I’ve been playing quite a bit of solo arena lately during times when I would have otherwise been too distracted to play ladder or versus arena. While the rewards for defeating every solo arena boss aren’t as good as those you would receive for versus arena, they are still worth your time. Until you reach rank 1 you will receive an additional 50 gold every time you get 9 wins, which really helps to offset the cost of arena entry. Because of this, I believe that it is worthwhile to at least get your account to rank 1 solo arena even if you aren’t really interested in playing more than that.
So, let’s take a look at the notable differences between versus and solo arena. If you’re familiar with both modes feel free to skip past this part.
1.) The biggest difference between versus and solo arena is the fact that in solo arena you are playing against the computer while in versus arena you are battling against other players. Human players tend to be a lot less predictable and often more skillful since they are able to adapt much more readily to a variety of situations.
2.) In solo arena you need to beat 9 bosses instead of 7. Like versus arena, if you lose three times your run will end, however you do need to win two more times.
3.) Every time you beat a boss in solo arena you will be offered an additional draft pick for your deck. As you progress through your run this gives you an opportunity to potentially shore up some of your deck’s current weaknesses before future fights.
4.) The solo arena prizes, though decent, are worse than versus arena. The prizes for going 9 wins in solo arena are similar to what you might expect from a 5 win versus arena. That said solo arena is much easier to farm. Typically prizes for going 9 wins are 70-80 gold, 1-3 packs, some soul gems, and/or rare/epic/legendary cards. The bosses will become more difficult and the rewards will improve once you hit rank 4.
5.) A lot of the solo arena fights feature special mechanics. These range from boss advantages to extra lane mechanics. These special mechanics can keep the fights fresh and interesting.
6.) There is no turn timer in solo arena. You can take as long as you need. This makes solo arena perfect if you are somewhat distracted or expect possible interruptions to your game play.
7.) Solo arena is easier than versus arena. Once you get the hang of solo arena you should be able to go 9 wins almost every time.
Building the Deck
Once you’ve bought your ticket you will have to choose your class. I would currently rate green as the best color for solo arena. Blue and purple are also strong colors, with yellow and red bringing up the end of the train. I will usually pick assassin, scout, monk, and archer in that order before taking a non-green class. After that I would tend to favor sorcerer, mage, or spellsword. Battlemage, warrior, and crusader are perfectly viable choices, but you need to draft them more aggressively as those classes don’t reliably support more controlling strategies very well.
Once you’ve chosen your class it’s time for the draft. There some things you should be looking out for while you’re making your picks.
1.) Prophecies – Prophecies are particularly potent in solo arena because the computer plays very aggressively and will never play around breaking your runes.
2.) Guards – Because the computer plays aggressively guards become very useful tools for both blunting that aggression and preserving your health.
3.) Drain – Drain can function as a powerful stabilization mechanic when the computer is being aggressive. Drain creatures provide you with the ability to allow your runes to be broken before stabilizing, allowing you access to more cards and potential prophecies.
4.) Cheap creatures – Cheap creatures are a lot more powerful in solo arena than versus arena. There are a few reasons for this. First, boss decks tend to have more mediocre cards than you would expect from a versus arena opponent. This means that you can spend multiple cards dealing with a problematic opposing card without falling as far behind on card advantage. Because the computer will generally play aggressively, cheap creatures become one of the best options to counter the computer’s own early creatures. Finally, a lot of the special lane mechanics give powerful effects when you play creatures in that lane. You can garner a significant edge by playing more creatures in that lane than the computer. This is a lot easier to do when your creatures cost less.
5.) Pilfer creatures – Pilfer creatures are only available to green and yellow, but many of them are quite strong in solo arena. While the computer will usually make an effort to remove your pilfer creatures if it can, getting in multiple hits with a pilfer creature can go a long way toward winning the game, and often isn’t too difficult to pull off. As such, pilfer creatures are capable of functioning as win conditions while also being cheap enough to be used for early trading.
6.) Late game – Despite the importance of having a strong early game, you should also incorporate a few expensive high-impact cards into your deck. Strong late game cards can really help to recoup some of the value you might lose early on in the game trying to deal with the computer’s aggression. Without access to some strong late game cards you might just find yourself low on health, out of cards, and hoping that whatever you draw can deal with the next card the computer draws. At the same time, you don’t want too many late game cards because your main focus should be trying not to get run over early, and having too many expensive cards can leave your deck too slow to react.
7.) Removal – Despite the fact that most solo arena bosses can be beaten on the strength of creature combat alone, sometimes it is very useful to be able to remove a problematic creature from the board immediately. Frequently removal will also help you to mitigate covered creatures when the computer is deploying its creatures to the shadow lane. While I don’t prioritize removal very highly, cards like Firebolt and Crushing Blow are very good at keeping the computer’s board in check.
