Split 3M Deck at 4.2K Trophies (no executioner)
Hello fellow challengers! Long time lurker here, decided to have my first post be a deck build and strategy guide on the deck I've been using through every meta since new card releases became a thing. In CR I play as Yawgmoth and I lead the clan Phyrexian Arena, been playing since the launch as an F2P player with a current record of 4270 trophies
First I'll just post the decklist followed by card combos and strategies. I appreciate your criticism!
Three Musketeers (9)
Elixir Collector (8)
Minion Horde (12)
Skeleton Army (5)
The Log (2)
Average Elixir Cost: 4.6
At first glance the deck appears very heavy and fodder for the executioner, but 13 of the past 15 games played were wins against pretty much every meta deck at the moment (Giant+Exe+lightning, RG+ebarbs, Golem beatdown, Lavahound beatdown, Hog cycle etc). Let's go over each card individually first to highlight their purpose and potential replacements and then we'll get into the combos, opening hand plays, etc.
My favorite card in the game, ever since I watched the first Top 200 replays nearly a year ago of them demolishing entire pushes on their way to the enemy tower. These gals are tricky to get comfortable playing at first with their expensive cost and frailty. This is a high risk-reward card, just like Sparky, Giant Skeleton, Balloon etc. and cannot be treated as a primary win condition card. Typically you want to save this card until your opponent has revealed their spell cards, as lightning/rocket/fireball will dictate the placement of where they are deployed.
Split 3M every time you play them until one tower is down. Applying pressure to both lanes at once catches many players off guard. I've found that 3M has the "oh crap, do something quick!" effect like RG, leading to an overcommitment of elixir. More times than not, your opponent will respond in the best way they can on your first 3M deployment, so be careful to take notice of that vibe.
Expect the 2 musketeers to take the most heat, whether its a fireball+zap or skarmy drop at the bridge, don't expect your opponent to let them lock onto your tower unanswered.
Do not gamble your first 3M deployment, especially when you haven't seen at least 6-7 of your opponent's cards. An elixir disadvantage is not a place where you can afford to be with an incoming counterpush.
Use them defensively first! Placed in the killzone they will shred almost any troop unscathed, and can aggro troops from both lanes at once. Placed directly at the river, one musketeer will target anything in range on your opponents side while the other two split off to each lane.
Besides being the best tank for the elixir cost he is also your main win condition, to a degree. His slow speed allows you to rebuild elixir, and draw out responses from your opponent. Since he only targets buildings he is more likely to get a few punches in for some heavy chip chunk damage than say a knight/valkyrie/PEKKA which can be easily kited from ever reaching the crown tower.
A defensive Giant can kite and tank troops like Ebarbs, the PEKKAs, the Princes, Executioner, etc. If your skarmy keeps getting zapped or the logged, you may have to sacrifice a large chunk of Giants health in favor of your crown tower. Placed on top of enemy troops already locked onto your tower will cause them to retarget your giant once his bulk has pushed them out of range.
Going into an offensive push, place Giant behind your king tower. You need all the time you can get to rebuild elixir, so sit back and let it build and wait for your opponent to make the next move, unless for some reason they let you get back up to a full bar.
Before his release I used a variety of cards depending on the current meta in his place with the purpose of defending pushes and buying time. Some of those were ice wizard, valkyrie, barbs and goblin hut.
Bowler is very slow and favors the early game slow pace of this deck. Besides mopping up cheap troops like goblins and spirits, he completely stops barbs, fairs well against ebarbs depending on their level, and prevents most hogs from getting more than one swing if played right. Although he doesn't push back the RG, he will hit whatever support is behind it.
Deployed directly behind the giant he makes good support by clearing any small ground troops on the giant's way to the tower.
He is a great way to counter furnaces as he will often clip off any princesses that get in the way as well.
He baits a minion horde / meta minion very often, which do completely destroy him, but those are more threatening when used against the giant. The bowler does not do a significant amount of tower damage so it is acceptable for him to be a sacrifice outlet.
If your opponent is playing ewiz, don't drop your bowler to counter it outside of tower range or you'll find yourself disgruntled as he just stands there and does absolutely nothing. If you play him before the ewiz comes out, then at the very least you have a decent amount of time to rebuild elixir while the two stutter over how to attack.
Bowler is favored over executioner because of his bulk and ability to survive with more health during a fight. The executioner does make a great replacement for the bowler in that he targets air troops as well (on top of all his other ridiculous features) but I've never been able to enjoy the game the same way when playing with those types of cards (ebarbs, RG, graveyard).
