Intro to Conquest with Masters 37 Winner WildbladeSOV
Hi everyone, I’m WildbladeSoV, and after winning master #37, I wanted to share some tips and tricks to understanding the Conquest format and finding success. Conquest is my favorite format of any CCG I’ve ever played, and I hope this article helps all of you enjoy it as much as I do. I will be going over the rules, how to get started, strategies for success, and my masters winning lineup.
The first step to mastering Conquest is to understand the rules. In Conquest, you will register 3 decks, none of which can use the same hero, and you can have no more than 4 copies of non-primary cards across all three decks. You may of course have as many copies of a primary card in your decks as you wish. Once you are in a match, you will ban one of your opponent’s decks, and he will ban one of yours. You will then play a Bo3 match, choosing which of your remaining two decks to play in each match. However, there is one caveat, after you win with a deck you cannot use that deck again. In practice, this means you have 3 games to get a win with each of your decks.
Getting started in Conquest is much easier than you’d think. I played in my first Conquest with basically just starter cards + cards from the campaign and won it (using Turbo Elves, Blue/White Midrange, and Corruption/Rage Control), and scored 3 points in my first masters with budget decks built around the cards I had to work with (using Stallion Aggro, Red Rush, and Corruption/Rage Control). I think many players are too intimidated and think you need to be an elite player with a complete collection to compete in conquest, and that is simply not true. In particular, there are a number of cheap aggro decks that lend themselves well to Conquest, such as: Red Rush, Zombie Aggro, and Mono Soldiers, and you can have great success SMORCing in your first few conquest tournaments while you build your collection. There are conquest tournaments every Saturday and Wednesday with great prizes (Premium Packs!) as well as masters qualifiers (Not to be confused with Masters Preliminary Qualifiers) which are a great place to get experience playing against top players in the Conquest format. The Saturday and Wednesday Conquest tournaments have no qualification, all you need to do is pay the entry fee. The Masters qualifier requires you to place in the top 4 of a Masters Preliminary Qualifier in order to participate, however this is not difficult at all as MPQs frequently only have 4 or 5 players.
Strategies, Tips and Tricks
The first thing to consider is how you are going to spread your colors across your three decks. Because you can only have 4 copies across all your decks, using the same color in multiple decks can be problematic. It’s not impossible to use the same color twice, but it will pose an added challenge as both decks compete for key cards from the color. Usually you will only run each color once. I will go over exceptions in more detail when I cover my Masters #37 lineup, which uses Order twice. In general, a basic Masters lineup would consist of 3 two color decks, with each color used once (see my first conquest lineup, referenced in Getting Started for an example).
Another factor to keep in mind in dividing up your colors is making sure you have enough artifact and spell removal to go around. In Spellweaver, non-creature removal is quite limited, so it can be quite difficult to make sure every deck has removal unless you plan for it from the beginning (Another option is to run aggro decks, these generally try and win fast enough that non-creature removal isn’t an issue). Here is a list of artifact and spell removal by color:
Cleanse: Both (Neutral)
Devourer of Worlds: Artifacts, but it is difficult and expensive (Neutral)
Ray of Righteousness: Spells (White)
Gnome Power Engineer: Artifacts, but unplayable not worth the deck space (Blue)
The Test of Time: Both but a dead card otherwise (Green)
Venerated Unicorn: Spells (Green)
Symbol of Growth: Both (Green)
Bark Convoy: Both (Green)
Goblin Fire worker: Artifacts but very inefficient otherwise (Red)
Detonate: Artifacts but very situational (Red)
Dragonfire: Artifacts (Red)
Ruination: Artifacts but unplayably bad (Red)
Herald of Despair: Artifacts but unplayably bad except in dark portal decks (Black)
If you break it down you’ll see that only green has good removal for both artifact and spells, while red can handle artifacts and white can handle spells, with Cleanse being the only neutral option to cover shortcomings. This means you should be very cautious about pairing green with white or red because you will make it difficult to get removal everywhere you need it, and you should put cleanse in a Blue/Black/Purple deck for the same reason
The next point to consider is to make sure you don’t over-stack one deck. In Conquest the average strength of your decks is MUCH more important than the power of your strongest deck. Your lineup is only as strong as your weakest deck, so it's important not to let one deck hog all the key cards at the expense of the other decks. Remember, it doesn’t matter how strong your deck is if it gets banned and you lose with the other two.
At this point it’s time to think about what type of deck you should be running. There are three main strategies in Conquest, hunting, banning, and generalizing.
Hunting is when you run three decks designed to target a certain type of deck, so even when your opponent bans one, you can still get two wins against that deck. For example, if you are hunting aggro you would run three decks that are strong against aggro such as Priests, Artifacts, and Blue/White Midrange. Then, as long as your opponent has an aggro deck in his lineup, you can get 2 wins against that deck, no matter what he bans. The downside of hunting is obviously that if you are say, hunting aggro, and play someone who is running triple control, you are going to be in for a world of hurt. An example of a lineup hunting control would be Shamans, Red Rush, and Mono C. At the moment, it is generally safer to hunt control than aggro because of the current meta, but that could shift quickly
Banning is the inverse of hunting. Whereas in hunting you build your decks to target a certain type of deck, in Banning you build your decks to be weak against a certain type of deck, with the intent to ban it (This is the strategy I used in masters #37). The idea behind banning is that they can’t run three strong decks of a single type, so if you focus on countering other options, they will have trouble getting 2 wins. For example, in masters #37 I was banning aggro. In every match I would ban my opponents fastest aggro, while I ran three decks that were weak against aggro but VERY strong against control and midrange. Because I didn’t spend any deck space defending against aggro, I was in a much stronger position when facing control or midrange decks. As long as no one ran three aggro decks fast enough to beat me down, I was in great shape. Just like in hunting, you could also ban control, and focus on being strong in midrange and aggro matchups. Again, in the inverse of hunting, because control is so prevalent right now, it is safer to ban aggro than to ban control, however this could change at any time.
