7th Edition: Armada Review (Part 2 of 2)
With our opening review under our belt, it’s time to crack open the deck and see how it manages in the field. My opponent for today is Jimi, and naturally enough she has selected the mono-Red Infestation. Will my Soldiers and Knights have the staying power to outlast the Goblin horde? As aggressive as my deck seems to be, hers will be moreso. Can I survive the initial surge to emerge triumphant? Here are our notes from the clash.
Jimi’s on the play, and she leads with a Mountain. No one-drop for her, but I happen to have one and the Eager Cadet touches down… well, eagerly. Next turn Jimi does manage a creature, though- a Goblin Raider. Although the Raider can’t block, this fact seems to slip my mind and I don’t attack that turn, though I do manage an Angelic Page as I begin to build up my army. An opportunity missed- but a small one.
Jimi charges in on turn 3 with the Raiders joined by a Goblin Chariot for 4, drawing first blood and taking me to 16. I keep my Cadet at home to threaten on defense with the Page, and add a Standing Troops. My respite proves short-lived, however, as Jimi’s next turn brings a Goblin King. Jimi swings with both her other Goblins, and this time I opt to defend. The Troops double up with the Cadet aided by the Angelic Page to gang-block and kill the Chariot, leaving only 3 damage from the Raider to get through. Still, the gambit costs the poor Cadet his life, and we have our first casualty. Back to me, I attack for 1 with the Troops, then add a Knight Errant.
A turn-5 Goblin Matron fetches up Jimi another Chariot- with both of us stuck on three land, she’s going for what she can play now rather than aspire to later. She passes with no attack. Over to me, I attack for 1 and pass. Next turn sees Jimi set me back even further when she Pillages one of my Plains. I counter with another fearsome 1-point attack, then play another Eager Cadet. So far, it’s a very small-scale battle of attrition.
Things look to escalate on turn 7 when Jimi plays the Chariot and attacks for 6. I pump my Knight Errant with the Angelic Page and offer it as a trade to the Chariot, then block the Raider with my Standing Troops. Fortress Armada seems to be functioning well enough, if rather pedestrian in nature. I return the attack for 1 and pass. It’s now a 16-13 game. Believing correctly that the Page is the linchpin of my defense, Jimi indulges in a bit of overkill and torches it with a Blaze. She then follows it up with an attack with everything, surmising that the longer the game goes, the more I’ll be at advantage. my Standing Troops block her Raider, and I take the remaining 4 from the King and Matron. She then plays a Goblin Glider and passes. Over to me, I return with a pitiful 1 damage from the Troops, then add a second Troops.
Now turn 9, Jimi adds a Goblin Gardener before attacking with her Glider and Gobbos. The ground-based ones don’t get past my Standing Troops, but the Glider sails in for 2. I’m now down to 7 life. Back to me, I am rewarded for hanging onto that last Eager Cadet when I get my 4th land drop for a Serra’s Embrace. The Cadet is now a 3/3 flying vigilant body, and I swing with the team. One Standing Troops kills off the Goblin Gardner, putting me back to 3 land, and the King manages the second. But the Cadet sticks in for 3, taking Jimi to 12 and giving me a much-needed dose of hope. Next turn Jimi holds off on the attack, but instead reinforces her board position with a Raging Goblin and Goblin Raider. I attack again for 5, Jimi blocks one of the Standing Troops with the Goblin Matron and takes 4. I deploy a Heavy Ballista and pass.
The Ballista barely has a chance to catch their breath before they catch a Spitting Earth for lethal, but Jimi still has no profitable attack. I press my own advantage, and while both Standing Troops get stopped this time, the Cadet cuts in for another 3. Jimi’s now down to 5, and I play a Razorfoot Griffin before ending. Seeing the writing on the wall, she sends everything in. My Griffin kills the King, the Matron gets picked off by my Cadet, and the Standing Troops block a couple, but she still gets in for 4, leaving me at 3. The follows up with a Fire Elemental, then passes. Back to me, I Pacify the Elemental, and that’s more or less game. Her last play before the Cadet secures lethal damage is to harmlessly Pillage another Plains.
Our second match begins as a virtual carbon-copy of the first. Eager Cadet? Check. Goblin Raider? Yep. Angelic Page? Sure. Turn-3 Goblin Chariot leading a 4-point strike? Even that. But instead of Standing Troops, this time I come up with a Knight Errant, and things begin to diverge.
Jimi lands a second Chariot on turn 4, leading another charge across the red zone alongside a freshly-cast Goblin Rager and her previous summons. I use the Page to make my Knight Errant a 3/3, safely picking off one of the Chariots, but am still rocked hard, down to 11 life. Fortunately, I land a Standing Troops next, giving me some ability to plug up the breach. Jimi uses her turn 5 to Pillage me down a land drop, but I have just enough to unveil a Samite Healer next.
Now turn 6, it’s a blank turn for Jimi- a Mountain and nothing more. I attack for 1 with the Troops, then add a Longbow Archer. Even with just three lands (now down to 2), Armada has delivered- I now have a half dozen creatures on the battlefield. Well, make that 4- Jimi uses her next turn to Spitting Earth my Standing Troops and Lightning Blast the Longbow Archer. Still, it’s not enough to open up a profitable attack yet, and she passes. Back to me, I attack with the Knight Errant for 2, taking her to 17.
