Healyonar Tactica, Tips & Tricks
Introduction & Mission
This thread is meant to be(come) a community resource for anyone who’s interested in playing any kind of Lyonar Heal deck. It consists of general discussion of the archetype, prominent and recommended cards and interactions as well as (hopefully) a living archive of Lyonar Heal–aka ‘Healyonar’–decks that people are currently playing, or had been playing until recently. If you’re seriously interested in Healyonar decks please bookmark this thread so you never lose it (mods don’t seem to sticky anything here).
For now I’m the main contributor to this opening post, but I’d like this to be a community effort so I will be adding and editing based in part on community feedback, and I want to use the forum’s ‘Like’ system to structure this process. Use your ‘Likes’ to promote posts you think are valid, the more likes a post gets the more I know its contents is supported by community opinion. We’ll also be using this method to vet community decklists, but more on that later. I intend this thread to allow for a lot of discussion, but be forewarned that if you’re looking for advice to a Healyonar decklist you’re working on you should dedicate a post specifically to it. Finally, try to remain ON TOPIC, this is not a meme thread, social meetup or place to discuss non-Healyonar Lyonar stuff. Maybe someone else will make that Zealyonar thread you’re itching to take part in ;).
First things first: my credentials. I’ve been playing Duelyst since early May, 2016 and have been playing Lyonar almost exclusively. I’ve been playing Zir’An almost all of that time, and the vast majority of my Zir’An decks have been Healyonar decks. I’ve been reaching Diamond with Healyonar decks for a few months now, topping at Rank 4 with less than an averaged hour of play each day. I consider myself an expert on the archetype right now and qualified to speak on its stengths and weakneses up to everything below S-Rank.
Definition comes first: What is a Healyonar deck? I’d define it as simply:
“A Lyonar deck whose efficacy is dependent on healing cards and effects to a significant degree.”
Having Zir’An Sunforge as your General is not enough, having a lot of healing in your deck is not enough, having a lot of survivable minions in your deck is not enough. And when do we call the dependence “significant?” Well that is up to community consensus.
Deck Speed & Viability
All currently possible Healyonar builds are mid-range combo decks. Aggro and beatdown decks are overwhelmingly linear decks (they typically don’t respond to your actions, they’re rushing face) that win games by attacking fast and hard, and lose by losing out of steam. Control decks win by stalling games out, surviving long enough until they get their winning hand and enough Mana to use it. Healyonar is slower than aggro and beatdown decks, but has no inevitable win condition (no way to almost definitely win the longer a match goes on). This position in the meta is very unfortunate because midrange decks and especially combo decks that lack an inevitable win condition (like Meldhai and Creep decks do) have a hard time competing. Funny thing to note is that this archetype can actually be more aggressive than you might first think; it has a lot of removal and crowd control options and needs to rush down control decks to win. This archetype is not currently viable at high level play as far as anyone has been able to tell. Denizens of Shim’Zar gave Healyonar a slew of excellent new tools, but it hasn’t been enough to make the archetype S-Rank viable, yet. Know this and adjust your expectations accordingly; just because an archetype has a snazzy tactica thread doesn’t mean it’s defining the meta. If you’re happy with Diamond Rank, or just happy to be playing a non-cheesey, tactical archetype that gives you matches that actually feel like you earned that victory or loss, welcome to the fold, soldier.
Board Presence over Damage per Turn
The Duelyst meme that Lyonar is only really scary when you allow us to develop board presence is felt especially strongly when playing Healyonar. This deck typically does not have a lot of ways to come back on the board and relies extensively on having one or more of your minions alive at the start of each of your turns. This fact makes keeping board presence more important than doing damage to your opponent’s General each turn. If you race face, you’re going to lose; instead try to control the board or outmaneuver enemy threats and wear your opponent down turn by turn rather than in one fell swoop. Set things up so your opponent is NEVER able to trade something into your minions, nor allow them to use their General to mop up. Instead force your opponent to spend cards from their hand to deal with everything you’re laying down. Force them to control you right back and desperately use their General to do it because the Health their General loses in this process allows you to swing the match right before the late game begins. Healyonar players should excel at positioning their General and minions, force their opponent into unfavorable trades and inefficient control and manage their hand better than their opponent does. Speaking of which–
Healyonar is a combo archetype: you have very few individually strong cards to your name. It’s almost always going to be Afterglow + threat, Healing Mystic + threat, Sundrop Elixir + threat etc and this means you need to carefully manage the amount of cards in your hand. Beatdown decks are built to accommodate for desperate top deck wins: Healyonar decks are not. Ideally you are balancing your hand size around 4-5 cards; 3 is too few and 2 is a real problem. During matches you will be forced to ask yourself if you really want to tempo out that Fiz right now or just hold on to it until you can actually trigger something off of its Opening Gambit. Good Healyonar players know when to keep cards in hand, and they know which cards to keep in hand and when to replace them. Martyrdom is an excellent early card, but usually counterproductive in the mid-to-late game for example.
