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Ultimate Tournament Strategy Guide

Posted by Zorni on 02/07/2020

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In Faeria there are tournaments every other week. They are vastly different from playing Faeria on ladder. I’ve been getting lots of questions about how to play tournaments or others shy away, since they don’t know where to start in something what feels like “countering the counter that counters a counter”. With this long and in depth essay I want to guide newer players towards being successful in tournaments.

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In Faeria there are tournaments every other week. They are vastly different from playing Faeria on ladder. I’ve been getting lots of questions about how to play tournaments or others shy away, since they don’t know where to start in something what feels like “countering the counter that counters a counter”. With this long and in depth essay I want to guide newer players towards being successful in tournaments.

To start off I want to briefly explain the rules of the Crucible format, in which tournaments are played. Every participant brings 4 different decks to the tournament. Before a series starts both players ban one deck of the opponent. Afterwards both players choose one of the remaining decks to play. After a game the winner has to stick with his deck, while deck of the loser is banned and they can choose a different deck to counter the one they just lost to. A series is played in a Best of 3 (Bo3) or Best of 5 (Bo5) Format.

In tournaments, especially in later rounds, players are fairly evenly matched. To be constantly at the top, requires a good strategy. To get an edge on your opponent, all you need to do is to create a strategy, where you get more favorable matchups. But how is that done? I think in three different phases can a strategic advantage be obtained. In creating good decks, which fit well together, in banning the correct deck and in picking the decks in the right order. I want to focus on each of those areas and I want to highlight important factors. On top of that for each part I have some lineups and scenarios to showcase, in order to see the theory applied and what thoughts were behind it.

Here a quick disclaimer that most of this guide is written on how I approach tournaments and it doesn’t mean that it is the best or the only way. Most of the things written is just my opinion. I made the strategy names up to make it easier to follow on what I’m referring to.

Creating Lineups

Creating lineups happens before the tournament starts. For players who are new to tournaments choosing four decks that create a solid lineup can be a daunting task. To give those players a guideline, I want to categorize some of the most common strategies into three groups: the Own Strengths, the Meta Counter and the Ban Hell. But first there are some points I want to address first.

Matchup Table

Faeria is a very complex game and every deck can beat every deck depending on the deck specifics. However there are some archetypes that traditionally counter other archetypes. It is important for a tournament player to get a feel which deck feel good against another one. This takes time, but can be done on ladder, by playing the same deck over and over again. To give newer players a bit of a guide, I want to give a very general outline to some of those traditional counters.

Swarm > Green, Yellow, Blue Jump

Burn, Red, Reaver, Rush > Swarm

Green > Red

Yellow > Green, Blue

Blue > Green

I call a matchup a 50/50 matchup, where maybe one deck has a slight advantage, but not significant enough. I didn’t list BG Jump, because the list has many of those 50/50 matchups. In tournaments it is important to not create a strategy around a 60/40 matchup. On ladder these odds may sound great, but in a tournament, there is only one chance to win a certain matchup. For tournaments I call 60/40 matchups a 50/50. I want to give an example on how to think for tournaments.

Blue Reaver is considered a great tournament deck, but not so great on ladder. Why is that? It feels a bit odd, calling a deck good and bad at the same time. Reaver has too many counters to climb with it on ladder. However it has some excellent matchups. It hard counters Swarm decks or Red Combat for example. Matchups such as these aren’t 60/40, they are more around 90/10. Building a strategy around a 90/10 is much more bullet proof, than on a 60/40.

Opener/Scout Deck

I call an opener deck, a deck that has a lot of 50/50 matchups and has a chance to win against most decks. These decks are also known as Scouting decks and are usually strong on ladder. In tournaments it is advisable to have at least one of those decks to have a deck to start with. The main purpose is to see, what deck your opponent is starting off with to then counter that deck with your remaining two decks. Three of the best Opener decks that come to mind are Red Combat, Yellow Flyers and BG Jump.

Ban Tank

In every meta there will be a best archetype or an annoying deck. It is worth considering bringing one of these decks, just to ensure that the opponent bans this deck. This is what I call the Ban Tank. If the deck isn’t banned you get to play the best deck.

Deck Cover

In Faeria there is an option to set a deck cover. A deck cover is the card that is displayed, when the decks are shown to the opposing player. Generally not a key card should be set as deck cover, but one that is an auto include. This helps to confuse the opponent on what cards your deck runs. This small trick should always be done and later on I will showcase some examples of that trick.

Three basic strategies

Now I want to highlight three lineup strategies that help to create a solid lineup. It is also possible to merge these three strategies to create the ultimate strategy. Before the tournament starts it is important to make a general outline to which deck is strong against the chosen archetype, which deck you don’t want to play against and what deck should be opened with.

