In the interest of full disclosure treatise really isn’t an appropriate way to describe this article. Really rambling incoherent jumble is likely the most accurate way to explain it. Then again, I wanted to use the word treatise, and no one can stop me! <cue maniacal villain laugh>
Wife and I recently discussed the Lazy Peon format in episode 14. However, we couldn’t really do the format justice as in all honesty because we are only just beginning to explore it ourselves. However there are some observations that I wanted to discuss as we begin our foray into intentional laziness.
This we did cover, albeit briefly. As with Magic’s pauper format the initial thought many will likely have is that you’re just playing decks with 60 draft rejects that may or may not be more coherent. That isn’t truly the case. Once you set your card search filters to common and uncommons only you can quickly see that there are ways to make some incredibly powerful lists. Let’s start with a normal deck and then see what it is comprised of from a rarity perspective.
4x Lesson of the Nether
4x The Promises of Darkness
4x Broderick Langforth
4x Cairne, Earthmother’s Chosen
4x Rosalyne von Erantor
4x Twilight Vanquisher Knolan
4x Dagax the Butcher
4x Jadefire Scout
4x Bazul, Herald of the Fel
4x Takara, Timewalker Warlord
4x Bottled Void
4x Orders From Lady Vashj
4x If You’re Not Against Us…
Total cards in deck: 60
4x Cromarius Blackfist
4x Munkin Blackfist
2x Skumm Bag’go
Total cards in sidedeck: 10
I chose Bogmara not just because it is a favorite of Wife’s, but also because I think it illustrates the idea that the workhorses of many decks are still available. In this case the cards which would be excluded in Lazy Peon (LP from here on out) are as follows:
- Twilight Vanquisher Knolan
Oof…that’s not an insignificant loss. However, you still keep the majority of your 1 drops including the 3 power ones. You also keep your disruption in Lesson of the Nether and reach via Bazul and Bottled Void. Ultimately Bogmara may get shifted to a different warlock hero as you no longer need your flip to enable explosive Knolan turns. The point is that you retain number of powerful aggressive tools that can be honed into powerful weapons. It is tough to remember as you are mourning the loss of undead mages that give you assault 1, but everyone else is losing those cards too! Sure you can’t use a succubus to steal some important powers from your opponent, but many of the allies you’d want to ensure you took are excluded as well! Sacrifices have to be made across the board which brings up the idea of themes.
A common refrain among card game designers is trying to evoke certain thoughts and feelings through the cards. Frequently simpler cards are put at lower rarities and more complex ones at higher rarities. The usual reason for this is that newer players with smaller collections will naturally have more commons/uncommons than rares or epics or whatever your game of choice calls them. This helps ease them in to learning the game. That isn’t the only goal though. Another common (hah!) one is that designers want to instill a theme or convey an idea through cards and just through sheer quantity, if nothing else, it is easier to do so with commons. To tie it back to our aggressive list above orcs typically have ferocity. If you look across the list of orc allies that are common and uncommon you’ll frequently see aggressive themed abilities and ones about being only able to punch allies (such as Bloodsoul). These themes sometimes, but not always, get lost when you introduce higher rarity cards as the interactions they provide can overwhelm the ideas presented at common and uncommon. So what good does that do us? Well it helps us identify potential avenues for deck construction. In the case of an aggressive horde deck we may want to take a look at some of the newer cards that support the bloodrush mechanic.
One of the cards I kept looking at personally was Blood and Thunder. The 4 cost ability gives you immediate damage (barring instants or protectors), it allows you to keep pressure on your opponent and hopefully continue enabling your bloodrush cards to be just a bit better than their cost. I think there is a lot of potential in an orc tribal deck. Not the tribe mechanic just…ugh you get what I mean. At the very least constructing an aggressive deck sets an important limit. Exactly how fast is this format? It’s a question that should be asked when evaluating any format. What is the critical turn? Can I really afford to be this greedy? How aggressive can I be before I am stretched too this? How many rhetorical questions can I squeeze in here?
