Grognack’s drunk with power. Brub is under his Influence. Fighters are axing the right questions. Oaths have been sworn to get the boost train going, and it’s all For Glory! What am I talking about?
That’s right. My new favorite Summoner Wars deck build.
The first question to ask is … why Grognack? Well he’s got 14 life for starters, so in a potentially aggressive or assassin-hungry deckbuilding world, he’s less likely than some others to get OTK’d (One Turn Killed). Next we look at his Epic Event - For Glory, which looks like a double edged sword. It gives all of your commons plus 2 strength for the turn, but also makes it so that they take damage if they don’t roll at least 2 specials on their attack. The cool thing about double edged swords is that if you stab your opponent with them first, you win. Lastly, and certainly not least, are his two special abilities, which under normal circumstances mean that you get to reliably reroll one attack or ability roll per turn, often making sure that your Frost Shamans hit, or that your Smashers get that 3 or 4 die hit to finish off a tough opponent.
But this isn’t your traditional Grognack. This isn’t a long term economic plan, although it can potentially win that way. This deck stacks boosts on Grognack, and lots of them, to unleash devastating turns that look like OTK’s, but were methodically planned for all game long. This deck is neither aggro nor economy in the typical sense. It is a combo deck, first and foremost.
Collect boost on Grognack
Step One: Collect boost on Grognack
The most important common in the deck is the Oath Sworn. For just 1 magic, it comes in and shoots 3 ranged dice right out of the gate. That’s cool and all, but each special symbol rolled on their attack adds a boost to Grognack. It’s best to use them after you’ve gotten your free boost for the turn, and to just start stacking them up. This ability, Blood Bond, used to be gated behind 5 magic on the Tundra Orc champion Ragnor. He’s still in the deck, and a solid pick, but you want to start blasting away with these guys right away, especially with an early For Glory. Two copies of Unrelenting are in the deck as well, which will not only work as great tempo stoppers against Fallen Kingdom and Fungal Dwarves, but will effectively give you even more copies of Oath Sworn (and Tundra Fighters) to make the deck more consistent. Willpower generates a boost as well, and can even let Grognack reroll his own attack, previously unheard of!
Step Two: ???
So now that you’ve got 5-7 boost tokens on the big Orc, what do you do with them? This deck doesn’t even run Shamans or Smashers. The first option, the funniest option, and the current namesake of the deck is to run out Brub and just go to town. Hang Grognack back within 3 spaces, and reroll anything that doesn’t hit with Chain Shot. I’ve done 13 damage in one turn with enough boosts. It looks like a super-unsatisfying OTK, but really, it’s typically set up by turns of accruing boosts. If the magic pile is one dimension and the board is the other two, then Grognack’s pile of boost to activate Influence is really him playing 4D chess.
Step Three: Profit
The more I played the deck though, the more I realized that lurking within this mess of cards was a potentially more devastating combo. Tundra Fighters + Hellforged Axe. Frenzy was always a powerful special ability, but unreliable. Also, Fighters usually only had 2 strength, but Axe brings that up to 4. Now, normally when you’ve got one boost on Grognack, ‘wasting’ it on re-rolling for Frenzy is suspect at best. Two-thirds of the time, you’re going to be disappointed compared to trying for at least 3 hits with a Smasher whiff, or any hits with a Shaman. But here, with the strength modifiers, the upside is so high, and the odds get better as you accrue more boosts tokens. If you also get For Glory on that Fighter, with 6 dice the odds are pretty good that you’ll get at least 2 specials. I’ve thrown 18-24 dice in a turn with a single Tundra Fighter to close out games in this way.
Congrats. If you make it this far, you probably win. Huzzah!
Let’s talk about some of the other card choices:
Everyone wonders what’s up with the singleton Bear Cavalry. I think it’s just a spicy add that can sometimes be incredible. Movement phase damage, decent target to bear an Axe, and 5 beefy hp all make him into something of a little “4th champion”, and the sole entry from the Polar Dwarves in this deck.
Three Beast Riders. Despite the ranged units in the deck, this deck can still lack surprises or large threat ranges. With enough space this can get up to 4 strength, and at a lower cost than Smashers. First turn Beast Riders can smack Kuldak and this must not be underestimated. They’re a great Axe wielder if you don’t have enough boost tokens yet.
Brutal Force. As an active event, I tend to like having only one copy of it in the deck, to avoid drawing 2 and being unable to play both. This is here because it can just flat out win you games, and combos very well with Tundra Fighters. You can win or do lots of damage to one target, even if there aren’t enough nearby bodies to bounce off of.
Slingers. They’re just a solid unit that allows you to get over the 3 attack per turn limit, which can help against other swarm factions. Since they’re ranged, they can often be summoned somewhere (and attack for free) even without being moved. They also combo great with For Glory and themselves (other copies on-board) or other ranged units. Even at 4 strength, they’ll often fail to get 2 specials, which means another ranged unit of yours can attack through the space they vacate by dying! With two copies of Unrelenting, they aren’t as much immediate fodder for your Fungal Dwarves opponent’s Infect either.
Davura. Arguably the weakest link in the deck. With just one copy of Willpower, it’s not quite as easy to get her to 3 boost tokens to trigger Coordinated Strike as it is for Balzar, but she’s still a solid ranged champion with the same magic cost as the other two champions in the deck, which can be worth the price of entry.
Lastly, why now?
Tundra Orcs were already a solid deckbuilding option, but with Obsidian Dwarves bringing us Hellforged Axe, Oath Sworn, and Willpower, it’s a great time to have Instinct as a build symbol. And now with PHG finally releasing the Mercenaries to the app, it’s as good a time as any to unleash Brub on your foes!