Setting up Combos & Curving
Healyonar is all about combos, but in order to make them go off you need to not only get both cards and the Mana to play them, but you need a beneficial board state (something on the board that is damaged) to boot! The temptation, then, is to play cards ‘naked’ to set the board up for a combo the next turn. This allows you to play cards early and curve out (spend all your available mana each turn) and have an active minion that you can run into the enemy General so have something to heal! Win, win, win, right? No. In the meta as it exists right now your minion is very unlikely to get through an entire turn without getting dispelled or outright removed. Smart opponents know what happens when Lyonar gets its combos off, and they won’t let you do so, most of the time (especially early on when they still have all their removal). So instead you have to be patient, emphasize value over efficiency and play in a way that allows you to complete at least one combo during the very same turn you initiate it. Sunriser ideally isn’t a 4 Mana play, it’s a 5 Mana (Afterglow or Elixir) play at the earliest. Those weak 3/2 (Lightchaser), 2/4 (Sunforge lancer), 3/4 (Sunriser) and 4/4 (Sun Sister Sterope) bodies are way too weak to reliably survive and get value, so instead you should be trying to get the value right away. Even one trigger off each of these is enough to make them worth the investment, and getting something healed is almost always good anyway! Healyonar players should know when to curve and play efficiently and when to save their cards for far greater impact a turn or two later.
And finally for this section we come to the typical Healyonar win conditions. These are the cards that–in my experience–are very likely to be the ones to close out a game. They are not the only ones let alone the only possible ones, but they are the three cards that tend to eke out that last bit of damage to put you over the edge. Healyonar has a tendency to struggle with that last 8 or so enemy Health; these cards offer a solution. Most (Excelsious is the exception) aren’t really win conditions in the traditional sense because you usually just play them naturally during matches, but they’re the close enough just bear with me.
Especially now that Afterglow is able to target enemy minions Sunriser can come through as a real clutch play near the end of matches. Pushing through an extra 4 or 6 damage to the enemy’s face (nothing more satisfying than an 8 Mana Sunriser + Mystic + Afterglow + Elixir) really tends to matter, and when she does somehow survive a turn the combo of Sunriser hitting face and then using Immolation for (3 + 4 + 2 =) 9 damage with a 6 damage AoE is a lot of fun.
I was pretty down on Lucent Beam when it was originally revealed, but I have to say I was completely wrong about it. It’s a great tool and the big reason for that is the simple fact that it can target the enemy General, unlike, say, True Strike or even Circle of Life. I can’t tell you how often I just stall a game out for a turn or two, waiting to draw into that second Lucent Beam to just burst my opponent down with 8 damage outta nowhere. Doing 4 damage is also just a big deal for controlling the board, and you can even use it on turn 1 to quickly eliminate some kind of snowballing piece of shit threat your opponent plays like a Pyromancer, Chakri Avatar or Shadow Watcher, or even a rogue Taygete threatening to ruin your day. Just a great removal and finisher card.
Last but not least we have Holy Immolation; the classic. Healyonar’s not known for its Tiger plays but no matter what the situation Holy Immolation is there to clear a path or roast the enemy to cinders. I don’t think I need to say any more about this card. I personally don’t see this is a necessary card for Healyonar decks (I think it does more good in other lists), but I know a lot of people do and it’s just an excellent option.
Rise of the Bloodborn’s Excelsious is designed to the big finisher for slower, control-oriented (Heal)Lyonar decks, and it’s likely to be exactly that. Big cards like these are especially vulnerable to removal and dispel, but if you manage to stick one you’ve probably just won the game instantaneously.
[details=This section is getting an overhaul after RotB drops]Abyssian - Cassyva Soulreaper
Healyonar does pretty well against Cassyva, and it’s not just because of Kelaino. Creep decks nowadays can have a bit of trouble keeping a Healyonar board empty, and strong removal cards like Martyrdom, Skorn, Sunriser etc help keep Crawlers and Juggernauts in check. This is one of those matchups that requires you to play fast to race against the Obliterate clock; swarming the board is a real, viable tactic here, just let Cass try to do the controlling.
Creep Matchup: Favored
Abyssian - Lilithe Blightchaser
Wraithling swarm decks tend to be even more manageable than Creep decks, and it’s not just because of Shadowdancer. Blistering Skorn and Sunriser are pretty much Healyonar staples and they’re both excellent at crowd control to a degree that it’s usually difficult for Lilithe to build that critical mass she needs to swing a game. Control the board hard against Lilithe and play for value because there’s little she can do (outside of launching a Revenant at you) as the match goes on.
Swarm Matchup: Favored
Lyonar - Argeon Highmayne
Aggro Matchup: Unfavored
Control Matchup: Favored
Midrange Matchup: Balanced
Zoo Matchup: Balanced
Lyonar - Zir’An Sunforge
Healyonar mirror matches–they do happen from time to time–have a tendency to be absolutely hilarious. Matches come down to figuring out how to best benefit from your opponent’s heal triggers while denying them their Purity effects. Aegis Barrier can be especially strong here because it allows you to park a Lancer or Sterope to just rack up value turn after turn. Play your Purity minions fast and hard and try to feed off of the opposing tactics. Occasional Provoke decks are harder to gauge and usually more lopsided one way or the other. An early Ironcliffe can screw you over if you didn’t pack Martyrdom and it can be difficult to pierce enemy armor in general. Big Lancer buffs, Lightchasers and minions like Ruby Rifter can save your bacon here.
Bulkyonar Matchup: Balanced
Mirror Matchup: Balanced
Magmar - Starhorn the Seeker
Mechmar Matchup: Favored
Millmar Matchup: Favored
Magmar - Vaath the Immortal
Vaath is probably the single worst matchup Healyonar gets. In fact, it really struggles with most competitive Magmar decks. ALL the Magmar removal is devastating for the archetype, but Elucidator and especially Makantor Warbeast make a mockery of much the archetype runs. 4 Health gets taken out way too easy, and Vaath is too strong in the late game to allow victories by attrition. Egg and Grow variants tend to be more manageable due to Healyonar AoE and removal, but the Smash and mixed variants are really tough wins. Big Taunts like Primus Shieldmaster and especially Ironcliffe Guardians are a necessity if you want to survive; tech those in if you’re running into a lot of Magmar.
Eggmar Matchup: Favored
Growmar Matchup: Balanced
Smash Matchup: Unfavored
Songhai - Kaleos Xaan
Kaleos Backstab decks don’t fare too well against Healyonar decks. I know them best for their insane opening bursts of damage (Katara + Inner Focus and you know the rest) but their near-total inability to follow up on that pressure after I remove the early threat and start healing back up to full. Positioning is the key factor here of course; but don’t be too afraid to let Zir’An tank the early damage so you can save a key minion. The typical spell damage component present in pretty much all Songhai decks don’t pack enough oomph to seriously threaten Healyonar either, so you’re usually good to go. No matchup is a slam-dunk for Healyonar decks, but in general you should feel pretty confident whenever you match up against a Songhai deck.
Backstabhai Matchup: Favored
Songhai - Reva Eventide
I see a lot of people complaining about Reva’s power, and understandably so. Lucky for you then that you’ve become interested in an archetype that deals with both of the currently typical Reva decks. There are a few reasons for this, the first is Healyonar’s love for Four Winds Magi. Just like Shadow Sister Kelaino and Shadowdancer, Four Winds Magi heals the enemy General, allowing you a slew of Purity triggers. Songhai needs their Magi, and messing up their ability to play them makes a huge difference. Combohai decks can win, but they’re unreliable and slow and Zir’An is able to keep her health nice and high. Spellhai decks can also win, but they tend to struggle with actually dealing enough damage to do so. Skorn, Sunriser, Sterope True Strikes and Lucent Beams help take out Heartseekers and Avatars, we have Martyrdom (or Lucent Beam in a pinch) for the Fox and all the 4 Health minions just barely survive the rampant Phoenix Fire barrages. I can’t tell you how often my opponent just barely failed to get me into Spiral Technique range because I had an Elixir or Circle.
Combohai Matchup: Favored
Spellhai Matchup: Favored
Vanar - Faie Bloodwing
Most matches against Faie decks turn out as pretty balanced affairs with a lot of back-and-forth going on and a lot of position-based play. While they have access to a ton of cards to thwart our combos, they typically don’t mount that much of an aggressive push, opting instead for a slower damage-over-time approach for the win. This is a type of battle that Healyonar can do pretty well in, and as a result you get interesting matches that tend to come to satisfying conclusions. You need to be very aware of Vanar’s threats, and you need to be very good at positioning, but these matches are win-able overall.
Infiltrate Matchup: Balanced
Zephyr Matchup: Balanced
Vanar - Kara Winterblade
Kara’s new incarnation is more manageable than the old, but is still a tough one for Healyonar. The multitude of bodies with >2 Health that Kara can pump out makes it easy to get overwhelmed, and the strong transformation effects and removal make it difficult to get momentum going. It’s difficult to pin this state of affairs on specific cards; it’s just an archetype that works well against Healyonar right now.
Wallnar Matchup: Unfavored
Vetruvian - Scioness Sajj
The Scioness and her Artifacts make for a very fair matchup against Healyonar because both approaches rely on wearing the opponent down over time by exploiting value. Healyonar doesn’t tend to pack a lot of higher Health minions that suffer from Sajj’s BBS especially, and you’re already naturally likely to be blocking Sajj’s path diagonally anyway. Wildfire Ankh is a nightmare if she can get it to stick though, so be sure to stick to her! In most matches you’re likely to be the more aggressive party.
Artifact Matchup: Balanced
Vetruvian - Zirix Starstrider
Obelysk Matchup: Unfavored[/details]