NGE Shadowverse Season 1 Champion: JaZe
How do you get an edge when you know that your opponents are going to be playing Ramp Dragon and Midrange Shadow? Most people seem to believe that these decks are clearly the best and that they should bring variations of those decks that are prepared for the mirror.
I did not think that would be the right choice for me as I hate playing “Brick Dragon” with a burning passion. Unfortunately, both Dragon and Shadow are so powerful that they can win against even the hardest of counters; that makes it very risky to go all in on countering one deck.
Instead of going all in, my plan was to have an advantage against one deck while maintaining a reasonable matchup with the other. I’ve tried many decks that proved too unreliable, but I believed that I was able to bring a lineup that met my requirements. Also, note that the decklist is open to both opponents so even some tech cards that are included in the list can affect how your opponent play as well.
This is a pretty normal midrange Shadow build, except that it includes an Attendant of Night + Urd combo to improve the Dragon matchup. Attendant of Night seems like a liability in the mirror, but given how well it lines up with 2/3 Wards, it often pulls its weight. Urd often lacks a great target, but just having her in the deck forces the opponent into an awkward situation of having to kill your Last Word followers.
This is a favored matchup. You win by creating sticky boards and using either Demonlord Eachtar or Shadow Reaper to push through large amounts of damage. You lose if the Dragon player successfully clears your board and has answers for your next few plays.
- Time your plays carefully. Playing a Prince Catacomb is a waste if you are forced to sacrifice your other followers to kill a Sibyl of the Waterwyrm, because the resulting skeletons are easily cleared. The best times to play Prince Catacomb is usually right before the Dragon player gets to 6 or 10 play points, or on the turn before you play Demonlord Eachtar.
- Avoid popping your own Attendant of Night. It is very difficult for the Dragon player to protect themselves without also killing the Attendant, which will result in a lot of damage for you.
- Do not play Demonlord Eachtar unless you have a board since losing Demonlord Eachtar and all of his zombies is the surest path to defeat. Flood the board over and over with your other cards. If they ever fail to clear your board, Demonlord Eachtar should end the game.
This is a slightly unfavorable matchup. You win this matchup by minimizing the number of followers your opponent has and exhausting their resources. You tend to lose this matchup by allowing your opponent to do the same to you, or by falling low enough that Phantom Howl can kill you.
- Fight for the board as hard as you possibly can. It is often worth taking extra damage to get every possible drop of value out of your followers. Demonlord Eachtar is your only comeback mechanic when you don’t have board presence, whereas other shadow decks also have Immortal Thane and an additional copy of Phantom Howl for extra reach.
- Manage your shadows carefully. You want your Demonlord Eachtar to create as many zombies as possible. If you spend all your shadows on Death’s Breath on Turn 6, your Demonlord Eachtar will only create 1 zombie. Instead, Turn 6 should often be used to play Shadow Reaper and Prince of Catacombs.
- Try to save your enhance cards whenever possible. Enhanced Zombie Party creates a board that trades efficiently against Eachtar zombies, and it also generates shadows for your own Demonlord Eachtar. Enhanced Grimnir, War Cyclone often wins the game on the spot. It is usually correct to play these cards in the early turns to fight for the board, but otherwise, think long and hard before you expend these precious resources.
This is a heavily modified version of the original Vengeance Bloodcraft. There are no Soul Dealers in the list because I feel that Soul Dealer is simply too weak to play. As a result, Belphegor is the only true Vengeance activator. Bloodfed Flowerbed, a card that I initially thought was terrible, plays many crucial roles in this deck. It is a turn 1 play that doesn’t weaken your Dark Airjammer pulls, and it does 4 damage to your opponent even if they can answer your followers. It also allows you to have Vengeance active on Turn 5, even if you do not draw a Belphegor. I did not include Devil of Vengeance, as I have only three cards (Belphegors) to enable it to attack on Turn 4.
This is a favored matchup. You win this matchup by building a board that cannot be easily removed. You lose this matchup if they can stabilize the board with enough life to survive your burst.
- Generally, you don’t need to make value trades. The longer the game drags on, the more healing they will have access to. Go for the face!
- Choose your evolves carefully. You want to make sure that your opponent’s Breath of the Salamander and Sibyl of the Waterwyrm are as inefficient as possible.
- Stay above 7 life if possible. Most Dragon decks have a maximum of 5 attack on their storm followers.
This is an unfavorable matchup. You win by generating large boards through Dark Airjammer and bringing them into burst range before Demonlord Eachtar can come down. You lose this matchup by losing the board early or not having Wards to protect yourself from Cerberus + Phantom Howl.
- Deny their board presence in the early turns. If you activate Vengeance when the board state doesn’t favor you, you will be forced to defend your life total and unable to pressure theirs.
- Don’t cripple yourself by playing around Phantom Howl and Cerberus. Remember that you have to deal enough damage to finish them off after Demonlord Eachtar decimates your board position. Sometimes you lose to the combo, but you almost always lose when you take it slow and Ward up.
- Try to reserve a Hungering Horde to answer Death’s Breath. Unless you have a very large lead, it is very difficult to punch through so many Wards and still have enough damage to win.
Ultimately, I was very happy with my deck choices. In the semi-finals, I played against an unexpected lineup that was all in on targeting Dragon, and I was able to take advantage of it with very aggressive draws. In the finals, I lost to Dragon in the first game but was able to make a comeback because both of my decks had reasonable matchups against Shadow.
Because nobody (at least, nobody I’ve heard of) wins a tournament on their own, I would like to thank the following people for all the help they gave me. In no particular order, they are:
- Autoaim, for helping me finally find a lineup I was happy with, and for providing his own Shadow list that overperformed throughout the tournament.
- DV8, for giving me the Blood deck that consistently performed in several tournaments.
- Rysio, for being there to playtest every time I needed it. He is the true MVP of MS.
- Sleet, who helped me playtest so much that I’m sure he’s sick of it.
- Potwasher, for giving me the determination to win it all.
- All of my ManaSurge teammates, for believing in me even when I didn’t believe in myself and giving me to confidence to play on, no matter how bad things looked.
- A person who will remain unnamed, for giving me an extra incentive to win, and for showing up to root for me despite not knowing a thing about ShadowverseV.