Experiment by substituting bowler with: valkyrie, mini pekka, knight, goblin hut, lumberjack, meta minion, executioner, barbarians, or even another musketeer
Even after this card was fairly balanced (some call it nerfed) this card is an absolute necessity to this deck. Its primary purpose is pretty obvious and that is to generate elixir at a rate that makes this deck all the more viable. This is always the first card you want to play if possible. Skilled players are more concerned about an elixir advantage than whatever else could be in the deck and will fireball/lightning/rocket/miner or even graveyard the pump as quick as possible to shut it down.
Baiting out spells, even a fireball, helps expose which one(s) your opponent is carrying. This puts their high damage spell out of rotation and can suggest what deck archetype they are running.
Put down as many elixir pumps as you can during the first half of the game. Focus on defending when your opponent responds to your play, rinse and repeat. You'll likely never have more than 2 on the field, but don't ignore a pump in hand unless it is double elixir time. Most of my losses with this deck happen when I neglect to get a pump on the field and then starve myself of elixir defending pushes.
Risky in this executioner meta, risky in furnace princess meta, risky in goison meta, but still manages to shine when played at the right times. They are zap/arrow/fireball magnets, but don't be discouraged if your opponent has a means to wiping them out easily. Their high DPS makes them worth it for defense, and with enough practice baiting out spells between skarmy/3M/pump these crazy bats can do some serious damage while giant and bowler are tanking for them.
Do not split the minion horde. I have seen some people do this, and it is a mistake. Plus, it hints towards that 3M that you have waiting to play later in the game.
Aside from hogs and ebarbs, be confident in your use of minion horde when countering troops, as most players will be ready to respond immediately to keep their threat alive as long as possible. Since zap is falling out of the meta a bit, sometimes it is better to risk dropping your horde versus skarmy, as the log is in almost every deck you'll play.
Experiment by substituting minion horde with: executioner, princess, wizard, archers, furnace
They will get zapped. They will get the logged. They will be destroyed with haste and without prejudice.
Play skarmy the way you usually would, but in addition skarmy is your counter to miner sent to take out your pump. As soon as you see the miner deploy, hover skarmy and drop on your pump as the miner is just reaching the bridge. Miner will target the doots instead and get denied. Your opponent may zap skarmy to try to save the miner, but most times he will be completely denied if played right.
Before skarmy got the balance it sort of deserved I would alternate between stab goblins, tombstone, cannon, and fire spirits, but nothing really compares to the value of skarmy in the current state of the game
Experiment by substituting skarmy with: minions, archers, stab goblins, princess, miner, ice wizard, tombstone, and when it comes out, goblin gang
The card I requested for months on end to get to level 12 so I could OHKO level 1 princess and level 10 minions that I was frequently facing and having trouble with. The zap balance seemed very reasonable to me; however, it would be nice if it still OHKO'd a level 1 princess.
Zap is zap, like skarmy is skarmy, everyone seems to have a pretty good handle on using it. Just a reminder to use it on infernos and sparky, its stall/reset value is just and important as its ability to quickly deny skarmy and other frail units.
I still don't understand how the log is a legendary and zap is only a common...anyways the log is your denial to goblin barrels and princess, and skarmy if you know you're not being baited (remember, bowler squashes skarmy too)
If a tombstone is dropped to counter your giant, as the giant is just about to get within punching distant, drop the log to get the second "hit" and it will take out the spawn skeletons as well.
Carefully consider hitting a wave of fire spirits from a furnace, it is usually not worth it unless you can clip some other troops and the tower as well.
Always aim to hit the crown tower as well as whatever you're taking out with the log for that extra chip damage, but always wait until the opportune moment to deploy.
To stop a batter ram, drop the log when the ram is half way between your tower and the bridge, it'll reset its charge and your tower will break the batter ram before it has time to recharge on you. You still have 2 barbarians to deal with, although not as threatening as before.
A level 1 the log will not kill a level 3 or higher princess.
Experiment by substituting the log with: ice spirit, fire spirit, stab goblins, ice golem, spear goblins, arrows, dart goblin and even rage spell
Ideal Scenario #1
Elixir collector in hand, skarmy in hand or next in rotation. Place elixir collector in the back, next to your king tower and on either side of the field. Since skarmy will be in hand after pump is deployed, play this pump aggressively by deploying it when your elixir bar is just about to reach 8.5 elixir. You want this aggression because most players will wait until they have a full bar to play a card, or even wait for you to break the ice and make the first move. There is a strong psychological component to playing first and it can mess with your opponent's head a bit. However they react, you have skarmy as your cheap counter to quick pushes like a pushed hog or ebarb sniping. They might be a miner chip player, so hover that skarmy on the pump until they respond.
