PoxNora Underdepths Beginner’s Guide



PoxNora Underdepths Beginner’s Guide by Konger

So you’ve decided to give in to your inner demon, and dive into the Underdepths, the land of ugly demons and big-breasted women.  First and foremost, the Underdepths is not an easy faction to pick up and play.  The Underdepths are all about heavy hitting melee champs in a game dominated by range.  You’ll be fighting an upwards battle at first,  but we do have the tools to counter our lack of range, and played well, UD can be a force to be reckoned with.  Hopefully this guide will give new players a jump start in that direction.

Who I Am:

I may not be the best UD player, or the most qualified to write a guide, but I’m qualified enough I think.  I have been playing Poxnora since November of 2007, I have played just about every faction at some point, but UD is the only one that I feel like I know inside out, every rune.   I’ve been active in the UD community since the Skeezick Rebellion expansion, through many nerfs and changes, and I’ve played an UD deck into the Top 100.  More importantly, no one else has stepped up!  Just keep in mind that this is one persons opinion, I tried to maintain unbiased judgments and taking other players experiences into account, but it’s unavoidable to make a guide not based on some preferences, and my own personal experiences.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

  • Post 1 – Introduction, Basic Tips, , The AP Game, Beckon 101, Designing Decks.
  • Post 2 – Advanced Tips, faction specific strategies, etc.
  • Post 3 – Runes Ranked
  • Post 4 – Undecided

GENERAL – UD TIPS and INFO:

Our Faction Bonus is as follows:

  • 15 UD Runes: Fury – Damage for controlled champions is increased by 2 for melee 1 for range.
  • 30 UD Runes: Greater Fury – Damage for controlled champions is increased by 4 for melee, 2 for range.

The Underdepths Shrine Bonus:

  • All enemy Champions in this Shrine’s deployment zone take 1 Fire damage each round.

We are granted one of the most powerful faction bonuses in the game, and it defines our entire playstyle, we don’t mess around, we deal damage.  We look for the most opportune times to make our move and catch our opponent by surprise with high damage attacks, and capitalize on our opponents mistakes by finishing off their champs as quick as possible.  Unfortunately for the sake of balance, having the best faction bonus, means we get stuck with one of the worst shrine bonus.  Our opponents will take 2 damage upon entering the zone around our fonts or shrine, really, the only time that becomes useful is for destealthing champs trying to capture the font.

Glossary: Here is the majority of the terms and acronyms you’ll need to know to understand what’s talked about in this thread.

  • Champ: Champion, a character based rune.
  • Sandbag: An ability that is deemed as unneeded, and exists simply to raise the champs cost.
  • CP: Champion Points (basically, Experience)
  • Build: A particular way to upgrade a champ. Which abilities were chosen for a champ.
  • HP: Hit Points.
  • BG: BattleGroup, your deck.
  • AoE: Area of Effect spell, a damaging spell that affects multiple tiles on the game board.
  • DoT: Damage over Time, an effect that damages champions for multiple turns.
  • Debuff: A negative attribute on a champ, usually one that limits it’s stats or abilities.
  • Mirror Match: Facing the same faction as your own.

Upgrading your Runes:
As you play matches, you will earn cp on runes that you have purchased.  Every 100 CP unlocks a level on champion runes, up to a maximum of level 3.  For each level you will be able to choose from one of the four available upgrades for your champion rune.  Make sure you look all of these over, in some cases a champ defining ability is an upgrade and you will need to level that champion as soon as possible to get the most from it.  You can level your runes in any lobby, so Single Player will probably be a good option for starting players.  You can also skip ahead if you have the funds, by purchasing tokens.

The AP Game:
AP is where it’s at in this game, and you need to pay close attention to it to really make it in this game, setting up your champs to make the most of ap available following turns and such.  You will generate as much ap per turn as your champion has speed.  So a 7 speed champ will generate 7 ap per turn.  Now on top of speed generated per turn, you need to be aware of your “AP reservoir.”  You can store as much ap as your champion has speed, +4.  Because of this, when you aren’t attacking or grabbing a font zone, you will generally want to leave 4 ap on your champions.  The reason for this is that it will keep the max amount of ap on your champs for when you need it.  Basically it keeps your champs at their max potential.

Attacks follow an “Attack Chain.” This means that the first attack will cost 3 ap, the following attack with cost 5 ap, and a third attack will cost 8 ap, and onwards.  Though note that some abilities can change this such as “Multi Attack.”  This means that Champs with 11 ap stored up can move 3 spaces, and make 2 attacks, or move 8 spaces and make an attack.

How to Beckon your Demons and Pull your Spiders:
There are a few tricks unique to UD that take some time to get used to.  One of the most important is “Beckon: Demon,” and “Pull Arthopod.”  Beckon: Demon is an ability on the Deep Elf Priestess, and Pull Arthopod is an ability on the Weaver for spider decks.  Both of these abilities function the same way, and It takes a bit of time to get it down right, however there is a method to the madness.  A beckoned/Pulled champ will always be sent to the square in the top-left corner of the Priestess/Weaver, if there is an obstruction there, such as another champ or impassable terrain, then the location travels to the top-right, followed by the bottom-left, and lastly the bottom-right.

2×2’s are a bit trickier, as you will see below, they will attempt to be transported to the squares in red first, in the numerical order listed, if that spot is blocked by terrain/objects, it will then try the green area, if that too is blocked it will follow the same order as for 1×1’s.

*thanks to mnrogar for the images!
This is very important to know for proper positioning of your Priestess/Weaver to get the most hits out of your Beckoned champion.  This is also important to understand in regards to your location.  If you are moving from the bottom of the map, engaging your opponent on the top, this will place your typical beckons right where you want them, in front of your priestess.  However if you are on the top of the map, moving down, your beckons will almost always happen behind your Priestess.  You’ll want to adjust accordingly, either blocking those back positions with your own champs, or allowing your Priestess enough left over AP to move out of the way after a beckon.

