Overwhelming the Bandit Queen mirror

The Bandit Queen mirror is one of the more intricate matchups in Eternal.  These matchups work quite differently since the games go much longer than typical Jito Queen games.  Whereas normal Jito Queen typically calls for aggressive play (“A + space + burn to the face”), the key skill in the mirror is choosing when to attack and when NOT to attack.  As well, it sometimes makes sense to hold removal for the units that actually matter in the matchup.

Units to use removal on

  • Champion of Chaos
  • Bandit Queen
  • Pyroknight
  • Lurking Sanguar
  • Argenport Instigator
  • Blood beetle, but only if it has with flying.

Because the games last longer, the higher-quality units have a much bigger impact on the game.  The big units (Champion of Chaos and 6/5 Pyroknights) help to grind out value.  If a big unit isn’t blocked, the repeatable damage from that unit will quickly kill a player.  If the big unit is blocked, it will take out a lot of blockers and lead to card advantage.  While card advantage isn’t necessarily that important in the matchup, taking out a large number of units really weakens Bandit Queen plays.

Bandit Queen is very good in the matchup because it can lead to extremely profitable attacks that put an opponent at low life, forcing them into making bad blocks on the next turn (or in lethal range of burst damage).

Lurking Sanguar’s lifesteal ability is incredibly difficult to race, complicating the combat math and lines of play.

Argenport Instigator’s ability leads to much shorter games, especially if there are two or more on the board.  It particularly punishes go-wide strategies.

Blood beetle is the only unit in the matchup with evasion.  Usually it never gets to infiltrate because everything can block it without leading to an unprofitable block.  There is no removal spell in the matchup that it doesn’t die to.

Rapid Shot- a key blowout

rapid20shot

Big units allow a player to grind down the opponent’s life total or destroy a huge chunk of the opposing army.  A rapid shot on a big overwhelm unit is particularly important in the matchup.  Being able to Rapid Shot a big unit will save that unit from dying.  It’s a brutal play to decimate an opponent’s army, have your big unit survive, and chip away at the opponent’s life total.

Implications:

  1. One away to avoid the blowout is to attack and to race the opponent.  Armies can’t die to Rapid Shot if they are attacking and not blocking.  This reduces Rapid Shot to a 4-damage burn spell, which does not generate as much value as destroying a squad of blockers.  However, unprofitable attacks may be a bad idea.
  2. Another way to avoid a Rapid Shot blowout is to save removal for Pyroknight and Champion of Chaos (or other key creature).  Units like Oni Ronin don’t matter much because every unit in the matchup will block Oni Ronin well.
  3. Conversely, it may make sense to avoid playing Champion of Chaos if it’s power will be 3.  At a power of 4 or higher, it is difficult to remove.  Many Bandit Queen decks do not play Deathstrike (or play very few copies of it).  There aren’t a lot of ways for Bandit Queen to deal with Champion of Chaos.
  4. Torch can be a blowout for Rapid Shot if the attacking unit can die to Torch.  This makes it a little better to Rapit Shot a big unit rather than Lurking Sanguar.  Of course, it is safe to attack if the defending player does not have any power open.
  5. In the early game, block dopey-looking attacks and force combat tricks out of their hand.  Opponents may waste Rapid Shot on units like Argenport Instigator, rather than waiting for situations where they can get more value out of Rapid Shot.

Patiently wait for strategic attacks

A bad attack is one where the opponent can make good blocks while taking minimal damage (and remaining at high health).  Because the mirrors go long, grinding out value is important.  Good outcomes of an attack are:

  1. (Killing the opponent if you have lethal damage via units + burn spells.)
  2. Putting the opponent at low health, forcing them to make bad blocks on future attacks.
  3. Gaining value, e.g. by rapid shotting a big overwhelm unit.
  4. Safely getting damage in, e.g. doing damage without any attackers dying.

