This deck is dedicated to James Damore for beating every other deck I threw at him with that one deck of his. I created this deck the morning I left for Worlds, drawing on some of my earlier concepts. It significantly outperformed my expectations during testing, I went 2-1 with it, and it is a lot of fun to play.
Worlds Deck List
3x Winged Death
3x Drain Essence
Post Worlds (Untested) Modifications
Post Worlds Explanation
Brief Meta Analysis (Thought Plucker/Muse)
Thought Plucker and Muse are two of the strongest cards in a vacuum. Both must be answered immediately or they can generate significant card advantage. Card advantage involves utilizing your cards more efficiently than your opponent to have an advantage in hand size and/or champions in play. It is important, and it is rightfully highly-valued by players coming from other card games like Magic: The Gathering.
Muse is strong because it puts a card advantage threat into play without spending a gold. Thought Plucker is strong because it immediately generates you positive card advantage (you draw and your opponent discards), and it threatens to compound this effect each turn. Both of these can also be played on an opponents’ turn when their gold is down, which makes them more likely to generate significant benefit.
The best answers for these cards are 0-cost small removal cards like Wolf’s Bite, Wither, Flash Fire, Forcemage Apprentice (held in reserve), etc. Due to the strength and popularity of Muse and Thought Plucker, many decks include at least some 0-cost small removal cards to answer them. Because of this, any champions with 3 or less defense (Pyrosaur, Winged Death, etc.) become effectively weaker, since most decks will have answers to them inherently. However, these decks only have so many of these answers.
Guiding Principle (Wither Targets)
The guiding principle of this deck is to pack it with tons of champions that break to Wither. By doing this, I overload a deck’s 0-cost removal answers which allows my high impact, low defense champions to survive (2x Winged Death, 3x Guilt Demon, 2x Muse, 2x Pyrosaur, 3x Cave Troll, 3x Fire Shaman, and 3x Spore Beast).
Against most decks, my Muses are my least valuable of these cards because they advance my deck’s goals the least. Due to this, I can throw them out early as lightning rods for small removal. If they get removed, great, that is one less removal card for Pyrosaur, Winged Death, etc. If they survive, even better, I draw a card at the start of my turn, and I can be fairly confident they do not have a 0-cost answer for my more important cards.
Citadel Raven Deck
I’ve been messing around with this Wither Targets idea for awhile largely trying to make Citadel Raven work. Initially I tried to be very greedy by making it a 27 Sage/33 Wild deck with tons of loyalty triggers in both factions. When that deck got up to 7 cards in hand and consistently hit its loyalties, it crushed, but too many bad draws forced me to scrap it. This is what naturally followed, and I love it. I also made a Sage Wither Targets deck after Worlds that actually runs Thought Plucker, Muse, Knight of Shadows, Psionic Assault, etc., and that has been working fairly well for me too. In other words, don’t underestimate the 3 defense champions.
Wild Core (Raging T-Rex)
As with most Wild focused decks, my Pyrosaur deck runs a similar core of powerful cards: Brachiosaurus, Draka Dragon Tyrant, Kong, Raging T-Rex, Draka’s Enforcer, Rain of Fire, Smash and Burn, Strafing Dragon, Surprise Attack, Fire Shaman, and Drain Essence. These cards are so powerful/consistent that they appear in most Wild decks, regardless of archetype. Notably absent from my deck are Flame Strike/Lightning Storm/Fires of Rebellion/Hunting Raptors/Pyromancer, Rage/Lash, and Flash Fire.
Midrange (Consistent Pressure)
While it may initially seem odd to think of midrange decks in a game with no accumulating resources, Epic does have advancing game states progressing from early (establishing champions/drawing up to 7 cards in hand or stopping an opponent from doing so), mid (exploiting resources in play and hand to push damage through/set up your combo/approach 60 health), and late game (making the final push to finish a game). Almost all of my decks focus on quickly entering and dominating the mid game by emphasizing value and my Get Ahead, Stay Ahead playstyle.
The goals of this deck are fairly straight forward: put big champions into play to pressure the board, maintain a 7 card hand size, and punish my opponent for spending their gold before me.
Early Game (Establishing Champions, Draw, or Pass)
In the early game, when having to go first, you ideally want to open with Raging T-Rex, Fire Spirit, Brachiosaurus, or Cave Troll and then pass. All of these put a threat into play that either gives immediate value, or leaves you open to exploit your opponent spending their gold first on your turn. T-Rex and Fire Spirit draw card(s) and leave behind big bodies. Fire Spirit also leaves an ability allowing you to pick off small champions your opponent might play. Both Brachiosaurus and Cave Troll put solid bodies into play while leaving your gold available to react to an opponent spending their gold first on your turn. 8 times out of 10, when you play Brachiosaurus, you do not want to immediately spend the gold you get off it for this reason. If you can get an 8/12 breakthrough body into play and force your opponent not to spend their gold on your turn, you’re in great shape.
