Budget Deck Tech: Stonescar Burn

Stonescar Burn, once one of the most dominant decks in the Eternal metagame, is a board control midrange deck that is both powerful and fun to play. Although Stonescar Burn is not the most elegant weapon do battle with, it is one of the more brutal when executing its strategy. In this article I will walk through a budget version of Stonescar Burn and examine how you can upgrade it over time.

Initial Analysis

The primary strategy of Stonescar Burn is to control the board early, followed by swiftly defeating the opponent with a combination of potent midrange Units and powerful direct damage Spells and Relic Weapons.

Some budget decks lack some of the power and consistency of their non-budget counterparts, but I feel this is not necessarily the case for Stonescar Burn. The budget deck I have put together for this article not only plays the majority of the best cards, but also has some strong stand-ins to save on Shiftstones.

The two most important skills to develop for this style of deck are:

  1. Knowing when to use a direct damage Spell as Unit removal
  2. Understanding the tempo and pace of the game well enough to know when to “turn the corner”

Throughout a game you will find yourself continually recalculating what resources are required to slay your opponent before they can do the same to you. Every burn spell or Relic Weapon you need to point at a Unit is one less that is not damaging the enemy player. This leads into the second point about “turning the corner”.

“Turning the corner” refers to switching from a defensive or controlling mode to one that is more offensive and aiming to push for victory. Sometimes this will be a straightforward transition, such as when your opponent’s draw is light on threats and you clearly have an on board advantage and/or several burn spells or Relic Weapons in hand. Other times you may be forced into a racing situation where you do not have enough removal to stop your opponent’s offense, but you can potentially win by dealing more damage in a shorter period of time. The latter scenario is when your immense amount of reach in the form of Flame Blast, Obliterate, Stonescar Maul and even Umbren Reaper will truly shine. (Reach refers to being able to extend beyond only attacking with Units, but also supplementing with additional non-Unit damage sources.)

Below is the budget deck list I have assembled for the purposes of this discussion:

Rares: 15, Legends: 0

Card Evaluations

These four cards represent the core of your direct damage strategy. You will find that the majority of your victories will be the result of sending a large sum of damage directly at your opponent over the course of one or two turns.

Flame Blast is the least nuanced of this group: it simply does an amount of damage equal to your available power to a single target. You need to prioritize getting to 3 Fire Influence before you will need to fire this spell off. Although this spell is fairly straight forward, it is important to remember that you can cast it after other spells for the remainder of your Power pool. This can potentially lead to a tempo advantage by working through the cards in your hand faster. This is something you will need to weigh against the option of holding the card for a much bigger Blast on a subsequent turn.

Obliterate is similar to Flame Blast, except that it can only deal a total of 6 damage, has a small power advantage at its specific Power cost, and can Overwhelm over a Unit with less than 6 Health. One of the best uses for Obliterate is generating a 2-for-1 by taking out a Unit and an opposing Relic Weapon at the same time. This play will come in very handy against decks like Rakano and Armory variants. One final note about this card: try to avoid using it against Aegis Units, as the Overwhelm will not take effect and the Aegis will negate the entire spell.

Charchain Flail can sometimes be a liability, and thus is not likely a card you will ever run more than 2 or 3 of. Because it has such a low Armor value, it can be slapped off your avatar relatively easily with cards such as Vara’s Favor or Argenport Instigator. Charchain is at its best either as a quick removal spell which requires trading a bit of Health for, or as a means of early or mid game aggression when your opponent can’t put a Unit in the way or otherwise remove it (such as against a non-Fire control deck that doesn’t have a Lightning Strike handy). Do not overlook the potential flexibility of playing the Flail after another card for the remainder of your power, similar to how Flame Blast operates.

Stonescar Maul has some of the same drawbacks as Charchain Flail, but has a potentially higher upside due to the combination of a moderately higher Armor value and the included Overwhelm keyword. Do not be afraid to trade the Maul for a Sandstorm Titan if it means you are clearing the way to victory for your Units.

Although Seek Power is a bit less necessary for Influence fixing in this deck compared to those which play three or more factions, it is still a key means making sure you can curve out and play all your expensive Spells and Units.

Kaleb’s Favor and Vara’s Favor are similar to Seek Power in that also help flesh out your ability to make continued Power drops, though they do so while also adding a small amount of utility in the process. Kaleb’s Favor is of course the weaker card, but it can sometimes take out your opponent’s Aegis or Relic Weapon. Vara’s Favor is known as one of the best ways to remove Aegis from an opposing Unit as it does so without losing card advantage. I would be reluctant to remove many copies of these when choosing what to cut from the deck for later upgrades as they provide a good backbone for the deck.

