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Author Topic: Priestess counter strategies vs aggro-rush-beat-down  (Read 6465 times)

Koz

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Priestess counter strategies vs aggro-rush-beat-down
« on: May 10, 2013, 11:08:49 AM »
I’ve had a few PM’s asking me about specific builds and strategies regarding how the Priestess can handle aggro-rush-beat-down, and specifically, Warlock aggro-beat-down.  I’m not going to post a specific build because I don’t have my cards in front of me, and my builds change quite often anyway as I adapt it to the ever-changing landscape of the game.  However, I will go over some specific tactics and strategies that can be used by the Priestess to counter aggro-beat-down.  I have different opening strategies depending on whether or not I have Initiative, and what I feel like doing in the moment (I like to try and be as unpredictable as possible). 

If you do not have Initiative on the first turn: Counter-Rush!

Counter-Rush Method One

Turn 1 (20 mana to start): Most aggro-beat-down builds will rush to the FC zone on their first activation (either through just sprinting or by using Cheetah’s Speed) and will probably play something cheap (Enchanter’s Ring or face down Enchantment or something like that).  In this instance, I like to Counter-Rush.  Sprint your Priestess to NC (one zone from opponent) and drop a Temple of Light (9 mana) in your zone and fire.  You have a 16.6 % chance to Stun, so not likely, but if you get it, you are in a MAJORLY superior position right off the bat.

Make sure the second spell you prep this turn is something that will benefit you if your opponent does NOT sprint to FC.  If they don't do that, save the Temple and cast your second card instead.  It can be the Staff of Asyra if you still want to try and counter-rush, or it can be a Hand of Bim-Shalla for general utility (but that will throw your mana out of whack a bit for the tactics I'm suggesting here).  Or, you could prep the Temple and a Knight of Westlock.  If your opponent sprints to FC, go with the recomendation above.  If they don't, stay in your starting zone and cast the Knight and go with the "Prepare the Bulwark" method listed below (obvioulsy going in a different order than what is listed).  Basically, what I'm trying to say, is be prepared!  Don't be left looking at your cards going "dang...I thought you waz gonna sprint to the middle..."   

Turn 2 (21 mana): You now have Initiative.  Fire the Temple of Light, then Quickcast Staff of Asyra (9 mana) and charge in and swing.  Between the two shots from the Temple of Light (one from last turn and one now) and one swing from the Staff you have a 42% chance to Stun your opponent and a 67% chance to Daze (and a 91% chance to inflict at least one or the other).  Your opponent’s plans may very well have been thrown off at this point.  If they are playing one of the standard aggro-strats that summons a “big” on turn 2 and you stunned him, he’s probably REALLY thrown off since he won’t be able to summon that turn.  If you only managed to Daze, you still hit him with 6 dice of damage, so you’re off to a good start.

Turn 3 (22 mana): At this point it’s a good idea to summon back up.  If your opponent was Stunned last turn and didn’t get a “big” in play, an Angel at this point can be scary for your opponent.  Against the Warlock, I like to go with Samandriel (21 mana).  With her +1 vs Dark and Non-living creatures she has 6 dice right off the bat against your opponents “big” (LoF, Vampiress and even Iron Golems), she Dazes them on a 6+ and Stuns them on a 10+.  She’s a beast.

If your opponent DID get a “big” in play last turn, then you want to go with something like a Knight of Westlock(13 mana) or Gray Angel (12) and a Pillar of Light (4).  Use the Pillar of Light in the Quickcast phase to zap the “big” to try and get the Daze/Stun (75% chance for one or the other). 

EDIT: Adding another option here that I brought up in a post below.  If you don't Stun the Warlock on Round 2 and don't want to stand toe-to-toe against him and his "big", instead of preparing Pillar of Light and Knight of Westlock, prepare Teleport and Knight of Westlock.  Teleport away in the Quickcast phase then summon the Knight on your activation.  After that, go into turtle mode. 

In future turns, it’s up to you what you do and the state of the game but these are your priorities: Hand of Bim Shalla (cast in an adjacent zone so it’s not easy for them to destroy it with AoE and Sweeping attacks), more Armor (Dragonscale Hauberk and/or Elemental Cloak), and Agony on the Warlock or “big”.   

