BYOD: An In-Depth Guide to Build Your Own Deck

By: Vinther
View other Articles by Vinther
Posted: 2 months ago
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1. Introduction



My name is Vinther, I'm a long-time competitive gamer and many may recognize me from the decks I've posted here on legends-decks.com.
I'd like to welcome you to my BYOD Guide, where we break down the common meta, deck archetypes and help you to improve your deck-building skills.

This guide is best suited for beginners, but I will be sure to include some tips that may be useful even for an advanced player.

In the following chapters you will find the ABC of deck-building and the know-how to make successful and strong decks for Elder Scrolls: Legends, so let's get started!



2. Deck/Class Archetypes Explained

Typically, the decks in ES:L break down to the following categories:

Aggro/Tempo
Mid-Range
Control/Ramp
Combo








With each of these decks built around a specific playstyle in mind.

The Aggro/Tempo Deck:

Usually focuses on strong and fast early-game with constant face-smashing and ignoring most of opponents cards. These decks are meant to finish games quick and typically ending up in a severe disadvantage when dragged out to the late game. Can be utilizing charge creatures, tokens (items, multi-summon action cards) and strength-to-value cards with high attack prowess.

Most popular and common Aggro/Temp decks are: Warrior, Battlemage, Assassin, Sorcerer, Archer, Crusader

Mid-Range Deck:

This deck usually has a strong early-game, but shines best during the middle stage as the name suggests. It has relatively many low-cost cards to keep maintain the board presence/health advantage and set up an ideal setup around turn 5 to 7. Such as very popular Archer deck utilizing Soulrest Marshal and Triumphant Jarl combo or Scout deck with many powerful 4 to 6 cost cards.

Most popular and common Mid-Range decks are: Archer, Scout, Monk, Sorcerer, Spellsword

Control/Ramp Deck:

Built to keep the enemy's side of the table clean whilst dragging the game to the late phase to play powerful, yet high-cost cards, slowly building up an army to destroy an opponent in one turn whilst drying him of cards in hand and attempting not to break any runes for additional draws. Whilst control deck such as Mage tends to overwhelm an opponent around turn 12 then Ramp/Control decks such as Scout and Sorcerer attempt to control the table whilst playing cards to "Ramp" up their Magicka and utilize cards such as Blood Magic Lord and Hist Grove to summon and unbeatable force to the table.

Most popular and common Control/Ramp decks are: Scout, Sorcerer, Mage, Spellsword, Monk

Combo Deck:

Combo decks rely on setting up a clever ambush to destroy an opponent with swift and precise blow. Such as an Assassin or Mage utilizing Lillandril Hexmage, Crystal Tower Crafter or Battlemage focusing on destroying an opponent with Merric-at-Aswala.
The combo deck can be played aggressively, snowballing your strong card through actions and removals or as a control, keeping the board clean until you can set up a deadly combination.

Most popular and common Combo decks are: Assassin, Mage, Battlemage

3. The 3 Important Aspects of Deck-Crafting




The three most important aspects of crafting a successful deck:
Synergy
Card Value
Flexibility




Keep in mind that none of these aspects are directly related to "current meta" or "tier lists" - these are a must have traits for every successful deck.
NB! NEVER PICK CARDS SOLELY BASED ON THEIR RARITY! (COMMON, RARE, EPIC, LEGENDARY ETC.)
A bad example of a deck that is full of legendary cards, but completely worthless: http://www.legends-decks.com/deck/4566/1-deck-the-best-warrior-deck-2016
A good example of a deck that doesn't cost anything, but is fully viable with good synergy: http://www.legends-decks.com/deck/179/cheap-aggro-mage-deck-on-the-road-to-legend (outdated, don't use without heavy modifications!)


Synergy:

Building an efficient deck, no matter the archetype mainly comes down to one word: "synergy". Synergy is the most important aspect in a well-constructed deck, the cards most compliment each other and every single one of them should be added there with a sole purpose of helping you to achieve the goal of your deck, whether it is to control, combo or race aggressively.
We will cover more about synergy and its importance in next chapters.


Card Value:

The second most important factor is the "value-for-cost" factor. But it's not always so black and white, easily distinguishable. For an example, Watch Commander may look like a good synergy and value for a control deck with a lot of guards, because that's what it's purpose should be, right? Wrong. At least in most cases, Watch Commander usually offers little to no return of investment and you would get more value from adding another guard instead. "But why?" you ask. Well, in most situations your guards are to there to keep an enemy at bay and that means your opponent does it's best to remove them as fast possible and in order to build a solid wall of guards that stay on the table, you would need a very specific setup to utilize the maximum potential of Watch Commander and if you only have 1 or 2 guards who get +1/+2, the total amount would be +6 stats for 5 Magicka. Whilst in theory it's not a bad "return of investment", you would almost always be better off having potentially a 3rd guard with maybe 5 stats for 5 Magicka instead.
Another example for aggressive decks would be an actually often overlooked and underrated card Camlorn Hero. While not the strongest card in game for most decks (Having only 2 defense makes it easily removable using Fire Storm or Firebolt), it would be a welcomed addition to my deck if I would be building an Aggro Assassin for an example. Why? Because it already does 2 damage towards the right direction at Summon and if it gets to attack at least once, it would offer 4+2 damage just for 3 Magicka cost. And a typical Aggro/Tempo deck can't really be picky trying to get 3+ health cards for early game in order to avoid easy removal because most high attack and low-cost cards come with very little defense.


Flexibility:

Third and not the least important aspect is the flexibility of a deck when it is being played against different archetypes.
What exactly is "flexibility" and why is it important? Flexibility is when you play a deck with a certain goal, either to control, be aggressive or combo, but against every time you face a different opponent and different deck you would need to adapt your playstyle for each of those match-ups accordingly. For an example as a Combo Assassin, you would have to play differently vs Aggro decks and then again differently against Control. This means that you should have enough diversity to deal with different situations accordingly , whether to out-pace the face-race or assume control whilst competing with Aggro deck or having tools to remove/get through guards and/or set up a table for your combo against control. A successful deck should be able to have enough flexibility to play vs. different match-ups and follow through.
Let's use another example from Action Assassin, as this is the deck closest to my heart, hehe. Let's say your deck is focused to burn down your enemy with actions and Lillandril Hexmage, but you are not getting the draw you need to do that. That means you should have a plan B in your deck, such as snowballing with Slaughterfish or Crystal Tower Crafter, but sometimes you don't even have those drawn, then your plan C would be to utilize your low-cost aggressive cards and win the game by attacking face like an Aggro deck and that's why you would have cards like House Kinsman or Camlorn Hero or Brutal Ashlander in your deck. Several times playing an Action Assassin I haven't needed or even had a chance to play Lillandril Hexmage because my Slaughterfish have already wrecked the opponent because I have been using my actions such as Lesser Ward and Firebolt to pave way to their snowballing potential by keeping them alive and controlling the board with actions.
The same would go for a Control Mage, whilst having a match-up another Control deck such as Ramp Scout. Because both of you have the goal to drag the game to the late stage, but as Ramp Scout has an advantage thanks to cards such as Hist Grove, you would need to have enough flexibility in your deck to assume the more aggressive role during the middle-stage of the game in order to finish your opponent before he gets to utilize his full potential.

All 3 of these aspects will be talked more and shown in example in the following chapters.
4. The Basics of Planning and Building Your Deck



Whenever you are to create a new deck from scratch, these are the steps to follow to make the procedure more simplified and thought-out:

Casual Player/Beginner:

- Think of a playstyle that you would prefer, would it be more aggressive or more controlling or maybe you are into shenanigans and combos? You can browse some related content (such as YouTube) to get a better overview of how each archetype plays.

