Old Salty’s Assault – Uses and Synergies
Old Salty’s Assault is the monthly reward card for August 2019. Bethesda continues to release cards that improve existing and underplayed archetypes to reward players for their monthly grind on the ladder. This month is no different. But rather than asking the question, “is this card good,” or “what archetype does this buff,” the most important question to ask right now is, “who is this Old Salty?!”
1. Old Salty in The Elder Scrolls Lore
The Elder Scrolls universe is such a vast territory. Some of you will remember the Dragonborn add-on to The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. If you have traveled to Northshore Landing, a location high-up north in Skyrim, you might have met Old Salty, one of two named mudcrabs in the game (the other being Pincer). Those of you who looked at Old Salty’s inventory will have noticed the odd drops: a pair of shoes, a fork, a tankard, a gem and some gold. Maybe he ate Adoring Fan? Who knows?
2. Uses for Old Salty’s Assault
Old Salty‘s Assault is a neutral 5-cost action in The Elder Scrolls Legends which summons one of each mudcrab from your deck. If you include all playable mudcrabs in your deck, this will summon an Enraged Mudcrab, a Mudcrab Merchant, a Mudcrab Anklesnapper and a Reflective Automaton. For 5 magicka, you will get 8/8 in stats distributed across four bodies, deal one point of face damage and get to pick one of two cards from Mudcrab Merchant. This makes it a very powerful action. It also thins your deck, quite similar to Tullius‘ Conscription, just smaller and with only specific cards.
But what to do with all these mudcrabs? Is this just meme? After all, beyond Mudcrab Merchant, the “real” mudcrabs do not see play. The merchant sees a good amount of play on ladder and in tournaments as playable 1-drop and as resource extension.
The other “mudcrab” that sees play is Reflective Automaton. The automaton is one of the strongest enablers for tribal synergies, making Old Salty‘s Assault a more consistent option to summon a card of your tribe exactly when you need it.
Let’s look at Old Salty’s Assault’s uses by using quadrant theory, before diving into the synergies, as there is a lot to explore.
2.1 Old Salty’s Assault during Opening
Old Saulty’s Assault’s power level is high during opening. There are very few 4/5-cost cards that provide 8/8 worth of stats. For example, Voice of Balance and Hulking Fabricant are both one single creature and come with hard conditions for them be 8/8s. Voice of Balance needs you to have an item, a support and an action in play or in your discard pile. Hulking Fabricant on the other hand requires a neutral card to be in play.
While this makes Old Salty’s Assault an above curve card, there is a caveat, as Fire Storm, Ice Storm, Debilitate, and Cradlecrush Giant can all remove all true mudcrabs, as well as your other low-cost creatures. Fire Storm, Debilitate and Cradlecrush do leave the Automaton alive, however. You still get your additional card from the merchant and deal one point of damage, but mudcrabs be removed as quickly as they are summoned.
The second caveat is that you have to run below-average creatures in your deck. Enraged Mudcrab is particularly sub-par, so you might want to include them only as a 1 or 2-of to mitigate. You almost always want to draw Old Salty‘s Assault before any of the mudcrabs. An Enraged Mudcrab or Mudcrab Anklesnapper in hand will reduce the effectiveness of your plays and the effectiveness of any future Old Salty‘s Assault.
2.2 Old Salty‘s Assault at Parity
Old Salty‘s Assault is a good option at parity, as you get to summon a large number of creatures that you can use to go face or to trade. Unless your opponent draws or has a big guard or mass removal in hand, your mudcrab armada can keep you at an advantage. Since you can summon the mudcrabs to a lane of your choice, you will also be able to use it to sneak damage through shadow lane while retaining your presence in field. This can provide a nice swing of damage or help you trade if you are in a race.
By distributing the cards spawned from Mudcrab Merchant between yourself and your opponent, you might even be able to put more threats onto the board if you have sufficient magicka left. This can help you take trade priority in field lane if you didn’t have it before.
2.3 Old Salty‘s Assault when Winning
When you are winning the game, the 8/8 in stats are powerful for a one card-play. However, make sure that you have enough space on board to make room for all the mudcrabs. During this phase, the 4 bodies might block slots for other cards you want to get into play via summon effects. Nonetheless, the one point of reach, the extra card and the spread of stats will likely mean that you can keep your advantage if you trade your creatures smartly.
