Hey everyone! Meltdown is a great format, especially for beginners. I remember when I first started Shadow Era, and Meltdown helped me a ton in terms of learning the game, the different cards, and building up a collection. I've made a video covering similar topics, and you can find it below:

Making Gold/Shadow Crystals
The key to making gold and shadow crystals through meltdown is to take an under-leveled hero and enter Meltdown with that hero. That's because you will earn XP points for winning- which means that you can level up a hero that you don't have a great ranked deck for. Less reliable, but also a great source of SC, is to make it into the top 25 players in Meltdown per week. This resets every Friday I believe, so if you play a lot of Meltdown you have an excellent chance of earning a lot of rewards.

Picking your Packs
I usually go with 4 Call of the Crystals packs to start. That's because I find that these packs contain a lot of the cards I tend to use in the game. Now, sometimes you will draw into a bad set of cards (I will go into how to discover this in a bit). If that happens to you, I highly recommend resetting your packs. All you have to do is click "cancel" in the deck building screen, and choose a different set of 4 packs. For example, if you initially chose 4 Call of the Crystals packs, you could pick 3 Call of the Crystal packs and 1 Dark Prophecies pack.

Hero Choice
Ok, so you opened your packs. What heroes are you looking for? Well, I wish I had a clean answer, but it actually kind of depends. Here's how I (roughly) determine it:

If I have at least 4 weapons that are decent:
Tier 0: Amber, Gwen (This will depend on what weapons you have)
Tier 2: Zaladar, Banebow (IMO, Zaladar is slightly better than Banebow)
Tier 3: Boris, Eladwen, Majiya
Tier 4: Serena, Moonstalker, Skervox, Gravebone, Lance, Tala, Elementalis

IF you don't have at least 4 decent weapons:
Tier 1: Zaladar, Banebow
Tier 2: Majiya, Boris, Eladwen
Tier 3: Moonstalker, Skervox, Gravebone, Lance, Tala, Elementalis

How did I get these tiers? Why are fantastic heroes like Lance not high on the list? Ok, let me explain. Firstly, Meltdown is nothing like the meta you may be used to in ranked. There are several significant differences. The biggest one is the fact that everyone's deck (almost always) objectively sucks. The allies are generally terrible, there is no synergy, and it is extremely tough to deal damage the opposing hero. This means that heroes like Lance and Gravebone aren't as good as they are in ranked because you don't have those really strong allies to bring with you. The other thing to know is that heroes are not made equal. Amber is pretty much a direct upgrade from Darkclaw, but the two heroes play nothing alike due to their card pool. The same can be said for the priests: in my opinion, if the priests did not have access to their phenomenal card pool they would all be terrible.

In my experience, weapon heroes are in a tier of their own if you get the right card pool. For example, What Big Teeth is absolutely busted with Amber. Without item destruction, it doesn't even matter what deck is facing off against a well-built weapon hero: it will destroy anything in its path. Luckily, it is generally rare to pull the combo off due to the random nature of Meltdown.

Card Choice
Ok, there are so many different cards that I will try to just list the most significant ones that determine the meta of Meltdown.

In general (this is a very rough estimate of what I look for):
Tier 0: Weapons (if combined with weapon hero), Draw engines
Tier 1: Strong Allies for T3/T4 and fatties
Tier 2: Heal, Weapons (without weapon hero)
Tier 2.5: Other assorted allies
Tier 3: Board control abilities

This is because your main win condition in meltdown is going to be summoning an ally that your opponent cannot deal with, and winning through attack damage. Your secondary win condition is often times going to be outlasting your opponent, which is why heal is so strong. Draw engines are also fantastic. That being said, I actually don't list them above weapons. That is because a weapon combined with a weapon hero like Amber or Gwen can be absolutely broken in Meltdown. Also, another thing to consider is that draw engines in meltdown are not as good as draw in a consistent deck. That's because most decks that you would bring to ranked are consistent: you have 4 copies of crucial cards, and have a good idea of what you might draw into. In Meltdown, it's a gamble. Maybe you'll draw into that card you really need, but there's literally only one copy of it in the deck. Often times, you are just going to be drawing cards that might not help at the moment. That being said, you definitely want a draw engine for your deck, and I would recommend aiming for 1-2 draw engines.

Some important cards (this is mostly just what I recall being good, and by no means covers everything):
1. What Big Teeth: This card is honestly fantastic and an auto-include in any deck. It is hard for your opponent to get rid of, and makes attacking with allies painful for them due to the counter-attack damage.
2. Wizent's Staff: This card doubles as a draw engine.
3. Boooomerang: This card ensures you will (probably) never deck out
4. Chains of Torment/Berserker's Edge: Great cards with Gwen because it will never run out of durabiltiy but keep gaining attack
5. Dagger of Unmaking/Anklebreaker: Ally control!

Draw Engines:
1. Blood Frenzy: I think that this is often times the best draw engine because it can't be removed as easily as Tome or Ill Gotten Gains. That being said, it does deal 1 damage to you per turn, which is a significant downside in Meltdown due to the fact that health is such a big deal.
2. Ill Gotten Gains: What I like about this card over Tome is the fact that you don't have to sac so many cards to use it effectively.
3. Tome of Knowledge: This is a pretty solid draw engine, but will make your deck a bit slower since you need to spend resources in order to draw cards.

1. Infernal Gargoyle: This is an excellent T3 ally in Meltdown because it is tough to get rid of.
2. Plasma Behemoth: Your opponent cannot ignore this ally. If they can't deal with it, they are toast since it deals 7 damage a turn.
3. Disciple of Anmor: I like this one since it is hard to get rid of since it is immune to the hero ability.
4. Darkrath/Sandworm: These cards are super hard to get rid of due to damage reduction.
5. Voracious Arachnid: This card grows very fast.
6. Erika Shadowhunter: Stealth makes this hard to get rid of.
7. Der'Kan the Bone King: This card returns to the hand when killed when it's the only ally, which is really great.

1. Lone Wolf: 2HP per turn is SO STRONG in Meltdown, it's crazy. In this format where a lot of the allies are crappy, it is really tough to deal a lot of damage very quickly. That's what makes this the ultimate heal card.
2. Infinity Core: This one is nice since it will make sure you won't deck out in most cases, and also give you heal!
3. Regeneration/Healing Touch: Status conditions like Poison and Ablaze are really common in Meltdown due to the fact that it is so hard to put damage on the hero. These cards remove those status conditions!
4. Enrage: Not healing per se, but this card can really save you at times.

1. Lightningball/Supernova/Fireball: The mage abilities are really strong since they are flexible and can hit the hero as well as pesky allies.
2. Focused Prayer/Stop Thief: Item destruction is really great against weapon heroes, but also good against draw engines like Tome.
3. Sorcerous Poison: This is a card that is never seen anywhere in ranked, but actually really good in Meltdown since it is a cheap way to poison the opposing hero.
4. Speedstrike/Rapid Fire: These cards let your hero attack twice, which is amazing.

Other Items:
1. Blazing Shield: This is another card that you never see in ranked, but pulls so much weight in Meltdown. Such a great card.
2. The King's Pride: This is a fantastic card that makes your allies beastly.
3. Black Garb: This card can stop allies dead in their tracks. Quite literally, as it kills allies that damage you.

That about wraps up everything I wanted to talk about. Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments below, and thanks for reading!