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Eirias

How to Build a (PvP) Deck [Guide]

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How to Build a (PvP) Deck

A Battleforge Guide by Eirias

 

Last update: 6/3/16

 

This guide is primarily for players new to Player vs Player (PvP) matches. Perhaps an experienced player could gain some information playing an unfamiliar faction, although I would assume he knows the basics already. I will attempt to explain the reasons behind why certain cards are included and why certain cards are not included. In addition, I will provide examples from my own deck illustrating my rise from noobdom to pro (perhaps that was an exaggeration. I was roughly in the top 30 at my best and my PvP rank was usually around Hero. I could complain about my handicaps, but that is neither here nor there).

 

I am totally new to this game. Should I start PvP or will I get stomped and ragequit?

Most people will advise you to start PvE (these are the storyline maps, or the random maps that generate enemies). I will do no such thing! Although people love this game for a myriad of reasons, I think it’s the PvP aspect that is the best.

 

Yes, you will get stomped immediately. I’d recommend reading Circadia’s guide before you start, as that is the most prominent one up at the time of writing. Of course, if I write my own, I’ll direct you there instead. J

 

If you don’t know any of the following terms, go read a guide explaining basic gameplay: orb, well, void pool, unit size, unit counters, power pool, bound power, siege, PPD (permanent power disadvantage), t1, t2, t3, BFP, cc. Elendil and Kaldra wrote a pretty good one explaining the basic mechanics of Battleforge.

 

Now answer the following question: What wins matches? If your answer is “skill,” keep reading. If you think cards win matches, correct your misconception and read this anyway. Cards do not win matches—they are the medium from which matches are won, but they don’t do it themselves. Many players hold that one can make Legend with only the tutorial deck. I think that’s hogwash, but you can certainly get somewhere between destroyer and annihilator (14 and 20) with it.

 

Also, you will almost definitely get stomped your first few matches. I shall do my best to prevent that, but if you have a tendency to ragequit, start in the sparring grounds or start with PvE.

 

Why do you keep mentioning these really technical aspects of cards like I’m not a beginner who has no idea what half the cards are?

Simply put, I’m lazy and this guide is long enough. I’m doing my best to be beginner-friendly and I’m barely using any abbreviations (and when I do, I make sure they’re clear), but this is a guide to explain the usefulness and synergy of each card in a particular deck, not an explanation of the card itself. I’d highly recommend using this site as your companion: http://allcards.bfreborn.com/.

 

If you don’t know a card, look it up there. This is much better than having to sit through another 50 pages of me explaining that a particular card cost 70 power and requires 1 nature and 1 neutral orb and has swift and can do an acid spit that attacks walls. Just look it up. If there’s still something that’s not clear, comment on it and I’ll add a clarification note on the guide.

 

I’m playing with the F2P deck (starter cards) and Nomads/Frost mage/ Firesworn/other lame card is an insta-win. If I save up to get that card, will I make it to the top 20?

Not a chance. You will jump a bunch of ranks, but then you will get shut down. When I was a noob I always got stomped by nomads (get it J). Nomads were the first card I bought when I had money. I just rushed everyone and won a bunch of games. Then I was paired with someone half-decent (maybe rank 11 or so) and I got shut down hard. I’ll discuss lamer counters later in the guide.

 

Suffice it to say for now that no cards are broken, especially in t1. T1 is very well balanced. As long as you do the balancing yourself. So sit tight and pay careful attention to my section on t1.

 

I have no BFP. Does that mean your advice doesn’t apply to me?

Actually, no. My advice should be especially helpful to you. Unlike other guides, I won’t just hand you a grocery list of cards you need (I’ll actually do my best to avoid that). I’ll be illustrating guiding principles. Obviously some techniques will be better than others, and better techniques usually arise from better cards, but most decks work just fine with about 15 “free” cards.

 

I’m also a particularly good person to be writing a guide for those with little BFP, because I was completely P4F in the old game. I got no handouts from other players and spent no money in the game. In BFReborn, there will never be another player as destitute as I was. However, I can imagine that many of you will not have earned enough BFP for a list of “ideal” cards yet, so I’ll provide what advice I can so you can keep playing until you can come back and revise your deck with the more expensive, optimal options.

 

So I heard that nobody plays t4 in PvP. T4 is awesome and I’m going to play it anyway!

Power to you! Just please don’t rage when you lose. I’m all for people ignoring my advice and doing whatever the really want to do! I’m not here to force you to do anything, only to offer my advice and experience so you can accelerate your learning process. Not using t4 is probably something you would have figured out at some point (even I figured that one out on my own), because it’s really, really obvious when it comes down to it.

 

T4 requires 300 power, and a waiting period. Do you have any idea how fast I can murder someone with 300 power laying around in t3? Your monument that’s about to get built won’t stand a chance if we’re even, and if you’re winning so much that you can safely go t4, why don’t you just finish the game already? Even worse, that 300 power is not eco-friendly. It’s bound, which means it doesn’t get recycled. If it drops that’s a huge chunk of power gone, although it’s still permanently gone even if it doesn’t drop. Additionally, many maps don’t have enough orbs to allow you to t4 safely. Spending 300 power just invites such a massive counterattack that you have no hope of defending it—even if you bring Amii Ritual. And somehow have the power to play it. In fact, you’ll probably lose merely because you’re holding on to 300 power in your pool. Imagine you are building up power for t4 and I cast 2 soulshatters, or a sandstorm, or I just summon a Grigori and nasty it. If that doesn’t kill you (which it totally will, but maybe I was being dumb), I will still get more power than you. That sudden loss of 300 power will bring back somewhere between 100 and 200 by the time your monument gets up. Even then, I’ll be getting power faster than you because my void will have 300 power more than yours.

 

So if you think you have what it takes to play t4 in PvP, go for it. Just don’t hold me responsible for sending you out into the world uneducated.

 

About now I scrolled down to see when the actual guide starts. Then I realized this thing is borderline superlatively HUGE! What’s up with this?

Fear not! An actual guide does exist in here, I’m just trying to get the preliminary questions that I anticipate noobs asking out of the way. This guide is so long because I am trying to be thorough and show you guys how to build a deck. I want to give you tools to do it yourself so you can custom-make your own decks and be original. Please don’t take anything I say as absolute law (although you will probably come around eventually, if you disagree with me). I also include a lot of personal comments and stories, because I’d like you guys to learn from my mistakes. I also feel they illustrate points better.

 

If you don’t have time to read this whole thing, here is what I suggest: Take a look at my section on the metagame and figure out which deck fits your play style. Read my fire-nature section for an in-depth analysis of how to build a deck from scratch, then go to the section you want to actually play. You will learn more about all the decks—and especially get a better idea of what to expect when you play against them—if you read the entire thing, but I understand that is too large of a time commitment for some people.

 

Do you have any biases?

Absolutely! Due to only being a P4F player, I only played one deck seriously: Fire-Nature. That said, I did have some other “fun” decks that I messed around in the sparring grounds. I played t1 fire almost exclusively, although I also tried my hand at frost. I never bothered to acquire the necessary t1 for nature or shadow, although I’ve played with lots of players who had. So my comments regarding other factions will be from my perspective as a fire-nature player.

 

I also played 2v2 extensively with several very good shadow-frost players, so all together I have strong personal experience with all of the factions. That said, if any other veterans want to chime in with advice or things I missed in this guide, I’ll happily add them in and credit you.

 

Now, on to the meat of the guide.

 

How does the metagame work?

·       Pure Fire

o   Your biggest advantage is fire dancers. You are the most aggressive faction, and your primary goal is to set up fire dancer camps; even better if you can do so from behind a wall or cliff. Your strategy is very simple and one dimensional, but highly effective. Rally banner to fire dancers. Enforcers and skyfire drake to defend the dancers. This faction is the most map-dependent faction. Additionally pure fire has an excellent t3 in juggernaut, which is probably the best t3 unit in the game. You will typically struggle more in t2 than t1 or t3 because of your inability to defend: you have no heals, repairs, or cc’s. You live by the adage that the best defense is a good offense, but that is the extent of your defense. If your attack fails, it is often not recoverable. Pure fire is notably bad at preventing its opponent from converting temporary advantages into permanent ones—although it is quite good at the conversion itself. Fire is often fun to play because of its simplicity and sheer power, but many players feel the “cliffdancing” is lame and avoid pure fire because of it. Pure fire has very good matchups against pure nature and pure shadow, but very poor matchups against pure frost and stonekin.

·       Fire-Nature

o   Your biggest advantage is the synergy of fire spells and nature spells. Another quite popular deck, fire-nature is known for its hard hitters. This deck has slightly worse offense than pure fire, but better defense. This deck is the best at “brute force” attacks. With enough power, you can spam heals and cc tank through to the well. A massed fire-nature army is particularly dangerous, although it only occurs rarely because of how much power the units cost. Cc can be used for defense as well as offense, and while most player prefer to use it offensively, you need to be careful about expending too much power in an attack. It is often possible to spend an immense amount of power to guarantee a well drops, but the backlash from the defending army will often overwhelm you completely. This deck is fairly good at preventing temporary advantages from converting to permanent ones through judicious use of cc and mortar camping. This deck is too volatile to try accumulating small advantages—just rush. Defending requires a good deal of proactivity, and the most successful defense is usually to counterattack instead of defending. This deck is probably the best deck to have a lot of power at t2, but it is one of the worst to have lots of power at t3. Since the nerf of sun reaver, fire-nature has easily the worst t3 of any faction. Because of the nature of fire-nature t3, it’s often impossible to prevent an orb from dropping in t3. For this reason, it is highly recommended to play the t3 orb the same color as your starting orb. Often the best outcome of a t3 fight is for both of you to lose your orb—if your t3 and t1 are the same color, you will only drop to t2 when this happens, instead of t0. This deck has perfected the strategy of attacking multiple places at once, but is ironically highly susceptible to the same tactic: with equal power, fire nature can defend any t2 attack in one place, but it often requires just a little more power to defend than the attacker needs to attack. The deficit piles up very quickly when many small attacks are initiated. Fire nature is especially good for you if you like long, creative, perilous t2 battles. There are no t2 matchups that are particularly terrible for fire-nature, but the drawback is that it has no particular advantages over any other faction. Stonekin, and fire-frost will probably give you the most trouble, especially stonekin.

·       Fire-Shadow

o   You are aggressive and depend on buffs. You’re particularly good at turning an insignificant threat into a serious one. Cc’s are the bane of your existence, but you also possess the tools to strike in many areas at once, mitigating the effect of cc. You can just as easily spam 4 nightcrawlers to 4 different bases buffed 4 different ways as you can put all your energy into one attack with a rallying banner and darkelf assasins, nightcrawlers, rageclaws, or shadow phoenixes. Matches tend to be one-sided: either you dominate, or you get dominated. T1 control is often critical to play a good bandits deck. Your t3 is one of the best, with nigh unstoppable options such as giant slayers, ashbone pyros, sandstorm, soulhunter, and cultist master. Having lots of power in t3 benefits you more than almost any faction. Most players consider bandits to be the weakest faction, but you ignore the opinions of the unenlightened because they don’t understand the meaning of “style.”

·       Fire-Frost

o   You are the deck of contradictions. You have the high attack of fire combined with the defense of frost. You abuse ice shields even more than pure frost, because your normally squishy fire units can do absurd damage when they’re not worried about dying. You are the deck of building shenanigans—if anyone is going to pull some mischief with termite hill, it will be you, with your building repairs, cc, and warden sigil. There are quite a lot of interesting building combos at your disposal, but most are just too impractical. Nonetheless, you consider yourself to be the most creative faction, testing ideas that everyone else has written off. You need to be attentive and demonstrate excellent micro to play this deck. Additionally, your t3 is not the strongest because you must pick between giant slayers and tremors. Fire-frost has no particularly good or weak matchups, and is a good deck for preventing random losses. It is probably the most difficult deck to master, as well as being extremely expensive—mountaineer is fairly essential for fire-frost. @Hirrooo disagrees with me here; he states that fire-frost can get almost as much mileage out of rageclaws and that fire-frost is quite viable on a budget. He’s better than me, so you should believe himJ. @YaBro0 mentions that this deck can be played very creatively, or not at all (mountaineer and stormsinger spam).

·       Pure Shadow

o   Oh, the combos! You love being needlessly complicated. You have an interesting dichotomy—on one hand you have sheer shadow mage aggression; on the other, you have the tactic of building up power for a harvester. You can choose to take the initiative with cheap units, or you can play passively, conserving power for a harvester. This deck is very good at punishing mistakes, and if you like slowly accruing a power advantage, the harvester allows an easily convertible reward for having all that power. This is the ultimate risk/reward deck, and has many options for combos based on corpse collecting. Your t3 is phenomenal, especially if you go frost t3. Pure shadow is very strong against non-frost splashes, but struggles against frost splashes and pure fire.

·       Shadow-Frost

o   You want to win at any cost. Let them call you a lamer! At the end of the day you’ll have the higher ELO. This deck is notorious for its laming ability, but it’s a strong deck even when played like a gentleman. Frost and shadow combo well together, with the high health of frost boosting sacrificial damage from shadow. You have all the bases covered with cc and building repairs. Lost souls has the largest variety of viable t2 units—there are so many good options, it’s hard to choose! You have one of the best t3, and it’s definitely possible to get away with a light t2 to carry a large t3 army. This is the deck that can spare slots for curse well or church of negation. This deck is the best for camping t3, but you can just as viably go aggressive t2 instead of saving those spots for the long t3. Lost souls has the best average matchups of any deck. It has a slight edge against many decks, and a large edge over a few. Stonekin or pure nature is probably its hardest matchup, but this deck has so many strong options that you can easily change it to accommodate if you have trouble against a particular deck. Pure fire is also pretty good against shadow-frost (one of the reasons many top players played pure fire).

·       Shadow-Nature

o   This deck is all about those M units. Burrower and nightcrawler are your right and left hands. You are the evil twin to fire-nature, lagging slightly in defense but making up for it in offense. You must rely on a multitude of units because you have no strong solo unit. You excel at keeping your units alive during an attack because of your buffs, heals, and cc. You are great at getting a unit advantage and then keeping it. This is one of the most balanced decks. Stonekin is your worst nightmare because your 2 main attack units (nightcrawler and burrower) get countered by stoneshards and knockback, while hurricane takes out your darkelf assassins. Pure fire will also give you a lot of trouble because you lean heavily on burrowers and nightcrawlers, which are both M units that die to enforcers. You also don’t have building defense. @Hirrooo considers shadow-nature to be the strongest against frost because ghostspears and nightguard are difficult for the frost player to deal with.

·       Pure Frost

o   Your biggest advantage is war eagle. Arguably the best t2 unit in the game, your entire strategy hinges on it. This deck epitomizes the “one-hit wonder.” Your goal is to keep your war eagles alive and support it while it kills everything else. The deck is very defensive, but doesn’t launch quick attacks very well. While the war eagle can solo, especially against t1, it moves slowly. You can defend one attack very well because war eagle kills everything and your building repairs take care of the rest, but multiple attacks are hard to fend off because of the cost of war eagle. Often the pure frost battles are determined by who controls the sky. As such you have very good matchups against pure fire and very poor ones against pure nature. Overall it’s a fairly balanced deck with no outstanding weaknesses.

·       Frost-Nature

o   This deck is all about standing army control. Attacks are slow, but you definitely have the option to do some t2 rushing with burrowers. They probably won’t succeed because you don’t have offensive spells to assist, but you definitely have the means to add pressure. In general though, you will win by passively accumulating a standing army and then strangling your opponent to death. You have both heals and building repairs, your units take less damage, and many of your units are knockback based. These factors combine to make you the ultimate survivor. Add in the fact that you have OP S/M beast counters and razorshards, and it’s easy to see why nobody likes to play against this deck. Many feel that it takes the fun out of Battleforge because of how long stonekin matches take. Andre Philidor revolutionized chess to show that slow, positional play beats fast-paced tactical aggression, and stonekin player seek to do the same in Battleforge. As far as I’m aware, this deck has no bad matchups (although it does have some unfavorable ones that depend on individual decks—for instance, some players pack mauler explicitly for stonekin matchups), and it does have some very good ones against pure fire, pure shadow, and bandits. Pure nature is probably stonekin’s hardest matchup.

·       Pure Nature

o   This deck is all about power manipulation. You have energy parasites and shrine of memory. Deep ones are also quite powerful, but the truth is that you just use them as a distraction to set up your power manipulation. You have Deep Ones and Burrowers to go strong on the offensive, but with no attack spells you are unlikely to make a successful offensive without a power advantage. Your parasite swarms are also a tad overpowered, but they’re difficult to use because they cost a lot (this is a theme with pure nature). Pure nature is unique in that it can be played in two completely different ways—it’s almost as if root decks are a separate faction. Root decks rely on cards comboing with a root nexus to build a large standing army and maintain it. This style of playing is most similar to stonekin. Pure nature has a particularly easy time against pure frost because of energy parasite, but a very hard time against pure fire because of its lack of building repairs or unit damaging options.

 

 

What do I need for t1?

The t1 metagame is pretty advanced, but it’s very balanced. Note that it’s only balanced when the optimal cards are employed. If you need a cheap deck, shadow and frost have the cheapest t1. (For those interested, shadow used to be crazy expensive because dreadcharger was very pricy. Then witchclaws were introduced as a common and now shadow t1 can theoretically be played with only commons).

 

For every t1, you need a SWIFT unit to get as much map control as possible. Note that frost has no swift units in t1—it compensates for this with just being generally OP J.

 

You also need a RANGED unit. Kiting is important, and ranged units spam easier than melee units because melee units sometimes get in each other’s way. Ranged units can also be spread out to minimize the danger of an eruption or nasty surprise.

 

Additionally, you must use each faction’s core spell. That would be surge of light, eruption, glacier shell, and nasty surprise. These are the most important four cards in the game. The entire metagame is based off of them.

 

Furthermore, you must have S and M counters, and units which are not countered by S or M counters.

 

Fire t1:

Your essential cards are: Eruption, Scavenger, and Sun Strider. For fun, I’ve played matches only carrying those 3 cards. It’s really not optimal, however, and it forces t2 rushing (which is a terrible habit). With one notable exception, all the pros I am aware of play an extended t1. They try to build a t1 power advantage, and it’s simply not possible to do so with only these cards. Nonetheless, if you play defensively and concede to a map-control disadvantage, you can play with only this. Note that sometimes you will lose to a t1 rush that you just can’t handle. I’m looking at you, MA spam with homesoil and wintertide.

 

The next most important card is Thugs. It’s really hard to fight shadow forsaken spam without thugs. Following these, the usefulness of t1 cards are as follows: Firesworn = Mortar > Sunderer > Mine > Scorched Earth > Wrecker > Nomad. Please don’t use nomads. See below for why. As a general rule of thumb, take the cards in this order. Decide which cards you want in t2 and figure out how much space you need. Allot your t1 cards according to your empty deck slots. For instance, in my most successful deck, I had five spots for t1. I brought eruption, scavenger, sun strider, thugs, and mortar. I think mortar is more essential than firesworn, but I think most players disagree with me. Regardless, I played without firesworn for most of my matches, and I never used sunderer except in some 2v2s and 1v1s when I messed around with pure fire.

 

Commentary on the pros and cons of each card:

Eruption: This card. It does 300 damage (U3—assume everything I say is U3) to 3 targets, including air. This card is a primary anti-air defense, as well as generator nuke. If a nature player has an expensive unit <300 health, instantly erupt it. If a frost player has a well <300 health, instantly erupt it. If there are multiple units clumped together, erupt them and finish off with sunstriders.

 

Scavenger: This is a great swift card. It’s cheap, a great S counter, and has crippling bite. Scavengers work great with sunstriders because between the two, you have both S and M counters, and you can slow enemies with the scav and kite with sunstriders.

 

Sunstriders: Not a particularly great t1 ranged unit, but ranged units are essential, and the sunstriders have to be weak because scavenger pairs so well with ranged attack. Despite their low health, they have great attack. If you face a Fire Drake with ravage, make two sunstriders and erupt the drake as soon as it’s HP <300. Other factions have a much harder time defending Fire Drakes in t1.

 

Thugs are a terrific card. They are S/S, so forsaken don’t eat them—this tends to be a problem with scavengers: although scavenger are M/S and forsaken are S/M, the forsaken are cheaper, have longer range, and can frenzy or motivate. Spamming scavengers and spamming forsaken will lead to an easy shadow win. If you don’t have thugs, forsaken spams are very hard to deal with. They also help vs windweavers, but the real reason you need them in your deck is to combat forsaken. Thugs also have a looter ability, which gives you power for attacking units (proportional to the unit’s power, I believe). I don’t really know how it works, but sometimes I send thugs out against grigoris or juggernauts just in case.

 

Firesworn have multiple uses. They knock back small units, which really helps against frost Master Archer and windweaver spam. Unfortunately they cost a lot and have low health, so I generally don’t recommend their use for knockback. They die very quickly to frostbite, and a roots with well-placed windweavers can kill Firesworn without them getting a shot off. If you use them versus forsaken, you need to be able to make one for every forsaken, which is quite difficult. It has more use if you can make it so your firesworn is not dazed while the forsaken are, which makes them good for defending forsaken spams at wells as long as the forsaken have not been pre-summoned. Of course, if you see your opponent making 3-4 forsaken at once, that’s a good cue to make a mortar tower. Generally the red affinity is better. Some prefer the blue (especially fire-nature, to knock back a large unit and root it), but most like red better.

 

Mortar Tower has saved me so many times. It works well in my deck, because I play a defensive t1 with the goal of saving card spots. It’s also useful for punishing laziness. Some maps have areas with wells that really shouldn’t be taken because of mortar tower pressure, but if your opponent takes them anyway, punish. The #1 reason I play this card is to stop frost rushes. I also like welling up more than my opponent, and when he builds a bunch of units to rush me, I build a mortar. The relatively quick build time on this card also helps saves. I even use it in t3 (!) to defend against things like juggernauts. I have a few more secrets with my precious mortar, but I won’t share them because as far as I know, I’m the only one who does this.

 

Sunderer: The only t1 L unit, this card really helps against shadow. Against nature’s amazons or roots + windweaver it’s pretty pointless, and the combination of lightblade and glacier shell makes it practically useless against frost. Fire can generally deal with sunderers easily through eruptions and scavenger bites with kiting sunstriders, or a simple firesworn. It’s still more useful against fire than frost or nature, however. Shadow struggles the most with Sunderers because of its lack of t1 L counters. Simply put, nightguard does very little damage, and the shadow player has usually lost the well by the time nightguard’s swapping ability is ready. For this reason, many shadow players don’t even carry nightguard. For shadow to defend a sunderer, it must usually nasty a dreadcharger while the sunderer is dazed. Alternatively, you can walk the dreadcharger into the sunderer to slow it and kite with frenzied forsaken. In general, the shadow response to a sunderer is to let it get the well down, kill it, and then launch a responding offensive with all the defending units.

 

Mine: Honestly, I think this has more use in t2. The mine does such a ridiculous amount of damage that it basically one-shots anything in t1. The downside is that the opponent must walk into it, and it has a smallish blast range. It’s basically a shot from a mortar tower except you don’t need to wait for the tower to build. It combos nicely with fire-nature’s hurricane or ensnaring roots, and it can be a semi-useful cc (crowd control) for pure fire or bandits.

 

Scorched Earth: It has its uses. I saw it used quite effectively in a match between SchokoPeace and xAragornx linked here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XcFRUgSda7A. Nonetheless, it is a nicety and is useful only situationally. Pure fire is pretty much the only deck that can spend a slot on this card. If you use this, make sure to use the red affinity.

 

Wreckers: I have a deep love for wreckers. They were my go-to unit as a noob. They’re great cards. But they’re not that useful. Not with fire. The thing is just that melee non-swift units are very vulnerable, and wreckers have it even worse because of their low health. They can be quite useful vs frost mages and dryads, but roots or ice guardians usually beats them. Their rally skill is useful, especially for surprise sunderers, but they’re hardly worth the deck slot. I used to carry them instead of thugs to deal with frost rushes, but I learned to just get better at using mortar and scavenger micro.

 

Nomads: The green ones are better, and these cards are notorious for noob-stomping. I remember when I was new, all I wanted was a nomad (or frost mage) because they are great against small units. Right? Wrong. Nomads are M/M units, same as wreckers, and have the same utility. Except worse. Nomads reward spamming the same unit, but spamming is punished harder than Nomads reward it. Eruption takes out a group of Nomads because they are grouped. 6 sunstriders can be made with the same power as 4 nomads (which is pretty much the minimum number needed to rush), and the nomads will drop to 2 sunstriders. Additionally, you can erupt every spawned nomad because they cost the same as an eruption, and the eruption will also hurt the nearby units. If I see someone make a bunch of nomads, I just take a well with the knowledge that my defense will be very easy. Nature can simply root all the nomads and shoot them with windweavers. Shadow can nasty surprise, or just spam forsaken back (forsaken win). Frost probably has the hardest time, but ice guardians are good against them, as well as lightblade and frostbite. Remember that as soon as the number of nomads drops below three, they lose their buff. The switch from nomads to scavenger is the best decision you can make in a fire deck. Two days after I did that, I jumped several rankings (something like 10). Nomads are just not very good as swift units. They cost too much, and they are M/M so they are useless with sunstriders (If fire had Master Archers instead of sunstriders, nomads would be much more useful. But that’s not the case).

 

Makeshift Tower: This can be useful for noobs against noobs, but it’s not useful otherwise. It helps against windweaver or master archer spam, but the tower really isn’t worth the deck slot. Although the tower does great knockback, it does very little damage. Basically thugs and scavengers are better at doing damage to small units than makeshift tower is at knocking them back. If you need the knockback super badly, there is always firesworn, which has utility elsewhere as well.

 

Banner of Glory: I never see this played, but it does have its uses. I once won a bunch of tome matches with this card, but that’s because neither player had the optimal t1. It’s about as useful as makeshift tower.

 

Strikers: Nope. They have the same issue as nomads, but they’re even worse. I have nothing more to say except a warning not to bring them.

 

Suppression, Blaster Cannon, and Other Nonsense: Completely useless. There are no other fire t1 cards even worth considering.

 

Additional thoughts: The order I listed above is actually pretty strict, comparatively. Fire cards don’t have a ton of redundancy or options. Pretty much each card is better than all the cards listed after it. However, there are cases when it is better to bring one card over another. For instance, fire-nature players may take mine instead of firesworn, sunderer, or mortar tower because the card combos really well with roots in t2. You’re more likely to see mortar tower in a fire-nature deck than a fire-shadow deck for the same reason.

 

In theory, you could take all of these cards with you (except nomad, please) and have basically no t2 or t3. I have seen good players take that route—they straight up rush t1 every time. Of course, if your t1 rush fails you don’t stand a chance, so I don’t think these players ever made it into the top 20 this way.

 

Despite my animosity towards nomads, if you ABSOLUTELY cannot afford a scavenger, there are ways to make it work. See one of my noob decks below for an example, but you need thugs 100% (and probably makeshift tower) if you don’t take scavenger. And your best bet is to avoid t1 confrontation as much as possible.

 

@SunWu II commented that he’d rather leave out eruption than sunderer or firesworn.

If he has a full t1 I can see where he is coming from. Eruption is sort of the jack-of-all trades; it does a lot of things pretty well (like helping against L counters, knocking back small units, or helping drop a well). If you can do all the other things without eruption, then perhaps I wouldn’t list it as completely essential. But if you’re trying to skimp on t1 slots, eruption is the most versatile for replacing the other options (mortar as well). Eruption also punishes beginner mistakes. It’s not that essential when playing high-ranked players because they rarely allow great eruptions, but it can end games very quickly against noobs. Like my target audience.

 

@Dexirian commented that he played without thugs all the time. I suspect he used firesworn and sunderer though, and would respond to forsaken with a sunderer rush to drop a well.

 

@Hirooo, in response to Dexirian, said, “Thugs give a huge edge vs fire and are even stronger against shadow since both were pretty much 1 swift s counter + s unit m counter spam. Also made welldefense way easier and enabled you to take one well up earlier than without.
Not a must have no but I would strongly advise using them at least in every firesplash that isnt fire/nature since that one stretches the cardlimit a bit harder.”

 

All of these are respectable players (otherwise I wouldn’t be quoting them), but Hirooo is especially high ranked. Take what you will from the discussion.

 

Shadow t1:

I can’t speak for lower level play, but this faction is the most-played t1 in the upper ranks. FarRock once claimed that 60% of top players played it—I’m pretty sure he just made that number up, but it seems about right. This might also be due to the prominence of shad-frost players, which I’d estimate to make up about 2/5 to 3/5 of the top 200 players (like FarRock, I’m making this up). Shadow t1 rewards good micro, while at the same time it’s a relatively easy faction to play well, even if your micro isn’t that good. You can play with a variety of t1 luxuries, most notably: lifeweaving > motivate > phase tower. @YaBro0 notes that lifeweaving is essential for bandits or pure shadow, while motivate is essential for shadow nature.