DECK BUILDING TIPS

There is no real set rule on how to build your deck, everyone has different play-styles, or different deck themes, etc.  But everyone needs to learn the rules before they learn how, and why, to effectively break them.  One of the most important things to keep in mind is a good ratio of champion runes.  You have 30 runes in your deck, and reveal rate for a ranked game is 4 runes at the start of the match, 2 runes per turn, and possibly more depending on Shrine Scry, and abilities.  You want to maintain a high champ ratio to make sure that you have a Champion rune in play as soon as possible to capture fonts.

Other things you want to consider when designing your deck, is looking out for synergy between runes overall, and also making sure that you cover all the bases.  There are all sorts of things to consider like Anti-Equip, Detection for Stealth, Off-damage Types, Initiative champ costs, different roles, counters to factions, etc that all need to be taken into account.  Some runes we have available are hard counters to specific strategies, things like Dark Pact and Demolish can counter specific factions, but be useless against others.  You can forgo detection, and not even miss it, but then come across a full stealth-themed deck and get demolished.  To a certain degree you have to pay attention to what factions are generally around your rank range, someone could be playing a deck in the meta specifically designed to counter what is more common in the top 25, but what you face in the bottom 2,000 ranks could be completely different.  We are limited to 30 runes, and there are things like Draw order to worry about, so you can see how no deck is rarely ever “finished.”  A deck can look great on paper, but you won’t notice it’s weaknesses until you run into them.

I will add more to this later, but the template before should get you started.

DECK TEMPLATE

This is just meant as a rough guide for new players on how they should set up their decks.  Obviously nothing is set in stone, and rules can be broken, but if you’re looking to get just a well-rounded deck to play with, this will serve as a good base to work off of.  Some runes are specifically listed since they are key runes to the faction, but for the most part I will just try to list the role you want to fill in that slot, and you can choose which rune to fit in that slot according to competitiveness or personal taste.  This is for a traditional, demon-heavy, mixed deck.  Arachnid and Fire themes will obviously be different.

CHAMPIONS (Generally want around 15-17 champions)

  1.  Grimlic
  2.  Demonologist (Bok Mistress or other magic damage if don’t have)
  3.  Demonologist (Bok Mistress or other magic damage if don’t have
  4.  Deep Elf Priestess
  5.  Deep Elf Priestess
  6.  Nefari Caverunner
  7.  Nefari Caverunner
  8.  Utility (flying champ)
  9.  Utility (flying champ)
  10.  Utility
  11.  Grunt (budget)
  12.  Grunt (budget)
  13.  Beater
  14.  Beater
  15.  Beater
  16.  Beater

SPELLS (Usually find that you want 8-11)

  1.  Retribution
  2.  Sacrifice
  3.  Sacrifice or Fading Recollection
  4.  Fireblast
  5.  Fireblast
  6.  Superiority or Maddening Echoes (depending on deck)
  7.  Price of Victory
  8.  *Wild Card*
  9.  *Wild Card*

EQUIPMENT (Equipment are pretty optional)

  1.  Demon Shield

RELIC (Tend to like a couple options here for contesting opposing fonts.)

  1.  Mark of the Sheoul
  2.  Griefbearer’s Fountain and/or Fire Ruby

Leaves 3 additional *Wildcard* runes that could really be put anywhere depending on what you think your deck needs.

CHAMPIONS EXPLAINED
Bout time we got down to it! This is the important stuff, there are SO many runes available right now after so many expansions, it’s hard for a new player to keep up with it all, and understand which champs are runnable for what, which are upgradable to which abilities, and which they should have in their deck.

I’m going to separate the Champions into several categories for the roles that they fill, here is a brief description:

HEROS – Heros are pretty self explanatory, they are extremely powerful champs that you can only run one of each in your deck, and can only be played in a Full Faction deck.  Grimlic is a must have in pretty much any UD deck, K’lzik is more relegated to spider-theme decks, but can play the role of a capable tank in most decks.

BEATERS – These are the champs that UD is known for.  The powerhouses.  The Heavy-Hitters, these are typically the cornerstones of every UD deck, and your strategy will usually revolve around getting these guys into melee range and do what they do best, DEAL DAMAGE.  The deterrent of this damage is usually a hefty price-tage, and these champs typically sit in the 80-90+ nora range.

GRUNTS – These are the cheaper champs you use to pad your numbers with.  Grunts normally run under 70 nora, they don’t make as big an impact, their hit points are typically lower.  They are used as a distraction, quick defense, or mostly just to slow down your opponent.  Thanks to Sacrifice, UD doesn’t have to rely on these as much as some other factions, and can generally run more costly champs, but it’s always a good idea to include some cheap champs in your deck.

SUPPORT – These are the runes you use to compliment your Beaters and Heros.  Their main role is to assist getting your heavy hitters into position to deal damage.  They don’t handle well on their own, but they are imperative in the grand scheme of things.  These are typically champs that have ways to generate nora, or “transport” champs to different spaces.

UTILITY – Utility champs are champs that fit multiple roles, they usually cost more than Grunts or Support, and they don’t deal as much damage as the Beaters, but they bring something else to the table, and/or can adapt to different situations.  They are the runes you would look for to enhance your particular play style, and to get advantages on certain maps, or against specific factions.  This is a loose description that will make more sense later, but typically these runes are counters to certain runes/factions.

I have implemented a rough rating method for quick indication of a champs viability. Keep in mind that this is largely subjective, this list is mainly meant as a rough guideline for new players to get an idea of which runes he should try first, and which are largely outdated.

Ratings Explained:

***** – 5 Stars means that rune is an Auto-Include in almost every deck, in some cases a 2x Auto Include. These are the defining runes of the UD faction.
**** – 4 Stars are very good runes, this will likely be the bulk of your deck.
*** – 3 Stars are runes that are decent, usually more situational. They are runnable, but most cases there is a better alternative out there, usually your wild card slot(s) or personal preference runes.
** – 2 Stars are poor runes, most likely situational and not worth a spot in a competitive deck. A few may have niches in trick decks.
* – 1 star is crap, shoeboxed, avoid like the plague, don’t waste your time.

Where ratings are equal, I try to order the champs from strongest (top) to weakest (bottom).

