Instead of looking at promising deck lists being spotted at KMCs like I've been doing the past few weeks, I'll be looking at a few single cards this week; specifically, those cards from Clash of the Duel Masters that have proven themselves to be far better than players gave them credit for. These are cards that, while they might have not completely shifted the meta themselves, have definitely impacted it in a major way. All of them can be seen in large numbers at KMCs and definitely need to be prepared for if you expect to do well. Without any further ado, let's look at the first one!
Keeper of Laws
This card was meant to be a counter to control decks, which had been completely dominating in the pre-Clash meta. While it does that job well for any aggro deck that may include it, I think for it to be a true counter to control it would have to say, "Whenever a player casts a spell, the other player may draw a card." This card has indeed been giving aggressive decks like LN Megabugs and the LWN "Leap of Faith" deck ways to deal with control cards such as Mesmerize, but it has also practically become a staple in control decks, the very deck it was meant to counter![ccProd]Keeper of Laws[/ccProd] basically defines the control mirror match. If you're able to get one of these into the battle zone and it lives for a few consecutive turns, you're going to be amassing some ridiculous card advantage. Two of them in the battle zone too early basically just spells game over. The popular +1 spell [ccProd]Logos Scan[/ccProd] turns into a +0, meaning your opponent will just be giving you both more cards in hand by activating it. [ccProd]Mesmerize[/ccProd], which is a great card in the control mirror match to pick off opposing threats and see your opponent's hand, becomes a -1. There are a LOT of one-for-one spells that are very important to cast such as [ccProd]Terror Pit[/ccProd] and [ccProd]Root Trap[/ccProd] that also become difficult decisions when staring down a [ccProd]Keeper of Laws[/ccProd]. Making these powerful early-game spells so ineffective is an incredible power to have whether you're running aggro or control.
Laws probably wouldn't be as big of a problem if it didn't have "Deflecting Aura," which protects it from being targeted. Having another creature out turns it into a [ccProd]King Neptas[/ccProd] that draws cards, which is great for when control wants to switch to offense since it can't be targeted by Shield Blasts and draws cards whenever your opponent activates one. I've even seen players summon [ccProd]Scaradorable of Gloom Hollow[/ccProd] on turn three, [ccProd]Keeper of Laws[/ccProd] on turn four, and just start going in at shields, surprising their opponents in the control mirror match. With so many benefits and so few ways to safely get rid of it, [ccProd]Keeper of Laws[/ccProd] is defining the metagame and providing serious boosts to aggro and control decks alike.
I called this card bad. I just want to confess to that before I continue here.
I was still skeptical of its potential when fellow ARG writer Aiden Thorne told me on Facebook that he was running a copy in his new LWD control. A few days before the KMC in Hartsville, South Carolina, I suggested to my teammate Spencer Swan that he test one over the [ccProd]Dracothane of the Abyss[/ccProd] he was running since I had heard it was good (I had chosen to run Greed Dragons for that event instead of LWD). He went undefeated all day with a record of 8-0-1, only intentionally drawing with myself in round four, and in his deck profile on my YouTube channel, he called Tritonus "the best card in the deck." In Ohio on that very same day, Aiden and his teammate went undefeated in their KMC securing both invites with a LWD control list that included two [ccProd]King Tritonus[/ccProd]. Ever since that day, this card's popularity has absolutely skyrocketed; many control decks are even running a full playset, such as the deck that won the KMC in MA, which is a major reason these decks are reaching the highest card totals we've seen so far.
Honestly, I should have seen it coming and I'm not sure why I didn't. We've learned from Dragonstrike Infernus that the intention is for these late game powerhouses to be, well... powerhouses. Perhaps I was just used to them being powerhouses of the Dragon variety. Either way, Tritonus has a ridiculous amount of things going for it. For starters (and this was the real reason I initially suggested it to Spencer over the Dracothane), it's a +5. FIVE. Dracothane is a +2 and is one level lower, and it's still a very solid card. Not only is Tritonus an advantage-generating beast that makes a card like [ccProd]Logos Scan[/ccProd] look rather silly, but it has 15,000 power, which is the second-highest base power in the game to [ccProd]Infernus the Immolator[/ccProd].
