PoxNora Ironfist Deck Types Guide

PoxNora Ironfist Deck Types Guide by GreatBeard

The way I see it, Ironifst decks run a spectrum from aggressive to defensive. I’m dividing up deck types to make it easier to comprehend and label different decks, but in its most true nature, Ironfist decks are no more than a mix of aggressive and defensive elements. The trick is trying to find the balance between specialization (doing one job really well) and versatility (being able to play multiple roles). The most specialized decks are most effective in one area: either they have a great short game (aggro) or a great long game (phalanx), while versatile decks are able to play both, but not as effectively as the specialized versions. There is no one best deck and neither specialization or versatility is “better”. It is simply understanding your deck and suiting it to your playstyle.

Aggro Elements
Aggro elements focus on the short game. They want champs who can stand on their own because these decks arent planning to have large armies. They want to rush fonts and support the assault with runes that can immediately support a unit in the opponent’s font zone. Here are elements that make a deck more aggressive:
– 11 spd melee standalone champs [Renegade, Interrogator, Mogaslicer, Talgar, Piledriver, etc]
– Immediate protection and support [Hammer Strike, Desperate Heal, Impervious, Granite Bracers, Valor etc]

Defensive/Long-Term Elements
These runes are designed to get better the longer the game goes. The more units out, the more time the Ironfist player has to set up, the better these get, while they are least effective in the first couple turns. Here are elements that make a deck more defensive:
– Nora Generation [Deep Miners, Nora Mines]
– Champions that buff others [Dwarven King, Armorer, Barbarian Commander, Battle Matron, etc]
– Champions that debuff enemies [Dwarven Axe Guard, Ethereal Priestess, etc]
– Healers [Priest of Valdac, Battle Matron, Ethereal Priestess, etc]

Universal Support
There are some runes that are helpful in both aggressive and defensive decks, runes that provide a unique role that has nothing to do with deck speed. Here are some elements that dont depend on the tempo of your deck:
– Destealth [Unobstructed View, Houndmaster, Earthquake]
– Anti-Equipment [Disarm, Nightwatch, Ironfist Collector, Weaponsmith]
– Warbanner
– Spell Ward

Switch Hitters
Some runes are good in both aggressive and defensive decks, but actually perform differently in those decks. Some have a defensive or aggressive side to them depending on how you play or how you upgrade the rune, or which ability you want the rune for. They require some individual explanation:
-Barbarian Commander
[Aggro= 11 spd, block, enrage heavy hitter / Defensive= 9 spd, battlemaster support]
– Ironfist Minister
[Aggro= 11 spd, execute / Defensive= battle drum]
– Dwarven Catapult
[Aggro= fast rushes / Defensive= launching entire armies w/DKings]
– etc.

Deck Types
I am going to list a bunch of deck types and their basic strategies, from most aggressive to most defensive. I’m not listing whole decklists for 2 reasons, 1) It simply takes up too much room, and 2) All of these are variable. You can add deep miners and DKings to an aggressive deck to give it long game staying power, and theres nothing wrong with it so long as you understand why you are making the changes. Without further ado:

Balls-to-the-Wall (Aggro)
This is an all-out aggressive deck. No miners, no kings, no healers. No support runes like matrons, nothing that needs support like sharpshooters. This runs fast, tough, 11 spd units and supports them with DHeal, impervious, bracers, [Removed for Content] maybe valor. It helps to compromise enemy units with hammer strikes or sigils and wants to hit the enemy before they can get on their feet. However on large maps or if they cant stick the rush, this deck is in trouble.

King Aggro (Aggro / Versatile)
This deck is aggro at heart: 11 spd units and support, but makes room for 1-2 Dwarven Kings, 1-2 deep miners, and a dwarven catapult. This allows it to be competitive at all stages of the game, but it has the most tools to win early. One of our most competitive builds.

