Hey everyone, Alexicon1 here. So today…after us begging for it’s release, Patch 1.76 came out, and boy, is it a doozy. If you haven’t read an 'Under The Hood" before, in this segment I document changes to the game that are “under the hood” and not necessarily have been specified by Counterplay in their patch notes. I’ll run over each change, and a basic breakdown of the effect on the game.
So, let’s not wait any longer. To the first card, a Songhai staple (although maybe not for much longer) the 0-mana Spell, Mana Vortex
For starters, this is a relatively large blow to Songhai, as this card is run in almost every Songhai deck that I have ever seen. This definitely weakens Spellhai and Combohai and will halt Reva’s rampage through the ladder in it’s tracks. Counterplay have finally listened to our cries against Songhai, and they have made what I believe to be a worthwhile change.
This is very much a buff to everyone but Songhai, as the predominance of Reva on ladder has stifled the game as a whole. Because, in general, Songhai is relatively easy to pick up, it may be that Counterplay feared people would punch above their weight/skill level with an overpowered deck. Don’t expect this change to knock Songhai out of the meta completely, however. Although this patch specifically targets Songhai staples, the potency of Reva and to a lesser extent, Kaleos, is nothing to be ignored, and I fully expect that there will still be some powerful Songhai decks out there, but they will require skill to pilot. Gone are the days of top-decking Mana Vortex and playing it just to draw to cards, which does affect Songhai’s late game once their hand has been expended and they are stuck topdecking.
Like I said before, this change opens up opportunites for more minion-based Songhai decks to take centre-stage, such as Backstabhai, which uses but isn’t as dependent on Mana Vortex. A great point resulting from this, is it enhances Songhai’s "time to strike" ethos. Without Mana Vortex to continuously refill your hand, you now have to wait for the most opportune moment to bring down the enemy General. Because if you misjudge, your opponent is still alive, and you have sacrificed perhaps all of your hand with almost no draw unless Spelljammer (which has been changed) is on the board. Blaze Hound, a 3-mana minion, could see more use as it has decent stats and now it assists in Songhai’s draw. Overall, this is a good change, that does enhance aspects of Songhai that Counterplay obviously designed the faction around, and improves the health of the game greatly. So, next up, another Songhai staple, the 3-mana minion, Lantern Fox.
For many months now, this card has always elicited a groan from those who it is played against, a semi-tanky minion that punishes you from trying to clear it. Another heavy wound to Songhai, this specifically affect Songhai’s (especially Reva’s) ability to wipe you from 25 to 0 in a heartbeat with those pesky Phoenix Fires. This seems from the outset to be a good change, we’ll just have to wait and see whether it remains a Songhai staple or is cast out.
Very similar to Mana Vortex, this is a huge buff to everybody else (even Vanar, who’s consistent method of removal for Lantern Fox, Cryogenesis, was nerfed this patch, but overall there is net gain). Although this still takes two hits from 2-attack minions or Generals (as is seen more in the early game), it is much easier to be cleared late game with one 3-attack minion that, if undamaged, should survive trading with the Lantern Fox. This will make Songhai players treasure their Phoenix Fires more than they previously did, because now they have a less reliable method of getting 2 PFs. Without dispel, this is still a minimum of a 5 damage card for 3 mana, which is nothing to be sneezed at. However, the stat change weakens it enough that it might not become an auto-run in Songhai decks any more.
Because of this change, this opens up the market for more 3 drops to make their way into the formerly impenetrable slot occupied by Lantern Fox. Songhai faction cards such as Gore Horn, Ki Beholder, and even Jade Monk (because of the stats) could see some more play, but Lantern Fox isn’t unplayable by any stretch of the imagination. Similar to what I said above, Blaze Hound may come in because of it’s stats and because of the card draw it brings. Also, Void Hunter may come in, again because of good stats and card draw at some point. Another decent change by Counterplay, let’s see how it continues with another Spellhai & Combohai staple, the 3-mana neutral minion Spelljammer.
To be honest, I wasn’t expecting this change. Card draw seems to be a huge focus for this patch, and that doesn’t end here. Most commonly used in Songhai to recover from their massive hand explosions, this does actually help your opponent to have card draw as well, so it didn’t seem like this needed to be changed. The stat change allows it to trade into things decently.
