GHP's guide to the Stonescar Mirror
This weekend, many of you will be participating in the upcoming QCP Throne event looking to secure enough points to either qualify for the Quarterly Championship, or receive a bye. Although I won’t be playing in this event I have thought about what I would be playing, and although it will be popular my current recommendation is Stonescar Aggro. With this in mind I thought it would be a good idea to write our first exclusive Backlash Patreon content focused on a deck I know well and love, and discuss how to approach the mirror match. First, let’s get my current decklist out there
4 Blazing Salvo (Set8 #1)
4 Flame Blast (Set1 #2)
4 Shakedown (Set1004 #18)
2 Suffocate (Set1 #251)
4 Torch (Set1 #8)
4 Argenport Instigator (Set1 #268)
4 Blackhall Warleader (Set4 #201)
4 Champion of Chaos (Set1 #402)
4 Crooked Alleyguide (Set6 #197)
2 Desecrate (Set1005 #17)
4 Milos, Rebel Bomber (Set1085 #1)
4 Nimble Conscript (Set6 #23)
4 Bandit Queen (Set1 #389)
2 Vara, Vengeance-Seeker (Set1004 #19)
3 Fire Sigil (Set1 #1)
4 Emblem of Shavka (Set7 #1)
2 Shadow Sigil (Set1 #249)
4 Emblem of Makkar (Set7 #121)
4 Crest of Chaos (Set3 #268)
4 Stonescar Banner (Set1 #419)
4 Stonescar Insignia (Set6 #228)
1 Defile (Set8 #122)
1 Edict of Shavka (Set7 #3)
1 Sear (Set8 #8)
1 Thief's Pick (Set4 #211)
1 Pyre Elemental (Set4 #45)
Of note, It plays 0 Annihilate and the market Sear is something I’m not sure of yet. Some considerations I have is less Suffocate for Annihilate, or playing Sear main over Flameblast since you’ll want to be decimating quite often. I do think we are in a meta right now where you want to be going fast and playing all the shift units alongside 4 shakedowns, and moving away from the midrange plan.
But, how do you play the mirror? Many players will claim aggro mirrors are all about just hitting the opponents, others claim it is like a control mirror and I personally feel it lies somewhere in between. The Stonescar Aggro mirror can play out in a couple of different ways; it can be a race, a resource battle or a one sided dominance.
When the mirror boils down to a race, it’s about deciding how you can swing the race. In most racing cases one player is wrongly racing, but believe they have the resources of a final punch in order to swing the game in their favor. When deciding if the matchup is a race, you need to look at what you have that will pressure the opponent, and can you play from behind? Some situations occur where you know you won’t be able to play defense or win the game by holding back, and instead must risk the race but in other situations, maybe you can play towards a swing turn or point those Flameblasts towards units instead of developing. The vast majority of games shouldn’t boil down to a race if you understand the play patterns of the matchups.
I won’t spend time on theone sided dominance game because these are often out of your control as one player gets to ahead. This is a good time to mention that in mirror mulligans, the shift units and a play by turn 2 is a massive priority, this is a tempo fight.
Now for the good stuff, the resource battle. Although both decks are aggressive, usually in any aggro mirror you want to look for ways to slowly get ahead on board while slowing down your opponent, in the Stonescar mirror this is even more important due to the snowbally nature of Bandit Queen and Blackhall Warleader. These cards define the play style of the mirror as a growing Warleader will cause there units to be to large for your burn spells, and Bandit Queen takes any already existing advantage and increases it massively, usually closing the game.
As a metric to know whether you have the tempo or not, look to see if you are reacting or if your opponent is. If at the start of each turn you are the one playing threats instead of wondering how you’re going to deal with something, you’re favored and want to keep developing each turn forcing your opponent to hopefully run out of removal and switch their game plan to playing units. If you are playing a unit each turn, you want to continue that and same with if you’re playing a spell each turn, as say if you were playing removal each turn and then played a unit with the plan to block, maybe your opponent has been sitting on removal and now you’re taking further damage.
One key to the mirror is your emblems which you will want to be decimating under most circumstances. So much so, that you will often want to consider making a less power efficient play in order to hold an emblem. For example, you can play power 4 (A emblem) and one of your 4 drops, but say you have multiple, or play no power and play a Champion of Chaos. Although it is contextual to the current game, there’s an argument for playing champion and hoping to draw a 4th power to make sure you can decimate without cutting yourself off your already existing cards.
In the mirror you’ll generally want to make sure atleast one of the abilities of Champion of Chaos is turned on before deploying her, as she is one of the most difficult cards to remove in the mirror so why open her up to Torch or being attacked into by Milos. When Mulliganing, look for an aggressive game plan but you almost always want some form of removal for a Warleader in your opener, especially on the draw. On the play you can keep a lot more very fast hands as your opponent will have to react to those, but having situations come up such as being on the draw, opponent plays warleader on 2 and you responding with a Argenport Instigator is a really good way to hit escape + the big red button as you will often have your Instigator removed, their warleader growing and now you needing to kill a ¾, something much more difficult then what once was a ⅔. Although Vara on paper is very good in the mirror due to lifesteal, you cannot rely on her to be anything besides a big unit, her surviving is basically the same as any other unit of yours surviving meaning you’re in a great position already, so don’t lean on her or use her as a gameplan. She cost 4, that’s a lot.
The Stonescar mirror is all about removing their units while looking for small ways to develop yours, which is why a play such as Blazing Salvo killing a unit, getting and playing a Pyre Elemental is a massive game swinging play that you can look for. Have patience, and don’t be afraid to Flameblast units instead of those units,Flameblasting you.