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Contract Killer: Variations on Arakni

I have always enjoyed mind games. So when I jumped into the game during Dynasty and faced that initial choice - which hero will I start with? - that preference was at the front of my mind. My playstyle needs to have interactions that make my opponent think hard about their choices, while I menacingly rap my fingers together anticipating their next move whispering “yesss, gooood”.

Add to that a preliminary understanding of the threat that Living Legend places on certain characters, and the entry point became pretty clear for me.

Arakni just so happened to be the hot new kid on campus, with an arsenal of interference, reactions, and an overall menacing playstyle. And with no Living Legend points accrued yet, I could safely invest in cards knowing the character will be playable for a good long time.

My first games felt so interesting. I had so little knowledge of the meta, deck assembly, or overall strategies of my opponents; but thanks to Arakni’s ability and the contract card pool, I had a ton of information on what my opponent was doing! And if that card felt threatening? I could safely tuck it away on the bottom of their deck.

Card image of Arakni, Huntsman

Without fail, nearly every single game, my opponent has an irrational fear of me looking at their cards and potentially banishing their core deck elements. Rookies, intermediates, and even seasoned veterans, all struggle with how they will block Arakni’s devastating contract cards, often over-blocking with 2-3 cards to prevent a Surgical Extraction or Leave No Witnesses. Most often, an opponent will account for a swing of 3 with either a Shred (Y) or Cut to the Chase (R); so sometimes you can even Pummel that Surgical Extraction to great effect!

Card image of Leave No Witnesses (Red)
Card image of Surgical Extraction (Blue)

Some matchups are brutal for the masked assassin, plain and true.

With a lack of attacks over six power, one of your biggest issues is going to be Dromai. However, not all is lost in this match, as your daggers have base go again, and you can wield two of these sharp little stabbing implements, which is great for taking out multiple Aether Ashwings in one turn! When facing Dromai, their life is rarely what you should be concerned about; instead, destroying their deck with banish is the actual gameplan. Dromai does not have a weapon that can attack you, so once you exhaust all her attacks, dragons, and auras, she has no choice but to fall in defeat.

Oldhim is another touch matchup, with his seemingly inexhaustible defense options and extremely powerful guardian attacks. After beating my head into the brick wall that is Oldhim, I discovered a path by which Arakni can potentially win: playing extremely defensively, and picking the moments to go all out for a large contract play. While we won’t see consistent wins here, it's not an automatic loss!

Arakni has one very particular advantage over all other characters, and that is his second cycle of gameplay. Most experts understand how important it is to properly stack your pitch to have decent turns on the second or third cycle of the game. By taking the time to properly stack a couple of your better contract cards with a reaction or two, you can take full advantage of your opponent having a less-than-optimal second cycle - thanks in part to the cards that you were able to move to the bottom of their deck on the first cycle!

This makes cards like Eradicate much more deadly and powerful as a late-game closer, to remove any of their remaining threats, or costing them a whole turn of blocking out. It also plays into our equipment which we can uniquely reuse as we acquire Silver.

Card image of Blacktek Whisperers
Card image of Eradicate (Yellow)

If you're sold on just how cool Arakni is, the next question is, how do we build him?

So far, Arakni seems to have 2 archetypes that really work for him.

  1. Reaction-focused
  2. Fatigue-focused
Card image of Cut to the Chase (Red)
Card image of Razor Reflex (Red)

Reaction-focused Arakni is focused on the best contract attacks - all the Majestics are a great start, plus Annihilate the Armed and Plunder the Poor are staples. You fill your deck with the fantastic Cut to the Chase (reds and yellows) and Razor Reflexes.

Card image of Annihilate the Armed (Red)
Card image of Plunder the Poor (Red)

Razor Reflex not only is a fantastic way to sneak in 1 or 2 damage, but also gives your contract cards go again. Which is a fantastic enabler to one of the more interesting interactions that Arakni has - that contracts stack on the chain! If you can manage multiple contracts on a chain, the ability to generate Silver is exponentially increased!

The second, and much more evil version of Arakni, is fatigue-focused. This style of play will have your opponents tearing out their hair at how efficiently you can two-for-one value them out of an entire deck.

Card image of Command and Conquer (Red)
Card image of Heart of Fyendal (Blue)

To properly build this version of Arakni, I recommend you run some more expensive cards, such as Command and Conquer and even Heart of Fyendal, to properly exhaust your opponents’ resources and stay alive to their very last card.

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

Grueling calculations and properly blocking your opponent is key in this style, so using defense reactions such as Sink Below, Fate Foreseen, and even Unmovable gain a lot of value here for you, as you need to leak as little damage as possible while slowly whittling your opponents cards out of existence.

The real goal here is to effectively neutralize two of their cards for every one of yours. Mask of Perdition is your best tool to ensure that you keep this ratio high and can often produce the silver to re-purchase itself multiple times in a game! Keep in mind that games have a time limit, so its best to only play this archetype if you are a player that can make quick and complicated decisions, lest you end the match in a dreaded draw!

Card image of Mask of Perdition

All in all, Arakni is a fantastic character that is extremely enjoyable to play. You have so many decisions to make in a game, and it feels truly rewarding when you can Surgically Extract a hard-fought victory! If you love a bit of sneaky, underhanded, fear-inducing card game action, then Arakni might just be up your shadowy, blood-filled alley!

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