Roachcraft 101 - In depth guide [72% Winrate from AA0 to Masters]

Last Updated: September 10, 2017
Deck Summary:
Deck Cost: 17,450
9 11 6 3 7 3 1 0
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8+
Followers: 18
Spells: 22
Amulets: 0
Mulligan/Draw Simulator:

Deck Overview:

About Me and the Statistics

I started playing Shadowverse at around Mid/Late August 2017, and reached AA0 rank at 332 wins, just before the nerf patch hit. After the nerfs, I started to grind from AA0 and finally reached Masters at 530 wins.
All my games from C rank and onwards have been using Roach forestcraft, which I believe to be one of the best ladder decks right now after the Eachtar nerfs, despite people often joking about forest being “Bottom Tier”.

I started recording my stats with the deck after reaching AA0 up until I got masters, which is a sample size of 276 games, 198 of which were wins (72% Winrate). Many of these losses I made stupid mistakes, or simply disconnected even when the game was mine, so these are definitely not the best possible stats you can get if you master Roach Forestcraft, but should give you a sense of what you can do with the deck once you have gotten comfortable with playing it.

Why Roach Forestcraft?

  • Cheap yet competitive (Beauty and the beast is not essential, but rather my own choice)
  • Nerfs to Roach Forestcraft's hardest matchups (Midrange Shadow, Aggro Bloodcraft and Neutral Rune) put Roach in a much better spot in the meta
  • Unique and interesting play-style (Who wants to play Curve-verse?)
  • Uncommon on ladder so a lot of low ranked players don't know how to play around it.
  • Arisa is a cutie!

Matchups

Forestcraft 15 - 9 (63% winrate)
Mulligan: Fairy Circle, Sylvan Justice, Elf Twins’Assault (If you are keeping a neutral), Goblin Mage, Magical Fairy Lilac, Elven Princess Mage (Going Second), Fortunehunter Feena (Going First)

Other Forestcraft decks will generally be either a Roach mirror or a Tempo-based list such as Neutral or Tempo-based forest. If you are in a Roach mirror, then always keep track of how many 0 play point cards your opponent has acquired, and use that to get a general sense of how early he might be able to pull his combo off. Chip damage to either hero is very important in this matchup as well as building up your combo pieces as fast as possible.
Against tempo based forest lists, keeping your hero healthy is less important since these decks will pack less reach (though they can still often pull off small roach combos for medium burst damage).
Things to note for both matchups are that it is very difficult for forest to remove a Beauty and the Beast with spell and effect immunity, so dropping him on turn 6 and evolving him can often just win you the game, and that Magical Fairy Lilac’s clash will trigger first if it is your turn, so you can use this to remove an enemy Lilac that still has its clash up without triggering by evolving one of your own into it.

Swordcraft 27 - 13 (68% winrate)
Mulligan: Fairy Circle, Sylvan Justice, Elf Twins’ Assault (Unless you are keeping 2 non-neutrals), Into the Looking Glass, (If you have Elf Twins’ Assault), Goblin Mage, Magical Fairy Lilac, Elven Princess Mage (Going second)
If you are against Swordcraft, then hope it is Aggro ambush Sword, because this matchup can be ridiculously easy for you. If you can clear their ambush followers, just play to survive and if you do, they will soon run out of cards and you will just win. If you don’t have the tools to clear their ambush followers, you just have to flood the board as much as you can and try to push for damage and kill him before he kills you, though usually he will win in this race, being an aggressive deck.
Against Neutral and Midrange Sword you will want to maintain a constant board presence to keep edging in chip damage and trade into Council of Card Knights, since without a board this card is very hard to deal with. This matchup is generally quite difficult for you to win.
Swordcraft in general is not good at clearing a board of small tokens, so unless you are close to being able to pull off a big combo, it is often a good idea to play all your 0 pp followers and just try to squeeze in as much chip damage as you can.

