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Deck Tech: Burn
Written by Chikaplu
Created 10 August, 2023
Last updated 15 August, 2023
Grand Archive is a game that allows for very creative deckbuilding. In games with a similar style of deck building restrictions, a couple staple styles of decks develop - the main ones being Aggro, Combo, and Control. Most decks, in fact, fall somewhere within these three categories and often combine different facets of each to accomplish their win condition. All three of these deck types are well represented in GA, but for sake of brevity, let’s begin by focusing on one.
At their core, Aggro decks are very aggressive and attempt to win the game by “going under” their opponents gameplan. This essentially means you attempt to end a game before your opponent can stabilize and achieve their late-game win condition. These decks are strongest in the first couple of turns of the game and tend to run out of steam in longer matches. The prime example of this archetype in GA is Fire Zander Burn - and that’s exactly the deck we’ll break down in this article.
Defining Your Win Condition
Understanding how your deck wins a game is a very basic concept, but definitely not one to be overlooked. Like I mentioned before, Aggro decks win by going under their opponent’s gameplan and Burn is no different. Simply put, you want to deal lethal damage to your opponent’s champion as fast as possible. This doesn’t always mean to play all the cards you can as fast as you can - you still have to manage your resources in order to not run out of steam too quickly.
I know my win condition, how do I go about achieving it?
In this deck, we want to be dealing damage. A lot of it. We want to focus on playing cards that maximize our ability to do this. Without a summoning sickness mechanic in this game, or a proper blocking mechanic, Ally cards become a very efficient way to put damage into your opponent. The actual initial output of damage tends to be lower, but the added benefit of allies comes in the fact that their damage can very easily be modified, and if they stick on the board for more than a turn it starts to add up really fast.
In addition to ally damage every turn, our champion gets to attack once each turn and oftentimes these attacks are incredibly efficient when looking at cost vs damage output. Since we are effectively limited to playing one of these cards per turn due to resting our champion as a part of the cost, the attack actions we play take up a significantly smaller portion of the deck.
The final cards we play are things that deal specifically non-attack damage. Most defensive tools that combat this deck are the ones that prevent attack damage. Cards like Deflecting Edge, Shroud in Mist, etc, are very effective at preventing the damage from ally and champion alike. These cards don’t protect from direct spell damage though, so we get to make use of a couple very efficient cards in order to pressure the opponent from all angles. Plus, in matches against other ally decks, these cards can be used to eliminate your opponent’s ally cards before they can attack yours.
Something that I have started to keep very close track of is the efficiency at which my cards can output the damage required to win a game. For example, a card like Mark the Target has a reserve cost of one, and deals one damage. This is the baseline for how efficient I want my cards to be. If a card does not at least trade evenly in terms of resources for damage, there had better be a really good reason.
With all that in mind, let’s take a look at the list.
Burn Material Deck
The Champion Lineup
Fire is by far the best element to go fast. This gives you access to key cards like Rending Flames and incredible allies like Arthur. There is no reason to pick water or wind for a deck like this. Zander, Prepared Scout is great mostly for getting yourself the assassin class bonus on many of your cards. The on enter effect can also be a nice consistency tool. We play Tristan over Zander level 2 because of the marginally more useful passive effect. You will rarely use her but sometimes the extra preparation counter is what you need to close a game out.
Grand Crusader’s Ring is an auto-include. You don’t always need it, but sometimes the extra card is the one you need to win the game. Orb of Regret is standard when you have the space, it lets you replace some tools you no longer need in exchange for some new cards in the deck. Orb of Choking fumes is quickly becoming one of my favorites in the deck, this card is incredible at buying extra time - especially against combo decks. Safeguard Amulet is another situationally useful card that can help protect you from a turn against some spell decks. This is the most flexible spot in the Material Deck.
Our 3 weapons are useful in different scenarios so let’s break each one down. Assassin’s Ripper is great when going for a killshot. Combining its bonus damage effect with Rending Flames lets you hit for a brutal 12 damage. Sword of Seeking and Excalibur function in the exact same role - they are 0 cost weapons that allow you to get use out of both Blazing Throw and Inspiring Call, without also needing to commit to using resources on an attack action.
Poisoned Dagger is THE reason to play this deck. Combined with a swarm of cheap Allies, this is the tool that pushes for insane damage. With a good enough hand, you will get this before leveling up to take advantage of its class bonus on the following turn. Poisoned Coating Oil is a niche tool that just allows you to push for extra damage. A lot of units in the main deck have stealth built in, so giving them a small buff could be the difference between winning a game and giving your opponent an additional turn.
Burn Main Deck
THE LITTLE GUYS
4 Woodland Squirrels, 4 Hasty Messenger, 4 Honorable Vanguard, 4 Kingdom Informant, 2 Clumsy Apprentice
In this deck, the vast majority of damage we have comes in the form of attack damage from allies. I choose to run as many two cost Ally cards as possible, making them a very cheap and expendable source of damage. The damage really starts to ramp up when you combine the little guys with any of the buff tools we have available in the deck. Most of these cards fulfill the same purpose, with each one having its own perk as to why it has been chosen over some other options.
Since I want to keep the strategy low to the ground, I have to be very selective on which more expensive Ally cards I choose to play. In this instance all of them are incredibly powerful.
4 Gildas, Chronicler of Aesa
Gildas, Chronicler of Aesa is an instant threat and can start swinging very hard very fast. Figuring out how to activate balance on consecutive turns can be a little difficult, but once you master that aspect you will absolutely love the pressure that she outputs. I choose to play the four Woodland Squirrels mostly to help smooth out weird numbered hands for Balance.
4 Corhazi Courier
Corhazi Courier is a very versatile tool that Assassin has access to. She has stealth which just makes her a little more difficult to remove from the field, and once you activate her class bonus she helps deal extra damage, set up the graveyard for cards like Rending Flames, and continue to draw through the deck. She is especially devastating when combined with Poisoned Dagger, which allows her regular attack and the bonus ping damage to get boosted.
4 Blitz Mage
Blitz Mage needs no introduction, she is a great source of instant damage and also acts as a pseudo-blocker of sorts. Because of how much pressure she puts on (especially combined with Arthur) opponents will instantly feel the need to deal with her - often with a small attack or a small burn spell. Either way, she hit the field, dealt a bunch of damage, and ate a card from the opponent’s hand. Even when she dies, being a Fire element card means you can use her for Rending Flames later.
4 Arthur, Young Heir
Arthur, Young Heir is absolutely the bread and butter of any Ally-based aggro deck. Combined with all of the one power attackers, Arthur starts to let those cards output damage at an alarming rate. He also provides the same defensive value as Blitz Mage - where your opponent will prioritize removing him from the field if they can. Something that feels slightly awkward playing a lot of Ally cards in this game is trying to use them when you go first. With no attack target on your opponent’s board, playing down any Ally can feel like a waste. However, Arthur’s On Enter effect will protect him from being killed on your opponent’s first turn, meaning he will just about always stick around to do a turn of buffing.
I don’t play a lot of attack actions in this deck due to the limits I mentioned earlier. You only get to use one per turn, and if you’re trying to end the game in three turns you only ever have the opportunity to play three anyway. The “one a turn” limit comes at a very high upside, however, which is that these attacks are remarkably efficient and really help expedite your gameplan.
4 Rending Flames
Rending Flames is one of the most powerful cards in the entire game and combines expertly with Assassin’s Ripper. Unanswered, these two cards will combine for a total of 12 damage at just a cost of three. Ouch. Keep in mind that this card is susceptible to certain defense cards like Veiling Breeze, Deflecting Edge, and Nullifying Lantern - so look for an opportunity when your opponent has overextended and may not be able to play these cards. Even without Ripper, this card can be played to incredibly high value with any weapon. Maximum force at the most critical moment, indeed
4 Ignited Stab
Ignited Stab, while less powerful, is also significantly cheaper. With just a cost of one, and plenty of preparation counters to spare, the four damage out of nowhere can be quite surprising. This attack works very well alongside cards like Inspiring Call because of how cheap it is to play. Since it also requires no graveyard setup, this is the best early game attack, without a doubt.
