As the name of the set suggests, Arcane Rising is the start of more than just the physical, melee combat focus we experienced in Welcome to Rathe – here we’re seeing arcane damage! Not only that, but we are also seeing the addition of two long range heroes – Azalea with her bow and Dash with her pistol. For a thorough look at the heroes and new mechanics, check out Hayden’s guide on Arcane Rising.
Okay, you familiarized yourself with the core ideas of Arcane Rising, so how does it affect the sealed play?
The opt mechanic, being able to rearrange cards from the top of your deck, plays a key part in three of the four classes. For Wizard, it allows you to set up the right non-Attack Action cards for your hero ability. For Ranger, it helps set up dominated arrows with the hero ability, as well as “played from Arsenal” cards such as plunder run and force sight. Look out for those in your sealed pool and see if they synergize with your class cards.
Dash, on the other hand, greatly benefits from boosting Mechanologist cards from the top of your deck, meaning opt helps to set these boosts up.
There are also cards that reveal top cards for various effects. Not only do they interact well with opt, but they also fill the role of checking the top card for effects mentioned above.
Non-Attack Action Cards Matter
Both Wizard and Runeblade benefit from interactions with non-Attack Action cards. Runeblade works well with the ones that give you go again, as they help you create Runechants that power up your deck. Wizard, on the other hand, only has non-Attack Actions in the class and greatly benefits from having lots, as it makes your hero ability more likely to hit a card you can play. I will refer to those as spells, as I feel it’s more on the Wizard theme.
Missing Elements from Welcome to Rathe
While it’s important to talk about the new elements that Arcane Rising brings, it’s also important to note what you won’t see in the set compared with Welcome to Rathe. Attack Actions are one of them. None of the four classes have Attack Reaction cards and there are no Attack Reaction generic cards. This makes it a bit easier to get through the reaction step. (The small exception being Art of War, that can act as an Attack Reaction step pump, but since it’s a majestic it should rarely come up). There is also a lesser focus on dealing direct damage with weapons as we have seen in Welcome to Rathe. This has a few implications mainly around maintaining card count and the fatigue strategy which I will discuss further.
Okay, so you have your head around some initial distinctions from WTR, let’s get into it. I still recommend sorting your six packs into equipment, the four classes and generics. Now, let’s take a closer look at the classes.
Ranger is a very aggressive class that relies on arrows to deal damage and trip the opponent up with their on-hit effects. Arrows must be played from Arsenal, making the class mechanic reload a significant aspect of building Ranger.
In sealed, an important note for playing Ranger is that your weapon doesn’t deal damage. This means each card is worth its weight in gold, because if you run out of arrows, your main source of damage is gone. This can lead to fatigue. Therefore, checking how many arrows you have is extremely important. I’d recommend steering away from the class if you don’t have at least 8-10 arrows (or can pair those with enough generic Attack Actions). All arrows block for 3, while most Ranger support cards block for 2, meaning you will need lots of arrows to attack and block with.
Non-Attack Actions that pump up your next attack or attacks with go again work nicely with your arrows to deliver powerful blows. I would recommend at least 15 Attack Actions, with a rough ratio of 2 attacks per 1 pump up card. This will help you from drawing hands with lots of pumps and no valid target. Not having a reliable source of damage from your weapon means you need to keep a close eye on your Attack Actions.
The great thing about the Death Dealer, however, is that it draws you a card upon activation, meaning you can consistently produce very aggressive five-card hands. The risk of fatigue also means usually offense is the best defense for you. Because arrows cost either 0 or 1 resource and all other Ranger class cards are low cost, yellow pitch cards go a long way in terms of Death Dealer activations and shooting arrows. Check the cost of your pump cards and arrows. If a significant number of them costs 1, having blues might help to fully utilize your cards (1 resource for pump, one for Death Dealer and 1 for shooting the arrow). If a lot of them cost 0, you should be okay with relying on yellows for pitch cards.
When building your list, try to have cards that play well from your Arsenal and keep in mind all the ones that do not. Let’s say you have 3 Defense Reactions in your deck. It’s quite early in the game and you decide to risk it and use Azalea’s ability to place a card from the top of your deck into your Arsenal. If you hit a Defense Reaction, it turns into a major roadblock for your turn. Azalea’s ability becomes more powerful the more information you have about what’s left in your deck. You can set up incredibly effective dominate attacks at the end of the game if you pay enough attention to your pitches. The power of Ranger shines at the end of the game, when you can shoot off powerful dominated arrows for small cost. Azalea’s hero ability combined with opt cards means you can go through your deck at a faster pace than other classes. Not pitching to attack with weapon also means you go through cards a bit quicker than other classes. This is when Azalea becomes really skill intensive – as you’re pitching, opting, and using your hero ability, you are not only setting up your current turn, but also your future turns.
Dash relies on the boost mechanic to push through under costed attacks with go again. Cards like Zero to Sixty, Zipper Hit, and Throttle deal big chunks of damage, while hitting those boosts allows you to keep on putting the pressure. However, if you miss, your turn abruptly ends. Therefore, it’s important to create scenarios utilizing the opt mechanic and other “reveal the top card of your deck” effects to line up the cards you want to boost. Boost also banishes your card from the game, which removes a potential threat and reduces your deck size. Three boosts and 10% of your deck is gone. This leaves Dash susceptible to fatiguing. Remember to line up those boosts well and don’t rely on it too much, as you could deck out!
