Deck Archetypes in Grand Archive

Written by Kinship

Created 20 December, 2023

Last updated 21 December, 2023

With Alchemical Revolution just over the horizon it will soon be time to brew some janky decks with our shiny new champions.

In order to help some of the newer players out I wanted to take a moment to explain the spectrum of deck archetypes that are common to TCGs. The archetype of a deck ranges from 'Aggro' to 'Midrange' to 'Control', with 'Combo' being a recognized outlier possible within any of the other archetypes. The deck archetype describes under what conditions the deck would like to win vs how the deck could win, which is often referred to as the 'wincon'

One last note before we jump into these archetypes is that often cards can enable multiple conditions and as such playing control cards in aggro-style decks and aggro cards in control-style decks is perfectly valid, but the frequency will be much lower and it is usually as a specific counter, which can be best served by having those cards in the sideboard.

With that out of the way we can look at the first archetype, aggro!


The aggro mindset is as follows: "Before the opponent can react, I will win by trading off hand size for quick damage."

Your goal as an aggro player is to play cards that have a short-term payoff and only deal with the opponent if they are fully walling you off from your win conditions. This usually takes the form of cheap, efficient allies and spells/skills that can do high damage for their resource cost. Common wincons in aggro are 'Burn' decks which look to deal damage to the opposing enemy champion with efficient spells/skills and don't play many allies, and 'Swarm' decks which look to flood the field with allies. These decks are not trying to take 1-for-1 trades and might opt to ignore opponent allies outright in favor of getting more direct damage in.

The weakness of these decks is that they run out of gas very easily; often if the game is not won in the first few turns there is little an aggro player can do to come back as they will not be able to replenish their cards. This also means that their cards likely come with a cost that is greater than just paying the reserve cost for the card and can come in the form of losing another card, losing health, or losing some other resource.

  • Clumsy Apprentice replaces itself on enter, but deals two damage to its controller.

  • Blazing throw deals four damage, but sacrifices a weapon to be used.

  • Ignited stab gains an additional two damage, but uses a preparation counter.

  • Gildas gains three additional damage, but requires its controller to have balance.

In terms of defense, aggro does not run much protection. Their allies often have low life and they are only protected by removing opponent threats as they attempt to remove your allies with spells such as Spark Alight. This is not a problem vs control decks as they take some time to reach their wincon, but is a great weakness when matched up against midrange, which I will be talking about next.


The midrange mindset is as follows: "In spite of my opponent pressuring me, I will win by making favorable trades and generating value quicker than they can."

Your goal as a midrange player is to play cards that can generate enough value with minimal investment to slowly overtake the board state. Cards in this archetype are average-costed and are decently hard to remove or generate an immediate, but persistent value.

The wincon of a midrange deck is typically 'Tempo' where you attempt to slow down your opponent while increasing your on-field presence. These decks are content to take 1-for-1 trades as their cards typically do not come with the extra resource costs that we see in aggro. In fact, it is not uncommon for these decks to look for card synergy in order to increase a resource such as hand size. Additionally, the cards present in the deck can be modal, filling multiple roles dependent on the situation.

  • Flame Sweep clears multiple threats and damages the opponent which can cause your opponents to lose more than one card (And gain you several in the case of Lorraine's lv. 2 effect).

  • Frostsworn Paladin can either offensively clear threats or defensively intercept to prevent chip damage from small allies. It can also banish an unused floating memory card in order to gain even more power and life.

  • Phalanx Captain lacks offensive stats but has monumental life and buffs other allies allowing it to be a persistent threat that is hard to remove.

  • Sudden Snow can prevent multiple allies from entering on a single turn which can then be dealt with in order to gain card advantage over the opponent.

Midrange decks play defensive cards in order to stop early aggression and accumulate enough value to take out aggro as their power dwindles in the midgame. Their allies are often decently costly, decently beefy, and typically have some additional positive effect that can be comboed with other cards.

Midrange typically performs well against aggro as they can respond to their threats early and then out-value them, but they have a much harder time against control which is the next topic.


The control mindset is as follows: "Because I have access to consistent and powerful value generation, I will win by accumulating large amounts of resources."

Your goal as a control player is to play cards that lower the value of your opponent's cards so that you can accumulate enough value over several turns to overwhelm your opponent with a powerful wincon. These decks do not try to take 1-for-1s if they can help it unless they can trade something of significantly lower value. Instead, there is a greater emphasis on preempting the opponent's strategy and making it harder for them to execute it. Control cards are typically a mix of setup and payoff cards, but it would be incorrect to think that payoffs are always expensive purely through reserve cost. Some cards might require a certain amount of turns to have passed, others might require a high level, and yet others might require a certain number or type of card to be in the graveyard.

The wincon of a control deck can be something 'Tap-out' where you limit your opponent's ability to attack with their allies while keeping out your own allies, typically with weak stats but strong lockdown effects, or 'Combo-control' where you hold your opponent's allies and supporting cards back long enough to finish them off with a single spell. This could also be done through a 'Mill' strategy where you force your opponent to run out of cards, thereby losing them the game without having to worry about damage at all!

  • Fireball begins as one of the weakest spells but can take out opponents by itself given that you have accumulated enough levels.

  • Dawn of Ashes does not influence your opponent's life directly but it can decrease the value of their cards by increasing the reserve cost which can force them to play at a speed slow enough for you to deal with their threats.

  • The Majestic Spirit has an overwhelming memory cost but is extremely difficult to remove and protects your champion from most harm while being able to provide steady damage.

  • Frostbind rarely ever does more than a 1-for-1 trade (With rare exceptions such as Cremation Ritual) but it can remove extremely high-value cards such as allies that buff, high-damage attacks, or sweeps.

Control is the most defensive of the archetypes due to their cards reaching highest value after accumulating resources.

Due to their slower playstyle, control decks often lose out to aggro as they struggle to keep their flood of damage in check. However, they excel and keeping midrange down as they have neither the power to overwhelm control early not the value that control gets late.

Hopefully this explanation will help you understand the speed of play that you should be aiming for your deck as well as inform your decisions on how you should be dealing with your opponent's decks. Have fun with your deck brewing and I hope to see a lot of exciting new decks here soon!

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