Own Strength

Especially for newer players who are good at playing one or two archetypes well, this strategy is the most suitable one. Assuming a player knows two decks well and has a general idea of its strengths and weaknesses, then it makes sense to base the tournament strategy around these two decks. I’d advise picking an opener deck and a Ban Tank as a fourth deck. That heightens the chances that none of the good decks are banned. In a Bo3 series, one deck won’t be touched. If none of the strong decks are banned, don’t start with the opener deck, to make sure both of the strong decks can be played. Otherwise start with either the Opener or the Ban Tank deck to save the strong deck for last. In a Bo5 Series I wouldn’t start with one of the strong decks.

Meta Counter

The Meta Counter can give a decisive advantage, because there is no need to ban the Ban Tank. This basically nullifies an opposing deck entirely and gives a lot of freedom in banning. The strategy is stronger in Bo5 situations, because in the Bo3 the countered deck can just be ignored. The strategy resolves around playing slightly weaker decks on paper, but they are strong against what is commonly seen on ladder. This can be done by adjusting few key cards in a deck to ensure a favorite outcome in the mirror or choose complete counter decks. A Meta Counter lineup can be very versatile, but usually contains at least two decks that are strong against the Meta deck. This ensures that even if one of the counter decks is banned, there is still a second one. The last two decks are flexible, they can either counter another good archetype or just be an opener and a meta deck itself. There are options to completely ignore a certain archetype, because the ban is still available for said archetype.

Ban Hell

Ban Hell

The Ban Hell strategy isn’t as common on it’s own, but the main goal is to make banning annoying for the opponent. A great example of that is SuperbLizards lineup in a Seasonal Cup, where he brought four Mono Yellow decks. He made perfect use of the Deck Cover trick and put four Soul Drains as Cover. This makes banning a deck basically useless, because the chance of banning the right one is really difficult and the chances that the other three decks are strong against similar decks is likely. The drawback of the Ban Hell strategy is that there lots of lineups, where more than one deck counter the entire Ban Hell lineup. Ideally Ban Hell is used with one of the other strategies.

Lineup Showcase - Ruunin Open

Yakin - Zorni

The lineup that I brought in a Ruunin Open displays various concepts that are explained in this part. My first two decks, Rakoans and Carassius, have a similar gameplan. They both swarm the board. If one of the two is banned, I always have the other deck to play a swarm archetype. It makes banning difficult for my opponent. The second and the third deck are good versus Rakoans, currently the strongest Meta deck. I will always have a deck that does well versus Rakoans. A concept discussed in the Meta Counter section. The Red Combat and the Y Flyers list are two decks that I did very well with ahead of the tournament, so I felt confident with them and they play to my own strengths.

Ahead of the tournament I was considering the weaknesses of my lineup. With one of the Swarm lists I felt confident that I could beat other swarm lists. Since I a run double swarm list I have to be conscious of Burn lists. But my other two lists both do well versus burn. I found a big counter to my lineup, which was Reaver. If my Y Flyers list is banned, Reaver hard Counters all remaining three decks of my lineup. Reaver isn’t a common archetype right now and it would get my first priority in banning. I wasn’t extremely confident versus BG Jump or Y Husk, well knowing that there were going to be lots of 50/50 matchups, which always pose a risk.

Ultimately I was really happy with the lineup, they cover most archetypes, I can play the lists well and it isn’t easy for my opponent to ban, because I will always get an annoying deck, namely Carassius and Rakoans.


Banning a deck is for player an important part of winning the series, because a correct ban can remove the only counter to a deck. Just before that deck is also banned and the own ban is nullified. Usually the most obvious ban is either the Ban Tank or a deck that the own decks are weak against. To ensure no weakness is missed, the Two-Counter-Rule can be applied. I will explain this rules later on. But to apply any rule, the very first thing in the banning phase that has to be done is to recognize the decks.

Recognizing Decks

Recognizing decks can be easier said than done. It requires a good understanding of what decks are most commonly played. Let’s have a closer look at SuperbLizard’s lineup against MastermindII. It is easy to just ban one of the four. He has four yellow lists and the two things that set them apart is the cost and the land requirements. There are three yellow list that are most common. Yellow Rush, Yellow Husk and Yellow Flyers. He brought all of them. Have a think and consider which of the his deck is which.