If you don’t have any of the above cards (and I recommend mulliganing aggressively to get one) I recommend either passing or playing a “draw 2 and” card: Smash and Burn or Ancient Chant. If you have a lot of reactive cards like Kong or you’re afraid of your opponent spending their gold while yours is down, pass. If not afraid of your opponent, the “draw 2 and” card helps further the deck’s goals without leaving you too vulnerable. Most of the time in this latter situation your opponent will just draw 2 too.
If going second (drawing first), the best card to play is Draka’s Enforcer, potentially even if your opponent still has their gold available. This card puts an evasive (airborne) threat into play that can attack on your turn and draws you a card. If they answer it on their turn without drawing, Divine Judgement for instance, you start your turn with 6 cards in hand while they have only 4. If it survives until your turn, you start with a 7/7 airborne champion in play that requires a gold to answer.
The other amazing card to play is Surprise Attack into any of the Going First cards above, any of the reestablishing cards if they played a champion (Kong/Winged Death/Scarros, Hound of Draka), or potentially even just Draka, Dragon Tyrant if their gold is down (Pyrosaur potentially as well). Other viable plays are a draw 2 or, if they spent their gold, a Strafing Dragon.
Mid Game (Push Damage Through)
From this position, the person who is behind is forced to act or start taking damage. For example, if you start your turn with Draka’s Enforcer in play, attack while both players’ have their gold available. If they do nothing and take 7 damage, great, pass and force them to play something or go to their turn. If they spend their gold to remove it with a Drain Essence/Zombie Apocalypse/etc., that’s fine. You just answer by playing a blitz threat like Draka, Dragon Tyrant/Strafing Dragon/Pyrosaur and attack, usually dealing damage and leaving that new threat in play for next turn. If they take the damage from the attack and then draw after passing, you could either play that blitz threat or draw as well to maintain your advantageous position without overextending.
You’re Behind (Spore Beast + Worlds Example)
When you, or anyone, is behind on the board on an opponent’s turn, frequently the best response is a 0-cost card that can negate an attack while leaving your gold available. Many decks run Fumble for this role, this deck runs Spore Beast. Spore Beast is a dramatically underrated card. The simplest use of it is to completely negate an attack without spending a gold, but unlike Fumble, your opponent is forced to deal with it or it can continue to lock down an attacker each turn. If they have targeted 0-cost removal, then you stopped an attack and decreased your hand size by 1 and decreased your opponent’s hand size by 1 as well, which is a similar net effect to Fumble‘s recycle.
Spore Beast can be better than Fumble because it negates the entirety of one champion’s attack (not just a max of 10 damage), and it can punish buffs like Lash or Rage. For example, if you chump block a Raging T-Rex with a Cave Troll and then an opponent Rages their T-Rex, before damage you can respond with Spore Beast to remove the Raged, breakthrough T-Rex and take no damage. Spore Beast can also remove your own champions from combat to protect them if your opponent ambushes in a champion or plays an unexpected combat trick.
While this is how I primarily use my Spore Beasts, the most devious trick is to remove a champion blocking your breakthrough champion. In game 3 of the final round of Worlds the turn after time was called, I had Scarros and Brachiosaurus in play while my opponent had Sea Titan and his own Brachiosaurus. Both our golds were down, but I had dealt 2 damage to his Brachiosaurus when I used Wolf’s Bite to try to dig to some burn, my opponent was at 5 health. After considering for a long time, I attack first with my Scarros; my opponent takes the bait and blocks with his untargetable Sea Titan, breaking my Scarros in the process. I then follow up by attacking with my Brachiosaurus. He blocks with his Brachiosaurus whose 12 current defense would prevent all 8 of my breakthrough offense (since breakthrough damage, unlike Magic’s trample does not care about damage on the champion). Once blockers are declared, I play my Spore Beast from hand, remove his Brachiosaurus from combat, and kill him with my Brach‘s breakthrough damage since there is no longer any defending defense. It felt great. Spore Beast, strong card.
You’re Behind (Reestablishing Plays + Deck Synergy)
The simplest way for this deck to regain control of a game on your turn is to play Kong. It breaks most champions, puts a 13/14 body in play, and is in faction, excellent. Scarros can also function similarly if your hand is full of Wild cards, and Drain Essence is the best off turn removal card in the game, even if it doesn’t leave a threat behind. (Hunting Pack is currently on my radar for other decks.) Aside from those answers, the damage synergy in this deck is truly nasty. And as I was once taught by Tom Dixon, all decks should be strong when they are ahead, but the best decks can come back from behind too. The damage synergy in this deck makes that possible, and it keeps this deck almost perpetually ahead on the board.
