Solafid ‘MaraNudes’, RotB December S-Rank Ladder

Mara here (also known as ‘M83’) with a write-up focusing on Solafid’s December post-Rise of the Bloodborn decks and gameplay, which ended with him at the #1 position on the S-Rank ladder.  He played with a temporarily changed account name of ‘MaraNudes’, and I also temporarily changed my in-game name to ‘SolafidNudes’.  This article relies on input from Solafid on top of my own observations, as I not only tried all of the lists myself but also spectated while talking with him for over a hundred of his games.


Loremaster Faie
The first deck Solafid predominantly ran shortly after the expansion was released was this Faie list. Interesting is the exclusion of White Asp, unlike what I saw from Cranky, who ran a variant with White Asp effectively to Rank #2 around that time.

We see the Solafid-classic 3-copies of every card.  The reasoning for this is consistency: He likes to optimize deck construction around the idea of ‘each card being good in every situation’.  Me personally: I like to run 1- and 2-ofs simply because I like having a few powerful, even-if situational cards.  However, as you can imagine, running such cards minimizes effective card usage (like getting stuck with a Decimate in your hand, even if occasionally such a card allows you to flip some games upside-down).

As might be expected, Solafid ran this deck fairly aggressively.  Enfeeble with Skorn can potentially extend the game a bit, but ultimately you want to run the deck aggro or else it’ll run out of steam.  The deck also takes risks and can be particularly vulnerable to having Faie’s Concealing Shroud dispelled.  The plays can be pretty clutch, and the deck was incredibly fun to watch.


Standard Cassyva
A few months ago, after experimenting with new Shim’zar cards, players became aware that standard Kara was still top-tier. Similarly, post-Bloodborn, standard Cass has been quickly rediscovered as top-tier. The only revision for fast Cass is the inclusion of Punish.

Not only did Solafid rise in standing with this deck, this along with the above Loremaster Faie scored him a first-place victory during one of this month’s Sunday Night Fights.  Having cast this tournament, I noticed a lot of match upsets and some really interesting, non-standard or ‘meme’ decks performing surprisingly well throughout.  Nonetheless, Solafid’s strong positioning and deck consistency eventually took the tournament.

Surprising is the exclusion of Rite of the Undervault, and Solafid is presently running this list minus both a Bloodtear Alchemist and Spelljammer for two Rites.  However, both lists have perhaps performed similarly well, so it’s not clear which is the better choice for a fast build such as this.


Wall Faie
It might be unexpected to see a Wall variant of Faie, but despite its particular weakness to aoe like Skorn, this list constituted a significant amount of Solafid’s wins. This deck particularly comes out when it seems players are eschewing aoe, and during that time it dominates, otherwise being crippled by hostile tech (Tempest, Ghost Lightning, Skorn, etc.). Magmar and Cassyva are also particularly tough match-ups.

From spectating, I noticed that Solafid plays the same deck (whichever deck that happens to be) over long stretches of time, not giving up on a list if there’s a loss but rather tweaking it to fit the meta predominating ladder at that specific time.  This list began without the Frostburns and Spelljammers and instead included two L’Kian and a second Aspect of the Mountains.

Something that I learned from Solafid is that walls should be guarded much more than I was accustomed to.  I used to play my walls fairly aggressively, as I thought one of the main purposes of walls was to stall the game for Faie’s bbs, which certainly puts opponents on a clock.  However, it always seems good to leave a wall out of reach for use in transformations with the various Vanar aspects.  Even the simple Aspect of the Fox (used on a protected wall) can deal six damage (attacking across two turns) for only one mana – an extremely efficient mana-to-damage conversion.

This build is partly a result of Solafid’s fondness for Wall Faie.  Here’s his old, Wall Faie build:
Patch 1.76’s changes to Cryogenesis and Spelljammer (both moved from 3 to 4 mana) made Solafid’s Wall Faie not possible in the pre-RotB meta.  The new list that emerged post-RotB was a result of Solafid trying to revive a favorite deck of his by incorporating new cards.  The result was a solid deck, with the aforementioned weaknesses.  Enfeeble combos really nicely with your walls, equalizing their stats with those of the enemy minions and letting you trade 1-for-1 with each of your walls.  Jax and Enfeeble synergize particularly well, alongside all the standard synergies that remain from the original build.


Aggro Zoo Argeon
Here, we have another Solafid 3-of deck, his current Argeon build. Recently, Minmaxer (and his alt Maxminer) impressively powered to the top of the ladder with his aggro Reva build (see Minmaxer’s excellent write-up here). In an attempt to regain his top-standing, Solafid at first relied on variants of the decks we’ve previously discussed, but it only set him back further, perhaps as the meta had adapted with more dispel to deal with the plethora of Faie and Cass dominating the top of ladder.  To deal with this, Solafid put together this Argeon build with which he was able to retake the #1 spot.

