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Toczik’s Merric Dagoth (First Draft)
3 [card]Rapid Shot[/card]
3 [card]Shadow Shift[/card]
3 [card]Awakened Dreamer[/card]
3 [card]Felldew/Elytra Noble[/card]
1 [card]Luzrah gro-Shar[/card]
3 [card]Mournhold Traitor[/card]
3 [card]Suran Pawnbroker[/card]
3 [card]Thieves Guild Recruit[/card]
3 [card]Archer’s Gambit[/card]
3 [card]Cornerclub Gambler[/card]
3 [card]Daggerfall Mage[/card]
3 [card]Manic Jack/Manic Mutation[/card]
3 [card]Sanctuary Pet[/card]
3 [card]Fighters Guild Steward[/card]
3 [card]Lightning Bolt[/card]
3 [card]Nervous Giant[/card]
1 [card]Queen Barenziah[/card]
3 [card]Gnarl Rootbender[/card]
3 [card]Hand of Dagoth[/card]
3 [card]Torval Extortionist[/card]
3 [card]Cradlecrush Giant[/card]
2 [card]Aspect of Hircine[/card]
1 [card]Tazkad the Packmaster[/card]
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The deck concept has been significantly refined, to keep the commentary/information on this draft it will remain unaltered and the new version can be seen here:
Greetings! My name is Toczik and I am resurfacing from the abyss with all the madness that has been released. Ok, fine, I took a long break after finding the game a bit stale – but that has now (finally) changed!
I was somewhat known early in the game for being a huge advocate of Merric Battlemage and would always bring it as one of my decks in tournaments – and I believe Merric is about to make a comeback through the isles of Dagoth.
I want to be clear, though, this is not the same Merric we used to know with Atromancers + charge creatures, but Merric was notorious for (and the reason I respect the deck so much) having the ability to shift gears at every turn with various lines of combinations while still maintaining an overall midrange “feel” rather than a combo “feel”.
What Isle of Madness brought?
Well, everything – but let’s make sure to know why Merric fell out of favor. The most recent nerfs was back when Thief of Dreams went from 5/5 to 4/4 and Supreme Atromancer was changed from 9 to 10 cost. This crippled the deck’s 5 drop play and moved it’s endgame an entire turn later. Merric still worked, but not nearly as efficiently and other decks simply rose above it.
Isle of Madness introduced a very strong 5 drop Gnarl Rootbender, along with Manic Jack/Mutation. Both of the cards can abuse the re-ward effects effectively – one of the central themes of the classic Merric Battlemage.
Dagoth vs Battlemage
I initially tested Battlemage with Shimmerene Peddler – and while it was successful, it wasn’t quite working as good as I had hoped. There may still be a better way to build Battlemage, but Dagoth offered additional resources to synergize all the deck’s cards at the cost of having more cards.
Dagoth offered a few resources – Shadow Shift, Archer’s Gambit, and Felldew/Elytra Noble which combo’d with the initial idea of Gnarl Rootbender cycling free cards to draw if not used functionally prior to turns 5-7. The ability to switch lanes, ping with lethal, and combo in unique ways is extremely powerful.
Deck Concept and Card Choices
Like the original Merric Battlemage, this deck is all about how you use your resources. There’s a high skill cap and small mistakes in Merric can easily lead to a loss. Overall the deck should play reactionary to your opponent, and if your opponent does not do anything to react to then it is simply a midrange deck playing out on curve.
The curve of the deck looks a bit off, but it’s not. A lot of the 2 drops are actions, but you want to also play enough 2 drop creatures to always play a creature on turn 2 without the coin or have a Firebolt/Rapid Shot. Thieves Guild Recruit (the last adjustment made curve-wise in testing) should not be underestimated. Simply having a creature on turn 2 is the most important thing and activates your Shadow Shifts, Archer Gambit’s, and Felldew’s for turn 3 in cases of awkward opening hands.
I’m going to outline some card choices below and what I tested previously no longer in the deck. Remember this set is very new, so likely some choices are not optimized yet, but I definitely think this is the current direction of the deck:
Cyriel/Fork of Horripilation – both of these cards are the most cut-able in my opinion, especially Fork. In my Battlemage version I used Unstable Madman (but I also had Sentinal Battlemace in the deck) and he didn’t fit here as well. This could also be 1-2 Hlaalu Sharpshooter’s – I haven’t tested Sharpshooter enough to know the best ratios.
*In the list provided, Fork is replaced with a 3rd Steward – testing is inconclusive if Fork is worth the slot.
Nervous Giant – this is the first card you might red flag. I think it is, in fact, best – but only if you play around red-colored decks properly. You pretty much have to always hold it in your hand until you think they do not have a ping, put a ward on it the turn you play it, or try to wait and throw it with a Cornerclub Gambler. As long as you do that, it’s a very strong 4 drop and simply fantastic against non-red decks. The other options are Icy Shambles, Breton Conjurer, or Sentinel Battlemace. All 3 were tested and in my opinion Shambles was too slow against control decks, Breton can work, but uses resources that simply have better combos such as Gnarl or Ward + Stewart, and Battlemace is definately playable, but can feel clunky and likely would be best to run Skilled Blacksmith – but in testing those adjustments weren’t as consistent.
Fighters Guild Steward – the star of the show, really, this card opens up so many combos it’s hard to overstate it’s value. For now I’ll just mention that one of the most frustrating things for Midrange Dagoth is playing Hand and then Hand is shackled which pivoted the game out of your control and that’s one of many synergies this opens up. Later in the game there’s also ideas of Cradlecrush Giant + Steward on 10 to clear boards, Ancano + Steward on 12 to produce lethal damage, etc etc. I’ve tried 2 and 3 of her and I’m still not sure which is best.
Gnarl Rootbender – of course you’re insane not to run him, but I want to just put a helpful tip: against colors that do not have damage removal (Lightning Bolt, Firebolt, charge if in the field lane) but instead rely on hard removal like Piercing Javelin, Edict of Azura, etc … do NOT be afraid to cycle Firebolts/Rapid Shots off Gnarl in situations where you do not have a strong follow up next turn.
Torval Extortionist – here’s a big choice. Torval or Blood Dragon? I don’t run Mighty Conjuring, but if I did it would be Blood Dragon instead. I initially tested Conjuring, but too often it would just be silenced or removed somehow with lethal, Belligerent Giant, etc. Since this deck doesn’t run Conjuring, it can run Torval who in addition to combo’ing with Steward and Archer’s Gambit, is still hard to kill and often will live/die to the same thing Blood Dragon did. It cannot be understated how strong this card can simply win a game off the back of a strong Steward/Archer’s Gambit play. When not combo’ing, it still threatens a lot of damage and if in the shadow lane can make it awkward for the opponent to play guard.
Aspect of Hircine – simply a strong late game card making the deck have 3 Tazkad charges if needed, but the option to guard up a lane is strong as well – especially off a Torval combo on turn 6-7.
Overall I really think Merric is in a strong position right now in the emerging meta. Isle of Madness was a great addition to Legends and I can’t wait to see what will be at the top after the dust has settled. I’m betting Merric will be one way or another.
Thanks for reading,