• Minmaxer

Deck Tech: Angel Loop

This is an article that I have been promising for a long time, and now it's finally time for me to deliver. The deck survived the major balance patch and is unlikely to see any immediate nerfs. But what is it?


Angel Loop


Angel Loop is a three colour(BYO), Rainbow's End, control-combo deck with a small cult following. It is the hardest deck to play in Mythgard, but also one of the funnest and most rewarding. It pushes a lot of the boundaries of the game, and operates on a completely different axis than most decks. Story time...


How did it all begin?


The deck originated in Alpha and actually predates Purple. The inspiration actually came from a game I had playing Orange/Green Control. It went something like this:


Me: Play Armageddon Angel.

Opponent: Kill Armageddon Angel .

Me: Play Chort Stag, return Armageddon Angel.

Opponent: Kill Chort Stag and play stuff.

Me: Play Armageddon Angel.

Opponent: Traitorous Murmur on Armageddon Angel.

Me: Deported on Armageddon Angel.

Opponent: Play stuff.

Me: Play Armageddon Angel.

Opponent: ...Concede


That game got me thinking. How many times can I play Armageddon Angel? There was some consideration to just adding Wake the Bones (Bald Mountain was already in the deck), but then I recalled a little used blue card, Root of the World. Just maybe...


It works!


It's always a nice feeling when a combo you envision behaves exactly as you hope. There was almost certainly a fist pump when I first redrew the card I rooted away. The very first list looked something like this:


Rooting for Armageddon

path: fires of creation

power: reanimate


2 singing stone

1 brising necklace

4 ice spike

3 root of the world

4 brainstorm

2 forked lightning

2 rune of denial

2 thunderclap

1 magnus thorsson

2 cataclysm







4 eager recruit

3 miraculous feast

3 quicksand hourglass

1 spear of destiny

3 seal of exile

2 temptation

1 armageddon angel


I think the actual list has been lost to time, but this was the version submitted to the first feature deck contest. I think a couple cards were cut to meet the essence restriction, but otherwise, this list is very close to the original. It was all-in on the Angel Loop soft-lock.





There were a couple Fires of Creations versions before the switch was finally made to Rainbow. The Rainbow version below is the first list that I made public, sharing it first with TuneStar. I even wrote a short guide.


name: Angel Loop V4

path: rainbow's end

power: reanimate


2 singing stone


4 eager recruit

1 freki sidecar

1 bragi runesinger

1 raziel, keeper of secrets

1 magnus thorsson

1 armageddon angel


3 root of the world

3 demolition speedway

4 sandscape

2 oil field


2 ice spike

1 miraculous feast

2 earthslide

4 brainstorm

2 rune of denial

2 thunderclap

2 seal of exile

2 temptation


We both played this one a lot, but I wasn't satisfied yet. I kept experimenting, including a purple splash for Herald of Conquest. Yes, that Herald of Conquest...


No idea why they decided to rework the card.

There was also some fun/unfun with Ghost of the System, but I ultimately felt that purple didn't add enough, especially after the untimely Herald of Conquest nerf. It never even had a chance to shine.


The purple experiment told me three colours was viable. And by this time I had learned a lot more about the game and deckbuilding:


1. Brainstorm is a terrible card in Mythgard

2. Rainbow needs more! (12 enchantments was already way above what most Rainbow decks played)

3. Full 3-colour is completely viable

4. Why am I spending mana to draw cards?





These points combined with some of the decks weaknesses (lack of life gain, trouble with big/warded minions) finally pushed me to trying Yellow, something that I'd had my eye on for a long time. It seemed like a perfect match.


How could I lose?


I lost, to the AI. I can't help but wonder how many good ideas end just like that. Delete. Thankfully, the next few games went a lot better (I also knew the idea was solid due to the success of the BO version.) After some minor tweaks, I once again passed the list along to TuneStar:


name: Angel5

path: rainbow's end

power: reanimate

2 singing stone

3 demolition speedway

3 root of the world

2 earthslide

1 freki sidecar

1 bragi runesinger

2 clay effigy

2 beimeni falls

1 orbital jamming satellite

3 serpent den

2 wonder drug

2 goliath's web

2 misanthropia

1 zolea, the unclean

1 sapo, the devourer

4 eager recruit

3 sandscape

2 soma oasis

2 oil field

1 armageddon angel


He was rightfully skeptical at first. If it ain't broke, don't fix it, but then this happened:


These sentiments echoed my experience. We had a good month of fun until things got fixed. Well, fun and some very long debates in Discord about the brokenness of Root of the World. See, it's ability used to Cost 0, which just so happened to be incredibly powerful with a 2-cost Reconstruct. There were Angels riding sidecars all over the place. Rhino did a good job of balancing Root appropriately; I feel it is still incredibly powerful, but with an appropriate cost. I continued to play the deck off and on until the end of Alpha.


How it looks today


Ranked games in Mythril 6 and up.

name: AngelLoop

coverart: Root of the World

path: rainbow's end

power: reconstruct

2 singing stone

2 demolition speedway

3 root of the world

2 earthslide

1 freki sidecar

1 bragi runesinger

1 magnus thorsson

2 clay effigy

4 beimeni falls

3 serpent den

2 goliath's web

2 misanthropia

1 twin junah

1 sapo, the devourer

4 eager recruit

1 thieves bazaar

3 sandscape

1 soma oasis

1 oil field

1 raziel, keeper of secrets

1 scion of pride

1 armageddon angel


I didn't come here for a history lesson...


Right. A lot of you are probably reading this for the secrets to piloting Angel Loop successfully. I can't tell you. Well, not exactly. The reason this deck is so difficult to pilot is because it doesn't have a recipe book; there is no, "do this and you will succeed." Every turn is a puzzle with several solutions. Each puzzle you solve well brings you closer to victory, while each failure brings you closer to defeat--sometimes immediately. I believe that's what makes the deck such a fun and engaging deck to play.


How Angel Loop works


As the name implies, the goal of the deck is to play Armageddon Angel over-and-over thereby soft locking your opponent out of the game. This is done with Root of the World. Normally a card rooted away is put on the bottom of the deck. But what if there are no minions in the deck? You draw the card you rooted away! This means with a deck devoid of minions and 8 mana you can cast Armageddon Angel every turn.


That might seem like a tall order, but the deck only plays 10-12 minions. The next key piece of information is that ephemeral minions used on Root of the World cease to exist when rooted. This means that each activation with an ephemeral minion removes one minion from the deck. And wouldn't you know, the deck has several ways to generate ephemeral minions: Eager Recruit, Serpent Den, Earthslide, Clay Effigy, and most importantly Reconstruct.


And it's not Angel or bust, aside from the Eager Recruits, which are part of the engine, the remaining minions are all individually powerful and align with the decks goals.


Deck Design


Early versions of the deck struggled to reach 40 cards while keeping the minion count low. This was fixed with the addition of Yellow, which added a plethora of useful enchantments. This allows the deck to play a whopping 20 enchantments, which paired with the Rainbow path gives us roughly a 50% chance to draw an extra card every turn. In fact, this percentage is often higher as we are actively trying to remove minions from our deck.


Card Choices

The shell of the deck is actually very flexible and as long as you meet certain criteria you should be able to fairly easily swap cards in and out of the deck based on your preference, or your collection.


Required

18 or more Enchantments (5+ of each colour)

12 or less Minions


4 beimeni falls - Repeatable life gain is nothing to scoff at and beimeni falls can carry the deck in some matches

3 serpent den / 2 goliath's web - These are both enchantments and minions. Web also allows the deck to kill warded minions

3 root of the world / 1 armageddon angel - Yup.

1 freki sidecar - This is the trump card in control matches. Keep it alive at all costs against control.

