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When v1.28 hit, there were three main Heroes being used: Darkclaw, Eladwen and Logan. It soon became apparent that Darkclaw was easy to beat with the right cards (a couple of Misplaced or Shriek of Vengeance), but Eladwen and Logan were much stronger. Darkclaw soon started to disappear from the meta, leaving a whole lot of Eladwen and Logan in Quick Match.

In my early matches in v1.28, I also noticed a lot of people were using Bazaar and Bad Santa in their decks; I attribute this partly to the increase to 40-card minimum and partly to needing a fast deck to contend with Eladwen and Logan.

I therefore decided to make a deck that could deal with both top Heroes (there had to be a way!), and also take maximum advantage of any extra cards the opponent gave me, without depending on those extra cards, and hopefully let me climb back up in the ratings. (I'd dropped from 217 to 201, getting to grips with v1.28.)

But which Hero would I base the deck around?

As usual, I began by thinking over the main pros and cons of each Hero class and was hit by an epiphany ...

"Mages can't heal. Wait! Now they CAN heal. With Honored Dead!!!"

At this time, I was not aware of anyone else running Honored Dead, so I saw this as a chance to get a competitive edge on the other mages, since I could surprise them with my healing. Ideally, I would play it when they have planned out how to kill me over the next couple of turns, to grab back enough health to kill them on my next turn.

The main trouble with Honored Dead, and the reason why no one seemed to be playing it, is that you need five allies in the graveyard, which is quite hard to achieve. I decided to put this to the test and stock up on a lot of cheap easy-to-kill allies, which led to a weenie-rush deck, where I could hit hard in the early game and follow up with some burn damage to win.

This was, of course, very similar to how Eladwen was currently being played, but I had four main differences: firstly, I had my healing anti-weapon in the form of Honored Dead; secondly, I was going to skimp on my own draw cards and fill those slots with allies, since I could just benefit from their Bazaar and Bad Santa; thirdly, I would make use of Birgitte, to disrupt my opponent's targeting and keep Aldon and Blake alive longer than they might ordinarily survive; finally, I was going to use the lesser human mage and the poster-boy of Shadow Era himself, Nishaven, so I could nuke my own allies, if necessary, in exchange for healing and drawing with Honored Dead.

Without further ado, let's see the experimental deck I ended up with ...

Deck List

  NISH4V3N 1.28 "Full-HD" (View in deckbuilder)
  Hero: Nishaven
  Allies (24)
  4 Kristoffer Wyld
  4 Birgitte Skullborn
  4 Puwen Bloodhelm
  4 Blake Windrunner
  4 Aldon the Brave
  3 Jasmine Rosecult
  1 Tainted Oracle
  Abilities (18)
  4 Honored Dead
  4 Fireball
  3 Lightning Strike
  3 Supernova
  2 Portal
  1 Research
  1 Bad Santa


This deck plays a lot like Economical Eladwen in the early turns, except you want to play Kris if he arrives in your starting hand, rather than holding onto him, so you can get some early damage on there. The ideal start, however, is to play Birgitte, Blake and then Aldon, since Kris becomes a semi-Fireball for 1cc when he has the Brave one himself to help him out.

Let's look at the ideal start in more detail:

T1: Play Birgitte

T2: Play Blake

T3: Play Aldon. Hit with Birgitte (1) and Blake (4)

T4: Hit with Birgitte (1), Blake (4), Aldon (3). Play Kris. Hit with Kris (2). Play Fireball (4).

With 4 copies of each of these cards, there's a reasonable chance of doing 19 damage by the end of your turn 4, which is a fantastic start indeed.

Of course, your opponent will be playing cards too and maybe Retreating Birgitte or killing Blake and Kris somehow, but you will likely still have the advantage in the early game.

If you don't have Birgitte in your opening hand, then let's look at another likely few turns:

T1: Play Kris. Hit with Kris (1).

T2: Play Puwen. Hit with Kris (1).

T3. Play Aldon. Hit with Puwen (3) and Kris (2).

