The first major events with Scars of War have come and gone, bringing with them a whole slew of interesting decklists to pick over. Today I would like to take a bit of time to talk about a deck that my team helped develop before the Cosmic Crown Showdown. It is a Ruby-Blood Dreadlings deck that we affectionately refer to as “Redlings”:
Like most of the Dreadling decks running around right now, at its core Redlings is an aggressive deck. Our most powerful draws are when we curve out on the first few turns of the game so our deck starts with a pair of powerful one drops:
Deathseeker is a subtly powerful card. On the first turn of the game, Deathseeker is a reasonable two power threat that often gets in a hit or two before trading with something in combat. Unlike most one drops though, Deathseeker is still a reasonable draw in the late game thanks to its Scrounge abilities. Graven Geist not only provides early evasive pressure, but in games that go long it allows us to use our crypt as a resource to make our cheaper troops more threatening.
As we move up our curve we have a plethora of different two drops that provide different aggressive utility in different situations:
Crimson Slayer and Wicked Webspawn are payoff cards for all of our various Scrounge tools. Wicked Webspawn is especially powerful because not only does it provide a Vennen for our champion power, but it allows us to Scrounge indefinitely since every Scrounge creates more Dreadlings to fuel another Scrounge.
Rustbucket Distractor is not only a Scrounge enabler, but it is a great card at allowing you to win races in troop mirrors. A lot of the time your opponent is only going to be able to afford to leave a single troop back to block and Rustbucket Distractor not only punishes them for doing so, but also adds additional pressure to the board.
Emperor’s Lackey not only applies an insane amount of pressure to the board for only two resources, but it also provides a Shin’hare for our champion power. Lackey also provides utility in that it can sacrifice any of your Dreadlings before a combat step to give you more Scrounge fodder for something like a Rustbucket or triggering Webspawn. It can also insulate your threats from being voided / transformed by things like Decree of Banishing and Transmogrifade.
As we move up the curve we top out with two very powerful three drop threats:
Mortartrike Driver is a must answer threat that rapidly gets out of hand if it goes unchecked. Hitting for three, then five, then seven points of damage means Driver can single-handedly kill your opponent from full in just four attacks. While Underworld Crusader does not scale like Driver does, with the Speed gem he hits just as fast. Having four points of defense is also a boon so Crusader can attack into larger threats.
The last few troops in the deck are “fun ofs” that help enable our Underworld count for Crusader:
Pyresmoke Cabalist is extremely powerful with some of our draws. He often enables you to activate your champion power every single turn when he stays alive. The staying alive part is tricky though. Because Cabalist is a 4/1, it dies to most of the removal in the format such as Cheap Shot, Strangle, and Cremate.
Dread Apprentice and Blamsmith are not quite as exciting, but they have their uses while also enabling Underworld Crusader. Dread Apprentice can turn one piece of scrounge fodder into three and Blamsmith is a very real threat when you draw it in the late game.
While we do not have a ton of actions, the couple that we do have are very important to our game plan:
Cremate is not only cheaper interaction, but it serves as a free Scrounge enabler for Crimson Slayer and Wicked Webspawn. Lazgar’s Vengeance is a powerful card in any aggressive shell, but it is especially wicked in this deck. Between our champion power and Webspawn, our Lazgars are very often free.
Our reserves in this deck are fairly straightforward, containing mostly cards that are three or more copies for solving specific problems. Crackling Magma is a card that is fairly well positioned in the current metagame. Not only does it provide a charge towards our champion power, but it clears out opposing Dreadling decks before they can attack for large amounts of damage.
Redlings is one of my favorite styles of deck in TCGs. It has a proactive game plan while playing some individually powerful cards. As opposed to some of the more linear aggressive decks like last season’s Angus deck, Redlings has a lot of important sequencing decisions to make.
One of the most important resources you have to manage is your champion power. You want to maximize the amount of damage you are dealing with the Dreadlings you create while also making sure that you are going to have enough troops in your crypt to fuel your Scrounge activations as you need them. One of the mistakes I kept making when I first started playing the Redlings deck was being too conservative with when I was using the champion power. You do not need to wait to try and get 3+ dreadlings—activating for two is more than enough and gives you plenty of Scrounge fodder to work with.
Another thing to keep in mind is that just because some of our cards have abilities on them, this does not mean you have to wait till you can use them. Rustbucket Distractor is a card that is easy to trick yourself into not playing out on the second turn of the game, but in general adding a 2/1 to the table on our aggressive deck is almost always better than just passing on the second turn if we do not have another play.
The resources in this deck are one of the big draws to it. We only need three thresholds, two Ruby and one Blood, to play out all of our cards. This is quite easy to hit because of all our threshold generating options. Because we are playing a variety of Necrotics, we gain access to Sepulchra Crypt Dust as an additional dual shard alongside Well of Hatred. Finally, because our curve tops out at three resources, we get to play a full four Necropolis Coins. Not only does playing Coins help reduce our chance of flooding out, but the fact that Necropolis Coin drains our opponent of health allows them to provide additional reach.
While the format is still settling down, there are definitely a number of different decks that have been consistently popping up on the ladder. One thing to keep in mind when reserving with an aggressive deck like Redlings is that less is more. It is very easy to overboard with a deck like this and dilute your proactive game plan too much.
One of the better matchups for Redlings is the Sapphire-Wild Dreadlings deck. Both decks have consistently explosive starts, while the Redlings deck also has interaction to break up some of the more powerful things the Sapphire Wild deck can do. While they have Siege Engine Gemini to go over the top, we have Lazgar’s Vengeance to provide some reach to steal games we would otherwise be out of.
When reserving this matchup I like to trim some of our Deathseekers because your opponent will generally have a plethora of 1/1 troops to trade with him in combat. Mortartrike Driver is also kind of mediocre because of their troops that can chump block. The copies of Crackling Magma and the additional Lazgar’s Vengeance are good to bring in.
The Diamond Ardent matchup for Redlings often feels play / draw dependent. On the play we can often get under them, while on the draw they are generally able to set up enough powerful three and four cost troops that can stunt our offensive. Graven Geist is one of our better threats in this matchup because it provides an evasive threat for going over board stalls. The absolute best card in this matchup though is Lazgar’s Vengeance. While their troops are generally large enough to block our two and three power troops, most of them still only have four defense—meaning a Lazgar’s will often clear their board away.
Speaking of Lazgar’s Vengeance, that is the first thing you will want to bring in an additional copy of from the reserves. I also like bringing in a copy or two of Gemborn Prowler. If your opponent only seems to have Crusader, I would just bring in one Gemborn. If they have multiple socketed troops, such as Moonrise Elder, I would bring in a second Gemborn. The two copies of Mortartrike Driver would be my first cut in this matchup followed by trimming Deathseeker.
The Diamond-Blood sockets deck is a matchup where Redlings is generally favored game one, but can struggle a bit post reserves when they bring in a bunch of cheap interaction. This is the matchup that Ruby’s Favor is in the reserves for. Not only does Favor provide us with some reach, but it can force your opponent to sacrifice troublesome artifacts like Dark Heart and Animus of Nulzann. In addition to Favor, I would also bring in our Gemborn Prowlers and extra Lazgar’s Vengeance over our Cremates.
This is the matchup where we board more cards than against anything else. Deathseeker is fairly mediocre in this matchup—not only because they have cheaper troops, but because they play four Sentry of Nulzann. Deathseeker is often not attacking for much.
A couple different variants of the Uzzu / Bride of the Damned deck had success in the first couple of major events this season as well. At their core, these are a mono-Blood deck that is splashing for cards such as Silver Talon Adjudicator and Rotten Rancor. These Blood based removal heavy decks can be some of the harder matchups for Redlings. The more copies of Cheap Shot they are playing, the harder your life will be.
The toughest thing about this matchup is that we do not have efficient removal for Bride of the Damned. Post board we can cut our inefficient Cremates for copies of Reap and Lazgar’s Vengeance, but that can still leave some to be desired.
If you want to see some videos of the Redlings deck in action, check out my stream archive below.
While it is still early in this new constructed format, I think Redlings has all of the makings of being one of the better decks the format has to offer. If you are looking for an aggressive deck that has a lot of play to it then I would highly recommend you give Redlings a try.
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.