Hello everyone and welcome to our fourth installment of Cloud of Witnesses Combo Musings! It’s time for “the talk”.
Redemption Veteran: “So, what offense are you using?”
Redemption Newbie: “Um, well, uh… You know… Just some Cloud stuff. Like Moses. And maybe Joshua. And stuff.”
Redemption Veteran: “Moses. And Joshua. And stuff.”
Redemption Newbie: “Um, yeah!” *looks away nervously*
Redemption Veteran: “So, what else are you using on offense?”
Redemption Newbie: “Nothing! I mean, you know, AUTO and Angel With the Secret Name might be in there… You know, for searching out and recurring Moses. And Joshua.”
Redemption Veteran: “Hmm. Not a bad choice. I like it. Anything else?”
Redemption Newbie: “I mean, Samuel (RoA) is in there. Like, as another Judge that I can search for with my angels…”
Redemption Veteran: *Looks intensely into the eyes of the Newbie* “You’re using a I Samuel offense, aren’t you?”
Redemption Newbie: *Begins crying* “Yes! Yes I am! And I’m not going change it either!”
Redemption Veteran: *Puts a supportive hand on Newbie’s shoulder* “There, there. It’s ok. Everyone uses the I Samuel draw engine at some point in their Redemption career.”
Redemption Newbie: “It just draws so many cards! I mean, AUTO and AWSN both search for Samuel, and Samuel searches for the Cloud versions of King Saul and David. And David can search for The Throne of David!”
Redemption Veteran: “I know. AUTO and Samuel can draw 2, King Saul can draw 1, and David is an extra card if he searches for Throne or a Red OT Warrior class hero. When Saul and David are both in battle, The Throne of David triggers for each of them. And that’s not even considering the addition of Abigail, who fits right between Saul and David in the banding chain. If you’ve got 3 or more OT WC heroes in play, and it sounds like you will, she will draw 3!”
Redemption Newbie: *Wipes eyes* “King Saul bands to Abigail? I didn’t know that! You mean my deck could be FASTER?”
Redemption Veteran: “Yes. Yes it could. And it’s ok. Drawing cards is not a bad thing in Redemption. I think you’ll find that most top decks, with the exception of the occasional silly Watchful Servant deck, has a decent amount of search and draw abilities to speed the deck up.”
Redemption Newbie: *Firms his resolve* “Ok, mister! Thanks for the advice!” *Runs off to add Abigail to his deck*
That dialogue, hopefully fictional, serves as an introduction to the Fastest Offense Ever – the I Samuel draw engine. Cloud of Witnesses gave us a new King Saul and a new David the Shepherd to complement Samuel (RoA). In the past, maybe 4-5 years ago, Samuel decks were the fastest decks and were very popular. They had AUTO, Samuel, David and/or King Saul, Armorbearer, and Ishmaiah the Gibeonite. They also usually had Wheel Within a Wheel to search out AUTO quicker. The ideal play was AUTO – Sam – Armorbearer – Ishmaiah, for a potential + 8 in card advantage. The rest of the offense was usually some conglomerate of Judges, WC heroes, or Royalty + Throne of David, with CBN battlewinners galore – Samuel’s Edict, Bravery of David, Valley of Salt, as well as mass banding cards (Battle Cry/Deborah’s Directive/Unified Kingdom) and Ahimelek.
While they were very fast and quite strong back in their heyday, they suffered due to Saul and David not “fitting” into the deck perfectly. Both obviously could be searched by Sam for a D2. Both were WC heroes for Abigail and Valley of Salt, and David made Ahimelek and Bravery of David both CBN. But they were both, for all intents and purposes, heroes without special abilities and therefore often were “dead weight”.
With the new King Saul and David the Shepherd, I Samuel decks can once again be up and running. And at the speed of this offense, running is definitely the appropriate term. King Saul (CoW) has a D1, and he bands to a I Samuel character matching his brigade. This gives him flexibility, depending if you played him as a hero or an evil character. As it turns out, both Abigail and the new David the Shepherd are Purple I Samuel heroes, so King Saul can band to either of them.
