This guide will discuss which cards are auto-include for competitive play, which can be safely dusted and how to organize a metadeck strategy.
Deckbuilding Basics / Mana Curve
Most cardgames focus on tempo-based play [tempo is the relationship between each players hand, board and remaining life on a turn-by-turn basis] so it is essential to include sufficient cards at 1-3 cost range, particularly ones that can create / buff or remove a minion.
This consideration is heavily rooted in the principle that if your opponent begins to deploy cards before you it can result in being behind in Tempo for the remainder of the match, barring any sort of hard removal / board clearing options which should be saved until the last possible moment anyway.
Remember that low cost is not only relevant to the first few turns of play, but also in crucial midgame rounds where your ability to combo 2 or more cards is more significant than having expensive cards to play on later rounds, particularly if your opponent has the ability to block, debuff or remove / bounce those cards from the board on the following turn.
As such you may expect to compose between 40 - 50 % of any deck using cards in the 1 - 3 cost range, with 1 - 2 cost covering up to half of that amount [ between 15 - 20 cards for a 40 card deck, or up to 25 for a 50 card deck]. If this seems like a lot, consider that more expensive cards will rely on the presence of cheaper units / abilities in order to enhance their own board presence, create openings to attack or bait crucial spells from your opponent; without these noble zergs you will be left with just an expensive sitting duck.
Which early game cards [between 1-4 mana] are Auto-include for each faction
This list may vary slightly between decks, so each will be given a brief explanation of its benefits and / or application.
Faction relies on midrange aggro building into powerful lategame combos.
- Honed Edge - using just 1 of these gives a chance to have when you need it without stealing focus from better cards.
- Jaunt - can disrupt your opponent's strategy or help preserve valuable units, having just 1 is clutch but may include more based on preference.
- Ravine Guardian - you will want this to protect fragile minions with better abilities.
- Ensnaring Serpent - the ability to Immobilize enemy minions will be clutch in higher-level play.
- Freki Sidecar - absolutely one of the best minion abilities in the game.
- Giant's Stairway - + 3 / 3 is a significant buff that persists so its worth using just 1.
- Black Hatter - as mythics go this is one of the best but you will want to deploy it on a buffed zone so your opponent can't nuke it right away.
- Junkyard Valhalla one of the more useful mythics because it will continue to produce value unless your opponent can remove it somehow.
- Odinthrone - Alpha Strike can win games easily and card draw is a bonus.
Faction relies on synergy and board control to outsmart opponent.
- Verdant Jungle - ramping is powerful here but you probably dont want more than 1.
- Yahui - must have for every deck as it is probably the best 2 cost minion in the game.
- Pack Mentality - having 1 of these at the correct time can turn the board to your advantage.
- Helm of Conscription - having 1 of these gives u the most out of other minions in mid game.
- Blood Idol - 7 hps on a 3 cost card is amazing and helps control enchanted zones.
- Pandemic - allows you to overcome the mid-game curve if your units fall behind in stats, having 1 of these and timing it correctly should result in immediate tempo gain.
- Incubation Chamber - a good way to bring cheap units up to speed if your opponent cant control the board, you probably dont need more than 1.
- Enchanteater - one of the only cards in the game that can remove enchantments, having low dmg but high hps means it can carry buffs well.
- Goliath's Web - not essential but one of the only ways to deal with Alpha Strike other than Suppression means it may be worth using 1.
Relies on early aggro and control to secure board advantage.
- Carny Lug - cheaper than Mistwalker Gate with a body attached.
- Amnesia - allows you to kill minions without trading so functions as a removal.
- Freki Huntress - giving this minion Rush or a free standard action is essential to its viability.
- Hekate's Wheel - this is crucial as Ward preserves your units and ignores opponent's buffs.
- Terpsichore Muse - no reason not to use this as its low cost gives priority over other mythics.
- Faun of Decay - having just 1 of these may help remove a troublesome enchantment.
Relies on synergy to overwhelm the board.
- Grinning Kolobok - you may want to save it until you can buff or protect with other cards.
- Rewind Hex - absolutely one of the best cards in game given the power of enchantments.
- Marching Orders - having just 1 of these can secure a lethal round.
- Gallows Boy - having Ward guarantees your opponent wont just bounce it.
- Born- Again - this guarantees you will have cannon fodder for blocking strong units.
- Synapse Overclock - Alpha Strike can win games easily.
- Circle of Protection - having just 1 of these can set up a winning round.
- Night Hag - perfect for neutralizing units with Swift or Teleport.
- Invisible City - card draw is scarce so having 1 of these can help in mid game slump.
Relies on deception and swarm tactics to control tempo.
- Vengeful Heirloom - an expensive buff that returns to your hand.
- Spear of Destiny - buffs all your units and provides synergy with Parsa Clarion.
- Xerxian Hideout - a great way to generate tempo for budget decks.
- Shadhavar Beast - reduces enemy minion dmg at a critical time.
- Dire Benediction - functions like a removal and can occasionally secure lethal dmg.
- Resupply Caravan - activates other units at critical time.
- Scion of Pride - Pride of Place can steal minions permanently with Temptation.
- Treasury of Petra - card draw is rare and the buff is a bonus.
Relies on stealth and misdirection to keep opponent guessing.
- Pocket Instance - can secure the board when timed correctly so its worth having 1.
- Battle Chef - the shield buff is crucial for preserving fragile minions.
- Knives in the Dark - when timed correctly functions as a removal so its worth having 1.
- Re:Spawn - great way to recycle more valuable minions.
- Neo-Gangnam - giving your ninjas Ward prevents them from being nuked out of stealth.
- Rogue Vocaloid - allows other minions to attack without taking dmg.
- Balance - card draw is rare so this can be a lifeline in mid-late game.
- Feng Shui Master - enchantments are powerful and this is only way to remove them.
- Pentacle of Flavors - powerful aoe dmg that even better with Alpha Strike.
Which Late-Game cards [between 5 - 7 cost] are actually worth using
Using too many expensive cards in a deck is easy way to lose games without understanding exactly why; as a rule of thumb if you find yourself unable to play any cards in a turn then consider replacing the highest cost card from that hand with something cheaper to facilitate drawing "on curve".
You can ignore expensive minions in favor of using midrange Enchantments to buff.
- Triassic Kraken - giving enemy minions Immobile can prevent all type of shenanigans.
Pretty much the best minions in this faction come in at 5 - 7 cost.
- Sapo the Devourer - having Ward and a built in removal makes this worth the cost.
People consider this a rush faction but it has the best minions at 5 cost.
- Magmataur - your opponent will try to play around this so wait to punish multiple units.
Not the most impressive late options so youre better just stocking up on midrange.
- Sovereign Architect - generates tokens which is great if your main focus is midrange aggro.
You can ignore expensive minions in favor of using Enchantments to buff.
- Sariel of Enoch - giving Ward to your other units can secure a lethal round unless the opponent has mana to bounce it first.
The main strength of faction is early-mid game tempo so you may find that expensive units only hinder your draw rate.
- Pushy Oni - a great way to shove units off enchantments or set up the kill for other minions.
What Cards can i definitely afford to Dust because they wont ever be meta
This is a dangerous question because cards may occasionally be buffed / nerfed or come into vogue after additional expansions, however for the most part you can be sure if a card is just like a "placeholder" until you get more powerful and rare items, that the power creep of subsequent sets will continue to render those more obsolete.
While it may boil down to a matter of personal preference, the desire to keep decks as thin as possible means you will probably never, ever find room for certain cards [especially after you burn them to craft better ones].