Game 5- Ranked (Signifier, Rank 2301) v Pietrzak (Aquilifer, Rank 2240)
My opening hand is all spells and Barbarian Commander, which is fine given the map; his 11 speed nets me a font and lets me contest a second while my opponent is still limping toward his first font with a Firk Mimic. I've never played against the Mimic before, nor the Mindweaver he plays next; Barbarian Commander/Wild Chieftain together mean his Mimic looks pretty frightening. He adds, over the next few turns, the new Draksar Herald and a Draksar Lord. I bunch up on his font with my barbarians, but make a poor choice not to slap a Righteous Deflection on my Chieftain (the Champion has one at this point), and lose him in a single turn of attacks. I'm still holding on, dropping hammers to stun his threats, and am set up for a big round where I abuse his Soulsphere with Strip Armor...he hammers into my Commander, dropping him to 5 health, but I'm sitting on Impervious. Impervious will improve my War-Enchanted Groble, save my Commander for a turn, and let his enraged self deal brutal damage.
Then Peitrzak plays a Mind-Shredder and kills my Commander. Although I might have been able to fight back, since I'm sitting on two fonts and two Nora Mines, I concede at this point. I'm still not a fan of facing nearly all rares/exotics...I'm working on it though.
Game 6- Ranked (Signifier, 2301) versus laserbear (Signifier, 2316)
I'm up against moga, and he gets first go with an Assault Team. I draw Renegade, Wild Chieftain, double Righteous Deflection, Hammer Strike, and then Shrine Scry for a Barbarian Commander, which I play. We're on the Ironfist map with the pass, and I lead with the Commander and back him with the Renegade on the next turn. Turn 3 I contest the neutral southern font, move my Renegade toward the central, and drop a Nora Mine. My opponent hasn't played anything yet, so I expect a big rush now that he owns a font. His units are all 9 Speed, so I contest and claim the central font...with both of my units packing Righteous Deflections to neuter his Strike Team. His next two plays are a Hyaenid Spearman and a Moga Slinger, so I get to surprise him a second time when he shoots my Commander (he'd already revealed the RD on the Renegade) and his attacks again do nothing. He drops a nasty combination of Unstable Ground and Cyclops-Eye Belt, which hurts my Renegade badly. I walk into a Rock Trap I probably should have seen coming, which results in knockback, stun, and then more knockback and damage from an avalanche...it's a bad scene for the Commander when all is said and done.
With the Commander at 9 life, I move a Savage Wolf up to contest the font and then retrieve my Commander with a Conscript. What doesn't work here is that I try to fight an attrition war with a moga deck, which I should already know is not a workable solution. I bottle things up in the center of the pass for quite some time, using a WE Groble with heavy spell support. He holds the foes off for a long time, but eventually I'm facing Dirge, the Punisher he started with, a Voil Sorceror, and some excellent commons and uncommons (plus Moga Hunters, which is an Exotic but in this case didn't have any interesting upgrades).
If I'm honest, I don't really enjoy this style of Ironfist Stronghold play, at least not at present. I'm aware of this and try to fight that feeling going into the next two rounds, but my mind is pretty focused on the Savage Tundra deck I want to make (and the paper I need to write for class).
Game 7- Ranked (Signifier 2301) versus Djinnterre (Signifier, 2395)
In a stunning reversal, my draw is all creatures...and again, the Commander is present. We're on the original Sundered Lands map, so I lead with Commander. He has two Savage Wolves, a Shaman, and a Wild Chieftain available for support, but not on turn two. Djinn is sitting on a Boghopper Spitter, and drops a Boghopper Elite the next turn. My Commander dies but I'm able to get a WE Groble and Shaman out. The Shaman ends up facing the majority of his units (Moga Cannon, Boghopper Spitter, the Elite) and I buff him with Impervious on his last turn of life. The Groble, meanwhile, contests my opponent's font and hammers away at a Massive Anuran. The Anuran disengages after a turn and drops a Rock Trap, but he drops it directly between the two units...so I destealth it when I move to renengage and kill it the next turn. My Shaman dies, but I've dropped a Nora Mine in the font zone and my opponent chooses to use the only ranged unit capable of hurting a relic to shoot my Groble. I hope to capitalize on this.
However, he Infests his Anuran the turn before I kill it, and even with me taking half damage from everything he wields he manages to put my Groble into the red. At this point I forfeit, because I still really don't care about winning with this deck.
What Would Conan Do? He'd redeem himself.
Game 8! Ranked (Signifier 2301) versus Djinnterre (Signifier, 2395)
I lose the roll again, and Djinterre leads with a Salaman Dervish. My open is double Shieldman, double Wolf, Commander. I try something different and lead with a Wolf. My Wolves battle his Dervish while two Mud Elementals come toward the font. I back the surviving wolf with a Barbarian Commander, which helps him survive the attacks of the Mud Elementals (alongside Tough, of course).
My Commander and Wolves die without removing the Mud Elementals, mostly due to physical resistance and a well-timed application of lumbering to my wolf. I plug the hole with my WE Groble and try to support him, but he's simply facing too many attacks (including a pair of Boghopper Elites) to be effective, and I (mis?)spend my Nora bringing more units into the game to support him.
I'm no Conan, clearly. I simply didn't want to be playing this BG, and don't know how much that factored into the various losses I'd suffered. I also came back to this playtesting after almost a week off (and not playing Pox at all) so I don't think my strategic play was up to par.
Thoughts: I need ways to deal with Equipment, and I should probably include a single Repair, even though I only run three constructs. I also really need some sort of AoE, even just an Earthquake. Most importantly, though, I need to recover my desire to actually run howling barbarians, and play in a manner consistent with that. There are several runes I never chose to cast and could probably drop at least one of (Shamen, Conscripts, maybe even Shieldmen) which does set me up to add some of the necessary runes. The deck does run a lot of resilient, long-lasting warriors who hit particularly hard. However, I tended to fall back on just trying to force through a WE Groble, probably due to my last major Ironfist deck being the construct deck.