Oni Ronin is more often used in Queen style Stonescar decks, though it can still be a useful inclusion in this deck. There will be some draws where you open on an Oni Ronin and can immediately begin applying pressure to the opponent, keeping the way clear with removal spells. In the end, this is probably one of the weakest and slightly out of place cards in the budget list I have provided and will be one of the first cards we cut in the upgrade section found below.

I also included a single Pyroknight instead of the fourth Oni Ronin since this is a card you should have received as part of the tutorial decks. Pyroknight has a similar power level to Oni Ronin though it is a much better late game top deck thanks to its Ultimate ability.

Champion of Chaos is one of the most powerful Units in the game and a very welcome inclusion in Stonescar burn. The Champion can come down very early and represent a very fast clock. Once you have activated both the Overwhelm and Deadly skills, this Unit can attack into practically any opposing board state and result in a fruitful combat sequence. It is important to not play out Champions until they have at least 4 Health against opposing Fire decks so as to not subject it to a Torch.

You can think of Umbren Reaper as a sort of burn spell with wings. Umbren Reaper not only represents a fast aerial clock, but can also trade off with an opposing Unit resulting in a sizeable upside from its drain ability. Remember that you can kill your own Reaper with cards like Torch or Vara’s Favor in a pinch, the former of which is very relevant when facing a deck with silence effects.

Torch, Suffocate, Annihilate and Deathstrike make up the majority of your removal suite. Torch of course does double duty as a means to fight Relic Weapons or even finish off the opponent. Suffocate and Annihilate have their individual drawbacks and thus I have not included a full playset of either of them. Conversely, I would love to include more Deathstrikes, but including more than 2 or 3 is a dangerous game because of its somewhat prohibitive Power cost.

Like Oni Ronin, Treachery is a bit of a shaky inclusion, though it can still prove useful. Treachery is comparable to Kaleb’s Favor in that it can provide a bit of supplemental damage while also trading for some bonus utility in the form of removing a future Unit from your opponent’s hand and providing some tactical information about their draw up till that point. Even if the Treachery misses completely, this tells you that their hand contains all non-Units.

Smuggler’s Stash is one of the best sources of card advantage in the game, but it comes with a high power cost and requires specific conditions to provide optimal effect. I wouldn’t play more than 2 total copies of Stash, as you never want to be stuck with multiples of it in the early stages of the game. Stash is at its best when griding against midrange and control opponents. One fun and powerful trick involves returning an earlier Charchain Flail with Smuggler’s Stash. The Flail will keep its original Powersurge value and gain additional bonus when you Powersurge it for a second time. Remember that you will need at least one Power available to play the Flail, as the game will not allow you to Powersurge for any less than 1.

Upgrade Path

Suggested Changes:
-3 Oni Ronin
-1 Pyroknight
+4 Argenport Instigator

As I mentioned previously, Oni Ronin and Pyroknight were somewhat weak inclusions for the purposes of keeping the deck more budget friendly. Although they are necessary evils when starting out, I suggest upgrading them directly into Argenport Instigators as soon as possible (starting with the Onis). Argenport Instigator is one of if not the best 2-drop Units in the game. The Instigator combines a great stats-for-cost ratio and potentially some bonus damage when using your removal spells. When facing a mirror match, pay very close attention to Instigators on either side of the board when you are thinking about attaching a Charchain Flail. Having your opponent trash your Flail for free by Torching your Instigator in response to an attack is very bad and should be avoided if at all possible.

Suggested Changes:
-2 Deathstrike
-1 Stonescar Maul
-3 Treachery
+1 Charchain Flail
+2 Obliterate
+2 Umbren Reaper
+1 Soulfire Drake

Most of the changes here are just adding additional copies of strong Rare cards that exist in the budget version of the deck, while also cutting some of the slightly weaker chaff. Soulfire Drake, the only card I have yet to discuss, is an interesting inclusion that can help supplement (and even expand, thanks to the Entomb ability) your air force. I wouldn’t focus on obtaining this card until later in the process as it is Legendary and requires a bit more Shiftstones to acquire. I suggest maxing out at 1 Drake since the Unit density is lower in this deck when compared to other Stonescar variants such as Queen and Midrange.

After making the above suggested changes, the resulting non-budget Stonescar Burn list looks like this:

Rares: 23, Legends: 1

This deck is considerably more expensive to build and may very well not be the “optimal” list for you. I suggest that you tweak numbers and experiment with other interesting options such as Impending Doom or Statuary Maiden in order to find a version that suits your needs and desired play pattern.