Try to keep these things in mind while you’re doing your draft. Cards that fall into multiple of these categories tend to be especially good in solo arena and should often be prioritized. After you finish drafting take a moment to review your deck. Look to see what sort of weaknesses your deck might have. Do you have a weak early game? Do you wish you had more late game cards? Identifying your deck’s potential weaknesses serves two purposes. First, it will help you to decide what kind of cards you want to add to your deck after you beat a boss. Secondly, if your deck does have some kind of weakness it will potentially influence the order you want to play against the bosses.
When you first start out at rank 9 you will be matched against some starter bosses. These bosses tend to use decks with weaker and often unupgraded cards. As your rank increases the game will integrate more and more of the end game bosses into your runs. Upon reaching rank 1 you will only be playing against these bosses.
At this point you’re ready to choose the first boss to play against. So how should you know which boss to pick? Well in order to plan a good pick order you should first have a general idea of what sort of strategies the various bosses employ and what cards you will want to play around. This is a lot of information and if you play enough you will probably pick up on most of it eventually. That said, you might want to check out the information for a boss when the fight begins so that you have a better idea of what you’re up against and how best to handle it. I will cover the notable cards you might consider playing around as well as prophecies, but if you are interested, these are the rank 1 AI decklists.
The Mono-Colored Bosses
– Agility –
There are three mono-green bosses; Crookedclaw, The Silent Skirmisher, and Spider Queen. Both Crookedclaw and The Silent Skirmisher have decks that feature a lot of goblins as well as Murkwater Skirmisher. Keeping your opponent’s goblins off the board will make Skirmisher a lot less scary. The computer’s Goblin Skulks will always fetch Murkwater Goblins. Both decks contain creatures with charge so you might want to play valuable creatures in the shadow lane. Spider Queen is a boss that starts with the support Spider Lair in play. All of her actual cards are really weak spiders and some shackle effects. All of her creatures have 1 health so cards that deal one damage are really good for that fight. Generally speaking these decks do not have many prophecies.
Notable cards: 2x Territorial Viper and 2x Chaurus Reaper
Prophecies: 2x Lurking Crocodiles, 1x Moonlight Werebat, and 1x Ransack.
The Silent Skirmisher|
Notable cards: 2x Giant Bat, 2x Cliff Racer, 1x Tazkad the Packmaster
Prophecies: 2x Moonlight Werebat.
Notable cards: None.
– Willpower –
The mono-yellow boss is called Willbreaker. This boss uses a creature heavy midrange deck which contains a bunch of high health guards. Having good answers for these guards can allow you make very high tempo counterplays. Lethal creatures can go a long way. This deck also contains a copy of Immolating Blast so try to be careful not to invest too heavily in a single lane or you might end up losing most of your creatures. Resolute Ally is another card to keep in mind as the reliable buff to a lane can drastically interfere with plans for future turns. Dagi-Raht Mystic will pilfer Divine Fervor.
Notable Cards: 2x Resolute Ally, 1x Hive Defender, 1x Divine Fervor, 1x Senche Tiger, 1x Auroran Sentry, 1x Immolating Blast
Prophecies: 2x Loyal Housecarl and 1x Piercing Javelin.
– Strength –
There are two mono-red bosses; Blood Taker and Scarza, Warrior Mudcrab. Blood Taker uses an aggressive deck that contains a lot of creatures with charge so you will want to be careful where you place your creatures. This boss will frequently lead with a turn 1 Relentless Raider so having a good answer to that can stop a lot of early damage. Scarza, Warrior Mudcrab is barely a boss. Its deck consists of 10x Enraged Mudcrabs, 10x Scuttlers, and 10x 1 magicka 1/1’s. Scarza is probably the easiest boss in the game so if you see a red looking crab in your line-up you should fight it first.
Notable cards: None really, just be careful to play around charge creatures.
Scarza, Warrior Mudcrab
Notable cards: Absolutely none. All of Scarza’s cards are garbage.
Prophecies: If this deck had some then maybe all its cards wouldn’t be garbage…
– Intelligence –
This boss is called Summerset Sentry. This deck is capable of some very strong starts. It can also be a difficult deck to race because it contains 3x copies of Baron of Tear, which can turn all of its creatures into guards, as well as 1x Winter’s Grasp which can shut down your attacks for a turn. If the game goes too late there is also a copy of Supreme Atromancer that can take over.
Notable cards: 3x Baron of Tear, 2x Daggerfall Mage, 1x Winter’s Grasp, 1x Supreme Atromancer
Prophecies: 3x Shrieking Harpy, 2x Lightning Bolt.
