Hey fellow Grandmasters, ZoochZ here with a Rise of the Bloodborn article. Instead of the typical card-by-card review, however, here are my personal favorite combos from the new set—two from each faction.
Focusing less on the better known ubiquitous plays—if you’ve played a game of Duelyst since the expansion dropped, you’ll likely know that Decimus and Entropic Gaze/Tectonic Spikes is a powerful interaction—here are a few combos that span the range: some are great, some are for the Johnnies, some are borderline ridiculous. Hopefully this inspires you to explore these even further.
Scintilla + Sunriser
For those who’ve followed my Duelyst exploits in the past, you’ll know that one of my favorite all time archetypes is a Healyonar build with Zir’an at the helm. I’m happy to report to all other fans of the deck that Rise of the Bloodborn brought a lot of great new toys to push the archetype.
One of the best new additions is Scintilla. With Zir’an’s Afterglow Bloodborn Spell, Scintilla single-handedly triggers all of your “life gain matters cards” such as Sun Sister Sterope or Sunforge Lancer. Building my own Holy Immolation turn after turn with a Sunriser? Don’t mind if I do!
Draining Wave + Red Synja
In my very first post-Rise of the Bloodborn video, I praised both of these cards in isolation. I love the tempo-focused utility of Draining Wave, the powerful end game removal of Red Synja.
One of my favorite aspects of deck building is turning “downsides” to “upsides.” These two cards in conjunction are a great example of that. Now, you can drop a Red Synja, Draining Wave something and clear a second minion for free—well, beyond the damage that you’re taking of course. As long as you have the health to spare, this little combo can quickly turn the tides by wiping your opponent’s board while leaving you with a frightening 7/7 in the process.
Obscuring Blow + Twilight Fox
I’ve had a lot of folks ask me what I think of the latest batch of Songhai cards. After having played with the set, my answer is clear: Obscuring Blow. This card can turn any on-board character, including your General, into a backstabbing threat constantly putting the fear into your opponent. Its power is most apparent when you pair it with Inner Focus, a combo which circumvents the 3-or-less-attack restriction on the powerful zero-cost spell.
My favorite combo with Obscuring Blow though is with Twilight Fox. When spoiled, I was unsure how useful the new Songhai legendary would be. It’s ability to rip a cowardly opposing General off a back wall is certainly unique, but its randomness gave me pause. After having played with it though, I’m sold. And no other card pairs as well with it as Obscuring Blow. Late game, this combo essentially allows you to kill a random opposing minion—or smack around their General—every turn for free.
Eight Gates + Cobra Strike
For those that have ever read my multitudinous posts about Eight Gates, you’ll know that I’ve never really been a fan of the card. In all of previous posts though, I’ve always hedged my critique with something along the lines of “Eight Gates might just need a few more cards to be printed for it to really be worthwhile.”
While I haven’t tested it yet, Cobra Strike seems like it might be just such an option. With Eight Gates, you’re presumably killing a large opposing threat while simultaneously doming your opponent for a fifth of their life total. This is exactly the type of card that an Eight Gates deck needs: one that can control the board while taking chips from your opponent’s life total. I’m not sure it’s enough, but it’s certainly something worth exploring in the next iteration of Spellhai decks.
Zephyr + Spincleaver
Zephyr is by far one of my favorite cards to come out of Rise of the Bloodborn from a pure design perspective. It furthers an archetype that we haven’t seen supported all that much—a Sajj one-woman army strategy in which she tromps around the board, destroying everything in her path.
Zephyr actually pairs really well with a lot of cards. Falcius or Hexblade practically guarantees everything in her immediate vicinity dies, and at little cost to her. I chose to team her up with Spinecleaver though for the pure awesome factor. Turning every opposing minion around her with 6 or less health into a Bloodfire Totem seems not only powerful, but hilarious to boot. It’ll take a little bit of set up unless you’re at 9 mana, but the payoff will be worth it.
Grandmaster Nosh-Rak + Skywing
The Inner Johhny in me has always loved Skywing and other “tribal” type cards. Indeed, I’ve actually already whipped up a flying-themed Vetruvian deck featuring the likes of Wind Shrike, Oserix and various neutral options like Wings of Paradise and the new Dust Wailer.
Grandmaster Nosh-Rak fits perfectly into that plan. At 7 mana, his price tag is high but appropriate for his awesome power level. With Skywing out—or heaven forbid multiple Skywings—he can descend upon your opponents much sooner! I can’t imagine an opponent being able to survive for very long with this flying, blasting Grandmaster in play.
Furosa + Cryptographer
As the centerpiece of one of the newest top meta decks, this combo isn’t a secret any more. Enabling some of the most absurd starts that I’ve ever seen in Duelyst, these two cards let a Lilithe player spam the board with beefed-up Wraithlings as early as turn one. If you’re able to make it to turn 3 with Furosa and/or Wraithlings intact, well, hello victory.
The thing is, this combo is great at literally any point in the game. Turn 9? Furosa, Cryptographer and two BBSs later and you’ve essentially added 10 power worth of Wraithlings to the board. And that’s not even accounting for any other Wraithlings you started the turn with! Along with Grandmaster Variax, these two cards are responsible for the resurgence of Lilithe as a powerful archetype.
Consuming Rebirth + Horror Burster
I’ve always had a soft spot for Consuming Rebirth. After all, it’s very much a Johnny-style card that requires strategic deckbuilding considerations that encourage thinking outside the box. In particular, it synergizes with minions with Dying Wish. Unfortunately, several of the marquee Abyssian Dying Wish minions don’t exactly work that well with it. Reaper of the Nine Moons and Unseven for example both lose out on the key “return the minion to play” part of Rebirth.
Horror Burster fixes that little hiccup in the best way possible. Now you get to transform one of your minions into a 6/6 not just once, but twice! You also get to threaten your opponent with the 5/2 in the interim. Finally, as icing on the cake, you get to witness by far the best sprite in the game gallumph around the board. Seriously, Horror is as hilarious as it is big!
Thraex + Razorskin
There are plenty of inherent Magmar synergies in post-Rise Duelyst: Decimus + Tectonic Spikes. Rancour + Tectonic Spikes. Tectonic Spikes + a second Tectonic Spikes. I wanted to avoid these now ubiquitous interactions in favor of highlighting cards that might have glided under the radar.
One under-loved card has been Thraex. This bad boy works wonders in the decks that aim to spam the board with small minions like Zyx and other low-cost choices in order to get as much bang from your buck as possible. It works in concert with Razorskin which already wants to spam the board as well and provides an additional body itself in the process. This is less of a “combo” and more of a “these cards could have an entire archetype built around them.”
Drogon + Fractal Replication
At 10 (well, technically 11) mana, this combo is going to be one of the more difficult to pull off without the help of Flash Reincarnation. It’s also likely largely unnecessary over the much more nimble Drogon + Cryptographer tag team. Still, for those that prefer to really destroy their opponent so badly that they question their very existence, this one is a great option.
For those who aren’t math-inclined, this combo is essentially a two-card OTK. With three Drogons out, even a plain (i.e. 2-power) Vaath is going to be almost always killing your opponent outright with a single attack. 2 ⇒ 3 ⇒ 6 ⇒ 12 ⇒ 24. That’s 24 damage out of nowhere and only gets bigger with a higher starting attack. This has pure, uncut meme potential right here.
Sleet Dasher + Boundless Courage
Sleet Dasher is awesome. For a mere 4 mana, you get a relatively hard-to-remove (due to its high toughness) minion that threatens to run rampant on any smallish team of opposing forces. Unfortunately, it has a finite ability limited by its health. You can pump it various ways–Kara’s Bloodborn Spell comes to mind–but at the end of the day, it’ll have limited battery life.
Or does it?!?! Using criminally underused Boundless Courage, this one-two punch literally threatens to kill every single enemy minion so long as you can maneuver between them all. Heck, you even get to pop the opposing general for 5 if you’re lucky. I was the unfortunate recipient of this combo when my opponent mowed down seven of my sizable creatures without batting an eye. I even thought I was safe from the juggernaut, but a timely Hearth-Sister ruined my plans. Mark my words, this is one of the more powerful interactions Vanar has seen in a while.
Enfeeble + Gravity Well
Enfeeble is a frightening card for some decks. I’ve had multiple Mandrakes, Ironcliffes and other beefy bodies reduced to 1/1s, saving my opponent when no other card would’ve gotten them out of that Duelyst pickle. An incredible control card, it combos well with any AOE effect, Blistering Skorn in particular, and Frostbone Naga in as a close second.
One hidden aspect of Enfeeble though is that it doesn’t always miniaturize on-board minions. In the case of 0/1 walls, becoming a 1/1 is actually a step up in the world! This is especially relevant when every other minion is suddenly the same size, which makes Gravity Well a preemptive, albeit disruptable post-Enfeeble board clear. While it sounds fragile, I’ve found it surprisingly effective. At the very least, it’s something to keep in mind if you happen to be running both in the same deck.
That’s it for today! What combos did you want to highlight? Any cool decks you’re inspired to build? Sound off in the comments.