1 bragi runesinger - Does everything the deck wants, even when he's just a speed bump

4 eager recruit - Not only are the recruits part of the engine for the deck, they provide early defense against aggro and gain a ton of life with beimeni falls. I experimented without them and it was more miserable than you can imagine.


Recommended


2 misanthropia - You could play without this card, but I haven't been brave enough to try

2 singing stone - This is basically a 1-mana Ollama Ring

2 earthslide - This is often just a tempo play, but the value you get for 3 mana is often absurd

2 demolition speedway - Blue gems with late-game upside

1 magnus thorsson - I've played without him, don't be afraid to cut him in certain metas

1 raziel, keeper of secrets - This deck %100 wants this card, but I wouldn't craft him just for this deck

1 scion of pride - Another answer to warded, sometimes just an early game speedbump

1 sapo, the devourer - Play him if you got him, this one is worth crafting

1 Oil Field / 1 Soma Oasis / 3 Sandscape - This often constitutes my base Orange Enchantment package


Optional


Orbital Jamming Satelite

Twin Junah/Blanque

Thieves Bazaar

Oil Field

Soma Oasis

Scourge of Serpents

Norn Datacore

Brising Necklace

Loki's Veil

Rune of Denial

Wonder Drug

Zolea, The Unclean

Godsbane Transport

Lamp of Wonders

and more...


There are several cards I haven't had the chance to seriously test in this deck, let alone mixing and matching different groups of cards. This deck is far from solved.


Philosophy of a match


In almost every game you are the control deck. You should go into a match prepared to play the long game as you almost certainly have inevitability. Because of this, you should play defensively and aim to control the board and preserve your life total. This means it is often correct to move a minion to block instead of attacking face.


Sometimes even powerful minions like Bragi and Raziel are best served as speedbumps. The longer the game goes, the more chance there is for the decks engine to overwhelm the opponent.


Slow and steady. Don't leave yourself defenseless in order to just draw a bunch of cards from Root or kill a random minion.


Burning & Gem Curve


Enchantments are the priority burn target as it increases the enchantment ratio in your deck, giving you the best chance to draw extra cards. Spells with no immediate use are the next burn target. Ideally you never have to burn minions, but 1-2 a game doesn't set you too far back. I avoid burning Armageddon Angel due to its power level, and if my hand only contains a single Root of the World I will only burn it as a last resort.


While at first glance the number of gems on cards may seem overwhelming, the gem curve is quite reasonable as long as you don't fall into the trap of burning blue too early. There are a few milestones you should look to hit to give you the most flexibility in playing your cards:


Turn 2: YO

Turn 4: BYYO

Turn 5: BYYOO

Turn 10: BBYYYOOOOO (ideal), but at least BBYYYOOO

Of course, we don't always have a choice what we burn. Play to your hand first, but keep in mind the costs of the more impactful cards like Misanthropia and Armageddon Angel.


Having excess Orange is ideal as it lets you play Armageddon Angel + recruits, or to loop recruits late game.


Enchantment (Re)Placement


Defensive enchantments(Beimeni Falls, Serpent Den, Soma Oasis, and Goliath's Web) should first be placed on lanes 2 or 6. Your opponent will most likely play away from these, which helps you to control the board.


Utility Enchantments(Root of the World, Oil Field, Demolition Speedway) should be placed beside these enchantments. This forces your opponent into a tough situation, do they contest the defensive enchantments to prevent you from freely moving your minions onto the utility enchantments? or give you free reign and fight elsewhere?


Spell Enchantments (Demolition Speedway, Thieves Bazaar, Goliath's Web) are best played under minions already on the board to be used as surprise removal/combat tricks against your opponent.


Snakes, or minions place on falls, have several excellent movement options

Sandscape is mainly used as an Orange Gem, but can setup some very powerful plays. Watch for times where you have desert matters cards in your hand, or when you can play it for "free" (replacing the middle enchantment with another returns 2 mana). Turn 2 Sandscape, turn 3 Beimeni Falls + Reconstruct is a fairly common line.


