Hey there folks, it’s been a little while since my last written outing. Let’s just say I’ve been tied up. Either way that’s not relevant to this article. This is about my favourite thing about new sets – new decks! Some are old decks with new cards in them, some are new takes on old archetypes, but some are new altogether. There are several factotum decks for each class and I strongly suspect we haven’t seen them fully explored yet. However, I’ll only showcase my favourite ones. Otherwise it wouldn’t be a very interesting article, now would it? Snaxximan, for example, wrote a reddit post about the factotum decks he’d been using so I won’t cover those either. I started writing this pre-balance patch, but it is up to date.
Let’s get started. We’ve got a lot of ground to cover.
The first deck I looked at after Clockwork city dropped was Spellsword Factotums. The deck has a positive record, but I quickly realized that factotums needed to be able to draw cards. The first one you cast (unless it’s Assembled Titan) is below the curve, the 2nd about right though not fantastic, and it’s all gravy from there. I turned to the best proactive draw engine in the game. Creatures plus Ulfric’s Housecarl and Crusader’s Assault, and to a lesser extent Eastmarch Crusader. What a genius 😛
Deciding which ability to choose with factotums as early as the first one is very crucial, and win or lose can be decided by your knowledge of the matchup and which role you need to play. Yes, you need to pressure scout because they have a superior lategame – but their creatures can outclass yours in the midgame and sometimes choosing lethal over the very tempting +2/+0 when summoning can ensure that ALL your creatures trade up. Nothing quite like having a Garnag and an Assembled Sanitizer, for example, – a great way to pressure their life total, and being contested by a 6/6 Protector of the Root. With the +2/+0 option, you’re getting two for one’d on board. Choose lethal, and any reactive Guard is getting dead. Your 3 drop trades for their four. Much better. It’s not ALWAYS the correct choice, but you can figure that out yourself. Against aggro decks, sometime the same is true, but defensively. Giving all your factotums guard and lethal is a 2 card combo when combining Sanitizer with Assembled Sentry and can buy you the time you need to set up a one or two turn kill or a swing turn stabilizing with Dawnstar Healer.
I tried a lot of decks to find the best home for Worm King’s Agent. I admittedly tunnel visioned on slower decks. I saw a 7 cost 4/4 as a control card, and while it might be good in a control deck, it did not work better than current cards at similar cost, which you don’t want too many of. Unless of course you are a greedy lunatic, in which case you’ll draw them at the right time especially if they are unique legendaries. 😛 This is a midrange deck with an aggro heart. It aims to have the finest creature for the magicka cost at each spot on the curve, while pressuring life totals and getting ahead on board. Being behind on life and board reduces the effectiveness of Black Worm Necromancer, Whiterun Protector shines when on the offensive, and trading up into a creature on turn 7 followed by finishing it off with the 2 damage from Worm King’s Agent can be a tremendous tempo swing, all but sealing the game up. I’m told it takes some getting used to, but I’m at 47-10 with it atm so take from that what you will. This deck is not perfect. The curve is forever being changed. Here are cards that come in and out: Little Girl, Bone Colossus, Haunting Spirit, Windkeep Spellsword, Barrow Stalker, Camlorn Hero, Corrupted Shade, Archein Elite, Dark Rebirth, Dres Renegade. Ladder can be a frustrating place to test.
This too, is a midrange deck with an aggro heart. Even moreso than the last deck, this deck wants to be ahead on board and life. Soulrest Marshal and Black Worm Necromancer are poorly costed without life advantage, though this regains the board far more easily than the Mid Sorc, and has a tad more reach. Each creature tends to be bigger for the cost compared too. PDMD28 has a build of tempo Scout that he reached #1 with. I won’t cover that here, but I’ll say it was the inspiration for this. Players gushing over Soulrest Marshal’s return made me think ‘what if you could play 6?’ Enter Black Worm Necromancer. The only new card is Sails-Through-Storms (who is not to be trifled with btw) so this deck may have been played before without me knowing it. Either way, at time of writing – it is wrecking face.
I have always enjoyed the Goblin Skulk/0 cost spell/Elusive Schemer interaction. When it gets going it can draw a lot of cards, and has the tools to survive in the late game. All the cards involved are high enough quality on their own, so if your opponents remove your Skulk (and they will try) it isn’t the end of the world. This plays out like true midrange, and has great reach in Lightning Bolt, Cliff Racer, Tazkad etc. The Factotums get better and better as the game goes on, and all I said about them in the Crusader deck is true here. I haven’t played Swims-At-Night in this way before – as a value creature. I like him in this deck because you get rewarded for executing your normal game plan. You end up with Curses, Completed Contracts, Lesser Wards and Elusive Schemers at most stages of the game so sometimes you have him as a 4 cost 3/3 that draws a random 0 cost card, but more often you end up with a 4 cost 5/5, 6/6 or more. He isn’t crucial though so by all means swap him out for something else if you like. One weakness of the deck is that you can draw the wrong pieces at the wrong time, but the amount of card draw will usually smooth things out. Hard mulligan to Goblin Skulk in all matchups.
