Umbruk Overview – Brutal and Relentless
Umbruk is traditionally the home of the most aggressive strategies. Uterra provides large creatures and pump spells for early board control while Tempys brings mobility and burn spells to push damage. But the faction pair also has a couple more tricks up its sleeve in the current format. Let’s take a look at how UT decks take advantage of the different mechanics available in Raiders Unchained.
These core commons are cards that every deck in a faction pair seeks. They are high quality commons that are rarely bad picks. Each archetype will be able to use these cards, regardless of the overarching strategy.
Archetype – Midrange Spawn
First pick heroics that give you a reason to draft a particular faction pair or archetype.
Key Cards – The Engine
Key cards are important to a particular archetype within a faction pair. They will typically have more unique effects or be required in greater numbers to enable a given strategy.
Key Cards – Utility
The spawn deck is a midrange deck that takes advantage of the many token generating cards available in the Umbruk pairing. It uses value engines like Kitaru Sprite, Cauldron Mystic, and tokens in general to control the board while using those same engines to fuel giant threats like Spring Dryad and Harbinger of Spring. The fact that the token generators provide both board control and monster building is what makes the archetype particularly powerful. Having a single element of your deck serving multiple, complimentary purposes is always a good thing.
The deck relies heavily on the Spring Sisters as win conditions, which, as rares, may not always be available in a draft. In that case, you can fall back to plan b, which is to draft some of the strong late game threats from Tempys. Stonefist Giant or a defender package with Cinder Colossus and Avalanche Guardian (with activators, of course) can both work well in a deck that is playing a defensive value game. They don’t have the presence of an early Spring Dryad but they still get the job done in rank 3. Uranti Stormshaper is another incredible late game Tempys card with its level 3 effect bordering on Forgeborn territory. Relying too heavily on it, however, can be dangerous with the popularity of Nekrium and, in particular, Gloomreaper Witch. A level 1 Witch can answer a level 3 Stormshaper before it even gets a chance to trigger. Think twice before choosing to level it as your win condition against Nekrium decks.
The utility spells aim to either take advantage of having multiple bodies on the field or to support your big threats. Savage Oath and Uranti Elementalist help those big Dryads connect with your opponent’s life total and Herd Mother serves as a situational underdrop when your army of Saplings is successfully raiding. Warbringer Uranti is another great trick that can help you get more mileage out of your otherwise insignificant tokens.
Since the deck relies a lot on incremental damage to take down creatures, it can struggle against decks that are heavy on regenerate and armor effects. These creatures are largely immune to small chunks of damage since it is healed or absorbed each turn. Consequently, cards like Dendrify should be picked higher to deal with big unkillable monsters. Don’t forget that you can hit your own Seedlings, Kitaru Sprites and Shardclaw Crushers later in the game if you need to get it leveled up.
Archetype – Aggro Pump
Key Cards – Heavy Hitters
Key Cards – Aggro and Control
Uterra, as usual, has access to some quality pump spells. The two best are Shardclaw Crusher and Twinstrength. Crusher is currently to best tool available for making giant creatures that can kill your opponent quickly, while Twinstrength is great at keeping multiple threats alive, pressuring your opponent from different angles. Having both of these spells at common along with Savage Oath and Victory Rush at rare means you shouldn’t have any trouble picking up the pump spells for this archetype.
The limiting factor, rather, is the creatures you have available to pump. Stacking a Volcanic Giant on top of a Crusher is big but is easily dealt with. Two average sized creatures blocking and it’s gone, without much damage or board position gained. Instead, you want to pump creatures that become a real pain when they’re padded with extra stats. Good examples are Hammerfang, Gemhide Ravager and Cloudcleaver Titan. These aren’t the same types of creatures that a Dysian deck will look to pump. Dysian tries to make a giant regenerating monster that continually eats chump blockers until your opponent is too far behind to catch up. Umbruk uses the evasiveness of its creatures to make sure the pump spell gets in as much damage as possible before your opponent can trade with it.
When it’s not pumping up big monsters, the deck wants to play a traditional aggro game with a lot of oversized bodies winning the board in rank 1. Blizzard Shaman, Aethertap Shaman, Stampeding Mongosaur and, yes, even Spring Dryad are great early beaters. Even without token support, Dryad plays as a 7/7, 12/12, 18/18 when it’s open laned, big enough for any aggressively minded deck.
The support cards are the typical suite of combat tricks and removal. My favorite is Warhound Raider and his best friend, Warhound Courser. The free Courser in particular allows for so many slick plays, whether it’s replacing a Shardclaw Crusher for 13 aggressive damage or pumping it with Warbring Uranti to clear a damaged Sorrow Maiden before it activates. Add in Spring Dryad synergy and the ability to clear wounded creatures for free and you have an incredibly versatile card that is a positive addition to almost any deck.
As with most buff decks, you have to play carefully when matched up against Nekrium. Grave Pact and Blight Walker can quickly turn that two card monster into a bad investment. The flexibility of Shardclaw Crusher becomes really important in playing around removal. If you feel like you might get blown out this turn, you can play Crusher as a blocker and use it to clean up the board. It’s not ideal but it’s better than having to pass on your leveled card like you would with spell based pump effects. If you see that the coast is clear (i.e. they’ve already played their leveled removal for the rank) then you are free to go all in.
In addition to being weak to spot removal, the deck can also struggle if it falls behind. The deck’s most powerful tools are geared towards creating a single large threat. Consequently, it has trouble dealing with creatures across multiple lanes, which is usually what you need to do when you are trying to recover. For this reason, it’s really important to maintain an aggressive stance whenever possible. It’s why you take big oversized creatures alongside your pump spells. When the opportunity arrises to make a giant Gemhide Ravager, you want make sure you’re in a board position that allows you to do so.
So where’s the raid deck? Well, despite many exploratory attempts, I don’t think the raid deck exists as an archetype. I’m not saying that the raid cards are bad, but rather, the support cards for raid are not reliable enough to build a whole deck around. It is very difficult to build a deck that can trigger raid consistently enough to make it your primary plan. The cards function much better as situational role players that can occaisionally capitalize on a temporary advantage. I included Herd Mother in the tokens archetype because that is where it is most likely to trigger. The aggro pump deck is going to be investing multiple cards into a single lane, which is actually the opposite of what raid needs.
Even without a dedicated raid deck, Umbruk offers lots of tools for drafters to use. There are solid offensive threats, versatile pump spells and explosive sources of damage. Skilled players should have no trouble finding success with their Umbruk draft runs.