Time Lock, A Blue/Black Deck
First of all, I love Lock Decks. So please excuse me if I get a tad carried away gushing over the concept of this deck. What I mean by a "Lock Deck" (not necessarily the Lock Mechanic in Artifact) is when your entire deck's strategy is to shut the opponent down, prevent them from playing their cards, or in general ruin their entire game plan. An example of a "Lock Deck" could be something as simple as a Card that prevents the opponent from playing Spells, as long as it's in play. Like Jinzo from Yu-Gi-Oh or even Dark Vileplume from Pokemon, both of these cards have an effect that applies to both players, stopping a type of card from even being played. If you were to face a typical deck, the opponent likely runs that type of card, and now all of those cards are dead cards in the opponent's hand.
In Artifact, there is an actual Lock Mechanic, which applies to a card in the opponent's hand, Locking it from being played for an entire round. If I were to apply 2 Lock to a card, it would be locked out for 2 rounds. , , and the big one, all apply Lock to the opponent's cards. I would like to mention, they all feature Faceless Void in their artwork. Could he be a future Hero with a Lock Mechanic effect?
In a recent post on the official Artifact Blog, titled "Richard Garfield on Upkeep Kills", Richard Garfield explains what he means by an Upkeep Kill. An Upkeep Kill is the brief moment before the Action Phase begins in a Lane. Here, many cards will deal damage to the opponent's units and sometimes can kill a Hero. When this happens, the Hero will immediately be sent to The Fountain, before they have an opportunity to fulfill the Color requirement for a Spell card, or participate in combat. Plus, they still have to wait an entire Round out of play, essentially losing two whole rounds of activity. Combining Upkeep Kills with the Lock Mechanic, we might actually be on to a really cool type of Lock Deck...
Why these Heroes?
is one of my favorite Heroes in Dota 2, one that I have most of my games played on. Thankfully, I love the card design in Artifact, and I'm sure I'll be playing a lot of in Artifact, as well! For this deck, is one of the best Heroes, because of his Passive Ability, Venomous Nature, he summons a into his lane, every Deployment Phase. are a 1 Attack, 3 Health Creep that deal 2 Piercing Damage to a random target during the "Upkeep" each round. This can be absolutely massive, especially after you can summon multiple with 's Signature card, , which summons two immediately into the lane! For this reason, we want in the Flop. While he does have a low Health total, if he can survive the Flop, he can start summoning Plague Wards right away!
is quite an interesting Hero, especially in a deck like this, where there aren't a ton of great Blue Spells to potentially trigger his Passive Ability, Multicast. With a mere 25% chance to copy a Blue Spell, it's something you shouldn't ever be hoping for, but when it happens it can be quite nice. The biggest targets you would want to play in the lane with , for the chance to happen, is the Lock cards and . The main reason is in the deck, is for his signature card, , a fantastic Improvement card that deals 1 Piercing Damage to all of the enemy units in a lane. A couple of these, with a couple of in a lane? That's a lot of Piercing Damage!
As Richard Garfield mentioned, is a great Hero to play if you want to get Upkeep Kills! 's signature card is , which is an Improvement that starts with 3 charges when it is played, and every Upkeep it loses 1 charge, dealing 2 Damage to the entire opponent's lane, as well as their tower. You could compare it to , but for the Black House of the Cunning. I would like to mention, the 6 overall damage to the enemy tower isn't something to disregard. I'd also like to point out that three entire rounds for a 5 Mana card is not that bad of a thing. In most situations, it'll be running out of charges around the end of the game, or at least nearing the game wrapping up. Because has such a low amount of Health (even lower than !) we have to put him in the Turn, where we can place him in a relatively safe lane. It's also important to get him into combat quickly, so his Active Ability, Laser, can start its cooldown.
's Passive Ability, Static Field, is incredible in this deck. While it suffers from a similar problem that has, too few Blue Spells, the added proc of Static Field goes well with the Lock cards. For instance, doesn't really do much for 3 Mana. It just applies 2 Lock to 2 cards in the opponent's hand. But if you play it in 's lane, it also deals 1 Piercing Damage to all enemy units around ! That's a huge benefit! I'm sure I don't have to go into too much detail on , one of the best Spell cards in the game. It deals 4 Piercing Damage to all enemy Heroes, across all lanes! A great way to reduce enemy Heroes Health to a low enough point where all of our Improvements can kill them during an Upkeep! Zeus is also a pretty solid Flop Hero with his Passive, Static Field, if you can play one Blue Spell in his lane, he deals enough damage to kill a .
is the absolute best Black Hero in the game. She can easily kill an enemy Hero in one hit and that's why we are running her in the Flop! A very powerful hero when it comes to combat, also comes with one of the best signature cards in the game, ! One of the only hard removal Spells in the game, this is the easiest way to deal with a pesky enemy Hero, that we couldn't kill in combat otherwise.
