UPDATED 11/18/16 - The Healyonar resource thread inspired me to do something similar for Onyxhai.
Onyx Jaguar Enthusiast Resource
So you’re a Songhai player and suddenly you have an epiphany, “Reva is great you know… but I think Kaleos is really underused and has hidden potential!” So you embark on a journey to make Kaleos the best he ever was! Unfortunately, you cannot travel this journey alone. It is a dark, lonely, difficult path to take, and you’ll need help and informants along the way. Today, us Kaleos players shall unite and travel this treacherous road.
Anyone with a Kaleos deck is welcome to add on to this thread. There are a lot of strategies with Kaleos that are unconsidered, no question is stupid, and no card is too memey (except maybe Paddo) here. Contribute, brainstorm, theorycraft, this is your place.
The Path of the Jaguar [Strategy]
The entirety of my Duelyst experience, so far, has been 100% unadulterated Songhai. I’ve thrown a few Reva matches into the mix, but so far I have about ~400 wins with Songhai and most of them being Kaleos. I have been working on Kaleos decks since I started playing, but I’m certainly not a know-it-all when it comes to this (currently only Diamond 1 never having reached S-Rank). I’ve still got much to learn, but here’s what I can share with you all:
The biggest problem I’ve encountered with Onyx Jaguar is this: The cost is not worth the payoff. As Jaguar is a situational card, this problem/factor also tends to be situational. When you have two or three minions on the board it can often be worth playing Jaguar, but with one or no minions on the board it can feel like a dead card.
This can be mitigated two ways: Have an alternate hard win condition (e.g. Hamon Bladeseeker, Zendo, etc) or create intense synergies with Onyx Jaguar and other Songhai cards so the deck plays more reliable all-around. My original inclination was to go with the first option, which does create rather decent decks, but can end up with Onyx Jaguar seeing less play. The second option, when tried, did not work very well for me. I think this was mainly due to my deckbuilding skills being lackluster at the time, but I did eventually revisit the option and my new deck has around a 50% win rate at Diamond 1 (rather unrefined list though, just threw it together pretty quickly and tested for a couple of hours).
Unfortunately if you go with the second option (synergistic approach) when you miss the Onyx Jaguar play you needed to win the game, or worse, don’t draw Jaguar at all, it can be an uphill battle. I found that the best way to play around this is to have more value-oriented minions that work as pseudo wincons if not dealt with (Lantern Fox, Killing Edge+Any high HP minion, Shiro Puppydragon, etc).
As previously stated this is one of Onyx Jaguar’s biggest strengths and biggest downfall. When playing Onyx Jaguar, you want a solid board state to take advantage of it. The logical conclusion is to thus include minions that will likely survive multiple turns… this is easier said than done, however. Choosing too many sticky minions that don’t threaten board state will result in you losing the board early/mid game and unable to take full advantage of Onyx Jaguar. Thus, the kind of minions you need are minions that let you threaten board state and come back from less advantageous board states whilst being sturdy.
Battle Panddo: Mostly ignored due to Lantern Fox’s prevalence, I believe this minion will soon see a resurgence. This minion is insane, I honestly think it is one of the top sleeper cards in Songhai. Not only is it effectively a 3/4 for 3 mana, it also functions as AoE and renders almost any 2-drop on the board vulnerable to being cleared by general hits. This card is especially effective in the Abyssian matchup, the only way they can remove it without their board state getting destroyed is by a Dark Transformation (5 mana card used on my 3 mana minion? Yes please!) or a dispel. No more will you be tormented by Cassyva’s lasso. Also, combined with Deathstrike Seal you now have a board wipe combination that can bring games back instantly.
Lantern Fox: Nerfed but still quite a powerhouse, this minion allows you to control the board more effectively via. the PFs it generates. Also, opponents may be reluctant to attack it if played away from them and may instead just chose to run instead of dealing with it immediately. They, of course, will regret this once your Onyx Jaguar hits the board and that Lantern Fox that could’ve been dealt with easily now becomes a huge 4/5 or 5/6 pain.