CHAMPIONS OF THE UNDERDEPTHS –

Here they are, listed in rough order of power from top to bottom:

–< HERO’S >–

Grimlic – *****
Grimlic is one of the best heros in the game, and one of the very few long ranged champs in UD, he’s a huge asset to any deck, a must have.
UPGRADES: He’s meant for damage, Fire Bomb 3 and Damage 2 (Regen 2 is viable)

Maxxarek – ****
Maxx is a solid Hero, but the nature of his design requires an experienced knowledge of game flow. He is a lot of up-front cost for a stationary champ. He’s also not going to start gaining you an advantage until you get several kills. Need to be very aware of this if you are going to play him.
UPGRADES: Regen 3 and Annihilate, for Beckon Bombs.

K’lzik – ***
K’lzik is quite the opposite, she’s a tank in a faction full of meaty tanks. She has potential to build up steam and really become a freight train, but it’s really something that doesn’t come about until the late game, and she requires quite a Nora investment, and ample support runes (Demon Shield, Dark Pact, Priestess, etc) to operate effectively, and unfortunately that hefty investment can still be pretty easily one-rounded.
UPGRADES: Always go with speed, then Surge in a spider deck or Multi in non-spider.

–< BEATERS >–
Vothsair Reaver– *****
Heavy hitting Arrow Eater champs have been the backbone of UD forever. Reaver is the current power-creeped iteration. He’s tanky, immune to range, heavy hitting, and creates a huge hurdle for your opponent.
UPGRADES: Hold the Line, Font Defender. Multi-Attack is coveted, but it simply doens’t offer the game-changing potential of these.

Deep Elf Fanatic– ****1/2
Aggressiveness is the name of the game here. Fanatic chases you down and makes you hurt. Pounce allows him to leap 4 spaces and maek a free attack, while Manic grants him an additional free attack at the end of every turn. CounterAttack gives him range-denial, while Provision gives him protection against melee along with +1 speed when equipped. Fanatic is the definition of UD.
UPGRADES: Can’t go wrong with any upgrade choices, but CounterAttack is pretty much a must, and Provision is runner up.

Bunny Lord – ****
Recently buffed, the Bunny Lord is an amazing rune with a lot of utility. He can be the cornerstone rune in a deck that includes Beasts and/or Elementals, or he can be run as a mobile beater with Swarm and a ranged AoE.UPGRADES: Intimidating is pretty much auto for the survivability it can grant on occasion. Camraderie is a must in Beast/Elemental decks, otherwise Lava Storm is great.

Sheoul Demon– ****
Still one of the best beaters thanks to being a 1×1 champ, with the survivability he gains through Fire Eater and Horrific Aura, and the cost effectiveness of Essence Drain, can’t really go wrong with him. Just be aware that you are paying for what you get.
UPGRADES: HA 2, and Flame Nova for Inhibited.

Needleclaw Imp – ****
The Needleclaws greatest asset is it’s price, it could almost be classified as a Grunt if it didn’t hit like an absolute truck. It’s weakness is it’s pitiful health. He’s optimal in small skirmishes early in the game where he can make use of CounterAttack and hopefully get a hit off first.
UPGRADES: CA: Melee, Execute.

Deep Elf Monk – ****
What sets the Monk apart is his massive threat-range. Thanks to Dodge/Arrow Throw, he can’t be poked with ranged champs, and with multi-2 and Pummel he can lay down 3 hits with 4ap for a combined 32 damage.
UPGRADES: Multi 1, 2

Soulbleeder – ****
One of my favorites, Soulbleeder is similiar to the Pit in being a powerhouse 2×2, but rather than some of the stats, Soulbleeder has more aggressive capabilities and tricks. The thing with Soulbleeder is that Impatient can either make him a monster, or get him killed off before he gets going. So he has some heavy drawbacks, especially on large maps.
UPGRADES: Life Siphon, Exertion.

Vothsair Ireguard – ****
Solid, well-rounded champ. Decent cost, Arrow Eater for shutting down pesky range, multi-attack and 1-2 range. His damage is slightly lower for a Beater, but he usually makes it up with Fury. 2×2 is a bit clunky as always.
UPGRADES: MA1 and either MA2 or Rampage.

Greater PitSpawn – ****
The Pimpspawn is a house. Highest damage in the game, ability to get 2 hits off for 6ap through Deathstrike, Absorb to prevent being one-rounded easily, and the ability of being so awesome he’ll make your opponent run for the hills. Comes with a massive pricetag, which makes him a gamble if you can’t recoup some of his costs before he gets killed, but great fun to use.
UPGRADES: Always Absorb, I recommend retreat for maneuverability, but Magic Resist isn’t horrible either.

Deep Elf Masochist – ***1/2
Basically a more efficient Gahlroon. Thrash gives her the opportunity to shut down all champs in close range at the cost of health, and man does she have a lot of health to spare. Once she gets down low, she turns into a damage machine. Only downside is Unequippable prevents her from utilizing many of the goodies in our arsenal like Demon Shield, BotS and Widowmaker.

Fire Giant – ***1/2
A bit of a departure from the others, he’s non-Demon, and 2×2, which normally spells death to any UD rune. However he comes equipped with both range-protection, and self ap gain. In a way it makes him a bargain deal since he’s only 80ish nora, and doesn’t require support runes. He actually bypasses a lot of UD’s typical weaknesses, but still doesn’t quite bring enough for the cost in the big picture.
UPGRADES: Absorb, and probably Unstoppable.

Ripdemon Alpha – ***1/2
Kind of like a more aggressive Pincushion, he unfortunately doesn’t make up for in power, what he lacks in efficiency. Does too little for too high of a cost.
UPGRADES: Damage Shield and either Health or Damage.

Pit Dragon – ***1/2
Pit dragon is all stats and no abilities, so you have to play him as such. He’ll need support through champs for equips, but can be devastating if you can get him in range.
UPGRADES: Magic/Fire Resistance

Gahlroon – ***
Sorely left behind from power-creep. Gahlroon was the original beater, but considering how he only gets powerful when at less than half health, and how easy it is to one-round champs in today’s game, he just doesn’t cut it.
UPGRADES: Nothing worth mentioning.