 

Your essential cards are Dreadcharger/Witchclaws, Forsaken, Nasty Surprise, and Nox Trooper. I suppose in theory you could get by without nox trooper, but I really don’t recommend it. Lifeweaving and Motivate are also a staple in most decks, but you can manage without them. In general, the only other unit you should consider t1 is Nightguard.

 

Dreadcharger: The most common t1 starting card. It has a smidgen less health than witchclaws, but it has a better ability, tramples small units, and cost 5 less power.

 

Witchclaws: Playable as your 1st unit, but the general consensus is that dreadcharger is better. The reason to take witchclaws over dreadcharger is that it has more health for a better nasty (witchclaws can kill a skyfire drake, but dreadcharger can’t), but it’s not that much of a difference. Witchclaws are much cheaper by rarity, and TBPeti feels they are an acceptable substitute if you can’t afford dreadchargers. @Hiroo feels witchclaws are a “really bad idea” if you can afford the dreadcharger. Windweavers can do double damage to them, their attack halves when one dies (squad probs), they have a longer spawn animation and they cost 5 more power. In return, they get a mere 30 hp bonus and a terrible ability. @YaBro0 said that witchclaws are better in shadow mirrors because when they nasty, they exactly kill a full health squad of forsaken.

 

Nightguard: Although I’ve seen some people play this as their starter unit, I don’t recommend it. They are very weak, and you’ll almost definitely lose a t1 fight without witchclaws or dreadcharger. And if you have those, why would you start with nightguard? Nightguard does have use against L units though. The swap is very nice, but not so useful in t1 because sunderer is the only card worth swapping, and the nightguard’s ability has a large cooldown. Your well will probably be gone if you’re waiting to swap. This card is much more useful in t2 against cards like Deep One, Lost Reaver, War eagle, etc. The choice of affinities is personal preference—swift helps you catch the unit you want to swap with, but it also helps your swapped nightguard get away. I’d recommend the green affinity, but TBPeti preferred the blue in his shadow-nature deck—he would cc the unit he wanted to swap with, and then catch the normal speed nightguard.

 

Forsaken: These guys are amazing, and a necessary addition to every shadow deck. Their frenzy does great damage, and forsaken spams are reliable ways of dropping wells against fire. They have a harder time against frost and nature because of S knockback, but if you drop a well in t1 it will be by spamming these guys or nox troopers.

 

Nox Trooper: I would consider these to be essential for t1. When playing against nature, you will probably need to spam these. (@TBPeti feels spamming isn’t the best idea because S units have better stats, but they’re still needed in judicious quantities.) Nox helps against hit-and-run tactics. They are essential to stay t1 against things like burrower rush. You’ll also need them to take out frost mages so your forsaken can do work.

 

Nasty Surprise: An absolute must. Many of the shadow threats hinge upon a well-placed nasty. Although it is definitely the least used core spell (eruption, surge of light, glacier shell, and nasty), it is completely necessary for t1.

 

Lifeweaving: I thought this card was essential for shadow, but @Hirooo reminded me that its usefulness actually increases as tiers increase. It’s often not used much in t1, but becomes more prominent in t2. As such, if you don’t plan to use it much in t2, it’s often a wasted deck slot for t1. It’s almost always bad to use lifeweaving in t1. The only exceptions I can think of are when a well is about to drop or you need to maintain ground presence.

 

Motivate: This, nightguard, lifeweaving, and phase towers are the four cards that change between shadow players. Almost everyone uses dreadcharger, forsaken, nasty, and nox; these 4 cards switch around, and it’s very rare to see anything else. Most players value motivate more than phase tower, and phase tower more than nightguard. Lifeweaving is different; you’ll do best to treat it like a t2 card when deciding whether to bring it.

 

Phase Tower: This leads to very campy t1 fights, and there are some places where it gets quite lame (certain cliffing maps, for instance). It’s especially strong against nature and frost. Fire tends to do better against it because of eruption. If you struggle against frost or nature t1, this is a good addition to your deck.

 

Skeleton Warriors: I, like most people, thought these guys were trash, but Matos once used them against me when he was ranked #2. They’re basically forsaken, except worse because they don’t have range. On the plus side, they’re super hard to kill with their ability and have great health for nasty surprise, so they can be good at getting wells down, especially against fire. @TBPeti and @RadicalX feel these are the most underrated t1 cards. They can tank 1650 damage over 30 seconds with their ability—TBPeti attributed making it into the top 5 to his use of them. With their ability, they even beat wrathblades. TBPeti suggests using them instead of phase tower.

 

Wrathblades: These can be an answer to fire’s thugs, and can help you in shadow matchups. However, S units are notoriously weak against frost and nature. I don’t recommend them. However, there was player in the top 20 who used them once upon a time, so they’re not useless.

 

Executor: This is shadow’s equivalent of a wrecker, except it doesn’t even have the rally. Don’t bother with him. If you know you’re going to play someone with a frost t1, they add some nice aggressive options (credit @Hirooo) but they are useless otherwise.

 

Decomposer: This can have some use, but not in any sort of classical t1 fight. Don’t bother with it.

 

Embalmer’s Shrine: This has more uses than the decomposer. It works well with some pure shadow techniques, but doesn’t combo well with anything t1 except soul splicer. Rumor has it there’s an interesting combo with this card, soul splicer, and furnace of flesh, but I wouldn’t trust everything you hear. . . .

 

Soul Splicer: The green is much better. It heals quite a bit, and can make a good offensive post to attack from. It’s rare that your opponent lets you get one of these up away from a well though. A more common technique is to pull it up near your well when you and your opponent have wells in close proximity. Then you can attack and constantly pull back for the building’s healing. It’s still an unusual card, although most pure shadow players use it (OP with shadow mages).

 

Snapjaws: I’ve seen good players take these. They’re interesting, and much more useful in higher tiers. The problem is that they’re expensive, and do little to nothing in t1. @Hirooo said they have some use in defending sunderer in high power t1 fights. @TBPeti feels the damage-decreasing ones can have some use against L/XL units, but the defense-decreasing ones are just a worse frostbite. Neither affinity is worth the power or deck slot, however.

 

Offering: It’s rare to lose all of your charges in PvP. This card is not worth wasting a slot on for the rare occurrence. If you have low upgrades, however, this might be useful. Still, it seems like a lot of power to get your charges back.

 

Lifestealer: Don’t bother. If you want a building, take phase tower.

 

Shadow is one of the most common t1s for a reason: it’s good. It’s also easy to play, and doesn’t require a ton of cards. Taking less than 5 cards for t1 is possible with every faction (except frost), but you will really have to avoid t1 encounters away from wells. Shadow can go light and still be fully competitive without phase tower or lifeweaving (motivate is pretty essential if you want to go toe-to-toe with fire or nature, however). The three optional cards are luxuries that give you more options, but good micro can get you through without them.

 

Nature t1:

Arguably, this is the “best” t1, although it requires insane micro and a lot of cards. It’s the most efficient faction at high power levels, but it becomes quite difficult to play when you’re desperate for power. I’d generally recommend starting t1 fire or shadow if you’re using those splashes, because you’ll probably save deck space that way. Alternatively, you can join the minimalist movement pioneered by xAragornx.

 

Nature has a lot more options than other decks: there is no unit that you can’t play without. I won’t go into too much detail but rather list the pros and cons of each card. You’ll need a swift unit, a ranged unit, and a medium unit that can stand against hurricane or frost mages. If you really wanted to, you can accomplish that with just 2 units: treespirit and amazon.

 

Your spells are not optional. You must have surge of light and ensnaring roots. I’ve heard of decks that neglected hurricane, but that’s like neglecting thugs for fire. Theoretically possible, but you should really keep it in.

 

Since I can’t really list nature cards by order of usefulness like I can fire, I’ll just give an overview of each card and let you decide what you need.

 

Dyrad: The blue affinity is much better than the green. The primary use of this card is doing damage prevention against eruptions. If this card is not in your deck, you cannot get in an aggressive t1 fight with fire, except in certain specific situations. The dryad is nice because it also puts units to sleep, but my suggestion is not even to bother with the green affinity if you don’t have the blue. Some players have commented that they bring both affinities for fun, because the green has certain highly situational uses in t2.

 

Shaman: Very useful, but not as much as the dryad. I’ve seen good players that prefer not to take him, but he’s a mainstay in an extended t1 fight. If he’s not dazed, he can be very annoying to deal with.

 

Amazon: A swift unit. Blue affinity is better. She is better than a swiftclaw alone, but if you have a large army, the swiftclaw is more useful. She’s a great counter to sunderer, and as a fire player, I like to see swiftclaws more than amazons. Actually, the t1 swift unit that strikes the most fear into my heart is werebeast. Amazons are annoying to deal with as fire because you can’t spam sun striders against her, otherwise your scavenger will kill them. I think the other factions have an easier time with amazon than swiftclaw, however.

 

Swiftclaw: Another swift unit. This one does insane damage (almost 1500), especially against M. The animation to deal extra damage takes a bit of time. 1 scavenger and 1 sun strider typically beat 1 swiftclaw and 1 windweaver because the fire player can also erupt, ending it all. Same with nasty surprise and shadow. Swiftclaws are also fairly susceptible to kiting because of the time it takes to animate. @RadicalX pointed out that swiftclaws are fairly essential to combat nature doubles or frost mage spam. @YaBro0 said that swiftclaw should be the main damage dealer in a nature deck.

 

Werebeast: These cards are often perceived as underpowered, although they can be quite useful in the hands of a good player. They require good micro to use, so that’s probably not you. Maybe in the futureJ. Don’t use them unless they are U3. Their heal ability becomes quite handy then, and you can annoy your opponent with all sorts of hit-and-run tactics. If you use this card, you need to be taking a very large t1. @YaBro0 said that if you have a deck slot for werebeasts, you should probably use spearmen instead.

 

Windweavers: Probably the most important t1 unit for nature, although xAragornx has shown that you can get by on treespirits instead. Their multishot is very powerful, and they combo well with roots. You will probably spam them, especially against shadow.

 

Mana Wing: In short, it’s super cool but not worth it.

 

Spearmen: This is a very nice luxury, but not necessary. They are particularly good against shadow, and it’s not uncommon to start with them (instead of a swift) against shadow on a small map. Recommended if you’re having trouble against shadow. @RadicalX also lists them as quasi-essential against nature.

 

Treespirits: Most people argue that these guys are overpowered. I do too. Spamming them works, which is just wrong. The green ones do especially high damage, but the purple ones are quite good to stay t1 and defend against frost. @RadicalX noted that the purple are also good against Nature dittos because it ignores the dryad damage reduction. You can also kill an Avatar of Frost with one purple treespirit and a root. Purple treespirit also goes through glacier shell. xAragornx plays this card and Amazon as the only two units in his t1. If you play a large t1, this card is probably not necessary.

 

Envenom: I don’t see it much, but I hear that some of the great pure nature players used this to use this to help stay t1 vs t2. There is probably not room in your deck for it, otherwise a good option. I sometimes used it in my fire-nature deck as a counter to L units and especially war eagle or skyfire drake.

 

Fountain of Rebirth is not actually as good as it seems. The reason is because you rarely have large standing armies that would benefit from a slow mass heal, and it’s pretty slow. Your opponent will not give you much opportunity to benefit from this.

 

Mark of the Keeper: I hate this card. It’s not common, but it really helps in defending against factions that use a lot of spells (like fire-nature). I suspect it also shuts down pure frost, because pure frost doesn’t really have good melee units. But this is more of a t2 defense card, and it’s a luxury with a high price. It works really well against noobs, but if you want to get better you’re better off just learning how to defend properly.

 

Mumbo Jumbo seems useful in theory, but it’s not so good. Very rarely do enemies only spawn one unit for a t1 encounter. It’s also 40 power, which is a lot. That said, I have seen it used on occasion. I don’t think I’ve ever lost to someone who employed it against me, though.

 

Primal Defender is actually not bad. It’s a hard counter to phase tower. I don’t think it has much besides that, but phase towers can be very annoying for nature to deal with. If you can’t handle them (especially difficult on Wazhai), put this card in your deck. I don’t play nature much, but my opinion is that you want to avoid needing hard counters to certain cards. But ultimately do what helps you win, and if this card prevents you from being rushed, go for it.

 

Stranglehold: Nah, you probably shouldn’t use this. It can help defend in t2, but if you’re permanently on the defensive, you’re going to have problems.

 

Tunnel: Tunnel is the only nature card I’ve never seen used at some point in PvP (and I have seen it, but only from complete noobs—don’t be like them!). While they are probably the least useful nature t1 card, @RadicalX pointed out that some players like Kyllbuster did use them in t2 to whisk his units away from dying or avoiding coldsnaps.

 

In summary, nature has great spells in t1. If you want to follow in xAragornx’s minimalist footsteps, you can get away with just Amazon, Treespirit, and spells. If you don’t want to avoid t1 conflict, go for a medium-sized t1 (I would recommend this). If you absolutely want to rush t1, I think Nature is the best option because it has so many good cards with many options. The problem is that all those cards are often useful only in certain situations, and the slots are often better used for t2. You can watch any of beijinguy’s replays for full-on nature t1 assault (I don’t even know if he played t2 in some decks).

 

Against frost t1, hurricane is going to be very important against MA. Roots and windweavers can do a good job against ice guardians or frost mages, and treespirits are good as well. Against fire, micro is important, as well as judicious use of roots and hurricane. As long as you keep scavengers or thugs at a distance, you should be fine. Mortar tower makes this matchup much harder for you. Shadow fights often boil down to you spamming windweavers and him spamming nox troopers. Spearmen can help tip the tide in your favor.

 

Frost t1:

You have no swift units. Waa, waa. To make up for this, your units generally have the best stats/power cost ratio of any faction. Frost spams are nothing to laugh at because of the sheer power—even if they do arrive late to the fight. Frost is not an especially popular t1 choice, however, because most players dislike the lack of a swift unit. You need to play frost differently than fire and shadow, and most players that are accustomed to the more popular t1’s don’t want to put in the effort to learn frost. As far as I know, MaranV is the best frost t1 player.

 

Because of frost’s great stats, it should win against any faction in an even power situation where both players have a well. For instance, a common frost tactic on Haladur is to try to take a well right next to their opponent’s (if fire or shadow) and then spam units. Frost also has a problem with harassment. Scavengers in particular can hit and run faster than frost can defend. This is defendable, but you really need to be on your toes. You’ll need to use a combination of lightblade and frostbite to make sure the swift units don’t get away, and it requires precise power balancing that you don’t spend too much power in one defense, just for the swift unit to run away to attack somewhere else.

 

To play frost, you must take Master Archers, Ice Guardians, and Lightblade. In theory lightblade is optional, but frost’s lack of swift unit hampers some options and lightblade is really necessary to prevent lameness from your opponent. Ice barrier is an incredibly useful card especially with Homesoil. Glacier Shell is your core spell, but homesoil is probably more useful in practice. Usually it’s the threat of glacier shell that you need, so you would theoretically be fine as long people only assumed you have it. Frost mage is an incredibly useful card, as the second-best S counter in t1. Unfortunately, Master Archers are the best S counters in t1, so frost mages are slightly redundant. Imperials, Frost Sorceress, and Ice Shield Tower are your most-likely-to-use nonessential cards.

 

Master Archers: Stat for power, I’ve heard it claimed that these guys are the best t1 units. That doesn’t mean everything, but MA are certainly good. They have 600 health and they’re a squad, so you can’t be erupted when they’re dazed (each unit survives with about 1 health, runs away, and gets the health back after daze). They’re incredible S/S, combining the best qualities of a spammer—high health, ranged attack, and low cost. Their attack is a bit low, but they still pack a punch when paired with homesoil. Being S units has its pros and cons. They are knocked back quite a bit, but they also do very well against the other spammed units (windweavers, sunstriders, thugs, and forsaken). Most player will start the match with master archers because they are cheap and don’t lose effectiveness over time like ice guardians do.

 

Ice Guardians: These are your melee units. Their attack isn’t so good, but they still do well against M units. With their ice shields, they have over 1000 health—for only 50 power. This health isn’t overpowered (although it certainly is good) because ice guardians are rarely attacked. Typically they are used to defend, when the enemy is trying to drop a well. They do have some use in an offensive, although transporting them without losing their ice shield is a pain. Although they only cost 50 power and have even better stats than the master archers because of the shield, they are a poor choice to start a match with because they will lose their shield by the time they arrive anywhere.

 

Lightblade: One of the best t1 units. He is essential to dealing with sunderer, but he’s so overpowered that he’s still a very viable t2 L counter. His ability is also necessary for making sure units don’t get away and combos well with frostbite. There are just so many terrible things lightblade can do. Both affinities are good, and it depends on your use for which one is better in your deck. The red one is better when you are using the lightblade to kill t1swift units. The purple is better when you are using it as a cc on L or XL units in t2 or t3. MaranV often starts with a lightblade because it has good stats and wins any 1v1 fight.

 

Frost Mage: This is the frost equivalent to thugs. Very useful, but you can get by without it. Frost mages are amazing against unspreaded archers, or things like thugs or skeleton warriors. They are very strong against fire because they take away fire’s M counter. They are good against frost dittos to take out MA, and they are strong against nature because nature’s hurricane takes out MA. They are not necessary against any of these, however, because Master Archers are better—they just don’t have the knockback. MaranV didn’t use them in his deck because the FM’s redundancy as an S counter.

 

Glacier Shell: Similarly to nasty surprise, this card isn’t spammed. It’s more the threat that you can defend a well that manipulates your opponent’s playstyle around it. Still, I’d say it’s fairly essential since the main reason you are playing frost is for your ability to defend your structures, and having this in addition to kobold trick (the spammed spell) increases your defensive options. That said, it is probably the core spell which you can most get away with not using, as it has a better version in t2. You have to know exactly what you’re doing to get away with not using this card, however, so I’m going to consider it essential for you.

 

Frostbite: This card is pretty essential to play frost t1. A lot of players use it for t2 as well, because it makes it much easier to kill strong enemies (especially fliers). The purple is much better than the red. This card and lightblade are all that stand between your wells and a scavenger guerrilla attack.

 

Ice Barrier: For 20 power you get ground presence. If it sounds underpowered, that’s only because you haven’t played enough yet. This card is great for preventing walls from going up, for gaining and maintaining map control (difficult with slow frost units), for giving structure bonuses (homesoil, lyrish knight, ice guardians), and for absorbing splash damage. An essential card, not because it defends against anything in particular but because it is so useful—to skip this card would be like skipping eruption.

 

Homesoil is pretty necessary for frost because frost does such little base damage. Pairing it with splashes such as lost souls (or, heaven forbid, fire dancers in 2v2) greatly increases its effectiveness. You would be remiss in skipping this card—while it is an “optional” card, it’s so much more useful than any other optional card that it may as well be mandatory.

 

Imperials help in certain matchups, but they are not the most useful in t1. S/M units w/o range just don’t have a ton of use because most of the t1 M units are swift. Nonetheless they do have great stats and can be quite useful in a rush because they take so little damage. They also perform well in a scenario where you stay t1 against t2, because of the prominence of M/M t2 units. This is not an uncommon frost t1 card, but not a particularly common one either.

 

Northguards are literally the most useless t1 units in the game. Not because they are especially bad—because their stats are okay—but because they are so redundant it hurts. Frost already has the best S/S and M/S t1 in the game. Why on earth would you need a mediocre melee S/S?

 

Frost Sorceress: This unit is more useful in t2, and is a staple for fire-frost decks. It can still be good in t1, especially with frost mage or lightblade, but the real reason to use her is to get those ice shields onto hard hitters.

 

Ice Shield Tower: This card is better than the frost sorceress for giving out shields, but the problem is that you need to get a tower up. I see this in fire-frost or pure frost decks occasionally, but you will probably not use it for t1, but rather t2. Only use this if you derive sick pleasure from lame camping J.

 

Warden’s Sigil: Another t1 card that is really more useful in t2. You’ll want to use the blue affinity so you can shield buildings under construction. This pairs well with ice shield tower or termite hill in fire-frost decks, and is useful for protecting power wells should the need arise. Again, it’s really only a specialty card.

 

Wintertide is one of the lamest cards. It allows you to get away with MA spams much easier, since they take less damage and can’t be knocked back. It’s really only useful if you’re trying to rush, and that only works against some decks on some maps, so it’s a fairly situational card. Most good players dislike risking a wasted deck slot to get a potentially cheap win, so it isn’t the most common card. Both affinities are good, but the red one works well with lightblade for killing L or XL units quickly (it also insta-kills dreadchargers). All in all though, I think this card just builds bad habits that won’t work on good players that are expecting the rush.

 

Glyph of Frost: I’ve seen some good players take this, but not very many. It’s hard to use against a very good opponent, because perfect micro can trigger the glyph and get out without any units being frozen. I would not recommend spending a deck slot on it, but @Morathyls mentioned that he considered it a core frost card to deal with scavenger spams. @YaBro0 mentioned that Freemka and DragonDave used glyph of frost often because it can catch an unsuspecting opponent off-guard. You can use something like a lightblade to activate it as well (and this combo is even useful against t3 XL units). It can also be used as a way to prevent your opponent from retreating, if you lay the glyph behind them.

 

Glaciation: Pretty much useless. If your opponent makes a mistake and you get a wall up, 1) Do you really want to win like that? 2) Do you really want to make it even more impossible for him to recover?

 

Construction Hut, Defense Tower, Northern Keep: Nope. If you want a building, you can take Warden’s Sigil or Ice Shield Tower. Buildings are inherently suspect because they bind void power, take a while to go up, and your opponent can maneuver around them, so it’s rarely a good idea to make a building without a specific purpose.

 

Frost t1 has some really great cards, and it’s quite tempting to want to take them all. You need to conserve room for your t2 and t3, however, so restrain yourself in your t1. Frost is very strong and has cards that continue to be useful in t2 (frost sorceress, lightblade, frostbite, ice barrier, homesoil…), but most player still dislike the lack of swift t1. Frost t1 is most dependent on the map for what kind of advantage is possible to get.

 

T1 on a Budget:

This should not be a large concern in BFReborn, because bfp should be easier to get, but I’d still like to explain some economical considerations for which t1 is the cheapest. Note that approximate bfp values I give are when I was searching for a picky deal, and they may no longer be accurate in BFR. Bfp values I give are also for a single unit, and you’ll need to consider charges. If I don’t list a price, that means it was common (aka: free). Price should really not be your primary concern, but here are the cheapest options.

 

Fire:

When I started playing, this was by far the cheapest t1 to play. You can get by with scavenger (~15 bfp), eruption, sunstrider, thugs, and supplementary cards to deal with frost or nature. Mortar tower (~50 bfp) is the best single card to add, although a combination of makeshift tower (~15 bfp) and wrecker does a fair job as well. If you’re really strapped for bfp, you can take nomad, but makeshift tower becomes essential, and it’s really a subpar setup. The only reason I even mention it is because you need a minimum of 2 charges of scavenger to survive, but only one makeshift tower.

 

Verdict: 45 (playable)-100 (slightly more playable)-200 (fully playable)

 

Shadow:

Since witchclaws are available, this faction is probably the cheapest to play. You’ll need witchclaws, forsaken, and nasty surprise. Nox trooper is also pretty essential, although I suppose it’s possible to play without them, maybe if you use skeleton warriors. I’m not super sure about the prices, but I believe nox trooper was about 20-50 bfp, and lifeweaving and motivate were in the 50-75 bfp range. It’s quite possible to play without lifeweaving and motivate, although it will limit your aggressive options. Nox trooper needs a minimum of 2-3 charges.

 

Verdict: 0 (barely playable)-100 (mostly playable)-200 (highly playable)

 

Nature:

You’ll have to go minimalist for sure. Amazon (~50 bfp), treespirit, hurricane (~50 bfp), surge of light, and ensnaring roots (~40 bfp). No choice.

 

Verdict: 180 (playable)-260 (playable with more charges)

 

Frost:

There are ways to play this for cheap, but more than any other faction, it really suffers. Ice guardians are much better than imperials because frost struggles with knockback. You can’t really use wintertide to make up for it because that’s also a few hundred bfp. You might be able to get by with Master Archers, Imperials, Lightblade, Frost Sorceress (~10 bfp), ice barrier, and frostbite. There’s not really any other alternative if you want to keep a pretense of being economical: frost mage, ice guardians, and homesoil are all quite expensive.

 

Verdict: 20 bfp (barely playable)-600 (almost fully playable)

 

What about t2 cards?

I’m glad I asked myself this. If I wasn’t, I’d edit it.

 

With t2, it’s important to keep in mind other things. There are more options in t2, so you need to be able to defend more things. For instance, t1 L counters are not essential because you don’t have to deal with all L units, only sunderer (which has low health). In t2, there are many great L units: Lost Reaver, Deep One, Vileblood, Stone Tempest, Mountaineer; as well as flying ones like Fire Drake, War Eagle, and Windhunter.

 

In general, you want to fulfil 3 large categories—a way to drop wells, a way to prevent wells from dropping, and a way to clear enemy units. For some factions (lookin’ at you, pure fire), the way to prevent wells from dropping really turns into “drop more wells faster than my opponent can.”

 

In t2, you need to following:

·       Counters for S, M, L, and XL units (XL counters are important because of harvester and people that get to t3 earlier than you.)

·       A way to slow your opponent. Usually cc, but this can also include things like mine or wildfire which force your opponent to leave your wells alone.

·       Siege units. They don’t actually have to be siege, but you need something whose primary purpose is dropping wells. War Eagle is a good example of this.

·       Cheap, spammable units

·       Defensive units

·       Anti-air. Self-explanatory; War Eagles and Skyfire drakes are common and powerful.

·       (Optional nicety): Sick combos

·       Additionally, each faction has inherent advantages that it should take advantage of.

 

 

I’ll spend the most detail outlining fire-nature and the cards that fit these categories and possible ways of comboing them. I’ll be briefer in the other factions that I don’t know as well, trusting you to take the tools I’ve given you to sort out the basics for yourself.

 

Fire-Nature:

 

T2 Cards Overview:

Let’s go through the deck building process. First, I’ll look for the basics—counters and ways to kill units. Note that I’ll only be mentioning cards which are still useful in t2. So thugs aren’t very useful S/S because ghostspears are just better.

 

Also keep in mind that M units are generally worse in t2. That’s because there are a lot of cards that do great damage to M units (like skyfire drake, enforcer, ghostspears, war eagle, and nightcrawler), and those great M/M units are typically spammable.

 

·       Small

o   Deathglider—only the blue affinity is worth anything. They’re flying units that deal extra damage to small and they knock them back as a nice bonus. Plus they’re cheap. Looks good! The immediate downside I see is the low health, but I have cc’s and heals to mitigate that.

o   Firestalker—listed here because of the knockback. The knockback is not bad actually.

o   Ghostspears—they have great stats, and they can change to deal extra damage to S or M units. The downside is that they cost a lot (80 power to deal extra vs small) and 90% of the small units you encounter will be Darkelf Assassins, which tear through small units.

o   Scythe fiends—tremendous stats, and swift to boot! They are a bit expensive for M units though, and stonekin will destroy them for a variety of reasons.

o   Viridya—she seems good. She definitely has her uses. Pretty low attack, so not that useful as a S counter, but maybe her special powers will help? Except one of them is a slow healing, which is sort of redundant because of surge of light. Also a bit pricy, and has low health. She does knock back small units, but something like a fire drake or a nightcrawler would destroy her.

·       Medium

o   Ghostspears—see above. The extra advantage here is that they only cost 70 power to fight M units, and there are few M/S units to counter them. Scythe fiends are really the only M units that ghostspears won’t do well against.

o   Rageclaws—similar to ghostspears, except they are sturdier and do more damage. Unfortunately they take a long time to build up rage and are extremely susceptible to knockback or cc. They also don’t have the option to counter S.

o   Rogan Kayle—these are great stats! Much better than Moon or Viridya. Unfortunately, most M/M units have great stats. He will lose to nightcrawler or enforcer in a heartbeat, and he cost much more than them. On the upside, he makes units deal more damage (a plus with an aggressive faction like fire-nat). He also has a cc, although it’s not that good. Fire-nat doesn’t benefit as much from the cc as something like pure shadow or pure frost, because we already have roots and oink, which are quite useful.

o   Skyfire drake—a flying unit! Wonderful! This will help against things like enforcer or nightcrawler which tend to go berserk and deal tons of damage. Also look at the damage on that thing! Note that it doesn’t have much health though.

o   Twilight Brute—good stats, like Rogan Kayle but much cheaper. Unfortunately, as we’ve discussed, it loses to other M/M’s like nightcrawler and enforcer.

o   Twilight Minions—these are ghostspears that cost 10 power less and don’t have the option to counter S units. If you pack hurricane, that should help tip the tide in favor of twilight minions. Commandos will be the only S units you can’t deal with easily, but they aren’t that good and they aren’t used much. You can also oink them if they get buffed too much. Mauler also shuts down commandos, if you’re super worried.