Don’t attack if it doesn’t result in a good outcome.  It often makes sense to build up the board and wait for Bandit Queen, Torch, or Rapid Shot.  These cards can lead to much more favorable attacks.

Watching the priority windows

Knowing whether or not the opponent has a fast spell is very useful in the matchup.  The main fast spells are Rapid Shot and Torch.  Rally, Annihilate, and Deathstrike see minor play in Bandit Queen decks.

Rapid Shot’s priority windows depend on the player’s client settings.  Smart Autopass can be enabled/disabled via Options (gear icon in top-right) → Gameplay.

smart-autopass

If Smart Autopass is enabled:

  • You do not get a window to play Rapid Shot when the opponent plays a fast spell.
  • You do not get a window to play Rapid Shot at the end of an opponent’s turn.

I would recommend disabling Smart Autopass so that opponents can’t infer the difference between Rapid Shot and Torch.

When players get priority windows(with Torch):

  • Before combat damage is dealt.
  • After a fast spell is played.
  • At the end of a player’s turn.

Torch, Rapid Shot, or both?

Based on the opponent’s behaviour, you can infer whether or not they have Torch in hand.

  • If an opponent has 4 power and a Pyroknight, it makes sense to Torch the Pyroknight on the end of your own turn.  On the opponent’s turn, the opponent may play the fifth power and ultimate the Pyroknight, putting it out of Torch range.
  • Champion of Chaos and Lurking Sanguar should be torched immediately.
  • You should torch Argenport Instigator if you have a large number of 1/1s, or if Torching the Instigator opens up attacks.
  • The opponent spends a lot of time thinking on the end of your turn.  A very savvy opponent might bluff this.  However, this would be unusual on ladder because time is gold… grinding out games faster means more gold and more shots at a good win streak for ladder rankings.

Ways to infer Quick Shot:

  • The opponent mouses over a card when you click on your blocker.  Some opponents have a habit where they give away their combat tricks.
  • The opponent spends a lot of time thinking in situations where they have an opportunity to save their attacker with a trick.  Or, they spend a lot of time thinking when their unit is about to die to Suffocate.

Preventing information leakage

One line of play is to use up all of your power before moving to the combat step, e.g. by playing units.  However, I would only do this if:

  1. The opponent does not have Torch power + influence open.
  2. The opponent has not already seen your fast spell.
  3. The opponent might block weirdly to play around Torch or Rapid Shot.  Or, the opponent might block differently knowing what units you have just played.

If all 3 of the above are true, then denying the information leakage is free value.

Misconceptions about Bandit Queen

While the mirror is actually fairly skill intensive and has a lot of depth, I think that Bandit Queen may continue to have a bad reputation as a very luck-dependent deck.  Low interest in the deck may mean that players don’t get very skilled at piloting the deck or playing against it.

Let me pound the table a little and say this: I doubt that the Eternal community has caught on to just how powerful the Burn Queen variant is.  Here are my stats:

  1. Peaked at #1 on ladder early on in the current season.  (To be fair, there is a huge luck component involved.)
  2. 68% winrate, 104 wins versus 49 losses.  In comparison, my winrate with monojustice was 63%.
  3. 27-8 against midrange and big Combrei, which I have long considered to be one of the best decks in the current meta.
  4. 10-8 versus Jito Queen.
  5. 8-7 versus 4-faction control and 3-1 versus Icaria Blue.  So much for Lightning Storm being a devastating card against Bandit Queen!!

Jito Queen and 4-faction control should be slightly bad matchups for Burn Queen.  However, I think that people misplay the Bandit Queen mirrors a lot… piloting skill likely explains my favorable winrate.

I’m not sure about 4-faction control… in theory, I would expect 4-faction to be slightly favored if both players were highly skilled.  However, the sample size is low.

Regardless, Burn Queen has an excellent winrate overall.  If its popularity takes off then maybe you’ll be glad that you bothered to read this article and learned a thing or two about beating the mirror.

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3 thoughts on “Overwhelming the Bandit Queen mirror

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