Is a +5 with 15,000 power not enough on a card to make it the king of the late game? Well, how about a +5 that forces your opponent to get rid of it immediately! That's essentially what [ccProd]King Tritonus[/ccProd] is, thanks to its "Constrict" ability. After you've broken through a stalemate in the late game of a control mirror match by generating a mind-numbing amount of card advantage, you'll then have the cards and mana required to play a bunch of spells, locking down your opponent's field as you go. This card is currently the most threatening creature in the late game, especially in the control mirror match. If both players were on relatively even footing before it dropped, you're going to need a [ccProd]Terror Pit[/ccProd], a [ccProd]Skull Shatter[/ccProd], and probably your own copy of Tritonus to put yourself back in the game. Tritonus adds to the list of giant threats currently dominating the late game, it's another card that turns [ccProd]Bottle of Wishes[/ccProd] into a Bottle of Tears, and it gives [ccProd]Aqua Strider[/ccProd] more power than [ccProd]Bolt-Tail Dragon[/ccProd].
I don't know how many people shared my thought process, but I always thought Megabugs would be that race that just never quite got there. [ccProd]The Hive Queen[/ccProd] is quickly changing my perception of them, and it's quickly giving players a new type of aggro to combat the emphasis on the late game. Contrary to what most people were probably expecting, it's not bad! Of course, [ccProd]The Hive Queen[/ccProd] isn't the only reason Megabugs can be a successful deck; it takes good support, too, which Megabugs have in the form of [ccProd]Mana Tick[/ccProd], [ccProd]Homunculon the Blaster[/ccProd], and other good creatures to act as evo-bait. The aforementioned [ccProd]Keeper of Laws[/ccProd] fulfills its intended purpose in this deck as well, since Mesmerize can usually pose a threat to decks focused on Evolution creatures. With Laws in the deck, the threat of spells like that is diminished.
Of course, [ccProd]The Hive Queen[/ccProd] is what really gives this deck its punch. As Megabugs' main finisher, it packs a rather impressive 8000 power for only a level six, and can be brought out even earlier by using a mana-ramping spell such as Reap and Sow after a turn two or three Megabug. Once it comes down, the deck can really start putting a ton of advantage on the board, as the "Stir the Hive" effect will rarely miss in a well-constructed Megabug deck. It doesn't even have to hit a Megabug; [ccProd]Keeper of Laws[/ccProd], [ccProd]Gigahorn Charger[/ccProd], and [ccProd]Sword Horned[/ccProd] are prime targets. There really isn't much else to say about this card. It simply overwhelms the battle zone as soon as it starts attacking, and can easily win a game if left unchecked. Thanks to all the support Megabugs have been given with Clash, as well as [ccProd]The Hive Queen[/ccProd] herself, the metagame has been introduced to a new type of aggro that probably caught a lot of people by surprise.
I'm proud to say that I never thought this card was bad - and yes, I know that doesn't get me off the hook for ever calling Tritonus bad. When I was first given the opportunity from Wizards of the Coast to spoil this card and dissect it on Kaijudo.com, I was sure it would find a place in control decks, if not only as a one-of. People had some real doubts about the card, and it took a few weeks for them to get comfortable with it, but I'm finally seeing people run it in decks such as LWD and LWDN. One thing that probably adds to Squillace's popularity is the growing number of [ccProd]King Tritonus[/ccProd]es being run. Being able to get rid of an opponent's hand before the turn where Tritonus could be summoned is more important than ever. With ramp, it becomes even more deadly and can act as additional copies of [ccProd]Skull Shatter[/ccProd]; the card advantage you lose by playing cards such as Mana Storm won't matter when both players are top-decking, especially when you have the mana to play more cards off the top and a Double Breaker in the battle zone.
What really has been making this card stand out is its ability to end games. A lot of control mirror matches escalate into a very dangerous board-state when both players have a bunch of creatures in the battle zone, but can't break shields for fear of a counterattack. [ccProd]Squillace Scourge[/ccProd] takes the counterattack (and any blockers) totally out of the equation along with any cards your opponent might have been holding in his or her hand. Playing this card to generate advantage when you're down in cards is all well and good, but there are a lot of times when it's appropriate to play this card even when it loses advantage purely because doing so will allow you to end the game in the following two turns. Of course, it also has the ability to buy you a turn when you would otherwise lose the game by preventing opposing attacks, but Squillace has functioned much more as an offensive card, acting as another finisher capable of sealing the deal in just about any match-up.
There are many cards in Clash of the Duel Masters that have made an impact on the meta in a big way. These are definitely not the only ones, but I felt that they were the most interesting because of the different ways in which they took the community by surprise. As time goes on in the Clash meta, I'm sure we'll have more of these surprises, and as always, I'm excited to see the meta change and grow. Make sure you leave a comment below with any thoughts on the article, and until next week, Play Hard or Go Home!