Say hello to our new Queen overlords

Well… the wipe changes were a little unexpected.  Cabal Countess strikes me as needlessly strong.  She is good against enemy sweepers- she can be played after the sweeper and get in 4 or 6 damage while leaving a very strong body behind.  Any card that can reliably deal 6 face damage is very good in Burn Queen.  She looks like a very good addition.

cabal-countess.png

Control decks that relied on Secret Pages for influence fixing and getting to double justice for Harsh Rule (or a single Primal for Lightning Storm with only 2 power) have basically been nerfed.  I don’t think that these control decks will fare well against the new annoyingly-fast queen decks.

Deck list

4 Flame Blast (Set1 #2)
2 Dark Return (Set1 #250)
4 Grenadin Drone (Set1 #5)
4 Oni Ronin (Set1 #13)
4 Pyroknight (Set1 #16)
4 Rapid Shot (Set1 #259)
2 Suffocate (Set1 #251)
4 Torch (Set1 #8)
4 Argenport Instigator (Set1 #268)
4 Kaleb’s Favor (Set0 #3)
1 Ornate Katana (Set1 #23)
2 Cabal Countess (Set1 #37)
4 Champion of Chaos (Set1 #402)
3 Bandit Queen (Set1 #389)
4 Obliterate (Set1 #48)
9 Fire Sigil (Set1 #1)
5 Shadow Sigil (Set1 #249)
3 Diplomatic Seal (Set1 #425)
4 Seat of Chaos (Set0 #60)
4 Stonescar Banner (Set1 #419)

The correct # of Cabal Countesses may be 4.  Cut Ornate Katana and maybe Grenadin Drone.

Pyroknight received a very mild nerf that shouldn’t impact this deck that much.

For information on piloting this deck and card substitutions, see:

  1. Burn queen article.
  2. Piloting the Bandit Queen mirror.

EDIT: Nov 20 decklist

My current version subs out the Ornate Katanas and a Grenadin Drone for Vara’s Favor and another Countess.  Too many Countesses aren’t good since the card is very power intensive.  If sweepers and relic weapons see less play, then dropping down to 2 Countesses may be correct.  Against beatdown decks, she is a very strong attacker but a little slow due to needing 7 power.

4 Flame Blast (Set1 #2)
2 Dark Return (Set1 #250)
3 Grenadin Drone (Set1 #5)
4 Oni Ronin (Set1 #13)
4 Pyroknight (Set1 #16)
4 Rapid Shot (Set1 #259)
2 Suffocate (Set1 #251)
4 Torch (Set1 #8)
4 Argenport Instigator (Set1 #268)
4 Kaleb’s Favor (Set0 #3)
1 Vara’s Favor (Set0 #35)
3 Cabal Countess (Set1 #37)
4 Champion of Chaos (Set1 #402)
3 Bandit Queen (Set1 #389)
4 Obliterate (Set1 #48)
8 Fire Sigil (Set1 #1)
6 Shadow Sigil (Set1 #249)
3 Diplomatic Seal (Set1 #425)
4 Seat of Chaos (Set0 #60)
4 Stonescar Banner (Set1 #419)

EDIT: Nov 22 decklist

Seeing a lot more aggro in the meta.  Aggro mirrors are medium-speed, so you actually don’t want to go in the ultra-fast Jito direction.  You want to go slower and have certain cards that are good in the mirror like Vara’s Favor to kill their Pyroknights.  I’m not sure what to do about the Feln matchup… the new 5/2 Soulfire Drake might be good but I haven’t tried it.

3 Flame Blast (Set1 #2)
2 Dark Return (Set1 #250)
2 Grenadin Drone (Set1 #5)
3 Oni Ronin (Set1 #13)
4 Pyroknight (Set1 #16)
4 Rapid Shot (Set1 #259)
2 Suffocate (Set1 #251)
4 Torch (Set1 #8)
4 Argenport Instigator (Set1 #268)
2 Kaleb’s Favor (Set0 #3)
4 Vara’s Favor (Set0 #35)
3 Cabal Countess (Set1 #37)
4 Champion of Chaos (Set1 #402)
3 Bandit Queen (Set1 #389)
2 Impending Doom (Set1 #286)
4 Obliterate (Set1 #48)
9 Fire Sigil (Set1 #1)
5 Shadow Sigil (Set1 #249)
3 Diplomatic Seal (Set1 #425)
4 Seat of Chaos (Set0 #60)
4 Stonescar Banner (Set1 #419)

The problem with the annoyingly-fast decks

The issue I see with Burn Queen is that it shuts down some fun decks and leads to some un-fun matchups.  For example, Burn Queen versus Clockroaches does not strike me as a very interesting matchup.  Burn Queen is a little too fast so Clockroaches doesn’t have much of a chance of going off and winning.