Having Fire Spirit, Fire Shaman, and/or Smash and Burn in play/discard amplifies the effectiveness of Pyrosaur, Draka Dragon Tyrant, Scarros Hound of Draka, and Rain of Fire dramatically. 9 times out of 10, I play Smash and Burn just to draw 2, possibly trigger an ally ability, and put it in my discard pile. The +5/+5 is rarely relevant, and it is still an incredible card. Smash and Burn can break 6 defense champions with any 1-cost Wild card trigger. A Smash and Burn triggered off of a Pyrosaur or Draka can hit one target for 10 or 9 respectively. Throw in a Fire Spirit or Fire Shaman trigger and that single target damage can reach 14, which breaks all targetable champions that see play.
Rain of Fire functions similarly, and I have used it to kill cards like Muse and T-Rex with Smash and Burn, while also dealing 5 damage to the face on multiple occasions. The damage synergy gets even more devastating with the 3 Feeding Frenzys. Any damaging ally trigger become break target champion, and any AoE damage, like from Pyrosaur or Draka, can break even the most buff champions. Wolf’s Bite is another great enabler for Feeding Frenzy.
Feeding Frenzy is great because small to mid-size champions are easily cleared off with my damage, but big guys can be a bit harder for damage alone. My other answer for big or untargetable guys is Winged Death. This card fits into my Wither Targets design goal, which makes its 3 defense less of an issue. Also, the massive amounts of incidental damage is great to keep the board clear of small champions that can be chump broken to its ability. And, this is amazing for punishing an opponent for spending their gold on your turn before you. On multiple occasions I have killed two high impact champions (like Steel Golem and Sea Titan) on the same turn. This card is even solid to play while an opponent’s gold is up. Break their only champion, and then pass. They can’t play a non-airborne ambush champion in this case because Winged Death can also attack after to force them to break that too. If they draw, you can still swing in for that 4 airborne damage. I love this card in this deck.
Mid Game Periphery Support
Guilt Demon is solid in this deck. Not only does it help you reach a critical mass of 3 or less defense champions, but it can also pick apart the most critical cards in your opponent’s discard pile. It even hits for 3 in the air with blitz. This guy helps keep the pressure on your opponent, and it can be really nasty against heavy recycle decks, like some Kark iterations. Definitely upping this to 3-of since it has performed so well. Grave Demon is taking the place of Heinous Feast to provide me with 1 mass discard banish.
Ancient Chant has been excellent to help maintain my 7-card hand size. Even without the Lesson Learned draw 4 cards trick, it still works great to play and recycle to draw 3, discard to Thought Plucker, or even recall to net +2 cards in hand for 1 gold. Great card. Wave of Transformation was thrown in as a 4th card to enable my second copy of Muse, but I’ve really liked having exactly 1 in my deck. It’s rare that this deck reaches a point where it needs to wrath, but it does occasionally happen and this is a great way to do it. Nothing survives Wave of Transformation, it deals with Soul Hunters, and I can clear up the 2/2 wolves left behind quite easily.
I’m not a huge fan of running Drain Essence in this deck, especially 3 copies. It is an incredible card, and I’m not sure what else I would want in place of it to enable the 3 Guilt Demons (probably more Grave Demons and/or Winged Death), but this deck doesn’t need off-turn removal as badly as some other decks. It is always great blowing out a greedy opponent who just tries to Draka me while my gold is up though. However, due to the prevalence of burn, and the effectiveness it has in bursting me down 1 turn before I can kill it, it appears to be a necessary Evil (see what I did there?).
Late Game (Finish with Small Burn)
Late game isn’t too much different from mid game for this deck. However, cards like Fire Shaman, Rain of Fire, Strafing Dragon, Pyrosaur, and Scarros become a lot more valuable because they can finish off an opponent without giving them a chance to respond/react.
Strafing Dragon and Scarros are particularly nice for pushing damage because your opponent can’t bounce them without getting hit by the direct damage a second time when you replay it. While Erase has been falling out of favor due to the prevalence of strong Tribute/Loyalty triggers, it still sees occasional play, as does Sea Titan.
Post Worlds Conclusion
I absolutely love playing this deck. I’ve played it against multiple decks, and it has an extremely high win-rate against some with only a few even or bad matchups. Direct burn in testing is its worst match up by far.
I lost to the Sage Kark list on foundry because I didn’t pressure as aggressively as I should have in the first game in certain moments. Then, I didn’t have enough time left in the round to win the next game let alone next 2 games. However, I might still have lost because my opponent played quite well even though he probably hadn’t seen a Wild list quite as value-based as this before. Post Worlds, I’m also adding a slight bit more discard hate as well to improve my Kark matchup. I plan on talking more about Kark in future articles.
Immediately following that Kark matchup, I played a non-conventional Kark deck with Noble Martyrs and Justice Prevails; it was really cool, and it was the most interesting constructed deck I played against during the entirety of Worlds. I did manage to beat that list 2-1, but I do want to experiment with it because it intrigued me.
Overall, this deck is great because the damage synergy can lead to some real blowouts, it is easy to get ahead with this deck/hard for opponents to come back from behind, and it runs underrated or at least underplayed cards like Spore Beast, Pyrosaur, Winged Death, and Fire Spirit. I really, really enjoy winning with undervalued/underplayed cards.