Hiya guys! I spent a couple hours writing this thing, and if anyone’s interested in learning about this awesome niche archetype, here’s my writing in full.
Spear Reva: A Breakdown
Maelrawn - IGN crnakypadnu
Spear Reva is a Songhai list that wants to abuse the board in its favor by ignoring it completely, while simultaneously forcing their opponents to care about it. Left unchecked, Reva herself turns into a massive value engine that can either starve her opponent of on-board resources or end the game at the snap of her fingers. So, let’s dive right in.
Some things should stand out immediately from the template, and are characteristic of the archetype:
- Lack of any 2-cost minions
- Unconventional Songhai artifacts
- Positioning-manipulating effects, e.g. Silhouette Tracer
- Cards which generate card advantage
- Cards which enable comebacks
These allow for an unconventional style of gameplay which transitions fluidly and rapidly between chipping down at your opponent’s life total with ranged minions, a very tense and positioning-intensive close-range game, removing threats, and enormous burst damage. Most minions become walls, and you focus on the action economy: What can they do with this much movement? Is there any way I can place Zendo to restrict his units’ movement via his General’s future positioning? Can they remove this Heartseeker without expending an attack, in order to box me in? Will they play another minion, and how will this affect my Twin Strike odds?[/details]
For now, we’ll use Eurasian Jay’s decklist as the template:
As you can see, cards fall into at least one of 3 main categories, and many fall into two:
Removal (both soft and hard)
- Twin Strike
- Ki Beholder
- Onyx Bear Seal
- Grandmaster Zendo
- Phoenix Fire/Saberspine Seal
- Cyclone Mask
- Crescent Spear[/details]
- Phoenix Fire/Saberspine Seal
- Ki Beholder
- Lantern Fox
- Grandmaster Zendo
- Cyclone Mask
- Bloodrage Mask
- Crescent Spear
- Spiral Technique[/details]
- Twin Strike
- Heaven’s Eclipse
- Lantern Fox[/details]
The only exception to this is Silhouette Tracer, whom provides a unique utility which this deck could not exist without.
The deck’s suite of spells could reasonably be called a toolbox, which is its greatest strength and also greatest weakness. Because Duelyst starts you off with near-maximum hand size, there isn’t really a way to store tools in your hand like toolbox decks in other systems can. Tools must be swapped out and sometimes frantically searched for in order to be usable at the proper moment; thus this deck requires knowledge of the metagame and an understanding of your opponents’ lines of play from one turn to the next. Also, it can be vulnerable to poor draws more frequently than other decks because of the specificity of each card.
Most, if not all, of the cards in the deck have some form of synergy with one another; the masks synergize with the other masks and all of the spells; Tracer works with Cyclone Mask, Heartseeker, and Ki Beholder; Onyx Bear Seal enables Twin Strikes; et cetera. This creates a very hard snowballing effect, especially with the masks.
The above list is what I would consider a very strong incarnation of Spear Reva. However, to pare it down to its core, it would look something more like this:
This is what enables the big, surprise-explosion turns that frequently win games. Twin Strike and Ghost Lightning provide board control and card advantage; Fox fills you up with Phoenix Fires, and Zendo gives space for you to gear up for a lethal turn (as well as dealing 12 damage if it sticks into your turn).
If you choose to play this archetype, think about what is valuable to you in choosing your toolbox spells. Do you like having a clean board while pushing damage? Consider Cobra Strike. Do you want to tech against Mech? Consider Pandamonium. Do you want to shift a little closer to midrange? Consider Inner Focus and Spelljammers, as well as a focus on lower-cost spells. The framework is flexible and can be tweaked relatively easily.
[details=Playstyle]To keep things simple, we’re going to rule out incredibly good and incredibly bad hands, and try to consider average cases using the above template.
[details=Early Game]Important decisions start from the mulligan phase here. It’s important to identify key combos that are useful in your matchup (More on this in Combos/Play Tips) and mulligan aggressively for them.
