How One Perfects Versus Arena in TESL

Last week while I was streaming The Elder Scrolls: Legends, I got my first perfect 7-0 run in Versus Arena. It’s pretty much the same as Hearthstone’s Arena, but maxes out at 7 wins instead of 12 and the rewards are more fulfilling for less than successful runs. I thought I’d take some time to write out my thoughts of the draft and the games in my run.

Video Evidence


The Draft

To start, I have to pick my colors. I go through my thoughts fairly well in the video. After sitting back and watch other players along with my own experience, Battlemage is the best of this bunch. Blue is probably the best draftable color in the game. I’ve moved away from playing Yellow because most of the cards in Yellow aren’t particularly great on their own. They often need a pretty good cast of characters and synergies. Green is probably the second best color in the format behind Blue (Why many expert players like to play Assassin). I have decent experiences with both Purple and Red. The number of guards and bombs in Purple evens out pretty well with the raw firepower of Red. So my color tier list for Arena would go...






…with Purple and Red fairly close together. Moving onto the actual draft itself, I'll just talk about the most notable and questionable picks.

30/30 – Stop making fun of my lisp. I started off with a legendary, and nothing particularly spicy in this list. Two items and a support are not what I want to see here. Staff of Sparks is the best overall here since it acts as a sweeper. But had I been deeper in the draft I could see myself taking Mentor’s Ring in particular situations. Had I not had any bombs Volendrung might actually make sense as well. Overall this was about as bad a batch of legendries as you get.

29/30 – Early Dres Tormentor is a great pick. It’s great because I’m in Blue and Shrieking Harpy is almost always a snap pick amongst commons from Blue. It’s pretty easy to have 2-3 of them in any draft.

23/30 – Really hard pick here as you can make an argument for all three. I decided on Stone Throw. The problem with taking an early Cunning Ally is that once you take it you have to lean more Blue. Later on when you know you lean Blue, it’s a snap pick. But at this point I don’t know. Meanwhile, Stone Throw is almost certain to be playable because I don't know what my color splits will look like.

21/30 – Don’t listen to me. Brutal Ashlander is clearly the worst of the bunch. I think Riften Pillager is best, but can’t fault anyone taking Skaven Pyromancer.

19/30 – I snap picked Mace of Encumbrance here because I had already taken a Rihad Horsemen and Dres Tormentor. But Fortress Watchman is probably a better card. Fortress Watchman is really only bad against Blue decks that have a bunch of Lightning Bolts.

13/30 – If I was running straight aggro, Graystone Ravager is probably the better pick here. Yes, it trades down a lot, but often your opponent has to throw something in its way quickly or risk way too much damage. I’ve settle right now to be more midrange-y with items, which Riften Pillager fits very well in.

11/30 – Barded Guar vs. Mighty Ally is about the need for guards. If I felt I needed more guards (which I probably did need more despite what I said in the video), than Barded Gaur is better.

7/30 – Nut roll. Burn and Pillage is the best card in Arena. Don’t even look at any other cards, because you can’t be better than this. I can’t say this enough. If you don't believe me, you will about 3-4 games in.

4/30 – Savage Ogre is a great late pick for this deck. He gives an aggro and midrange much more range than your opponent suspects you have and the top of my curve was really lacking.

2/30 – Nothing wrong with Wardcrafter, but there is an argument to taking Telvanni Arcanist. I think in my situation Wardcrafter makes more sense. Particularly in the items heavy list I have.

1/30 – IDK. I think I made the right pick on Ash Servant.

Game 1 – Mage

I started off with a very defensive and reactionary hand. I didn’t want to devote cards to the board for zero value outside face-beating. Still shocked he had nothing to do with 3 magicka. Which made less sense on turn 3 where he played a 1-drop and a 2-drop for value. Something I assume he could have done last turn. Then he plays Crushing Blow after a bad trade, which he could have done the previous turn, or at least held onto for a better target and just take some damage.

By the 5th/6th turn it become kinda clear-ish that he is action heavy. I’m not too worried about removal here, as he would have played them turns ago. And get punished on Prophecy triggers for it, losing my best item and Dres Tormentor. He stabilizes and I blow through with Savage Ogre + Stone Throw. He plays a bunch of junk that somehow RNGesus turns it into a decent boardstate for him. The Ward on the Regenerate creature isn’t good for me, despite my claims, because it forces me to play the Fireball in order to have a chance at killing it. I make a point just before he blows out my plan, that playing the Rihad Battlemage was bad since I was going to use Ice Storm to kill it and his Orc Clan Captain beside it.

I roll into Mace of Encumbrance, which I use setup lethal and drop an Ice Storm to kill his only creature in the left lane. I think a better play would have been to lock down the creature on the left with Mace of Encumbrance so I don’t get blown out by Lightning Bolt. But it all works out.

The less said about this game the better. Nothing made sense. He drafted really weird, which made for a really weird game.

Game 2 – Archer

Bad keep. I should have shuffled the Riften Pillager back in and just kept the Firebolt. I debated playing the Barded Guar over the Firebolt on his Pilfer creature, but if he removed the Guar with a Crushing Blow, I would have been up shit creek without a paddle this game. In the end, had that happened I probably would have been fine. I’d have to trade two Firebolts and eventually the Raiding Party to deal with them.

On turn 6 after he drops a very interesting zero value Soulrest Marshal. I make probably incorrect play of not playing the Orcish Warhammer. When he plays the Savage Ogre for massive damage by the Soulrest Marshal, I find a Shrieking Harpy. I don’t know if even playing it was right, but this way I get to with the deal Fighter’s Guild Recruit. Following that up, I get the payoff for not playing the Orkish Warhammer finding a Rihad Battlemage. I make an unfavorable trade to deal with the Savage Ogre while still holding pressure in the left lane.

At this point I just want to race. I can get damage in a destroy some runes for a massive Burn and Pillage. Hopefully he would dump a bunch more creatures to the board. He decides to go for a potential win with massive damage, which is a huge mistake because it gave me a Skaven Pryomancer to deal with the Riften Pillager in combination of the Burn and Pillage. And in case he drops a Prophecy so I can’t get the 5 damage sweep, I now have a Shrieking Harpy as a backup strategy. Long and short, he should have saved the mass damage play for the turn he killed me. It probably wouldn’t have mattered because the Burn and Pillage was coming anyway, but it drew me cards to deal with the Riften Pillager. Just watch as his 6 cards in play and any chance at a win go up in flames.

He does well to stabilize from there, but I have the win anyway with a Savage Ogre. Dat range.

Game 3 – Scout

Bad hand. Should probably have dumped the Sentinel Battlemace too. I necksnap the toughness buffer creature. That thing is evil and I don’t want to deal with it. Then he proceeds to flood the board with 3 huge guards including 2 with Regenerate. In retrospect, it was probably a decent trade for the way I played it. But he played a Shadowfen Priest to blow whatever positive plays I had out the window.

I setup plan to fix the board to my advantage with Dres Tormentor into Mace of Encumbrance, only to be blown out by silence on a stick. But it did setup a decent Firestorm. From here I spend the next 3 turns NOT dealing with a 5 power creature with drain in order to hit a big Burn and Pillage.

He deals well with my right lane pressure, but runs out of cards before I even play my Burn and Pillage. From there the game is over, he has no hand and no board.

Game 4 - Spellsword

Good reactive hand to start. I open trying to set up Dres Tormentor shenanigans to his very awkward no plays on turn 4. He plays the normally very good Haafingar Marauder into the left lane. The biggest problem with Marauder is that he is a lightning rod for Crushing Blow, which every Arena deck will pick. Problem is, I have no removal for it. But since it’s in the left lane, I can sacrifice my Wardcrafter and Orchish Warhammer to kill it. It should be in the right lane, where at least he can pray to RNGesus to give him something good after an attack. But that didn’t matter, as Stone Throw plus Orcish Hammer is enough.

Some might be confused why I gave the mummy guard over the Barded Gaur. In this case he is at 13 life. I was setuping for a 5 damage Burn and Pillage instead of 4. But also, I was going to lose a creature in that lane anyway and would rather lose that mummy than the Guar. So now the question probably is why not play it in the left lane? Well, if he drops double guard in the left lane, I might not be able to get the Burn and Pillage damage to kill the guards and give him an extra turn or two to live.

I make a bad misplay here in the following turns. I thought I could play Burn and Pillage along with Scaven Pyromancer. I was supposed to attack the creature with Wardcrafter to get the kill with Burn and Pillage. But it doesn’t matter. I still have the win. He had no way to make any viable trades with his 5 power creature, which I could have avoided.

Game 5 - Mage

Not a great hand, and should have traded in the Orcish Warhammer too. The theme of my hands were Firebolt, Riften Pillager, and an item. I do pull a Mighty Ally and Sentinel Battlemace, allowing me to dream of a magical fantasy land to play in. He plays the Dres Tormentor, which I become VERY worried about. I can’t deal with the Tormentor and protect my Mighty Ally. I gamble that he doesn’t have the shackle, which he didn’t. But he still had a 2 for 2 answer (Mighty Ally + Orcish Warhammer = Cunning Ally (+ Firebolt) + Firestorm). Not a great trade for him because he gave up the very valuable Firestorm to do it.