2.4 Old Salty‘s Assault as a Turnaround
When you are in need of a turnaround, your opponent usually has trade priority in field lane or is sneaking through the shadow. With the mudcrabs contesting field lane, your opponent will be able to decide their best strategy, whether it’s going face or trading into your mudcrabs. Since your opponent can dictate trades in field, you will likely lose your mudcrab armada quickly without causing too many losses on your opponent’s side.
If you have damage-based lane or board removal in hand, these few points of damage might be desirable. Otherwise you have only bought yourself another turn. Unfortunately, you don‘t get a guard, charger, or drain creature to swing things in your favor (unless it’s from Mudcrab Merchant). You can only hope that you will still be able to use your mudcrabs to remove one or maybe two of your opponent‘s creatures.
2.5 Card Evaluation Summary
Old Salty’s Assault is a strong monthly reward card with a lot of meme potential. The Anklesnapper animation is so much fun, and we will be seeing more of it next month. The action promotes proactive, creature-based strategies and puts powerful stats on board that can be dealt with. The additional point of damage can even matter sometimes.
The resource extension through Mudcrab Merchant is loved by many and Reflective Automaton is an excellent enabler of tribal synergies. With Old Salty, you can now tutor the automaton more reliably. Although the mudcrabs are all small threats, they come in high numbers and are difficult to deal with if your opponent is playing without mass removal or huge guards.
To summarise this chapter, here is our card rating per quadrant.
Rating Scale: 1 – Very Weak. 2- Weak. 3- OK. 4- Strong. 5- Very Strong.
Old Salty’s Assault is not only able to summon powerful stats for your beatdown deck: due to the diverse nature of the creatures, you can find some interesting synergies.
3.1 Reflective Automaton and Tribal Synergy
Across multiple expansions, Legends has developed a card pool where tribal synergies have started to matter for dual-color decks. Reflective Automaton, as a creature with all creature types, works as a mudcrab when summoned by Old Salty’s Assault. But on the same turn it can be a dragon, orc, dwemer, goblin, animal, skeleton, etc. Discussing all these synergies would go a bit too far, so here are some highlights (please leave a comment below if you find something important is missing).
3.1.1 Elephants, I Summon Thee!
With Alfiq Conjurer all over the meta, the little cat and her Atronach minions form the obvious synergy. Old Salty’s Assault not only puts mudcrabs on board, but also increases your chances of getting the automaton into your discard pile to summon the Storm Atronach. With Alfiq Conjurer only being nerfed to a 3/3 in the immediate future, she will still be a powerful force for your beatdown strategies.
3.1.2 Animal Synergy
In an animal deck, Old Salty’s Assault allows you to summon 4 animals at once. Follow this up with Shadowgreen Elder and you’ll drop 21/21 in stats onto the board. 12 magicka is all you need, although the green agility attribute has plenty of ways to gain additional magicka temporarily, so you might be able to even pull this forward by a little bit, or play the cards across two turns.
3.1.3 Dwemer and Neutral Synergy
Old Salty’s Assault lets you add another 12 neutral cards into your neutral splash decks. This promotes synergies with Steam Constructor, Mechanical Ally, Yagrum Bagarn and Dwarven Dynamo. Reflective Automaton functions as a dwemer, and the remaining mudcrabs and OSA expand your neutral package. Neutral spellsword has seen some success on both ladder and in competitive play, but the mudcrab armada now allows you to diversify this strategy into other attributes where strong individual tribal cards will benefit from Reflective Automaton.
The additional neutral cards allow you to trigger the fabricants. Hulking Fabricant, a powerful 5-cost 8/8 when a neutral card is in play, is a big body for cheap. Kagouti Fabricant puts even more bodies on the board in your token strategies.
3.1.4 Lookout Synergy
Lookouts are the payoff cards in dragon decks. Most important among them are they who allow you to draw a card (in Strength) or heal for four (in Agility). It seems doubtful that the underpowered mudcrabs would work well in the same deck as the overcosted dragons, though. The deck-thinning effect might make it worth it, however.
