Quintivarium's guide to AIR

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Quintivarium's guide to AIR


     Air is elusive – you cannot see it; you cannot hold it.  It is as light as a spirit’s breath; it is as heavy as a dragon’s rage.  Air is hasty, turbulent.  Air is calm, patient.  Air is masterful and unmastered.  Air is where we walk when the ground is too hard.

     Air has no creatures above three strength – at present the only faction without a strength 4 minion.  And while many of its minions have nice powers, they are not powers akin to those of a pyrohydra, darkling assassin, ancient ghost, or giant constrictor that allow them easily to stand head-to-head against stronger units.  Moreover, many air cards seem a bit pricey – at least if they must stand alone.  Thus, more than any other faction, air decks require good card synergies.  These synergies are not always obvious and are sometimes subtle, falling apart with seemingly innocuous substitutions.
     Most factions seem to have a primary focus: forest on healing, jungle on traps, swamp on the graveyard (discard pile), fire on destructive spells, underworld on subversion and theft, ocean on movement or change.  Air has two major foci: time/timer effects and magic manipulation.  This opens quite a large number of very different deck possibilities, although most are hard to successfully implement.  It also provides a number of very interesting utility cards making air a very effective secondary faction.
     I certainly find air to be the most difficult faction – and I think most good players would agree.  But do not take difficult a synonymous with weak – when used in well-constructed decks, air is definitely not weak.

     I think air is very difficult to run well as a primary faction (although it is fairly easy as a secondary faction).  As I struggle to find sample air decks to recommend, I am struggling to overcome numerous challenges the faction poses.
     The lack of strength 4 minions is definitely one of these challenges.  It is exacerbated by a lack of good defensive values in air units.  Only 5 minions have health 3 or better (cloud dragon, aerovore, sky hydra, stormship, and pulsar) and three of these have strength 2 or less.  By contrast, eight minions have health 2 and seven have health 1.  Thus air is very vulnerable to popular cards like aquamancer, volta, flame spider, ruby hatchling, darkling assassin, triton assassin, deepwood ash, fire rain, and a host of other, less popular cards.    
     Air units do not have good growth potential.  The spell leech is entirely dependent upon one’s opponent (and is too weak to even serve as a good deterrent), while the sky hydra starts weak and with 3 health is typically destroyed before it becomes a major threat. Air has no combat immune units, and no units to reduce enemy strength.  With only 1 barrier and 1 effective lane clearer (tornado), defensive strategies with air are tenuous at best; air almost demands a fast, aggressive style deck.
     Air’s spells, while numerous and often very nice, are usually not fast/destructive enough to save air’s relatively vulnerable minions.  Many spells (e.g. uncontinue, energize, spell storm, power dive, chronochime) require particular complementing cards to have any significant value at all.  Time loop and astral armour seem to best support defensive styles of play that are not well supported by air’s minions.  Even the direct damage arsenal of magic missile and forked lightning lack the impact to consistently clear lanes of attack.
     Finally, air cards are relatively expensive.  The average air minion is about 5% more costly per point of strength and 10% more costly per point of defense than the average across all minions.  The average point of damage from Air’s direct damage spells costs about 50% more than the average damage from direct damage fire spells.  The strength boost from overload costs about 50% more than an equivalent boost from fire shroud.  One can argue over which card’s side effect is most debilitating.  A reasonable argument can be made that sunken treasure has better net value than brainstorm.  For 5 power points, one can play a sea dragon and draw a spell from discard.  For the same 5 power points, one can play a wild mage and duplicate a spell in hand.  But which would you prefer to have left in play, a sea dragon or a wild mage?  I don’t want to bog down with a criticism of specific cards, merely to support my contention that air feels costly.  This cost must be offset by synergies that increase the contextual value of cards.
     These challenges are not insurmountable, but neither are they for the feint of heart.

