Opinion/Semi-guide to Santa decks

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Opinion/Semi-guide to Santa decks

Post by larken on Wed Mar 19, 2014 2:24 pm

Santa Team Mechanics

Gonna state the obvious here, that PR Starters are the mainstay of Santa Decks – which allow them to dish out large amounts of damage using an active.
Combined with the PR Starters, the enchantresses (Circe, Medea, Cassandra) are usually included in various permutations.
Now, Santa teams have a great deal of flexible in terms of utility – and damage; basically all humans and elves get the attack bonus. PR starters and enchantresses of course are the regular members, but special stages often have peculiar requirements (like high def mobs, need for cc) that Santa decks can do.

The only stuff that Santa decks are really weak in are a lack of convertors for any kind of runes (including hearts)

Here’s a quick list off the top of my head.
Isabel – crowd control
PKOE – single target 15k ignore def
PKOF – aoe ignore def
PQOW – reduced damage taken 50% (take note that Circe’s active will cancel this out)
PKOD – Self explanatory (for explosion mobs)
PKOL – (actually, pretty useless)
Any of the newborn elves.
Desirous Queen Elf – no real point to putting one in a Santa deck (esp. given that you can’t convert hearts)
Evolved Witches – for that multi-hit active.

First question – Santa Ally, or Daji Ally?
Not going to go into the math here, but as a general rule of thumb, if you have Circe in the team, go with another Santa ally.

If you don’t have Circe, use Daji as an ally.

The approximate damage (no numbers, and not my personal experience; this was what I learnt in the TOS forums), that in terms of damage, assuming 4 combos onwards,

The damage of

Santa (leader), Circe (member), Santa (ally)  

is generally greater than

Santa (leader), Circe (member), Daji Ally.

People interested in the math should check out this thread: http://www.towerofsaviorsforum.com/Thread-santa-or-daji-ally

Second question – what set ups to go for?

Santa as a leader is a given.
Keep in mind that with regards to enchantresses, Medea is best regarded as a supporting card;
1. Her 50% increase to damage, while nice, can’t be compared to the increase in dmg brought by Circe or Cass.
2. Her 50% increase to damage taken, on the other hand, is not that great as she makes some battles a OHKO situation.
3. However, when you have another enchantress, and given that Santa, Medea are both fire cards, her bonus to additional fire rune drops is great (especially for heaven drops during a PR Starter’s active)
Circe and Cassandra is more essential to make things work.

The usual set ups are:

Santa, 3 enchantresses (you lucky duck), 1 PR starter (usually Sean), Santa Ally

The highest damaging set up for Santa decks, as it is capable of the effects of the three enchantresses.
Advantage: Normal rune spinning would give you lots of damage. You have 2 normal time tunnels and a Time Tunnel EX (Boundary Crossing). The team is reasonably well balanced; 4 fire cards (with Medea’s increased drops), 1 Water, 1 Earth.
Disadvantage: Sometimes, an additional controlled burst by adding another PR) is easier to manage than using pure rune spinning skill; but if you don’t have problems with not using actives to save your butt often during a bad rune drop, this isn’t really a disadvantage. Also, a tri-color team would require you to clear unused runes to a higher degree (I personally find it tough).

Santa, 2 enchantresses (usually Circe and Medea, or Cassandra and Medea), 2 PR Starters

Advantage: A bit of a crossover from above. One more PR means one more Boundary Crossing active (which translates into anything from 1-3 million damage from an active). My personal favorite.
1. Less damage when doing regular rune spinning (though I should mention that I get 100-200k multi-attacks with Cassandra and Medea activated while spinning normally, with a combo of 6 onwards).  
2. With Circe, you have to do combo of 4 or greater to heal, which can make it hard for you to store cds (I’m thinking transmigration here, where you can kill GSS from trying to heal and get heaven drops)
3. With Cassandra, you can’t heal.

The more obscure set up (which I’ve used at times):

Santa, Cassandra, 3 PR Starters
Advantage: Your entire game is full of smaller bursts; 2 Time Tunnels, and 3 Time Tunnel Ex (with a short cooldown if you brought them to max cds of Cool. 30% recovery from having 3 starters, which makes it easier to store cooldowns (as well as get more dmg from Cassandra’s actives).
Disadvantage: The damage when bursting is definitely not as high as the previous 2 variants.

Generally only used when;
1. The boss doesn’t have more than 1.5 million HP,
2. But his attack is more than 8000 (and his CD is 1); which is why Medea is not included (she makes such bosses one hit KO, while using only Cassandra lets you unleash 2 PR actives in a row.
3. Requirement for some healing; or if the situation allows for multiple bursts.