As a side note, it is generally difficult to hunt or ban midrange, because of how flexible midrange is (it’s one of the strengths of the archetype)
The last option is to generalize, running multiple midrange decks or decks of different archetypes. The strength is that you will have the tools in your toolbox to punish someone that specializes to far, shifting your gameplay to target their weaknesses. The downside is that if you meet someone running a non-specialized lineup, you will have given up firepower in exchange for flexibility and may not have enough oomph to carry the match.
My Masters #37 Lineup
As I mentioned earlier, the lineup I used to win masters #37 was banning aggro. I ran three decks that were biased towards the late game, betting that no one would have three decks that were fast enough to get under me.
Deck #1: Mono-Dominion Ramp
Hero: Despina, Dominion Overlord
4x Powerlust Incarnate
8x Amethyst Scarab
4x Lord Karthas, Deathspeaker
4x Devourer of Worlds
4x Power Surge
4x Symbol of Blood
4x Cloning Vat
4x Helm of Dominion
13x Dominion Shrine
1x Stronghold Metropolis
1x Assassin’s Guild
1x Valley of the Ancients
This deck is a late game monster. With 12 ramp cards, I will always have far more mana than my opponent, and with cloning vats I have a strong value engine and will always be able to use my mana, even if I'm low on cards. I have tons of high impact (Cata, Karthas, Devourer, Helm) cards to let me beatdown my opponent. Lastly, I have stronghold metropolis to help my recover from the early card disadvantage that comes from having so much ramp. This deck is packed with as much value as I could fit into 60 cards, letting my advantage get stronger and stronger the longer the game goes on. It loses hard to Rage Rush, but what do I care? I’m banning that every time I see it. A few key things to notice are how I used Symbol of Blood and Cleanse. Primal Battle would be stronger than Symbol of Blood, but this deck was already very strong, it was more important to shore up my weakest deck (Green/White midrange) than to make an already dominant deck stronger. Placing Cleanse in this deck instead of one of the other two brings spell and artifact removal to a deck lacking them, patching up an otherwise glaring hole.
Deck #2: Burning Unbreakable Burkh
Hero: Burkh the Uncontainable
4x Pegasus Regiment
4x Unbreakable Spirit
4x Ray of Righteousness
4x Burning Rage
4x Symbol of Fury
4x Forced Labor
4x Angel of Retribution
2x Fateful Day
8x Order Shrine
7x Rage Shrine
1x Valley of the Ancients
Another late game powerhouse, this deck relies on 26 control spells combo’d with Burning Rage to deny my opponent any board presence. Unbreakable Spirit combined with my hero power and burning rage give me all the draw I could ever need, while I have two distinct win conditions. I can use fateful day to bring them to 10 hp, then burn them with my 12 burn spells, or I can use forced labor and Pegasus regiment to conjure a board out of nothing and go face for massive damage. Angel of Retribution and Fateful Day provide healing to counter the decks frequent self-damage. Like the prior deck, this one leans hard into the late game. I have no ability to present early threats or apply pressure, but I have the tools to force victory in most games that go long. Key things to notice are that although I have no universal answer to spells or artifacts, by combining red and white I have answers to both. I have also minimized the Order cards used to minimize conflict with my last deck, that also uses Order.
Deck #3: Tren Midrange
Hero: Ka’ainu, Edge of the Spear
4x Sentry of the Light
4x Steelnor Innkeeper
4x Reincarnation Spirit
4x Cavalry Field Captain
4x Spore Shepherd
3x Ambushing Sharpshooter
2x Bark Convoy
4x Diogen, Wandering Pilgrim
4x Tren, Birchwood Guardian
3x Soul Projection
4x Symbol of Growth
4x Primal Battle
7x Order Shrine
7x Nature Shrine
1x Enchanted Spring
1x Valley of the Ancients
The only midrange deck I ran, this deck is still biased towards the late game with Tren shutting down spells, Reincarnation Spirit providing grind, and Innkeeper and Diogen allowing me to cycle key cards. Normally the loss of Ray to my Burkh deck would hinder an Order deck’s ability to handle spells, but by running green with its plentiful non-creature removal I am able to cover that shortfall. Soul projection provides a catchup mechanic and late game firepower that many mid-range decks lack, while my hero power gives me a consistent value engine.
Across all three decks the theme was ban the early game, survive the midgame, and bring the hammer down in the late game. This put me in a position where the lineup most able to beat me would be triple aggro, something the current meta makes unlikely.
That’s my introduction to Conquest everyone, I hope it helps you get started in this great game mode, and I look forward to seeing you in Saturday Conquest. If you have any questions or want help working on a lineup, please feel free to ping me on the Spellweaver Discord (@Wildblade) or add me in game (WildbladeSoV).