Keeper Vaath Mega-Guide (Melee Week 2 Winner)

Hi everyone! I’ve, uh… never written a tournament report before.

I’m SonofMakuta! You may or may not know me from my Youtube channel, my videos here, or my Twitch stream. I’m a longtime gamer and game design aficionado, and I’ve been playing Duelyst since just before it was officially released. I love this game; it ticks a lot of my boxes.

Recently, I decided it was time to get into competing in Duelyst tournaments – build a proper deck, tune it, and test my mettle against the greatest. Originally I was aiming for the end of the month, but decided on a whim to try Duelyst Melee out, with something like six days I could use to prepare. So far so good.

But… what to play? Patch 1.80 turned the meta upside-down. I was doing quests with decks that would previously cruise to victory and going 0-4. Zir’an went from a running joke to Tier 1 overnight. Even my trusted Cassyva deck had abandoned me – the Rite of the Undervault nerf was making itself keenly felt in a world of Trinity Oath, Kelaino was a liability against Sunforge Lancer, and I just couldn’t find a build I liked. I tried some janky brews, some of which worked, but the one thing that genuinely stuck was a deck about as prehistoric as its figurehead.

Let’s rewind time for a moment. Around a week prior, just after the patch was rolled out, I found myself faced with a Magmar quest. Well, my trusty Burnhorn probably wouldn’t cut it any more, what else did I have?

Oh, Keeper Vaath. This old thing?

Worth a shot, I thought. At least it gets the quest done, and I used to have a ton of fun playing it. I ran through the list to refresh my memory, shoehorned in a couple of Drogons since they seemed they’d fit, and clicked play.

Crushed it. 4-0. Easiest game of my life. Didn’t break a sweat.

I think I was about 20-4 with it (plus a draw) by the time the tournament rolled round.

So what is Keeper Vaath?

This is the exact build I played at the tournament.

Keeper Vaath is a pretty old deck. I don’t think I’ve personally seen it around for at least two months prior to now. The meta must have shifted significantly, possibly just with the release of Rise of the Bloodborn, possibly even before that. I genuinely forgot it even existed for a while. If it wasn’t for my lazy unwillingness to brew a new deck just to bash out a Magmar quest before I went to bed, I might never have rediscovered it.

This deck is very much a control deck, and is heavily focused on the midgame. You play the absolute minimum of early game necessary to avoid dying or burning a card on turn 2, then start dropping insane haymakers one after the other. The deck completely ignores Duelyst’s First Commandment of “thou shalt have 9-12 two-drops in thine deck” in favour of a huge pile of swingy bombs. Before long your opponent has no board and is drawing 2/3s while you topdeck Grove Lions and hard removal. You get insane tempo swings from Makantor Warbeast or Keeper of the Vale, and ideally both at once.

Then, of course, comes the face damage. As soon as the game looks to go long, Vaath becomes massive, and the additional hits from Makantoring away your opponent’s board or getting cheeky attacks in with Sunsteel Defenders add up very quickly. Usually, in these situations, getting Vaath under a forcefield is the top priority. Once you’ve stuck a Grove Lion you have the ability to attack with Vaath for 6+ free damage each turn, then ignore your opponent’s long-game chip damage or frustrate their burst.

Why is the curve like this? Keeper of the Vale, of course – the deck’s namesake. I caved a few days before the tournament and put in a few cheap bodies, but the purest build of this list runs no minions below 4 mana to absolutely maximise Keeper’s potential and your ability to topdeck amazing cards every turn. The only real risk to cutting them is in the games where you go first – adding Young Silithars and the deck’s lone three-drop goes a long way to ensuring I can spend mana in the first two turns, and affect the board along with it. (Anecdotally, I’d estimate this takes the deck from about 80% to not mill a card on turn 2, to 95%+.) Keeper of the Vale is such an absurdly powerful card when it hits that it’s worth trimming the cheap stuff, just to make sure you can chain Makantors the way Eyos intended it.

The curve does look odd (and wrong, and awful), but it works out. We have just about enough early game that we’re usually not burning a card on turn 2 when going first. Going second is fine; we can cast one of our 14 4-drops on turn 2, or Flash Reincarnation out a Makantor. Because the cards are all so powerful, it’s relatively easy to keep up with your opponent in the midgame and start to pull ahead. If they play a big provoke you Egg Morph it; if they play multiple minions you Makantor/Plasma Storm/Iridium Scale; if they use a removal spell to clear your minion you just drop another one; and so on. After a few turns of this, they’ll quite likely be left with just chaff in hand while you’re still holding three massive bombs, or maybe they’ll stumble with a clunky hand and you’ll snowball your board and kill them in short order.

Outside of misplays, Keeper Vaath primarily loses to two things: decks that can deal 40+ damage quickly, and decks that dare to be even greedier, usually slow Cassyva decks playing Nether Summoning, Obliterate and 7-drops. Beating it involves preparing for both Makantor Warbeast and Grove Lion as well as a suite of hard removal. Right now, there aren’t a lot of lists keen on going toe-to-toe with that.

I would say that this deck is reasonably difficult to play. Managing that mana curve and leveraging the deck’s strengths takes some practice, and knowing when to attack and when to preserve your life total is even more important here than usual. Replace decisions with this deck are very important – with no additional draw, you’re relying on your replace to make sure your cards come up in the right order. Knowing which removal spells you’re likely to need on which turns is key.

The main deck

Spells and artifacts

  • Flash Reincarnation x3 – This card makes the deck sing. Whether it’s the infamous “turn 2 Flash Makantor, turn 3 Keeper it back” sequence or just dropping a Sunsteel on turn 1 and emoting like a true champion, Flash Reincarnation ties the deck together. Your opening hands with it are always better than those without.
  • Iridium Scale x2 – A card that always flies under the radar, and really gets people when they don’t prepare for it (especially players running Gravity Well). Scale is nice as a way to get a card out of your hand early on but still have it be relevant later. It’s another AOE, and helps you attack with Vaath’s huge face without taking too much damage, or punish your opponent for relying on a provoke unit.
  • Natural Selection x3 – Absolutely mandatory. Lets you spend mana and affect the board early on, while still being a powerful hard removal spell on turn 10. Wonderful stuff.
  • Thumping Wave x2 – Combining burst and hard removal into one ridiculous card. Thumping Wave is awkward before Vaath has an Overload tick on, or when your life total is under pressure, but it lets you get rid of a Nosh’Rak from anywhere on the board or hit for 9 with a Warbeast. I think my list has always had two copies, although I appreciated being able to sideboard a third one in.
  • Adamantite Claws x2 – Just like the deck itself, an oldie but a goodie. Once upon a time, Vaath would put this on and hit you in the face with it repeatedly for 20+ damage. Tectonic Spikes rather changed that, but this is about as far from a Tectonic Spikes deck as you can possibly get. Claws is a useful tool against mid-sized minions that you don’t want to use an Egg Morph on, and still lets you live the SMOrc life whenever you need it. I wouldn’t consider two copies mandatory – I ended up siding one of them out in most of my matches. Regardless of what else is going on in the deck/game, though, I think it’s still useful to have a card that lets your general attack for 7 on turn three.
  • Earth Sphere x3 – Boy oh boy do you need this. I am consistently amazed at how Earth Sphere manages to be a good card. It’s card disadvantage and costs loads of mana; why is it an immutable 3-of in my control deck? Yet, an immutable 3-of it is. Against aggro, Earth Spheres allow you to stabilise, and against Faie, they allow you several more turns in which to dig for Grove Lions or set up a race.
  • Egg Morph x3 – Who remembers Egg Morph? Yep, three copies. The card is genuinely good in a deck like this. Saving a mana and playing Thumping Wave instead isn’t worth it over the extra 3 life, since you’re rarely playing something else in the same turn anyway. It’s a slow deck, so we’re going to have to deal with every Aymara and Ironcliffe and Vorpal Reaver our opponent decides to draw. Egg Morph is king of that. It’s also really rather nice with Iridium Scale.
  • Plasma Storm x2 – Sometimes you just need to blow up the world. As well as being a powerful card in its own right, Plasma Storm is good backup for when you haven’t drawn Flash+Makantor or lined up an Iridium Scale. It’s great for cleaning up Obelysks, Sunforge Lancers or Ki Beholders plus their accompanying cast, and is a vital tool against Swarm Abyss, especially Bloodmoon Priestess. Storm’s original raison d’être of ruining Lyonar doesn’t work quite so well against Argeon’s BBS, but if you can catch them when it’s on cooldown or they spend all their mana on minions for a turn, it’s as fantastic as ever.