–< SUPPORT CHAMPS >–

Deep Elf Priestess – *****
Still the cornerstone support rune for the Underdepths. She can beckon a beater 5-7 spaces to a target, shatter equipment, debuff with poison lowering defense, poke from a distance with magic attack. She’s just an extremely versatile, multi-purpose support champ.
UPGRADES: Shatter, Poison or MA1

Imp Alchemist – ****
The flexibility of his potions, and their effectiveness with Grimlic in particular really give him the edge. Grants the best singular ap boosts, but on a longer cooldown. He’s somewhat interchangable with the Summoner depending on personal preference.UPGRADES: Contaminate, Grant Rage Pot.

Deep Elf Summoner: – ****
4ap on a 2 turn cooldown is still the most ap per turn. Pumping out the occasional Imp for grabbing fonts, or harassing your opponents can be pretty great also, allowing her to stay in the back.
UPGRADES: Imp 2, Damage.

Nefari Guardian – ****
Most defensive rune we have, his main use is Body Guarding key champs, taking all damage at a 50% rate. Pretty amazing for backing up your Beaters or Hero’s as they move forward, now at a reduced cost, he’s a pretty solid champ.
UPGRADES: 78 Nora, 9 speed, +6 hp’s.

Imp Familiar – ****
In the right deck built around him, the Familiar can be one of the best support runes in the game, but he is very limited on his own, and has very little early game power. Flame Charge allows for very strong power moves granting +2 fire damage even to low damage effects like Aura’s, Char’s, and Lava. Favor and Doom (with Sac) can be used to pay himself off.
UPGRADES: Flame Charge, Favor

Murk Demon: – ***1/2
Strictly a support champ for stealth decks. Murk Demon doesn’t bring a lot to the table, but he fills a key weakness in stealth decks by preventing stealthed champs from becoming revealed by damage such as Acidic Greeting, or Fester.
BUILDS: Definitely Speed, likely Evasive 3, or Poison if you want to debuff more.

Puppet Master: – ***
An interesting rune that fills many roles, but none of them particularly well. Offers excellent support to flying champs that aren’t limited by Lumbering, also offers a gimped form of cleanse, these abilities would lend him to the back of the ranks, but with Resonance, Tormented and decent base damage, he also has nice potential to dish out the pain, he just can’t take much himself.
UPGRADES: Relieve and Tormented.

Shadow Master: – ***
The Shadow Master offer some nice combat ability at an affordable price, unfortunately his support ability is the least efficient of the bunch. Cloak offers an AoE stealth to nearby champions, allowing them the mobility to sneak past opposing runes to different targets. Unfortunately the ability is on such a long cooldown, and is rather situational.
BUILDS: Definitely needs Cloak 2 since that’s what you’re running him for. Then either Stealth or Surge.

Undertortoise – **
The Undertortoise offers a different play style to UD, one that is concerned with keeping champs alive. His low speed more restricts him to a defensive role. Antagonize/Turtle allows him to shut down a close-range opposing rune for a turn, and Defender 3 grants good survivability to close range champs. Not a bad champ necessarily, just not designed to compliment UD’s playstyle.
BUILDS: Health 2 for sure, then either Unstoppable or Defense 1.

–< SUPPORT CHAMPS >–

Deep Elf Priestess – *****
Still the cornerstone support rune for the Underdepths. She can beckon a beater 5-7 spaces to a target, shatter equipment, debuff with poison lowering defense, poke from a distance with magic attack. She’s just an extremely versatile, multi-purpose support champ.
UPGRADES: Shatter, Poison or MA1

Imp Alchemist – ****
The flexibility of his potions, and their effectiveness with Grimlic in particular really give him the edge. Grants the best singular ap boosts, but on a longer cooldown. He’s somewhat interchangable with the Summoner depending on personal preference.UPGRADES: Contaminate, Grant Rage Pot.

Deep Elf Summoner: – ****
4ap on a 2 turn cooldown is still the most ap per turn. Pumping out the occasional Imp for grabbing fonts, or harassing your opponents can be pretty great also, allowing her to stay in the back.
UPGRADES: Imp 2, Damage.

Nefari Guardian – ****
Most defensive rune we have, his main use is Body Guarding key champs, taking all damage at a 50% rate. Pretty amazing for backing up your Beaters or Hero’s as they move forward, now at a reduced cost, he’s a pretty solid champ.
UPGRADES: 78 Nora, 9 speed, +6 hp’s.

Imp Familiar – ****
In the right deck built around him, the Familiar can be one of the best support runes in the game, but he is very limited on his own, and has very little early game power. Flame Charge allows for very strong power moves granting +2 fire damage even to low damage effects like Aura’s, Char’s, and Lava. Favor and Doom (with Sac) can be used to pay himself off.
UPGRADES: Flame Charge, Favor

Murk Demon: – ***1/2
Strictly a support champ for stealth decks. Murk Demon doesn’t bring a lot to the table, but he fills a key weakness in stealth decks by preventing stealthed champs from becoming revealed by damage such as Acidic Greeting, or Fester.
BUILDS: Definitely Speed, likely Evasive 3, or Poison if you want to debuff more.

Puppet Master: – ***
An interesting rune that fills many roles, but none of them particularly well. Offers excellent support to flying champs that aren’t limited by Lumbering, also offers a gimped form of cleanse, these abilities would lend him to the back of the ranks, but with Resonance, Tormented and decent base damage, he also has nice potential to dish out the pain, he just can’t take much himself.
UPGRADES: Relieve and Tormented.

Shadow Master: – ***
The Shadow Master offer some nice combat ability at an affordable price, unfortunately his support ability is the least efficient of the bunch. Cloak offers an AoE stealth to nearby champions, allowing them the mobility to sneak past opposing runes to different targets. Unfortunately the ability is on such a long cooldown, and is rather situational.
BUILDS: Definitely needs Cloak 2 since that’s what you’re running him for. Then either Stealth or Surge.

Undertortoise – **
The Undertortoise offers a different play style to UD, one that is concerned with keeping champs alive. His low speed more restricts him to a defensive role. Antagonize/Turtle allows him to shut down a close-range opposing rune for a turn, and Defender 3 grants good survivability to close range champs. Not a bad champ necessarily, just not designed to compliment UD’s playstyle.
BUILDS: Health 2 for sure, then either Unstoppable or Defense 1.

