Card Draw #9: Card Draw Engines
Card draw engines will be the final chapter in our card-drawing series for The Elder Scrolls Legends Card draw engines are cards that let you consistently draw more cards across multiple turns in the game. If you are wondering about why card draw is important in The Elder Scrolls Legends, and want to learn a few basics, please read up on Card Draw #1: The Basics, the First Draw and the Mulligans. If you want to learn how to improve card draw for a specific deck of a certain attribute or color, you can look at the reviews of the different attributes for further details:
- Card Draw #2: Card Draw Options in the (grey) Neutral Attribute
- #3: Card Draw Options in the (red) Strength Attribute
- #4: Card Draw Options in the (blue) Intelligence Attribute
- #5: Card Draw Options in the (yellow) Willpower Attribute
- #6: Card Draw Options in the (green) Agility Attribute
- #7: Card Draw Options in the (purple) Endurance Attribute
- #8: Multi-Color Card Draw Options
But now, let’s look at:
Why are Card Draw Engines Important?
Card draw engines can be particularly important in multiple situations:
You are running a combo deck, that requires a certain combination of cards to be in your hand. Having the combo on hand, will provide you with a strong win condition, e.g. a One-Turn Kill (OTK), maybe a two-turn kill, or a considerable advantage that your opponent won’t be able to recover from. In this case, you want to cycle through the cards in your deck as quickly as possible, to find the cards you need for your combo, in order to win the game.
Cycling Decks are a special category of decks that are constructed with the intention to draw your entire deck as quickly as possible. Technically speaking, one could consider them as being “combo-digging” as well, however, cycling decks rely very heavily on (almost) the entire deck being cycled through. The play-style of these decks feels very differently, than any “normal” deck, or even a combo-digging deck. The difference to combo-digging decks, is that cycling decks rely on the deck-cycling as their winning condition to pull off a combo, whereas combo-decks could still win games, even without the combo being played. We will be looking at a few examples of Cycling Decks further down below.
Gaining and sustaining board or lane control
You are running an aggro or midrange deck and want to ensure that you keep drawing enough cards, so that you can continue to control the board or a particular lane on the board. For this you need to consistently keep redrawing cards to keep an edge over your opponent, as he will naturally draw more cards from the runes you might be destroying as you are trying to get your opponent’s health to zero. In this case, you will need a cost efficient affordable (mini-) card draw engine that let’s you stay ahead.
Regain board or lane control from your opponent
Your opponent is about to gain control or has gained control over the board or a particular lane but they are not (yet) capable of going face and winning the game in the next 2-3 turns. In this case you want to draw a few more resources (=cards) to your hand to deal with your opponent’s threats on the board. Potentially, card draw engines might be too slow to help you achieve this goal. You should maybe not have given your opponent control over the board in the first place. There may be other individual cards that can be better suited to help you in returning from a losing position quickly (examples are area or lane removal cards). But TESL offers some card draw or tutors options for this purpose as well.
Card Draw Engines in The Elder Scrolls Legends
The 5-cost Dragonstar Rider draws you a card, when he equips an item. This Redguard can be very nice, if you have a support card, like Corsair’s Ship in place, which automatically equips a newly summoned creature with an item, but it can be a good card draw engine in item decks, or in combination with the red Plunder action. Also consider to use Item Tutors to help you in getting more items quickly.
The 5-cost Gristlehide Dreugh is a 3/5 Dreugh that draws a card when it takes damage. He can be considered as a mini card-draw engine in self-ping decks, if equipped with items that boost the health of Gristlehide Dreugh. It does not see a lot of play on the ladder though.
One of the most popular mini card-draw engines in the game is 4-cost Ash Berserker. He is a 4/3 rare Ash Creature from the Houses of Morrowind (HoW) expansion, and draws a card at the end of your turn, if you have a creature with 5 power or more in play. In a deck with lots of 5-power creatures, the Ash Beserker can turn into a very powerful draw engine. If you play an item like Sixth House Amulet, the Ash Beserker will gain a Ward and also trigger the card draw at the end of your turn.
The common 3-cost Blades Lookout is a 3/4 Nord from the Heroes of Skyrim (HoS) expansion. The Lookout draws a card whenever you summon a Dragon. It is a decent mini-draw engine in any Dragon deck, as long as you can protect the Blades Lookout so he can stay on board.
The 6-cost Summerset Orrery is a support card that has a maximum of 3 uses (like many other supports): when activated, it shuffles all Prophecy cards in your hand back into your deck and let’s you draw an equal amount of cards. It can be a bit of a card draw engine, if you are fishing for something in a Prophecy-heavy deck, yet the card is widely ignored and discarded in competitive play for it’s high cost and random effects. There is a one-turn kill combo deck with Arcaneum Librarian, but the decks are not really consistent. Maybe in the future we might see some additional use for this card.
Cicero The Betrayer
The 6-cost Cicero The Betrayer is a unique legendary 1/6 Imperial from The Fall of The Dark Brotherhood story expansion. Cicero bears the Lethal keyword and has a Slay ability allowing him to draw two cards, when he slays a creature. He can also attack your own creatures. Cicero can be a very powerful card-draw “mini-engine”, but he is also easily removed. If combined with the Brotherhood Sanctuary support, he can be used to even draw 4 cards per creature slayed.
The epic 10-cost Gravesinger is a 6/6 Imperial from The Fall of the Dark Brotherhood story expansion. On your following turn after he was played, he will summon the highest cost creature from your discard pile and give that creature charge. At the end of the turn, the creature is put on the bottom of your draw deck again. The Gravesinger is a very powerful card in combination with Skeletal Dragon, who provides a boost of +2/+2 to all creatures in the discard pile. Gravesinger is also a draw engine, and provides a lot of reach, as all summoned creatures gain the Charge attribute and can hence attack immediately. If the Gravesinger is not removed promptly by your opponent, you will likely be on good track to winning the game.