  • Young Silithar x2 – A necessary evil, and I’m not even sure of that. Normally an excellent card, Young Silithar is a bit of a liability in this deck because it substantially weakens your Keepers. It’s in the deck for one reason and one reason only – you can play it on turn 1 going first and drop a 4-mana minion the following turn without needing a Flash Reincarnation. Once you’ve played it and grabbed a mana tile, try to hide it from recrimination for a few turns to set up a good Keeper.
  • Chaos Elemental x1 – OK, here comes the jank. During testing, I felt like I wanted one more card to ensure I didn’t overdraw on turn 2 going first, so I started looking through the three-drops. I considered a few different things, but ultimately the biggest 3-drop in the game caught my eye – a solid minion that doesn’t die to Plasma Storm, doesn’t nerf Natural Selection, and isn’t embarrassing to return with a Keeper of the Vale. Its teleporting ability also makes it quite hard to kill, since it’s big enough not to die in one hit in the early game and has a habit of escaping. Generally I think it’s an underrated card that just doesn’t fit any particular shell. I may even try a version with a full playset instead of the Young Silithars just to see how it flows.
  • Blistering Skorn x1 – Wraithlings and Heartseekers suck. I used to run Spirit Harvesters, but they quickly push your own minions down below key health breakpoints, so I’m glad to have a cheaper version that still comes back as a beefy 4/5. Skorn is also a house in the early game for winning the board – the ping clears up Bloodtear Alchemists, Abyssal Crawlers, and 2/3s that have attacked you. Curving that into a Keeper is not bad.
  • Dioltas x2 – Another experiment. The Tombstone combines badly with Natural Selection and dies to Plasma Storm, but the Dioltas itself doesn’t, and often gets dispelled before it dies anyway. In matchups where you need the defence, having a Dioltas die and then returning it is a ridiculously strong play.
  • Sunsteel Defender x3 – The best turn 1 Flash Reincarnation target, and a very dangerous threat your opponent will feel obliged to kill. I used to have Earth Sister Taygete in this slot, but she’s much worse when you’re going first (see a common theme yet?) because Flashing her out is dreadful. She also dies to Plasma Storm. Sunsteel deals less damage the turn after it comes down, but gets to attack for free, which is pretty ludicrous. Great aggressive card and a great Keeper target.
  • Keeper of the Vale x3 – Our build-around. We deliberately play the worst mana curve in the game just to make the magical value fox sing. Flashing out a Makantor Warbeast and then playing Keeper of the Vale the following turn is a play that’s guaranteed to make your opponent salty (and shortly after that, dead). Getting back Grove Lions is also a key play, and getting back Sunsteel Defenders lets us pile on the pressure.
  • Grove Lion x3 – After Makantor Warbeast and Flash Reincarnation, Grove Lion is the third-most important card in the deck. I originally picked up Keeper Vaath after seeing this reddit thread and thinking “ooh, I wonder if this deck wants Grove Lions”. Boy was I right about that one. Grove Lion is how you can play a control deck that wants to continuously attack with its general, how you can play a slow deck that doesn’t automatically lose to Warbird, how you can get value and beat your opponent’s burst at the same time. The card is insanely powerful even if you plan on never attacking with the 5/5 (I only let the Lion get in harm’s way if I’m absurdly far ahead and on a comfortable life total, or I’ve drawn another one). Flash Reincarnation on Grove Lion isn’t a hugely common play for me, but jamming them on curve absolutely is. Make sure to tuck the Lion behind your general at least, and ideally put it somewhere far away (an occasional handy side effect of having a Chaos Elemental in the deck…). At 5 health there aren’t too many cards that can instantly deal with it at range, and even if it dies you get at least one free attack in, so go ahead and eat that Crystal Cloaker with no downside. Grove Lion is so good that I had to squash the temptation to pretend it wasn’t so I’d be able to win the mirror if I ran into my own deck on ladder. A criminally underplayed card – jam it in your slow control deck (especially anything with General buffs) and watch it win you games.
  • Makantor Warbeast x3 – We’re a Magmar deck; the game might as well auto-fill this slot when you click New Deck > Vaath the Immortal. Nevertheless, this deck makes better use of everyone’s favourite triceratops-thing than any other I’ve seen, thanks to our namesake card, Keeper of the Vale. Resurrecting a Makantor for another board clear and burst of damage is a ridiculous play, and Makantors get more powerful the more of them you have, because your opponent is often forced to play fresh minions bunched up next to their General. They’re good both as removal and card advantage in a slow grindy game, and huge tempo and pressure in a faster game. One of the very best cards in Duelyst, and we’re abusing it beyond its already-high power level.
  • Meltdown x1 – A final experimental addition, Meltdown replaced Silithar Elder. Elder is underwhelming against Cassyva, and doesn’t immediately affect the opponent’s board the way so many of our other expensive cards do. Meltdown addresses that, while still being a big ball of stats when that’s what we need.

