Fallen Kingdom

The Fallen Kingdom’s Fire / Dark theme is represented in a deck that is willing to sacrifice a lot to create destruction, essentially destroying itself in order to destroy the opponent. Ret-Talus sacrifices his own life in order to bring in disposable commons whose function, for the most part, is to deal a lot of damage before they die and are revived yet again.

Fallen Kingdom tries to fill the board with undead and then sacrifice them for one big turn of destruction. That is what they are all about, trying to create a single turn with as much death as possible. 

The deck is basically composed of cards that enable you to sacrifice resources so that you can perform powerful offensive moves, or reward you for sowing death and destruction.
Fallen Kingdom is a faction that is heavily incentivized to be aggressive and put pressure on the opponent.  Aggression and pressure generate an exchange of units, that means death, and that is where the Fallen Kingdom is at its best.

A game state where the interaction is high, is where Ret-Talus can do explosive combos. His main strategy is to setup both the board state and his hand in such a way that he can either fuel a massive Sacrificial Pyre, imbue Undead Warriors with monstrous attacks or generate a path of fire that leads to a direct assault on the opponent’s summoner … and why not all three?

Fallen Kingdom's biggest strength comes from Ret-Talus himself. His ability is economically very strong, but more importantly it generates strong tempo, reviving an undead warrior is a card gain of 3 magic. One for the card you save and two for the magic it costs. That means that while other decks are drawing 5 cards, you are “virtually” drawing 8 in addition to ensuring you always have a common unit available. That is very important because it means you don’t need to keep a common undead unit in hand even if you feel you may need it because Ret can always get one from his discard pile. This is especially critical because with a heavy combo deck like Ret-Talus’, hand space is at a premium.

Ret may not prefer it, but he can slow down also if needed. When Ret is played more slowly, it allows for more time to build up a good hand to create a better combo.

Fallen Kingdom has two very difficult decision points, hand management and Ret-Talus positioning.

Ret’s biggest weakness is his lack of range. It may not seem obvious as he is ranged himself and he has 2 ranged commons. Yet neither he nor his commons actually fare well in ranged combat.  So Ret needs to put gates as far forward as possible, or work as a gate himself to help keep the enemy engaged in melee, or he will be easily outmatched.

So overall, burn your magic aggressively, Raise the Dead a lot with Ret, summon a lot, use your movements every turn and try to push as far forward as you can, without exposing yourself too much.  You may need to take some calculated risks, just don’t get reckless.  Your strength is mainly in tempo and it's okay to sacrifice some economy to keep your tempo going. 
If you have more magic than you can invest in commons, it's not time to slow down, instead it is time to start bringing the champions in. You have only 3 movements and 3 attacks and the best way to take advantage of such is to bring in high-damage champions.

Once you are maximizing your three moves and three attacks per turn, and have a champion out, then maybe it's time to slow down a little to try to build that hand for a massive Sacrificial Pyre turn. If you manage to build a huge pyre in the chaos you are hopefully creating, you probably will win.
Ret-Talus
Raise the Dead is a very, very strong ability, even if it requires a lot of risk management. As mentioned previously it is both economically sound and extremely efficient in tempo.  The problem is that Ret-Talus himself is the weakest direct combat summoner and really needs his units to do the work for him.

Because it is primarily a melee faction, every movement is very valuable, yet Ret also needs to be relatively far forward while still being in a safe position.  Ideally you want to be near the front to bring in offensive gates, but also to raise his best revival target, Undead Warriors, and allow them to enter the fray with just one move. But if things look too risky then Undead Archers can be revived and get involved with little risk and often without even using a movement thanks to their range and ability.

Should you revive Undead Carriers when there are other targets? Not usually, but there are some occasions where you would want to. The endgame is one such situation, where they are harder to deal with and their Soulless drawback is much less relevant. Also sometimes you have an easy 1 life target and a good position and they can be more valuable there than an Undead Warrior.
Sacrificial Pyre
Sacrificial Pyre is a very powerful Epic Event, but it requires a lot of setup to really make full use of it.  However, you don’t actually need a high payoff to play it. If you manage to get just 2 boosts, it pays for itself and gives some return on the investment. Two boosts means a new Undead Warrior, which is worth about 3 magic.  Sacrificial Pyre only costs 2 magic total (1 for the card itself +1 for the actual cost on it).  Getting 1 Pyre per game to 5+ boosts is not unrealistic.

You probably should play both Sacrificial Pyres every game as Ret-Talus really does need it but the timing of when to play them is the tricky part.

It’s important to remember it also triggers on the opponent's turn if they kill your units.

A big part of Ret-Talus' strength is pulling off a very big Sacrificial Pyre turn.
Undead Warrior
Undead Warriors are the main common of Fallen Kingdom forces.  This is mostly because it is the most efficient Raise the Dead target for Ret-Talus . Generally you should revive an Undead Warrior if it can reach a good target that same turn.  They may need some help to really get going but it shouldn’t be much of a problem with Fallen Kingdom’s many sacrifice and destruction effects.