Signature Cards:
     Archmage – Illustrative of air’s magic manipulation, the archmage’s ability to damage opposing units can be very powerful.  But an archmage without this power is not worth its price.  The challenge of an archmage is including enough spells to make it effective without losing board control by not having enough minions.
     Aeromancer – The ability to summon a spell to hand makes the aeromancer a popular card.  This summoning effectively reduces its playing cost, and can be very handy to improve odds of quickly drawing a particular spell.  (These odds are best if the desired spell is the only spell in the deck; although it then becomes possible that an aeromancer played later in the game may have no spell to draw.)
     Energize – Perhaps the most utilitarian of air’s cards that impact time, energize can be devastating both when it grants an extra use of a special power and when it allows a just-played unit also to attack.

Other Cards:
     Cloud Dragon – Magic immunity and a special power that allows the dragon not to attack stronger units insures a cloud dragon will stick around for a while.  With the right supporting cards, a cloud dragon’s attributes are amazing; without the right support, cloud dragons lack the destructive power of typical cost 5 minions.
     Sky Hydra – Sky hydras are extremely dangerous; no other minion can grow nearly as rapidly.  But sky hydras are tricky to use: they are not strong enough to play opposite menacingly strong enemies; because of their 5 casting cost, without power generating cards, they cannot gain strength until the turn following the turn they are played; and they remain vulnerable to spell damage, potentially claiming significant resources only to die from direct damage.
     Time Eater – Air’s third (and final) cost 5 minion is even harder to use effectively than the other two.  While magic immunity is nice, 3/2 stats are not impressive.  And the time eater’s special ability is hard to invoke: it not only requires an enemy with a timer, but it generally is not strong enough to clear its own lane without help.  Threats requiring 3 cards (the time eater, a timer inflictor, and a lane clearer) are not impressive as they take too long to develop.
     Aerovore – High health is the aerovore’s most striking characteristic.  Unfortunately, its special ability to decrement timers works against many of the auras (e.g. rage, burning world, gravity well) for which one might want the high health.  Like many air units, aerovores are hard to use to their full potential.
     Stormship – The biggest problem with a stormship is its cost.  It is not so much that stormships are not worth 4 power points; it’s that 4 power point cards are difficult to efficiently use in a deck, and stormships just don’t seem worth the effort.
     Doomcloud – A 3/2 cost 3 card is not bad (compare to forest’s grizzlies).  The cloud’s special ability is occasionally useful, although I wouldn’t expect consistent benefit from it.  And the 15 timer is not really an issue as the card is not that durable in the first place.
     Lightning Golem – As with most strength 2 quick cards, one pays a lot for 2/1 stats, so lightning golems are a poor choice for general purposes.  But lightning golems are extremely effective as a special purpose card.  Their unconditional 1 point of damage to an opposing enemy is valuable against several normally dangerous opponents (aquamancers, chronomancers, necromages, faerie enchantresses, dreamfeeders, phantasmas, etc.) as well as for clearing junk from a lane for blitz attacks.
     Storm Fiend – While the storm fiend’s strength boost is rarely actually invoked, a second point of health (as opposed to the 1 health of most quick minions) is frequently useful.  Even so, I tend to limit use to blitz type decks.
     Temporal – Temporal is an interesting card; one that has significant potential.  But I find it extremely challenging to use well.  And judging from the infrequency that I see it, I assume others struggle with it as well.  The timer is too short to use as another 3/2 minion, but too long for it to be a good clearance card
     Whirling Djinn – Whirling djinn is a nice 3/2, cost 3 card with a few challenges to be truly effective.  Like any 3/2 card without the elusive trait, it is easily countered, with tempo advantage, by any strength 4 minion; something quite likely to occur if the djinn is played early in the game.  On the other hand, its special ability is only invoked if there is an empty adjacent lane; so the djinn really ought to be played early.  This dilemma can be resolved in several ways, but doing so requires deck design considerations.
     Wildmage – Wildmage is a nice card for stretching spells, but in trying to use it, one again encounters a dilemma.  Early in the game, when many lanes are open or lightly guarded, the wild mage special power is a burdensome cost.  Late in the game, when lanes are generally filled, the wild mage is not strong enough to survive.  I find a sea dragon to fill similar role, but far more effectively.
     Chronomancers – Chronomancers are a nice addition to air’s menagerie, although their bark is often worse than their bite.  Timer 10 is not really a serious problem in most cases: the card still has 5 turns of havoc, and one certainly has time to react.  But they are definitely a gadfly demanding attention, and are enhanced by cards like uncontinue and aerovore.  In short, they are a perfect cost two card – one able to make a difference, but not something so over-powered that it hijacks the entire game.
     Silverhawk – A silver hawk is not really worth the price; unless one has the items in discard to power it up.  Then it is a bargain.
     Cloud Fey – Cloud fey are almost always useful, if rarely significant.  They are definitely a cost 1 minion worth considering.
     Pulsar – Pulsars are another excellent cost 1 card.  While they are a bit hard to control, they are very likely to inflict a couple of points of damage and/or block a lane for a round or two; not a bad accomplishment for the price.
