The Rathe Times logo

A Working Theory on Teklovossen

Card image of Teklovossen, Esteemed Magnate

Since Teklovossen, Esteemed Magnate went live on Talishar, I’ve been trying to crack the hero open. What I’ve found is that both deckbuilding and gameplay for this hero is incredibly complex. He demands a lot of his pilots.

From my previous article on assessing the value of armor, we know that starting without any armor in play is a massive deficit. From there, we need to pursue a late game win condition of assembling four Evos; then, ideally, survive to resolve Singularity. Is all of this even worth the effort? How do we not die in the process?

Card image of Singularity (Red)
Card image of Teklovossen, the Mechropotent

Regarding the first question, it is absolutely worth it - not only is Singularity incredibly fun when it resolves, but when it is assembled using all four Steel Soul Evos, it creates a board state that's essentially impossible to lose. The deficit we started the game at is paid off twice over.

The second question - of surviving long enough to win - is the fundamental issue of the deck. I have no clear answers to it; in fact, I think this is an issue that will take passionate deck builders months to solve. What I aim to do, however, is highlight the main issues and various approaches that I’ve experimented with, in hopes of promoting further research.

I’ll say that I have mostly stayed away from boost variants of the hero - partly to narrow my focus, but also because its deckbuilding demands are even more complex than the defensive, scrap-based plan. So for this article, I’ll lay out the essential gameplan of the defensive scrap build, problems it faces, and possible solutions.

Defensive Gameplan

Teklovossen’s game plan revolves around playing Evos. The problem with Evos is that playing them out of hand is a poor value proposition. Sentry Base Evos have an extremely desirable Battleworn 2, but spending 2 cards to resolve them usually means we took 6 damage more than we would have otherwise liked in order to do so.

Card image of Evo Sentry Base Chest (Red)

Fortunately, Teklovossen permits us to play Evos out of the banished zone. By playing cards with scrap effects, we move Evos that we previously blocked with into the banished zone, where we can then play them without falling too far behind.

Card image of Evo Steel Soul Memory (Blue)

Once we start resolving our Steel Soul Evos, we find that they all have incentives for either playing them on top of a Sentry Base Evo, or playing a Sentry Base on top of them. Gaining extra intellect, resources, action points, and recurring your most powerful attacks are exciting payoffs for executing the gameplan. Once we are set up, we are dropping devastatingly disruptive 9-power attacks in the form of War Machine and Terminator Tank (i’ll refer to both of these as tanks).

Card image of Terminator Tank (Red)
Card image of War Machine (Red)

On resolving Singularity, our Steel Souls all trigger twice, meaning we’ll get 2 action points, 6 resources, +2 intellect, and recur 2 tanks for the next couple turns. Teklovossen, The Mechropotent’s printed attack costs 3 resources to deal 6 damage and force a discard, and it’s not once per turn. This means that on the turn we transform, we get to attack for 12 and force 2 discards - annihilating whatever turn our opponent had planned. The next two turns, we are all but guaranteed to attack with a tank with go again, into another Mechropotent swing. Most heroes can’t survive this pressure for more than 4 turns even if they started near full life.

4 turns is an important threshold however, because that is the minimum number of Mechropotent swings we get post-Singularity if we establish no further material to fuel his attacks (two on the first turn and three swings over the next three turns). The fact that we gain 6 points of Battleworn on top of this means we gained an effective 21 life as well, so racing us through the disruption is almost impossible.

The deckbuilding demands are relatively straightforward. We need Evos, scrap attacks, tanks, and a lot of blues. The ideal ones are the Evo upgrade blues, like Mechanical Strength and Liquid-Cooled Mayhem. These are excellent attacks for our post-Singularity turns where we don’t draw tanks but can still output significant damage, while still pitching efficiently in the early game.

Card image of Liquid-Cooled Mayhem (Blue)
Card image of Mechanical Strength (Blue)

Steel Street Enforcement is incredible when it blocks for 5 - but it blocks poorly early, and can’t be arsenaled if drawn off of Teklovossen’s ability, making it unclear whether it should be played. Meganetic Protocol seems very exciting, but its restriction of only forcing already used equipment to block, combined with Teklovossen’s relative lack of attacks that demand armor means that it will rarely generate respectable value. I really like blue Unmovable, as it can be played out of arsenal to block 6 damage for 2 cards, making it a desirable draw off of Teklovossen.

