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  1. #1
    DP Visionary Preybird's Avatar
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    Birdie's Hero Breakdown - Lance Shadowstalker

    Intro

    Generally considered the stronger of the two Rogues, Lance has been a solid fixture in QM and tournaments since the full CotC set was released, primarily due to the tweaking of his ability and the costings of Ill Gotten Gains and Stop Thief. However with the release of Dark Prophecies and all the anti-stealth tech (not to mention Braxnorian Veteran), Lance like Moonstalker has lost some of his punch.

    Overview

    Lanceís ability in conjunction with Anklebreaker gives him amazing potential to take control of a board. Generally he has no trouble asserting dominance in the mid-game with hasted allies and disabling weapons. He can also keep the board in contention until that point with cards like Retreat and Assassination. His early game is still not his strongest point, so a concerted effort in the first four/five turns can really put him on the back foot.

    In addition to his ability Lance has access to the very flexible Rogue card pool, gaining a number of deck staples. He has an excellent draw engine (Ill Gotten Gains), Item destruction (Stop Thief), Instakill (Assassinate, Black Garb), control and stall abilities (Anklebreaker, Smoke Screen, Lay Low), and a number of allies that are useful in different situations (Nightshade, Night Owl, Agent Rex, Lyra Blackrose). Of special mention are two allies in the human pool which work exceptionally well with him, Raven Wildheart and Riders of Ellos.

    He also has access to the bounce card Vozitian Orders and while it hasnít been able to be exploited as of yet, it may reveal its power in the future.

    Allies

    When you take Lanceís ability into account you realise that there is only one way to play him, allies. And lots of them. Almost all of Lanceís damage will be through allies. Thankfully there are many solid choices for him to use.

    Call of the Crystals

    • Nightshade: Still a commonly seen ally, though with all the anti-stealth options and Furrion Terror running about heís a lot less common than he used to be. Heís a very good target for Assassination going second however.


    • Aldon the Brave: I challenge you to find me a non-solo human deck that DOESNíT use him.

    • Jasmine Rosecult: This girl is dynamite with Lance. You can drop her on turn 5; use Lanceís ability and then hers, potentially killing one ally and shutting down another. Sheís a staple in all Lance decks for her versatility and power when hasted.


    • Raven Wildheart: In CotC she was THE go to ally for Lanceís ability, and even nowI use her more than any other. She instantly knocks out almost every ally in the game, breaks Shadow Knight loops and has huge health. Whatís not to love?

    • Aeon Stormcaller: The big daddy. Lance loves him because he likes to control and ramp up and Aeon allows this to happen more effectively. He shields your allies and is amazing with Jasmine, Raven and even Lyra.

    • Earthen Protector: The dreaded Earthen/Aeon combo is still relevant, despite it being easier to get around Protector. However I donít see him as being as necessary as he used to be, doubly so because there is another, cheaper 4 attack ally in Riders of Ellos.


    Dark Prophecies

    • Champion of Irum: Very solid 2 drop and great survivability. I really like him in a Lance build because he helps out the early game, even if only to give my opponent one more distraction to kill.

    • Riders of Ellos: 4 attack hasted (with potential for 6 with another Rider + Aldon) means this guy has really found a home in most Lance decks. Not to mention the fact that his passive ability makes him a great tech choice against weapon based heroes.

    • Layarian Seductress: Sheís there for the early game. Not as useful as she is in an Amber build for example because Rogues like to resource high (also Stop Thief really upsets her). Still, she can slow your opponent down until such time as Lance can assert board control.

    • Lyra Blackrose: Lyraís ability is highly disruptive and on paper is utterly awesome. The problem is with her 4 health she next to never survives a turn. However if youíve got an Aeon on the board itís a different story, and she can really shut your opponent down.

      But if youíve got Aeon and other allies in play youíve usually got the game anyway.

