Game 1 Trials of the Savage Tundra Normal
I draw Conscripted Warrior, War-Enchanted Groble, Glorious Charge, Hammer Strike, Nora Mine. This is a phenomenal opening hand; I know that my Mine will eat an Arctic Wail if I lay it first turn, but it has enough hp to survive one without breaking and should therefore more than pay for itself. I lead with the Groble so he can start the Spellswallowing. On turn two I try out the new Shrine Scry mechanic, because I'm not seeing any other champions to cast; this reveals a Barbarian Commander I can't afford. Much like in Magic, though, I think the main value of Shrine Scry is in preventing you from drawing a bad rune at the start of your turn. I play a Commander on the next turn, then a Mountain Sentry. I'm only putting the Sentry out so that I can bounce him with the Conscript, but he conveniently reveals a skulking Jakei Icefisher before I pop him. I throw out my wolves and take the northern font very early. My tough, resilient creatures are cutting through the early ranks.
Confession time: I forgot to use my Barbarian Commander on a turn when he had 8 ap and full Enrage up. That's pretty clearly the tipping point, though I do misuse the Conscript a couple of times, by failing to leave ap up for him to use Defensive Stance. But losing the Barbarian Commander's 40 or so damage lets the northern font fall to a horde of attackers. I don't recover from that loss, or that shame, and eventually get pushed back into my shrine's deployment zone, dropping one creature each turn. This is despite getting both Wild Chieftans out at the same time and having the Renegade equipped with the Holy Blade of Valdac. A poor play at the start of this game really cost me.
Game 2- Trials of the Shattered Peaks Normal
My starting reveal is Houndmaster, Plains Savage, Wild Chieftain, Conscripted Warrior, Righteous Deflection. I lead with Conscripted Warrior just to see if I can (I can). Whenever I can test out interactions like that during single-player I attempt to do so, since learning such things in a ranked game usually comes at the expense of victory. It definitely contributed here; my second play is the Houndmaster, but he probably should have been the first. If I'd led with Houndmaster I could have taken the font and dropped a dog in the same turn, rather than my entire action being moving up into the font. I join those two barbarians with the Plains Charger, and begin aggressively pushing through the moga. The AI plays different than I'm used to, most notably by never advancing his G'hern Sustainer away from his font. Without an AoE, though, I'm not killing the moga fast enough to overcome their numbers. By the time new G'hern are spawning, each G'hern is doing around 20 damage per hit and my creatures get two-turn clocks. Righteous Deflection helps keep my Grobles in the game once I summon them, but it's just not enough and the inexorable wave washes over me.
I've learned some things about the interactions available in the BG, but 0/2 isn't a promising record. I jump back into the Protectorate Trials and see if I can give a better showing.
Game 3- Trials of the Savage Tundra Normal, the Remix
My opening hand is Savage Shieldman, War-Enchanted Groble, Groble, Houndmaster, Barbarian Commander. My WE Groble really struggles on this map due to all of the ice cutting his speed. I lead with Houndmaster. Turn two I play the Shieldman, and turn three I bring the Houndmaster back to the shrine and drop a dog. I try to bait the AI into coming directly for my shrine, but it chooses to take my southern font instead. It's never entirely clear when the AI will make this choice, but it certainly provides a small disadvantage in the early game. I contest the font with a summoned dog, Mountain Sentry, and the Houndmaster, while my WE Groble and Shieldman head north with another dog. The Shieldman eventually falls, though the number of spells I throw down keep the WE Groble going. There are a couple of spells I play in the wrong order. At one point I decide I want mobility for my Houndmaster to shift back into contest position, casting Glorious Charge, then realThe izing if I'd just cast the spell first I could have gotten multiple attacks in with certain champions who spent all of their ap on movement.
