The Calling 2021 saw six Iras make Top 8. It’s a reasonably easy deck to play, it’s consistent and clearly, it wins games. The question is though: how can you battle it? The most common answer I hear is One Turn Kill Viserai. The calling has seen seven Viserai players but none of them made the top cut. If one did, and Ira was the deck’s best matchup, it could have done extremely well. With Skirmish coming up, you can expect a lot of players to pick up this consistent Ninja to mirror the results from The Calling. If this becomes prevalent, OTK Viserai could be a very good deck choice for the events.
I have recently tried to work out Viserai matchups and I’ve found that, when played correctly, this deck can demolish Ira. I strongly believe that when played correctly it has at least an 80 percent win rate against Ninja – possibly even 90 percent, if not more. The down side is the deck has some other really bad matchups. The Kano matchup is extremely hard and the Rhinar matchup is painful. In a local tournament though, such as the Skirmish, you can confidently play Viserai if you know that it’s an Ira-dominated metagame. Let’s have a look at the list.
Class: Runeblade Hero: Viserai Weapons: Reaping Blade, Talishar, the Lost Prince Equipment: Arcanite Skullcap, Bloodsheath Skeleta, Grasp of the Arknight, Hope Merchant's Hood, Ironrot Legs, Mage Master Boots, Nullrune Boots, Nullrune Gloves, Nullrune Robe (2) Chains of Eminence (red) (2) Enchanting Melody (red) (2) Fate Foreseen (red) (2) Mordred Tide (red) (2) Read the Runes (red) (2) Reduce to Runechant (red) (2) Sigil of Solace (red) (2) Sink Below (red) (2) Sun Kiss (red) (2) Ninth Blade of the Blood Oath (yellow) (2) Read the Runes (yellow) (2) Reduce to Runechant (yellow) (2) Remembrance (yellow) (2) Runeblood Barrier (yellow) (2) Become the Arknight (blue) (2) Oath of the Arknight (blue) (2) Read the Runes (blue) (2) Reduce to Runechant (blue) (2) Sink Below (blue) (2) Whisper of the Oracle (blue)
Mordred Tide and Read the Runes are your primary ways of generating Runechants. Dropping those two together is a real boost to your endgame, generating enough Runechants to one hit your opponent.
To do so, with a combination of Ninth Blade of the Blood Oath, usually you need to build up to around 29 to 32 Runechants. A four card hand and Arsenal can block roughly 16 to 18 damage. You should also take into account your opponent’s equipment blocks. Runeblood Barrier makes Runechants as well – you just have to be careful to maintain as many of them as possible on your opponent’s turn.
Reduce to Runechant generates Runechants, but also serves as a strong defense mechanism. This card should be free throughout the game and end up giving you six Runechants total. Sink Below is another key piece of your defense. It not only protects your life total, but the ability saves your key cards on the bottom of your deck. Fate Foreseen serves a similar role. Cards like Whisper of the Oracle and Come to Fight are important, as blocking for three is crucial to surviving until the late game. Also, they can help you create an extra Runechant from Viserai’s ability.
Your powerful blocking equipment, aka “The Fridge,” is crucial in the Ira matchup to stop those on-hit effects. Being able to block a Command and Conquer for seven with just your equipment is amazing. Ironrot Legs is insanely good – always run it versus Ira. Stopping a Kodachi hit for one while you have Runeblood Barrier out is not only correct, it’s the mentality you should keep for how to use your equipment. Only block the attacks that matter. Try to prioritize blocking from hand, even if it means blocking with Read the Runes and Mordred Tides. You can get those back later with Remembrance. The Fridge works for any matchup with powerful on-hit effects, such as Ira, Warrior, other Ninjas, Bravo and many more.
Arcanite Skullcap and three Nullrunes are there for the Kano matchup. Arcane barrier 6 is your main way of trying to win this matchup, by preventing damage, stacking Runechants and gaining life. Also, this is what Talishar, the Lost Prince is for. You won’t have time to activate Nebula Blade and you want to gain life so Reaping Blade is not an option. A couple of hits with Talishar can make it easier to put Kano in the danger zone.
Hope Merchant’s Hood and Mage Master Boots are there for the mirror matchup. Drawing four defense reactions when your opponent isn’t attacking is not ideal. The Hood can help you draw more useful cards and stall until it’s your opponent who’s forced to attack first. Also note: cards that require pitch like Come to Fight or Enchanting Melody are great to get rid of defense reactions and make good Arsenal options.
Using this correctly is extremely important. You want to save it for later in the game when getting important cards matters. The longer you wait with Remembrance, the smaller your deck will be and higher the chance of drawing the cards you just got back. Prime targets can be Read the Runes (Red) and Mordred Tide if you’re low on Runechants, or Ninth Blade of the Blood Oath and Chains of Eminence if you’re ready to set up the lethal blow. Remembrance can also be a great baiting card for Command and Conquer. Simply set it in the Arsenal and wait until your opponent attacks.
Ninth Blade of Blood Oath
This is your finisher and how you win most of your games. Blocking with it is fine, as long as you keep track of your Remembrances. The best way to work out how much damage you need to deal is counting up your opponent’s armor, assuming they 12 block/pitch from hand and four damage from Arsenal. Ninth Blade can push for nine plus your Runechants. Another useful trick to remember is saving a copy of Ninth Blade to block your opponent’s Find Center. That card can wreck your whole plan if you’re not careful. Having a backup copy means you won’t be hit with a Zen State the turn before you deliver the lethal blow.
Chains of Eminence
Chains of Eminence helps to disrupt your opponent. From naming Flic Flak against Ira to stopping a Kano from pitching an Aether Spindle (Blue), it can save you a whole turn of pain. It’s also extremely useful when you’re delivering that lethal blow. Naming a blocking or pitching card or even stopping a Mask of Momentum from blocking means you need that fewer Runechants to finish the job.
Reaping Blade and life gain in one deck? What is this craziness?! Well, chances are, you’ll be on lower life than your opponent, simply because you’re not attacking for most of the game. However, you still need to be smart about gaining life. Avoid gaining life in situations where it evens the life total because that enables your opponent’s life gain. Part of the reason the deck is effective against Ira is because you’re leaving them with a huge number of dead cards in the deck, such as defense reactions and life gain.
This is the very basic rundown of the deck and you’ll need some serious practice before you can comfortably smash every Ira in your path. Once you do though, you will smash every Ira in your path! The deck is an incredibly bold metagame call and it’s extremely risky. It’s a bit of a silver bullet against Ira, but other matchups are very tough. I would only recommend busting this out in your Skirmish event if you’re confident that Ira is 50 percent or more of the field and if the top players are going to play Ira. Remember, you can still Top 8 with a loss, so getting paired up against a Kano or Rhinar isn’t the end of the world. Just pick yourself up and surf those Iras all the way to the top!
If you’re interested in playing a Skirmish event, they kick off on February 20th and the format online will be Blitz, and in person it’s Blitz or Sealed Deck. You can find out more here, and find an event near you here.
ChannelFireball are hosting our own online Skirmish on March 13th, stay tuned to channelfireball.com for more details coming soon!