     Spell Leech – Spell leech could be interesting, but it is too vulnerable to too many things to be a major threat unless an opponent is utterly reckless.
     Aether Fish – The aether fish is a very nice cost 0 card; useful in numerous combinations, and as a one turn defender with a pleasant side-effect.
     Arcane Thief – Arcane thief is probably overpowered for its price, but not in a way disruptive to the game.  Even without the power point stealing ability, a quick unit able to inflict a point of damage is good for 0 cost.
     Mage Tower – mage tower is a nice barrier.  Compared to the equivalently priced overgrown forest, mage tower lasts as long vs. strength 5,3 and 2 creatures, one round less vs. strength 4, but completely resists strength 1.  But then the summoned spell when mage tower is destroyed effectively offsets its price.
     Overload – An additional two strength is very useful under the right circumstances, and it is nice that overload can target the unit of one’s choice.  The timer is not always a big issue: it does not affect units that already have a timer, it can be eliminated by an aether fish, or it doesn’t matter if the minion would have been destroyed without the boost.  Unfortunately, the cost (3 power) is pretty inhibiting.
     Astral Armour – Magic immunity is very useful under the right circumstances.  But it is really only valuable in certain situations  Astral armour is a significant card, but only in some decks.
     Forked Lightning, Magic Missiles – I’m not really a fan of either of air’s direct damage spells.  I do not like the random targeting of magic missile, and I find cost two a bit steep for a one time, one point of damage – which is what I often settle for with forked lightning.
     Uncontinue – Uncontinue is very useful (perhaps necessary) for timer imposing decks.  It also has some interesting and perhaps unexpected effects: it removes all unite with the targeted name, including friendly units, units with no timers (if there is a unit with a timer to cast it on), and even magic immune units (if it is cast upon a non-immune unit).  It removes rather than destroying cards, so it does not contribute to a discard pile, nor does it trigger “when destroyed” effects.  The big drawback is it requires a card with a timer – so it either will have very limited applicability, or it will require inclusion of other cards that invoke timers.
     Blown Away – Blown away is a very hit or miss card.  It can devastate decks that rely on cheap auras like pack attack or barkskin and it can wipe out defenders like wall of webs, pulsars, or zombie mobs.  It is just as likely to hit decks containing no cost 0 or cost 1 cards that remain in play.
     Brainstorm – Brainstorm can be an excellent accelerator; nothing draws cards faster.  But I’ve seen numerous times when players destroy themselves by draining too much of their own life.
     Spell Storm – Spell storm is an excellent source of damage for decks that otherwise employ a lot of mage-type units.  I find that decks designed around spell storm (with spell storm the major source of damage) tend to be inconsistent as the wrong draw, or wrong opponent, leaves them vulnerable.
     Chronochime – Chronochime is very nice in the right combinations.  But in most situations an aether fish is even better.  I generally choose chronochime only if I have cards like burrowing under with a very short timer, I expect to trigger an effect like the archmage special power (or trigger a spell net), or if I want more than 4 cards that extend timers.
     Power Dive – Powerdive is very nice for decks with large numbers of quick minions as these minions typically end up eventually bashing themselves against stronger opponents.  Blitz decks are possible only because of cards like power dive.
     Power Surge – If one wants power generation, one should first ask whether storm core doesn’t better serve the purpose.  But power surge can provide additional power, or it can trigger an archmage, or it can cheaply disarm a spell-triggered trap.
     Time Loop – Time loop can be used to restore friendly units to an undamaged condition, or to reset enemy units that have grown in power.  Both uses are viable.
     Gravity Well – Gravity well seems like a card that could be the cornerstone of a deck, but I have yet to use it effectively, despite numerous tries.  Typically I find it too hard to draw, too slow, too expensive, and/or too easily countered.
     Air Pressure – Air pressure compares unfavorably to decay in that it both takes longer and denies precise targeting.  Of course, if you have air rather than swamp, you don’t have the option for decay.
     Tornado – At last we get to a truly useful air aura.  Tornado not only can clear a pesky strength four card, it creates open lanes for pulsars to retreat into, or for quick units to strike along.
     Null Wand – Many decks struggle with immunities.  A null wand in play solves the problem.
     Overworld Elixir – Overworld elixir is very similar to energize in merits.  It is more expensive, but is also reusable.
     Spell Book – My problem with spell book is too little control.  By the time it triggers, my need for spells could have changed.  Then when I do get the spell, typically I get too many, cannot afford to use them, and have to discard them.  In most cases, space in my deck is better used by simply taking more spells – which might eliminate the need for spell book in the first place.
     Storm Core – Storm core is one of the most efficient power generating cards, typically granting two power with a simgle card.  But I often find the second turn’s power to not be really useful.  Maybe that is just my deck designs.
     Spell Net – Spell net is a nice trap to capture enemy spells.  It is costly, and its nature is easily identified unless one is playing air/ocean – so one’s opponent is not likely to sacrifice a spell that’s good.  For most purposes, mesmer is just as effective at a lower cost – but this requires taking the underworld faction.

