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What's the play? - Vandy & Friends

I realise I’m subverting @EricF’s series a little here, but there have been a number of posts which indicate that people struggle with dealing with early pressure from Vandy and the black starter. This is not a puzzle, a la EricF, but I thought it might be useful for the community as a whole to look at different lines of play which you can take against a typical Vandy & Friends start.

So, your opponent is playing Mono-Black, and has taken his first turn. You’re playing Mono-Purple, and it’s your turn 1. What’s the play?


StartingHand Workers

Skeleton Javelineer
Pestering Haunt
Thieving Imp



Jandra, the Negator
Sacrifice the Weak
Poisonblade Rogue
Summon Skeletons


Thieving Imp

Tech 0 card(s)
Get Paid - ($4)
Worker - ($3)
Vandy - ($1)
Skeleton Javelineer - ($0)
Pestering Haunt - ($0)

Float ($0)
Discard 2, draw 4

[B]Board Info:[/B]
[B]In Patrol:[/B]

  • :psblueshield: [I]Squad Leader[/I]:
  • :psfist: [I]Elite[/I]:
  • :ps_: [I]Scavenger[/I]:
  • :pschip: [I]Technician[/I]: Skeleton Javelineer (1/1, javelin rune)
  • :target: [I]Lookout[/I]:
    [B]In Play:[/B]
  • Lvl 1 Vandy (2/3)
  • Pestering Haunt (1/1)
  • :heart: Base HP: 20

[B]Economy Info:[/B]

  • Hand: 4
  • Deck: 1
  • Disc: 2
  • Gold: 0
  • Workers: 5


Forgotten Fighter
Time Spiral
Neo Plexus
Temporal Research

Deck (in order)

Hardened Mox
Battle Suits
Fading Argonaut

(Feel free to look at the spoilers - this is supposed to be a discussion about potential lines of play over the first 2-3 turns, not an actual game!)

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Neo Plexus, Tinkerer, or any of your heroes is just going to get bodied by Vandy next turn, so I think you want to play Hardened Mox, Nullcraft, Fading Argonaut, or (in this case) Plasmodium, make a worker, and pass the turn.

For turn 2 of this game, it’s probably going to be Nullcraft + Fading Argonaut + worker + Tech I. The bad news is we’re going to be taking a ton of early damage from not having any sort of defense on turn 1, so our techs will need to be good for early defense (Maybe Stewardess + Glaxx? Maybe a Seer to get the Plasmodium out faster? I’m not sure). We’ll probably want to consider a tower around turn 3, so we have some hope of defending against Metamorphosis.

My gut says “play Neo Plexus, build Tower, worker Plasmodium, patrol Plexus in Squad Leader.”

This means that Black has to level Vandy to midband for her to survive attacking the Plexus or use Deteriorate. So Black’s aggressive plays are:

  • Midband Vandy (3), worker (2), kill Plexus with Vandy, max Vandy and use Javelineer and haunt to kill tower (0) - this skips both T1 and Hero’s Hall, and means his board is just maxband Vandy. He’s going to look for a T3 Hall and T4 Metamorphosis. We can deal with that.
  • Midband Vandy (3), worker (2), kill Plexus with Vandy, save Haunt and Javelineer, build Hall/Tech 1. This lets us assassinate Vandy with Nullcraft and is probably a mistake.
  • Deteriorate Plexus, kill it with Vandy, midband her to heal, build Hall and worker.
  • Deteriorate Plexus, trade Haunt/Javelineer for it, Vandy hits tower, build Hall and worker and maybe tech 1, too. This is okayish, but I think we’re pretty okay with it.
  • Sac the Weak, paying 2 gold to kill Plexus and Javelineer, Vandy swings at tower. Hall and worker.

Based on what Black does, you can figure out what to tech, which hero you might want to summon, and what you’re playing next turn - it’s probably Tech 1, Fading Argonaut, and either a hero or Nullcraft in addition to a worker.