I have tried Medea and 3 PRs, but only for leveling cds playing zodiac stages. I wouldn’t bring Medea+3PRs into any difficult battle.

In terms of damage per burst from highest to lowest
1. Highest - Santa, 3 Enchantresses, 1 PR, Santa (someone help me out and give me the approximate damage for Santa actives, and the PR active).
2. Next – Santa, Circe, Medea, 2 PRs, Santa (don’t have Circe, and I wouldn’t want to fudge the numbers).
3. Next – Santa, Cassandra, Medea, 2 PRs, Daji (I’d say approximately a total of 1-2 mill damage per Santa active, and about 3 – 3.5 million damage per PR active).
4. Next – Santa, Cassandra, 3 PRs (approximately 600k – 1 million per Santa active, and about 1-1.5 million per PR active).
Comments: If I had to guess, judging from my own experiences, I would think that teams with Circe and dual Santa would definitely have higher top end damage than my Santa, Cass, Medea, 2 PR and Daji setup; I’m guessing anything from 3-8 million top end damage for the 3 enchantress set up.

But the question here is; do you need that much damage?

Here’s the thing; while seeing huge numbers are fun, most bosses in the game top out at 2.5 – 3 million hp. My personal take is that with a three enchantress set up, you are essentially giving up 1 additional controlled burst for an overkill on damage numbers; which isn’t particularly useful unless the intent is to set records.

A 2 enchantress, 2 PR setup is more balanced; 2 bursts (Santa/Daji), 2 huge bursts (2 PRs) and decent damage while spinning runes normally with the enchantresses activated.

A 1 enchantress, 3 Pr setup (which usually means bringing Cassandra) is more of a situational set up, which I wouldn’t recommend generally.

To cut a long story short: I’d recommend 2 PRs over 1, even if you have all three enchantresses) for hard to clear stages. An additional PR active’s benefit to clear a stage outweighs dealing a 5 million dmg overkill to a miniboss (then get screwed by at the next stage by the main boss) imo.

With regards to transmigration at least, having 2 PR bursts vs 1 makes things a lot simpler, and I’d discussed this on occasion in guild chat, which brings me to the next section;

Dual, Tri or Quad Element Santa decks (assuming only 2 enchantresses)?

Some of you would know me to be a proponent of quad element Santa decks (ie. Rainbow), at least for transmigration. Here’s the reasoning as well as explanations. First, let’s look at the dual colored Santa deck.

Santa, Medea, Circe (earth), PR Sean, Santa;

Essentially, you’re playing a fire mono with no convertors. Lots of rune storing (though on the upside, breaking one set of fire runes gives you a lot of damage). Great top end damage (if you have the fire runes), but screwed if you don’t. I’m not gonna say that it won’t work, but I’d say that this set up is harder to play for long battles like transmigration.
Why? Think of how most people would play when using a PR active; they arrange all the runes in a way so that the screen is cleared; meaning that you don’t know if the next screen is going to have a good amount of fire runes; similarly for Santa actives. You could store some undissolved fire runes while using the active, but imo that seems a little counterproductive (although it would work), in the sense that you are mitigating your own damage knowing that you don’t need to deal that much this round.

Medea’s increased drop rate helps, but playing dual colored simply introduces an element of luck into the game.

This can be fatal for transmigration stages 42 onwards, where you are generally required to deal high amounts of damage round after round without much chance of a break to regather fire runes.
Keep that in mind.

Tri-element Santa Decks
Things start to get more balanced here on out.

The usual set ups here would be:
1. Santa, Circe, Medea, (Sean/Duncan), (Endor/Nat/Molly), Santa; fire, earth, and (varies).
2. Santa, Medea, Cassandra, (Sean/Molly), Endor, Daji; 2 – 3 Fire, 1 -2 Water, 1 Dark

I don’t know about Cassandra + Circe much, so no comments on that.

Now, anyone who had played mono decks before would know that while breaking runes that would deal damage, they should also try to break as many useless runes as they can within the rune. Damage wise, tri-element Santa decks are fine, but keep in mind that 50% of the rune types that drop are useless (a little less perhaps, considering Medea’s active bonus). Most of the time, this is okay.
But the chances of you getting say…. A board full of useless runes, 1 set of dark runes a few water runes and no fire runes on a Saruman (stage 44 of transmigration), would get you killed. In other words, the chances of getting rune-screwed is much higher the less elements you play, esp. when Santa decks don’t use convertors.

