With The Calling Las Vegas and the Tales of Aria prerelease weekend drawing to a close, it’s a great time to explore a preliminary Oldhim Blitz deck list. Though Classic Constructed has certainly drawn the limelight, Blitz remains a compelling entry point for new and veteran players alike. When exploring early deckbuilding choices, it’s also a fantastic opportunity to sleeve up and test the ‘core’ build of a hero and the cards that will tend to gravitate toward that main package of any Classic Constructed deck.
The control build I present today is built for players who want to take a patient approach and outlast opponents regardless of what they throw your way. The core of this strategy is an extremely defensive shell enabled by a distinctive lack of yellow pitch cards (barring two copies of Forged for War). The list runs 11 reds, 2 yellows and 27 blues.
Class: Guardian Hero: Oldhim Weapons: Sledge of Anvilheim, Winter's Wail Equipment: Arcanite Skullcap, Crater Fist, Crown of Seeds, Heart of Ice, Nullrune Boots, Nullrune Gloves, Rampart of the Ram's Head, Tectonic Plating, Time Skippers (2) Command and Conquer (red) (2) Endless Winter (red) (1) Glacial Footsteps (red) (2) Ice Quake (red) (1) Mulch (red) (2) Oaken Old (red) (2) Sigil of Solace (red) (2) Forged for War (yellow) (2) Amulet of Ice (blue) (2) Autumn's Touch (blue) (2) Awakening (blue) (2) Channel Lake Frigid (blue) (2) Cranial Crush (blue) (1) Disable (blue) (2) Glacial Footsteps (blue) (1) Pulse of Isenloft (blue) (2) Rouse the Ancients (blue) (2) Sow Tomorrow (blue) (2) Staunch Response (blue) (2) Tear Asunder (blue) (2) Winter's Bite (blue) (2) Winter's Grasp (blue)
The fuse mechanic of Tales of Aria requires significant strategic considerations, starting with the deck’s composition. I expect it will be a challenge to fully understand and map out the math of this ratio – I’ll be turning to the handy hypergeometric calculator as well as trying to map the linear algebra with Simplex LP in Excel post-launch when I’m able to really test out Oldhim’s options in a variety of events.
Most element cards themselves (Earth and Ice specific cards that meet the requirements) only block for two points of defense. This alone incentivizes us to run as few of them as possible while still being able to consistently pay the additional cost for fuse effects, and put an icy threat modifier on Winter’s Wail.
I won’t be attempting to map out the advanced math without thoroughly testing the preliminary deck list in multiple events.
My design constraints were:
- Minimize the number of 2-block element cards required to efficiently fuse, boost Winter’s Wail and activate Oldhim’s hero ability.
- Maximize the number of 3-block cards in the deck.
- Choose defense reactions to get the most value from Rampart of Ram’s Head and Crown of Seeds.
- Create a defensive deck with solid threat density that improves as the game draws on.
- Be able to consistently pressure back with Winter’s Wail and a Frostbite token on turns that I defend heavily.
My day-one list runs 15 earth/ice cards – 37.5 percent of the total list.
Core equipment: Crown of Seeds, Tectonic Plating, Crater Fist, Time Skippers, Winter’s Wail, Rampart of Ram’s Head
Look to defend heavily. Stay defensive and be deliberate when you take damage. Oldhim is a hero that’s very difficult to hit, even without his hero ability giving the option of adding an extra two defense as a reaction with an earth card as the pitch. Your goal is to keep your life total healthy and preserve your main equipment blocks (Crater Fist and Tectonic Plating) until it’s time to flip the tempo and become the aggressor. Block confidently and freely, and aim to swing back with an ice-infused Winter’s Wail. Simply swinging for four (+ a frostbite on-hit) will eventually wear down your opponent’s defenses as it represents two cards from hand or one card from hand + 1 armor block outside of any four-point defense reactions that may be in your opponent’s deck.
The idea of this deck is to leverage the incredible power of Awakening to flip the tempo of the game at near-instant speed. The complexity and lines of play that Awakening opens will warrant its own standalone article for Oldhim – even just in the context of Blitz. But I’ll provide some tips and tricks that can help you get the most out of this insanely powerful card on day one. Awakening is likely the most powerful thing Oldhim can do, no exceptions.