I have since come across an additional rare mono-blue boss called Frostbringer. I wasn’t able to get a full decklist but I saw enough cards to get a general idea of the deck. I listed copies of the cards that I saw but the deck might contain more copies I did not see. This deck has both Breton Conjurer and Glenumbra Archmage so cards that can deal with low-health warded creatures can go a long way. You will want to be careful against this deck because you may find yourself overextending into Ice Storm or trying to race against Winter’s Grasp. I ended up in a close race against this deck, winning only after the computer ran out of AoE and shackles.
Notable cards: 2x Breton Conjurer, 2x Ice Storm, 3x Winter’s Grasp
Prophecies: 3x Shrieking Harpy
– Neutral –
The Neutral boss is called Forgotten Machines. This is a dedicated dwemer deck that will start with Halls of the Dwemer in play. This makes Forgotten Machines one of the hardest bosses in the game. As if that wasn’t bad enough, you should probably expect to see a second copy of Halls of the Dwemer come down on turn 6. I usually leave this boss until the very end because it is very easy to get knocked out by it. If you have access to support destruction for this fight it can help a lot, so try to keep that in mind when you mulligan. While Halls of the Dwemer is on the field it is pretty much impossible to win a control game because the attack buff denies value trading. Because of this, your best bet is trying to play very aggressively in hopes of winning before the Halls of the Dwemer buff grinds you out or kills you.
Notable cards: I wasn’t able to find a decklist but none really come to mind besides Halls of the Dwemer.
Prophecies: Sparking Spider, Spider Worker
The Dual-Colored Bosses
– Scout –
There are two scout bosses; Ruler of the Marsh, and Dark General. These decks contain a lot of the same cards and have similar strategies. Both will use ramp cards like Hist Speaker, Tree Minder, and Thorn Histmage to power out high-impact, expensive cards. These bosses have very powerful late games that can make trying to beat them via attrition difficult. I would generally recommend playing pretty aggressively against them to try and win before they are able to take full advantage of the late game cards that they want to ramp into. You might want to be a bit more careful when playing against Dark General as almost a third of its deck is prophecies.
Notable cards: 1x Red Bramman
Prophecies: 2x Fharun Defender, 2x Cursed Spectre, 3x Midnight Sweep, 2x Lurking Mummy
Ruler of the Marsh
Notable cards: 2x Territorial Viper, 2x Giant Snake, 1x Tazkad the Packmaster, 1x Nest of Vipers, 1x Red Bramman
Prophecies: 2x Cursed Spectre and 2x Lurking Mummy
I have since come across an additional scout boss called Darkbeast. It was fairly similar to the other two scout bosses.
Notable cards: 2x Giant Bat, 1x Territorial Viper, 1x Giant Snake, 1x Spider Daedra, 1x Nest of Vipers|
Prophecies: 2x Fighters Guild Recruit, 2x Frostbite Spider, 1x Cursed Spectre, 1x Moonlight Werebat
– Sorcerer –
There are two sorcerer bosses; Frostforce and Safesword. Both are fairly aggressive decks with some emphasis on warded creatures. These bosses are usually pretty easy to control. Having a good answer for cards like Breton Conjurer can go a long way so consider keeping them in your mulligan.
Notable cards: 2x Firebolt, 2x Breton Conjurer, 1x High King Emeric, 1x Ice Storm.
Notable cards: 2x Firebolt, 1x Breton Conjurer 1x Crushing Blow
Prophecies: 1x Shrieking Harpy, 2x Camlorn Sentinel, 2x Firestorm, 1x Fateweaver
– Assassin –
There are 2 assassin bosses; Queen Barenziah and The Baron of Tear. The Baron of Tear is actually a mono-blue deck that contains a few of the dual colored assassin cards. These decks are both capable of explosive Brutal Ashlander + Soul Split starts which can be very difficult to deal with. Both decks also contain Indoril Archmage so be careful to not invest too fully into one lane going into the later turns of the game. These decks are both very powerful with a lot of strong synergies which allow them to open aggressively but also maintain a lot of pressure later in the game. These are probably two of the hardest bosses which you should regularly see. As such, I recommend playing against most of the other available bosses first. Queen Barenziah also has Necrom Mastermind which can generate obscene value if you leave up the opponent’s Last Gasp creatures.