This is just a general rule, and there are variations depending on what you put in. For example, having a team that is:

2 fire, 2 water, 2 dark cards is much more safer (in terms of consistent damage due to availability of runes, which is still high enough because of the enchantress’s actives) compared to a team that is
3 fire, 2 water, 1 dark or any other similar permutations.

The crux here is that a team with 2 fire, 2 water and 2 dark is less likely to suffer from a severe lack of damage when the rune fall doesn’t favor them; while the team with a heavy reliance on fire runes might be dead when say, meeting Hertz on stage 43 with 1 cooldown with no fire runes in sight.

My personal take is that, don’t rely on particular elements too heavily when you don’t have convertors in your team. With that in mind, let’s move on to quad element teams;

It may just be a product of my own playing style (I never did well at Greek monos); but I clear Transmigration regularly with the following team:

Santa, Medea, Cassandra, Molly Pr, Nathaniel PR, Daji Ally,

Which is a quad-element team. And the weird thing here is? I have Endor PR and Sean PR ready to be slotted in, but I don’t, as my personal experience is that I fail at transmigration more often with say
Santa, Medea, Cass, Molly Pr, Endor Pr, Daji Ally (which actually makes a 2 fire, 2 water, 2 dark team),

than with the quad element above.

The reason is that I don’t get screwed with runes when playing 4 colors when push comes to shove as opposed to a tri-color; think of it this way, whenever you use a PR’s active, you don’t know what runes are going to drop after you clear that screen. In fact, you can’t control any of the runes that are going to drop*, which means rng is going to take place, and all things being equal, you are going to get light, earth and heart runes either way. On a really bad day, if your current board is already filled with runes that won’t deal much damage, you use the PR and lo and behold, you see more of those runes; which essentially leads to a death in the later transmigration stages. (*although medea does help with the fire runes)


With 1 Nathaniel and 1 Daji in the team, generally I still get to deal upwards of 100k to Saruman’s gnomes every turn without needing fire or water runes (although just matching a set of fire/water runes with 2 more combos is still safer; matching a row of 5 light runes with some combos would push nat’s damage to 70k light damage, which would be increased to 110k against the dark gnomes); which is more than enough to keep the game going, and this is why I prefer quad colored vs tri/dual – because it lowers the risk of rng screwing me over, at the expense of higher top end damage (which is actually not needed) during an opportune fire heaven drop.

Notable stages (using Transmigration as an example)

One thing I realize that most people are going to ask is how to manage stages 33 (red dragon with high def, 6k attack cd 1) and joker (stage 37), with 4 elements;
For the dragon, basically hit the dragon as much as you can while breaking 1 set of heart runes every turn, and you’d survive. If there’s no heart runes on board, use a PR active to get some.

For joker on stage 37; what I do is I stack up fire, water runes on the GSS stage prior to this (making sure I have at least 5 fire and 5 water, with a smattering of light and dark (not uncommon for me to have 5 of one more set other than fire and water). If the minion jokers are on the same cd, after your first attack (you did position the runes to be easily spun into 3 rows of 5s, didn’t you?), use santa and daji’s actives; as long as one of them is killed, you can move on to the center joker.

The one other stage that you actually have to look out for is stage 46 – the eye spirit. A dude that will kill you in 2 turns if you don’t kill it first, has 10 hp, and OHKO attack numbers. Using my own team as a example, the priority goes like this; fire and water runes > light and dark runes. Basically, if you deal only 3 damage during the first turn (meaning maybe only a fire + light/dark break), you’re dead. But if all you broke was fire + water runes, you dealt 4 damage to it, and in the next turn, you would need to deal fire+water+light+dark (for a total of 6); I’ve actually used PR actives to do this when luck just wasn’t on my side. But generally, I find it not particularly difficult to break one set of fire, one set of water and one more set of light/dark during a regular game (for 5 dmg, which makes the next round similar).

In contrast, a 3 fire, 2 water, 1 dark team would be easier spin if you had the fire runes, but you're basically gonna get killed if you don't have fire runes for 1 turn, whereas I can spin 1 set of water, 1 set of dark and 1 set of light to make 4 damage and see if I get some fire the next time. (if not, I'd just use boundary crossing, not much of a choice).

As a final comment

I think alot of players are quite hung up on using say, PR Sean for a Santa deck.
I can understand why - because it results in higher overall damage per burst - only when you have the fire runes. But think of it this way - do you need to want to deal another extra 1 million (for Sean being there?) to a 2 million hp mob, when Santa, Medea, second Santa, is already dealing 3 million? If you have the fire runes, and activate it using a Molly Pr, more likely than not, the fire damage dealt by the two Santas and Medea is already going to be overkill. The extra 5% damage from Sean's PR (to fire) is negligible to beating the stage, as is the overkill damage.

The only difference in playing multi-element Santa teams is that if runes other than fire runes drops for the next stage, at least you aren't so screwed, and that's the point I'm trying to get across here.


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Re: Opinion/Semi-guide to Santa decks

Post by Eardrum73 on Wed Mar 19, 2014 3:26 pm

This is just simply brilliant! Written like a pro by a pro!

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Re: Opinion/Semi-guide to Santa decks

Post by larken on Thu Mar 20, 2014 6:57 am

Gonna make a quick summary of how I cleared Trans with the quad element deck.

Team members, Santa leader, Cass, Medea, Molly Pr (cd Cool, Nath Pr (cd11) Daji Ally.

Santa and Daji are normally maxed skill levels to make things easier for you.

Basic principles;
1. remember that you have 4 controlled bursts whenever you need it, and always replenish your cooldowns at the soulstone stages; this means you have 4 time tunnels every 5 stages, and each time tunnel can kill one stage, leaving you to play 'normally' for only 1 stage.
2. To speed things up for some stages, you could use PR actives over the Santa actives, as most of the PRs would have a lower cd than max Santas at 15; takes fewer turns to refresh cds at the GSS stages.
3. Prepare the runeboards before you leave the GSS stages.
4. When using PR actives, always stack in rows of 3.
5. I usual stack in rows of 5 for santa and daji's actives (but I don't use them in a clutch situation when high damage is crucial to surviving the round).

