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Thread: Scraven Strategy Guide

  1. #1
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    Default Scraven Strategy Guide

    I have around 35+ Scraven games under my belt and consider him my best summoner. He was extremely difficult for me to learn, required a ton of failed game strategy and deckbuilds, so I've learned a ton about what works and doesn't. At one point I almost gave up on him as bad, but now I strongly believe he's A tier or very close to it and I've had very good success with him. I'd like to now pay forward what I've learned, because I enjoy Scraven even though I know he's flawed and annoying, and I do hope this will help others with Scraven.

    This guide will be four parts: (1) champ deckbuilding option grades; (2) common deckbuilding option grades; (3) Scraven event grades and best uses; and (4) general Scraven strategy. I'm putting starting with the Unit grades because I think most people enjoy unit grades. However, keep in mind that my grades will make more sense when I finish the other three parts of this guide, and after reading through those other pieces.

    Even though I start with unit grades, one quick note about Scraven's general strategy: his defense through turn 3 is typically really bad; and he can be a diva due to events needing to be at the right time, and if they're not, they can cause big clog (i'll explain later how to manage this). So keep these short notes in mind when reading through the unit grades: they're why he likes units that aren't divas (good situationally, at certain times in the game, etc.).


    PART 1 OF 4: CHAMPION GRADES
    A+
    Sand Wyrm. Works for everything, every: build, matchup, time of the game, and whether you’re on offense or defense. All three EAs help him: Sand Blast moves units to him so he doesn’t have to move as far and lose AV; Thrust gives him 3AV even when he moves 2 spaces; and Strong Wind is not a move so it doesn’t decrease his AV.


    A
    Kreep. Sand Blast makes him better than Biter. However, you need to actually have Sand Blast. This makes him somewhat of a diva, and is the only reason he’s not a tier above Biter. I play him over Biter in a deck when the opponent can’t mount a strong and fast offense, as that gives me the time I need to reliably pair Kreep with Sand Blast. Or, I’m playing an opponent that can’t mount strong and fast offense and whom I think I can beat in the end game on the basis of my superior units, I’ll play both Kreep and Biter.

    Biter. It’s the statline. Just somewhat less of a “draw timing” diva than Kreep, which is important when defending against fast and strong offenses. Like Kreep and Sand Wyrm, Strong Wind can help Biter, either on Biter or another unit you control to Strong Wind the opponent common out of the way and free up Biter’s movement.

    Cyrus. The only reason he’s not A+ is he’s awesome as long as you don’t draw him in the very end game when you have no resources or commons remaining or if you don’t have to defend against fast and strong offenses. In those matchups when that player tries to control the tempo, I typically don’t have the resources to control a bunch of commons in order to up Cyrus’ AV beyond 3. The thing is, Scraven’s “economy” comes from trading well throughout the entire course of the game via hit and running, Barrage, and Bloodthirsty, which means in the end of the game he should have an economic advantage. The way his economy is built also means he has no “pure” defensive events to generate magic for him, and as a result, he generates magic through burning his cards as magic. In such matchups, it can be very hard to attempt to stymie opponent offensive via summoning commons, have a sufficient magic pile to summon Cyrus, and then have additional magic to reinforce your killed commons in order to keep Cyrus’ AV up, and also build toward your next champion.

    Dinky. Only reason he’s not A+ is despite his unrivaled strength, his power works directly against the amazing strength of Bloodthirsty, which can make card management a little tricky. However, the argument is there that his tremendous power is always worth sacrificing momentum. Given that Scaven has a lot of tricky moving pieces, I prefer having a minimum of diva units, so I never play Dinky and Cyrus together.