The Baron of Tear
Notable cards: 2x Firebolt, 2x Baron of Tear, 1x Queen Barenziah, 1x Indoril Archmage
Prophecies: 2x Shrieking Harpy, 3x Lightning Bolt
Notable cards 2x Firebolt, 2x Baron of Tear, 1x Queen Barenziah, 2x Necrom Mastermind, 1x Indoril Archmage
Prophecies: 2x Lightning Bolt
– Mage –
There are 4 mage bosses: Farsight Archmage, Swiftfoot, The Hidden Danger, and Lightmage. Farsight Archmage and Lightmage are decks that rely heavily on action-based synergies. Trying to race them outright can be dangerous because the extra cards you give them usually generate more value than just the card itself. Additionally, Farsight Archmage’s deck contains Winter’s Grasp which can make racing while ignoring the opposing creatures very difficult. Swiftfoot and The Hidden Danger are really just mage midrange decks that aren’t all that scary. (Since I originally wrote this, I discovered another mage boss called Master of Sorcery. This is another action heavy deck similar to Farsight Archmage and Lightmage. This boss also started with a support that caused it to deal 1 damage to me whenever it played an action.)
Notable Cards: 1x Execute, 3x Firebolt, 3x Artaeum Savant, 2x Winter’s Grasp
Prophecies: 3x Lightning Bolt, 3x Piercing Javelin
Notable Cards: 3x Firebolt, 2x Arrow Storm, 2x Daggerfall Mage, 1x Immolating Blast, 2x Royal Sage
Prophecies: 2x Lightning Bolt, 2x Piercing Javelin
Notable Cards: 2x Firebolt, 2x Hive Defender, 2x Senche Tiger, 2x Shocking Wamasu
Prophecies: 2x Camlorn Sentinel, 2x Lightning Bolt, 2x Dark Harvester
The Hidden Danger
Notable Cards: 2x Firebolt, 1x Dagi-raht Mystic (will pilfer Two Moons Contemplation or Dark Rift), 2x Hive Defender, 1x Spiteful Dremora
Prophecies: 2x Shrieking Harpy, 1x Fire Storm, 1x Fate Weaver
Master of Sorcery
Here’s the decklist if you’re interested.
Notable Cards: 2x Lesser Ward, 2x Execute, 2x Crushing Blow, 1x Winter’s Grasp
Prophecies: 2x Healing Potion, 2x Lightning Bolt, 2x Piercing Javelin
– Spellsword –
There are 3 spellsword bosses: Executioner of Talos, Gravebane, and Supreme Commander. Executioner of Talos is something of a token-based midrange deck. It will try to overwhelm you with a flood of creatures. Gravebane and Supreme Commander are two very similar bosses. Both are guard-heavy decks that will use Tree Minder to ramp and Watch Commander to buff their guards. Watch Commander is absolutely brutal and will knock you out of the game if you allow the computer the chance to amass enough guards. You should make an effort to clear the computer’s guards before they reach 5 magicka. The computer will often play Watch Commander after combat, before it plays guards on the same turn, or without any guards in play. Because it will sometimes play Watch Commander after attacking, if you put a guard in front of their creature they will often suicide their guard before it would get the buff. It is worth noting that the Supreme Commander deck is literally half prophecies, so you should take extra care when breaking its runes.
Executioner of Talos
Notable cards: 2x Edict of Azura, 2x Divine Fervor, 1x General Tulius, 1x Renowned Legate
Prophecies: 2x Midnight Sweep
Notable cards: 2x Execute, 1x Dawnbreaker, 2x Hive Defender, 2x Watch Commander, 1x General Tulius, 2x Legion Praefect, 1x Mantikora
Prophecies: 2x Midnight Sweep, 2x Loyal Housecarl, 2x Lurking Mummy, 2x Piercing Javelin
Notable cards: 3x Edict of Azura, 2x Vicious Dreugh, 3x Watch Commander, 1x General Tulius, 1x Mantikora
Prophecies: 3x Fharun Defender, 3x Midnight Sweep, 3x Lurking Mummy, 3x Piercing Javelin, 3x Dark Harvester
I have since come across an additional rare spellsword boss called Cheydinhal Sapper. This deck is similar to the Executioner of Talos deck in that it is somewhat midrange token based. I wasn’t able to get a full decklist so there might be more copies of notable cards and prophecies which I did not see. This boss will try to flood the board with smaller creatures to take advantage of cards like Siege Catapult, and then try to buff its creatures with Legion Praefect.
