So here’s the deal.
I’ve recently stumbled on this cute little setup - [Peace] / Balance / Truth (blue starter optional).
Quick forum search unearthed no discussions (or even pbf games) relevant.
The problem with this setup is that it can consistently establish permanent lock on a game in majority of match-ups.
“Establish permanent lock” means “Your opponent stops playing Codex and watches helplessly for a few turns how you slowly finish him, giggling sadistically”.
Lock itself is simple. You play Moment’s Peace, which denies your opponent attacking with anything bar his Heroes. You also play Free Speech on the same turn to deny your opponent his spells and Hero abilities. Finally, you patrol with Art of War Onimaru who wrecks any hero trying to nose his way towards Quince, and (most of the time) there is no way for your opponent to do anything about it.
Then you proceed playing those 3 cards every turn for the rest of the game due to your deck being super thin thanks to his lordly grace Flagstone Garrison.
Now, what is so bad about this particular lategame plan that warrants a thread of its own? What makes it worse than Growth or Past or %insert_spec_here% shenanigans? My answer is - lack of hard answers in most of decks, lame duck syndrome, often lack of response opportunity window, and apparent easiness in achieving the lock itself.
The usual game starts with fairly standard Tier one back-and-forth, until sometime around turn 5-6 FSG + Cadets hit the table, immediately followed by Free Speech. At this exact moment you MUST break through patrol zone with your heroes silenced, or you can pack your stuff and leave (barring a couple of specs that have at least a glimmer of answer). For if you don’t, you will be Free Speech’d every turn from now on, and FSG will keep the board flooded with bodies until Moment’s Peace + Art of War come couple of turns later.
Now, it feels bad to be on receiving end of this. You draw your spells, you can’t play them. You play your units, you can’t attack with them. Your heroes are dummy bodies with blank textboxes. Maybe you even have a good answer, but it requires Tech 3 which gets rekt every turn so you can’t play it. Stuff you do does not matter. Stuff that would matter you cannot do. Unless you run one of the “right” guys on your team.
The “Right” Guys:
They can do something even against ongoing full lock.
Prynn is the best. Rememberer + Seer + Archon combo can clear patrol zone for Prynn (or any other hero) to waltz in and murder Quince, breaking the lock for a turn. Slow Time Generator potentially shuts down and prevents lock completely, even if it already is established. Both answers are fast enough to respond.
Vir has Reaver, but I have not tested it. I suppose it’s going to be super hard to setup though, as you can neither Unphase Reaver nor Now! it, it has to somehow survive a turn on the table which may be impossible since by the time it’s Forecast ends (bar Seer synergy), Art of War is probably already online.
Geiger may attempt to snipe Quince or Midori with Tricycloid. Octavian works too obviously, but he can be too late to the party.
Vandy’s Zarramonde can outright kill Quince, but, again, he may be too late.
Garth’s Corpse Catapult is cute, and it can potentially arrive early enough to be able to shoot one building before Onimaru snipes it (tech I recommended). However, even if it does, the lock may still be established - you need warm bodies to murder patrollers and fill opponent’s deck with them.
Quince, obviously, can win by playing Free Speech first. Wow. Degenerate. But should do the job.
Blood can try to burn the base directly with effects like Bugblatter, Bloodburn, Pirate Gang Commander combined with ethereal units. But it has to have a good lead in case of AoW race.
Fire can try the same with Firebat / Lobber or even Cinderblast. Or Firehouse. Protecting it would be a bitch though.
Green has literally nothing. Their best bet is to deny Tech 2 altogether, which may be extremely hard if not impossible to do. Second-best bet is probably to rush Growth combos and attempt to break FSG patrol zone before Moment’s Peace happens.
White is in the same boat as Green. Black is also, kinda. Zarramonde and Catapult answers are not too reliable.
Red’s plan here is to rush rush rush, but they’re good at this, so I guess no big deal. However, if they fail to burn a good chunk of base health before FSG drops, they lose. Which happens. Often.
Soft counters (what to do if you’re up against it but don’t play Prynn)
First and obvious plan - try to rush and seal the game before tech 2. However, it’s usually very hard to do against a decent opponent - [Peace]/Balance/Truth are by no means a pushover in early game.
Try to tech in evasion units. You need them to snipe Quince after FSG + Cadets + Free Speech power turn. I used Gemscout Owl to chumpblock flyers, so keep that possibility in mind.
Other approach is to achieve extreme board dominance to be able to crush 3-5 patrollers that will be protecting Quince. But if you somehow managed such advantage, you probably already won anyway.
Last resort. If you were caught off-guard, invest all your gold in Heroes and do your best at protecting them from incoming Tiny Basilisks / Cadets. Your Rook is still a 4/6 even silenced. The threat of him coming and smacking Quince’s face with a fist might be enough to prevent Moment’s Peace from being cast, which, in turn, will keep your units relevant for at least a couple more turns before Art of War. Make use of that time.
Now, I did not test this team quite extensively enough yet. I tested them enough to see that experience is truly, truly outrageous. It’s by far the most broken tech 2 plan I encountered so far, and the worst part is that it seems to violate Codex’s core tenet of “a decent answer / counterplay to anything should be reasonably accessible”. Because not everyone wants to play Prynn.
If anyone already explored this deck and has a lot of good experience - please share. I want to believe it is not as broken as it seems.