is in play. Add in the drawing power of Guinevere, and the consistency of Rukh Egg, and we have a winner.
For the more casual player who has never heard of the deck, Necrolance is an Italian-built deck that centers on the interaction of Lancelot, and Necromancy of the Undead Lord, making the former and 800/800 beatstick as early as turn 2 if we can find a way to discard the Addition early on. With Reflect’s ability, you can easily turn Lancelot into 1000/1000 and trigger his ability. Furthermore, you can have a Resonator with Necromancy attack, banish it via Guinevere or Laevatein’s ability, summon a new one with Swiftness, attach your Necromancy copies to it and attack again.
And with cards like Pricia, Pursuant of Exploding Flame, damage racks up quickly. In the later turns, you also get to support your attackers with Refrain’s abilities – either by Canceling removal spells, or bouncing back blockers.
While it did seem to have the makings of an unbeatable deck, Necrolance decks have been pushed back lately by Huanglong decks because they directly attack three of Necrolance’s weaknesses – the inability to deal with multiple threats at the same time, being able to recover from a losing field state, and being unable to close games given the lack of direct damage spells in the cluster.
Thankfully, the new set brought with it some tools to address these problems.
Three Fire cards from the new set stand out as great inclusions. Here they are:
In New Frontiers, Fire aggro has a ton of reach – Thunder, Purifying Fire, and Split Heaven and Earth have stolen their fair share of wins from unsuspecting opponents. In the Alice Cluster though, Fire aggro has been more honest with their damage dealing – the brunt of the work is done by having Lancelot and friends wade through combat and deal their damage to the face (and probably sealing the deal with a banished Pricia or two).
Against other decks, this works just fine because Necrolance has some great tools to keep the opponent’s board at a minimum… as long as they pile in one at a time. But with Huanglong and the Sacred Beasts dropping all at the same time and turning the tables around with their removal/bounce/heal effects, the last 1500+ health or so suddenly becomes very hard to reach. A second Huang Long is likely to seal the deal in their favor.
I’d like to view Blood Boil as the marriage of Purifying Fire and Poison Apple, with the offspring getting the best of both worlds. 600 damage and healing negation is worlds better than flat 700 damage, considering the amount of healing spells the new set has brought. On the other hand, the option to buff a Resonator to monstrous proportions when the first option is irrelevant is great as well. I don’t mind the drawback much because we’ll probably use this to end games, and in cases of using it on Pricia, that’s 2000 damage from just two cards.
All at instant speed.
Back to the Huanglong matchup. We’ll likely use this card for responding to Bai Hu’s healing effect, ensuring that they’re kept within lethal range. To demonstrate the difference this makes, consider that game where the opponent is left with 1500 life (since hey, we’re kinda good aren’t we? *wink*). They use all of their resources to play Huang Long to full effect and attempted to gain 800 life from Bai Hu’s healing.
That would put them at 2300 life, and probably put the game out of our reach, given that they’ll nuke/bounce our field as well, setting us way behind.
On the other hand, playing Boiling Blood in response to it brings them down to 900 life and well within lethal range – just send in a Pricia with Necromancy flying over their heads for the kill.
That’s a 1400-point life swing – enough for the game to end one way or the other.
Here’s a card that directly addresses the Huang Long problem – by killing all of the Sacred Beasts. We can use it in response to their last trigger, so that the opponent doesn’t get any benefit from their Enter abilities. As an added bonus, this card is potentially good against decks that need a significant field presence to function optimally (I’m looking at you, Machines and Fairies). You can also use it to punish greedy Necrolance players for playing that extra Rukh Egg or Guinevere.
800 damage is very relevant, as it kills most of the relevant Resonators in the metagame. Note that even though it’s quite easy to put this card into your Standby area, you need a Fire Magic Stone to trigger it, so it doesn’t go into every deck. The two Fire Will cost is restrictive as well for other decks hoping to cast it from their hand, so don’t expect to play against it every round. But it pays to be constantly aware and over commit unnecessarily.
Alisaris, Avatar of Destruction
Ever since the days of Blazer, Eater of Dimensions, and Gilles de Rais, Fire always had this one, big finisher that can steal games they don’t have any business winning. That idea went away when aggro evolved to be faster in New Frontiers – replacing them with direct damage spells instead for reach. With the format slowing down slightly, it’s not uncommon for aggro decks to reach the mid-game and the early stages of the late game, but without a form of reach, their effectiveness drops drastically.
By himself, Alisaris is a step below the two resonators mentioned above. He’s a fair price to pay – 1000/1000 Swiftness for 5 is an okay deal. It’s his ability which potentially makes him more fearsome, particularly when used with two cards: Blood Boil, and Flame King’s Shout.
The former is pretty much straightforward – either you use the Blood Boil directly on the opponent, or buff another Resonator (or Alisaris himself) to deal more damage. This makes him a finisher on par with Gilles de Rais, while coming down a turn earlier. It can probably catch opponents unawares, or at the very least put them within lethal range.
The latter is more fun as it allows us to get a lot of value from Alisaris by dealing damage to the opposing field and enabling us to play another Fire Resonator directly into play. Most likely, it will be Pricia or Lancelot, but Urthr works just as good.
That’s 11 Will worth of value for a 5-cost card.
This leads us to the following list:
Ruler: Reflect / Refrain
4 Change the World, Orb of Illusion
2 Laevatein, the Demon Sword
2 Interdimensional Vessel, Apollo
4 Rukh Egg
4 Guinevere, the Jealous Queen
4 Lancelot, the Knight of Mad Demon
1 Hector, the Acolyte of Mad Demon
3 Pricia, Pursuant of Exploding Flame
1 Keeper of the Past, Urthr
2 Alisaris, Avatar of Destruction
4 Necromancy of the Undead Lord
2 Wind-secluded Refuge
3 Blood Boil
2 Flame Trap
2 Flame King’s Shout
4 Ruler’s Memoria
6 Fire Magic Stone
2 Flame Trap
1 Blood Boil
4 Hera, the Goddess of Jealousy
3 Blessed Holy Wolf
3 Barrier of Shadows
2 Wind-secluded Refuge
There are some cards here that don’t show up in most Necrolance lists. Wind-secluded Refuge is included as a countermeasure against Black Moon Beam, which Darkness decks is expected to pack. I personally like to see Laevatein often in the mid-game when I have enough counters to use Refrain, hence the extra copy. The same goes for Apollo – it’s cheap way to save Resonators and to push damage (attack with a Resonator with Swiftness, bounce it back with Apollo, cast it again and attack – don’t forget to Add to it any copies of Necromancy in your graveyard!). That’s just my personal preference though – some might want to opt for the usual 1 Deathscythe, 1 Horn or Marybell instead.
If you’re not sure of what to use in BFA yet, try this oldie but goodie. I think it has enough upgrades from the new set to make it a dominant force again, and even if you’re not playing competitively, it’s fun to see the cards interact with each other to deal some sweet, sweet damage.
So until we’re run over by new decks, have fun Necrolancing!
Card images from the awesome http://db.fowtcg.us