Matchups and the sideboard

I actually developed my sideboard live on stream the previous day (videos should be up soon, if they aren’t already by the time this goes live!). Although I’ve built or tweaked sideboards for Magic: the Gathering decks plenty of times, I’ve never done it for Duelyst.

My approach to it was a simple three-stage process:

  • Figure out which matchups I wanted help in. These would be overall bad matchups, decks that had one or two things I really needed to deal with, or decks I thought were going to be popular.
  • Figure out cards I could take out that were bad, and cards I could bring in to help.
  • Faff around with slots and quantities until I had 10 cards I was happy with.

Having played a couple of dozen games with Keeper Vaath as well as general laddering with other decks, I got enough of a picture of the 1.80 meta to know roughly what was out there and what I wanted to beat.


Easily the toughest faction to beat. In most matchups you are the control, but against most flavours of Abyss you can’t win the long game – they have Spectral Revenants as a Makantor equivalent, followed by Variax and/or Obliterate. Super-greedy Nether Summoning Cass builds are probably the hardest counter to Keeper Vaath there is. Against any of this stuff, you need to be the beatdown. The deck has the tools for it – check out my finals match from the tournament if you want to watch Vaath go full SMOrc – but if you draw a slower hand, or one full of control cards, you’re much more likely to struggle.

Against Swarm, I had the Blistering Skorn and two Plasma Storms maindeck as well as the frenzy cards, but that’s not always enough. Wraithlings make Adamantine Claws a lot worse (as well as the forcefield effects), which is awkward since it’s your go-to gear-switching card, so clearing them aggressively is valuable. I decided I wanted a third Plasma Storm in the board, and I knew I was going to be running at least one Lightbender, which tends to help against Abyssian.

Against Nether Summoning decks I wanted something more. I looked around for ways to draw extra cards, and I didn’t find all that much, but Ruby Rifter seemed like a potential pick. I did, however, find one rather interesting bit of janky tech that brought the memes to the table: Zurael, the Lifegiver. If I’m trying to flood the board, and my opponent’s intent on clearing, having a big dork that can undo their hard work seems fantastic.


