Hello all, welcome to The Breakdown! This week, we are going to analyze Chaos.
We’re going to take a moment to look at each of the mechanics present in the cards and break them down into Major and Minor categories. We’ll then talk about (the only) Tribe that Chaos has and then we’ll tie it all together to see what synergies the cultists and the Daemons have.
Without further ado, let’s break down (the rather unstable) Chaos!
These are mechanics that are represented by a substantial number of cards and have well-defined synergies present within the Grand Alliance. These are things you can build around.
Let’s start off by talking about the only keyworded ability that is (almost) entirely unique to Chaos: Last Stand. With cards like Bloodfury Wrathmonger, Fanatical Skullfiend and Frenzied Devotion, Last Stand helps you get more value out of your Units when they get Removed (NOT Exhausted!) Along with being a sort of “soft counter” to your opponent’s Removal, as you peruse Chaos you will see an abundance of cards that Remove your own Units (more on that below)!
Unique to Chaos is the idea of Removing your own Units for fun and profit. Cards like Gift of Change, Insatiable Bloodreaver and Gaze of Khorne all Remove your Units for various benefits. Gift of Change and Gaze of Khorne let you get a Unit or another use of your Unit, and Bloodreaver is a very impactful Unit with a 5 point health swing.
Along with Last Stand, there are other cards that act as “payoffs” for lots of Remove effects. These include things like Rejoice in Slaughter, Skull Throne and Skullreaper Icon Bearer. Even something like Furious Strike indirectly benefits from having fewer Units on your side of the table.
We are now onto the unkeyworded mechanics. This one revolves around cards that damage…yourself. Doesn’t sound great, does it? Cards like Starving Flesh Hounds, Fanatical Skullfiend and Slashing Screamer seem like they just have downsides attached to them. While it’s true that dealing a steady stream of damage to yourself can be an issue, Chaos actually can benefit from their masochistic ways. Blood Sacrifice is an amazing payoff card that lets you draw cards everytime you hit yourself. Blood Feast can negate the damage you take altogether or even gain health if timed properly.
The two biggest payoffs are likely Pain-Induced Fury, dealing X/2/2/3 damage per instance of self-damage which quickly adds up, or the ever-popular Total Carnage. By being able to have (some) control over your diminishing health, you can take advantage of Total Carnage by filling up your Hand and pelting the enemy with Furious Strikes, Opportunity Strikes and quickly damaging Units.
Not so much a “mechanic”, but permeates a lot of what Chaos does. We’ve already mentioned Total Carnage, but the big daddy of them all is definitely Unrivalled Battle-Lust, buffing all sources of damage by a whopping X/3/2/2. Cards like Furious Strike even have conditional escalating damage built-in!
Many of the Champions in Chaos also revolve around buffing up your damage. From the popular Bloodthirster of Unfettered Fury, to others like and Exalted Deathbringer. Lord of Change does the same for Spells and Aspiring Deathbringer does it for Abilities.
Combined together and Chaos can pump out a LOT of damage.
These mechanics make up a smaller amount of the total cards in Chaos, but they clearly represent a thematic trend and can be built upon.
Present primarily within the ranks of Chaos’s Wizards are cards that can help tutor out/summon Daemons from various zones. Gaunt Summoner deals a little self-damage to bring back a Daemon from the Discard pile, Infernal Gateway and (the very simply named) Summon Daemon bring Daemons from either your Deck (Gateway) or Discard/Hand (Summon).
The Wizard ability Gift of Change (mentioned above) also lets you sacrifice a Unit to grab a Daemon from either your Hand or Deck. Lastly, the rules-mauling Unit Transmogrifying Flamer let’s you Deploy a Unit out-of-Hand as a Last Stand trigger.
While the number of Daemons currently is relatively small, this theme has lots of room to expand into a sort of “Silver-Bullet” or “Toolbox” Daemon-based deck, probably mixed with Wizards for utility Spells and Abilities.
Small subtheme in Chaos is, funny enough, Healing. Blood Hunt, Chaos’s premiere Removal Ability gains +1 health as its bonus. Blood for the Blood God touches on the self-sacrifice theme to enable a relatively large chunk of healing. Blood Feast heals you when you do damage to anyone (including yourself) while Chaotic Restoration bizarrely both harms you immediately while giving you a massive boost of 10 health later on.
Chaos also has a healing-focused Blessings in Berserker’s Rage and incidental healing out of cards like Insatiable Bloodreaver and Frenzied Bloodreaver.