Combinations:  More than any other faction, air needs its combinations and synergies to be effective.  These combinations are not always easy – and often cards can work at cross purposes.
     Magic Immunity Combinations:  Magic immunity is wonderful in combination with spells that adversely affect friendly units: catastrophe, detonation, lich touch, fester plague, etc.  Air has far more magic immune creatures than any other faction, and can create magic immunity with astral armor.
     Timer Infliction Combos: cards that inflict timers are enhanced by cards that then exploit the timers: aerovores, time eaters, uncontinue.
     Timer Depletion Combos: a few cards such as air pressure, spell book, temporal, and lava bombs grant a benefit when the timer expires.  Aerovores can accelerate them.  In addition, aerovores can often alter whether an effect ends after your turn or after your opponent’s which can occasionally be exploited to your advantage, for example, temporals naturally expire at the end of your opponent’s turn – which grants more opportunity for your enemy to escape than if they expire at the end of your turn.
     Timer Extension Combos:  Aether fish and chronochime can both extend timers.  Chronochime is especially good on cards with very short timers like storm core, burrowing under, safe hole, and huge.  Aether fish is good with cards that have longer timers to reset, or cards that would not normally have a timer since they remove the timer.  Try aether fish with overload, delusion, or festerplague.
     Damage Protection Combos: Since air has potential to self-inflict damage (through doom cloud and brainstorm), playing these cards while having an active safe-hole is a clever trick.
     Aeromancer Optimization:  If your deck contains a “must-draw” spell, you can insure it will be drawn by an aeromancer if it is the only spell in your deck.  For instance, I very much want power dive to be drawn often for my blitz decks so I will not dilute my chances of drawing it by including other spells – even potentially useful spells like brainstorm.
     Quick Ambush Combos: The ambush trap is great with quick minions as one can often not only remove a nasty enemy, but inflict damage at the same time.
     Skyhydra Growth Combos:  Overload, fire shroud, and ferocity cause a skyhydra to grow extremely fast.  It is conceivable (although not likely) that you could have 12/3 creature a mere two turns after playing a skyhydra by combining overload and ferocity on both turns (use an aether fish to remove the timer afterward).
     Djinn Outlets: Whirling djinn are most effective if they have an empty adjacent lane.  Cards like tornado, volcanic eruption, or lavapult, when positioned correctly, facilitate this.
     Silverhawk Growth Combos: To grow a silverhawk, you need to items in discard.  Ideally, these are disposable items (e.g. storm core as opposed to null wand) and appear quickly (e.g. shimmer pearls are better than storm core and sunken treasure is better than spell book).  Usually one wants to play silver hawks early while open lanes are prevalent.
     Pulsar Combos:  A pulsar can be very effective – if it has a safe lane to retreat into and it moves randomly into an enemy occupied lane.  Filling empty lanes helps insure the pulsar has to move opposite an enemy, but the problem then becomes effectively using the pulsar on the next turn.  If it remains opposite a strong (but now damaged) unit, it will likely die before the next turn.  On the other hand, if it moves away, either the strong unit gets a free attack for life damage, or you place a blocker opposite the enemy after moving the pulsar and now the pulsar will no longer move opposite that enemy.  The solution is to use cheap junk (like spell leach) to block the enemy.  The leach will be destroyed on your opponent’s turn, saving you from damage, but opening the lane for the pulsar.  I also like pulsar with body swap.  The two cards can be played in a single turn, and 0/4 stats are ideal for a body swap.  The pulsar special ability combined with high strength is very nice.
