The support for the Backstab keyword is kind of incoherent: besides Killing Edge, which has such a good rate that no one really cares about the Backstab kicker, we have Horned Mask, Shadow Waltz, and Kaido Expert, all of which point towards a “go wide” strategy of playing a lot of small Backstab minions. The problems with this plan are manyfold: Backstab doesn’t work very well in multiples (since you can usually only Backstab a given enemy once per turn); most Backstab minions are too expensive for a true swarm strategy (costing 3 or more); and finally, most Backstab minions aren’t powerful enough for constructed play (due to their poor base stats and lack of immediate impact). This deck is what happens when you try to force tribal Backstab anyways.
Why Shidai instead of Kaleos? For a dedicated Backstab deck, the counterplay of covering the space behind important targets is hard to overcome. Shidai’s BBS is conditional, but the Spellswords Tanahashi (teleport an enemy minion 1 space) and Kotetsu (give Backstab (2) for a turn) synergize very well with the Backstab plan, while Murasame (draw at end of turn) offsets some of the card disadvantage of the cheap spells. Ultimately, Kaleos might still be better but since it’s a meme deck anyways, might as well go full hog.
This deck has two variations that differ by just a couple of cards: one with Shadow Waltz and an additional Backstab minion in Scarlet Viper, allowing for very explosive starts; and one with Horned Mask and Dust Wailer, which is a little slower and more reactive. Play whichever one suits your style the better.
Cards which are substituted between the two builds are enclosed in parentheses.
- Kaido Assassin
- Scroll Bandit
- (Gore Horn)
- Massacre Artist
- (Scarlet Viper)
The best Backstab minions. Katara, Kaido, and Bandit are necessary as cheap minions that allow you. Mizuchi doesn’t flip too often since it’s pretty obvious which Sentinel it is in this deck, but it still does good work by preventing general attacks. You could easily substitute Gore Horn if it fits your playstyle better. Artist is vital as the key card allowing you to get full use out of a board full of Backstabbers. Viper is a pet card of mine, and is powerful but slow to come out, so should only be run in the Waltz build.
- Mist Dragon Seal
The standard Songhai repositioning spells.
- Repulsor Beast
More offensive repositioning, frees up spaces from which to Backstab.
- Inner Focus
- Killing Edge
Inner Focus and Killing Edge have obvious applications. Focus is particularly important early game as player 2 to kill your opponent’s opening minion, and later to get immediate use out of Massacre Artist (which is otherwise prone to dying immediately).
- (Shadow Waltz)
- (Horned Mask)
Shadow Waltz actually feels pretty good if you can cast it turn 1 with a hand full of Backstabbers, but should be replaced otherwise. Horned Mask is less explosive but also sort of functions as a real card if you draw it instead of being a total blank.
To refill the Action Bar burning through it with all your cheap spells.
- (Dust Wailer)
To punish Backstab-protecting positioning. Replace Viper with this in the Mask build.
Having a Shadow Waltz in your opening hand is pretty nice and allows for explosive starts. Other than that, gameplay is pretty straightforward – use your positioning tools to set up backstabs and hopefully ride your early-game tempo advantage to a victory. If you manage to establish a board, rushing out a Massacre Artist with Inner Focus can give you total control over the battlefield.