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Analysis / Shadowverse

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This page only documents notable decks in the ladder thus far; other decks do exist but many of them are deemed too impractical for use on the ladder.

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  • Roach OTK is as its name implies — a deck that utilizes Rhinoceroach and the various cheap tokens and bounce cards at Forest's disposal (like Airbound Barrage and Nature's Guidance) to get as many hits from Roach as possible. When played well, a Roach OTK combo can defeat an unguarded opponent at full health, though this combo can only take place in the later turns. At its prime in the Bahamut format, a powerful variant of this deck, termed "Miracle Roach" by some, made use of Goblin Mage to find Roach, the only 2pp followers in the deck, allowing it to win as early as turn 7 with the assistance of other 1-cost followers. Goblin Mage was nerfed to also be able to find 1pp followers, resulting in Roach OTK decks needing to forsake a lot of their early game (no 1pp or 2pp followers except for Roach at all) if they wanted to replicate the consistency they once had. This deck is notorious for being the most difficult deck to play properly due to needing to count how many low play point cards in order to achieve the OTK combo, the current board space, and how much health the opponent has. The combo itself is easily countered with either multiple Wards, damage reduction effects such as Durandal, or applying a lot of early game pressure that will force the player to use the combo pieces more defensively note .
    • The Whirlwind Roach OTK, also known as Neo-Roach to distinguish it from its predecessor, is similarly bounce-focused but also easier to play (and harder to defend against). It's focused on playing and bouncing Whirlwind Roach, letting it gain more attack until it also gets Storm. Once it's gone past that threshold, three Whirlwind Roaches is enough to defeat an opponent at full health. The lower cost of Whirlwind Roach also makes it easier to fetch with Liza, Queen of the Forest, on top of allowing the deck to be more flexible with its early game. The sheer volume of bounce effects in Unlimited can allow a Neo-Roach deck to deliver lethal damage as early as turn 6, but it's hampered by having multiple large Wards or a Damage Reduction effect.
  • Control Forest is a slower playstyle that eschews tempo and swarming for controlling and contesting the board, using cards like Wood of Brambles to ensure valuable trades, Cassiopeia to clear out small or injured followers, Crystalia Aerin to serve as a sturdy Ward and heal at the same time (which her Enhance can be used to restore an evolve point), Venus and Yggdrasil's Blessing of Creation to maintain hand size and card draw, and lategame finishers such as Jungle Warden and King Elephant. As with control decks, control Forest beats out many aggro and midrange decks except midrange Sword note  but struggle against decks that can punish slower decks such as Neutral Ginger Rune and Giant Chimera Rune.
    • White Wolf Forest is a control variant that uses the titular White Wolf of Eldwood to fish out its high-cost finishers and use them for free. The deck utilizes Forest's penchant for filling its hand to make the most of its boardwipes and do massive damage with its finishers like Silver Bolt or King Elephant. Some instead opt to use Rose Queen to convert its plethora of Fairies into damage spells to finish off the opponent.
    • PTP Forest turns its massive Fairy generation into a plethora of shadows to fuel Path to Purgatory. Its ability to fill up the hand also results in high-value Altered Fate as it ditches a whole set of Fairies (and things it doesn't need) to draw into more options. In the meantime, the deck has to manage the board so it doesn't die prematurely before it can find a safe spot to land Path to Purgatory, and is more prone to getting poor hands if it draws more than one Altered Fate too early.
  • Neutral Forest uses the Neutral synergy offered by Wonderland Dreams. Rather than use an aggressive Alice package detailed below, Neutral Forest uses cards that reward having a large number of Neutral cards in hand. Its key card is Beauty and the Beast, which turns into a Nigh-Invulnerable behemoth when both its buff criteria are met, and often follows up with Arriet to deliver two hits with them on the next turn. The deck is quite dependent on landing Beauty and the Beast on time; if it fails to do so, it often resorts to falling back on its high-end Neutral cards like Israfil or Bahamut to threaten to end the game.
  • Aggro Forest turns the Zerg Rush factor of Forest Up to Eleven. It plays as many cheap followers as possible and optimally buffs the board with Elf Song, making their unassuming Fairies twice as strong and a little more difficult to deal with. On later turns it supplants with burst damage from Beetle Warrior or Rhinoceroach, and when the going gets tough and it needs to end the game quickly, it plays Fairy Driver to turn a hand of Fairies into game-ending burst damage. As with most aggressive decks in the game, a poor opening hand deprives it of a lot of momentum. However, unlike most aggro decks, aggro Forest is one of the few decks that does relatively well going 2nd with plays with Wood of Brambles and Airbound Barrage to help contest the board early game, and is one of the few playable aggro decks in Rotation. Aggro Forest is considered be one of the easiest decks to play and easiest decks to assemble since Aggro Forest generally does not run a lot of Legendary rarity cards and have Simple, yet Awesome combos to execute. However, after several key aggro cards were rotated out in the Rotation format (i.e. Fairy Driver, Wood of Brambles, Elf Song, and Airbound Barrage), combined with the strong presence of board clears from Dragoncraft and Mysteria Rune during the Altersphere expansion, the deck fell out of favor in the Rotation format, although the buff to Greenglen Axeman (a card that was once commonly used in aggro Forest in the Rotation format) and the introduction to Lina & Lena, Twin Souls, Lily, Crystalian, Conductor, and Lila, Arborist saw a small revival of aggro Forest, although not as strong when compared to the previous Rotation formats.
    • Amataz Forest is a variation of aggro Forest introduced in Verdant of Conflict expansion based on it's namesake card and Divine Smithing. The main goal of this deal to bestow Fairies and other 1pp followers Storm in order to push face damage against the opponent. Because of Forestcraft's access to numerous fairy generator spells, followers, and amulets, it is relatively easy for the player to have enough Fairies to trigger Amataz's effect to it's fullest or gain the maximum benefit of Divine Smithing when playing the spell on it's Enhance. As with any Storm related aggro decks, it is vulnerable to decks that can put up defensive Wards to fend off aggro decks (i.e. many midrange and control decks).
  • Midrange Forest is a very broad term to describe Forestcraft decks that focus on midrange playstyle. Midrange decks puts more emphasis on early to midgame board presence in order to setup their lategame combos. Midrange Forest decks can either win out of board tempo or setup up their combo gameplan if necessary, making midrange Forest decks one of the most versatile decks in Shadowverse.
    • Tempo Forest is a Forestcraft deck that puts emphasis on establishing early to midgame board presence. A deck that was once popular during the Darkness Evolved expansion thanks to Crystalia Tia and Ancient Elf, the deck fell out of favor in Rise of Bahamut expansion with introduction of strong board clears and being outclassed by Daria Rune, who can do the tempo gameplan better than Forest. Tempo Forest saw a brief revival during the Omen of the Ten expansion with the introduction to Tia, Crystalian Noble, Luxglaive Bayle, Gilnelise, Omen of Carving, and Lily, Crystalian, Conductor, allowing Tempo Forest to establish threatening boards akin to the Darkness Evolved days. The buff of Yggdrasil allowed Tempo Forest to have a lategame finisher with the discounted Bayles in conjunction to Elf Song, Lily, and Wrath of Nature (as well as having a reasonably statted follower to survive the lategame on evolve turns). Tempo Forest fell off in the Rotation format in the Altersphere expansion due to the loss of Airbound Barrage and Elf Song in the Rotation; and the presence of strong board clears and sturdy Wards (particularly from Mysteria Rune and Dragon) made it incredibly hard for Tempo Forest to establish any form of board presence or set up lethal combos with Bayles and Wrath of Nature.
    • Korwa Forest is another midrange Forestcraft deck that involves the namesake Korwa, Ravishing Designer. The deck puts more emphasis on the combo aspect of Forestcraft that involves playing multiple Fils in order to setup a lethal combo with White Vanara where it can attack twice with a buffed Fil. While Korwa Forest can contest the board and establish early game board presence like Tempo Forest, their main goal is not for early aggression and board presence, but to defeat their opponent in the lategame with the use of Fils and White Vanara. The Altersphere expansion introduced Forest Defender and Lila, Arborist, which both synergize well with the Korwa gameplan, as the former can serve as a powerful board clear in conjunction with the Fils, while the later can help boost White Vanara to help push lethal damage (not to mention, she has strong synergy with Forest Defender as well), giving the deck more consistency. The buff to Greenglen Axeman during the Altersphere expansion adds more fuel to the deck, as his effect allows the Fils to serve as ammo to help push damage to setup the lethal combo for White Vanara.

  • Aggro/Face Sword is the prime aggressive deck in the game, fielding a lot of cheap followers and Storm followers to get as much damage on the opponent as possible before they can hope to react. Its tendency to go for the enemy leader as opposed to contesting the board leads to its name. Signature plays involve Perseus on turn 1 enabling Centaur Vanguard on turn 2, Round Table Assembly summoning two copies of Princess Juliet, and Albert as a finisher. The deck aims to kill fast; any opponent that successfully fends off the onslaught and causes the deck to run out of momentum, either by healing off the damage, stopping the advance with Wards, or cleaning house with a board wipe, has the stage set for a turnabout. Aggro Sword is noted to be one of the easiest decks to play in ladder, but also relatively easy to counter.
    • Ambush Sword is a variation of aggro Sword that utilize Sword's variety of Ambush followers in their arsenal that was introduced in the Wonderland Dreams expansion. The key follower of this deck utilizes Vagabond Frog, a stubborn 1/2 follower that gains Ambush at the end of the player's turn, making it incredibly hard to deal with since Ambush followers cannot be attacked or targeted. Combined with Sword's access to various stat boosting commanders and effects such as White General, Fencer, Forge Weaponry, and Mentor's Teaching, this makes Vagabond Frog even more threatening combined with the access to Shield of Flame as effective hard removal against most Wards. The nerfs of Vagabond Frog play point cost to 4 and the rework of Shield of Flame's effect had this deck fallen off in the meta in favor of aggro Sword decks that utilize large amount of Storm followers and there are various counterplay to Vagabond Frog in the Unlimited format (such as early game non-targeted hard-removal spells and effects such as Lurching Corpse). In Rotaiton format, however, there is a strong revival of this deck archetype in Dawnbreak Nightedge expansion due to various early game hard removal spells and effects were rotated out in the format, making Vagabond Frog more threatening in the meta again. Combined with Sword's Ambush follower, Kunoichi Master and the said Vagabond Frog, Ambush Sword can effectively push lethal damage in conjunction with Celia, Despair's Messenger, who can effectively bounce back the said followers back into the player's hand and significantly boost her attack stat.
      • Another variation of Ambush Sword in Rotation is a slower, combo variation that involves preforming an OTK combo on the opponent. This version utilize Leod, the Crescent Blade as the only Ambush follower in the deck (using King's Welcome to guarantee Leod being pulled) and utilize various stat-boosting spells and effects such as Forge Weaponry, Well of Destiny, and Sgathaich to significantly boost Leod with Ivory Sword Dance to clear any boards and utilizing his evolve effect to keep him in Ambush using his 0pp token spell and Assassin. The goal of this deck is to buff Leod's attack to the point that he can OTK the opponent with Dualblade Flurry. Due to the lack of strong hard removal spells and effects that target ambush followers and the lack of aggro decks in the Rotation format, this variation of Ambush Sword punishes most decks that have no concrete answers to Leod (i.e. most Shadowcraft and Dragoncraft decks, Lishenna Portal, and many spellboost Rune decks), but loses to most Machina decks that can respond to Leod with Technolord's Accelerate effect.
  • Midrange Sword is a little harder to identify due to overlap with several other niche archetypes. Rather than go straight for the enemy leader, it plays a little more conservatively, having access to several Rush followers to control the board using their superior follower quality until their other followers can chip away at the enemy leader at their leisure. It still does play its fair share of Storm followers if it needs to end the game quickly. Key plays include Mars, typically supplanted with White Paladin to generate a ton of stubborn Wards, Hero of Antiquity as a stubborn game-ender, Luminous Mage to conserve evolve points, or Fangblade Slayer to assassinate targets and push damage. Dawnbreak Nightedge pushes this more into the Jack-of-All-Trades category, as the gameplay style shifts more towards maintaining a wide board, playing high value followers, and strong Choose mechanics, thanks to new powerful arsenal Sword has such as Arthur, Knight King to pull high value followers such as Holy Bear Knight, Bladed Hedgehog, Lancer, and Innocent Princess Prim note  which often curves perfectly with Sky Fortress, Chromatic Duel to pull out either Rush follower that spawns Knights when attacking or a Commander that helps protect Sword's wide board from AoE board wipes (and can get both if the spell's 8pp Enhance effect is used as well as restoring the player's play points by 6),a reliable board clear against enemy's wide boards, a reliable heal, and a Swordcraft follower that gives either reliable hard removal or a soft removal for small followers for 1 play point. Due to the sheer versatility of midrange Sword, the deck is considered to be one of the most consistent and adaptable decks in the Rotation meta (even moreso than midrange Shadow during their glory days in Tempest of the Gods meta), as Swordcraft is often compensated with stronger cards that replace any cards that have been rotated out.
  • Control Sword plays a much grindier game than its other two counterparts, forgoing Commander-Officer synergy for straight-up individual follower quality. It delays the game by playing many Ward followers so that it can play its high-cost followers at its leisure. Key plays include using Gawain to reduce the costs of the deck's many Commanders, Frontguard General as a notoriously sticky Ward, Roland with Durandal to stifle massive burst damage, and Luminous Mage to grant free evolves to Commanders. However, the lack of effective removal spells, board clears, or healing leaves Control Sword a lot weaker than other control archetypes. The introduction of a viable (though weak) healing source for Swordcraft and a reliable board clear on curve in Chronogenesis expansion, combined with a slower meta, give control Sword some new life, although it still falls behind when compared to other control decks like Haven and some ramp Dragon decks.
    • Cannon Sword is a variant of Control Sword. Again, it runs a grindy playstyle, but focuses on Support Cannon, which damages followers whenever it plays any of its Commanders. Barring a few Commander-supporting Officers, the deck is almost purely Commanders, and it likes to exploit Cinderella's intended "downside" of returning to hand to trigger Support Cannon as often as possible. The deck suffers a bit from finding a prime opportunity to play Support Cannon, on top of the amulet consuming a board slot that's vital for a board-based class like Swordcraft.
  • Spartacus Sword is built around Spartacus who allows the player to win just by decking themselves out. Since Swordcraft has some of the weakest draw power in the game, the deck attempts to use everything it can get its hands on to reduce its deck count. Signature cards include the three Dealer siblings with Discard and Draw effects, as the deck aims to pitch out cards like Trail of Light for maximum value. Once Spartacus is down, the deck's winning move is to chain Altered Fate one after another, drawing through the whole deck in a single turn.

  • Dimension Shift is the signature Spellboost combo deck of the game, focused on drawing and boosting its titular card as much as possible so that it can take Extra Turns while dropping free Flame Destroyers and Chimeras to end the game. While it is doing so, it is very focused on controlling the board and drawing through its deck to find the rest of its combo pieces, relying on removal spells like Wind Blast and Fiery Embrace to pick off threats. It has very little in the way of followers and Wards, and is vulnerable to a wide board of attackers, so it is very easily defeated by any aggro deck; control decks, on the other hand, are usually unable to defeat Dimension Shift before the combo goes off. Unlike OTK Roach, Dimension Shift doesn't have a way to consistently pull Dimension Shift, meaning this combo can fall flat if the player doesn't draw Dimension Shift in their first few turns. Fortunately, some Dimension Shift decks incorporate Runie, Destiny's Bard and/or Giant Chimera, giving the deck alternative grand Spellboost targets to fall back on or to use with Dimension Shift itself.
    • A variation of the D-Shift deck is the use of the Shikigami package introduced in the Ultimate Colosseum expansion. The Shikigami package addresses the deck's main issue: lack of early game followers and Wards to contest the board. More specifically, the introduction of Kuon, Traditional Sorcerer, and Demoncaller allow traditional D-Shift vs. aggro matchups to shift from a traditionally bad matchup for D-Shift to a signficiantly favored matchup against aggro decks. Even if the player isn't able to draw D-Shift in their deck, the player can resort to spellboosting Kuon and the Shikigami tokens to seal games by resorting to tempo if necessary (especially against aggro decks).
  • Dirt Rune is used to refer to any Earth Rite deck in the game. In the early days of Shadowverse, this deck focused on generating many Ward followers with its Earth Rite effects, most notably using Juno's Secret Laboratory and Remi & Rami, but suffered from an overdependence on evolves and a lack of a game-ender unless it was Path to Purgatory or Prince of Darkness.
    • Burn Rune is a more aggressive variant made possible by later expansions, which uses cards like Halo Golem and Master Mage Levi to deal damage directly to the enemy leader and close games, on top of having Magic Illusionist offer incredible tempo trades or chip damage in the early game. Key plays include Wizardess of Oz drawing a fresh hand and greatly discounting cards like Grand Summoning to flood the board or Mutagenic Bolt to turn wide boards on their owner; some variants use Silver Blade Golem to create game-ending burn spells.
  • Mysteria Burn is the culmination of the Mysteria trait introduced in Chronogenesis, and is an archetype designed around generating its signature token spells Mysterian Missile and Mysterian Circle. Earlier versions of the deck supplemented the underdeveloped archetype with Earth Rite synergies, pairing Earth Rite burn strategies with damaging spells that are boosted through its titular legendary. The most common variant of the deck is focused on playing many Mysteria cards to reduce the costs of Ms. Miranda and Anne to get stats on the board for cheap and obtain their unique spells.
  • Daria Tempo, designed around the titular card, is another Spellboost deck, but this time focused on reducing the cost of many of its Spellboost followers. Signature plays include Craig and Clarke boosting the cards in their hand while still being reasonably-sized followers for their cost, often to drop Daria on turn 4 or 5, and drawing a fresh hand of highly discounted Oglers and Blade Mages, setting up a board full of threats that can only be answered by strong board wipes. Also keeping this deck in infamy is the Levi + Piercing Rune combo, which lets it kill a total of 3 enemy followers when evolving on turn 4, before Piercing Rune's nerf.
    • The deck proceeded to gain a resurgence in popularity months after its initial prime, as it now focuses on boosting high-cost cards with Storm like Zealot of Truth and Twinblade Mage. Now it aims to deliver game-ending burst damage, and supplants this with Enchanted Sword or new Clarke's Accelerate effects.