Notable cards: 1x Watch Commander, 2x Legion Praefect
Prophecies: 1x Healing Potion
– Monk –
There are 3 monk bosses: Brother Swiftstance, Softstep, and The Collector. All three of these decks are fairly similar in that they are all heavily pilfer-themed. When you’re taking your initial mulligan you are going to want to look for cards that can deal with small-bodied creatures like Descendant of Alkosh, Daring Cutpurse, Rajhini Highwayman, and Bandari Bruiser early or they might snowball out of control. Because these decks rely so heavily on pilfer creatures, guards that can step in front of pilfer attacks are also fairly valuable. All three decks have copies of Master of Thieves so if you leave a pilfer creature alive for a turn you might be taking extra hits. All 3 decks also contain a copy of Ahnassi so try to avoid flooding the board with valuable keywords going into turn 5. If you have an efficient method of dealing with a Quin’rawl Burglar in your hand you might want to hold onto it until after the computer has a chance to play it.
Notable cards: 3x Execute, 2x Hive Defender, 2x Master of Thieves, 1x Ahnassi
Prophecies: 3x Daring Cutpurse, 3x Moonlight Werebat, 2x Piercing Javelin
Notable cards: 2x Execute, 1x Dawnbreaker, 2x Master of Thieves, 2x Thieves’ Den, 1x Ahnassi, 2x Quin’rawl Burglar
Prophecies: 2x Daring Cutpurse, 2x Priest of the Moons, 2x Piercing Javelin
Notable cards: 1x Shadow Shift, 1x Master of Thieves, 2x Thieves’ Den, 1x Ahnassi, 1x Dagi-raht Mystic (pilfers for Thieves’ Den), 1x Quin’rawl Burglar
Prophecies: 2x Daring Cutpurse, 1x Dune Stalker, 1x Priest of the Moons, 2x Piercing Javelins, 1x Ransack
– Crusader –
There are 3 crusader bosses: Delta, the Charger, Gatestormer, and Runeslayer. These decks are very similar in that they are all highly aggressive. You should go into the match expecting the computer to play a turn 1 Relentless Raider. These decks also have a good number of charge creatures so be careful about where you play your valuable creatures. You will want to trade very aggressively against these decks to try to stop as much damage as quickly as possible. Don’t be afraid to ring out a 2 magicka creature to trade with a one-drop early. If you are low on health it will often be better to take a suboptimal creature trade and save your removal for creatures that get played in the shadow lane. Because the Runeslayer deck contains both Golden Saint and Triumphant Jarl you can consider keeping the boss’s health under your own once you’ve taken control of the board. The crusader bosses are some of my preferred decks to start out against if I feel like my deck has a strong early game.
Delta, the Charger
Notable cards: 2x Battlerage Orc, 2x Stone Throw, 2x Rampaging Minotaur, 1x Volendrung
Prophecies: 2x Graystone Ravager, 1x Tyr
Notable cards: 2x Execute, 2x Morthal Executioner
Prophecies: 2x Sharpshooter Scout, 2x Morkul Gatekeeper, 1x Tyr, 2x Piercing Javelin
Notable cards: 2x Arrow Storm, 2x Morthal Executioner, 2x Stone Throw, 1x Golden Saint, 1x Triumphant Jarl
Prophecies: 2x Graystone Ravager, 1x Tyr, 2x Piercing Javelin
– Warrior –
There are 3 warrior bosses: Shadowflame, The Defiler, and Desert Warlock. Shadowflame and The Defiler are both aggressive orc-based decks while Desert Warlock is a control deck.
Because orcs have a lot of synergies with each other, I would recommend trying to keep them off the board as much as possible to deny those synergies.
Notable cards: 2x Battlerage Orc, 2x Stone Throw, 2x Fireball, 1x Militant Chieftain, 1x Wood Orc Headhunter
Prophecies: 2x Morkul Gatekeeper
Notable cards: 2x Battlerage Orc, 3x Stone Throw, 2x Militant Chieftain, 2x Wood Orc Headhunter
Prophecies: 2x Fharun Defender, 3x Graystone Ravager
Notable cards: 3x Battlerage Orc, 2x Rampaging Minotaur, 2x Shadowfen Priest, 1x Volendrung
Prophecies: 2x Frostbite Spider, 3x Midnight Sweep, 2x Lurking Mummy
I have since come across an additional rare warrior boss called Gatecrasher. This boss starts at 20 health and only has 3 runes. However, to make up for its reduced health this boss also starts with a copy of the 0/9 guard Portcullis in each lane. Gatecrasher will trade with some of your creatures but being able to deal with Portcullis or work around it is very important. For this reason you should prioritize guards, removal, and lethal creatures during your mulligan. I wasn’t able to get a full decklist for this boss but it seemed fairly aggressive with cards like Lumbering Ogrim. You can tell that this boss is in your lineup because it is the only warrior boss that doesn’t use one of the orc avatar portraits.