9 Speed Effeciency (Defensive / Versatile)
This is the deck that both Shazara and Revenancer ran when they switched to Ironfist, though the state of the faction is different now than in their 2 eras playing this (ghoulhunter, nightwatch, and crossbow nerfs especially). The purpose of this deck is to maximize your nora cost to hp ratio: that is, you want to have lots of beef on the field for as cheap as possible. Every unit except DKings should be at 9 spd and have 3 hp upgrades. Warbanner is a must. 2x Deep miners are a must. Catapult is highly recommended so you can have enough mobility, but it costs as much as a combat unit. This deck is low on spell support and high on units so it wants to play the mid to long game.

Phalanx (Defensive)
A phalanx, in its purest form, relies on def buffing that will, eventually, create an army of 40-60 def units that cannot be stopped by anything. The key to this strategy are the defense boosters, and many phalanxes run 2 armorers and 1 barb commander. Long game runes like nora generation and Dwarven Kings are best in this deck. Healers and support units like matron shine here as well, to make sure your units are well protected. However this deck has some serious holes: weak to the rush, low on spell support, and if other decks can beat its long game, this deck cannot fall back on a rush strategy. One solutoin to these problems is divine dispersal, allowing you to reset the board and start again.

Fast Phalanx (Defensive / Versatile)
This is to Phalanx what King Aggro is to aggressive decks: it provides a specialty with a little bit of versatility. This will probably run 1 commander and 1 armorer or dwarven defender, 2 miners (no mines), and a dwarven king, but the combat units will be able to stand on their own and some of the champ-based healing will be replaced by immediate healing like Desperate Heal. This allows the deck a stronger early game than a true phalanx in case the enemy hits too hard too early to allow the deck to set up properly.

Single Champion Buffing (Defensive)
This deck seeks to turn one champion into a monster through Battle Matron’s inspire and Armorer’s Enhance Armor. It generally uses champs that already have some unique defensive elements like Talgar, Battlemage, or Stone Dragon, or runes that are naturally versatile like Griffin Rider. Suit your buffed unit to the enemy and map at hand: against FW you want holy mace to help fight them and to keep cursed blades away. On FS map you might want Griffin Rider buffed for his mobility in the water areas, but dont use him against UD or he will be banished. Choosing the right unit is essential, but all of these strategies take lots of nora, time, and support units, and so I classify it as a defensive strategy since it takes awhile to win.

Chasm Killers (Combo)
This deck seeks to use Earthmovers’ “create chasm” ability with various Stone Bomb or knockback champions to instakill 1×1 units. If you are feeling particularly nasty you can use earthgod sigil to ground flyers so they can be chasmed, or to keep units from moving too far until you are ready to chasm them. These decks can vary from fast to slow, and are more about the combo than about tempo. This deck revolves around Earthmovers so protect them well.

Double Dispersal (Combo)
This deck is obnoxious… to your opponents. It runs 2x Divine Dispersal, and generally just wants to deploy some miners and wait while your opponent builds up troops. At the last minute, cast DD and they’ve lost half the nora they put into their units. Then when they build up again you can do it again. You should have a ton of nora saved at this point, to either create a phalanx with time to spare, or launch a huge rush. You can save one DD for a rush with impervious, and cast after you’ve contested your opponents’ font as well, so it can be aggressive or defensive in nature. BEWARE OF NORA DRAIN. That will wreck you.

Your Deck
The single biggest mistake I see is players who throw runes in their decks without understand why the rune needs to be there or what rune the role plays. Maybe someone said “this is a good rune” or they just liked a certain ability, but these create “Miscellaneous Decks” which will never be truly effective. You should know before the game starts whether you want to be aggressive or defensive, and whether you have the capability to switch roles mid-game or not.

I hope this guide helped, but ultimately the best way to learn is to pay attention. Which runes do you never seem to want to reveal? Which runes dont seem to do much on the field? Are you losing against fast opponents or slow opponents? What kind of games do you do best in, and how can you maximize that? Your ultimate goal is not winning: it is learning something new every game. If you ignore your win record and focus on simply improving your game your wins will come. If you lose, but learned something essential about your deck, it was a victory in the long-run. Eventually, wins will come.

Good luck, and see you on the battlefield!

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