Eternal players don't really have creative names for their decks. Sure, sometimes you'll get a fun name like "Blitz" or "Scrappy Hour', but most of the time it's just faction-archetype titles (like "Stonescar Aggro" or "TJP Mid") or a portmanteau of the key cards in the deck (like "Kennadin" or "Icaria Blue").
Because of this, this deck has two names. The first name is the dry faction-archetype descriptor that people will most commonly know it as, and which will likely be used in all the official discussion and meta snapshots and other tryhard uber-Spike stuff. In those discussions you will likely see this deck being referred to as "TJS Mid" or something along those lines. The second name is the real name of the deck – Stand of Argenport.
Get it? Because it's Argenport Mid, but it runs Stand? And Stand is the opposite of Fall, so it's also a play on the Fall of Argenport set name?
Never mind. If you didn't get it you're part of the problem with boring deck names. Let's delve into the meat of Combrei Aggro's bigger, edgier brother (that's why it has Shadow influence, for maximum edge). In this article I'll be covering the key ideas behind the deck, what FOA brings to the table in augmenting this deck, the strengths and weaknesses of the deck, the rationale for card inclusions or exclusions and basic mulligan and gameplay advice.
The deck is shown in the image above, but can also be found at Eternal Warcry . If you're reading this article a while after its release, the most up to date version can be found there.
The Big Idea
I built a lot of this deck, but I can't claim to be the only person who's latched on to the potential of TJS Mid. Barely five games through my initial testing set of ten games after I first threw the list together (with extensive help from the Eternal Discord), I ran into a couple of mirrors, and then into another one later in the day after I'd switched to playing Stonescar Aggro for a quest.
So either my idea has spread far faster than I thought it had, or other people have independently discovered the strength of the deck. Both are good, because it means that people other than me believe in this deck and have seen its potential. Hopefully because it's actually good and not because it's Feln Control 2.
As such, when I cover the evolution and theory behind TJS Mid, I can't claim this to be the definitive evolution of TJS Mid, only the evolution of it from my perspective. For me, it started when I was trying to make old school Argenport Mid work in the FOA meta. There were lots of FOA cards that I thought would work really well in AP Mid, such as Thief's Pick, Vanquisher's Blade and of course the Winchest Merchant. However, I was soon struggling to make AP Mid work consistently on ladder, and I identified a few reasons why this was the case.
- Harsh Rule exists. AP Mid was always weak to Harsh Rule, as all decks that involve playing an army of good units without Aegis are, and with Merchants in the game, it is more reliably fetchable than ever.
- AP Mid's two drops are poor in quality. Maybe Crownwatch Paladin worked back in Set 3, but with Teacher of Humility in the game and Awakened Student being playable now in a deck that wasn't TJP Mid (since Combrei Aggro finally became a viable deck), AP Mid has to up its game to compete with Time decks. For a deck that revolves around having good, efficient units, that's not acceptable.
- Combrei Aggro is better than it in every possible way. It has Stand Together to dodge removal while buffing itself. It has Copperhall Elite to Overwhelm chump blockers. It has vastly superior two drops. It has Sword of Unity for a great finisher that also makes aggro decks instantly scoop.
- AP Mid's lack of Aegis makes it too weak to control decks. In Set 3 this was acceptable – it could play out two threats at a time, holding the rest in hand and replacing the threat every time one was removed. With this strategy, it could more or less muddle through and kill control before Channel The Tempest or Sword of the Sky King came out at 8 power. But in FoA, such a strategy is no longer viable. Now we have Rizahns and Icarias flooding the skies as early as turn 5 with Bulletshaper, Harsh Rules and hard removals being fetched from market and even stuff like Rindra's Choice to hit Tavrod, who was able to dodge Annihilate in Set 3.
I knew that if I wanted to build a viable version of AP Mid, I would have to make something that covered these weaknesses. So I began fiddling around with the deck, thinking about ways to protect it from Harsh Rule and hard control. I even jokingly tried to splash Primal into it so I could run Backlash and Unseal. Then, I hit upon the idea of splashing in Stand Together in order to protect and buff my units, and started realizing that Time cards actually have very good synergy with AP Mid cards, so I started adding more in until at some point it stopped being a splash and started simply being a third faction.
