Heart of Embers McBombus: Building a Bigger Bombus

    • Heart of Embers McBombus: Building a Bigger Bombus

      (Re-posted from Gameforge Forum, original post Feb 1, 2017)

      Last month I wrote a primer on the RS Seeing Red Morgan McBombus deck I had been playing, which was pretty well received. Shortly after writing that piece, I got a little frustrated with the deck, not because I wasn't winning a good amount with it, but because I wasn't enjoying the game play as much. While powerful, the deck was basically dead in the water when reduced to topdecking, and often got into situations where you were hopeless. Literally every other reasonable deck in the format had at least one threat that was a powerful and game changing by itself. I wanted a McBombus deck with much of the same core of powerful cards, but had more powerful topdecks to swing games from behind.

      Enter Heart of Embers. Towards the end of my stint with Seeing Red Bombus, I ran into another McBombus playing Heart of Embers. It immediately reminded me of a R/S Heart of Embers deck from the beginning of the Herofall Meta that played Boris Blastforge as the champion along side cards like Indigo Trickster, Naagaan Lapidary, Sunsoul Phoenix, and Crimson Bolt. Clearly Heart of Embers was a card worth building around, I just had to fit it, and other valor generation, into the Morgan McBombus core I was so familiar with.

      But does the Heart of Embers deck even have to play Morgan McBombus as the champion? Of course! Lazgar's Vengeance is a card too good not to play, and McBombus enables it better than any other champion, the bumblebots play well with valors, and making extra troops helps enable the best possible secondary valor production card, Blamsmith (with the valor gem), to be a real threat in the late game. Add more removal, the powerful prophecy cards, and Ragefire as a powerful tool that scales well into the late game, plays very well with the prophecy cards, and allows the deck to have a huge amount of reach and a type of inevitability. My current list:

      Champion: Morgan McBombus

      4x Arcane Focus
      4x Burn
      3x Transmogrifade
      2x Zygmunt's Game
      4x Ragefire
      3x Lanupaw's Sight
      2x Lazgar's Vengeance

      4x Thunderfield Seer
      4x Blamsmith
      2x Thunderfield Elder
      4x Heart of Embers

      4x Well of Innovation
      1x Shard of Innovation
      10x Ruby Shard
      9x Sapphire Shard

      2x Trashmute
      1x Lanupaw's Sight
      1x Lazgar's Vengeance
      2x Crimson Bolt
      3x Dark Heart of Nulzann
      3x Reginald's Riposte
      2x Cremate
      1x Psychic Ascension

      This deck shares focus, burn, transmog, sight, vengeance, and seer with the seeing red deck, and the reserves also have many cards in common, but the two decks play out completely differently. While the seeing red deck is an aggro/combo deck trying to assemble a potent threat, protect it, force it through, and burn the opponent out, this deck is primarily reactive. You can take the initiative in the early turns with cards like seer, blamsmith, elder, and your charge power, but the primary game plan is actually to use those cards and Lanupaw's Sight to generate card advantage and prepare for Heart of Embers to make a mess of your opponent's board and life total. The reserves are very similar to the Seeing Red deck, so I won't talk here about cards that overlap like Riposte and Trashmute.

      Card Choices:

      Burn, Transmogrifade, Zygmunt's Game:
      These are all 1 cost removal actions that can deal with just about anything. Burn is best against Angus and mono Wild, but whenever you can kill anything with a burn it is great. Transmogrifade answers any problematic threat, most notably Mama Yeti, Matriarch of Flames, Rune Ear Hierophant, crusaders, Dark Heart, and valored things. Zygmunt's game is a card I recently started playing mainly as another answer to Sacrifice Intimidating Rune Ears, but is also serviceable against the variety of large played in Hex, can be played in the early game as a simple removal spell, and is extremely powerful when prophecized. I once got a copy and draw Game, and ended the game with 4 copies of it left in my hand, my banks opponent completely destroyed by the value. Crackling Bolt is another card worth playing, and I would recommend it if you don't want to play Zygmunt's Game for any reason.

      Lanupaw's Sight, Thunderfield Seer, Thunderfield Elder:
      Thunderfield Seer is in my opinion one of the most powerful cards in all of Hex. It is a 1 cost 1/1 that draws a card, enables scrounge and assault, and also can enable more drawing with elder or card like Combat training, Zygmunt's Game, and Ragefire. Three sights may seem weird, especially since the card is so strong, but I don't think it is wise to play all four sights in the main deck when aggressive decks like Angus and mono Wild are so popular. The elder plays really well with the seer and with several of our actions, but there isn't really enough room to play more of him, and the copy can get worse post reserves when cards like Riposte, Ascension, and Trashmute can come in. (Though a copied Riposte is a special kind of sweet at times.)

