Duelyst Swarm Abyssian Guide
Duelyst Swarm Abyssian Guide by alpha_century
Swarm Abyssian in the current meta? I know what you’re thinking, young Duelyst, Swarm Abyssian isn’t even IN the current meta. How can a deck that doesn’t run Kron have a place in the meta?
I’m going to let you into a little secret. Swarm is very much viable right now, and is in my opinion one of the top decks.
I’ve considered myself to have a Lilithe in my back pocket since the 1-draw change. Since Skorn was released, swarm has effectively fallen out of the meta, even though only a handful of decks even run him any more. It seems that the time is ripe for Lilithe Swarm to make a grand reappearance… Without further ado, here are the decklists, with the (necessary) explanation following.
I’ve played 10 games with this deck in Diamond and won 6. I fully believe this deck could be taken to S-rank and would get a similar win rate there. All for only 1200 spirit and with no epics or legendaries. Totally recommend trying this deck out if you’re a budget player.
- 2x Void Steal -> 2x Deathfire Crescendo
- 3x Sojourner -> 2x Rite of the Undervault
- 2x First Sword -> 2x Spectral Revenant
This is the deck I’ve been bringing to tournaments with good success, and also the one I play on ladder.
How to Play the Decks
These versions of the deck are very aggressive compared to popular swarm decks. We can ignore the opponents gameplan and focus on developing swarm, and then capitalize with an easy lethal if they cannot or choose not to deal with our swarm. We don’t have the greatest lategame, so we aim to win before turn 8 or 9, although the deck is capable of winning as early as turn 2. The gameplay for the full version of the deck is as follows:
- Spam out a whole ton of minions while controlling the board. You want to maximize the amount of bodies you can stick on the board. Try not to let his general kill your minions for free. Only trade minions if you have a Bloodmoon Priestess.
- If your opponent can’t deal with your swarm, hard search for your capitalization cards (Soulshatter Pact, Deathfire Crescendo, etc.). Two of these on the same turn lets you deal 5 damage per wraithling. Only trade your board in when you have lethal, or close to it.
- If your board gets cleared multiple times, your backup plan is Jax-Soulshatter or Spectral Revenant.
In general, you shouldn’t be afraid to dump a bunch of low cost minions and then refill with Rite of the Undervault. If you have a swarm but no capitalization cards, the best idea is usually just to develop more swarm instead of trading it in to clear the board.
The budget version plays very similarly, except with worse capitalization cards and no backup plan.
Lilithe in the Kron Meta
The thing about swarm is that it is very polarizing. Either your opponent has the answers, or they don’t, and that is going to be the deciding factor in many games. Under a skilled pilot, the deck has a great matchup against any deck not running AoE, and a bad matchup against a deck running AoE. We can often straight up ignore the opponent’s game plan – lots of games simply come down to if your opponent is running any answers to swarm or not.
The good news is that very few decks actually run any AoE. The main cards that shut down the swarm deck are: Grasp of Agony, Blistering Skorn, Plasma Storm, Tempest, and Frostburn. Notice how few of these cards are actually run in meta decks. Why would anyone run counters to swarm when swarm isn’t even in the current meta?
The three most powerful decks in my eyes are Kara, Vetruvian, and Reva, and none of these actually run any AoE at all. Lots of matches, especially against Vetruvian, just feel like free wins.
That’s why I’ve been bringing this deck to tournaments. If the opponent brings three deck lists, probably ~1 of them even runs answers to swarm. Most of the time, it gets you a great matchup for the first game, until they switch to the deck with answers.
The core of the deck is the low cost minions we want to be spamming. Some combination of the following will work depending on taste:
- Gloomchaser: Two bodies for the price of one. Fantastic turn 1 play as he threatens two mana tiles.
- Shiro Puppydragon: When we often have 5+ minions on the board, he can give a huge amount of stat points in buff. Turning 1/1s into 2/1s can help push damage. Also a great opener and good BBS synergy.
- Ephemeral Shroud: Ubiquitous dispel. Except in swarm, his body is actually relevant.
- Bloodtear Alchemist: 1 damage ping and an extra body for 1 mana. Can be played for either. Good at developing swarm while minimizing your opponents board.
- Blood Siren: Lets you use your swarm to trade while keeping your swarm alive. Also lets you hit the enemy general for free with your swarm if you’ve got nothing better to do. Great when it works.
- Primus Fist: Allows your 1/1s to trade into your opponents 3 health minions, and develops a relatively sticky body.
- Dreamgazer: Lets you play one more body than you normally could in the early game. Our health is often not relevant compared to the amount of swarm we have on board.
Outside of these, we run a few more cards to help us develop swarm:
- Wraithling Swarm: Puts lots of bodies on the board quickly. Not great value but it is key in pushing our win condition. Also enables crazy turn 1 plays going second, such as Dreamgazer -> Wraithling Swarm -> Shiro.
- Bloodmoon Priestess: One of the key cards which holds the deck together. Lets us trade our swarm into the enemy minions/general and generates a swarm of the same size or bigger. It can also be hard to deal with if completely surrounded, and it can win games if not dealt with.
- Jax Truesight: Works great for the cases where we lose our whole swarm to an AoE card. Drop Jax immediately after, and if they don’t have a second AoE we can win with our capitalization cards.