Making Bandit Queen more interesting to play against

Let’s start with the least interesting parts of Bandit Queen – the hyper-aggressive Jito Queen version.  The games are fairly un-interactive.  Either Jito gets a god draw or it doesn’t.  Either the defending player has a lightning storm or doesn’t.  There’s not a lot of agency in the matchup.  The decisions are fairly simple- “A + space + face” as SirRhino would put it.  I would welcome pre-emptive nerfs to KnifeJack, Lurking Sanguar, and any other card that only sees constructed play in Jito Queen.

The next worst offender in the Bandit Queen matchup is Bandit Queen herself.  When she’s good, she’s really good.  She contributes to un-interactive god draws.  Getting crushed on turn 4 is a little too soon.  Maybe nerf her a little by pushing her cost up to 5 (and buffing her attack by 1).  That way, Bandit Queen decks will play fewer copies of her and games won’t end really early.  Other decks will have a chance to play answers (e.g. Harsh Rule).

Next, I would look at pushing the interesting parts of Bandit Queen.

shadowlands20guideticking20grenadin

While the Shadowlands Guide / Ticking Grenadin combo no longer sees much play, it had very interesting gameplay.  If you blocked the grenadin, the opponent could recur grenadin for a lot of value.  So, a very reasonable line of play would be to NOT block grenadin when the opponent had 3 power open.  Knowing this, a good Bandit Queen pilot could bluff and attack with grenadin when they didn’t have Shadowlands Guide in hand.  This bluffing dynamic led to interesting gameplay and was a very unique play pattern.

While I doubt that Ticking Grenadin would see much Tier 1 play today, I think that a buff to Shadowlands Guide would lead to interesting gameplay.  One possible buff:

Shadowlands Guide
2/1
Summon:  Play a 1-cost unit from the void.  Give it +2/+1.

From a strategy perspective, this pushes the power of the card into the recursion ability.  This creates a greater incentive for the defending player to not block, leading to interesting bluff attacks.

Unfortunately, the 3-drop slot has Cabal Countess and Champion of Chaos so I’m not sure this buffed Shadowlands Guide would see constructed play.  This is why I disagree with the addition of Cabal Countess.  The card eats up a lot of the complexity budget (she’s very wordy) without adding a lot of gameplay.  I personally think that a Shadowlands Guide buff (with nerfs to the less interactive parts of Bandit Queen) would’ve been better for the game.

Evolution of the meta

The wipe basically nerfed control decks that used Secret Pages.  While Feln-based control might be viable, I think that the meta will shift to a lot of aggro decks.  In a more aggro heavy meta, Bandit Queen will want to ditch a lot of the burn and pivot to going deeper on the go-wide plan.  We might see a comeback of Frontier Jito and its lifestealing Lurking Sanguar buddies.

Unfortunately, two words come to mind: fun police.  It will be hard to construct sweets decks that can answer Bandit Queen and still have enough card slots left over to do sweet things.  I want to see Clockroaches see fringe play on ladder.  That deck is sweet, even if it is never better than a Tier 3 deck.  But if the meta is dominated by aggro, I think that we will see fewer fun and quirky decks on ladder.

The direction that I would like to see Bandit Queen go is a more interactive version with longer games and fewer god draws.  Burn Queen headed in that direction a little, but some kind of Frontier Jito version with 4 Cabal Countesses might end up dominating the metagame.  I really hope that the constructed meta doesn’t turn out this way.

EDIT (Nov 27): Ok, I was wrong.  For the Stonescar mirrors, you don’t want Frontier Jito.  You want Impending Dooms and maybe Umbren Reaper.  Definitely grab 4X Vara’s Favor.

Links

At 31:12-32:32 of this interview with LightsOutAce, Neon and LightsOut talk about Bandit/Jito Queen and how that damn deck will never go away.

Hyper-aggressive Jito Queen Example

2 Blood Beetle (Set1 #260)
4 Frontier Jito (Set1 #9)
4 Grenadin Drone (Set1 #5)
3 Knifejack (Set1 #257)
4 Oni Ronin (Set1 #13)
4 Pyroknight (Set1 #16)
4 Rapid Shot (Set1 #259)
4 Suffocate (Set1 #251)
4 Torch (Set1 #8)
4 Argenport Instigator (Set1 #268)
2 Cabal Countess (Set1 #37)
4 Champion of Chaos (Set1 #402)
4 Bandit Queen (Set1 #389)
2 Lurking Sanguar (Set1 #293)
1 Obliterate (Set1 #48)
7 Fire Sigil (Set1 #1)
7 Shadow Sigil (Set1 #249)
3 Diplomatic Seal (Set1 #425)
4 Seat of Chaos (Set0 #60)
4 Stonescar Banner (Set1 #419)

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6 thoughts on “Say hello to our new Queen overlords

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