1-30 ; straightforward damage. Usually I turn on both Medea and Cass at turn 9 or 10, and simply blast through every stage.
31; first GSS stage. Turn off Medea and Cass. Heal up. Usually, I just use PR actives on 29 and 30 since I can refresh the cds here anyway. Prepare the runeboard (fire, water, light and dark. I rid the board of hearts and earth runes as much as I can).
32; light and dark dragons; killable without actives, but if their cd is on the same timer and rune drop doesn't favor you, just use one active (usually Santa) to kill it.
33; requirements; after you get hit once break in this priority (1 set of hearts, water and fire, followed by dark/light. If there isn't hearts on the board and you're gonna die, use PR active to get more hearts).
34; earth dragon with enchanted shield. I spin normally, (storing hearts for the cd2 attack if neccesary), until I get 1 enchanted rune for water, fire, light and dark. (if there's 5 of each rune already on the board, I usually waste a daji active here, and form rows of 5 to get the enchanted runes; which deal 1 damage). Then I use Nat's active to stack the runes to OHKO the dragon.
35; Ursula; even without the enchantresses activated, its rather easy to OHKO her with a PR active. Just make sure your default unextended board has 3 water, 3 fire and 3 earth runes to break the shield. Activate PR active, stack in 3s. Usually 1 OHKO unless you're unlucky, then you might have to spin normally for a few turns (pretty rare this happens, but it does).
36; GSS pit stop. Refresh all ur burst cds here. Arrange the board in this priority again; water, fire, dark light. It'd be good to have 5 of each, in easy to spin positions.
37; Joker stage; if the minion Jokers are on the same cd, you need to kill one of them asap. Make sure every member gets to attack; this is what the preparation is for. You should deal half of the damage required to kill one in the first turn. Use Daji to finish it off if the cd is too tight (usually if you are very unlucky, the minions can be on cd 2), then move on to the center joker. Team attacks are important here, as the center joker WILL kill you in 4 turns; but if the minion jokers are on the same cd, they WILL kill you too.
38; could be easy, could be hard. If the fiend is water, or fire, you have it easy. Spin normally. You can take a hit without healing. Sometimes I can kill it before the hit, sometimes, I take one hit and still can't manage to kill it before next hit comes; which in the absence of heart runes, means death. When this happens, use one PR active (remember to heal, and store some hearts too) to finish it off.
39; Cat duke - I usually spin normally as long as I have one set of hearts on the board (here's when the low CD for Molly really works; if I used her on the fiend stage, CD 8 comes up in a jiffy while I survive spinning normally here). If the next hit is a KO for you and you have no hearts on board, use the second PR (to heal); and deal 50% hp dmg to the Duke (stupid shield). Then carry on playing normally (breaking 1 set of hearts per turn). You can use other actives to speed it up if necessary.
40; Lubu - pretty easy, despite his high attack. He has a cd of 2 or 3 (I forgot). One PR active (without enchantress enhanced damage) - will kill it. If not, you still have one more Santa active unused. A caveat though; if you have say, 6 heart runes on board, and he's gonna hit you next turn, just let him hit you, and heal up. You generally don't want to use time tunnel actives with useless runes (like earth and heart runes for me) on the board as much as possible.
41; GSS stage - store cds, making sure everything is up. Store 1 enchanted rune of water, fire, light and dark in a corner (this is in case Nathaniel is the miniboss on 42.
42; could be any of the Starters; Nath has an enchanted shield (which makes him a pain if you didn't prepare the enchanted runes). Endor has a 40% hp drain. Sean has Trojan. Duncan has the tri-element shield (i think). I forgot about Molly. Usually, if its Endor, I activate enchantresses and spin normally for 1 turn (since I did prepare the board on 41). If she doesn't die, I take 40% damage (doesn't matter), and depending on how much hp she has left, I might or might not use a daji active. The starter's hp is pretty low, so Daji or Santa is enough. Sean's trojan is welcome (unless its cd is 1, then you might wanna take one hit before hitting him) (if you do, you have 2 PR time tunnels, 1 Santa active left)
43; one of the zodiacs; Scorpio, Hertz. (you can afford to use 1 PR active here for a OHKO; usually the one with the lower cd) (leaves you with 1 PR time tunnel, 1 Santa active)
44; Saruman and his 2 gnomes. This is the stage to store CDs again. General rule of thumb (1 row of 5 fire/water and 3 more combos, the gnomes die. I don't even try to attack Saruman when his gnomes are gone; instead, I get rid of all hearts and earth runes during then, and prepare the board for the next group of gnomes, but some damage does get through.) When it gets too complicated to spin (you need those gnomes to die), I sometimes use a Santa active here (not ideal, but not a deal breaker either; since the point is to survive). When your CDs are ready, kill Saruman and move on.
45; Medea and her two friends; you could choose to take a hit from her (if her cd is 1 and doesn't kill you), but that's provided you don't get killed by her two friends; Watch their cds). Usually, I use my Molly PR here to OHKO them.
46; eye spirit. Required to deal 5 dmg a turn, minimum. Meaning you have to break one set of water, fire, and either one more set of light or dark. Ideal if you can do 6 dmg in one turn, which means you can relax for the nex turn (4 dmg; any permutation of fire+water, water+light+dark, fire+light+dark).
47; Usually, the light sirius will not kill you with the next hit (unless you're not at full HP). I take one turn to get rid of all earth and heart runes on the board. Some skilled players might be able to store cd here (but I think only the 3 enchantress variants can do this easily). When I know the next hit will kill me, I use Nat's active to clear the stage. Stack in 3s. Not Fives. The higher combo multiplier gives more damage to two separate targets (a total of 16 if you fill the board, with no heaven drops), compared to appromixately 8-10 combos when doing team attacks).
48; King duck; your hp gets replenished here. The King's on CD 6. Ignore the side mobs and focus entirely on the King. You can use one Santa/Daji Active (or both if you have them if his hp is still high on CD3). Here's where the low PR starter CD comes into play.
49; I have Molly on CD8, and I used her on Medea's stage. Eye spirit (2 rounds of CD reduction), Sirius brothers (1-2 rounds), and the King Duck has 6 rounds. Technically, you should be about to clear trans with a cd 10 starter, provided you don't rush through the King Duck stage; and you meet one of the greek gods with a 90% hp attack. You can take 1 hit here (since you got healed earlier), but unless your board is filled with hearts and earth, Molly's active will OHKO it.
50; harpy - straightforward. I usually have one of the Santa/Daji actives available, and blow it here (since, you know, there's no point not using it).

Transmigration cleared!

As you can see, its not so much skill based as much as planning based, and abusing of actives. I'd say the only stages that require some difficulty in rune spinning after 40, is the Saruman stage, when you have to store cds without using actives.


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Re: Opinion/Semi-guide to Santa decks

Post by Lj_Lee on Fri Apr 11, 2014 6:40 am

Now with QoH as the only defense mode Human, would she be good as a member of the Santa team? (low cd no less).

Let's hear the expert opinion from the santa experts.  Very Happy 

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Re: Opinion/Semi-guide to Santa decks

Post by larken on Fri Apr 11, 2014 7:39 am

Imo its nice to have the option, but I don't think QoH is going to get much play time in Santa decks, as Santa teams are more offensively based, and to do this we need 2 enchantresses locked in. I suppose we could do 2 enc, 1 pr, one QoH, but it seems that one extra time tunnel will be more useful in most situations (not to mention that the extended 3 rows can reveal hearts for healing, and coupled with the extra combos from time tunneling, would probably heal more than a full 7 heart conversion from QoH on a normal board).

QoH is probably best used in other teams.


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