Runecraft 24 - 16 (60% winrate)
Mulligan: Fairy Circle, Sylvan Justice, Elf Twins’ Assault (When keeping a Neutral), Goblin Mage, Magical Fairy Lilac, Elven Princess Mage (Going second), Fortunehunter Feena (Going first)

Neutral Rune is the scariest deck to play against out of the matchups. You need to try very hard to keep them off board from turn 4 onwards, oftentimes even playing combo pieces to do so, because if they manage to stay on board they will get buffed out of control from Actress Feria and Alice in Wonderland. Always be aware that Neutral Rune will have decent reach so you are very prone to dying on low health from cards such as Gilgamesh, damage from Hector or an evolved Falise.

Dshift Rune you are generally favored against. The deck will pack a fair amount of removal and not too many creatures, so you should be using your evolves to get combo tokens or to just force face damage and not necessarily waiting to get a favorable trade from an evolve. Cards such as Sylvan justice often get stuck in your hand here.
You can win simply by getting your combo out faster than them, or by playing a spell-protected Beauty and the Beast. Dshift has no way to deal with a spell protected beauty and the beast once at 9/10 stats, so if you manage to pull it off you will almost always win.

Play against Earth Rite rune like a regular tempo deck, but later on they will start creating 3/3 Guardian Golem wards which can be difficult to deal with. You will want to save an evolve to evolve a fairy into one for your combo turn, or keep some removal to deal with the Golems. Also keep in mind at turn 6 onwards, they have a very strong Board Clear with Young Levi dealing 3 damage to you and all your followers.

Dragoncraft 39-6 (87% winrate)
Mulligan: Fairy Circle, Goblin Mage, Magical Fairy Lilac, Elven Princess Mage (Going Second), Fortunehunter Feena, Dance of Death

Dragon decks are in general very slow, so your mulligan should be less concerned about small removal. Keep in mind they have Breath of the Salamander at 6pp and Sahaquiel at 7pp, which can pull large Legendaries like Israfil and Zeus. Try to avoid letting them heal more than once through Sibyl, and if possible it is better to save Dance of Death for a very big followers like Zeus, Israfil or Bahamut (though sometimes you have to use it to destroy something like Sibyl to reduce their healing).
Also never ever kill Wyrm God of the skies. Once it dies, you are probably dead next turn from giant storm followers.

Shadowcraft36-13 (73% winrate)
Mulligan: Fairy Circle, Sylvan Justice, Elf Twins’ Assault (if you are keeping at least 1 neutral), Goblin Mage, Magical Fairy Lilac, Elven Princess Mage (Going second), Fortunehunter Feena (Going first)

Early game be selective about what you want to remove. Cards like Spartoi Sergeant, Little Soulsquasher and Lurching Corpse (when you have an empty board) take priority over cards with death effects, and you should be trying really hard to push in some chip damage. Don’t bother clearing Chimera or cards buffed by Prince Catacomb, you will just be feeding him shadows, and always keep Little Soulsquasher and Necroassassin in mind before evolving your followers. It might sometimes be a good idea to bait Little Soulsquasher’s removal so they won’t have shadows for Death’s Breath, which is near impossible to deal with without Homecoming.

On 7 pp be aware that Midrange Shadow can play Eachtar to buff what otherwise seems like a weak board into a Lethal position, and on 8pp control Shadow can play Nepthys which can destroy your board and heal your opponent at the same time if you have a large follower in play.

Bloodcraft 28-8 (78% winrate)
Mulligan: Fairy Circle, Sylvan Justice, Elf Twins’ Assault (unless you are keeping 2 non-neutrals), Goblin Mage, Magical Fairy Lilac, Elven Princess Mage (Going second), Into the looking glass (If you have this with Elf Twins)

Bloodcraft will usually be very aggressive, putting on a lot of early pressure and you must do everything you can to survive, including playing combo pieces.
Against Aggro Batblood, killing Bats takes priority over killing other 1 attack followers because of the synergies they have with them.
Also DO NOT put them in vengeance when you are low on health. There are many “storm in vengeance” followers that will punish you for this.

Vengeance Blood is much easier to beat than Aggro Blood. Sometimes they will do your work for you and play Belphegor and give you a free win, especially after Big Knuckle Bodyguard got nerfed. Just keep in mind that they will always a little healing in the form of Diabolic Drain and Scarlet Sabeur.

