1. #1

    Shaar OTK primer

    I've played a lot of this deck over the past week or so and I thought I'd post a primer on the deck. There isn't much discussion about core deck archetypes and card choices around here that I can find at least, so hopefully this is some useful information.

    Deck outline

    Shaar OTK is a deck which aims to control the board in the early game and stay alive long enough to quickly force through a lot of damage, usually in one turn, with hasty creatures and pump spells to finish the opponent off. Most people probably regard it as a combo deck, because it often assembles the Kat's Grand Finale + Enraged Cyclops + pumps combo to win the game in one attack, but I personally regard it as a control deck which happens to have a combo win-con available. It plays very much like a classic control deck from MTG or other TCGs, using a combination of fog, falter and wrath effects to stay alive while churning through its deck using card draw to assemble the wincon once board control has been established.

    The deck is a powerful deck, and clearly tier 1 imo. It will beat an unprepared creature based aggro deck 9 times out of 10 with relative ease. But there are a lot of ways for opposing decks to interract with it (dispels, haste/magic shield creatures, discard, resource denial) and it can be very skill intensive to engineer a win through some of the potential hate. Like all control decks, a single incorrect decision can be the difference between a loss and a victory, and for this reason it can be fun to play with and against imo. Unfortunately it loses pretty hard to seigfried prison combo which prevents it from being the best deck around, but it has a good game against every other archetype.

    Card choices

    Win-cons

    Kat's grand finale/enraged cyclops - This is the strongest wincon in a vacuum. With these two cards in hand, you only need 3 pump spells (inner fire or blood shaman hut) to do 20 damage. Personally, I don't find it necessary to run tutors for either of these wincons, even though finale is unique, as by the time the game gets to the point where you're able to play the finale your card draw should be sufficient to control the board against essentially any possible threat while you assemble your combo. I personally run 2x cyclops and 1x finale, the two cyclops are there for a bit of draw consistency, resilience against discard and because they can be hard-casted as a non-hasty wincon in some circumstances.

    Pao Deathseeker - This is either an alternative win-con or a backup/supporting option. Double pao's, if cast with your hero's pump ability available, do 8 damage on their own so you need 6 pump spell + 2 pao's to do 20 damage. The pao kill on its own is slower and more difficult to pull off than than finale, because you either need to attack over multiple turns, or have two lanes clear and a lot of resources to attack for lethal. If you have a kat's available in your card pool, I don't recommend using pao's as your sole win-con but I do recommend having at least 2-3 in the deck because they bring a lot of utility, particularly by giving redundancy against discard or not drawing finale, a way to clear off pesky stone shields and magic shield creatures.

    Blood shaman hut/inner fire - You want to somewhere around 6-8 of these effects to both enable your combo kill and give you a backup plan with Pao's if necessary. If faced with a choice between the two, the hut is generally better because it's cheaper - however if you're relying on pao's alone for a kill then use more inner fire's because they can be used before a final kill turn without card disadvantage.

    Arena - Not a wincon on its own, but a very good utility card. Using this twice on a 20 HP hero means you only need two pumps on a hasty cyclops to finish off your opponent, and casting multiples over the course of a game makes a pao kill much easier. It can also clear out stone shields or, in a pinch, just cantrip itself to dig for something to keep you alive. Use 3-4.

    Survival spells

    In general this deck stays alive with a combination of damage and attack prevention effects and board wipes. Spot removal doesn't really figure into the game plan, as it's too inefficient to just 1-for-1 opposing creatures given that you don't have any creatures of your own to help defend your hero's life total. In general, you will only want to take one or two turns of damage at the start of the game and then effectively shut down everything that's presently on the board after that if possible. The cards below are divided into wipes and prevention.

    (board wipes)

    Armageddon - This is the card that makes the deck. It is almost impossible to play the deck effectively without at least 3 or, much preferably, 4 copies. Given how annoying it can be to assemble a playset of a specific rare in this game, that sucks for some people but it's the truth. To assemble its wincon, this deck needs permanent answers to creatures and without armageddon you'll almost certainly have to use 2 cards to kill any 5+ toughness creature and 3 to kill any of the many 7+ toughness creatures that get played (eg. lilim, vampire lord, atropos, tainted orc and crusher). The only creatures in the game that this doesn't kill outright are wyvern rider and magic shield creatures (including greater fire elemental), the latter require an entirely different strategy while the former requires you to either premtively wipe before it hits the table (otherwise it'll get so many enrage counters that it'll effectively one-shot you) or wait until you have enough mana to 'geddon + insect swarm in the same turn.

    Insect swarm - An important card, but it's not essential to run a full playset. It's a good card in that it does damage to all creature types, but you'll almost always need to combo it with something else (a second copy, earthquake or alter of power) to effect a full wipe. If your opponent is silly enough to put out like three < 4 toughness creatures in the first few turns, then take your wipe and be happy with it, but it's not generally worth using it to take out one or two creatures and leave behind some others, because you'll eventually want to be doing a full wipe at some point. Run 2-4 depending on what other cards you run.