Don’t feel pressured to use Awakening if you are substantially ahead of your opponent the whole game. Don’t intentionally drop 10 or more life just to play this card. If you’re winning without it, try to close out the game that way and keep your life total high.
With as little of a three-life deficit from your opponent, you can use Awakening to tutor up and play any attack action card in the deck for free, having a ‘tool-box’ of options to fetch depending on the other cards in your hand and helping you enable the fuse mechanic. Here are some Awakening lines:
- The earth fuse is not required to get insane value from this card. Dropping up to six life from your opponent’s total will turn on this powerful effect and enable.
- Tuck Awakening away in your Arsenal to bait out a Command and Conquer when you’re behind on life. Since Awakening is an instant, it can still be played from your Arsenal and you can use the additional floating resource from a blue pitch to block with Rampart of Ram’s Head to provide additional defense.
- Consider waiting to use Awakening until you have Pulse of Isenhold in hand, you can tutor up Oaken Old and leverage the powerful fuse effect to have a strong chance of ruining your opponent’s next turn after pushing damage through.
- Try to use Awakening on your opponent’s turn – it will surprise them and you’ll be able to pull a great threat from your deck.
- Use Sigil of Solace after Awakening has resolved.
- Look to pitch some of your power cards like Endless Winter and Oaken Old early in the game; Awakening will tutor them up later and allow you to slip past your opponent’s defenses once you have eroded them over the course of the game. This will make it substantially harder for your opponent to block your attacks when it matters.
- Use Time Skippers after playing your tutored attack for free to get in an extra attack action card or infused swing with Winter’s Wail to hammer home the pressure and press your advantage.
- Prioritize tutoring up an attack action that will help you in the current state and state of the game. Oaken Old is great if you meet the earth and ice fuse criteria, Glacial Footsteps (Red) will close the game out with only an ice fusion with its dominate effect, Mulch (Red) will pressure your opponent’s Arsenal, Endless Winter will make your opponent’s next turn a nightmare regardless of how they defend. Just make sure you are able to play whatever attack you tutor up for free with the seismic surge tokens you generate.
Aim to go first in most matches. This deck doesn’t run the traditional aura packages of Bravo, but can generate a lot of value from setting up a card in the Arsenal for Crown of Seeds, playing out any Amulet of Ice, and swinging in with an infused hammer strike. If you have it, don’t be afraid to open with a Channel Lake Frigid, or even swing in with a dominated Glacial Footsteps (Red).
Use Ice Quake to power up your attacks (especially Command and Conquer off a single blue pitch). Ice Quake can be used to empower your Winter’s Wail swings as well.
Use Forged for War to get free equipment blocks from Rampart of Ram’s Head, Time Skippers and Crown of Seeds. Forged for War is infinitely more valuable, and when paired with full equipment blocks from Crater Fist and Tectonic Plating, will make you nearly impossible to hit on turns when you want to preserve most of your life total and flip to the offensive with Awakening.
Try to play out Amulet of Ice whenever you draw them. You can hold priority after declaring an attack action and paying all costs. Activate Amulet of Ice before the fused ice attack enters as a chain link and your opponent will be forced to discard cards without having the opportunity to play any of them (unless they are instants). This can make it much harder on your opponent to defend against you or do anything meaningful on their next turn.
Tear Asunder is a very potent card. I tend to try to pitch this early on to save for the late game unless my opponent has resorted to using their equipment blocks earlier in the game. You want to try to force at least a point of damage through whenever you play this card. Note, this also can give the effect to your weapon, an incredibly powerful option in the late game when paired with an ice pitch.
Try to play out your Channel Lake Frigid when you get it. Just make sure you have a card to meet the channel criteria on that first turn so they aren’t destroyed right away. Getting two turns out of these effects is fantastic, if you somehow meet the criteria for three turns of effects, you are generating insane value. Take advantage of the go again on these cards and use that to your advantage.
I hope you have enjoyed this day-one build for Oldhim Blitz and I’m very hopeful and excited for Oldhim’s impact on the Blitz meta. This deck feels very powerful so far with the right mindset and playstyle, and I’m excited to continue to iterate and evolve it over time as the new meta develops.
What Tales of Aria cards are you most excited for with Oldhim? Get involved in the conversation and let me know in the comments below!