Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Dark Prophecies: Infinite Control

With the full set spoiled yesterday, the forums and everywhere else have been abuzz with activity. Everyone seems desperate to break the new cards when the test server goes online, and I'm no different.

Today, I'll share with you all one of the lists I'm tooling around with. It's nothing too original, but contains plenty of cards from the new set. Feel free to try it out yourself, or adapt it to fit your own style of play.

I bring you Zaladar's Infinite Control.

Hero (1)
Allies (16)

The deck plays very similarly to current Zaladar control decks. In Call of the Crystals, they're designed to keep the opponent off the board as much as possible while getting small shots in over time. Your win condition is pure attrition.

The new threats for shadow, Darkwood Wraith and Furrion Terror, help this immensely. Similar to Shadow Knight, these cards come down and give a little something back. However, they serve as disruption rather than a cantrip. It's like having a giant Death Mage Thaddeus.

Time for the card-by-card.

Zaladar - Why Zal over Elementalis? simple.

Lightning Strike.

Not only is removal great as an ability, but Zaladar can use it to harass the opposing hero while keeping the board clear. It's this recurring theme of doing two things at once that made the old Zal work, and Infinite Control is no different.

Death Mage Thaddeus - Very few allies have immediate value when summoned in Call of the Crystals. This is one of them. The poke from Thaddeus is an essential tool, as Zaladar's ability often comes one point away from killing early ally drops. Thaddeus provides that last point. Thaddeus is also one of the few allies that deals noncombat damage, useful against some new beaters like Ironhide Karash. Lastly, Thaddeus makes an excellent target for Sacrificial Lamb, especially being unique.

Infernal Gargoyle - While not as effective at immediate value, Stoneskin is pretty difficult to kill. This ally works well when there isn't yet a target to ping, and works well against an enemy Thaddeus, among other cards. Most opponents will struggle to deal a finishing blow to this ally.

Magma Jackal - Of all the cards in the deck, this is the one I'm least sure of and the one I'm most prepared to remove. The trick is that this ally is extremely meta-dependent. the more weapons and Lightning Strikes floating around, the worse the Jackal becomes. While he could work exceptionally well as some extra killing over and above Mind Control, I will admit that playing him could be a gamble. If you find yourself struggling when the test server goes live, consider cutting some or all of these and replacing them with Sliver of Shadow.

Darkwood Wraith - Nothing says 'screw first-turn-advantage' like an ally with a Retreat built in. The wraith can generate an insurmountable amount of tempo. Five health is a passable amount, too. He struggles against other high-end allies, but that's what the Mind Controls are for.

Furrion Terror - The reasoning behind this card is the same as Thaddeus, but a slightly larger scale. While Zal might need +1 to deal with some early allies, later allies take more damage. When +1 isn't good enough, Furrion Terror provides +2. While it's true that he can sometimes hurt your own allies, he won't be responsible for killing them. Besides, you're bound to Sac Lamb some of them later anyways.

Word of the Prophet - A while back, I went pretty crazy over this card and its various applications. Here, it's used to sculpt your early hand to avoid saccing important cards like Mind Control and Shadow Font. With Bad Santa in hand nothing is lost, but if you don't have the draw and don't want to gamble, you can always just sacrifice the Prophet instead. It's a great card with the right hand, but if you don't have that right hand there's still some use in otherwise dead cards. That's the beauty of the Shadow Era resource system.

Shriek of Vengeance - Newsflash: Item destruction is good. Not only does this destroy all the same old cards you love to hate out, Shriek targets some new annoyances like Pride of the Mountain and Breastplate of Vitality.

Bad Santa - The second half to Word of the Prophet. Santa Bombing(TM) has never been better, but the simple fact is the low cost and high speed. Antimatter is extremely slow and expensive, so a bit more difficult to rely on. Because Zaladar's cards do multiple things at the same time, you don't actually need that many of them. Instead of the constant source for draw, Infinite Control uses burst draw from Bad Santa and Sacrificial Lamb to stay in the game.

Sacrificial Lamb - The other burst draw. Since the majority of your allies have immediate effect when played, you really don't mind losing them immediately for a card boost. Sac Lamb also works well on any allies that have been crippled, disabled, or otherwise rendered harmless while remaining in play.

Shadow Font - Viewed by many to be an automatic inclusion in Zaladar decks, I have to say they're right. While technically a little worse than Lightning Strike, the advantage is that you can play font in advance, then use your energy alongside other cards at the same time (such as Furrion Terror) in a later turn.

Acid Jet - While without the cantrip effect of Ley Line Nexus, Acid Jet's advantages are threefold.

1. The lower resource cost.
2. The ability to target cards that cost less than five resources.
3. A way to get around Lythite and similar.

For all these reasons, I'm opting to play Jet over LLN.

Mind Control - This is that other card that people consider automatic inclusion in elemental decks, and for good reason. Straight-up removal is hard to come by in Shadow Era, and this card is removal plus some damage and potentially durability loss. The most feared removal in the game aside from Tidal Wave, Mind Control is definitely worth a full set of slots in Infinite Control.

Infinity Core - And finally, the card that gives Infinite Control its namesake. Infinity Core is the new card that combines the sustainability of Soul Reaper with the reshuffling of Eternal Renewal. It used to be that you had to choose one or the other, but no longer.

Think of Infinity Core as Hidden Machine on a card. You get Lone Wolf's constant stream of heals, plus the larger deck as if you brought millstalker's 60 card stack. The advantage, of course, is that unlike Hidden Machine you actually get to play allies.

The goal of Infinite Control early will be to get to five resources on turn five with as good a hand and as much life as possible. Don't be afraid to run out a gargoyle to tank early damage; Infinity Core ensures you won't run out of allies ever.

When you're up to five and five, you have a bit more leeway over your actions. Many of your large plays demand five resources, but others don't. If you have the extra cards, try to eventually get yourself up to at least seven resources. That's enough to make one of your largest plays and a burst draw or iCore activation at the same time.

There's a few new tricks, but it's more the same old tricks with new cards. One example is Darkwood Wraith, which lets you Retreat before a Bad Santa even if you're not a human hero.

Other than that, players already familiar with playing Zaladar should feel right at home. I encourage you to try it out for yourself, then adjust to your liking.

See you on the test server.

Boweh out.


  1. have you made any adjustments to his deck after playtesting?

  2. Maybe some 2resources ally like carnivor
    And more acid jet
    And true magma jackal is not that helpful

    Why u include 4 DMT ? Since its unique..

    1. he incudes 4 dmt because it is the most effective 3cc ally for the deck. Since it's unique, extra copies can be used for resources, or targeted by sac lamb.

    2. In addition to that, you want DMT in your hand ASAP to ensure 4 damage on turn 4 with Zal's ability and get rid of those nasty */4 foes.

  3. hey boweh, do you think you will ever write magic content again or are you done with the game for good?

    1. This is an excellent question, actually. All I will say is never say never. I still play Magic, though not as much as I did when writing YMtG, and the biggest reasons for that are about finances and the inconvenience of travel. If I ever have some dallah billz to burn, I might consider recording some MtGO drafts, or something of the like, but I can't see myself going back to Magic as I was before unless, say, Shadow Era ends up getting shut down and I need something new to talk about. Hopefully, though, that's not happening for a while yet.