Strategic Deployment is a common 4-cost action in Endurance, that summons two 1/1 Recruits in each lane. That’s four tokens for four magicka, which is pretty similar to Imperial Reinforcements in Willpower.
So why do we need more token generators in Legends? Aren’t Imperial Reinforcements, and Scouting Patrol enough? I was asking myself that question, and after some consideration, I found some subtle, but important differences which might make these cards belong in different decks.
For example, Imperial Reinforcements summons all creatures in one lane, while Strategic Deployment spreads them across multiple lanes. Consider Resolute Ally, who gets to buff three Imperial Grunts, but only two neutral Recruits. Consider Imprison, which destroys a creature with Reinforcements but only shackles it with Deployments. Or consider Kagouti Fabricant/ Hulking Fabricant versus Priest of the Eight. These cards are all meant to be doing different things for different purposes, so take a close look when building your deck…
But before we look at more synergies, let’s start by evaluating the card using Quadrant Theory.
Strategic Deployment during Opening
During opening, Strategic Deployment allows you to strengthen or establish a presence in both lanes at the same time. Ideally, you would already be in control over the field lane when playing it, with your opponent dominating the shadows. This would allow you to dictate trades in both lanes on your next turn. On the other hand, if your opponent was in control of the field lane, they will likely be able to remove your tokens on their next turn (or simply go face, whatever they prefer).
Therefore, Strategic Deployment on curve is complementary to a more aggressive strategy that attempts to dominate through the field lane. By splitting forces across both lanes, however, you might find it more difficult to deal with guards. A Hive Defender, for example, is a pretty big challenge for tokens and will lock down his lane.
On the other hand, that 4-cost spot in Endurance is a competitive place to be in because the likes of Bleakcoast Troll and Falkreath Defiler can easily take that spot, too. And the same is true for Willpower with Dawnbreaker, Cloudrest Illusionist, etc.
To shine, Strategic Deployment requires support of the rest of your deck, whether it’s Spellsword Token or a Dual-Lane Empire deck. Here, Fifth Legion Trainer, Divine Fervor or Training Grounds can help to get 8 or even 12 attack onto the board quickly, forcing your opponent to deal with the tokens immediately.
Mass removal is the biggest threat to the 1/1 Recruits. Actions like Reverberating Strike, Ice Storm, Debilitate, or creatures like Sai Sahan will wipe them with ease. At least, half of your Recruits get to survive a single lane wipe from Cradlecrush Giant or Skaven Pyromancer.
Strategic Deployment at Parity
Strategic Deployment creates four small tokens, while you really want that big “Vigilant Giant”-type of card at parity. Let’s assume the worst for your opponent: they draw just a single, non-guard creature for the next couple of turns. In this case, your tokens swing for 4 and maybe next turn still for 3, but that’s about it. The world looks completely different, with appropriate buffs in play. In this case you have rebuilt your board in both lanes very quickly and left your opponent with serious threats to deal with.
Strategic Deployment when Winning
When you only need two more turns to win, Strategic Deployment adds another 4 attack to it. While this is not a lot in itself, your assault continues to have steam. In field lane, your recruits might be able to eliminate an aggressive creature, allowing the stronger rest of your lane to continue their assault unharmed for an additional turn.
Strategic Deployment when Losing
When you are in need of a turnaround, four token recruits are unfortunately not particularly great. Not only do they not have any immediate protective value, they also spread their effectiveness across both lanes. Worst case, this might mean that you will not even be able to remove a single threat on your following turn. If only you could find a way to guard them all at once! Is Clivia Tharn listening? Queen Barenziah? Anyone?
Strategic Deployment is a solid token generator and can quickly create a wide board. While this can usually be controlled by your opponent,
easily, the card has considerable aggressive upside potential through cards that can buff tokens. But consider carefully, which cards should go with Strategic Deployment. Consider other token generators and your token enablers as well when building your deck.
To put some numbers behind this – here is our card evaluation by quadrant squeezed into a 5-point scale.
Rating Scale: 1 – Very Weak. 2- Weak. 3- OK. 4- Strong. 5- Very Strong.
Since Strategic Deployment is a token generator, the obvious synergies apply: Divine Fervor and Fifth Legion Trainer are the staples in any token deck, functioning as buffs. Training Grounds, February’s Monthly Card, can be another option to buff the neutral 1/1 Imperial recruits, if you want to go for a tribal token deck.
