Hello all, I’ve been playing a whole bunch of Zirix over the last couple of months. I loved playing Zirix in the days of Facemonkey, even if I stopped playing it after a while cause it was too… “cheap” and easy. So Vetruvian’s resurgence gave me an excuse to play the list again. I’ve gone through several variations of the list, and I also think it can easily beat Reva, which I see many people complain Vetruvian can’t really do, so I’ll go over that. Budget lists, card discussions, etc. will all abound.
Oh yes, I’m currently S-rank 29, was as high as 9 this season. Here are my win-rates with this list this month, and here are my win-rates with Zirix last month. Last month only half the games were with this variation, but we’ll get to that. Last month I did play Zirix only from Diamond 2 onward, and hit S-rank on September 10th, so the quality of opponents is relatively high. I do want in particular to draw attention to the Reva match-up, I’m a Songhai main, so I know how to beat those Revas, and hopefully I’ll be able to impart some of this knowledge to you all (Budget version win-rates).
First of all, here is the current version of the list I run. “Optimized”? I’m not 100% sure, there are several flex picks that we’ll get to, but I’ve been loathe to actually experiment recently. Accompanying video.
###Overview / Play Philosophy:
This is a tempo deck. This is a “zoo” deck. It might seem like an aggro deck with some top-end, and it might be true. The difference between aggro decks and zoo/tempo decks (Zoo is a subset of tempo), is not necessarily in deck construction, but in how it is played. While Aggro floods the board in order to go face and keep going face, zoo aims to use its early strength to clear the board and gain a dominant board position, from which it wins.
This deck has an explosive start, is capable of burst throughout all stages of the game, but actually can keep generating value through obelysks, Kron, Pax, Falcius, Inner Oasis, and, well, you get the point, so that it can then smack you in the face. This happens to also be why the other deck that could historically beat on Spellhai was Kara - Reva wants to run away, and she loses by you playing enough minions to surround her, and then beating her face in. Magmar midrange is too slow by the number of minions it plays, not because it “can’t answer ranged threats,” and Kara, just like this list, keeps playing multiple minions which each in turn also push tempo to the side of the list.
The list isn’t pure aggro though, and once it finishes the first phase of the game or if its aggression is stalled, switched to playing, well, more value-generating minions, that keep the pressure on the opponent, being cards that generate better than 1-for-1 trades. I’d say “You can win early,” but most games in Duelyst are “won early”. Even if the game lasts 7-8 rounds, many top players can look at the board by turn 2-3 and tell you who’s favoured to win. This list aims to win early, and keep on winning. “When ahead, get further ahead,” as Day9 said, which is the motto of tempo decks.
The other method of winning is by out of hand burst, which even most tempo decks have (Kara tigers, Argeon tigers/Holy Immolate, Rush and Thumping Wave in Magmar, etc.), and this list can do even that. The accompanying video (link again) showcases how the “biggest offender,” Spellhai Reva, can still be forced to play on board, or punished when trying not to. People feel games are stolen to them when games are won “from hand,” but the alternative is for games to be decided on turn 3 each game, which might be a bit dull, but that’s a discussion for another time.
So, let’s move on to discussing the list itself, starting with the “flex” picks:
Allomancer: This card is a bit slow and I wouldn’t run it in any list without Whispers of the Sands. Opponents can sometimes manipulate it or even get use out of deciding when the obelysk would spawn via frenzy or Zen’Rui. But it does give Whispers the extra consistency and can be used to body block because when it does, the obelysk spawns exactly where you expect it to. Both a drawback and a blessing. This isn’t replaceable with Dioltas because this list isn’t that sort of aggro, and without Second Wish doesn’t make great use of the Tombstone. Replacement: Primus Shieldmaster, immediate provoke and not 3 HP body make it a better pick than Dioltas.
Primus Fist: Deck wants two more 2-drops. Originally used to be Pyromancers but too weak later on, doesn’t help you contest the board as much. Could be Ephemeral Shroud, or Shiro Puppydragon. Could also be Healing Mystic, but I feel for this list the Primus Fist is just better.
And that’s it. Really. Everything else in the list is there for specific reasons, I’ll go over some of the “heroes” of the list, and also give a couple of possible replacements for some even so.
Nimbus + Starfire Scarab: I can hear some people already knee-jerking about the “1-ofs”, but they’re not 1-ofs, the two of them together are a “2-of”. They are slow value generators that get replaced most games, and are there for specific situations. Also, as “tech choices”, I don’t want to see them often. Nimbus is mostly there when you can drop it into a battlepet, or is almost an instant-win versus Cassyva when dropped early enough, and Scarab is there for games where they run away from your line of obelysks at center of the board. Both are great for games that do go on, as constant value-generators turn after turn. If I were to replace them (and I’d likely replace the Scarab for this purpose), it’d be for the more universal and more bursty Star’s Fury.