     Aether Fish Combos:  In addition to restoring timers or removing timers, aether fish are great with bodyswap – their quick characteristic together with 0 strength makes it quite likely they can kill the opposing creature on the turn they are played.
     Mage Tower Combos:  Mage Towers work best with spells you are most interested in later in the game, as they are not likely to trigger until several turns have passed.  Mage towers are also good with the spell storm card as they not only contribute to its damage, but are durable enough to survive until other mage cards can be played.
     Overload Combos:  As overload does not change existing timers, it works well with whirling djinn and doom clouds.  It is also good on quick units – especially if power dive is available for when the timer expires.  I have already mentioned its value with skyhydras, and that aether fish can remove imposed timers.
     Direct Damage Combinations: Much of the beauty of magic missile and forked lightning is that, at cost 2, they can be played in conjunction with a cost 3 card like fire rain, detonation or flamespike.  They also work with minions like lightning golems or flame spiders.
     Energize / Overworld Elixir Combos:  Energize is a major reason to select air as a secondary faction.  Aquamancers are the most obvious target as quick uses of the aquamancer special power not only decimate enemy forces, but also render the aquamancer virtually industructable.  But energize and elixirs are very beneficial to any unit with a nice tap-to-activate power: triton and darkling assassins, giant volta, ruby hatchling, fire wolf, fire giant, cloud dragon (elixir only), chronomancer, toxipede, darkling schemer, etc.  It is also nice to give units a quick attack – especially units like razor sharks, screaming skulls, or others with a special bonus when they hit for life damage.
     Power Dive Combos:  Power dive is especially nice with cards that increase (even if only temporarily) a quick unit’s strength.  These include drums of war, overload, huge, and wild strength.
     Time Loop Combos:  Time loop, works, as aetherfish, to reset timers or remove timers from units that do not natively have timers.  But it also resets other characteristics.  Thus time loop is good with delusion; not so good with overload.  Time loop works well with whirling djinn and storm clouds, as well as aerovores, magmaspheres, jungle trolls, and other units that may lose some health along the way.  
     Tornado Combos: Tornados work well with quick units as the quick units can then inflict damage on the open lane before they are recalled to hand.  Tornados are also nice with cards that have a good when-played effect – e.g. you can repeatedly play one wolf pack to charge another, or you can replay a blessed unicorn to repeatedly gain 3 life, or you can repeatedly play a triton hunter to recall a trap from discard, etc.  Finally, tornados are a nice safe-haven for pulsars to retreat into – the pulsars move the next turn before tornados trigger.
     Spell Book Combos: Spell book easily results in wasted spells because you get too many spells all at once.  Spell surge helps one be able to use the spells drawn (or at least to make room in one’s hand to hold them).  Generally, cheaper spells with broad applicability are best with spell book – at least in terms of efficiency.
     Spell Net Combos: Spell net combines well with lost at sea or waiting grave.  Because the traps are equal cost, but target different plays, the uncertainty of a cost three traps causes opponents to be hesitant with both minions and spells.