While this is clearly a theme, I don’t think it has enough substance yet to support an entire deck. Keep on the lookout in future sets, however, for a Chaos Control deck that makes use of the healing tools it has to force the game to go long. Chaos Mill perhaps? Only time will tell.
Unlike Order, Chaos basically boils down to 1 thing, Tribally speaking: are you a Daemon, or not a Daemon?
Right now, Daemons Units vary wildly. There are the offensively-minded Pack of Bloodletters, Slashing Screamers and Starving Flesh Hounds. There are unique Daemons like the “punishes non-Units” Daemon Capricious Flamer, damage-reducing Twisting Screamer and even a Spell-Booster in the (hilariously named) Pink Horror Conjurer.
The Champion lineup is equally diverse. 5/7 Daemon Champions are Wizards (Archaon being a Warrior/Wizard), a Unit-focused one in Bloodthirster of Unfettered Fury, a utility Daemon in Blood Throne of Khorne (who looks like he really wants to be part of a Control shell) and of course Archaon, who wants to just Remove anything in his way.
This diversity is both flavourful and reinforces my belief that Daemons want to be used in a silver-bullet deck, where Daemons are summoned up on-demand to fill whatever role is needed at the time. This also explains why most of the Daemons are Wizards: almost all the tools for tutoring them are Wizard-based!
As a quick side-note, right now the only thing that cares about Daemons Ability-wise is Daemonic Fury (must be a Daemon Champion to use it in that lane) and Valkia the Bloody’s Heroic Act requires non-Daemons.
Themes and Synergies
Before we wrap up, let’s look at everything we’ve just analyzed and see how it all fits together for when YOU go to build a deck.
Last Stand + Self-Sacrifice
This interaction clearly was at the forefront of the designers mind when coming up with cards for Chaos. Last Stand Units disincentivize opponents from trying to remove them, which often results in them sticking around long enough so you can rotate them fully and get a use of their Last Stand effect! Combining these two themes together makes up an “engine” sort of game plan:
- Play a Unit with Last Stand
- Let it Rotate and do damage.
- Sacrifice it for value using something like Gift of Change, Gaze of Khorne, etc.
- Get the Last Stand effect in addition to whatever your payoff cards are.
As described in the Daemon Tribe section, there are a decent number of cards that search for and Deploy Daemons from various zones (Hand, Deck and Discard piles). Daemons vary wildly from doing damage, acting as removal, defense, etc which means that they cover a wide variety of situations. With tutors, you can search for the Units that you need, when you need them! Combining Gift of Change with some Last Stand cards also lets you get double-benefit while searching for a replacement.
Damage Buff Good Stuff
Chaos has a lot of damage buffs. A lot of buffs. Combinations include things like Valkia the Bloody + Exalted Deathbringer to quickly rotate 4-corner heavy-hitting Units. Or you could play quickly-completing Units adjacent to Bloodthirster of Unfettered Fury. Or you could quickly rush completing quests to flip over Blessings like Unrivalled Battle-Lust or Total Carnage. Regardless of the route you take, Chaos can dish out damage. Fast.
After analyzing Chaos, there are a few conclusions we can come to:
- Chaos plays risky and aggressive. Chaos isn’t afraid to hurt itself if it means it can hurt its opponent more. Chaos Units and Spells are individually strong, but often have setbacks. Look for cards that can take advantage of this risky play style and watch out for well-timed damage prevention from your opponents!
- Tribal Synergy isn’t a focus of Chaos. Unlike the other Grand Alliances, Chaos doesn’t rely on synergies between different Tribes. Units and Spells in Chaos are mostly unrelated to each other but are individually powerful on their own. This means deckbuilding can be a bit more complex as there aren’t as well-defined archetypes as there are in Order, Destruction and Death.
- Look for more controlling elements in the future. Right now, Chaos is almost fully geared towards a fully aggressive playstyle. However, there are inklings of a life-gain “control” style of deck on the horizon, backed up with various forms of Removal and even a light amount of Lane Denial like in Order. This isn’t a proper archetype yet but keep an eye out in future sets!
Chaos is definitely a blast to play and for those of you who love fast games, there is no better! Take your opponent down in a blaze of glory (or ping yourself for that last, lethal point of damage with Unrivalled Battle Lust…) it’s all the same to Chaos.
Next time on The Breakdown we are going to cover the creepy, spooky skeletons (and vampires, and mordants, and spirits oh my!) of Death!
Want to try and build your own Chaos deck? Think you can crack the meta? Try out the Deckbuilder and share it!