A Beginner’s Guide to the Opening Move: Part 2

Cover image by Christopher Pariano from the U.S.A. You can find his ArtStation here

Hey everyone, Alexicon1 here with the sequel to my last gameplay guide, A Beginner’s Guide to the Opening Move! This time I’ll be taking you through how to play the first turn of a game from the perspective of Player 2, and this will include strategies to use at the replace screen and how to get the most out of your mulligans. NOTE: This guide is aimed at beginners, so more experienced players may not get as much value as newer players. Last time we talked about what to do as Player 1, and how they placed more emphasis on getting a 2-drop out of those early mulligans that Player 2 does. The following is pretty much a repeat of what I said in the previous article, but for reference, here it is.

Quite often the mulligan screen can decide or at least contribute to how matches will play out, especially if your deck is not optimised to have something for the early game (See the guide here for tips on how to do this and other deckbuilding stuffs). Drawing too many high-cost cards can instantly put you on the back foot, especially if you are going first. The replace feature is a unique aspect of Duelyst, and can be very, very helpful to get you back on your feet if the RNG Gods aren’t in your favour when you draw those first 5 cards.

For both going P1 and P2, you want to try and get a 2-drop first and foremost, but P2 doesn’t need to rely on it as much if they can get their hands on a 3-drop. Be aware of your curve and prioritise your positioning based on what you have in your hand, so don’t try and contest mana tiles if it will put you in harm’s way and then not use the mana. But I’m not here for a positioning guide, so let’s continue.

We’re going to be using PandaJJ’s Healing Tempo Argeon deck that currently rests atop the Tier List on bagoum.com as a basis for this guide, and you can find the deck here. This is an extremely powerful deck that utilises many aspects of the Lyonar Kingdoms in order to quickly beat you down. But I’m not here for a deck tech either, let’s get into the guide!

NOTE: The following images were taken before the most recent patch (1.83) in which Windblade Adept was nerfed from a 2/3 with Zeal: Give +2 Attack to a 2/3 with Zeal: Give +1 Attack.

Player Two

So here I have two opening hands, one less than Part 1, as you are more likely to need to replace as Player 1 than as Player 2 as you search for a 2-drop, but Player 2 can do just fine with a 3-drop. If you build your deck correctly, you should be able to have a first turn play as Player 2 90% of the time without replacing, but replacing does almost guarantee something playable. However, this doesn’t factor in cards that you might not want to play earlier on that fit with in the mana range. I’ll choose one of the two opening hands, so if you want to guess, halt at the images. But if you don’t overly want to make a decision, keep scrolling and the guide will begin straight after the photos.

Something to think about when trying to pick what hand to go with is that the optimal hand may change with the playstyle of the deck and that of your opponents. If it’s an aggro/tempo style deck, you are more likely to want to have more lower cost minions in hand than if you are playing a control deck, where you might be happy to have some later-game cards. What your opponent is playing may also influence what you swap out or don’t. If you see an opponent is playing a deck that will have big, swingy minions, mulliganing for hard removal is a good way to go. If your opponent is focused on building themselves up (such as Sajj or Vaath), dispel or pinging cards is something you should be hunting for.

If you look below, you’ll see that I chose the second hand, when in most situations, you would choose the first. This is because I’m playing against Lilithe, who can very easily swarm the board with her Wraithlings, and having an AoE in the form of Tempest is much appreciated in this opening hand. Also, the two hands are relatively similar, so by taking advantage of the mulligan feature, we can more or less make the two hands the same. Because we are going second, we lose the advantage of a quick ramp to 4 mana (as Slo has been nerfed to 1 mana) that a T1 Azurite Lion may have afforded us if we had been Player One (as mentioned in Part 1)

So we are just going to swap out the Saberspine Tiger and the Repulsor Beast, as Lilithe won’t have massive minions earlier on so we can focus more on establishing a board presence before the Repulsor will be needed. We’ll most likely need it for a Shadow Watcher that’s gotten huge or something similar, and dispel will do the job just as fine. Repulsor will only delay the impact of the bigger creatures, and will only be effective in this situation if we have used most of our removal and have little chance of finding some more to deal with the enemies beating down your door, so delay tactics can be just enough to take out the win.