Counter-Rush Method Two

This is basically the same strat as above, except on the first turn instead of sprinting to NC, you step forward one zone, cast a Cheetah’s Speed on yourself (leave it face down) and cast the Temple of Light one space forward (NC) and fire, same as before.   On turn two, flip the Cheetah’s Speed, quickcast the Staff of Asyra and charge. 

The major differences between these two methods is that the first one preserves more mana (allowing you to get an Angel out early), but is more predictable as to what you are doing.

With the second method however, it’s not as certain as to what you are doing and you can vary up your approach from game to game.  For instance, to keep your opponent guessing, you could move forward one zone on your first activation and cast the Temple of Light as before, but instead of a face down Cheetah’s Speed you could cast a defensive spell like Rhino’s Hide or Bull’s Endurance or something like that (again, leave it face down to keep them guessing).  Your opponent may expect you to rush in on him if you’ve done it before and been successful so he may alter his round two spell selection to counter…and then you don’t rush and instead start to turtle from round two.  Keeping them guessing and reacting to YOUR plays is the best way to thwart the aggro-beat-down builds. 

If you DO have Initiative on the first turn: Prepare the Bulwark

There are two methods I use to counter an expected aggro-rush-beat-down build.  Both are much more passive and defensive orientated than the above Counter-Rush strategy and can be used if you DON’T have Initiative as well if you would rather be more defensive than counter-rush.

First method

Turn 1 (20 mana): Cast Temple of the Dawnbreaker (8 ) in your starting zone, step forward one zone and cast Cobra’s Reflexes (9) (turn it up or leave it face down, it’s up to you).   This gives you a very solid starting defense against any type of threat (ranged or melee) and is something that your opponent cannot just ignore.  If you force them to play things like Falcon’s Precision or Knockdown or something similar then you are making them use their mana for “plan B” which is to your advantage.  You can choose to go with Force Sword if you want to save yourself a little mana, but I like Cobra’s Reflexes for the flexibility.

Turn 2 (13 mana): Quickcast Temple of Light (9) in NC zone and on your activation, fire it, then step back to your starting zone

Turn 3: (14 mana):  Knight of Westlock (13)

After that, it’s up to you, but they will be on you by now.  Use your Knight to guard and cast Pillar’s of Light early for the high Daze/Stun chance.  Other priority spells are Armor (Dragonscale Hauberk and or Elemental Cloak), Staff of Asyra and Hand of Bim Shalla. 

Second method

Turn 1 (20 mana):  Knight of Westlock (13) + Hand of Bim Shalla (5).  As above, don’t cast the Hand in the zone you anticipate fighting in. 

Turn 2 (12 mana): Hand of Bim Shalla (5) in adjacent zone + Leather Boots (2)

Turn 3 (15 mana): Temple of Light (9) + Dragonscale Hauberk (6)

With this set up you have 3 Armor (5 with the Hands), Flame -2, a Knight for guarding and a Temple of Light that is doing 3 dice of damage and Daze/Stunning on a 6+.  After that, priorities are: Pillar’s of Light for more Daze/Stun chances, Staff of Asyra and another creature (Grey Angel is good and so is Highland Unicorn).

Other general tips and notes

Daze.  Daze is very good against aggro-beat-down and is actually better than having a Defense die because they cannot bypass the Daze condition like they can the Defense die (with unavoidable attacks or incapacitating you or whatever).  Having both Dazes and Defense dice going at the same time is a tough nut to crack.

Blinding Flash.  Don’t underestimate the power of this spell.  For only 7 mana you can hit both the opposing mage and the “big”, it Daze/Stuns on 4+, it’s unavoidable, Ethereal and can’t be Jinxed.  Against an Iron Golem or Invisible Stalker it does 4 dice of damage and Daze/Stuns on a 2+ (with a 32% chance of a stun).

Don’t panic!  One of the fastest ways to lose to aggro-beat-down is to panic: “omg, he haz fire and demonz and is in my face!!!!!”  He’s not going to kill you right away, especially if you’ve prepared at all for his rush on the first few turns, so…relax.  Don’t fall into a pattern where you are reacting to his plays instead of being proactive to your own strategy.  Sometimes it’s best to just take the hit and calmly drop a creature to shore up your position for next round.  Try to keep the tempo in your favor. 

Healing.  Try not to rely on healing unless you really need it.  Don’t give up tempo by casting healing spells unless you are really getting stomped.  But if that happens, you are probably going to lose anyway.  The best way to heal is passively.  Getting out a Highland Unicorn (or a Regrowth Belt) early is a great way to mitigate damage.