The tower makes any attacks with the weak units probably bad, makes Vandy attacks more expensive, and forces him to kill it by the time he casts Metamorphosis to avoid a response “okay I’m Origin Storying your demon hero.” An alternative play might be to put Plexus in scavenger, figure that he’s going to trade his weenies for it in exchance for Vandy swinging at the Tower, and that that’s an acceptable trade for the 1 gold. Or kill it with Vandy and midband her to heal, which might also be an acceptable trade for the one gold.


Out of curiosity, why not worker + neo plexus + a 2/3 hero? Neo plexus SQL, hero in Elite?

You only have 5 gold, though, so Unit + Tower + Worker isn’t a legal play.


Sacrifice the Weak or Deteriorate + attacks kills your Neo Plexus, then Vandy levels to 3, kills your hero, and max-bands, and if she used Deteriorate she can build a hero’s Hall and tech in 2x Metamorphosis, or she just has a 4/5 in play to your nothing, and can easily develop from there.

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Because I’m bad at math (I was working from 4 gold instead of 5, derp). But also because of what EricF said.

Huh. Yeah, it really looks like Plasmodium + worker is the way to go then! Even the hilarious play of Tower + 2/3 Hero in either Elite or SQL gets busted up by just maxbanding Vandy, giving Javeliner the +2/+2, and then trading he units into the Purple hero, and swinging (probably at the tower?) with Vandy. And that puts you behind on a worker T1!

So what’s the most vicious T2 play from Black here? Worker + Max Vandy + Tech I? Swing to base for 7, and tech 2 Metamorphosis (or 1 Metamorphosis + 1 Dark Pact)? That leaves them open to a potential Time Spiralled Plasmodium + Tower to counter Vandy? Though at that point you probably just put the Javelliner in patrol somewhere.

Right, Tower costs 3. I always misremember it as costing 2.

I am pretty hesitant about the Plasmodium + worker + float play. That’s 4 damage to your base and no hope of hitting anything next turn either. Maybe Time Spiral it to get it out a turn sooner? If you don’t, you’re not actually swinging with it until turn 4.

Ugh. The turn 2 play here is then probably not max Vandy. It’s probably midband Vandy (3), build Hero’s Hall (1) worker (0) and swing at base for 5. Then next turn is probably tech 1 (5), worker (4), max Vandy (2), and Garth (0) with teched metamorphosis, and on P1 T4 swing any surviving units, Metamorphosis and fetch a Twilight Baron with Garth, and attack with both heroes.

I’m not sure what defenses P2 can put out on their third turn given that P1’s third turn is likely going to involve swinging a 3/4-or-4/5 and a 3/3. Probably tech Origin Story and try to snipe Vandy on turn 3? But Black is still pretty flexible with this plan.

And worse, they could just completely skip the metamorphosis plan (a very sane choice), build Tech 1 on T2, tech 2x Bone Collector and just begin applying a more standard beatdown. Because probably anything Purple plays on T2 is going to get wiped also if they don’t put down any force projection on turn 1.

I’d lean towards Worker + Plasmodium + build t1. Now I’m sure you’re thinking, “What’s the point of having an undefended tech building on a turn where your hand can’t contain a card of that tech level?” Our opponent doesn’t know we drew temporal research in our opening hand (50/50 chance). We’re bluffing that next turn we tech2 t1 cards and use Prynn to cast temporal research and draw one of those (shuffle 5 cards, draw 2). Of the tech options we could afford either Seer (to speed up plasmodium) or even 2x Knight of the Conclave if we are really lucky. If we are willing to skip a worker and we got a good draw, plasmodium could arrive turn 2 with 2 bodies and a hero to back him up. Is all of that a long shot? Yes, but the possibility of that might make Vandy either hesitate to go all in and leave a defender, or shutdown your tech1 just in case, or maybe bring out thieving imp to try to make us discard temporal research. In the second case, your tech1 building is tanking damage for your base.
Now obviously we can’t actually do anything like that on our turn 2 since we just discarded (or even workered) temporal research. Which means losing tech1 doesn’t affect us at all. So on our turn 2 we actually build a tower, worker, then fading argo or nullcraft. Plasmodium will arrive next turn and we have access to Origin Story if they don’t take out our tower along with casting metamorphosis.

Once more experienced folks come to a consensus (if one happens), I’d like to see the same situation but assuming you are playing White instead of Purple.

Oh, and my inexperienced 2 cents on this situation:
I’d worker, float 4 gold.
P2T2, tech in 2 Seers, and start with 10 gold.
Bring in Vir and Max him (down to 2 gold).
Use Vir’s ability to look at the top card of your draw pile: if it’s Time Spiral or Seer, spend the 1 to swap it into your hand with something else, then spend your last 1 to play it, removing a rune from the forecasted mech. If it’s not TS or Seer, spend both gold on the Tinker and keep him in the back row, hope he survives 'til next turn. Either way, patrol Vir in Elite.

I’m not sure this is a good plan, and you’ll take a beating on P1T2, but you’re not sticking out a hero just to watch it die in a bad trade to a Vandy who immediately levels and heals, and it puts some moderate presence on the board, with serious presence starting the following turn. Hopefully enough to let you start seriously workering and moving into a real strategy. (Not sure what that is, but I haven’t played as Purple yet.)

Problem being it’s easy enough to deteriorate/pestering haunt to remove seers then sac the weak to remove mech.

Also you can’t look at a draw pile that doesn’t exist. It’s still your discard before you reshuffle.

Live and learn! Thanks!

I had assumed that it worked like Dominion, where looking at the top of an empty deck prompts a re-shuffle. Glad to know a key difference.

Any ideas on how you’d play it?

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You don’t even need to remove the seers, as the mech is tech 0 and so the highest priority unit to be sacced. However, interestingly @ARMed_PIrate, that was exactly the line I took in the actual game this was taken from. The setup was a little different from what I presented here, and I think I only got away with it because my opponent built a tower t2 instead applying more pressure, but I do think the ‘worker and float 4 gold’ is a line which is reasonable in this game state.

You’re not wrong.
Wow just kill your 6/7 easy.

[quote=“ARMed_PIrate, post:12, topic:1449”]
I’d like to see the same situation but assuming you are playing White instead of Purple.
[/quote]This is a lot easier to deal with, for a few reasons. White has better starter deck units for this, including two 1-cost chump blockers. White has Rook, whose band 1 ability is “an extra HP.” And white has Snapback as a built-in strong answer to early maxband hero pressure.

Turn one play is probably to play Sensei or Smoker and patrol it in Scavenger. Otherwise, maybe play Savior Monk in Squad Leader, play Rook in Scavenger, make a worker? He can kill Monk with deteriorate + both units, and then kill Rook by maxbanding Vandy before attacking with her, but that’s such a crazy risky strategy - it means spending 4 gold on Vandy and skipping Tech 1.

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ok but what if you’re mono red

Hmm. Play some combination of Ogre/Bombaster/Dog? It depends on your starting hand. Red gets a lot of mileage, potentially, out of floating a bunch of gold, if they can do something like Zane+Charge+Ogre on T2 or something. T1 Ogre in SL is a reasonably good defensive play, or just a one-cost unit in scavenger. Playing Red as P2 is often about putting cheap units in patrol and using hasty stuff on your turn to trade in ways that are favorable to you.


I’m actually tempted to suggest Worker-Neoplexus-Plasmodium. Not 100% sure on patrol leader, but it is probably patrol leader neoplexus – we do need to be getting a tower down sometime soon, but I don’t think we’re protecting it just yet. We can probably wait until vandy actually maxbands to bring in the tower?

If they sac we definitely bring in nullcraft, tech 1, and see what else we can do.

Probably our second tech should include origin story and we should be expecting to bring in prynn sometime?