Jay Green
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Welcome to my quick-start guide on Morathi. The goal of this guide is to introduce you to Morathi and give you the basics on how to use him. To gain true mastery, you will need to play a lot of games.

Morathi excels in putting on pressure, due to his easy methods of gaining card advantage and large selection of attacks that tend to trade well. Morathi is a great choice if you want to play a close range character with fantastic mixups.


Go Wild

Wild Swings are a really good option for most characters, and as I said in a previous article, you probably aren't using enough of them.
They preserve your hand, they make it harder for the opponent to read you, and they give you a chance to get out of a spot when the opponent thinks you can't beat him. But Morathi is built for wild swings in a way that makes non-wild swing strikes questionable. Because of his UA, he not only preserves his hand on a wild swing, but increases it, which is huge for reasons we'll go over in a bit. His Shadow of Death ultra gives him an amazing bonus if it is wild swung, so you never want to draw it normally.

Perhaps most importantly, Morathi's specials tend to have fantastic guard and decent range. This means that his deck is fairly safe for wild swinging. You probably aren't going to get awkward range, or an easily stunnable attack. This also means that Morathi can pull off some scary mixups. Since most of his attacks are slow and punishing, your opponent will be a bit more hesitant to play stuff like grasp. This makes it easier for you to get your own fast attacks in and break up their attempts at disrupting your slow stuff. Plus, they only get so many tries at countering sweep. When your deck is stacked with sweeps, its easy to abuse the limited nature of its counters.

Remember, every time you do not wild swing with Morathi is a chance for you to draw Shadow of Death.



Keep up the pressure

Spike and Dive are Morathi's biggest weaknesses, so he is strongest at range 1 where those two are least effective. Morathi's cards tend to be focused on range 1-3, so this is a good range set to focus on. You should try to put as much pressure on your opponent as possible so that they will have fewer openings to maneuver away from these ranges or otherwise setup a counter to your strengths.

First, initiate strikes somewhat aggressively. Doing so with wild swings helps you build up card advantage and also helps you make favorable damage trades, which you will need. When you hit with an attack that can cause the opponent to discard, try to force as much discarding as you can. Its easier for you to regain cards than it is for them, and if they have to use their turn to restock their hand, thats just another opportunity for you to strike from the same position.

Now, I've mentioned card advantage a few times. Card advantage is how many more cards you have in hand than the opponent. For Morathi, card advantage matters because he can turn those cards into force and chase down a fleeing opponent. He can also do that with cards in his gauge. So if he can gain access to force more easily and replenish that resource more quickly, then any positioning war of attrition will favor Morathi in the end. This is your second pressure tactic. Don't let them put distance between you and them, run them down when they try to do this.

Finally, Morathi should use boosts for speed and power in order to threaten mixups. A mixup is a situation where you have at least two very good options for attack, and the opponent doesn't know which one you will choose. The important thing about a mixup is that neither option can be countered by the things that counter the other option. When you have stat boosts on the field, mixups become a lot more common. The opponents best options are to try to read your play, or to try an arms race with boosts. Morathi is better positioned to win that arms race than many though, so he puts a lot of pressure on the opponent for them to initiate the strike and at least clear out the boosts.


Win Conditions

Morathi is slow, so his victories tend to involve trading damage with the opponent a lot. Because of this, you want to avoid letting opponents get in too many free hits. You should always be trying to put the opponent in a situation where the safe option for them is to try to trade with you, because in the long run you will win that game. Don't let rangers open up space, even in the short term. Don't get too reckless against opponents that can break your guard. And try to keep your gauge high. Gauge can be used as a panic button when you need a quick source of force, or it can fuel your ultra attacks which are both really good. Morathi's exceed side is a nice upgrade, but you don't always need it.


Weaknesses and Vulnerabilities
- Very limited when striking at long range
- Spike and Dive more dangerous than usual
- His late game is very similar to early game, so might struggle if the opponent scales hard enough.

Strengths
- Emphasizes wild swings, which are already pretty good
- Builds up gauge and force quickly
- Has few if any hard counters
- Amazing at aggressive, high pressure style of play

Opening hands and mulligans
Because Morathi prefers to strike with wild swings and use his hand as either force or boosts, his mulligan strategy is a bit different than normal. My friend's strategy is to mulligan nothing if he does not have Shadow of Death, to mulligan liberally if he has both copies, and to mulligan conservatively if he only has one. Overall, it seems like good advice.
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Jay Green
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One shenanigan that people enjoy with Morathi is to wild swing an ultra, declare it invalid, and use that to repeat the wild swing process all over again. I don't actually think this works for rules reasons (I play it that if a set attack is invalid Morathi sets his top card of the deck, no looking or choosing), but the templating makes it ambiguous which interpretation is correct.

Wild swinging into an ultra is still very strong on Morathi (in contrast to a lot of the cast that really wants to avoid this), and Morathi is top tier even without the shenanigans of getting multiple uses of his UA on some strikes. But if you play with people who interpret this tactic as rules-kosher, its worth being aware of and trying to abuse be intentionally digging for ultras to wild swing into. You get a lot of option select this way, after seeing the attack the opponent plays, which can be broken at high level plays. This also makes exceeding an even bigger priority.
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Bryan Rosander
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I've always been confused about how Shadow of Death works. I assume that I get to choose between invalidating it or getting the gauge from the special text.

Do I get both? Should I play it, get the gauge, and then invalidate and top deck?
 
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Jay Green
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If you don't have enough gauge to play it when you wild swing it, it goes into your hand and the top two cards of your discard get added to your gauge. Then you use the top card of your deck as a wild swing.

This always happens when you use Shadow of Death as your wild swing and you don't have the gauge for it to be valid. So you do in fact get both effects. If you happen to have 8 gauge, it doesn't have any special functions and its just a regular ultra. In that case, you can still declare it invalid on a wild swing, but it doesn't go to your hand and you don't get extra gauge.
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