Welcome back to another edition of Deckbuilding. In my third installment, I will be talking about possibly one of the easier to overlook Primes in our game, Captain Shaun Mason.
Upon initial inspection, Captain Mason appears to be simply interested in Guards, a type-themed Prime. As the member of the design team who was on the receiving end of Captain Mason more often than not, I can assure you that you don’t want to underestimate the power of a towering guard encouraging you not to attack.
Not Just a Type-themed Prime
While Mason was designed to be the “Key Master”, unlocking guards to be able to inflict a beating, what he turned out to be was so much more. The concept that I want to present to you today is a control variant of Mason (and yes, there is an aggro build for him). In this deck, what you will discover is not so much the power in a guard attacking, rather the strength in prevention of an enemy player attack due to large guards and various tricks.
The strategy for this deck is to focus on Captain Mason’s first ability and allow the deck itself to ensure that you are getting four prestige each turn instead of one. The easiest way to do this is to set a really big guard (5-6 Might) down as your champion and see if your enemy is willing to sacrifice a Follower by attacking into it, especially if it is only for the sake of preventing a big prestige gain. Because the card pool is admittedly small at this point, Action based removal is at a lower quantity than really big guards, so it should be easy enough to match that removal by simply playing a new guard.
So let’s move on to the fun stuff… the tricks!
Combat Prevention Tricks
I stopped short in calling this toolbox of fun “Combat Tricks” because really all of this needs to occur prior to an enemy player’s duel. The objective is to force the enemy champion to be exhausted when it is time to duel, meaning, they can’t attack! My first trick is to play Praetorian and with the Kickback, stash a Detain in the Hideout. This is a very powerful opening play for Mason. Keep in mind that when you start your first turn, your enemy couldn’t have attacked you, so you will get four prestige from Mason. The Praetorian is a five Might champion and will deter most attackers if your enemy went first. However, the Detain in the Hideout means that if you went first, you will be bouncing the first champion that the opponent plays, so he will be exhausted next turn as well! Mason will be at 12 prestige before the initial attacker is ready to duel… into a Praetorian.
Another very nice play with this deck is to use Highcourt Bailiff similarly as above. You won’t get the extra play that the Praetorian provides, however it certainly removes the champion and prevents the attack. It is very easy to be fearful of using the Bailiff as many Followers have Recruitment abilities. The payoff here that outweighs giving a second activation of a Recruitment ability is that the Follower, again, can’t attack you during their turn as it will be exhausted again, netting you four more Prestige. My next cool trick is a card that we believe will be a greatly underappreciated card, but will ultimately be an advanced player’s favorite: the Chief Justice herself, Julia Spence. Her rules box can be a little deceiving as to how powerful she is, but when you pair her with the Captain, you can begin to see how strong she can be. In general, Julia says, if an enemy player has dueled this turn, they can’t play a card this turn and vice versa (if they have played a card this turn, they can’t duel this turn). How this plays out in this deck is that Julia will camp at the back of your party behind a couple of guards. Your opponent now has an additional layer of problems beyond dealing with the guard. If they use removal to kill the guard, they can’t attack. If they use removal to kill Julia, they can’t use it on the guard. If they attack into the guard, you can just replace the guard next turn and the same problem remains. Now, assuming that you are only gaining prestige through the Captain, it will require seven turns of his first ability’s activation to win the game. Which means that it is totally fine giving a few points of prestige to an enemy player in order to ensure that they are not dueling. That leads into my next trick: Follower Removal.
By default, our design for Council was to be the control-oriented House. Therefore, it is pretty easy to assume that we will have some good options available to continue blowing menacing champions out of the water, again, preventing an attack. If we are going to win, it is definitely a boat race victory (appropriate for the ship captain!). That leads me into the pinpoint removal card for Council, Parade for the Fallen. Parade is a very strong card. Not only can it be used to net yourself a couple of points here and there, but it selects Primes as well as Followers. One of the cooler parts of this deck is that we have access to a couple cards with Kickback, so playing a Praetorian or Press Secretary followed by a Parade is a sweet move. Council is very good at power swings and this is a perfect example. By far the easiest case scenario for this deck is Harsh Justice. Being able to wipe the table of all Followers is very strong, as the biggest problem that Mason has is when there are several Followers in an opponent’s party. Eliminating the champion only reveals a new champion who can duel next turn. I want to gain four prestige, not one! Harsh Justice ensures that condition.
As mentioned earlier, Detain serves as a piece of removal, but also doubles as a layer of intrigue, disguising Web of Propaganda in the Hideout. Web is a nice introduction to the auxiliary win condition that the Mason deck loves, taxing! [image of Web of Propaganda, Press Secretary and Grand Marshall
Taxing, in our game, is a term developed during the design of Joseph Tromberg. We wanted his design to feel as if he were absorbing your glory (he is the President after all). The mechanic turned into stealing a point of prestige from an enemy player and you gaining it. As the deck developed, we realized that we liked the mechanic and wanted to flesh it out even more. Especially, since we knew that the next deck to be designed was going to be Clarity, and its explosive prestige gain needed to be slowed somehow. Thus, Web of Propaganda was born. This line of thought led to Press Secretary and ultimately, to the Grand Marshall.
Each of these cards work really well in this deck to help mitigate the fact we really don’t care too much about the enemy player gaining prestige. In fact, by the time the end game rolls around, it is entirely possibly to have a couple of Webs waiting in the Hideout for a last ditch prestige grab to be cancelled out, pushing us into a winning situation.
I really love the synergy between the Grand Marshall and all the guards in the deck. I mean, playing a Bailiff that bounces an enemy champion (…or itself!) and taxes for two is a brilliant mode of keeping the game in check.
Shaun Mason’s original first ability said, EXH: Select an enemy player. They lose 2 PRE and you gain 2 PRE.
This proved to be way too powerful and was replaced with his current line of text. However, we discovered later that we liked it at 1 PRE and it became Joseph Tromburg’s first ability.
This has been a long article, sorry about that (…not sorry). Here is my decklist for Shaun Mason’s Angry Old Man deck:
1 Shaun Mason
2 Joseph Tromburg
3 Grand Marshall
3 Highcourt Bailiff
3 Honor Guard
3 Press Secretary
3 Julia Spence
3 Harsh Justice
3 Parade for the Fallen
3 Web of Propaganda
3 Spy Network
2 Shield Charge
So that is the design technology behind this deck and a little bit of background behind a few card designs. I actually enjoy reflecting back on the design process behind certain cards or mechanics, so if you have any questions, feel free to ask away! If the answer doesn’t spoil something in the future, Jake and I would love to write an article and tell some stories.
But what do you think of this deck? See any weak spots or something that can be added?