Decked Out Articles: The Art of Deck Building in High Command

There isn’t a simple formula to building High Command Decks. There just isn’t. One of the recommendations you will commonly hear from me is to keep your Rush costs low enough that can dependably get two cards out in a turn, and making sure you include tricks to reverse the pressure at a location. But that is far from a formula. And I really want to provide a more in-depth look at how I build decks for High Command.

I’ve found I tend to build in three primary directions for decks. I often have to remind myself which route that I am building for, because it is easy to add cards that end up diluting the deck with good cards that just aren’t right for the deck. Here are three examples of strong High Command decks, with each of their strengths and weaknesses. I’ve done individual articles for similar decks, but I want to make some specific comparisons between these for the sake of understanding the art of deck building in High Command.

War Decks

A War Deck is designed to take advantage of strong Warbeasts or Warjacks. It doesn’t necessarily mean that deck doesn’t use Command cards, but the focus isn’t on them. My Circle of Orboros Deck is a great example of a War-oriented deck. It has 19 Warbeasts, but only 12 Warrior cards. The Warrior cards in the deck are cheap and have Rush values of 4 Command, 5 Command, and 6 Command, while the Warbeasts get as high as 9-10 War. Here is the deck:

Cassius The Oathkeeper and Wurmwood {Red}
~Woldwrath x3
~Megalith x1
~Woldwarden x3
~Riphorn Satyr x3
~Druid Stoneward and Woldstalkers x2

Krueger The Stormwrath {Blue}
~Omnipotent’s Council x1
~Ghetorix x2
~Feral Warpwolf x2
~Warpborn Skinwalkers x2
~Tharn Ravager Tribesman x3
~Ravager Shaman Council x2

Baldur the Stonecleaver {Purple}
~Omnipotent’s Council x1
~Debt to Circle x1
~Ley Line Intersection x2
~Woldwrath x2
~Megalith x1
~Feral Warpwolf x2
~Celestial Fulcrum x1
~Ravager Shaman Council x2

Winds of War: Faith and Fortune

Locations: Hordes

Primary Strength: This deck brings some of the best Rush values from Warbeasts in High Command to the table. The four copies of the Feral Warpwolf and five copies of the Woldwrath make up the core power of this deck. Beyond the great balance of Power and Health for the solid Rush values, they also earn Victory Points and improve the economy of your deck with their good resource values.

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Secondary Strength: Beyond the sheer power this deck has, it also brings multiple discard mechanics from the Ravager Shaman Council’s Electro Leap ability and Ghetorix punishing opponents for destroying them with his Ornery ability. Combine those with Megalith’s Undergrowth ability to force opponents to discard additional cards when they Rush cards to its location. This provides the deck with multiple avenues to disrupt the efficiency of your enemy.

 

Primary Weakness: This deck is a lot less efficient when it is forced into Deploying cards instead of Rushing cards. Woldrath costs almost as much to Deploy as it does to Rush, and the action of Deploying it takes a card that could be discarded for 3 War out of the deck. The key to weakening this deck is to get the most use out cards that deny Rushing like the Narrow Streets, Redirection, and Elementalist Sorcerers.

Command Decks

On the opposite end of the spectrum are the decks focused on the Warriors. Cryx is the pinnacle example of a Command-oriented deck in my eyes. In my Cryx deck I wanted to build around the powerful Bane Cadre cards: Thralls, Knights and Riders, which are all very strong. This deck has 17 Warriors and only 11 Warjacks. The most expensive Warjack in this deck Rushes for 8 War. It’s important to keep a balance of both Warrriors and Warjacks, but this deck relies on the strength of its great Warrrior cards.

Witch Coven of Gnarlghast {Green}
~Will of Toruk x1
~Ritual of Sacrifice x1
~Deathjack x3
~Corruptor x1
~Pistol Wraith x3
~Satyxis Raiding Party x3

Warwitch Deneghra {Blue}
~Will of Toruk x1
~Necfactorium x1
~Ritual of Sacrifice x1
~Malice x3
~Bane Thrall Cadre x2
~Bane Rider Cadre x3
~Bane Knights x1

Sturgis the Corrupted {Red}
~Will of Toruk x1
~Necfactorium x2
~Corruptor x2
~Harrower x2
~Bane Thrall Cadre x1
~Bane Rider Cadre x2
~Bane Knights x2

Winds of War: Castle of the Keys

Locations: Faith and Fortune

Primary Strength: This deck has the lowest average Rush value of all three decks while having just as much power, if not more. Bane Rider Cadres are a huge amount of that strength. Combing them with Deathjack at a location provides 7-8 Power and 10 Health for only 13 resources. This is a very powerful combination and very hard to remove.

Secondary Strength: The Cryx deck brings more tricks and card manipulation than the Circle deck. Satyxis can use Feedback to move important cards to the bottom of your opponent’s deck, Corrupter and Deathjack can give you additional card advantage, and you have Pistol Wraiths to stall an important capture from your opponent (or pair them with a Bane Thrall Cadre for two cards that can’t be destroyed for at least a turn in most cases).

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Primary Weakness: This deck has very poor resource values on its cards. Only a combined total 7 of the cards between the Warriors and Warjacks are a better resource value than the cards in the original Army Deck. And even those are only a minor improvement. Most of the cards are on par with the basic resources or worse. It is really important to deploy some of the Warriors and Warjacks that end up back in your deck. If you’re trying to beat this deck, you should avoid giving up early captures and try to force as many of the low resource cards back into their Army Deck to slow it down.

