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  1. #1
    DP Visionary Preybird's Avatar
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    Birdie’s Hero Breakdown – Boris Skullcrusher

    “LEEROY JENKINS!!!!!” – For some reason I always think of that when playing Boris.

    Intro

    Boris is one of those heroes that feels like he never quite fits into the meta. This is a good thing (mostly) because it means that he can get the jump on a lot of opposition because they’re not prepared for him. He’s also quite a flexible hero and you can play him a number of different ways.

    Overview

    As far as the Warriors go Boris is the Jack of all trades, master of none. While Amber is focused toward rush and the Shadow Warriors toward control, Boris can do a bit of both but does not excel at either. That’s not to say he’s a weak hero, he has performed very well in QM and Tournaments for a long time. It’s just that he’s not as obvious as many in regards to deckbuilding.

    As far as the Warrior pool goes Boris has access to the ubiquitous Blood Frenzy and Crippling Blow, as well as some impressive life gain tools (Rampage, Enrage), item destruction (Smashing Blow, Artful Squire), a pair of very good allies (Wild Berzerker, Yari Spearmen) and ally buffing (War Banner, King’s Pride). While Boris can make use of weapons the only one that he will really use regularly is Dragon’s Tooth, giving him a way to deal with those allies that his ability can’t touch.

    As mentioned before Boris is very flexible. He is capable of a traditional control style of play as well as two other styles, the semi-solo “Berzerker” Boris as pioneered by Keaven, and the more aggressive “Hasted” Boris which became popular after DP was released. All of these styles are viable and it can mean you never know what type of Boris you will face, though you can generally figure it out within the first few turns if you know your archetypes and their key cards well.

    Allies

    CotC brings a very strong set of allies for Boris and allows him to play either control or semi-solo stall/mill as mentioned above. Dark Prophecies provided two new hasted allies and gave Boris enough tools to play the more aggressive Hasted Boris strategy.

    For ease allies will be tagged as such:

    (S): Standard Control Boris
    (B): Berzerker Semi-Solo Boris
    (H): Hasted Boris

    If an ally fits into two categories he’ll get two tags (e.g. (H,S)).

    Call of the Crystals

    • Kristoffer Wyld (H): Unlike an Eladwen rush where you want this guy on turn 1, with the hasted Boris archetype you really want him later, around turn 4 and after. With a War Banner and Aldon he swings for 3, and if you add Kings Pride into the mix in late game he swings for 5! That’s a massive hit for only 1 resource.

    • Puwen Bloodhelm (S): The little guy is still a solid inclusion, especially vs Shadow and Karash. Doesn’t really sit in a Hasted build because they like their non-hate allies tough, and Champ is a better choice.

    • Jasmine Rosecult (S): Jas is Jas. Not much else to say really. If she’s left alone she can control a board all by herself. And if you get her behind an Aeon you’re home free.

    • Lily Rosecult (B): Lily is really the only ally the Berzerker style build runs. Basically she’s there not for cycling weapons but for cycling Reserve Weapon, to ensure that your weapons ALWAYS have damage buffs.

    • Aldon The Brave (H,S): Aldon is Aldon. Not much else to say really. His +1 to attack really begins to add up and is especially useful in a hasted build.

    • Raven Wildheart (S): Raven is a great control ally, and with Boris supporting he can shut down the smaller threats, leaving Raven to concentrate on the big guys. Like Jasmine, she can singlehandedly control a board.

    • Armored Sandworm (S): The tank. And in a control build with King’s Pride he can become nigh unstoppable.

    • Aeon Stormcaller (H,S): The big protector is useful as always. He is very useful for putting the pressure on mages, as well as keeping your smaller guys safe from weapons like Anklebreaker.



    Dark Prophecies

    • Champion of Irum (H,S): A very survivable 2 drop, Champ can help with a hasted builds early game, and in a control build can tank significant damage. He also works wonders with Crippling Blow, allowing him to buff while still making sure threats are dealt with.

    • Layarian Seductress (S): A massive boon to Boris’ early game, especially going second. She can shut down a big threat so that Boris can kill it the turn after with his ability, as well as just generally help keep the board under wraps.