Talking about fatigue, it is interesting to note that all Mechanologist class cards that can block, block for 3. The Teklo Pistol might seem weak, but on its own, it’s the most damaging weapon in the set. This means you can use your high block cards throughout the game and use the pistol to slowly chip away at your opponent’s life and deck size. It’s not the ideal way to play Dash, but it can always be your plan b.
The Mechanologist cards that can’t block are your items. Mechanologist has a unique element in Flesh and Blood in that it can play cards that stay in the game permanently – items. Items are a great way of getting a bit of value and smoothing out your deck. Induction Chamber is probably the strongest card in the set, when it comes to sealed, as it smooths out your turns and helps to put constant chip damage on your opponent. Items like Cognition Nodes, Aether Sink, and Optekal Monocle are all great choices of items to start in play with, depending on the matchup. Cognition Nodes constantly threaten your big hits making their way back to your deck, Sink is a pain for Wizards to deal with and Optekal Monocle does a great job at lining up your boosts – and you can use it as many times as you like in a single turn!
Dash is a hero that greatly benefits from having as many class cards in the deck as possible. Usually you’d run as many as you open, but sometimes having too many items can cause problems. When considering the generics, try to focus on cards that block well: Fate Foreseen, Whisper of the Oracle, Come to Fight, or cards that let you set up boosts.
The ratio of class cards and generics plays a significant part of your boost potential. The more class cards you have, the higher the odds of hitting those boosts. On average, in a sealed pool you’ll have between 12-16 Mechanologist cards, leaving you with 17-13 generics: assuming you cut down to 29 cards and start with an item in play. Those aren’t the best odds at hitting the boosts. Therefore, I recommend remembering all your generics and noting when you’ve either used them or pitched them. The longer the game goes, the more information you have about what’s left in your deck and the more value you’ll get from the boosts. If you can, try to pitch Mechanologist cards and either use or block with the generics. It might seem counterintuitive, since most of them block for 2, but late game you can almost guarantee your boost hits and really pressure your opponent.
Kano requires some getting used to, as it’s a bit of a glass cannon of a hero. When approaching this hero, I suggest finding mini combos of spells in your pool to push through big bursts of damage. Some combos work wonders versus opponents with low Arcane Barrier, such as Aether Flare and Aether Spindle.
Other combos help you punch through decks with lots of Arcane Barrier:
On average, your opponent will have between 2-3 Arcane Barrier, so usually your spells will push through some damage, but it’s the select combination of spells that really makes the class deadly. Wizard is all about timing your big plays correctly, and versing aggressive heroes like Dash and Azalea, means you’ll be doing lots of blocking. Sometimes dropping all four cards to stop the attack. Be patient, block, and chip away with your value spells.
Kano’s ability is powerful and expensive. Therefore, ensuring you hit with opts is crucial to capitalizing on it. One thing I suggest doing is only activating it early game if you know you’re going to hit, and doing so on your own turn, before you use your action point. Hitting cards with go again, such as whisper of the Oracle or Come to fight means you end up with 2 action points to chain spells!
Cards like Fate Foreseen and Whisper of the Oracle are great defensively and help you set up Kano activations. There are also good Attack Action cards that should be mentioned, as they synergize well with your spells:
Kano is also the main hero who can pull off the Moon Wish and Sun Kiss combo. When attacking with Moon Wish, put a Sun Kiss on top of your deck as part of its cost then use Kano in the Attack Reaction step to guarantee yourself a go again and a card draw. Moon Wish by itself is also a great way to set up a spell on top of the deck for Kano shenanigans.
A powerful way to finish the game is to combo your opponent with Kano’s ability on their turn. If you set it up correctly, you can count the number of cards you have left in your deck, and pitch down exactly four blues followed by powerful reds and block with the rest of your hand. Eventually you will draw exactly the four blues you have pitched and then have stacked the correct spells you need to unleash a powerful combo. You can pitch to Crucible of Aetherweave to speed up the set up on your and opponent’s turns. This isn’t for the faint of heart and requires some serious brain power, but once you pull it off it’s extremely satisfying!
Viserai thrives on a good balance of non-Attack Actions and Runeblade class cards. The ability to do a combination of arcane damage and physical damage makes Viserai a huge threat. Stacking Runechants can greatly reduce the cost of your attacks, therefore balancing Runechant creation and attacking is another thing to keep in mind.
Runechants are a great way to ping through small amounts of damage but try to either poke for 1-2 damage or build up to 4-5, as a single blue can stop 3 Runechant damage.
When it comes to generics, usually non-Attack Actions that go again form a strong basis for the Runechant generation of the deck. Cards like Lead the Charge, Come to Fight and Enchanting Melody, synergize well with your hero ability and proc your weapon for that high damage swing. Lead the charge works especially well with those high cost, attacks, like Drawn to the Dark Dimension and Amplify the Arknight.
Pay attention to your opponent’s deck. Viserai works best when you adjust your game plan to what they’re trying to accomplish. If your opponent is going fast, redline Ranger, for example, you know that those Runechants are more punishing and popping them often and in small amounts will really hurt them. If your opponent is playing with lots of blues and are happy preventing Runechant damage, focusing on physical damage might be a better option. In general, Runeblade benefits from high setup turns, meaning it’s fine to block with most cards and make a few Runechants until you draw a very high impact hand, as your opponent won’t be able to block on both fronts.
We are seeing added complexity to the game with these four new classes, but with a little bit of practice and some solid groundwork, I’m sure you will master the art of the arcane. Each class plays in a unique way, with the matchups being very different from each other, making it an extremely fun and challenging format. I hope this guide gives you an idea on how to approach each class and shows some hidden interactions you can use in your next sealed event.