If they hit you with a fireball/lightning/rocket, shake it off and get ready for a giant minion horde push.
Unless they start a push that will destroy your tower in one go (ice golem balloon rage), build up that elixir and dont be afraid to suffer some tower damage. Plan to play bowler (for ground defense) or giant (soak air troop damage and counter push) as your next play and try to maintain aggression.
Ideal Scenario #2
Elixir collector in hand, but no skarmy in hand or next in rotation. Similar opening play as before, except you'll have to be a little more creative. Our plan is to still be first to deploy and force a response out, but we want to drop as soon as the elixir bar passes 9.0 elixir. If your opponent hasn't emoted you yet, when you're around 7.5-8.0 elixir, throw them a "goodluck" and a thumbs up. This is generally just a nice thing to do, but they will often respond by doing the same, and while they are distracted with emotes you can rush plant that collector.
Since you don't have skarmy in hand, the pump is going to go in front of your kings tower, and least two tiles away from both crown towers. This denies them hitting both pump and tower with a rocket. This also gets both towers to aggro any miners coming in to deny some of that elixir production.
Since you don't have skarmy yet, you must have either giant, bowler, zap, the log, or minion horde, all of which are viable to use as a second play. Zap and the log will give you stall and cycle power to get to that skarmy, but in other cases get ready for the same giant/bowler opening push.
With a forward placed elixir collector, for goodness sake, don't set yourself up for a value lightning or fireball, push down the lane furthest from the pump.
Ideal Scenario #3
Elixir collector next in rotation, and any troop in hand besides 3M. You can choose whatever makes you most comfortable, wait until you have full elixir and start a push with either giant or bowler, or wait until your opponent starts and respond by defending against their push. Either way, you'll want to stop or prevent as much damage as possible. If you've neutralized the opponents momentum, you can play your pump early, other wise wait until a full bar. Example: opponent drops level 13 royal giant and spends the next 15 seconds cry and laugh emoting while your minion horde goes to work. Wait until the threat is about to clear up before placing the collector incase ebarbs are about to come down the other lane. Wait for the emote spam to start before hitting the skarmy pump combo.
In all seriousness though, the elixir collector is your priority for the first minute to minute half of the game, so play it as soon as logical, not as soon as possible.
Neutral Scenario #4
No pump in hand or next in rotation, but good news is you drew a tank. Same aggressive strategy as in #2 above, drop that giant or bowler behind the king tower just before the bar fills up.
Keep pressure and control to one lane as best you can until you get that elixir collector out on the field. In some instances, the heat of battle will cause you to be forgetful of the pump at first, but next thing you know you've successfully pushed down a lane and took a solid chunk off that tower with a giant+minionhorde+the log+zap combo. You may have even gotten it within spell chip cycle range and can afford to play defensively the rest of the game. Unless you're in double elixir time, you still have to try to keep putting those pumps down.
The crummy scenario
In terms of playing aggressive, the 'worst' and somehow for me most common opening hand is 3M, skarmy, zap, the log. Since we are trying to save 3M for when pumps are down and nearing double elixir, we now have a hand size of 3. Skarmy doesn't get played before the card it counters comes out, and zap and log are a bit wasteful if all they hit is a tower. So sit back and wait for your opponent to make a play and use your preferred counter card in hand and cycle it up.
One time I played a match where I felt I had to drop a the log just for the tower chip so I could get my next in line pump in hand and put that down, but my opponent had to do the same exact thing, and we both the logged at the exact same time, and pumped at the same time. It was comical, and a bit risky, but it worked out for the both of us. If your luck is anything like mine, don't count on something like that happening, and avoid casinos.
If your elixir collector punishes you by being the 7th or 8th card in your starting cycle, just focus on getting one good defense or counterpush in and then mentally start over from scratch, with the pump being your priority. I would consider it to be slightly tilting by not getting to play it early, fixating too much on defending threatening pushes, and being in the elixir hole all game only to get chipped out.
Wait, so when do I play 3 musketeers, I thought that's what this deck is all about?
Once you have gathered sufficient evidence on your opponent's play style and deck you can start playing your 3M. A brief checklist of things you should have covered:
Is my opponent's fireball/lightning/rocket in cycle?
Is my opponent low on elixir?