      Blamsmith, Lazgar's Vengeance:
      These are the reasons we play Morgan McBombus in this deck. Blamsmith (with the valor gem) is far and away the best card to generate valors for Heart of Embers because it doesn't want the valors to be played immediately (like ashwood firebrand), and can be a sizable threat all by itself in the mid to late game. Most of the time you want to hold your valors from Blamsmith (or Trashmute when that comes in) until you can play them with Heart of Embers. Lazgar's Vengeance is one of the most powerful cards in Herofall (and there are a lot of powerful cards in Herofall), and the fact that a turn 3 champion power enables a turn 5 vengeance means this deck doesn't need to work that hard to make it castable, and with a plethora of expendable troops, it is often extremely cheap.

      Dark Heart of Nulzan:
      Most of the cards in the reserves are pretty self explanatory and are common choices for decks with these shards, but the Dark Hearts may look a little out of place. Dark Heart is basically a trump in the mono Wild matchup. It is almost literally the only way the shard combination can answer a resolved Oberon's Eulogy, and is a card the mono wild decks have a nightmare attacking into when socketed with double damage and swiftstrike (which you should always do). Having Dark Hearts allows the deck to have a unique game plan in the mono wild matchups, since all you have to do is survive with your plethora of cheap removal and stick a (this is important) solitary threat, either a Dark Heart or a Heart of Embers and proceed to demolish their board. If you only have one troop, they cannot use Croc to remove it, and so this is the rare matchup where Thunderfield Seer comes out (because it just gets stranded in your hand once you play Dark Heart). I also really like to bring in a single copy against Herofall decks because it can often eat something relevant and does a nice job diversifying your threats.

      Here are a couple matches JeffHoogland played with a very similar list. Jeff's build forgoes the Dark Heart reserves plan and plays Crackling Bolt over Zygmunt's Game, resulting in a slightly more aggressive deck.

    • Matchups:

      Mono Ruby Angus - Favored
      -3 Lanupaw's Sight -1 Lazgar's Vengeance -1 Sapphire Shard, +2 Cremate +3 Reginald's Riposte
      How can this deck literally 0 ways to gain life be favored against Angus? Simple, our curve is already very low, we have a lot of efficient answers and tempo positive plays, we can close games out quickly with a scrounged Blamsmith or a Heart of Embers, and Reginald's Riposte gives us a layer of security from getting burned out in post reserves games. In this matchup we drag our curve into the dirt, cutting the clunky card draw spells and sweepers for more cheap interaction, which also lets us cut a shard to help avoid flooding out. Always try to avoid taking damage from their troops, Transmogrifade is excellent and best used on a Matriarch or Mama Yeti before they can attack. Since replacing Crackling Bolt with Zygmunt's Game, I haven't brought in Cremate against any other deck, so it is possible one or both could be something else, like a game or a Transmog. One thing that comes up from time to time is chumping their turn three Matriarch with a 1/1, only to finish it off with a burn. Their best cards are the big threats, Matriarch and Mama Yeti, however in post reserves games you don't have to worry about them getting a Burn to the Ground or two off of their Matriarch, because that card is extremely clunky and you can often kill them when they cast it with a Reginald's Riposte. Be smart with your Ripostes, remember to get triple ruby in case you need to take a Fireball, and try and save one in case of their Lazgar's Vengeance.

      Mono Wild without Eulogy - Favored
      -4 Thunderfield Seer, +1 Lazgar's Vengeance +3 Dark Heart of Nulzaan
      I mentioned this plan to Jeff during his stream and he was incredulous about cutting Thunderfield Seer when bringing in more and relying on Lazgar's Vengeance. The main reason why Seer is bad in the matchup, especially post reserves, is Crocosaur. My plan against mono Wild is to deal with their first set of troops and then stick a single, solitary threat that dominates the battlefield and decimates their board, either a Heart of Embers or a Dark Heart. If you only have one troop in play, they have an extremely difficult time removing it. Thus, cards like Thunderfield Seer often serve as a liability, letting the mono Wild player use their Croc to deal with our powerful threat. Taking this idea to the extreme, I am actually really happy to have my low value troops like Bumblebots, elder or Blamsmith eaten by an early Croc because that leaves our board empty to safely deploy one of our trumps. You don't need seer to enable Lazgar's Vengeance because it often cannot attack profitably and just a turn 3 champion power enables a turn 5 vengeance, which is plenty fast enough if you have other things going on. Ragefire is great because it almost always kills something at two damage and becomes increasingly useful as the game goes on. On a similar note, some times you just aggro/burn them out. This can happen in any matchup, but happens with a bit more frequency here because they don't have much removal and Ragefire and Heart of Embers just go over the top of them since they have very few ways of interacting with them.

      Mono Wild with Eulogy - Unfavored
      -4 Thunderfield Seer, +1 Lazgar's Vengeance +3 Dark Heart of Nulzann
      We do the exact same thing as above, which is really convenient when playing against Shoku or Fuzzuko with Dread Harvests because you often don't know whether they will have the card if you don't see it game 1. Dark Heart is the only good answer to Eulogy but it is really hard to set up a situation where your Dark Heart actually kills their Eulogy. Mainly, you just hope they don't have the multiple dread harvests into Eulogy draw and can end the game before Eulogy comes down and destroys you.

      DS Banks - Favored
      -4 Burn -2 Lazgar's Vengeance -1 Transmogrifade, +2 Trashmute +1 Lanupaw's Sight +1 Psychic Ascension +3 Reginald's Riposte
      Game one can actually be very difficult if you draw a bunch of Burns. What you want to do is apply some pressure with mediocre beats from Thunderfield Seer, Blamsmith, Thunderfield Elder, and your charge power, force them to react and use removal on your expendable troops without over commiting to a clash, then finish them off with Heart of Embers and Ragefire. Always be aware of your relative cards in hand and life totals because of Silver Talon Aducator, what I believe to be their absolute best card in the matchup. I often Burn myself or Transmogrifade my bumblebot in response to a Silver Talon to deny them the cards. Dark Heart isn't really problematic especially post reserves because our primary answers to it (Transmogrifade and Trashmute) prevent our opponent from using their charge power to bring it back. You also often want to take damage from their attacks even if you can avoid it because it makes it less likely for their Silver Talons to gain them life, and we are much better at pressuring a low life total than they are. Carrying Valors from Blamsmith for Heart of Embers can be difficult, again because of Silver Talon, but is worth it in general because they can often empty their hand enough to draw anyways. They often play Bring to Justice, so keep that in mind when choosing Valor targets. The matchup is much easier post board because they really don't get much, their removal is still awkward against your threats, and you get to replace your almost worthless Burns with powerful card advantage tools. I am not quite sure whether Lazgar's Vengeance or Zygmunt's game is better to leave in post reserves. Game answers a solitary Dark Heart and can get silly with prophecies, but Vengeance can answer a horde of Mad Robomancers and is always good for 4 points to their dome. I have recently been favoring keeping the Games because I have seen the +0/+2 gem in Robomancer a decent amount.

      Kagalichu - Slightly Unfavored
      -4(Thunderfield Seer//Burn) +1 Lanupaw's Sight +1 Psychic Ascension +1 Lazgar's Vengeance +1 Dark Heart of Nulzann
      There is a wide range of Kagalichu decks, what you take out depends on how many things they have that Burn kills. If they have Mightsingers, you want Burn, if they have only Carns, you don't, if they have ramp rabbits, I tend to split the difference. Our game plan post reserves is to go for massive value with ascension, prophecies, and vengeance as a sweeper. I like one Dark Heart because they have Herofall, and having some extra threat diversity is really nice. They often have to Herofall it, which is one less Herofall for Heart of Embers. Save an answer for a sacrifice-intimidate Rune Ear, try to Transmogrifade their crusaders, and try to make sure you know when you should be trying to out value them and when you are trying to out tempo them. Don't try to play a value game when it is absolutely hopeless, and make sure you get the maximum number of triggers off of your Heart of Embers before Herofall puts an end to that. They often have very little in terms of reach or speed troops, so you can be fairly liberal with your life total while trying to out value them or burn them out.

      Random Troop Decks - Favored
      Minimal Changes
      In my mind this includes most Ardent Crusader decks, the Shin'hare deck, and other thinks like dwarves, Gorn vampires, and blood ruby Gozzog. Against these decks your removal suite is extremely effective and you basically always end up on cards because of prophecies, vengeance, and Heart of Embers. Note that Novicane's WD Ardent crusader deck is definitely not in this category because they can keep up and even out grind you because of Satyr's Roost Bard + Moonrise Elder and Hero of Legends. I don't have enough data or experience in that matchup to say whether I think my list is favored or not in the matchup, only that you need to be careful and don't auto win with removal + card advantage.

      Matchups not included in the write up: Lixil, Lysander, Metronomy Wd, Seeing Red Bombus, the Mirror, Ruby Darkheart and more!
      If there is a matchup you want me to add my thoughts on, please comment below! Also, I should add that if your opponent is not aware of what the deck is actually doing, they often mis-reserves giving you extra percentage points. Granted, that is a lot less likely to happen now that I made a post saying to not bring in pure life gain against this deck and outlying what the deck's plan is in a variety of matchups, but not everyone reads the forums.