Hello Champions, Zerris from ThunderPals here. It has been too long since my last post. I’ve been fairly busy with well… life. I climbed the ladder in ranked to Master and decided to share my experiences. I want to start by saying, the grind was not that bad because I never wanted to put down WHAOSC. The new season was exciting, enriched by a slew of new decks and variants. The only downside I experienced was a delay in receiving my physical cards, mainly because of snail mail. This kind of forced me to take the focus off deck building and play something I was familiar with. I ultimately decided to keep my Gordrakk build from Season 1.
I am a huge fan of Destruction as an Alliance. I really like Greenskin flavor especially the underlying sense of humor. I would probably play them even if they were not competitive. I do not enjoy other Alliances nearly as much. I unfortunately did not have Onslaught product. Snail mail had a federal holiday – I didn’t get product until 12/07. I didn’t go to PAX to buy product either. I had to wait, or buy the cards in app, but why purchase something I already paid for? It was my decision to ultimately not purchase many if any cards within app. Not wanting to fall too far behind, I opted to “use what I had”. I quickly learned that Gordrakk was not as busted as he once was.
A New Challenger Approaches
Not having product may have worked out for me. Ranked was heavily populated with Skarbrand and Order. Destruction and Death decks became a breath of fresh air for me. It was rare I ever played an exact mirror match. I can’t make myself clearer when I say, THAT IS GREAT FOR THE GAME & I HOPE IT STAYS THIS WAY. I would even chalk up a lot of my early victories to the fact that I had repetition on my side with Gordrakk – I knew the plays in and out. Adjustments of course still had to be made.
I will be the first and maybe the only person to say, “Gordrakk is not as good as he once was.” I believe the rest of the alliances were able to cash in on new cards to make them closer to an even playing field to Gordrakk. I am by no means saying he is not Tier 1 – he still is very powerful, but I am saying based on my experiences the gap between Gordrakk has closed or is closing.
I quickly discovered how dependent on actions after cards like Flesh to Stone started to show up. I realize that I needed three actions to close out a game. Majority of the games even came down to the first blessing flipped. This was especially apparent against Skarbrand, but I will get back to that later. I just want to lead with this disclaimer; this is based entirely upon my experiences climbing the ranked ladder.
Goth Aelf Pirates:
Aelves*Disclaimer: I don’t have exact lists – this is going based upon memory or what I would play. If you want to find a more optimal list Will Hall definitely has one. Adam Binns and Matthew Wisbey tested a bit with Aelves and had success initially.
My first game was against Order Aelves. I knew they would be popular they got a handful of exciting cards out of Onslaught. It just so happens those cards complement their aggressive style and synergize with Lotann(stronger Bloodthirster of Unfettered Fury ). Playing a “high-risk, high-reward” style like Chaos their games can close out pretty quick between their buffed unit damage, their high damage abilities, and their mid to high damage blessing flips.
Razorshell Harpoon Allopex proved to be an amazing addition. Often players were able to dormant my key lanes (especially Savage Boar Boss) rending them useless while progressing their own quests (and using Jaws of Death). Lotann helped pile on more damage to the Aelf units which put Aelves miles ahead damage wise. The real lethality of the deck was in the blessing flips.
Frenzied Order provided another additional instant nuke to complement their style. Between unit damage & ability damage and their blessing closers I was pretty much done for since I was almost playing catch up every game. The only issue is they suffer the same way Chaos quick quest did – hand management is key for Aelves. I ended up taking a lot of losses from Aelves originally but still kept trying season 1 Gordrakk. Until I encountered Stormcast Order.
Thundering Concussor DOES WORK
Champions, the only deck to make me want to smack my head against a wall playing against it was Bored2Death/Immortal Death. The games would take 45 minutes or more. Then I played against Stormcast decks in Season 2. Stormcast felt extremely oppressive but not drawn out. Stormcast prevented me from playing the game between their lane denial and restart. I would often be a few turns behind just because I couldn’t place anything into lanes. I imagine a Stormcast player rather enjoys yelling “DENIED” to their opponent, possibly even stamping the word “DENIED” all over a lane to make their point.
This deck made me change my build. Savage Boar Boss & Rip-tooth Megaboss were targeted constantly by lane denial. It was very easy for Vorrus Starstrike build to keep lane denial active for six or more turns. Stormcast units exhausting is uncommon. When I finally could “play the game” I generally had 15 or less health and had to make a comeback victory. At least Gordrakk makes it possible to do that. I won’t lie sometimes I managed to do it because of a blessing flip at the right time.
This is definitely a deck that needs to be looked at as the season progresses. I can see it being a really great deck. I think I only benefited again from the deck familiarity in this case. I took advantage of it being new to the player. Even with it being new, it was near impossible to come back from a game in which x2 Thundering Concussor and 1 (insert random Stormcast Unit) were rotated and then restarted. That should be a sign on how oppressive Stormcast can be. Also it’s important to note, they rarely flip blessings to beat me, and if it was Abjuration or Blessed Weapons it only increased their chances for a win.
