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Onyx Jaguar Is Back (Top 50 S-Rank)

It’s been awhile since I last posted on my adventures with Kaleos, but here’s what I’ve been cooking up since Patch 1.83 dropped (good riddance enfeeble)

So, I’ve been playing this in S-Rank (as I noted in the title, last night my rank with this was #40, 76% win rate). This is my approach to the archetype which, it’s pretty unorthodox for Songhai.

Let’s have a deeper look now…

The Strategy

Pretty clearly, Onyx Jaguar is the highlight of this deck. Just like the decks of old, our aim is to build up a board (literally any board presence, even just a lone Bloodtear or Katara) and turn it into a superpowered beast with our Jaguar. Onyx Jaguar is (and really always has been) a very powerful card. To maximize it’s potential, we tailor made this deck for one thing: tempo.

If you take a look at our minions, they all (or almost all) have one thing in common: they generate tempo. For the unaware, here’s a basic definition of tempo in CCGs. Our spells are aimed towards one thing: tempo. Even our win condition thrives on one thing: tempo. Of course, this is also the deck’s biggest weakness: if you lose too much tempo, you lose the game. Basically the only comeback mechanic in this deck is Juxtaposition, which even then you need to burn at least 1 more card + blink to use it as “removal”.

But, we’ll get into more of that in…

Card Analysis

I’ve done a lot of experimentation with different 2 and 3 drops, however, I think I’m finally settled on the ones I have in this version. One thing I will note is that as far as which minions you chose to include, this deck is pretty flexible. We have a lot of 2+3 drops and you can swap out some for others, I’m sure.

Looking at our 1+2 drops, they’re all for the express purpose of making our trades more efficient. If we’re spending less resources and less cards whilst building our board, we make achieving our gameplan that much easier. Additionally, something I’ve noticed with 1 & 2 drops in particular is that it’s pretty easy to integrate them into this deck’s curve. A lot of the time you will find yourself being able to develop things very quickly because you can make a lot of 1+3, 1+2, 2+2, or (later) 3+3 mana plays.

Our 3 drops. Battle Panddo is a good tech against swarm (though it’s been kind of troublesome lately as I’ve run into a lot of Shadowdancers… shudder) and a super solid card all around. There are very few clean answers to it and like our early drops, it makes trading super efficient. Chaos Elemental is a 4/4 for 3. You can’t really argue with that. It’s pretty good in the Magmar & Vanar matchups as it dodges both of their AoE spells. The synergy with Onyx Jaguar is also, well, insane to say the least. Turns out it’s pretty hard to deal with once you get it going.

Lantern Fox and Sojourner are both present mostly for the draw. Sojourner is also another one of those minions that are pretty hard to clear. Lantern Fox is a flex spot but I’d recommend keeping it because draw is super important for this deck. Having 8 draw cards in particular gives you a high chance to get at least one of them in your hand by turn 2.

Onward! Spelljammer is the best thing to have ever happened to Onyxhai. The 3/5 body is crazy good to buff up with Jaguar, and it gives you fuel so you can use as many movement spells as you want on it. Onyx Jaguar is pretty obvious. We’ll get into it’s specific usage in the next section. Grandmaster Zendo is just present as a secondary win condition, overall a solid card in any deck.

But there’s something amiss, you say. Where’s the Inner Focus? The Killing Edge? The spells? I’ll be honest: I just don’t think Inner Focus is worth running in this deck. It doesn’t generate nearly as much tempo as before, it gives your opponent card advantage, and most of the time it’ll actually result in getting your board cleared. The general lack of spells in this deck is intentional because 99.9% of the time you want to be developing board, not casting spells. I found that, for example, whenever I’d cast Killing Edge it would’ve been far better if I just had another 3 drop instead. For those reasons alone, many spells in this deck got the boot.


In my opinion, the one thing you need to learn before playing this deck is minion positioning with Kaleos. There are two rookie mistakes you can make: one is placing your minions too conservatively (because I have so many teleportation spells, right? wrong) and the other is placing them too aggressively. You need to be able to assess exactly where to put what. A lot of factors go into this, but I guess the general principle is to consider what happens next if you put a certain thing in X spot.

For example. Let’s say your opponent is Faie and they have no board presence. You just finished your turn placing a Chaos Elemental on the mana tile right below the opponent general and you’ve somehow blocked them off so they can’t hit your Kaido or Katara. However, there’s a problem now. Your opponent is on exactly 5 mana, and what card comes at 5 mana? Frostburn. You’ve just given your opponent an easy board wipe by hitting the Chaos Elemental then playing Frostburn. (The better move, of course, would have been to place the Chaos Elemental out of range even if that meant not playing the Katara or placing the Katara in reach of the opponent’s general)

The second thing that’s super important is mulligan and replacing. This comes down to a lot of meta knowledge. For example, Chaos Elemental and Sojourner are going to be a lot better in the Magmar matchup than Lantern Fox (because of the health thresholds). Some things come down to just knowing the deck (e.g. I never replace Juxtaposition nor MDS unless I have more than 1 positional altering spell in my hand. I also almost always keep Onyx Jaguar in my opening hand.) You really learn these things by playing for the most part.