- Pick a class that you like the most. You can base this on anything, the game is still in an early stage and there's nothing set in stone. Don't be discouraged when someone says that Assassins make crappy control decks, that's not true, most of everything can work just fine if you enjoy playing it. Don't bother with stuff like "tier lists" or "current meta" - these can and will change overnight anyway.

- Open up a Deck Builder in browser: http://www.legends-decks.com/deck-builder or in-game (make sure to show all cards, not just "owned" ones). Read through every card for your class, identify the key cards that have potential to work out with your playstyle. Such as hard removal/guards for control, charge/high attack cards for aggro and so on. Don't automatically discard a card because you think a 2/2 Wind Keep Spellsword is not a guard or hard removal for your control deck. It's still a strong card and you will notice it once you proceed to the next phase. Therefore it is important to know your arsenal before setting up your army.

- As most likely you don't have all the cards available, use a Deck Builder here at legends-decks.com. Start creating your list of 50 cards. Every time you are about to pick a card to your list, think about the 3 core elements mentioned in the previous chapter: synergy, value and flexibility. Choose cards that you think would work together well, don't be afraid to go over the 50 card mark, pick every card you think has a good synergy and value for your deck.

- Start removing the excess cards to get to 50 card mark or if you are below, add more cards that you think have potential. Keep your options open, remember or write down the cards that you decided to discard from your list or could not choose between. You can swap out your cards every time in the future and keep experimenting until you find the sweet spot.
NB! The more copies of a card, the higher is the chance to draw them. Protip: Don't go overboard with specific "key" cards, such as Quin'rawl Burglar or Lillandril Hexmage, Blood Magic Lord etc. even as a mid/late game deck you don't want to have three of them in hand before you can even play them. Having 2 in deck is usually better than 3.

- Before you craft: Post your deck on legends-decks.com, ASK for feedback and suggestions. Maybe go to Twitch.tv and find Elder Scrolls: Legends channel, link your deck and ask the streamer or public for advice. This is good for several reasons, first of all you have a chance to find out if you overlooked something, missed something or messed something up and therefore you would not have to waste Gems to craft wrong cards.

- After you craft the deck and start playing it your experience will build up, you will notice the weak spots and the cards that you don't often play or cards that you can afford to swap for alternatives. Keep experimenting until you figure out what works best, don't give up just because you think you crafted a "bad" deck. Remember the step 5.

Tryhard Ranked Grinder/Professional Legend-Dweller:

- Just like a casual/beginner, you should not bother with tier lists. When picking a deck to craft and play, think of current meta around the rank you are currently playing at. Find an archetype that you would enjoy playing, something that is fun for YOU and figure out how to make it work.
Currently you can fit any archetype, whether Control or Aggro or Combo or whatever into top legend meta and it all would work, depending on the deck setup ABC (synergy, value, flexibility) mentioned in Chapter 3.

- When starting to fill your list of cards, imagine a scenario with different, typical match-ups in your head and think when/how/if you would play the card you are about to pick. If you see potential, think if it fits the synergy with your other cards/deck idea. Follow with cost/efficiency value analysis and if all three check out, you have picked a right card for your deck.

- Don't be afraid to go over 50 cards during your initial selection. Pick all the cards that match potential, synergy and value and thin the herd afterwards, that way you have a better overview of cards available to you and each time you remove a card, compare it to a similar alternative in your deck and utilize Step 3 again to find out what to keep.
NB! Protip: Don't go overboard with specific "key" cards, such as Quin'rawl Burglar or Lillandril Hexmage, Blood Magic Lord etc. even as a mid/late game deck you don't want to have three of them in hand before you can even play them. Having 2 in deck is usually better than 3.

- Keep the cards you discarded in Step 4 in mind and experiment as you play.


5. Building an Aggro/Tempo Deck

Your sole purpose is to go fast and hard, directly smashing your opponent's face. In order to achieve this you would need to focus on low-cost, yet high attack-power cards like Graystone Ravager, Camlorn Hero or Mournhold Traitor, possibly combined with heavy attack items such as Steel Scimitar or Iron Sword.