·       Large

o   Fire Stalker—they do extra damage vs. large units. They have mediocre-to-poor stats, but they can work.

o   Firesworn—even though it’s a t1 card, it still does great damage vs L units. Especially with the ability. Note that they can’t hit air though. Also, they die easily and can be cc’ed without much difficulty. They are t1, after all.

o   Gladiatrix—a ranged L counter that does tons of damage. The green one is swift, which is nice also. The purple has a better disenchant, but both work. It’s not efficient to use the gladiatrix for its disenchant (cost 150 power) but it’s very nice to have if you have a gladiatrix already out. Which you should, because most of the buffed cards will be L anyway. As a general rule of thumb I prefer the green because you’ll usually have 2 gladiatrix to counter a L unit anyway, so if he buffs twice you can disenchant twice. If you pack the purple disenchant, the green gladiatrix is definitely the way to go.

o   Mauler—very good stats, although the gladiatrix is a better L counter because she can attack from range; it’s even better if you get a root off. If the mauler is attacking a melee L unit, he will probably die because L units just have good stats. HOWEVER, the mauler has a great ability that shuts down ranged attacks and prevents special abilities from being used. This makes him a great counter to ashbone pyros and mountaineers. He’s pretty great all around vs stonekin, because stonekin thrives on ranged attacks with knockback. I make this comment because fire-nature usually has a very hard time with stonekin. He’s also good against defenders or commandos (remember the problem with twilight minions?) because they can camp all they want, but he will prevent them from shooting. There’s nothing better than a frost player who saves up power for a defender spam and then camps outside your base, knowing you can’t do anything about it, until you send one mauler to each defender and waste it all.

o   Moon—terrible stats. Well, actually, they’re not bad. But she costs a lot and dies pretty easily to M counters. Her necroshade can be good, especially if you paired with a ranged attack like gladiatrix or spirit hunters. Her dark arts can be a situationally useful heal, but fire-nature doesn’t really need it because of surge of light.

o   Slaver—very expensive, its stats aren’t that good, and because it’s a medium unit, it’s extra squishy. Its ability isn’t useful. While I’m on the subject, none of the twilight transformations are very useful. This card might be in the running for the worst t2 L counter in the game.

o   Skyfire drake—it has high dps and can’t be hit by most L units. If you’re using it to counter L units it’s basically a glady, but more useful after the L unit has died.

·       X-Large

o   Gladiatrix—actually, fire-nat has 0 (!) XL counters at t2. That makes us especially susceptible to harvester or t3 rushes. Gladiatrix is the best thing we have. It’s useful because it can attack at range, and so stay out of the XL’s amazing damage. You need to pair this with cc, preferably roots, so the glady can still attack.

o   Mortar Tower—Believe it or not, this building has the highest dps of any card at your disposal. Build a mortar tower and try to send a scavenger to slow down the harvester while the building comes up. Then root the XL, bombard it, and hit it with gladies.

o   Skyfire drake—has good dps and can fly away. Use it for similar reasons as the glady

o   Rogan Kayle—great because of his cc. It doesn’t prevent the XL from stomping on people, but that doesn’t do near as much damage as the alternative. Credit to @RadicalX for pointing out that his cc is particularly useful because it stacks with cc spells. Your defensive gladies will also benefit from Rogan’s buff because of their high dps, but they will probably be spread too far to do much benefit.

·       Siege

o   Burrower—these guys are fairly cheap (read: spammable) and have good stats. They die quickly to M counters. They also have an ability to knock units off walls. This is useful if you don’t have hurricane, not so much if you do. The swift is also nice.

o   Fire Stalker—Wow! This is the third time he has appeared. He’s been mediocre the other two times, and he is here as well. He just doesn’t do much damage. The upshot is that he stays far enough from your other units that a lavafield or cc won’t do too much to him. The shots are also delayed, so it continues to do about 200-300 (I think?) damage to wells after it has died. This is particularly useful against non-frost factions, but even worse than if it did all the damage upfront when the frost player has time to kobold or glacier shell. Also, in regards to it being good at everything, did I mention it has swift?

o   Vileblood—a good card, but expensive. It’s not spammable, but it does do a great amount of damage. But if you look at the stats, it seems much better to just make 2 burrowers than a vileblood. That’s not necessarily the case, however. For one, heals work better on VB. If the enemy focuses your burrowers one at a time, you have to heal roughly every 700 health. With a vileblood, you can get away with every 1300 health. Also, ravage is nice on him because it’s one unit vs 2. AoE spells don’t spread to do double damage. Furthermore, if you have a VB already up, it basically takes 80 power to summon each new one (surge of light), which is practically the cost of a burrower. Additionally, L counters are typically much worse than M counters. The downside of VB is that he’s completely useless vs frost (Lightblade). Also, if you were to make 2 burrowers it’s often a good idea to send them different places (unless the opponent has nightcrawlers). VBs can’t go to 2 places. So in short VB is better against non-frost factions and burrower is better against frost factions.

o   Rageclaws—they don’t technically have siege, but the thing about wells is that you attack them for a long time. This means rageclaws will have rage built up, in which case they’ll deal as much damage as burrowers (I think?) while being hardier and useful M counters. The downside is that you can’t rush wells with them because they take so long to rage up, and they’re very susceptible to cc or knockback.

o   Termite hill—does great damage against wells and orbs, but the card is hard to use. Fire-nat has an easier time than bandits or pure fire because of cc, but it’s still tough and situational.

·       Specialty

o   Spirit hunters—these guys are great at doing damage to many places at once. They’re like a slower lavafield. Take the green ones. The purple do much less damage, but you can use them if you don’t have a disenchant. The problem is that they attack so slowly, and they only do 5 damage per second more than green spirit hunters on a creature with lifeweaving, while doing 10 damage per second less on normal creatures—which will be the majority of what you use spirit hunters for.

o   Skyfire drake—it’s very useful because it flies. I’ll not go into specific tactics here, but flying counts as a random plus.

o   Deathgliders—also flies, same as skyfire drake. Note that having 2 fliers can have aspects of redundancy.

o   Mauler—slam ability. Check out its usefulness above.

o   Rogan Kayle and Viridya—also useful for more than their ability to deal and take damage. For this deck, Rogan’s abilities are more useful. Check out usefulness above.

 

Now let’s take a look at buildings. In general, buildings are bad because they bind power and are immobile.

·       Rallying banner—a building, extremely necessary in bandits and pure fire. However, it’s not so necessary for fire-nat because we can usually spawn dazed units without repercussions. A lot of our units have high health, and we can support them until they get out of daze with cc or heals. The card is nice to have, but even if it was in my deck, I wouldn’t use it much.

·       Breeding grounds—this card is probably more useful than rallying banner, but not a ton. The building binds power and it’s most useful for spamming large amounts of units at once. Usually if you have enough power to make a breeding grounds and spam burrowers, it’s better just to spam them immediately.

·       Willzapper—sounds great in theory, but I have never successfully used it, nor seen anyone use it.

·       Mortar Tower—Yep, still useful here. I listed it more above.

 

And most importantly, spells. Unlike units, spells rarely decline in usefulness as you go up tiers. Each spell is different, so it’s rare to see a t2 spell that is just a better version of a t1 spell.

·       Curse of Oink—a cc, and a great one. It’s more useful for offense than defense, because units will transform back if they are attacked after 5 seconds. It’s still a good way to counteract spam, because you can attack each unit individually while the others are incapacitated. Note that oink combos very poorly with spirit hunters, because the poison wakes the units up.

·       Disenchant—removes buffs. Generally the buffs you want to remove will be on enemies, so the purple one is better. Note that oink can serve like a disenchant in a pinch by incapacitating the buffed unit. Occasionally this card has use on your own units to get out of cc, but that is only useful in rare occasions and usually on giant slayer. Typically it’s better to make another giant slayer than to disenchant the one you have. It can also be used to get VB out of cc, although it’s generally a better idea to just heal it and wait for the cc to run out.

·       Ensnaring roots—a great cc. It doesn’t work on ranged units, but it does a great job on melee units. There is no damage reduction and the units will not come out of it when attacked. Combos well with mine, mortar, skyfire drake, spirit hunters, and gladiatrix. This spell is critical for defense, but it’s also useful for offense if your opponent has spammed melee units that haven’t encountered your offense yet.

·       Envenom—does a lot of damage, but pricy. It’s also easy to ward off. This is the rare case of a t1 spell just being a worse t2 spell (parasite)

·       Eruption—great for taking down anything that has less than 300 health. Can be used for defense to kill a unit before it does more damage, as anti-air, as a preventative measure against a heal, and as offense to take down a well. It takes 7 eruptions to drop a well, and 10 to drop a monument.

·       Hurricane—very useful against small units. Sometimes it can be used to prevent a well from healing, although if that’s a concern it’s generally better to simply erupt it.

·       Lavafield—good AoE damage, especially against spammed units. This is more defensive than anything. It has a few nice combos, however, because of its knockback. This tends to be a card I either find really useful or not at all, depending on the match.

·       Mine—believe it or not, this does more damage than lavafield. But it’s less useful because it has a smaller AoE and requires the enemy to make a mistake to trigger it. On one hand it’s less useful for fire-nat than other factions because we don’t need its meager cc abilities, but we can also combo it very well with hurricane or roots.

·       Parasite—does damage to lots of targets. Useless when facing nature splashes. Pretty much spirit hunters in spell form.

·       Ravage—I’ve heard this claimed as the best healing spell in the game. It’s especially useful because it heals gradually, allowing for heals greater than the max HP of the unit. It’s also super cheap to cast.

·       Scorched earth—same use as in t1. It helps prevent t3.

·       Surge of light—a fantastic spell. You are playing fire-nature for this single card. Maybe oink and roots as well, but pretty much for this single card. I’m not going to explain why it’s so useful, because if it’s not in your deck switch factions. I have literally seen people t3 nature for this 1 card.

·       Ray of Light—when I first started playing, I assumed that Ray of Light was better than Surge of Light because Ray is t2. That’s not true. Surge is instant, while Ray takes a long time, which makes it almost useless in PvP.

·       Twilight Curse—this can be used like an L counter or anti-air. The only use I can think of for it would be war eagles or windhunters. But fire-nat tends to do a fairly good job at those anyway. The problem is that twilight bugs are actually pretty good. It might actually be better to use on one of your own units, but it’s pricy—just make a vileblood if you want one unit with good stats. It is quite good against mountaineer, which fire-nat can struggle with. So if you want a counter to one specific card, this is the deal. You could use it on harvester as well. (allbfcards claims this does not have a unit with max power cost that it can be used on, but I recall it couldn’t be used on anything that cost more than 150?)

·       Wallbreaker, Girl Power, and other Shenanigans—Please no. Please.

 

T3 Cards Overview:

I’m going to lump t3 with the t2 section, since you shouldn’t have many t3 cards. In t3, your goals are simple: End your opponent without being ended yourself. Cards are chosen which have high offense, especially for fire-nature. In general, you can use your t2 cc for defense. My rule of thumb for t3 is as follows: 3 cards—one for killing wells, one for killing enemy units, and one to be swift and spawn well-killers all over the place. Typically fire-nature takes a light t3, in favor of larger t2. I knew a great player who only carried giant slayers in his deck, and another that doesn’t take t3 at all!

·       Offensive cards

o   Backlash—deals a lot of damage, but it’s rarely used because it only does half damage against structures.

o   Brannoc—extremely powerful. The best XL unit this faction can support. The biggest problem with him is what happens when you rely on him but your opponent pulls him first. Most people think he’s lame.

o   Curse well—very slow. If you use this card, you need to play a mostly defensive t3 and bleed your opponent dry. Using this card immediately awards you the title “lamer.” Additionally, get out of fire-nature because we don’t have time for that nonsense.

o   Deepcoil worm—an XL unit, but a bit weak. Fire-nature thrives on its aggressiveness, and it has more options that do faster damage. That said, you have six XL units to choose from as fire-nature, and I’m not going to bother explaining why Santa, Mo, Lordy Cyrian, and Razorleaf aren’t worth playing.

o   Drones—great stats, and swift to boot! A bit pricy though.

o   Enlightenment—wreaks havoc with earthshaker. Very pricey though. Fire-nat generally has a more efficient way to dish out the damage, and one 50 power card (shield building) can completely negate all 370 power spent on this combo. This especially stings because the only scenario where you need such massive overkill as earthshaker is against campy lost souls Church of Negation spammers, and they typically pack shield building.

o   Giantslayer—when raged up, they deal a ton of damage (1000 per charge). They are especially susceptible to cc’s though. In one of the great ironies of the game, it is better to defend giantslayers with t2 cards than t3 cards. Don’t use this card if you rush t3 while your opponent stays t2, unless you also have a power advantage. The biggest plus of this card is that it’s difficult to cost-effectively defend against, making it very spammable.

o   Inferno—sure, it does a lot of damage. But you’re probably better off just using enlightenment and earthshaker for that much power.

o   Mutating Maniac—a worse Fathom Lord, that costs more and can’t paralyze. The upshot is that you can use them with giant slayers. Unfortunately, that isn’t such a big plus because both are XL counters.

o   Shrine of War—a great card, but I doubt you’ll be able to make much use of it. That’s a lot of power to bind and the cooldown is long. The match will probably be over before it’s ready.

o   Sun Reaver—used to be the fire equivalent of the ashbone pyro. Then it got nerfed to oblivion. It’s hardly worth using now. It takes so long to build up its flame that a giant slayer will kill the well faster. I would like to see this card get buffed so it deals regular damage against structures and slower damage against units. But until this happens, you have a large, slow giant slayer that can’t charge or hamstring. I’d also put the unnerfed one as defensive, but this is useless at killing units.

o   Swamp drake—useful for attacking, not because it has good stats, but because it’s an air unit. Many people don’t bring anti-air to t3, and this card is difficult to counter. It can also do hit-and-runs, and general annoyance. However, such techniques require a lot of micro, and are generally too slow to be worth it. The cc sleep is also much better for offense than defense.

o   Twilight warfare—I don’t even know what this does.

o   Virtuoso—fairly good stats. The ability does a lot of damage to structures. Also a good L/L, although it can’t take advantage of roots.

o   Vulcan—great attack, but low health. It can be supported with heals, but I’ve generally found there to be better attack options. I would have brought him anyway for shooting air, except he can’t.

·       Defensive cards

o   Backlash, to kill attacking enemies. The problem is that backlash is expensive and has a large cooldown, making it inefficient against spammy t3 units.

o   Fathom Lord—great stats for the price. And their paralyze is good. They’re also great at defending vs XL units. They’re slow though, which limits their offensive capabilities.

o   Giantslayer—I told you these cards were ironic, right? Despite their name, they’re not the best XL counters. They can do a good job, but you’d think that 240 power of giantslayers would beat 220 worth of a juggernaut, right? Especially since giantslayers counter XL, and juggers don’t? But giantslayers suffer from very low health, so most XL’s 2-shot them before they can get rage built up. If the gs is raged, a single one can take out an XL unit (if you support it with cc and heals and get the 1500 damage charge). But if they aren’t raged, they don’t do so well. I believe it takes 4 giant slayers to kill 1 juggernaut if they start from rest. Nasty surprises, lifeweaving, or wildfires defeat them easily. However, giantslayers are still very useful because of their hamstring effect. It slows enemies down to give you more time to prepare your defenses. It’s also good for defending spammy units, because giantslayers are just as cheap as them.

o   Magma Hurler—not great stats, but it’s ranged and knocks back M units. They’re pretty good at defending if you play roots. They’re also nice anti-air. Air units are typically bad in t3, but every now and then you have that one guy who uses them and if you don’t have an answer, you start to rage and call him a lamer in the chatbox. Pointed out by @RadicalX: their biggest downside is that they take 4 seconds between shots, allowing your opponent to micro around them and kill the magma hurler without taking any damage. This isn’t that bad an issue, however, because nobody has time to micro one unit obsessively in t3 and 2 de-synced magma hurlers or a cc can prevent the dodging. Also, a magma hurler does not want to attack anything that also wants to attack it.

o   Magma Spore—good anti-air defenders. Not good at defending much else (actually, they can do a lot of damage to L units with their ability). Also good at spamming.

o   Swamp Drake—probably the quintessential defensive card for fire-nature. XL counter, especially good with root. It’s ranged, so it can brute force as anti-air with heals and cc. It can also cc sleep, which isn’t that useful for defense unless you’re proactive.

o   Thornbark—M counter, which has its uses in a large t3, but generally not that useful if you’re going light on t3. Hits air, so good defense there. Gets stronger with root network. Unfortunately, they have very little health and can only really go offensive en masse. Which is not good in t3, because mass concentration in one spot is a good way to lose your entire army.

o   Thunderstorm—Does lots of damage to units, none to structures. Works well with roots, but really only useful if your opponent spams a lot to one place. He should be smarter than that.

o   Treefiend—honestly, I’ve never used this or seen it used. Its stats are terrible and they cost an arm and a leg. 150 power for 1200 health? I don’t even know what its upgraded health is, but I wouldn’t pay 150 power for something with twice that health.

o   Twilight creeper—allbfcards doesn’t have the difference between their affinities. Nonetheless, they have bad stats, and don’t have any real knockback. Just take magma hurler if you want an L/L ranged.

o   Twilight Hag—also never seen her used, so I can’t comment on her usefulness. Doesn’t seem very useful though, with low attack and health. Her ability seems more like a joke from the developers than anything.

o   Vulcan—can do massive damage with his ability and roots. Unfortunately, he cost a lot, so it doesn’t defend against cheap spammy cards well.

·       Spammy cards

o   Drones—good stats, and swift, but a bit expensive to spam.

o   Giantslayer—cheap, does a TON of damage, and swift. Also can’t be knocked back. They are very susceptible to cc, however. And they lost to most t3 units 1on1. However, giantslayers should primarily be used to spam 1 to every base, forcing the enemy to waste at least 120 power at each one. This gives you a power advantage, and you push harder at the weakest one with your offensive unit. Spamming 1 to each base also negates the efficiency of cc.

o   Magma Spore—cheap, and their ability is good. They’re also air units, which makes them especially good against any non-shadow faction (that has no ashbone pyro). The biggest problem with them is trying to micro them. They’re easy to forget about. If memory serves me, it takes 6 to drop a base of 2 wells and 1 orb.

 

And obviously you can branch out even more with t3 than this. The first deck I played, I went t3 shadow for ashbone pyro. That solved problems of anti-air and siege. xAragornx still uses that strategy. However, going three different orbs is very risky because you can’t let your t2 or t1 drop. If you play t3 the same color as one of your first two orbs (far and away the most common choice), you have added tactical options. For instance, I am willing to trade my first orb against xAragornx (fire-nat-fire vs nat-frost-shad) because I’ll be t2 and he’ll be t0. So he can’t attack with reckless abandon for his orb, while I can.

 

Building the Deck:

So now let’s build this deck! Let’s start with the easy choices, in t2. Take a look at which cards show up under a lot of categories.

We have: Rogan, deathglider, Skyfire drake, rageclaws, mauler, mortar tower, gladiatrix, firestalker, and ghostspears. Notably, 2 cards are weaker than the rest. Deathglider and Fire Stalker serve so many roles that they don’t do a great job at any of them. Rogan Kayle also suffers from a similar problem. The others are good, but some are redundant. Ghostspears and Rageclaws serve the same main purpose. Skyfire drake is also an M counter, but it’s good to have 2 M counters that have different sizes, because M units are the most common in t2. Skyfire is unique in that it can’t be hit by melee, and gladiatrix is similarly unique in our list of multi-functioners.

 

I will add Skyfire Drake and Gladiatrix to my deck as the first 2 cards. Eh, let’s throw in Rogan Kayle, Fire Stalker, and Deathglider as well. I may take them out later. Using Mortar Tower will probably depend on what I do t1, as well as how comfortable I feel my t2 defenses are. Let’s hold on that one.

 

But what about rageclaws and ghostspears? We already have 1 M counter (Skyfire Drake), so 1 more should suffice. It should be cheap, and primarily used for defense. I want to be able to defend against someone spamming 1 nightcrawler/burrower to every base, and I can’t do that with skyfire drake because I won’t be able to sustain it. The cheaper the M counter, the better. So as my M counter, I want to pick one from rageclaws, ghostspears, twilight minions, and twilight brute. I want to shy away from M/Ms, so let’s get rid of twilight brute. Remember, M units are typically the squishiest in t2, and if we keep rogan it will make the M/M redundant. So we have the choice of three S/M units. Which to take? Rageclaws and ghostspears are about equal, except rageclaws do worse at defending and much better at attacking. If we take good siege units (I plan to), this will make the rageclaws ability to drop well unnecessary. So ghostspears or twilight minions? They’re basically the same card except twilight minions cost 10 power less and can’t hurt S units. So my choice of whether to take ghostspears or twilight minion depends on how good the rest of my deck is against S units. For now I’ll take ghostspears and substitute twilight minions in if I feel my S counters are a bit overkill.

 

The deck is now: Skyfire Drake, gladiatrix, (Rogan Kayle, Fire Stalker, Deathglider), and ghostspears.

 

Let’s choose our well-droppers next. We can choose from fire stalker, burrower, vileblood, and rageclaws. Actually, let’s not consider rageclaws. They work in a tight spot, but burrower and vileblood do such massive siege damage that rageclaws won’t be very useful for it. I also didn’t consider termite hill, because it’s a real pain to set up. If I have extra deck slots after I’ve hit the essentials, I might stick it in.

 

So which siege unit is the best? We already have fire stalker tentatively in. If we’re only taking 1 siege unit, burrowers is definitely the way to go. I like vileblood better, but certain cards like lightblade make him useless. There’s no way I’ll have room for all three. If I take 2, however, it’s a bit of a tossup between vileblood and firestalker or vileblood and burrower (note that I’m not considering firestalker and burrower, because then my offense will be particularly weak against decks with good M counters, which is every deck). I decided to take Vileblood and Fire stalker, and if I need more deck slots I can replace both of them with burrower. Also, I decided to make Rogan Kayle a more permanent addition because he works well with vileblood (it forces the enemy to make a L counter and M counter, and the cc is great for attacking).

 

Deck: Skyfire Drake, Gladiatrix, Rogan Kayle, Fire Stalker, (Deathglider), Ghostspears, and Vileblood.

 

Let’s get to S counters. The only card (besides Viridya) we don’t have in our deck is Scythe Fiends. Deathgliders and Fires Stalker do good knockback, but our deck currently depends on ghostspears for doing actual damage to S. If we have Scythe Fiends, we should probably pare down our “semi-S” counters. Or we could leave them . . . I think I’ll leave out scythe fiends for now because I don’t have enough charges (the card is expensive!). In the future, the combination of Scythe Fiends, hurricane, and twilight minions can probably replace fire stalker, deathglider, and ghostspears. If we drop fire stalker, we may as well get rid of Vileblood and/or Rogan Kayle and replace them with burrowers. So much of this is interdependent! But for now, nothing changes except making Deathgliders a more permanent fixture.

 

Our last group of counters are the L counters. We’ve already included 2 L counters, the gladiatrix and fire stalker. We probably don’t need another, especially if we take firesworn in t1. Mauler catches my eye, but he’s so much more useful for his slam ability than for his L counter. If we decide to bring him later it will be because of that, completely ignoring the fact that he is an L counter.

 

Now let’s talk about spells and special cards!

 

Surge of Light goes in, no questions asked. Curse of Oink should be another easy choice. Ensnaring Roots is another great card, but let’s not use it by default yet. If I had 50 slots in my deck, which cards would I take and which wouldn’t I bother with? Then we can sort through the useful ones to fit our 20-slot deck.

 

Reality Check:

Let’s rate how good our t2 deck is against certain common enemy tactics! This will help us see if we need to change anything, and maybe influence our t1 or t3.

1.     Defending walls

2.     Defending t3 rushes (or harvester)

3.     Defending cheap spams for spread-out agro

4.     Performing cheap spams for spread-out agro

5.     Defending a full-on attack at one place

6.     Performing a full-on attack at one place

7.     Preventing a large standing army

8.     Building a large standing army

 

Currently our deck has Skyfire Drake, Gladiatrix, Rogan Kayle, Fire Stalker, (Deathglider), Ghostspears, Vileblood, Surge of Light, and Curse of Oink.

 

1.     We can’t defend walling at all. Hurricane or burrower can solve this, but we’ve already decided not to use the burrower. This may be a large selling point for hurricane, but the truth is that walls are easy to prevent. We already have enough ways for S knockback, and it’s not worth spending a deck slot to bail you out when your opponent builds a wall. Just get better so you don’t give him those opportunities.

 

2.     How about defending t3 rushes? This can be when the enemy builds t3 just a bit faster than you, or when he does it too early hoping that one ashbone will wipe you out. In the second case, you will probably see an ashbone pyro or tremor. Maybe a giant slayer. Giant slayers are easy to deal with. Oink stops their rage, and ghostspears or skyfire drake do a lot of damage. Even in t3, the best way to defend against giant slayer spams is to root + skyfire drake. Tremors are harder, but roots and 2-3 gladiatrix does the job. If he buffs it, the gladiatrix has a ready disenchant. Ashbone pyros are the hardest to deal with. They do so much damage, and they’re ranged so you can’t get them with gladiatrix. Mauler would be a great way to stop it. Otherwise you just have to spam gladiatrix and fire stalkers. Mortar Tower is also a good way to defend against early ashbones, because the opponent doesn’t have enough power for more than one. (That’s why it’s a t3 rush. If he can go t3 and has the same power as you, that’s when it’s time to YOLO it and spam random stuff. You’ve already lost, but sometimes you can save it if you just ignore defending and go full offensive). In response to a t3 rush, this deck also has the ability to send 2 Vilebloods out, which will generally end the game, especially if one is paired with Rogan for that damage buff. VB spam is not as effective as burrower spam, however, because you are limited on the number of bases you can hit at once.

 

What can this deck do about harvesters, or what happens if you’re both going t3 and that pure fire player gets it first and pulls out a juggernaut? Both should be defended with gladiatrix, skyfire drake, and roots. Mortar towers are necessary if you want to kill a juggernaut, but you should really be stalling it. Either way, I’m giving points to mortar tower, and I’m going to say Ensnaring Roots probably just needs to get in here already.

 

3.     A common tactic for attack is so send cheap units to every base, forcing you to spend a bit of power at each one. Then, when you’re out of power, the enemy puts larger pressure on one area. How well does this deck defend that? Typically, the spammed unit will be a nightcrawler or burrower. Skyfire drake will eat both of those units, but if you have 5 different bases, 5 nightcrawlers are much more affordable than 5 skyfire drakes. Their even more affordable than ghostspears, which means that we don’t do too well against multiple small attacks. Even twilight minions, which cost the same as a nightcrawler, is not effective because the nightcrawler can run away. We can, however, be proactive. A roots allows us to bottleneck the road and kill the nighcrawler or burrower before they spawn more. Aren’t you glad we added roots? Nonetheless, I’m going to say this deck scores below average for defending spammed units. On a 1-10, let’s go with 3.5. There’s really not a way to improve it, though. For an additional way to defend this with this deck, see point (6).

 

4.     Can we do the annoying tactic back? Eh, not really. Most of our units cost too much. We could improve our ability to do so with rageclaws (which would involve rebalancing to improve our S counters), as well as burrowers. We can, however, attack TWO places at once very reliably. When facing frost splashes (or shadow, actually, because of Aura of Corruption—actually, this is a fairly valid technique against any faction), it is critical to attack multiple places. Sometimes it’s better to spam lightly everywhere at once, but usually it will suffice to attack in just 2 places. This can be done with Rogan + ghostspears +fire stalker at one front, and VB at another front. You can also vary combinations. If you assist with cc and heals, and support them evenly until you decide which one is more likely to fall and put extra pressure there, you will probably down a well. The added benefit of the cards is that rogan and firestalker, in particular, are very underestimated. I did this type of attack against MaranV (a candidate for the best Battleforge player) when I was a noob, and the attack succeeded! I obviously didn’t win the game, but I did win his respect and he provided me with advice that helped bring me out of noobdom. I’d say this gets a 7.5. If we used burrowers, however, it’s a solid 10 for hitting everywhere at once. There is no deck that can do this more than burrowers assisted with fire and nature. Sometimes that’s not the best tactic though, so it’s a tossup between many weak attacks and 2 fairly strong attacks. For this deck, I’ve gone with the 2 medium attacks, but it’s more a matter of preference (and cost).

 

5.      So we have a bit of trouble defending multiple places at once. Do we do better defending one place? Oh yeah! Err, maybe. If we bring mortar tower, that will improve our score here a lot. That tower keeps getting so many pluses… Seriously though, with roots a mortar tower does fantastic damage. If you play fire t1, but this in. If you go nature t1, it’s a little iffy one whether you want to spend the deck slot on mortar tower, because you can usually get by without it. All that said, I probably used mortar more in t2 than t1. All of our defense comes from having good attack and good cc and killing the enemy before it reaches our wells. Once the enemy is at the wells, we have a much harder time, especially with buffs. We can always cc a buff, but that’s often a waste of a cc. Gladiatrix works will for the disenchant ability, although we will always have trouble with things like lifeweaved nightcrawler. In t3, the threat of buffs are even worse, so Disenchant may be useful to combat that. However, I think we can get along with just the gladiatrix sobering for this deck. We have all the counters except XL, and that can be fairly easily dealt with through roots and ranged attack. How do we do against a massive amount of units, like pure fire or stonekin attacks? That one’s harder, because we don’t have great AoE damage. Although there is a particular spell that helps with that. To improve our defenses, let’s add Lavafield. We could also add spirit hunters, but they’re much slower than lavafield. I’ll say our defense at one place is a 6, or a 7 with mortar tower.

