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The Turbo Puzzle and its Place in the Meta

As we consider Minion heavy beatdown decks that may slow down as this most recent balance patch settles and even sees swings back to control, one of my favorite places to start is with Fires of Creation. The high life total and access to virtual card advantage make control a natural fit for Fires.[1] As I have suggested, the most classic control colors, Blue and Yellow,[2] have a suite of artifacts that not only provide useful tools for establishing value over time—Ollama Ring, Orbital Jamming Satellite, and especially Model of Duality—but also the mana ramping of Blue’s Norn Datacore and Draupnir Band.


Turbo Overview


While most paths offer a more direct form of Card Advantage, drawing from the deck or recursion from the Boneyard, in the case of Journey of Souls, we can again return to the Forgelings from Fires of Creation as a peculiar sort of Card Advantage. Burning the Forgelings provides a method of generating resources without having to sacrifice cards in your hand, but we could also consider the design of a control deck and the priority of Value over Tempo.[3] Rather than cluttering your deck with too many small, defensive minions to stymie early attacks from aggressive decks, risking lackluster draws later in the game, the first and second Forgelings can provide a small defensive blocker, and a blasting 2/2 which can break up concentrated enemy attacks.


The Virtual Card Advantage, then, of Fires of Creation can take on a new shape, allowing a control deck to focus more on getting to its midrange and larger control schemes and drop bombs to seal the game late. This comes into even sharper focus when we consider the Blue mana Artifacts all at two Mana. By placing Norn Datacore early and even potentially setting a free blocker on pursuit, you can start generating energy for the Datacore, gaining the ability to ramp out a sweep like Thunderclap or a burly minion like Blackened Jotun a turn ahead of schedule. The Divination from the Forgeling can also control your draws and ensure that you have the best chance of drawing a second mana Artifact, which in turn can maximize your odds of developing enough value in hand to remove all threats or consolidate the cards in your hand while controlling the board.


Following this design paradigm, especially the sheer potential of having Blue Mana Artifacts on the board as soon as possible, we can conceive of our deck design along lines similar to a classic concept in Magic: Turbo Xerox.[4] Mythgard is already a stunningly consistent game, in which a 40 card deck opens 7 cards in an opening hand, and Yellow offers even more ways to increase the odds of seeing our Mana Artifacts in Maze of Iyatiku and Clay Effigy. By playing a full complement, you have a >70% chance of having at least one in your opening hand, effectively making your deck one card smaller, and even more enticingly setting up a body to block and die, generating energy for Norn Datacore.


As discussed in the overview of Fires of Creation itself, the utility of the Path is not necessarily in simply developing as many triggers as possible for Fires, but instead to collect a set of Artifacts that you want to collect and use in concert with one another. Also as suggested above, Artifacts generically represent Value rather than Tempo, that is to say they provide utility that can be useful in the future or in developing the board later, rather than developing the board on their own.[5] We can note that in the above examples, cheap Minions used to cycle through your deck and Forgelings can represent the early minions, ones that you won’t miss if they are swept away by Misanthropia, but also ones that can be buffed with Ollama Ring.


Most critically we can note that Artifacts, like Enchantments in the earliest control decks in Magic,[6] Artifacts will provide value independent of the havoc wreaked on the board as defensive minions trade and die, and broader effects destroy all minions. Exploiting this asymmetry is critical to the control scheme not only in the design of the deck, using fewer card slots on disposable Minions that generate more Tempo than Value, but also in the game play of the deck. Like any classic control deck, our defensive schemes will hope to capitalize on opponents who can either be punished for playing out aggressive Minions quickly or simply burying slower opponents in even great amounts of Value than they can reliably generate. This is compounded by the benefits of Blue Mana Artifacts as anti-aggro devices in and of themselves, either generating Mana which each dead Minion, or as enemy Minions come into play!


Turbo Blue


We’ve established a solid shell here and it isn’t too difficult to see how we push into the Turbo Blue list from the previous article. We can make special notes of the shape of Turbo Blue as a deck which can make the most of the temporary mana from Norn Datacore and Draupnir Band, and Gemless mana from burning Forgelings by prioritizing cards with high Mana costs and relatively low Gem costs. The high end of the curve in all Colors works this way, as only one card in the game so far has more than three gems[7] but mana continues to increase, not scaling with gem costs. This leads to some clear winners in Blue and Yellow. Blackened Jotun stands out mathematically as the very possible ratio, letting you pour mana into just one Blue Gem to get a giant body that will not only block pesky attackers, but also bulldoze those smaller minions, pushing damage as you consolidate control over the board, drawing or setting defensive minions with your Yellow Gems. Even with high gem costs, the Yellow high end provides very good ways to spend mana. Ramping out Twin Blanque or Twin Junah, even a turn early, offers a lot of pressure, and like Jotun, they are durable blockers as well as attackers, running over blockers and using Regen 3 to heal if both stay on the board!


