Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Shadow Era: Achilles' Lance

Lance Shadowstalker, the Human Rogue. Lately, he's been a popular choice in quick matches, and I'll admit readily to hopping on that bandwagon from day one. Of course, that's not without reason.
Suck it, Altair. Black is back.

The power of this deck lies entirely within Lance's tempo plays. Between Jasmine, Raven, and Anklebreaker, the deck has ten cards, a full quarter of the deck, that come down, disable an ally, and then stay in play after establishing board control.

Now, why is T5 so significant?

Ignore that all the best cards in the game, Plasma Behemoth, Soul Seeker, Dagger of Unmaking, Mind Control, Earthen Protector, Tidal Wave, all of them are T5 plays.

Ill-Gotten Gains costs 4.

Achilles' Lance is optimized to take advantage of the only unilateral draw engine in the game that doesn't have ANY penalty, tempo, life, or otherwise. The game revolves around pivotal T5 plays, not T4. Lance is one of the few decks with a strong play for the fourth turn, AND has a wide variety of five-drop solutions to take back that board after your opponent gets a turn or two of free reign, making it quite possibly the most consistently powerful deck in the game.

Mind you, other than IGG the deck doesn't have much in the way of draw... but you don't really need it. Your cards are just so much more valuable than your opponent's. Anklebreaker, Raven, Jasmine, Aeon, all of these cards are designed to keep multiple enemy allies in check at once. Very few decks can trade cards with you on a one for one basis.

Without further ado, I give you Achilles' Lance.

It's not safe to keep so many sharp
objects near those balloons
Hero (1):

  • 1 Lance Shadowstalker
Allies (21):
  • 3 Kristoffer Wyld
  • 4 Nightshade
  • 1 Puwen Bloodhelm
  • 4 Jasmine Rosecult
  • 2 Aldon the Brave
  • 2 Priest of the Light
  • 2 Raven Wildheart
  • 3 Aeon Stormcaller
Abilities (10):
  • 4 Retreat!
  • 2 Assassination
  • 4 Stop, Thief!
Items (8):
  • 4 Ill-Gotten Gains
  • 4 Anklebreaker

Kristoffer Wyld: Interacts with Assassination, let alone just being a hasty point of damage. Against aggressive human players, I like to hold kris back on T1 on the play to try and kill the enemy kris for value, but otherwise run it out and get that early pressure/distraction. You get the most value off kris with an Assassination, Aldon, or Aeon pump, or as that surprise damage point to break a Jasmine vs Jasmine stalemate.

Puwen: I normally wouldn't play Puwen, but with Lance you can get value from him still late in the game off the shadow ability, not to mention a handful of pump. The extra one-of makes my deck that much more consistently aggressive, which matters more than one might imagine. There's a huge difference between using those two resources on your second turn and passing without a board.
So much vanilla, so little time
Nightshade: It's incredibly annoying at times, but unfortunately struggles against mages or other removal-heavy or multi-target decks. Nevertheless, it's good with Assassination and your pumps, and the constant poking can slowly wear down heavy hitters while you keep them sleeping with Anklebreaker smacks. You can't keep stunning allies; eventually they need to die. Nightshade helps you do that.

Jasmine Rosecult: Raven usually takes the cake when it comes to the T5 Lance trigger, but I've found Jasmine to be suited for both that role AND her customary turn three threat. Unlike Raven, who comes down and disables (possibly kills) an ally, Jasmine comes down, cripples one ally and then gets to attack something completely different, either getting a 2-for-1 deal in or harassing the enemy hero directly. Not that there aren't disadvantages between the two, but Jasmine is much more versatile and so takes the priority slot in this list.

Aldon the Brave: A good body and interacts well with some other cards, but otherwise not too impressive. His uniqueness and the fact that the deck is full of disruption already hurts him where he would otherwise shine, but there's still a few cards he works well with and he helps turn my otherwise useless cheap early drops into threats later on.
So courageous, he'll fight multiple Fire Snakes at the same time.

Priest of the Light: In my honest opinion this card really isn't that good, but there are a few rare opportunities where catching the opponent off guard with one will win you the game. Especially in quick matches when people aren't paying as much attention and may not have noticed their SE is worse for wear, the disruption of what was once a sure thing can throw off even the most veteran of players. PotL is also a pretty good gamewinner in the mirror, despite how fragile he is. On the draw, forcing the enemy Lance trigger back until T6 can keep them on the defensive for the rest of the game.

Raven Wildheart: Just an amazing ally in a deck with Lance. Being able to tank a Fireball helps too. If you've seen this card in action, no other explanation is necessary.

Aeon Stormcaller: Any protector targeted by Lance makes for an amazingly cheap defense, especially useful when facing heroes like Moonstalker that can counter much of your crowd control. Very few decks can get rid of a 3/8 that can't be attacked or counterattacked, which means he can easily buy your team enough time to win a game. Add in his ability to pump (especially useful in a Raven vs Raven stalemate), and you have a lot of bang for your buck.

Retreat!: Both crowd control and a way to keep your own team safe, Retreat is a mandatory inclusion even in decks that DON'T give anything haste. There's inherent card disadvantage in it, but as I said above, the rest of your deck gives enough value that it's okay.

Assassination: Sometimes, I want to deal with threats, not just stall them. Assassination does that job. Also serves as a versatile source of spot removal since much of the deck's disruption has a weak spot or two (like Sandworm beating through Anklebreaker). Also a great way to kill enemy Aeons that would be otherwise problematic, as well as things that can't be attacked for one reason or another.

"It appears zat I am not ze only spy."
Ill-Gotten-Gains: The deck's (only) source of draw, Ill-Gotten Gains nets you one helluva lot of cards if it sits there unanswered. Even against decks that destroy it easily, such as Ter Adun, IGG can be played on a turn you can kill something with only what you have on board, netting you immediate value. The opponent does their thing to get rid of IGG, and you lose 0 cards, not to mention making it more likely to stick an Anklebreaker or another IGG at some point in the future.

Stop, Thief!: All around amazing. This card is essential, if not for most decks in general then purely for the mirror. ST kills IGG And lets you get +1 resource without having to sacrifice, essentially giving you a free extra copy of a card in your hand, infinitely more valuable than just draw In games that go long, not having to sac a fattie is like running an extra copy of that card in your deck. ST also gets rid of What Big Teeth, Dagger of Unmaking, Tome of Knowledge, Soul Seeker, The King's Pride, Jeweler's Dream, and a handful of other annoying cards that make or break games.

Anklebreaker: Essentially, this card turns your hero into a Raven for a few turns. Great damage output, great ability, all-around great card. Lets you stall out while building up SE for your next go, and also provides a 5cc bit of disruption that doesn't cost your shadow energy, unlike Jasmine and Raven. If you have a breaker and a pair of allies against ZhannaX, they'll need to Tidal Wave, Focused Prayer, AND run out an ally to take control of the board, all in one turn. And if they use a FP on your weapon, that means your IGG is safe.

Well, that's it for Achilles' Lance. Stay tuned to The Boweh for more Shadow Era-related content, and other games as well.

Boweh out.


  1. Nice article man. Nice deck. I actually like EP because you can stealth him, and usually when stealthed, unless nova or waved, he's green. Rarely can people get rid of it unless they have their ability active or two spells. Typically when I've casted it, I haven't had to worry about it. I think you know what comes next :) anyways, after aeons on the board, I'll typically buff EP if facing a Mage.

    1. Earthen Protector is fine, but I already have 10 slots dedicated to my T5 play between jas, Raven, and AB, and between them I have every possible situation covered. EP first of all isn't as versatile, and second of all will only win games behind an Aeon. Pretty much anything behind an Aeon will win those games. I don't have a hard time with the mages really, so whatever people are doing to lose consistently against mage decks is at no fault of my list, and as these complaints often come from players who already added EP, I'm fairly certain that adding the card just makes you less consistent and doesn't improve your chances. If you're that worried you're better off playing Spelleaters.