    Earthquake - Possibly the weakest of the wipes, but it can be valuable because it's so cheap. It's very good if your opponent's first two plays are a 1 drop followed by DA, but not hitting flyers is a real liability and in most circumstances insect swarm will be better. It does get better in multiples, because 2x earthquake on T4 is often going to be a full board wipe, so there's some rationale for running the full 4, but I personally only run two.

    Fire storm - An ok option, but at 5 resources it's a little too expensive and at 4 damage it's not quite powerful enough. If it did 5 damage, then it'd have real potential (killing things like vampire knight and vengeful spectre, as well as killing a lilim in combo with an insect swarm), but 4 is just a little too weak against everything except inferno melee creatures. Given how good it is against juggernaught, ravager and friends it's a potentially good option against inferno, but I wouldn't run more than 1 or two.

    Fireball - It's essentially spot removal in this deck given that people can easily position their units correctly, so I wouldn't consider using it.

    (damage prevention)

    Altar of Shadows - With haven being the only faction that even has the possibility of removing it (before 5 fortune), you're usually extremely safe after playing this card. It's generally best to try to use this card on turn 5 or later when there is a celebration event in play, or on a turn when there's just nothing better you can do with your remaining resources. Also remember that going to 3 fortune when you're on the draw slows you getting to armageddon by a turn, so if you're light on protection spells on the draw then you might have to take a bit more early damage than you'd like rather than going to 3 fortune to play this and just have to eat even more damage on a future turn before you can wipe. Anyway, this is also an automatic 4-of.

    Stone Shield - This is an incredibly powerful card and given that it can protect from combat and non-combat damage, it's extremely versatile. Choosing whether to include them in your deck or not is an easy decision (pick 4), but playing them at the right can be a much tricker proposition and one of the real learning parts of the deck. In general, you want to use them up early vs decks with access to dispel (so you don't lose if they have one), but keep them late against other decks as they get progressively more powerful as the game goes on given that they can both prevent any amount of damage and also be played after a board wipe to prevent any hasty creatures or non-combat damage from taking you out on the following turn.

    Whirlwind/fog veil/sandstorm - You probably want 3-4 of these type of effects, but picking the exact mix to use is quite tricky and basically comes down to personal preference. Whirlwind is the easiest to play around, but is generally the most powerful just after a board wipe, sandstorm is the one most likely to act as a full fog given that shooters are often a lesser played creature type and fog veil generally deals with the threats that are hardest for you to kill with earthquake/insect swarm (melee creatures generally have lower health than shoters). I currently run with 2x sandstorm and 1x whirlwind, but feel free to play around to find a mix that you like.

    Card draw

    Stone of Enlightenment - The grandaddy of card draw spells, once you're able to cast this along with a prevention/wipe spell (usually at 7 or 10 resources) you're very much in the box seat. Don't run less than a full set, you need to draw through your deck.

    Campfire - Not technically card advantage, but the ability to act as both a free cantrip AND resource accelerator makes this very valuable in a deck which is always digging for specific cards. You don't want to just use this randomly, make sure you're getting value out of the resource acceleration aspect of it when you play it (eg. by going from 6 to 7 resources so you can stone of enlightnment + shield).

    Celebration/week of knowledge - I experimented with a number of different events (eg. week of austerity looks good on paper, or market of wonders for better card filtering), but the cheap card draw on these two is just too valuable to pass up. I highly recommend running 4 of each and nothing else for your events. Celebration is particularly nice in that it interracts with altar of shadows to enable you to still use your mana up on turns when you play that fortune, and week of knowledge is excellent in the early turns.

    Misc

    Wasteland - A great utility card, but primarily useful to give you a way of interracting with the fortune decks. I haven't beaten many seigfried OTKs with this deck, but when I have it's because I've been able to chain wastelands together to give me time to power out my combo. It's also a great way to protect your combo pieces from discard (eg. cosmic realignment) in the turns before you're about to go off, and can also be played naming creature after a board wipe if your opponent isn't going to do anything else to disrupt you. It can also be used to protect a hard-cast cyclops from I wouldn't run a full playset though because it's a terrible card against aggro. 2-3 is about right imo.

    Throne of renewal - I haven't seen any other shaar decks use it, but it's been an invaluable trump card for me as a one-of against decks that use stone shield. Stone shield, especially in multiples, can be very bad for this deck and can basically cause you to run out of wincons especially if your opponent gets > 4 copies by stealing one from your hand with spell twister and also makes sure to never let you activate arena to do damage (eg. ariana decks). It can also be used as a mass creature bounce in a pinch.

    Sample deck list

    If you're looking to get into this deck type, I'd start with a list something like this and tinker with it from there in line with your personal tastes.

    Matchups and disruption

    In general, what you're looking for in each matchup is the potential that your opponent has to disrupt you. If they're playing a hero with primal or light magic, you always need to be alive to the possibility of a dispel or mass dispel. Haven decks can also remove altar of shadow. Vs those type of decks, use your prevention effects early and try to always wipe the board if you're facing lethal or near lethal damage.