Notable cards: ?x Rampaging Minotaur
Prophecies ?x Cursed Spectre, ?x Morkul Gatekeeper
– Battlemage –
There are 2 battlemage decks: Camlorn Flayer and The Smith. As of patch 1.62 I believe that the boss “Camlorn Flayer” has been renamed “The Dark Flayer.” The bosses are similar in that both are item-based aggressive decks. Because items feature such a prominent place in the decks I would recommend trying to remove your opponent’s creatures as best as possible; the computer can’t equip its creatures if they are all dead. Even leaving one creature alive can result in the computer equipping it with several weapons and taking away huge chunks of your health. There are enough items in both decks that you need to consider how badly things go for you if a creature picks up an equipment. Sentinel Battlemace can make trying to stop opposing creatures with your guards risky. Sometimes you can kill enough of the computer’s creatures that it will actually run out of targets to equip, at which point the decks potentially fall apart. That said, even if you do manage to effectively remove the computer’s creatures you still need to be ready to either finish the game quickly or deal with a potentially gigantic Master of Arms. These decks contain minimal removal, no prophecies, and no burst damage (outside of items and Relentless Raider). For this reason, if you can take control of the board it will usually be safe to attack the computer low enough to be able to kill it the following turn. The lack of prophecies in these decks can also allow you a chance to race them fairly effectively if you lack an effective answer to a creature equipped with Sentinel Battlemace.
Camlorn Flayer/The Dark Flayer
Notable Cards: 2x Firebolt, 3x Mace of Encumbrance, 1x Stone Throw, 3x Sentinel Battlemace, 1x Master of Arms
Notable Cards: 2x Bone Bow, 2x Mace of Encumbrance, 2x Sentinel Battlemace, 1x Master of Arms
– Archer –
There are 2 archer bosses: Shadowstep and Oathkeeper. Both decks are somewhat midrange aggressive builds. Oathkeeper’s deck contains a lot of the cards that do 1 damage to creatures as well as cards that interact with wounded enemy creatures. Oathkeeper is also in the habit of killing his own 1-health creatures with Skaven Pyromancer before attacking fairly often. Shadowstep’s deck contains a lot fewer of these synergies but has a lot more powerful stand-alone cards and prophecies.
Notable cards: 2x Finish Off, 3x Battlerage Orc, 2x Territorial Viper, 2x Vicious Dreugh, 2x Cliff Racer, 1x Giant Snake, 1x Allena Benoch, 1x Volendrung, 1x Tazkad the Packmaster
Prophecies: 3x Fighters Guild Recruit, 3x Blacksap Protector, 3x Moonlight Werebat
Notable cards: 2x Finish Off, 2x Silvenar Tracker, 2x Raiding Party, 2x Skaven Pyromancer, 2x Green-Pact Stalker, 2x Camorran Scout Leader, 2x Leaflurker, 1x Allena Benoch, 1x Falinesti Reaver
Prophecies: 2x Sharpshooter Scout, 2x Grahtwood Ambusher
There is also a rare Iron Atronach Sorcerer boss that I haven’t been able to find a full decklist for. This boss starts at 50 health and has a non-collectible AoE card that deals damage to one enemy creature and 3 damage to the rest of the enemy creatures in that lane. For prophecies this deck had some number of Shrieking Harpies and Camlorn Sentinels. If you can take control of the board with your creatures then 50 health will evaporate very quickly. Pilfer creatures work well in this fight because Iron Atronach’s extra health can give them the opportunity to snowball out of control before you begin breaking runes. This boss will have the Iron Atronach card art as its portrait so you will know if it is part of your line-up.
There is also a rare boss called Chaos Magician. This boss is technically a battlemage, although it is somewhat difficult to say what exactly is in this deck because Chaos Magician has a support that makes it so that whenever it would draw a card it instead draws a random card equal to its maximum magicka. Generally speaking this is a boss that you want to attack aggressively before they start getting powerful late game cards every turn. I wouldn’t really worry too much about hitting prophecies against this deck either as the probability of the random card they draw being a prophecy is fairly low. You can tell Chaos Magician is in your line-up because it uses a unique skull mask portrait.
So now that I’ve covered the bosses themselves, let’s talk a bit about how you want to approach them. Strategically speaking, it is in your interest to play against the easiest bosses first and then progress to the more difficult ones. There are two main reasons for this. The first reason is that beating the easier bosses will hopefully allow you to improve your deck, making it easier to beat the harder ones. The second reason is that If you start on a more difficult boss and lose then you will have fewer chances to beat the other bosses. For example, if you were to start by playing against the 3 most difficult bosses and lose against all of them, you would end up going 0-3 when you probably could have gotten at least some wins against easier bosses.
