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Affordable Basic Deck for Arena 1-4

There are few rotating spots in my clan and as those low level players come and go, one common complain that is heard over and over is how they cannot advance in the game because of the lack of better cards. There seem to be a common misconception among new players that one needs a bunch of epic cards to move up from Arena 2 or so. 

I wanted to share a very basic and thus affordable deck which took me to Arena 4. I'm still using it and while very slowly, I seem to be progressing. This deck is using 7 common cards and 1 rare so in terms of cost and card availability it should not be a problem to anyone. 

The average elixir cost for this deck is 3.1 and so in certain sense it could be labeled as a horde deck. The game has however too many counters for a pure horde type of play (Arrows, Fireball, Skeleton Army, Valkyrie, etc.) so this deck should be played in a more control oriented manner or counter-responsive. 

Here is the deck:

Barbarians - this is the most expensive and biggest muscle card in the deck. Barbs are fast and tough enough to make it to the arena tower and inflict some serious damage. They can defeat a lot of units like any type of goblin, soldier and even skeleton army. Ideally they would be played along with some Spear Goblin or Archers support behind them. 

Knight - this card is often overlooked but for the cost of 3 elixir this fellow can do decent damage and take a lot of beating before going down. If unblocked soldier can make it to the arena tower and do decent damage but he is more useful as a blocker. Because of his low cost he can be summoned as a surprise and placing him next to a Which or Musketeer will take care of the threat quickly. 

Spear Goblins - at 2 elixir this card is almost cost broken for its versatility. Lonely Spear Goblins charging arena tower will be able to inflict significant damage before tower takes them down. They work even better as a support standing behind Barbarians or Knight. They also take down any flying threats and work great again Minions but less successfully against Baby Dragon. Because of their low cost they can be placed next to an ongoing struggle as a surprise attack and give significant advantage.

Goblins - not as versatile as their spear wielding cousins but still quite useful and equally cheap. Because of their low HP they are not effective against towers. They can however inflict significant damage quickly so the strategy is to play them directly next to the target. Also great as a counter against Goblin Barrel and for disposing Giants and Hogs.

Archers - damage is about the same as Spear Goblins but Archers are much tougher. Placed next to own arena tower they can increase defense and take down those annoying Baby Dragons. Just like Spear Goblins, Archers make great support for Barbs or Knight charging arena tower. Furthermore, they can survive a volley of Arrows. 

Minions - great defensive unit but may also aid in some attacks. They will successfully take out Valkyrie, Mini PEKKA, and Knight. Along with some aid they will help to dispose Giant and Prince in no time. Placing them directly above Witch or Musketeer will neutralize them. 

Arrows - very versatile spell against hordes or when things get out of control. Will take down Minions, Minion Horde, Skeleton Army and any kind of goblin or skeleton in one shot. 

Fireball - once again a very versatile card. Can be used both offensively and defensively. The key is to use it by default against opponents units and not against towers unless one has few HP remaining and can be finished off. The best thing about this spell is that it can be cast anywhere on the arena. Timing is crucial just like with Arrows.

Playing the deck would be typically an immediate Barb/Knight followed by Spear Goblin/Archers. Any threats should be countered and neutralized with appropriate cards. This is more of a reaction type deck. If opening hand has no Barbs or Knights you may just wait for opponent's move. Because your units are not overly tough, you may need to lure opponent or wait for him to approach one of your towers to use them as a defense support. 

This deck is winning quite often by destroying just one arena tower. Unless superiority in number is established, it is not recommended going for kings tower but rather hold defense until end of the game or target the other arena tower.

Progress - Arena 6
It took a bit over two weeks of casual play but eventually I was able to reach Arena 6 using my affordable deck:

As I progress I can see without question the metagame evolves. When I was closing on to Arena 6 more an more players started using Hog Rider or Hog Rider + Freeze combo. Hog Rider itself can be blocked preferably with two sets of troops (Goblins, Spear Goblins, Minions, Barbs) to minimize damage to the tower and to go into counter-offense. If Freeze is a part of the deal I usually place second set of troops a bit on the side so they are not hit with Freeze effect once it resolves. 

Towers are also a big part of the game in this area and this deck has some problems with them but I usually manage to go around. For Tesla I send troops to attack and time my Fireball for Tesla to open up. Bomb Towers are nasty but Fireball followed by Minions will clear them out. Inferno Tower is most problematic one so I would wait and Fireball it just before the attack. Those methods are not cost efficient so removal of the tower needs to be always timed with tower attack so that the cost can be justified.
Arena 7
So it's been almost two months since my last post and I have finally reach Arena 7. Perhaps it's not a spectacular achievement but achievement nevertheless.

One major modification I've made was to replace Minions with Minion Horde. Horde proved to be extremely versatile and worth increasing overall casting cost in the deck, which was a serious concern for me. One of the reasons why I needed the Horde was strong presence of Bomb Towers in Arena 6 which only recently started declining IMO. Horde can take out Bomb Tower but is also great against any tank card like Giants, Golem, PEKKA or Barbs. It also proven to work as a great counter against two new legendary cards - Sparky and Lava Hound. Playing once against opponent using Sparky+Mirror combo, I was able to take out two Sparks in a row with one Horde. Interestingly, opponent did not equip Arrows in hos deck.

This brings me to the topic of biggest threat for Horde which would be Arrows. Very versatile and widely used card across all Arenas. My advise is to check early if this card is on the table, If so then wait for opponent to use it up or wait for him to deplete elixir after some heated exchange. Then one Horde can easily take out Arena Tower on its own. 

Almost all common cards are now at level 9 and Fireball is at level 6. King Tower level is 8. This makes me believe that pushing this deck to Legendary Arena is rather pointless but perhaps can motivate a very skilled players. Nevertheless, reality is that with so many other great push cards around nobody will have patience to attempt such feat 

As for further modifications Miner seems like a natural replacement for Knight. Almost as tough as the Knight but with ability to be placed anywhere on the battlefield, it would create major disruption. Analogically, Princess would be a good alternative for Archers adding long distance splash damage. Note that in both cases elixir costs would remain the same. One obvious problem with those replacements is of course the deck cannot be called 'affordable' anymore, haha. 
Thanks ogotaj for sharing his progresses and informative decks with us. The deck first appeared here.

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