Havencraft 29-13, (69% winrate)
Mulligan: Fairy Circle, Sylvan Justice, Elf Twins’ Assault (Unless keeping 2 non-neutrals), Goblin Mage, Magical Fairy Lilac, Elven Princess Mage (Going Second), Into the looking glass (if you have this with Elf Twins Assault)

Recently Neutral Haven has become popular on ladder, and this is a poor matchup for roach. Against Neutral Haven, your best chance is to play very hard for board and use everything you have to try to survive on board, and just forget about comboing them down because of Eaglemen and how difficult it is to actually survive the Neutral Haven's tempo plays in the first place. If you survive on board you have a chance to outlast them, and if your followers stick Neutral Haven doesn't tend to have too much removal so if you can stay on board you will win.

If they have played Elana’s it becomes very important to clear their board constantly before their followers get buffed out of control.
Against more control oriented variants of Haven, do not expect to ever maintain a powerful board after turn 6 because of Themis’ Decree, and always understand that their main goal is going to either be playing an Enstatued Seraph on turn 8 or Heavenly Aegis on turn 9. Against all variants of Haven keep in mind that they are good at destroying followers with 3 or less health with Banishing Scripture, Priest of the Cudgel and Tin Soldier. Because of this, Magical Fairy Lilac is very very annoying for them to deal with if they don’t have Snow White.

Making Decisions

When you play Roachcraft you will have to constantly make a lot of decisions such as:
- Which removal spells to use
- Whether to trade or go face
- Whether to save an evolve for later, or use it to apply pressure
- Whether to play the 0 cost tokens you get from evolve effects, or to save them for your roach combo!
-When you should use cards ineffectively to avoid getting milled (your hand can only hold a maximum of 9 cards) and when you should allow yourself to get milled.

The answer for each question always depends on the game in question. What cards do you have in your hand? What cards could your opponent have in their hand?

You should always keep how you intend to win each game in mind when you make these decisions. Doing a massive roach combo on turn 7-9 is a very effective way to win the game, but it isn't always the best way.

Against an aggressive deck, it is often better to play key combo pieces like Angelic Snipe or 0-cost followers to help survive and apply pressure, because they will be much less likely to be able to remove these followers, and simply surviving may be good enough to win a game against them as they run out of cards to fight you with.
However, against a slower, more removal heavy strategy such as Aegis Haven, you will want to keep these combo pieces in hand because playing them to apply pressure is not very effective, they will simply get removed and the only way to win is to do massive burst damage, so you should be more careful to hold on to potential combo pieces.

It is always very important to keep in mind how many combo-pieces you have in your hand. If you are holding on to many combo pieces, you can afford to play more defensively, but if you are just not drawing any roaches and goblin mages you may just have to up the pressure and play everything you have in hope of out-tempoing your opponent and winning. Milling is also much worse if you are missing combo cards than if you already have the bulk of your combo in your hand, and cards like Will of the forest and Elf Twins' Assault have effectiveness that depend on the cards in your hand, which you should also keep in mind before you play them.
At the end of the day, the judgement is yours to make, and being able to make these correctly comes with experience, knowledge of the metagame and hard and cold calculation. Being able to choose the decision that gives the best chance of winning is what differentiates players of different skill levels.

Counting Damage

Counting damage isn't as difficult as a lot of people make it out to be, but you have to be careful about counting mana as well, and being aware of how much space you have on your board.

To count damage, first consider how many roaches are you playing:
1 roach: Add 1 to your damage counter.
2 roaches: Add 3 to your damage counter.
3 roaches: Add 6 to your damage counter.
4 roaches: Add 10 to your damage counter.

Then count how many other cards you are playing in the same turn, and multiply that by the number of roaches you are playing.