    A-
    Silts. This is one of Silts’ best decks because he can be 3AV against all cards with Thrust, and he’s especially potent with Strong Wind. Silts + Double Bloodthirsty can also be a game ending assassination move. However, the 7 magic is a steep price in a deck that likes to have a steady summon stream of Wraiths, a couple SC Hunters, 1+ Slayer, and 1-2 scholars summoned. Additionally, Silts is outclassed defensively by many of the champs above him on this list. Last, I typically find that Scraven already has a bunch of tricks, and typically wins a drawn-out game such that a big assassination attempt can often decrease your chances of winning. Nevertheless, I’d probably play him in certain matchups, like against the offensive-formation or really low life summoners. Moreover, Silts’ ability often leads him to exposing himself, and Scraven’s ability means that Scraven’s units are often very poor blockers. This can be mitigated somewhat with Wraiths, as Wraiths are an excellent target for Silts’ Cunning, especially when Silts has Thrust. You play a Unit like Silts when you think you may not be able to win the end game so you may have to assassinate, or you suspect you will have chance to assassinate.


    B+
    Fink. 3AV is nice, 3 HV is not. Really great in a slower matchup where you can hide him well. Otherwise, we have another diva. That’s what knocks him down here: he needs a specific type of matchup, a specific type of player to play against, and he needs either Sand Blast (btw, he IS amazing in the end game with this EA) or you to get positioning where you can cover him with Units called back to Scraven’s side at the end of your turn by Esteemed Leader. Oh yeah, and if you want to get value from his ability, you also need to have 1-2 Hunters on field at the same time with EAs—it’s not hard, BUT it can go wrong such that you get no value from Fink’s ability. This combination of low life, things needing to line up to protect him, and needing SC Hunters in order to get value from Fink’s ability is enough on the diva scale for me to not play him in many matchups.

    Barston. My preferred range champ in Scraven. Now, there is something to be said generally about ranged champs not having as much value in Scraven due to Scraven's reach and Shaman. I actually prefer him to Silts, because your build with probably include 2 of the melee bruisers from tier A+ and A, and having at least 1 ranged champ is always nice. I prefer him over Fink even though Fink has 3AV because Barston’s not a diva. Barston has 5HV, not 3HV, and Barston’s ability is very easy to get value out of. It’s very nice to cover Barston with Wraiths or even shoot with Barston + Cover Fire a Thrusted Slayer into the spot between Barston and the target to throw on average an additional 4 dice on the unit to throw 6 dice total on the unit. As for Barston’s AV, you can get him up to 3AV when attacking adjacent units, and we all know how much better 3AV is than 2AV. As for his 5HV, the wraith trick can be used to help, but also Sand Blast can be used to help, to push a melee unit out of range from being able to retaliate. Finally, Barston’s ability can be used to give insane range to any common combo’d with Scraven’s ability. Even though I give Fink and Barston the same grade, I’d use Barston in many more matchups than I’d ever use Fink because Barston is so versatile and much more reliable.

    Urick. Almost the same write-up as Silts, however the EAs can’t be applied to Urick. Nevertheless, the chance to 2x Bloodthirsty + bat a 11 AV Scraven for an assassination can be a game winning play. However, again, I don’t really like assassination plays with Scraven, and building a unit like Urick into my deck when the opponent may be very good at defending against assassination can be high risk. Even though Urick is still a great unit, the above Units are better in Scraven due to the EA boosts, and Urick at 7 cost may mean that even with 2 other 4 cost champs I may not be able to afford all 3 champs.


    B-
    Bauble. Amazing with Thrust when attacking adjacent champs. He will outtrade that opponent champ. But obviously opponent doesn’t have to play that way. Moreover, he is worthless without EAs, making him somewhat of a draw diva and a gamble against those fast and strong offensives. He’s also worthless against events dealing damage and weak against units that can attack multiple times. Nevertheless, he's good against summoners that need to play against commons, like Saturos, or Mugglug who benefits from your commons adjacent to his VWs becoming VWs. I play Bauble in such matchups.


    C
    Tark. Amazing in the end game. That’s it. Everyone knows the shortcoming of his ability. Nothing really here in Scraven that changes anything about Tark except he’s even better in the end game due to Sand Blast or Thrust. But he remains as mediocre in the rest of the game. Just another diva, and if I want a diva ranged champ, I’m going to go with Fink.

    Sand Drake. Amazing early, if you play Hunter^2 build. But that build's a HUGE gamble, as you may not draw Sandy until end game and then you’ve just played a bad deck, likely losing you the game. I prefer less risk. I’d only consider playing Sand Drake in a matchup where I think I otherwise have no chance to win.


