Falkreath Defiler is a 4-cost 3/3 that some consider among the best four-drops in The Elder Scrolls Legends. The reason lies in the Imperial’s slay ability. It summons a creature from your discard pile when triggered. You may select any creature that has died or that you have discarded through other means like Merchant’s Camel or Scout’s Report.
While the mechanic of getting a creature back from your discard pile is comparable to the 3-cost shout Soul Tear, it is so much better in many, many ways.
Is Falkreath Defiler better than Soul Tear? Tempo…
First of all, Falkreath Defiler summons the creature directly to the board, which means you do not need to spend any magicka for the creature. This leaves you with additional magicka that you can spend on extending your resources or removing another threat.
Is Falkreath Defiler better than Soul Tear? Re- and Multi-Usability …
Secondly, you can use items, like Sword of the Inferno, Squish the Wimpy, Quicksilver Crossbow or Unstoppable Rage to trigger the Defiler’s ability multiple times per turn. This allows you to pull back even multiple of your most powerful creatures. A skilled Control player will be able to leverage this multiple times per game.
Falkreath Defiler Trickery – Summon Your MVP Early-Game
Suppose this scenario: you have Falkreath Defiler, Sword of the Inferno and Scout’s Report in hand at the start of the game. Your first draw is a Swift Strike. You play Scout’s Report to look at the top card of your deck — Iron Atronach — which you immediately discard. You play the Defiler on turn three, using a charge of the Ring of Magicka. On turn four, you equip the Defiler with Sword of the Inferno, killing one of your opponent’s early game creatures to bring back Iron Atronach from your discard pile. On your fifth turn you equip Defiler with Cruel Axe and swing face for six and for another 24, leveraging the Iron Atronach and Swift Strike. A win on turn 5…
Deck-cycling cards to support this strategy
Some examples of deck-cycling cards that allow you to discard a card (either from hand or your top deck), are:
- Intelligence (Blue): Palace Conspirator, Studious Greybeard
- Agility (Green): Dres Spy, Cornerclub Gambler
- Scout (Green/ Purple): Scout’s Report
- Neutral: Dwemer Puzzle Box, Merchant’s Camel.
Falkreath Defiler in Action
Before we investigate uses and synergies in more detail, let’s look at the Defiler in action in the Divath Fyr puzzle and evaluate the card using Quadrant Theory (warning: spoilers).
Falkreath Defiler during Opening
As a 3/3 for a cost of 4, Falkreath Defiler is not an impressive body in of itself. He will die quickly in direct combat and is a magnet for your opponent’s removal cards. The Defiler dies to Lightning Bolt, Crushing Blow, Drive Mad, Piercing Javelin, Rapid Shot & Cauterize, Ice Storm and many, many more removal cards. You definitely do not want to play the Defiler without leveraging his ability at least once. Playing him on curve is absolutely nonsense, unless you can pull-off the scenario involving the Hulking Scalon/Iron Atronach, as described above. Thus, technically Falkreath Defiler can be played during opening, but is usually kept in hand until later in the game. The likelihood of pulling off the Scalon-scenario on turn 3 is not particularly likely, thus the Defiler’s value during the Opening phase is okay, but not as great as this scenario suggests.
Falkreath Defiler at Parity
If you get to trigger the Defiler’s ability at parity and slay your opponent’s creature you get to summon a creature from your discard pile. This provides such a strong advantage in tempo, as you removed an opponent’s threat and get to pick a (hopefully) pretty strong creature from your discard pile to enter play immediately. At a minimum, this is a chance to start regaining board control and getting your opponent on a two- to three-turn clock. Thus, the Defiler can be a very strong card at parity and help to gain or regain the upper hand.
However, if you do not get to trigger his ability, you are not getting a great creature. During a later turn your opponent is easily in a position to play a much more powerful card. Assume they draw a Vigilant Giant as their top deck, or a Hive Defender. In these cases, the Defiler is not going to win you anything and you will be under pressure to find a card that somehow allows you to trigger his ability nonetheless.
So, how likely is it to trigger his ability at parity? Well, if you are in a good position, your opponent plays a 2-cost creature with less than three power and not more than three health. In this case, you can oppose that creature with the Defiler, hoping that your opponent does not draw an item. The epic slay moment is likely to follow next turn…
Falkreath Defiler when Winning
When you are winning, Falkreath Defiler does not add a big fighting body to your assault. He can fetch one from the discard pile, if you get to trigger his slay ability, but this will take another turn to summon a creature. If your discard pile holds a high-impact charge creature like Tazkad the Packmaster or Swiftwing Dragon you might be able to use the additional reach to close out the game. In general, this will not be the case very often. But even summoning a guard to protect your other creatures can be pretty helpful. Thumbs up for the Defiler when you are winning.
The Turnaround Mastermind – Falkreath Defiler
When you get to trigger Falkreath Defiler he allows you to summon that big turnaround card from your discard pile (e.g. Odahviing, Miraak, Mantikora, Dark Seducer, Iron Atronach or Night Talon Lord, etc.). Your world is happy again. The Defiler can secure you a victory out of nowhere, with only 1 health point left.