Example: You are playing a fairy circle, 2 fairies and 3 roaches: Then add 9 to your damage counter (3 cards played * 3 roaches = 9)

Then finally, add the following numbers to your damage counter:
Angelic Snipe = +1 Damage
Nature's Guidance on a roach = -1 Damage
Nature’s Guidance on a roach twice = -3 Damage
Evolve point = +2 Damage

And you have calculated how much burst damage you can do from your hand! Always keep board space in mind, and not that if you have low attack followers on board running them into opponent's followers so you can play more fairies can let you do more damage.

You should always be calculating your in-hand damage, so you know your lethal ranges and can make better decisions.

The Cards and their role

Angelic Snipe
Ideally you want to use this as part of your roach kill-combo, but don't be afraid to use this to remove enemy followers when needed, especially against an aggressive deck.

Nature's Guidance
The point of this card is mainly to be part of the final combo with roaches, but if you end up drawing 2 or more of them, it is probably best to cycle it if you have the pp. Note that if you have enough roaches during your combo, you can use this to clear up space on the board as well.

Fairy Circle
If you draw this early on, use it to generate fairies so you have something to play. Later on, this is a potential combo piece for buffing your roaches since it is 1pp and doesn't take up space on your board.

Into the Looking Glass
You will usually play this whenever you have 2 pp to spare to cycle a card, or when you need to play a powerful Elf Twins' Assault.

Sylvan Justice
Straightforward removal that retains hand size by giving you a fairy afterwards, which can be useful as a combo-piece or as something to play, or to boost Will of the Forest.

Elf Twins' Assault
This is just another removal spell that can get stronger or weaker over time, and you shouldn't be too greedy with it. Using it to get rid of simply a 1 drop and a 2 drop is already very good value, though of course there are some situations where you can get insane value out of it and destroy multiple large followers for just 2pp.

Goblin Mage and Magical Fairy Lilac
You should these like you would regular followers, though Magical Fairy Lilac is a much better Tempo play than Goblin Mage so should usually be played first. (Also keeping Goblin Mage in hand helps with Neutral Synergies). Don't be too greedy with Magical Fairy Lilac, it is fine if she only uses her clash to destroy a 1/1 or a 1/2. With Evolve, Magical Fairy Lilac can also be used as a large removal that leaves behind a 3/6 body, and is an insanely powerful play on an empty board.
Be careful of playing Lilac before a roach combo turn, because you might not be able to suicide her into an enemy creature due to her ability, so you will be stuck with less board space.
Another thing to note is during your turn, your clash abilities trigger first, so you can use Lilac to remove an enemy follower with a clash ability such as Veight or an enemy Lilac without triggering it.

Elven Princess Mage and Fortunehunter Feena
Keep track of your potential lethal turns and try to evolve them on time so your lethal combo does not get delayed. If you draw too many of these, are in a matchup against a more aggressive deck, and/or you aren't drawing enough combo pieces don't be afraid to play them just like regular followers to try to win on tempo instead of by combo.

Cardswaps

Wood of Brambles
Brambles is hit or miss, being very good in some matchups such as against Aggro Sword and Blood, while terrible in others such as against DShift and Ramp Dragon, where it is a 2 pp Fairy Circle that locks up your board space for 2 turns.

Healing Angel
This is a budget card that can potentially be played in this deck, since the heal effect can often save your life and it has synergy with Elf Twin's Assault. However, it is much easier to deal with this follower than magical fairy lilac.

Ancient Elf
You can go off to some insane openers if you get both Ancient Elf and Fairy Circle in your hand, being able to have a 4/5 Ward on board by turn 3. However, you will often just have to play her as a 2/3 ward on turn 3, which will get eaten by Lurching Corpse or killed for free by a 2/2 buffed by Alice, which makes me believe this to be vastly inferior to Magical Fairy Lilac.

Homecoming
This card is a tech-choice against Shadowcraft, as it is perhaps the only way you can efficiently remove the three 2/3 zombie Wards summoned by Death's Breath. The high cost means this is useless against aggro however.

Angel of the Word
Similar argument to healing angel as being a budget swap. This is more aggressive however, being able to go face with the 1 damage. A decent card, but no match for Lilac.