Also, don’t underestimate its ability to keep boosts, sometimes you can make it not only deadly on a turn but a serious threat the next turn if it is not dealt with by your opponent.
Undead Archer
Undead Archers are sort of the utility unit of the Fallen Kingdom. They are really not stat efficient, but their ability is extremely useful to help cover a lot of the deck's weaknesses.
Where Undead Warriors are your main fighting commons, Undead Archers provide a lot of support.

- They allow Ret to use his ability and stay safe.
- Movement is valuable and they often don't need to be moved as they can just Soul Shift.
- They allow you to take the space in front of gates by killing the blocker and then Soul Shifting in.
- They allow you to get a third attack where your opponent may be set up in a formation so you don't have  enough flanks open for attacks.
- They allow you to not lose board position where you want to sacrifice a unit with the deck's various sacrificial shenanigans.
- They can protect a wounded champion from being killed as they can Soul Shift in front of the champion to replace the unit that champion killed.
- They are Fallen Kingdom's main assassins, allowing you to attack through blocks or even do double-shots from a single flank. You can attack, sacrifice the unit (maybe Hellforged Weapon or Dragos, maybe attacking it yourself), Soul Shift in an Undead Archer and then attack again.

Its cost and stats may look like it is too weak but the amount of utility they bring is really massive. Undead Archers are definitely not an economically efficient common, but they are extremely efficient for tempo, pressure and assassination tactics.
Undead Carrier
Undead Carriers are the economy that helps support the Fallen Kingdom. While this is not an economic deck, you do need some economic cards to keep the steam going and Undead Carriers do so in a very "Fallen Kingdom way".  When they get a kill they do not get you magic, but they do get you a 2/3 with the same ability which is more valuable than 1 magic.
Not only that but the body itself is more useful for Fallen Kingdom than 1 magic, because it can be Purged, or used in some other Fallen Kingdom sacrifice shenanigans. More bodies also means more likely deaths occurring for Sacrificial Pyre turns.

In addition to that it’s somewhat tempo efficient, placing a body in what is often an offensive position, frequently stealing a good spot from the opponent, such as a summoning point, and sometimes even helping to take a potshot at a unit that was protected by a weak common.

The drawback is that if it fails to kill its target, its efficiency plummets. So it best shines when attacking targets with just 1 life. Targets with 2 life can be a reasonable attack too, but require more careful consideration due to a much higher likelihood of failure.

Undead Carriers are even more economically efficient in the endgame where magic is not worth much, this is a more narrow-use case, but it can be the difference that gives Ret-Talus some wins.

One final thing to remember is that Infect does not require killing enemy units.  This can allow you to do something like attack multiple times from the same flank, finish off a wounded friendly unit to summon a fully fresh Carrier, or blow up a Cultist without losing board position.
Hellfire Cultist
Without a doubt, Ret-Talus needs bodies to sacrifice, and while Carriers are the best method of getting those bodies, the truth is that often there aren’t enough reasonable targets for Infect. When that is the case, Hellfire Cultists happily sacrifice themselves for the cause. 
Cultists are a very core part of Ret-Talus’ strategy and you will be hard pressed not to summon all 4 every game. They are not only perfect bodies for Ret’s shenanigans, providing extra value in their sacrifice, but are great for blocking front gates, poking high damage targets in great positions and covering positions that need to be blocked but with a disposable unit, like the side of a gate or the side of a champion.
Even on their own they can often generate great trades as not many units can trade efficiently with them, thanks to the damage they do when killed compounding their regular ranged attack damage.
Purge
Purge is the Fallen Kingdom’s main way to sacrifice bodies. Once again this is not an economically efficient event, nor does it need to be. Be very aware of it being a move phase event, allowing you to do a lot of tricks with it, open paths and do all kinds of combos with your Undead Archers.

Don’t be afraid to use Purge for just a single sacrifice, especially if it's a Cultist as 3 damage for 2 cards is not the worst deal, particularly if that helps you get a jump start to your Undead Warriors by boosting them or allows you some great plays with things like Sacrificial Pyre or Undead Archers.

Most of the explosive turns of Fallen Kingdom involve a Purge, hopefully while Sacrificial Pyre is active also. If you are not playing at least one Purge every game, something is not right, and if they show up in your hand at good moments you should be using two Purges per game.
Often the biggest problem with Purge is losing the board position of the unit(s) you sacrifice, so hopefully you have a couple of Undead Archers ready to take the positions of the purged units.
Blood Summon
Blood summon is not as essential an event as Purge, but it is still definitely useful. Its main role is to cover for some of the deck's weaknesses.

- It gives you a summoning spot on the front lines which Fallen Kingdom really needs.
- It gives you sudden reach.
- It is a sacrificial outlet.

It can also be very economically efficient with the right board and hand.  If you sacrifice an Undead Carrier to bring 2 Undead Warriors for example, you are getting +1 magic worth of value.
Is that worth the effort? Probably not, but it can be if it gives you other benefits. For starters those Undead Warriors would immediately get +1 boost for the destroyed Undead Carrier.

So it’s important to understand that while Blood Summon is mostly used for reach and as a sacrificial outlet, it can really be impressive if you also manage to get some economy out of it at the same time. However, don't put too much effort in trying to set up a 3+ common Blood Summon dream in most scenarios.
Hellforged Weapon
Talking about inefficient cards in Fallen Kingdom, Hellforged Weapon is really inefficient, often doing more damage to your units than it actually does to enemy cards.
However, every aggro deck needs to threaten assassination to work and this often gets that job done.  The 3 main uses for Hellforged Weapon are:

- Explosive focused damage with Undead Archers.  Attack, have your Undead Archer die and be replaced with another and then attack again.
- Another sacrificial outlet (although this can be unreliable).
- It can be somewhat economically efficient with an Undead Carrier, as it allows you to attack a high life target, kill it and then it protects itself with the new carrier, potentially allowing you to repeat the process next turn, unless of course your opponent finds a way to kill the Undead Carrier.

One interesting interaction is with a Hellfire Cultist, where you usually are hoping the Hellforged Weapon kills the Cultist after the attack for maximum damage.  If it doesn't roll enough specials to die, it probably did quite a bit of damage and the weapon was worth it anyway, and if it does roll enough specials, it died just as you wanted.

Also notice that the strength bonus stacks, but the ability does not, so you can give units both Hellforged Weapons, granting +4 to attack strength without doubling the damage received by the unit from Cursed.

Dragos
Dragos is the most frequently summoned Fallen Kingdom champion, not because he is particularly strong, but because he is very versatile. He is mainly just a high attack body that can give you an at-will sacrifice outlet. One of this unit's main combos is to have another unit attack, sacrifice it with Dragos and replace it with an Undead Archer and then attack with that Undead Archer. There isn’t too much else to say, sometimes thanks to Ret’s Raise the Dead ability your magic starts to overflow, and Dragos is often the best use for that extra magic.
Gul-Dass
Gul-Dass is a very, very tricky champion to use. If not played correctly it can be truly awful.

Essentially it is a champion that needs to be protected, but at the same time it doesn't do much unless it gets in the fray and damaged.  If you don’t give the opponent the chance to OTK Gul-Dass then any wound means it will hit a lot harder.  At the same time there is really no need for the opponent to attack it as 2 melee attack strength is not very threatening.

So what is its real role?
Mainly it is a wall to protect your frontline and put pressure on your opponent. A wall that can suddenly do a significant amount of damage if Blood Summon or your own attacks are used against it.
However don’t make the mistake of exposing this wall too much, Gul-Dass is not life efficient (it just has a 1 to 1 life to magic ratio, which is quite terrible). If your opponent one-shots it, as they certainly will try to, your champion was effectively a negative value for you.

So the key is to protect all but one of its flanks, leaving just one exposed and letting it grow into a serious threat as it becomes damaged.
Elut-Bal
To finalize the trend of economic inefficiency in its champions, the Fallen Kingdom has Elut-Bal. While definitely not economically efficient, his mere existence in your deck is a major threat to your opponent, especially to their summoner.  Any friendly unit, for an expensive price, can become a 6/6.  Which, thanks to Undead Archers may actually be harder to kill than 6 life would normally seem. You can even do something crazy like summon Elut-Bal, Blood Summon twice from him and surround the opponent’s summoner for the kill.  While something like that may seem unlikely, the constant threat of that happening is a real problem for your opponent, sometimes demanding sub-optimal plays from them to compensate for this potential threat.
Fallen Kingdom is a highly aggressive faction that relies on explosive combos to get both their threat level and economic engine going.

They do have some economic tools in the form of Undead Carrier, Blood Summon and especially Sacrificial Pyre, but it's an economy that is more intended to keep the pressure on without running out of gas, rather than one that allows them to play a slow, "grindy" sort of game.  They are instead rewarded for playing a highly interactive game, forcing constant contact with the enemy.

You can win through your economy if you can pull off massive Sacrificial Pyre turns, but more often than not this is only achievable by being so threatening that your opponent is forced to respond defensively to your aggression.  Thus, winning through economic advantage is more of a Plan B, than it is a consistent path to achieve victory.

This faction is not for the faint of heart or those that like to play it safe, since playing them well means living with a summoner in a constant risk of dying and making often inefficient economic plays for the sake of board position.

However, if you enjoy having to make risky positional plays, tough decisions and trying to shift the board state and your hand into an explosion of death, the Fallen Kingdom may be the most fun of all.
Copyrights for the Summoner Wars logo and art belong to Plaid Hat Games, used herein with their express permission.
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