Here is a fun deck I have been messing with: Variax Cassyva!
We have all seen the popularity of Variax Lilithe decks, and the general notion of how Variax is way better in Lilithe because she can ramp it out, and Cassy has enough late game already. And while it’s true, if you just add Variax to standard Cassy decks, it seems unecessary since by turn 7 you are typically running through your normal win conditions (Revenants, obliterate, etc) anyway. So I decided to make a deck that revolves ENTIRELY around Variax as a win condition. I’m sure many people have tried this concept, but I haven’t found a decklist anywhere that wasn’t the standard cassy build with Variax just thrown in, so I designed my own. I didn’t expect it to be any good, but to my complete shock, it had over 50% winrate in around 20ish games in S-rank. It may not be the premiere deck to ladder with, but it seems to be competitive and it is very fun, so I figured I would share. Here is how it works:
Early game: Play the early game much like a fast-cass deck with spectral blade, ooz, abyssal crawler, and kelaino on 4 with void pulse follow-ups if against aggro. Grasp of agony, lure, and punish are there for removal. The only difference is you aim to play gor by 5 mana. Why gor?? In Cassyva? Three reasons:
First - just like with Variax Lilithe, we want to ramp out the variax as fast as possible. An early gor gives a constant target for your dark sacrifice since, unlike Lilithe, we can’t make our own 1/1s.
Second, after your gor dies and goes to the corners, it gives a nice spawn point for putting Kelainos very far from the action so they stay safe.
And third, after your BBS changes, it’s little tendancy to run into things for 1 damage later on helps activate punish. It works a whole lot better than I imagined before trying it.
Mid Game: Quite simply, ramp out the Variax just like a Lilithe deck using a dark sacrifice on a gor (or crawler/ooz if you have to). The earlier, the better. Use your kelaino, spectral blades, and void pulse to survive until you can get variax out.
Late Game: Here is the fun part, and this is after you play Variax. You may have less of a creep development by the time variax comes out compared to a normal Cassy deck. That is okay.
The whole point of this combo is to run away, play your shadow nova somewhere relevant, then BBS to spawn a little army on your new shadow squares. Ideally, you do this combo as soon as you have 7 mana (if you pull it off on 7 mana exactly, you sometimes just instantly win the game). Plus you likely have a few squares on the ground already with your early ooz, sphere of darkness, or abyssal crawler plays in the opener. Most of the late game revolves around running/hiding in a corner with a Kelaino or two, and using your shadow novas to create spawn generation points for your BBS.
Unlike Lilithe, you can place your shadow novas globally so you can spawn your army anywhere! You also spawn more things than Lilithe each turn. (In fact, if you face a variax Lilithe and you both ramp out at 5 mana, you will actually overwhelm HER most of the time, believe it or not). A common way I found myself winning was to run two squares back, throw a nova between myself and my opponent, and spawn a bunch of 4/4s in between. After that, you just slowly overwhelm them when you get more novas down, similar to Variax Lilithe. It is just more fun, because with shadow nova and sphere of darkness having global range, you can spawn monsters behind them as well if they try to run away! There is nothing more satisfying then playing against a Lilithe or Faie turtling against you and dropping a nova in their face with an instant army on top.
Gore: As mentioned above, this guy is there for the dark sacrifice, helping put kelaino in the corners, and doing 1 damage to activate punish after your BBS changes. That is why we only run 2 punish and 3 whips, as opposed to the normal 3 punish.
Kelaino/spectral blade/void pulse: Much like a normal Cassy deck, these healing cards carry you through the early game and are your primary tools against burn/aggro. If the opponent is all-in with burst, these cards can win the game by themselves.
Variax: This is the main and only win condition
Rite of the Undervault: We run 3 of these because after throwing out your early drops, and sacrificing to ramp out Variax, you run out of cards FAST. Finding 1 of these shortly afterwards is a necessity so you can get your novas and sphere of darkness cards in hand to start generating your army.
Shadow Nova: This is your most important late game card. You do not want to use this before Variax unless you are desperate for a play. Usually replace this until you get Variax out. After that, you want to find these ASAP so you can drop it wherever you want and spawn a quick army. If you can’t find one right away, you can still get some value with the initial creep tiles you have on the field, but this guy is the way you take over a game.
Spectral Revenant: Yes, this card is great, but this deck was designed entirely to spawn armies on shadow tiles that you drop with nova. Adding Revs for late game makes your ramp plan and early game less consistent, and you might as well run a traditional Cassy deck instead.
Abyssal Juggernaut / Ghost Azalea / Obliterate: These cards synergize very well with shadow nova. Still, I do not include these for the same reasons as Revenant. We want as strong of an early game as possible before ramping immediately to Variax, and adding extra win conditions just makes our main game plan less likely to pan out. Obliterate also has the obvious anti-synergy of removing all of your tiles.
This deck has very good early game against aggro, much like the oldschool fast-cass variation. You have a decent amount of healing, good early game minions (looking at you, ooz), and even little old gor can help out against 3 health minions by taking one shot so your general can finish them off if you dont have spectral blade.
This deck obviously has extremely powerful late game. Between your 3 rite of the undervaults for fuel, kelaino for sustained healing, and the variax summons for infinite value, not much can beat you in the long game. You even out-value Variax Lilithe since you spawn WAY more minions each turn.
This deck is obviously much more inconsistent than a normal cassy deck due to the fact that you don’t have the strong midgame cards (abyssal juggernaut) or late game (revenants) if your variax plan fails. It is also much less consistent than Variax Liilthe since you need a minion to sacrifice (gor ideally), and Lilithe does not (hero power).
Also, if you do NOT ramp out Variax, the game will be much harder for you when turns 6 and 7 come around. And if, god forbid, you don’t find any variax by turn 7, then you are pretty much screwed.
Also it is worth noting that in the abyssian mirror, gor likes to run into revenants. Hopefully you have a strong board by the time this happens, but yeah, be careful with that. It is also bad against taygete, and nimbus (should any vet players decide to run that card ever again).
Summary: This is a very fun deck to play, as dropping creep tiles globally and spawning a pseudo-air-drop army is very enjoyable. It is likely much weaker than a normal cassy list and is less consistent than Variax Lilithe, but it is capable of beating aggro and control alike, and maintained a respectable, albeit not stellar, winrate in S-rank for me over the last day or so that I have been trying it.
I’m sure there are ways to optimize it, so if you want to try it out, I hope you had as much fun as I did dropping armies on peoples heads!