 

6.     Now we get to our true method of defense: attack! As far as dps goes, I think fire-nat is 2nd, right after pure fire. But we have cc and heals. If you realize you can’t defend an attack, compensate for your loss of wells by taking some of your opponent’s! Along with Rogan (not counting his damage), a vileblood can drop a well in 16 seconds (!). If you see cards that are good counters to the VB, use a cc. Additionally, any fire stalkers in the back can do splash damage to different wells, making frost repairs more difficult. Along with surge of light and ravage, makes the vileblood very hard to kill. Let’s add ravage because of its usefulness. Furthermore, eruptions are GREAT for offense. When a unit spawns near a well, you can erupt it dealing 300 damage to the well, and the unit will die faster. If there are a lot of units attacking your offensive, cc or lavafield them.

 

7.     Preventing a large standing army is only a concern versus a few decks. Stonekin, most notably. This is one of the best decks for doing so, because eruption or lavafield can finsh off enemies before they escape or heal. Standing armies are also very important for establishing air dominance. Eruptions are especially good for this since air creature have comparatively low health. An essential combo against fire drakes is to get one shot from a gladiatrix and erupt. Instead of a gladiatrix, you can also do it with your own skyfire drake, but be aware that he will be erupted as well. Time for Eruption to enter the deck.

 

8.     Actually, you can build a large standing army with this deck. It’s more often a bad thing than a good thing, but you have heals and cc to save your units. With good saves, you can field multiple VBs, which gets very hard to defend.

 

Now that we’ve fleshed out the deck, we have: Skyfire Drake, Gladiatrix, Rogan Kayle, Fire Stalker, Deathglider, Ghostspears, Vileblood, Surge of Light, Curse of Oink, Eruption, Ravage, Lavafield, and Ensnaring Roots.

 

I’d like to add Mauler, Hurricane, and Disenchant, but none of them seem necessary. Mauler is probably the most useful of the three, but let’s see. It’s looking like we’ll be low on deck slots.

 

For t3, I’m going to be a bit brief because there are so many possibilities. As long as you have hit all the bases, you should be fine. Let’s bring Giantslayer for all the nice reasons I listed above. I will take Swamp Drake for an additional benefit against XLs, and its anti-air possibilities. Lastly, let’s round it out with Virtuoso for its L counter and good damage against structures. If I have only room for 2 units (like if I put that mauler in), I’d go with giant slayer and magma hurler—magma hurler serving as a sort of compromise between virtuosos and swamp drake.

 

Matchups Check:

Now a quick rundown of how we can use this deck against all other factions.

·       Pure fire

o   Necessitates defending against one spot. The oink will do you good. Skyfire drakes and ghostspears will also be spammed. To attack, VB is the best option because gladies or firesworn can be cc’d or lavafielded. Pure fire has trouble defending against L units, especially with heal and cc support. Bringing VB tips this match in your favor—if you have burrowers, not so much.

·       Fire-frost

o   This is a fairly weird deck. You’ll need to deal with mountaineer, as well as good defenses and fire drakes. Mountaineers are very troublesome without mauler or a large power advantage. Shielded fire drakes and scythe fiends are another huge nuisance. Your best bet is to go offensive on exactly 2 fronts. This is probably one of the worst matchups for the deck we picked, although if it’s a big worry, we can tip the scales in our favor. Mauler makes this matchup much easier. Some top players have also included twilight curse solely for mountaineer.

·       Fire-shadow

o   This deck is fairly rare because it has a hard time against frost splashes. We don’t have a frost splash. They will rely on a lot of buffs and single strong units to take you down. Lavafield is essential for dealing with darkelf spams. Gladiatrix is also needed for disenchants, and save your oinks to use on buffed fire drakes. They are surprisingly hard to deal with if your cc is in cooldown. Luckily, if push comes to shove, you can spawn Rogan and use his cc in a pinch. A normal fire-nat deck will have difficulty attacking because nightcrawler will destroy burrowers, but we have vileblood and fire stalker which do much better. This matchup is pretty fair, although in my experience one side tends to demolish the other. Twilight vs bandits don’t tend to have long trench-warfare.

·       Fire-nature

o   This deck actually has an advantage against the standard fire-nature deck. You may have figured out by now that I’m using some fairly interesting cards. This deck has a harder time against frost splashes (especially shadow-frost) than the typical fire-nature deck, with some advantages in that it does better against non-frost splashes. VB is a double edged sword, because you both have roots and cc and damaging spells. Generally speaking, however, fire-nature has an easier time countering burrower spams than VB, especially when Rogan gets involved. Fire-nat also has an infuriating time trying to deal with fire stalkers: a well-placed oink or roots will ensure that a well drops. You have all the tools you need to stop a burrower spam.

·       Pure Shadow

o   Shadow tends to have difficulty with L units like VB. You need to be careful about spending too much power in one place, because Aura of Corruption kills everything. Shadow mages shred M units. Cc works marvels on shadow mages, and fire-drake is your best friend in this matchup. Ravage is a must. Lava field punishes any large offensives. Try to apply so much pressure that the harvester can’t come. If it does appear, make 2 gladiatrix and a skyfire drake. Mortar as well, if you have it, but make sure the mortar is in a place that the harvy must go through—you’ve wasted 50 power if he just walks around to attack another base. Green gladiatrix is better here, because you can harass the harvy all the way to your base without your unit dying. As long as you keep 2 gladies, you don’t need to worry about lifeweaving + unholy power because you have 2 disenchants. For offensives, fire stalkers work much better than burrowers (!). Shadow mages murder burrowers, but have a much harder time with fire stalkers. Once a very good player (Warchief or Patriarch, I think) who played pure shadow tried to convince me that fire stalkers aren’t as good as burrowers. He made this comment after I beat him with my firestalkers, so we did another match and I still won. (In the end I switched to burrowers because I didn’t need any more advantages against pure shadow, preferring to have them against shadow-frost.)

·       Shadow-Nature

o   This is another deck you’ll struggle with. Buffed nightcrawlers or burrowers are a nightmare, and the cost to spawn a glady and unbuff is rarely worth it. This deck is supreme at spamming a little bit to every base. Try to be proactive and use roots often to be on the safe side. Fire drake and ghostspears are immensely useful. Note that shad-nat struggles against Vileblood because their L counter is mauler, which has low range. You can root him. Also be aware that you will be getting cc’d and the enemy units can heal, so apply lavafield and erupt judiciously to take out the last bit of health. Shadow-nature probably has a slight edge, but VB helps. Disenchant might also help.

·       Shadow-Frost

o   Most people would argue that this is the best deck in the game. I’m not sure if I agree, but it is very strong. There are also a lot of different tactics shad-frost players can use, making it one of the hardest decks to prepare against. At the very least, be prepared for nightcrawler spams and Reaver-runs. Both of these need to be rooted and sniped with glady/skyfire. Ghostspears are good vs nightcrawlers, but terrible against reavers. If he decides to attack hard at one place, expect darkelf assassins and homesoil. Lavafield works well, and you can use deathgliders against darkelf assasins. VB has a 50/50 chance of working. Lightblades tend to render them useless. However, if you can oink one and get him to spawn 2, he’s wasted a lot of power. If you really want to push, bring a drake to deal with lightblades, but fire drakes die easily to nightcrawler nasty or darkelf assasins. Spamming to multiple places doesn’t really work because nightcrawlers with frenzy are a cheaper counter to whatever you spam. Hitting one well doesn’t work so well because of frost repairs. If you invest too much power in one place, you’ll get an aura of corruption. Also be wary of the cc, although yours are better. This will be a tough fight. In t3, Lost Souls has the advantage against every deck, with the possible exception of pure fire. Giant slayers are a must to combat silverwind lancers.

·       Pure Frost

o   Frost splashes are hard. They have great defense, and your deck is built around offense. Pure frost relies almost entirely on war eagles. Whoever controls the skies wins. Glady is good against them, but war eagles are even better against gladies. Cc is critical, as well as eruptions. Lava field has less use. If you can prevent frost mages with rogan or skyfire drake, frost doesn’t really have an answer to small units.

·       Frost-Nature

o   Stonekin, the bane of our existence. This will be a slow strangulation to death. You can deal with burrower spams, but a true stonekin player will slowly make engagements with you and keep his units alive until he has a huge army that he can rush you with. Neither of your offensives are likely to be successful unless one of you makes a large mistake. Your best bet is weather out the storm in t2 and go t3 when you have enough power to avoid being burrower spammed to death. Skyfire and ghostspears are a must. Mauler is the easiest way to make this matchup better for you. Scythe fiends and burrowers die very quickly to razorshards, but while you might think this is good for you because of VB, lightblades or aggressors will nullify the VB without an assisting mauler.

·       Pure Nature

o   Skyfire drakes are essential to combat burrowers and energy parasite. You have to be super careful of your VB because of parasite swarm. Fire stalker works especially well against pure nature. If the pure nature player goes for a roots-themed deck, mauler secures an easy advantage. If not, deep ones are hard to deal with but spamming gladiatrix and skyfire drakes usually works. Roots are nice, and mortar is a good way to kill them.

 

Side note: When building t2, it’s generally a bad idea to think “Look at this sick combo!” Often that combo will work really well against some factions, but it will be a wasted 2-3 slots against other factions. Look at all the factors I’ve laid out to see if your “sick combo” is worth it.

 

Final Touches:

Finally, a note about t1. Ultimately, you should play the t1 you’re best at. That said, let’s try to figure out if a particular t1 works best with this deck. So far we have 16 cards: Skyfire Drake, Gladiatrix, Rogan Kayle, Fire Stalker, Deathglider, Ghostspears, Vileblood, Surge of Light, Curse of Oink, Eruption, Ravage, Lavafield, Ensnaring Roots, Giant Slayer, Swamp Drake, and Virtuoso.

 

If you notice, 1 of the fire cards you use in t2 (2 if you count mortar), is actually a t1. 2 of the nature cards (3 if you have hurricane) are t1. This means we have room to add 4 more t1 cards. If you want more, you can pare back the t2 and rebalance it. Experienced players usually value t1 more than t2. However, most of the fighting happens in t2. So my philosophy is to go bigger t2, and just try to stay alive for t1. For beginners, t2 is much more important, although it is good to learn how to fight t1. T1 is much more technical, however. At any rate, you can do what you want with your deck.

 

In my experience teaching chess, I’ve found that beginners often get hung up trying to memorize openings and miss out on the middlegame experience—where most of the game is played. My advice to them is to stay away from technical openings; learn general principles enough to survive the opening and reach an even middlegame. From there, the better player will win. I think the same advice holds true in Battleforge. Yes, at top play the slightest inaccuracy in t1 can make you suffer all game—if you don’t outright lose (this is also applicable to grandmasters in chess). But if you’re anywhere in the middle ranks, a t1 inaccuracy will not cost you the game. Yes you should know general ideas, but knowing that whether to spawn 2 sunstriders and 2 thugs or 3 sunstriders and 1 thugs when you meet shadow in the center of Simai is not relevant yet: your time is better spent elsewhere. Things like winning a skyfire drake ditto with one shot and erupting are much more useful. Basically, don’t overextend yourself trying for a t1 advantage; just try to “survive” it and learn to play t2. You’ll pick up t1 along the way. I’ve run into countless Legend/Supreme ranked players that play a better t1 than me. Sure they get that small advantage, but they count on winning all their games from that t1 advantage and they just fumble it in t2. Learn your basics first—I’ll improve every game I play with getting slightly better at t1, but these guys need to rework their fundamentals. Here is an excellent example of MaranV being outplayed in t1 but coming back to win in t2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MLvl_hWIvns

 

For the purposes of making this guide easier to follow, I’m going to be stubborn and say that this is all the room I have for t1.

            If I play fire, the choice is easy: Scavenger, Sun Striders, Thugs, and Mortar. If I play nature, the choice is more difficult.

            If I wanted to be truly minimalist, I could play just Treespirit and Amazon. You would also need to add Hurricane, and maybe adjust the t2 balancing around S counters. And I could still add mortar tower. However, I would not recommend trying to work with such minimalism as a beginner. If you play nature and want to actually engage in a t1 fight, you need a swift unit (probably swiftclaw), hurricane, dryad, windweavers, and shaman. Treespirits are also nice. Unfortunately, that’s a lot of cards. For this reason, most fire-nat will start fire t1, especially because it gives them an excuse to use the mortar tower.

 

My final demo deck is:

T1: Scavenger, Eruption, Sun Strider, Thugs, Mortar Tower,

T2: Surge of Light, Ravage, Ensnaring Roots, Curse of Oink, Lavafield, Rogan Kayle, Ghostspears, Skyfire Drake, Deathgliders, Fire Stalker, Vileblood, Gladiatrix,

T3: Giant Slayer, Virtuoso, and Swamp Drake.

 

@SilenceKiller99 asked: Could you say some more about nature-fire (with a nature T1) and how it is different from fire-nature?

 

Yes, of course I can!

 

. . .  Oh, I suppose you wanted me to actually make those comments. Very well.

 

Fire-nature and nature-fire really don’t have any fundamental differences past t1. There are some t2 strategies that are more likely because of t1 cards, but overall the gameplay is the same. In general, nature has t1 cards that are more useful in t2, but is easier to play and slightly more flexible. I’ve also found that people who start nature t1 (GreatKudi is a good example of this) tend to play more unconventional t2 choices, such as spirit hunters. The biggest concrete difference past t1 is that having dryad can be very useful for t2 offense, while having mortar can be very useful in t2 defense. Also, I prefer the safety of having my 3rd and 1st orbs be the same color, and nature-fire-nature is probably a stronger t3 than fire-nature-fire, so that is another consideration.

 

Evolution of the Deck:

This next section of the tutorial will outline how my decks evolved, and why that was better. This section will not be present in my discussion of the 9 other factions, or it will be written by someone else.

 

Despite the negativity that I rain down on nomads, my first complete deck had them. That deck was: Nomad_nature,Sunstriders,Eruption,Wrecker,Makeshift-Tower,Surge-of-Light,Ravage,Lava-Field,Curse-of-Oink,Spirit-Hunters_nature,Twilight-Minions_fire,Deathglider_frost,Rogan-Kayle,Vileblood_nature,Skyfire-Drake,Fire-Stalker,Mauler,Sun-Reaver_nature,Drones,Ashbone-Pyro

T1: Nomad, Sun Strider, Eruption, Wrecker, Makeshift Tower,

T2: Surge of light, Ravage, Lavafield, Curse of Oink, Spirit Hunters, Twilight Minions, Deathglider, Rogan Kayle, Vileblood, Skyfire Drake, Fire Stalker, Mauler,

T3: Sun Reaver, Drones, Ashbone Pryo

 

It’s interesting to note that, while this deck cannot be considered competitive at top play, it’s still remarkably balanced. I could probably achieve Ruler level with it. As it was, I was an archfiend because I didn’t even understand what counters were. @TBPeti told me about that and void power and it changed my life. I jumped to Grandmaster the next day, after changing my t1.

 

As I’m sure you’ve noticed, I have no S counters in there. This is why nomads are bad. I generally avoided large t1 confrontations, and if I needed to defend S, the makeshift tower worked pretty well. Not the best, but it halfway worked. The second thing you should notice, after my ranting about the wonders of gladiatrix, is that she’s missing. That’s because I was completely P4F, and they hadn’t even started giving out daily rewards. I could afford maybe 2 gladies, but I wanted to have the BFP in my pocket so I could continue to make more BFP.

 

My anti-air was fairly coordinated as well. Not ideal, but it worked. Spirit hunters were good. They couldn’t even damage a ravaged drake though, so I would use the nomad spear for that. If I had known better, I would have spawned a drake and shot+erupted, or just double erupted. Admittedly, the nomad spear was pretty good against war eagles and windhunters. I’m not condoning them, I’m just saying that they did a bit to fill in the gladiatrix void. I used deathgliders and fire stalkers against S units. As soon as I learned about unit counters, I subbed in ghostspears for twilight minions. I was using the minions because I thought having stricter orb requirements (1 fire 1 nature, rather than 1 nature 1 neutral) would mean a better unit. That’s not the case. For t3, I went shadow for ashbone pyro. That’s just a great card, and it solved problems of siege and anti-air. I played around with my t3 a lot (staying shadow the whole time), sometimes doing things like soulshatter or sandstorm or unholy power. I didn’t like my drones very much. It’s pretty risky to take a different t3 orb just for one card, even a card as great as ashbone pyro. I had that conversation with TBPeti, and wizened up. I changed my nomad to scavenger immediately, which sort of forced me to get a gladiatrix and drop spirit hunters, but I held off the rest of the changes until I could do them more gradually.

 

The next time I thought my deck was finished, it had Scavenger,Sunstriders,Eruption,Thugs,Mortar-Tower,Surge-of-Light,Ensnaring-Roots,Ravage,Lava-Field,Curse-of-Oink,Rogan-Kayle,Ghostspears,Skyfire-Drake,Fire-Stalker,Vileblood_nature,Gladiatrix_nature,Mauler,Giant-Slayer,Magma-Hurler,Sun-Reaver_nature

T1: Scavenger, Eruption, Sun Strider, Thugs, Mortar Tower,

T2: Surge of Light, Ensnaring Roots, Ravage, Lavafield, Curse of Oink, Rogan Kayle, Ghostspears, Skyfire Drake, Fire Stalker, Vileblood, Gladiatrix, Mauler,

T3: Giant Slayer, Magma Hurler, Sun Reaver

 

Much improved! Pro fire-nature players will disagree with this a lot, but I prided myself on the deck’s A). Originality, and B). Low price. I was ranked about Legend with this deck, and I kept it until I heard the announcement that Battleforge was shutting down. The comments for VB vs burrowers are still valid. I dropped deathgliders, and I relied on ghostspears and fire stalker for my S counter. I did get in the occasional trouble with darkelf spamming or stone shard spamming, but overall it was okay. If the enemy spammed too much S units, lavafield was generally okay. It was a fine line to tread to overwhelm me, but at around Legend level people could do it fairly reliably. I also realized that most of the time I wasn’t using the VB, but rather just charging in with Rogan and a Ghostspear, with Fire Stalker in the back. I used the mauler because I had a lot of trouble dealing with ashbone pyros and stonekin. Sun Reavers were also not nerfed yet.

 

When I heard the game was shutting down, I finally gave up my pride and decided to just try to improve my rank. My deck was: Scavenger,Sunstriders,Eruption,Thugs,Mortar-Tower,Surge-of-Light,Ensnaring-Roots,Ravage,Lava-Field,Curse-of-Oink,Rogan-Kayle-promo,Ghostspears,Skyfire-Drake,Scythe-Fiends,Gladiatrix_nature,Burrower,Mauler,Giant-Slayer,Magma-Hurler,Sun-Reaver_nature

T1: Scavenger, Eruption, Sun Strider, Thugs, Mortar Tower,

T2: Surge of Light, Ensnaring Roots, Ravage, Lavafield, Curse of Oink, Rogan Kayle, Ghostspears, Skyfire Drake, Burrower, Scythe Fiends, Gladiatrix, Mauler,

T3: Giant Slayer, Magma Hurler, Sun Reaver

 

You’ll notice there are only 2 changes. Burrowers and Scythe fiends. The harmony of the rest of the deck still holds, with a bit better of an S counter. Occasionally I would remove Rogan and use an extra t1 card. My deck was becoming more and more the standard fire-nature deck. Ultimately, at the very top levels, it always comes down to the same cards. I will now present to you the “Pro-Player’s Fire-Nature Deck.” I don’t agree with everything in them, but I do know that my results tended to get better the more I conformed to them. Don’t just take this list and copy it, because the reasons for why cards are in your deck are more important than the cards themselves. The following deck differs from the deck I just presented for very small, tactical reasons. It’s not guided by principles, so explaining those reasons will not be of much use to you. I mostly include it so I don’t have pro players pulling out their hair and saying “firestalker? Rogan Kayle? How could you??” If you wanted just the grocery list below, you can ask any player and he could give you one. Really, the only reason I have this is to establish my credibility.

 

Pro decks:

T1: Scavenger, Eruption, Sun Striders, Thugs, Firesworn, Sunderer, Mortar,

T2: Surge of Light, Ensnaring Roots, Hurricane, Ravage, Lavafield, Curse of Oink, Ghostspears, Skyfire Drake, Burrower, Scythe Fiends, Gladiatrix,

T3: Giantslayers, Brannoc

 

Mine also works well, although a lot of players don’t have room for it. Similarly with disenchant. I’ve known some players to even forgo t3 entirely to make room for those cards. Some also drop Mortar/Sunderer.

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Pure Fire:

 

T2 Cards Overview:

This is the simplest deck to build because there really are no options. Let’s continue the outline of picking out units based on role.

 

·       Small

o   Scythe Fiends—yep, this is your only t2 S counter. Thugs could do in a pinch if you really want a S/S, but otherwise you’re stuck with scythe fiends. That makes these essential. These are really good though, and the swift is nice as well.

o   Fire Dancer—well, it does have S knockback…although you should really be using it for something else.

o   Viridya—hey! She does S damage, right? Not a ton though, and she’s pretty much a worse M/S than scythe fiends. No, if she goes in this deck it will not be primarily for her S counter.

o   Fire Stalker—this is just a worse fire dancer. Don’t use.

·       Medium

o   Enforcer—because of charge, this beats any other t2 M/M in the game. It’s a great unit, often used to kill non-M units just because it does so much damage, and is highly spammable. Essential.

o   Rageclaws—your only S/M counter, but that isn’t really needed because we’ve already discussed that enforcer beats any other M/M counter. They take a long time to build up rage and are extremely susceptible to knockback or cc, which is already a weak point in pure fire’s deck. They are also good well-droppers, but since you have fire dancers . . . need I say they’re redundant?

o   Skyfire Drake—a very strong M counter, and good for its aerial properties. This fulfills any needs of ranged M attack.

o   Rogan Kayle—these are great stats! Much better than Moon or Viridya. Unfortunately, most M/M units have great stats. He will lose to nightcrawler or enforcer in a heartbeat, and he cost much more than them. On the upside, he makes units deal more damage (a plus with an aggressive faction like pure fire). He also has a cc—although it’s not that good, it’s the only cc you can get. Still, he’s not that useful except for his abilities because we already have 2 of the 3 best M counters with enforcers and skyfire drake.

·       Large

o   Fire Stalker—yes, it does to L damage. Its real use is elsewhere though, and it’s best used as a jack-of-all-trades. Since pure fire has the master at everything fire stalker dabbles at, it’s unneeded.

o   Gladiatrix—a fantasic L counter; the range makes good for kiting and keeping her alive despite her low health. She is also good against flying units for obvious reasons.

o   Firesworn—works well with his ability, but he’s very susceptible to cc or just being killed before his shot goes off. Still good for a t1 unit, and it says a lot that I’m even mentioning him. You typically want to spawn a firesworn first to provoke a cc, and then you can make the gladies.

o   Moon—she’s just subpar with her stats and high cost. Additionally, you can’t make more than one of her, which is a huge negative when you want a card to kill a stronger card. However, due to pure fire’s debilitating weakness to L units, you may want to take her if you have the deck space. Unfortunately, she is just another M/L like gladiatrix or firesworn, and her only advantage over them is her better health.

o   Skyfire Drake—not technically an L counter, but it does very high damage anyway, and can’t be hit by most L units. If you’re using it to counter L units it’s basically a glady, but more useful after the L unit has died

·       X-Large

o   Gladiatrix—yeah, fire struggles quite a bit here. Your real strategy is to just not let your opponent pop an XL on you while you’re still t2. Gladiatrix has your highest ranged damage per power, but still dies easily. The disenchant is still useful.

o   Skyfire Drake—same as the glady, but useful for attacking as well.

o   Enforcer—just because it has really good stats.

o   Rogan Kayle—great because of his cc. It doesn’t prevent the XL from stomping on people, but that doesn’t do near as much damage as the alternative. Your defensive gladies will also benefit from Rogan’s buff because of their high dps, but they will probably be spread too far to do much benefit. He’s sort of a last-ditch effort, but let me reiterate that pure fire deserves to lose if you’ve let your opponent drop an XL on you while you’re still t2.

o   Mortar Tower—great dps, but you can’t support it with cc. This means you have a harder time against XL’s than other factions (although wildfire does work well).

·       Siege

o   Fire Dancer—the whole reason you are playing pure fire. These are hands down the best siege units in the game. Their pros should be so obvious that I’m not going to waste your time detailing them. Essential.

o   Fire Stalker—a worse fire dancer. It’s just redundant.

o   Rageclaws—high damage, but suffers greatly because of cc susceptibility. It’s definitely uncommon in a pure fire deck, but I’ve seen them more than once.

o   Termite hill—does great damage against wells and orbs, but the card is hard to use. It’s basically the building version of fire dancer, so you don’t need it, especially when you consider how hard it will be to go up.

·       Specialty

o   Rogan Kayle—his damage buff and cc can both be very useful. He’s a consideration if you have room in your deck.

o   Viridya—her passive heal is a bit wasted on pure fire because of how low all your units’ health is.

o   Skyfire Drake—useful because it flies

o   Warlock—it has an interesting ability, but it’s really weak. The general consensus is, “Why bother to spend power buffing my fire dancer slightly when I could just make 2 of them?”

 

Now let’s take a look at buildings. In general, buildings are bad because they bind power and are immobile.

·       Rallying Banner—super essential for pure fire. Your units all have low health, so they really benefit from being summoned un-dazed.

·       Mortar—only really useful for defense, and even then not so much. Fire dancers make their offensive use redundant.

·       Termite Hill—same as mortar, but without an defensive abilities

·       Rocket Tower/Pyromaniac—very good stats, but defensive buildings are inherently not useful. Don’t use these.

 

You also have some quite useful spells. Listed in order of necessity…

·       Eruption—absolutely essential for anti-air. It also helps against wells below 300 health.

·       Wildfire—your spammy spell. It does ridiculous damage and can be used as a cc in the right place.

·       Disenchant—someone once argued that it wasn’t necessary for pure fire, but I very much disagree. One of the perpetual BF debates concerns whether the green or purple disenchant is better. On one hand, the green is more useful in t3 for popping up a jugger and stampeding without being inhibited by cc. On the other hand, the purples is useful for preventing superbuffed Lost Reavers or Bandit cards, both of which pure fire can struggle against. You also have gladiatrix’s disenchant, although since the gladiatrix will usually be for defense, the purple gladiatrix has the more useful disenchant. This seems all well and good; the purple glady disenchant for defense and the green manual disenchant for offense or for the save if you don’t have a ready glady. On the other hand, the green glady is better because of swift, so maybe you ought to take green glady and rely on purple to do all the real disenchanting? Or perhaps you ought to go green and green, to maintain your ability to avoid cc on a juggernaut—after all, can’t you just double disenchant if your opponent double buffs? In my opinion, the green-purple debate is not as important as everyone makes it out to be. I think the swift on the green glady is the most important, and a purple disenchant is fine to make sure you don’t lose to bandits. There are only a few decks that can double cc a juggernaut, and even then I don’t think an extra 15-20 seconds is enough to warrant a possible loss to some combinations of buffs.

·       Ravage—you have a good healing spell, use it. Enough said.

·       Lavafield—I used to think that lavafield was just a worse wildfire, but that’s because I was using it wrong. Lavafield is for taking out a mass of units in a wide area; wildfire is for taking out a few powerful units grouped together.

·       Mine—this spell does immense damage and works like a subpar cc, but it can be microed around.

·       Scorched Earth—same use as in t1, and you probably have the deck slots to use it. Pure Fire is also strong with it because fire dancers drop structures like crazy.

·       Global Warming—this card is a hard counter to pure frost or fire-frost. Unfortunately, pure frost still has a great matchup against pure fire and global warming does very little to mitigate this.

·       Girl Power—it can be slightly useful on a gladiatrix or fire dancer, but pretty much everyone treats it like a joke. Which it is.

T3 Cards Overview:

Pure fire t3 is also pretty simple: Juggernaut is so overpowered that it basically justifies your whole deck. In theory you want offensive, defensive, and spammy cards—so I will list them like a normal deck—but juggernaut is so strong that you don’t really have to worry about anything else. Basically the juggernaut kills the enemy faster than the enemy can kill you, so you should be fine just neglecting your own defense to concentrate everything on attack. As an added plus, all your orbs are the same, so you’ll never “skip” a tier. When I played fire-nature-shadow, I had to be paranoid about losing my fire or nature orb because I would essentially drop to t1 (or worse) if I lost either of those. It’s not unheard of for someone to play fire-fire-shadow (because bandits have probably the best t3 in the game) but taking that route requires more t3 cards. Most players prefer the “efficiency” of going fire all 3 orbs and taking a light—but still very strong—t3, saving room for a larger t1. If you don’t want to read the explanations below (and I don’t blame you because I don’t want to write it either), all you really need for fire t3 is Juggernaut and Giant Slayer, for the above reasons. That said, let’s get on with the whole breakdown.

 

·       Offensive cards

o   Backlash—deals a lot of damage, but it’s rarely used because it only does half damage against structures.

o   Brannoc—extremely powerful. The biggest problem with him is what happens when you rely on him but your opponent pulls him first. You really don’t need him though because jugger is just a better Brannoc. You’ll think he’s super lame though when your jugger loses to a healed or buffed Brannoc, because other factions can do those sorts of things.

o   Curse well—very slow. If you use this card, you need to play a mostly defensive t3 and bleed your opponent dry. Using this card immediately awards you the title “lamer.” Nothing about this card synergizes with pure fire.

o   Giantslayer—when raged up, they deal a ton of damage (1000 per charge). They are especially susceptible to cc’s though. In one of the great ironies of the game, it is better to defend giantslayers with t2 cards than t3 cards. Don’t use this card if you rush t3 while your opponent stays t2, unless you also have a power advantage. The biggest plus of this card is that it’s difficult to cost-effectively defend against, making it very spammable.

o   Inferno—sure, it does a lot of damage. But you’re probably better off just using enlightenment and earthshaker for that much power.

o   Shrine of War—a great card, but I doubt you’ll be able to make much use of it. That’s a lot of power to bind and the cooldown is long. The match will probably be over before it’s ready.

o   Sun Reaver—used to be the fire equivalent of the ashbone pyro. Then it got nerfed to oblivion. It’s hardly worth using now. It takes so long to build up its flame that a giant slayer will kill the well faster. I would like to see this card get buffed so it deals regular damage against structures and slower damage against units. But until this happens, you have a large, slow giant slayer that can’t charge or hamstring. I’d also put the unnerfed one as defensive, but this is useless at killing units.

o   Virtuoso—fairly good stats. The ability does a lot of damage to structures. Also a good L/L, although that’s a more defensive job.

o   Vulcan—great attack, but low health. He dies a bit too easily for my taste, and there’s just something disappointing about a ranged unit that can’t hit air. Still, his graphics are awesome.

o   Juggernaut—the reason to play t3 fire. Stampede is so good, and it’s a fairly cheap XL unit with amazing stats.

o   Spitfire—a quite good (or lame) unit. The biggest problem with it is that it’s rather slow (i.e. not as good as jugger) and cost as much as a jugger. There’s probably not room for both cards in your deck, and the juggernaut is just better. I’ve seen this card much more in 2v2, and it is usable if you really want because you have the room to put it in your t3. This card is also pretty lame if your opponent doesn’t have a good t3 anti-air, but it dies super fast if he does (I think 2 magma hurlers win against it).

·       Defensive cards

o   Backlash, to kill attacking enemies. The problem is that backlash is expensive and has a large cooldown, making it inefficient against spammy t3 units.

o   Giantslayer—I told you these cards were ironic, right? Despite their name, they’re not the best XL counters. They can do a good job, but you’d think that 240 power of giantslayers would beat 220 worth of a juggernaut, right? Especially since giantslayers counter XL, and juggers don’t? But giantslayers suffer from very low health, so most XL’s 2-shot them before they can get rage built up. If the gs is raged, a single one can take out an XL unit (if you support it with cc and heals and get the 1500 damage charge). But if they aren’t raged, they don’t do so well. I believe it takes 4 giant slayers to kill 1 juggernaut if they start from rest. Nasty surprises, lifeweaving, or wildfires defeat them easily. However, giantslayers are still very useful because of their hamstring effect. It slows enemies down to give you more time to prepare your defenses. It’s also good for defending spammy units, because giantslayers are just as cheap as them.

o   Magma Hurler—not great stats, but it’s ranged and knocks back M units. They’re also nice anti-air. Air units are typically bad in t3, but every now and then you have that one guy who uses them and if you don’t have an answer, you start to rage and call him a lamer in the chatbox. Pointed out by @RadicalX: their biggest downside is that they take 4 seconds between shots, allowing your opponent to micro around them and kill the magma hurler without taking any damage. This isn’t that bad an issue, however, because nobody has time to micro one unit obsessively in t3 and 2 de-synced magma hurlers or a cc can prevent the dodging. Also, a magma hurler does not want to attack anything that also wants to attack it. I recommend him over the Virtuoso because of the ability to hit air.

o   Magma Spore—good anti-air defenders. Not good at defending much else (actually, they can do a lot of damage to L units with their ability). Also good at spamming.

o   Vulcan—can do massive damage with his ability and roots. Unfortunately, he cost a lot, so it doesn’t defend against cheap spammy cards well.

o   Juggernaut—not the best defender because it can’t effectively deal with spammy cards, but it has great stats to protect one base. Its real use as a defender, however, is launching an offense instead. The best defense is a good offense, right?

·       Spammy cards

o   Giantslayer—cheap, does a TON of damage, and swift. Also can’t be knocked back. They are very susceptible to cc, however. And they lose to most t3 units 1on1. However, giantslayers should primarily be used to spam 1 to every base, forcing the enemy to waste at least 120 power at each one. This gives you a power advantage, and you push harder at the weakest one with your offensive unit. Spamming 1 to each base also negates the efficiency of cc.

o   Magma Spore—cheap, and their ability is good. They’re also air units, which makes them especially good against any non-shadow faction (that has no ashbone pyro). The biggest problem with them is trying to micro them. They’re easy to forget about. If memory serves me, it takes 6 to drop a base of 2 wells and 1 orb.

 

Building the Deck:

So let’s build our deck! Again, I’m going to start in t2 because this is the most important phase for beginners. This time I’m going to start with the essential cards; our choices are pretty easy because we don’t have a ton of options.

 

Obviously I’ll need Scythe Fiends, Enforcer, Skyfire Drake, Fire Dancer, Gladiatrix, and Rallying Banner. This puts me at open spots. To add the spells I consider nonnegotiable, we’ll have Eruption, Wildfire, Disenchant, Ravage, and Lavafield.  9 spots left. Look at that! I can take a full t1 (scavenger, eruption, sunstrider, thugs, firesworn, sunderer, mortar tower) and have just enough room for my juggernaut and giant slayer. But do I really need mortar tower if I have such a large t1? Would scorched earth be more useful?

 

So after much (translation: 34 ½ seconds) deliberation, I have decided to go with the following as my deck: Scavenger,Sunstriders,Eruption,Thugs,Firesworn_frost,Sunderer,Mine,Scorched-Earth_fire,Ravage,Wildfire,Lava-Field,Disenchant_nature,Rallying-Banner,Firedancer-promo,Enforcer,Skyfire-Drake,Scythe-Fiends,Gladiatrix_nature,Giant-Slayer,Juggernaut-promo

 

T1: scavenger, eruption, sunstrider, thugs, firesworn (red), sunderer, mine, scorched earth (red)

T2: scythe fiends, enforcer, skyfire drake, fire dancer, rallying banner, gladiatrix (green), wildfire, lavafield, disenchant (green), ravage

T3: juggernaut, giant slayer

 

As you can see, it was a fairly easy call. There wasn’t a ton of options available. Sure I could have gone with a smaller t1 to accommodate a greater variety of t2 (maybe rogan, global warming or rageclaws could have been good candidates), but I felt that the larger t1 would be fine. Jugger can serve as an anti-air if you really need it. I chose to play both glady and disenchant as green because this way I can double disenchant a buff if I really need to—if I brought a purple disenchant I would be unable to double disenchant a cc if I needed it. Especially since I’m carrying a light t3, I would rather have that disenchant be a bit more useful in t3. I decided to forgo global warming because I figured that I’d still lose to pure frost even if I brought it, so why bother? The fire-frost matchup isn’t common enough to warrant it either, in my opinion.

 

The deck’s biggest problem will be against L units, but there’s not really anything we can do about that. We’ve taken all the reasonable L counters, although you could bring Moon if you really have a problem with L units. But you’re better off learning to deal with them, because L units are a standard weakness in every pure fire deck.

 

Reality Check:

Since all the puzzle pieces fit together so nicely, we’ve already filled out our t1 and t3. Still, let’s double check and see how our deck stands up against the following:

1.     Defending walls

2.     Defending t3 rushes (or harvester)

3.     Defending cheap spams for spread-out agro

4.     Performing cheap spams for spread-out agro

5.     Defending a full-on attack at one place

6.     Performing a full-on attack at one place

7.     Preventing a large standing army

8.     Building a large standing army

 

1.     We can’t defend walling, but there’s nothing we can change to make it better. Wallbreaker could work if we’re desperate, but please. Git gud. Preventing walls from going up in the first place isn’t so bad. If they do go up, wildfire does a semi-decent job of killing those archers. If worse comes to worse, ignore your defense and respond with a more powerful offense. If you really need to kill the units on the wall, wildfire does a decent job.

2.     You can defend a t3 rush by stopping it before it happens. Seriously, you’re pure fire. Fire dance him to death. If your opponent can let 300 power sit in his pool without using it, you deserve to lose. And you will, because anything XL will eat you. Gladiatrix and mortar and mine might kill something after it drops your well, but even that is iffy. Just don’t get in that situation; you have the tools to prevent it. If you notice, I made sure to include scorched earth in my deck just to make sure there will be no accidental t3 rushing.

3.     Enforcers defend cheap spams very well. End of story, you win.

4.     You don’t, however, launch cheap spams well. Or at all, actually. All of your units are highly specialized and therefore can’t perform the myriad of duties required to apply pressure alone.

5.     Obviously you can’t defend as well as frost, but wildfire kills really fast. The combination of spells and enforcers means that it can be quite difficult to breach your defenses in one place. You struggle from lack of cc, however, so if your opponent gets an opening when you are low on power, you have no way of stalling.

6.     At last, good news! You are the best faction at launching a full-scale attack on one place. Fire dancers from rallying banner, enforcers and skyfire drake to kill anything trying to kill the dancers, and gladiatrix or scythe fiends or spells to kill anything trying to kill your enforcer or skyfire drake. As long as your fire dancers stay alive and attacking, you can’t be stopped. You can also drop wildfire around the well to deal damage to the well and force defending units to walk around it, giving you even more time to attack.

7.     You are also one of the best at preventing large standing armies. It would be a little better if you had cc to prevent the enemy from running away, but wildfire or your other spells kill so quickly that it hardly matters.

8.     As far as building your own army, you’re . . . average. Maybe a bit below. Your units all have low health and they die easily. On the plus side, they’re quite cheap so you can create that large army on the fly, and rallying banner means it can appear wherever you want.

 

Matchups Check:

·       Pure fire

o   The other guy is carrying almost the exact same cards as you because there is so little variation possible. In every instance that you have the possibility of differentiating (scorched earth vs mortar or global warming, green disenchant/glady vs purple) helps your matchup against fire dittos. Even then, it’s only a minuscule difference. You might have trouble if your opponent brings spitfire, but juggernaut kills it very fast. If he runs away, just let the spitfire kill you at half the rate that your juggernaut will kill him. As a general rule, the first player to get a juggernaut up wins.

·       Fire-nature

o   Maps can make a big difference in the matchup. T2 tends to be very anticlimactic because neither of you can do much against the other faction. Fire-nat can cc or lavafield if your armies get too large, and your enforcers can take out all of their M units. The thing you need to worry about most is ghostspears because you don’t have the best counter to them. If someone wins in t2 it will be because that player managed to manipulate the power in such a way that he ended up with a lot of power while his opponent was at a low point (after a failed attack, for instance). You’ll almost definitely have a better t1, fire-nat will have a slight t2 edge because of ghostspears, and you’ll have the advantage in t3 because of juggernaut and the green disenchant.

·       Fire-shadow

o   Because you have neither the purple gladiatrix or disenchant, this matchup will be particularly hard for you. Nightcrawlers or skyfire drakes are good against fire dancers, especially if buffed. T3 can also go either way, depending on what he’s carrying. On the plus side, bandits has no form of defense whatsoever, so aggression can quickly spiral into a dropped well—it works against you too, though. Bandits is like the up-close and personal version of pure fire.

·       Fire-frost

o   Mountaineer will curb-stomp you. There are definitely ways around it (get in his feet to slow him, lay a couple wildfires, and hope he micros less than half as well as you), but he’s just tough to deal with. I have a hard time with them in fire-nature, and I have cc and mauler to assist. Ice shields are definitely a huge problem for you, and if this deck was more common I’d probably recommend taking global warming. As it is, try to beat your opponent in t1 or last until t3, where you have the advantage.

·       Pure Shadow

o   These matchups are always interesting. You’ve probably lost if you let a harvester get up, but you’ve got a slight edge before then. You can keep on the pressure from range and keep the shadow player’s power low. If it looks like he’s saving power, a quick attack with fire dancers will drop wells/orbs very quickly because of the lack of frost. If he’s proactive you’ll have much more trouble because shadow mages will dominate most of your cards. You have good spells to counter them though, as long as you keep enough power in reserve. You have trouble building a large attack because befallen’s curse really hurts. Undead army is also particularly difficult for you to handle, but that cost a lot of power and you can generally launch a counter-offensive to punish it.

·       Shadow-frost

o   Your biggest problems will be lost reaver or mountaineer. You should be fine against the staple of the lost souls deck, nightcrawler, though. Your high aggression tends to suffer because of the frost splash, but it’s quite possible for you to maintain the pressure long enough to crack your opponent’s defense. You need to be careful about allowing t3, however, because LS often brings a very large t3. If you can, try to rush t3 so that you can get a jugger out—if not, use scorched earth and spam to bring down a monument when your opponent goes t3.

·       Shadow-nature

o   This matchup is probably good for you. Your good M counter slams the door at nightcrawlers and burrowers. Shadow-nature also has no frost, so if you get an attack up and running, it will succeed. On the downside, you can get stopped by cc and a nasty or aura of corruption will take out your whole army pretty easily. Your t3 is better.

·       Pure Frost

o   Just cry. War eagles are like hungry teenagers that eat everything you own, even the pickle juice. All of your units are M and only the M/L glady hits air. The war eagle is just a better L/M than the glady is a M/L. You have some hope with skyfire drake. If you control the skies, you have a change. It’s just really hard to do that. Probably the biggest deterrent for people trying to play pure fire is how much it hurts to play the frost matchup. To be fair though, you have a large t1 which means you should get a t1 advantage 7 times out of 10.

·       Frost-nature

o   This is tough because of how defensive stonekin is. If you can get a t1 advantage (you should, since you’ll have either more t1 cards or t3 cards than them), you can potentially carry it over into t2. At worst, your t3 is stronger than stonekin. If stonekin manages to keep you t2, you’re done.

·       Pure Nature

o   You know how you cry when you play against frost? Nature cries when he plays against you. Parasite swarm is next to useless. Skyfire drake is the best energy parasite counter. Slow power manipulation doesn’t work because he’ll be dead by the time he sees void returns. You outrange his root shenanigans. If the match gets to an even t3 he’s lost. Timeshifter spirit and fathom lord might make a good defense against jugger, but giant slayers will take them out pretty fast. @Taker comments that I exaggerate fire’s advantage over nature; he believes the factions have an equal matchup because of Deep One, which fire has a very hard time combating. Shrine of Memory can also give nature a huge power advantage, and if he gets Brannoc up before you get a jugger things will go south really quickly.

 

Final Touches:

So yeah, you have the tools do deal with almost everything the other decks can throw at you. Which is good, because we used almost every tool in the small toolbox available to us. Nothing to change, but you already knew that. Pure fire is one the most popular decks and is highly competitive—it’s fun to play and does better than average against most decks, with the notable exception that it fails against pure frost. The demo deck we built was near enough to top players’ decks that we can skip that section. There’s nothing to change here.

 

Evolution of the Deck

Yeah no, there’s not really any evolution to speak of. I’ll just add a PM Taker sent me.

 

I played a big T1 with scorched earth. 
Don’t think it’s necessary but I feel pretty confident with it cause I played a long T1 so I could stop my opponent going T2 and win the game by kicking his orb. I’m a pretty big fan of this card. 

 

Mine isn’t good in pure fire cause you have wildfire in t2 and any good player can dodge mine. 

Wrecker is good for lower ranked players with problems against nature and maybe frost t1 but I recommend learning to play without it and adding scorched earth instead.  Same with global warming: Its good vs pure frost and fire/frost but useless in any other matchup. So if you have big problems with pure frost or fire frost you can add it otherwise take scorched earth. 

 

I played big T1 and pretty small T3. 

I’m a big fan of purple gladiatrix and green disenchant. I only used glady for defense against L units and harvester. So I had a cheap purple disenchant for their buffs. I don’t need speed when I’m defending so I have no disadvantage with the low speed. 

I have green disenchant for my juggernaut which is necessary in my opinion cause any nature split has 2 cc´s maybe 3 cause of that is nearly useless to take purple disenchant. 

 

Here is my old deck: 

T1: Sunstrider, Scavenger, Thugs, Mortar Tower, Eruption, Sunderer, Firesworn (red), Scorched Earth

T2: Enforcer, Firedancer, Gladiatrix (purple), Scythe Fiends, Skyfire Drake, Ravage, Rallying Banner, Wildfire, Lavafield, Disenchant (green)

T3: Giant Slayer, Juggernaut

 

Which is exactly the same as my deck except with mortar tower instead of mine, and the different affinity gladiatrix. As you can see, there’s not a ton you can do to be original with a pure fire deck.

 

Fire-Shadow:

This deck is deceptively difficult to make. In theory it seems like fire-shadow is just a combination of everything OP, but in practice it has a few debilitating holes. Trying to cover up those holes means you don’t quite get to use all the OP-ness at your disposal.

 

Additionally, t1 is more important for bandits than for almost any other deck. Bandits just has some really bad matchups and you’ll need to play a long t1 and early t3 to survive those. Note that when I say “long t1” I don’t mean staying t1 against t2 to accumulate a power advantage. If you do that you leave yourself very open to a rush when you do go t2 later—remember that you must defend proactively. Instead, stay t1 and apply continuous pressure so that neither of you can go t2 until you have a lot of power. Against frost splashes, an early t3 is especially useful early on.

 

I will now bring in guest speaker @LagOps to discuss some of the differences between shadow t1 and fire t1.

 

Hello! I’m LagOps, a former bandits main from the old days of Battleforge. A bandits guide has often been requested, but I was just too busy playing Battleforge and never got a guide done ;). Even now I am haunted by never-ending guide requests and I think it is about time I got this over with!

 

Faction profile:
Bandits combine the elements of fire (aggression) and shadow (risk). It has access to some of the best offensive t2 options but suffers from deckslot issues and a weak defense. The overall playstyle is dominated by fast and decisive gameplay, which must be heavily adapted to the individual matchups because of the defense issues.

 

In contrast to most other factions, bandits don’t have many standard tactics (i.e. usable in most matchups), and are forced to play around the weaknesses of the faction to succeed.
Thus mastering bandits requires solid faction knowledge, (pre-match)-planning and theory-crafting, but above all, creativity and the ability to read your enemy’s moves and preferences (playing “mindgames”) is going to win you matches!
Do not be afraid to try out underused cards (IF, and only if, you know which holes they can fill in your deck)!


T1:
Usually, the choice about which t1 to play in other factions is very simple: If you are a shadow splash, play shadow. If you are a fire splash, play fire.

Bandits gives you the choice between the most popular and also most similar t1s in the game. The most frequent deck building questions are without a doubt: Which t1 do I play? Why is everyone playing fire? Before getting into the actual deck building section I would like to answer those questions beforehand. In t1 itself, both fire and shadow are very strong and there really is not too much of a difference between them. What makes most players chose fire is the synergy of certain t1 cards with the bandit t2.

 

Nasty surprise vs. eruption:
In a bandits deck, there are not many high hp units in t2 to make good use of nasty surprise. Out of all shadow splashes, bandits has by far the most low hp units. If you nasty something it usually is a nightcrawler and your enemy will be aware of this! Sending a single NC into the enemy units is just very, very telegraphed in defense and usually gets rooted at the power well right away by nature splashes and fire splashes usually erupt right before you would want to nasty, often resulting in a catastrophic fail nasty! Also heals can provoke fail nasties a lot! Even simple micro management can ruin your day as you have nothing to keep enemy units in place.
Lavafield in t2 seems like a much better choice as bandits do have a very good air defense and do not need to rely on nastiess vs. drakes and other flying units. When playing shadow t1, lava field is no longer a core card, but I would still recommend it for dealing instant (non telegraphed) damage and it’s synergy with aura of corruption (“AoC”).

 

Eruption has an a lot lower aoe, but it isn’t telegraphed and can punish micro mistakes heavily. Despite its lower aoe and lower damage in comparison to nasty, but being able to cast it with no delay is a huge advantage when used in a bandit deck. If bandits ever have to defend, they want to get rid of the threat quickly and reliably without ANY chance to mess things up. Extended sieges usually end with a well down for the bandit player. Often it is best to use eruption to shut down dazed summons before the attack gets rolling. In addition to all that, it is used differently enough from lavafield to have lots of use in t2 in contrast to nasty surprise. For instance, you can spam it in an attack against units summoned at the well. You will do damage to both the well and the unit without pulling your attackers away, and it’s often worth the power cost. I’m not recommending this as a frequent way to use eruption, but it’s a tactic that eruption makes available that can’t be done with nasty.

 

Firesworn vs. nightguard:
In other shadow splashes, nightguard is really useful in t2 because those decks can provide cc and in case of frost even cc + building repairs to prevent the well from dropping and making sure the swap is a success. This is not the case with bandits! If your nightguard (“ng”) gets cc’ed or killed, there is suddenly a full hp L unit hitting your well. If you failed the swap, the well is down: you’re even too late for AoC most of the time! The preparation time and the high risk (literally betting everything on one card) make this card a poor choice in a bandit deck. In addition, bandits have little-to-no way of preventing a return swap.

 

Firesworn on the other hand delivers high burst damage and forces cc early on. The red affinity helps taking down the enemy L unit with a stanced darkelf assassin squad quickly before your well is in danger. Firesworn is just so much more reliable in a bandits deck and can remains your main L counter in t2, if you chose not to bring gladiatrix or windhunter. Even if you bring gladiatrix, I’d suggest starting with a firesworn because it forces a cc, allowing you to bring out your other units.

 

Motivate vs. other fire t1 options:

Motivate seems like a great choice if you are doing a rallying banner attack in t2 with assassins and nightcrawlers since you are relying on those units a lot in t2 anyways. However: all of your t2 units (yes, ALL of them no matter what you play) are highly susceptible to enemy cc. Using a poorly timed motivate only makes this issue worse. Motivate also excels in multi base attacks, but again I usually am not doing too much of those as rallying banner attacks usually have a higher efficiency. That’s still a personal preference, however. If you have really good macro-management skills and start shadow t1, motivate is a good choice.

 

T2 Cards Overview:

Now that we’ve got that sorted out, on to t2!

·       Small

o   Banditos—these guys have pretty good stats for power cost, but you run into the same problem as northguards in frost t1. Darkelf Assassins are just better S/S than bandits because they have range; they can also do that extra damage early on, so a group of darkelves will annihilate a group of banditos. Additionally, Scythe fiends are great M/S melee units so there’s just not a place for banditos as an S counter. They may find some use as a spam to many places, but I would say they are pretty ineffective at that, so you won’t find me recommending them for any other roles either.

o   Windhunters—their knockback is a little funky. I’ve found that this makes it better for use on melee units and worse on ranged units. You’ll not be spawning a 120 power unit just for the knockback (except maybe if you’re faced with an undead army spam), but it can help if you’ve already got one out.

o   Darkelf Assassins—these are great cards. They’re cheap and have great stats which meets both the criteria for a spammy unit. Additionally, the way they can do extra damage in the beginning really helps them hit hard in a fast attack. These are essential for your deck.

o   Fire Stalker—the knockback can be useful, but it’s slow and not worth 70 power to use. You’ll need an additional unit to actually kill the S units, and why spawn a fire stalker and darkelf assassins when you can just spawn 2 darkelf assassins and kill them faster?

o   Ripper—suffers from the same problems as banditos. They’re too expensive for not enough stats. Maybe I’d use them in another deck, but darkelves are just so much better.

o   Scythe Fiends—great damage for S units, and will work great if you have to kill some darkelves yourself. Unfortunately, darkelves and MA are really the only S/S units you’ll ever face; which means you’d be bringing scythe fiends to use against one or two cards. Additionally, but darkelves and MA are only dangerous when spammed, and lavafield will usually make quick work of that. In defense of scythe fiends, they have the most attack and health of any unit you can play. This makes them good candidates for buffing and can potentially make them “everything counters.” If you’re struggling against pure shadow (which has a hard time against strong solo units), you may want to consider scythe fiends; otherwise, they just don’t fill a role that needs filling.

o   Viridya—ehh, I’m not sure how well she fits in with the bandits. That’s lot of power for something with less stats than scythe fiends, and we’ve already determined that they have limited use. Her passive heal isn’t that great either for 2 reasons: bandit cards have atrocious health, and you won’t be have large armies sitting around.

o   Bandit Sorceress—truthfully, I’ve never seen her used. Her stats look comparable to darkelf assassins (I don’t know how she looks upgraded), although most of the reason DA are good is because they can stack and do double damage in the beginning. Her ability isn’t very good because bandits have no real good buildings (please someone take this as a challenge to make a building-themed bandits deck starring Bandit SorceressJ), and have no way of ensuring the buildings go up. She also only has 3 uses per charge, which really infringes on her spamability. I don’t really think there’s any way she is better than DA, but I also don’t see the reason for her being as rarely used as she is. @Mental Omega said that her damage is actually 366, rather than the 550 stated on the card. He also brought up a good point that she could be used on mortar tower.

·       Medium

o    Bandit Spearmen—yowza! Those are some nice stats. The slowing ability may be useful as a pseudo-cc against XL units, but the spearmen themselves aren’t swift which sort of negates the usefulness there. They could work with magma hurlers and bandit lancers, but there may be a more effective t3 combo available…. They do crazy damage and have among the best health of any unit available to you, but the bottom line is . . . they aren’t necessary? Well, we’ll see later. This is one of those cards that seems really nice to have in theory, but it’s just too easy to find 20 cards which are nicer to have. You don’t really need them for the M counter since nightcrawler and skyfire drake will cover that. All this said, they still have great stats. You may want to consider them a bit more if you play shadow t1, since these are probably your best nasty candidates.

o   Commandos—you’re not using them for their M counter. However, they are great for camping an offense with, particularly against non-frost splashes. They are almost impossible to kill. Unfortunately they deal damage very slowly and cost a lot. Also mauler shuts them down.

o   Eliminator—sure, he has good stats. But no frenzy or charge, which means he’s fodder for nightcrawlers or enforcers. The only reason to take him over nightcrawler is because elimator has more health, meaning a better nasty if you have it.

o   Nightcrawler—depending on whom you ask, the best M/M unit is either nightcrawler or enforcer. They both have their pros and cons, but I would list nightcrawler as essential in any deck that has shadow. Aside from their swift, cheap cost, good stats, and useful frenzy, they have just enough health to kill a skyfire drake with nasty surprise. This is less important to bandits than to other shadow splashes because you have eruption and tons of other good anti-air.

o   Skyfire Drake—a flier with good M damage. I can’t laud it enough. You know the drill.

o   Rogan Kayle—with so many good M counters, do we really need one more with subpar stats? Actually, I’d suggest Bandits is probably the deck Rogan is most useful for. Everything has high attack, which pairs especially well with Rogan’s damage buff. If you pop him up at a rallying banner he won’t die as quickly, and he can do a good cc. Unfortunately, all of these things are niceties; bandits has no lack of niceties. Don’t drop something essential to take him, but don’t write him off as useless either.

o   Rageclaws—not so useful as M counters, but do better at hitting wells. Unfortunately, your deck is especially susceptible to cc and rageclaws are hurt extra hard by cc.

·       Large

o   Fire Stalker—sure it has L counter. It’s reasonably sturdy, but just doesn’t have the damage output.

o   Firesworn—don’t bring him if you go shadow t1, but he’s still useful here if you’ve got him. The biggest downside to firesworn is that he can’t hit air, but Windhunter covers that part.

o   Gladiatrix—normally a staple, gladiatrix is actually a bit redundant here. Windhunter can do the disenchant and L counter for just a bit more (the disenchant is actually cheaper). It’s still a powerful unit if you want to bring her, but she is not the only card that can fill the anti-air niche. Also, firesworn can cover ground L units almost as well as her.

o   Moon—nah … If you want to bring her, go for it. I don’t like her though.

o   Nightguard—it has its uses if you played shadow t1; unfortunately bandits’s biggest struggle is with time because they have no cc or defense. Proactive is the name of the game. If you can successfully bring the Nightguard out early, you’ll be fine, but that’s often punishable elsewhere. Bandits really need to be able to erect a defense quickly, and nightguards are not quick.

o   Windhunter

·       X-Large

o   Skyfire drake—has the most dps

o   Gladiatrix—also high dps, but suffers from dying easily. Disenchant is also a plus.

o    Windhunter—pretty bad dps for the cost, but has a cheap disenchant.

o   Darkelf Assassins—the best way to rack that damage up as soon as possible.

o   Moon—actually, since bandits have such bad XL t2 defense, Moon can actually be useful for her ability.

