The recent Clash Royale championships in Shanghai introduced us to a deck that had up until recently been relatively under the radar: the Lava Hound/Miner deck. While the deck does require 3 Legendary cards, it is certainly a fun and effective deck if you do have the necessary cards to play it! Here’s the breakdown of the deck:
Cards: Lava Hound | Miner | Princess | Zap | Poison | Mini P.E.K.K.A. | Minions | Guards
Offensive strategy: the goal of Lava Hound decks is of course to have your Lava Hound reach your opponent’s Crown Tower, and have its Lava Pups deal out massive damage once the Hound dies. As Cory pointed out in his Miner strategy guide, the Miner is best used as a tank to absorb the attack from the Crown Towers. Time your Miner to attack the Crown Tower just before your Lava Hound dies, and it’ll give the Pups plenty of time to dish out damage to the Towers and anything else in their vicinity.
Keep in mind that the Lava Pups (6 total) each have 180 hit points at Level 1, which means they are able to each take 2 hits from the Arena Tower and 3 from the King Tower. Each Pup can also deal 45 damage per second; if all 6 are left unchecked, that’s a total of 270 damage per second! Every second you can free up for the Pups is more damage dealt, and this is where the supporting cards come in:
Poison – Slows down troops and tower attacks while dealing damage. Poison is especially effective if your opponents try to counter your Pups with Minions or Minion Hordes.
Princess: While Lava Hound eats up all the attacks, Princess provides area damage support from a safe distance. Just watch out for Arrows and backdoor attackers!
Minions: Likewise, Minions comes in handy for taking out defending troops while their firepower is drawn to the Lava Hound.
Zap: For taking out small troops (ie. Goblins/Spear Goblins) or just to give your Lava Pups and/or Miner an extra second to deal damage.
As there is no Elixir Collector in this deck, don’t be afraid to play Lava Hound as your first card from your Crown Tower to test the waters. Your opponent will likely be scrambling for an answer to defend the Hound, and one misplay from their side can easily lead to heavy damage on their Crown Tower, if not the destruction of the Tower altogether.
Defensive Strategy: With no defensive buildings and a Lava Hound that doesn’t deter ground troops, this deck will have to rely on smart and timely troop deployment to stop incoming attacks. Mini P.E.K.K.A will be your MVP on defense: you will have to count on Mini P.E.K.K.A.’s high attack power to take out incoming Hog Rider/Giants/Royal Giants. To compensate for Mini P.E.K.K.A’s low hitpoints, you have Guards to help block off high powered attacks from the likes of Prince and your opponent’s Mini P.E.K.K.A. If overwhelmed by swarms or air attacks, you’ll have rely on your Minions to deal out as much damage as possible; don’t be afraid to use Poison and/or Zap on defense if you feel you’re being overran. And of course, have your Princess fire away from a safe distance to protect your troops in the front line.
Don’t be afraid to use Lava Hound as a cannon fodder again Air/Air attack troops such as Minions, Musketeer, or Wizards. Just like Giant, the Lava Hound has plenty of hitpoints to absorb damage while your support troops take out your enemy’s troops. It is sometimes also beneficial for Lava Hound to first absorb some damage, especially when you want your Lava Pups to be released sooner due to the lack of time remaining or wanting to catch your opponent off guard while they are low on Elixir.
If your Princess is firing away her arrows from the middle of the Arena and your opponent is not using spells to get rid of her, be prepared to protect her with your Guards and/or Zap. Having your Princess stick around to do back row damage will make it that much harder for your opponent to counter the Lava Hound once the Pups come out.
Counterattacking: If you Minions and/or Mini P.E.K.K.A are still alive after defending against your opponent’s troops, be ready to send your Miner in to tank the Crown Tower and give your Minions/Mini P.E.K.K.A the time they need to deliver some heavy damage. This is especially a good combo to pull off during a counterattack, as your opponent would likely be down on Elixir after deploying troops on offense, and they’re likely to be expecting a slow attack with your Lava Hound instead. This combo is also effective against Elixir Collector players, as they will be low on Elixir for defense, and your Miner can potentially take out the Pump as well if it’s placed behind the Tower that you are attacking.
Playing against Lava Hound/Miner: Many players make the mistake of overplaying Lava Hound once it is deployed. Keep in mind that the Lava Hound itself is pretty harmless, as it can only deal 34 damage per second (that’s less than a single level 9 Spear Goblin!) Instead of sending your troops to go right after the Hound, think about how you want to defend against the Pups once they pop out. Area damage troops such as Fire Spirits and Wizard can make short work of the Pups, as can Minion Hordes – but watch out for your opponent’s Poison or Zap!
If you’re short on air defense, don’t panic! Try to deploy a tanky troop (such as Giant or Barbarians) just as the Pups are coming out, and let them absorb the hits while your Crown Tower and other troops take out the Pups. If you have large radius spells like Poison or Arrows (the best counter against the Pups), them make sure they’re ready to be put down once the Pups come out.
The Miner’s job is to tank against the Tower while the Pups and everything else does the damage, so concentrate your troops and spells against anything but the Miner! The key to defeating this deck is troop targeting: if you are trying to take out your opponent’s heavy damage troops, but your troops lock onto the wrong troops (Lava Hound or Miner), then you’ll be finding yourself in a lot of trouble.
Having trouble visualizing everything in words? Then watch the Lava Hound decks in action from the Shanghai tournament finals below! Commentary is in Chinese, but you won’t need to know what they’re talking about to understand how the cards are being played: