Keep in mind the new expansion is upon us so this may all change shortly. But the basic framework should remain, just be wary of crafting any shimzar cards that may be recommended.
Need help choosing a faction and working within a budget? I am here to help.
Choosing your faction comes down to play-style and theme preference. Each faction has their own flavor and leans towards either control, aggro, midrange, or combos. While most factions can play all of those basic archetypes the faction as a whole or the individual general tend to be geared towards one.
My summary of factions.
Abyssian: The necromancers: They summon hordes of wraithlings and love when they die with their factions signature death watch mechanic, they can be used to swarm the field or they can be sacrificed for power for either controlling the board or getting out powerful late game minions. Alternatively you have creep which controls the board by spreading damaging tiles and has big finisher cards. They are a versatile faction with many deck types.
Magmar: The big, fast, hard to kill dinosaurs: Lots of control spells, the most access to rush and frenzy, they have the egg mechanic which can make some some stuff hard to kill, and the ability to ramp out big things fast. They are a very melee oriented faction with a lot of powerful staples.
Vetruvian: The Egyptian Machines: Think necrons. The factions signature is either strong midrange value generators and or Oblysks which are immobile structures that summon dervishes, a unit that has a lot of synergy in the faction, they also have blast which is a neat take for a ranged+aoe unit.
Vanar: The Frost Mages: They are known for powerful control and board manipulation. Their signature mechanics revolve around which side of the board things are on, they have a faction unique tribe called Vespyrs which have some synergy with each other, and a unique unit summoned by effects called walls, which are immobile and dispelable but have a lot of utility and can be built around.
Lyonar: The archetypal holy Paladins with a lion sub-theme: A tanky defensive faction that revolves around provoke, high health, healing, and their signature kill Divine Bond. Strong but predictable. They are very close range formation focused with a host of things that effect units based on being around the general.
Songhai: The fire ninjas: Would you rather play a magic the gathering Red burn deck instead of duelyst? Then Songhai is the faction for you. They love to ignore the board with teleports, ranged, and high out of hand burst/burn damage. Very strong but a lot of solitaire.
Starting off you should mostly invest in the Core Set orbs as they give the best value and have a lot of staple cards.
If your not quite sure what direction you want to go in you can alternatively invest in Mechs or Arcanysts which can be played by just about any faction and are quite affordable.
In order to get the legendary Sisters you simply need to craft any full set (3x) of six rares(blue) from your faction of choice and then you get them free.
A quick checklist I tend to go through when building a deck is: Decide archetype, decide win condition, add support, add staples, check curve, balance card advantage needs, balance threats vs answers, add tech, figure out your bad match ups, tech for those. Test, Repeat.
For the most part you should run three copies of each card as consistency is key, running two x of a card is for situational tech, and running one copy is for a rarely used lategame bomb. You need to balance your curve to card advantage ratio making sure you have an early, mid, and late game, and or are hyper focused onto one of those aspects.
How to build a deck
There are a couple basic tricks, obviously deck type, card advantage, and gameplan change these but here are some of the rules:
Typically you want 9 player one turn one plays, and usually ones that can contest globes. The exception to this is for slower decks that like to skip card advantage, but in general you want between 6-12 opening plays ideally two drop minions that can contest globes, and sometimes a couple three drops if you have a good one available, the bulk of a deck is usually around the four mana point, plus some late game stuff.
So you need to choose the weight of your curve either being low with a quick gameplan, ultra low with good card advantage, on curve so you can just play one or two things a turn and not need advantage, or a slower deck that has a little of both. (The mana curve refers to the average cost of your deck and the “curve” it shows on the graph above your deck building screen.)
Next you need to have a general idea of how many turns it takes your deck to win under normal circumstances and you need to build with sort of the goal of having a couple cards in your hand on the turn you should be winning. This way you have a play and a replace. So you just sort of have to eyeball how many cards each turn your deck is going to play/generate.
Draw is never mandatory but is an option, whats important is that you have balanced your curve to card advantage ratio, there are other ways to generate card advantage, or make it irrelevant. Desolator is a perfect card advantage generator being the only thing you need in your hand, and stuff like fault/variax make card advantage unneeded since your hand barely matters once those hit. And if you build in on curve deck that never plays more then one or two things a turn then card advantage wont be needed at all. A small philosophy I follow is “Anything more then two cards in hand on the final turn of the game is usualy wasted tempo” So the trick to finding a balanced curve is keeping an eye on things and making sure you have a play and a replace on the final turn, if your hand is super full towards the end your curve is probably to high, if your hitting top deck mode to often your curve is probably to low.
An on curve deck looks something like 9 two drops, 3 three drops, 6 four drops, 6 five drops, 3 six drops, and a couple late game bombs. Then from there you have removal, tech, and usually something to generate card advantage like some cycles, none of which really count towards the curve since their mana cost is sort of irrelevant just being cards you play at the opportune time and even if they are just a two cost card like punish they are just fine to be the only thing you play in a turn.
Another thing that takes a lot of practice is resource management, it is perfectly ok to not spend all your mana each turn, and even occasionally skip turns if your playing a deck with low card advantage. This is a tough skill to learn, but a valuable one because time spent drawing cards is lost tempo, and spending removal on a low priority threat that you could just trade with is a waste. This does of course depend on the deck your playing, many decks prefer to try and really use as much mana each turn.
