New Plants & Zombies
New Plants & Zombies (Top# 3 Deck Article)
A while ago, when Plague Crab was first released, a Nature-Corruption deck (created by Dunkledark) with disposable creatures became quite popular. The idea was to play a lot of creatures with effects that trigger on their death, as Infected Survivor, Death-Curse Shaman, or, well, Plague Crab, in order to create synergy with Spore Shepherd's sacrifice requirement or Enoch's hero power. Throw in 4x Flesh Sculptors and suddenly your board is swarming with creatures.
The latest card release gave the deck two additional value engines which, when combined with the aforementioned interactions, upgraded this archetype from spread tempo to straight up broken swarm value combos. But to get access to the full our new tools we need a Nature/Wisdom level, which is possible to gain via Trigon of the Pact.
The list is a Tier 1 deck in the current meta, and currently sits in a top 3 position on ladder.
The unexpected MVP of the deck is Plague Crab. As a 1/2 it doesn't feel so threatening, but for your opponent it is a plague indeed, as it has to be killed three times before it finally disappears. If your Crab eventually dies (which might never happen) you can take solace in knowing that it indeed costed your opponent some resources to do so.
Now, just when they are struggling to get rid of your pests once and for all, what if on Plague Crab's death a Zombie Warrior and an Enchained Soul also spawn on the field? And what if we could reset its energy once per turn, allowing it to respawn not 3 times, but FOREVER? That would be annoying, right? Well, that's exactly what we are going to do.
With respect to the plain Nature-Corruption variant, this version has one obvious drawback: it is completely dependent on Trigon of the Pact. Furthermore, since getting our Nature/Wisdom dual level costs one mana, we are giving up the possibility of playing any 1-drop, which makes for a much less aggressive start.
Tip #1 - Keep your starting hand if and only if it contains Trigon of the Pact, and mulligan otherwise.
It's extremely important to play Trigon within the first two turns: almost all the cards are in the 2 mana 2 levels spot, and you want to be able to play one during your third turn. Doesn't matter if your hand looks great: if there is no Trigon, mulligan. You'll get the good cards eventually, but you need Trigon now. If I'm not mistaken, there is a 76% chance of starting with a dual level after mulligan and DO if you go first, which is good enough. If you don't get it, go mana and try again the next turn, which gives you a Trigon in 88% of the games.
Okay so, is it really worth to risk getting color-screwed and to give up 1-drop altogether? What do we gain from this Wisdom splash? These two cards are the answer.
Let us start with Charles. This magic dude is Flesh Sculptor 2.0, except that it spawns 3 speed Flying creatures, and with its 4 HP he's much harder to kill. The Slave tag on Enchained Soul means nothing (and if it does, you're probably already screwed), and the fact that our Soul Mage survives both Holy Radiance and Adv. Zash's hero power can really turn the tide, considering that these cards can easily screw you up otherwise. Furthermore, the effect also triggers with summoned creatures, of which we will have plenty, like our brand new Plague Crabs, the Zombie Warriors kindly provided by Flesh Sculptor, or the multiple Shooting Sprouts we get from Spore Shepherd. What? You can only summon three Souls with him, which is not enough value to justify a Wisdom splash?
This is where Lifeforce Essence comes into play. Read the effect locked behind the Nature level: "At the start of your turn, you may set the energy of an allied creature to ".
Tip #2 - Always play your first Lifeforce Essence as a Spell, even if you have mana to spare.
This effect is so important that it is worth it to give up the 3/3 body with Reach to prevent cheap Creature removal (Fireball anyone?) from destroying it. Getting rid of a Spell is significantly harder, and we don't want to make it easy for our opponent. Being able to set a Creature's energy to 2 each turn means essentially two things: the first one is that Charles is now able to spam infinitely many Enchained Souls; the second one, possibly even more important, is that our Plague Crabs are essentially immortal. As icing on the cake, we also have the possibility to refill a Summoner Druid or an invoked Lifeforce Essence. Finally, the other effect, locked behind a Wisdom level, is a one-shot "No-your-Noxious-Fumes-are-not-enough-to-get-rid-of-my-Sculptor", and it is also great if your opponent somehow manages to wipe your board, since you can transform Lifeforce Essence itself in one of the creatures that just died and maintain some presence.
So, we have our infinite value engine composed of Charles, Soul Mage, Plague Crab, and Lifeforce Essence. We only need to complement it with the best available options. I know some guy who can help us.
Now you're probably asking yourself "Do I really plan to push through 20 damage by hitting my opponent with a horde of 1 ATK creatures?" - Yup.
Summoner Druid is a key card because it allows us to offset the tempo loss of levelling with Trigon and have 4 creatures down by the end of turn 4.
In this deck getting a huge board as fast as possible is crucial, because once we get enough creatures, it's basically impossible to get rid of all of them, since for each creature that dies, several more spawn.
Aim to put down your Crabs and Shamans quickly, and Elvish Champions too as soon as they get conditional Playboost bonus -Swift (which can be as early as turn 4), then follow with your Flesh Sculptors and Soul Mages.
Finally, when you establish a large board and are positioned to create value out of them, bring in Jungle Deathtrap and Spore Shepherd. Oh, by the way, did I mention that Charles gives Embody to all your creatures? What about a Swift 4/4 Plant?
Tip #3 - Use your hero power often: it is cheap, has a low cooldown, and provides value in 3 different ways.
It increases the size of your board thanks to Charles and Flesh Sculptor.
It buffs all of your creatures by +1/+1 before attacking, which is a huge boost since you will have many.
It lets you gain a consistent amount of life, which compensates the Tainted tag of Spore Shepherd.
Finally, let us give a look to the remaining techs. Call of Jalaya is great, it's one of the very few cards you can play on turn 2, and it lets you fetch the piece you're missing: grab a Summoner Druid or a Plague Crab to start, or an Elvish Champion mid game, or possibly a Venerated Unicorn if the situation requires it. Cleanse is the answer to everything you can't answer otherwise. Woodland Revenant is occasionally nice, and it triggers with Spore Shepherd too.
Of course this list is not the only playable one, there are many cards that can find a spot in this deck:
- Eternal Servant and Infected Survivor give you even more board;
- Plagued Waters gives some mass removal and spams more Crabs;
- Gnome Power Engineer gives an answer to Artifacts while also refueling energy;
- Symbol of Growth is nice with Shooting Sprout and also helps against Spells and Artifacts;
- Nature's Encouragement and Symbol of the Flux enable the possibility of refilling Lifeforce Essence’s energy, and they can be used for something else if needed;
- Haunted Cemetery also gives you extra Zombies.
Just try several variations and pick the one suits you the best!