    • Yari Spearmen (S): A mini Aeon, this guy can pose significant problems for your opponent if you can get him to stick. He will usually give you a turn to consolidate board and is eternally troublesome for heroes like Banebow and Zaladar.

    • Wild Berzerker (H,S): This guy is really at home in a hasted build (where you tend not to drop lots of allies until turn 8), though in a control build he is worth his salt as well. Like Champ of Irum he is great with Crippling Blow, allowing his haste condition to be triggered more reliably.

    • Fleet Foot Messenger (H,S): A big Kris with the ability to sort your hand somewhat. Nothing to not like about this guy, especially in a haste deck with all those attack buffs.

    • Gunther, General of Balor (H): An odd choice, Gunther is actually very solid in a haste build. With Steadfast and 9 health he’s very likely to survive a turn, and he can then buff all the hasted allies you’ll be throwing at your opponent.
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  2. #2
    DP Visionary Preybird's Avatar
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    Abilities and Items

    As mentioned in my other Warrior Breakdowns, there really isn’t any single game-changing ability (excluding Blood Frenzy, arguably the best draw engine in the game). That being said there is a lot of power if you know how to exploit it.

    Call of the Crystals

    • Blood Frenzy: This powers Boris’ game, and gives him enough cards to really take over on card advantage (plus get to the high resoures Boris likes). Auto 4x include. And to all those players who are afraid of the 1 point damage per turn, remember this…. Cards > Damage.

    • Crippling Blow: Cheap ally control, this can knock out most allies easily. Be warned it’s not AS effective as it was pre-DP, but it’s still so good it’s a 4x include in most Boris builds.

    • Retreat!: Another great control tool, this allows you to control those allies that Crippling Blow is less effective against (Plasma Behemoth, Aeon etc). Though it is only temporary, many times a one turn reprieve is all that’s needed.

    • Smashing Blow: Nice cheap armor/weapon destruction. More limited than Stop Thief and Focused Prayer, it is nonetheless a solid ability and far preferable to many other item destruction cards out there.

    • Enrage: 10 instant health, the best heal/cost ratio out there. Risky against some classes like Elementals however (Morphic Armor anyone?)

    • Rampage: The core of any Berzerker build, Rampage allows you to constantly heal off the stream of opposing allies, essentially allowing you to emulate Lone Wolf.


    • Berzerker’s Edge: The weapon of choice for Berzerker builds, this combined with Lily + Reserve Weapon cycling is your main (and really only) damage source. The thing is that it’s usually enough

    • Reserve Weapon: Another core component of the solo build, this allows you to almost always keep a weapon in play.

    • Special Delivery/Shield Bash: Direct damage for Warriors!? OP! Seriously these cards are actually useful in a Berzerker build, giving you a way to sneak in extra damage/control power,


    Dark Prophecies

    • Spectral Sabre: A very important tool for Warriors, this is strictly better than Sever Ties for them (same cost and effect yet doubles as a weapon). Always good to keep a couple for either damage/attachment destruction.

    • Dragon’s Tooth: The other main DP weapon for Boris, this allows him to instakill the allies his ability can’t touch. Bear in mind that this goes straight through Sandworm’s damage prevention as well.


    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.


    Boris is capable of all styles of play, however he tends to lean toward a control style (even the more aggressive Hasted Boris is very controlling in the early stages). This makes him one of the more versatile heroes out there.



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  3. #3
    DP Visionary Preybird's Avatar
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    Matchups

    Boris Skullcrusher

    4 x Champion of Irum
    3 x Layarian Seductress
    4 x Jasmine Rosecult
    3 x Aldon the Brave
    2 x Artful Squire
    2 x Raven Wildheart
    2 x Aeon Stormcaller

    2 x Smashing Blow
    1 x Rampage
    1 x Enrage
    4 x Crippling Blow
    2 x Retreat

    4 x Blood Frenzy
    2 x Treasured Heirloom

    2 x Dragon’s Tooth
    2 x Spectral Sabre

    40 cards + hero

    Pretty standard sort of Boris control deck, the one notable exclusion is King’s Pride. It’s not needed, though if you want it you could squeeze in a couple.

    Boris Skullcrusher
    Matchup Quality: Medium
    Tactics: Boris mirrors generally involve a lot of back and forth for the first 6-7 turns until someone grinds out an advantage. Then it becomes a walkover. Save Smashing Blow for King’s Pride and always keep the tempo up.

    Amber Rain
    Matchup Quality: Hard
    Tactics: Amber is just too fast for Boris, by the time he begins to assert dominance he’s usually so low on health she can ping him down with weapons. The Hasted Boris archetype is not a bad choice against her however (King’s Pride slows her down and the hasted allies are guaranteed to get shots in), and the one I would prefer to use.

    Victor Heartstriker
    Matchup Quality: Easy/Medium
    Tactics: Victor tears down your large allies with impunity, but you have the incredible draw power of Blood Frenzy. Keep the pressure up and you will eventually overwhelm him. Crippling Blow and Dragon’s Tooth for Victor’s heavy allies.

    Gwenneth Truesight
    Matchup Quality: Medium
    Tactics: As usual, if Gwen gets an ITF chain off it’s all over. If you are using King’s Pride however it can really slow her down, and Spectral Sabre is a great counter for her. The goal is to get a horde behind Aeon so you can swing in for the kill.

    Nishaven
    Matchup Quality: Hard
    Tactics: Nishaven is difficult for Boris because he lacks the speed of Amber, and thus Nish has the chance to rush. You have to force him into a control mode with his burn, which is difficult given Supernova and his ability. Always keep allies in hand and a T4 Rampage (should you have it) can really help out.

    Eladwen Frostmire
    Matchup Quality: Very Hard
    Tactics: Eladwen is very hard for Boris, and if she gets a perfect start you’re in real trouble. If your health gets low Blood Frenzy becomes a liability, and that is often the case with Elad (in fact all mages). Once again you need to get her into a control state, which is more difficult than with Nish as she can freeze and delay allies.

    Jericho Spellbane
    Matchup Quality: Very Hard
    Tactics: Jericho ruins Boris. Boris isn’t fast enough to set up to be able to beat down and his resource curve is much higher than Amber usually, so he can find himself card starved quickly. Keep spares of Blood Frenzy and try and bait his ability with Crippling Blow on an opposing ally, or even Rampage.

    Zhanna Mist
    Matchup Quality: Medium
    Tactics: As opposed to Jericho, Zhanna is much easier to beat. With your Blood Frenzy relatively safe (never forget Mass Purification) you can generally get set up. Your ability will shut down her post Tidal Wave ally for the most part (as they tend to be <4cc), and give you the chance to take control.

    Lance Shadowstalker
    Matchup Quality: Medium
    Tactics: You’re both control heroes, so this is always a good match. Keep your Seductress, Retreat, Crippling Blow for allies that Lance hastes to deal with them ASAP. Squire to shut down his IGG (this is critical) and then build up to steamroll him late game. If facing lots of Lance Braxnorian Soldier can replace Raven to counter his haste.

    Serena Thoughtripper
    Matchup Quality: Medium
    Tactics: The strategy here is much the same as with Lance, keep her IGG under wraps and you will take this. Her ability is annoying but largely negated by your immense draw power.
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    DP Visionary Preybird's Avatar
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    Ter Adun
    Matchup Quality: Easy
    Tactics: As the deck runs so few items Ter’s ability is largely pointless. Be sure to keep Dragon’s Tooth in hand for any heavy allies you can’t deal with using other methods, but be warned it’ll only last your turn (Ter will make sure of it).

    Logan Stonebreaker
    Matchup Quality: Easy/Medium
    Tactics: Logan’s ability is problematic but you can easily work around it by baiting him with smaller allies. Be warned that he may carry Shadow Font (rare though it may be), so try and beat down any weapons he drops quickly.

    Banebow
    Matchup Quality: Medium/Hard
    Tactics: If you can destroy his Wrath of the Forest (super critical) this matchup gets much easier. Be warned he will completely negate your early game so be ready for that. Keep dropping the Ravens and Aeons and wear him down. Sever Ties is practically staple in a Banebow to shut down Amber so be wary of it.

    Baduruu
    Matchup Quality: Medium
    Tactics: With Baduruu the key is destroying his Grundler’s Double ASAP. Not for the damage it can deal but for the draw it produces. Keep them under control and you can usually do ok. Blood Frenzy really puts the kaibosh on a Resource Destruction strategy as well.