Outside of that, starting as player 1, the ideal opener is a Crescent Spear. It buffs your important early-game spells and Cyclone Mask, which are the tools you’ll be using to make sure the board stays under control. Some amount of Twin Strike/Phoenix Fire/Ki Beholder/Lantern Fox for turn 2 (or turn 1 on player 2 side!) are ideal. Don’t worry too much if you’re forced to skip your opener, or if you have to throw a Phoenix Fire on the opposing General’s face. Half of your cards are focused on gaining card advantage, so you’ll be fine.[/details]
[details=Midgame]I’d say the midgame is around the 4 mana turn; there’s a marked shift in gears most of the time here for Spear. You are likely to have developed either ranged minions or a Cyclone Mask at this point if you’re playing from the wall, in which case this is about the time the opposing general should be reaching you (this is 99% of my games, so I’m going to go from here).
My most common movement pattern leaves me on the starting tile at the end of turns 2 and 3, and in a corner on turn 4. It is important to have some plan of escape, be that splitting your ranged units to spread your opponent thin and create a window of escape, a strong clear, or via Silhouette Tracer.
A successful Tracer escape should put you just over the map’s midline, and well away from your opponent. The cycle of removing and kiting then begins anew. If not, then you should mulligan for cards which will enable you to create space; Zendo, Tracer, Fox and Ki all work towards these ends. Additionally, you should search for lines of play which don’t rely on buffed spells if you don’t have an artifact in hand and are in melee range; your artifacts are top priority for your opponent and will be removed quickly if you are in range.[/details]
So, let’s assume you’re away (trying to cover branching paths was about to get very messy). Refill your hand if necessary, and focus more on dealing damage to the opposing General than their minions for now; any must-remove threats should still be answered, however. Zendos and Ki Beholders become useful for stalling your opponent’s approach and buying more time to set up a lethal hand. If you don’t get cornered, you should be able to clinch the win.
[details=Combos/Play Tips] Core combos include:
Spear + Twin Strike: Going from 2 to 3 damage is probably the most important damage jump in Duelyst; this will keep you from getting overwhelmed easily.
Spear + Cyclone Mask: A Phoenix Fire on anything for free every turn is very powerful, and makes your artifacts a top priority for removal if they weren’t identified as such already.
Spear/Bloodrage Mask + Phoenix Fire/Saberspine Seal: The meat and potatoes; this is where you start and end the game.
Onyx Bear Seal + Twin Strike: Onyx Bear Seal enables you to cast Twin Strike without two “real” targets; because of this you should apply OBS liberally unless you need to hold it for the matchup.
Any Spear combo substituted with Ghost Lightning or Alkyone: While Ghost Lightning can help in the Abyss matchup, it can also be used as a temporary Spear effect for the purposes of removing minions, in a pinch (Saberspine Seal is included for the same consistency purposes, and Spelljammer can be subbed for Alkyone for the same reason).
Pandamonium + Spear + Ghost Lightning: This is a one-sided board clear, which also restores all of your minions to full HP and undispels them. It is the best clear in the game, as it ignores all minion effects and does not care about their stats. Pandamonium is, in my opinion, an optional card.
Pandamonium + Twin Strike: Removes any two minions.
Pandamonium + Phoenix Fire: Removes any minion; this is a poor tempo play and leaves you wanting for hand size. Would only recommend in a dire scenario.
Lyonar: Lyonar minions are slow, care about the board, and are bulky. You have a hard time if they get in close, but have very powerful tools to stop this. The cards to watch out for are Grandmaster Z’ir and Ironcliffe Guardian (and I guess Aerial Rift); the card that will catch you if you are out of position is Silverguard Knight, and potentially Slo. I personally try to hold 1 OBS in hand at all times in this matchup, or failing that, a Silhouette Tracer. Try not to develop all of your minions in the same place for Sun Bloom, and try to develop minions other than Ki Beholders for Tempest.
Songhai: Most Songhai is Spellhai; if you draw OBS, don’t feel bad about using it on something that might not look as large as other factions’ dangerous minions, such as Sojourner or Spelljammer. Be wary of OBS Panddos with Killing Edge, and if you play Spelljammer, make sure it’s threatening enough that they have to deal with it as opposed to having it feed them cards. I like to try and play Zendos on curve in this matchup if possible; the tools Spellhai has like proper positioning, and you can force them to expend extra resources on a Zendo removal.