The new David the Shepherd searches out The Throne of David and plays it so it’s very easy to have Throne trigger on your first attack. The full banding chain of AUTO – Sam – King Saul – Abigail – David the Shepherd is usually a + 7 in card advantage, and that’s assuming you didn’t use Samuel to search out Saul or David, and it’s not counting whatever you get from The Throne of David’s draw. Don’t forget that TToD is worded so that it triggers on each Purple king in battle. This means that it is a minimum of a D2 when both Saul and David are in battle.
So what else goes into the offense? I’ve seen a few variations, including:
Asahel/Ishmaiah – Can be searched out with David. These go well with Counsel of Abigail (a staple for an OT Purple offense) and Foreign Sword. Asahel’s CtB and Ishmaiah’s drawing/making Foreign Sword a battlewinner are still really good.
Moses (CoW) – Not as common, but I like him for his negation of LS and his “mini CWD” functionality. He is searched out with AUTO and AWSN, too. If I add Moses, I like to add Benaiah (Ki) for a FBTNB splash, as well as a Babylonian defense. A Babylonian defense lets you add Drawn Sword and Forest Fire to the deck which are amazing battlewinners that work on both Moses and Benaiah.
Jephthah/Ehud – I mean, you already have the “Judges angels” in the deck; why not add some of the best judges? I add Jephthah to all my I Samuel offenses because I love territory destruction, especially in a fast deck. I usually won’t include Ehud unless I also splash in a few Gold GEs to support him, but he can honestly win battles without support if you are clever. Not to mention he has great synergy with the new Falling Away, if you convert your opponent’s small male human hero to an evil brigade they don’t have EEs for and choose that fallen hero to block with Ehud. Someone should write a LoR article about that combo…
FBTNB – If Asahel, Ishmaiah, and the Joshua/Captain band are already in your deck, you already have a bit of FBTNB in your deck. Might as well round it out. Israelite Archer can band to the Captain, Heldai is great, Benaiah/Ira are great – Benaiah even more so if you have a Babylonian defense. You should probably have Coliseum in your deck when you play I Samuel offenses, and Coliseum is arguably the best support card for FBTNB.
As for good enhancements, you don’t need many! Lots of drawing to get your good Dominants faster + big bands and big heroes = lighten up on the GEs. A few of my favorites:
Counsel of Abigail – Such a useful interrupt + win GE, and in two brigades and CBP by evil cards! This is the first GE you should add.
Foreign Sword – A broad negate that works through FBTNB heroes is fantastic. I prefer to keep it in hand instead of just throwing it on Ishmaiah, since there are a lot of cards that discard good enhancements now. It’s a negate that is also a battlewinner on Ishmaiah.
Valley of Salt – Can be super destructive with all the WC heroes in the deck, but beware of Coliseum tossing it. Which, if you have enough WC heroes, can be a really good way to eliminate an EC without much risk of being negated.
As for support cards, here are some considerations:
FBTN LS + Escape LS – I know everyone loves the new LS and therefore doesn’t like the FBTN LS, but the Dull and Forsaken LS can eat this offense alive. I’d add these two unless you also have Moses; then I’d drop Escape.
Coliseum – For reasons mentioned above.
Holy Grail/Unholy Writ/Hezekiah’s Signet Ring – All of these become nastier the faster you draw them or the further ahead of your opponent you are. UW lets you shrink the defense a bit so you can play your 15-hero I Samuel offense in a 50-card deck.
That’s all for our discussion of I Samuel offenses, made better than ever by the CoW King Saul and David the Shepherd! If you like to draw cards, be careful with this one. It can be addicting. I’ve started using this offense whenever I want to test a defense, since it draws the defense so quickly. I probably need a Redemption Veteran to correct me on this.
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