When Monarch previews came out, I immediately knew I wanted to build Chane in Constructed. He seemed one of those difficult-to-maneuver characters who has a spectacularly high ceiling but an equally low floor. These kinds of characters are the ones I enjoy the most, and after diving deep into Chane’s card pool and gameplay almost singularly for a week plus now, I’ve realized there’s some key pillars to his gameplay that really makes him tick. With that in mind, let’s take a deep dive into our newest Runeblade character and the cards that have come out for him and that class in general from Monarch.
Chane’s unique ability to give almost any attack go-again comes at a steep cost. Sooner than later you’ll find yourself milling through your deck due to your Soul Shackles. Many of Chane’s Shadow and Shadow Runeblade cards can be played from the banished zone, so it isn’t all bad. This allows you to have greater card access each turn. However, if you don’t make your opponent pay and attack them relentlessly with these cards, their Blood Debt mechanic will turn on at the end of your turn, costing you one life if that card remains in your banished zone during turn end.
As you might be able to tell, there’s an inherent balance going on here. Use Chane’s ability too frequently and you eventually will not be able clear out the large number of Blood Debt cards being place in your banished zone each turn start. Use it too sparsely and you won’t be able to leverage Chane’s strongest assets in this banished zone and his go-wide nature. There are a few things main aspects then of a Chane deck that players must carefully manage. From my experience, the following three are the most important balance points to tweak and continuously improve with Chane, and follow this rudimentary order of importance as well:
- Tempo (Conditional Effects)
- Card Availability (Soul Shackles)
- Deck Breakdowns (Card Choice)
Let’s break down each of these one by one.
Unless you’re playing Boost Dash (and even then), Chane will almost always run through his deck before the opponent will. Hence, you need to be controlling both the tempo and damage output each match. Like Ninja, you’re going to achieve this by going wide and throwing in a few strong attack actions (five or more damage) in between the chain.
However, Chane is going to mix in a few important aspects into the attack, such as the occasional arcane damage and a multitude of conditional effects. To make Chane really sing, you’ll want to be activating as many of these conditional effects as possible, allowing you to put immense pressure on your opponent from almost every angle possible in Flesh and Blood. Take a look at the following few cards and you’ll start to get an understanding for just how many angles Chane can attack from:
Unlike Viserai, who usually doesn’t threaten as many conditional effects a turn, Chane’s ability to give go-again to his actions allows for you to continuously threaten arcane, on-hit and damage-boosting effects each turn. The variety of these effects, and the way one source of damage, such as an Arcane Damage, gets through earlier in the turn, can multiply the poignancy of your next attack. All in all, this makes Chane a threatening foe to deal with. Shadow Runeblade doesn’t seem to threaten as much damage per attack action as many other classes, and so mastering your deck’s lines which truly force varying angles of damage is going to be key for any Chane players going forward.
When originally playing Chane, you’ll be tempted to create Soul Shackles almost every turn, but what you’ll find quickly is that there’s eventually no way to manage that many cards coming off the top of your deck every turn without taking serious damage from either blood debt or your opponent’s attacks.
Let’s say you’re at five Soul Shackles, which I think most Chane players could easily reach during a game is they wished. I’m strongly of the opinion that one to three Soul Shackles is the ideal amount for most decks, and the go-again ability should be used sparingly for only very strong turns.
If you’re running a deck where you expect to be playing multiple cards out of banished each turn that is great, but I highly recommend using a Mauvrion Skies playset, Razor Reflex (Red) or Art of War as alternate go-again options. Leaning on Soul Shackles is a heavy price to pay, and if you’re banishing more than four cards a turn, you’re going to wind up at where you’ll either be taking a lot of damage to keep a hand to pitch with, or simply blocking up and hoping Blood Debt doesn’t eat you alive at turn end.
Before I end this section, I want to highlight that I wrote an article last week about the two-card hand, which you find above, but the short and sweet of it involves the concept of blocking with two cards and the efficacy on average of the two-card hand you’re left with. I think this is incredibly relevant for Chane. If, for example, you manage to consistently play one to three cards from in your banished zone each turn, then you essentially turn what was a standard two-card hand into a four or five card hand.
This is Chane’s true advantage, where not only can you simultaneously block like normal, but you never have to sacrifice card advantage to do so. I highly expect that, on average, a two-card hand with two cards playable from banished is going to be infinitely more efficient than the four-card hand trying to play a whopping four cards out of banished each turn.
I was tremendously surprised, and continuously am by how deep Chane is in terms of deck construction. Players must carefully manage what percentage of cards with Blood Debt consist of the deck’s makeup. As you’ll find out, the ability to be played out of banished is a powerful tool, and hence these cards are costed appropriately.
Blood Debt cards cost two or three pitch, while they’d be zero cost in other classes many times instead. This means these Blood debt cards are infinitely poor value when played out of hand. Not only do they take up a valuable slot that you could have pitched with, but they also take up pitch that should have gone to playing other cards out of your banished zone. In this case, it’s best to keep these Blood Debt cards, as red pitch, which will provide maximum value when played.
Playing a low impact blue pitch card out of banished at three-cost feels super-painful, as you get little value, and you don’t want it to ping you with Blood Debt either sitting there. As a result, playing strong support cards as your blue pitch cards such as Meat and Greet (Blue), Mauvrion Skies (Blue), Vexing Malice (Blue) and so forth is best for most Chane decks. These cards usually block well have great conditional effects if you do need to play them at their low cost.
Sonata Arcanix is incredibly powerful. Even having one or two in your deck can lead to absolute blowout turns if you construct your deck with about a 50-50 ratio of attack and non-attack actions.
Not only does the Arcane damage come from one source, meaning many of Viserai’s attack actions become doubly powerful as their conditional effects turn on, but Sonata’s cost can also be reduced by Bloodsheath Skeleta. Having 10 or more Runechants on the field and then revealing eight or more cards with Sonata Arcanix (and presumably putting about three or so into your hand) is a sublime turn and your opponent head will start to feel much like the spiraling artwork on the card. Watch out for Sonata Arcanix in Viserai Constructed and OTK decks going forward.