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Deck: The Larch

Discussion in 'Community Creations' started by dihydrogen, Aug 2, 2017.

  1. dihydrogen

    dihydrogen Nova

    Screen Shot 2017-08-02 at 5.49.57 PM.png

    The Name
    "The Larch" comes from this deck's namesake cards, Archon of Death and Archon of Life. It's also homage to Monty Python's Flying Circus.


    The Gist
    This deck is based on Last Breath synergies, especially Archon of Death. All the units have a last breath ability except one (Archon of Life). Generally, you win by making profitable trades, using your mana efficiently, drawing cards, and neutralizing threats until your opponent has nothing left while you have a solid grip of cards. These aspects of The Larch are typical of a grindy, value-driven control deck.

    There are no "win conditions" per se; just having a few 3-to-6-attack units in combat for a few turns in a row after removing all resistance is enough. The Larch has a low curve, too, and can win as early as turn 7, so in these ways it has elements of an Aggro-Control deck.


    Card Choices
    You might see some similar lists to this one. They may play more mainstream cards, like Devourer. I won't go into detail about what I didn't include, but I will put down a list of cards that could potentially improve the deck. Here's how I justify my choices:

    3 Sanctum Healer, Apprentice Necromancer, Hellfire Cultist, Necromancer — The core of the deck. I would not replace these with anything other than a new cheap Last Breath unit. Sanctum Healer is the weakest of the bunch, I think, but great against aggro, or any instance where surviving another turn could be crucial. Apprentice Necromancer is a great chump blocker. It lines up well against pretty much all 1-drops except Robo-Centaur with its total 4/4 stats, provides card advantage if the 1/1 body trades for a full card, and gives a lasting board presence. Again, buying another turn because the Zombie can chump block too is helpful.

    Hellfire Cultist is good against swarms, also trades well against most other 1-drops, having essentially 4 power in combat. It removes evade painlessly with its last breath. You can sometimes engineer a situation where it gives card advantage. Finally, Necromancer is a liability against aggro, but provides incredible raw card draw for its cost. If the opponent spends a card removing it, it's a 3 for 1.

    3 Archon of Death — Payoff. Through-the-roof value, and above average even with just one Last Breath in the trash. Hold onto these if you don't need them right away; wait until more Last Breaths accumulate for maximum value. It also protects the Archon if you wait to play it; the opponent might use up potential answers like purify/eradicate on less valuable units. It is especially important that Archon does more than gain life, if possible.

    1 Archon of Life — Archon of Death #4. It's more expensive and not as good from behind, but still exceedingly powerful, especially when paired with a powered-up Archon of Death. I often find myself not playing it because it would be unnecessary/overkill, especially with handsize limit, but it breaks even matches wide open in your favor. A slightly situational 1-of almost never hurts. Also, be mindful that units returned with Archon of Life do not go to the trash to buff Archon of Death as usual.

    2 Final Blow — A weaker removal spell, but very efficient. That can be helpful when you're behind on board, constrained on mana (early game), or need to kill something with evade quickly. It's set up well by smaller units, especially the first half of Apprentice Necromancer and Hellfire Cultist.

    3 Reap — If the unit you're targeting generates card advantage by dying, Reap is card advantage. Otherwise it breaks even, but importantly you have dug two cards deeper into the deck even if that happens. Reap is the best way to proc Last Breaths on command, which is good for making blockers, going out of burn range, or clearing the board without the unpredictability of or before entering combat. Of course, Reap on Necromancer—which can be difficult to pop otherwise because it can't block—is fantastic card draw.

    3 Zombify — Contender for best card in this deck, and in my opinion the best overall card in NovaBlitz. It gains tempo by letting you do two things at once, is card advantage, cheap removal, sets up Final Blow, serves as a vanilla Zombie with another removal spell when you just want the board presence, and in a pinch fills in as Reap copies 3-6 when played on your own units.

    2 Holy Bolt — A cheap, pretty good removal spell. The lifegain is rarely relevant, I find, especially since a common time to Bolt is on turn two when you're still at full health. Finishing off players from 5 health is nice; you don't have to worry about keeping any units around or removing blockers to win through combat.