This is roughly the order I will progress in. Keep in mind that you might find yourself having different levels of difficulty playing against some of these classes. If you are able to identify a class that is consistently causing you difficulty try to save it until later.
- Scarza, Warrior Mudcrab
- Iron Atronach
- Neutral Dwemer Boss
Straight out of the draft my decks are usually pretty strong against the very aggressive decks. An advantage to this is that it allows me to take down the hyper-aggressive red decks early while giving me the opportunity to add cards to my deck that let me compete in a longer game against the harder decks with higher card quality.
Let’s move onto some actual strategy about how to win games. I just want to take a moment to say that this is what works for ME. Other people may have success with other strategies, but this is what I have personally found to be both consistent and successful.
1.) Identify your opponent
The first thing you will want to think about is which boss you’re actually playing against since there are multiple lists for each class. The decks can differ quite a bit within classes and that may affect your strategy. You can do a Ctrl + F search to find information on the bosses in the previous section. This will give you a better idea of what you’re up against strategically and what to play around. There are a number of bosses that have minimal or even zero prophecy cards capable of disrupting your combat, while on the other hand there are bosses whose decks have a very high prophecy density. Knowing how many and what sort of prophecies you are playing against should influence how aggressively you want to break your opponent’s runes.
2.) Consider the fight’s special mechanics
There are a wide variety of special mechanics that can potentially pop up at the start of a fight. These mechanics will often drastically change the optimal way to approach your fight. Try to be aware of how these mechanics might affect the game and try to take this into account during your mulligan. Does the opponent start with a creature already in play? Well you you probably should mulligan aggressively for early game answers to stop it. Is there a plunder or zoo lane that gives a large bonus to creatures played there? Well you should probably mulligan for cheap creatures so that you can better take advantage of these lanes by playing more creatures there. Do you start with extra magicka? Maybe you want to keep a 4 or 5 magicka card because you can actually play it turn 1 or turn 2. These are just a few examples of the kinds of things that you should be looking out for. Try to abuse the special lane mechanics; the computer will certainly try to.
3.) Try to play control
While there are some exceptions that will come up, I have found that establishing yourself in the control role early has a lot of benefits. The computer will default to playing aggressively if it can and that makes it somewhat predictable. Playing aggressively means that the computer will be popping your runes and giving you extra cards and potentially prophecies. Hitting early prophecies can easily turn the game in your favor very quickly. This goes both ways though, if you start popping the opponent’s runes early you are opening yourself up to prophecy blowouts as well as giving the computer more cards that they will use to try to kill you. If you can control the flow of cards you have a huge advantage.
4.) Don’t be afraid to trade
Cards like Daring Cutpurse and Reachman Shaman are capable of snowballing a lot. But that takes time and time isn’t always something you will have because the computer can create unwinnable races. If the computer plays a turn 1 Relentless Raider, something which the red bosses regularly do, then ignoring it is a mistake. The computer’s early game cards can simply represent too much damage if you don’t remove them. Additionally, a lot of the boss decks contain cards that will severely punish you if they get to play them while they have board presence. Trying to race only to run headlong into a Winter’s Grasp or a Giant Snake is an easy way to lose a game you were winning only a moment ago. However, these kinds of cards become a lot less impactful if the opponent doesn’t have much of a board. The boss decks also contain some very low-impact cards which means that they will often be drawing them later in the game while you get to play your more value-oriented cards. This makes value trading a very good option for taking control of the game.
5.) Don’t be afraid to take some damage
Sometimes games can drag on and both players will be playing off the top of their decks. If your health isn’t particularly low then you should consider letting the computer hit you. A lot of the time you should be able to leverage the extra cards into a board advantage. Board advantages are easily capable of snowballing into a game win.
6.) Don’t be afraid to skip attacks
Just because you can damage the computer doesn’t mean you should. Even if you wouldn’t break a rune you might still have pilfer or drain creatures that HAVE to attack to get their bonus. Taking the computer to 26 only to pop a rune later with a drain or pilfer creature will give the computer extra resources that can cost you games. There are times that it is even incorrect to attack with pilfer or drain creatures. If you are low and the computer is playing one card per turn, is it really worth it to give them an extra card just to get +1/+1 on your Daring Cutpurse? If you’re at a high health total and high-impact cards are coming down is it really worth it to give the computer an extra card by hitting with a drain creature? A lot of the time the answer is, “No.” so try to be conscious of this.
7.) Be Flexible
This is a key advantage that you have over the computer. While I generally like to play the more controlling role, sometimes circumstances like random fight mechanics, will make winning that way unrealistic. When that happens you need to be able to adapt. Sometimes you just have to switch gears, completely throw out your previous strategy, and win some other way.
