Originally released in the shadow of what Prism had done and accomplished for so many consecutive metas, Dromai originally seemed to be, in many aspects, a worse Prism. Her dragons popping through Phantasm and her non-standard gameplay made her stand out from the crowd, but also made her seem quite week in the first few weeks of Uprising’s release. Recently however, not only has she begun to really make waves at national events, but has also been crushing many of the meta’s best heroes and giving good fights even against those she’s considered weak against. Along with some heroes in the meta she almost completely shuts down (Iyslander and Kano), there’s strong reason to pick up and start learning how to master a hero who will certainly be top of a meta sooner than later. Let’s break down exactly what makes her so difficult to deal with and why this is a good time to pick her up.
Dromai can play an incredibly different game depending on who’s sitting across from her. If she needs to be the aggressor, she has surprisingly efficient tools to dig into her opponents with her Dunebreaker Cenipais, Kyloria attacks and pivotal value cards like Dustup. Although not currently in most Dromai decks, cards like Red Hot and Lava Burst could prove to be additional damage source in future decks that plan to go wider. As she amasses dragons and Ashwings turn after turn, the damage dealt can quickly become overwhelming for even the fastest current decks in the format.
In counter to this, I’ve seen and have been on the good and bad end of Dromai fatiguing heroes out. She can be defensively stingy and difficult to kill when she wants to be, and can lock down games on that end of the floor as well. Cards like Oasis Respite, Sink Below, Fate Foreseen, Sigil of Solace and more all commonly line Dromai lists. Since she gets benefits for pitching and playing out red cards, there’s much more benefit to running these d-reacts compared to normal decks. Additionally, her ability to generate a steady mass of dragons over the course of the game means that if you don’t deal with them, they’ll eventually overwhelm you, and if you do, you’re wasting damage on her dragons which could be directed towards her; another win for the control Dromai player.
Even into decks with heavy amounts of poppers (what would be considered a tougher matchup for Dromai), she manages just as well within a good player’s hands. Having a ton of Ashwings threatening to follow a solid Phantasm attack to open each turn means your opponents will be likely popping your illusions twice a turn. While this sounds bad, in practice you’ve forced two cards out of your opponent’s hand almost every turn. There are very few decks that can claim to do this consistently, and since you’ll be able to limit their offense by forcing blocks, the amount of dragons you build up will likely start to supersede what they can deal with. Very quickly this turns into a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation where you don’t want to take damage from all the dragon attacks, but you also can’t deal with them or even deal damage to Dromai herself without taking the onslaught of them to the chin. If you want to watch your opponents squirm in a match they thought would be easy for them, Dromai does this like no other.
I’ll be the first to admit I thought these dragons were bad originally. I thought they were costed too high and generally didn’t impact games the way I though they would. Well, I’m here now to eat my words. These things don’t just hit hard, they can straight-up win games outright. Tomeltai is devastating versus some decks, and his ability into cards like New Horizon, Spellbound Creepers, Scabskin Leathers and more can straight up remove win conditions from your opponent and force them into card gaming hell. Similarly, Dracona Optimai can devastate control decks who have been trying to control their life total all game, and Dominia can be a deciding factor against midrange decks, where she eeks out incredible card advantage and hand information. Don’t forget each of these things hits like a truck too. If you can’t deal with them, they’ll quickly rip through your life total by presenting four, five or six (or even more) damage turn after turn.
Although they are legendary, the one per deck doesn’t feel too limiting since Dromai can slow down games so well that you’ll likely see at least one of them in a match. For a deck that gains value so well turn after turn by building Ash, generating Ashwings and getting new and better dragons, these things provide her an “unfair” power that every top meta decks needs to survive. They allow her to do things that feel oppressive and give her that finishing power that a top deck needs to round out its edges.
Sometimes, your numbers just need to be better than your opponents. With a variety of cards that block 3, and a lot of ways to split damage and present off on hit effects as well as those pesky allies, there’s a lot to like about Dromai’s numbers and efficiency.
Her allies are probably the easiest way to understand what she does so well. For cards like Billowing Mirage and Rake the Embers, they respectively deal three damage and no damage for a cost of one. However, this doesn’t account the Ashwings made with the card itself. If you consider the Ashwings to not be popped, then Rake the Embers does three damage (three Ashwing attacks) on its own turn, and then subsequently three repeatedly until those three Ashwings are dealt with. This is incredible value for one cost. Even in the case that the Ashwings are popped, the first time they would represent three, then next turn two, then one, totaling five possible damage for one cost, which is the standard rate for most cards.
The big thing here though is although usually it would be a two-card block to cover a five-damage attack. You’ve drawn three cards over three different turns to block this five damage out, allowing you to gain some extra card advantage. Billowing Mirage is the same way: including the Ashwing, it presents four damage in one turn, but since the Ashwings stick around, Dromai gets more value every time she attack with it. Unless somebody wastes a card to block the Ashwing, you’ll continuously get more and more value out of that Billowing Mirage attack for every turn that follows it.
Similarly, her Cenipai attacks are incredibly potent and have relevant effects when popped as well to generate you more of that precious Ash. If they aren’t popped, you’ve already beat the scales by attacking for one-cost five damage with go again, or two for eight. Dustup is my favorite of the bunch though. I’m always amazed by just how good this card is. For me, I like to think of it as Dromai’s upgraded version of Snatch. Not only does it block three, but both the blue and red versions (both commonly found in Dromai lists) have such good on-hit effects that you must respect them, and if you don’t, you’ll likely be giving her a very strong bit of value for the rest of the game. The card is playable when you don’t have tempo and are trying to generate it, or as a great way to salt the wound after a long chain of dragon attacks.
I’ve ranted for quite some time about this deck being amazing, but really a lot of the shine is in the player’s hands. Dromai is a difficult deck to pilot, as it requires good timing, good sense of the game and the opponent and a strong knowledge of when and where to push and when to stray away and play more defensively. She’s great at so many things but doesn’t particularly excel at one the way other heroes can, but perhaps that’s part of what it means to be an Illusionist player in a post-Prism world.
If you can start picking up the deck now, it’s a great time to get acclimatized and get all the new player kinks out of they way. Practice against different matchups and different styles, as Dromai plays very differently against different types of heroes. While her equipment set isn’t the cheapest, she’s not yet turned into a meta dominant hero, making it a reasonable time to pick things up should you be new to the game, or transferring over from Prism. Perhaps most importantly, there’s rumors that Dynasty will complete out the kit of Dromai’s cards. Should she get a substantial power boost, or ways to access other powerhouse cards in the class that already exist like Miraging Metamorph and Phantasmaclasm, there’s going to be a flood of new Dromai players trying to learn the hero.
I’ve already convinced my brother to hop onto the Dromai train, and I hope many of you can see the benefits of doing so here. She’s so well rounded and consistent and in a game like Flesh and Blood, which rewards these things so heavily, she’s bound for success sooner or later. With a solid group of Dromai players already cracking away at her deckbuilding in the community, there’s never been a better time to join them and keep the Illusionist train riding high after Prism’s ascent.