THE BURN SPELLS
4x Mark the Target, 4x Planted Explosives, 4x Spark Alight, 2x Blazing Throw
To round out the damage sources, I choose to also play a small amount of cards that specifically don’t deal attack damage. I like having these cards as options due to the defensive tools that specifically counter attack damage. This gives the deck the option to continue to push for damage even through ample defense.
Another prime reason to play these cards (namely the four-ofs) is because they are spells that deal damage at fast speed. This can be absolutely essential to remove opposing allies off the board, which your opponent is more than likely to use to clear your board. It also is very good at removing units with Intercept off the board before you attempt to attack with your allies. Two damage is a great breakpoint for the cheaper units, and the prepared four damage from Planted Explosives is great at removing pesky cards like Frostsworn Paladin. If you aren’t up against a deck with many allies, these also can all go directly into the champion.
Being fast also allows the deck to have great built in answers to barrier-type cards. Especially with Spark Alight, the damage from which is unpreventable, if your opponent tries to catch a big hit with a Water Barrier or Spellshield: Arcane, you can wait until the shield finishes resolving and then activate one of these cards which will effectively break the shield before it can defend from your large attack.
The one that doesn’t fit in with the others is Blazing Throw, which is simply used to deal massive damage with weapons that have been left on the field. Oftentimes, you will Materialize a Sword of Seeking early on to make use of Inspiring Call and after you have attacked the sword ends up sitting on the field and not providing much value. At a miniscule cost of one, Blazing Throw lets you continue to get value out of a weapon that you have already attacked with.
A common line of play would be to Materialize Sword of Seeking, use Ignited Stab (prepared) with the sword for an instant five damage, then use Blazing Throw to sacrifice the sword and deal an additional four. At just one cost each, that still allows you to spend your turn playing other cards after having just dealt a whopping nine damage. That in itself is possible with just a four card hand, so your opponent may overextend assuming you don’t have a good response in hand.
4 Inspiring Call
The last couple of cards in the main deck are the only four that don’t deal direct damage themselves. Inspiring Call is a great tool, however, to let your board push for a significant amount of damage while also replacing itself in hand. The reduced cost by having attacked this turn is very easy to achieve simply by using a Sword of Seeking. This gets exponentially more powerful when combined with the above combo. With all the buffs combined, your simple one-power allies can be swinging for four each - and that’s even before considering other cards in your hand. This is why I still choose to play this card when it doesn’t have direct damage payoff.
Tips and Tricks
So now you have the list, let’s look at some important things to remember when starting to play this deck
Keep track of your resources. With everything in the deck being so cheap, it can be easy to feel like you should play out every hand as much as possible. This is NOT the case. Dealing exact lethal damage in this game is the same thing as dealing over lethal. Don’t overextend for a couple extra points of damage.
Really consider your materializations. With games tending to take only three turns, there aren’t a lot of opportunities to materialize cards. Each one is very important, and you should really contemplate which card synergizes with your hand the best.
This is NOT a combo deck. Rather than trying to deal as much damage as possible using a flashy combination of cards, let the game plan be more free-flowing. Play cards as you need them, give yourself options to react to your opponent’s game. Try not to focus on using specific cards to win, and let the whole deck work together.
Playing Ally cards going first is bait. If you go first, the only Ally that should hit the board is Arthur. Unless you are looking at a hand with a lot of class bonuses and need to level up next turn, don’t allow your cards to get you no value.
Get as much use out of Fast spells as possible. Fast spells are incredibly versatile, and when used right can be remarkably powerful. Remember how the effects stack works and use it to your advantage. Sneak damage in before a defense card resolves, use unpreventable damage to destroy shields and barriers. Play cards before recollection so you can get use of their effects practically for free. Mastering card speeds is a big piece of this deck.
Learn to count. No really - a lot of times with this deck you are pushing to deal an exact amount of damage to win, or being very specific about card management to maintain Balance on Gildas. Being able to do this efficiently is key to playing this deck.
LORRAINE - VERY UNFAVORABLE
While still a bad matchup, Fire Lorraine is the closest to even of the three. Her cleave turn will absolutely devastate your resources while netting her a bunch of draws. You have the advantage of being able to output a lot of damage very fast, and sometimes that on its own can be enough to win.