Perhaps bluffing or probing, Jimi sends in the Raging Goblin on turn 8, but I manage to kill it with my Eager Cadet backed up with the Healer and Page. My counterattack gets through, and Jimi’s now at 15. Next turn Jimi topdecks the Goblin Matron, which she immediately slams on the table and goes hunting for the Goblin King (the card says Lord, but it’s been updated in Gatherer to Goblin). She has enough mana to bring out the King, and then she attacks with the 3/3 Chariot. Without an adequate defende,r I take the hit and drop to 8. My turn’s a blank, and I pass, keeping the Knight Errant back to help on defense.
Jimi’s turn 10 is also a blank, letting me catch a small break on momentum. I deploy a second Samite Healer and pass. Jimi then sends the troops out over the trenches and into no-man’s land, led by a freshly-summoned Goblin Rager. I pump the Knight Errant to a 3/3 with the Page and block a Goblin Chariot, using my non-summoning-sick Samite Healer to prevent that third, lethal point of damage. That solves one of her attackers, but the rest get through for 6. I’m now in dire burn range at 2 life, and will need an answer soon. Back to me, I draw nothing- my turn is another blank. Troubled times indeed!
Still, Jimi’s army is not in the best of shape itself, and has no profitable avenue of attack with just a Raging Goblin, Goblin King (which she is understandably loathe to sacrifice), and a Goblin Matron, and me with a Knight Errant, a Page, and two Healers on-line. She pauses to regroup, and gives me vital time. On my next draw I luck into a Glorious Anthem, and now the finish line just got that much farther away for Jimi. She contents herself next turn by Pillaging another Plains away (back down to 2!) and passing. The landkill definitely hurts- I have no play and a full hand, and am forced to discard at the end of my turn (Serra Advocate).
Playing off the top of her library, Jimi draws nothing on turn 14. Neither do I, though I do manage to play a Plains. Next turn she draws, jumps in her chair, and goes for the win.
Thus thwarted, she grumbles and passes turn. I land another Plains, and am able to suit up my Knight Errant with a Serra’s Embrace. I attack, taking her to 10. Next turn she draws and deploys a Patagia Golem, but I have the Pacifism in hand. It’s her last act of defiance before she falls to the Knight.
Jimi’s turn-2 Goblin Glider is the opening play of the game, but my immediate answer is just as good- Longbow Archer. Next turn Jimi lands a Goblin Chariot, but the threat of the Archer keeps it at home. I add to my defensive position with Standing Troops and pass.
Now turn 4, Jimi plays a Goblin Raider while I fan out with a second Longbow Archer followed by a Crossbow Infantry. Just like that, Jimi’s hopes are all but dashed. Unless the lands the Goblin King or blows some burn, her assault is more or less stonewalled by the first-striking Archers. Still, that doesn’t stop her from marshaling the horde as she adds a Raging Goblin and another Goblin Chariot. I draw first blood, swinging in with the vigilant Standing Troops for 1, then add a Knight Errant and Angelic Page.
Perhaps a bit too late, Jimi plays a Goblin Gardener on turn 6 before passing. Not wanting to risk losing a Plains, I tap out for a Master Healer first, then send in the Troops. As expected, Jimi chumps with the Gardener, forcing the loss of a Plains. Next turn she takes another one with Pillage. Things go pear-shaped for Jimi once my turn rolls around and I play a Glorious Anthem, then attack with my Archers, the Troops, and the Knight Errant. Jimi offers a Raging Golbin as a chumper, but still takes 8 damage, going down to 11.
Jimi can’t catch a break on turn 8, as her turn is a blank. I attack in with another wave, leaving her at 3. She tries gamely to staunch the flow with a Patagia Golem, but again I neutralise it with a Paficism and alphas strike for the win.
Thoughts & Analysis
These decks aren’t likely to appeal to most. They’re highly simplistic. The cards within them generally aren’t anything phenomenal. Games with them risk stalling out in the midgame as neither has the raw power to overcome the other. On that basis, they are hard to recommend.
That said, there is a certain charm to them that you’re not going to find in most preconstructed decks. Yes, they are simple, but you might also use the word pure. Each does exactly what the colour pie wants to do at its most basic, fundamental level. For Armada, that means building an army of Knights, Soliders, and affiliated creatures which are light and efficient, and using them to churn through your enemy’s defenses- or simply take to the air and close them out altogether.
One problem the deck faces is a lack of removal, which is a contributing factor in ‘game stall’ where you’re essentially playing off the top of your deck. Game two was a perfect example of this- we each were looking to draw an answer, and we drew and drew and drew until one of us lucked into one- not the most skillful way to play the game. Still, if you’re looking to show beginners, or just want to enjoy a very simple version of the game, like ‘Magic in miniature,’ you could do a lot worse.
Pros: Solid synergy between cards, along with pump effects and damage prevention; rare selection solidly reinforces deck concept
Cons: Removal package very light; has tendency to stall out in the midgame
OVERALL SCORE: 3.70/5.00