    • A curious version of the deck actually eschews Daria herself in place of Chaos Wielder, for a few reasons: Wielder has a lower base cost, still keeps up the hand advantage, and doesn't dispose of the other partially-boosted cards on play. This allows the deck to continue to stock Spellboosts on its other cards to deliver game-ending burst damage.
  • Neutral Ginger Rune is a variant of the Neutral Rune build (discussed below), but rather than focus on an aggressive package with cheap Neutral followers, the deck is a bit more control-oriented, focusing on drawing a hand full of high-cost neutral cards and keeping the board in check until it reaches 9pp. When that happens, it plays its namesake Wordwielder Ginger, using her effect to play all manner of high-cost Neutral cards like Israfil and Zeus, creating a very powerful board that's difficult to break. To this end, the deck also uses some Earth Rite elements to aid board control. In Unlimited, the deck is kept in check by boardwipes that punish its overextension; In Rotation, the lack of board clears lets it function a lot better.
  • Shikigami Rune (sometimes referred as Kuon Rune) is a midrange centric spellboost deck that utilizes the Shikigami tokens introduced in Ultimate Colosseum. More importantly, it's primarily built around Kuon, who summons three different Shikigami tokens when played on board (and gives two of them Storm with the other having Ward). Because all of the Shikigami tokens have a Last Words effect of spellboosting the player's cards in hand, any Shikigami tokens destroyed during the match will significantly spellboost the player's hand quickly. Other spellboost followers and spells that utilize or summon Shikigami tokens include Traditional Sorcerer that gives any Shikigami tokens Wards; Demoncaller that allow Shikigami tokens to contest the board; and Shikigami Summons that have strong synergy with all the Shikigami related followers (including Kuon). The combination of strong removal tools of Runecraft and spellboost followers that summon Shikigami tokens allows Shikigami Rune to be one of the most versatile decks in the Ultimate Colosseum Rotation format.

  • Ramp Dragon is the core archetype of Dragoncraft. It uses its many tools at its disposal to accumulate additional play points so that it can play its more expensive followers before the opponent can, focusing on quality over quantity, and is supplemented with various board control cards and healing to ensure that it doesn't easily die due to reduced initial board presence. The archetype's ultimate goal often determines which classification it falls under.
    • Storm Ramp has an end goal of playing Polyphonic Roar, which continuously spawns 5/5 Windblast Dragons with Storm to rush down the player or at least force them onto the defensive. Storm powerhouses like Forte and Genesis Dragon are featured too. In Rotation, the deck's ultimate payloads include Azi Dahaka and a discounted Zooey to deliver game-ending burst damage.
      • Disdain Dragon is the Rotation counterpart of Storm Ramp. The main goal of this deck is to utilize Gaimieux, Omen of Disdain and Apostle of Disdain to push large amounts of face damage, with effects that deliberately damage their own followers such as Disciple of Disdain and Disdainful Rending. Gaimieux herself has an Enhance effect that serves as an effective board clear which allows her to automatically evolve herself with an effect that deals 3 damage to an enemy follower whenever she takes damage and deal 3 damage to the enemy leader at the same time. The deck also uses the aforementioned Azi Dahaka and Zooey as a backup finisher should either Galmieux or Apostle of Disdain fail to finish the opponent off.
    • Dread Queen OTK instead focuses on playing the titular Queen of the Dread Sea, followed by playing Genesis Dragon, attacking, and following up with Arriet granting it a second attack. Combined, the combo can do 14 damage to an unprotected player, or 18 if Genesis Dragon got evolved. The whole OTK concept got crippled with changes to its titular card, killing the archetype for good.
    • Lindworm Ramp is built around its namesake card, where most of the deck consists of non-followers or followers that generate non-follower cards. To assist with the ability to contest the board, the non-follower cards it uses generate followers of their own, like Moon and Sun and Canyon of the Dragons, on top of boardwipe spells to secure a turn to drop Lindwurm. If dominance through a stream of 5/5 Dragons will not suffice, getting enough damage on the opponent to put them in lethal range of Inquisitous Lindwurm is the deck's final game plan.
  • PDK Dragon revolves around Prime Dragon Keeper. Once it reaches Overflow after contesting the board in the earlier turns, it plays Prime Dragon Keeper and summons a slew of cheap followers to trigger her effect as many times as possible, with cards like Dragonrearer Matilda and Dragon Summoner maintaining hand advantage to allow the deck to grind away at the enemy board while providing chip damage. PDK isn't a finisher, but she wears down the enemy enough for other Storm cards like Forte and Genesis Dragon to come in and finish the job. The deck can sometimes be described as a midrange deck that counter midrange decks due to the the nature of Prime Dragon Keeper being unable to be attacked when Overflow is active, requiring strong removals and board clears to deal with PDK (which is something most midrange decks don't have).
  • Face Dragon is an aggro archetype of Dragoncraft that was mostly played prior to the Tempest of the Gods expansion. The main core of the deck is its midgame burst damage potential with several of their midgame Storm followers such as Dark Dragoon Forte, Hippogryph Rider, and Phoenix Rider Aina. Face Dragon have several key early game cards that makes this deck possible such as Mushussu that can snowball out of control if left unanswered, Aqua Nereid, Waters of the Orca, and Dragon Aficionado to help push for wide boards to reap the benefits of Hippogryph Rider and Phoenix Rider Aina (which Aina can be used to punish your opponent's wide boards), Dragon Horde to put Maelstrom Dragon into the player's hand, and Siegfried and Dragoon Scyther for effective removal (with the later gaining Storm when Overflow is active). Face Dragon mostly fell off after the Tempest of the Gods expansion since ramp Dragon is more consistent and plays to Dragon's main strengths. In the Chronogenesis expansion, however, Face Dragon has gotten some form of revival in Unlimited format, mainly because ramp Dragon is considered to be too slow in a meta that is hyperaggressive and several of ramp Dragon's key cards were nerfed to the point that it can be countered easily with combo decks (which is also prevalent in the Unlimited format).
  • Phoenix Roost Dragon is designed to make the most of the high-risk-high-reward Phoenix Roost, and attempts to transform it from Awesome, but Impractical into Difficult, but Awesome. As the amulet halves the costs of all cards in both players' hands, a good understanding of the board and the matchup is needed to learn when to play the Roost for best effect. There are a few variants, but a lot of them use ramp tools to get to play and abuse Roost before the opponent can capitalize on it, plenty of board control tools for survival, and draw power to assemble whatever combo it focuses on.
    • The Zooey variant mitigates the risk with Zooey's protection effects, ensuring that the player will survive to a new turn where they have a fresh set of play point orbs. Zooey herself, being a powerful Storm unit, also sees use with Urd to deliver multiple strikes of burst damage. The ideal one-turn-kill combo with the deck involves an un-Accelerated 7/6 Zooey played alongside two Urds, delivering a total of 21 damage, but Zooey's protection allows the deck to afford to space out its attacks.
    • The Dagon OTK combo uses Roost to discount Dagon to 5pp, and Wind Reader Zell to 2pp. By playing Roost at 6pp, the deck gets to play both Dagon and Zell next turn for a total of 7pp, and then evolve Zell to give Dagon Storm and deliver three powerful 10-damage hits. If any Wards are in the way, Zell himself, being a freshly evolved unit, can clear the way for Dagon. This combo can complete itself as early as turn 5 or 6 depending on how much earlygame ramp was used.

  • Aggro Shadow is an aggro deck that utilizes Cerberus to put Coco and Mimi into the player's hand and uses the Phantom Howl + Coco + Mimi combo in the next to push for a total of 13 burst damage (15 if Ephemera, Angelic Slacker is used). Aggro Shadow also has a good number of early game followers such as Lesser Mummy, Rabbit Necromancer, Skull Beast, Skeleton Fighter, Dark Conjurer and Bone Chimera to build up shadows needed for the Phantom Howl combo. Aggro Shadow also utilizes Shadow Reaper for a difficult follower to deal with, allowing Aggro Shadow to easily trade their followers in to boost Shadow Reaper as well as utilizing Prince Catacomb to help add fuel to Shadow Reaper. A deck that was once popular during Rise of Bahamut and Tempest of the Gods expansions, Aggro Shadow mostly fell off in the meta due to Aggro Shadow not having a lot of Storm and burn options like Aggro Sword and Blood, the predictability of the Phantom Howl combo, and the nerfs to both Prince Catacombs and Shadow Reaper significantly weakened aggro Shadow's early game potential.
  • Midrange Shadow plays to the class strength of Necromancy effects. Based on the framework from Aggro Shadow during the Rise of Bahamut expansion note , Midrange Shadow is a Jack-of-All-Trades deck that has an early game to contest and control the board that will allow them to build shadows for mid to late game plays such as Death's Breath, Immortal Thane, and Demonlord Eachtar as well as being able to maintain a sticky board thanks to the said Prince Catacombs and Bone Chimera from Aggro Shadow. The deck also has various defensive options such as Little Soulsquasher, Lurching Corpse, Ceres of the Night, and Dark Bladefiend to punish any aggressive decks as well. Due to the sheer versatility of Midrange Shadow, this deck is considered one of the strongest decks in both ladder and competitive play. However, after Dawnbreak Nightedge expansion, this playstyle has fallen off in the Rotation competitive scene due to the loss of effective hard removal against large threats, the nerfs to Midrange Shadow's powerful cards, lack of reliable healing and board clear, inability to maintain early game board tempo, and incredibly low value followers, making Midrange Shadow drop from Jack-of-All-Trades to Master of None. However, midrange Shadowcraft still continued to thrive in the Unlimited format ever since the Bridgade of the Sky expansion with more defensive tools such as Lady Grey, Deathweaver, Disciple of Silence, and Ceres, Eternal Blade to hunt down the abundance of aggro decks in the Unlimited format with having impactful midgame followers such as Cerberus, Hound of Hades and Gremory to apply strong midgame pressure, although the dominance of OTK Roach (which now has a powerful AoE board clear and a faster variation of Roach) and Artifact Portal after the Steel Rebellion expansion in the Unlimited format caused Midrange Shadow to fall off in the Unlimited meta.