Vetruvian: Vet has a hard time if they don’t draw Rasha’s or Star’s Fury. Their minions are not great for gap-closing and they care about the board. I try to keep OBS for Fireblaze/Aymara Healer in this matchup; also good are Ghost Lightnings with Spear, or raw Twin Strikes. The Dervishes are chaff to clear and provide good targets for Spear+Lightning/Twin Strike. If you can get away from them, you are probably good to go.
Abyssian: Mulligan aggressively for Ghost Lightning + Spear. If Furosa comes out with BBS and you can’t clear the wraithlings effectively, you run a high risk of being overwhelmed; they occupy too much space for you to stay away from them. Beyond that, you can keep away well enough for an early Variax to not be as threatening as it might be for other factions, and you win the race against Variax on curve. Be mindful of how many artifacts you equip, because Abyssian has one of the easiest times removing them of all the factions, especially Cass. Versus Cass, I try to keep OBS in hand for Juggernaut and Kelaino (if my board is developed. If it isn’t, you don’t need to worry so much about Kelaino, and one-man operations are somewhat common). I’ve been burned multiple times by lifegain in Cass screwing over lethal calculations, so I’d always keep the possibility in mind.
Magmar: The match with Mag can be particularly annoying; their minions care less about the board than most other minions, plus their direct damage often stops snowballing via stacked artifacts. Earth Sphere can throw off damage calculations, so try to figure out from their list whether they’re playing it or not; if it seems Drogon-focused, then they are, more likely than not. Be wary of using BBS when Makantor can come out; if you have a Twin Strike in hand, getting Makantor’d is probably fine. Less so if the Makantor has 3 HP because you summoned a Heartseeker. Of course, you can spill your hand more easily in this matchup than others. Also, I hope you burn, Young Silithar. If it’s Starhorn, try to find Pandamonium if you have it because they’re more than likely playing Mech.
Vanar: Vanar has probably the easiest time out of all the factions taking off your artifacts. Warbird stops you from sitting on the back wall with your ranged minions, which while only a minor gripe, can be important, If you don’t draw powerful ranged tools, you need to make sure you are trading away your health conservatively at best; Faie will outlast you with Shroud. The alternative is to burst them down from a health value where they feel comfortable being unprotected on your turn. If you think Shroud is unavoidable, then Zendo will still deal 4 to them on their turn. I like to keep a Ghost Lightning in hand to deal with Gravity Well, which can be a huge problem. You abuse the board, not the action economy.
Play Tips -
Always think about what lines of play your opponent can take; you need to be thinking about positioning at least a turn in advance.
If you have BBS available, think if the Heartseeker will be more useful pinging things or bodyblocking.
If you want to cast Heartseeker and move in the same turn, cast the Heartseeker first, unless you know you can block for it. If you cast it before you move, you can force your opponent to spread their resources, giving you space. If they don’t kill it, you have a place to spawn Tracers, Ki, goodstuff.
Against Arclyte, Bloodrage Mask pings happen before the spell resolves. BRM + Phoenix fire results in 3 damage and 1 charge removed from a Regalia!
If you want to play Ki Beholder turn 1 and think your opponent is playing Tigers, moving diagonally off the wall and placing it in the corner protects from Tiger.
Against Lyonar, try to stay out of range of any minion summon + Slo. If you get caught, you are going to have a bad time.
If you’re having a hard time, keep at it. Analyze your mistakes, and even if a move might not have looked like a mistake, see what it lead to, and what opportunities it eliminated. The deck works, but it’s very difficult to play.
Rest In Peace, all those whom have perished to giving Reva space. May we mourn the ashes of those singed for 20 damage in a single turn by blistering Phoenix Fire, and those mangled by the uncouth butcher, Grandmaster Zendo. May we give those who come after us more cards, so their resources may not be exhausted by Reva, like those who came before. May we all play Bloodtear Alchemist, Blistering Skorn, and Flameblood Warlock, to shed the masks of those who would don them. Amen.
Hope you enjoyed!
the formatting broke and I don’t know why