This article is an introductory to drafting the factions Tempys and Nekrium – the faction pair called Byzerak. You can find the other faction primers here:
- Oratek – To be Released 9/28
- Esperian – To be Released 10/5
- Onyxium – To be Released 10/12
What is Byzerak? What can I expect from Nekrium/Tempys?
Byzerak takes the aggressive and powerful Tempys cards and pairs it with the board control and durable creatures of Nekrium. I’ve found two main ways to play Byzerak – a more aggressive approach, and a board control one.
Byzerak boasts the ability to play both aggro and control depending on the game state. This is not unique to Byzerak – Umbruk and Oratek can also do this. However, Byzerak has a much stronger neutral state than the two previously mentioned pairs due to its access to two common 7/7s – Scourge Hydra and Thranik Ambusher. Additionally, Byzerak excels at removing single large threats with cards such as Bitterfrost Totem, Frostshatter Strike, Blood Boil, and Nether Decay. This allows a Byzerak player to deal with some Blood Boon’d or Pummel Pack’d monstrosity without throwing two or three creatures at it.
Byzerak, however, does have several weaknesses. The most obvious is in the drafting portion. Byzerak includes Nekrium, which has a ton of dud commons – Xithian Host, Grave Ghast, etc. Sometimes you’ll get a pack full of duds and be forced to take a suboptimal card for your deck. As for play itself, Byzerak is adept at dealing with one big threat, but struggles to deal with multiple creatures or even a board full of small/medium creatures. Byzerak has a very difficult time catching up from behind, and often relies on the opponent missing a play so that the Byzerak player has a chance to catch up. Recognize that this weakness stems from few creatures with mobility, and few options for cross-lane play (like Frostshatter Strike), and prioritize them in the draft accordingly.
All drafts start with a selection of six heroics. I am not discussing legendaries due to how many there are and how rare they are; heroics are more realistic and reliable. Heroics are listed in a rough order of priority – the ones I talk about first are valued more than the ones talked about last. I am not discussing every heroic in the faction pair, just the ones I feel are particularly valuable in Byzerak.
Borean Windweaver – Unsurprisingly, Windweaver is the best heroic for this archetype. Windweaver lets you dodge blockers to push damage, but most importantly allows you to use your damaged creatures to your advantage, instead of having them be easily dealt with by level 1 blockers.
Uranti Warlord – Byzerak creatures typically hit hard and leave a dent. Warlord can come in and clean up. Additionally, it’s just an incredible card, even without any good common yetis (rest in peace set 5 draft Warbringer Uranti).
Darkheart Conjurer – This doesn’t seem very intuitive in Byzerak at first. After all, the Conjurer is pretty small and it’s ability is negligible. But Dysian Infusion is the real star. As a pump spell, it is not hugely powerful – it is stronger than Ursine Strength on-level, weaker than a kicked Blood Boon. However… Byzerak doesn’t have access to Uterra pump other than Dysian Infusion. This card gives the deck an axis of reach and board control it just doesn’t have otherwise.
Ebonskull Knight – Like the Hydras and the Ambushers, but amped up. Draws focus so you can develop your board, or just beats down.
Zarox, the Raging – Zarox is on the lower end of good heroics, but I’m mentioning it here because it is only good in Byzerak. Zarox is a decent card, but harder to make work than in the previous format. Still very strong at rankds 2 and 3 if you can take him there.
Shadowflame Elemental – Gets an honorable mention here because it is very good in a Darkforged deck. I tend to never take this card because of the inherent variance in drafting Darkforged, but the nut Byzerak Darkforged deck is definitely a threat that kills very early, so be aware of it.
The Byzerak Core
No matter what direction a Byzerak player decides on, there are serveral cards that are too powerful or too core to pass up.
Scourge Hydra & Thranik Ambusher are your most efficient creatures. Both 7/7s that scale well into late game. They are great aggressive threats that usually take an opposing 7/7 to deal with, or multiple lesser creatures.
Blizzard Shaman allows you to better utilize your damage creatures or blocked creatures than you can otherwise. It is random, but comes off the back of a massive 6/7 (and then 10/11) creature, which is very relevant in its own right.
Frostshatter Strike & Bitterfrost Totem are each the premier removal spells in their respective factions. Frostshatter is an amazing spell for its flexibility and variety of uses, whereas Bitterfrost Totem is merely superefficient and does not need to be leveled to be useful.
The Aggro Core
The general strategy of Byzerak Aggro is to play big 7/7s to keep pressure up, mobility like Blizzard Shaman to move them around, and removal spells to let a Byzerak player keep hitting with them.
I’ve found aggressive Byzerak decks to be a little more reliable than the control versions. The reason for this is because your aggressive neutral state is very strong – with two great-scaling 7/7s, it is just easier to build your deck around attacking rather than board control. Additionally, ending the game faster with early threats means there is less of a chance of stumbling and falling behind – something Byzerak really can’t afford to do.
One thing to note it that though some of a Byzerak player’s cards scale great, they still don’t have a way to catch up. Because of this, I’ve been taking Darkshard Witch higher and higher as a decent creature that gives a bit of extra reach through its ability.
The Control Core
Byzerak can use its 7/7s and massive glut of removal spells in a control shell. This is not horrible – cards like Nargath Bruiser and Borean Stormweaver can help you get incremental advantage, with Stormweaver and Firemane Steed scaling into gigantic level 3 threats. As long as you can effectively manage your opponent’s threats, you’ll eventually win the game. The problem is that your level 2 is pretty bad, and this is a faction pair that can’t afford to fall behind because, again, it has very little multi-lane play.
Darkforged in Byzerak
Typically, Darkforged are sprinkled in a deck without being a fully dedicated Darkforged deck. I will discuss the utility of each one as it pertains to Byzerak.
Shadeclaw Zombie is the worst Darkforged. It is small and Byzerak has no pump, so it is difficult to make use of its regen. Zombie Dreadknight is an option, but not one in Byzerak due to lack of support.
Umbraskin Yeti is significantly better, since it has mobility to affect multiple lanes, scales decently, and is a Yeti so you can use it with Uranti Warlord if you were lucky enough to pick that up.
Darkshard Witch is the Darkforged I value the highest in this faction pair. It has good size and provides good incremental damage and reach. I actually think this is the second best common Nekrium creature, behind Scourge Hydra.
Darkstone Asir is a fine card. It is very small in the first two ranks. I find it useful to use their small bodies to sacrifice to Corpse Crawler or hit with Scourge Hydra. I tend not to take this card unless I have a couple Witches already, or there is nothing else in the pack.
Of Course, if you want to draft a dedicated Darkforged deck, just ignore all of this advice, and pick every single one you see and hope for the best. Byzerak Darkforged hit hard and fast, and the game is usually over by Rank 2 or early Rank 3.
That’s all for Byzerak. May your rank 3s be full of 17/17s.
Other Faction Pair Primers: