Continuing on from last week we are going to be taking a look at another aggressive archetype today. This Blood-Ruby Dreadlings, or “Redlings”, deck is one that has been around for a couple of seasons now. It is a list that my teammate Androod came up with which then has been collectively tuned by our testing team and the HEX ladder to this current configuration:
In TCGs it is often best to just be doing generically powerful things. Redlings accomplishes this by playing what I think are two of the objectively most powerful cards in HEX’s current constructed format:
As far as base stats go Underworld Crusader is above the curve, offering four attack and four defense for just three resources. Then we factor in it can draw extra cards when it dies and has a minor socket, we get a truly potent threat that comes with a minor deck building restriction.
Lazgar’s Vengeance is easily one of the most powerful cards in HEX’s current constructed format and it is not a stretch to say that Redlings is the best Lazgar’s Vengeance deck in the current format. By this I mean it is the deck that is best at enabling Lazgar’s Vengeance. This is because we have a few different ways to generate Dreadlings which can quickly tick down the Assault counter on our Vengeances when we draw them later in the game.
After our two allstars we have a few other reasonable aggressive troops:
Deathseeker is a powerfully flexible card. On the first turn of the game it is a two attack troop that can start applying pressure and generating Assault triggers. In the later turns, Deathseeker manages to remain relevant thanks to its Scrounge abilities. This allows it to enable our “Scrounge matters” cards, while also letting Seeker become a persistent threat or consistent blocker.
Emperor’s Lackey has the most impressive stats we find on two cost cards. A 4/4 on the second turn creates a brick wall that causes other aggro decks to pump the breaks, while our supply of Dreadings allows us to keep the Lackey large as the game goes long. Something to keep in mind with Lackey is that it can sacrifice our other troops in response to void removal. Not only does this put them into our crypt for Scrounging later, but it lets us enable Deathcry on things like our Underworld Crusaders.
Matriarch of Flames is essentially our fifth and sixth copies of Underworld Crusader. It is a three drop that hits hard and fast. It is important to remember to sequence our Blood Thresholds first whenever possible, so any extra Ruby Thresholds we have can be played out after we play Matriarch of Flames.
Next we have a selection of utility troops that provide value and different angles of attack in different situations:
Wicked Webspawn is the key to reducing Lazgar’s Vengenace from eight to zero very quickly. It takes one troop in the yard and quickly turns it into many more – providing a steady stream of fodder for Scrounging all of our troops. One powerful interaction with Webspawn is when we have an Emperor’s Lackey and a Scrounged Deathseeker in play. We can use the Lackey to keep sacrificing our Deathseeker over and over again. This let’s us keep re-scrounging the Deathseeker for addition points of Rage and generating additional Dreadlings.
Ruskbucket Distractor is our answer for large troops game one. Because we have such a high starting health total, we can often just race whatever threats our opponent’s play out to the table. Rustbucket ensures that our opponent’s only have the option of racing instead of trying to block our onslaught of troops.
Graven Geist is an evasive threat that also acts as another source of Scrounge for us. Crusaders go from scary to insane when they become 6/6s that are accompanied by three or more attack Flying in the air.
We round out our threat base with a smattering of one of troops that allow us to meet the deck building requirement for Underworld Crusader:
Blamsmith is another flexible card that is good on turn two, while also being a reasonable draw in the late game thanks to his Scrounge effect. With the Gladiator Gem, Blamsmith attacks for three, while also defending against opposing two attack troops. Crimson Slayer is another Necrotic, while also acting as an additional payoff for our Scrounge cards.
Dread Apprentice is another card that can not only enable our Scrounge payoffs, but also help spin Lazgar’s Vengeance down fairly quickly. In general, we will want to wait to play our Dread Apprentice before our other threats. This gives us the most chance to draw a Lazgar for the Dreadlings to enable. Mortartrike Driver, on the other hand, is a card we want to play out as soon as possible. Driver scales the longer it is in play, meaning the soon it starts attacking the more potent it will be.
The last cards to touch on in our main deck are our few piece of “reach” that let us close games out once our opponent has stabilized a bit:
Cremate is a flexible card. In addition to being a card that can deal the last two points of damage to our opponent, it also enables our Scrounge payoffs, allowing us to sequence it in the midrange for a tempo advantage when it effectively costs no resources. Necropolis Coins is everything an aggro deck wants in a utility resource. In the early game it can ensure we hit a resource we need to actually play the game. Past turn four it drains health from our opponent and replaces itself with a new card.
As we move onto looking at the reserves of our deck we have a selection of different cards that are useful for solving specific problems we may run into. A majority of the cards in our reserves are removal that are powerful in different situations:
Runic Missile is easily our best tool against the Mono Ruby aggressive decks in the format. The front half of the Missile generally kills something we care about, and the back half dings our opponent for a point of damage or kills something else they care about. It is one of our best ways to gain back some of the tempo we lose being on the draw against Ruby.
Casualty of War is our best tool for killing some of the larger threats in the game that can be difficult to win through. Dark Heart of Nulzann and Aegilus are must answer threats that we generally need to take off of the table if we are going to be able to win a game. Because Casualty of War is quick, we can use it to kill Dark Heart while it is still their turn before we have to sacrifice something to it.
Gemborn Prowler is the best card we can have against the sockets based midrange decks featuring Animus of Nulzann. Gemborn is also fantastic at voiding cards like Underworld Crusader and Rune Ear Hierophant in the Deathcry deck without giving our opponent value from their troops.
Primordial Sabretooth is likely one of the best cards to come out of Frostheart. On the second turn of the game, it can be used to remove most opposing troops from the board. On turn twelve, it acts as a must answer threat that can try to steal a game we might otherwise be out of.
Finally we have three copies of Haunting Cry to help us generate some card advantage against the more controlling in the field. Some other configurations of Redlings have been playing cards like Culmination of Blood in this last slot, but that card is excessively awkward when we are trying to use the cards in our crypt to Scrounge for things.
In most matches we are the aggressor. Our Speedy troops and Lazgar’s Vengeance quickly reduce the opponent to zero, while our high starting health total makes racing our aggression fairly difficult. The most important thing to keep in mind when playing the deck is that it is often correct to use our champion power as aggressively as possible. Not only does this quickly tick down any Lazgar’s we had in our opening hand, but it also puts Scrounge fuel in the crypt so we can utilize things like Rustbucket Distractor and Wicked Webspawn.
Our matchup against Ruby Deck wins largely hinges on who wins the coin flip, but our starting health total and card quality definitely give us an edge when it comes to winning on the draw. Because we are able to spin Lazgar’s down more consistently when we draw it in the midgame, our less powerful draws tend to line up well against their less powerful draws. We also have access to things like Emperor’s Lackey which can play defense while they are playing cards like Escape Goat that literally cannot block.
Because the Ruby deck is so poor at playing defense they are generally losing the game any time they start pumping the breaks. If our opponent is not trying to block we do not need cards like Rustbucket Distractor.
On the play we leave our gems as is. We want to be as aggressive as possible and Speed in our Crusaders lets us do that. On the draw, we often have to take a slightly more defensive position and Gladiator in our Crusaders lets us do this a lot better. Most importantly, a fifth point of defense on our opponent’s turn means that our Crusaders will not be dying to an opposing Lazgar’s Vengeance.
Our matchup against the Sapphire-Diamond Control deck hinges on how many of their high impact cards they see. Dark Heart of Nulzann coming down on turn four can be difficult to beat through game one – especially if we are on the draw. Thankfully, post board we get to trim some of the less impactful cards from our deck for cards that answer our opponent’s best plays:
Cremate and Lazgar’s Vengeance do not really kill anything outside of Silver Talon Adjudicator, which is not worth killing most times. Because we are cutting Cremates, we want to bring in Haunting Cry to keep our total Scrounge count up for enabling cards like Wicked Webspawn. Casualty of War and Gemborn Prowler give us the ability to interact with our opponent’s Dark Hearts before they devour our entire board.
The Empress matchup got a lot better for Redlings with the introduction of Primordial Sabretooth. Game one we want to be conservative with our champion power until we have a Lazgar’s Vengeance in hand. This is because once they put Empress into play, we will not be able to spin Lazgar down once we draw with our other troops.
Again, Cremate does not have anything meaningful to kill in this matchup. Deathseeker simply gets bricked walled by everything from Warpsteel Shardsworn to Tribunal Magistrate. We replace these low impact card with six pieces of removal that can kill their payoff cards. Remember that because Casualty is quick, we can use it in response to Copycat targeting their Empress of Ice or Commander PROMPT.
Our matchup against the Blood-Wild Deathcry deck is often a race to trying to empty our hand of resources before they can strip away our remaining cards with a Culmination of Blood. Again, we want to be conservative with using our champion power, but this time it is because putting Dreadlings in our crypt gets them to Culmination faster.
Regem Blamsmith to Minor Ruby of Zeal.
Post board we turn into more of a midrange deck in this matchup. Gemborn Prowler allows us to keep up with their value generating threats like Underworld Crusader and Rune Ear Hierophant. We trim our Deathseekers in this matchup because the board often gums up with 1/1s on the other side of the table.
If you want to see some videos of the Redlings in action, check out my stream archive below.
I do not think it is a stretch to say that Redlings is currently the best deck in our Standard format. Not only does it feel extremely powerful from my time spent playing it, but there are plenty of results of it doing well in both the Cosmic Crown Showdown and the HEX Bash events which backup my personal sentiments. If you are looking for a proactive deck to leverage the power of Lazgar’s Vengeance, one that still has a chance in a longer game thanks to quality threats like Underworld Crusader, then Redlings is likely the Standard deck for you.
Have a question about this archetype that I did not cover in the article above? Let me know by leaving a comment in the forum!
Thanks for reading,
Jeff is a professional gamer who enjoys the competitive aspects of HEX: Shards of Fate. Constructed is his preferred format and he is always looking for that new piece of technology to give him a leg up on the competition.
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