Disciple of Namira – Killing Creatures Makes Her Happy
Draw-Engine in Detail
The epic 5-cost Disciple of Namira is a 3/3 Imperial that allows you to draw a card, whenever a creature in the same lane is destroyed. Disciple of Namira is one of the strongest card draw engines in the game. Disciple of Namira is also a key ingredient of any Cycle Deck. The idea is basically to have some creatures in a particular lane, to then play Disciple of Namira and to allow those other creatures to keep fighting your opponent’s creatures to regain or sustain lane control.
Disciple of Namira works both with your own creatures, as well as those of your opponent. You might want to consider to put one or two guard creatures next to her, to avoid her being killed in one of your opponent’s next turns. In a lane with no opposing creatures, she can also be triggered by sacrificing one of your own creatures, when you have a full lane on your side of the board: for example, let’s say you have Namira alongside three other creatures in the field lane but your opponent has no opposing creatures. You can then hit for face with your creatures and play one or two additional (charge!!?) creatures from hand to trigger the Disciple’s card draw effect.
As Disciple of Namira requires your lane of the board to be rather full to survive and trigger consistently across multiple turns, you need to be very aware of your opponent’s lane removal cards, such as Unstoppable Rage or Dawn’s Wrath. Those can usually be played on turn 8, so consider to include cards in your deck, that increase the cost of your opponent’s actions or cards (like Withered Hand Cultist or Wraths of Sithis).
Disciple of Namira has great synergy with:
- Thieves Guild Fence that leverages the Disciples’ card draw engine, by reducing the costs of cards you draw to hand by 1, so that they can be played for less magicka. Thieves Guild Fence and Disciple of Namira are THE critical combo for any Cycling Deck.
- Necromancer’s Amulet which leverages the fact that you are fighting for board control and will be killing-off your own creatures in the process to provide you with health-gain.
Namira’s Shrine – Playing Cards to Draw one More
The rare 4-cost support Namira’s Shrine allows you to draw a card at the end of your turn, if you played three cards this turn. If you have multiple copies of the Shrine in play, this card draw engine can easily get you to a point where there’s no more cards to draw from your deck. Therefore, some decks like to combine the Shrine with Journey of Sovngarde, to recycle the discard pile into the draw deck again. The idea of the Shrine is to play cards that allow you to play more (cheap) cards, so that the draw effect is being triggered.
As Namira’s Shrine is a support card, it can be easily removed by any support removal cards, such as
- Edict of Azura in Spellsword (yellow Willpower and purple Endurance)
- Dushnik Yal Archer or Belligerent Giant in the red Strength Attribute
- Dismantle or Vicious Dreugh in the grey Neutral attribute, and
- Shadowfen Priest in purple Endurance.
Namira’ Shrine has great synergy with:
- in Archer: the Nord Firebrand package, i.e. Nord Firebrand, Raiding Party, Markath Bannermann, Thieves Guild Fence. Check out the Namira’s Party decklist created by acampbell11.
- in Warrior or House Redoran: Doomcrag Vampire which gives creatures in the same lane lethal and creatures with ping effects, such as Nord Firebrand, Sharpshooter Scout, Stormcloak Vanguard, Dushnik Yal Archer, or Grahtwood Ambusher. It also combines here very well with Disciple of Namira. Check out the Namira Doomcrag decklist from DaphneDuck.
- in Crusader or House Redoran: Ruin Archaeologist, Treasure Map which allow you to draw (another) copy of the Shrine. It also combines well with other Treasure Hunt cards, e.g. Aldora the Daring who can summon another card like a Skywag for you (check out Thuldir’s Namira Crusader decklist).
- in Neutral: Journey to Sovngarde to recycle your deck.
Card Draw Engines and Cycle Decks
Cycle Decks, like the Namira Doomcrag list, which combined both Namira’s Shrine and Disciple of Namira and strong synergy cards are nuts if they go off. Another perfect and very famous example of cycle decks is Petamax Abomination.
Petamax has been running this Scout deck very successfully on various occassions. It is not easy to navigate but basically works based on the combo Disciple of Namira / Thieves Guild Fence and Journey to Sovngarde synergy discussed above. The deck allows you to cycle through your entire deck by turn 10 or a bit later. Petamax has included many
- Prophecy cards,
- cheap card drawing cards, such as Dres Spy and Goblin Skulk, Thieves Guild Recruit, Shadow Shift, Scout Report (and many more), as well as
- Combo-Digging cards, such as Indoril Mastermind, Merchant’s Camel and Dres Spy.
The idea is basically to look for the combo and then cycle through your deck as quickly as possible and discard as many cards as possible with Disciple of Namira and three other cards in the same lane while reducing the cost of the other cards you are drawing with (one or two) Fences on board. Before you run out of cards, you need to recycle your discard pile with Journey to Sovngarde and will draw lots of +5/+5 creatures that allow you to get your opponent to zero health in just one turn.
Other players have also created variations of the deck:
See the deck in action on YouTube:
Justin Larson’s take on Petamax’s Abomination:
Warriors7 Deck Tech on Petamax Abomination:
Justin Larson’s – Reading is Bad For You
Justin Larson has created a House Telvanni deck with a similar idea like Petamax Abomination. The idea of the Disciple of “Namira/ Thieves Guild Fence”-cycle deck is to boost the Arcaneum Librarian for a one-turn kill. You can enjoy watching Justin cycling through his deck digging for the Librarian and boosting him to a 30/2 creature in the funny video below.
You can find a similar decklist here:
- Petamax v3 by Anicefloor