What’s surprising about Solafid’s Argeon build is how, because it doesn’t run any spells besides Holy Immolation, it happens to not run any single-target removal.  What I learned is that in a meta with a lot of cheap removal you are better off running a bunch of strong, low-cost minions, which Argeon is particularly suited for, and you can ignore the penalties of not having answers to big threats.  The reasoning is that you make single-target removal less effective at controlling the board if you can develop multiple threats, and you can assume you won’t run into big minions requiring your own removal because the current meta punishes big minions with cheap removal.

The list is based off of Solafid’s older tempo Argeon, but things like Afterblaze were cut for Primus Fist because you can’t afford two-for-one removals on Afterblaze’d minions.  If you wonder why this would be a two-for-one removal, since Afterblaze replaces itself when used on Zeal minions, then note that Afterblaze makes your Zeal minions particularly vulnerable to dispel, so it tended to be a buff Solafid interestingly reserved for his non-Zeal minions.

Again, Argeon has access to many of the strongest two-drops, which coupled with his bbs, leads to a dominating board that quickly closes out games.  This aggressive no-removal deck, however, would be particularly weak to a list with big minions.   However, a tempo-heavy meta with cheap removal discourages running big minions, so a deck such as this one doesn’t have to worry about struggling against big minions and can thereby get away with not carrying removal, instead focusing on out tempo-ing opponents.


End of December S-Rank Ladder
The last week of the ladder was particularly exciting: Solafid and Minmaxer each struggled, trading back and forth the top spot on the ladder.  Minmaxer would come back online and add another win to his streak, and so Solafid would have to come back and flawlessly add another win in order to regain his place.  At one point, Solafid fell back, losing some games, and had to get a 20-game win streak with Argeon to recover (with the aforementioned Argeon build).

On the last day, Minmaxer took the number one spot again, but Solafid was met with misfortune.  He ended up losing three games in a row with Cass, which nearly shut him out, nearly making him unable to regain his place.  With only a few hours to go, Solafid swapped to a variant of his Loremaster Faie running Frostbone Naga, and with a gripping 14-game win streak was thus able to secure the #1 spot for the month of December!


Tempo Dervish Zirix
Exhausted from his climb on the last day, Solafid couldn’t participate in Humans’ Race to S, which was won by Dragall running Vaath.  However, when Solafid finally emerged from his slumber, he came back to a new season of Duelyst, and in a single session made his way up to S-Rank #1 with an impressive 88% winrate.

What was especially surprising was Solafid’s unusual deck choice: his own tempo variant of Zirix.  This seems to betray conventional wisdom that Vetruvian is currently bottom tier.  I tried his list out myself, getting a very high winrate, and a few things particularly struck me…

First off, the list runs a Solafid classic arsenal of 3-ofs for consistency.

Second, like his Argeon build, his Zirix build both doesn’t run any single-target removal and runs an aggressive, low curve.  As was discussed, this kind of build is favored against a tempo heavy meta but would be weak against lists with big threats.

Third, we see the inclusion of the Solafid-tempo deck core: Bloodtear Alchemist, Lightbender, and Spelljammer.  These three cards seem to form the foundation for many of his recent tempo lists.  Bloodtear efficiently offers opportunities for gaining board control, establishing or countering favorable trades by pinging off remaining enemy 1-health minions.  Lightbender offers opportunities for value dispels, while leaving a much more substantial body than Ephemeral Shroud would.  And lastly, Spelljammer offers both a substantial body and card draw to help maintain tempo.

Fourth is the absence of any Rise of the Bloodborn cards, which is unsurprising considering the poverty of strong, new cards for vet.

Fifth, we have the surprising inclusion of the oft-neglected Scion’s Third Wish.  Ever since starting Duelyst in August, I don’t believe I have ever seen a competitive deck run this card.  Of course, I was never around during the reign of old Third Wish, and that was a completely different card.  The current Third Wish, however, offers a few things that may not be noticed at first glance:

Since the nerf to Siphon Energy, Vetruvian has had a lot of trouble dealing with ranged and protected threats.  Third Wish indirectly offers a way to reach and remove remote threats.

Furthermore, board position is unmistakably valuable and movement distance is a kind of resource.  Melee minions that are out of range are effectively useless, which is what makes cards like Repulsor Beast, Demonic Lure, and Juxtaposition forms of soft-removal.  They make a threat irrelevant via position-removal.  If turns are resources, then by virtue of that, movement spaces are a kind of resource.  Each turn a minion has to move before it can do something matters enormously, and on top of that, you fail to make valuable trades if you can’t reach the right targets.  That is why Scion’s Third Wish is perhaps a card that shouldn’t be be ignored; Third Wish both reduces the time it takes one of your dervishes to reach an enemy and gives you the flexibility to pick and choose your trades.

 

I hope you enjoyed this article and, as I did, appreciated the opportunity to learn from Solafid’s excellent deck-building and positional prowess.  Solafid (‘MaraNudes’ below) remains one of Duelyst’s most successful ladder players.

Mara

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