  • Nephthys Control is a control deck focused on Nephthys. Rather than focusing on apply early game pressure, Nephthys primarily focuses on having a powerful lategame that involves pulling out high value followers with strong Last Word effects such as Mordecai the Duelist, Underworld Watchman Khawy, Attendant of Night, and Hell's Unleasher, thus filling the board with multiple Liches and Mordecai copies while clearing out the opponent's board at the same time. Due to the stickness of Mordecai, Nephthys decks are relatively hard to deal with once Nephthys is landed, which can only be countered by either banishes from Havencraft, Baleful Polymorph effects from Runecraft, or playing a combo deck such as Dimension Shift or OTK Roach. It also has an awkward early game due to its difficulty in contesting the board then, and has a high risk of getting hands filled with high-cost cards that render it very vulnerable.
  • Atomy is built around its namesake card, and is focused on filling the board with cards so that it can play Atomy as soon as possible. The average speed on a good draw involves playing Atomy on turn 4, at a time when hard removal is less available and the opponent is forced into disadvantageous trades. When Atomy goes down, it typically follows up with Ceridwen to immediately resurrect him. Atomy and his deck was initially considered Awesome, but Impractical as it hinged on the player drawing Atomy early, and without an early Atomy the deck simply played lots of weak followers with no real muscle to match the opponent's threats. However, later sets bestowed Shadow with lots of draw power like Demon Eater, Andrealphus, and Staircase to Paradise that the Atomy deck can cycle its cards fast enough to play Atomy with consistency, to the point where it managed to place highly in a tournament in late 2017. Key plays also include Frozen Mammoth to supplement Atomy with a deadly 6/7 threat or two, or Skull Ring to instantly fill 3 spaces for a quick Atomy without giving up hand advantage. The deck generates enough Shadows that it can also play Deathly Tyrant as a finisher. Some Atomy decks utilize the new Reanimate and Burial mechanics to pull out either Atomy or Zeus (see Reanimate Shadow for more details). The Atomy deck archetype fell off in the meta after the nerfs to Ceridwen and Skull Ring, making it harder to pull the turn 4 Atomy.
  • Reanimate Shadow is a new deck archetype introduced in Chronogenesis expansion that utilizes Shadow's two new mechanics: Reanimate and Burial Rite. Cards with Burial Rite effects such Gloomy Necromancer and Everdark Stryx to kill off either Zeus (subsequent expansions after Brigade of the Sky use Mordecai, Eternal Duelist or Proto Bahamut as a replacement of Zeus after he was rotated out) and sometimes Hinterland Ghoul in the player's hand so Reanimate effects such Sow Death, Reap Life and Death Dragon Caller can pull lategame threats earlier on curve. Ceridwen, Eternity Hunter helps encourage this playstyle with an option of either 5pp Reanimate spell that puts the highest cost follower on board (thus guaranteeing Zeus being played around turn 7) or a 1pp Burial Rite spell that serves a removal. In Rotation format, Reanimate Shadow plays more like a control deck, as Reanimate Shadow needs to survive the early game in order to play their lategame threats in an earlier curve and many of the Reanimate and Burial Rite tools tend to be more defensive in nature while the Reanimate mechanic is more or less incorporated into Atomy decks as mentioned above. However, much like Nephthys Control, Reanimate Shadow has an incredibly difficult time contesting the board and has an incredibly awkward early game, and not getting the key important cards such as their lategame Reanimate target, Burial Rite, and Reanimate effects can more or less ruin the gameplan. Furthermore, Shadow in Rotation format lacks any early game tempo and lacks reliable hard removal and board clears, making it even harder for Reanimate Shadow to contest the board in both the early game and lategame. Reanimate Shadow as a deck archetype fell off in Rotation and Unlimited formats due to the lack of early game tempo, the nerfs to several key Reanimate cards, and the fact that Arcus outclasses Reanimate Shadow in every form in the Rotation format.
  • Arcus Shadow (sometimes referred as Arcus OTK) is Shadowcraft's combo deck in Rotation that utilizes the namesake Arcus, Ghostly Manager, which grants the player an effect of destroying any follower that cost 3pp or less that comes into play and spawns Ghosts based on the destroyed follower's cost. The end game goal is to survive until turn 10 to activate the OTK combo by utilizing Ferry, Spirit Maiden that will bestow the Ghosts the ability to attack three times and used in conjunction with Ephemera, Angelic Slacker (who was later replaced with Gilnelise, Omen of Craving when Ephemera was rotated out, which makes the Arcus deck more consistent since she has both Ambush and a card draw effect that helps the player set up lethal. Not to mention, she can easily be pulled with Lyria, Azure Maiden, especially when Arcus's effect is active) or Gremory's Enhance effectnote  to preform an OTK combo that drops your opponent's health from 20 to 0. As with any combo deck in a similar vein like Forestcraft's OTK Roach, Arcus Shadow is susceptible to early aggression and like the OTK Roach combo, it is vulnerable to sturdy Wards that can prevent the combo (although the inclusion of Plagued City can serve as a stalling tool and help negate any sturdy Ward followers or any Storm finishers that come into play until the amulet duration runs out). Unlike OTK Roach, however, Arcus Shadow has a reasonable early game curve since the deck runs a lot of 2pp and 3pp followers to help trigger Arcus's effect, meaning Arcus Shadow can play similarly like a midrange deck before transitioning to their combo plan when Arcus comes into play. Arcus Shadow has seen competitive play in the Rotation meta since the Omen of the Ten expansion with the introduction of Gilnelise to make the deck more consistent and the introduction of Cerberus, Hound of Hades to help fill the midgame gap that Shadow lost from the previous expansion (not to mention, the tokens spawned help contribute to the Arcus combo gameplan).
  • PtP Shadow is a control deck that utilizes the Path of Purgatory amulet (or Hades, Father of Purgatory in the Rotation format since the Rebirth of Glory expansion). While Shadowcraft has a lot of various tools to generate shadows, this strategy is easily considered Awesome, but Impractical because Shadowcraft gets more value with their Necromancy effects (i.e. Demonlord Eachtar), hence preventing Shadowcraft from utilizing the Path to Purgatory win condition should their shadows be consumed for Necromancy. This strategy, however, works better in the Rotation thanks to Phantasmal Core, making it easier to gain the 30 shadows needed for Path to Purgatory and the lack of powerful Necromancy effects in the Rotation format. The deck, however, is susceptible to amulet removal such as Angelic Smite, and has no alternative win conditions should the amulet be answered. Because of it, the deck is generally seen as a weaker version of Lishenna Portal. In the Unlimited format, it's often incorporated into Nephthys decks, as she can potentially pull Hades when played on curve and has an alternative win condition with the Mordecai the Duelist and Ferry, Spirit Maiden combo should the amulet be answered in any form (and Mordecai being a very sticky follower against decks that don't run banishes or transform effects makes it more convenient to combo with Ferry).
    • An Unlimited variant surfaced during the launch of World Uprooted after the alterations to Minthe made her compatible with the amulet's activation condition. The deck combines Minthe's ability with a series of Discard and Draw effects to quickly accumulate Shadows for Path to Purgatory and Gremory's leader effect. Usually, Minthe is combined with Sonata of Silence to ensure the player keeps her 20 free shadows, and other times she is easily reanimated by Regenerate Spirit or Friends Forever. Once Gremory's effect is in place, it can also use high-Shadow Necromancy abilities like those of Ghostly Grasp and Deathly Tyrant to cheat around play point limitations for deadly combos. The deck suffers from a poor early game as it is bound to spend its first few turns simply drawing cards to get to its combo pieces.
  • Yokai Shadow is an aggressive midrange deck in the Rotation format since Ultimate Colosseum that utilizes Ginsetsu and Shuten-Douji note . The deck almost plays similarly to Midrange Shadow during the Tempest of the Gods format, except the deck is less dependent on Last Words and Necromancy effects. Instead, the deck is mostly filled with followers with either 1 attack or 1 defense to utilize Shuten-Douji's evolve effect that bestows the player a leader effect where the first follower with 1 attack or 1 defense played that turn is given Storm. Since, Ginsetsu's statline synergizes perfectly with Shuten-Douji, this allows the player to boost Ginsetsu with large amount of Storm damage when her tokens are sacrificed. Because the deck runs a lot of 1 attack or 1 defense followers, Yokai Shadow is vulnerable to decks that can field large followers that are hard to deal with (i.e. Ward Haven and Natura Dragon). However, many of the followers with 1 attack or 1 defense are compensated with strong Fanfare effects that trigger after Storm is applied (i.e. Yuki-Onna, Legendary Skeleton, and Miyako).

