Guide to Simplified Modern Ironclad
Simplest Ironclad deck. You need as many Perfected Strikes (upgraded) as you can get and also any other cards that have Strike in the name to increase their damage. You want at least one extra energy (potentially play 2 perf strikes in one turn). This deck is aggressive and thick - remember not to remove any strikes, and don't let the vampires replace them with bites.
Supporting cast: This deck likes to use Evolve if it can get one because Wild Strike is a strike. Alternatively if you can keep your whole deck clear of curses and statuses, Clash can be a good way of dealing damage for no energy since this is a high cost deck.
You want only a small number of most powerful defensive cards for their cost - Ghostly Armor, Power Through, Impervious. The drawbacks of these cards don't matter since you rarely cycle through your whole deck.
Standard suggestions for aggro decks also apply - Rage+, Battle Trance, Headbutt, Shockwave.
Inflame + Sword Boomerang
This aggressive strength deck is thinner than the above deck (i.e. you do want to remove cards and not add cards too often) since you need to draw your Inflames.
It doesn't always need a fourth energy.
Other strength gain can be added where appropriate - Flex if you have enough draw to get it at the right times; Limit Break is always fine, even if not upgraded. Other cards that scale with strength like Heavy Blade and Pummel can also be used.
The self-harm archetype has been buffed recently with Rupture+ now giving 2 strength each time and Hemokinesis now only costing 2HP even when not upgraded. Hemokinesis (for early damage), Combust (for area damage) and Offering are already strong cards, so if you find yourself with some of these in your deck then you can take Rupture as a way to scale up.
Clash can be a good early card since you can just play the defends you draw (even if this means over-defending) and still hit harder than 2 strikes for the cost of 0.
Prior to Ascension 10 (which adds an unremovable curse into your starting deck) Clash can be an archetype on its own. Don't take too many expensive skills or powers. Use cards like Sever Soul or Second Wind as a way of removing statuses that enemies put into your deck.
The other key card is Dual Wield. When upgraded this can give you two extra Clashes for massive damage.
The way this combo deck works is that you can play two cards over and over as long as
- Each has net cost of zero and draws a card.
- There are no other cards in your deck / discard pile to draw except for these.
You need to have two, because a card can't draw itself with its own draw effect. There are some substitutes for Dropkick like Flash of Steel and Finesse, or you can create a second Dropkick during combat with Dual Wield.
You don't need to have a thin deck (though it does make this faster), because Ironclad can thin down his deck mid-combat with cards like True Grit, Burning Pact, and Fiend Fire. Note also that being able to store more cards in hand means you don't have to thin down as much, so Runic Pyramid can be good for this deck.
When playing this deck against the Awakened One, remember that you'll need to keep a way of applying Vulnerable (if you're using Dropkick) to continue to combo after it comes back to life.
Iron Wave isn't itself an archetype but there are some synergies you should be aware of. It can be a way of getting block in a Clash deck without having to add more skills. It can be both a defence card and a finisher in a Demon Form deck since it benefits from strength (like all attacks do). It can do extra damage when combined with Juggernaut. Most notably, it can give extra block when combined with Rage.
Barricade + Entrench
This can easily get you to having much more block than the enemy can do in damage (except the heart that can scale beyond your maximum block). You just want to cast Entrench as much as possible to double any block you saved over from the previous turn as well as any you generated this turn. Headbutt can be a good way of reusing Entrench.
You can also make this deck with Calipers instead of Barricade. It's actually easier despite the -15 block per turn because you don't have to wait till you draw and play Barricade.
You will need some way of killing the enemy because some enemies can scale their defence and get you into a stalemate if you just rely on strikes. Body Slam is the usual choice, though Rampage or strength scaling can also work.
This is a defensive deck that stalls for a bit till Demon Form gives enough strength to make killing the enemies easy. Reaper is the best supporting card if you can get it since you can deliberately stall some fights longer until you can heal back to full health with it.
An old favorite of mine but not the strongest deck. Rampage can be slow to scale, so the deck can't be purely aggressive, you need some block. You want to use multiple copies of Headbutt to be able to reuse Rampage as well as keeping your deck thin. Note that unlike the Defect's Claw, multiple copies of Rampage don't cause each other to scale. You can still copy a Rampage's current damage value with Dual Wield, but after that point the two copies will scale separately.
This works similarly to other aggressive decks that want to reuse their strongest attacks with Headbutt or copy them with Double Tap like the aforementioned Perfected Strike, Clash, or Rampage decks. Searing Blow scales quadratically with the number of upgrades, so it's worth using if you can upgrade it at least 7 times during a run (you can also upgrade it multiple times mid combat with Armaments or Apotheosis). This means you need to find it in act 1 and upgrade it at as many fires as you can.
- Searing Blow +1: 16
- Searing Blow +2: 21
- Searing Blow +3: 27
- Searing Blow +4: 34
- Searing Blow +5: 42
- Searing Blow +6: 51
- Searing Blow +7: 61 etc.
This is an uncommon but very powerful deck, and it just got better thanks to the buff to Bloodletting. You need a thin deck and lots of draw to guarantee that you can get your Flex and Bloodletting cards on the same turn as your Whirlwind so that you can cast the biggest Whirlwind possible. If you don't have enough flexes, Inflame can be used even though it costs energy, it's just a matter of math, for e.g. 4 energy with Whirlwind+:
- With Inflame+ 3x11 = 33 damage
- Without Inflame+ 4x8 = 32 damage
Relics like Chemical X and especially Necronomicon can overdrive the power of this deck to give you some first turn boss kills.
Corruption + Dark Embrace
This is a powerful but slightly complex deck where you can keep playing skills for free, exhausting them and drawing new ones. This wants to be a thick deck so you don't run out of skills to play too quickly, even though this means it will take longer to draw your powers. Body Slam can be a good attack in this deck because you're naturally going to generate more block than you need as you play your skills to draw, and even more so if you have Feel No Pain.
If you can get the Dead Branch relic, combining it with Corruption is one of the most powerful synergies in the game.
This is a new archetype since Fire Breathing's recent-ish rework. You need multiple copies of Fire Breathing to make drawing statuses better than drawing attacks. Evolve helps statuses draw into more statuses. You can also use Warcry to put statuses back on top of your deck - note that if Warcry itself draws a status, the draw effect of Evolve will happen after you put a card back with Warcry.
You can make a thin deck that consistently draws defence cards and body slam on the same turn, especially with Shrug it Off that helps draw through the deck faster. This way you can get high defence every turn while still hitting hard.
Some decks can win just by hitting hard with no real plan (see also Carnage+ and Defect's Hyperbeam). Fiend Fire does scale well with strength (applies it per each card exhausted) but the real value is that it doesn't require much setup to work. There are lots of ways of having more than 4 other cards in hand when you fire it, like Runic Pyramid, Evolve, Battle Trance etc. but you don't need to purposely look for these.
Anger + Unceasing Top
Anger is often a decent card if you need to lower the average cost in your aggro decks, the extra copy doesn't hurt too much if you're not in a deck that reshuffles often (and against some enemies, it helps dilute the statuses they give you). But if you happen to get Unceasing Top then it's practically all upside, since the deck will just trend more and more towards having only 0 cost cards the more times you play Anger.