Hello everyone, bobinchese here. I’ve been playing Ruby aggressive decks in HEX since the release of Herofall. I just won the latest HEX Bash, going 10-0 in my matches, and I’m here to give you a breakdown of what I believe is the best aggressive deck in the format:
With the release of Frostheart, HEX players gained a powerful new tool for increasing the consistently of their decks. I’m talking about the ice shards and the powerful new Fateweave keyword. However, as a tradeoff for added consistency, decks with ice shards are often playing a slow shard on turn 1 or 2, which means that by the time our opponent plays their first card we have 1-2 bodies already on board. From here, we can trade resources one for one while getting in damage every turn, eventually burning our opponent out. Other players can combat this strategy by adding a large number of one drops to their deck, but until they do, Mono Ruby is the place to be.
After deck selection, this is the most important part of any game you play with a fast Ruby deck like this. Unlike most decks in HEX, we have no card selection or card draw, so the cards we start with are most of the cards we are going to see in a game. The most important rule of mulliganing is this: don’t keep a 1 shard hand. This deck has 23 shards in it because it is designed to curve out 1-4 every single game. One of the easiest ways to lose a game is to brick on your second shard drop and die. After that, you want to mulligan most hands that don’t have an early threat (1 or 2 drop). Our late game is inferior to all other tier 1 strategies, so we’re depending on our early pressure to force our opponent into bad situations where they aren’t able to get full value out of their cards.
So, you kept seven cards with triple one-drops like a pro and are ready to play the game. The early game for this deck is pretty simple. You want to play Boltspasm first, followed by Escape Goat, followed by Baby Yeti to maximize early damage. You’re playing an aggro deck, so your goal early is to do as much damage as possible before your opponent’s can establish a board presence. Additionally, you want to maximize your two best early game cards, Righteous Outlaw and Lazgar’s Vengeance.
Drat, our opponent didn’t die. Luckily for us, we have some ability to play into the midgame with powerful threats like Matriarch of Flames, Boltwing Phoenix, and Mama Yeti which can end a game on their own. Remember that Tork has 24 starting health, so we can take a beating if we need to. Trading 2 health for 4 damage in the midgame is often correct, as it allows our reach to finish off the game. Also, remember that our champ power lasts until our next turn and can often be helpful at protecting our troops from our opponent’s removal (example: Primordial Sabretooth can’t kill Mama Yeti the turn after you activate your champ power).
You’re probably dead unless you can burn them out. Try to do that, or just win the next game on the play.
For the most part, this deck is stock Mono Ruby, but there are a couple of important changes I made that make the deck much more consistent. First, I’m playing 10 one drop troops where most lists play only 7 or 8. All of your best draws contain 1 drops, so you want to see as many as possible in your opener. Also I’m playing 4 Escape Goats over 4 Boltspasms. Escape Goat attacks for 1 and 2 on the first two turns, which is the same as a Boltspasm attacking for 3 on turn 2. As the game goes longer, Escape Goat just gets better and better, while Boltspasm doesn’t. Escape Goat can attack into a clogged board to trigger Lazgar’s and then attack in post Lazgar’s as a 5 attack troop. Also it can’t block—which is a good thing. Your troops aren’t here to block, they’re here to trigger Lazgar’s and attack!
I’m also playing 23 resources in the deck. You want to hit your first 4 shards almost every game to play our your Mama Yeti on curve. This deck also has the best anti flood plan in HEX: killing your opponent before you draw the extra shards.
Do. Not. Overboard.
Your maindeck is a lean, mean burning machine. Your goal post reserves is to be a lean mean burning machine with different removal, not a bad control deck. Remember, the thing I said about this deck having a lot of shards in it? You need your threats to be punishing your opponent or you’re going to flood and have nothing to do with those extra resources. In general, you want to shave on cards like Cremate before you shave on cards like Boltspasm. A Boltspasm on an empty board can win the game, Cremate cannot.
