Polar Bears

Introduction

Hi spell weavers! I am Rinriet, winner of the 16th and 18th Masters Championships. I was inspired by Duall’s WR Control guide and wanted to give something to the community.
This is an in-depth guide about a deck usually called Polar Bears. Polar because it uses 3 of the 4 freeze effects in the game, Bears because of a MTG reference (yes, the only bear in SW isn’t good). This is a Trigon-based deck. We need 2 green levels, one blue and one yellow with only 3 level ups.

Why do I like polar bears? Why do I think you should give it a try?
I love this deck for three reasons:

  1. It’s fun to play.
  2. It’s quite hard to play it at its full potential.
  3. It’s very versatile. The deck has a lot of options in-game, and there are a lot, A LOT, of viable cards that if chosen wisely improve the deck's winrate against specific matchups.
Polar Bears.PNG

History

I am always curious about who made original versions of decks and how they were developed. The original Polar Bears list was made by Team Shrining members, Jotto and HallYall. It was first shown in public in masters #16.
Nobody used it on #17 and after the nerf to Diogen (one of the key parts of the deck) it seemed to die. But I realized that the deck worked without him and kept developing my personal version of the deck (focused on yellow instead of green). I had a lot of success in rank and tourneys (nearly 100% win rate). I made my #18 masters lineup based on this deck and I got 2/2 wins with it. After that, Duall won #19 masters with the deck. Komsiant won the #20 with it too, so the deck with order start has a 3 out of 3 masters won (No Polar Bears on #21).

Win conditions

As HallYall said to me when he explained the deck to me, the goal of the deck is to win an attrition battle. By having lots of card draw mechanics and constant value on board you can keep the pressure even when your opponent is on topdeck mode. If teched correctly, this deck can win even vs some of the scariest control decks by either going full aggro mode or by exhausting them with paths and card draw. With that in mind, your second win condition is to have board control. That allows you to keep the mortar party, use Timea and finish with big Lifeforce Incarnates.

Leveling up

In most scenarios, you go Order + Wis/Nat Trigon + Nature.
If you have 2 Trigons in the starting hand, you can change your first level up to Order/Nature (so the last level up can be whatever you have).
You can start with Wis/Nat Trigon if you lack early creatures or if you realise a Power Discharge on turn 2 is better.

Warning!: If you level up Order/Wisdom Trigon + Nature you won't be able to play Mortars.

Additional warning (by HallYall): there are some games where this deck can have inconsistencies with its draws due to levelling, so make sure you consider this during mulligan.
Ask yourself "do I have a turn 1, 2, 3 play with this hand", consider the deck you are playing against and you MUST divine offering every turn unless you already have the exact shrine you need for your next turn.

Standard Decklist

This is tricky, because using a single decklist for this deck is ignoring its best part. But I have to take a start point and a TLDR. I'll put the list I used on #18 Masters.

Hero: Ne’eva the Revered

Creatures(28):
- 4x Sentry of the Light
- 3x Steelnor Innkeeper
- 1x Dwarf Spellbreaker
- 2x Felix the Lightsworn
- 4x Frost Elemental
- 4x Dwarven Mortar
- 3x Timea, Magi Wanderer
- 2x Diogen, Wandering Pilgrim
- 2x Venerated Unicorn
- 2x Lifeforce Incarnate
- 1x Reincarnation Spirit

Spells(13):
- 4x Flashfreeze
- 4x Power discharge
- 3x Exorcism
- 2x Landslide

Shrines(19):
- 10x Order
- 4x Nature
- 4x Trigon
- 1x Enchanted Spring

Alternative cards:

Creatures:
- Steel Host Spearman
- Temple Guard
- Cavalry Field Captain
- Elite Vanguard
- Triangelica Sentinel
- Forcemage Protector
- Gnome Power Engineer
- Moonlight Patrol
- Bark Convoy
- Centaur Illusionist
- Ancient Treant
- Tren, Birchwood Guardian
- Saluxio the Awebringer

Spells:
- Touch of Light
- Holy Radiance
- Arrow Barrage
- Path to Trascendance
- Instill Life
- Parallel Evolution
- Nature's Encouragement
- Ambush Strike
- The test of time
- Tidal Wave

Alternative: Nature start
- 4x Elf Scout (instead of Sentry)
- 4x Elf Warrior (instead of Innkeeper)
- 2x Silver Fang (instead of Felix)

The original polar bears used those cards as starters. Remember to change shrine distribution and level up order if you use them. The main advantage of that start is the ability to block high-speed threats. This version has a higher winrate vs Elves or Hermelion Green. You could fit Deathtraps there if needed.


Card analysis

Hero: Ne’eva the Revered

Creatures (card's relative power in this deck):

Sentry of the Light 5/5
Is a ok way to start a match and fit holes in the curve, but it's great for three things: instant
value on-board that can be key to get board control; the 0/1 token is amazing to use with
Mortars or to sac them to Sanctum of The Void; the token can block or attack to set up
favourable trades otherwise impossible.

Steelnor Innkeeper 5/5
Nice body, eternal creature cycle, anti-mill or anti-reanimate, helps to get a specific card with
Lifeforce, destroys a lot of key cards for 1 mana. Amazing card.

Dwarf Spellbreaker 2/5
I actually used this guy in masters because i had the 4th one in other deck and wanted to
keep the curve. But is a decent drop in curve and can help versus Holy Radiances or
Haunts. With 60 cards in the deck, I'd prefer to play 4x Unicorns and only use them in a
blessing/curse heavy meta.

Felix the Lightsworn 4/5
I am glad that HallYall noticed him. It isn't a very good card in general terms, but it is very
good to get board position early game (usually with a spark). Immunity to fireball, corruption
removal and combat advantage makes him the perfect choice to beat aggro. Late game he
isn't great, plus the Legendary trait makes you play no more than 2-3 copies.

Frost Elemental 5/5
OP card in the right place. Comboes with a lot of cards, has a nice body. This deck would be
way, way worse without this card.

Dwarven Mortar 5/5
Main card. Fucks aggro and combos perfectly with freeze effects. The only bad thing is it's
an artifact and Dragonfire can make a 2 for 1 because of that.

Timea, Magi Wanderer 5/5
She is a win-more lady, but she is op at that. DO her if losing on board. She still can be
useful if you have Felix though. Once you get a slight advantage she is a draw machine that
makes you win by card advantage quite easily.

Diogen, Wandering Pilgrim 2/5
The more I play him, the less copies I put. Before nerf, 4 copies was great. Now I am playing
with only 1 to see if he is good enough. Yes, he costs 0 cards, but he is SLOW. The card
advantage isn't paying for being unable to make a better play to get board advantage or seal
it. Timea or Felix are usally better cards. The only good part of him is the ability to pick up a
flashfreeze lategame.
HallYall opinion, though, is that 2 copies of Diogen are nice because in lategame he is a quite good drop.

Venerated Unicorn 4/5
If you play vs a Haunt/Tombs/Holy Radiance/Grand Reunion/Rysha/Hands from Beyond
deck, this is probably the best card in the whole deck. You can even mulligan into him if
necessary. But if the opponent isn't playing those cards, you should DO him because you
have better things to play. I always keep at least 1 Unicorn in the deck because I regret it if I
lose because of not having him. I'd consider playing up to 4 copies.

Lifeforce Incarnate 3/5
The only «finisher» of the deck. Pretty similar to Diogen in cost and effect, but with better
potential. You can get back the right card you want from graveyard if you play Inkeepers
before.

Reincarnation Spirit 3/5
Johrail's Silencer. That's why. This card isn't great, but counters silencer (and discard). So if
you will ban silencers put them away. They combo with Timea but they are bad with
Lifeforces.

Steel Host Spearman 2/5
Can help vs Demons and rage rush. But you should have a decent win rate vs them so they
are optional. Sentries are better most of the time but if you want to lower the mana curve
they are nice.

Temple Guard 2/5
After nerf they are awful vs any non-control deck. Now the existence of Detonate (plus
Radiance) makes him even worse. But still the card can be great in the right circumstances.
I'd consider them if I wanted to tech the deck vs WD control.

Cavalry Field Captain 4/5
Great card to win the midrange matchups. Vs aggro isn't necessary, and is weak to
corruption spells. I usually put them away because I tech my polar bears to beat Corruption
control and zombies, but they are probably a must vs decks that need board control. The
main problem they have is that if you have no board they are bad. So if you are losing and
don't have Felix, CFC is a very bad play.

Elite Vanguard 3/5
I consider them in certain matchups (Corruption control mainly). They are good but it's hard
to fit them in the deck and to play them correctly.

Triangelica Sentinel 3/5
They are great, they are expensive. And this: https://youtu.be/AGGiW8L6CWg?t=4m30s . I'd
love to put more of them, but vs aggro they are unplayable, so they are only viable vs
midrange (and cataclysm decks!).
Btw, be careful because sacrificing won't be affected by his power.

Forcemage Protector 4/5
Awesome vs most things, but weak vs Corruption (the reason I wasn't playing them lately).
This plus Triangelica Sentinel can be very annoying.

Gnome Power Engineer 4/5
I've just discovered this guy, and is usually a better Bark Convoy. Great play vs Portal or Temple starts. With Path, can avoid a Silencer. If you will play vs Corruption spells avoid this guy; but if you know you will ban it, you can put him together with Forcemages or Patrols for the second effect.

Moonlight Patrol 2/5
Is like a Elite Vanguard, but weaker. I'd consider them to combo with Nature's
Encouragement or if she gets 3speed back.
#FaeriesLivesMatter #GiveFaeriesSomeLove

Bark Convoy 4/5
Very slow guy (but even better than Diogen in terms of combat presence lol) but it's a must
vs Steel Sentients and help vs other Mortar decks. It's useful against a lot of other non-meta
decks (OTH/Priests/Totems/Implants) so I put 1 or 2 max. If you fear spells Unicorn is better.

Centaur Illusionist 4/5
Great card but difficult to make space in the deck for it. Most of the creatures you are playing
have a entering the field effect so it's good enough. The card is very versatile and allows some plays. Double Mortars for clearing things without freeze, reusing heropower if you
don't have the an extra creature to play, 2x Cavalry Field Captain for unexpected 4speed
attacks, etc. Plus it counters Parallel Evolution, Haunt, Prinha, and HELM (yes it works on
creatures you OWN, not control).

Ancient Treant 3/5
I like this card a lot but it's hard to play them. It works better on decks that wants to win fast.
This deck works better destroying everything. It's weird to fit them in curve because you
usually go up the 3rd level when you have 5 mana. They are fine if you wait until heropower
to play them. But they are sooo bad if you are behind. And this deck specializes in being
behind.

Saluxio the Awebringer 3/5
The card is good enough but it fits weird in the curve. You usually have to play other things.
He is a luxury card you can afford if you are ahead. If not, most of the time it will get cleared
easily and you will lose tempo. But in the case you are already a little ahead or opponent
lacks removal, the impact he does is huge.

Spells:

Flashfreeze 4/5
One of the main combos of the original deck (with Diogen). It counters Shifting Aurites and
Flame Serpents. I am playing with less than four copies at the moment because flashfreeze
can never make a 2 for 1. But being able to bluff it adds a lot of power to your combat phase
because you can force the opponent to make bad decisions.

Power discharge 5/5
OP spell. It has synergy with Frost Elementals and Mortars, clears goblins and soldiers,
DRAWS, and sometimes helps denying a blocker.

Exorcism 5/5
Great in most matchups. If possible, use the killing creature part because it makes a 2 for 1.
If opponent isn't playing Evil low level creatures, go for the discard part. The best moment to
use it is if he bluffs mana because you are sure he has something (plus if you hit his only
spell you can negate the mana too). I used the unmill effect only if don't have Innkeepers
and I want to manipulate Lifeforce's draw or if I am playing vs Reanimate/Instill life decks.

Landslide 4/5
Play 4 copies vs aggro and start to love it. You get tempo + card advantage. It can save you
from a Holy Radiance or a Haunt in a pinch (but they will be probably played again the next
turn). I never play on my creatures unless they are paralleled into Voidtoucheds. Against
topheavy decks, it's useless and the insta-DO target.
Be careful: if you play it on a Path, game crashes.

Touch of Light 3/5
Is a worse Sentry of the Light. But the only advantage, the instant property, makes it
interesting. If you have the flashfreeze + the touch of light versatility, bluffing will be
profitable. It can also be cycled with Timea.

Holy Radiance 4/5
The main disadvantage of this deck is the problem to deal with spread. Holy Radiance helps
with that, and it comboes with freeze effects. You won't be able to use the second effect until
level 3 and only if you hit 2 trigons.

Arrow Barrage 3/5
The deck works well without it, but it's a nice option versus demons, zombies and some
valor decks.

Path to Trascendance 3/5
No I am not trolling. It is slow but can be worth it. My main ladder decklist has 2 of them with
2 Triangelica Sentinels. Polar Bears has both: a lot of enter the field effects and might
emblem synergy (Timea, Sentinel). It allows the ultimate Silencer counter (Path + Convoy).

Instill Life 3/5
Sadly, Frost Elemental can't be resurrected. Mortars, Inkeepers, Unicorns and Treants are
the main target, but they aren't good enough to justify playing more than 2 copies. No
Diogen = No Instill Life.