T4. Play Lightning Strike (3 and 3) or Portal. Hit with Aldon (3), Puwen (3) and Kris (2).

If you've played Lightning Strike, you've ended up hitting for a maximum of 21. If you played Portal, you might have hit for 15.

Whilst this start is potentially better than the other, you're more vulnerable to enemy attacks without Birgitte's protection. Of course, while your allies are dying, they are soaking up damage and filling your graveyard. It's win-win.

I decided to mix Lightning Strike and Portal to give me some flexbility. If I end up with a lot of cards due to Bazaar or Bad Santa, then Portal should give me some great direct damage to unload with my allies. A Blake when Aldon is out gives 4 damage, which makes him a cheaper version of a Fireball.

What to sacrifice in the early game? Any Honored Dead you see in the first 4 turns is an instant sacrifice. In fact, until you can see a way to have five dead allies, it might as well be sacrificed. Other cards to sacrifice: spare Birgittes; Kris (if no sign of Aldon); Supernova (if you are behind on the death race); Tainted Oracle, spare Portal, Lightning Strike.

When to use Nishaven's ability? You mostly don't end up using it, but it sits there as a threat and also gives you an option to protect yourself from allies if you end up low on cards and you're top-decking. It's also there to put your allies in the graveyard, if you need them there for Honored Dead. If your opponent owns the board, with a single ally, it's usually worth holding off on using the ability, so you can see whether they play another.

When to use your own draw engines? If Bazaar is down, you really don't need them. If it isn't, then do play your Research and make use of it when resources are available. Oracle is a nice bonus and Bad Santa is there for if you are really desperate. This deck top-decks very well, so you can get by with only one card per turn.

Finally, this deck is obviously just another death-racer, so you need to keep that in mind whilst playing, and sometimes sacrifice board control to get some hits on their Hero, since you can afford to take a couple of hits one turn if you can wipe the board with Nishaven or Supernova on the next turn.


My first use of the deck ended up being extremely exciting. My rating was 201 and I ended up facing Darkclaw with this risky experimental deck. Amazingly, I won the match due to the speed at which I damaged the opponent, and my rating moved up to 202. I then won another couple of games with it and decided to use it as my deck for Bluejet's Crown 1.28 T1 tournament, where I won my first two matches (one against Eladwen, one against Zaladar) and narrowly lost the quarter-finals to the eventual winner of the tournament, soothslyr, who was using an Eladwen deck that looked quite a lot like this one. (Similar allies and lack of bilateral draw.)

In total, I have 11 wins and 4 losses against Eladwen in tournaments and leagues. I have had another 3 wins against Eladwen in Quick Match and against a few other Heroes, like Elementalis. I've not actually met many Logans, but I beat the two that I have seen so far.

The main weakness of this deck is that it suffers when the opponent uses unilateral draw and you get no free cards. You better hope Research comes up early in those matches, or that you get the dream start I mentioned above.


This deck, packed full with cheap allies, provides a lot of synergy: if they get killed, they've soaked up some pain that would have gone on my Hero and they've prepared the way for Honored Dead; if they get left alone, I can make use of them to own the board or hit the opposing Hero.

The deck is good and I'm sure it's refreshing for my opponents to see a different Hero to the usual ones in use. Warriors are a challenge, but they can be beaten through board control and persistence. I find that Blood Frenzy is more likely to kill them than you, so you should rejoice if they play it.

I have not actually used Honored Dead that many times, but it has won two games for me, through healing up and giving key cards in late-game. Matches tend to be quite close with this deck, unless you went first and got the dream start I described above, so Honored Dead can really make a difference in those close matches.

It's likely that Honored Dead will be buffed slightly in future, since the cost and condition are a bit high for the benefit, so this deck, or a variant of it, could become very very good at that point. In the mean time, it's fun to play for the sheer originality and winning and, when matches are lost, they are usually very close and exciting.


You can Private Message me on the forums or post a reply on my thread.

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