    • Night Owl: This guy is a mini Tainted Oracle with better offensive capability. The only thing is that 2 health is so weak that he rarely survives (at least you get a card!). Still, heís very annoying for those heroes with limited options for countering stealth.

    • Karlstrad, Ruler of Gaderi: This guy has some great potential with Lance, particularly in builds that have a lot of cheaper allies. He can be part of a more aggressive Lance deck, and if you get a couple of allies to stick he really comes out swinging. Plus with his inability to be incapacitated itís very VERY hard to deal with a stealthed Karlstrad. Still, if you havenít got board heís just a less effective&more expensive Raven.
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  2. #2
    DP Visionary Preybird's Avatar
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    Abilities and Items

    Lance has quite a varied set of abilities and items available to him, though a lot of them are rather niche and specific in their use. He really feels like a rogue, with a whole heap of tricks available but less focus than say a warrior.

    Call of the Crystals

    • Anklebreaker: You’d be hard pressed to find a Lance deck that doesn’t use this card. Coupled with Lance’s ability it means taking board from him is a difficult prospect indeed, as he will almost always have hasted damage sources awaiting you.

    • Ill-Gotten Gains: The main Rogue draw engine, this card really forces Lance down the control path, as it won’t feed your game if you’re not destroying your opponent’s cards. The biggest problem with this card I find is that it won’t help much if you’re in a losing position, as it’s that much harder to kill things. Still, a solid draw engine and as with most draw engines worth the full 4 slots.

    • Stop Thief!: The second best item destruction in the game behind Focused Prayer, ST can’t hit support abilities, BUT it gives you a free resource when you use it. In essence for items this is actually superior to Focused Prayer because it essentially costs 3, plus it accelerates your future turns. However its inability to target support items is a big let-down.

    • Assassinate: Instakill is always good, and Assassinate is one of the best. Needing an unexhausted ally isn’t even a huge downside with Lance, as his ability can prepare any ally for a same turn Assassination.

    • Black Garb: This card is a landmine, anything with 2 attack or more is instantly killed when they hit it. Very useful for breaking the back of a rush, and also good for later on if you need to get board control back.

      A dirty trick quoted from my Serena breakdown for this card:
      Quote Originally Posted by Preybird
      There are a couple of very neat tricks with Garb. Combine it with Anklebreaker. So when you attack you disable allies, preserving Garb’s durability. When they attack you Garb kicks in, preserving Anklebreaker’s durability. Also use it to kill Sandworms. Attack into them with Anklebreaker, they won’t take damage therefore won’t be disabled and will retaliate, causing Garb to trigger. Just some evil insight

    • Spelleater Bands: The other armor of note in the Rogue pool, Spelleaters can really put the kibosh on a mage burn strategy, as well as upset other heroes using Direct Damage. It’s a bit techy but when you need it, it WILL save your life.


    Dark Prophecies

    • Smoke Screen: This is a good little pseudo wipe which doesn’t upset Lance’s play all that much (unlike Serena). It can be a supplement or even a replacement of sorts for Anklebreaker, and can give you a turn of breathing room to either assert board or go for the kill.

    • Treasured Heirloom: The hybrid Aldon/Oracle card, this does both jobs without really excelling at either (single +1 buff, and no extra body). Just like the Rogues, jack of all trades, master of none

    • Vozitian Orders: A really neat card that hasn’t reached its potential yet, I’m looking forward to seeing what the future brings with this. More allies with on-summon effects/haste will get this card firing on all cylinders.

    • A Legend Rises: A fantastic counter to Warriors and Wulven, this card turns anyone into a juggernaut of destruction. Especially nasty when it’s placed on a stealthed ally, and Lance has lots of them


    Playstyles

    • Aggro: Also what I refer to as beatdown. You’re the aggressor, the proactive player aiming to force responses from your opponent. You hit fast and often. This sort of playstyle generally uses a lot of allies and/or weapons/direct damage. Aggro is a style of play that relies heavily on maintaining tempo. Mess that up and chances are you can overrun an aggro deck.

