Do you hate your fellow human being? Want to justify taking over a minute for a turn? Desire to make your opponent’s life miserable? Then give ‘em the d!
By D, of course, I mean Defender, as I’m referring to the D icon put on the creatures when they have the Defender ability. And the best way to do so, is the mostly-forgotten Stasis Warden. Now, rather than just give you the instant satisfaction of a Stasis Warden deck list and how to win with it, I’m going to give you some background and the inspiration for the deck in the first place, so you can understand from where this deck came (and I’ll pretend you just can’t scroll down).
I play a lot of Solforge (shut up). Lately, I’ve been rather disappointed in how fast the metagame has really become – in most games, the game is decided, if not already finished, by turns 7-9. Control decks, as far as I have seen, basically don’t exist. The metagame is just too brutally fast. Or so I thought. I saw Glacial Crush, Yeti Icemage, Wallcrusher Yeti, and saw potential for a new, competitive deck that wasn’t just about punching your opponent as fast and hard in the face as possible (as fun as that can be).
I was wrong. Very wrong. Yeti Icemage and Wallcrusher Yeti were just way too unreliable, and were so worthless when their combo pieces weren’t drawn in the right order (and this happens a lot in Solforge, and should be improved). When it worked it was beautiful, and I’m sure rage-inducing. But when it didn’t, it was an absolute train wreck. Stasis Warden combined with Glacial Crush, however… now that was promising.
Now, as a fair warning, this deck is a drastic change of pace from your random aggro deck. You will suck. Playing this deck takes a very different mindset than you’re probably used to having in Solforge. Life management is crucial, and you will often have to manage very difficult decisions compared to the average deck. Card-counting is drastically more important for this deck (especially how many free spells you have left in a player rank), your leveling priorities are much more urgent and your mistakes are more harshly punished. However, that first time you Glacial Crush your opponent’s Thundersaur for the win after having their board in stasis the entire game, you’ll be grinning from ear to ear.
The most frustrating part about this deck is you will lose to the most random, awfully-made decks ever. Seriously. There are some cards that people would never consider using competitively that will just destroy you. Many of my losses come from less popular cards whose counters I can’t afford to stack (because how rare those threats are in the first place) or they simply don’t exist. My first game with this deck I ran into someone running Drawatar with 3x Jetpack. I couldn’t draw into my Metasculpts and lost swiftly. My second game I played against a N/T Grimgaunt Removal… running multiple Glacial Crushes. Having run GGR quite a bit myself, I can never remember a time when I thought, “Gee, I need more removal that can only target defenders.” My opponent quickly wrecked me. Luckily for all of you, I’m a bit of a masochist when I see a challenge, and getting a control deck to work in Solforge is certainly a challenge.
3x Stasis Warden
3x Energy Prison
3x Energy Surge
3x Glacial Crush
3x Static Shock
3x Cypien Augmentation
2x Fervent Assault
2x Sonic Pulse
2x Uranti Bolt
I would not change the cord cards of the deck unless you absolutely know what you’re doing both in Solforge and with this deck type. If you have substitutions you want to make, I’d suggest you start with the optional cards first. Also, notice that the deck doesn’t run any legendaries (and it only benefits from two, really). A good option for you F2P players.
Your basic strategy is summed up in one word: stall. You want to survive until PR 4 or so, and from there you can pretty much win the game however you choose – generally by Glacial Crush, but sometimes I’ve used large Stasis Wardens or lots of Static Shocks. Winning at that point is generally straightforward. Apply some damage every turn, while using your ridiculous amount of free spells along with Stasis Warden to prevent your opponent from doing damage again, ever. I’m going to refer to that state as Stasis. Getting to Stasis, however, is the tricky part.
Player rank 1 is incredibly crucial to you. Your desire is to level up 3x Stasis Warden as well as generating as many free spells as you can. Prioritize Energy Surges, and then from there it’s matchup specific. I try to avoid actually playing Energy Surge if I can unless I’d be okay drawing a Stasis Warden. This means Metatransfer and Metasculpt are very useful here to level up both Energy Surges and Stasis Wardens.
Most game turns you are going to want to play at least 2 spells – one to lock down your wardens, and another to lock down an equal number of your opponents creatures. It is crucial before you start playing cards that you figure out exactly how many spells you need to cast for the turn, and how much damage you will take if you try to go with less. Now, if you’ll notice, you can only play 2 cards per turn, and wardens don’t count as spells. Since you want to be able to play higher level wardens, this means you have to rely on free spells to make up the difference. And again, always make sure to figure out the minimum number of plays you need on a turn, and don’t risk playing card draw if you absolutely must draw a free spell to maintain board position.
Don’t be afraid to take damage in PR1. Very few decks can really put any scary amount of damage out against you in P1, so it’s usually safe to level up more cards and let 1-2 creatures swing at you. Most often, you will lose because your opponent puts something scary down immediately in PR2 or PR3 and you don’t draw your answer fast enough, so try to make sure you have as many Stasis Wardens, Energy Prisons, and Glacial Crushes (to pair easily with Uranti Bolt) as you think you will need. The more scary level 2&3 creatures your opponent will have, the more of these cards you will need to make sure you have leveled.
Generally speaking, I try to keep 3 wardens on the board, just to make sure I can afford to lose a few. If my opponent is running significant hard removal, I pretty much play them as fast as I can. The key here is that while he may kill a few of your wardens, it’s much easier for you to maintain Stasis and much rarer for him to play a threatening creature before you have the cards to deal with it.