The third is knowing when to play Onyx Jaguar. Sometimes you just need to be patient and try to develop more board before going for the Jaguar play. Sometimes you need to give up on trying to make a huge board for a Jaguar play. Well, you can just see below for that…

You can get a better sense of all of this by watching me play the deck on my stream. Here’s a good game I played that showcases a lot of what I’ve expounded on here (the Sunsteel Defenders did get swapped for Lantern Fox):


lol tempo argeon except kaleos eks dee

why no deathstrike tho? combine with battle panndo to completely ignore your opponent’s plays…

I attempted to make a Kaleos Mech deck with Jaguar as secondary wincon. What do you think about it?

abuse swordom + inner focus

I do know that and it’s kind of good, but pretty situational and hand-wasting to say. After IF nerf it doesn’t seem as strong as before especially that you might miss playing helm/wings due to the cost change. Kaleos made him pretty scary to approach without removing it first, though.

hmm, scientist is good for filling up hand

you’ll probably need a combination of scientists and spelljammers to keep your hand alive :thinking:

I actually running a jaguar deck for ages now, ever since Magwai show it on shimzar.
I would’ve replace the alchemist for night watcher.
And fist for Hamon
Watcher for magmar and forcefield, and hamon for when your board get wiped out right after or before you drop jaguar, right after it - zendo on curve.
Also I would replace the souj. For killing edge for easy kills.

Yes! I love onyx jaguar as a card, I’ll have to try this out. What would you recommend trying to build this on somewhat of a budget? (I have jammers, foxes, jaguars)

Too unreliable without reva’s infinite heartseekers. Even there DFS is a dead draw more often than not.

@kingw, I really like your style! The deck looks awesome! I would certainly try it when I’m done trying to make decent control reva in rift. What about more backstab synergy however? Gore horns or/and obscuring? Not that I think it will be better, just asking :wink:

ohh, makes sense

Here’s what I would do if you already have 3x copies of Jammer and Onyx Jaguar. I cut out most of the other epics and legendaries in the deck, though you might still have to craft a few commons/rares. If you absolutely have to, you can replace Juxtaposition with maybe 2x Repulsor Beast and 1x Primus Fist but Juxta is almost a requirement for the deck:

Probably better off with a different wincon. Mech pieces are too fragile / weak to really be able to capitalize on Onyx Jaguar. If I were to play a Kaleos mech deck I’d probably go with the Hamon / Zendo combo as an alternative win condition.

I considered Gore Horn but never tried it out. It could be an interesting option to go for in place of Chaos Elemental. That said, the little amount of backstab I’m running (Kaido + Katara) is just to get a little bit of extra value in the deck and also just for dispel / removal bait. Obscuring Blow is eh, probably not worth a slot.

No onyx bear seal? :hushed:
How do you deal with cards like aymara healer, ironcliffe or beefy things in general?

I guess juxtaposition used as a semi-removal… :disappointed_relieved:

lol that’s what astral phasing is for

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Cool deck, and not gonna lie, I was waiting for you to post a Onyx Kaleos deck since that Arcanyst Kindling list you posted a while back. That list (modified to fit my playstlyle) has been great for me and I’ll definitely try out this list, or similar, too. Kaleos FTW!

No Onyx Bear Seal. How do you deal with big boys? I mean, most of the time you don’t. If I suspect my opponent is going to be playing big minions, I typically save at least 1 juxtaposition in my hand. Beyond that, this deck keeps an iron grip on the board. If your opponent takes a slow turn to try to play an Ironcliffe or something, they usually just lose because of sheer overwhelming power. Worst case scenario, you can trade your board in to clear something big.

For reference, one game I outright killed an Aymara and still won. Another game my opponent played… four(?, at least three) Dioltas via. Nether Summoning and I plowed through all the Tombstones for the win. Lost count of how many times I’ve fed Owlbeasts to my Battle Panddos. Just to say, it’s not like I haven’t been up against the fatty minions :slight_smile:

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Really nice deck list, I’ve been wanting to try an onyx jaguar list soon (after hitting s rank with all 6 factions). Since you don’t run killing edge, do you think tusk boar could fit into your list (as opposed to katara or kaido assassin)?

It is an option, yes. I think it could be good as it adds a bit more out of hand damage. Personally, I just prefer something like Kaido because generally backstab minions are harder to remove than a damaged Tusk Boar.

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My biggest concern would be Plasma Storm, all minions but CElem. and Zendo
can die to it :frowning:
How to deal with that ?

I guess the point is to pray your opponent doesn’t ramp or reach 5 mana before you could play Jaguar AND move some minions ?

Should be hard to recover from a clean board with no minion to buff :confused:

  1. Hard replace & mulligan for Chaos Elemental or MDS. Use the MDS on a 3 attack minion to easily dodge Plasma.

  2. Ramp into Jaguar. If you’re going second you can almost always Jaguar before your opponent gets their AoE if you have Juxtaposition.

  3. If you can’t do the above, just don’t over commit to board. As long as you have 4 or more cards in your hand after an (on curve) Plasma Storm, it’s easy to continue going.

The deck has enough card draw to keep going even after a board wipe (suffered from several Frostburns and found one dude who double Enfeeble’d me, still win). Additionally, it can win even without playing Jaguar or Zendo (chip damage from all of your minions does wonders). Remember, this deck has a ton of 3-6 drops so you have less dead topdecks than a typical Songhai deck with say, 15-18 spells.