In part 1 of our Primal Dawn Limited Archetype series we looked at the B/R Yotul Mogak_ archetype whose strategy focused on 1) early threats 2) removal to cleave the way 3) finish things up with cards that do not need to attack to deal damage. Today’s archetype takes a totally different approach but can be just as effective – please give a warm round of applause to Ms. Fiona Honeyfinch.
Archetype Name: D/S Fiona Honeyfinch
Power Level: Tier 1
Archetype Strategy: Don’t let the name of the archetype intimidate you – this is actually quite a simple Flight based deck that tries to race opponents in the sky. We have some defense heavy ground blockers and we play and swing with as many Flight troops as we have with the occasional trick/removal/tempo cards helping us in the race. That’s really all there is to it.
I mentioned back in my “Final Look At Armies of Myth” column that the D/S Flight archetype in the 3-3-3 format was a sleeper and now with the arrival of Set 4 and the slew of new quality Flight troops at our disposal, it has elevated into Tier 1 status.
Key Commons: Unlike some of the other shards, Diamond & Sapphire don’t have a ton of quality removal options. For this reason your success with this archetype might very well rest on the number of Totem Trap you have managed to snag up. If you’re in the unfortunate position of not seeing any, you will have to pick up and play a Quell or two. Sapphire Infusion Device is also something you should consider, especially if you have a few of those double Sapphire threshold troops in your deck.
In terms of Flight troops we’re looking for things like Whirlwind Scout, Duskwing Shepherd, Cyclone Rider, Runeweb Cultivator, Cheery Songbird and Wakuna Brave. Canyon Runner with MinS Sky gem is just as good if not better than all of those and becomes even better when you haven’t actually managed to fill out your deck with Flight troops.
Staying in the shadow of the flyers but just as important to achieving your goals are the early ground blockers. The most key among these is Cloudspeaker which is surprisingly good at both blocking the plethora of 3 attack two or three drops in the format as well as giving a significant buff to one of your Flight troops.
Another good option is Adamanthian Captain who can serve multiple roles and ultimately becomes big enough to handle even the biggest of threats. Solemn Cryptguard is not as flexible as the Captain but can be an acceptable curve topper as well (especially when you can shift his Defensive ability on our Cloudspeaker) if you lack 5 or 6 drops. Pale Harvester and Startouched Watcher are less attractive but still capable options in these roles.
Shield Bash is a nice trick you should make room for both as a way to get past an annoying defensive troop and potentially get one of your key troop out of harm’s way. Time Flux can be a nice multi-purpose trick as well.
Key Uncommons: Once again Hex Ent makes it easy for us to know which of the uncommons we should be chasing in this archetype: take the one matching your threshold! Yes, Spellstone Gargoyle is exactly the card we want and it should get out of hand quick unless your opponent finds an answer to it. The fact that it doesn’t even need other Flight troops to keep on growing makes it an easy first pick in this archetype.
Stern Infinitor is nearly as good for its flexibility in giving you early damage and then passing on any of its abilities to help you adjust to the board state. If you’re in the gambling mood and have a sense that you’re the only one in the D/S archetype you can even pick this above the Spellstone Gargoyle which has a higher chance to wheel.
We mentioned before how removal was a problem and Mackerel Mitts helps us in this respect with the ability to severely hamper our opponent’s attackers. It also forces them to play around it in games 2 or 3 if they see you with unused resources.
Your deck should have enough troops with Flight so Moonwarden shouldn’t be a necessity and while Inventive Saboteur is another nice Flight troop – especially off the reserves against Elves – it isn’t really better than Runeweb Cultivator so draft it accordingly.
Tricky Cards: Force of the Tomb is one of those cards that is borderline playable in this archetype and so it’s hard to rate it one way or another. If for example you have a few Cloudspeaker but didn’t manage to pick up enough Flight troops, then this card becomes a pretty good alternative.
Prairie Trapper is something I’ve been criticized for rating too low but unless your deck is stacked with Coyotle troops from top to bottom, it’s something I would try to avoid. It’s expensive, situational and doesn’t even deal with annoying blockers.
Pack 3 Highlights: Since Diamond & Sapphire hard removal is severely lacking in Set 4, you’ll want to pick up cards like Incubation Webs, Pride’s Fall and Cripple as high as first picks when pack 3 rolls around.
Windspeaker is an excellent card in these shards and also worthy of a top pick. Brightmoon Brave is a late pick but a one drop that could make your deck as an early blocker and something that buffs your Flight troops.
Sample Deck Composition (From Actual Draft):
Conclusion: Diamond Sapphire Fiona Honeyfinch archetype is a simple archetype to draft and play but yet quite powerful. You don’t even need to use Fiona Honeyfinch_ to be effective as any of the champions in your shards will do, with Dreaming Fox_ or Knightsbane Ovo_ serving as solid alternatives. Playing this deck or against this deck is all about tempo – if you get behind and you lack removal, you’ll have an uphill climb to race. Otherwise this is a very potent archetype that can beat anything including the much feared B/S Spiders.