Parallel Evolution 4/5
This + Sentry of the Light. It works well with Timea and Innkeeper too. Parallel evolution
needs a nerf. I was reluctant at first to use it, but it's simply op.

Nature's Encouragement ?/5
I didn't test enough with this card yet. But it has potential if you play Moonlight Patrols and
Forcemages. I am sad that the +sp effect isn't something in the line of Ambush Strike.

Ambush Strike 2/5
Nice card, but it doesn't fit the purpose of the deck. I consider it to complete the bluffing trio.
Also making a 2/3 Sentry out of nowhere is fun.

The test of time 3/5
Better than Convoy if you want curve. Consider 2 in artifact heavy meta. With them you will
have a 100% win rate vs demons and artifacts.

Shrines:

Enchanted Spring 4/5
It's situational but a game changer vs Parallel Evolution, Haunt and Prinha decks. In late
game helps with heropower or if you need an extra Mortar hit (as an example).


Matchups

(From 0 to 10, 0 is impossible matchup, 10 is the easiest)

Elves - 6
Probably the worst aggro matchup if you get a bad hand and they spread too much. 3speed
creatures are hard to deal with. Getting Mortars and Landslides is key. Barrages and Saluxio
will help too. Inkeeper to stupefy Nienna and Druids. If they put deathtraps you can play
Frost Elemental or Sentry.

Blue Soldiers - 8
Again, you only can lose if they spread too much. But they are vulnerable to Felix and
mortars and if you play Holy Radiance you have an easy time. Remember that you can
stupefy Tacticians and Recruiters. If they hold 2 mana, use Exorcism to discard a spell.
The only threats are Parallel Evolution and Saluxio. Play safe and you will
win.

Red Soldiers (by HallYall) - 4 (without Arrow Barrage and Holy Radiance) to 7 (with Arrow Barrage and Holy Radiance )
Polar bears can be very weak against decks with the ability to go very wide, and red soldiers can pressure and create a wide board faster than almost any deck, and it can do it consistently.
This matchup can be incredibly difficult to win if you do not have radiance/arrow in your deck. make sure to include some if you see red soldiers being played a lot on the ladder.

Zombies - 10
Best matchup. Exorcism and Landslide are incredible. You can stupefy Survivors, Sculptors
and Necromancers. If you also get Unicorns for the Tombs there is no way you can lose this.

Demons - 8
If they get a perfect hand and you a bad one you can lose. Exorcism and landslide again
work great. Try to landslide the portal back before it gets 3 energy so he can't draw Aezerhis.
If you want to specifically tech against them, add Test of Time and Gnome Power Engineers.

Burning Rage - 8
If the opponent hits an early Forced Labor you will probably lose. Unicorns are key: BR
without BR is easy. Stupefy the Ravens or the Champions of the Revolt. If nothing weird
happens you should win.

Rage Rush - 7
It's a favourable matchup but you can't heal so you should protect your HP everytime you
can. Remember to leave one mana open to play Flashfreeze when he is able to play
Serpents.

Rage Bears - 7
You need to get early presence and keep Flashfreezes for Shifting Aurites when possible.
Play around Timea and Tidal Wave. Centaurs and Enchanted Spring will be nice because of
Parallel Evolution. Stupefy Aurites and watch your HP total.

Alexa/Amalric Valor - 7
Favourable matchup, it's similar to a mirror match but you have better draw and late game
potential. You will be ok unless you let the opponent get board control. Save removal for
Saluxio. Get Centaurs to bounce stupefied or paralleled Mortars. DO Exorcism unless you
know you will hit something.

Shamans - 9
Totems are easy Landslide targets, and few creatures means that you will be always able to
kill them. Remember to keep some blockers to avoid face damage from the Yard Priests.

Artifacts – 6 to 8
They are hard to deal with in combat. You will need a lot of Mortars and Frost Elementals.
With the Innkeepers take out the Drones from the graveyard so they can't reuse them.
Stupefy Apothecaries or Mortars.
But if you are playing with Bark Convoy and Test of Time, they are very easy.
Anyway, if you don't get very behind on board presence you will win by card advantage.

Healmelion - 7
You will have to play a little aggressive here to avoid healing win condition. But if you play it
properly you won't have problems. Save Freeze effects for Gomur. Take out creatures from
graveyard to avoid Instill Life. Save Innkeepers for Temples, or landslide them. CFC to take
down Namir. The main problem are Holy Radiances. You have to search your unicorns and
put smart might emblems.

Polar Bears Mirror - 5
Getting board presence early is key. Stupefy Mortars. CFCs, Mortars and Felix are key. Path
can work well if you are getting behind.

Mono-Dominion Midrange - 5
You need Enchanted Spring for Prinha. Late game the deck is dangerous because of Dreyla
and Cloning Vats. Be careful with Matriarchs. Stupefy Prinha or Matriarchs. Early Mortars
and Exorcisms will be key to deal with Assassin and Temptress. If you play Centaurs this
matchup will be a lot easier (Prinhas and Helms). Also, be careful, Mind Extortion can
discard your Trigons, so if you start with a Trigon in hand you want to use it to level
Nature/Wisdom first (to be safe).

Angels - 6
As long as you keep freezing Angels and Stupefying Temples it will be ok. Don't be greedy
and conserve your resources when you can. Watch for healing wincon and surprise
Triangelicas.

WR Control - 0
Resign while you can. You only chances are to get an early board if he has a bad hand. Use
Reincarnation Spirits to kill silencers. The main problem here is that you can't exhaust the
deck because it can burst you very fast. And with New Horizons the value is impossible to
handle. You can't rush it because it has a lot of options to deal with your board. You need
Parallel Evolution or Innkeeper to deal with Phoenix. Path and Triangelica combo is probably
the only way to win this IF he can't hit 2+ New Horizons into Dragons + Silencers.

Corruption Control – 4 to 7
If you are using Forcemages and Saluxios, you will have a bad time. But it can be a
favourable matchup if you have Vanguards and other high HP bodies. Unicorn the Tombs,
bounce the Haunt, stupefy Harpy, use Sentry to put things out of Consume range, freeze the
Succubus, remove graveyard to avoid Reanimate, use Exorcism in Mesmerizings, Shamans
or to remove spells (easy hit). You can outdraw it if you play well and keep your board alive.

Zombie Hydra Reanimator - 3-7
I have no experience playing vs this, but I think it's a favourable match. Freeze can kill big
bodies, and Innkeepers and Exorcism can get rid of Reanimate and Duke targets.
HallYall experience: this matchup is either incredibly favourable or incredibly unfavourable based on one thing: holding steelnor for the right moments to play him. Even if you have 2 or 3 in hand hold that drunken dwarf until they set up a big rez. His second ability helps, but less than I would have thought. Only use this on airships, Dukes to prevent it bringing back more Hydras on death and most importantly Antriel. Try to use Exorcism on Vultures instead of stupifying them.
Hydra reanimator deck has A LOT of ways to discard + Catacomb Keeper + Elinor for recycling rez... so Steelnor's entrance ability is your best friend and vital to winning here.

WC Control / Casual Daris - ?
Again I have no experience vs this deck. I think it can be manageable if they don't hit a lot of
Horizons and start the Bezarok spamming too early. Reincarnation Spirit will be key for
keeping card advantage through silencers. New Catacomb Keeper can be difficult to deal
with because it can counter your card advantage. Try to set up a big board immune to
suffocate and finish with Lifeforces.

WD Control - 2
Awful match. Its a little better now without Skatadors, but not that much because you always
reserved a Unicorn for it. You chances are in Reincarnation Spirits, Path + Convoys and
Triangelicas. You might rush it if you get a nice hand and he don't.

OTH – 3 to 6
A hard but doable one. Aim for high HP creatures, DO Mortars and Flashfreeze. If you have
Path, Triangelicas and Convoys it gets easier because you can make a huge board.
Lifeforces are great here.

Grand Reunion – 4
You can win by card advantage if you Unicorn the Reunions.The rest of the match will be
probably decided on New Horizons. You can upgrade one Sentry to a Dust Titan to use the
shock. Stupefy Lifeforces for instant kills. Try to save a Sentry for Deathtraps.

Snakes (Aezerhis decay) – 5 to 8
DO until you get Enchanted Spring and bounce like crazy. Path works wonders too. Unmill
Aezerhis to avoid Reanimates, or unmill yourself to avoid losing the game. The more
Centaurs and Paths you have, the easier this is.

Harbinger Train - ?
Never played vs it yet. But if you let it play its game, you lost. Exorcism after he uses
Contraptionist to remove a Portal, and Landslide 2 portals to gain time. Hit hard if you can. If you run 4 Gnome Power Engineers you can't lose though.

NC DemonNe'eva – 8
(This is my new deck. I'll publish it on another post with some tips) It should be quite easy
because you have enough early removal and can creature block until he suicides with
portals. This is decided on turn 5-6 so Mullligan any hand without a lot of early power.


Ending

I hope this was useful for those faithful readers. If you have any questions I'll be glad to answer.

VanguardX