In fact, Time cards actually shores up all the weaknesses I talked about earlier. It can improve the quality of AP Mid's two drops by adding Teacher of Humility and Awakened Student into the deck. Stand Together and Sword of Unity are great cards to play in AP Mid and also protect them from control. Running TJS lets me take all the best parts of Combrei Aggro, like Copperhall Elite, and cut out the chaff that we don't want, like Crownwatch Paladin in favor of better Shadow cards like Ripknife Assassin. And lastly, AP Mid's bomb – Tavrod – synergizes extremely well with Time's bomb, Sword of Unity.
So these are the big ideas in the deck – shoring up AP Mid's weaknesses with Time's cards, using Tavrod to tutor and buff Sword of Unity, and protecting AP Mid's units with Stand Together. Because TJS is such an ambitious and powerful deck, it has very little space for running flex or tech cards, with only two slots dedicated to it (although some of its drops can be replaced, such as substituting Auric Record Keeper for Unseen Commando). It's also a deck that's very demanding on influence – the reason that I play Awakened/Ripknife as my two drops rather than Teacher of Humility is because TT influence was simply too difficult to achieve.
Deckbuilding wise, there aren't many novel or interesting card choices. They're just standard Combrei and AP suites mashed together to fit the goals and ideas stated above. One goal that I did have when building the deck was to try to avoid dead cards and always keep the tempo going because of how important tempo is in this deck to stabilize things for your Tavrod and kill your opponent with it if you do not draw him. This means that I avoid cards like Suffocate or Sabotage, which I ran a lot of in early versions of the deck, because sometimes they can be dead cards. It's also why I don't run a Tavrod in the market – other than keeping minotaur density in maindeck up, it's simply too slow to try to fetch, play and then attack with him, when options like Vanquish or Desert Marshal allow me to fetch and play them on the same turn for maximum tempo.
Awakened Student – Awakened Student is your better 2 drop. It ramps, it forces your opponent to blow their removal (which indirectly protects your other cards) and it creates immediate pressure on your opponent against "do nothing until turn 5" decks.
Ripknife Assassin – Ripknife Assassin isn't as good as Awakened Student, but the Warcry is neat, and it can hold off an early fatty (such as Sandstorm Titan) with its Deadly. It's also difficult to block early on in the game, since it blows them out at best and trades even at worst, so it can let you chip in some damage before they stabilize.
Thief's Pick – This is a card I included as an experiment, but it proved to be an extremely important source of evasion in the deck. Being able to bypass fat or Deadly blockers can be really powerful when you consider how important being able to attack every turn with your big threats is. The Pilfer also provides a power sink so you have more cards to use excess power on in the late stages of the game when you're mostly topdecking. In general, if you have a threat that they find difficult to deal with, put a Thief's Pick on it. Just be careful not to get blown out by removal – try to pick Aegis units to help with that.
Bloodletter – Bloodletter is just a generically good and efficient way to beef up your threats. The lifesteal is also excellent for helping against aggro, both making your blockers block better and giving you some extra life to prevent you from being rushed down. I found the extra stats to make this a superior pick to Vanquisher's Blade – the Vanquish option was useful, but cost too much for too situational an effect.
Slay – Slay is one of the cards that really puts you ahead of the pack when compared to other aggressive midrange decks. It's your version of Equivocate, and it provides you with the hard removal that Combrei Aggro lacks. Try to save this for big units, because that can provide a massive tempo swing and this deck loves that.
Stand Together – Stand Together is one of the key pieces of your deck, to the point where the deck is actually named after it. One thing you must get into your head is that most of the units in this deck are very threatening and powerful. This means that equally, they present extremely ripe targets for removal. So you need to always make sure that they are protected. When playing this deck, you need to feel actively uncomfortable at leaving a unit on the board without Aegis for more than one turn. As much as it may seem tempting to play out a lot of units and then buff them all with Stand Together, you are much more likely to get swept or taken out before then. It's better to focus on playing out a smaller number of potent threats and protect them carefully with your Stand.
Unseen Commando – Unseen Commando is your aggro killer. We don't have the space to run Suffocate, so we rely on Unseen Commando as your best bet against being rushed down by aggro. At 3 health, it easily blocks the 2/1 units that aggro favors, and its lifesteal means that aggro decks will find it extremely hard to kill you. It's also the least favorable target to Permafrost, since it continues buffing your other units even when frozen.
The second purpose of Unseen Commando is to provide an easy win against decks that are unable to contest your air supremacy, such as Praxis Tokens. If you can get a couple of Commandoes in the sky and place some weapons on them, you can very easily snowball to a fast victory.