Recognizing Decks

On first glance, it may appear that the cheapest one of them is the Yellow Rush List. But then Rush has hardly any Neutral Cards. There may be a version with Sharras Inspiration or Daring Adventurer, but these option are very unlikely. In fact SuperbLizard’s Yellow Rush doesn’t have any Neutral Cards in them. It is the 2.9 cost one. The Yellow Husk List is similar for most players and in fact MastermindII also plays it. 2 Storytellers, 2.7 cost. Especially for the Husk list, the most telling part are the two Neutral lands. The Yellow Flyer list costs around 3 mana and has no Neutral cards, maybe in few version Drake Rider is played. In this case it is the 3.1 cost deck. The last deck may be a bit harder to figure out, but it can be figured out if SuperbLizard has played the deck on ladder or in previous tournaments. It is his Yellow Events deck with Wisdom and Campfire. With that knowledge banning the wanted deck becomes all of the sudden a lot easier.


What I like to do for every banning phase is to think for each of my opponents deck which two decks of mine can defeat that deck. For example my opponents first deck can be beaten by my first and my second deck, their second deck by my first and third, their third deck only by my fourth deck and their fourth deck by my third and my fourth. In this case my opponents third deck has only one counter. If they ban that deck I remain without a counter for that deck. Hence I ban their third deck.

This Two-Counter-Rule relies on good assessment and if a counter wins, the entire game plan is potentially ruined. To be on the safe side I’d advise to not rely on 50/50 matchups or mirror matchups. Wins in those games should count as bonus and to not as counters. Otherwise the Two-Counter-Rule gives a good overview on which games have to be won and which games don’t matter as much (Yes, in tournaments it should be part of the strategy to not win every game).

Respect Banning

If according to the Two-Counter-Rule every deck of the opponent is countered at least twice, bans become more flexible. The Faeria community is like a family and everyone knows each other. It happens that certain players are very good which a specific deck on ladder. Why not take away a big part of their strength by taking away their favorite deck? The better and more versatile a player is the less affected they are by this respect ban. It is always worth a consideration, if the opposing player is known for an archetype.

Banning Showcase - Zorni - Yakin

In the lineup creation part I showcased my lineup for a Ruunin Open. In the semifinals I faced up against Yakin, who brought a similar lineup compared to me. We both had a Carassius and a Rakoans deck. Instead of Red Combat he chose to go for BG Jump and for Y Flyers he played Y Husks, which I didn’t know at that time, because it had weird land requirements. I assumed it was Y Rush, because he gave away a Wind Soldier with his deck cover.

Yakin - Zorni

First thing I realized my Red Combat list looks really good in this series, because it does well against the swarm lists and has 50/50 matchups against the other two. Assuming he’s Yellow list was Y Rush I thought Red Combat would also favored against his Yellow list. If I create my strategy around Red Combat, all I needed to do was ban the BG Jump list and I have a Sweeper (Term defined below). But I assumed he would ban the Red Combat list of mine, which gives me an advantage with my swarm lists. If I ban his Carassius (Carassius beat Rakoans), I have Carassius to beat his Rakoans, Y Flyers to beat his BG Jump and three 50/50s versus Y Rush.

He ended up banning my Rakoans deck and I knew that I was really favored to win the series. I have a sweeper in Red Combat and most of my other matchups are also decent. The only matchup I wanted to avoid was Y Flyers versus swarm. So I also wanted to ensure that my Carassius didn’t lose before his Rakoans list was beaten. If I allowed that a good portion of my advantage was gone. So I started with Red Combat, I knew I could 3-0 him and even if I lose, I have good follow up decks. In the end I beat him 3-0 mostly coming from a ban victory.

Banning Showcase - Zorni - Alvar

Zorni - Alvar

The series versus Alvar took place right after the one versus Yakin. It was the Grand Finals. Alvar has two Yellow Lists, one Husk, one Flyers. He has a Rakoans list, teched especially to win in the mirror. I missed this fact, but I should’ve picked up on it. Compare my Rakoans list with his. He runs 15 mountains, compared to my 9. It means that there are removal cards, which makes his Rakoans list good versus mine. I didn’t pay attention to it. I didn’t want to ban Rakoans, because I lined up especially against it. I can beat his Flyers with either Rakoans or Carassius, his Y Husk with Y Flyers and maybe one of the Swarms or a 50/50 with Red. He dominated the ladder and recent tournaments with the BG Jump list. Initially I thought I could deal with it with swarm or Y Flyers. However he beat me on ladder with Swarm and I didn’t feel confident beating it. I ended up banning BG Jump, mostly a respect ban. He banned my Carassius.

Compared to the semifinals versus Yakin, all of the sudden Alvar has the swarm matchup advantage, because he wins the mirror. Not knowing that fact I opened with Rakoans, because I thought I have a 50/50 against all of his decks. The problem with it is, Rakoans is my only good answer to his Y Flyers list. He also opened with Rakoans and he won, which made my series a lot harder. I ended up beating his Rakoans with Red Combat and he cleaned up with Y Flyers, beating my Red Combat and winning the mirror. 1-3.

I want to highlight a couple of things about my lineup and my strategy. I wanted to win the swarm matchup and with that giving me an advantage over the entire series. Against Yakin this worked to perfection and I didn’t even need to use this advantage. Against Alvar unfortunately, it didn’t work, because it didn’t recognize his Rakoans list as a counter to mine. He beat me at my own game.

Creating a game plan

Choosing the first deck to play is the first step to create a successful game plan. When in doubt, just pick with the Opener deck as first deck. There are exceptions to this guideline. If the series is a Bo3, ideally the weakest deck shouldn’t be played at all. I want to generalize three of the most common scenarios and then look at a series I played versus Moonfassa, where all of these scenarios happened.

The Sweeper

The Sweeper deck is a deck that has no counter and can beat all the opposing decks. That doesn’t happen too often, but especially in Bo3 series it makes sense to start with the strongest deck and even if game 2 is lost, a suitable counter can then be found to win the decider. If the Sweeper deck is also the only counter to an opposing deck, it is risky to start with it, because if that deck loses, all of the sudden the opponent has a cleanup deck.

The Cleanup

The cleanup strategy can be used, when a deck has only one counter, but can beat the other decks. The game plan is to wait with that deck until the only counter is beaten, so it can clean up the rest of the opposing lineup. The cleanup strategy usually creates good gameplans and can be applied to most series.

The Dead Deck

The dead deck is a deck that doesn’t do well in any matchups. By banning the wrong deck or just being countered by your opponent can lead to a dead deck. In Bo3 series the dead Deck is no problem, because it can simply be ignored. However in Bo5 series, the dead deck has to be played. Opening with the dead deck is in most cases a good idea, because the remaining two decks have to have good matchups. Scouting with a dead deck gives it at least some use.

Game Plan Showcase - Zorni vs. Moonfassa

Moonfassa and I met in the quarterfinals of a Ruunin Open. We brought similar lineups. Both a Ban Tank in Rakoans and both BG Jump. He brought Y Husk and I was confident that my Y Flyers can win the Yellow Mirror. My last deck is Green and it is a dead Deck, while his last deck, YB Istanu, is in my opinion a Sweeper. This fact gives him a big advantage for this series.

Zorni - Moonfassa

We both banned Rakoans. My best shot at winning the series is to beat YB Istanu with BG Jump and clean up with Y Flyers. It is hard to say how confident he feels about YB Istanu versus BG Jump, but if he feels confident with it he could consider starting with YB Istanu and try to sweep me.

I start with Green, not expecting to win, just to scout which deck he brings first. He starts with Y Husk. So at that moment I assume that he either doesn’t feel confident with YB Istanu against BG Jump or he knows that I can clean up with Y Flyers, once the YB Istanu deck is defeated, because it’s his only counter to my Flyers.

Unsurprisingly, I end up losing the first game. Now I can choose between Y Flyers and BG Jump. I think I can win with both, Y Flyers probably give me better chances. But if I go Y Flyers and win, he will pick YB Istanu, lose and then I have to win with BG Jump against YB Istanu and the mirror. The other option is to pick BG Jump, if I win, he probably chooses YB Istanu. I have to win that matchup and if I do, I lead 2-1 and he is forced into the mirror, which he has to win and I don’t care if I lose, because I can win the last game with Y Flyers. That’s why I choose you, BG Jump!

I play a terrible game and get crushed. At that point I know, my chances to win the series are very slim. I somehow have to win with Y Flyers versus his Istanu list. I win the Yellow mirror and I win versus his BG Jump. 2-2. Now only his BG Istanu is left. That was the matchup is wanted to avoid at all cost. I lose without a chance.

I think that series was a great display of him realizing that he doesn’t have to sweep with his Istanu list to win the series. He was patient with the counter against my Yellow List. To win the series I needed to win multiple 50/50 matchups, just because my lineup didn’t cover enough matchups.


In this guide I tried to give most of the concepts I use automatically in tournaments a name and make it applicable for newer players. Unfortunately, most of the discussed scenarios, especially in picking and banning require a good understanding of the different archetypes. However I think if someone is confident with two decks, it be successful in tournaments and understand which matchups are good and which aren’t with these decks they're good at. The cleanup strategy produces good results and helps giving new players something to focus on during the picking phase. Same goes for the Two-Counter-Rule during the banning phase. I hope with this guide you gained an in depth view of some of the tournament strategies and what a successful lineup looks like. I hope to play against you in the coming tournaments to see what strategies you cooked up.


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