I get incredible use out of the hounds, especially now that the Houndmaster has Drive. The Sentry also contributes, both because of Drive and because I give it the Heavy Crossbow. Meanwhile, a Savage Wolf kills the Shardmaster and begins fighting some other targets. I spend about five minutes calculating how, when the wolf is down to 4 hp, I can get it close enough to my shrine that when I cast a Conscripted Warrior, the wolf will be unsummoned. I determine I can make one attack with the wolf before I flee, and its after I click that I realize I'd neglected to add the +1 ap for disengaging from 2 opponents. That turns out to matter less than the stealthed lonx directly south of the wolf, which destealths when I try to move through her and leaves me trapped. Miraculously, I'm still exactly close enough that my conscript unsummons the wolf anyway, due to the priorities given to directions in Pox (otherwise I would have unsummoned my WE Groble). Even better, on my opponent's turn its Crystal Pheonix dies from being rent, blowing up in a nova that damages both of the Lonx the wolf was fighting.
Just like in the previous ST game, that little maneuver serves as the turning point. It takes me another thirty minutes or so to get to the Boss champion, but a Wild Chieftain behind the Conscript, along with the WE Groble and a pair of Righteous Deflections, let me hold off the remaining melee units while ignoring all of the purple-base ranged units. The BG is finally working the way I envisioned that it would: tough, vicious units cut a swathe through the opposition, shaking off the various effects designed to beat them. Although stealth was a major source of frustration and injury for me, I'm not yet sure how much of that was my fault for not paying attention to where units ended their turns.
Game 4- Trials of the Shattered Peaks Normal, Again
My opening reveal is Groble, Renegade, Nora Mine, Glorious Charge, Hammer Strike. The plan is to run out with the Renegade and just burn his health down on Exertion in hopes of reaching the font in a reasonable time. Then I'll Conscript him away. Immediately after clicking Exertion on the Renegade turn one, I surmise that I should have waited at least one turn, since I would have obtained +1 ap from the shrine without paying 8 hp. Since he's not a berserker, I could still have used Exertion, just saving the ap rather than spending it. It would have been the difference of an entire turn's worth of nora, all told, as I end up a single square away from the font. The Conscript part of the plan works as intended, however. Both Savage Wolves come down, and the Barbarian Shaman gets the Holy Blade of Valdac. Chain Lightning plus the char of her melee attack kill several moga, and I move my conscript around to engage the Moga Trapspringer.
I FORGET THE DAMN ROCK TRAP. I have played this map at least a hundred times and I still forgot the rock trap. I'm disappointed in myself for this. I fight my way onto the western font, mostly on the back of a Renegade/Wild Chieftain combination bolstered by double Hammer Strikes. My Savage Wolves move toward the north and keep the attention of the moga and g'hern while the Renegade does his work, and soon I'm up by the font, though it remains contested. Things are going relatively well, with each of my units which dies killing several moga first. Then, when I'm struggling to overcome a pair of g'hern, I deploy a Hammer Strike to kill the Moga Axeman...and hit my Savage Shieldman instead. I remember when I used to read articles on the Wizards of the Coast Magic site, and the author would talk about misclicks, which are something you can't really have happen in an actual, physical game. While I want to take solace in being screwed due to a crowded screen, as opposed to a poor tactical decision, the end result is still that I smashed my own guy and stunned him.
A little later, I also manage to walk my WE Groble into the radius of the second trap on the stage...which sends him flying back into another of my units...right after I'd cast Strip Armor. Those two incidents, combined, cut my resources out from under me and make victory very unlikely. I plug the pass with my G'hern Traitor and try to build a replacement army up at the shrine. The AI somewhat accomodates me by advancing with his melee g'hern and leaving the rest behind a wall, giving me a few rounds to possibly cut them down before the 20-damage ranged attackers engage. I manage to kill the G'hern Overseer and Tyrant using a combination of Barbarian Commander and Wild Chieftain, both wearing Righteous Deflections. When the Commander gets down to less than half health, I pop him back with a Conscript, and then manage to kill the G'hern Taskmaster with the Conscript and a Savage Wolf. By now all of the melee g'hern are dead except for the Punisher (who actually ran into view on my screen as I was typing that sentence). Unfortunately, that still leaves Dirge, the G'hern Thrower, and the G'hern Isanagoma. My shrine is taking 17 points of damage per attack, and once I run out of champions to throw in front of the masses I go down in about a round.