Redlings, BW midrange, Ruby Deck Wins, Mono Sapphire Empress and DS control are some of the best decks out there. Here’s how I approach each of these matchups.
Redlings: This is an aggro mirror, but your cards are more efficient. Fireball is the most efficient removal in the matchup, and Mama Yeti outsizes their biggest troops (Underworld Crusader and Emperor’s Lackey). If your opponent is on the play and plays an Emperor’s Lackey on 2 you can be in trouble, but for most other starts you should be able to run your opponent out before they can establish their synergies and take over the game.
Sabretooth takes out their largest troops and is an obvious include. These matchups often end up with a bunch of troops on the ground, unable to attack, and Boltwing Phoenix allows us to fly over the battlefield to get in more damage. Additionally, Phoenix offers great Lazgar’s insurance, since it can either come back post wipe or wipe the opponent’s board in turn. Fireballing your Phoenix when your opponent tries to make a lot of Dreadlings in one turn can also swing a game in your favor.
Ruby Deck Wins: The mirror is about dealing as much damage as possible as fast as possible. Once you stop attacking, your opponent can usually pressure you into unfavorable trades and gain the upper hand. The important caveat to this is, you often want to leave Baby Yeti back to block a Righteous Outlaw if you don’t have removal for it in hand. If your opponent is on Angus, you have +7 health in the aggro mirror and the matchup is free.
Half of our troops have one toughness, so Crackling Magma is obviously great. Sabretooth is slow and clunky, as is Boltwing in this matchup, so we take them out.
Blood-Wild Midrange: This is a pretty large category of decks, but you play against all of them in a similar way. Your goal here is to attack early and often, kill their troops that generate more bodies, and then finish off their board with a Boltwing Phoenix trigger or a Lazgar’s Vengeance. This matchup is pretty difficult, which is why we have so many cards in the reserves.
Cremate may seem like a strange cut because it’s our best answer to Lord Blightbark, but that’s the only card it’s good against in their deck. Remember, you’re not trying to beat their best draw, you’re trying to beat their average draw 2 out of 3 times.
Mono Sapphire Empress: This matchup is pretty balanced, but when we win it is often through a blowout. Lazgar’s can kill a majority of their threats and often wins the game for us. Additionally, our Speed troops allow us to keep dealing damage even when an Empress is on the board locking down our other troops. From the Empress side, Empress of Ice is obviously their best card as it stops us from attacking. Also, watch out for Copycats copying your Speed troops and killing you out of nowhere.
Cremate and Fireball don’t kill any of our opponent’s troops, so we’re upgrading them to more impactful pieces of removal. A Matriarch creating a Burn to the Ground can often deal 6+ damage in this matchup, so it’s often correct to hold Matriarch in your hand until you have 5 Ruby thresholds. You don’t want to risk the Matriarch getting locked down by Empress.
Diamond-Sapphire Control: This matchup is rough. They are the only deck that runs more one drops than you, and they can often follow us up the curve, topping out with very difficult to combat threats. The only shining light is that the pile of cantrips that make DS control such a good deck in general aren’t fantastic against you because they need the answers now. Matriarch is your best card in the mirror, and you often want to save it until you can generate a Burn to the Ground.
Often the games come down to one big turn after they play their big stabilizing threat (Dark Heart of Nulzann/Eldurathan’s Glory). You often want to save your champ power until post Dark Heart to allow your Mama Yeti’s to attack through, or wait before Glory if you have any X/3s that you don’t want to get swept away.
Primordial Sabretooth is tempting for killing Glory, but the odds of winning a game post Glory are so low you’re better off hoping they don’t have it. Ruby’s Favor kills Dark heart or finishes off your opponent which is great. We also bring in a couple extra large threats to try and contend in the midgame.
Some people want to feel clever for registering expensive, powerful decks. I like to feel clever by registering a deck that kills them while they still have 5 cards in their hand. Ruby aggro is in a terrific place in HEX Standard right now. I hope you have fun crushing dreams with it!
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