I am mostly going to give a short description and some upgrade advice here, for detailed info and complete deck examples check out my master thread.
Swarm and Death watch is a lot of fun, its a classic archtype, swarm the field and then cache in your minions to fuel various death watch effects. Be careful not to overextend into a field wipe and dont be to greedy. It can be hard on a new player having to position a ton of units and dealing with AOE but if its your thing this a great place to start.
If you plan on sticking to the swarm route the first big card you should craft is Soul Grimwar, but if your not sure if swarm is your thing then the most important Abyssian craft is Desolator as it will go in pretty much every deck you make. From there it depends on what route you want to go.
A great deck for a new player as its easy to pick up and affordable. This deck sports a host of powerful control spells and sticky minions. Sunsteels forcefield means its a perfect flash reincarnation target, and the units with rush are perfect targets for diretide frenzy, Greater fortitude, and thumping wave. You of course also have Vaaths ability to just smash things.
The first expensive things you want to craft are Makantor Warbeast, LavaLasher, and Homeostatic Rebuke as they go in allmost every Magmar deck. From there it depends on the direction you want to go but Drogon or Saurian Finality are also good investments.
This decks primary goal is to OTK the opponent with Abjucator+Eggmorph+Thumping+Fortitude+BBS=Seven Mana 20 damage out of hand burst.
You use Abjucator to discount Eggmorph, Thumping Wave, and Fortitude at some point in the game when the cards are in hand so the 3 spells cost 6 mana total, or if the game runs late you don’t need them all discounted as you should have enough mana. Then on a turn with 7 mana or more, you use Ragnora’s BBS to place the egg which is a 3/1 with celerity when hatched. You use Egg Morph to hatch the egg and when an egg is hatched it has a pseudo like rush mechanic meaning the minion can move that same turn. You buff it with Thumping Wave giving it +5 attack with Fortitude to give it +2/2. Making it a 10/3 minion with Celerity, allowing you to move and attack the enemy general twice to deal 20 damage.
When your not killing your opponent with crazy combos you can still do fun hatch combos with Raptyr, and or Beat people down with EMP who also sort of combos with Raptyr. Raptyr is used somewhat defensivly until your read to trade him in and then hatch for a second swing, or after its dispelled via emp so it wont turn its self into an egg after trading.
The first expensive things you want to craft are Makantor Warbeast, Lavaslasher, and Homeostatic Rebuke as they go in almost every Magmar deck. From there it depends on the direction you want to go. You can pretty much be done there or you can go the Saurian Finality route, or maybe invest in Morinkhur.
Obelysks are tough to get used to for a new player but even if piloted poorly the deck is very powerful and packs a lot of value, once you get used to how Obelysks work its a very fun and powerful deck. Oblysks spawn a 2/2 dervish unit with rush randomly around them at the start of each turn that disappears at the end of the turn so positioning the oblysks safely enough to not die but close enough to generate value is key. Its a very aggressive value generating deck that can just put out constant pressure while maintaining its hand at the same time.
The first card you will want to craft is Rasha’s Curse, but from there on there are a lot of different directions you can go and there is not a real clear upgrade path, but some good general purpose legends that can fit into a lot of decks are Aymara or Fault.
Midrange Overdrive Faie
A strong midrange deck with some cool tricks. Make sure you try to keep your opponent on their side of the field so that you can abuse Snowchasers Infiltrate and Wailing Overdrive. Luminous combos with Skorn and ideally you want to make sure the opposing general is trapped in the luminous walls.
The first thing you should craft is Thunderhorn and Aspect of Shimzar as its a powerful combo that no vanar deck is complete without having. There are a lot of routes you can go, if you want to go more midrange then bloodbound mentor and circulus will serve you well, but if you want to stick with the Overdrive route then enfeeble and gravity well are worth picking up.
A very strong, cheap, and easy to play deck. Great for beginers. It has a simple goal of get something with a lot of health to stick, then cast divine bond on it for the win. You also have a little bit of synergy with Zeal thanks to Afterblaze, but it does not have to be used on a zeal minion.
As for what to craft next you have a big decision to make between staple spells or crafting Alabaster Titan. If you choose the spell route then Holy Immolation is your first craft and then depending on the route you want to go either Sunstrike, Aegis Barrier, or trinity oath are next.
If you want some good Songhai lists/examples I recommend checking out KingOnyx as he plays/builds a lot of cool decks that don’t crutch on the archetypes that steer me away from the faction. EurasionJay is another exceptional songhai player who gives good advice.
I am not as experienced, nor a big fan of most of their archetypes, so I do not have any real upgrade recommendations, other then asking that you do NOT make an 8 gates or mantra deck as not only are they difficult to master, but they do not teach you how to play duelyst since gate/manatra decks are built around ignoring the one thing that makes duelyst great, the board.
I have made it to S rank for many seasons now, with frequent top fifty’s when I have the time to play competitively and occasional top tens. Since I have not had the time to stream as much as I want, I just try to share some of my things each week to fill in the downtime. You can check out the rest of my stuff here: