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Deck Tech – Pilfer Monk with ACTION_GORDON

ACTION_GORDON goes over the card choices in the Pilfer Monk deck he has been using on the ladder in today’s article.

Introduction

Hello, everyone! My name is Gordon “ACTION GORDON” Hunt, and thank you for taking some time away from your climb to legend to check out my first article here on Between the Lanes! Before we jump in, here’s a little bit about me: I am a competitor, through and through. Throughout my life, all of my hobbies have been tied to competition in one way or another. One of my favorite ways to sate my competitive urge has always been TCGs and CCGs, and with the advent of The Elder Scrolls: Legends, my passion has been reignited. I’m looking forward to diving in deep with this game, and I hope you are too!

So, without further ado, let’s go ahead and jump in to a discussion about a deck that I am very excited about – Pilfer Monk!

The Deck

ACTION_GORDON's Pilfer Monk

ACTION_GORDON’s Pilfer Monk

The most noticeable thing about this deck is the low curve; we top out at 6 magika, which lends itself well to the aggressive, momentum-based strategy of the deck. While there are similar decks in TES: Legends that opt to overwhelm your opponent with impressive board presence, such as Spellsword Tokens or Archer Midrange (Soulrest -> Soulrest -> Jarl), none of them do it quite like Pilfer Monk does. So, what sets Pilfer Monk apart and makes it worth playing over the aforementioned decks?

In order to answer those questions, we’ll need to break the deck down a bit and see what makes it work. To that end, I have sorted the deck into “packages” that will help to define the overall strategy of the deck, and how the cards complement each other.

The Pilfer Package

3x Descendant of Alkosh
3x Daring Cutpurse
3x Rajhini Highwayman
3x Master of Thieves
2x Tenmar Swiftclaw
3x Quin’rawl Burglar

This first package is the bread and butter of the deck. These cards are the central strategy, and the ultimate goal is to translate the momentum these cards can build over the course of just a few turns into a win. Descendant of Alkosh, Daring Cutpurse, Tenmar Swiftclaw, and Quin’rawl Burglar are going to be doing the bulk of our game-ending damage, while Rajhini Highwayman ensures that we have a constant stream of supporting cards to ensure our gameplan goes off without a hitch. Master of Thieves is the lynchpin of the strategy; attacking with our Pilfer creatures multiple times not only accelerates the pace at which we can end the game, but also generates tremendous value from our creatures. Thanks to Master of Thieves, it’s not uncommon to find a 12/12 Burglar or a 5/5 Descendant with multiple keywords on board.

The concept seems simple enough, but it’s not enough to just keep hitting our opponent in the face. Eventually he or she is going to wise up and start trying to disrupt our momentum. That is where the next two packages come into play.

IdnhBhS“Master of Thieves is the lynchpin of the strategy; attacking with our Pilfer creatures multiple times not only accelerates the pace at which we can end the game, but also generates tremendous value from our creatures.”

The Removal Package

3x Execute
3x Fighter’s Guild Recruit
3x Territorial Viper
3x Piercing Javelin

Package number 2 is our first of 2 packages whose purpose is to support the gameplan laid out in our first package. This one is focused on removing threats that would otherwise prevent us from executing our gameplan, as well as disrupting the strategy of our opponents. Execute is perhaps the most narrow card of the four, being only able to remove smaller creatures; however, I feel it is a must-play at 3 in this deck to ensure that our early Pilferers like Descendant and Cutpurse can start attacking our opponent and building that all-important momentum.

Territorial Viper is a card that is flying under the radar for a lot of players, but is one that I strongly believe is worth including in this deck. The ability to remove obnoxious Guard creatures, as well as large threats that might put us on the back foot is invaluable. The last two cards that round out the package are pretty straightforward choices: Fighter’s Guild Recruit doubles as an aggro deterrent as well as utility removal (the Prophecy is always nice to have, too) and Piercing Javelin is simply the best removal ProphecyShadow-Shift-ESL-card in these colors.

The Board Manipulation Package

3x Shadow Shift
3x Dune Stalker
3x Dune Smuggler

Our third package echoes the support theme of package 2, but in a slightly different way. This package
highlights an ability that only Agility has, and one that this deck in particular can maximize effectively – the abil
ity to move our creatures between the lanes. Rather than remove a troublesome guard creature, or a creature that we can’t trade with favorably, we can just move around it and continue to build on our Pilfer strategy.

Each of the three cards in this package brings something unique to the table – the card cycling from Shadow Shift, the Prophecy from Dune Stalker, and the bonus stats from Dune Smuggler. While the benefits of Shadow Shift and Dune Smuggler’s unique traits are more readily apparent, Dune Stalker’s Prophecy mechanic is worth exploring. Playing this card as a Prophecy not only nets us an additional 3/1 body, it also creates some neat mindgames by forcing our opponent to try to answer a creature that has suddenly moved to a place where maybe there aren’t prepared answers.

The Value Package

1x Ungolim the Listener
3x Bruma Profiteer
3x Eastmarch Crusader
2x Soulrest Marshal
3x Loyal Housecarl

Our last package is a group of cards that round out the deck and gives everything a more complete feeling through the value that they generate. Ungolim was discussed at the start of our article, but it bears repeating that the value generated from the three Brotherhood Assassins he puts into our deck is just incredible. Additional removal and cycle, and a 3/3 body to boot, all for 1 mana? Sign me up. The additional cycle from Eastmarch Crusader is also helpful, and easy to activate given the overall strategy of the deck.Loyal-Housecarl-ESL-card

Bruma Profiteer and Loyal Housecarl help to shore up our Aggro matchup by restoring health and generating additional Guard creatures, respectively. Housecarl in particular has some good flexibility, as the additional attack and health are greatly appreciated by our Pilferers.

Lastly, there’s Soulrest Marshal. Due to the deck’s aggressive nature, it’s not uncommon to find ourselves ahead on life early, and when that is the case, Soulrest Marshal lets us use that in one of the most advantageous ways imaginable: summoning any creature in our hand to the board for free. This lets us build our momentum even more and move that much closer to victory. However, it is worth noting that the deck only plays two copies because unlike other decks that play Agility, such as Midrange Archer, our heavy hitters are generally created on the board through Pilfer attacks, so playing threats out of hand isn’t always necessary.

Analysis

So, now that we have reviewed our packages, it’s pretty clear to see that the deck has synergy. It has the potential to steamroll a game while ahead, and has the tools it needs to compete from behind. But, is this enough to answer the questions we asked in the beginning?  In my opinion, the answer is a resounding “YES!” Pilfer Monk fires on all cylinders for me as a competitive TCG and CCG player: fun to play, cohesive in strategy, streamlined execution, and enough flexibility to compete at nearly any point in the game. If you’re looking for an alternative to the standard TES: Legends Midrange strategies that isn’t only competitive, but fun and exciting to play, then look no further!

6 comments

  1. I’d love to hear how does it match up against a control mage as I’m running something similar.

    How do you avoid a situation when the beggining of a match is your pilferer->crystal tower+firebolt?

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    1. As someone who has played a lot with control mage, I can say this deck is one of my hardest matchs, especially if they tech in golden saints. Usually what happens is I remove things, but eventually I run out of cheap actions and start having rely on creatures to kill threats. When this happens the monk shifts lanes and plays a master of thieves, and hits me in the face for a lot. Usually the monk only gets a window of a turn or two at most to do their burst damage, and if survive it, I win, because I can start to clear their board while building my own, all while my opponent is left with no cards. But like any control deck, mage can be vulnerable to burst, which is what monk specializes in

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  2. Nicely wrote. Clear and well explained…
    Too expensive for me to try it out😦
    However i’m myself tryin to do something that resolve around pilfer…

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  3. Did you experiment with skooma racketeer over territorial viper ? The racketeer is cheaper and synergizes with multi attacks plus has a better body. The viper could be useful if your lane is empty, but how often is that the case? I can see arguments for using both.

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  4. Nice article, I like the way the deck is split into packs, but I’m still on the fence about building this deck, mostly because of the 3 alkosh, and because I feel relying on the pilfer archetype has some issues.

    1.- Pilfer cards are undervalued in stats like most prophecy cards, having a stat toll compared to other creatures. To get value out of them they need to hit the the opponent at least once, this is mostly evident in cards like Tenmar, which costs 4 and is only a 2/2 body which can get removed by a single firebolt.
    2.- Pilfer requires you to go face, which means you break runes, which gets the enemy cards and prophecys. You are going to go face eventually but with pilfer you have to go face or you’ll be stuck with an undervalued card and die to a bad trade.
    3.- Pilfer is weak to guard creatures, even when you drop them in the shadow lane, if the enemy has something like a hive defender you’ll be forced to use your board manipulation cards or removal, otherwise you’re forced to trade with an undervalued creature and ignore the feature that your creature has.
    4.- Pilfer creatures are bad at trades, their lower natural stats make them underpowered compared to most creatures of equal cost, you’re somewhat forced to keep going face for the snowball effect, and hope the opponent doesn’t have a removal that just clears all the progress you been building by going face and breaking their runes. If they decide to stall you’ll be behind in cards and unable to get value out of your pilfer set since they’ll be in control of the board.
    5.- Hard removal punishes your beefed up creatures, no matter how much you managed to fatten your daring cutpurse a single javelin will send him to discard heaven (or any creature with lethal for that matter).

    Pilfer does have very strong bennefits
    1.- It demands removal or guard, if they aren’t stopped before snowballing you’re guaranteed to win. Making most of your board a threat can be overwhelming to regular decks with limited amounts of response cards.
    2.- It punishes bad draws more than other decks, I’ve lost quite a few matches to an unstoppable alkosh when I didn’t get the right removal at the right time.
    3.- It punishes carelessness, overconfidence and opponents trying to ignore one lane, if he think your pilfer creatures are not a threat, and then your drop a master of thieves on your lane with pilfer creatures he’ll be very sorry.
    4.- Snowballing gets ridiculous pretty fast, burglar is easily among my favorite 5 cards in the game.

    The question is, are the beneffits worth the drawbacks? I think they are when used in the right moment to catch the enemy off guard, but how often can you do that is what I can’t be sure about.

    I can’t comment much in the deck itself since I don’t have all the cards to test it out (alkosh doesn’t really have a budget replacement), I like the low curve but I feel a leaflurker somewhere is way too good to not use in a green deck. Even if your creatures are designed to go face and have removal, you’ll be forced to trade eventually to a hive guard or another pilfer creature! and the only way to get the value lost back is to drop this 2 for 1 kind of cards after losing an already over priced card.

    Sorry for the long rant, I just wanted to drop my point of view on the pilfer mechanic, since I been considering crafting a similar deck for a while and wanted to share my insigt.

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