Overall, Falkreath Defiler is a very versatile card that allows you to turn around games, strengthen or protect your assault or swing the odds in your favor. This versatility during the later phases of the game makes him an ideal tool for control decks that can basically access all the cards that they have ever played before from their discard pile for another round of fun.
Playing against Falkreath Defiler can be like losing against the top club in your national football league, whether that’s one from Madrid, Barcelona, Paris, Munich, Manchester or the New England Patriots. The Defiler is just too good. And even if you played well for 99.9% of the game he will kill you in overtime, because you weren’t careful for a split second.
Here is the overall evaluation by quadrant.
Rating Scale: 1 – Very Weak. 2- Weak. 3- OK. 4- Strong. 5- Very Strong.
Falkreath Defiler Synergies
Getting Multiple Slay Triggers through Items, Actions or Supports
In order to get multiple slay triggers, you can use items such as Sword of the Inferno, Archer’s Gambit,Squish the Wimpy, Quicksilver Crossbow, Staff of Ice, or even Staff of Sparks to kill creatures in another lane. Stendarr’s Hammer doubles the Defiler’s stats, allowing you to kill something much bigger. Umbra even lets you battle 2 creatures per turn; however, if one creature is lethal, the Defiler quickly sees the graveyard himself. Gavel of the Ordinator gets you a “free” attack in which Falkreath Defiler will not be damaged.
Ebonthread Cloak slightly buffs him as well, but also protects him against action based removal until the end of your next turn (by which time you will have been able to slay something, hopefully). Assassin’s Bow provides him with cover, which will hide him from further creature combat.
The cheap support Brotherhood Sanctuary will also allow you to draw an extra creature from your discard pile. Having multiple copies in play when the Defiler slays will give you even more creatures to get back from the discard pile.
The master of multiple triggers, however, is Unstoppable Rage. The 8-cost action will cause the Defiler to deal 3 damage to all creatures in his lane (including your own). If you have been able to manipulate your opponent’s health values in a way that they are all below three, you get to summon a full army from your discard pile. Yes, this is broken and so much fun to pull off, but so unfair if you are on the opposing side of the board.
Several cards allow you to summon easy to kill targets. The support The Night Mother is a prominent example, but also Morag Tong Assassin, Morag Tong Nightblade, Naryu Virian, and Strategist’s Map achieve the same thing. These usually work very well in any slay-heavy deck and also flourish with Falkreath Defiler. Play these cards the turn after Falkreath Defiler enters play. The target’s guard keyword will ensure it’s hittable by Defiler in either lane. Morag Tong Assassin, Falkreath Defiler and Unstoppable Rage are a pretty crazy combo…
Healing Falkreath Defiler
There are some additional options to protect Falkreath Defiler’s health when he slays. An obvious choice is healing him after an attack, which can be achieved through Healing Hands, Almalexia’s Disciple, Plea to Kynareth, Restoration Tutor or Blackrose Herbalist. However, most of these options are not ideal as they require a good amount of extra magicka (except Healing Hands, of course). This might prevent you from healing the Defiler on the very same turn as he slays.
Combat Tricks to Prevent Damage to Falkreath Defiler
There are other plays that can provide a huge gain in tempo. By using Cloudrest Illusionist you can maybe prevent any damage from Falkreath Defiler’s attack. Most often, this will only be possible in the field lane. However, Willpower also has a combat trick for the Shadow lane. Here, Shining Saint can take your opponent’s creature out of cover and reduce its power by 2 to reduce the damage that the Defiler will take during his attack.
Another, yet widely unexplored, option is to use Harmony to reduce the attack value of your opponent’s card, allowing Defiler (and maybe the Charge creature he summons) to get little to no damage in their attacks.
Reviving Falkreath Defiler from Discard Pile
Sometimes you might want to get Falkreath Defiler back from your discard pile. Soul Tear is certainly an obvious way to pull this off. If you get to buff Odirniran Necromancer in your hand (e.g. with a Rally) or in your deck (e.g. Pretorian Commander), you can pull back a Defiler from your discard pile to pull back an even bigger creature on a future turn.
Filling your Discard Pile with Value
In order to get value from Falkreath Defiler, your discard pile needs to contain a good selection of high-value creatures. This can be anything from Iron Atronach, Miraak, Odahviing, or the Hulking Scalon from our example above. But how do you get them there? Well, obviously, by playing them to board and letting them get removed. Or, even better, by voluntarily discarding a few powerhouses. Cards like Merchant’s Camel or Scout’s Report or Cornerclub Gambler are some of the best examples to get this job done. But Palace Conspirator or Fortress Guard can achieve the same.
Notable Decks and Summary
Falkreath Defiler is the backbone of the Ramp Slay decks in Warrior or the Ebonheart Pact. These decks use many of the ingredients required to make Falkreath Defiler successful. These decks are currently considered among some of the strongest control decks on the ladder and in tournaments. You should practice with these decks to understand the value Falkreath Defiler can generate.
Since there is potentially a bit of frustration from players who run into these decks more often than not, we will publish a guide on How to play around Falkreath Defiler as well. At this point, we can say: it is difficult, but not impossible. But in order to play around him, you first need to understand “the weapon” and how to use it, because this is what your opponents will be doing. Hopefully, this article has helped with this and given a good summary of why Falkreath Defiler is so dangerous in The Elder Scrolls Legends. Remove him as soon as you can!