8.) Try to set up one and two-turn lethals
When you’re ahead on cards and in control of the game your board will start filling up with creatures. Eventually you will have to break your opponent’s runes but if you try to kill them over the course of one or two turns then most of the cards you give them won’t be able to have an impact on the game. Most of those cards will be creatures that can’t attack or impact the board until a turn after they’re summoned. By setting up one and two-turn lethals you effectively deny the opponent cards by making many of them unable to relevantly impact the game before it ends. This strategy usually works better against the bosses with decks that are low on prophecies, especially prophecy guards or removal. Against the prophecy-heavy decks you really need to evaluate how much a potential prophecy could change things BEFORE you break a rune. Some of the time it won’t be worth the risk and some of the time you might just have to pray not to get punished.
9.) If you lose, skip that boss for now
If you end up losing a fight take a moment to reflect on what went wrong. Maybe you could have played it differently or maybe your deck was weak to your opponent’s deck. When a boss beats you I would recommend skipping it for the time being and then coming back after you’ve beaten other bosses. This will give you a chance to add extra cards to your deck that might help you win your rematch. Skipping over a boss you’ve lost to will result in your runs getting more wins because no matter how capable of winning you think your deck is, sometimes you lost because the matchup isn’t in your favor. Giving up multiple losses to the same boss early is only going to end your runs faster.
10.) Be aware of the computer’s habits
As you play you will start to notice that the computer has some habits that will make it a lot more predictable. The fact that YOU might do something doesn’t really have any bearing on what the computer will do. While you will probably come across some exceptions, here are some behaviors that you should keep in mind.
-The computer will play aggressively and won’t play around your runes. The computer doesn’t evaluate whether or not the damage it is dealing is worth the cards or potential prophecies that it will give you.
-The computer will often target your best creature with prophecy removal even if it has already attacked, even if killing a different creature would deny you lethal. A lot of the time attacking with your best creature first will be correct because it will still take a Lightning Bolt or Piercing Javelin anyway. Additionally, if the computer hits a prophecy Shrieking Harpy and there are creatures that can still attack, the computer will choose to shackle one of them. Keep in mind though that what you consider your best creature and what the computer considers your best creature might not always be the same.
-When you break one of the computer’s runes and hit a prophecy, the computer will almost always play it. When the computer moves a prophecy to its hand it is usually because it has bugged out or because there are no possible targets for a spell. A lot of the time this means that you can bait out prophecy removal when your board consists of weaker creatures.
-The computer will go for easy lethals. As nice as it would sometimes be to have the computer miss lethal, you should expect the computer to go for lethal if the only thing between it and victory is your runes.
-The computer won’t play around known information. If you have cards in your hand that your opponent knows about the computer still won’t play around them. This can be used to your advantage a lot of the time.
-The computer will prioritize trading with some creatures. Generally speaking you can expect the computer to be smart enough to trade with your pilfer, drain, or ongoing effect creatures if you give it the opportunity so you shouldn’t assume that they will just go completely ignored. If you start getting the computer low on health of offer it a particularly good trade up, it will begin trading with your creatures a lot more.
-The computer will use its removal very aggressively. Cards like Firebolt and Execute can easily be baited out with low-impact creatures like Thieves Guild Recruits. If you have a creature that would die to one of these cards and the computer passed the turn with extra magicka, then there is a good chance that the computer doesn’t have it. In some of my slower games I’ve had the computer Piercing Javelin 1/1’s and 2/2’s just because they were there and it didn’t have anything else to do.
-The computer will often suicide its creatures into your guards. While a human opponent would likely sit on its creatures and hope to better deal with the situation down the road, the computer will just send its creatures into your guard to die bravely in what I can only assume is a display of dominance. The exception to this usually arises when the computer also has a guard in the lane that can protect its other creatures.
-If a lane is full the computer will never sacrifice one of its creatures to play another. This becomes especially relevant on boards where one of the lanes is only large enough for two creatures. You can sometimes use this to your advantage by leaving two small creatures uncontested in the smaller lane while you develop into the bigger lane, hopefully allowing you to control it before the computer can develop there. The computer will then be forced to develop into the bigger lane at which point you will be ready for it. Once you have the larger lane under control you can go back and start cleaning up the smaller lane.
-Sometimes the computer is just plain dumb. As hopeless as the game may seem from a strategic viewpoint, there is probably a way that the computer can mess it up. Try to avoid conceding too early because you never know when the computer is about to make some inexplicable game-losing blunder.
Well, I know that was a lot of information so if you managed to make it this far then I applaud you for your perseverance. Hopefully you will find this guide helpful and you’ll be farming solo arena in no time.