Deathlock.   If your opponent dropped a Deathlock early in the game on their side of the board and the game goes long and you are feeling like you need to heal, don’t panic.  Save up a little mana for a turn, then, when you have Initiative, play and reveal a Divine Intervention.  Use it to teleport to your opponent’s side of the board and go to work on the Deathlock with your Staff of Asyra.  Hopefully you can destroy it quickly while your creatures tie up your opponents.  The good news is, if your opponent took an early action to drop Deathlock, that gave you one more action to prepare for the rush and he had 9 less mana with which to do damage to you with.  If you win the game never needing to heal, they completely wasted the mana and the action.

These are not be-all-end-all strategies and by no means guarantee a win.  These are just suggestions for how to set yourself up for a solid base from which to handle aggro-rush-beat-down.  This game is very well-designed, balance wise, and no one strategy or mage rules supreme (contrary to the opinion of some).  Your individual turn to turn plays will win or lose you the game, but these are some suggestions for those who are having trouble dealing with Warlock rush when playing the Priestess.  Hope it helps  :)

« Last Edit: May 12, 2013, 11:24:34 AM by Koz »

Fentum

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Re: Priestess counter stratagies vs aggro-rush-beat-down
« Reply #1 on: May 10, 2013, 11:27:13 AM »
Hi Koz,

This is great. It is pitched at just the right level of detail and 'background insight' to really help newcomers such as myself. 

When I first opened the box, I assumed the Priestess was a turtle style mage, but now I attack all out with her. Similarly to your first set of tactics.

Beautiful game. Great tactics article.

Nice.
« Last Edit: May 10, 2013, 11:46:25 AM by Fentum »

ringkichard

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Re: Priestess counter strategies vs aggro-rush-beat-down
« Reply #2 on: May 10, 2013, 01:22:21 PM »
Koz, to me, that all reads as good sense advice. Well written.  :)
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sdougla2

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Re: Priestess counter strategies vs aggro-rush-beat-down
« Reply #3 on: May 10, 2013, 03:29:32 PM »
Nice article.

The Priestess certainly has strong anti-rush options, particularly against 1 big strategies.

The chance of getting stunned is the main reason I like to summon my Necropian Vampiress turn 1 rather than turn 2 with my Warlock.
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Koz

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Re: Priestess counter strategies vs aggro-rush-beat-down
« Reply #4 on: May 10, 2013, 03:57:09 PM »
Nice article.

The Priestess certainly has strong anti-rush options, particularly against 1 big strategies.

The chance of getting stunned is the main reason I like to summon my Necropian Vampiress turn 1 rather than turn 2 with my Warlock.

Good point, I should have included a recomendation for a first turn spell selection in case your opponent does NOT rush to FC.  That is certainly a possibility, especially from savvy players who anticpate someone trying to foil their plans.  I think I'll go add a little something on that. 

Edit:  Added a section on this!
« Last Edit: May 10, 2013, 04:32:17 PM by Koz »

piousflea

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Re: Priestess counter strategies vs aggro-rush-beat-down
« Reply #5 on: May 11, 2013, 10:24:47 AM »
This is a well written strategy but I actually disagree with it.


For your temple+staff counterrush: you only have a 42% chance to stun. 58% of the time you will not stun, and now you're in a zone with a Warlock and he's successfully summoned a Lord of Fire. If you summon a Samandriel on Round 3, you won't have the mana to Rouse the Beast her, so unless your Temple gets its 17% stun chance, the Lord of Fire will get a free attack off on your Angel. The Warlock will also have enough mana left to cast Lash of Hellfire and lash your angel. Chances are she'll be near-dead before she can even act - are you going to spend 9 mana next round to heal her back up?

The Priestess is sufficiently strong against Rushes with her standard knight+hand build (she is very difficult to win against) that I don't see the value of gambling on a 42% chance to be at a huge advantage and a 58% chance of being at a huge disadvantage.

Koz

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Re: Priestess counter strategies vs aggro-rush-beat-down
« Reply #6 on: May 11, 2013, 11:22:42 AM »
This is a well written strategy but I actually disagree with it.