Generally favourable. Healyonar is a surprisingly good matchup – you have excellent answers to their plays, and almost all of their creatures die to Plasma Storm, Makantor Warbeast, or both. Tempo Argeon is a bit tougher because Plasma Storm is worse and they have a lot of pressure; your typical plan is to kill all their stuff, play Grove Lion and an Earth Sphere or two, and win relatively easily from there. If they stumble in the early- to midgame, or empty their hand and don’t find a Trinity Oath, you’ll usually crush them. Arclyte Regalia is a pain, if they have it.


Vaath mirrors seem great for this deck. You have Grove Lion and Keeper of the Vale and they have two-drops. Starhorn is more awkward – he has a lot of ping to remove artifacts or force fields, easy access to burst, and hard-to-remove Decimuses. You also have five or six cards in your hand for almost the entire game, so he can get zero-effort value from Tectonic Spikes. All that said, your deck is full of very powerful cards and Starhorn’s usually isn’t, so you can batter your way through. Beware of sudden Mandrakes.


The ‘Hai matchup is a challenging one, and requires very careful use of your removal. As usual, Reva is the bigger threat – her Heartseekers make it more difficult to run her out of resources, and frustrate Natural Selection. In theory, all your answers match up well against Songhai – Natural Selection beats Lantern Fox, Plasma Storm cleans up, Makantor is amazing, and so on. Grove Lion is also awesome, although it weakens against Four Winds Magi and Bloodrage Mask.

The biggest issue for you is Killing Edge; if your opponent plays an Edge at the wrong time for you, and suddenly they have a 7/4 ranged you can’t kill, you’re in trouble. An early 5/5 Katara + attack for 8 is also a fearsome play, especially if they have another minion out to avoid some two-mana Darwinism. Against Songhai you will get whacked for a ton of damage at some point; trying to predict when and manoeuvre your game plan to minimise the damage (both literally and metaphorically) seems to be key to the matchup.

Get aggressive. If you give the Songhai player lots of time they’ll probably just kill you. Earth Sphere past the initial burst, forcefield up, get in the opponent’s face and don’t give them any breathing room. This maximises your Makantors and puts them on a serious clock.

As far as sideboarding goes, one of the first cards I thought about was Crossbones – the typical answer to the Mech Faie menace – and that has some very nice splash damage against Reva. I wouldn’t bring it in against Kaleos, since they generally only play Ki Beholder.


Vet lists nowadays seem to pile on the face damage. Any Obelysks that survive, Zirix’s Iron Dervishes, artifacts from both generals, the old tempo Falcius – given this deck doesn’t run that many minions for Zirix to be trading with, the Vet players I’ve come up against seem to default to an aggressive style.

This isn’t inherently a problem – this deck is pretty good against aggro – but it does mean your play has to be quite odd. You’re not necessarily trying to win a value war, but at the same time, it’s extremely important to have Egg Morphs for Aymara Healers and some kind of answer for Nosh’Rak (Thumping Wave is best). You’ll also want to look for Earth Sphere and/or Grove Lion to give you some sustain through all the chip damage, and Natural Selection is as important as ever when your opponent has 0/6 value engines.

Correctly guessing which cards are in your opponent’s deck makes a huge difference here – if you’re planning around Fireblaze Obelysk or Nosh’Rak and they don’t have it (or Autarch’s Gifts, or Wildfire Ankh, or Pax, or…) you can weaken your own strategy quite severely. Pretty much the only card you can almost guarantee is in a Vet player’s deck is Falcius, with Aymara Healer as runner up.

I wouldn’t say sideboarding much against Vet is mandatory, with the exception of the third copy of Thumping Wave. Having 6 transformation cards maximises my ability to kill Aymaras and Nosh’Rak, and Thumping Wave provides a helping of burst if my opponent spends all their mana on threats and assumes they’re safe. Having access to the 3rd Plasma Storm I wanted for Lilithe doesn’t hurt, in case I run into people with lots of Obelysks or Inner Oasis.


“Warbird is overpowered”, they said. Nonsense, I said; here’s a Grove Lion.

Vanar matchups are a bit awkward. Unlike most decks, you can actually afford to take your time in the late-game against Faie once you stick a Lion, which is pretty amazing. On the other hand, Enfeeble is a card and Vanar have a lot of clever tricks that can take you by surprise. Despite all that, I’d call this matchup even to slightly favourable.

Because you have Earth Sphere and Grove Lion, you can to some extent sit around and wait for Faie to exhaust her own resources killing your stuff, then go about winning after she’s done that. Normally, Faie only has to fight for the board for long enough to make Warbird an inexorable death, but forcefield and lots of healing put a stop to that. This means you can legitimately play a controlling game against her, if you’re careful, although you do still want to apply pressure. Some people play infiltrate cards (I even lost a game at the event to Blood Taura + Spirit of the Wild!) so pushing up to Faie and steering her around is valuable.

Against both Faie and Kara, beware of Jax Truesight, Meltdown, and Grandmaster Embla. Plasma Storm beats Jax and walls, Iridium Scale beats walls, and your hard removal kills Meltdown. Forcefield minions are quite good against Meltdown, since they can shrug off its hits.

I considered adding more healing to the sideboard – I thought about Emerald Rejuvenators primarily, but also some cheaper stuff like Azure Herald. Ultimately I decided none of that was worth it; if you have the mana to spare on healing, you can cast Earth Sphere. Finding them isn’t usually the issue. This train of thought did, however, lead me to the (main-deck) pair of Dioltas. Dioltas is useful against Vanar mostly as a Chromatic Cold magnet, but if it survives (or you Keeper it) you can defend yourself for a good couple of turns with the tombstone.

As to stuff I could actually bring in, we have the Crossbones against Mech Faie if that shows up, and splash damage from Thumping Wave (Meltdown, winning races), Lightbender (walls) and Plasma Storm (walls/Jax).

The cards

  • Crossbones x3 – Mech is a thing. I don’t really have good answers to Mechaz0r, so I figured the best play would just be to jam a load of Crossbones in the sideboard and hope. Fortunately, I didn’t run into it (this time).
  • Thumping Wave x1 – Primarily for Grandmaster Nosh’Rak, but can come in any time they have huge things I absolutely have to get rid of at a distance (Meltdown) or a large number of big grindy minions (some Abyssian lists).
  • Lightbender x1 – A catch-all. Sometimes you just need to have a shot at topdecking a dispel effect. I’d bring this in against Vet in general, Healyonar, possibly Mechaz0r, and more besides. I sided this in a few times, but I don’t think I ever played it.
  • Primus Shieldmaster x2 – A fantastic anti-aggro card. Primus Shieldmaster seems underrated in general, but he’s particularly spicy in this deck where you can Flash Reincarnation him (a 3/4 provoke for two mana isn’t bad at all) and of course Keeper him back.
  • Plasma Storm x1 – Swarm Abyss is mean and nasty and can go away. Also randomly good against some Zir’an builds, some Vetruvian builds, and more, but I wouldn’t bring it in unless the opponent’s deck was 75%+ good targets. Two is usually enough, since the card can be quite situational.
  • Ruby Rifter x1 – For control matchups. I wanted some way of drawing cards, and Ruby Rifter is a big must-answer body that gets immediate value then works during my opponent’s turn. Cute against Faie, because every time she Warbirds, Ruby draws me a card. Sadly, this is all theory – I only brought her in once or twice and she didn’t show up.
  • Zurael, the Lifegiver x1 – Hoo boy. The mana curve system saved the best till last. Zurael certainly wins points for being the most amusing card for the commentators in the tournament stream (not to mention the chat). He exists in this deck because at some point I ran into the Nether Summoning Cassyva deck on ladder (already finding Cassyva a bad matchup) and got absolutely wrecked. I realised that I wanted some kind of big swingy power card that would put glory back into my hands, and Zurael seemed like the best fit. You drop two or three powerful minions, the opponent kills them all, and bam! Here they are again. Because of Keeper of the Vale, there’s a natural sequence of Keepering something, having both die, then using Zurael to get the Keeper and its resurrected minion. On top of that, he fits the shell quite well – he’s Flashable at five mana and his 4/7 body is really not bad as a Keeper hit. The random spawning is a bit of a downside to say the least, but the value is real.

Keeper Vaath in the future

So, Keeper of the Vale is back, or what?

I really think this deck has legs. It’s entirely possible that the meta turns into the Shelter for Stray Blaze Hounds next week and I’m forced to go back to Starhorn nonsense, but right now, this deck seems great. It has one particularly bad matchup, and the rest are a mix of close and favourable. If you don’t get too screwed on drawing the cards you need, and play well, the close matchups become reliably winnable. Part of this success may be due to my opponents being unfamiliar with the deck, of course, but it was one of the top tier decks last time it was around, and not that much has changed. Sun shines, grass grows, and playing Makantor Warbeast on turns 2, 3 and 4 will win games of Duelyst.

There are quite a few tweaks I’m tempted to try. One idea is to replace the Young Silithars with two more Chaos Elementals. You lose the ability to play a four-drop on turn 2 going first, but you no longer have a crappy 2/3 in your deck, cluttering up your topdecks and nerfing Natural Selection. Chaos Elemental itself may not be the right card for the job, but it’s certainly entertaining and occasionally massively screws your opponent over.

I’m still on the fence about the Dioltases (Diolti?). While an undeniably powerful card, and it’s nice to have a dispel magnet that clears the way for Overload and Grove Lion, the fact that the 0/10 interacts poorly with quite a bit of your removal can be awkward. It interacts quite well with not dying, which is nice, but I’ve had it annoy me a couple of times. Generally, though, I think Dioltas might be a solid addition to the deck.

I heartily encourage you to build this deck yourself and take it for a spin. If you’re looking to experiment, I would say that any of the creatures at 4 mana or below are replaceable (but try to maintain the deck’s core plan) and so is an Adamantine Claws (I sided one copy out quite a lot). Meltdown isn’t strictly necessary either, but I’ve really liked it as the spicy one-of seven-drop so far.

If you want even more Keeper Vaath, or were curious as to how I arrived at the build I’m on, there’s footage of myself testing the deck and building the sideboard live on stream from the day before the tournament! (The test games don’t use the exact same list; I tweaked it to the current version during the second video.) Having never built a sideboard in Duelyst before, figuring that out on the fly was a fascinating experience, and you can see some of the strengths and weaknesses I covered in the article in the games I played.

I’ll leave you with this quote from the stream as a delightful wrap-up:

“It’s jank, but it works. You’re in the finals.”
– F8D

Adam Thomas
Adam makes videos of himself playing Duelyst, Magic: the Gathering, and whatever else he decides to put together in the future!

He's on Twitch at, currently streaming every Monday at around 8:30pm GMT onwards!
About Adam Thomas 28 Articles
Adam makes videos of himself playing Duelyst, Magic: the Gathering, and whatever else he decides to put together in the future! He's on Twitch at, currently streaming every Monday at around 8:30pm GMT onwards!


  1. I played this deck a little bit. Was horrible. I’m sorry. I can’t get on board with a deck that chooses to play from behind and HOPE the mid to late game goes your way.

    The game is so tempo oriented, you have to hope that you flash out something they can’t deal with, then keeper it soon after while trying to live… it’s just a bad plan.

    I’m a little pissed that this deck got attention due to me spending spirit on the lions.

    • The key is to be patient. Because all your cards are so powerful, you can swing the game around in the middle turns, using your various powerful AOEs or value minions to deal with small stuff and your hard removal to deal with big stuff. Once you’re at four mana or so, the deck is remarkably consistent – because you eschew running all those random 2/3s everyone else has, you can cram in more removal, more big minions and more board advantage plays.

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