  • Aggro Blood is focused on applying early game pressure by flooding the board with cheap followers like Aggro Sword with cards such as Summon Bloodkin, Trial of the Gorgons, and Venomfang Medusa. However, while Sword primarily focuses on applying direct damage to the enemy leader with Storm followers, Aggro Blood supplements this with cards that directly damage the enemy leader. Examples include Summon Bloodkin and Night Horde in conjunction with Vania or Vampiric Fortress, Razory Claw and Snarling Chains, Yurius which is very effective against Zerg Rush strategies such as Aggro Sword and Aggro Forest, and Carabosse as a curve-topper that provides additional card draw. Much like Aggro Sword, Aggro Blood has a relatively low learning curve that is easy to play, but its additional reach lets it kill opponents hiding behind Wards, meaning the only effective way to counter aAggro Blood is to run a deck that utilizes a lot of healing (for example, Elana Haven, Control Blood, and several Ramp Dragon decks).
    • Aggro Bat Blood is a variation of aggro Blood in Rotation format in the Dawnbreak Nightedge expansion. Rather than focusing on spells and effects that deal direct damage to the enemy leader, this variation focuses on dealing burst damage into the enemy leader in a single turn combo around turn 6 using Oldblood King that bestows Forest Bats Storm and +1 attack on the player's turn which can be used in conjunction with various Bat synergy in the deck's arsenal such as the reprinted Summon Bloodkin, Red Talonstrike, Gift for Bloodkin, and Vania, Nightshade Vampire. Some variations of this deck choose to forgo various Bloodcraft followers and fill the deck with low curve neutral followers so that Baphomet can consistently pull Oldblood King. Because Oldblood King has Ambush, this variation of Aggro Blood can punish decks that lack strong early game or hard removals to deal with Oldbood King (such as most Shadowcraft decks, Giant Chimera Rune, and Ramp Dragon) but struggles against decks that have various defensive tools or have a high value early game to contest Aggro Blood's board (for example, Control Forestcraft and Midrange Sword).
    • Handbuff Blood is a variation of aggro Blood that was first introduced in Altersphere. It focuses on buffing the player's followers in the hand (generally followers with Storm such as Blood Wolf, Savage Wolf, and Laura, Enraged Commander with followers that can buff the attack of the player's followers such as Vuella, One-Eyed Demon, Hellblaze Demon, and Furfur. The Handbuff Blood deck puts emphasis on early to midgame burst damage with Storm followers similar to Face Dragon, making Handbuff Blood very potent against most combo decks, but loses to many midrange and control decks that can easily Ward up to prevent the opponent's Storm damage (such as Midrange Shadow and Sword).
  • Vengeance Blood plays to Bloodcraft's main mechanic of Vengeance. This deck utilizes cards that help puts them into relatively low health (usually with activators such as Belphegor or Soul Dealer, or utilizing Blood's Cast From Hit Points spells and effects) in order to utilize strong Vengeance effects such as Dark Airjammer note , Diabolic Drain, Dark General, and Emeralda for powerful midgame plays. The deck is considered to be Difficult, but Awesome mainly because inappropriately putting the player in Vengeance can punish the player hard (for example, not having the Wards needed will result in defeat from Aggro Sword or OTK Roach) and inappropriately putting the player out of Vengeance will make their midgame plays even weaker. Most Vengeance Blood decks play closer to a midrange deck, although there are some variations that incorporate some elements of Aggro Blood as well.
  • Control Blood is a control deck that focuses on out-sustaining and out-valuing the opponent. The deck utilizes various removal spells and similar effects that also heal the leader such as Vampiric Kiss, Temptress Vampire, Scarlet Sabreur, and Diabolic Drain. Control Blood will often use Blood Moon to help trigger powerful Vengeance effects such as Righteous Devil, Belphegor, and Revelation without putting themselves in low health. Control will also run several lategame finishers such as Bahamut and Spawn of the Abyss to help close out long games. Control Blood counters a lot of aggro decks and some midrange decks since Control Blood can outsustain the opponent with card draws, healing, and board wipes, but is vulnerable to combo decks since a lot of control Blood's defensive options come from follower removal and have very limited options to mitigate face damage across from Spiderweb Imp, Fanged Serpent, and Mask of the Black Death.
  • Jormungand Blood is designed around its titular legendary and its synergies with Blood's penchant for self-damage. It uses cards like Nacht that gives both players a self-damaging ability, Blood Pact to draw into its combo pieces, Evil Eye Demon to clear the board and function as emergency spot removal, Demonic Ram to keep itself alive, and has Darkfeast Bat as a finisher to do burst damage. The Jormungand combo suffers from vulnerability to banish effects that neutralize Nacht and Jormungand, but it is often seen running Zodiac Demon to forcibly enable their Last Word effects. After modifications to Jormungand that dramatically altered its behavior, the deck has been improved for better overall survivability, as it now only needs one Jormungand to die to get to work, and it no longer needs to inflict self-damage so many times to maintain board control.
  • Darkfeast OTK is a self-damage variant that eschews Jormungand entirely by racking up the quantity of self-damage through things like Ambling Wraith and Bloodfed Flowerbed to build up Darkfeast's damage as fast as possible. The chip damage over time pushes the opponent closer to lethal range without needing Darkfeast to hit for a full 20 damage, and the deck keeps itself afloat using various healing tools available to the craft. Formerly restricted to Unlimited due to its reliance of Classic 1pp cards to accumulate Darkfeast damage, the deck has been given new life in Rotation with the entire Lust archetype from Omen of the Ten, featuring Disciple of Lust and Servant of Lust for quick early chip damage, and Valnareik serving as removal and a snowballing threat, which in turn caused the deck to shift from a pure combo deck to a combo deck with aggressive early game tempo.
    • A variation of the Darkfeast deck is named Flauros Turbo, with the goal of getting 4 instances of 1-point self-damage to invoke Flauros as early as possible. Even though Flauros has restrictions that prevent the player from getting him any earlier than turn 3, a turn 3 (and/or turn 4) free Flauros can apply enough tempo to snowball into a victory without needing to play Darkfeast Bat. Even if Flauros gets dealt with, the whole process of trying to invoke him is guaranteed to quickly accumulate at least 7 instances of self-damage for Valnareik to be used as burst damage and removal at once.

  • Guardian Sun is a control deck focused on the namesake Guardian Sun. Because many of Havencraft's followers have high defense, Guardian Sun will bestow them with Ward when they're played, thus preventing aggro decks from attacking face and using Prince of Darkness as a lategame finisher. Originally popular during the Darkness Evolved meta, this deck subsequently fell out of the meta because the amulet itself is relatively easy to deal with (such as destruction and banishing effects) and there are better alternative win conditions for Haven (such as Seraph and Aegis).
  • Storm Haven is an aggro deck that plays differently from other aggro decks and the rest of Haven's decks in general. While most aggro decks put emphasis on playing cheap, multiple followers on board (such as Sword and Forest) or pushing burn damage (like Aggro Blood and Dirt Rune), Storm Haven instead puts more emphasis on midgame burst and tempo plays by playing amulets on curve such as Pinion Prayer, Beastcall Aria, and Divine Birdsong to spawn followers with Storm like Regal Falcon and Holy Falcon when the amulets pop (Beastcall Aria also spawns Holyflame Tiger, which gives Storm Haven a threatening follower the opponent has to deal with during the midgame). Storm Haven also uses powerful midgame tools to burst the opponent down such as March Hare's Teatime, Winged Sentinel Garuda, Moon Al-mi'raj, Taurus the Great, and Dark Jeanne. Because of Storm Haven's heavy use of playing amulets in the early game, Storm Haven is vulnerable to hyper aggressive decks such as Aggro Sword and Aggro Blood, but is very powerful in punishing slower midrange and combo decks due to the strong tempo when the amulets pop and their more proactive plays.
  • Seraph Haven utilizes the namesake amulet Enstatued Seraph to win the game instantly on the next turn after being played by using countdown reduction spells and effects three times on the amulet such as Hollowed Dogma, Healing Prayer, Sister Initiate, and Star Torrent. This deck is considered to be Difficult, but Awesome because it requires the player to play super defensively early game in order to safely play Seraph on turn 8. Furthermore, while destroying the amulet will hasten the countdown to victory, banishing the amulet such as Odin or using Baleful Polymorph effects such as Petrification (which can also banish the amulet when an Earth Sigil is in play) can effectively counter Seraph's gameplan. Some Seraph decks in Unlimited utilize the Storm Haven package since it allows the Haven player to establish early to midgame tempo that will allow the player to drop the Seraph amulet on board safely (not to mention, most Storm Haven decks run spells and effects that reduce countdowns on amulets anyways). A variation of Seraph Haven in Rotation utilizes Lapis, Glorious Seraph, which has an advantage over the Seraph amulet of having a threatening follower on board which summons the said amulet if the follower is destroyed or banished, and is often incorporated into Tenko Haven lists since Tenko Shrine allows the opponent's board to be safely cleared for Seraph to come into play.
  • Elana Haven utilizes the namesake amulet Elana's Prayer where followers receive a +1/+1 buff whenever their leader is healed. Havencraft has access a to wide variety of healing spells and effects such as Tenko, Frog Cleric, Radiance Angel, Rabbit Healer, Curate, and Monastic Holy Water, which means Havencraft's followers will be insanely buffed up and strong whenever the leader is healed. The deck primarily counters aggro decks that heavily utilize burn damage (such as Aggro Blood and Dirt Rune), but loses to other control decks that can consistently clear out the board to prevent Elana from having powerful followers on board.
