Flippin’ Chickens

Well, look who wandered in… Hello and welcome to The Misplay! This is the next installment of the article series that accompanies act two of the podcast.

On our last show, Jason, Nate, and I tracked the evolution of the “Xenhen” Evenhanded Golem deck that our team put together and Colacoma piloted to the top 4 of the Throne Stormbreak Open. We talked through the initial concept, the tuning process, and the final list referencing the deck lists along the way. Today I’ll revisit the lists and try to provide some retrospective insights into the development of the deck and the process of collaborating with teammates.

Without further ado, let’s check out this Chicken Recipe

The Early Brews

Ahead of the Stormbreak release, Team Misplay expected Kira, Elysian, and Sling to be major players in the open. Then the bundle dropped and everyone found new toys to fall in love with. We caught on to the Menace Trove and Even Feln lists that started popping up. Early in the week we shotgunned a lot of different deck ideas. We had Even Feln that played heavy primal, we looked at the Xenan Hourglass decks, and we started building Menace Carver/Shrine lists.

Colacoma was looking closely at Even Xenan while Piereese was testing Menace Shrine. Piereese observed that Grenahen was discarding a ton of power. That observation is a perfect example of looking at the way a card plays and imagining the context it needs to stand out. Grenahen is great, but Piereese found an angle and context for it that definitely gave the team a powerful game plan that was largely overlooked.

He knew about the Arcanum Hourglass list that Colacoma was working on and decided to just mash the robot chicken into that Even Xenan deck. He threw together a draft and asked if the powerbase could support the splash. I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I was quick to flip the bird at the idea being too greedy. I had obviously written the idea off too soon, so good thing my teammates were more open-minded than I was.

There are a couple of lessons to learn from Piereese’s first draft. The first is don’t discount an idea just because you don’t see it working on paper. Playing a deck and taking a close look at the numbers in a deck you are seeing for the first time can go a long way in helping dispel baseless biases. The other lesson is more of a tip of the cap to Piereese for the way the deck is built. The initial build had a Token of Knowledge in the market to fix for Grenahen, but it also served to help keep the power going. The deck could stumble with some awkward starts and the token helps smooth out some of those rough draws. The market and removal in the deck changed a lot as we tuned the deck but the Token of Knowledge was locked in from the beginning.

Giving the Chicken a Tune up

When all was said and done, Colacoma thought the most interesting thing about working on the deck was tuning the removal for the meta we expected. By the time we were going deep on tuning, we were confident in the Kira matchup. The meta shifted as the early builds of Even Feln and Menace Trove started to dominate the ladder. We also knew Yetis was going to be a difficult match up from our internal testing. The adjustments we made to the removal were trying to account for the emerging meta and to shore up the Yetis matchup.

Piereese’s build had ten removal spells, split between Defile, Annihilate, Fatal Misstep, and Send an Agent. The Missteps were there for additional discard, and the rest of the removal was targeting the really dangerous single-faction units. One-for-one removal is not at its best into Evenhanded Golem decks, and is also underwhelming against Menace sacrifice lists. There are important units to remove in sacrifice lists, but it’s a trap to try to kill every unit that matters with one-for-one spells. So the next advancement in the list was trimming some removal for more and swapping some flavor of removal around.

One version of the deck had a market Eremot’s Designs for the Yeti problem. We concluded that you can’t run a critical early-game answer in your market, when you really need it on turns 2-4. So we tried it in the main deck. Eremot’s Designs is pretty good into Kira, it’s a better piece of removal against Shrine lists, and had implications against Even Feln. Eremot’s Designs is also serviceable-to-good against Yetis, depending on how many Snowcrust Yetis turn up in the early game. Trimming a little removal made way for a Baby Vara to make her way into the main deck as well.

There was one final change to the removal that solved a lot of problems. Thudrock’s Masterwork and Lord Steyer’s Tower are very dangerous and powerful cards in the early game. Colacoma found Nectar of Unlife as a way to kill both sites. I believe it was a game-changer for the Yetis matchup. Nectar also gave a way to use power to reload on units in the mid to late game as well. We cut the Defiles to go up one more Eremot’s Designs and add the second Baby Vara.

The market changed and developed with the deck as a whole, but we made a couple of market decisions at the tail end of testing. Piereese’s Token of Knowledge, Banish, and Grasping at Shadows were locked in right away. His list started with Dichro’s Ruin and Xenan Temple, but they were cut early. Silverblade Menace made its way into the list, along with Toll of Warfare as a card to target other void-based decks that also had implications against Clear The Way Combo (a nice bonus, but not something we were especially concerned with). Near the end we were still looking for a little more game against Yetis. Remember though you shouldn’t put a card in the market that you need in the early game. Pale Rider’s Timepiece does a lot of great things against Yetis. It is not going to save you from dying on turn 4, but it can be useful in slamming the door shut on an opponent trying to steal a win with burn and charge units. This deck could also realistically get to play the spellcraft Witching Hour, which could also be backbreaking into other midrange strategies. It ended being serviceable enough and was the final card locked into the list that Colacoma and Piereese brought to the Throne Open.

That’s all for today folks. Thank you for checking out this article and a special thanks to Piereese and Colacoma for their insights about the deck and tuning process for the list. Take care and I hope all your chickens come with the perfect fixin’s.