Secondary Factions:  While almost any faction can support air in some ways, certain factions are far more natural – particularly those that support air’s inclination toward speed, or those that support air’s relatively weak minions.

Fire Faction:  Fire can provide good general support for air in at least two ways.  Fire’s powerful minions (especially ruby dragons, pyrohydras, and magmaspheres) add punch/durability to air’s weaker slate of minions, and fire’s damage sources (meteor, fire rain, implode, primeval flame, etc.) can destroy threating opposition.  Fire works well with air’s magic immunity, with air’s cost 2 direct damage spells, and with air’s quick minions.  Air/fire decks will tend to inflict damage in quick strokes, and respond to threats by sheer destruction.

Forest Faction:  Air/Forest decks are tricky.  Despite its impressive array of quick creatures, forest strategies tend to be defensive and slow to develop; not consistent with the demands of air.  Aside from their evasive traits, forest’s quick minions do not add much to what the quick minions of air do – a redundancy that is not really needed.  Forest’s ability to augment health is largely wasted on air minions (which are not durable anyway), and forest has little in non-minion based threats to augment air’s.  I believe there is some potential for forest to help a player exploit gravity wells and tornados, but it is not easy.  There may also be potential with certain air minions, rooted, wild strength, and barriers, but again consistently getting combos when they are needed is problematic.  Although my worst defeat ever (by nearly 50 health points – thanks, Orange) came to an air/forest deck, I do not find this combination of factions promising.

Jungle Faction:  Although Air/Jungle is not a particularly natural synergy, a number of extremely strong decks are very possible.  I believe jungle to be the best blitz deck partner for air, with its cost 2, two strength dactyl hatchlings to pair with a cost 3 quick minion and with its drums of war to augment quick attacks and power dives.  Huge, ambush, even pack attack are not bad additions to a blitz deck.  Outside blitzing, strangle vines and snake pits can significantly improve the survivability of air minions, and a large number of jungle minions can divert attention from the vulnerable air units.  Razor weeds and toxipedes can add defensive potential sufficient to develop some of air’s slower threats.  Air/Jungle decks will tend to be as varied as player’s imaginations.

Ocean Faction:  Ocean is almost always effective, and works very well with air.  Ocean adds strength, accelerates quickness, erodes opponents, and extends resources.  Ocean’s sea dragons extend spell availability – crucial to archmages and sky hydras.  Ocean’s dragonfish compensate for air’s lack of strong minions.  Ocean has a number of excellent cost two minions (something air lacks).  Aquamancers alone are almost always justification for taking ocean.  And ocean can contribute a number of accelerator cards: pearls, sunken treasure, and fluidity.  Air/ocean decks will be overloaded with threatening cards – typically more than any single opposing deck can handle.

Swamp Faction:  Air/Swamp combinations are a little clunky – both thematically and in play, but they do work.  The most obvious theme revolves around using cards like swamp’s decay and fester plague to impose timers to be exploited by air’s aerovores and uncontinue.  Another nice theme revolves around swamp’s bodyswap on air’s cheap but nice minions – especially pulsars and aetherfish.  Even with nice combinations available, swamp’s innate tendency to be slow clashes with air’s demand for speed.  And even with units like bone dragons and undead dragons, air/swamp decks seem to lack minion strength – in part because there is just not enough space for all the swamp cards one might want.  Most good air/swamp decks work better as swamp/air decks.

Underworld Faction:  Underworld offers several nice auras to augment air, notably safe hole, burrowing under, and narrow tunnels.  Underworld also offers the strong dreamfeeder – an excellent cost 2 minion to supplement air’s weakness at that cost.  But underworld does not offer much in the way of high health – something air also needs.  Nor does it have many good but also cheap effects.  As with swamp/air combinations, I generally find I prefer having underworld than air cards, so while I like the air/underworld combination, I prefer underworld as the primary faction.

