These decks are variants of the deck I played at 2013 SE Regionals. I haven’t played much since then, and I had a lot of success with it both at the tournament and in 2013 ROOT. So I decided to tweak it for TEAMS.
Matt Townsend’s deck: 51 cards/7 LS
Josh Hartzler’s deck: 51 cards/7 LS
When building TEAMS decks, I think the first thing to identify is whether a card becomes more valuable or less valuable in the TEAMS setting. Banding is probably the simplest and most profound example; it becomes much more valuable in TEAMS. As an example from our decks, Matt and I both had Aaron and Moses. Because we are on a team, if one of us draws Aaron and the other draws Moses, one of us can now band the two together, even though individually neither one of us has the complete band. Banding allows valuable characters, such as Nergalsharezar equipped with Swift Horses, Proud Pharisee, etc. to be used more frequently.
Cards that require other cards to be in play can become more valuable, since both decks have a chance at getting the required cards in play. Forest Fire, Drawn Sword, and Head of Gold all require Babylonians in play (although Ezekiel will satisfy the requirements for FF and DS). Matt and I both had Babylonians in our decks, making this requirement easier to meet. And for Head of Gold, its value increases with each Babylonian in play; with both of us playing Babylonians, Head of Gold has a chance to be more destructive. It’s easier to meet the conditions for Eli’s Sound Advice when both you and your teammate have Tabernacle Priests and Judges in both decks, as opposed to just one deck.
Cards that target “opponents” (plural) are better in TEAMS, since you have two opponents. Hypocrisy lets the user target any number of Heroes and return them to hand. In TEAMS, you can do this to both of your opponents.
Combos can also be easier to pull off in TEAMS decks, as both decks can get the pieces in play to make the combo work. I built a few smaller ones into our decks. However, I would recommend that any combos require a small number of cards, and that they don’t cause you to put unnecessary cards in your deck. You would usually be better off just using solid, predictable cards instead of combo pieces that could often be dead cards. The combos I added were designed to “fit in” with the rest of the deck, and the individual pieces had value beyond the combo itself.
Some of the small combos in our decks included:
- Sword Against Sword to create a side battle, DS/FF/Head of Gold played in side battle to take out the blocking Evil Character. Head of Gold can be nasty in side battle, as it can remove a large portion of opponents’ offense OR defense (except for angels and demons).
- Gates of Jerusalem and Nazareth in territory (either Matt or I could draw GoJ, as Fortresses are shared; as for Nazareth, we just need to put a LS in it, as that puts it in our common land of bondage), King Rehoboam blocks (Matt and I each draw 1), cause side battle with two Heroes, force opponent to control Hur. Since our hands are protected from shuffle, Matt or I (depending on the opponent’s choice) will be drawing 7.
- FBTN Hero attacks with CBP negates/battlewinners to back them up. Moses, Benaiah, Aaron–Moses, Armorbearer–Moses/Benaiah (will kick out the FBTN Hero), and Samuel–Armorbearer–Moses/Benaiah (will kick out the FBTN Hero) give many options for this. Both decks had these 5 Heroes in them. The GEs to play on these Heroes are Eli’s Sound Advice, Ehud’s Dagger (only in Matt’s deck), Drawn Sword, and Forest Fire.
- Hypocrisy returns opponents’ Heroes to hand, Mayhem/Hur shuffles them away. TEAMS is both a slow and fast game at the same time; slow because you play every 4th turn instead of every 2nd, fast because you and your teammate only need 5 combined redeemed souls to win (using 100+ cards). Territory disruption, such as losing the Heroes you’ve been accumulating all game, can set a player back significantly.
For the cards listed above, all had what I considered good value outside of the combo itself. Drawn Sword and Head of Gold are great defensive Enhancements too. Forest Fire and Drawn Sword can be used by any green Hero, including Benaiah; they are also CBN if played on Ezekiel. Gates of Jerusalem helps King Manasseh as well as King Rehoboam. Nazareth was already a part of the “anti-meta” goal of the decks. Hur can be used for CBN soul-gen and can use Provisions, Drawn Sword, and Forest Fire. All of the FBTN Heroes are valuable in and of themselves, as they can potentially win souls without playing Enhancements; plus, many of the most powerful ECs can be negated. Hypocrisy is a CBP defensive battlewinner that can defeat multiple Heroes, if need be. Mayhem is always a powerful card, whether for gaining card advantage, trying to put Lost Souls in play, or “mulliganing” your hand to get better cards.
The offense and defense both allow for anti-meta cards to be played. Covenant with Death, Darius Decree, and Nazareth can choke decks that rely on TC Enhancements, searching, and character abilities. Other than the FBTN Heroes, many of the Heroes in these decks are CBN, and thus are not affected by CWD. And having CWD active when you go in with a CBN battlewinner (such as Gideon/Samuel and Samuel’s Edict, or Ezekiel and DS/FF) prevents characters like Uzzah, Spirit of Temptation, etc. from stopping a high-probability rescue attempt.
I originally wanted to include Great Image in at least one of the decks, since it could be so destructive in a TEAMS game, and we already each have Sword Against Sword in our decks (a side battle is an easy way to guarantee initiative to play GI). But I decided against it for a few reasons. First, GI’s value goes down if the decks include the Hypocrisy combo. If one of the combos fires, the other becomes much less valuable. Second, while discarding Heroes is more powerful than shuffling them away, Hypocrisy is much, much easier to pull off, as it is a Territory Class Enhancement. Since TEAMS can be such a fast game, having your Heroes shuffled away is almost as bad as having them discarded.
I should point out that having anti-meta TEAMS decks is not necessary to a successful TEAMS experience. If you want to see an example of TEAMS decks that do not use anti-meta cards, and which were highly successful, look at the Nationals-winning decks built by Gabe Isbell and Kevin Shride. They have won multiple National tournaments in the TEAMS category using decks that focused on cards that become more valuable in TEAMS: Banding on offense (especially FBTN banding involving Captain of the Host and AUTO/Moses) and Pharisees on defense (with drawing and banding).
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