The Calling Las Vegas was a total blast! Tyler Horspool has given us a masterclass on how to combat the menace that is Chane, Bound by Shadow. In the Light versus Shadow finale, we have gotten the surprise finish to the Monarch Classic Constructed format we didn’t even know we needed. If you haven’t been following the ChannelFireball stream over the course of the top 8, I highly recommend you go and check those games out – they are amazing and watch out – there are spoilers ahead. In the end, to the surprise of the crowds, Tyler’s Prism came out victorious, beating a whooping seven Chanes over the course of the two days to claim his title as the winner of The Calling Las Vegas! But how has Tyler managed to overcome the odds and beat what many deemed to be an unfavorable matchup with Prism Fatigue?
In his fatigue strategy, Tyler relied on many powerful cards in Prism’s arsenal. While many fatigue decks have found that if they simply defend all the damage, Chanes can set up powerful Rift Bind turns, coming in for insane amounts of damage. If a Chane player isn’t getting attacked, they can simply hold Seeds of Agony and Rift Binds in their banished zone to come in for one powerful turn. Many fatigue decks have been leaning on Snag as a solution, but even then smart Chanes have found a way to play around it, by staggering their Rift Bind attacks. Tyler’s list not only included three Snags, but also three Arc Light Sentinels. Arc Light Sentinel fulfills the unique role of single handedly shutting down a huge Rift Bind turn and wasting a lot of Chane’s resources. Simply wait until your opponent plays out a few non-attack actions and drop the powerful aura before they play their first Rift Bind – they will be forced to attack the spectra and waste their buffs. Even just the threat of Arc Light Sentinel can affect the way the Chane player approaches their turn.
Another unique card to the Illusionist class is Phantasmal Footsteps. With Chane threatening both physical and arcane damage, Phantasmal Footsteps helps to utilize those spare resources after a pitch to prevent arcane damage. The single block combined with a card that defends for three, you can stop those four-power attacks with pesky on hits with ease – I’m looking at you Nebula Blade. With most of Chane’s attacks being lower than six power, you can usually guarantee the boots stick around.
Despite no defense value, Tyler did run a few copies of Parable of Humility and Genesis. Both auras help to mitigate damage by the Chane player. Genesis achieves this by creating Spectral Shields and helping you dig for the pivotal cards mentioned above, while Parable can shut down those huge Art of War turns. Each aura can be played by pitching a blue and using a Fyendal’s Spring Tunic resource to be played efficiently and when it really matters. Using an attack to pop the Spectra is always a win when it comes to slowing the Chane player down. But can these get clunky? Sometimes not having a defense value can be punishing when all you want to do is defend. Luckily, both Sink Below and Fate Foreseen are strong defensive tools that help you put these on the bottom of the deck if the timing isn’t right, while speeding up the process of finding Snags, Arc Light Sentinels and other cards that you need at the time.
Prism is a hero that’s hard to pinpoint in terms of strategy. When a Chane player sits down opposite a Prism, they have a bit of a conundrum. If they put the Prism on a Herald Aggro strategy, Carrion Husk, high armor and six-plus power attacks are really great. But, if the Prism goes for the fatigue strategy, these sideboard options become irrelevant. On the other hand, if the Chane player decides to be more proactive and ignore the Heralds, while playing cards like Aether Ironweave and Ebon Fold, they’re leaving themselves vulnerable to the Heralds again.
In the streamed games, we did indeed see the Chane players respect Tyler’s Heralds and run cards with six-plus and running heavy armor like the Carrion Husk. As soon as that Husk was shown, we didn’t see any Heralds come out of Tyler’s side, one Husk actually defending a Spectral Shield attack to gain any value, and in many instances, the Husk was what helped Tyler clock his opponents’ life down.
This brings me to the final reason why Prism fatigue worked. Heralds are all great defensive tools for the Prism fatigue strategy. They all defend for three. When combined with defense reactions, life gain and armor, they help a lot to prevent Chane’s attacks. This gives the Chane player an option. They could stack up their banished zone with threats and go for a big blowout turn, setting up rather than going full aggro. In this instance, the Prism player can actually have a turn. The more the Chane player slows down on the aggro front and sets up more, the more vulnerable they become to Prism’s offence in the form of Heralds. Herald of Protection, Herald of Erudition and Herald of Judgment all have very relevant on hit triggers that work extremely well against Chane.
In Tyler’s games, we didn’t see too many Heralds on the offence, but I’m sure that was his go to strategy if the Chane players didn’t pack so much armor and Herald hate. What we did see is the pivot in Tyler’s strategy when the Chane players began to fatigue and slow down their onslaught. As soon as a Chane player was low on cards and low on pressure, a timely Herald was enough to end the game. At the late game stages, the Carrion Husk is down, most of the armor is low and Chanes cannot afford to lose any cards from hand. In the instance that they do get an Ursur out into play, Heralds fulfill the role of taking the demon ally down and guaranteeing the on hit effects.
The Road to Nationals series did not show the most positive results for Prism, but with impenetrable belief, Tyler Horspool managed to take her all the way to first place, like a beacon of light for all the Illusionist fans. The Calling Las Vegas was the absolute slam dunk finish to the Monarch Classic Constructed season. Again, massive congratulations to Tyler and good luck to you all in preparing your Tales of Aria lists for Nationals!