However, don’t feel pressured to replace cards when the opportunity arises, as you may just draw those insane hands that you can’t find a fault with and almost guarantees you a win straight off the bat *cough* Double Flash Juggernaut *cough*. Although that combo has been nerfed with the change to Flash Reincarnation, it was so dominant if you drew the combo it was very hard to lose from that situation. As I mentioned in Part 1, the likelihood of the god hands increases as you further optimise your deck (potentially sticking to 3-ofs to bump these chance), so keep fine-tuning as you play with the deck. Never make the deck and say it’s done and don’t do anything with it anymore.

Thanks to RNG, we did pull a Lightbender, adding some more removal to our hand that we otherwise could have had already if we had chosen the first hand. My only gripe with the hand would be that we have 2 Azurite Lions, and that is actually quite minor as 2 minions with Celerity on the first turn is 4 moves/attacks on T2. Against Swarm Abyssian, that is actually amazingly strong as it can chew through the early Wraithlings and instantly put Lilithe on the back foot. S0 in all actuality, we can make do just fine without replacing and keeping the two Lions.

Because the Lilithe dropped the Gloomchaser early, we definitely have to keep the Tempest, as Lilithe may have 5 bodies on board next turn if a Wraithling Swarm comes out. Anything we do play on the mana-tile is effectively a sacrificial lamb, as it should be quickly destroyed by the opponent with the Gloomchaser/Wraithling combination. Playing two Lions is an OK play, but does mean that you will lose one in the upcoming trade and then playing one defensively means you have lost board control as it shouldn’t be available to take a mana-tile the following turn. You have also been pressed back just by turn advantage, as Lilithe will now take centre tile and that’s really hard to force your way back from.

However, in this instance I did replace as we do have another two-drop in hand (the Windblade Adept), and we did actually draw another Adept to complement the one we already have.  While not the best draw, this isn’t a bad draw and does fit with our tempo playstyle. Additionally, this completely negates the disadvantage of having to use an Adept as a sacrifice to dispose of the Gloomchaser and his spawn, as we will now have a second one to send in once its’ brethren falls. Going second does have one critical advantage, we can get two 2-drops out by utilising the centremost mana tile, hurtling us ahead to that crucial board presence requirement of a tempo deck.

Dropping the Adept over the Azurite Lion on the centre tile is really a no-brainer as the Lion is more valued, and we do have another Adept to use. Like I said earlier, the Adept will most likely go, but it is two bodies for the price of one, so we sort of come out on top, even though the mana costs are identical

Now that we’ve claimed that centre mana-tile, we can play our Azurite Lion. It is ill-advised to place it anywhere above our General (because that Wraithling can leap forward and get it with Dispel or take it out itself with an Attack buff) or in reach of enemies. Playing it safely means that it will most likely make it to next turn, the trade-off being it may not be able to have an impact if your opponent moves to the top side of the board.

This positioning means it cannot be reached by any enemy currently on the board, so the opponent will have to use something out of hand to get rid of it. Because it is so early on the game, and the removal needed for this Lion will cost at least 2 mana, it could take up an entire turn, which is definitely a win for us.

At this stage we have a decent set up, removal in hand, and an almost guaranteed Celerity next turn. Even if the Lion does fall to removal, that is a limited supply of removal that has already been dwindled for a 2 drop, which is almost more valuable in itself. Next turn, the worst case scenario would be the Gloomchaser + Wraithling combo ending the Adept, and the General moving down playing a 2-drop, then using Daemonic Lure to bring the Lion in and finish it off. Because of Lure’s universality, the only way not to lose out is to not play the Lion in the first place, which will most likely put us more behind as the General can now play a 3-drop or two 2-drops and take even more control. However, the opponent may just not want to blow removal on the 2-drop and you can ram it home next turn for some serious face damage.

Thanks for reading the article, I hope you enjoyed and took some valuable information from it. I’ll see you next time for my piece on the 16 DWC Grandmasters that you’ll all be very soon seeing compete for the title of Duelyst World Champion!