How to best play the Lock
Ideally, would be placed in Lane One. Because there, the card can actually trigger at the begging of every round, preventing the locked card from being played in any lane. In a perfect world, all would be played in Lane Three, into Lane One, activating at the beginning of the following round, regardless if Lane One is your high priority lane or not, although it is important to be aware if your opponent has or not. It might be in your best interest to make Lane One a High priority anyway, because that's the best place to cast from.
Most of the time, I'd say doesn't have to be played on curve. I personally would rather wait until I have an in a lane, and then start playing . When you are in a Lane at 3 or 4 Mana, there are much better cards to play. Also, the biggest reason you are running Lock cards are to prevent your opponent from playing the best cards in the game, things like , , , , , and . All of these cards cost 6 or more Mana. Imagine you play on curve and hit 2 of these cards in your opponent's hand. They don't care, they don't have the Mana to play it anyway and by the time the Lock wears off, they'll be able to cast their card on curve! So in general, I think it's best to wait to play when you have 5 Mana, on the River turn, when is deployed.
And of course, can be played right on curve. If you can play this with Initiative in Lane One, right on 6 Mana, it's likely you can hit a lot of really good cards in your opponent's hand. By this time in the game, they've probably played many low cost 3, 4, or even 5 Mana cost cards, leaving them with only end game, powerful Spells. Ideally, you also play this in lane with , because this is a very juicy spell to get a free copy of.
One more thing on the Lock mechanic, itself. Many people won't play these cards because they say things like, "Oh, it'll never hit the card I need it to!" In response to that, I say that's a ridiculous thing to say. In every game you play without Lock, the opponent gets to play their cards, they'll always be able to play their cards. Because of this, a good player will play as if the opponent has the absolute best cards in their hands. Does my opponent have in hand? Probably, I best set my board up in such a way that I can prepare for it! This is always the correct play. But when playing Lock cards, it doesn't mean you should automatically assume the opponent's best cards are locked. Always assume the opponent can make the best play from their hand, regardless of how many times you have Locked them. And any time the opponent doesn't make the best play? Well, you can get further ahead!
As I've mentioned before in the article, 's signature card, is incredible. First off, it's a great defensive tool, spawning two Creeps into a lane to potentially absorb incoming damage and prevent a Tower from falling. Secondly, it can be a powerful offensive tool, setting up a ton of potential Piercing Damage, to take place during upkeeps moving forward. The random nature of can be quite frustrating, but it's a necessary drawback because of how powerful is.
is just the opposite, a guaranteed 1 Piercing Damage, every upkeep, to every enemy unit. In conjunction with and 's Passive, Static Field, this is a great source of damage. I'd also like to point out, if you can get an out on Round One, the game lasts for 6 more Rounds, and the opponent has three units in lane, on average, will have dealt a total of 18 Piercing Damage over the course of the game! All for 3 Mana!
is definitely a card you want to play on curve, hopefully into the opponent's High Priority lane. would obviously be way too good if it was Piercing Damage, but nonetheless, it's a very good card. A high level player might recognize a few turns in advance, when they have an opportunity to push for extra damage on a tower and maybe knock it down. In those instances, you should definitely consider the 6 extra tower damage that gives you.
Because we run , which grants a full playset of in the deck, I think it's appropriate to run only 2 , netting us a total of five 5 Mana cost Improvements that deal 2 to all enemy units. That might seem excessive, but stacking these in the same lane, in combination with all our other upkeep damage dealing cards, that's a ton of damage dealt overtime, every round!
is one of my favorite value cards. For a mere 4 Mana, which means it can be cast in the second round, where we have on the Turn, we can place into any lane. Usually, I'd want to place this in the opponent's High Priority lane, where I can ping an enemy unit for 2 Piercing Damage, setting me up for a kill during the next upkeep.