Gourmet Emperor Kaiza
This is very nice for Neutral Synergy, but I would be careful with putting multiple copies of him in the deck since the carrot can often be problematic in the sense that your hand can only have 9 cards. If you are running the Looking Glass, I would recommend you run at most 1 copy of him.

Budget Swaps

Homecoming/Beauty and the Beast/Will of the Forest
Add Dance of Death. If missing more than 1, add Gourmet Emperor Kaiza

Magical Fairy Lilac
Angel of the Word/Healing Angel.

Crystalia Aerin
This card is really good, so this budget swap will hurt, but I would recommend Fairy Beast if you don’t have her.

Making your own changes (Important)

The decklist provided is not set in stone. It is simply what I found most effective during my climb from AA to Master Rank, and should act as a starting point or guideline. The meta you will face will be different as you play at a different time and rank.
You must always be on the lookout for underperforming cards and swap them out for cards you feel would be more suitable, and don't be afraid to experiment with changes. If you want to be a tryhard, you can also try recording what opponents you come across in ranked so you have a better read on the meta and can make more informed choices in your cardswaps.

Update Log

30/8/17 - Guide added
3/9/17 - Major update including matchups and optimization of provided deck
8/9/17 - Update to matchup mulligans due to changes in the meta
10/9/17 - Further mulligan update

Deck Images:
Deck List:
Spell
Card Cost Quantity
Angelic SnipeSpell - Standard
Unevolved
Deal 1 damage to an enemy.

1 x 3
Nature's GuidanceSpell - Standard
Unevolved
Return an allied follower or amulet to your hand.
Draw a card.
1 x 3
Fairy CircleSpell - Standard
Unevolved
Put two Fairies into your hand.
1 x 3
Into the Looking GlassSpell - Wonderland Dreams
Unevolved
Draw a card.
Change all cards in your hand and in play that cost 7 play points or less into Neutral cards.
2 x 2
Sylvan JusticeSpell - Standard
Unevolved
Deal 2 damage to an enemy follower.
Put a Fairy into your hand.
2 x 3
Elf Twins' AssaultSpell - Wonderland Dreams
Unevolved
Deal X damage to 2 random enemy followers. X equals the number of Neutral cards in your hand.
2 x 3
Dance of DeathSpell - Darkness Evolved
Unevolved
Destroy an enemy follower.
Deal 2 damage to the enemy leader.
5 x 2
Will of the ForestSpell - Standard
Unevolved
Deal 1 damage to a random enemy follower X times. X equals the number of cards in your hand.
5 x 2
HomecomingSpell - Standard
Unevolved
Return all followers to the players' hands.
7 x 1
Follower
Card Cost Quantity
RhinoceroachFollower - Standard
Unevolved
Storm.
Fanfare: For each other card played this turn, gain +1/+0 until the end of the turn.
Evolved
Storm.
2 x 3
Goblin MageFollower - Rise of Bahamut
Unevolved
Fanfare: Put a random follower that costs 2 play points or less from your deck into your hand.
3 x 3
Magical Fairy, LilacFollower - Wonderland Dreams
Unevolved
Clash: Destroy the enemy follower. Then remove this follower's Clash ability.
Evolved
Clash: Destroy the enemy follower. Then remove this follower's Clash ability.
3 x 3
Elven Princess MageFollower - Standard
Evolved
Evolve: Put two Fairies into your hand and change their cost to 0.
4 x 3
Fortunehunter FeenaFollower - Rise of Bahamut
Evolved
Evolve: Put a Goblin Mage into your hand and change its cost to 0.
5 x 3
Crystalia AerinFollower - Tempest of the Gods
Unevolved
Ward.
Fanfare: Restore 3 defense to your leader.
Enhance (8): Recover 1 evolution point.
Evolved
Ward.
6 x 2
Beauty and the BeastFollower - Wonderland Dreams
Unevolved
Fanfare: Gain +2/+2 if you have at least 5 cards in your hand. Gain resistance to damage and destruction from spells and effects if you have at least 3 Neutral cards in your hand.
6 x 1
Card Cost Quantity
x 0
Discussion: