RS Seeing Red: An Alternative Approach

    • RS Seeing Red: An Alternative Approach

      (Re-posted from Gameforge Forum, original post Dec 21, 2016)

      Hello everyone! As you are all probably aware, mono ruby Angus and mono wild Ahoku are really good decks. This is not another article about them. It is about this deck:

      Champion: Morgan McBombus

      4 Seeing Red
      4 Combat Training
      4 Arcane Focus
      4 Burn
      2 Arcane Zephyr
      2 Transmogrifade
      3 Crackling Bolt
      3 Lanupaw's Sight
      2 Lazgar's Vengeance

      4 Embertongue Skarn
      4 Thunderfield Seer
      4 Flickering Gobbler

      4 Well of Innovation
      9 Ruby Shard
      7 Sapphire Shard

      Reserves:
      3 Reginald's Riposte
      2 Halt
      1 Transmogrifade
      1 Lanupaw's Sight
      2 Lazgar's Vengeance
      2 Trashmute
      2 Cremate
      2 Crimson Bolt

      This is mainly in response to a lot of comments I have seen in the forums, world chat, and even from my opponents on the state of the current standard metagame. People think some decks are unbeatable. People think that you have to pay to win. People are upset. Definitely not everyone, but enough people that it is noticeable. But there is a solution. This deck beats shoku. This deck beats angus. This deck has game against every single deck imaginable because it has a powerful proactive gameplan and has access to a wide variety of powerful tools, so it can adjust to combat any threat. This deck currently has an auction house value of less than 4k plat. I have played this deck almost exclusively at cosmic, have maintained a very high win rate, was 20th on the leaderboard when I last checked, and have been crushing 5 shards events with it. I did not do well in the Platinum Plunder, but I still think the deck is excellent and is by far the best deck people do not have on their radar and is much better than most people give credit.

      History, or How I Got to This List (feel free to skip this):
      For almost the entirety of Season 2, I played a build of Morgan McBombus that I considered to be a "Hybrid Bombus." It had most of the prophecy based card advantage pieces of Jeff Hoogland's prophecy burn deck, but played flickering gobblers in the main and some other cards to be more aggressive. I felt like I was beating everything except Angus, and even that felt close to even. Then mono wild Shoku happened, and the deck's primary plan against mono wild, disrupt their early preasure until Lazgar's Vengence and Lanupaw's Sight burried them, was completely invalidated by Oberon's Eulogy. I still played the deck in the CCS (with some super awkward Dark Heat of Nulzan thrown into the reserves) and hit cosmic in season 3 with it, but I knew that the time to play that version of McBombus was over. While I thought at the time the Angus matchup was around 50-50, it was in reality much worse. I lost my last two rounds of the CCS to Angus, falling to X-3, and the games I was winning weren't the ones where I executed what I thought my gameplan was. I wanted to kill their troops, get ahead with prophecy cards, and stave off death with interrupts, but I was only winning when I simply became the aggressive deck and ran them out of the game, killing them before their big threats could attack a second time. After the CCS, I saw a list another person played in the CCS that was very much like the deck above (I am sorry, I don't remember your IGN, but I would love to give you credit) also to an X-3 finish and the concept just made sense to me. I was winning most of my games against Shoku and Angus by being a flickering gobbler/combat training deck not a lanupaw's sight/starcaller ancient deck, so why not make that the primary plan of the deck? I made a couple changes from his list, entered a 5shard tomeseeker event declaring to the world I was playing a "limited deck," and promptly fell in love with it.
    • Deck Notes:
      Transmogrifade: This card is great, it does everything the deck wants to be doing. It buys time against large threats like Mama Yeti or Rune Ear Hierophant, deals with troops with abilities that are key to opposing game plans like dark heart, allows you to push through opposing flight or skyguard troops like Vampire King, High Infinitrix, or any of the large socketed troops, and can even 1:1 opposing 1 cost troops in a pinch. Honestly the third should probably be in the main (over either a Lanupaw's Sight or a Crackling Bolt) and the 4th in the reserves. This is the primary "expensive" card in the deck, but it is really good.

      Arcane Zephyr: This card looks unassuming, but it is an absolute house. It is a 1 cost protection spell, often trading up with 3 cost removal, but it is extremely versatile. Unlike standard interrupt protection effects, this one can save a troop from a fight dino, and can even save your only two troops from a croc by giving one spellshield before the croc resolves, so it sees only 1 legal troop. It also gives flight, which can allow an Embertongue Skarn to close out the last few points and can be simply played for no effect, unlike a card like halt, allowing you to access your prophecy draws or get a use out of gobbler. Halt is better against Angus and decks with interrupts, which is why there aren't just more zephyrs in the reserves.

      Seeing Red: This is the most frequently boarded out card, it comes out against decks with access to the card burn and is shaved in the more grindy matchups like Kagu or Banks, but it allows for explosive draws. The best way to think about the card is it is 1 cost for 3 damage, and anything beyond that is gravy. Turn 3 gobbler + seeing red is good for 13 damage over two turns, which is close to the entire health of angus or shoku.

      Flickering Gobbler: This is the best card in the deck, with the possible exception of burn which kills so many different things in the format as a 1 cost quick action. Draws with multiple gobblers can be awkward, especially against herofall playing opponents. However, the card is so powerful and it warps what your opponent can afford to do as just playing out troops on curve will leave them dead quickly. Sometimes you should run out a "naked" gobbler, a gobbler that you cannot play an action to save if your opponent does nothing, into a removal spell either in the hope of using a 1 cost action to trade with their turn, or because you are gobbler-flooded and just need them to do something, whether that is eating a piece of removal or getting in valuable damage.

      Embertongue Skarn: Why not Kindling Skarn? Is this a budget choice? Absolutely not! Embertongue is great and is a much better card than kindling in the current format. Kindling dies to burn, gets eaten by a carn, and requires two actions in a turn to level up, which definitely happens often but will leave you "tapped out" most of the time with only a 2/2 which still dies to carn and burn. Also t1 embertongue actually blocks the t2 Psychotic Anarchist out of Angus.

      Trashmute: This is a targeted card against DS Banks, as it removes a darkheart cleanly and doesn't let them banks it back. It also comes in against random things like Yotul.

      Reginald's Riposte: This card comes in against all Sapphire and Ruby decks, don't bother bringing it in against decks with just blood removal like Herofall. If an opponent casts an action during your end of turn step and you riposte it, you have until the end of your next turn to play it. Because of this, if you are planning on playing an action on the end of your opponent's turn and they are representing their own riposte, you want to put a stop on their second main phase so they cannot riposte your action and play it on their following turn, this is really only important in post reserves games. You can also riposte your own actions in response to a riposte or other interrupt to play them again. Riposting a spell you will have to give back is a play that you only should do if you see a path to victory almost immediately, or are preventing an opponent's immediate victory some how, because that would be card disadvantage making longer games more difficult and riposte is normally an extremely valuable card when it is brought in and shouldn't be wasted.

      The shards: I played 21 for a while, but switched to 20 after the opening hand change, and the deck and opening hands are more consistent even after cutting a shard. Ideally, there would be some SR dual shard that works on t1 in the deck (possibly: chose 1: gain a ruby threshold if you have a sapphire action in hand, gain a sapphire threshold if you have a ruby action in hand) and more 1 cost cantrips, allowing a lower overall shard count, but this works. The slow shard is fairly poor because this deck often wants to use every resource in the early stages of the game, so I don't play any. This deck wants to hit double ruby eventually for vengeance and riposte, so there are more ruby shards than sapphire shards.

      Conclusion:
      This is a very real and very powerful deck that I have had a ton of success with. It also has the distinct advantage of being a very budget friendly deck. To any players looking for something different or something cheap with which to attack the metagame, this is a great option. Honestly, there are likely 2 factors that are preventing/will prevent this deck from becoming a t1 deck in the format. The first is deck complexity. My list has a grand total of 28 1 cost cards in it, which means that there are often many different lines of play you could take on a given turn, which is further complicated by planning on dealing with the opponent's next turn, figuring out how to play around the removal they are representing, optimizing the assaulting of the card Lazgar's Vengeance, investing time by playing Lanupaw's Sight or focus to find a specific piece of the puzzle, or even deciding what troops seeing red and combat training should be put on. Don't be surprised if you lose some matches in the beginning playing this deck, but if you put in the effort to learn it, it should be very rewarding. The second is the "rouge deck factor." People haven't played too much against this deck, and they don't dedicate reserve slots for it. Sure mono wild players bring in Scorn of Oberon, but that is much weaker than lullaby or gale force. It could just be that if a couple more people pick up this deck, people will begin to respect it a bit more and it will no longer be as good. I somewhat doubt that because some of my best matchups are things like banks and wintermoon, which have access to plenty of cheap interaction, but it could very well be that the deck would be hated out of the format if it became popular at all.
    • Matchups:

      Angus: Slightly Favored
      -4 seeing red -3 lanupaw's sight -1 arcane zephyr +2 cremate +3 reginald's riposte +2 halt +1 transmogrifade
      Sometimes I shave a sapphire shard instead of the zephyr. This matchup is close to a coinfip, the person on the play wins most of the time, but I definitely win more on the draw than I lose on the play. There are basically two ways the games play out; either they curve out with matriarch and mama, or there is a more drawn out "control" game where cheap removal trade for small troops. You are naturally favored in the second type of game because you have more card advantage tools between seer, riposte, and the hero power so you will eventually grind them down to no resources. In the "mono ruby curves out" games, there are basically two approaches to take, you could either try dealing with there larger threats with transmog and burn to turn it into a grindy game, or you can simply race them. Angus starts with much less health, and if they tap out to play a large threat you can freely play cards like gobbler and combat training (and seeing red preboard). Transmogrifading a mama yeti is always a huge tempo swing, so it is important to save one for a mama. If you have a good start, they might not even be able to play their large threats on curve simply because they will die.

      Mono Wild Variants: Favored
      -3 lanupaw's sight -2 crackling bolt +2 lazgar's vengeance +2 cremate +1 transmogrifade
      The coin flip isn't that important in this matchup because you are so much faster than they are. Game 1 is close to an auto win because they have no interaction with flickering gobbler, your best card in the matchup, and the only game 1's you lose are the ones where you don't have cheap removal and they have their most aggressive draws. Post reserves they should change their rune ears to have skyguard and steadfast, which is why transmogrifade is important. Most of the time, the only "answer" to gobbler is scorn of oberon, but if people start playing lullaby gale force or vine lash, the matchup definitely gets worse. Remember to play around croc when you can, and remember that arcane zephyr can save both of your two troops from croc, or send a skarn in for lethal.

      DS Banks: Favored
      -4 burn -1 transmogrifade -2 seeing red -1 lazgar's vengeance +2 trashmute +3 reginald's riposte +2 halt +1 lanupaw's sight
      You definitely want all of the cards on the right, though some of the last cards to be cut is debatable. This matchup is the reason trashmute makes the reserves as it removes a darkheart without letting them champ power it back later. Obviously if they have no darkhearts then you don't want to be playing trashmute, but I did win a long drawn out game against a banks player that did not have darkhearts in their deck when I had both trashmutes languishing in my hand for many many turns. Their deck is full of 1-1 removal, including the card martyr, which is really bad against seers and bumblebots. Sometimes you simply unload damage when they tap out for a card draw spell or a darkheart, but often you just get in chip damage until you can protect a gobbler. With a full set of sights, three ripostes, and hard answers for their threats, you can also play a long game and grind them out.

      Kagalichu: Slightly Unfavored
      +cremate +crimson bolt +transmogrifade +lanupaw's sight +lazgar's vengeance -crackling bolt -some seeing red
      There is such a wide range of Kagalichu decks that it is impossible to give you a reserves guide for them all. Against versions with mightsingers and braves you want cremate, against versions with vampire king you want crimson bolt. You almost always want transmogrifade because it answers large rabbits and underworld crusaders, you almost always want more vengeances because they go wide and almost always have succulent cluckadon, and you almost always want to keep most of your copies of burn because even if they don't have brave or mightsinger, there could still be ramp rabbits or carns. This is the worst matchup because they often field skyguard/flight troops, do have access to quick removal, put a reasonable clock on you, and you never really know what to expect because there are so many different versions. Most of the games you win are games where you can protect a gobbler, but lazgar's vengeance can enable very strong turns and comebacks and is almost always something you should be working towards.