Other sources of Damage
Because she is a Creep card, has a chance to stay on the field, after she deals her damage. Essentially, she can act like a 2 Mana card that deals 3 Damage to a unit, and if she survives the round, she can do it again next turn. By then, would be a 2 Mana card, deal 6 Damage. Talk about value! Either way, having some Creep damage is a valuable tool for this deck, using the damage dealt as a way to set up Upkeep kills in the future. The big 'sis to , is very similar, with a much higher chance of survival with her 5 Health total.
is a fantastic Black card. 4 Mana, Deal 4, and Get Initiative. A perfect tool to finish off a unit, set them up for an Upkeep Kill, or even just a way to Get Initiative, before a massive upcoming round or lane. This deck runs a lot of powerful cards that are amplified in potential when played with Initiative, cards like , , , or even a pivotal .
Just really solid Blue cards
Because of the many low Health Heroes in this deck, is a great tool to protect your Heroes from dying in combat. Thankfully spawns s every round, allowing you to use them as a target for . And in some cases, it might be a really good idea to move a around a lane, to line them up against targets for their Piercing Damage every upkeep.
is one of the best Blue cards in the game, as already mentioned. goes well with in some situations, as well, even if dies in the process, it might be worth it for a chance at a second . The best lanes to use this is in your opponent's High Priority lane, disrupting the opponent's plans entirely. I would like to mention that while is an easy way to deal with a massive lane, it isn't the ideal scenario. Preferably, you can use all of your upkeep Improvements to continuously wipe a lane over and over, without needing to drop the bomb on the lane. But even then, you will always want an in the deck, just in case things don't go according to plan.
And I'll always be singing this card's praises, is just an amazing card. She forces the opponent to deal with her, or else the lane could spiral out of control. Especially if she is in a lane with and you get to play a or even two? Say goodbye to your hand opponent, you've pretty much lost all of those cards!
Because we're running a lock deck, you have to run a playset of . Even though the card doesn't feature Faceless Void, it is tied to him in one way. Claszureme is a realm outside of time, where Faceless Void is from. In Artifact, this is one of the most annoying Item cards to play against. When your entire hand is Locked from something like , one of the biggest ways you can get around that is by drawing more cards, from either a or even the 2 new cards you draw at the beginning of every round. Well guess what? With a in play, you can stop that from happening. And it gets worse, because can stack, meaning if you have three of these in play, it applies 3 Lock to any card drawn! Ouch!
, as mentioned in every article prior to this one, is such a great value card. Only costing a mere 5 Gold, it is a simple way to deal with the opponent's Improvement cards. Maybe your opponent is running their own ? is one of the best Accessory Item cards, giving you a massive Health boost, after every round. The best targets for this are definitely , , and . needs the extra Health so he can survive enough rounds of battle, where he can use his Active Ability multiple times per match. If he dies too often, he probably won't get to use Laser a significant number of times.
gives this deck some much needed mobility. Especially in situations where we'd like to move our from lane to lane, taking advantage of his Multicast Passive. It's also important to keep Tinker out of combat, so when an opponent drops down a Creep in front of him, we can move him away from it easily enough.
Other cards to consider
One card I had the hardest time fitting in was . It's basically a huge upgrade to , allowing you to hit targets across lane. I wanted to run 1 or even 2 of these, but at a very high 7 Mana cost, it was hard to justify. I know how powerful the card can be, so when adjusting this deck to your taste, consider . And who knows, after enough playtesting, it might be a staple for this deck!
I absolutely love . It's such an awesome card, because it can reliable deal with opposing Hero's items, as well as netting you some extra gold in the process. However, doesn't fit into this deck at all. Either way, I think this guy can offer some serious value, and it should always be considered in a deck running Black.
was one of the cards I wanted to run 1 of, just as a surprise card to stun an opponent's Hero in Lane Three. Problem is, running this as a 1-of, doesn't mean I would draw it reliably, especially in times of need. I decided it might be better not to run it all, even though I do like the card. It fits into the "Lock Deck" theme very well.
Because an Aggro deck might be able to flood the board with all of its cards in hand, before I am even able to play cards like or , I heavily considered , just as a reliable inexpensive board wipe, to stop Aggro decks in their tracks. I'm certain if Aggro becomes really popular in Artifact, which isn't that likely, considering how difficult it is to run a true Aggro deck, will see a lot of play.
When I first started building this "Lock Deck" I really wanted to run this set of Mana locking cards. The original list even had in it, before was revealed. With , , and , this deck had an entirely different idea of Locking the opponent.
This deck can certainly fit all this, replacing , , and , but when I do that, the deck feels really clunky, and pretty bad. I think the "Mana Lock" and "Time Lock" are two separate Lock Decks, and shouldn't be played together, at all. I'm certain there is a deck out there that can run "The Estate Boys", but this is definitely not that deck.