    D+
    Khan Carne. Interesting with Wraiths, which is why I rate him. However his ability is unreliable, you can't place EAs under him, and Kreep and Biter cost 1 magic more.


    F
    Stink. Never play him.
    Last edited by commandercool; 06-02-2018 at 01:13 PM.

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    PART 2 OF 4: COMMON GRADES
    A+
    SC Hunter. The strength in Scraven is obvious. They’re good throughout the game, early, middle, and end game. They work early even if you don’t draw EAs bc you can boost your 2 starting SG Hunters (never summon these) by summoning 1 or 2 SC Hunters. With Thrust under these dudes, they’re the same 3AV against adjacent units as Shaman. If I can afford to divert my resources early from guarding against strong offensive, I try to summon 1 SC Hunter in back and place an EA under it. This works for EA storage if you need to get EAs out of your hand, haven’t drawn a Scholar yet, or don’t want to build the EA as magic. Also, Barrage helps stabilize the AV of SC Hunters when you don’t draw EAs early. It’s true SC Hunters aren’t all roses, due to draw need for EAs or Barrage to get to 2+ AV, and if they have an EA, you need to be able to protect them, which isn’t a problem most of the time due to Scraven’s ability and Wraiths, however it can be a problem sometimes. Barrage and the SC Hunter ability does give the SC Hunter more upside than the Shaman, however, the SC Hunter’s early game power is typically less due to draws. 2-3 of these with Strong Wind and/or Sand Blast can ravage Common formations. I almost always place these over Shaman. My ideal build has 6 of these; swap out for 6 Shaman depending on build, or decrease to 4 and add 2 Tinkerers if Tinkerers are needed.

    Scholar. A+ because they’re necessary, unless you’re crazy. They’re the best options to buff up Bloodthirsty and Cyrus, too. Pack 3 of these. Never any more.

    Wraith. Use as flanker, use as wall protector, use as protector for Units you’re sending out with Esteemed Leader, use as ranged combos, use a LOT in matchups against Mugglug or Saturos, use to shoot and discard to bump up Dinkys AV, use with Barston Cover Fire for Barston to move Wraith and hide behind it. Just an extremely versatile unit. Great with Strong Wind, mess with an opponent formation or blocker, placing your unkillable but hard to discard Wraith in its place, and bc it’s hard to discard, there’s usually on average a good chance it lives to your next turn to remove Strong Wind from under it. My ideal has 2-3 of these. Some builds I have to admit, I actually won't play these, such as in builds where opponent is very defensive. I'll pack a few more SC Hunters to try to maximize Barrage potential and/or a Slayers for more draw reliability.

    Slayer. With Thrust, these guys are DEVASTATERS. Set up your walls and Shamans something like what I’ve shown below. You only need 2 in your build. These units are very reliable--good even when you don't have EAs. That kind of reliability does Scraven's heart well.


    A-
    Shaman. As mentioned, more reliably good than SC Hunter, but less upside. Obviously the upside of the SC Hunters is better than Shaman due to Barrage and SC Hunter ability, but when the draws dont go right, that can take some time to set up, and against fast and strong rushes, you don’t have that luxury. For these reasons, the SC Hunter is better than the Shaman when Scraven can play more slowly, and Shaman is better than the SC Hunter when Scraven can’t. However, I’d only play one or the other because they fill the same role as your ranged damage common. Also, their ability is a little less valuable in Scraven because it's a little redundant with Wraiths and Wraiths are necessary, so it's not like Shaman can replace the Wraith.

    Tinkerer. Not an A- in every matchup. An A- based only on its value in certain matchups. Only play in certain matchups. We all already know its power to take Turt, Baldar, etc. ability away.


    B-
    SG Hunter. Very easy to make this unit a 1/2/1. But sadly, without having Thrust, regardless of how many EAs they have…they’re 1 AV units unless you also draw Barrage. A 1/2/1 is awful when you can have all the other options above this unit. Nevertheless, your 2 starters can be ok if you’re able to protect them early—impossible against aggressive offensive—and then are able to summon a couple quick SC Hunters. I mean, the upside is obvious if you’re able to get Thrust early, you can easily make them 2/2/1 units, which is GREAT, but even then, it’s not clear they’re better options than 3 AV SC Hunters or Shaman without EAs, or Slayers w/Thrust and 4AV when attacking wounded units. So, not only is their upside maybe not even better than other options, but their potential is unreliable, which makes them a deck building risk. So why take such a risk when you don’t have to because the alternate options are either equal to or better than the SG Hunters’ peak? There's a build out there all-in on SG Hunters and SC Hunters that also plays Cyrus, Scholars, and probably Sand Drake. But that build can only work in slow conditions, is weak at beginning of game, and I'm just not sure it's better than a build that's stronger all the way through the game and is more versatile and able to cope with whatever your opponent is trying to do, such as a build with 4AV Slayers and the other A+ units. Furthermore, these SG Hunters can be diva units if your draw goes wrong. Do you want to gamble your chances in a competitive game on draw luck?


    C+
    Flinger. A nice little niche unit. But frankly, Scraven doesn’t need its ability because he already has so many “attack and hide” units that have higher AV that are better. Flingers can do nice tricks with Sand Blast, but that’s a bit unreliable, and turns based on it with a 33% fail rate are huge risk that are hard to build turns around. Their grade goes up a bit, for me, in Marek where they can have Marked Target or Far Shot or in Krusk who can defend extremely well and much better than Scraven. I have, however, found them valuable against low life summoners or summoners for whom their life is really important, like Ret-Talus or Mad Sirian. That starter, however, can last for awhile and be valuable.


    C
    Javelineer. A great unit in Krusk or Marek, but not in Scraven. This comes from understanding Jav as an action-starter and/or board manipulator, but Scraven already has stronger such tools via his ability. Moreover, Javs’ abilities force opponent to come to you, but with Scraven’s ability, they’re just pulled back to Scraven’s side anyway, and hell if I’m ever going to play Send Out, so it’s much harder to use their ability effectively than in Marek or Krusk. Also, there just isn’t a whole lot of value for having Javs as these blockers for Scraven that can’t be attacked from range—Scraven can easily protect his commons anyway through his ability and wraith blockers.


    F
    Scavenger. Who cares. Maybe it’s possible they’re solid with Thrust, but i don’t care to find out—even then, they’d be risky deck build because they’d NEED Thrust in order to be ok, and they wouldn’t be better than any of the above options that’d do the same thing. Moreover, Scavengers have an ability that’s expensive and that doesn’t matter much due to Scraven’s ability to protect commons.

    Bomber. Why summon a 1AV unit that may self-destruct when you can reliably protect your higher AV units that don’t self destruct and only cost 1-2 magic more a pop, and because they don’t self-destruct, and can be reliably protected are actually cheaper options?
    Last edited by commandercool; 06-02-2018 at 01:22 PM.

  3. #3
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    PART 3 OF 4: EVENT GRADES

    Generally, in terms of deckclog, Scraven can have some clog because Bloodthirsty is a wait-to-combo (as you want both, and you want to max commons on the field), Barrage is also a wait-to-combo, and Strong Wind and Sand Blast are also hide-it-in-your hand or magic pile cards, as once you play under a Unit that first time or it goes into your Discard Pile, you've lifted the mystery of whether you have it. The average bad case scenario is essentially drawing 2 champions and 2 additional cards are one or both Bloodthirsty or one or both Barrage, etc. And, if you play a diva champ, can you imagine having that type of draw? Especially against a fast and hard hitting Malenatar?

    A+
    Bloodthirsty. This is your best event. Never build it. It stacks and can get Scraven up to 11AV range (12 AV adjacent if Scraven has Thrust). The stackability means the best uses are as an AV bomb assassination shot on enemy summoner or counterattack against enemy champion. Because of this great strength, try, try, try to combo Bloodthirsty. In some matchups it's not smart, because you may be under such great pressure, your survival is in question so you have to play 1 Bloodthirsty to try to stay alive.

