Howdy folks! Welcome to my first article post-Rise of the Bloodborn and, even more importantly, my first article over here on 9moons! Hopefully this is the beginning of a beautiful, Duelyst-focused relationship!
For those that missed it, I recently uploaded my first post-Rise video over on my YouTube channel. In it, I revisited what is perhaps one of my favorite archetypes since Bloodborn Spells were introduced to Duelyst almost a year ago. Yup, it’s another Healonar video.
Sidenote: Or is it “Healyonar?” I honestly don’t know which name I prefer. This one pleases my witty sensibilities more–it’s literally smashing “heal” and “Lyonar” together. “Healonar” sans ‘y’ however just sounds better. I don’t know. You guys tell me.
But I digress.
Yes, the oft-mocked Zir’an is one of my favorite generals. Despite the fact that I won the third Road to the Monolith invitational immediately after the introduction of both BBSs largely on the back of a Zir’an list, she’s never gotten the love that I wish she deserved. Well, I’m hoping that’ll change as Rise of the Bloodborn has brought a host of awesome new toys for the archetype.
First, the decklist:
I go into a brief discussion of the deck in the video linked above. For those who would prefer to read, I’ll elaborate on some of the new additions from RotBB here.
Behold, the Holy Grail. This card is the lynchpin of the deck as three cards for four mana is an impressive deal. Indeed, it’s powerful enough that Argeon folks are running it despite not having any direct lifegain synergy in the list.
We do have synergy though! Being able to cast this card while also triggering our Sunrisers and Sunforge Lancers is icing on an already delicious cake. Both aspects of this card lend itself to playing the exact type of game we want to be playing: long and grindy with the ability to outlast most opponents. I dropped my Ruby Rifters for these bad boys have have never looked back.
Scintilla is an amazing card. At 3/4 for three mana, her stats are already up to snuff; of course, it’s her ability that we’re playing her for. In Zir’an specifically, we’re able to drop her and use our BBS for two life gain triggers. This is incredibly relevant, as it creates a free Holy Immolation play if we can drop Sunriser as an 8-mana play. Moreover, her addition meant that we were able to cut down on the Emerald Rejuvenators which largely served this exact purpose. With Scintilla, we’re giving up a point of power for a non-symmetrical, potentially repeatable effect on a body that can come down a turn earlier if need be.
The last new card that we’re adding is innocuous but incredibly powerful.
One of the biggest issues that had plagued my Healonar lists in the past was the inability to cheaply and effectively stop opposing threats. While Lucent Beam exists, its 2-mana price tag meant it wasn’t a terribly efficient play in the early game. This was exacerbated by the fact that it was only dealing a modest two damage before you got the healing train going.
Draining Wave changes that in every way for the better. Yes, it doesn’t have the ability to go face like Beam can. Yes, it actually hurts us as well. The upsides largely outweigh these downsides though. The self-damage can actually be a blessing in disguise as well, for example if we need to proc our healing but we’re unfortunately at full health. If you’re really clever/lucky, you can also use it to kill another create alongside Red Synja. Boom!
I can’t overstate how much tempo you can by dropping a 3-drop and killing off an opposing player’s first turn play as Player 2.
What’s not included
Equally as important to why certain cards are included is discussing why specific arguably obvious cards are not included.
I’ve already briefly touched on Lucent Beam’s omission. While a solid card, it’s not efficient enough for what I’d like to do with this deck. Perhaps in another, more aggressive shell it might fit–one in which dealing four to the face was more in tune with what we wanted. As it stands, I prefer the cheaper Draining Wave and more versatile Tempest to this.
Speaking of aggressive slants to Lyonar, Lightchaser is nowhere to be found. I’ve been somewhat underwhelmed by the 3/2 in the past. He’s extremely fragile at the beginning, the exact time when we don’t want a fragile 2-drop. With the introduction of Scintilla to the game, I wonder if he’s better now since we can rocket up to a 5/4 pretty quickly. If you wanted to experiment with him even in this more controlling version, I’d encourage you to try him out. I know I’m going to as a next step.
Excelcious is tempting, for sure. Infact, I was tempted; I tried him out. In the half dozen or so games where he was in the deck, I cast him exactly zero times. He was also too expensive so I constantly found myself replacing him, never to find him again in the late game. Perhaps I just got unlucky, but he felt largely underwhelming based on my “literally never casting him” stat.
In addition, even when played, he doesn’t actually do anything. Here’s this 8-drop that has no Opening Gambit or Dying Wish trigger. What’s to stop our opponent from just easily dispatching him via Punish or Onyx Bear Seal or Aspect of the Wolf or… the list goes on. For an 8-drop, I expect to be blown away. I’m just not.
Meltdown v. Red Synja
When Meltdown was spoiled, like many, I thought he would run rampant on the game. After all, he’s reminiscent of HS’s Ragnaros, an obnoxious finisher in a lot of lists. After mulling it over, I’m fairly sure that–at least in this list in particular– we’re more interested in Red Synja for a couple of reasons.
First, and most importantly, her effect is able to be directed with pinpoint precision (most of the time). If I’m playing a serious deck, I don’t like to be surprised. (Conversely, when I’m playing a meme deck, I do like to be surprised. Spin the wheel, Mind Steal!) I like my minions to do exactly what I expect them to do and I’ll go to great lengths to minimize randomness. Synja wins over Meltdown in that regard handily.
Second, her ability comes online earlier. Meltdown is, essentially, an 8-mana play since you’re also always going to want to play and immediately activate him. Ol’ Red on the other hand comes down on seven and immediately gets to work.
There are a few ways that Meltdown wins over Synja. He can go face; he doesn’t demand damage be dealt to our general. In the end though, I’d prefer in this deck more control over what I’m hitting and I’m not sure that the general health is a problem since we’re gaining life left and right.
Zir’an v. Argeon?
Is Zir’an actually better than her burly brother-in-arms? After all, Argeon’s BBS is objectively fairly powerful and is the default general for Lyonar for almost every non-Healonar deck there is.
I honestly haven’t played that much Argeon-helmed healing focused decks to say one way or the other; however, the few times that I have, he’s seems fairly strong as a stand-in. It’s nice to be able to to trigger effects like Sunriser or Sun Sister essentially whenever you want with Zir’an, but with the introduction of cards like Scintilla, it’s possible that the help from the general is largely unnecessary.
If I were planning to use Argeon as my general in this sort of deck, I’d likely opt for the most aggressive approach, one that uses Lightchaser and Lucent Beam as discussed above. I probably wouldn’t do a straight swap here, although I’d be very interested if anyone wanted to give it a go and report back.
Abyssian: The various flavors of Abyssian have historically felt pretty solid. Almost all of them play a full playset of Kelaino, which is just about the best card to see your opponent play as Healonar. Sunrisers actually mean you’re doing extra damage on attacks now, and so on. Spectral Blade is another not-that-uncommon card that we can punish them for similarly.
We also tend to have a solid late game as well, with Oaths providing lots of card draw, the aforementioned ability to punish them for playing one of their best cards, and plenty of removal to help deal with otherwise problematic minions. Variax can throw a wrench in those plans, but we’ve got some great AOE in the deck such that we should be able to keep the board clear of enemies, before and sometimes after. If you can, kill them before a Variax comes out.
Starhorn Burn: Unsurprisingly, I’ve found this matchup rather favorable. They’re trying to burn us out, but our cards are so healing-focused that we’re often able to easily keep our head above water.
The biggest issue in this matchup is not being aggressive enough. Their deck can sculpt a great hand if you give it plenty of time (e.g. Decimus, Flash, double Tectonic Spikes), so it’s important to make sure our opponent is having to deal with threats in a difficult manner. Don’t put your general in harm’s way if you can, make sure to keep your hand relatively free so you can collect on those Entropic Gazes, play around Makantor and you should be fine.
Vanar: Like Starhorn, I’d say this is a favorable matchup. You’ve got plenty of lifegain to weather Warbirds and your minions will generally be larger than theirs. Enfeeble can be super annoying–their Wall token just took down your Ironcliffe–so if you’re able to sandbag some threats, that might be wise.
The biggest issues you’ll have to face are dealing with swarms of creatures, especially something like a Kara buff’d Jax or Embla. Play with these threats in mind.
Argeon: I’d venture to say that Argeon is one of the harder matchups, depending on their build. Generally their BBS is more proactive and it enables them to kill your minions. This result in your BBS losing much of its power. They also get to play with lots of the same toys that you do–Holy Immolation, for example–which means that it’ll be hard to find a trump in the matchup. Finally, this deck isn’t running a whole lot of cards that effectively deal with 10-health creatures as most of our removal is damage-based. This means that Divine Bond is a hard card to preemptively deal with. Try to clear their board if you can and always try and play around Holy Immolation.
I love this deck, and if you watched the video, you’ll note that I went on a ten-game win streak with this bad boy at the top of S-Rank. I also had a twitter follower post their 10-game win streak with the deck, so maybe I’m on to something.
Chime off in the comments with questions, concerns, insults, you name it! Thanks for reading.