·       Siege

o   Sunderer—yes, they have terrible stats for the power cost when you’re t2. BUT, these guys still have the most siege dps of any of your available cards. If you play fire t1, sunderer is a recommended card. It will definitely not be your most-used card, but it can help in certain matchups.

o   Fire Stalker—while they do have siege, they don’t do a ton of damage to begin with. Usually it’s better to just attack with a bunch of nightcrawlers or darkelf assassins. If you find that you have the room, try these out those.

o   Nightcrawler—frenzied and/or buffed, these guys do a lot of damage to everything, including wells. They’re also nice because they can attack en masse in one place, or spread to pressure many places at once, aided by their swift.

o   Commandos—they won’t take a well down quickly, but they can add lasting pressure. I like them; unfortunately it comes down to the question of reliability versus gimmicks. I really doubt we’ll have the deck space to bring them. One can only hope.

o   Darkelf Assasins—similar to the nightcrawler, but better at attacking one place than several. You’ll need a rallying banner to use them for offense, but they’re quite good at dropping wells, especially since their ability does damage early on. Even if they die, they’ve gotten more than their fair share of damage in.

o   Shadow Phoenix—so you don’t really have any dedicated siege units. That means your attack will just be with a lot of units, most of which die very easily. Plus you’re really good at killing other units. That means Shadow Phoenix can hit wells very aggressively and confidently revive because of all the units that die on both sides. The biggest downside to the phoenix is that it begs a cc from your opponent.

·       Special

o   Skyfire Drake—a flying unit. Also great because of buffs. A buffed skyfire drake is nothing to laugh at. If you rush t2 and have power for a buffed skyfire, frost lightblade is the only thing with any sort of defense. Not that you even need to buff a skyfire against frost, because their dps is so low.

o   Windhunter—flying also. And has disenchant. Not so useful for buffing and attacking wells or M units because the skyfire has more dps. It can work quite nicely with ravage because of the disenchant, however. Until I met LagOps, I always thought that the purple one was better. However, LagOps knows some good techniques with the green one and taking the green allows a nice synergy with the purple disenchant. The green windhunter can self-disenchant to avoid coldsnaps or nightguard/parasite swarm swaps.

o   Shadow Phoenix—like a lavafield, but with a smaller aoe, waiting time, and the possibility to revive. These can be very good for offensives.

o   Bandit Stalker—uhm, what are these guys doing? They have buff penetration, which can be good. And the one with beast damage is really good against scythe fiends, nightcrawler, and burrower. Still, it’s such a highly specialized card that I doubt it will be worth it. Only recommended to take if you have a particular matchup that you are really bad at and this will help you.

 

While Bandits does have some decent buildings (and bandit sorceress, which really rewards buildings), it really struggles getting them up without any form of cc or building protection. The closest thing to a building combo would be an aggressive rallying banner and AoC combined with building spams, but that takes an IMMENSE amount of power and is simply not as good as the Lost Souls equivalent.

·       Bandit Tower—sure it has good stats. But it’s just a stationary building. Next.

·       Furnace of Flesh—works quite well with cultist masters, but nothing else. If you want to use this card, play a different shadow splash.

·       Rioter’s Retreat—once again, just a building. The passive heal to bandits isn’t even that good because there are so few “bandit” cards worth bringing.

·       Skydefender—only hits air? Why did I waste the time even mentioning it.

·       Soulsplicer—actually can be quite useful. For sure don’t use it if you start fire t1, but if you’ve got it for shadow t1, it’s still good here. The green version heals, which can be quite nice for you.

·       Stone of Torment—nope

·       Termite Hill—I’ve always wanted to use this in a real deck. It’s such a neat card, and so overpowered and underpowered at the same time. It’s super difficult to get these up, but if they get up they do massive damage. I can’t even imagine what would happen if a bandit sorceress got in one. Unfortunately, bandits have a particularly hard time getting buildings up.

·       Time Vortex—just a building, and not even useful because you have no void manipulation

 

Spells! Bandits have some really good spells, especially buffs.

·       Eruption—great for so many reasons. Check out the other places for more details.

·       Life weaving—practically essential for bandits. Fire damage cards with buffs is really the reason to play this faction.

·       Mine—can be quite useful as a quasi-cc and for defending. AoC and lavafield do so much damage, however, that mine is not as useful as you would think.

·       Motivate—works well with spam. See LagOps’s section about it above.

·       Nasty surprise—see LagOps’s section above.

·       Scorched Earth (red)—can be quite useful, particularly for bandits. Since you struggle against building repairs, it’s often nice to stop a monument from getting up in the first place. Plus, the 20% extra damage effectively drops 600 health from the monument; while that’s not amazing, it’s nothing to scoff at either.

·       Aura of Corruption—immensely powerful, this one is a staple because of its great defensive abilities. Perhaps you can get by without this, but with a defense as bad as fire-shadow’s I’d take anything I can get.

·       Disenchant—you have 3 ways of getting this ability (glady and windweaver as the other 2), so it’s not really essential. Still useful though. The purple is almost definitely better (you have no juggernaut), especially if you take the green windhunter.

·       Lavafield—great for the aoe damage. It stops spams very well. However, you have cards with a similar function: AoC, lavafield, and shadow phoenix. Each has their own role obviously, and it’s perfectly conscionable to take all 3, but are they really worth 3 decks slots . . . ?

·       Ravage—healing? Please yes.

·       Unholy power—bandits are commonly perceived as being the deck that revolves around buffs. As such, you should take as many as you can, right? Well . . . maybe. Ultimately it’s a matter of personal preference, unholy power usually isn’t as good as life weaving because it costs more power, making disenchant or cc cost effective for your opponent.

·       Warrior’s Death—LagOps hates this cardJ. I’ll let him rant a bit more about its downsides below, but as a non-bandit player I think it sounds wonderful. You can’t be cc’d? And you more damage or—better yet—take less damage? You mean I can have an invincible unit (against non-disenchant splashes) and then buff him really hard? Let’s do some math: NC has 815 damage, double with frenzy, an extra 2000 with unholy power, along with warrior’s death = a WHOLE LOT of damage. Of course this can be countered by disenchant and takes a lot of power to pull off.

 

T3 Cards Overview:

Bandits have arguably the best options for t3. Everything is so good! How to choose . . . ? Unfortunately, the weaknesses from t2 persist. It’s also easy for you to get rushed by something like burrowers when you go t3, because you have no cc to stop it. These are things you ought to consider when building your t3.

·       Offensive cards

o   Ashbone Pyro—such a great card. Especially with buffs. He doesn’t have such great synergy with the rest of the bandits t3, however. Still, you can’t go wrong with him.

o   Corsair—this can get you wins in lower ELO, but not so much in higher levels. Yes, many players don’t even bother with t3 anti-air. But corsair is slow and a good player will be able to use that 230 power more efficiently to kill you faster than you kill him.

o   Backlash—deals a lot of damage, but it’s rarely used because it only does half damage against structures.

o   Blood Healing—it’s a heal that could help you launch an offensive, but it doesn’t synergize well in bandits PvP. You won’t have large armies with lots of health.

o   Brannoc—sure, he’s really good. But the real reason he’s good is because he has no orb requirements. You can combine him with heals, buffs, cc’s, ice shields, or really anything any deck can support. As far as the bandit deck goes, Soulhunter is better because you can’t support Brannoc with heals or cc or any other shenanigans.

o   Curse Well—very slow. If you use this card, you need to play a mostly defensive t3 and bleed your opponent dry. Using this card immediately awards you the title “lamer.” Nothing about this card synergizes with bandits.

o   Evocator’s Woe—basically a worse sandstorm. You’re bandits. Play the sandstorm.

o   Giant Slayer—when he gets his rage up, he does great damage. Pretend you have an ashbone and a GS attacking a well, and the enemy plays something like a silverwind lancer or Virtuoso to kill the ashbone. The GS can take a break from attacking the well to charge and kill the unit trying to kill your ashbone.

o   Gunner—these are one of the most underestimated units in the game. True story, before I could afford ashbone pyro I played fire-nat-shadow for this card. They have good siege and knockback, and also cover your anti-air base. Bandits does NOT struggle with anti-air, but it’s still a plus. The way part of the shot penetrates allows easy wins vs avatar of frost, or ice shields in general. I believe the shot also goes through shield building. They also knockback small units which helps against silverwind lancers, but not giant slayers. Their biggest downside is the splash damage; if you really want to drop a well, it’s relatively easy for the opponent to place units in between your gunner and the well, which spreads the damage across both, lessening the damage done to the well. I believe ashbone pyro also suffers from this problem, but to a lesser extent.

o   Inferno—if you want an expensive, high damage spell, just play sandstorm.

o   Magma Hurler—these guys combo with bandit lancers quite well. Still, they’re slow and you have no cc to hold them down, so you’re probably going to miss all your attacks.

o   Magma Spore—I think Fallen Skyelf is better.

o   Mutating Frenzy—a good card if you decide to play 2 shadow orbs. He’s solid, but I don’t think he’s as good of an XL counter as giant slayer. He’s probably your best choice to nasty, if you have it.

o   Nox carrier—this is just curse well in unit form. No thank you.

o   Sandstorm—for sure you want the red version. It does great damage and prevents cards from being played; that means no defenders and no building repairs. It used to be that a sun reaver and sandstorm would guarantee a whole base dies. Now it’s not so sure because sun reaver got nerfed, but the card still works with other units (esp ashbone).

o   Shadow Insect—requires too much micro to use effectively.

o   Soulhunter—amazing stats, and a great ability (do you know how much damage 4 mines deal?). Purple might be a tad better, but the affinities make almost no difference. It has the best stats of any t3 unit except Lord Cyrian, and he’s not worth using because he cost so much. It absolutely nukes bases, and it’s a hard call whether soulhunter or sandstorm is a better use of your power.

o   Soulshatter—it does a lot of damage, but when you have sandstorm, don’t bother with this second-rate nonsense.

o   Sun Reaver—this used to be a fantastic card, but it got nerfed pretty hard. It still has its uses, but there are simply better cards available.

o   Unstable Demon—great stats, and it’s almost impossible to kill because of its massive life stealer. Unfortunately, it also requires some pretty intense micro so you don’t kill yourself, so I wouldn’t recommend it.

o   Virtuoso— fairly good stats. The ability does a lot of damage to structures. Also a good L/L. It’s solid, but not fantastic.

o   Vulcan—great attack, but low health. He dies a bit too easily for my taste, and there’s just something disappointing about a ranged unit that can’t hit air. Still, his graphics are awesome.

·       Defensive cards

o   Church of Negation—if you’re playing bandits, you’ve obviously repented from your laming ways. You don’t want to mess with this card.

o   Bandit Lancer—their branding ability is great for killing XL units. I don’t think the affinity makes a huge difference? LagOps used green, if anyone cares. The lancer ability is particularly used to prevent the XL from using its own ability (juggernaut stampede, brannoc burn, Grigori taunt, etc). Branding is a bit hard to pull off because you must hit the unit with a melee attack, and XL units will stomp on you, requiring very good micro to pull off. You need to come from behind. The lancer ability does not help bandit gunner or ashbone pyro, but does work on windhunters or magma hurlers.

o   Cultist Master—3 frenzied nightcrawlers? And you can make them any time your cultist master has health? This is great for defense because it forces a cc, and then you can make another? On the downside, they are highly susceptible to cc. But if you struggle against spammy M units (giant slayers and silverwind as the most prominent), cultist master is the easiest way to deal with them.

o   Fallen Skyelf—I suspect people play this card because they like it more than because it’s good. Hey, I like it too! And yeah it flies so there’s that, and it’s a good L counter. I just find that flying units die pretty easily if the enemy has t3 anti-air, so it’s usually a gamble whether flying units work. On the other hand, how do bandit lancers change things . . . ?

o   Frenetic Assault—I hate this card with a burning passion. I’ve never seen it in a bandits deck, but I don’t see bandits that often either. The green is better because it prevents heals. It’s very useful for defending against large armies, but not so much for small attacks. Bandits tend to do well against large attacks because it allows you to launch a large attack of your own, which will inevitably be better than your opponent’s; where you’re more likely to struggle is if someone sends something like 1 silverwind and 1 ashbone pyro to every base, and frenetic assault won’t help you there. Also, AoC kills massed units just fine.

o   Giant Slayer—lots of damage in the charge, and slows the enemy down as well. In this aspect, giant slayer and bandit lancers do about the same role; however, lancers are much better at killing that XL unit if you have supporting archers.

o   Infect—honestly aura+lavafield will get your more mileage than this card.

·       Spammy cards

o   Bandit Lancer—cheap and fast? Did I hear someone say “spammable?” They can be knocked back, however, which is significant in t3. Their branding ability is also very good. It doesn’t pair with much besides magma hurler though, and those have their own problems.

o   Cultist Master—not great at hitting every base if they’re far away, but they’re good for applying lasting pressure, especially if you have close wells like on Haldur. The best way to use them like this is to summon 2-3 and send out he nightcrawlers in waves. The thing I see most often is that someone will make 3 cultists masters and then send 9 nightcrawlers at the same time. One root or oink or freeze and it’s over. Still, it’s a good distractor if you want your opponent to use his cc so he can’t use it elsewhere.

o   Giant slayer—probably the best t3 spammer in the game. It’s much better at spamming than bandit lancer is.

 

Building the Deck:

Alright, so let’s start in t1 for this one. I’m a fire player, so I have to start fire. You can also look to LagOps’s suggestions on what to play t1. I’m going to add Scavenger, Sunstrider, Eruption, Thugs, and Sunderer. We’ll also put in firesworn, mortar tower, and mine. I highly doubt we’ll have room for scorched earth, but that will be something to think about if we have room in the end. My reason for making sunderer an essential card from the get-go is because you need him for some t1 pressure options. Mortar tower doesn’t synergize that well with the rest of your t2, but you’ll need that or firesworn to deal with sunderer or early L units. One of them will be added for sure (I strongly suspect it will be firesworn, but that’s because I have already started formulating plans for t2). Mine may be good for the cc; it’s nice to have, but I’ll keep an open mind to drop it if I need more room.

 

For t2, let’s add the essentials right now. Darkelf Assassins are used for basically everything. Same with Nightcrawler. Rallying Banner helps those a lot as well. Obviously Skyfire Drake goes in; that card is 100% essential in every fire splash except bandits, but it’s still really awesome to have here. Maybe 85-90% essential. We seem to have hit most of our bases right here, but let’s do this formally. For our small counters, Darkelves are great. Let’s continue thinking about scythe fiends, but I don’t think we’ll have the room.

 

Nightcrawler and Skyfire Drake cover our M base. I’d really like to put Rogan in; let’s list him tentatively. Currently the deck is Scavenger, Sunstrider, Eruption, Thugs, Sunderer, Darkelf Assassins, Nightcrawler, Rallying Banner, Skyfire Drake, Rogan Kayle, mine, scythe fiends, firesworn, and mortar.

 

For L counters: to gladiatrix or not to gladiatrix? That is the question. I really want to take advantage of the fact that I can play Windhunter, so let’s bring him as our first L counter. We’ll take the green as per LagOps’s preference. Windhunter is expensive though, so we really need another L counter to supplement. We don’t really need both firesworn and gladiatrix, especially since windhunters can hit air. If we bring firesworn, it allows us to use him as an L counter even in t1. Also, gladiatrix isn’t so useful without cc. Pure fire needs it for the anti-air, but bandits has the even better Windhunter anti-air. So it’s settled. No gladiatrix, Firesworn will become permanent. I’ll probably drop Mortar Tower as soon as I need the room.

 

We don’t have any dedicated XL counters or siege units, and Commandos and Shadow Phoenix are really the only notable units I’ve left out that can help us there. Let’s tentatively add them both. Sadly I can already see the deck slots filling up and I know we’ll have to drop at least the commandos.

 

Currrently, the deck contains Scavenger, Sunstrider, Eruption, Thugs, Sunderer, Darkelf Assassins, Nightcrawler, Rallying Banner, Skyfire Drake, Windhunter, Rogan Kayle, mine, scythe fiends, firesworn, Shadow Phoenix, Commandos, and mortar. Clearly we’ll need to drop some cards to make room for spells and t3.

 

Lifeweaving and Ravage are easily the most important spells (goodbye mortar tower). Your ability to buff is half the reason to play bandits. Warrior’s Death and Unholy power are also nice considerations. On one hand, is it overkill to play 4 buff spells? On the other, if you have a strength shouldn’t you abuse it as much as possible? In this case, that’s not true. It’s better to cover holes than to attempt to compensate by being really good at one thing.

 

Now, we really need a defensive spell. Aura of Corruption is the best one. It does way more damage than lavafield, but it can’t react very quickly and sometimes its overkill. Since defense is one of your biggest concerns, I think we can warrant Lavafield as well. But what about Shadow Phoenix? Doesn’t that have a similar role? Yes, and no. Shadow Phoenix is much better at offense than defense, although it can work in a pinch with AoC instead of Lavafield. Still, I don’t really think that’s ideal. As I’ve mentioned several times, bandits really needs to be able to react quickly and both phoenix and AoC take time. For this reason, I would rather have AoC and Lavafield as essentials and play phoenix if I really need it.

 

Scavenger, Sunstrider, Eruption, Thugs, Sunderer, Firesworn, Darkelf Assassins, Nightcrawler, Rallying Banner, Skyfire Drake, Windhunter, Lifeweaving, Ravage, Aura of Corruption, Lavafield, Rogan Kayle, Shadow Phoenix, Commandos, Unholy Power, Warrior’s Death. You’ll notice that I dropped a few that I gave up on having. I know deep down in my heart that I’ll need to give up commandos and probably Rogan, but I really don’t want to.

 

The deck will also need a disenchant. We neglected glady, so yeah. Even if we had her, a spell disenchant would be nice. Still, you’re unlikely to need a disenchant away from your base, and an extra 30 power will give you a half-dead windhunter. I don’t think disenchant is essential, especially not in lower ELO levels. I really ought to take the purple disenchant without thinking further, but I’m stubborn and we’ll see just how far I’m willing to bend over to keep my Rogan. When I first wrote this I actually called the disenchant essential, but I had to cut out another card I really wanted. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I’d rather have the other card than disenchant. So there’s a hint that we’re not going to have disenchant in the final deck.

 

So including that disenchant, we’ve hit 21 cards. Too much. Time to look at t3 and balance what I can drop with how much t3 firepower I need.  What do I need for t3? 3 cards is a good rule of thumb. You can pore over it and see what you want to keep or get rid of, and I hoped I’ve given you the tools to work out the pros and cons yourself. But since I’m never going to actually play this deck except for giggles, and I have 7 more factions to write, I’m going to go with the rule of thumb on this one.

 

That means I need to drop 4 cards. Sorry Commandos, but you knew this was coming. I can choose 2 cards out of Rogan, Phoenix, Unholy power, warrior’s death, and disenchant. The most traditional way would surely be to choose disenchant and phoenix. But let’s not limit ourselves. Unholy power is surely enticing, but it cost a lot of power—cc and disenchants become quite cost-effective for against it. Additionally, unholy power doesn’t give the half-damage buff the whole time. Still, the card is amazing on ashbones. But I think warrior’s death is probably the better choice because it prevents cc. Bringing both buffs when we’re this low on card slots is probably not a good idea. I really want Rogan, but remember what we said about filling holes in the deck first? Rogan is just more situational than shadow phoenixes. If I took them both, there would be no disenchant. Do I really need disenchant? Upon deliberation, I’ve decided that I don’t. I’m going to keep Shadow Phoenix, even though I do feel a sense of redundancy between lavafield, phoenix, and AoC. They’re just different enough to still all be quite useful. And at the end I’ll take Warrior’s Death, despite all the hate I’ll get from LagOps, because it’s a cool card and this is the only chance I’ll get to play it.

 

For t3, I instinctively reach out for giant slayers. I don’t think they work as well in the bandit deck as they do in fire-nat, but I’m still familiar with them so that’s what I want to use. They cover the defensive and spam requirements for t3 quite well. I’ll also take Ashbone Pyro to cover the anti-air and siege. Finally, I’ll go with Soulhunter. I’d really like to take sandstorm, but I don’t feel comfortable with only 2 units in my t3. If I had 4 or 5 cards I’d drop soulhunter for sandstorm and maybe add bandit lancers and something else (L counter, preferably), but I’ll stick with my rule of 3 t3.

 

So my final deck is

T1: Scavenger, Sunstrider, Eruption, Thugs, Firesworn, Sunderer,

T2: Lifeweaving, Ravage, Aura of Corruption, Lavafield, Warrior’s Death, Rallying Banner, Nightcrawler, Shadow Phoenix, Skyfire Drake, Windhunter, Darkelf Assassins,

T3: Soulhunter, Giant Slayer, Ashbone Pyro

 

Cue @LagOps’s horrified criticism of my deck: Your deck isn’t that bad, but you may regret the lack of disenchant and bandit lancers in the future.

 

Reality Check:

How does our deck do in our double check?

1.     Defending walls

2.     Defending t3 rushes (or harvester)

3.     Defending cheap spams for spread-out agro

4.     Performing cheap spams for spread-out agro

5.     Defending a full-on attack at one place

6.     Performing a full-on attack at one place

7.     Preventing a large standing army

8.     Building a large standing army

 

I don’t think we’ll need to change anything, but this examination will surely point out the areas most likely to need a tune-up.

1.     Defending walls is impossible. Don’t let them get up in the first place. Don’t bother with wallbreaker; if you’re are worried about being caught sleeping and your opponent catching a lucky wall, you don’t have what it takes to be a bandit player.

2.     Defending t3 rushes . . . rush ‘em back! If the enemy goes t3, you should drop everything and just rush down. Scorched earth would help you here, but you should do fairly well on your own. You’ll want to hit 2 bases so that a lavafield/AoC/cc doesn’t wipe you out at once. If the enemy has enough power to successfully t3 before you and defend a t2 rush, you are lost; you have no chance because you’ll die while your t3 goes up due to lack of cc. Bandits are unforgiving in that manner.  Harvester can be defended with 1 windhunter and darkelf assassins. You can also try to annoy it with a scavenger while it’s walking, if you want. If a harvester comes and uses nether warp, you have an easy counter. Aura of Corruption and 2 skyfire drakes kills everything for the same 300 power as the harvester (Nightcrawler and windhunter also work). You’ll also get 2 skyfires out of it. Don’t rely on this though, because a good nether warp will save him from the aura.

3.     You are the boss at defending cheap spams—all your units are cheaper! Nightcrawlers and/or Darkelf Assassins will kill any spam unit.

4.     You can also perform cheap spams relatively well. Nightcrawlers aren’t the best at it, but they can do it if they need to. Motivate helps your cause here as well. You usually want to try this technique as a way to bait out more in defense of each base, so you can focus on the attack you really want to launch. Bandits is sort of halfway between pure fire and fire-nature, both in terms of ability to do spread attacks and concentrated attacks.

5.     Obviously your defense isn’t as solid as frost’s but if you have enough power you can kill anything. But therein lies your weakness. There once was a chess player named Tigran Petrosian who was known far and wide for his ability to defend any attack, no matter how ferocious. In an account by Garry Kasparov, Borris Spassky once relayed the way to beat him. “Squeeze his balls,” ran the advice, “But just squeeze one, not both!” That’s how bandits function. The most massive attack can be defended with AoC and lavafield; a cheap attack can be overcome with the cheaper nightcrawlers and darkelves. The deck suffers when it tries to counter a semi-involved attack—pressure, but not enough to warrant the AoC panic button. That’s a fine line to walk though, and you can do a great deal to prevent that sort of business.

6.     Concentrated attacks are one of your best areas! Rallying banner pairs extremely well with the cheap bandit units. Just be careful of cc or AoC from your opponent. With warrior’s death you can make sure that one unit doesn’t fall to cc, and buffing that unit will doom an enemy power well. If you have nasty surprise in your deck (we don’t), a trick to get out of oink is to nasty a low-health unit so your units take a little bit of damage. This can also work with lifeweaving if your opponent isn’t careful.

7.     AoC plus lavafield kills any standing army. Period.

8.     You can also build large standing armies efficiently, because your units are so cheap. You probably don’t want to have them just sitting around because it’s better to build a rallying banner and spawn everything there, but if you defend with a lot of units, you may well end up with a large army. However, your army dies as quickly as it appears because it is very susceptible to cc or large AoE spells like lavafield or AoC.

 

Bandits is probably the deck most able to run away with an advantage, but also most punished by having a disadvantage. This is one of the reasons bandit t1 is so important. If you have power to waste, there is almost nothing any faction can do against you. But if you don’t have power to defend, you’re helpless.

 

Matchups Check:

Since LagOps knows the matchups much better than I do, I’ll let him write this section as well.

 

Final Touches:

 

Evolution of the Deck

Once again, LagOps is here to explain how his deck evolved.

 

Please take note that this sections is about my personal deck evolution! If you play a different style, the optimal deck and evolution path might look different for you! Keep in mind that you should have the tools to win against any other faction in the game in your deck (mainly IN DEFENSE) before you start considering offensive cards you can make combos with!

 

When I started out playing bandits PvP, there was not a single sufficiently detailed deck building guide, so I was putting in most cards considered core in other fire and splashes. My deck looked similar to this one:

T1: Scavenger, Sunstrider, Thugs, Firesworn (red), Mortar Tower, Eruption

T2: Nasty Surprise, Life Weaving, Nightcrawler, Darkelf Assassin, Scythe fiends, Gladiatrix (purple), Windhunter (green), Ravage, Unholy Power, Aura of Corruption, Lavafield,

T3: Sun Reaver (red), Giant Slayer, Soulhunter (blue)

 

This was my deck until I got into higher gold ranks. There I started having near autolose experiences in certain matchups and had to adapt my deck.


My first realization was that I did not have good targets to use nasty surprise on in t2 and usually defaulted to using lava field instead. As I did play fire t1, I could easily take it out of my deck.
Also I realized that windhunter could not simply replace skyfire drake. Both windhunter and skyfire drake kill an enemy skyfire drake in 3 hits or 1 hit + eruption. However, windhunter can 1 hit+erupt an enemy skyfire drake without being erupted as well. Unfortunately, a single gladiatrix can 2 hit + erupt a windhunter easily without taking a lot of damage from windhunter in return. Additionally I had to deal with burrowers which was a bit easier with skyfire drake. So I swapped nasty with skyfire drake.

 

After that the matchups vs. fire/nature and pure fire were a bit better. With both drakes and assassins my air defense was really good, so I wanted to take out gladiatrix. When facing ground based L units I usually wanted to get rid of them quickly and used firesworn. I also often wanted to use disenchant without delay (especially in t3), so I swapped gladiatrix for disenchant (purple affinity!) Additionally, double (or even triple) buffed drakes became less and less effective at the ELO I was playing at. To keep up the pressure in offense I added rallying banner to my deck and removed unholy power. cc became just too effective vs. unholy power compared to using life weaving. If I had to disenchant afterwards I was spending 250+ energy just to have a single buffed drake on the field which was rarely worth it.


My deck now looked like this:

T1: Scavenger, Sunstriders, Thugs, Firesworn (red), Mortar Tower, Eruption,

T2: Life Weaving, Nightcrawler, Darkelf Assassins, Scythe Fiends, Skyfire Drake, Windhunter (green), Rallying Banner, Ravage, Disenchant (purple), Aura of Corruption, Lava Field,

T3: Sun Reaver (red), Giant Slayer, Soulhunter (blue)

 

I still had major issues vs. frost splashes in offense and scythe fiends were mainly in the deck because of the pure shadow matchup (also not super effective there) and weren't used much otherwise. My t1 was also not very solid at this time, so I did not want to weaken it too much. I especially struggled vs. shadow t1 (thugs were not buffed at that time).
I removed scythe fiends and replaced them with sunderer to be able to rush pure shadow players (and shadow t1 in general when going t2) and use it with buffs against pure shadow in t2. This way I was at least able to kill a well before they used harvester.


I also had to sacrifice the mortar (only used vs. frost and nature, but those were so rarely played... also not useful in t2 due to lack of cc) to be able to play shadow phoenix in t2. There is hardly another way to get enemy clusters down if they have frost protects. I highly recommend playing both phoenix and lava field as they are mainly used in offense and defense respectively.

My deck now looked like this:

T1: Scavenger, Sunstriders, Thugs, Firesworn (red), Sunderer, Eruption,

T2: Life Weaving, Nightcrawler, Darkelf Assassins, Shadow Phoenix, Skyfire Drake, Windhunter (green), Rallying Banner, Ravage, Disenchant (purple), Aura of Corruption, Lava Field, Sun Reaver (red), Giant Slayer, Soulhunter (blue)

 

At this point I tried out new cards from the Amii edition such as bandit spearman and warrior's death, but they did not really help in any matchups I was having issues with. Especially warrior's death is entirely broken and abusable. You will learn nothing by relying on this card, at best don't even touch it!


After I tried all kinds of stuff, I defaulted back to this deck and focused on my t3. I did not really touch my t3 yet since I did usually win if I managed to get into t3. While the t3 cards were really strong (bandits t3 is strong in general), they did not synergize with bandits very well.
I had to keep up the pressure in t3 and rarely had the chance to use soulhunter often enough to make the card worth it. I decided to swap it with ashbone pyro and played quite a while with it. However, I really didn't like it as I already had a good basenuke (sun reaver(pre nerf)).
I felt more like I needed better counters because sun reaver didn’t have many charges and was not fast enough to intercept enemies before they reach your base (very, VERY important in a bandits deck).

 

Finally sun reaver got its long deserved nerf and more importantly, bandits lancers got a well deserved buff and were able to fill huge holes in my t3 (strong kiting, strong interception, prevents lots of strong abilities, lots of L dmg...). I swapped sun reaver for bandit lancers (green) and finally my deck looked like this:

 

T1: Scavenger, Sunstriders, Thugs, Firesworn (red), Sunderer, Eruption,

T2: Life Weaving, Nightcrawler, Darkelf Assassins, Shadow Phoenix, Skyfire Drake, Windhunter (green), Rallying Banner, Ravage, Disenchant (purple), Aura of Corruption, Lava Field,

T3: Bandit Lancer (green) ,Giant Slayer, Ashbone Pyro

 

But still: the deck was having issues. Each time I went t3 vs. nature splashes I got rushed by burrowers and destroyed. In t3 the omnipresent silverwind lancers were destroying my ashbones, which struggled at taking down clusters (damage is split up) of wells with protects. I did not really have the deckslots to put in a proper m counter, so I got creative. I put in bandit gunner(red) for the knockback and replaced ashbone pyro with it. If I now get burrower rushed, I can counter it very easily and use the units to counter-attack right away. +100% siege and 25% protect penetration (=50% base dmg vs. buildings when protected) were a lot better than expected! Additionally silverwind lancers get knocked back and torn to pieces by bandit lancers.
I really did lots of experimenting but I doubt any other bandits t3 manages to be this strong in defense while having such a huge offensive potential. Just go ahead and give the gunner a "shot"! The card is only underplayed because of its orb requirements and is a very solid unit with surprisingly many uses.

 

My final deck build was the following:

T1: Scavenger, Sunstriders, Thugs, Firesworn (red), Sunderer, Eruption,

T2: Life Weaving, Nightcrawler, Darkelf Assassins, Shadow Phoenix, Skyfire Drake, Windhunter (green), Rallying Banner, Ravage, Disenchant (purple), Aura of Corruption, Lava Field,

T3: Bandit Lancer (green) ,Giant Slayer, Bandit Gunner (red)

 

It is a good starting point if you want to play bandits as well, but you will likely adapt it to your playstyle. Bandits is about playing it smart, so plz no copy pasterino! Always consider what the cards will provide for the deck.


If you can't answer why card x is in the deck instead of card y, you probably don't understand the deck well enough and don't use the cards in the way the player who made this guide intended them to be used.

 

Fire-Frost:

 

One thing to keep in mind when you build a fire-frost deck is that you will likely rely a lot on hit-and-run tactics, and use a lot of micro. If you decide to play an ice shield guerilla tactics game, you’ll usually prefer to have a single strong unit than many weak ones, so keep that in mind when choosing units.

 

T2 Cards Overview:

As usual, let’s first lay all the cards out on the table, organized by role.

 

·       Small

o   Firestalker—listed here because of the knockback. The knockback is not bad actually.

o   Frost mage—a t1 card that probably dies too easily in t2, it’s still your best S knockback for the cost. If you have no other S counters and you play frost t1, frost mage might save you a t2 slot.

o   Icefang Raptor—this has no real purpose in life except as a M/S unit, and it’s not amazing at it. It’s not bad, don’t get me wrong, but I think it will just be outclassed by other cards.

o   Scythe Fiends—swift, so that’s good, and with great damage. It also has the highest HP value of any t2 fire unit.

o   Viridya—she seems good. She definitely has her uses. Pretty low attack, so not that useful as a S counter, but maybe her special powers will help? One of them is a slow healing, which works well in this deck while units hide behind ice shields. She’s a bit pricy and has low health. She does knock back small units, but something like a fire drake or a nightcrawler would destroy her, although this can also be mitigated by giving her an ice shield. Her treespirits may function as M counters if you find yourself lacking in that department.

·       Medium

o   Rageclaws—unlike the other fire decks, rageclaws are not redundant here. They’re one of your only S/M unit, and one of your only M counters in general. They are highly susceptible to cc and knockback, but this fire-frost is pretty good at handling both of those, especially compared to fire-shadow and pure fire. Rageclaws aren’t the best defensive units because their rage take so long to build up, however, and they can be kited quite easily due to this.

o   Rogan Kayle—these are great stats! Much better than Moon or Viridya. Unfortunately, most M/M units have great stats. He will lose to nightcrawler or enforcer in a heartbeat, and he cost much more than them. On the upside, he makes units deal more damage, although that may not be so useful because fire-frost tends to rely on hit-and-run strategies, rather than full-scale attacks. He also has a cc, and although it’s not that good, it’s a lot cheaper than freeze. If you bring rallying banner, Rogan might have some interesting uses.

o   Skyfire drake—the real M counter of the deck. You should probably have a supplementary M counter to beat archers and stuff that take out skyfire drake, but this will be your bread-and-butter. Essential.

o   Stormsinger—an alright M counter, although it’s particularly useful against flying units. You shouldn’t have too much trouble in that department if your skyfire drake has an ice shield, though. The green is definitely better.

·       Large

o   Defenders—these are not L counters. Most of your non-L counters do more damage do L units than defenders do. They can camp, but they’re not impossible to kill. If your opponent has mauler in his deck these defenders become completely useless. Defenders are situational, but if you use them in your deck, it’s not to fill the L counter position.

o   Fire Stalker—they do extra damage vs. large units. They have mediocre-to-poor stats, but they can work.

o   Firesworn—even though it’s a t1 card, it still does great damage vs L units. Especially with the ability. Note that they can’t hit air though. Also, they die easily and can be cc’ed without much difficulty. They are t1, after all.

o   Gladiatrix—a ranged L counter that does tons of damage. The green one is swift, which is nice also. The purple has a better disenchant, but both work. It’s not efficient to use the gladiatrix for its disenchant (cost 150 power) but it’s very nice to have if you have a gladiatrix already out. Which you should, because most of the buffed cards will be L anyway. As a general rule of thumb I prefer the green because you’ll usually have 2 gladiatrix to counter a L unit anyway, so if he buffs twice you can disenchant twice. If you pack the purple disenchant, the green gladiatrix is definitely the way to go.

o   Lightblade—an L counter, and cc’s the unit. Fire-frost generally doesn’t have too large of a problem with L units because of gladiatrix, but if you still do, take lightblade. It’s not uncommon to take lightblade even if you don’t play frost t1, because it’s still the best frost L counter even at t2.

o   Moon—terrible stats. Well, actually, they’re not bad. But she costs a lot and dies pretty easily to M counters. Her necroshade can be good, especially if paired with a ranged attack like gladiatrix. Her dark arts can also be a situationally useful heal, although fire-frost can usually just ice shield or ravage and retreat a well to heal.

o   Phalanx—meh. They’re alright. The trample payback will obliterate anything that steps on them, but it’s not so useful without a lightblade. Still, they’re useful if you are having a problem with knockback (i.e. Stonekin).

·       X-Large

o   Phalanx—I don’t know if it ever got resolved, but I believe it was MaranV who once told me there used to be a big debate about whether lyrish knights or lightblade and phalanx were the better XL counter.

o   Skyelf Templar—not really an XL counter because there are no t2 XL fliers, but it provides a nice reassurance that you don’t need a t3 anti-air to combat the rare corsair/northland drake/spitfire/etc. She’s more useful as a special unit.

o   Lyrish Knight—the only actual t2 XL counter for ground units. It’s great for a lot of things, and I’d highly recommend it as an all-around unit. At some point you’ll have to decide if you want to support your units with rallying banner or ice barrier—ice barrier will usually work better with lyrish, so that’s something to keep in mind.

·       Siege

o   Fire stalker—I suppose you could use these with a rallying banner and homesoil, but that’s sort of just an inferior fire dancer. If that’s your strategy, maybe you should play pure fire. Fire stalkers are surely playable, but I think there are stronger/more efficient options available.

o   Mountaineer—widely considered one of the strongest/lamest cards in the game, mountaineer is a staple of try-hard fire-frost decks. He’s super strong with ravage and possible rallying banner support, but his true strength comes from his microing ability. He’s also super expensive. I would not advise that you start a deck playing mountaineer, but add him in after you get stronger at Battleforge fundamentals (plus, there’s no way you’ll be able afford him until you’ve gained a lot of experience).

o   Rageclaws—not technically siege units, but that’s sort of their main purpose. Their biggest weakness is their susceptibility to knockback and cc. Rageclaws are probably most useful in fire-frost than any other deck because of certain frost cards like homesoil that can really make them hit hard. Also, rageclaws pair much better with a cc like freeze than oink.

·       Specialty

o   Defenders—these guys are super hard to kill, especially if you ravage.  The problem is that your opponent can usually ignore them. They also get shut down super hard by mauler or amii phantom. I don’t think such a slow card belongs in a fire-frost deck, but I could see situations where they would be useful.

o   Lyrish Knight—these are your all-around units. Swift, cheap, and with good stats, many frost decks rely on them as the primary ground attacker (similar to enforcers in pure fire). I’m not sure that fire-frost needs an all-around unit, but they’re a solid choice regardless.

o   Skyfire Drake—flier. Essential in any fire splash.

o   Skyelf Templar—this unit is great to shore up your air defense, and it does a great job of repairing wells. I can’t attest to the accuracy of this statement, but I’ve heard that it can replace glacier shell or kobold trick in some scenarios. Templar might also be essential in some decks against some matchups where a flying unit hovers over cliffs so it can’t be gravity surged, and you can’t get enough dps otherwise. I’m not sure how important that is to a fire splash, where dps is rarely a problem.

o   Frost Sorceress—ice shields are the main reason someone would play fire-frost, although there are a few players who feel they should keep their honor intact and not use them. For 20 power, she can put a 660 hp ice shield on a unit for 30 seconds. This combos especially well with t2 fire creatures such as skyfire drake, which have good dps but suffer from lack of health.

Fire-frost has some of the most interesting building combinations.

·       Cannon Tower—a very strong tower, basically. It knocks back small units, but mostly it’s good because it has a lot of health and is one of the easiest towers to build aggressively.

·       Construction hut—meh, you’d need to build a lot of buildings for this to become useful. I want to say 250 power worth of buildings, but I’m too lazy to look up the exact number. If you’re building 250 power of buildings, you’re already taking a lot of buildings and I don’t think you can spare the deck slot.

·       Ice barrier—great for using with homesoil or lyrish knights. They can also absorb splash damage. The reason to play over rallying banner is that ice barrier is a lot cheaper.

·       Ice Shield Tower—a less mobile version of frost sorceress. Its shields have 880 hp and cost 30 power, and can be cast every 20 seconds. The building has a worse shield-to-cost ratio, but the shields do have higher health which may be important for keeping a unit alive. Also ice shield towers are harder to kill than frost sorceresses.

·       Juice tank—absolutely not.

·       Morklay trap—can be very strong, but it’s really hard to actually use them.

·       Rallying banner—an ice barrier that costs more but allows you to summon units undazed. Deciding which one to use will come down to how much your units are handicapped if summoned dazed. For instance, Skyfire Drake and Frost Sorceress are pretty useless dazed, while rageclaws or mountaineers are not so bad.

·       Termite hill—crazy dps on structures. Getting it up can be quite difficult, but rewarding.

·       Mortar tower—a strong defender, but not so useful for fire-frost because freeze is generally power inefficient and makes units take half damage. Possibly a good attacking tower if you can find some way to ensure it goes up….

·       Warden’s sigil—the most important card to play if you’re trying to do aggressive termite hill/mortar/cannon tower/morklay trap. The blue is the one you want to use, because it allows you to shield building while they construct. If someone attacks your base, you can also apply the shield to a well or monument, just like glacier shell.

Spells:

·       Coldsnap—the only cc available to you. Pretty essential in my opinion.

·       Disenchant—you should definitely have some form of disenchant available to you, either with the spell or with gladiatrix, because coldsnap is a pretty inefficient way to counter buffs. I’d suggest the purple disenchant unless you go for some unusual t3 that uses a really expensive unit.

·       Eruption—a powerful card for air control. It allows you to knock back S units (relatively cheaply), kill tightly grouped units, force kobold tricks and heals 300 hp earlier, and punish dazed unit summons. It also helps against shadow because you can erupt something that obviously wants to nasty.

·       Frost Bite—the purple one is the only one worth using. It’s really great for picking on a single unit and it helps you achieve power advantages. It will help you out a lot against L units and is another good tool for air control (especially combed with eruption). That said, fire-frost has undoubtedly the best air control options (eruption, frost bite, gladiatrix, freeze, stormsinger, ice shielded skyfire drakes, skyelf templar, and gravity surge), so I think using all of them will be a bit overkill. If you realize you have a problem with L units, I’d suggest using this card.

·       Glacier Shell—considered core in pretty much every frost splash. I feel like that’s close-minded thinking and there are ways to not use it in a deck, but I don’t have enough experience to really say. It absorbs up to 1550 damage, which is actually more than a kobold trick repairs (if the enemy hits that well). It’s a great defensive card, so why not use the tools at your disposal?

·       Gravity Surge—I can’t think of a good reason to use this over stormsinger, but some people did prefer it. I don’t think there were many though (and it may have been before the stormsinger buff).

·       Home Soil—a fantastic card, especially with that fire dps. Since it’s pretty much given that you’re going to use some sort of support building, either rallying banner or ice barrier, you should probably keep a slot open for this card. If you decide to go for some unusual deck without either of those buildings, you probably don’t want home soil.

·       Kobold trick—if you’re playing a frost splash and not using this spell, you’re doing it wrong. It repairs 1100 health on a structure.

·       Lava Field—a great AoE spell. It can help you get out of a swarm of enemies. This is a pretty defensive spell, but perhaps fire-frost doesn’t need to be as worried about proactively removing enemies before they get to your base as other fire factions do.

·       Mine—I don’t see any real reason to use it in this deck. Perhaps if you are assaulting a frost player’s well with rageclaws, you could drop a mine to kill and frost mages that spawn, but meh.

·       Ravage—you have a good healing spell, use it. It combos especially well with mountaineer and ice shields in general.

·       Wallbreaker, Girl Power, and other Shenanigans—Please no. Please.

 

T3 Cards Overview:

As usual, let’s keep our “Offensive, Defensive, Spammy” paradigm. You have a lot of options for t3, including a t3 shadow for lost souls and bandits OP-ness, but I’m going to say that you’re not allowed to t3 a different color until you feel confident enough to explain why exactly you can t3 a different color. So: should you t3 fire or t3 frost?

 

As far as I’m concerned, double frost orbs in t3 is one of the strongest t3 options, regardless of the third orb. Silverwind lancers and giant slayers are the best spammy units (sorry shadow and nature), Tremors are fantastic siege units (probably the best, actually), and timeless one is unparalleled in its defensive capabilities. You also have shield building for some serious base defense, and we’ve already exceeded my rule of three without even considering what color the third orb could be. Fire-frost also has some super awesome tactics with buildings in t3, especially with Ward of the North and perhaps offensive Towers of Flames. I don’t think these tower combos are worth trying in ranked, but they can be fun to mess around with.

 

On the other hand double fire orbs gives you access to Giant Slayers: the most useful t3 unit in the game, in my opinion. It’s quite possible to take Giant Slayers as your only t3 unit, although it does require a certain playstyle. Unfortunately, the rest of your options for a double fire orb are not very good. Silverwind are just slightly worse Giant Slayers if you have access to both, and every other frost unit requires two frost orbs. So my advice is to go t3 fire if you don’t have a ton of room in your deck, and t3 frost if you do have more room.

 

·       Offensive Cards

o   Brannoc—extremely powerful. Probably the best XL unit this faction can support without a different colored t3. The biggest problem with him is what happens when you rely on him but your opponent pulls him first. Most people think he’s lame because he can be supported by nature and shadow really well. In fire-frost, Brannoc is actually fair. Sure you have ravage and ice shield, but those buffs are pretty minor compared to surge of light or lifeweaving. Brannoc does fill a hole in the fire-frost metagame, providing both a solid XL unit and XL counter, but the lack of available buffs means he’s not as useful as he is to other factions.

o   Core Dredge—even with 100% siege, this unit does barely more damage to structures than Brannoc, and completely loses a fight with against units. There are some mobility advantages and you can use it instead of Brannoc as a matter of principle, but I don’t think fire-frost necessarily needs an XL unit anyway and there’s just not a good reason to use Core Dredge.

o   Giantslayer—when raged up, they deal a ton of damage (1000 per charge). They are especially susceptible to cc’s though. If you do decide to bring the disenchant spell, a well-timed use on a giant slayer may turn the tide in your favor. The biggest plus of this card is that it’s difficult to cost-effectively defend against, making it very spammable.

o   Tremor—fantastic health, damage, and ability. They also have a lot of charges. They are a bit susceptible to roots because they are melee units, but that’s pretty much their only weakness. You can usually spawn these dazed because of how much health they have.

o   Timeless One—the free cc is very strong when launching attacks.

o   Backlash—deals a lot of damage, but it’s rarely used because it only does half damage against structures.

o   Curse well—very slow. If you use this card, you need to play a mostly defensive t3 and bleed your opponent dry. Using this card immediately awards you the title “lamer.”

o   Inferno—sure, it does a lot of damage. But you’re probably better off just using enlightenment and earthshaker for that much power

o   Shrine of War—a great card, but I doubt you’ll be able to make much use of it. That’s a lot of power to bind and the cooldown is long. The match will probably be over before it’s ready.

o   Sun Reaver—used to be the fire equivalent of the ashbone pyro. Then it got nerfed to oblivion. It’s hardly worth using now. It takes so long to build up its flame that a giant slayer will kill the well faster. I would like to see this card get buffed so it deals regular damage against structures and slower damage against units. But until this happens, you have a large, slow giant slayer that can’t charge or hamstring. I’d also put the unnerfed one as defensive, but this is useless at killing units.

o   Virtuoso—fairly good stats. The ability does a lot of damage to structures. Also a good L/L.

o   Vulcan—great attack, but low health. With homesoil he can do a ridiculous amount of damage, but he’s a bit of a glass cannon. Ward of the North might help him in that area.

o   Retreating Circle—although this card may seem defensive, it’s an aggressive spell. Use it to save your units when they are are about to fail an offensive, or if you want to trick your enemy into building a defense at one base and quickly change the focus of the attack. Or maybe don’t use it, and spend the slot on something stronger.

o   Curse Well—maybe you can get away with this, but c’mon, it’s lame.

o   Ward of the North—offensives get much easier because your units are very hard to kill. It’s especially fun to use it to build offensive buildings right next to someone’s base.

o   Architect’s Call—can also be used for offensive buildings, but I think Ward of the North is more useful. Still, if you have a 2v2 partner who plays Mark of the Keeper…

o   Random offensive building—your choice. You can read the descriptions on the cards and figure out which (if any) you want to combo with Architect’s Call or Ward of the North. I’d recommend Tower of Flames.

o   Skyelf Sage—are you really going to spend more deck slots on this building nonsense? But if you do, Skyelf Sage is pretty cool J.

o   Magma Spores—you wouldn’t normally think of these as offensive, but fire-frost isn’t “normal” either. If spawned from a rallying banner, these guys drop wells super-fast. I believe 2 with homesoil will take out a well cluster. You might need to aim so the splash damage doesn’t spread to more than 2 or 3 targets, or that will detract from the main target and you won’t drop it. As great as the combo is, it does take a lot of power. However, it can be a great sneak attack if you get into a war of attrition with a Lost Souls player and he’s going for dual Brannoc and Lost Grigori lameness.

·       Defensive

o   Frost shard—basically a giant freeze that deals damage. Use timeless one if you want a freeze.

o   Kobold Engineer—basically counteracts a unit that does 2750 damage to a well. A tremor does 2550 (w/o ability) to a well for the exact same cost. In other words, use a tremor and drop someone else’s well instead. Still, I think Kobold Engineer is possibly underrated (but only by a little bit, and because he’s rated very, very low).

o   Backlash, to kill attacking enemies. The problem is that backlash is expensive and has a large cooldown, making it inefficient against spammy t3 units.

o   Magma Hurler—not great stats, but it’s ranged and knocks back M units. They’re also nice anti-air. Air units are typically bad in t3, but every now and then you have that one guy who uses them and if you don’t have an answer, you start to rage and call him a lamer in the chatbox. Pointed out by @RadicalX: their biggest downside is that they take 4 seconds between shots, allowing your opponent to micro around them and kill the magma hurler without taking any damage. This isn’t that bad an issue, however, because nobody has time to micro one unit obsessively in t3 and 2 de-synced magma hurlers or a cc can prevent the dodging. Also, a magma hurler does not want to attack anything that also wants to attack it.

o   Magma Spore—good anti-air defenders. Not good at defending much else (actually, they can do a lot of damage to L units with their ability). Also good at spamming.

o   Vulcan—can do massive damage with his ability and roots. Unfortunately, he cost a lot, so he doesn’t defend against cheap spammy cards well.

o   Shield Building—super useful for defense. Many people think it’s overpowered.

o   Timeless One—the quintessential defensive unit. He’s cheap and has a great freeze, stopping enemies in their tracks. A lot of high ranked players are calling to nerf him.

o   Virtuoso—as a defensive L counter, pretty standard. Slightly better at offensives because of his horn.

o   Silverwind Lancers—basically these are just cheap and have good stats. They’re not the best L counters, but they work.

o   Giant Slayer— despite their name, they’re not the best XL counters. They can do a good job, but you’d think that 240 power of giantslayers would beat 220 worth of a juggernaut, right? Especially since giantslayers counter XL, and juggers don’t? But giantslayers suffer from very low health, so most XL’s 2-shot them before they can get rage built up. If the GS is raged, a single one can take out an XL unit (if you support it with cc and heals and get the 1500 damage charge). But if they aren’t raged, they don’t do so well. I believe it takes 4 giant slayers to kill 1 juggernaut if they start from rest. Nasty surprises, lifeweaving, or wildfires defeat them easily. However, giantslayers are still very useful because of their hamstring effect. It slows enemies down to give you more time to prepare your defenses. They’re also good for defending spammy units, because giantslayers are just as cheap as them.

·       Spammy

o   Giant Slayer—yes, you knew this was coming. They’re cheap, do a TON of damage, and are swift. Also can’t be knocked back. They are very susceptible to cc, however. And they lost to most t3 units 1on1. However, giantslayers should primarily be used to spam 1 to every base, forcing the enemy to waste at least 120 power at each one. This gives you a power advantage, and you push harder at the weakest one with your offensive unit. Spamming 1 to each base also negates the efficiency of cc.

o   Magma Spore—cheap, and their ability is good. They’re also air units, which makes them especially good against any non-shadow faction (that has no ashbone pyro). The biggest problem with them is trying to micro them. They’re easy to forget about. If memory serves me, it takes 6 to drop a base of 2 wells and 1 orb.

o   Silverwind Lancers—good stats, useful to transport your heavy hitters to the scene quickly. If you decide to play two frost orbs, I highly recommend this unit.

 

 

 

Building the Deck:

As usual, let’s start building in t2. I might break my rule about not building a deck around sick combos for this this faction, because fire-frost has too many sick combos, but I’ll try not to. To start with our essential cards, we have: Skyfire drake and scythe fiends. Probably homesoil, kobold trick, and glacier shell/eruption as well. Glacier shell and eruption may not be as essential as the others depending on our t1 and what other cards we play. We also have a few essential pairs. You’ll need either rageclaws or mountaineer, and rallying banner or ice barrier. (Note that there are actually many playable ways to build a fire-frost deck that doesn’t have some of the rules I’m mentioning, so what I claim as “essential” for a fire-frost deck is not as absolutely needed as something I would claim as essential in another deck. Skyfire drake is the only card it is impossible to play without).

 

Before we go any further, let’s decide what sort of theme we want to use for this deck. The building theme, while very cool, is probably more viable for 2v2 than 1v1 and I think it requires too many deck slots. You have the deck that focuses entirely on the mountaineer, but I’m poor and those decks are easier to build than the alternatives, so let’s focus on something else for this guide. You can build a generic deck that doesn’t really have a theme (it just puts as many strong units in as possible), as well as a t3-centric deck. The problem with a t3-centric deck is that you’ll have to choose between giant slayer or tremor: giant slayer is especially strong in a light t3 deck, and tremors with fire lose to tremors with shadow. I’m also of the school of thought that games should be won or lost in t2 rather than t1 or t3. Because of this, I’m going to go with what I feel is the strongest (and probably lamest) fire-frost theme: the ice shield guerrilla tactics. This means that I for sure need ice shield tower or frost sorceress. I’m going to choose frost sorceress primarily because she cost less bfp, but good arguments can be made for both. I also appreciate the mobility, especially if coming from a rallying banner.

 

If we’re going with an ice shield style, we’ll want to make sure to include a larger percentage of solo units. Skyfire Drake and Scythe Fiends are going in for sure, along with Frost Sorceress. For now, I’m going to be optimistic and plan for the “best” t3 options available. I’ll try to save 4 deck slots for silverwind lancer, tremor, timeless one, and shield building/brannoc.

 

Let’s add Ravage because it’s pretty essential in every fire deck. So the base of my deck is Skyfire Drake, Scythe Fiends, Frost Sorceress, and Ravage. This half covers my S and M counters—I say half because both skyfire drake and scythe fiends are susceptible to cc because of their high cost, so I would like something to supplement them. M counters are easy: let’s add Stormsinger (green) and Rageclaws. These are good in different situations, and together gives us 3 M counters. It may be overkill, so let’s make a note if we need to drop a unit, it will probably come from here. Stormsinger has pretty bad dps, so let’s also add Frostbite (purple) to help her out. It’s also really good against L and XL units, so that might allow us to go a little bit light there. For S counters, we don’t really have a good supplement to Scythe Fiends. Something with knockback would be nice, and firestalker might do the trick. However, I think I’d rather spend this deck slot on an extra t1 unit, either frost mage or firesworn. Let’s add Coldsnap because cc is good in general, but especially necessary when you’ll be having a problem with a particular size unit. Lavafield will also be necessary, I think, to deal with spammed units. The high dps units we’re planning to use (skyfire drake, rageclaws, and scythe fiends) are pretty susceptible to cc, so lavafield can be a good counter to that.

 

The deck is now: Skyfire Drake, Scythe Fiends, Frost Sorceress, Ravage, Coldsnap, Frostbite (purple), Rageclaws, Stormsinger (green), Lavafield. Let’s add in Glacier Shell and Kobold Trick to get them out of the way now.

 

Our S and M is taken care of, but what should we do for L and XL? Should we use lyrish? If we allot 5 cards for t1 and 4 cards for t3, we’re out of cards. But I’m not sure our t2 is sufficient, so let’s add some more things and then swizzle our deck around.

 

Since I already notice that I’m going to have deck slot problems, I’m going to take fire t1. I feel more comfortable with it and I think fire is more viable than frost when you don’t have many deck slots. The reason I’m choosing my t1 now is because I’ll have to decide whether to play rallying banner or ice barrier. If I play frost t1, I’ll have to use ice barrier. But since I’m going fire t1, and I wouldn’t have access to my supporting building until t2, I figured I might as well just straight play a Rallying Banner. This allows me to get some quick saves on units with sorceress ice shield, and I can spawn offensive drakes. With that, let’s finish the 3-part combo and add Lyrish Knight and Homesoil. (I’ve also given up on a 4 card t3 and I have an interesting idea for t3 rallying banners).

 

The deck is currently: Skyfire Drake, Scythe Fiends, Frost Sorceress, Ravage, Coldsnap, Frostbite (purple), Rageclaws, Stormsinger (green), Lavafield. Glacier Shell, Kobold Trick, Rallying Banner, Lyrish Knight, and Homesoil. 14 cards. Yeah, that’s probably too much for t2. Let’s just finish up our wish list and then see what we need to drop or be more efficient with.

 

The biggest t2 weakness now is a lack of disenchant. There are pros for the spell and for gladiatrix, but I think I’m going to use Gladiatrix (green)—for one, I have a rallying banner which allows me to spawn gladiatrixes on-site. I also think it will be good for L and XL counters (especially because I’m not sure I’ll be able to keep lyrish knight in the deck). It might make my air-control a bit overkill, but if I have total air control, that will go a long ways toward Skyfire Drake offensives.

 

Let’s also round out the deck by finishing our t1: Scavenger, Eruption, Sunstrider, Thugs, and Firesworn (red). The firesworn is to help out a little bit in t2 S counters, as well as t2 L counters. I’d like to use Mortar Tower, but I just don’t think I’ll have enough deck slots.