Four games, one win, but I actually enjoy playing the deck. As I familiarize myself with some of its abilities I think I should put forth a better showing. Plus there's the all-important experience points to spend.
Leveling my runes after the first four games, I buy my higher-level Barbarian Shaman Savage and +6 hp, which results in a net -2 to her nora cost. The other Shaman gets +1 Speed and Savage. One Conscripted Warrior picks up Block 1 and Riposte 1, while the other picks up +4 hp. I buy Charge 3 and Savage for the Plains Savage; the Barbarian Rider ability, which would give me a Renegade when the Savage dies, is attractive but an incredibly costly upgrade. Speaking of Renegade, the one I actually have picks up Exertion 2. I buy a futher +2 hp for one of my Shieldmen, so that they now have the same stats. The higher level Savage Wolf gets Pounce 2 and Violent, and the other picks up Speed 11. Savage Wolves have an incredible suite of upgradeable abilities: Call (Reveal a champion rune when this unit comes into play.), Pounce 2-3 (Just increases the maximum distance you can pounce, but at level 3 that means you spend 4 ap to move up to 4 squares and attack every adjacent creature when you land.), Tough 2-3 (Reducing that much damage comes out to a huge savings in life over several rounds), and Violent (Fury is tremendous, though as I mentioned in my first post on this deck it's hard to trigger Violent in this particular deck due to the scarcity of beasts.). I'm trying to upgrade the wolves carefully in order to keep their overall cost low, so for now I'm just aiming for 11 Speed and getting Pounce 2, Violent, and Tough 2 on both. The WE Goble finishes his Reistance- Physical, and bumps his Speed to 9. One Wild Chieftan trains up to Berserker 3, and I purchase Savage for the other.
In terms of other changes, I flip out the Crossbow for an Impervious.
The deck is now:
Barbarian Commander x2 92/5/11/20/11/13/50/1 Fearless, Battlemaster 3, Block 1, Enrage 3
Barbarian Shaman 73/3/9/14/11/8/45/1-2 Heal Champion 2, Chain Lightning, Bravery, Savage
Barbarian Shaman 82/4/14/11/10/51/1-2 Heal Champion 2, Chain Lightning, Bravery, Savage
Conscripted Warrior 64/1/11/14/8/10/45/1 Block 1, Riposte 1, Defensive Stance 3, Reinforce
Conscripted Warrior 70/2/11/14/9/10/49/1 Block 1, Riposte 1, Defensive Stance 3, Reinforce
Groble x2 86/3/10/25/9/10/42/1 Immunity-Fire, Pulverize 2, Siege, Fury
Houndmaster 86/4/10/18/11/11/50/1 Camouflage, Summon Beast 3, Lay Trap- Frost 1, Drive, Siege
Plains Savage 78/1/14/19/9/12/50/1-2 Charge 3, Heavy Charger, Trample, Savage
Renegade 60/2/15/10/9/9/44/1 Melee Specialist 2, Exertion 1, Brutality, Savage
Savage Shieldman x2 69/2/11/18/9/10/51/1 Block 1, Shield Allies, Shield Throw
Savage Wolf 78/2/18/13/11/11/47/1 Rend 1, Pounce 2, Violent, Savage, Tough 1
Savage Wolf 74/1/18/13/11/11/47, Rend 1, Pounce 1, Violent, Savage, Tough 1
War-Enchanted Groble 89/4/10/19/9/11/47/1 Resistance-Physical 3/Fire 3, Spellswallower, Construct Immunities, Adaptive-Ironfist, Loyalty
Wild Chieftain 77/1/21/14/8/12/51/1 Berserker 3, Berserk Attack 2, Charge 1, Incite Rage
Wild Chieftain 79/2/21/14/9/12/51/1 Berserker 3, Berserk Attack 2, Charge 2, Savage, Incite Rage
Hammer Strike x2
Righteous Deflection x2
Nora Mine x2
Holy Blade of Valdac