Wind Lorraine (Crux)
The worst of the three variants to see. Their Allies have a lot of health making them hard to clear, they have some of the strongest defense in the game in Veiling Breeze, and they still have the threat of cleaving over your board. You can play some sideboard cards like Varuck in order to deal with the defense, but it is still very hard to protect your guys from the cleave.
Landing somewhere in between the previous two, this also has access to powerful defense that seems to specifically counter your strategy. Luckily for us in this matchup, her best defense tool (Shroud in Mist) and her cleave (Tidal Sweep) are both very expensive. You may have the opportunity to sneak in lethal damage before she finds all the pieces she needs to win.
Wind Lorraine (Humans)
This matchup is tricky. Both decks are essentially racing each other to the finish line mostly using the same means - ally damage. There are positives to being on either side of this matchup, while you have more access to fast speed removal for their most powerful allies, a well timed veiling breeze could be devastating.
Similar to most other Erupting Rhapsody decks, your deck operates in a much faster manner than theirs does. Unlike most other Rhapsody decks, this one gets access to Flame Sweep with Lorraine level 2. You'll have to navigate this matchup a little more thoughtfully than other erupting variants, but Burn definitely has the ability to get lethal damage in before they have a chance to clear your board.
RAI - VERY FAVORABLE
Fire Arcane Rai
The scariest of the three elements of Rai to see, this deck does have the capacity to race against you, but they have to draw very well in order to win the game before you. The combo variants don’t play a lot of removal tools and so our Allies tend to stick on the board longer in this matchup.
Wind Arcane Rai
Lacking the ability to capitalize on the best defensive tools Wind has access to, this matchup is very easy to win. You have the ability to race them to lethal damage far better than they have responses to. On top of that, they still need to draw perfectly to even have a chance.
Water Arcane Rai
Boasting a couple better suited defensive tools like Shroud in Mist and Revitalising Cleanse, this deck has some tools that can be frustrating to play against, but by and large you should still outpace them considerably and finish them off before they even level up all the way.
Pretty close to even, a lot of this matchup comes down to who went first. With cards like Increasing Danger in their arsenal, they do have the potential to threaten a big kill a turn before us. However, we are also incredibly fast, and we have the added benefit of being able to deal a lot of damage on the first turn of the game, if we went second. Depends on the draws a lot, but still slightly favored.
ZANDER - VERY FAVORABLE
Fire Zander (Luxem)
You go too fast for this deck to be able to match your output. The added bonus of not playing the Luxem cards lets your game plan develop smoother. You should win this matchup with ease.
Fire Zander (Burn)
The mirror, this is a weird one. You want to be able to focus your strong attacks into the opposing champion while using spells to kill off opposing allies, but your opponent has the capacity to do the exact same thing. If you are worried about the mirror you can sideboard Zander Level 2, Curved Dagger, and Flame Sweeps to help clear their board before they can kill you.
You should simply be able to overpower them before they can establish any real amount of pressure. They simply lack the tools and the draw power to be able to keep up.
If they can get to the late game, they will run you out of gas. Problem is, getting to the late game is almost impossible against the amount of pressure you can exert. Be careful to watch your resources especially closely in this matchup, but doing so should still net you wins most of the time.
SILVIE - FAVORABLE
Similar to Erupting Rai, this is close to an even matchup but oftentimes your Allies being a bit lower to the ground net you a small advantage. On top of that, Erupting decks won’t play a Lantern against you so your Rending Flames should just about always be live.
The scariest of the three, this deck has the capacity to use Bestial Frenzy on a Tempest Silverback and clear your whole board. On top of that, a well timed Cry for Help can be absolutely devastating against our powerful attacks. They still lack a lot of draw power and consistency to be able to use these tools every game, and because of that you are still favored. But definitely keep an eye out for those fast cards.
Just too slow to compete with you. They don’t have the tools to be able to keep up with your pressure, and they have to reach the end game to have a chance, and they’ll never be playing the game for as many turns as they want to.
In conclusion, Burn is the most aggressive GA deck available at the moment. This list has performed very well for me and I believe it is pretty close to optimal, at least using just the cards from the first set. Thank you all so much for reading and I hope you stick around for the next one!