–< UTILITY CHAMPS >–

Pox Harbinger – *****
Harbingers in UD are probably better than any other faction, the UD bonus makes her a 15 damage, ranged champ, with flight and initiative. Simply amazing, unfortunately she’ll cost your eternal soul to get your hands on, auto-include if you are lucky enough to get your grubby hooves on one.
BUILDS:

Nefari Dragon – *****
The Dragon is a beast for the cost. You can run him cheap with Vulnerabilities, and he’s a freaking mobile cannon. Offers flight, good hit points, strong melee damage, and a devastating ranged attack. Only downside is that he’s not a demon, and thus loses out on Demon synergy. Still one of the most versatile and efficient runes you can run for 70-80 nora.
BUILDS:

Nefari Messenger – *****
We’re fortunate enough to have the best Diplomat in the game. Regeneration, Iniative, Drive, 1-3 magic damage, what more could you want? She packs it all, a must have in any UD deck. Great support, great damage, great survivability.
BUILDS:

Angel of Pain – ****1/2
One of our strongest range options now. She takes a bit to build up, generally you deploy her for the Battle Harden buff at the crucial moment, and several rounds later she has very potent range and damage to push forward with.
BUILDS:

Demon Lich – ****
Has many uses, magic damage, a counter to frost damage, and a very effective version of stun through Set Ablaze, making him a very flexible rune to have in your deck, with innumerable different build options. Downsides are he’s pretty squishy, and awkward range so it’s an advanced rune to utilize.
BUILDS:

Shadow Hunter – ***1/2
A fun stealthy hunter rune, unfortunately it now requires that he gets a hit off before Hunter activate, making him not as dependable as he used to be as a 2-shot assassin out the gate.
BUILDS:

Succubus – ****
Succubus brings a lot to the table, and she’s an amazing early game champ. Speed and flight grants her mobility, while Charm and Life Siphon give her staying power. Armed with a Demon Shield she can easily last an entire match, with Curse upgraded she’s a great harasser champ, amazing all-around, multi-purpose rune.
BUILDS:

Scorched Dwarf – ****
Kind of a clumsy, moderately expensive support champ that won’t do much more than sit at your shrine zone. Still, he’s nora generation, which is crucial in this game, and he can also repair your shrine and orb as the match goes on.
BUILDS:

Deep Elf Assassin – ****
Definitely a more advanced rune to use, she requires proper support and positioning to use. But when played carefully and effectively, against a deck without many destealth options, the Assassin can be devastating, systematically removing your opponents key champions one monster blow at a time.
BUILDS:

Trap Spider – ****
UD finally gets a form of champ control, and a very fun one at that. Trap Spider is great for messing up your opponents plans by Ensnaring a key champ on their turn. Has a very effective form of stealth with high Mobility, and nice damage and debuff through Poison after the fact, a great champ.
BUILDS:

Deep Elf Ritualist – ***
Was once a solid include for high magic damage, and a replacement for Nef Messenger, the range nerf limiter her potency quite a bit.
BUILDS:

Incinerator – ****
A very solid option for a cheap grunt, that also packs a powerful ranged attack.
BUILDS:

Pox Doombringer – ***1/2
Ranged, flying, initiative with a DoT that isn’t fire. Kind of hard to debate it’s uses. Flying and Init are very often useful, but 2-4 range, and relatively low damage make him pretty expensive for what you are actually getting.
BUILDS:

Ember Wasp – ***1/2
The Wasp is a very fun, and effective rune. Much more devastating than Borghas, but it takes some fore planning. If you can sneak him in position of two champs, and drop a Fireblast/Fire Bomb on top of them, it’s one of our most successful, sneaky forms of causing mass damage.
BUILDS:

Bloodletter – ***1/2
Handy little champ, some respectable damage, but low survivability. Is currently our only source of healing demons outside of Life Siphon, also comes with a nice debuff. Can be a very effective champ, but requires a little babysitting to keep him in the game.
BUILDS:

Imp – ***1/2
The token UD Imp, skilled players will always be on the lookout in their log to see when you deploy this little pest. His best weapon is surprise, he can sneak up to grab unguarded fonts, or get killing blows against key champs and shrines.
BUILDS:

Nightmare – ****
With his substantial health pool, healing as he walks, potent ranged attack, and Initiative, Nightmare is a very versatile champ. He can hold his own in most fights, but the lava trail can be awkward in a non-fire deck.
BUILDS:

Nefari Fireslinger – ****
A high cost ranged champ that builds up over time, Fireslingers can be devastating, but you have to be cautious with them. They are fairly squishy. But an early game Fireslinger with proper tanks in front can become as much of a force as Grimlic.
BUILDS:

Rust Demon – ***
Straight-forward beater with a few added tools. Shatter is always handy, especially on a champ that’s not as kill on sight as the Deep Elf Priestess. Sunder is alright, but usually not worth the ap. This champ is probably best used as a compliment to K’lzik, using Damaging Aura to spawn spiders.

Lavaflow Devourer – ***
Basically a Fire Elemental, but with less damage output, unampable damage, and some abilities stuck on it making it less possible to run him efficiently. Not to mention he’s plain ugly. He does come upgradable to Fire Amp now though, which gives him some added purpose.
BUILDS:


–< SPELLS >–

Price of Victory – *****
Thanks to the advent of Avatars, this spells negative effects are less severe. It’s definitely an auto-include rune for various situations, giving you that few extra ap you need to finish off one or two champs, or to contest a font, while also boosting your armies health as an added bonus.

Retribution – *****
Retribution is pretty much a must-have for giving the flexibility to remove troublesome champs, like Hero’s and Titans, if you are in a jam.

Summon Trap Spider – *****
75 nora to forward deploy a 72 nora champ (sans upgrades) is crazy powerful. Unfortunately you can’t contest fonts with it immediately, but even setting up for a contest next turn, using him to trap ranged champs, getting instant support, or even just making your opponent sweat, this rune is invaluable.

Superiority – *****
While not seen as often in today’s mixed decks, Superiority is still our most powerful AoE. Regardless of how many races are in your deck I’d still try and include at least one of these spells, for it’s massive coverage and high, instant damage. In racial-themed decks, I’d definitely run two. Tip, make sure you pay attention to races of both your champs, and your opponent.