These are the common baselines for a mid-range deck:


Creature Focus:

- High Attack Power, Low Cost
- Charge/Breakthrough Cards, such as: Battlerage Orc
- Attack Power Buffers, such as Orc Clan Captain, Morkul Gatekeeper, Murkwater Skirmisher etc.
- Zoo-Synergy, such as Murkwater Savage or Bangkorai Butcher etc.
- Health Advantage/Rune Breaking Bonus Cards, such as: Relentless Raider, Eastmarch Crusader, Rift Thane etc.
- If using items, then Item-Equip creatures like Rihad Horseman etc.

Utility:

- Lane Swap with Shadow Shift or Dune Stalker etc.
- Silence to bypass guards
- Low-Cost Hard Removal such as Firebolt, Execute etc.

An example of a good aggro deck: http://www.legends-decks.com/deck/4718/face-warrior
6. Building a Mid-Range Deck

Mid-range decks play a mixture of control, aggro and combo and start to truly shine around turn 5 when they can fully utilize cards such as Soulrest Marshal or Black Worm Necromancer or Markath Bannerman.

These are the common baselines for a mid-range deck:

Creature Focus:

- Maximum value for cost, such as Wind Keep Spellsword, House Kinsman, Young Mammoth, Preserver of the Root etc.
- Cards that can trade hits/control board and profit/survive, such as Daggerfall Mage etc.
- Additional Value Cards, like: Haunting Spirit etc.
- Health Drain (Mostly when needing to utilize health-advantage cards like Soulrest Marshal), such as: Moonlight Werebat, Snake Tooth Necklace. Night Shadow, Giant Bat etc.

Utility:

- Lane Swap with Shadow Shift or Dune Stalker etc.
- Cycle (card draw), such as: Rapid Shot etc.
- Prophecy trade-value cards, such as Lightning Bolt etc.

An example of a good mid-range deck: http://www.legends-decks.com/deck/2819/cycle-archer-1-legend (outdated)
7. Building a Control Deck
Control decks are focused on keeping the opponent's board clean and slowly deprive them of cards whilst dragging the game to the later stages where you have an advantage.


Creature Focus:

- Strong end-game cards, such as Odahviing, Blood Magic Lord, Hist Grove etc.
- Cards that can trade hits/control board and profit/survive, such as Daggerfall Mage etc.
- Creatures with removal, such as Shadowfen Priest etc.
- Guards with maximum value for cost, such as Hive Defender etc.
- A Bit of Health Drain (if available) such as: Snake Tooth Necklace. Night Shadow etc.

Utility:

- Cycle (card draw), such as: Thieves Guild Recruit], Enchanted Plate, Rapid Shot etc.
- Hard removal and damage-actions, such as Piercing Javelin, Firebolt, Lightning Bolt etc.

NB! Make sure you have enough cost-variety cards for early, mid and lategame to keep complete board dominance!

An example of a good control deck: http://www.legends-decks.com/deck/4416/control-mage-post-nerf-by-dazer-top-10
8. Building a Combo Deck
Combo decks are often hard to categorize, many could consider mid-range decks utilizing Soulrest Marshal and/or Merric-at-Aswala as combo decks. The main focus of a combo deck is to utilize either aggressiveness or control to set up a potentially deadly burst, either using actions, tokens or creatures such as Supreme Atromancer and Merric-at-Aswala.

Therefore it is almost impossible to specifically explain how to build a "combo" deck, as they can vary a lot.


Some examples of different combos:

Merric by slw, utilizing Control playstyle until setting up a deadly Merric combo: http://www.legends-decks.com/deck/2890/merric
Action Assassin, playing aggressive, combos with actions: http://www.legends-decks.com/deck/4349/updatedoct-videoflex-assassin-vs-meta

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1 Comment

xYsmirx 19 hours ago
This was a fun read! I'm currently experimenting with my deck. I do know that guarding/late game is something i enjoy most. Unfortunately, there aren't enough Dragons. My favorite card of all time for any deck is that Blood Dragon.
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