Onyxium Overview – Methodical and Ruthless
Onyxium is the faction pair that combines Alloyin and Nekrium. In this draft format, Onyxium is quite strong! It boasts a large assortment of powerful creatures, good spells, and crippling board control. It has the strongest late game out of any of the faction pairs.
Onyxium is flexible. It can play a slow game using removal and shrink to stall and try to drop large level 3 threats, or it can be more aggressive using Xithian Rotfiends and Ordnance Captains to gain board control. An average Onyxium deck tends to skew towards one of these strategies, but typically has both elements.
These core commons are cards that every deck in a faction pair seek. These are high quality commons that are rarely bad picks. Each archetype within a pair will be able to use these cards, regardless of the overarching strategy.
Archetype – Formation MidRange
Key cards – Strangle the Board
Key Cards – Push Through to Victory
This midrange archetype is distinct from Uterra and Tempys varieties due to the disruption the deck can bring. Whereas an Umbruk deck will typically play it straight and just try to play bigger and better threats than you can, an Onyxium deck can interrupt these decks with big annoying threats (Crucible Colossus, Xithian Rotfiend), Plunder Imp hand disruption, or with straight hard removal (Grave Pact).
This deck excels at building up a giant Spiritsteel Infiltrator. Infernal Visage is the ideal pump spell to use on it due to the high synergy in Regen plus Armor, but Ordnance Captain, Group Meal, and even Cypien Battlesuit are all serviceable options. Spiritsteel Infiltrator is the flagship buildup threat in Onyxium.
This deck has a significantly better early game than a more controlling-oriented version of Onyxium, especially if you get the correct tools to build up Infiltrators. Its lategame can be worse than the controlling version, but generally does a fine job depending on if you picked up a Palladium Wave and with what heroics you have. It can give you time to play the late game cards if your opponent falls behind on board.
The other main weakness of this deck is that is simply isn’t very strong when forced to play reactively. The deck can be very strong once it puts into play a few creatures and can buff them with Ordnance Captain or Group Meal. But if your opponent is playing large, Deal-With-Me-Now threats, you might find yourself overpowered before you can get the ball rolling. Xithian Rotfiend is a godsend in these situations, but sometimes you simply won’t have him and you’ll have to dig yourself out of the tempo ditch.
Archetype – Control
Key Cards – Bring the Control
Key Cards – Cards that Win Late
Onyxium has a very, very good control suite culminating in two cards – Palladium Wave and Gloomreaper Witch. Palladium Wave is KEY to this deck; it is very hard to manage late game in a Spring Dryad format without it. Wave doesn’t deal with Spring Dryad itself well, but it deals with everything else while giving time to deal with the Spring Dryad.
Being able to kill the shrunken creatures with Sorrow Maiden or Gloomreaper Witch gives the deck a frightening amount of strength into the late game, where your opponent can’t successfully build up a board against the 2-for-1s these creatures nearly guarantee.
I typically try to draft one Howl of Xith to help close out games if my opponent is also playing a deck that is strong in late game, but it is typically not necessary to win most games.
Like a control deck in Constructed, Onyxium Control decks in draft tend to be very weak early game, and very strong later on. This can be horrific if your opponent jams some Deepbranch Prowlers and you have to throw multiple creatures under it. The saving grace of this deck is Xithian Rotfiend. The card is an absolute monster that can carry the deck through all the rough patches since Rotfiend slaughters nearly everything it blocks. It occasionally even lives, forcing your opponent to put a creature in front of it or take massive damage.
Later on in the game, it is much harder to lose. Gloomreaper Witch punishes any underdrops your opponent has to play, while serving as a real removal spell coupled with Palladium Wave – a card that does some serious work rank 3 and onward. The main weakness of late game Onyxium is its consistency – unlike Constructed, there are no reliable levelers in the draft format. You can miss on drops, which can be devastating in rank 3+ when your opponent plays two level 3 creaturers and you must meekly answer with a pair of 5/5 Nyrali Symbiotes.
If you want to be more late-game oriented for better staying power, draft some portion of the Midrange archetype. Midrange flows quite well into true control, and gives you enough strength to withstand an early game so you can play your giant Forge Guardian Betas or Skyknight Gliders.