For your temple+staff counterrush: you only have a 42% chance to stun. 58% of the time you will not stun, and now you're in a zone with a Warlock and he's successfully summoned a Lord of Fire. If you summon a Samandriel on Round 3, you won't have the mana to Rouse the Beast her, so unless your Temple gets its 17% stun chance, the Lord of Fire will get a free attack off on your Angel. The Warlock will also have enough mana left to cast Lash of Hellfire and lash your angel. Chances are she'll be near-dead before she can even act - are you going to spend 9 mana next round to heal her back up?

The Priestess is sufficiently strong against Rushes with her standard knight+hand build (she is very difficult to win against) that I don't see the value of gambling on a 42% chance to be at a huge advantage and a 58% chance of being at a huge disadvantage.

Well, I did address this point when I said:

Quote
If your opponent DID get a “big” in play last turn, then you want to go with something like a Knight of Westlock(13 mana) or Gray Angel (12) and a Pillar of Light (4).  Use the Pillar of Light in the Quickcast phase to zap the “big” to try and get the Daze/Stun (75% chance for one or the other). 

Also, you are overlooking the Daze part completely (you only address Stun).  Being Dazed is a strong defense, so the whole tactic doesn't just boil down to a 42% chance to Stun or you get crushed.  As I pointed out, you have a very high chance to at least Daze, which gives you a large measure of protection. 

I acknowledge that Method One is a gamble, and its risky and I would probably never do it in a tournament because the math just isn't quite solid enough, but it is only one of four options that I open with.   
« Last Edit: May 11, 2013, 11:28:30 AM by Koz »

piousflea

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Re: Priestess counter strategies vs aggro-rush-beat-down
« Reply #7 on: May 12, 2013, 09:48:41 AM »
This is a well written strategy but I actually disagree with it.


For your temple+staff counterrush: you only have a 42% chance to stun. 58% of the time you will not stun, and now you're in a zone with a Warlock and he's successfully summoned a Lord of Fire. If you summon a Samandriel on Round 3, you won't have the mana to Rouse the Beast her, so unless your Temple gets its 17% stun chance, the Lord of Fire will get a free attack off on your Angel. The Warlock will also have enough mana left to cast Lash of Hellfire and lash your angel. Chances are she'll be near-dead before she can even act - are you going to spend 9 mana next round to heal her back up?

The Priestess is sufficiently strong against Rushes with her standard knight+hand build (she is very difficult to win against) that I don't see the value of gambling on a 42% chance to be at a huge advantage and a 58% chance of being at a huge disadvantage.

Well, I did address this point when I said:

Quote
If your opponent DID get a “big” in play last turn, then you want to go with something like a Knight of Westlock(13 mana) or Gray Angel (12) and a Pillar of Light (4).  Use the Pillar of Light in the Quickcast phase to zap the “big” to try and get the Daze/Stun (75% chance for one or the other). 

Also, you are overlooking the Daze part completely (you only address Stun).  Being Dazed is a strong defense, so the whole tactic doesn't just boil down to a 42% chance to Stun or you get crushed.  As I pointed out, you have a very high chance to at least Daze, which gives you a large measure of protection. 

I acknowledge that Method One is a gamble, and its risky and I would probably never do it in a tournament because the math just isn't quite solid enough, but it is only one of four options that I open with.   

For Round 2 specifically, daze chance is irrelevant. The opposing Warlock is not trying to attack or defend, he only has one objective which is to cast a Lord of Fire. If he is stunned he cannot summon, but if he is Dazed he can summon just fine.

Once lord of fire is summoned, you need to get your own creature to hit it while you cast Daze/Stuns. Simply attacking with a 1-dice Temple and a 2-dice Pillar of Light will inflict daze/stun but will NOT kill it in any reasonable timeframe. You need a knight to guard against it, or an Angel to try to kill it. And since you spent rounds 1-2 getting a temple and staff and meleeing, you have to summon a creature during Round 3, when Lord of fire and Warlock are already in your face attacking.

For all these reasons i dont feel like Method 1 is a viable opener. It is a 42%-chance gimmick opener. Any of your other openers are preferable over it.

Koz

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Re: Priestess counter strategies vs aggro-rush-beat-down
« Reply #8 on: May 12, 2013, 11:21:10 AM »


For Round 2 specifically, daze chance is irrelevant. The opposing Warlock is not trying to attack or defend, he only has one objective which is to cast a Lord of Fire. If he is stunned he cannot summon, but if he is Dazed he can summon just fine.

Once lord of fire is summoned, you need to get your own creature to hit it while you cast Daze/Stuns. Simply attacking with a 1-dice Temple and a 2-dice Pillar of Light will inflict daze/stun but will NOT kill it in any reasonable timeframe. You need a knight to guard against it, or an Angel to try to kill it. And since you spent rounds 1-2 getting a temple and staff and meleeing, you have to summon a creature during Round 3, when Lord of fire and Warlock are already in your face attacking.

For all these reasons i dont feel like Method 1 is a viable opener. It is a 42%-chance gimmick opener. Any of your other openers are preferable over it.

As I said, it's risky.  Of course there are other alternatives to standing their and casting Pillar of Light on round three I was just trying to keep a really long post from getting longer and not bringing up every possible option.  Round three the Priestess could, instead of a Pillar, cast Teleport in the Quickcast phase and then cast Knight of Westlock on her activation (two zones away).  There are of course more options as well. 

Point being, while the strategy is risky, it's not just a 42% chance to work or you lose the game.  There are things that can be done, and this strategy can work and may throw off your opponent.   

Edit: went ahead and added this to the OP.  I've only tried the counter-rush once just to do something different and be unpredictable, but the more I think about this as my back up plan, the more I like it and think it's not as risky (obviously some risk of course, but less).  I kind of like the idea of counter-rushing and hoping for the 42% chance stun, then if it doesn't work, Teleporting out and going into turtle mode.  If I get the Stun, I'm in fantastic shape early, if I don't, I drop back and play "standard" Priestess. 

I'll have to mess around with it some more and see how it goes. 
« Last Edit: May 12, 2013, 11:28:11 AM by Koz »

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Re: Priestess counter strategies vs aggro-rush-beat-down
« Reply #9 on: May 12, 2013, 08:37:32 PM »
Good tips Koz!

But wouldn't it be more effective not to rush, while your opponent spends his actions on moving?

I am thinking Turn 1 - Temple of Light, Turn 2 - Samadriel, Turn 3 - Staff of Asyra+fight. That way you get around the problem with your angel getting beat that piousflea mentioned. I am not sure I would stay in the corner or move one up to get the temple to a better position, that would depend.

I am also looking at knockdown-spam in these mage+big vs mage+big situations. Perhaps Knockdown+Hand in turn 3 instead of Staff if your opponents creature hasn't acted?

It is an interesting subject and more ideas would be welcome.


sdougla2

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Re: Priestess counter strategies vs aggro-rush-beat-down
« Reply #10 on: May 12, 2013, 08:50:54 PM »
It sounds like you think Knockdown prevents a creature from acting. It does not. It can be used to remove guard markers, but casting a Knockdown on a Lord of Fire before he's gotten to act for the first time does practically nothing. It just removes flying until his activation.
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TricksterHat

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Re: Priestess counter strategies vs aggro-rush-beat-down
« Reply #11 on: May 13, 2013, 08:55:16 AM »
Right, my mistake.

Koz

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Re: Priestess counter strategies vs aggro-rush-beat-down
« Reply #12 on: May 13, 2013, 09:13:50 AM »
Good tips Koz!

But wouldn't it be more effective not to rush, while your opponent spends his actions on moving?

I am thinking Turn 1 - Temple of Light, Turn 2 - Samadriel, Turn 3 - Staff of Asyra+fight. That way you get around the problem with your angel getting beat that piousflea mentioned. I am not sure I would stay in the corner or move one up to get the temple to a better position, that would depend.

I am also looking at knockdown-spam in these mage+big vs mage+big situations. Perhaps Knockdown+Hand in turn 3 instead of Staff if your opponents creature hasn't acted?

It is an interesting subject and more ideas would be welcome.

You are right that sitting back with the Priestess is a more reliable and safe play, no denying that.  I do that far more often than be aggressive with her.  I was just putting up a few different ideas of how to tackle the same problem (aggro-rush-beat-down).  The counter-rush can be a total surprise to your opponent which is why I've included it.  It's risky, but something that can really throw your opponent off and sieze tempo from the rusher.

People should at least try it before dismissing it.  Obviously it wouldn't be the go to strategy for Priestess, but I think people just assume that she HAS to turtle because that's "what she does". 

This strategy might actually be better for the male Priest coming out because he sounds like he is more aggressive and toe-to-toe orientated, but I guess we will see when he comes out.