Garth Torken’s tinkering with anatomy led him to discover some disturbingly dark powers. He is now the Necromancy hero of the Blackhand Scourge.
Torken’s experiments with human cadavers are where a lot of his skill comes from. Although he later moved on to raise the dead of other species, he’s most at home with an army of human skeletons. Here is his hero card:
Without even spending a card, he can create a new Skeleton token every turn. These Skeletons have lots of uses. They can protect Torken if he wants to turtle up and go for a late-game plan. They can patrol in the Scavenger slot to give him 1 gold when they die (making them cost a total of 0 gold overall), or they can patrol in the Technician slot to give him a card (letting him basically buy a card for 1 gold AND stop an attack in the process).
When he reaches level 4, he can sacrifice Skeletons to draw cards. That’s usually a desperate measure, but later in the game if you desperately need a certain card, that helps you get it.
His max level ability lets him resurrect a free unit. That can really turn the tides of battle! And just so you understand how the timing works, this ability requires very little setup. Before your turn begins, you can know that you’ll want to max his levels, so when you “tech” for new cards just before your turn (as in put 2 cards from your codex into your discard pile), you can make sure one of them is the best thing for him to resurrect.
To understand how to use Torken, we have to look at the black starting deck. Here is his bread and butter:
Two Skeletons at a time is good for building your army. Remember that you’ll see this card several times over the course of the game. So what will you do with all these Skeletons?
This is one option. Because of the patrol zone bonuses, your Skeletons are inherently good on defense. But with this starting deck upgrade, you have the option to use them on offense too. The long-range ability they get means they can attack without getting hit back (unless they attack something with long-range, which they probably won’t). And while you're at it, have some anti-air too.
Another way to go is to use your Skeletons as a resource. They are probably weaker than whatever your opponent has, so this becomes a great trade:
As a rules note, you can cast this when you don’t have any units (you’ll have to have a hero though—you need a hero to cast a spell) and then you won’t actually sacrifice anything. There is a general rule to “do as much as you can” for all effects, so even though you might not have any units to sacrifice, your opponent still has to. And if you do have some Skeletons laying around, that’s not a big deal to trade one of those for a good unit the opponent has. Try to kill their weakest unit in combat, THEN sacrifice the weak so it kills an even better unit of theirs.
There’s one Necromancy spell you will come to know very well:
It’s one of the most reliable ways to suck the life out of something in the entire game. This spell alone is a big reason to use Garth Torken. Sacrificing a 1/1 Skeleton or something hardly matters when it’s killing their best tech II unit or their hero who was threatening to cast an ultimate spell at you.
This next one I personally find really fun:
Be careful when bargaining with a Lich! You lose a worker and 20% of your base’s max HP, but you get THREE units from it. That's a total of 6 ATK, too. The 2 gold cost is minimal, so you’re tempted to play this spell over and over. Can you get away with casting it 3 times? 4?? You’re killing yourself in the process, and becoming vulnerable to more and more trickshot ways to die, but oh that power is so sweet. A whole army can be yours. Idea: reality tv show based on how players use this card.
If you want a tricky spell, look into Nether Drain.
It costs 1 and you can add 2 levels to one your heroes. That normally costs 2 to do, so you're getting 1 gold ahead (and one card behind) on that part of Nether Drain. But you ALSO get to lower another hero's level by 2. By leveling down enemy heroes, you make them smaller and sometimes can take away key abilities they have. Ideally, you can level down an enemy hero, make it small enough to kill it in combat, then that will give you the usual 2 free levels you get for killing an enemy hero. That's good value if you make that happen.
If you want to be tricky, you can also level down your OWN hero on purpose with Nether Drain. You might want to do this if your hero has some effect that triggers when they reach max level, such as your Necromancy hero himself! The overall calculation here is that if your Necromancy hero is at max level, you can level him down then back up to max for a total of 3 gold and 1 card. That will give you another free 5 cost unit from his max level ability. Or you could count it as just 1 gold total if you factor in the 2 free levels you gave your second hero from Nether Drain. You can’t do all that in one turn because it says right on the card that the hero that leveled down can’t level up this turn, but across two turns you can pull off the trick of triggering Torken's max level ability twice.
Let’s turn our attention to Necromancy’s tech I units.
If you just play Hooded Executioner as a 3/3 for 2 gold, you’re doing fine. What’s so great about him is the flexibility to also get what’s basically a kill spell from him that doesn’t cost any extra cards. You might think paying 3 is a lot to kill their weakest unit, but it really isn’t. You can make sure their weakest unit isn’t some 1/1. Do some combats, kill some things, use the Sacrifice the Weak spell, then play a boosted Hooded Executioner. He’ll hit something worthwhile.
Bone Collector is a totally different kind of threat. He’s a guy your opponent will really need to answer somehow. They can’t let you attack with Bone Collector every turn forever and keep piling up more and more Skeletons. It’s just too good, so you’re forcing them to act.
Moving on to tech II, you have a nice assortment to choose from. Most simply, how about getting even more Skeletons?
When your units die, they come back as Skeletons. If you have two Necromancers, then one of your units dying will produce TWO Skeletons (how does that work??). Anyway, you can get more Skeletons this way.
Skeletal Lord isn’t a real Skeleton, he just plays one on tv. But he buffs your Skeletons. Now you have an army of 2/2s instead of 1/1s (or 3/3s if you have two Skeletal Lords). If you also have the Skeletal Archery upgrade in play, that’s getting pretty ridiculous. You also have some nice flexibility here in how you want to use your Skeletons. One way is as a rushdown tool if they can attack with long-range. Another is to exhaust 5 of them and then put ANY unit from your hand into play. Yes ANY. As in even a tech III from some completely different spec!
Or a totally different gameplan is to use your skeletons as a way to stall. Fill up your patrol zone with annoying skeletons and it will take a while for your opponent to actually kill enough of them to do any real damage to you. If this is your plan, there’s two questions you should think about: 1) how will you actually win? and 2) how will you not die to some ultimate spell or something while you’re stalling?
This is how you can win. From the safety behind your wall of skeletons, you can fling corpses at the opponent’s base. The Corpse Catapult gets corpse runes even when one of your Skeleton tokens dies, so it’s not hard to load up. You’re threatening to deal 18 damage in 3 turns, and you can probably eke out the remaining 2 damage some other way. You might be wondering, “Why is the Corpse Catapult so unnecessarily spiky? What do some of those spikes even do?” It’s best if you figure out some things on your own.
Having a bunch of Skeletons in your patrol zone protects you from most attacks, but you don’t want to let your opponent have free reign on their side of the board. Put a stop to their plans with a Wight:
Wights kill heroes dead. Between Wights and Doom Grasps, your opponent will struggle to put together any kind of spell-based or hero-based strategy.
And now for the tech III:
The Lord of Shadows himself is a black unit, so he is invisible. That means unless your opponent has a detector or a Tower, your Lord of Shadows is untargetable, unattackable, and unstoppable. That’s 8 damage PLUS he makes all your other black units invisible too. Opponents might think they are well defended, but when terrors step out from the shadows, they won’t be prepared.
While the Demonology spec gives the black faction large, powerful units, the Necromancy spec gives them a Skeleton army that must be answered in a totally different way. Make your deals with Demons and Liches, but try to make different deals each time, to keep your opponents on their toes.