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 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.
“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 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 Prophecy 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.
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.
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!