    • The Rebirth of Glory expansion adds Elana herself as a follower that generates the deck-defining amulet, allowing the deck to be viable in Rotation and adding more viable synergies to use in Unlimited. Other key additions include the entire Machina package which generates 1pp healing spells, Kel, Holy Marksman to clear enemy boards, and Tender Rabbit Healer as a cheap body that also provides healing.
  • Aegis Haven is a label applied to a large number of Haven control decks that focus on using Heavenly Aegis as a lategame win condition. Aegis is a giant follower that is immune to everything, meaning Aegis can effectively close out games once he's played. The introduction of Aether of the White Wing makes it significantly easier to pull Aegis out when the player has 10 play points. Despite Aegis's Nigh-Invulnerability, Aegis is countered by decks that can reduce followers' attack such as Mr. Full Moon or damage reduction effects such as Durandal. Conversely, because Aegis can only be affected by stat boosting/reduction effects, many Aegis decks often incorporate elements of Elana's Prayer as mentioned above in order to boost Aegis's attac whenever the leader is healed, making it an Increasingly Lethal Enemy while also getting to heal off any early-game damage.
  • Temple Haven (sometimes referred as Tempo Haven) is a midrange deck that utilizes the namesake amulet Summit Temple. This deck focuses on playing high defense Havencraft followers where Haven's reactive plays becomes more proactive since their high defense followers will deal damage equal the follower's defense, making their own high-defense followers more threatening during the midgame. The deck utilizes Gemstone Carpace, an amulet that summons Bejeweled Tortoise which is a reasonably tough threat with Temple in play. The deck is also commonly seen using Ceryneian Hind (and its Choose forms) as a midgame threat, and Heavenly Knight as a source of lategame burst damage, both of which are even more dangerous with Summit Temple. Unlike most Haven decks, Temple Haven has the capacity to end games as early as turn 6 or 7 because Temple can present very threatening boards that the opponent needs to deal with and only using Heavenly Aegis as a backup lategame finisher if needed. That said, intentionally damaging but not killing the Temple player's followers can leave them with a weakened board, forcing them to trade off their own followers before they can get back to pressuring with fresh ones. Fortunately, Temple Haven has various tools that help restore the defense of their own followers such as Pegasus Dullahan which can revive itself from any amulets that are on board or Jeanne, Beacon of Salvation which also serves as an effective board clear.
  • Tenko Haven is built around the namesake Tenko's Shrine, an amulet with an effect similar to Support Cannon. Whenever an ally is healed, the Shrine will deal 2 damage to a random enemy follower, or strike the enemy leader if there's no enemy followers left. Because of Haven's large access to healing effects such as Whitefang Temple, De La Fille, Gem Princess, and Tenko, it allows the amulet to clear off any aggressive and midrange boards in the early to midgame. Followers with an innate Healing Factor like Bashful Al-mi'raj also trigger the Shrine. Tenko Haven is seen as a Superior Successor to Elana Haven in both Unlimited and Rotation formats because the amulet rewards reactive plays by restoring defense to the player and clearing the board at the same time, and is one of the few decks that could consistently fend off Aggro Forest and PDK Dragon in the Rotation format during the Dawnbreak, Nightedge expansion. Some variants of Tenko Haven incorporate the Summit Temple engine, using Heavenly Knight as a finisher while keeping the defense of its followers fresh with the numerous healing effects available, while others simply stall and clear the board until they can play Lapis as a backup win condition.
  • Holy Lion Haven is a deck archetype that has a more Gradual Grinder approach by continuously playing Holy Lion Crystals that will eventually spawn Holy King Lion in the mid to lategame to help close out games. Despite the deck's seemingly low curve note , the deck plays like a midrange when generating Holy Lion Crystals with effects and followers such as Prism Swing, Temple of the Holy Lion, and Peaceweaver and grind out the opponent by spamming Holy Lion Crystals that spawn from a 2/2 follower to a 4/4 follower and eventually the aforementioned Holy King Lion that has Storm to either contest the board or close out the game.
  • Holy Mage Haven is a unique breed that plays unlike many other of Haven's other archetypes. Its key cards are Holy Mage and City of Gold, with its general game plan involving invoking City of Gold by passing turn 2, playing Holy Mage on turn 3, and then playing all manner of cheap, low-countdown amulets to quickly build up Holy Mage's stats such that she dodges most forms of non-targeting damage. One or two City of Golds pretty much allows the deck to instantly reap the benefits of its Countdown amulets without needing to wait or consume unnecessary board space. The deck packs draw power like Globe of the Starways, Moriae Econium, and Sealed Tome to keep its hand fresh, removal amulets like Heretical Inquiry, Forbidden Ritual, and Death Sentence to clear enemy boards and Wards, and supplants Holy Mage with burst damage from Pinion Prayer and Divine Birdsong. This deck can be countered by utilizing spells and effects that can remove Holy Mage on the board (i.e. destroying a Lurching Corpse) or utilizing amulet destruction to remove City of Gold. That being said, should Holy Mage be removed, the deck can resort to other alternative win conditions such as using Storm followers akin to Storm Haven and some variations would utilize Enstatued Seraph as an alternative win condition and instead utilizing its amulets to control the board.

  • Artifact Portal is a midrange deck that takes advantage of the token generation of Artifacts utilizing followers such as Mech Wing Swordsman, Icarus, Magisteel Lion, Iron Staff Mechanic, Cat Cannoneer, and Ironforged Fighter to put Artifacts such as Radiant Artifact, Ancient Artifact, Mystic Artifact, and Analyzing Artifact in the player's deck. Deus Ex Machina will often be played on curve with Resonance active in order to help the player draw through their deck. Cards likeSpinaria and Acceleratium help contest the board during the midgame. Because many Artifacts will be destroyed during the game, this helps power up some of Portalcraft's lategame cards such as Safira and Magna Legacy. This deck is notorious for being the hardest deck to play properly (even harder than OTK Roach as mentioned above) mainly because putting too many Artifact tokens in the deck will make it harder to get the lategame cards needed while not having enough Artifacts in the deck can inappropriately result in the player decking themselves out when the Resonance effect is activated via Deus Ex Machina. Furthermore, discarding several important key cards in your hand can backfire on the player as the game progress further.
  • Puppet Portal is a combo deck that uses Portalcraft's Puppet tokens and the use of Resonance effects to control the board. Cards such as Puppeteer, Flower Doll, Toy Soldier, Automaton Knight, Puppet Room, Automaton Soldier, and Puppeteer's Strings generate Puppets, which can be used to help control the board during the midgame since they don't cost any play points and have Rush. As the game hits turn seven, the deck conserves puppets with the use of Zwei, Murderous Puppet who provides excellent board control, and then has Orchis hold the board with her Lloyd token or push for damage with Marionettes Uno and Due. The endgame goal for this deck to use Vengeful Puppeteer Noah to achieve a OTK combo effect with the Puppets . This deck requires the Puppets' attack to be boosted a significant amount, which unlike Dimension Shift or OTK Roach, can only be pulled off turn 9 at the earliest. In the Brigade of the Sky expansion, the introduction of strong early game followers combined with the introduction of Silvia, Ardent Sniper allows Puppet Portal to play closer to an aggro or midrange deck in the early game in a similar vein like Arcus Shadow before transitioning to their lategame combo with their Puppets, thus making it easier for Puppet Portal to pull off their OTK combo with their puppets thanks to the constant chip damage of Silva's Accelerate effect. After the nerfs to several of Puppet Portal key cards during the Brigade of the Sky expansion and the introduction to Lishenna, many Puppet decks have shifted from a midrange centric deck to a more control oriented deck (see Lishenna Portal below).
  • Lishenna Portal is a control deck that utilizes the namesake Lishenna, Omen of Destruction. The objective is to discount her signature amulets Destruction in White and Destruction in Black by getting your own followers destroyed, deliberately or otherwise. The deck is often seen using the Puppet engine, due to the sheer volume of 0-cost Puppets that will destroy themselves, either in combat or by their own self-destruction effect. Once in play, Destruction in White gradually heals the leader, while Destruction in Black deals a massive 10 damage to the enemy board and leader. Because the amulets are indestructible, the only effective way to counter the amulets is utilizing targeted spells and effects that transform or banish amulets akin to Seraph Haven counters (such as Valse's Holy Purebomb and Fall from Grace), but because such effects are a luxury in the Rotation format, many decks will struggle against Lishenna Portal. That being said, pure Lishenna decks lack consistency due to the inability to tutor Lishenna and the need to conserve an evolve point to even access her Destruction Amulets; some variants supplant this with the standard Puppet or aggressive Artifact synergies, playing like their original variant focused on chipping the enemy leader to death, and switching to the Gradual Grinder Destruction amulets when things go awry. The Altersphere mini-expansion introduced Maisha, Hero of Purgation, which gives Portal an actual secondary win condition should the Lishenna amulets be answered, giving Lishenna Portal more consistency.
  • Float Portal is a control archetype introduced in Ultimate Colosseum, built around cards that gain effects that scale with your unexpended play points. Key cards include Barrage Brawler for early pressure, Gravity Grappler for board flood and defense, Boost Kicker as a boardwipe, and Karula to destroy big enemy followers. The deck grinds the opponent out through sheer value, but is quite understaffed as-is; Float Portal tends to include finishers from the other archetypes to close the game.