3.1.5 Orc Synergy
In an Orc-centered aggro deck, Reflective Automaton can trigger Stoneshard Orc, Bangkorai Butcher, Wood Orc Headhunter, Worthgar Kingpin and benefits from Chieftain Banner. The deck-thinning effect allows you to pull better cards.
3.2 Aundae Clan, lutocancer redde!
With your opponent controlling the shadow lane, you might find it worthwhile to summon your mudcrabs there. If you plan to trade them into your opponent’s creatures, an Aundae Clan Sorcerer can benefit you greatly from this, putting a blood magic spell into your hand.
3.3 The Salty Mudcrabs On their Journey to Sovngarde…
Speaking of full graveyards, Journey to Sovngarde and Flesh Atronach also come to mind. You can use either one of these cards as a win condition in a control deck. Flesh Atronach appreciates legions of dead creatures, getting a large buff from them, and is usually paired with Mentor’s Ring and a small charge creature for an OTK combo.
Journey needs a little more thought in the deck building process, but with only one copy of each mudcrab, you can follow-up your Journey-play with Old Salty’s Assault on the very same turn for 12 magicka. This puts 28/28 in mudcrab stats onto the board, and is the only true way to ultimate moral victory! I hope there is a hidden title for winning this way…
3.4 Wispmother Memes
Since all mudcrabs are cheap, Wispmother can duplicate them in the other lane. With 12 magicka and an empty board you can generate 7 mudcrabs at once. Using Wispmother, you end up with stats between a minimum of 18/19 and a maximum of 21/19 on board. Not quite enough for a one-turn-kill, but still a powerful play.
3.5 Expertise Trigger
Since Old Salty’s Assault is an action, it triggers expertise effects. Your Guildsworn Cavalier can buff them all by +1/+1. This makes for 15/15 of total stats, provides a two-turn kill and gets most of the mudcrabs out of range of Debilitate, Cradlecrush and Firestorm. If you are a fan of Chanter of Akatosh, you can even pull this off with just the Akatosh in play and OSA in hand. And with one additional +1/+1 buff from the cavalier, Divine Fervor, or Mercenary Captain, you get your crabs out of range of Ice Storms.
3.6 Item Combo Decks
With the introduction of the Daggerfall Covenant in Alliance War and some additional monthly rewards, we have seen sparkypants’ initiative in pushing item and item combo decks. Old Salty’s Assault might be an interesting option for item combo decks. First of all, it thins your deck by turn 4 or 5 when played on curve, which eases the process of reaching your combo pieces. At the same time, it puts four bodies on board (and spawns an additional card) that can be equipped with the items from your Crown Quartermaster, Seyda Neen, Sentinel Reclaimer or Corsair Ship.
With Salvage and maybe Skilled Blacksmith, you can get all your Steel Daggers back from your discard pile to equip them onto a Nord Firebrand or a Dragonstar Rider. This provides a lot of reach or draw. And with Sparksmith in play, each equipped item also deals 1 damage.
Until now, these item combo decks were fun, but lacked in consistency even in 50 cards. With Old Salty’s Assault you now have an option to thin your 50-card-deck by 4 cards at once.
3.7 Ring of Lordship Combo Decks
When you equip Ring of Lordship to Reflective Automaton, all creatures in your hand are reduced in cost by 1. The issue with this combo is that it’s easily silenced or removed. But if you have a lot of 1 and 2-cost creatures in your deck (you already have 9 mudcrabs) that draw cards, you could cycle through your deck very fast to reach the pieces of an OTK win condition.
Well, this article was longer than I anticipated, so thank you for bearing with me until here. I believe that Old Salty’s Assault is almost the ideal monthly card, because it has meme potential and introduces many options to experiment with synergies and new deck ideas while we wait for the next expansion. The card sparks creativity, might infuse life into some archetypes that need additional support and might even create completely new ones. It’s definitely a build around card, and not even a bad one.
Personally, I would love to see a Mudcrab Gauntlet, maybe a few weeks or months into the new PvP event system being available. Until then, let the mudcrabs rule the (meme) meta! 😉