Siphon Energy: I’m actually not a huge fan of Siphon Energy. I don’t like how it empties your hand. The reason it is here though is that this deck curves very aggressively, and it really doesn’t want to spend 2 mana on shroud. That actually is only 30% of why the list runs Siphon. The reason it runs Siphon and the consideration I want to bring here is that this is the list’s only form of rear-line removal. If you cut down on Siphons, you have to use Rasha’s Curse (which still can’t deal with bigger rear-line minions such as Kron or an Owlbeast Sage, or a Zendo), Saberspine Tigers, or Pyromancers. Overall, if you want to switch out Siphon Energy, you have to rework the list much more to make room for rearline answers, or make an all-out aggro deck that aims to win before distant threats become relevant (and which usually pack Repulsor Beasts to just buy a couple of extra turns to win instead).
Whispers of the Sands: This is why I don’t play Midrange Zirix (aside from finding playing on curve a bit dull), because this card is so sooo good. It allows you every so often to burst an opponent down to 10 HP or lower on turn 2, allows board-clears that even if the opponent is still left at a high health total they’re basically out of the game, allows for lethals at end game for much less mana than Star’s Fury. And if you replace into it late game without obelysks, you can still cycle it for 2 mana, so it’s not a dead draw. I could conceivably see only playing 2 in a list without Allomancers, but really, this card is just that strong. This is the actual center-piece of the list. Run 3. It wins games. But also, don’t be afraid to replace it when it just doesn’t work. Let it win you the games it can, don’t force it when it doesn’t belong.
Inner Oasis: Inner Oasis requires setup that doesn’t stand on its own and is a bit awkward, so it’s a 2-of, but it’s really important to use in this deck. All your 2 HP minions suddenly have 5 minions, so rather than being able to deal 2 damage to the opposing general, they can now deal 6 (trading three times). It also protects your obelysks. In general, this is what transforms your board full of weak minions into a board that you actually control. Double Pax into Inner Oasis is a disgusting opener that wins games outright.
###Deck Variations - History and Budget:
The original version of this list was this list by Wyzed (see his guide here). That list is too slow, too greedy with the Nimbi, but people did play more battle-pets back then. I do like L’Kian, because you do sometimes empty your hand playing this list even with all of the cycles, but all in all, it’s a list that makes sense as a post-Expansion list, as people play greedier and less optimized lists, so you can get away with that curve. Wouldn’t recommend it currently though.
This was my first version of the list. The one thing I do want to highlight here is 1 Kron and 2 Zen’Rui. I’m not actually sure which I prefer. Zen’Rui’s biggest strength (besides counter-Zen’Rui, but there are less Zen’Ruis around right now) is that unlike Kron’s “Value-over-time”, it gives you even more tempo. It highlights the list’s strengths, rather than shoring up its weaknesses, so it’s up to you. The other point of interest is that this list runs four 4-drops, which if I were to cut Scarab and/or Nimbus from my current version, I might put in again. Primus Shieldmaster is good. Having 4 drops is really good as well. I’d like having 4, but not enough deck-slots, alas.
This slightly modified Maser list is something I ran a bit last month. It’s fun, but it’s rather “Coin-flippy”. It’s exciting to always try to draw into lethal before you gas-out, and reminds me a bit of Face-monkey of old, but I like the more consistent mid-range hybrid. I would probably cut one Third Wish from this list. You could also go even more aggressive with Tigers and Flameblood Warlocks, but I don’t like that sort of list as much.
I decided to throw my hat into the ring and try to come up with budget versions of Zirix, see how it does. This was my original attempt, which I ran from rank 30 to 13. It’s not bad, but when I started facing off against lists with more heavy-hitters (Krons, Krons everywhere, and Elyx, and so on and so forth), me running out of gas before I could close the game became an issue, so I sought to raise the curve a bit to fight off against these cards while not running out of steam myself.
This is the version I ended up with, with over 76% win-rate in Gold, against Spellhai, against Krons, against Karas, you name it. The Dancing Blades give me both a big body and a tempo swing, and the Dominate Will just wins some games on its own. The one card I don’t truly like in this list is the Second Wish, which still feels a bit weak. I’m not sure what I’d replace it with, budget-wise. But the list should be able to take you comfortably to Diamond, at the very least, even if with a slightly lower win-rate (I also did it early in the month, and it does get easier as the month goes on).
Thanks for reading, have fun with Zirix, have fun with Zoo, and don’t fear the Reva! Again, this is an accompanying video, analyzing that match-up with a couple of replays.