  • Aggro Portal started as an aggressive variant of Artifact Portal, but didn't fully take root until Shion, Mercurial Aegis had her costs reduced. The deck uses a combination of Acceleratium and Augmentation Bestowal to play as many low cost Artifacts as it can, leading to a Zerg Rush of Analyzing Artifacts before giving them a +2/+2 boost with Shion's cheap Accelerate. If all goes well, it assembles a full board and buffs it as early as turn 3, crushing the opponent with sheer value.
  • Paradigm Portal is a variation of Artifact Portal that took root in the World Uprooted expansion. The deck's key cards are Absolute Modesty and Vertex Colony, legendary cards that scale based on the number of destroyed Artifacts with unique names. Instead of taking the extra steps to shuffle and redraw Artifacts, a lot of the deck's cards directly summon Artifacts themselves, using cards like Magic Gunsmith and Rebel Against Fate. The deck itself is named after cards that generate a Paradigm Shift token spell, which discounts itself with each Artifact's death and adds to the win condition by summoning one of three new unique Artifacts. All in all, it's a Gradual Grinder midrange build that is more straightforward than the original Artifact design.

  • The Alice package formed the core of multiple Neutral-based decks during the Wonderland meta. Rather than splitting this entry across the rest of the page, nearly any Neutral deck running this backbone will be discussed here. The main ingredients are the titular Alice, along with several cheap Neutral followers like Khaiza, Lyrial, Feria, and Goblin Leader. The deck typically floods the field with cheap Neutral followers before giving them, and other Neutral cards in hand, a powerful +1/+1 buff. Goblin Leader was quickly retired from the package after his nerf pushed him from 3pp to 4pp, preventing him from curving into Alice, and the Alice package as a whole faded into obscurity when Alice was nerfed to only bestow +1/+0 instead, which made the followers far less sturdy and easily dispatched.
    • Neutral Sword supplemented the package with Maisy for removal, Council of Card Knights for a surge of utility Neutral followers, and Rabbit Ear Attendant for card draw. Despite it being one of the most popular decks at the launch of Wonderland Dreams, it was quickly overshadowed by other stronger neutral variants detailed below.
    • Neutral Rune made use of Falise and Hector as removal, Witch of Sweets for draw power (and maintaining hand size for Falise), and optionally Wizardess of Oz to refill its hand. Falise had an Enhance effect of automatically evolving when played for 7pp until the Enhance was removed and she could no longer close the game on her own.
    • Neutral Blood had a frightening early game with Tove showing up just before Goblin Leader and Alice, capped with Baphomet on 5 for an Enhance effect that pulled up Spawn of the Abyss, reducing its cost so it can be played on turn 6 and swinging for lethal damage on an unguarded opponent next turn for 12 to 16 damage total. Other variants use Phantom Cat for additional card draw and direct damage to the enemy leader. This variant received the most nerfs, with Tove going from a 3/3 with a negligible downside to an unassuming 2/2, Baphomet losing its enhance effect that made it unable to cheat Spawn into play earlier than normal, and Spawn's damage effect doing a static 5 damage whether evolved or not.
    • Neutral Haven supplemented the package with Lion of the Golden City and Eagle Man, playing very similarly to Daria Tempo detailed above. Lion being 7pp meant that a Haven deck playing Neutral followers for its first three turns can drop Lion as early as turn 4, followed by the triggering of an amulet that summons even more big bodies to the field. Considering that there were very few board wipes that can be played this early and deal with the resulting board flood, Lion was nerfed to a 9pp base cost, keeping it more in line with Daria.
  • Highlander Decks, focused around Mjerrabaine, are named as such because there can be only one copy of each card in the deck that isn't Mjerrabaine. (Some call this a Jerry Deck, after Mjerrabaine whose name isn't the easiest to pronounce.) The deck plays conservatively to compensate for lack of consistency, and relies on snowballing in advantage by keeping a single follower that slowly gets stronger while Mjerrabaine's effect pings down enemy followers and chips away at the opponent's health. Highlander decks can be of literally any craft and can masquerade as a different deck until Mjerrabaine is played, and the builds are widely varied, sometimes catching opponents off-guard with a stray card that isn't commonly seen in the ladder. Later builds have begun to include Heaven's Gate (to the exclusion of additional Mjerrabaine copies), which can be invoked by passing turn 5 and rewards the player with massive discounts on a single card. The most popular crafts to play Highlander in are typically Dragon and Sword, the former offering ramp to get to play Mjerrabaine as soon as possible, and the later having very good follower quality in general.
  • Machina decks are decks that focus on Machina synergy which was introduced in the Steel Rebellion expansion. Machina decks focus on generating unique Machina tokens, Assembly Droid for board flooding, and Repair Mode to either keep a Machina follower healthy or serve as a self-heal spell. Machina decks focus on flooding the board with multiple tokens, and typically function like a midrange deck.
    • Machina Forest is a variation of midrange/tempo Forestcraft decks in Rotation, which like most Forestcraft decks, focuses on flooding the board with multiple 1/1 Fairies. However, Machina Forestcraft can focus on pushing mid to lategame burst damage to the enemy leader with Mechalance Elf, which allows the player to contest the board and push face damage at the same time (since Mechalance Elf won't take damage whenever he attacks an enemy follower, he serves as a powerful board control tool). The main goal is to apply early game pressure with flooding the board with Fairies and Assembly Droids while using Technolord to pull Mechalance Elf back-to-back in the lategame.
    • Machina Sword is a variation of Midrange Sword, which differs from most traditional midrange decks. While many Midrange Sword lists focuses on high value followers and out-valuing the opponent in the lategame through early game pressure, Machina Sword has a more board centric strategy with flooding the board with Assembly Droids such Stampeding Fortress and Cybercannoneer. The Assembly Droids have strong synergy with Blazing Lion Admiral and Latham, Honorable Knight, as they can receive Storm from Latham and come in enough numbers to satisfy Blazing Lion Admiral's Invoke condition. This combination allows Machina Sword to easily contest the board mid to lategame and establish threatening boards with Blazing Lion Admiral and Latham's effect active.
    • Machina Blood is a midrange Bloodcraft deck that focuses on flooding the board with tokens, similar to Machina Sword. The main goal of this deck, however, is to get enough Machina followers destroyed to push for the lategame burst damage with Mono, Garnet Rebel with her Alpha Drive spell where the spell evolves Mono and any Machina followers on board. In the meantime, the deck also has a hand advantage and hand buff focus, using Hellblaze Demon and Entrancing Blow to strengthen Mono for a stronger finisher, and keeping its hand well-stocked for Slayn to deliver additional damage or contest the board.
    • Machina Shadow is a Shadowcraft deck that focuses on board flooding in a similar vein like a typical Midrange Shadow deck. Unlike Arcus Shadow, Machina Shadow is more board centric and focuses on contesting the board in the early game and establishing board presence byflooding multiple tokens on board. The main appeal of the deck is Aenea, Amethyst Rebel, where she bestows the player a unique spell (she also spawns her robot friend that makes it even more difficult to take her down since he reduces all incoming damage taken to 1). When the spell is played with its Enhance effect, it floods the board with 4 different Machina followers except Aenea herself, which these followers can be used to setup lethal with either Gilnelise or Ferry, Spirit Maiden in the next turn should any of the followers survive. The spell also has strong defensive properties, as it protects the player from any lategame burst damage potential such as Anne's Sorcery or Darkfeast Bat.
    • Machina Haven is a Havencraft that plays differently from most Machina decks, as unlike most Machina decks, Machina Haven plays more like a control deck rather than a midrange deck. Its goal is to evolve Limonia, Flawed Saint and play enough Salvation Ex Limonia cards to put the invulnerable Heavenly Aegis into the player's hand. The spell can also be used to discount any high play point Havencraft followers (including Aegis himself), which allows Havencraft to player their lategame followers sooner or smooth out a clunky curve. Since many of Havencraft Machina cards bestow Repair Modes, it has strong synergy with Elana's Prayer, and Elana decks in Rotation are usually backed up with Haven's Machina package.
    • Machina Rune stands separate from the rest of the Machina decks due to it having a remarkably different focus from simply swarming the board with followers. Instead, the core gameplay mechanic of Machina Rune is to play lots of Machina cards, made possible with the fact that Repair Mode is a 1pp token spell. Cards like Mechanized Lifeform keeps the player's hand well-stocked, while cards like Magitech Golem and Mechastaff Sorcerer aid in board control. Their key card, Tetra, provides both a Repair Mode and her signature Delta Cannon spell, which gives the Machina Rune deck a regenerating source of damage. With the large volume of cheap token spells being generated and cast, the deck also has a Spellboost theme to it, usually charging several Zealots of Truth to close the game. The deck was a fringe one in its debut format, Steel Rebellion, but Rebirth of Glory added Mechabook Sorcerer who greatly supports its combos with pp refunds, essentially making the token spells free.