The final common deck I encountered was Skarbrand of course. As probably the most anticipated card in set 2, it seemed destined. It didn’t help every Skarbrand deck seemed tooled for Destruction, combining a Wizard with Flesh to Stone. Flesh to Stone is a really great card to include in your deck, and most people only play it for card draw, but don’t realize the secondary effect really screws over Destruction enough to slow them down. It doesn’t help that Skarbrand has the magic number 15 on his side to obtain a one turn swing for around 20 damage.
I was quickly taught the dangers and strategy of Skarbrand. Hamish (Hamsack88) and YerTrey were the best teacher(s) I could ask for. Hamish was able to kill me basically instantly once he hit 15. Unrivalled Battle-Lust was always explosive for Chaos, but for Skarbrand the blast is nuclear. Unless they flip UBL with 0 cards in hand or you have a few x3 stacked Orruk Shield Bashers you will end up losing. Hamish was able to deal me over 30 damage in one turn with UBL and Skarbrand. It is a game I will never forget. Oshuan (YerTrey) provides Skarbrand as a constant for paper play which gives me additional testing (he went to PAX so he has Skarbrand).
Skarbrand and Gordrakk are pretty similar actually. The two feel incredibly fair against one another, and a lot of the games really come down to the first blessing that is popped. If Chaos pops UBL, they probably win the game. They don’t need Skarbrand for that. Skarbrand, like Gordrakk provides them “another blessing effect”. Those blessing effects can normally swing the momentum of the game into your favor or close it out.
Based on the new challengers in ranked, I knew Savage Boar Boss build was a bit lacking. As Order even in set 1, locking down the boar boss was a great idea. It is what my fellow ThunderPals did against me and it honestly felt like it drastically slowed me down. Now Order had the tools to lock down Riptooth via Thundering Concussor. I had to rethink my build to get a better win percentage against Order without sacrificing too much for Skarbrand. I ultimately ended up with a more balanced build, which added in Savage Stikkas and made my lanes closer to equal.
I definitely was not the only person playing Gordrakk. I had my fair share of mirror matches. A lot of the mirrors were against similiar season 1 builds (I assumed they didn’t queue up against Order as much) and the new Loud-mouthed Megaboss, x2 Arrogant Grot Boss & Gordrakk build. I found the Loudmouth and Gordrakk build was too clunky and I beat it with ease a good percentage of the time. I even tried the build and felt it was clunky. Gordrakk wants action efficiency and Loudmouth doesn’t provide that. You end up using Loudmouth strictly for activating Sweeping Gore Grunta *yawn*. Season 1 builds were a slight problem, because Savage Boar Boss made the deck faster. I would generally align my Riptooth up against their Boar Boss to try to speed up my quests.
In most cases the game came down to which blessing popped first. It was hard to come back from someone who fielded Ushering of the Waaagh! into a Smash and Bash. I had the Waaagh! Call to speed up Cruisin' for a Bruisin' and there were plenty of games where I ended up triggering Cruisin’ a turn before my opponent for a victory. I found Waaagh Call is really great against Skarbrand too.
I saw only two death deck archetypes in ranked really. They were both Mordant based decks. The first one Mordant Burn was pretty standard. They got a few really great cards to help their deck style. Flesh to Stone being one of those cards the extra draw power helped feed your Mordants with more units or abilities to deal damage. Between Feasting Vargheist and Flesh to Stone, I feel like they rarely have to use their actions to draw.
As I have stated several times – I almost always need three actions to kill someone in 1 turn. Flesh to Stone helps prevent against that while drawing into what you need. When you don’t spend actions to draw, you pop blessings pretty well, and if you pop Orb of Immortality and/or Supernatural Horror you provide yourself a ton more time in the game. It is important to note – Inferno Blades is also really good, but in a race for damage I think I can win as Gordrakk over the disruption mechanism provided by Flesh to Stone.
Often this match up came down to two factors; 1. Did I manage to get Gordrakk infront of a Abhorrant Ghoul King? 2. Do I have removal to get rid of Flesh to Stone or Feasting Vargheist at key moments? Generally if I was able to do one or both of those I would win. Zenmazster was the pilot who specifically stuck out to me, he managed to knock me down a peg or two a few times during ranked play.
The second Death deck cycling around was partially my fault. Royal Hunt Tempo is a little known deck, but it really should be more known. Most people look at it and think “what the heck, how does this win?” I thought that too. I dismissed my own teammate’s (Darren a.k.a D on the app) deck at the East Coast Rumble, because he was playing Death and I was playing Gordrakk. How could I lose? I made that mistake once, I will never make it again. I am glad it got some nods at PAX. The deck is very different and very strong. I ended up using it to get through much of my run through Diamond.
The deck always came down to key plays. If you dive in headfirst against it without being able to replenish your hand, there is a good chance you already lost. Brutal Smash and Opportunity Strike end up doing work against people who try to be “reactionary” toward your deck. That is something to consider, it is tough playing from a -11 health handicap. Much like other match ups, the game is really blessing dependent.
If RH Tempo manage to pop The Royal Hunt and Orb simultaneously it’s going to be real tough for you to win. I honestly think I should just wish you good luck. Gordrakk will always be across from a Mordant and Scrabbling Horror does work with Royal Hunt. Be mindful that Shambling Ghoul Horde will also half the effectiveness of your action providers. The real surprise in the deck is Grasp from the Grave as it helps speed up the deck. Alas, if you can pop your blessings in quick succession or prevent them from popping theirs quickly, you can end up winning. It is possible to win through Orb if you time your rotations right for a Gordrakk Heroic act – math is just hard.
As I stated, I ended up using this during my Diamond division plays. I loved the deck. It is a very technical deck. I found that it was very strong against Skarbrand especially if you can get a Reaping Cairn Wraith in front of him for the -2 Ability damage. My deck is a slight variant to Darren’s if you want to check it out. You can get Darren’s version on the ThunderPals youtube, heck just message Darren or I and we’ll gladly talk it over with you or get you lists. You can ask some of the players (Adam, Hamish, Matthew, etc.) who I used this against, it can get pretty nasty. I think that is part of the reason I saw the return on it when playing Gordrakk. People really enjoy the deck. A really funny match up was against Ahriman. I had queued up with him 3 times in a row (Which is fairly common in Ranked and one of my pet peeves). The first two I played my variant of the RH Tempo and I won. The third game he switched up to a Wizard Chaos build using The Changeling & Lord of Change and decimated me because Reapers are essentially made 5 cost blank Champions. #MWGA (Make Wizards Great Again)
Part of the Journey is the End (AVENGERS ENDGAME TRAILER HYPE!!)
After finishing my climb to Master, I felt like I cheated the system a little bit. As I said not having my cards was beneficial to me. I didn’t have to learn a new deck, I just needed to learn the new match ups. I had a head start over a large group of people who used ranked to test out their new builds. I knew my best course of action through repetition.
I still look forward to continue testing new builds in ranked once I have my physical cards within the app. Majority of my time since I climbed to Master has gone to everything else in my life and not really this game. The time I have devoted to gaming I ended up working on this article or try to keep up with the posts on social media (discord, facebook, etc.) for the game.
At first I was surprised that Skarbrand and Gordrakk are so dominant in the Meta based on what I gathered via social media. It felt like the shift was dramatic in only a week from when I saw Order constantly. Especially because Stormcast are such a tough match up. Although I understand why; Skarbrand and Gordrakk have a similar benefit. They are able to turn a game in their favor due to a large swing from their heroic act/passive power. With Season 2 release It was nice to see a fresh Meta. It is also reasurring that Gordrakk no longer felt like he could be picked up with minimal game knowledge and result in wins just because every other alliance was lacking. I am a bit comforted by the fact that Season 2 is still young. A lot of key players are in a similar boat to mine where they are just busy (finals, holidays, etc.) or are focusing on the deck building first (*cough* Slapz *cough*). It is a bit too early to discern if Skarbrand/Gordrakk require the beating from a nerf stick but if the Meta grows stale I could understand the want for it. I just didn’t have the mythical “constant Skarbrand or Gordrakk” matches everyone else had.
After all is said and done, I look forward to the rest of Season 2 and the additional brews people can create. Stormcast Order & Royal Hunt Tempo is a step in that direction, and if you haven’t seen it them in action I suggest you get on and see it work. (Check out Jean’s build for Stormcast or Darren’s RH Tempo) I also wanted to mention I am lucky to have such a great team The ThunderPals (you can find us in app with the TPals tag). They are always willing to play games, test decks, and most of all have fun. You have heard a lot of their point of views on the Round Table Review articles (previously the NYC gang). Additionally, I have the benefit of a whole mess of communication from Hamish (Hamsack88), Adam (LatD ArchaonRL), and Matthew (LatD Ionic) and any other I have talked shop with. You guys are great, bouncing ideas off you and playing the game with you has been a highlight of the season. Thank you for helping me get RH Tempo and Gordrakk to a comfortable playing point. Hopefully the momentum can stay high and I will see you guys on the battlefield after finals! Until next time “caw” f’ing “caw”.
#ThunderPalTakeover #Zapyodumbass #Skarbrandgood #OrderfromChaosDeathfromDestruction #teamUSA #isacookienotbiscuit