    Thrust. Not much to say. Max value is to get this early, making your units superior to enemy's throughout the entire game. The strongest uses to me are to create mighty 4AV Slayers and 3AV SC Hunters. It's also very strong under Bauble, but Bauble is otherwise expensive, so I don't like the risk of playing Bauble and hope the draws work out so I have Bauble and Thrust at the same time. As long as you get two turns of attacks from a Common with EA, you can leave the EA under that Common and let it die from an enemy attack because you've gotten good value from the magic you spent to play it. What else is there to say? Can help stabilize Scraven, Dinky, and Cyrus.

    Sand Blast. Blastastic. This is first a counterattack tool against summoners and champions or assassination tool (Sand Blast summoner into a Bloodthirsty Scraven) against summoners and then, once you've let the cat out of the bag, secondarily a tool for economic trading against enemy (on SC Hunters, under Kreep, Sand Wyrm, or Kreep in end game). A cool and unusual use is to use Sand Blast under a Flinger, but I'd never have Flingers in my deckbuild solely for that because a 1AV unit has 33% chance to fail to Sand Blast.


    A-
    Barrage. Good, but don't overvalue it. It's not Bloodthirsty because it's harder to setup and isn't the single attack AV bomb Bloodthirsty is. It's very easy to get +2 cumulative AV from this event and that's a solid play even instead of waiting to get more cumulative value. And don't wait to get "max" cumulative value out of Barrage. That's a card management mistake because Scraven has so many cards competing for hand spots (Bloodthirsty, Sand Blast, Walls, Champions), and Scraven's success depends more on getting max value out of those cards than in getting max value from Barrage. Also, if you're waiting to setup a max Barrage play, that can cause you to wait well into the mid-game before you have enough Hunters. You often won't have the luxury to hold onto Barrage for so long due to the above-mentioned cards competing for Scraven's hand spots. Also, you basically need 4 Hunters for what I'd consider a real "max" Barrage play. You can spend all your early magic to rush for those 4 Hunters, but I'd generally advise against this and to instead try to get out your first champ. A really good use for Barrage is to play it within the first couple of turns, when you're weak. Obviously, Barrage is very good combined with Sand Blast under a SC hunter.


    B-
    Strong Wind. Solid. Power depends on opponent (whether common heavy and/or formation summoner) and your build (scary in Hunter^2 builds). Regardless of those fluctuations, it's consider it a surprise event (hold in hand or in magic pile, keeping it out of your Discard Pile) or powerup mainly to Sand Wyrm and Biter. It has an additional economic use to place under Wraith and then Strong Wind an enemy Common with that Wraith--the Wraith can be unlikely to die so it's likely you can use a Scholar to get Strong Wind back from under Wraith next turn at no economic loss.


    F
    Send Out. Which is unlike the others: Battle Champion, Return of the Fallen, Send Out, Teleport, Magic Pulse? Always build Send Out.
    Last edited by commandercool; 06-23-2018 at 01:53 PM.

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    PART 4 OF 4: GENERAL STRATEGY

    Prelim notes:
    - why scraven is a diva.

    Very variant. Dominates some matchups, struggles mightily against speed blitzkriegs. His starting setup is bad in position and firepower. Part of that problem is his 1AV.

    - matchup problems
    - withstanding fast/strong early rush
    - opening move/starting setup
    - necessity of wraiths
    - wall placements. Something like this is one of the best wall + wraith placements. For example, you can have slayers (thrusted) or not adjacent to Scraven and take huge bites out of opponent champs.

    ref-Scraven-front.jpg



    - best scraven positioning
    - typical win conditions
    - general strengths/weaknesses
    - hand management
    - best/worst combinations/tricks
    - action starting and counterattacking
    - understanding scraven's economy as cumulative attrition via constant hit and run
    - Specific matchup problems
    - When offense is better than hit and run
    Last edited by commandercool; 07-12-2018 at 05:54 PM.

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    reserved for future strategy post

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    Haven’t had the time yet but I still intend to finish this

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    Thank you commandercool, it's a very interesting insight.

    Quote Originally Posted by commandercool View Post
    Nevertheless, the chance to 2x Bloodthirsty + bat a 11 AV Scraven for an assassination can be a game winning play.
    Wait a minute... Bloodthirsty STACKS???? Whoa, I got it wrong the whole time, I thought that "to a maximum of +5" meant that even if you plaid two of them you could reach only 6AV. Huge mistake.

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