Doomcrag Warrior is one of the most feared tournament decks in TESL. Despite the deck’s high skill demand, many players try their luck at it. Doomcrag Warrior decks started out as a basic idea, but a group of two or three people fleshed this idea out. Doomcrag Warrior is a combo deck that requires immense skill and game knowledge to properly pilot.
The Deck Itself
Doomcrag Warrior is a deck built to cycle through itself, play Journey to Sovngarde, and win the game. Without this card, it is practically impossible for Doomcrag Warrior to win. However, what is it about the card that gives Doomcrag Warrior its name? Surprisingly, this card is not the most important card to the deck, but it is extremely helpful in almost all cases. Doomcrag Vampire is what allows Doomcrag Warrior to deal with large bodies and threats.
Covered in full later, less experienced players will tend to use banish cards on Doomcrag Vampire, but the real threat is Disciple of Namira. With Disciple of Namira, Doomcrag Warrior is able to cycle through cards much faster. Note that this card is only of epic rarity. Surprisingly, the most important card to the deck is one of the cheaper cards used within the deck.
Now don’t be fooled, though all Doomcrag Warrior decks have some resemblance in what cards they use, each one is a little different. These small differences can really reflect in the player’s ability to pilot the deck effectively. Some lists run more guards, while others run more “ping effects.”
Analyzing a Doomcrag Warrior Decklist
The decklist in image to right is a variant of Doomcrag Warrior run by plzdonhakme. plzdonhakme is a TESLegends pro, who won the Masters Series Finals in 2018. Doomcrag Warrior was one of the four decks he took to the tournament. This is a more current list, made shortly after the Frostspark Collection update for the game. plzdonhakme is greatly feared for his prowess with this archetype. I had the pleasure of having a discord-conversation with him about some card choices for his deck.
Extra details aside, let’s try to dissect this list with help from plzdonhakme himself. One of the first interesting choices in this list is the decision to only run one copy of Skaven Pyromancer. Most players prefer to run two copies of this card, “Doomcrag Skaven isn’t a good Dawn’s Wrath. The point of it is to have a lot of card recycling with Shrine and Disciple allowing you to Doomcrag and play a lot of things,” (plzdonhakme). To explain further, what plzdonhakme means here is that Skaven Pyromancer can’t be relied on as a way of getting bailed out of a rough situation. Besides that, Doomcrag Vampire needs to survive to keep a sort of combo going. Since the release of Isle of Madness, Tiny Dragon is certainly a great alternative.
Another interesting decision with plzdonhakme’s Doomcrag Warrior list, is his option to run more guard in place of other cards commonly found in Doomcrag Warrior decks, such as Indoril Mastermind and/or Merchant’s Camel. plzdonhakme responded that adding one or two copies of Indoril Mastermind would probably be good, but that having Camel is just not high enough tempo for the deck. The argument for running both of these cards has always been that they help do what the deck wants to do: mill itself, or run itself out of cards.
plzdonhakme clearly has very good reasons for why he has chosen some cards over others. So why are there more guards in his list than in others? These are filling the void where Indoril Mastermind or Merchant’s Camel would typically be. Another very thought-provoking decision is the inclusion of 3 copies of Tree Minder in plzdonhakme’s list.
Tree Minder is a card that most players opt to play only two copies of, but plzdonhakme has another valid reason for his decision. “[It] helps you reach your pivotal turns. Doomcrag needs you to play several cards on certain turns, rather than playing a couple cards every turn,” (plzdonhakme). Clearly this decision was very well thought out and tested.
The final strikingly interesting card choice in plzdonhakme’s list is a decision to only run one silence effect, to which he said the trick is finding a proper balance. Sometimes the extra versatility is great. Other times it’s not as great (plzdonhakme). With access to numerous different ping effects, the additional silence really doesn’t do much good, but in the same respect sometimes that silence is also what wins/loses games.
If you are interested in some other versions of the deck, here are a few additional options:
- Warriors7’s Doomcrag Warrior – the first Doomcrag Warrior deck featuring both “Namira draw engines” (Disciple of Namira and Namira’s Shrine) after the release of the Forgotten Hero Collection.
- BloodDrunk007’s Doomcrag Warrior was selected as a BWG Weekly Deck in early March ’19 and is tuned more for card draw over Guards, with the inclusion of Spider Workers and Cicero.
- Amazing Doomcrag by IGORFEZ replaces Journey to Sovngarde and Raiding Party with Flesh Atronach, Improvised Weapon plus Squish the Wimpy as its win condition.
Doomcrag Warrior in an Aggro Matchup
Understanding how/what Doomcrag Warrior decklists look like is all well and good, but how is the deck played? At its very core, Doomcrag Warrior is trying to cycle through itself, as was previously highlighted. But obviously that has to be done differently according to different matchups. Taking a look at each possible matchup would be literally impossible, so instead we’ll analyze how to navigate against specific archetypes.
Against Aggro decks, Doomcrag Warrior can struggle with speed. Most aggressive lists want to be winning by turn 5; Doomcrag Vampire is a 6-cost card. This simple fact alone proves the importance of having Tree Minder in the deck; without it, the deck would be much more difficult to play. Tree Minder isn’t always going to be there to save the day against aggressive decks, and sometimes neither will Doomcrag Vampire.
Both of these cards are very important against aggressive matchups, but what happens when they decide to sit out until later? Guards are the answer to this question. Guards and other bodies. plzdonhakme opts to run more guards in his list, to help when dealing with aggressive matchups. Against aggressive decks, stall until you can get your Doomcrag to be useful.
Doomcrag Warrior in the Control Matchup
Against control decks, everything is different. As Doomcrag Warrior against control, many things can go wrong. Be wary of silence and banish effects. With Piercing Twilight and Cast Into Time, Doomcrag Warrior is very weak against Tribunal. Tribunal has many ways of silencing, hard-countering, and banishing important pieces to the deck. Some even wait until the turn before Journey to play a copy of Memory Wraith and it’s game over.
When playing the control matchup, slow and steady pace wins the race. Wait until mana and cards in hand permit a turn of sacrificing creatures to trigger Disciple. Most of the creatures in Doomcrag Warrior are cheap enough that this won’t be a problem. Baiting out removal against skilled players will be almost impossible.
Doomcrag Warrior against Midrange
Against Midrange decks, be careful. Most midrange decks won’t be running banish effects, so that’s not an issue, but many do have some removal tools, and almost all midrange decks have some sort of silence effect. Play against midrange as if they are aggro. Midrange decks have flexibility, if they recognize the Doomcrag Warrior threat, they’ll be aggressive right out of the gate.
Doomcrag Warrior has a hard time dealing with big creatures without access to Doomcrag Vampire use him wisely against decks like Dagoth or Sorcerer that tend to run big creatures. Wards are always an issue for Doomcrag Warrior, try to ping them off as much as possible, but don’t exhaust all resources on them.
Doomcrag Warrior is a very difficult deck to play. In any matchup, be wary of removal cards, banish or silence effects, support removal, and big bodies. Analyze early on what the opponent has available to them based on their decks attributes. Against aggro and midrange be slow, and mulligan for Tree Minder. Against control be patient and wary, don’t be reckless with Disciple of Namira and Doomcrag Vampire, these will be immediate targets of removal.
Lastly, just have fun in TESL. Sometimes trying to win can get in the way of enjoying the game for what it is. Keep toxicity levels low and ping on. Until next time, my friends!