Gore Horn / Ki Beholder: These two are grouped together because I think they both have similar use cases and weaknesses, that is, they really need to be paired with IF to be immediately effective (though Ki Beholder’s opening gambit mitigates this weakness). When Inner Focused, they allow you to clear an enemy minion while also developing your board. They are very good in that, but when played alone both of these cards can feel rather lackluster.
Sword of Mechazor: Possibly my new favorite card. I contemplated grouping this card with the above two, as it is most useful when paired with IF. This card, however, is FAR stronger when used with Inner Focus. The Sword+IF combo is essentially a poor man’s makantor, which of course nobody plays against when vsing Songhai. This card can also be decent played alone, as a followup Mist Dragon Seal or Killing Edge (or both, ha!) can blindside your opponent. Disclaimer: I did not think of this combo. I saw it being used by Zoochz, which this combo was apparently more popular in previous versions of the game.
Spelljammer: Since the patch buffed this up to a 3/5, it is actually surprisingly good in Onyx Jaguar decks. It’s a very solid body and since it can be followed up by a Onyx Jaguar, you’re looking at a potential 5/7 or worse (for your opponent, that is). Even without the Onyx Jaguar, it trades with a lot of cards and the five health breakpoint is a major deal insofar as surviving a turn goes. This combined with the additional card draw (which helps Onyx Jaguar decks quite a bit, to be expanded on in the next section) creates a very, very good four drop.
Celestial Phantom: Now that Lantern Fox is “dethroned”, so to speak, it’s opened my mind. Celestial Phantom is actually… good. Yes, it’s good, specifically in Onyxhai. Why? For one, it trades with literally every minion on the game (other than Forcefield), so at worst you will be trading one for one. However, in almost every scenario it will end up gaining massive value due to Blink or otherwise be dispelled. If it’s dispelled, you still have a 1/5 body to work with when Onyx Jaguar gets played, which is huge. It forces your opponent to make awkward plays, and even if they have the perfect answer, you still have tons of breathing room and a potential upper-hand. Not even Repulsor Beasts or Lures can efficiently handle it due to Blink and the large amount of teleports in Onyxhai. It seems crazy, but it works.
This is, interestingly, actually a pretty big deal for Onyx Jaguar decks. As minion-oriented as it is, you wouldn’t expect card draw to be a huge deal. While Onyxhai is a minion archetype, it also has a lot of teleports that you want to use. You also want to be playing a lot of minions, and just these two factors leads to empty hands if not managed properly. Fortunately, the current state of the game allows for Onyx Jaguar decks to have some pretty reliable card draw options.
Spelljammer: Apart from this being obviously one of the best draw cards in the game, see section above for more pros.
Sojourner: I’ll start by saying I haven’t tested this card. I can see it potentially working though, as it has the upside of five health so it is relatively hard to remove, and thus more likely to survive until Jaguar comes out. The problem is that this card doesn’t really contest board state by itself, so by playing it you’ll usually be taking a slower turn and your opponent will be able to get the upper hand. I can see ways the con of this could be mitigated though, so, don’t take my word and feel free to try this card.
Ancestral Divination: edited I previously said this card was bad. I take it back, this card is usable as well. It does not work in Midrange Onyxhai lists, but it can work if you build your deck properly. Generally, this is actually a decent card in a lot of situations. This actually is more useful than you’d think, as even getting two cards from it can be a life-saver sometimes. Should you be able to puke your hand and follow up with an Ancestral Divination, not only will your opponent be dumbfounded, but you’ll also be winning . In all seriousness, I believe this card deserves more research and testing than it’s gotten thus far.
My OG Onyxhai list (not recommended):
Updated Gold Division Onyxhai (still not recommended):
S-Rank Onyx Backstabhai:
Onyx Swarm (S-Rank):
Midrange Onyxhai (S-Rank, deck by Ashindor pre-patch):