Air as Support Faction:  Air works well to support any faction.  The energize spell and overworld elixir are handy with any faction, but especially with ocean which has a large number of creatures which significantly benefit.  Null wand is very helpful with swamp and jungle which have very limited ways of dealing with combat immunity on their own; or with fire where magic immunity can be problematic.  Chronochime and aetherfish are helpful when relying on timed cards, and time loop has excellent general applicability.  Aeromancers speed drawing of critical spells for any faction.  Arcane thieves are a nice, cheap filler.  And pulsars are remarkably effective for a cost 1 minion.  I would not use air to support might decks, but I might use it to add flexibility to an otherwise might-heavy deck.

Representative Decks:

Deck 1 (Air/Fire):  A fire supported blitz deck.  For a long time, I believed that no faction could contribute as much robustness to a quick, blitz deck as jungle with its drums of war and excellent quick minions.  But then I lost a couple of matches quite badly to a fire supported quick deck – inspiring me to create this one.  Surprisingly, even though it utilizes the same basic strategy and many of the same cards, it has a very different feel than the air/jungle blitz deck I presented in the Jungle Faction section of this thread.  The air/jungle blitz deck tends to avoid confrontation, confident of being able to inflict enough damage faster than the opposing deck.  This air/fire blitz deck welcomes confrontation, and turns it to advantage.
     4 aeromancers
     4 lightning golems
     4 storm fiends
     2 cloud fey
     3 overload
     3 magic missile
     4 power dive
     4 ruby hatchlings
     4 fire birds
     4 implode
     4 burning blood

Deck 2 (Air/Ocean):  This is my attempt to create a might-based air deck.  So far, it has proven quite successful, although it often feels more like an ocean deck than the air deck it is.
     4 cloud dragon
     4 doomcloud
     2 lightning golem
     4 aether fish
     2 arcane thief
     4 overload
     4 energise
     4 dragonfish
     4 sea dragon
     4 triton aquamancer
     4 triton illusionist

Deck 3 (Air/Swamp): This is my attempt at a discontinue deck.  Frankly, I struggle with it as the chronomancers are too vulnerable and the plague/uncontinue combo effectively uses two cards from hand and a full turn – losing tempo.  Maybe you can do better with it.
     4 time eater
     4 aerovore
     2 doomcloud
     2 whirling djinn
     4 chronomancer
     4 uncontinue
     4 energize
     4 bone dragon
     2 stitched golem
     4 decay
     4 horrify

Deck 4 (Underworld/Air):  This deck, using only common cards, is very competitive against even good competition.  It can almost certainly be improved by backing off the all common motif.  The highlight is the burrowing under/chronochime combo, although narrow tunnels / mage tunnel or spore farm also plays a role.
     4 underdark worm
     4 dreamfeeder
     4 spore farm
     4 cave-in
     4 burrowing under
     4 narrow tunnel
     4 doomcloud
     4 storm fiend
     4 mage tower
     4 uncontinue

Beginner Decks:  

If air is a difficult faction for experienced players with air’s full assortment of cards, it is doubly so for a beginning player.  Doomclouds and storm fiends (air’s most powerful common minions) do not hold long, and, except for overload, air’s common spells are not sufficient to help the vulnerable air minions.  A beginning player should expect the secondary faction supporting air to do the bulk of the work.  Ocean, with all is enemy weakening abilities, as well as numerous cards that benefit from energize is a good choice.  So is underworld whose burrowing under, phantasmas, and (if one is lucky enough to get it) safe hole benefit from chronochime.  

It is almost certainly better to start small, with air intended only as support for a faction one already has built.  Both chronochime and energize are common cards of great value in a supporting role, aetherfish at cost 0 and pulsars at cost 1 are worthy cheap, common minions, and the uncommon aeromancers and overworld elixirs also have considerable utility.

Summary Comments:  Air decks, like air itself, tends to be flighty and erratic – at times violent and unpredictable, at others, stiflingly calm.  Air decks can soar – and they can crash.  The ride may be interesting or fun; it will never be easy.