    Next you need to be aware of your opponent's damage potential over and above what's currently on the board. All decks can pao, fire magic can inner fire, stronghold can blood altar, inferno can altar of destruction and anyone with 3 fortune can potentially tower of oblivion on the following turn. Sometimes to prevent hasty damage, you might want to play a sandstorm after a wipe, and stone shield is often a good play then if you have the resources free.

    You also want to keep in mind the possibility of discard, and how best to play around it. Cosmic realignment might require you to pre-emptively wasteland, or try to use up any pao's in your had to get in damage earlier than you might otherwise. Finally, you want to keep time jump in mind for people with 6 dark magic because it can be used to effectively circumvent stone shield or get in some hasty damage at very high resource levels (it doesn't stop altar of shadows or whirlwind-like effects though). One important thing to note is that the deck doesn't just fold to discard. I have won even after having my pao's purged and finale discounted (hard cast cyclops + wasteland naming spell). You can easily win off just pao's, altars and a couple of pumps. I've even won by using throne of renewal a pao when I had no other wincon left. Don't give up if a combo piece gets dicarded, try to work out if you still have any possibility of doing lethal damage.

    Dealing with magic shield creatures (particularly Moonslik Spider or Mizu-Kami) can be a little bit tough because they're immune to board wipes, but they're by no means auto-losses as you can still use damage and attack prevention effects on them or, in a pinch, kill them with a Pao.

    Conclusion

    I'm sure when people first encounter the archetype with a xorm rush deck, they get very frustrated that they seemingly can't do anything. but having played > 100 games with it, it really is an interesting deck type and with minimal preparation, just about every deck has good options for interracting with it and it can lead to some really close and interesting games. It's not the fastest deck around, as it'll normally need an absolute minimum of 11 turns to win, but it's a good deck to try out if you have the cards for it.
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  2. #2
    Uraxor's Avatar Heed the Call!
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    Conclusion: Seen and can do Shaar OTK kill on 6th/7th turn.

    Problem with this is it relies too heavily on Kat's, if you get that discarded, you are kinda screwed. Those without Kat's (or with Kat's discarded) are much slower and oftentimes give openings for enemy to strike and finish you off before you can kill him bit by bit...
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  3. #3
    Excellent write-up and hints/discussion.
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  4. #4
    efikus's Avatar Junior Member
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    Nice words, but i prefer Kat OTK she is quicker than Shaar OTK. Deck with Kat is very, very similar as Shaar.

    Shaar is played 4/6/4 and started with 0/2/1 and 18 life.
    + Fire magic (Armagedon, Inner Fire)

    Kat is played 4/3/4 and started with 1/1/2 and 20 life
    + better stats a quicker (wins in 7th - 9th round not problem)
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  5. #5
    Originally Posted by Uraxor Go to original post
    Conclusion: Seen and can do Shaar OTK kill on 6th/7th turn.

    Problem with this is it relies too heavily on Kat's, if you get that discarded, you are kinda screwed. Those without Kat's (or with Kat's discarded) are much slower and oftentimes give openings for enemy to strike and finish you off before you can kill him bit by bit...
    Yeah, it can win earlier than T11, but I'm talking about the normal situation where you get to 4/6/4.

    Also, I disagree about vulnerability to a single discard. I've won many, many games where my kat has been discard. Yes, discard can eventually hurt but you need to take out all of my pao's before I start getting worried. Usually once you stabilise, you are able to get to a point where you draw your whole deck and it's not difficult to do 20 damage with a single pao once you've drawn your whole deck. I've also on a number of occasions won with a hard-cast cyclops backed up by wasteland to prevent removal.

    @efikus

    I've never played Kat OTK, but it sounds like a much different deck and more in on the combo rather than a control deck. Without armageddon as a permanent answer to creatures, I'm guessing it's much more about trying to stall and prevent damage before sneaking in a quick finale rather than fully stabilising in the way Shaar does. It seems like it could win quicker, but also have a lot more variance.
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  6. #6
    Originally Posted by efikus Go to original post
    Nice words, but i prefer Kat OTK she is quicker than Shaar OTK. Deck with Kat is very, very similar as Shaar.

    Shaar is played 4/6/4 and started with 0/2/1 and 18 life.
    + Fire magic (Armagedon, Inner Fire)

    Kat is played 4/3/4 and started with 1/1/2 and 20 life
    + better stats a quicker (wins in 7th - 9th round not problem)
    Can you post your deck? I'm very interested..
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  7. #7
    efikus's Avatar Junior Member
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  8. #8
    Originally Posted by efikus Go to original post
    Many thanks my friend! I'll do some testing myself
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  9. #9
    Uraxor's Avatar Heed the Call!
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    how do you do against Inferno or Cosmic?
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  10. #10
    efikus's Avatar Junior Member
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    How?
    Only with luck, calm head and be quicker than enemy . All decks have weaknesses and a Kat is no exception. Sometime I win without Kat, Grand finale.

    - lock enemy creature or kill all creature
    - deploy Enr. Cyclop
    - next turn kill enemy creature if doesn't died in last turn (Power Crystal + Insect Swarm. = Enr. Cyclop have 1 health ) ... .
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