Ice Wall: The Turbo Stretcher Experience
Updated: Oct 18, 2020
Ejecty here to talk about a deck you may have seen gracing your ladder experience lately: Ice Wall. Ice Wall is a variant of Turbo Red at its heart and our own Erobert gives a great explanation of what exactly Turbo is here. Having a decent understanding of the Turbo archetype and what it wants to accomplish will help you to run this deck to an even greater effect.
The most recent version of Ice Wall can be found here.
1)Deck Origination and Overview
The Stretcher- Alpha Stretcher to YR Stretcher to Turbo Stretcher
For any unaware, Stretcher decks are decks that utilize the card's Dragon's Teeth and The Stretcher. Dragon's Teeth forces both players to draw an extra card each turn, The Stretcher forces the opponent to take damage each time they draw or discard a card.
I was not around in Alpha so I had to reach out to KG's Erobert to help me understand Alpha Stretcher.
"I'm not sure if we have a completely clear genealogy of the deck itself and for that matter, there may not be a single definitive version that served as a point of origin as the synergy with Dragon's Teeth and Blue control tools (which used to be much stronger, with Long Winter not needing to be occupied, Ice Spike being more viable actual removal, Bolt from the Blue offering removal and a cantrip, and Eir Healing offering lifegain and a cantrip)."
"Earliest versions may have been popularly used by Nelzya (in early 2018 according to Discord records) and Penguin, but the biggest spike in usage after I started was when RainZone played it to win the first Mythgard Weekly Open with what became the standard list. Locking down the game with Long Winter and unbreakable Artifacts *Editor's Note: This was before Artifacts had durability* meant that unprepared beatdown decks simply couldn't compete. Refined aggro could often just kill them before the win condition was in place or they drew Long Winter, but anything slower was in trouble. Pillage was considered the only real tool for control decks to counter, but if they pulled it off, they often just won because the deck did NOT have any other win conditions."
Following these nerfs most Stretcher decks that appeared fell into the YR zone, as it was basic thought that the controlling factors of Yellow were the only way a Stretcher game plan would function. This of course proved to be more of a meme than anything, after all you were playing Dragon's Teeth, providing your opponent with extra ways to kill you, without really being able to take advantage of these cards yourself.
It's hard to define the starting point of Turbo Stretcher. As mentioned the deck is specifically Turbo Red, but operates quite differently than Erobert's Turbo Red of old. The version most closely resembling Ice Wall appeared from a player called Murphy Noise, but this version didn't even run Stretcher, and seemed almost all in on milling opponents. Various other versions cropped up from different players such as Crimson Rash, Tritros, and Wabisabi. Wabisabi's version is the version we started with and refined to what is now Ice Wall, which I believe to be the definitive edition of what Turbo Stretcher should look like. Also when I say "we" here I am referring to myself, Riss, and Rune, two other members of KG who helped to refine the deck.
So why is the Turbo Archetype the best way to utilize Stretcher? Well remember I mentioned that YR Stretcher had issues taking advantage of the cards pulled from Dragon's Teeth? Turbo Stretcher does not suffer this same distinction. By utilizing the mana artifacts Norn Datacore and Draupnir Band, Turbo Stretcher is able to reliably play out their hand easier than the opponent, which means even though they are receiving extra cards as well, you are the one making better use out of these cards. Not to mention each extra card they draw is going to be dealing them damage once your Stretcher is online.
Utilizing the Turbo artifacts also gives Ice Wall the option to finish off enemies by using Stretcher, or by using either Dashing Ringmaster or Freki Sidecar to rush the enemy down with such cards as Tyr or Kraken created from the trident.
2) Game Plan
The Game Plan for Ice Wall follows many of the same lines as other Turbo decks. You want to get your mana artifacts out as soon as possible, however once you have you also want to try and get Dragon's Teeth and Stretcher out. You see a lot of Turbo decks use this mana to ramp out big bois or threats. Ice Wall plays far more defensively, utilizing other artifacts like Barbed Bolts, to plink down enemies. Chump blocking with foreglings continues to refill the durability of your artifacts while also letting you divination to dig for key artifacts you may want. An ideal setup of artifacts would look like this:
2x Dragon's Teeth
Datacores or Draupnir Band
As the game proceeds it is important to note what your game plan is looking like. Are you against a control deck that want's to draw a bunch of cards? Then playing it slow and stretching them down is the answer. If you're against a deck that utilizes a lot of rush, clearing their board and then laying down major threats of your own is key. Sometimes the answer is as simple as ramping out an early Seven Ring Ritual.
Don't fall into the mistake of trying to always stall and use the Stretcher for the win. Stretcher is simply an active and dedicated piece to Ice Wall's gameplan, but not the only win condition.
3)Specific Cards and Their Purpose
Dragon's Teeth & The Stretcher
Dragon's Teeth allows you to dig deeper into your deck for key cards and answers as well as damaging an opponent in conjunction with Stretcher. The Stretcher forces the opponent onto a clock as they slowly lose life each turn, which gets compounded by the amount of Dragon's Teeth and Stretchers.
Dashing Ringmaster and Freki Sidecar
These two rush givers are important to 1) Allow you to clear threats quickly 2) Do burst face damage. Almost every card in the deck is designed to work with both of the rush conditions on these cards.
Draupnir Band and Norn Datacore
The Artifacts that makes Ice Wall a turbo deck. The mana artifacts are important in allowing you to ramp out answers to wide boards, use additional mana to play all the extra card's from dragon's teeth, or find a bunch of mana for a final burst of damage.
Valkyrie Enforcer and Barbed Bolts
These two may not appear to have much in common but are some of the most important stalling tools in the deck. Bouncing a threat can have huge implications as the opponent is flooded with cards and would lose insane tempo to simply drop it again. I have bounced even threats with awakens such as Sapo, Peri, or Angel. Barbed Bolts allows you to shoot down small threats and weaken larger threats to make it easier to block. Ideally you can get a forgeling to do your blocking and repair the Barbed Bolts for even more uses.
Q: Is X Mythic Necessary?
A: Maybe! Things like Mani, Bragi, and Kara are nice to haves but never necessary. (I actually really think Tyr is close to necessary in this deck.) The Mythics I would consider MUST HAVES are:
Sea Lord's Trident
Seven Ring Ritual
Q: What are its best and worst matchups?
A: Like every FoC deck it will struggle into Valks. Their bodies are often too big to utilize Thunderclaps / Magnus / Barbed Bolts. RO match up is hit or miss. I would very much recommend holding off on ever using Dragon's Teeth against RO.
It dominates many other slower control decks as they don't really benefit from drawing more cards and their slow pace allows them to die to Stretcher.
It fairs really well to average against all other decks.
Note: Riss, Rune, and I all have over 75% win rate on this deck in Mythril / Champion.
Q: I keep losing with the deck, what am I doing wrong?
A: I can't say for sure. But you can always DM me on discord or talk to me in twitch. I will offer any advice I can!
Q: Why is it called Ice Wall? A: Sort of an inside joke from one of my streams where Riss and I played the board game Sky Tear.
This has been just a short primer on Ice Wall. I have been playing it a lot on my twitch stream and you can find some vods here. I hope you enjoy playing this deck as much as I have. It's a fun deck with multiple lines of play.