  • The Evolve Deck is a term used to encompass a multitude of decks across different crafts that use as many Evolve synergies as possible, including effects that let them evolve without consuming their very limited Evolve Points. The groundwork was first laid in Steel Rebellion with Hnikar and Jafnhar as the core duo that provide free evolve procs, Grimnir who serves as an early ward and lategame board clear, and Odin as the finisher. Rebirth of Glory then added Zeus as a more powerful finisher, and Olivia as a way to get more evolves in the late game. Ultimate Colosseum throws some of the biggest synergies with its Union Burst mechanic that comes online sooner as the player evolves their followers over the match, while the other expansions slowly add on to the strategy with more cards that evolve for free. Many decks across different crafts play a little differently in the early to midgame, but they all converge on Zeus to close the game.
    • Evolve Forest is one of the earlier iterations of the evolve, as Carbuncle creates its token spell that cycles, heals, and restores evolve points. Apostle of Unkilling is used to consistently draw the Carbuncle's Sparks that the deck is so reliant on, and its endgame is to invoke Odin with a spare evolve point, play Izudia, and essentially deliver a One-Hit Kill with his Maximum HP Reduction. The deck's focus on drawing and evolving Carbuncle as early as possible leads to an awkward early game, and failure to draw into Sparks usually leads to a great loss in momentum.
    • Evolve Blood isn't a standalone archetype, as it is commonly observed as a hybrid with another of the existing archetypes. Destructive Succubus is its signature card as she gets cheaper with evolves and serves as a more consistent boardwipe than Grimnir, while also hitting the enemy leader and boasting stronger stats than him. Trill is also played as her Choice options offer a token that evolves her for free or a boardwipe to erase weakened enemy followers. Blood's evolve synergies were formerly used to supplant the Machina archetype before new additions allowed for a more pure variant to become viable. Now, the evolve synergies can either be seen in either Machina, Natura or Vengeance builds (sometimes with three of the above combined) leading to many variations now known as Hybrid Blood.
    • Evolve Rune is focused on Ginger, Accursed Word, who gets cheaper with each evolving follower. On evolving Ginger, the player will constantly gain 0-cost Ginger's Curse which makes their followers dramatically cheaper and weaker. This is mainly to combo with Monika, since her regenerating familiar Morra restores an evolve point and enjoys an enormous discount from its otherwise unwieldy 7pp cost. Ginger's Curse can also be used to discount copies of Zeus in the player's hand, and the loss of stats is greatly compensated by the sheer volume of buffs each Zeus would receive. The ideal outcome of the deck is to maintain board control with Curses on Morra until it gets to play two to three 1pp Zeuses and deliver lethal with them.
    • Evolve Sword is a deck introduced in Ultimate Colosseum that plays differently from other evolve centric decks. It is a midrange focused deck that cares little about how many evolves for lategame Zeus (in fact, Evolve Sword does not run any neutral related evolve followers). Instead, evolve Sword takes advantage of the new Union Burst mechanic which becomes available sooner as the player evolves their followers (i.e. Pecorine and Shizuru). One of their main win conditions is to get enough evolves to power up Kagemitsu and sacrifice him with his Last Words effect of summoning him evolved in the next turn in order to setup a lethal turn in conjunction with Regal Wildcat (since Kagemitsu gain additional stats based on how many times the player has evolved during the match). Even without the Kagemitsu and Regal Wildcat combo, the deck has a plethora of good followers to evolve with immense value, some even for free with certain conditions (i.e. Steadfast Samurai, Twinsword Master, Lecia, Sky Saber, and the aforementioned Shizuru). When games go long, Luxblade Arriet is played to turn the game around, and Courtly Dance shows up for three free evolves on the spot.
    • Evolve Dragon combines free evolutions with discard effects to rip through the deck to overwhelm the opponent or end the game in a single attack with Zeus, the Supreme. While the deck was gradually built over time, World Uprooted gave the deck the push it needed to break into the meta. The deck combines discard effects from cards like Soaring Dragonnewt and Scalebound Plight to quickly draw through their deck, along with cards with discard effects like Dragonfolk's Wail and Dragoon Medic. Shipsbane Plesiosaurus gives the deck additional reach by dealing damage to enemy followers and the enemy leader whenever the player discards a card. The goal is to find Goblin Warpack and play it for 9, summoning 5 Goblins and evolving them. That's usually enough to clear the board before attacking with a Zeus next turn for lethal.
  • The Natura archetype is the central theme of Verdant Conflict, and is designed around cards that generate Naterran Great Trees. These Trees are cheap amulets that effectively cycle if you already control one, letting you draw through the deck for greater consistency. Each craft has its own set of Natura cards (with a few shared Neutral ones), and how each Natura deck operates is based on what it does with its trees.
    • Natura Sword largely remains unconcerned with playing or destroying Trees — all it needs is just one Tree in play to operate. The star card is Bayleon, who dispenses King's Might whenever the player regains play points. This condition is very easy to satisfy between cards like Meet the Levin Sisters, Tempered Aether and Swift Tigress. It largely functions like a midrange deck, paying little heed to Commander-Officer or Levin synergies, and focuses on pressuring the opponent with efficient followers before finishing them off with powerful Storm damage. Being outnumbered also puts Natura Sword at an advantage as it also runs a few cards that regain play points in those situations, the most notable being Mistolina.
    • Natura Forest is a midrange deck similar to Natura Sword, which only needs one Tree in play to operate. The main core of the deck, however, is to apply early game pressure by swarming the board with Fairies through Blossom Spirit, which when a Natura Great Tree is on board, she bestows any Fairy that comes into play additional stats, effectively making Fairies 2/2 followers, as well as spawning another fairy on board at the end of the player's turn. Combining with Forestcraft's natural Fairy generators, this allows Natura Forest to apply strong early game pressure with a strong Zerg Rush. If flooding the board with strong Fairies isn't enough in the early game, the deck can resort to strong lategame and simplistic combos with Omnis, Prime Okami, Irene, Harvest Defender, and Miracle of Love, since a Naterran Great Tree ensures at least one Okami is spawned (particularly if a Fairy Wisp is used alongside with it), and the Naterran Great Tree being 1pp makes it convenient to execute several strong combo plays (especially with the use of Fertile Aether, which refunds play points when the spell is played 5th turn or later). The deck also uses Ladica, the Stoneclaw for strong mid to lategame plays, as she serves as an effective removal tool as well as having the ability to evolve for free when a Natura Great Tree is in play (and her spell being a useful removal tool that removes any effects on the strongest enemy follower before destroying it). In the Ultimate Colosseum format, Natura Forest pushed more towards a control deck with utilization of free evolves with Carbuncle, Immortal Jewel while utilizing Whirlwind Roach or Zeus as their main win condition.
    • Natura Rune is built around playing a large number of Trees to build up Riley's power. Once it's played 7 or more, Riley will invoke herself, entering play as a 8/6 Storm unit at minimum. To facilitate this, it has several effects that return Trees to the hand, or outright duplicates Trees in play.
    • Natura Dragon is led by Valdain, whose signature spell damages the opponent over time for each of the player's destroyed Trees. To this end, many of its followers proactively destroy Trees to reap an effect, but also compensate by generating a new Tree if one isn't there when they die. The need to get Shadow's Corrosion and build up a destroyed Tree count can impair its early-game, but this deck excels in defeating slower decks by putting them on an unstoppable clock.
    • Natura Shadow has its focus on Thoth, who requires the player have at least ten Last Words cards destroyed before turns everything that comes into play into a source of damage. Naturally, the very act of playing and cycling through Naterran Great Trees can build up the Last Words count before Thoth comes into play, or serve as proactive damage once Thoth's effect is in place. In the meantime, it runs cards like Lubelle and Helio to pressure the opponent, and the rapid accumulation of shadows allows the use of Aisha as bonus damage or a game-ender.
    • Natura Blood presents as a Gradual Grinder control build that is less concerned with the number of Tree tokens played or destroyed, and focuses more on enabling its Avarice conditions. Naturally, the Trees serve as convenient cheap draw power that can enable Avarice for low cost. The key player is Cradle of Dark Divinity which can be evolved for free if a Tree is in play and grants a constant stream of card advantage and the ability to close the game with excess cards. It also boasts a lot of healing so that it can survive long enough to play its key cards. Natura Blood in isolation doesn't have a bursty win condition, but it has the tools that allow it to use several other finishers, most notably Zeus from the many free evolves that the deck gains.
    • Natura Haven is a very aggressive build. It has a lot of sources of Storm damage, beginning with Meowskers and Saintly Squeaks and leading up to Daffodil and Agnes. City of Gold is also involved to speed up any Countdown amulets it plays, effectively allowing Meowskers to enter play immediately or to quickly discount Agnes. Since two board slots are constantly occupied by a Tree and City of Gold, it also has no qualms running Destiny Wing Knight as a low-cost growing threat.
  • The World Uprooted expansion gave us the Natura/Machina package with the introduction of Changeling Cherub and Natur Al'machinus. Since they have both the Machina and Natura traits, they're a perfect fit for both decks. Changeling Cherub is better in Machina decks because the 2 damage to an enemy follower is better than 2 life and adds either an Assembly Droid or Naterran Great Tree to your hand when it evolves. This combos perfectly with Natur Al'machinus, which fuses away Machina and Natura cards (especially the extra copies of Assembly Droid and Repair Mode) to deal damage to an enemy follower and add Machina or Natura followers from your deck to your hand based on the number of cards fused. In addition, if it's fused with both a Natura and a Machina card (fairly simple to do since you can always pitch extra copies to itself), you get a 3 play point discount on their costs. Both of these cards have energized Machina decks since their release.

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