    Majiya
    Matchup Quality: Hard
    Tactics: Majiya is hard for Boris as he has no way of destroying her Portal (unless you tech in Change of Fortune). Your best bet is to force her to play control by keeping 2 allies out at all times. Once you get Aeon to stick you can really bring the hurt, but be wary of your life total when that happens, she may just be able to burn you to death.

    Gravebone
    Matchup Quality: Medium/Hard
    Tactics: Crippling Blow, Retreat and Seductress are your friends here. You need to deal with allies without killing them to really upset Gravebone’s tempo, and thankfully Boris has plenty of tools at his disposal. Watch out for all the burn but truthfully without a damage centric ability Gravebone lacks the board control of his counterparts.

    Elementalis
    Matchup Quality: Easy
    Tactics: Poor Elementalis. Boris takes him and hangs him out to dry. With Boris’ instakill ability, plus all the control that’s so useful vs Gravebone you will generally walk all over Ele unless he gets the perfect start. Watch out for Energy Discharge.

    At the time of writing most Elementalis’ are based around Edgenel’s build, which is 100% aggro. This means as soon as you take control you’ve got it for good, though that’s not always easy.

    Zaladar
    Matchup Quality: Medium/Hard
    Tactics: Zaladar is really tough because he can counter your cheap allies and your heavy allies with ease. You need to put down so many threats he can’t keep up and use your superior draw power to carry the day. Watch out for Morphic Armor, it may have fallen out of favour somewhat but it will ruin you.

    Darkclaw
    Matchup Quality: Hard
    Tactics: Solo Darkclaw is a really tough fight, you need to horde your allies and kill him through sheer weight of numbers. Artful Squire is good for slowing him down (killing What Big Teeth or preferably Evil Ascendant), and Spectral Sabre can really hurt, but this is still not an easy win.

    Moonstalker
    Matchup Quality: Medium/Auto-Loss
    Tactics: If facing an Allystalker you’ve got plenty of tools to keep him under wraps until you can swing in for the kill. Keep his draw down and you can take this relatively easily. Millstalker is basically auto-loss. With no way to punch through his stall you’re going to spend you day sitting there waiting for death. You can slow him down sure, but you’d have to be incredibly lucky to take this one.

    Hasted variants of Boris have an easier time with Moonstalker in general, the constant threat of haste will cause him to drain himself of resources (ability + stall) regardless of whether or not you have said threats in hand.

    Conclusion

    Boris is a very tough and versatile hero. He can basically be set up to beat anyone, though the fights may not always be easy. Still, I see him being a relatively common sight in QM and tournaments for some time yet (at least as long as cheaper allies are a core part of competitive decks, which will basically be forever).
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  5. #5
    Senior Member SenYong's Avatar
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    Hero that i wait so far
    Mystic Chief of the Breaking Dawn
    Warrior of the Blue Phoenix
    Greatness, Reborn

    Hope is something that You gain Yourself.

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  6. #6
    Senior Member Veles's Avatar
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    Oh good ol' times. Such nostalgia. In my opinion Boris is best starter hero out there. A decent starter deck, decent card pool. You can learn a lot about importance of tempo, draw power, etc...Never on top, but capable of very good fights! Some of most interesting games so far I had playing Boris. My favorite match ups are vs other control heroes like Zhanna and Lance. Those justify chess like decision making and strategy. The best way to play this game!
    Last edited by Veles; 12-05-2013 at 12:48 AM.

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  7. #7
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    great guide as always preybird. question, would Zoe Silversmith be good in a bezerker boris?

  8. #8
    DP Visionary Preybird's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by azx634 View Post
    great guide as always preybird. question, would Zoe Silversmith be good in a bezerker boris?
    If you can keep her alive definitely. The problem is as you play so few allies the ones you do usually die instantly, and given that she needs to survive to make an impact she generally doesn't see use. Keaven made one of his Berzerker builds with Mocking Armor and Zoe, but not sure how that went.
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  9. #9
    Senior Member Veles's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Preybird View Post
    “LEEROY JENKINS!!!!!” – For some reason I always think of that when playing Boris.
    For me it's: "Boris SMASH!"

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  10. #10
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    a friend of mine always uses zoe with berserkers edge and it works quite well.

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