Valkyrie Enforcer – Valkyrie Enforcer is just a staple card in any proactive midrange deck that has Justice as a faction. There are quite a few important silence targets you want to look out for, such as Sandstorm Titan which grounds your fliers or a Deadly unit that's stopping your Tavrod from attacking. It can also be used to pop Aegis in order to follow up with a Slay. Finally, it's a flier itself and can act as an evasive damage source to slap weapons and Aegis on until they die.
Winchest Merchant – With the deck being based so heavily around using Aegis to protect your big threats, Winchest Merchant is a must for fetching two sources of board-wide Aegis out of the market – Stand Together and Sword of Unity.
In addition, at 5 power it can provide either a Vanquish or Desert Marshal on demand, which is very useful. Against heavy control decks, you can also take out the Runehammer and start hitting their face. Finally, it's a flier, and once again can be equipped with weapons to pressure the opponent.
Copperhall Elite – Copperhall Elite is a card that is great by itself – it already comes with an Aegis, no need to waste a Stand to protect it. It has Overwhelm so it's not easily chumped, which is important since as an Aegis unit it'll be the most attractive target for your Bloodletters. The statline of 4/4 for 4 is nothing to sneeze at.
But what makes this card really great is that it has good synergy with other cards in your deck. As a Minotaur, it can be fetched by Tavrod. In addition, since it has two battle skills, Commando will always buff it. Because of its great strength and synergy, Copperhall Elite is one of the best cards in the deck and you'll usually be pretty happy putting it down on 4.
Sword of Unity – Sword of Unity is a card that can be played as early as 4 power, but you'd really rather play it on 6 power so it acts as an additional copy of Stand Together. This is the card that you will prioritize drawing most with Tavrod's ability, as the opponent will likely scoop when you play it on him. Sword of Unity adds an insane amount of pressure to your threats the moment you get to play it, and it also usually acts as the death knell for aggro due to its lifesteal.
Do not be afraid to play Sword of Unity on 4 against aggro decks because the lifesteal is a lot more important than the protection there. In most other cases, the card that you will want to place Sword of Unity on is Tavrod, since it shores up his weaknesses against removal and being chump blocked.
Tavrod, Auric Broker – Tavrod is the crown jewel of this deck. He is an excellent beatstick that doesn't die to most conditional removals other than Vanquish. In addition, he plays an important role in your deck by providing it with gas and keeping it going.
The ability to mill out all the useless power cards in late game as well as tutor game changers like Sword of Unity is the key reason to play Tavrod. You can stick Aegis on him and just watch him plow through the enemy. Do be careful to protect him though and don't place him down right after the enemy has gotten a Vanquish from market. If you can play Tavrod on 5 and not have him immediately die, then you should probably win the game.
Desert Marshal – Desert Marshal is played primarily for his ability to act as the fun police and silence important enemy units. Use him to silence "must-remove" effects such as Alhed or an opposing Tavrod. He can also help to ensure your air supremacy.
Vanquish – Vanquish is your main tool for removing fatties and bomb units. You can play it on the same turn that you Merchant if you have 5 power, and that's the reason why I run Vanquish rather than Vanquisher's Blade in the market. It can turn the tide of a close battle if used wisely.
Stand Together – You will want to draw Stand Together as much as possible to protect your units. Being able to get it out of the market helps to ensure that consistency.
Auric Runehammer – Generally you will want to use this to remove inconvenient blockers. Try to make it so they can't remove the Runehammer the turn after you play it, either by removing their last unit or by having enough units to block. If you can make Runehammer stay alive for one more turn, you can turn it into 2 for 1 removal.
It's also very useful against control decks because they rarely run burn spells or units until Channel the Tempest comes into play at 8. Don't expect it to win games though because even the most dedicated control decks will run Merchants to bar your way and these days people will usually have some attachment killers in the market.
Sword of Unity – The same principle to Stand Together applies here. If there is a board stall and you drew a merchant late game, consider purchasing a Sword of Unity in order to explosively force your way through and end the game.
Teacher of Humility – TJS Mid is a deck that is very greedy about influence. It is too difficult to support a TT 2 drop, as much as I'd love to play Teacher.
Sabotage – I once said that every Shadow deck should run 4x Sabotage. I still think that most Shadow decks should, simply because FoA meta is defined by explosive, high-impact spells such as Harsh Rule, End of Hostilities, and Sword of Unity. It's also a great spell to play right after they market. However, this deck simply does not have the tempo or space to run Sabotage. It needs to curve out and use up every power, every turn. That does not leave much room for playing a card that does not advance your position on the board or have an immediate impact.
Vanquisher's Blade – As explained above, I do not think that the option select is worth it. It is too expensive and I'd rather have the lifesteal from Bloodletter and the beefier stats.
Auric Record Keeper – It's a Minotaur and it's a 4/4 for 3 with upside, so normally I'd love to run a card like this. In addition, it's lighter on the influence demand than Command is (since TJ is easier to achieve than JJ because of Seats, Banners and Crests giving it easily). However, I found that the lack of protection against aggro, weakness to Vanquish (which is commonly played in this meta) and lack of evasion made it an inferior pick.
Kosul Battlemage – This is probably the hardest exclusion and I think there are some metas where you would run Battlemage over Commando. I made the call that lifesteal and flying were more important than Aegis since we already have some ways to give units Aegis. Also, a lot of units get put up to two battle skills with Stand (such as Winchest Merchant and Valkyrie Enforcer), so the buff came in handy more often than I thought.
Finest Hour – It's one of the best combat tricks in the game, but I'd rather evade with Thief's Pick than trade with Finest Hour. We also have enough evasion and beatsticks that we rarely need Finest Hour to force our way through like Combrei Aggro does. You can however consider running it if you substitute Commando for Battlemage since it has better synergy there.
Suffocate/Annihilate – We do not have the luxury of running cards that are dead in many matchups. The only time I'd run Suffocate is if the ladder is saturated with hyper-aggro, but if that's the case then I wouldn't play this deck anyway since it's reliant on drawing Commandoes and Bloodletters to beat aggro.
- Protect your units. Most of your units have enough pressure stacked onto them by themselves. It's better to protect a small number units than to overplay into a sweeper.
- You will lose if the opponent is allowed to play 1 for 1s and grind you out. Try to exert enough pressure on them that they cannot stabilize.
- Do not overplay weapons onto exposed units. Keep track of what removals they have, whether they can play an Aegis popper with a removal and how much open power they have.
- As a general rule, market for Marshal against fliers, Vanquish against fatties, Runehammer against control and Sword of Unity against aggro. If in doubt, pick Stand Together – it does a lot of work in pretty much every matchup.
- Tavrod should prioritize tutoring other Tavrods over Copperhall Elite, unless the opponent is running a lot of removal.
- Tavrod should prioritize tutoring weapons in this order: Sword of Unity > Thief's Pick > Bloodletter. However, there are times where you will want to pick Thief's Pick as first priority if they have a board stall with a lot of big fatties. Also, do not tutor weapons that you cannot play, so if you do not have the influence to play Unity but need a lifesteal to stabilize against aggro, prioritize Bloodletter.
- Do not play big, undefended threats such as Tavrod or a Bloodletter on a Commando right after your opponent markets. Bait out the removal by holding up Stand first before committing. If it turns out that they have two Harsh Rules and you get swept anyway, feel free to complain about variance in the #salt channel on the Discord.
- Your two drops do not have a massive impact on the game. It's fine to trade an Awakened Student in order to stabilize against an aggro rush rather than being greedy and trying to grow it.
- Try to play lines that have an immediate impact on the game board. It's better to market for a card that you can use immediately, and it's better to play a weapon that does damage immediately rather than a unit which will take a turn to attack. This allows you to keep the pressure up.
- Mulligan hands that are 2 or less power, or 5 or more power. A 3-4 power hand is ideal.
- Mulligan any hand in which the influence from the power in your starting hand is insufficient for playing any card in your hand below 5 power. That is to say, if you don't have enough influence to play a card in your hand that isn't Tavrod or Sword of Unity, then that card will be a dead card and you should mulligan the hand.
- Mulligan a hand in which you do not have a two drop. You will get destroyed by aggro and you do not have enough early pressure to keep control from accumulating sufficient removal to roll over you if you don't have anything to play on turn 2.
- Mulligan hands that are all depleted power. Some depleted power is fine, especially since you'll never play a card on turn 1. But this deck requires you to play on curve at least somewhat, so playing everything a turn late is like not having a 2 drop.
- General rules cannot encompass every mulligan situation. Keep in mind the ideas behind the deck and remember that you care about tempo, curve and pressure when deciding what to mulligan.
I hope you have fun playing the Stand of Argenport. It's a really neat deck and it feels extremely satisfying to win against. It has a lot of power and decent consistency, so I hope you enjoy playing it as much as I did. I will not claim that it is T1 or the best deck all the time, but it is definitely a viable contender and not meme or jank.
If you have any feedback or questions, feel free to contact me. Thank you so much for reading!