This was borne from the Fun and Interactive Podcast, though I believe Ksedden was doing something similar at the start of season, and I imagine it has been done before. However, while quite slow, Doomcrag Vampire plus Worm King’s Agent is a powerful way to control the board. The list is not tuned, but I’ll keep at it and we’ll see where it goes. Either way it’s quite fun. It’s a control deck, and it does break my personal rule that each card should be powerful in its own right (hello Ash Servant) but there are some really cool interactions here. The plan is ‘don’t die, then kill them’ which is an obvious oversimplification but I have seen a lot of control players on ladder attacking and giving their opponents cards before they’re ready to OTK. Maybe I’m wrong, and my control decks aren’t good enough to just race my opponents. Perhaps that’s an issue for another time. 🙂
This was the first thing I brewed when RTCC dropped. It has a lot of play to it, and multiple avenues to victory. Treasure Map can be used with timing to get just what you need, and Arcaneum Librarian is deceptively good, or at the very least has a lot of potential to become very big. It’s not the most powerful, but if you lose the board it’s not uncommon to sneak a W with a 17/2 Librarian. The Looter chain is something you want to have visual access to the list unless you’ve memorized it. Ordering is so very crucial too. Punishment is immediate. It’s a puzzle to be solved – I wonder if someone can tune it better than I can (probably)
After much deliberation, this is what I chose to play in the Gauntlet. (How sweet are the new Lightning Bolts?) When I really want to win, I usually choose Rage Archer because, as I’ll elaborate on in the next paragraph, I do not believe it has any truly poor matchups. However, I was a little bored with it and wanted to try to do well with something new. I played a deck similar pre- RTCC, but the addition of Factotums decreased consistency to a degree yet increased versatility. The lethal/guard interaction can be utilised in all matchups and most threats must be dealt with or they will snowball either on board, magicka, or cards. In this way, the deck has a lot of redundancy. It does not matter whether your 6 drop is Gortwog or Cicero in many matchups. They snowball all the same. That is the primary strength of this deck. The longer each creature stays in play, the more advantage you get. Rage is a get-out-of-jail free card and the one of the best control tools in the game, still. But I don’t need to tell you that, do I?
This is the version of rage archer I like to use. I tried to adapt a concept from Magic : The Gathering – aggro-control. Here’s an excerpt from Paulo Vitor Damo Da Rosa’s article on the archetype that I find most useful.
The reason aggro-control decks are so good is that all the cards in it are flexible, and they work well in whatever strategy you choose for that particular game—when a control deck is forced to play an aggressive game, for example, then half of its cards are not doing what they are supposed to do; if you must pressure your combo opponent before they go off, then the nine removal spells in your deck become blanks.
As you can see here each card has utility in every matchup. Blood Dragon and Child of Hircine are the stars of the show. The dragon can attack past guards, is incredibly hard to deal with, and is also one of the finest board control creatures. Child of Hircine HAS to be respected. When placed in a lane, even without Unstoppable Rage or Snake Tooth necklace, it can take out the whole lane and even live to pressure their life total. With either of those, it can virtually end the game on the spot. If it’s dealt with, there’s more to come that fulfills the same role. Redundancy for days. This deck rewards format knowledge. Knowing when to trade, Rage, or start racing is crucial; and this deck can turn the corner far quicker than some Rage variants so there is much advantage to be gained. The rest of the deck is standard Rage Archer fare – so don’t be fooled into thinking this isn’t a control deck at its core.
Midrange Monk is a deck that doesn’t get a ton of shine. Or control Monk for that matter. Pilfer Monk too. Come to think of it it’s not the most popular Arena class. Why is that? It has a ton of ways to heal to kneecap aggro, some of the best prophecies around, and can draw a ton of cards for either midrange or aggro variants to retain card parity while pressuring life totals vs decks trying to control them. With that in mind, let’s have a look at something to punish all this greedy crap while keeping aggro in check. It’s pretty self explanatory so I won’t go too deep on how the deck plays out. Brevity and all that.
Might be a tad bold to say I invented this, but I’ve never seen anyone play it and it never seemed to catch on. Shut up, I’m not bitter, you are. I took all the card draw and non-attribute heavy powerful cards in Crusader and jammed the rest of the deck with the prophecies powerful enough to make the cut. This deck can kinda do it all. Very favoured vs aggro, fast enough to stomp on Midrange, and perfectly happy to go into the late game and build up to a big burst turn vs Control, negating the advantage of their spot removal. You kinda wanna dodge undying dragons where possible, but they aren’t end of the world. This deck is VERY forgiving of misplays, and having 25 (count em) prophecies lets you do some things you really shouldn’t be able to.
Much of my context and card evaluation when I came to TESLegends was informed by Magic :The Gathering. There are ‘combo’ decks in that game like TESL doesn’t have. Card x plus card y = immediate victory. The Wispmother + Relentless Raider/s combo felt to me like the most unfair thing that could be done. Luckily it, as far as I know, was very difficult to setup and fringe before its nerfing. But ohhhh I tried. Up until the factotum core came to the game, it was always clunky, awkward and slow. In retrospect, what the combo needs is a shell that can control the board and is aggressively minded, is in the Battlemage class, and can win the game without ‘going off.’ Factotums plus card draw equals the ability to snowball, but not in the regular way. It’s like how Praetorian Commander should have been I think – spread out so there was a real cost for playing the card, or in this case package. But, that cost yielded benefit. TESL players seem split on the matter of Factotums viability, and to be quite frank I don’t care. They are good. I’ll spare you the logistical narrative of how the deck ended up in its current incarnation, but you just play creatures, use removal, and with every turn that passes – your creatures grow larger and more impactful. Sometimes that is more than enough to kill your opponent, but when it’s not, play Wispmother, some Raiders and perhaps a close call – and almost certainly win, no matter what life your opponent is on. That’s the deck’s strength. it gets to be a midrange deck heavily towards the aggro side of that spectrum, and with the small sacrifice of 3 deck slots has a combo finisher. Go play it before people get used to it.