    I'm considering replacing them with Finger of Death (which I don't have any of) because it can kill bigger units in the late game, and finish off players from higher health totals. However, it is not so effective on turn 2, when Bolt usually is, and it doesn't set up Final Blow like Bolt does.

    3 Purify — Catch-all that cycles. There's almost no cost to Purifying if you can spare the mana, even a vanilla unit, if you just want to dig. It's good at removing evade, and is almost like hard removal against some units with super-abilities and bad stats (e.g. Lord of Rot, Glade Defender). It is card advantage if you Purify a unit buffed by a spell. It's never bad, and playing basically a 37-card deck is very good.

    3 Murder — No questions asked removal. Always relevant, if a tad slow. A great way to control the board, and remove anything that trading/Hellfire Cultist last breaths can't reach.

    3 Secret Cache — Great card draw. 2 for 1. Spells in this deck are usually better than units, mainly because they let you draw into more units by buying time with removal or drawing more cards directly. You also have more redundancy in spells, while most unit power levels are individually quite low (in part because they're cheaper on average than spells in this deck), so Secret Cache has a high floor.

    2 Circle of Power — Unlocks new levels of efficiency. If you can find a time to play this card, despite its complete lack of immediate impact and—*gasp*—card disadvantage, the payoff is immense. Cheaper Secret Cache, Murder, Holy Bolt, and more lets this deck really go off, playing 4+ cards a turn for massive tempo swings. Circle of Power gets you more bang for your buck, a mana advantage that lets you overwhelm your opponent; combined with a steady stream of cards, Circle of Power means that The Larch often ends games with less than 15 cards left while the opponent has 20-30. It's no wonder you end up with such a striking resource advantage by the end of the game.

    That said, you can usually afford just one Circle early, the second later, and the third has basically no benefit (because almost all the spells cost 1 already), so the list only plays 2. Also, when far behind or in high-pressure situations, it's a mostly dead draw.

    2 Betrayal — A split burn spell, removal spell, card advantage machine and fog. In a worst-case scenario, Betrayal steals the opponent's best unit, staving off death for a turn or slowing their development, and is card disadvantage. If you're lucky, the unit will die in combat, making Betrayal function like removal. Even better is if the stolen unit trades, removing two cards for the price of one. And in combination with Reap, you spend two cards and four mana to destroy any enemy unit and draw two cards. Not bad. Finally, if you're ahead, Betrayal can be the final nail in the coffin to ensure a win, putting any side-chance the opponent might have had from another turn away.

    1 Judgement — Classic board clear. It is a card I find myself wanting in almost every game, but I only own one copy, I'm not sure what I'd cut to add more anyways, and for this deck, it's on the expensive side. Like any board clear, it is not as symmetrical as it seems, often killing many opposing units and few or none on your side. It is phenomenal against midrange, good against aggro, and basically another murder against control. It is very good at stabilizing, and is only useless when you're already ahead.

    Most of your units give you benefits when they die, further breaking the symmetry. Finally, if you play it while Archon of Life is in play, you will get back all of your units except the Archon, resulting in almost unfair value!


    Conclusion
    I was going to have a tips and tricks section, but I went through all the ones I could think of already. I will add to this as more synergies/updates crop up. Finally, I'm sure there are variations on this deck that could be very powerful. Here's a hopefully exhaustive list of cards that I think are promising to test. Some are a bit of a stretch, seem weak, or would require overhauls of the deck, but ever since I made a competitive deck with Soul Swap, I think that anything could be viable in NovaBlitz :p.

    Eradicate, Finger of death, Damnation + demons, Justice, Vengeance, Plague of weakness + Blind, Cull the weak, Redeemer, Grasping horror, Arcane avatar, Irkham Djinn, Korgon of the spires, Demon of pain, Angel of Retribution, Rise from the grave, Horrid cadaver, Grand magus, Lord of rot, Zombie plague, Eye fiend, Corpsecrafter, Devourer, Unceasing golem, Deja vu, Demonic contract, Twist of fate, more copies of Judgement, Betrayal, Archon of life.
     

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