After getting my invite to the closed beta (which has now moved to open beta) for TES: Legends a little over a week ago, I immediately started grinding the ladder. However, with only a couple days left in that month, I decided my time would be better spent playing and streaming Versus Arena runs. When August came around and the season reset, I was placed down to rank nine and started grinding a variety of decks in an effort to find out which performed the best and get to Legend as quickly as possible. It only took me two days to get to rank one and on the third, I easily closed the gap to Legend and continued to grind all the way to Legend #4. This article will be going over the deck I used to get there from non-legend rank three.
The deck I eventually stuck with after testing a few others was Archer (red/green) Midrange. I browsed some forums and discussions and saw that it was one of a few decks people had already more or less agreed to be major competitors, and I saw a few lists going around. The list I came up with is slightly different in card choices from every other one I’ve seen so far, but shares a lot of similarities. After going over how the deck is designed to win the game and general strategies, I’ll talk about specific card choices and MVPs of the deck.
The list pictured here is the one I have been playing most recently. A few things changed over the course of the ladder grind, but not much. Now, let’s talk about the basics of why the deck performs well. (Decklist created with legends-decks.com)
Archer Midrange – Win Condition
This is a Midrange deck, which essentially means it’s a slower Aggro deck. It gives up the raw speed and consistency of early drops that an Aggro deck would have to make room for more heavy-hitters in the mid game to have much more viability against Control decks. This deck doesn’t always mind games that go longer than its magicka curve looks designed to do because it’s still generally able to play threat after threat. Certain cards in particular play to this that I’ll go over in a bit.
This deck does not want to miss a turn, with the possible exception of turn one when you don’t have the Elixir of Magicka to ramp to a two-cost creature. Midrange decks are simple in that they really just want make the most efficient minion-based play on every possible turn, packing the deck with creatures that have immediate value and put a lot of pressure on the opponent. In this way, not only are you threatening their life total, but unlike a more fast-paced Aggro deck that could run out of steam, you can keep the tempo much longer and go toe-to-toe in card advantage with most opponents.
While you obviously want to be attacking your opponent regularly, there isn’t much of a specific win condition beyond that. A lot of the wiggle room in these Archer lists that I’ve seen have been in the actual mid-game threats that are run. Many run Blood Dragon, and while I initially didn’t run him simply because I didn’t have any copies and was looking for a replacement, I found success in the long term with the creatures I chose as well.
The early game package I chose is also fairly different from what a lot of people have been using but I’m convinced it could become the standard, and the general idea of hitting your opponent early is present in all lists. As such, this deck (and other Midrange decks in general) are pretty simple to pilot, and I would tend to recommend them as consistent ladder decks to newer players as a result. To be fair, while I do like to consider myself a very good player, I did reach top five legend with the deck while still not even having a firm enough grasp on every card in the game to know what to play around against every opponent, and there was some guesswork involved. The deck did a lot of the leg work.
Since I alluded to some differences, let’s dive into some of the specific card choices I have in my list and their purposes!
1 Drops: Rapid Shot, Sharpshooter Scouts, and Ungolim the Listener
Rapid Shots and Sharpshooter Scouts have similar roles in the deck; they are efficient sources of one damage that can either shore up your early game against other aggressive decks by helping with trades or help activate Finish off and Leaflurker, which are really the only two immediate answers the deck has to big threats. Each card comes with added benefits but seem to be snap 3-ofs in the deck. Ungolim is the interesting choice at the bottom of the magicka curve and was initially just a replacement card since I happened to have it and it seemed powerful. After playing with it for a while, I think it definitely deserves the slot in the deck if you happen to own it. Drawing the Brotherhood Assassins at any point in the game can smooth out the curve while cycling to other threats, and they offer more creatures with Lethal to get past huge creatures.
2 Drops: Daring Cutpurse and Murkwater Savage
I won’t really discuss Fighters Guild Recruit since it’s obviously fantastic, but I do want to discuss the “heavy-hitters” of the two magicka creatures. Many Archer lists I’ve seen don’t run Cutpurse at all, but I find its ability to snowball similar to the Savage invaluable. I think you definitely want more than three copies of these cards combined out of a fifty card deck to increase the odds you start with one, as that alone can decide a game. While I’m not sure the ratio I currently have is the most optimal one, I do enjoy the three additional Prophecies as well.
3 and 4 Drops
This deck has a ton of three-cost creatures, but that basically ensures you always have one. This is a very important turn to not miss, and if you happen to have multiple three-magicka creatures in your hand, you simply choose the best one for the situation. I’ve seen a lot of people max out House Kinsman, but while I like the card, I really wanted to make room for triple Dune Smuggler, which I feel is hugely underrated and more than makes up for its low health. I also believe it’s necessary to play the Smuggler as long as Daring Cutpurse is in the deck, though it has won me many games later on when I just need to bypass a Guard. Nimble Ally is self-explanatory, and Skaven Pyromancer is a fantastic answer to basically any deck using Willpower (yellow) at the moment – and believe me, there are a lot of them. Again, it has added synergy with Finish Off and Leaflurker in matchups where it might otherwise be subpar.
For the four drops, I believe Earthbone Spinner to be an absolute necessity. Silence is just too important and this is the best Silence available to the deck. I also made the space to run three copies of Deshaan Avenger, which I think is underrated. Of all the four drops, this is the one you’re most happy about playing on curve against a clear board and it almost always goes two-for-one against your opponent before it is completely removed.
Soulrest Marshal/Triumphant Jarl
These six cards are really the heart of the deck. Without them, Archer would have much less viability after turn five and would probably have to be made to be an Aggro deck with a much lower magicka curve. Soulrest Marshal makes sure you stay ahead once you’ve gotten slightly ahead in life, and the ability to go Soulrest into Soulrest into a Jarl or something else on turn five (or four with the Elixir) makes it a snap three-of in my opinion. I’ve mentioned this on stream, but it should probably be changed slightly and only reduce the next card you play by four instead of six.
Jarl doesn’t increase your board, but rather gives you more card advantage to continue applying pressure in the future, A Soulrest + Jarl turn really is the best of both worlds, as you give your opponent a lot of stats to deal with and the promise that even if they do, you’ll be dropping more on the board in no time. It is worth noting that both of these cards are pretty miserable to hold multiple copies of when you’re behind in life, but that’s really the point of the multitude of two and three cost creatures; the deck wants to get ahead early by being aggressive and stay ahead using these creatures.
Wild Beastcaller and Belligerent Giant
I can’t speak much to Tazkad the Packmaster, as it was a recent replacement for the underperforming Quin’rawl Burglar, but I can speak a lot on Wild Beastcaller and Belligerent Giant. I wasn’t sure why the lists I saw weren’t using these cards, but they have been very powerful for me throughout the grind.
Wild Beastcaller is probably the best standalone value card on average to play after a Soulrest Marshal since it essentially puts three creatures on board for the price of one while only using two cards out of your hand. You can get something insane off the Beastcaller and basically close the game out on the spot, but a lot of time, an average to low-end Animal is perfectly fine. Some even have additional utility like Barded Guar if you need a Guard or Territorial Viper for some quick removal. RNG plays a part in deciding your fate with this card, but the overall power level is so high that I still strongly suggest it in a Midrange deck like this.
Belligerent Giant is a huge tempo swing when you use its effect to return a creature to your opponent’s hand. If they just played something huge without a Summon effect, like the aforementioned Quin’rawl Burglar, you get to put a 7/4 in play while essentially negating their whole previous turn. It’s hard to recover from that, and it’s also hard to recover from using the Giant to remove a powerful Support card like Goldbrand from the equation.
I would like to emphasize that this deck isn’t a final draft and there are still a lot of flexible spots; this is simply what I’ve found success with so far. I’m still testing things and tech cards like Grahtwood Ambusher, Murkwater Witch, and Murkwater Shaman could be added or dropped at various numbers to change and adapt the deck. There are also other things I would like to test in the deck such as Blood Dragons (which others have found success with) and Green Pact Stalkers. At its core though, I believe this is a solid list and one that we could easily consider top tier for the time being. I recommend giving it a shot, and be sure to check out my stream to see some live gameplay with this deck and others. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you all next time!