Card image of Meganetic Protocol (Blue)
Card image of Steel Street Enforcement (Blue)
Card image of Unmovable (Blue)

On paper, this game plan seems extremely effective. However, you might find that most decks will completely disrespect your scrap attacks because they are both low damage and lacking on-hit effects. This permits any deck that can reliably convert 4-card hands to throw everything they have at you. And since you need to forego at least some amount of blocking in order to play scrap cards and Evos, you will find yourself losing long before you are fully set up, let alone resolving Singularity.

And so we need to interrogate this gameplan very closely, looking for ways to bring it up to scratch with its contemporaries. The next section details possible approaches to this problem, but nothing is conclusive yet - it’s simply far too early in Teklovossen’s life cycle.

Refining the Scrap Plan

A good first step in deck optimization is identifying the strongest things a deck can do, then honing in on them. Let’s look at our Evos. If our premise is that a full Steel Soul Singularity effectively wins the game, then we are required to run the maximum amount of Steel Souls. That just leaves the Sentry Base Evos. Based on the problems we encounter with taking damage to resolve Evos, we want to be very critical of the effects we’re getting from layering Steel Souls and Sentry Bases.

Card image of Evo Steel Soul Controller (Blue)
Card image of Evo Steel Soul Processor (Blue)
Card image of Evo Steel Soul Tower (Blue)
  1. Steel Soul Memory gives +1 intellect - one of the most powerful effects in the game and very easy to utilize.

  2. Steel Soul Controller allows us to recur our best attacks - very desirable in fatigue situations, but it doesn’t explicitly add value to our game state.

  3. Steel Soul Processor adds 3 resources - very desirable, but extremely hard to use. Let’s say on our turn we activate Teklovossen to play it as an instant, generating 3 resources and drawing a blind card. This card has to be an incredible top deck to justify all the damage we took to resolve this turn.

  4. As with the Processor, Steel Soul Tower has a similar problem, where maximizing its effect requires us to take more damage than we are likely comfortable with. Since we’ve established that we can win from nearly any position post Singularity, we shouldn’t feel like we have to take damage to maximize resources that will likely be spent on attacks.

At this point, I should also point out that when we resolve Singularity, we absolutely must have the Tower and Processor active - they are what allow us to attack twice the turn we resolve Singularity. We can get away with having Sentry Head and Arms on the Singularity turn, but having Chest or Legs blocked by Sentries effectively makes the play not worth it.

Card image of Evo Sentry Base Arms (Red)
Card image of Evo Sentry Base Head (Red)

With this knowledge, we might conclude that the only Sentries we are interested in layering with our Steel Souls are the head and arm pieces - even the arms might only need to come in against slower decks. With this change, we are now only scrapping when it establishes our win condition, or sets us up for 5 card hands for even better defensive turns.

The next step is to identify inefficiencies in how we are pursuing our game plan. The most obvious problem is that all the Steel Soul Evos cost 4 resources, which demand 2 cards worth of pitch. The best solution is Scrap Trader. Because it generates 4 resources by itself, all we need is a blue to activate Teklovossen and equip an Evo, while drawing a card to arsenal - effectively a one-card investment.

Card image of Scrap Trader (Red)

The rub with this card draw in such a blue heavy deck however, is that likely over half the cards we draw blind off the top will not be cards that we’re very excited to play on future turns, perhaps even demanding we take damage to clear the arsenal for something better. While the risk of drawing poor arsenal targets seems obnoxious enough to make one consider cutting Scrap Trader, I think the better solution is to optimize the deckbuilding such that as many cards as possible are viable arsenal targets.

Another approach to overcoming the 4-resource hurdle is non-standard chest pieces. While up to this point, we have assumed that we were limited to starting with bases, Fabricate allows us to equip a Proto Base from our inventory if the slot is open. This means that chest pieces like Blossom of Spring and Fyendal’s Spring Tunic can generate resources, destroy themselves, then get paved over by Fabricate, allowing us to block more efficiently when we want to safely establish Steel Souls. Both pieces have advantages and drawbacks.

Card image of Blossom of Spring
Card image of Fabricate (Red)
Card image of Fyendal's Spring Tunic

Tunic being instant speed means we are free to equip Evos on our opponent's turn, meaning that the card we draw off of Teklovossen’s effect doesn’t need to be a card we want to arsenal - we will get to block with it. While Tunic will generate more resources over time, the fact that we need to clear it by blocking with it creates awkward timing issues, sometimes forcing us to wait when we might otherwise have a clear window. Additionally, being a Blade Break piece makes it vulnerable to T-Bone effects, which are becoming extremely common.

Blossom of Spring being a 0-block inverts the T-Bone problem. It’s not only safe from it, but it covers your already damaged Steel Souls. It only generates one resource at action speed, but being able to be cleared whenever it needs to make way for Fabricate is an important factor to why it should be considered.

Minimizing the Scrap Plan

My suggestion for the next possible step is rather radical. Consider some of the premises we have established so far:

  • We usually need to take damage to play scrap attacks.

  • Our scrap attacks demand virtually no respect from our opponents.

  • A full Steel Soul Singularity creates a nigh-unlosable game state, making the previous game state moot.

  • The bare minimum amount of material for Singularity is sufficient in most contexts.

What if we are only interested in playing four total Evos over the course of the game? No Sentries, and we rely on Scrap Trader to do most if not all the scrapping we need for a game. Consider this: If playing a scrap attack means we have to take at least 3 extra damage, and our opponent’s life total does not matter when we resolve Singularity, then there is functionally no difference between scrapping an Evo with an attack, and taking 3 extra damage to play the Evo from hand.

If this assertion is true, then we free up an immense amount of deck building space to focus solely on surviving our opponent’s onslaught. Cards that might not have had room before like Sink Below, Fate Foreseen, and Firewall are now perfect fits. We can still keep some amount of scrap attacks in our blue base - we need blue attacks post-Singularity, after all - but now we tacitly refuse to take damage in order to resolve a scrap attack.

Card image of Fate Foreseen (Red)
Card image of Firewall (Red)
Card image of Sink Below (Red)

Meta Considerations

Probably the most intimidating part of playing Teklovossen right now is the current field he was released into. Simply put, conditions are hostile for Teklovossen. What are the prospects for alleviating them?

Iyslander demands Arcane Barrier, and submitting any means giving up base slots. This effectively means that the Singularity win condition is off the table. Similar to our plan with Tunic, we could run Viziertronic in the head slot, then sacrifice it when we need the slot, but that involves dropping our shields when we are likely down to our last dregs of health.

Card image of Rusted Relic (Blue)

The best idea I’ve come up with yet is Rusted Relic. While this card is rightfully maligned, it offers a way for us to establish Arcane Barrier while pursuing Singularity. My recommendation is to use Viziertronic until 2-3 Relics are set up. Now such a low-pressure gameplan invites Iyslander to set up a Frost Hex combo kill, but Imperial Warhorn has been proven to be an effective counter.

Card image of Frost Hex (Blue)
Card image of Imperial Warhorn (Red)

When Dromai is left to her own devices for too long, she establishes board states that are very resilient to poppers, so we need effective ways to deal with them. The trickiest offender is Miragai, because our weapon doesn’t deal enough damage and most of our big damage attacks are vital poppers we need to conserve.

My suggestion is to populate the blue base with attacks that come in for 4 or more. In these scenarios, the common outcome is the dragon “traffic jam” where any single turn where you draw insufficient poppers will lose you the game. This outcome is even more likely post-Singularity, when you are only drawing 3 cards per turn. As such, is it vital that you conserve every popper you don’t need to stop the dragon onslaught. Pitch them, Sink them, do everything in your power to make sure you draw at least 1 per turn in the second cycle.

However, Lexi has been the dominating meta force for the past season, and she’s poised to stick around for at least one more. Excellent deck builders and pilots have been trying to find answers on heroes that are much better understood than Teklovossen - finding a means to defeat Lexi as she currently stands is not a reasonable goal at this time. Soon she will rotate and we can have room to explore the meta.

Future Research

The issues I’ve outlined today might make the thought of pursuing Teklovossen intimidating to say the least. However, consider what Teklovossen asks of us: we are taking inefficient plays early in order to win the game through overwhelming force later.

It’s a problem that can be solved, because it happened before with Dromai. She struggled for months because of complex deckbuilding and piloting problems that took time to solve. Before any significant changes to her card pool, all it took was time for small meta shifts and strong theory to be developed and she became a premier threat in the metagame.

Don’t be discouraged by current conditions - enjoy the tinkering process and wait for the right time to remind people to fear a deck that blocks.

Discussion (0)

You must be registered and logged in to participate in discussions.

Read next...

The Guardian tavern is filling up. Find the right table for you.

by: Mark Chamberlain

3 months ago

Rhea asks the question at the Teklo heart of Mechanology: is it better to boost or to scrap?

by: Rhea Adams

8 months ago