This does nerf aggressive decks (Songhai, Fast Cassyva, perhaps some Faie decks), and therefore buffs control decks, allowing them a window in which to withstand an onslaught but they can still be punished heavily if they don’t capitalise on the opponent’s card deficit. A faction that has been hugely buffed by these changes is Lyonar, specifically Argeon, as none of the cards (perhaps with the minor exception of Skorn) are Lyonar staples. This will only increase the playrate of Argeon over Reva and Cassyva, maybe Cassyva less so as although Rite of the Undervault was nerfed, it’s effect still makes up for vomiting out your hand. Expect Argeon to become more of an S-tier deck than it is now as it’s competition has been dealt severe wounds.
Similar to what Counterplay did say, this does allow other decks to flourish and have room to play out their game instead of always being on the back foot defending against aggressive decks that play cards with no consequence as they will have a full hand at the end of your turn. Don’t expect aggressive decks to disappear from competitive play, just expect that other decks will sprout up. An interesting change, I will reserve my judgement until the next mid-month patch. Next up, one of Vanar’s prime removal spells, the 4-mana Cryogenesis.
Ironically enough, this change was predicted yesterday in good ol’ Duelyst General chat. This change definitely deals with this prime removal of Vanar, as it’s effect was far too strong in relation to it’s mana cost. That tradeoff now has to be made whether to gain board advantage by removing an enemy minion, or play your own minion to have some board presence.
This does nerf Vanar’s response mechanisms slightly, but does buff everybody else, especially Songhai with Lantern Fox as now Vanar doesn’t have an immediate answer as Player 1 if it is played on curve, which does soothe the lingering burns dealt to the faction by this patch. As well as Songhai, this does buff control decks, as Vanar now needs to commit more resources to removing those powerful minions in the late game. An example of this is Lyonar, whose Ironcliffe Guardian now becomes that much harder to kill. Silverguard Knights can now only be dealt with at a mana and health deficit.
Expect less Cryogenesis’ to be run, and perhaps we may see Hailstone Prison become more predominant in these decks. Aggressive decks can begin to be played more than control decks because a major component of Vanar’s removal is now that much more costly. A healthy change, for everyone but Vanar. Moving on, we come to Abyssian’s major source of card draw, the 5-mana spell Rite of the Undervault
Probably the most surprising change out of the 6, this hits fast Abyssian harder than Control or Creep Abyssian, as Fast turbos out their hand much faster than Control variants of Abyssian. This means that Abyssian now needs to control their hand until they reach 6 mana and can get punished for playing too many cards too early.
This isn’t a major change that will shakeup the meta, or even stop Rite of the Undervault being played for the most part. Faster Abyssian may begin to use Spelljammer more frequently because of the mana addition. This may encourage the use of Abjudicator more in more aggro Abyssian decks in order to refill their hand that much faster. This does affect what happens when you play Rite after topdecking it, limiting what you can do with 3 mana, instead of the 4 you used to have. The strength of the minions and spells you can play are seriously decreased because of that mana-jump from 4 to 3.
This shouldn’t alter how much Rite is used, the only potential difference is that Spelljammer may see more play. One potential outcome of this change is that control Abyssian may be used over fast Abyssian more frequently. However, it has been mentioned that this is a “future-proofing” change, as something to be released in the next expansion will require this to be 6 mana. What that is remains to be seen. Last, but not least, the 3-mana neutral minion Blistering Skorn.
This is quite an interesting change, as it is really a +1/+1 for 1 mana increase. I’m not sure as to the reasoning behind it apart from what Counterplay said to give swarm a bit more room to breath. This definitely brings those Skorn openers to an end, the ones that clear all your opponent’s Bloodtears and Abyssal Crawlers.
This is a buff to Abyssian and Songhai predominantly, as they are the two main factions that play host to 1-health minions, with Abyssian’s Abyssal Crawler, and Songhai’s Heartseekers. A specific card that receives a buff is Chrysalis Burst, as now it requires that bit more mana to deal with it, (en even mana trade) and isn’t wiped as easily as it was before. This means that the spaces open up for 3 drops, and what will be played in them remains to be seen, and depending on the archetype.
That concludes this patch’s edition of Under The Hood, be sure to tune in next time for the breakdown of the 1.77 monthly cards! The video edition of this will go out soon, so be sure to give that a watch
Until next time,