Another noteworthy card is Legate Rikke. With her in play, you will effectively summon two full lanes with 1/1 tokens, and Jarl Barlgruuf makes for another interesting win condition, when both lanes are full at the start of your turn.
Necromancer’s Amulet can help you to gain life, whenever a token dies, and Aundae Clan Sorcerer provides you with a powerful Blood Magic Spell, whenever three creatures die on the same turn. Disciple of Namira is an elegant card draw engine in token decks, as it allows you to draw a card whenever a creature in her lane dies.
The Empire of Cyrodiil earns benefits when creatures are in both lanes. Some cards that would benefit from Strategic Deployment summoning creatures to both lanes, are:
- Transitus Shrine, a support that reduces the cost of all cards in your hand by 1. This might allow you to play a few other cards at a reduced cost on the same turn.
- Imperial Lackey’s Last Gasp effect will be triggered, thereby creating another 1/1 Recruit token in his place.
- Legion Zero Templar, who provides a 2/8 guard if you have creatures in both lanes.
- Bishop of the Hour gives your top-deck creature a +5/+5 buff.
- Clivia Tharn gives two tokens Guard and continues to summon creatures to both lanes.
Additionally, Strategic Deployment triggers the new expertise keyword of creatures like
- Renowned Instructor who will be triggered to summon another 1/1 Recruit,
- Guildsworn Revitalizer gains 2 health with his expertise ability,
- and possibly some more to come…
Neutral Card Synergy
If you would like to play Strategic Deployment in Spellsword with a neutral twist, you might want to play Strategic Deployment into Kagouti Fabricant or Hulking Fabricant, as they will nicely trigger off the neutral recruits. Dwarven Sphere would allow you to turn one token into a 4/4 Guard, and other Dwemers like Steam Constructor, Dwarven Sphere, Mechanical Ally and Yagrum Bagarn form a potent package, which can be combined nicely with other versatile cards like Mudcrab Merchant, Barbas and Wilds Incarnate to form a decent neutral package for a 50 card Spellsword token deck.
Heretic Conjurings & Strategic Deployment
Those of you already familiar with the lore of the Empire of Cyrodiil will know that Clivia Tharn, Abnur Tharn and Mannimarco have been collaborating with the Daedra. Another lore-friendly deck is therefore to use Heretic Conjurer in order to convert your 1/1 Recruits into random Daedra. How about an Iron Atronach, a Seething Golem, an Aspect of Hircine or Dremora Markynaz helping you out to win the game? The tricky thing will be to get Heretic Conjurer to survive for a turn, but Strategic Deployment will certainly be a great card to play after he pilfered…
Four Bodies for Item Decks
In a Daggerfall Covenant or Sorcerer item deck, the four tokens can also be equipped nicely with daggers from Corsair Ship. With Sparksmith in play, you arrive at a nice combo that deals 1 damage for each item equipped, threatening to swing for 12 points of damage on your next turn. Should you happen to have Gardener of Swords in play at the same time, this can already make for a decent beatdown turn. As Covenant, Relentless Raider can add some additional burst damage, as your opponent’s runes collide.
Additional Win Conditions
Oftentimes, token decks can run out of steam when your opponent draws his mass removal actions or has big guards blocking your assault. Having an alternate win condition might potentially help in such circumstances.
During the last few months, several 75-card decks in House Redoran or Telvanni have successfully leveraged Flesh Atronach as their win conditions. Since token-ish decks are generating a lot of bodies this can quickly fuel a humongous Flesh Atronach.
Equally, Journey to Sovngarde can be another win condition you might want to consider – probably more for a 50 card deck with a lot of card draw, though.
Strategic Deployment provides another good tool for token decks. For a possible new dual-lane archetype in yellow, green and purple, the action is a reliable way of triggering the dual-lane condition, while at the same time triggering the Expertise mechanic. It will be fun to see the meta getting shifted by the new possibilities Alliance War is opening up. If you are excited about a specific deck or combo that Strategic Deployment may support, please leave a comment below.
Alliance War is up for pre-orders now! Hope to see you on the ladder – I’ll be playing Empire tokens in 7 days… Ready to take sides?