Celebrate every time your opponent plays a single-target buff. Seriously. This is consistently one of the worst plays against this deck an opponent can make, as it means Energy Prison and Metasculpt both trade for a card, in addition to activating wardens, and Glacial Crush trades a free play for two non-free plays – a fantastic deal for you. In general, one of your biggest advantages is that most people in Solforge seem to have no idea how to play against your deck, as I keep seeing players do this. I’m going to ruin this for you by including a section on how to beat this deck (sorry).
Don’t forget that your wardens can technically attack. That chip damages adds up, and you still want to kill your opponent sooner rather than later. Also, another trick is to allow creatures with low (preferably 0) attack by to be killed by your wardens, just so you don’t have to worry about locking them down in the future. This is especially useful on creatures with activates/passives, as they often are easy targets of a Metatransfer.
Control – I’ve only seen a few other control decks in the queues, and most of these have been centered around N/U debuff activates. Your Metasculpts and huge number of free spells give you a large advantage here, and don’t be afraid to actually allow your Stasis Wardens to battle, as they trade favorably with a lot of their creatures. Overall a pretty easy matchup.
Deathbomb / Deathiarch – These are all variations of the same theme – lane fill and mass-pump cards. These decks can be brutal in the beginning ranks, but they’re also the decks you achieve Stasis against the most reliably and the quickest. They generally have few removal spells (these days, at least, I guess most feel they can’t run Botanimate/Death Pact/Gemhide Basher/etc anymore) and no creatures with Mobility, so your Stasis Wardens are safe from surprise attacks. Further, every pump spell they do play, while it may hurt in the short term, is fantastic for you in the long run – it means that you have one less creature to deal with, and you excel at handling 2-3 creatures. This is particularly crucial in the beginning of PR 2&3, as it means they are much, much less likely to play a higher rank creature you can’t deal with yet which is one of the most common ways your opponent will break your Stasis. Make sure to play your wardens opposite their creatures so that Gemhide Bashers will have to eat a friendly creature to kill your wardens.
This is the matchup where you see Leafkin Progenitors most often. They are a huge turning point for the game. If you can stop them in PR 1, you are in a fantastic position. They take away a much more threatening creature in PR 2&3. But, they can often wreck you in PR 1 if you don’t stop them right away. Make sure to think every turn on how you can handle a Leafkin Progenitor if need be. Lifeblood Dryads are also difficult in this matchup, because unlike the Patriarch, they don’t have the courtesy to stop pumping creatures at any point. In these situations Energy Prison become even more critical, forcing an opponent to replace a buffed creature with a weaker one.
N/T Mobility/Windcaller – This deck is quickly gaining popularity. In the past it used to be very legendary heavy and way too synergy-dependent to be a reliable threat. However, out of all decks that used to exist, this one has gained the most new cards that I have seen so far, and they drastically improve its function. Surprisingly the little chatter I seen about Stasis Warden decks suggest this is a bad matchup, but I have not found that to be the case at all. The fact that you never have to remove their creatures means their mobility is significantly hampered, and I find it quite easy to make them waste plays by leaving weak creatures around since they have little pump (Group Meal is about it). On top of that, some of them are courteous enough to play their own defenders (Scorchmane Dragon). Sure, they can play Fervent Assault to do some scary things, but that just makes Metasculpt actually trade for a card on top of activating Stasis Warden, which is something this deck normally only dreams of accomplishing.
N/T Removal – This matchup basically comes down to how much hard removal they’re running. Luckily your Wardens don’t die to Dreadbolt and they take 3 Epidemics to go down. Unfortunately, they make an easy target for Cull the Weak and Flame Lance, both of which are seeing an uptick in popularity. Metasights can do a lot of work here in preventing some of the nastier growing abilities for when you can’t find a hard answer. I’ve found the best way to win in this matchup is to try to put a Warden down whenever you can, even if it means taken an extra couple of swings.
Tempys Aggro – You will pretty much always lose to mono-Tempys aggro. They throw so much damage in your face in PR 1&2, and eventually can burn you down thanks to Flameshaper Savant and their many burn spells. Thankfully, it’s pretty rare. I’d consider running cards for it if you start seeing it, but to be honest I’m not even sure what cards would help. Aetherguard seems to give them fits, but only if you can get several spells played before they can remove it. Oh, and many of them like to run 4-6 Aggressive creatures, if not more. Good luck.
Thunderbots – So far this matchup has been a breeze for me, as a lot of the cards are significantly less scary when you’re not playing the same game – a lot of the good cards in their deck expect you to be fighting back, and you’d just rather give ‘em the D. Thundersaur will never grow beyond friendly pump. Brightsteel Sentinel’s ability is basically worthless. Brightsteel Gargoyles are fantastic for you, because it means significantly less pressure and they make an easy target for Glacial Crush. Just watch out for their mobility. Botanimate is a problem, but most don’t seem to run 3x, if they run it at all. Don’t be too afraid of Arcflight Squadron, either. Sure, they’ll fill up their lanes fast, but it also means less damage on the board and every extra turn they give you is crucial. Also, they tend not to run the Uterra cards that give you fits, like Leafkin Progenitor and Gemhide Basher.
Zombies – This match-up is rough if they are hard removal heavy (Death Patch, Cull the Weak, Deathcoil, Scourgeflame Sorceror, Corpse Harvester). Heavy Nekrium hard removal is probably the source of the most of my losses besides maybe RNG. The good doctor makes it so they can pull out wins even if they never get to swing. If they’re using soft removal (Darkshaper Savant, Epidemic, etc) this matchup is significantly easier, and one of your easier matchups because they just don’t have as much offensive pressure.
Due to the length of this article, I’m splitting it into two. Check out part 2 here, which includes card analysis, substitutions, and how to beat this deck.