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Combo Decks

Every deck wants to put two or more cards at a location and threaten captures, but a combo deck does much more than Rushing two cards. It’s trying to create a combination of abilities and values that are considerably better than what other decks can do. This is accomplished by pairing very specific cards at a location that synergize with each other more than just adding Power and Health. My Trollbloods deck is definitely the epitome of this concept. It doesn’t concentrate on Command or War; rather, every turn is a mini-game of trying to get combinations at a location that cripple your opponent’s options.

Calandra Truthsayer, Kriel Oracle {Purple}
~Assemble The Chieftains x1
~Mulg The Ancient x3
~Dire Troll Mauler x1
~Earthborn Dire Troll x3
~Storm Troll x1
~Elementalist Sorcerers x3

Hoarluk Doomshaper, Rage of Dhunia {Red}
~Assemble The Chieftains x1
~For Kith and Kriel x1
~Mulg The Ancient x2
~Dire Troll Mauler x2
~Storm Troll x2
~Champions of the Kriel x2
~Kriels War Banner x2

Grissel Bloodsong, Fell Caller {Orange}
~For Kith and Kriel x1
~Dire Troll Mauler x2
~Troll Bouncer x2
~Troll Impaler x1
~Elementalist Sorcerers x2
~Sons of Bragg x3
~Kriels War Banner x1

Winds of War: Castle of the Keys

Locations: Invasion of Sul

Primary Strength: This deck is all about the combos. On the simpler side, it tries to use the Sons of Bragg and Kriels War Banners to reduce Rush costs and make it more manageable to get the expensive Trolls from your Reserves to the Locations. This deck also benefits from pairing the Elementalist Sorcerers with Mulg (to deny any Rushing), the Earthborn (to increase the health on both cards), or the Bouncer (to force them to kill the Bouncer and leave the Sorcerer penalizing them). Trollbloods can use their combos to capture High VP locations and leave opponents with very few options.

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Secondary Strength: This deck can fall back on a great economy. It has 10 cards worth 2 VPs each and resource for 3 War when discarded. The Champions are worth 2 VPs each, Resource for 2 Command or War, and purchase for only 5 Command. Additionally, only 8 of the cards in this deck have below-average resource values. So this deck has a huge potential to get ahead (and stay ahead) with its economy, or to mitigate a poor turn by buying VPs.

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Primary Weakness: This deck is more susceptible to disruption and discarding effects. The Cryx or Circle decks are hurt by these things, and losing one card means you may have to Rush a weaker card; but for this Trollbloods deck, a single resource can mean that you either have the great combo or you don’t. And without the combos, the Trollblood values struggle to go head to head with the other decks. If you are facing a Trollbloods deck like this, you will want to try and stop them from playing the game they want to play. Focus on removing part of the combo. A great example would be that Satyxis Raiders can move Elementalist Sorcerers to the bottom of the deck with Feedback. Find ways to break the combos.

Average Rush Cost

Now that we have examined these decks in detail, let’s look at some of the math. I don’t think the average rush cost is a critical number, but it is one the few tools that you can use to help compare your deck versus other decks outside of the game. As I’ve explained, the key to threatening captures is being able to Rush two cards in the same turn. Looking at the average Rush cost can help you gauge how easy it will be to accomplish that task.

Cryx: 6.5

I am not sure that I can explain how insane this number is. Cryx puts out an incredible amount of power for such a tiny average Rush cost. I don’t expect very many decks to be able to compete with this number. I think Cygnar and Legion may be able to, but I doubt that the decks will hit as hard as this one does.

Circle: 7

This number is about where I think competitive decks should aim. The Circle deck also hits these numbers very dependably because of the natural math in the deck. The Woldwrath resourcing for 3 War makes it much easier to Rush Feral Warpwolves and Riphorn Satyrs for two or three cards. This deck just doesn’t have to overpay to Rush as often as others do.

Trollbloods: 7.3

This number is very misleading. Trolls will very commonly be Rushing cards for 2-4 less per card because of the Kriel War Banners and the Sons of Bragg. That is incredible when you think about this deck only having an average Rush cost of 0.3 higher than the Circle deck. This would be completely game breaking, except it is balanced by the fact it tends to put out less power than Cryx or Circle, which is why it relies on the combos.

Victory Points

The VP total of a deck can be misleading because there are plenty of bad decks with high VPs. But it is still important to make sure that your deck has enough VPs that you are not disadvantaged in the war for captures. As general rule I would recommend that you get over 40 VPs, but VPs that never get rushed or purchased are not of any real value. It is extremely important to keep an idea of which cards are getting used and which ones should be replaced even if it lowers the VP count for your deck.

Trollbloods: 46

Trolls come in with the lowest count of the 3 decks. But 46 Victory Points is plenty for the format. If you are over 40, you are probably building a solid deck. Trollbloods also end up with above average economy so they can often go through more of their deck than the other factions. In many games you will see Trollbloods get 30 or more of those 46 Victory Points.

Circle: 48

The Circle VPs are weighted very heavily in their Woldwraths and Feral Warpwolves. That is 9 cards that are nearly 50% of the deck’s victory points. If too many of those are in the last 10 cards of the deck, it can be very bad for Circle in game that ends early. But in other games they can rush 4-5 VPs per turn without issue, and the deck doesn’t mind buying Woldwraths because it’s a great resource.

Cryx: 50

The undead legion brings the most VPs of the 3 decks. This could easily be lower if you want to drop Bane Thralls for even cheaper Rush options. But the key for Cryx is the five Bane Riders and the Corrupters. The deck does not have any 3 VP cards like Circle, but every card in the deck is worth at least 1 VP. Cryx is not beyond buying VPs late in the game when the situation presents itself.

Conclusion

I still do not believe that High Command has a formula for deck construction. But I wanted to present a breakdown for a few different archtypes that may help you build your decks. You can look at these as outline to compare your ideas to. War, Command, or Combo . . . what is your game?

~Omnus

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