Uprising has given us new and exciting deckbuilding options for a vast range of heroes, and some don’t necessarily share classes with Uprising heroes. An example of this is Valda, who has gotten a huge boost in the form of Sift. The synergy between Sift, Earthlore Bounty and Valda’s hero ability greatly enhances the Seismic Surge generation and gives Valda a significant power boost.
The engine is simple. Sift allows you to draw lots of cards, Earthlore Bounty grants a Seismic Surge for each card drawn and Valda’s hero ability grants dominate to the attack action cards that have crush. While in theory this interaction is very powerful, it does require a specific play pattern in practice. Traditional Guardian play patterns consist of lots of defensive plays, swinging with hammer and setting up a powerful attack for the next turn. The Scholar Valda deck requires designated setup turns – getting your Seismic Surge engine going – followed by a big, explosive turn. The setup, explode, setup, explode play pattern makes her a surprisingly aggressive Guardian, with defense often being a last resort.
Scholar Valda Class: Guardian Hero: Valda Brightaxe Weapons: Sledge of Anvilheim, Titan's Fist Equipment: Arcane Lantern, Crater Fist, Crown of Providence, Earthlore Bounty, Mage Master Boots, Nullrune Boots, Nullrune Gloves, Nullrune Hood, Rotten Old Buckler (2) Disable (red) (2) Enlightened Strike (red) (2) Pulverize (red) (2) Sift (red) (2) Spinal Crush (red) (1) Thunder Quake (red) (2) Righteous Cleansing (yellow) (2) Sift (yellow) (1) Tome of Fyendal (yellow) (2) Chokeslam (blue) (2) Cranial Crush (blue) (2) Disable (blue) (2) Macho Grande (blue) (2) Potion of Luck (blue) (2) Pummel (blue) (2) Rouse the Ancients (blue) (2) Sift (blue) (2) Sloggism (blue) (2) Tear Asunder (blue) (2) This Round's on Me (blue) (2) Thunder Quake (blue) See the full deck at: https://fabdb.net/decks/kbeXYRAP/
Potion of Luck creates a huge power spike for Valda and can be used in a multitude of ways. The main use case is popping it to redraw a four card and Arsenal into a five-card hand that sets up five Seismic Surges for next turn. This play alone is comparable to an Energy Potion that grants you five resources and an extra dominate if you’re lucky enough to draw a crush card. Do note, that this ability can be used at instant speed – you could pop it on the opponent’s turn, before declaring defense to check how your redrawn hand lines up for next turn. This is especially spicy against cards like Command and Conquer because you can shuffle your Arsenal back to your deck once the Command and Conquer is attacking you. Potion of Luck can also be used to simply dig for better blocks, look for a crush attack or just some blues to swing with the hammer. The card is generally versatile and the more you’re aware of the ratios in your deck and probabilities of drawing certain cards, the more apparent its power will become.
This Round’s on Me is a bit of a double-edged sword and should be used carefully. It’s a useful utility card as a three defense and blue pitch and should mainly be used for those qualities, but sometimes the value of drawing a card for you and your opponent, while granting you two Seismic Surges (one from your draw and one from your opponent’s) is too hard to pass up. The situations where you play the card out should be dictated by the power of the -1P effect on your opponent and the extra advantage they gain from having another card. Decks like Kano might greatly benefit from having another card, where the -1P isn’t a detriment at all, while Oldhim might not benefit much from another card and get slightly tripped up by the -1P. Aggressive decks like Chane and Fai get a bit more tricky, as the -1P could have a huge impact on their turn, but the one extra card could grant them a much more explosive turn, regardless of the detrimental effect of This Round’s on Me. Play this card carefully and remember the risks involved!
Tome of Fyendal is in the list as a one-off because of its synergy with Mage Master Boots. Being able to continue your turn after playing out the card is the best way to utilize the extra cards drawn and allows you to have a big turn, gain some life and pressure your opponent while still setting up Seismic Surges for a follow-up attack the turn after. This is the reason for the single copy – to play out with the Boots.
The biggest payoff in the deck are the crush attacks that not only get discounted from the Seismic Surges, but also can gain dominate from Valda’s hero ability. Two of my favorite of these attacks are Righteous Cleansing and Spinal Crush.
Both have very impactful on-hits in most matchups. Righteous Cleansing is great specifically in Blitz because of the reach – looking at top five cards of a 40-card deck and the resulting impact of the banish on opponent’s following turn is great. In Blitz, the threat count is quite low and eliminating one or two big threats from the opponent’s deck can be game defining. Spinal Crush is a staple in most Guardian decks because of how effectively it shuts down go-wide decks. Aggro lists often have limited defensive options, so a dominated Spinal Crush often can shut down their whole turn, or force a lot of equipment blocks.
Disable in red and blue offers relevant on-hits for games, where setting up an Arsenal is very impactful. Denying five-card hands against most decks in Blitz can save you a lot of life. Cranial Crush follows Valda’s theme of punishing card draw effects and is especially strong against decks like Kano, Fai and even Briar, where cards like Tome of Firebrand, Art of War and Plunder Run are key to generating their value.
Non-crush Guardian attack action cards like Pulverize and Macho Grande might not get the hero power bonus, but both are great attacks on their own that utilize our Seismic Surges well. Pulverize is especially powerful, as the strong on-hit will most likely shut down your opponent’s turn, giving you another time to set up.
The way Valda plays out, we sometimes have turns with no Seismic Surges and some turns with a lot of Seismic Surges. On the turns that we have access to lots of resources, it’s crucial to maximize the threat output as much as possible. This is why the deck includes cards like Enlightened Strike, Tear Asunder, blue Pummel and blue Sloggism.
Enlightened Strike adds general consistency to the deck. On a setup hand, it can offer good damage output, by attacking for five or seven, drawing a card and making a Seismic Surge. You can even swing with Enlightened Strike with go again and drop a Potion of Luck into play. However, on your big turns, it can help push some damage before you slam down a big, discounted Guardian attack.
Same thing goes for Tear Asunder, blue Pummel and blue Sloggism. The way the deck plays out often means you have an overabundance of cards. These utility blues allow you to push your big attacks over the line and ensure they are more threatening. A +4 power from Sloggism or discards on hit ensure your opponent’s turn will be significantly less effective, allowing you to continue the setup-explode play pattern. These are my personal favorites for the blue utility cards. I like having the Pummel and other non-three-cost cards that offer lots of utility, but you could also focus on the three-cost cards for blues and build around Anothos more.
This version of the deck rewards tight play and a deep knowledge of all the cards in your deck. The nature of Sift requires understanding of what you might draw. The most common Sifts will be for two or three cards. In most instances, a Sift for two should give you enough resources to come in with the Sledge for six while setting up for the following turn. Remember, getting up to six or seven Seismic Surges feels amazing, but it’s the magical number of three that really impacts our following turn. Sometimes it’s better to defend, generate three or four Seismic Surges with a Sift than taking it all in hopes to chain from Sift to Sift. Each time you dig, you go down a card and while it might be worth it for the following turn, it pays to find ways to pressure on the same turn.
Looking at Sift and then looking at Valda, I can’t help but imagine Valda deep in the library sifting through old tomes in search for knowledge on how to make Seismic Surges. I’m not too sure how personally. Regardless, this Scholar Valda list is a total blast to play and produces some of the biggest turns in Blitz. I hope this overview gave you a good starting point to what Valda can offer. Remember, everyone’s playstyle is a little bit different, so feel free to sift through the card selection for the deck to reflect your own approach to the hero.