    • Control: The flip side to aggro, control aims to win by being reactive, constantly having the right answer until it’s ready to produce threats of its own. Control doesn’t so much rely on the tempo play, it’s more reliant on card advantage for the majority of the game.

    • Stall/Mill: The ultimate slowdown. We all know the main culprit here (Millstalker), though there are other stall decks around of varying levels of effectiveness. While these decks claim to win by decking you out (milling) they’re actually stalling you, milling is just a by-product of that.


    Lance is control, through and through. His draw engine only works when you’re playing like this, so almost every Lance player will control allies and items while they ramp up to prepare for the kill. There have been attempts to create rush/aggro Lances utilizing Oracle, Heirloom and Bad Santa, but they have only been moderately successful. (well, mine was anyway!)

    Stall/Mill certainly seems possible, but it’s not there yet. Still, there’s room for experimentation and definite potential with cards like Vozitian Orders, Lay Low, Rain Delay & Storm Coat.

    • Aggro: 4-6 2cc allies, 10-12 3cc allies, Riders of Ellos, Tainted Oracle, Karlstrad, Bad Santa, Treasured Heirloom, Stop Thief, Assassinate, Anklebreaker.




    Here’s the deck example, just a very straight forward Control Lance with a metric crapton of allies:

    Lance

    4 x Champion of Irum
    2 x Puwen Bloodhelm
    3 x Jasmine Rosecult
    3 x Aldon the Brave
    3 x Night Owl
    3 x Raven Wildheart
    2 x Rider of Ellos
    2 x Aeon Stormcaller

    3 x Assassinate
    4 x Ill Gotten Gains
    4 x Stop Thief!
    2 x A Legend Rises

    4 x Anklebreaker

    40 cards inc Hero

    Nothing special, simply designed to drop ally after ally after ally. Night Owl is in there as a sub to Tainted Oracle, his card draw is useful and he can be a threat if left alone. You’ll note there’s no Nightshade, with all the anti-stealth tech and the popularity of Banebow and Baduruu (with Grundler’s), he’s just not reliable. Night Owl will at least pay me back with a card.
    Last edited by Preybird; 09-28-2013 at 08:26 PM.
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  3. #3
    DP Visionary Preybird's Avatar
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    Matchups

    Boris Skullcrusher
    Matchup Quality: Medium
    Tactics: Lance and Boris play a similar sort of game, mid-range control and ramp. Lance has the advantage of stealth, but Boris has massive buffs and better draw. Keep his allies down and take out Kingís Pride as a matter of priority. Your late game is stronger though, and once you get an Aeon to stick youíve got this.

    Amber Rain
    Matchup Quality: Medium
    Tactics: You can really keep Amber on the back foot if she doesnít get off to a blinding start. Prioritise Stop Thief and stealthed allies. A Legend Rises is gold against her, particularly on Riders of Ellos or even Night Owl. Like Boris, get an Aeon to stick and you have won.

    Victor Heartstriker
    Matchup Quality: Easy
    Tactics: Victor tears up your Aeons and Ravens, and even troubles Riders of Ellos. But you have more than enough cheap allies to keep the pressure up, and with your control options you can keep his few allies under wraps. Sandworms are a never-ending pain however, so save your Assassinations for them.

    Gwenneth Truesight
    Matchup Quality: Medium
    Tactics: Lots of stealthy allies and plenty of item destruction, plus superior draw means Gwen is in trouble. However she has a shiny new tool in Grundlerís Double so that stealthed Aeon that used to be so safe in CotC isnít as safe anymore.

    Nishaven
    Matchup Quality: Medium/Hard
    Tactics: The human mages give Lance trouble because they tend to have very strong starts. If you can survive into the later game relatively unscathed heíll do ok, otherwise the burn will finish you off when the allies run dry. Spelleater Bands is great tech if facing lots of mages.

    Eladwen Frostmire
    Matchup Quality: Hard/Very Hard
    Tactics: Eladwen is even tougher than Nishaven simply because her freeze will shut down your heavy hitters with ease, meaning itíll take more turns to control the board, thus giving Eladwen more time to finish you off. Black Garb is good tech for Eladwen, as it breaks her rush (just kill any Krisí first).

    Jericho Spellbane
    Matchup Quality: Medium
    Tactics: Lance is actually a very good counter to both Priests, as with all his hasted allies and Anklebreaker he can recover from Tidal Waves very quickly. In addition he will draw off any enemy allies that die in the floods with Ill Gotten Gains. Keep the pressure up and donít let them get a foothold. In the Jericho matchup A Legend Rises makes little impact.

    Zhanna Mist
    Matchup Quality: Medium
    Tactics: Much the same as Jericho. A little tougher due to her healing, but it doesnít make enough of an impact to bump the matchup quality to hard in my opinion.

    Lance Shadowstalker
    Matchup Quality: Medium
    Tactics: This matchup still comes down to one thing, who can get the most stealthed allies out. If you can prevent your opponent from bringing their main control tools to bear (Raven, Anklebreaker, Jasmine), you will take this. Destroy their draw for good measure.

    Serena Thoughtripper
    Matchup Quality: Medium
    Tactics: Serena is very similar to Lance when it comes to your strategy, use stealthed allies and keep the board under wraps. Destroy Ill-Gotten Gains and her weapons wherever possible. If you have control of the board, losing a card to her ability isnít a major setback as you will get more cards off IGG the next turn.
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  4. #4
    DP Visionary Preybird's Avatar
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    Ter Adun
    Matchup Quality: Medium
    Tactics: Ter will shut down your draw reliably, which makes this matchup more difficult than it needs to be. You need to assert board early and hold on. Use Stop Thief wherever possible to boost your resources and save your sacrificing, as without reliable draw you will empty your hand if you keep sacrificing cards.

    Logan Stonebreaker
    Matchup Quality: Easy/Medium
    Tactics: With your draw engine relatively safe you can more easily keep up with the draw power of Blood Frenzy, and barring the odd hiccup where Logan will instakill an ally you should have an easy time taking him down, especially if you go first.

    Banebow
    Matchup Quality: Medium
    Tactics: Banebow isnít the walkover for Lance that he used to be. Now with Furrion Terror, A Perfect Shot and Morbid Acolyte he can really give you trouble. However if you get enough heavy allies out he will run out of responses. And when one sticks, keep them coming. Keep his draw down to really upset him because Wrath is a soft counter to IGG, giving him cards when you get them and lessening your card advantage.

    Baduruu
    Matchup Quality: Easy/Medium
    Tactics: Resource Destruction Baduruu isnít that hard to beat, just get to 4 resources and use Stop Thief to break his resource lock. From there you can start dropping Aeons, Ravens and Riders and really take the fight to him. Tempo Baduruu is a bit harder, but be sure to break his draw and you should be ok. Stealth allies are less useful given Baduruuís reliance on Grundlerís Double.

    Majiya
    Matchup Quality: Hard
    Tactics: Majiya is really troublesome because she has many ways to get around your stealth, plus her Portals are untargetable by Stop Thief. Still sheís not unbeatable, and as she starts slower Lance has a better chance against her as opposed to Eladwen rush. Raven is gold here, shutting down Shadow Knight loops and interrupting Majiyaís flow.

    Gravebone
    Matchup Quality: Medium
    Tactics: Generally the easiest of the mages, all that disabling power in Anklebreaker and Raven really shuts down Graveboneís primary strategy, forcing him to rely more heavily on Nova to cycle allies. This also plays into your hands because you will usually have another Raven/Anklebreaker ready.

    Elementalis
    Matchup Quality: Easy
    Tactics: Elementalis HATES Lance. Lance can keep his allies down without having to kill them, all the while slowly building up and chipping away at him. Watch out for Energy Discharge though, as it can really equalise an otherwise locked board.

    Zaladar
    Matchup Quality: Hard
    Tactics: Zaladarís ability makes it much harder for Lance to assert dominance, delaying and chipping away at him while he tries to set up. Eventually when Lance does get rolling his healthís usually so low that heís only a couple of Mind Controls away from defeat. Best bet is to ally flood, get as many little guys out as possible and give Zaladar too many targets. Focus on Anti-Matter and try and choke Zalís draw.

    Darkclaw
    Matchup Quality: Medium/Hard
    Tactics: Darkclaw isnít as easy as you would expect, despite your ample item destruction. Getting an Aeon to stick is top priority. From there you can ally flood, and hopefully survive long enough to deliver the Omega Strike. If youíre facing lots of Darkclaw Sever Ties is a must, and Change of Fortune or Shrine of Negatia could be a nasty little surprise for the unsuspecting DC player.

    Moonstalker
    Matchup Quality: Medium
    Tactics:Moon is easier than his brother, despite all that stealth. You have plenty of ways to sneak hasted damage in during his ability free turns, so it can be very difficult for Moon to assert dominance. Save your Assasssinations for allies like Behemoth who can hurt you without attacking. For Allystalker, kill his Wrath as soon as you are able and youíll be fine.

    For Millstalker, Aeon to prepare the horde, and Stop Thief for Evil Ascendant. Save one ST for Crescendo however, you donít want that blowing up in your face at an inopportune moment.


    Conclusion

    Lance is still a strong hero, and one quite capable of taking on most heroes IF you know theyíre coming. Which means to get the most out of him you need to be able to really read the meta and make accurate predictions. Otherwise youíll find your opponents exploiting his weaknesses and taking you to task.
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  5. #5
    Senior Member Veles's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Preybird View Post
    Disclaimer: This is not going to be a regular thing, nor am I planning to do one for every hero. It’s also huge.
    Just wanted to point this out from your very first breakdown.
    Your articles really marked DP for me and helped me grow as player. Keep the good work man.

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  6. #6
    Senior Member jacelkos's Avatar
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    Great breakdown as always!

    Quick question on your example deck though: do you find that 4x IGG and the 3 Night Owl are enough draw?
    I always struggle a lot in my Lance decks when I cannot get IGG online. I'm currently running 3x Treasured Heirloom as supplementary draw but I'm not really satisfied ...

  7. #7
    DP Visionary Preybird's Avatar
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    IGG really is super important for Rogues but there is one other pseudo draw in the deck as well, Stop Thief. By giving you a resouce it means you don't have to sacrifice for a turn, which gives you an extra card in essence. You should be good with it and Night Owl as supplementary draw but if you want more draw you could swap out Owls to Oracle, and maybe ALR to Heirloom (but ALR is great in so many ways).

    However if you swap out Owl for Oracle it drops your 3cc count and your offensive capability significantly. For me its not worth the trade off.
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  8. #8
    Senior Member jacelkos's Avatar
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    That makes sense.

    Have you ever considered Mystic Of The Vale as an ally for Lance (it's not part of your suggested allies)? I was debating between it and ALR for the attachment counter slot.

  9. #9
    DP Visionary Mongoosey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jacelkos View Post
    That makes sense.

    Have you ever considered Mystic Of The Vale as an ally for Lance (it's not part of your suggested allies)? I was debating between it and ALR for the attachment counter slot.
    I've been thinking the same recently.
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  10. #10
    Senior Member Super Grover's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jacelkos View Post
    That makes sense.

    Have you ever considered Mystic Of The Vale as an ally for Lance (it's not part of your suggested allies)? I was debating between it and ALR for the attachment counter slot.
    I have Mystic in one of my Lance decks and it works nice. I hasted her once to bump off a CB ally and then killed opp with that ally and Mystic. But ALR is too good with Lance so I would leave that but that's just preference.

    By the way Great Write-up PB, as usual.
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