I decide to run the table on my odds to try and trade damage on my own Dres Tormentor and Firebolt to kill his Dres Tormentor. That doesn’t work out well for me. I try to trade a Riften Pillage instead and get out a Rihad Horseman. That goes even worse as he top decked a Mace of Encumbrance to blow out both cards. But that at least got the now heavily armored Dres Tormentor into Firebolt range.

After the board clears he tries to drop the always valuable Senche-Tiger against my Wardcrafter. I easily trade off Savage Ogre’s buff and a Ward to kill it. Finally, with some pressure in my favor, he plays a Shocking Wamasu to kill the Wardcrafter. Sitting on 5 other cards, I wasn’t too sure what his plan was. Particularly since he played it against my Savage Ogre. I decided not to play the Sentinel Battlemace first and instead try to get Royal Sage triggered on 3 creatures. My thought was that would be breaking 2 runes instead of one. If he pulled a Piercing Javelin there, that would be devastating to me. Instead he gets a dumb Prophecy to grant his 4/4 teh Lethals while facing down my 5/5. But I hit nuts when my Guar gets Lethal right back at him off the Royal Sage trigger. He defends it well, but uses a Lightning Bolt to do which I think might have been questionable. Royal Sage gained Regenerate off its trigger, meaning unless your removal is clean, it is difficult to deal with. He could have just as easily left the Savage Ogre alive and bolted the Sage.

So I proceed to play dangerously for the win. With a big swing and a very defended Royal Sage that is begging to be Piecing Javelin'd. He refills his board nicely. To which I respond by top decking Burn and Pillage. And by my cackling in the video, I can tell I felt really bad about it. To make matters worse, his Brutal Ashlander doesn’t even get rid of Ward on my Royal Sage.

He saves himself again with a Golden Saint. But they are running out of gas. Or walls. I make a gambit to kill his last creature. I assume if he has a Firebolt or buff my Royal Sage is dead. So use Skaven Pryomacer and Fireball to kill it and keep Royal Sage out of range. And he top decks a Piercing Javelin. Dood knows how to keep on surviving. But the Pryomancer + Fireball trade somewhat works out because now I still have a Pryomancer on the field. I get him down to 2 life and start flooding the board with Raiding Party. It’s enough to get the win. Hard fought game, I have to give him that much.

Game 6 – Scout

Another game, another Riften Pillager in my opening hand. This time I have decent plays at 3 and 4 so it’s a really easy drop. My curve starts working in reverse on me as I draw Sharpshooter Scout and Orc Clan Captain on turns 2 and 3, respectively. Probably should have played the Dres Tormentor on turn 3. Or even the Rihad Battlemage. Orc Clan Captain doesn’t make much sense in hindsight.

I’m able to trade in the Sharpshooter and the Shrieking Harpy trigger with the Dres Tormentor in play to kill his 5/5 and keep up the tempo pressure I have with Orc Clan Captain. I do misplay against his skeleton, and it messes up my boardstate so I make inefficient trades. He drops a what he thinks is safe Green Pact Stalker to stem the tide to which I trade a Harpy and Savage Ogre trigger to keep the beats coming. He tries to stabilize but I draw a Mace of Encumbrance to give me enough damage on board for a kill.

Game 7 – Warrior

Pretty horrible opening hand. Nothing I could do there. It gets a much better when I can follow up Orc Clan Captain with Raiding Party, which pays off when my opponent only plays Northwind Outpost on turn 2, leaving me unmolested to pressure hard. Until I get blown out by Skaven Pryomancer and have no response. Fireball to sweep the board makes me really happy from that state.

Might Ally in right lane was a gamble, and it didn’t pay off. I have to decide to trade the Staff of Sparks and Mighty Ally or Shrieking Harpy to hold back the Mountain Tyrant. Very not optimal but I think the trade was my best option here rather than hoping for a good draw. Even looking back, it just feels bad, but there isn’t a better option. Really punished for not getting a hit on Mighty Ally trigger as I have to give him a really good trade.

We both flood the board with a bunch of junk not going anywhere. I figure this benefits me as I am sitting on a Burn and Pillage. I think I was cackling as he played the zero value Triumphant Jarl. I probably should have dropped the Sharpshooter Scout and gone face to get around some of his outs. But he didn’t have any and gave up for me to get my 7-0.