 

Our deck now has: Skyfire Drake, Scythe Fiends, Frost Sorceress, Ravage, Coldsnap, Frostbite (purple), Rageclaws, Stormsinger (green), Lavafield. Glacier Shell, Kobold Trick, Rallying Banner, Lyrish Knight, Homesoil, Gladiatrix (green), Scavenger, Eruption, Sunstrider, Thugs, and Firesworn (red).

 

. . . And that’s all 20 cards. Note that this type of deck would be terrible to try not using t3. It doesn’t have hyper-aggressive options like burrowers (or even mountaineer), but rather uses a moderately slow buildup. This is the exactly the compromise of being too slow to rush someone’s t3 (unlike certain fire-nature decks), while also not strong enough to steamroll the opponent despite t3 (unlike certain stonekin decks). While this deck’s t2 is strong enough to prevent the opponent from getting an opening to t3 in many maps, on some maps (especially random generated) it will just not be possible to prevent the opponent from stalling the game into a long t3. Even modified specifically for that purpose, I’m not sure if a fire-frost deck will ever be the best at staying t2 against t3. It’s also not a good idea play a single card t3 (Giant Slayer can do that in fire-nat because of nature assisting spells).

 

So we have to remove 2-4 cards. The easiest cards to remove, I think, would be the rallying banner-homesoil-lyrish knight trio. Remember, necessities over niceties. That gives us room for Silverwind Lancers, Tremor, and Timeless One.

 

Our final deck build:

T1: Scavenger, Eruption, Sunstrider, Thugs, and Firesworn (red)

T2: Skyfire Drake, Scythe Fiends, Frost Sorceress, Ravage, Coldsnap, Frostbite (purple), Rageclaws, Stormsinger (green), Lavafield. Glacier Shell, Kobold Trick, Gladiatrix (green),

T3: Silverwind Lancer, Tremor, Timeless One

 

 Now our t2 is not quite as solid as it used to be, but I think we can still play around our weaknesses. This deck is a very . . . moderate deck. T1 is a little light, as well as t3, but they are both manageable. Our t3, in particular, has the potential to be quite strong as long as we don’t drag it into those higher power levels.

 

Reality Check:

How does our deck do in our double check?

1.     Defending walls

2.     Defending t3 rushes (or harvester)

3.     Defending cheap spams for spread-out agro

4.     Performing cheap spams for spread-out agro

5.     Defending a full-on attack at one place

6.     Performing a full-on attack at one place

7.     Preventing a large standing army

8.     Building a large standing army

 

I’m a little less comfortable with this deck than the previous ones, and a few practice games with this deck will do more than this theoretical discussion because there may be some exceptional combos or weaknesses that you just can’t anticipate without experience. Still, let’s go!

 

1.     By default of having a frost orb, we have above average wall defense. With good foresight we can prevent walls from going up (every faction can, but sometimes mistakes happen), and scavenger makes this easier. A coldsnap won’t work because it’s too expensive and the opponent could quickly spam another unit. We also don’t have frost barrier. BUT we have glacier shell and kobold trick, and S archers typically have low dps. If the archers are mounted so they only hit one well, use glacier shell. Otherwise, a combination of appropriately timed glacier shells and kobold tricks will usually allow you to stall your demise indefinitely, and if the enemy spends too much power putting all his units on the wall, you can either freeze them or launch a counteroffensive, confident that your attack come through faster. Fire and frost should have the best combination of offense and defense.

2.     Harvesters can be dealt with by gladiatrix and frostbite. Rageclaws also work well, and you have coldsnap if you need it. Your cc isn’t as good as fire-nature’s, but you can use glacier shell or kobold trick as a pseudo-root or oink. Make sure to save power for a disenchant, and be prepared for the harvy to warp to attack another base. T3 rushes can be handled the same way; firesworn can also be used against L units, especially in conjunction with frostbite. Buffed ashbones will give you trouble if you don’t have enough power to spawn a glady and use the disenchant (and you’ll also need to summon more units to kill the ashbone). However, you should play aggressively enough that your opponent doesn’t have a chance to save power for t3 or a harvester.

3.     Defending cheap spams is one of this deck’s greatest weaknesses. You really have to play around that and just prevent your opponent from infiltrating your side on too many fronts. If we had lyrish, they’d be perfect for this. Stormsinger will be the card you usually use to defend nightcrawlers and burrowers, but it has fairly low dps. You usually don’t need to worry about dropping wells because of your repair spells, but your opponent will try to make you expend too much energy defending in multiple places and—when your defense is spread thin, hit one area hard. This leads to point 5, but where your opponent has a strong temporary advantage.

4.     You definitely can’t do spread out agro (except for maybe rageclaws, but they’re slow and too easily countered). Stormsingers can largely be ignored because of their low dps. You CAN do concentrated agro, however; which is sort of the point of this deck. You hit and run using ice shielded drakes or scythe fiends, draining your opponent’s power and keeping him from gathering his power for a strong attack.

5.     Defending full-on attacks can be tricky, but doable. The trick will be to know when coldsnap is efficient and when it is not. Again, you can use building repairs as a sort of cc, but that becomes less effective against bigger armies (which complements coldsnap well). You’ll probably be making liberal use of lavafield as well (be careful against nature). Stone shards will be super annoying do deal with, and I’d probably suggest using rageclaws against them.

6.     For full-on attacks, this deck probably falls slightly below average. We have no siege units, and no rallying banner or homesoil buffs. Rageclaws can definitely do the trick if you let them rage up, but that’s not going to happen against most decks. You’ll usually want to do a sort of medium attack, annoying the opponent (possibly on several fronts), and then come in with more units to gain full control at one base (stonekin style), and surround it (most of your attackers are archers), suffocating any defensive counterplay until the base is demolished. Mountaineer, rallying banner, and/or homesoil would help us in this category.

7.     If you keep the pressure up (and you will, because you’re good, right?), you should have a fairly easy time of preventing a large army from being built in the first place. If it does get up, lavafield is useful when you opponent doesn’t have a nature orb, but you’ll have a very hard time against, say, stonekin. The trick will be not to let that standing army appear—and if it does appear, you’ll need to know when to go t3 and how well you can defend until your t3 arrives.

8.     You can build a large standing army only if you are attacked multiple places. Usually this won’t happened because you’ll be using spells to help defend, but if you have enough power to use two stormsingers to kill one burrower, you’ll have two stormsingers left over to help attack. Otherwise, you’ll generally avoid spawning more units than you have to.

 

I feel good about this deck. It’s not super good at anything, but it’s also not really bad at anything. This deck should be competitive against almost every other deck. I’d like to have mountaineer, I think, but we can do without it.

 

Matchups Check:

·       Pure Fire

o   Mountaineer would make this matchup a lot easier, but it should still be fairly strong for you. You have a strong enough dps to kill fire units before they kill your wells, especially with repair spells to keep your base alive. You’ll have to be careful in t3 because nothing beats juggers, but you should be able to keep a t2 advantage and go t3 earlier and use tremors to kill his base before he gets a monument up. Use your superior air control to get and keep skyfires up (with ice shields, fire has a hard time dealing with them), and use the skyfires to snipe fire’s M units before they build momentum. Fire also has a hard time dealing with rageclaws if they get to the base (wildfire will be the usual counter). If fire does get a strong attack going, you have lavafields or coldsnaps to prevent the attack from getting too powerful. This deck takes a light t1 and pure fire has plenty of room for a large t1, so I’d recommend not trying to press too hard in t1 and just make it to t2 on even footing.

·       Fire-nature

o   Speaking as a fire-nature player, this matchup (particularly the ice-shield style of fire-frost) was one of my least favorite. In my opinion, you only have a slight advantage, but you have the tools to be the aggressor—a particularly annoying situation for a fire-nature player. You both have similar advantages and disadvantages. Fire-nature has better cc, but you have much better air control. That will be important for getting rid of burrowers. Map control will be essential. If you can get a chokepoint and prevent the burrowers from infiltrating multiple bases at once, you’ll do quite well. You’ll have a bit of trouble attacking because rageclaws will get hurricaned easily. This will likely turn into a very long t2, and the game will be decided in t3. Mountaineers would make this matchup easier, because you’ll scale up in t2 better.

·       Fire-shadow

o   I really have no idea how this will go. You have one of the worst S counters of any faction, but you do have lavafield and coldsnap. In contrast, bandits have no cc, but will rely on spammed darkelves a lot. In t3 it’s hard to tell who is better. T2 will come down to who gets an advantage first (likely in t1) and that side will likely run away with the advantage. Mountaineers would help this matchup quite a bit—rageclaws don’t do super well against darkelves.

·       Fire-frost

o   This deck is a little different from the “normal” fire-frost deck. A lot of fire-frost decks don’t lean on ice-shield so heavily, but they do use mountaineer. You should not have too much of a problem against mountaineer: rageclaws do well, and you have gladiatrix and firesworn (good burst damage) as well. On the other hand, rageclaws are not so easy for fire-frost to deal with. However, many fire-frost players will take a larger t3, so you’ll want to win before t3 comes around.

·       Pure shadow

o   You should have a very easy time with this matchup. Skyfire drakes with ice shield will stomp pretty much all of shadow’s units. You should be concerned about a couple of combos, but with frost to protect your bases, you don’t have a ton to worry about. There’s really no reason you would give the shadow player enough power to take a harvester. If it does happen, lyrish knights or lightblade would be nice. Still, you have frostbite and gladiatrix. Rageclaws can be useful because they have a lot of health. You also have a freeze, so use it as needed. You can further stall by using kobold trick or glacier shell. This isn’t the best deck to deal with XL units, but you’ll survive.

·       Shadow-frost

o   You’ll likely have a slight t2 advantage, and shadow-frost will have a slightly more significant t3 advantage (due to more deck slots). I think this comes out about even though, because t2 is more important than t3. You have tools to deal with lost reaver and mountaineer, but you should probably be harassing your opponent enough that he never builds up enough power for mounty. You’ll mostly use ice shielded skyfire drakes to attack because rageclaws die pretty easily to darkelf assassins. You’ll need to secure air control and make sure to kill stormsingers ASAP, so keeping some rageclaws around (or a stormsinger of your own, although that’s a bit slow) will be quite useful. Scythe fiends are good, but nightcrawlers kill them a bit too effectively for you to rely on them. Ideally, you’ll harass your opponent until you can get 2 shielded skyfires up. If that happens they can fairly well protect each other and you be on the fast track towards gaining a tangible advantage. Still, lost souls players are used to stalling until t3 and gaining that advantage.

·       Shadow-nature

o   This is such an unusual matchup that I really have no idea what would happen. It will come down to whether the shadow-nature player can spam M units faster than you can kill them. My guess is that that shadow-nature player has an advantage, because fire-frost won’t really get strong until higher percentages. You’ll need a skyfire drake or multiple stormsingers to deal with the M pressure, and if multiple fronts get hit, I’d imagine you’ll have a tough time. His cc is better than yours, he can hurricane your rageclaws, and if you try to mass attack with your defense (that’s grown very large trying to kill his small attacks), one AoC could wipe it all out. Still, skyfire drakes will be tough for him to deal with, because shadow-nature tends to struggle with aerial control. Also in your favor, he has no frost splash, so if you get a large army and attack at 2 fronts, he can only protect one with AoC. Mountaineer might help because rageclaws get hurricaned easily, but nightguard is pretty standard for a shadow-nature player, so mountaineer is also pretty easily countered.

·       Pure Frost

o   Frost depends very heavily on war eagles. Since you can contest the air just as much as him, you have a pretty strong advantage. It’s not so big you can’t lose it, but you have the same air units, except with skyfire drake instead of war eagle (which is better for air control). The frost player will likely take skyelf templar, but you can work around that. If you bring templar yourself, the frost player will basically have no advantage.

·       Frost-nature

o   This seems pretty even to me. Both sides will have a bit of difficulty attacking their opponent because of the defensive options. Rageclaws will lose to hurricane, so mounty would make this matchup stronger. Stone shards will make your life miserable, but they’re not as bad for you as they are for other fire factions. Still, you don’t have a good counter for them. Try to build up an army yourself, without letting the stonekin player do so. Whoever gets their ideal setup will win (for you, that’s skyfire drakes or rageclaws with ice shields from sorceress; for the stonekin player, it’s probably a massive army of archers with ice barrier and homesoil). You’ll probably use a lot of lava fields to finish off stonekin units before they heal.

·       Pure Nature

o   You should have a definite advantage.  Deep ones can be dealt with using gladiatrix or skyfire drake and frostbite. Stormsinger can work against lone energy parasites in a pinch, but you also have the best parasite counter: skyfire drake. Your cc isn’t so good against them, however. Your biggest worry will be parasite swarm, because you depend on a lot of expensive units. It’s definitely better for you to have rageclaws than mountaineer in this matchup, even though your rageclaws will get hurricaned. Eruption and frostbite does 375 damage, just shy of the 438 health of parasite swarm. Another hit from a gladiatrix or stormsinger will finish it. Note that both gladiatrix and stormsinger need 2 hits and eruption to kill a parasite swarm without frostbite, while skyfire drake needs 1 hit and eruption. If you have a stormsinger, just gravity surge the parasite swarm (if he’s over a cliff, just move any units that could be captured away). As usual, burrowers are annoying for you to deal with at lower power levels, because skyfire drake or rageclaws get cc’d and stormsinger has low dps.

 

Final Touches:

It seems pretty clear that this particular deck would benefit from mountaineer in a lot of matches. If you have the bfp for him, go for it. If not, you’re still fine. You have plenty of other aggressive options, and defensive options as well. Brannoc would make your t3 a lot stronger, so you might consider dropping a t2 unit for him.

 

Evolution of the Deck:

If you want to write this section, feel free to PM me or just reply in the comments!

 

 

Pure Shadow:

 

From Anonymos:

if ur looking for a pure shadow deck  i would advice smtng like this:

 

Dreadcharger,Forsaken,Nox-Trooper,Nasty-Surprise,Motivate,Nightguard_nature, Nether-Warp_frost,Life-Weaving,Unholy-Power,Aura-of-Corruption,Corpse-Explosion,Nightcrawler,Darkelf-Assassins,Shadow-Mage,Shadow-Phoenix,Harvester-promo,Voidstorm,Ashbone-Pyro,Cultist-Master,Evocators-Woe_nature

core:

t1:

Dreadcharger

Forsaken

Motivate

Nox Trooper

Nasty surprise

(Life waving) 

t2

Darkelf assasins

Nightcrawler

Shadow mage

Nether warp blue

AoC

(Harvester)

Shadowphoenix, corpse explosion (one of those 2 at least)

(Unholy power )

 

t3 depends 

if splashing to frost u could use smtng like grigori, silverwindlacers, ashbone and shild building

if staying pure shadow voidstorm should be included 

if ur really tryharding for an basenuke u could try nexus portal + cultistmaster + evocators technicly nexus portal  can be used in t2 to close the gap to ur enemy but sadly it needs a lot of micro since u always have to pull ur units back from the portal once they retreaded trough the portal station in case the station gets focussed if used perfectly u can use this builing to start unexpectet strong attacks by shifting ur units around but since the portal station is so low on hp with like 1000 hp (not really sure atm) it can backfire really hard

 

 

Shadow-Frost:

 

Shadow-Nature:

When I get to this section, keep RadicalX’s post in mind:

Apparently there is a very good reason to start with Shadow T1 since it's way better compared to nature T1. Shadow does very well against Frost, destroys nature (Phasetower op ^-^) and has got a skill matchup against fire. Nature has got a very poor matchup against Shadow and Frost, which is pretty bad and even Fire can give you alot of trouble with wrecker or mortar. 

In addition to that Shadow takes less deck slots. Dreadcharger, Forsaken, Nox-Trooper, (Motivate), Nasty, Nightguard & Phasetower create a very solid T1.

-> Dreadcharger Forsaken & Nox are core units for your T1

-> Phasetower helps you to destroy nature and does well against frost

-> Nightguard is pretty imporant against T2, since shadow nature doesn't have strong a L counter, it helps you against Air units and she has got a pretty good synergy with your deck since you've got pretty cheap cc spells. Motivate & Nasty are also very good for your T2 

-> Motivate is pretty useful for your T1 and your T2 since Shadow nature has got alot of cheap high damage units. Motivate provides pretty much bonus damage (way superior to life weaving and unholy power, which are trash cards in this deck). 

-> Nasty is very versitile and always a solid pickup for every Shadow deck. Can help you to defend against large attacks (also very good vs skyfire drakes) and is also usefull to finish off powerwells or create huuuge aoe attacks with Shadow Phoenix.

That makes 7 T1 slots (+Ensnaring roots, Surge of light & Hurricane). And Motivate isn't even "must have"!

Nature needs Swiftclaw, Spearman, Windweavers, Dryad, Shaman, Primal defender, Surge of light, Ensnaring roots and Hurricane, which are 9 cards and you need every single one to prevent an autolose matchup (and even then Frost T1 is pretty much unbeatable without instant T2). With the addition of Nasty and Nightguard for T2 you have only 9 deckslots left. You can't compete with such a deck on a decent level. In Theory you could go for Treespirit (a card which is ridicilously broken) to save some slots since it's kind of an allround counter that deals with everything, but this doesn't solve the main issues of nature T1. You will still lose against Frost since Ice-barrier can prevent the damage from Treespirit & you will still get destroyed against Phasetowerspam. A nature T1 start would be only viable for 2v2 (You don't need stuff like primal defender to deal with phasetower as long as your teammate can support you).

For T2 - your core cards are:

-> Nightcrawler & Darkelf Assassin (Your "must have" cards, main M & S counter - they are useful in litereally every situation, especially Darkelf Assassins.)

-> Curse of Oink (The best T2 cc spell)  

-> Shadow Phoenix (This is maybe just personal preference, but I always love to have this card in my deck. Helps alot to support your attacks and can be very usefull against stuff like Shadow mages.)

-> Aura of Corruption (I wouldn't usually call this card must have, but it's your only reliable way to get rid of cliffdancers (even if it's not power efficient). Aside from that root aura is a pretty good allround counter, but be careful with this card Stonekin can abuse AoC super hard and spam cannon towers into your aura and you wont be able to destroy them anymore).

-> Amii Phantom (Amazing card! Very versitile and very strong. It's biggest strength (and the reason why it's must have) is the fact, that it helps alot to deal with stonekin, which used to be a pretty hard matchup for shadow nature. You can just disable stonetempest and razorshard and destroy your opponent. Aside from that a pretty good adition in many matchups. The stats aren't great, but it can help you with kiting and even in T3 the Amii Phantom is still useful, she can disable Ashebone-Pyro for example.)

This are the most important cards for your T2 (Shadow Phoenix is debatable and keep in mind that Ensnaring roots, Hurricane and Surge of Light are also included!). I will mention some other stuff now, that can be viable.

-> Burrower (even if alot of people consider him the core card of Shadow-nature some top tier players used to play without him. With alot of success. Since Shadow nature has got the strongest skirmish-units with nightcrawler + darkelf assassin and the strongest cc (Root, Oink & Hurricane) it was a pretty interesting strategy to apply pressure at multiple places with nightcrawler & Darkelf assassins, but you would just focus the units to create an overwhelming army. You had either stronger units or superior cc. It is very hard to counter this strategy, it even felt impossible when you got slightly behind in T1 and your opponent executed it very well. But Burrower is still a viable option, pretty much the easy way to play the deck - they could apply super much pressure, especially with the use of Motivate (don't think about using Life-Weaving ... it's bad).

-> Mauler (used to be good, but get's outclassed by Amii Phantom super hard, because it's cheaper and faster.)

-> Spirit Hunter (Allround Counter - Can be pretty efficient, but I don't feel like you need the card since you have litereally a counter unit for every unit type. Nightguard vs L Units, Darkelf Assassins vs S Units, Nighcrawler vs M Units. With your strong cc support that was more than enough, even XL Units aka Harvester could get countered with Darkelf spam + Root.)

-> Rogan Kalye (If you think you won't be able to counter Harvester fast enough with Darkelf Assassin spam (Harvy can get very tanky with lifeweaving or unholy power) Rogan is your choice! He can create cc chains with his ability to give you tons of time to deal with the Harvester. But aside from that he was pretty useless ...)

-> Ghostspears (As a counter unit outclassed by Darkelf assassins & Nightcrawler. But there is still use for this card! It can be pretty decent against pure Fire (Fire has strong M counters, but litereally only M Units and a S Unit with M Counter damage is pretty decent against that).

I don't feel like there was much more viable stuff (maybe I forgot something, dnno). There are also some weird cards with good deck-synergy like dyrad greed, but that's not the most serious stuff. For T3 you have alot of choices. Just try to keep in mind that Ashebone with cc support is super strong and you have to be able to counter juggernaut (strong XL counter) and you have to be able to pressure against timeless one defences (XL Unit or basenuke).  

 

Just as an example: This is the SN deck I used to play:

T1:

Dreadcharger, Forsaken, Nox-Trooper, Motivate, Skeleton Warriors, Nasty Surprise, Nightguard purple

T2: 

Nightcrawler, Darkelf-assassins, Amii Phantom, Shadow Phoenix, Aura of Corruption, Ensnaring Roots, Curse of Oink, Hurricane, Rogan Kayle

T3:

Ashebone, Fathom Lord, Mo, Revenge

 

Matchups:

Bandits: pretty easy matchup for T2. Bandits doesn't really have any superior units, but have superior CC which gives you a massive advantage.

Pure Nature: Nature struggles alot against Burrower. If you have problems against Nature, just include them. Should be a very easy matchup then. But Shadow is superior to nature in T1 (especially with phase tower) so you can get massive early leads to snowball or even finish the game straight.

Stonekin: Amii Phantom makes one of the hardest matchups for you pretty simple. But the matchup gets still super annoying if you fall behind at any point. Try to get a T1 advantage since Shadow can deal very will with Frost and Nature.

Shadow Frost: Shadow Nature does pretty well into Shadow Frost, but you have to pressure constantly. Otherwise you won't be able to do anything against Stormsinger defense and end up against the invincible Shadow Frost T3. Nightcrawler + Darkelf Assassins + CC support are your way to go!

Pure Frost: Not really difficult. Nightguard will deal with wareagles -> you have better cc to get rid of the nighguard. And that's it ... play some Darkelf assasins to round up the unit composition and smash your opponent. 

Pure Shadow: Can get a little bit tricky, because shadow mages are superior to your units. Amii Phantom can deal with single ones, Shadow phoenix + nightcrawler-nasty can delete magespam+nether warp. Use Rogan Kayle if you get issues against Harvester. Skeleton Warriors can help very much to win the T1!

Shadow Nature: The mirror matchup is pretty weird (much unit spam). Shadow Phoenix can help you alot to deal with that.

Fire Frost: Nightguard helps alot to deal with shield-drakes or shield stuff in general. Can get pretty difficult to attack against fire frost (Stormsinger + Lavafield gives you a hard time). 

Fire Nature: This deck has an advantge over your one. Lavafield is annoying an in addition to that Fire Nature has stronger support for the skyfire drake compared to Fire Frost which makes it even harder to play this matchup. The T1 doesn't save you this time since Fire is able to match Shadow and Sunderer can get annoying at some point.

Pure Fire: Honestly my most hated matchup (okay I hate pure Fire in general, but that's a different story). Cliffdancer are soooo annoying on some maps and you don't have a real counter for that - you are forced to play AoC, which is super expensive. You have to win this matchup early. Ghostspears can help here, but if the Fire player gets in the postition to attack you you are doomed. Wildfire supports attacks super well and it gets really painful to play against that. Playing a short T1 against Fire helps often, because your Units are cheaper and your cc is also cheaper than his damage aoe spells. Stay at a low power level and finish your opponent asap.

Also YaBro0

Radical pointed out that certain cards give you an advantage versus certain decks and that you can play without cards many consider to be must haves. The thing is that Radical was one of the top players of the game (and I don`t mean the top 10 players that got in top 10 in the last month of the game since that was pretty easy) so he can easily play very effective without cards like burrower and lifeweaving (which really is unnecessary in high ranked games). But since you`re no high ranked player there`s no need to play an effective deck that is very hard for a beginner to handle. So I'll try to name the must haves in shadow/nature deck and then name some common cards and what their advantanges in certain matchups are so you can try to figure out what suits you best.

T1

Dreadcharger / witch claws (if you don't have the cash for dreadcharger)

Forsaken

Nox troopers

Nightguard 

Nasty surprise

T2

Ensnaring roots

Curse of oink

Hurricane

Surge of light

Aura of Corruption

Darkelf assassins

Nightcrawler

T3

Is completely up to you and I won't point out this, because you have so many options

 

In theory these cards are enough to play shadow/nature effectively and you still have 8 slots left. In the following I'll try to mention cards I would highly recommend you to play up to cards that are very uncommon to play since they are weaker or harder to use in order.

 

Motivate

The strongest buff for a shadow/nature deck. Your units are cheap and your strenght is to attack multiple bases due to your swift attack options. Very strong in every tier and the best buff you could possibly have. You should play it.

@SilenceKiller99 Amii-Phantom

As I said before this card is extremely powerful. First of all it is a decent ranged m/m counter which slows down units and good to play with roots. Now to the crazy part. It is able to switch to a swift melee unit which has the ability to unable ranged attacks and abilities of attacked units for 10 secs. This makes it a counter for every ranged ground unit in the game from T1 to T4. Due to your cc's you'll nearly always be able to get your hits of and unable ranged attacks. Compare this card to mauler (75e) which has the same ability with the difference that Amii-Phantom is swift and costs 60e and has the possibility to become a ranged unit at any time. Being a swift unit makes this extremly more powerful, because most units won't be able to run away. Very powerful and definatly a great option.

Burrower

A swift basenuker which is spamable. Most powerful when you attack multiple bases with motivate. On a higher skilllevel you could play without them but on a beginner and advanced level this will become your most powerful attack and even in highranked matched your opponents will struggle against this.

Shadow Phonix

Great unit and most useful vs Pure shadow. Nasty + Phoenix can be a very good method to defend and a good unit to cast in a AoC vs mass units. It can be very powerful combined with embalser's shrine but a bit harder to pull of but if you're able to pull it of you will most likely nuke some bases. Many beginner's have the problem to miss the moments to play this card or to overuse it but it is very powerful if you're able to use it right.

Ghost spears

A great unit vs pure fire in which matchup you will struggle even more as a beginner. Due to its high life points it a great nasty unit and is great method for beginners to defend. Don't play this unit if you already play Amii-Phantom, there's no reason to play 3 m-conters in T2.

Phase Tower

A good add if you have problem's dealing with nature or frost in T1 since this card is usually a auto win vs nature T1. It will also add a good defense if you want to play T1 vs T2 since you can port it to different bases but depends on the map.

Skeleton warriors

Gives you a very good advantage in a shadow mirror and is also of great use vs fire. Since you will play vs shadow or fire most of the times, this card adds more to a deck than it looks at first.

Embalser's shrine

Becomes very powerful with shadow phoenix (remember wrecking Radical with this :D) and most powerful at wellclusters. The problem I mentioned is it might be hard for beginners to play this combination but is certainly very powerful but its use can depend on the map. You could also use it with Furance of Flesh and spam burrowers and/or phoenixes but won't ussually work vs advanced players.

Spirit hunters

This is usually a good s-unit and mass unit counter. But vs s units you have the stronger darkelfs and vs mass units you already have enough counter options. You could still play this effective but usually you'll have better options.

Rogan Kayle

His cc's will add some defense motly in the lategame and best if you struggle vs harvester.

Life weaving

On a advanced level I wouldn't reccomend this but a lower level many people tend to not use their energy enough when in offense or overuse cc's and heals. This is good easy way to support mostly split burrower attacks or your T3. Just don't overuse it.

Mark of the keeper

I wanted to mention this so bad  No one really plays this card and it's useless vs fire. But this card is a defensive monster and can also be played in offense vs an AoC of your opponent. But you'll think twice about binding 70e in one base. Also depends on matchup and map.
 

Dryad (green)

Can be combined with Darkelf assassins to enable their debuff. The problem is that many factions have a way to deal with mass s-units without split. But it strong vs shadow/frost since you can prevent nasty's with cc's and we all know how often we met and will meet shadow/frost  

Portal nexus

Simply said it's like a railling banner only way harder to use and combined with more risks. But what many people forget is that you can play it in AoC of your opponent. If your able to get it up in a 20m radius of your opponent well/orb istantly destroy it and everything your opponent has is down. The problem is that it is extremely situational, ussually you won't be able to get any use of this card but since so many people play shadow splashes you could give this a try  

Envenom/Parasite

Is useful vs Airunits especially if you have problems dealing with skyfire drake. Luckily many people even in high ranked don't know how to deal with this card. 

Decomposer

Highly depends on the map. Can be very useful at closewell situation in T1 an T2 and at keypositions. Requires a decent amount of micro and is not easy to play effectively.

Tunnel

Can be played with burrower. Attack bases and once your burrower goes low on health you use the ability to port it back to your Tunnel. Hard to pull of effectively and requires decent amount of micro.

Mauler

The way weaker version of Amii-Phantom. If you don't want to play Amii-Phantom for any reason you could use this to minimize your disadvantage vs stonekin.

 

Puhhh... I tried to mention many cards and many varities that are actually playable. Of course some of them are stronger than others but