Replacing enchantments can be used as both of means of temporary ramp and cost reduction. This is one of the toughest parts of playing the deck as it requires a ton of in-the-moment evaluation, but it also leads to some of the most crazy and satisfying turns you can play.


Deck Tracking


Thank you Rhino. Thank you. Thank you. This deck would be miserable to play without the deck tracker. It doesn't do everything for you, but at the very least you can see the minions remaining in your deck. With experience you start to remember the ones you've rooted away and when you can expect to draw them again.


Hand and Deck Management


In long games you will start to overdraw, especially if you are rooting Eager Recruits constantly. Give yourself time to do the discard phase (10+ cards in hand), you don't want to be scrambling to select cards while your time is about to expire.


Fatigue is a thing! While it can be fun to draw cards, there is a time where it becomes actively bad. You will fatigue first, so make sure you have a plan to end the game before you get there.


Why is it hard to play?


See above. But, on top of everything I just listed, the sheer number of options you have in any given turn is astounding. Consider the empty board of enchantments above, and a hand of a single Eager recruit. Between the recruit and Reconstruct, you have three minions, where do they go? Do you need life? cards? to protect yourself from a volition'd Boneyard Abomination? Now consider that the board is rarely empty, you have 6 cards in your hand, and only 90 seconds. Go.


It seems like work, why should I play it?


It's fun and the games are interesting. But it is also a great deck for learning some of the finer skills of Mythgard like positioning, ordering, and mana/gem management. The Angel of Death is a fickle mistress though; she will make you pay for your mistakes. The deck also conveniently plays the Top 5 Mythics, so you probably have a lot of the cards, and if you don't, they'll be useful elsewhere!


How do I start?


Play against the AI. A lot. Even those of you that are used to grabbing a deck and jumping straight into ranked I highly recommend taking it for a test run first. When you draw your first hand you'll feel like you're playing a different game. Not only are there a lot of mental actions in a game, but a ton of physical actions. APM can come in to effect some turns.


Do the puzzles I made! (Sidecar, Loop, Sapo). They were specifically designed to highlight some of things you can expect to see when playing this deck. I expect you will learn more from those three puzzles than the rest of this article.

How good is the deck? Is it worth my time?


I believe it is one of the most inherently powerful decks in the game and is a real player at the highest level of competition. It is held back more by the mental fortitude required to play it at a high level than anything else. It can be very taxing to play a single game, let alone several ladder or tournament games in a row. And while the deck does't have any matches it auto-loses, it can struggle against some cards:


Hekate's Wheel - Not only does wheel grant warded, but it also suppresses enchantments. Ick.

Demolition Speedway - Snakes don't like minions having overrun.

Stretcher - This card can be painful, but also outhealed to an extent. You often have to apply some pressure to stretcher decks.

Early "must answer" cards - The deck doesn't play much early removal, so cards like Black Hatter and Dashing Ringmaster can pose a problem


Tips and Tricks


- Minions can attack and be rooted in the same turn! This is the number one mistake I see people make.

- Don't leave minions on Root against Yellow or Meso Libre will ruin your fun.

- Consider protecting your enchantments against Feng Shui master again purple.

- Burn enchantments first.

- 30-40 minute ranked games aren't uncommon, play accordingly.

- Ask for help. There are a few experienced pilots that love talking about the deck, myself included.

- Watch other people playing it. I still learn knew things myself.

- Be creative! This deck rewards clever lines of play.

- Watch your replays and review complicated turns. There was a better play.

- Always keep an Eager Recruit in your hand or deck.

- If you aren't using the Coin for an early Serpent Den or Raziel, save it for something important.

- War Fan reduces the power/health of your earthslide elementals and the amount of mana received for replacing enchantments.

- Seriously, do the puzzles. Even if you don't normally like them.


Fatigue


This is Angel Loop, were you expecting something short? I think that was a good introduction at least. If people have questions about the deck, feel free to reach out to me on discord. If I get enough questions I'll answer them in a follow-up article. I have a couple more puzzle ideas in the works too, so stay tuned!


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