Fireblast – ****
Our most reliable, straightforward, pure damage spell. Respectable damage that can be amped, and also be used to heal fire eaters at the same time. Worth running at least one.

Maddening Echoes – ****
Interesting spell, more of a gamble really than Fireblast, but capable of MUCH more damage. Against a few targets it offers a little damage at lower price, if that opportunity pops up where there are 5 champs packed tight though, this [Removed for Content] can severely cripple them, it’s usually even worth running your own champ in there to bump the damage up to the 21-28 range, and count your losses since we can Sacrifice our champs after wards. I’ve turned quite a few matches around with a well placed Echoes.

Acrid Smoke – ****
Can be devastating in the early game, or when making strong pushes against factions with no form of Cleanse, can grant you a whole turn of damage, and give you a positional advantage. At it’s low cost it can also fill the pseudo-role of Maddening Echoes at just being budget damage.

Sacrifice – ****
A very nice spell to have available in your deck for the combo-potential it provides. Primarily, you are looking for situations where you have a champ that will undoubtedly die next turn, no way around it, the higher cost the better, Sac to get most of your losses back. But also, Sacrifice allows you the ability at any time to destroy a champ to get a burst of nora when it’s really needed for power combo’s, or to deploy a champ somewhere you really need him.

Erupt – ****
Neglected by a lot of players because of it’s high cost and unpredictable nature, Erupt can still be a huge asset to matches for it’s contesting capabilities (even against FW), and simply blocking your opponent, or slowing him down. In some maps you can even contest two fonts at once with the right draw. Again not too dependable, but occasionally a life saver.

Arachnid Frenzy – ****
An amazing spell for making tactical moves in an arachnid deck. Allows extreme mobility among spider champs through retreat and leap, as well as possibilities to deal some nice combo-damage when the opportunity arises that you see multiple champs a few squares apart. Great compliment to K’lzik, and spider decks in general.

Dark Pact – ****
Dark Pact is a key rune to have in today’s game, but it’s one that takes a skilled, and knowledgeable player to use effectively. When it works , it can be great for countering potentially game-changing spells like Essence Drain, Hammerstrike, and Devolve that often target key runes like Grimlic and K’lzik. The tricky part is knowing when to expect these spells.

Shatter – ****
While not too flashy, having the ability to disarm any champion at will, from range can change matches in subtle ways. An amazing tool to have in your arsenal to combat equips.

Mass Web – ***1/2
A must have rune in spider decks, Mass Web provides a great single-target damage, and champ control spell. The nature of the rune means it’s a late game equip, but it can really make a difference once you have an army of Arachnids built up. Conversely, it’s over-costed in the early game, or if you are losing and don’t have enough arachnids out.

Summon Borghas – ***1/2
Kind of pricey, but Borghas can offer some really nice surprise damage when you have the nora, and runes saved up. A powerful combo using things like Fireblast, Fire Bomb from Grimlic, or Lavastrike from a Fireslinger, etc, can be devastating to your opponent if he’s grouped up. Also has the side-benefit of contesting fonts which can be a gamebreaker some matches.

Grimlic’s Treachery – ***1/2
Our form of global stealth/damage, is somewhat awkward to use, but potentially very powerful in the right deck. Combo’s decently off of Grimlic’s mirror images and fire amp, but is very restrictive on your deck as it hits all non-Demons, and requires a decent amount of Demon Elfs in play.

Banish – ***1/2
A very handy spell, but since it’s likely you will only need it probably one out of every three matches, and it’s pretty expensive for only putting a rune on cooldown fora few turns, it’s not up there with the other standby spells. At the right times though, it can win you a match. For instance if your opponent has one champ contesting a font, rush in with a champ, Banish him, and the font is yours giving you a positional, and nora, advantage.

Scorch the Earth – ***1/2
Our only terrain control spell, great for limiting your opponents movement at key times, or for healing fire eaters. It’s held back by the fact that not all of our own champs can pass over it without getting hurt themselves, making it more situational. Typically straight damage is preferred with our strategy, but the cheapness of this spell can be useful for getting a quick positional advantage.

Shadow – ***1/2
A very fun spell to use, but since it has the drawback of stealthing your opponent as well, you have to make sure you are using it to your advantage. May require casting in tandem with another spell like Fireblast beforehand for char, or Superiority/Treachery afterwards. Has great synergy with the Trap Spider and Shadow Hunter, and really allows for some situational, tactical moves.

Demolish – ***
Ignored for many years, it’s finally be fixed to work as an AoE, so can target FW relics in their DMZ, it’s definitely more of a wildcard rune, but can really make the difference when you can instantly destroy a relic that your opponent was confident would hold a font zone.

Blood Exchange – ***
A counter strategy to simply Sacrificing, or using Retribution on a dying champ, Blood Exchange allows you to transfer the hit points from a less crucial champion to one of your more important ones, like a Hero, or expensive beater. Quite a lot of options available with this spell, unfortunately it’s a little more situational.

Befoul – ***
A spell that globally shuts down your opponents ability to cleanse. Have to say Wrath players have been asking for an ability like this for some time, but it’s hard to say if it’s really worth giving up a rune slot for. Could really give you some champ control options against usually pesky factions like KF/ST/IS that pack lots of cleanse. Would have to be paired with multiple Acrid Smokes to get the most out of it.

Shattered Nerves – **1/2
Can offer some nice surprise damage on a target champ. Best used when your opponent has some saved up ap, and you know he is going to use it all in combat, or moving a great distance the next turn, and it then sort of shuts the champ down for the next 2 rounds, but it’s not really enough dependable damage for the cost.

Demon Call – **1/2
With the recent change from 20 runes to 30 runes, this spell has become more of a respectable option to run. Drawn at the right time it could offer a huge advantage uncovering half of your deck, drawn at the wrong time at the end of your deck however, it is completely useless. As such, it’s a gamble to include, and has no ulterior use.

Animosity – **1/2
A pretty mediocre spell, does a little bit of everything, but nothing very well. Since it removes nora from your opponent, it effectively costs only about 27 nora. As such it can be nice for finishing off a champ at the end of a turn if it has less than 7 health left, a more cost effective option than using a full priced AoE. Otherwise it offers too little for most situations.