The staples of Blue Yellow Control, defensive minions like Einherjar Thane, mass removal in Misanthropia and Thunderclap, and all of the heavy hitters fit in well with this classic Turbo Blue, deck found here on Mythgardhub.



Where Turbo Blue shines is in control mirrors, as we have discussed before the value of artifacts survive the many volleys of sweeping removal, but not only will your Artifacts survive, but each minion dying will power you Norn Datacore, letting you slowly develop more and more value. In these matchups, the most critical card is often Model of Duality, as with Reconstruct[8], you will frequently be drawing two card every turn, grinding your opponent’s hand down with expensive threats paid for by Datacore Mana. The cycling one-drops similarly fuel your Datacores and this method of exploiting asymmetrical value from boardwide sweeps translates to a more efficient overall Control scheme. The Reconstruct Power similarly ensures that you will have a release valve for accumulated Mana, converting excess Mana into Tempo on board, and chewing up cards in your Boneyard which are irrelevant, because Fires of Creation, unlike, let’s say Journey of Souls, has no interaction with Boneyard.


Turbo Neon


Because this Blue Yellow Core is so solid, I often try not to stray too far from the core, but adding some splashes of other utility control Colors opens up a lot of space for utilizing the overwhelming artifact value. My first stop was in Purple and then Green, as they both have mana sinks that don’t require any actions—Daigoju Supreme and Ved’ma Flamespar[8], respectively—but ultimately committing to that many gems outside Yellow and Blue felt a bit dicey, only really wanting a handful of cards that wouldn’t be as immediately necessary as the first turn Yellow Burn and second turn Blue Burn are so vital to the deck itself. For the splash to Green, fortunately, I had another mana sink to work with: Plague Maidens. Especially in matchups with Red Orange Midrange, the ability to ping the board for one mana can prove devastating, especially with a Datacore in place to soak up all that energy, and if there is a Ruslan’s Bight handy, can even be triggered dozens of times, finishing off any opponent with less Life than you! Rounding out the Green splash, it is hard to go wrong with Wake the Bones, especially in a deck that has such a vibrant selection of high end bombs, many of which can be ramped out early. Being able to replay Twin Blanque, Sapo, The Devourer, or even Plague Maidens more than justifies a slot in the deck, which ended up looking like this, Turbo Neon[9], which can be found here on Mythardhub.



When looking at the splashes, another trick, which may be suboptimal but feels like a good use of the focus on core Artifacts, is to include Bristling Necklace and exactly one (1) enchantment, in the case of our Green splash, Ruslan’s Bight.[10] Bight can be pulled up by Necklace to guarantee a Green card to burn, or a one-mana cycle, and especially if a Green card has already been burned (especially Bight itself!), Plague Maidens is guaranteed a safe hiding spot from which it can annihilate the board. While you would obviously prefer one of the mana artifacts on turn two, your deck is designed to have that Blue Gem available on two, and getting the Forgeling chain started on turn two has plenty of value. Similarly, you can squeeze some value out of the Necklace as well simply by having it absorb hits if you play it after a Datacore or Draupnir Band.

Turbo Kraken


While this provides a robust control scheme, and a vital use of Artifacts, the Plague Maidens still did not present a way to spend mana that was nearly as exciting as Ved’ma Flamespar or Daigoju Supreme. I was happy to swap the Green Splash for a Red one,[11] seeing Mani, Queen of Tides as a closer, but despite that powerful finish, it still requires Gems. Silly though it may sound, ending games, win, lose, or draw, with 40 Datacore charges represents a clear inefficiency that could be refined and harnessed while still maintaining this deck’s core premises. The latest patch included a rather innocuous change to a traditionally underpowered Artifact: Sea Lord’s Trident. A few players had already eyed this as more viable in controlling Fires of Creation decks, offering a renewable source of value turn after turn, but a few players independently had bigger plans.



I first saw this trick unleashed by nalka[sic] in 2v2, but Laezar had a similar premise in mind when crafting a deck called, appropriately enough, Turbo Kraken[12], deck found here on Mythgardhub.



The deck makes all of the classic turbo moves I’ve discussed above, even adding in three more cycling one-drops in the form of Stray Panaceas, which now draw a card on Demise. The bigger commitment to Red, however, gives not only powerful removal like Magmataur, and high-end wide threats like Seven Ring Ritual and Sideshow Chimera. The Rush enabler Dashing Ringmaster has synergy with the Red threats more than any other, but works with early Forgelings and most critically the Fel Kraken tokens made by Sea Lord’s Trident. While the Fel Kraken tokens are normally used for defense, as there can only be one on the board at a time, this deck packs a clever trick to skirt this restriction.


Root of the World tantalizingly provides a Minion from deck at the cost of a Minion on the board and one Mana. This deck obviously has plenty of Mana to go around, and with Trident, an unlimited number of tokens to toss into this enchantment, at two Mana each. With Ringmaster in play, however, each of those tokens gets to attack before jumping down the Root, dealing four damage per cycle of three Mana. This conversation rate is even better than Daigoju Supreme! On the one hand, this trick only works if there is an open Lane to attack past Root of the World, but we can note even more cleverly that the Fel Kraken tokens can continuously attack any existing blockers, and generate Datacore energy along the way! The synergy with Root of the World is even more apparent as you consider how many traditional defensive minions have been replaced with cycling Minions, and the high-end bombs that are ramped out by the Blue Mana package.


Conclusion


Developing this excitingly efficient combo finish, one that doesn’t rely on Blue Gems like Mani, and which offers extreme damage efficiency, Laezar has demonstrated even more interestingly the exciting potential of this Turbo shell. Converting Mana into tempo as well as value provides an even more balanced attack against a variety of decks on ladder. The radical consistency of Mythgard, again as a game that has small decks and large handsizes, counterintuitively rewards even more consistency in deckbuilding. While you can more consistently draw your one-of Mythic bombs in a control deck, your aggro opponent will also much more consistently draw their one-drops and combat tricks. Building in the redundancy of a Turbo deck, ensuring that your deck feels as small as possible as you search for your sweeps and bombs, also provides synergy with Norn Datacore as a way to turn your dead chumps into a resource for the future. As your deck already focuses on later game and waiting to play cards when they can generate the greatest amount of value, the Mana Artifacts, especially the banked Mana on Datacore, will afford even more opportunities to turn the corner and overwhelm an opponent that has been run out of gas. While I cannot guarantee it will be enough to stop the Valkyrie onslaught, the Turbo scheme will offer a ton of firepower for anyone experimenting with Artifact control, from Ouroboros[13] to Turbo Kraken.


Footnotes

[1] For a more complete discussion of Fires of Creation see the previous article here. [2] There has been a lot of convergent evolution among control decks throughout alpha and beta, focusing primarily on Blue and yellow. These colors offer a wide array of sweeping spells, Thunderclap, Misanthropia, and defensive minions like Yahui, Meso Libre, and Magnus Thorsson. While there have been many variations on this general control scheme, one of the most memorable was from Burn, and outlined well here. [3] This classical definition of a control deck as one which sacrifices immediate threats for longer-terms strategies to dominate the board and deplete an opponent’s resources over time can be succinctly described as prioritizing “Value” but these definitions are not only unstable across games, but are often ill-defined. A subject for another time.


[4] The common etymological explanation of the phrase “turbo xerox” as that Alan Comer’s deck paradigm, featuring inexpensive cards which replaced themselves in your hand in order to shrink the effective size of a deck, was so popular that people just copied it directly. The concept is best explained by Mike Flores here.


[5] Another version of this distinction between Tempo and Value that probably requires a lot more explanation at a later time.


[6]Moat in Brian Weissmann’s “The Deck” in particular.

[7] Living Mountain for those keeping score at home


[8] In 1v1 in any event. My esteemed colleague and fellow member of Kryptik Gaming, Merlin and I have had a lot of fun and success in the more deliberate pace of 2v2 with more exotic Turbo packages, a story for another time.


[9] I may be the only person in the game who cares about the gemstone names for color combinations that appear in the quest lines but they have been collected here for me by none other than Tune Star:

Blue/Green - Teal

Blue/Orange – Ashen

Blue/Purple – Violet

Blue/Red – Amethyst

Blue/Yellow – Emerald

Green/Orange – Jasper

Green/Purple – Florite

Purple/Orange – Ametrine

Red/Green – Dusk

Red/Orange – Rust

Red/Purple – Spinel

Yellow/Green – Neon

Yellow/Orange – Citrine

Yellow/Purple – Hazel

Yellow/Red – Amber

[10] This is a rather old and intuitive trick to turn Bristling Necklace into a tutoring effect, but I would be greatly remiss if I didn’t acknowledge that Nomdeguerre is particularly fond of this trick and influenced my thoughts here.


[11] Replace all Green cards with 3x Stray Panacea, 1x Mistwalker Gate, 2x Lamia’s Kiss, and 1x Mani, Queen of Tides.


[12] Note that in my naming scheme this would be Turbo Amber, and I like this version better than my splash, so a True Turbo Amber if you will.


[13] Fires of Ouroboros is a deck that utilizes the turbo package while trying to keep the same feel of Angel Loop. It has consistently felt stronger and faster than the ancient Angel Loop archetype that utilizes slower enchantments and leaving itself open. Read the article by its creator Ejecty here.


 
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