Defining what I’ll call standard aggro deck is an important step. This becomes your measuring stick. You can use it to identify what other lists are viable and which are living in the land of dreams.
Straying From Theme
Being who I am I immediately jumped from orcs to demons and to other builds that were pretty linear. Choose a theme, identify the mechanics, try to exploit them. I love those sort of decks, but I know others are more interested in more diversified lists that pull from all available tools. That’s when I decided to give the neutral heroes another look. First off dual heroes may be a problem. Truth be told I don’t know yet, however their primary drawback of no talents is literally non-existent here. There aren’t any talents below rare so everyone essentially has the deckbuilding rule “you can’t include talents”. Unfortunately, many of the reasons to go monster such as the sultan squid, the overlord octopus, the caliph cuttlefish: Commander Ulthok are also riding the pine. It may be fine in the end. I’m openly admitting I am not sure at this point.
Moving beyond that blind spot for now, my love of the undead continues since Phylactery is still legal due to being an uncommon. This keeps Zombie-Go alive! The partner in crime of Fel Trade is also available so there may be some mean things you can do. There may be meaner things you can do in other shells as well but I haven’t gotten that far. The concept does bring up an interesting point about Lazy Peon in general though. That is valuable curve toppers are few and far between! Pappy Ironbane may be a fantastic utility player but he isn’t striking fear in the heart of opposing life totals in most situations. Fortunately for this list you’re a warlock so Twisted Infernal can come in since you’ll bypass (sort of) the required sacrifice if your trade for him, but let’s be honest he is not Varian Wrynn. If you look at other high end allies you’re often left reaching for things like Zophos which is not really all that exciting. That may be a turn off for many, but look at this way. You need to be super creative in how you make things work. Let those deckbuilding creative muscles flex!
We mentioned the old neutral demons from The Hunt for Illidan such as Mother Misery and Obliveron in the podcast. They may have a chance here as do other heroes that may not have been looked at in a while, or maybe never even got looked at in the first place. Witch Doctor Koo’zar can do some unfair things and majority of the 1 drops you want are going to be available. Maybe curses or diseases will be able to make it happen. Hunters such as Huntsman Gorwal can make use of super angry pets which pound for pound are often bigger than other allies at the same cost. It is entirely possible that Kanga the Primal can make a feral list work. Urrth or Phaladus could run around slinging totems, after all Primal Totem is an uncommon. I wouldn’t go so far as to say Iso’rath has a place, but maybe.
The format isn’t all sunshine and rainbows though. As mentioned the dual heroes such as Augh and Mogdar could be a problem. Then there is the issue of Implord Pinprik. Generally considered a meme, the demon hero could be a pillar. He was used in one of the Metamart events but in classic you are more likely to have a way to close the game out despite the innate elusiveness. I would anticipate that most LP decks are going to be combat step focused and simply placing the implord face-up could warrant a concession. Then again if that is the case the meta can shift and people will maindeck or sidedeck more burn to incinerate the mere 8 health.
There are additional fringe benefits that LP provides. Not unlike classic, LP is the wild west. A ton of unexplored territory and ample opportunity to turn some creative impulses into gold. It also allows for people who play less frequently or are just starting to get a feel for the game and more competitive cards than one might initially think. If you are looking to make your raids more flavorful and/or more challenging then LP might be a good way to try and spice them up. Raids in general were naturally designed for the card pool around when they released. Over time they fade in power just like in the actual MMO. Personally, I find it a little tedious to try and juggle all the requirements between raids and competitive lists. LP is a possible way to marry the 2 concepts. I can keep LP decks that I think are worthwhile constructed and they would serve double duty as raider decks. This part is even more speculation than the rest of this article as the idea is 100% untested but it sounds great, right?
We are really excited to give LP a try. It’s an old format that we’ve always wanted to try and we have all these commons sitting in boxes that desperately want to be something other than a proxy. Let’s give them a chance to see the table, just this time without Sharpie all over them or a scrap of paper with another card’s name hastily scribbled on it.