Late to Battle – **
Prohibits your opponent from sending reinforcements, or advancing for a few turns. Would only be helpful on a first turn draw, but then you wouldn’t be able to deploy a champ yourself. Can shut down KF’s initiative champs, but unfortunately it’s not a hidden effect. Borderline useless.

Protect the Nest – **
Takes too long for the eggs to start hatching, the eggs are only deployable back in your shrine zone, and it’s a very expensive spell just to boost one champs damage, and offer spot defense several turns down the line.

Darkness – **
Somewhat useful if you don’t run many champs, basically resets all your runes and cooldowns, which can save you if all your champs are on cooldown. Also good for making a rush against a known spell-spam faction since it flips all their cards over and they temporarily lose whatever they were saving up. Worthwhile in K’lzik decks that are pretty dependent on her, but probably overshadowed by the much cheaper Altar now.

Cauterize – **
Since every faction that can heal, also packs a form of cleanse, this spell is pretty pointless, and costs as much as an AoE. Don’t bother.

Hellfire – **
A far weaker, more expensive version of Fireblast, skip it.

Mindstorm – **
Decent single target damage, but too expensive, skip it.

Blood for Mortar – *
Since you’d have to sacrifice a champ with full hit points to get shrine health back, it’s not efficient, and is completely eclipsed by the Scorched Dwarf now.

–< EQUIPMENT >–

Demon Shield – ****1/2
Another defining rune, being a faction with very little range in a ranged dominated game, nothing is more important to us than leveling the playing field. Demon Shield makes your champion immune to all ranged attacks (Not just arrows) until it is removed. Incredibly powerful.

Widowmaker – ****
Nice for enforcing UD’s melee dominance, it can be great for surprising your opponent and finishing off a champ. It’s health limitation can be awkward to work around, and the cost is steep. In most cases you’ll find that an AoE could accomplish the same effect for the same price and possibly hit your opponent as well.

Arachnoblade – ***1/2
A nice trick equip for Arachnid decks, or possibly any deck that wants to put some quick meat out on the board. It comes with a high price tag, but when equipped on a decent ranged champ like the Goblin Archer, can really build up a quick army of spiders. Also works amazingly well as a negative equipment placed on your opponent, making him scared to attack lest he grant you champs.

Blade of the Snake – ***1/2
A pretty significant damage increase, also has the benefit of working as a negative equip to finish off a dying opponent. All for a reasonable cost, not a bad option.

Flameheart Pauldrons – ***1/2
A decent equip, not a horrible option for Fire Decks that want to run a few non-Fire Eaters in them. It’s still pretty inefficient to spend 30 nora just for marginal Amp and Eater, but can be worthwhile in the right deck.

Helm of Chaos – ***
Still a decent equipment with multiple uses, but it’s limited by it’s exorbitant cost in a time when every deck has anti-equip that would severely put you in the hole, nora-wise. Still effective for early game rushes, or for 1 or 2 turns of getting shots on the Shrine.

Sheoul Firebow – ***
Can be great for surprises, your opponent will never suspect a ranged attack from one of your melee champs, and on some champions it can cause some significant damage. Has some combo possibilities, but is limited by it’s 3 turn cooldown, high costs, and increased ap to use.

Sword of Shadows – ***
Not a bad equip, timed right it can provide a lot of extra meat up close to the battle, the ghosts are flying and have range 1-2, so they are pretty decent. Can also be used defensively as a relic that will again keep more meat up front when your champs die. Only negative is it’s high cost makes it a bit of a liability.

Hate Leech – **1/2
A newer equipment, grants Life Siphon to a champ at the cost of 6 health lost per turn. That sort of counters it’s usefulness, but equipped on a heavy hitter at an opportune time it can regen some life, you may need to shatter it with a DeP afterwards if there are no enemy champs around, for the most part the equip is awkward and inefficient.

Traitorous Helm – **
Again, this rune lost a lot of it’s usefulness with the ability of shrines to self heal when they turn into Avatars now. Really only useful for shutting down a champ when his shrine/Avatar is at low health, but not really worth the nora, or the rune slot in most cases.

Shield of Flame – **
Has a few uses, can help in a one on one, melee/melee confrontation, or for wreaking havoc on an Arrow Eater that is immune to range, or possibly putting it on your opponent so your fire eaters are healed when hitting him. Not really worth the cost, and situational.

Sheoul Brand – **
Only really runnable in a trick deck, or possibly in a Fire deck. The fact that you take 5 damage before gaining fire eater negates it’s use.

Scepter of Onus – **
Probably slightly better than the Blade of the Snake after it’s changes. Offers a decent melee, damage boost without the negative health drain. Can be helpful for getting killing blows with a beater champ, or for magnifying the damage of a Deep Elf Assassin. Too costly for what it does though.

Night Blade – *
Laughable, we have several equips that do the same thing, better.

–< RELICS >–

Mark of Sheoul – *****
Our Warbanner, it’s use is another rune that is hard to appreciate at first, since it’s benefits are hard to notice at first. But for only 20 nora, it globally buffs all of your champs with +5 hp, +2 Atk/Def, and by refunding nora costs on all your deployed champs, it pays for itself in a few turns, while still securing a font zone with a 20 hit point relic. Auto Include.

Fire Ruby – ****
At an AMAZINGLY low price, Fire Ruby is far and away the ultimate font contestor, high hit points, area damage, and a killer damage hit at the end of your opponents turn if he can’t drop it. Pay close attention to placement, try to drop it in a way that your opponent will be stuck either attacking your champ and taking the damage from the Ruby, leaving the font zone altogether, or going for the Ruby and leaving your champ untouched.

Orb of Protection – ***1/2
Less effective than the Obelisk at stunting your opponents range, the Orb has a smaller price tag which means it’s less of a tempo hit to play in the early game. It lowers the damage taken from both AoE’s and range by around 2-3, and with a Scorched Dwarf masoning it, can last through an entire match.

Temple of Brutality – ***
Can be an amazing relic that really enforces our melee power, unfortunately the relic is extremely awkward to work with since your opponent will invariably have melee champs of his own, and this relic works on your opponents turn first. This means you have to be VERY aware when you use it, making sure your opponent has no melee in range. You’ll likely have to build a deck around the relic using Stealth and Horrific Aura champs, an spells like Acrid Smoke.

