While there are a lot of fairly complex and difficult to execute strategies in Immortal, there is a lot to be said for playing something that is streamlined and consistent. In my mind nothing screams consistency like having 23 standard shards in our resource base. We recently had the second Hex Primal Immortal Championship and for the second time in a row a Mono Wild Grandfather Elk deck put up a top 8 appearance.
Let’s take a look at the decklist BabybananaDaoc played to a 5-2 finish in the swiss rounds:
This is easily one of the most “honest” decks that is competitive in Immortal. We are simply looking to play out big, dumb Wild troops ahead of curve and attack our opponents to death with them. The core of our game plan relies on playing our cards ahead of time on the back of powerful accelerants:
Not only do Howling Brave and Chlorophyllia help put our resources ahead of schedule, but more importantly they generate additional wild thresholds for us. Acolyte of Shoku is certainly the weakest of the three accelerants, but it makes up for this with the fact that we can use it as a resource dump in the late game to generate a bunch of dreadlings to attack with.
The core of the threats in our deck are three powerful troops that not only hit hard, but also generate card advantage for us in different ways:
If you never had a chance to play with Mightsinger of the Ages while it was standard legal alongside Howling Brave and Chlorophyllia you are in for a real treat. This little elf generates a pile of card advantage in a deck with as many troops as this one and starts hitting for 7+ damage as early as the fourth turn.
Rune Ear Hierophant is one of the best tools wild decks in immortal have for getting some “free” wins out of their opponents. Spellshield combined with creating Rhinos on damage makes this threat both difficult to answer and must answer at the same time. The fact that we are playing Grandfather Elk to push our Rune Ear through stalled boards is also powerful.
Wrathwood Master Moss is a card that not only has reasonable stats, but also gives some of our more difficult matchups some trouble. The decks full of Herofalls and Extinctions are often good against these Wild decks, but Wrathwood Master Moss allows us to still have threats in play post sweeper.
To supplement our individually powerful cards with a few dreadling producers that help power up our Rune Ears and let us go wide:
Dread Harvest replaces itself with a Wild Shard and then turns every wild threshold we draw for the rest of the game into points of damage. Wild’s Favor is an interesting one of. Occasionally it can gain us some much needed life in an aggressive matchup, but more often than not it is there to create a burst of damage with Rune Ears or Oberon’s Eulogy.
We round out our powerful proactive game plan with a couple pieces of interaction and health gain:
Carnasaurus is fantastic against all of the decks that are trying to get under what we are doing. Not only does it kill most smaller troops, but it also gains us a bit of health back that they might have taken away. Crocosaur is one of the most powerful things we can be doing against midrange decks in the format and when we pair it with Oberon’s Eulogy we can kill almost anything.
The last couple of cards in our main deck are additional ways to crush decks looking to go long:
Balthasar draws more cards than we will generally know what to do with – again being a fantastic pay off card when paired with Oberon’s Eulogy. Fist of Briggadon is another card that is fantastic against the Blood based removal decks in the format.
Our reserves are a smattering of cards that solve various problems we might run into while playing. They are mostly reactive cards to let us interact better with our opponent’s when their strategy is more proactive than ours.
We start with some fairly specific answers:
Gravebane Vial replaces itself when it comes into play, so any time our opponent is doing anything with their crypt bringing in Vial has a fairly low opportunity cost. Scorn of Oberon and Chomposaur give us an axis to fight decks that rely on constants being in play. The split between the two allows us some flexibility – Scorn is against faster decks like Hideous Conversion, while Chomposaur is better against decks trying to grind us out like Horrors of War.
The other half of our reserves are cards that are a bit more flexible:
Chaos Key is expensive to use, but it is essentially “fix target problem” for seven resources. It is nice because it can answer anything from a troublesome constant that is running away with the game to cleaning up a Vampire King that is going to eat up our hand.
Lullaby is one of the best cards we can have in any match where our opponent will have Spellshield Rune Ears. Not only does Lullaby stop combat damage for the turn, but it also reverts the opposing troops resetting your opponent’s Rune Ear back into a 2/2.
Finally Crocosaur lets us be a bit more interactive in the midrange matchups. Many of the decks playing Crusaders often have multiple troops a Crocosaur can battle while still leaving a massive ⅚ behind.
A majority of the time we will be taking an aggressive role with the Mono Wild Elk deck. Against midrange, combo, and control decks we will be applying pressure trying to end the game before our opponent can execute their game plan. Against more aggressive decks we will be wanting to use our larger troops as road blocks until we can pivot and kill our opponent in one or two attacks.
The Mono Blood matchups can be tricky at times. We need to be conscious not only of not over extending into Extinction, but also making sure that we are not exposing ourselves to Herofall whenever possible. Thankfully our primary threats generate card advantage and our reserves give us a good axis to fight these removal based decks on.
Assuming our Mono Blood opponent is playing Zorath we would want to reserve as follows:
In general the Zorath deck will have a hard time keeping up with us if we keep their Malice + Dread Banner off of the table. While the acceleration from Howling Brave feels good at times, often it is just adding another body to the table that is going to get cleared away by an Extinction.
Our matchup against the Blood-Diamond Hideous Conversion decks is generally a pure race. We are trying to get them dead as soon as possible while they are working to combo off against us. Their “back up plan” of playing fair troops out lines up pretty poorly against us, so the games where they do not find their namesake constant are often slam dunks for us.
In general we want to reserves something like:
The key to using Gravebane Vial in this matchup is that we want to use it to keep the number of troops in our opponent’s crypt in check. It takes four troops to scrounge a Death Seeker for the combo, so ideally we want to keep the number of troops they have in the bin less than this. Scorn of Oberon gives us a method of taking their namesake off of the table at quick speed. This is important because it allows us to interrupt them mid-combo.
The Kagulichu Crusader matchup is similar to the Mono Blood matchup in some ways, but different in others. The most important difference is that Kagulichu does not lean on constants to generate card advantage and generally plays more troops in their deck.
When it comes to reserving in this matchup we often want to do the following:
Our Carnasaurus line up fairly poorly against most of the troops the Kagulichu decks tend to play, generally only killing Howling Braves and Cottontail Explorers. Howling Brave again just gets caught up in Extinctions for little value and Wild’s Favor tends to be poor in games that are going to go a bit longer.
Crocosaur is our version of Extinction that leaves our board in tact and Gravebane Vial gives us a means of interacting with our opponent’s most powerful cards like Rotten Rancor and Mistress of Bones. Lullaby lets us nicely swing races that we are otherwise losing.
Against the Ruby aggressive decks such as Urgnok and Angus is the only place we tend to take a more aggressive stance. We want to use our troops to block theirs and trade early and often to preserve our health total.
When it comes to reserving in this matchup we generally want to do the following:
If you are looking to play an aggressive, consistent deck in the Immortal format then this Mono Wild Elk deck is likely a good choice for you.
Have a question about this archetype that I did not cover in the article above? Let me know by leaving a comment below!
Thanks for reading.