Do I have a tank ready to pave the way for 3M?
Is a lavahound loon and or minions coming at me?
Will I be able to prevent myself from losing a tower if my 3M gets completely shutdown?
Heavy air raids are the biggest threat to this deck, since minion horde is your main answer for early air troop takedowns. Thankfully, the executioner + tornado meta has pushed lavahound decks out of frequency.
Having pumps down is crucial because if your opponent is running lightning and you feel the need to play 3M while its in their rotation, you want that elixir boost to give you the opportunity to drop a giant or bowler on the 2 musk so the lightning hits 1 musk, the tank, and the tower.
Where to deploy 3M
Opponent has fireball: in your killzone 4 tiles above king tower if your giant or bowler is close to reaching the bridge. behind your king tower if you dont have your tank down yet, or you are confident fireball is out of rotation.
Opponent has lightning: behind your king tower, with the 2 musk going down the lane opposite the side of your elixir collector. Placing in the killzone is risky, unless you are absolutely sure of their current elixir and card rotation. You want at least 1 musk to always survive, do your best not to make it easy for your opponent to pull a positive elixir trade
Opponent has rocket: always in the killzone, distance from king tower can vary. Rocket will not make it in time to hit all 3, no one in their right mind will launch a predictive rocket at the killzone with nothing there yet. That rocket is in their deck to hit your tower. Don't let it hit 2 muskies as well. Better to have them waste a rocket to kill 2 muskies and scrape your giant a little bit than take nearly 500hp from your tower
Opponent has poison: either they are experimenting around with it, stuck 5 months in the past, or have some insane combo they are gonna try to pull off with it. Shouldn't matter too much, poison is a 10 second long fireball that 3M can walk right through. You wont encounter poison enough for it to be really threatening to this deck. Otherwise, its ok to go with either a killzone or kingzone deployment.
Opponent has tornado: tornado, when played at the right time, can bring the split muskies back together no matter where they are split. If they have a splash troop near your killzone, take it out first and then play 3M. If they are going to tornado 3M and hit them with zap/arrows/log there's really nothing you can do to prevent that, but if that's all they have for spells then they have bigger Giant problems to worry about.
Opponent has none of the aforementioned direct damage spells: go for the 3 crown, show no mercy.
When NOT to split up the 3 musketeers
When your giant just plowed through a tower and your opponent is scrambling to cycle back to defensive cards, it can be tempting to drop them in the killzone to aggro either the opponents king tower or other crown tower. Don't get cocky and dump 9 elixir to displace dominance, wait to see if they are going to surrender the match or try to play it out for a draw.
If you've pumped up effectively and have a situation like 2 healthy pumps on the field with a giant bowler minion horde in the process of annihilating a crown tower, you can drop your 3M behind as support to ensure a quick denial of any panic drops like an opponent putting a minion horde over your bowler. It should go without saying that you should never underestimate your opponent, even if you are fortunate enough to out-level with in both cards and apparent skill.
General tips for gameplay:
It's ok to take some tower damage here and there as long as you have your mind set in the right place. Did your skarmy get logged before it took care of an ebarb snipe? Let them take a few tower shots before dropping a giant on them for the re-aggro to save your giant that extra bit of health.
The game is not over if you lose a tower. After some practice you'll find that this deck can quite effectively take all 3 towers in one push. Stay focused. The push that just took your tower is likely the same one that will be used for the next, adapt to handle it.
If an xbow gets played, forget about taking it out, drop a giant in range to go down the other lane. If you try to take it out with a giant, chances are it will get melted by the inferno thats about to be placed adjacent to the xbow.
This deck works exceptionally well at tournament standards. I've won my first 12 win grand challenge (12-1) with this deck (used goblin hut in place of bowler) and will generally net about 8-9 wins. I don't claim to be a highly skilled player and this has been my go-to deck whenever I enter a challenge.
Replaced bowler with batter ram and got up to 10 wins in the challenge, mostly getting around 6 wins though. I found myself not using the batter ram at all during the challenge so I blame my lack of knowledge on how to use the card rather than the deck's potential.
If you try this deck or a variant of it and do well with it on the ladder or in a challenge, write up a post on what you liked about it and what changes you implemented.
If you have any criticism on this write up, the deckbuild, or suggestions, please let me know. If you guys liked this guide, I'll follow it up with my aggressive Mortar deck I use at 3.5K on my other account.
TL,DR Scroll back up for decklist. Try it out. Mix it up. Have some fun.
Credit to: PhyrexianArena