Building on a Theme: Hlaalu Schemes

Hello and welcome back to Building on a Theme, where we’re taking the preconstructed decks from Houses of Morrowind and learning how to maximize their potential using only commons and rares.

Today, we’re looking at the Hlaalu Schemes deck and by the end of the article, we should have a version that remains budget-friendly while performing a bit more consistently.

Hlaalu Schemes v1.0
1x Bushwhack
1x Curse
1x Dres Spy
1x Improvised Weapon
2x Orvas’ Bargain
1x Septim Guardsman
3x Glass Greaves
2x Moon Sugar Smuggler
3x Shadow Shift
2x Balmora Puppeteer
2x Crassius’ Favor
1x Dwemer Puzzle Box
2x Fighters Guild Recruit
2x Finish Off
2x Goblin Skulk
3x Ornery Kagouti
2x Stand Watch
2x Suran Pawnbroker
3x Thieves Guild Recruit
1x Cornerclub Gambler
1x Dune Smuggler
1x Haunted Manor
3x Hlaalu Oathman
1x Hlaalu Sharpshooter
3x Lower Canton Smith
1x Morkul Gatekeeper
1x Raiding Party
1x Silent Pilgrim
1x Skooma Racketeer
3x Twin Lamps Consul
1x Cliff Strider
1x Hive Defender
3x Moonmoth Castellan
1x Torval Crook
3x Writ of Execution
2x Camonna Tong Heavy
3x Dren Bodyguard
1x Duke Vedam Dren
1x Kwama Queen
2x Piercing Javelin
1x Soulrest Marshal
3x Nix-Ox

With only four cards out of seventy-five that cost more than five magicka, the unaltered deck above is nothing if not aggressive. Hlaalu has many great ways to flood the board with smaller creatures and then turn them into threats to quickly reduce your opponent’s life total. However, we want to make sure to take advantage of those powerful early options by maxing out the most important creatures at three copies so we can see them game after game.

First of all, I want to draw some attention to a fantastic card for Hlaalu: Nord Firebrand. This deck currently isn’t playing any copies (if you don’t count the one Raiding Party), but we’re going to change that! Nord Firebrand combos extremely well with many of the Hlaalu cards, such as Haunted Manor (which budget players looking to play Hlaalu should look into getting more of as quickly as possible) and Lower Canton Smith. Additionally, it’s searchable by Goblin Skulk! With all that power, maxing out Nord Firebrand as well as Raiding Party seems like a must.

In regards to other 0-cost cards in the deck, keeping them limited to one or two options is best for Skulk’s consistency. Besides playing a third copy of Goblin Skulk itself, we can add a second Septim Guardsman for an extra defensive option that many Hlaalu players have turned to and remove the rest of the 0-cost cards.

Next up are the 2-magicka cards. Mournhold Traitor and Rift Thane are two great options that many Hlaalu decks use but are also both epics. For this deck, we’ll be sticking with more budget-friendly replacements. For starters, we can play a third copy of Fighters Guild Recruit, Suran Pawnbroker and Balmora Puppeteer. Ornery Kagouti can also be removed in favor of Fifth Legion Trainer, which is lacking in stats compared to the Kagouti but has an effect this deck is well-equipped to take advantage of.

Speaking of cards that power up our other creatures, Orc Clan Captain is a great option. Combined with the Trainer, your Charge creatures will be pushing an impressive amount of damage. We can also max out Morkul Gatekeeper, which doubles as a defensive Prophecy.

With so many additions, we have to make some cuts. Dwemer Puzzle Box doesn’t really do anything to advance our strategy while Stand Watch and Crassius’ Favor are a bit too passive for the aggression we’d like to get going early in the game. We can also remove Moon Sugar Smuggler, which has a great effect but is a little lacking in power and health. Editing this deck further to include a different one-cost card such as Marked Man or Morag Tong Aspirant is something to keep in mind, though.

As we move up the curve, we can pretty easily remove Silent Pilgrim - while we’d like to search for our Haunted Manor, ideally the deck will just play more of them! Skooma Racketeer can also be cut since we have Fighters Guild Recruit and Twin Lamps Consul for Lethal creatures. Just to make a bit more space, we’ll also be cutting the Dren Bodyguards, the Writ of Executions, and the one-of Torval Crook. Writ of Execution can be covered by Piercing Javelin, which we’ll play a third copy of, and we can turn the Dren bodyguards into the more aggressive Cliff Racer. More of the space can be used for three copies of Eastmarch Crusader to keep our hand full as we pressure our opponent. The last change I’ll be making is to replace the Soulrest Marshal and Kwama Queen, which are just a bit slow for the deck, with two more copies of Hive Defender to protect our early attackers.

Hlaalu Schemes v2.0
3x Nord Firebrand
2x Septim Guardsman
3x Glass Greaves
3x Shadow Shift
3x Balmora Puppeteer
3x Fifth Legion Trainer
3x Fighters Guild Recruit
2x Finish Off
3x Goblin Skulk
3x Orc Clan Captain
3x Suran Pawnbroker
3x Thieves Guild Recruit
1x Cornerclub Gambler
1x Dune Smuggler
3x Eastmarch Crusader
1x Haunted Manor
3x Hlaalu Oathman
1x Hlaalu Sharpshooter
3x Lower Canton Smith
3x Morkul Gatekeeper
3x Raiding Party
3x Twin Lamps Consul
1x Cliff Strider
3x Hive Defender
3x Moonmoth Castellan
2x Camonna Tong Heavy
3x Cliff Racer
1x Duke Vedam Dren
3x Piercing Javelin
3x Nix-Ox

This deck should be able to hit the ground running and keep up the pressure until your opponent’s life total is swiftly reduced. Moving forward, I definitely recommend all Hlaalu enthusiasts to complete their set of Haunted Manor. There’s also an opportunity to add more card draw to the deck; Ash Berserker is a fine option if you want consistent card draw over the random Guard Moonmoth Castellan gives you, and Triumphant Jarl could be played over Nix-Ox if you find yourself needing more cards in hand instead of on board.

I hope this article helped give you a good starting point for your Hlaalu deck, and I encourage you to hop onto the Ranked ladder or Casual mode and experiment to find what else works in the archetype!