Nefari Exchange – ***
Can be handy to have available for cheap font contests, and pocket heals, Clear can occasionally be very useful depending on the map, but usually it’s not a very cost-effective answer.

Globe of Deception – ***
Not as powerful as it could be, but does change the face of the board to your advantage. Can be useful at clutch time to get mass heals on wounded champs, or to deny your opponent some nora gain. Unfortunately in most cases the nora you lose yourself won’t be worth a few mediocre heals.

Nefari Torch – **1/2
Too expensive to get going, not worth sacrificing our own spell use to use, and is now even more obsolete with the new Avatar shrine health increase. Could work in a wildcard slot to make your opponent sweat if his Shrine/Avy are low on health.

Altar of Voteov – **1/2
Rune has unfortunately become pretty obsolete through changes in the game, the nerf to sac, and finally the rune cap increase to 30 have made this rune not really worth running other than as a cheap font contender, or in certain trick decks.

Mindslicer Obelisk – **
This rune has had so many ups and downs, unfortunately it’s back to being a crap rune. Paying nora to inhibit yourself nearly as much as your opponent is just not worth it in most decks.

Lava Trap – **
No where near as tactfully useful as other factions traps, not worth it.

A more and more common question popping up on the forums lately from new members is, “What UD Exo’s should I be trying to get first?” Well here is my list of the order of how necessary these runes are to playing UD:

1. Grimlic
2. Retribution
3. Nef Messenger
4. Greater Pitspawn *
5. Angel of Pain
6. Imp Alchemist (Replaced by Summoner)
7. Magma Elemental (Our most efficient tank, but spot is fillable)
8. Vothsair (Replaced by Pincushion, or any other Beater)
9. K’lzik (Soulbleeder, but irreplaceable outside of spider decks.)
10. Firemaw (Really only shines if you are running Alchemists, otherwise any other beater fits)
11. Demon Lich (Fits a unique role, but not one that is really required)
12. Bunny Lord, Shadow Hunter (Warogg, DE Assassin)
13. DE Fanatic (Replaceable by any other champ in the faction nearly)

This list is debatable of course, but I think it’s pretty spot on for the most part.  The first 5 champs listed are pretty much one of a kind runes, these champs fulfill roles that no other lone rune can do. Ideally you’d have 1x of each.   For the other Exo/LE/Leg runes, I listed the non-exo champs that can more or less fill their role in a deck.

Another common question is simply looking for an example of a fairly solid deck WITHOUT any Exo’s included.  This is helpful for new players just building up a collection from uncommons and Rares:

Example Exo-less Deck:

CHAMPS (16):

Bok Warden
Corrupted Cultist
Deep Elf Assassin
Deep Elf Summoner
Deep Elf Summoner or Priestess
Nefari Guardian
Warogg
Warogg
Hook Fiend
Hook Fiend
Nefari Fireslinger
Pincushion
Pincushion
Scorched Dwarf
Scorched Dwarf
Soulbleeder or Pit Dragon

SPELLS (10):

Acrid Smoke
Price of Victory
Price of Victory
Fireblast
Maddening Echoes
Sacrifice
Shatter
Superiority
Superiority
Summon Trap Spider

RELICS (2):

Fire Ruby
Orb of Protection

EQUIPMENT (2):

Demon Shield
Widowmaker

This is a pretty straight-forward deck that is designed to cover your bases, has all the standby runes, and key wildcard runes.  It’s set up to mostly take advantage of the old-school Demon theme, since that was UD’s strongest synergy before the last several expansion of Exotics.  The benefit of running mostly demons is that you can take advantage of Superiority (our best spell,) and other goodies.  Several support champs, and pseudo support champs, along with the aggressive Waroggs, and a few Heavy Hitters in Soul Bleeder or Assassin.  Pincushion and Orb of Protection (healed by Dwarfs) will slow down ranged opposition, Fire Ruby for contesting fonts, Bok Warden is there for detect and flying, Cultist is a must have for countering resists, and finally Fireslinger is there for a range option, sort of your mini-Grimlic.

You can also quite easily put together a non-Exo fire deck that would be pretty capable, I’ll add that soon.

TYPES OF UD DECKS:

There are actually quite a few different angles you can take for designing your deck, picking a theme usually helps with the synergy between your deck, and allow for power-turn combo’s.  Or sometimes themes are just fun to switch things up if you get bored of running a more traditional, mixed deck.  I’m going to list some of the more popular UD deck types below, with brief descriptions, key runes, and a mention of how competitive it is.

Mixed Deck:
The mixed deck is generally what you see the most of, there isn’t really a whole “theme” to it, it’s more of just taking each of our individual, strongest runes, and throwing them into a deck with a balanced ratio of everything.  Mixed Decks will simply take the most efficient beater champs, the most effective support champs, the strongest spells, and throw them together.  Generally Mixed decks are tweaked to have a counter to those decks that are most popular in your rank range.

Key Runes:
Generally these decks are just made up of all the best runes listed earlier in this guide.  Mixed decks are usually open to player preference, you’ll see less variety in designs the higher up the rank ladder you go.

Competitiveness:
Obviously this is our most competitive, and traditional deck, it’s what you’ll see the vast majority of UD players using.

Fire Deck:
Probably the second most popular deck in UD.  Fire Decks obviously play on the synergy of fire damage, boosting that damage, and fire eaters.  The main benefit is being able to heal your champions at the same time as you deal damage.  Laying down Lava for both board control, and healing.

Key Runes:
Quite a selection of fire-based runes, most popular ones are: Sheoul Demon, Fire Elemental, Firemaw, Grimlic, Summon Borghas, Fire Blast, Lavaflow Devourers, Fireslingers, Imp Familiar, Nightmare, Ember Wasp, Magma Elemental.

Competitiveness:
Fire decks are very competitive, I’ve seen many in the meta, though maybe not the top rankings as much.  Relying on one damage type can really inhibit your success if you run into a faction that has Fire Eaters or Immunity Fire champs, for this reason you always want to be sure to include some magic damage, and at least one Retribution, but somtimes it’s still not enough.  Fire Decks are generally a little more reliant on building up than traditional decks as well.

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