Syl, Duchess of Dementia is one of the few cards in Legends that changes the effect of a lane. When summoned, the unique 6-cost 7/6 Wood Elf turns a lane into Dementia. The Duchess has been gifted pretty good stats. But more interestingly: what exactly is Dementia?
In Dementia, at the start of each player’s turn, if they have the creature with the highest power in this lane, they deal 3 damage to their opponent.Dementia Lane Effect in The Elder Scrolls Legends
The Dementia Lane Effect
The Dementia lane effect provides an interesting beat down mechanic by dealing 3 damage to your opponent’s face. Unfortunately, however, this mechanic can work in both directions. While it can deal 3 damage to your opponent on your turn, it can also deal 3 damage to yourself on their turn.
A few things to know about the lane effect:
- it comes in addition to the lane effect of the Shadow Lane. In this case, both the Shadow Lane effect and the Dementia-effect apply to this lane.
- the lane remains Dementia, even if Syl is silenced or removed.
- the Dementia Lane effect does replace the Mania Lane effect and vice-versa.
- Summoning Syl to both lanes (e.g. by using a Doppelganger or A Night to Remember) will turn both of them into Dementia, causing a potential damage of 6 points per turn.
As a consequence, creatures in Dementia will have to fight each other for control over the lane, i.e. having the creature with the highest power value in it. Both players have an incentive to kill the highest power creature of their opponent, while keeping their own highest-power creature alive, ideally, at least until the start of their next turn.
Playing Successfully in Dementia
Let’s assume you play Syl on curve into an otherwise empty Field Lane. If your opponent fails to either remove Syl or cannot play a higher health creature, you will deal 3 damage to your opponent’s face. If your opponent does not oppose Syl in Dementia you will continue to deal 3 damage at the beginning of each of your turns. Be careful! When a rune breaks, your opponent might get the benefit of drawing a Piercing Javelin as a Prophecy to remove your 7-power creature in Dementia for free. But let’s assume Syl sticks, and investigate two cases: your opponent plays (A) a creature you can remove vs (B) a creature you cannot remove.
Let’s assume your opponent plays a 6/6 Death Hound to the Dementia field lane. You now have the option to trade into the Hound, killing both him and Syl. With your magicka, you can now play another high-power creature to restart the Dementia game. Your opponent must remove it or play a higher power creature to avoid the next 3 damage. Note, that you will need a continuous stream of higher power creatures to stay ahead. The player with more cards in hand and a slightly higher power curve should ideally be able to stay ahead. The fun changes, however, if your opponent removes your creature and plays a new highest-power creature in Dementia. Guess, Syl’s hammer just went the wrong way.
In this scenario, your opponent opposes Syl with a creature that she cannot remove. Let’s say an 8/8 Vigilant Giant. In this case, you can swing Syl into the Giant but you will also need a Charge creature, or another type of removal to get the Giant out of the way. Failing to do so, will allow your opponent to deal three damage to your face at the start of their next turn. This will be accompanied by the swing of that Giant.
Let’s conclude, that it is important to run cards providing an immediate impact to the board when you are fighting for control over the Dementia Lane.
You’ll be but another notch in my hammer!Syl, the Duchess of Dementia
Syl, Duchess of Dementia – Creating a Burning Platform during Opening
With a cost of 6, Syl can only be part of a late opening. The rest of your deck needs to control your opponent in the first turns. Since she is unique you cannot rely on her being in your hand by turn 6 or 7. It is much more likely that you will only draw her during later in the game.
Like any Duchess, Syl lets her minions fight for her during early battle. The Duchess obviously assumes, that the fighting isn’t over by then, and rightfully expects her minions to hold out during early game. However, her entry does leave a lasting impression on the game. Not only will Syl herself wreak havoc among her enemies. It even happens at an accelerated rate of +3 against her opponent’s face each turn. This will require the fighting for Dementia to become more intense, as both players attempt to harvest its’ fruits. But players need to be careful. Causing damage consistently causes their opponent’s runes to break and puts their board position at risk – at least to some degree.
Overall, another exciting lane mechanic that Isle of Madness is introducing to Legends. We will certainly see several decks over the next few weeks in an attempt to prosper in Dementia.
Syl, Duchess of Dementia at Parity
At Parity, where players are top-decking their cards, Syl can definitely help to gain an edge. When the board is empty, she puts your opponent onto a three-turn clock by herself and requires an immediate reaction. The probability for your opponent to draw a suitable creature to remove Syl is not particularly high, as her stats are superior to many creatures. From here, your opponent might wish to have included multiple more Prophecies into his deck…
The situation can be a little trickier when the board is a bit more crowded at Parity. In this case, playing Syl will require a careful consideration of the current board state and what trades are likely to occur after your turn is finished. Playing Syl to the Shadow Lane might give her a bit of cover but will leave your opponent in the driving seat to dictate trades in consecutive turns. Ideally, you can play Syl as you gain control over the field lane with at least one additional creature supporting the Duchess. It’s good to have a Gentleman by your side, right? Ideally, a Guard creature that prohibits your opponent to immediately trade into her.
But it’s not just the board state that needs to be considered. For example, what other removal options might your opponent be able to pull from their deck? Are there a lot of prophecies? Will a rune get broken at the start of your very next turn or only on the one thereafter? Things can certainly get a little bit more complicated and players should watch their turn timers.
Syl Turning a Partygirl when Winning
When you already have achieved a board situation that is putting your opponent on a two turn clock, Syl will just happily join the party and make things even more fun. In fact, if your dominating position is in one lane playing her into the other lane requires your opponent to deal with considerable pressure in both lanes. Pretty likely, they won’t be able to handle it…
Syl Making things worse when Losing!?
When you are losing and need a turnaround, Syl is not the best play. First of all, your opponent can still continue to swing all of his creatures against you and choose to ignore you. Secondly, the Dementia effect can easily backfire, if your opponent trades and retains control over the lane.
In a very exceptional case, she can maybe force a reaction, i.e. if your opponent is only at 3 health or below. But in the longer run, you might still struggle to clear the big debt of the 3 damage caused by the lane effect.
Syl, Duchess of Dementia is most likely not an awesome card when you are trying to come back into the game. Moreover, she will potentially be a bad card to play during this phase of the game, as your opponent might capture control over Dementia pretty easily. Maybe his trades can buy you a turn or two, particularly when he is forced to trade into Syl. But in the longer run the unavoidable Dementia might just cause your lights to go dark. I’m not sure to have ever seen a Legends card that could make things worse for oneself during Losing…!?
With this in mind, let’s look at Synergies. The Dementia Lane effect can certainly inspire some never before seen Legends deck ideas.
High Power Creatures & Need for Card Advantage
Dementia requires players to get a continuous stream of high power creatures into hand. Ideally, your deck should contain a lot of 5-power plus creatures alongside sufficient Card Draw to keep refilling your hand. Usually, this makes Syl a reasonable inclusion for House Dagoth decks, that can easily run a multitude of big 5-cost creatures and also provides plenty of options for card draw.
Alternatively (or additionally), tutors can help in keeping creatures with better power value coming your way more consistently. Creature Tutors, Discard Pile Tutors or Item Tutors can certainly do their magic to stay ahead in the “Dementia mini-game”. Talking about items – these might come in very handy when you are looking to do some favorable trades. With Crucible Blacksmith you now have a new tool to test.
Any card that helps to keep lane control will be particularly useful. Creatures having an impact like Icy Shambles or Charge creatures in general will be good supporters for Syl. In addition, a few of the other new Isle of Madness cards can support your fight as well: Tavyar the Knight can protect other creatures (except himself) from being targeted by actions and The Gatekeeper only allows attacks of one creature in it’s lane.
Good tools to keep lane control are also point-removal actions or Immolating Blast (at least while Syl is the only creature in it’s Lane). Harmony is another synergy card to reduce the power of all your opponent’s creatures. This should definitely allow you to tame their aspirations of regaining control over Dementia.
Tutoring Syl, Duchess of Dementia
Syl, the Duchess of Dementia is a unique legendary card. In herself, she is probably not a viable win-condition, but she can be part of an orchestration of 5-power-plus decks. Tutors like Laaneth, Genius Pathmage (with some magicka ramp), Chanter of Akatosh, or Altar of Despair can help to find Syl more regularly, but whether this will be enough to base a combo deck on her ability?! Maybe, when we look at the next option…
Relentless Raiders Dementia Burn
A possible option for a beat down approach is to leverage Syl together with multiple Relentless Raiders and/ or supports such as Stormcloak Camp or Gladiator Arena. In this scenario, you can get some crazy snowballing effects.
Let’s assume you have two Raiders, Syl on board with your opponent at 28 life. If your opponent does not remove anyone from the trio, you deal 5 damage at the start of your next turn, before your first creature can swing. Another 7+2+2 from the Syl swing and another 4+2+2 from the two Relentless Raiders swinging. 24 damage. With your opponent at 23 health, the trio is a lethal threat. Oh did, you have an Morthal Executioner on board at the start of the turn as well? An Orc Clan Captain? Divine Fervor? Smells like a new one-turn-kill option.
Of course, two Relentless Raiders is unrealistic. But try this with one Raider and an Orc Clan Captain from hand: Dementia 3 + Syl 8 + 2 rune breaks + 3 damage from the Raider swing + 1 additional Runebreak = 17 damage. With two 0-cost Firebrand from hand this goes up to 23 damage in a single turn… Welcome to Isle of Madness…
With a Stormcloak Camp or a Gladiator Arena your deck can be heavily control based and rely on these supports to get your opponent’s health down by the little bit you would need. Gladiator Arena certainly comes with a risk of damaging yourself, but in a Prophecy-heavy deck, this might actually help to get a stronger board presence. Your Prophecy Battlemage deck is potentially another home for Syl alone.
Wispmother and Relentless Raider have been a great OTK deck for a long time. You can find a lot of decklists running this combo here on legends-decks.com. Adding Syl into this combo deck archetype might actually allow you to still pull-off the OTK combo in the tragic event of your Wispmother being banished or otherwise removed.
Syl, Duchess of Dementia is certainly a solid card in the Isle of Madness expansion. A 7/6 body for 6 is something that requires an answer. Since the game designers have linked the Duchess of Dementia title to activating the Dementia lane 40 times, most serious Legends players will be encouraged to play her at one point in time. Building a deck around her as a win condition is not impossible, but probably we will see her a lot more in “5-power-plus”-Dagoth-beat down decks or in Aggro Battlemage or Aggro Warrior builds. If you are interested, get some inspiration on legends-decks, here, or start to build your own home-grown deck. See you in Dementia!