- Rite of the Undervault: Lets the deck play like a Fast Cass deck, dumping a bunch of 2-drops and then refilling our hand to win. Gives us a much stronger late game. Also can be used to search out a capitalization card to get lethal.
- Sojourner: Basically the best budget draw. Body sticks around, meaning our capitalization cards will always have another target to hit.
- Soulshatter Pact: Simple way to get +2 damage out of every body by the enemy general. Also the cheapest of the capitalization cards, so it works great in multiples. Also has the best synergy with Jax Truesight.
- Deathfire Crescendo: Objectively the best capitalization card. Gives +2 for every body, regardless of whether they can hit the enemy general, and can give even more damage if you can kill some enemy units too.
- Void Steal: Much more situational than the other capitalization cards, although has slightly higher potential damage and some added utility.
- Sabrespine Tiger: Gives added reach for lethal. Can be used on the same turn as capitalization cards, or the turn after if you are a few damage short from lethal.
- Spectral Revenant: When the swarm gameplan only gets you halfway to lethal, Spectral Revenant is the best game closer in the meta. Combo with Soulshatter Pact for style points. Could easily be run as a three-of.
- First Sword of Akrane: While there is no budget replacement for Spectral Revenant, First Sword is a huge lategame threat (think Archon Spellbinder) with the added utility of being half a Soulshatter Pact.
Combine this with Daemonic Lure as our only removal.
- Shadowdancer: Way too slow. A five mana card that requires you to either give up your whole swarm or have a Bloodmoon Priestess on board to get any effect from it. We want to be capitalizing on our swarm with lethal, not with a handful of pings, a heal, and a 4/4 in place of our swarm.
- Kelaino: We want to be the aggressor here, dropping a swarm that must be dealt with. Prolonging the game is not going to turn it in our favour, as our lategame is slightly lacking. Also suffers the same as Shadowdancer, where we don’t want to trade in our swarm for only a heal.
- Reaper of the Nine Memes, Vorpal Reaver: Too slow for what this deck is trying to do.
- Gor, Ritual Banishing: Again, these cards lean more towards a control build versus an aggressive build.
- Kron: Heh.
- Argeon: 60:40 depending what they run. As long as we play around Holy Immolation and kill their Azurite Lions, they have limited ways to deal with our swarm. If we use a Bloodmoon Priestess and trade into their early board, then we’re in great shape as they need a board presence to do anything. Always hold lures for Ironcliff Guardians in case they run them. If they run tempest for some reason then their matchup is going to be better, but still not unwinnable.
- Songhai: Around 55:45, although worse if they run a control variant with ghost lightnings. If they can deal with our early swarm, their damage output is high enough that we might not get a second chance to swarm the board. If they try to race us with damage while we have swarm, however, then we laugh and kill them in one turn with our capitalization cards. If you’re playing against the combo variant, don’t be afraid to go against the wall and surround yourself, so they have to kill your wraithlings before hitting you with the buffed up Tusk Boars.
- Vetruvian: 65:35. Vetruvian has no answers to a swarm unless they run Skorn. We just play Wraithling Swarms and Gloomchasers and BBS, and smile as they use Falcius to kill a Gloomchaser. We can deny dervish spawns by surrounding their obelysks, and killing Pax dervishes only gives more Priestess procs. Always save lure for Aymara/Nimbus, but if you have a lure, don’t be afraid to dispel their lower curve units like Pax, Allomancer, and obelysks.
- Cassyva: 40:60. They usually have enough pings to keep our swarm to a minimum, and if they run Grasp of Agony then we auto lose. Always have a dispel to deal with Kelaino and Juggernaut, and try to pressure them down before they can build up too much creep. Try to ensure the random Wraithling spawns do not land on creep tiles. Getting them low enough to kill with a Spectral Revenant is often the way to go.
- Magmar: 40:60. Lots of Magmar lists run Skorn or Plasma Storm. Plasma Storm we can counter by hitting a Bloodmoon Priestess with a Shiro buff, but if we don’t have that then its going to hurt. Your best option is to take advantage of the turn afterwards to reflood the board with Wraithlings or Jax, because they probably don’t have the second one. Skorn is always going to hurt. Also, Makantor Warbeast can also clear lots of your swarm if you don’t or can’t play around it. Vaath players often want to have their general in your face, so I try to abuse this by retreating and playing my swarm behind me so he can’t reach it. If he takes the bait and moves forward to punch my face then we can use double capitalization cards to hit him with a ton of damage or surprise lethal.
- Kara: 60:40. Kara decks suffer from a lack of AoE. Although they can often compete with your spam early game, if you can develop a swarm they have very few ways of interacting with your game plan. Unless you’re that one guy who runs 3x Skorn :( Always be mindful of the rainbow pony, and don’t expect your Bloodmoon Priestess to ever live a turn. If you’re afraid of the Sabrespine Tigers, then try to surround yourself with Wraithlings so that they can’t hit you with everything without killing some.
If you read all that, kudos. I’m impressed. Hopefully you learnt a little about the way I play swarm, and I encourage you to try it out yourself. If you have any questions, hit me up on reddit, discord, or in game.