Deck Drilldown – Wild Ruby Sockets

May 17, 2017

Welcome back to another Deck Drilldown! While we are over two months into our current Standard format, there are still a slew of decks I am looking forward to talking about in my column here. Today’s decklist is one that packs a considerable punch – Wild-Ruby Sockets:

Blamsmith socketed with Minor Ruby of Valor
Emsee, Etcher of Nulzann socketed with Major Wild Orb of Cultivation
Sparklecap socketed with Minor Ruby of Valor
Pesky Pippit socketed with Minor Ruby of Valor
Rune] Ear Hierophant socketed with Major Ruby of Twinstrike and Minor Ruby of Zeal
Animus of Nulzann socketed with Major Wild Orb of Conjuration
Riftwarp Badger socketed with Major Ruby of Impulse
Dark Heart of Nulzann socketed with Major Ruby of Impulse and Minor Wild Orb of Vigil
Buzztech Innovator socketed with Minor Wild Orb of Vigil

Champion: Grandfather Elk

The core of this deck is based around these three powerful cards:

Emsee, Etcher of NulzannAnimus of NulzannSentry of Nulzann

Emsee is a must answer threat for many reasons. To start, every time he gets to ready we draw an additional card. Not only are we drawing an extra card, but we are drawing a card that is guaranteed to not be a resource. When Emsee cannot attack profitably, the floor on him is still fairly high thanks to the Major Wild Orb of Cultivation. This means even when we are sending Emsee to his death, we are still netting a permanent resource from him. Also, keep in mind that we can often use Grandfather Elk to force Emsee through an otherwise stalled board state.

Animus is another must answer threat that quickly runs away with any game we get to ready with him. Anytime we play even a single socketed troop with Animus in play, we become a strong favorite to win. Should we manage to get multiple triggers out of Animus, we will often quickly run away with the game straight out. We socket Animus with the Major Wild Orb of Conjuration so it always generates value even if it dies right away.

Sentry of Nulzann is a card that puts our deck into hyperdrive by letting us play every card we draw ahead of curve. Sentry makes it much easier to play two socketed cards in the same turn, which lets Animus buff our team straight away even if our opponent does have a piece of removal for it right away. Most importantly though are the Sentry’s stats – having three defense is huge in a format where one of the best decks is playing one cost troops with two attack.

After our three most important troops we have two other troops that we are playing multiple copies of:

Rune Ear HierophantDark Heart of Nulzann

Rune Ear Hierophant is an exceptionally powerful card in any deck and this shell is no exception. We leverage the Major Ruby of Twinstrike and Minor Ruby of Swiftstrike to make it very difficult to best our rabbit inside of combat. This means even before we play out another troop our Rune Ear is dealing damage first in combat and dealing a minimum of four – allowing it to block opposing Crusaders profitably. Our champion power plays well with Rune Ear also, making blockers largely irrelevant once our Rune Ear is large.

Dark Heart of Nulzann is a flexible card that does a lot of different things for us. To start, it often acts as a one sided source of removal. While we do have a few non-socketed cards ourselves, Sentry of Nulzann is not particularly powerful as the game goes long and Altar of Nulzann will likely have drawn more than enough cards by the time Dark Heart comes around. Thanks to the Major Ruby of Impulse, Dark Heart can also generate card advantage for us as well by attacking, while also playing defense well thanks to the Minor Wild Orb of Vigil.

Past our various troops that are all three or more copies, we have a small slew of singleton troops to help meet the deck building requirement that Emsee adds:

SparklecapPesky Pippit
Riftwarp BadgerBlamsmithBuzztech Innovator

Sparklecap, while fairly unimpressive, is just another cheap troop that can get in the way against opposing aggressive decks and trade well in terms of resource efficiency. Thanks to the Minor Ruby of Valor, the absolute worst Cap can be is a 3/2 for three resources. Pesky Pippit is similar to Sparklecap in that most of the time it will simply be a vanilla troop that makes a Valor. Our deck does not generate that much Scrounge fodder, so getting to six is a stretch and we are mostly playing Pippit because it is a cheap socketed card.

Riftwarp Badger is a card that generates a lot of value for us. Not only does it create another socketed card when it enters play, but thanks to the Major Ruby of Impulse the Badger will draw us an additional card every time it gets to attack. Blamsmith is more reasonable to scrounge than Pippit, but still does not happen very often. Generally he will just be a 3/3 for three that we can pay for over a couple of turns.

Buzztech Innovator is a fairly powerful top end bomb that can often steal games we are otherwise losing. Getting to Scrounge two by the time we have six resources generally is not unreasonable, so this means Buzztech provides ten attack in a single card that is spread out across three bodies.

Past our troops we have a few different utility pieces:

Altar of Nulzann

Altar of Nulzann is an extremely powerful card in the matchups that are generally bad for this style of aggressive deck. It is difficult for control decks to interact with and turns every single threat we play into another card. Unfortunately, there are too many aggressive decks in the format to play a bunch of Altars main deck, but we bring in the full four copies post reserves when we want this effect.

Then, we have a couple of cards that let us be tricky inside of combat:

BlitzAspect of the Squirrel

Blitz is a card that I love in limited and have been enjoying even more in constructed. This card can save our threats from removal such as Cremate and occasionally Lazgar’s Vengeance. Blitz also allows us to push through lethal amounts of damage in conjunction with our champion power fairly often. Remember that Blitz on our Rune Ear deals an additional eight damage.

Aspect of the Squirrel not only helps us meet our socketed requirement for Emsee, but also helps push through surprise amounts of damage after blocks are declared thanks to the Minor Wild Orb of Brawn.

Finally, we round out our main deck with a few pieces of removal:

Pyre Strike

Pyre Strike kills most of the things that we care about in Standard and clears out annoying cards like Crusaders without allowing their Death Cry effects to trigger.


Because we are a midrange deck, the most important thing when playing the Wild-Ruby Sockets deck is correctly identifying what role we have while playing. While Sentry enables us to have some particularly aggressive draws, curving an 0/3 into a Rune Ear is also a fairly good defensive measure as well. If our single troop can hold their entire board at bay, often we can wait until Dark Heart grinds our opponent out or Rune Ear is lethal in a single attack to start applying pressure.

The controlling decks like Mono Blood Zorath and Renner are some of the better matchups for us. We have a high density of must answer threats and our Altar of Nulzann can generally run away with a game. Our go-to cut in these matchups is Sentry of Nulzann because while it helps us get onto the board quickly, it does not present a threat on its own which is bad against our opponent’s plan to one for one us out of the game with removal. Altar of Nulzann and Reginald’s Riposte are my go-to cards to bring in. If our opponent has something like Vampire Queen then Gale Force becomes reasonable and Fallen Singularity makes Ruby’s Favor decent. If we are looking for more cards to trim, Blitz is the next thing to cut after Sentry.

The Bombus matchups can be close, but largely hedges around how quickly Lazgar’s Vengeance can show up for the Bombus player. Many of our troops are large enough to dodge their Ruby based removal like Cremate which stresses their Transmogrifades. The reserving is fairly straightforward – generally just swapping out the copies of Blitz for Gale Force.

The Empress matchup is close and largely depends on if our opponent is able to stick an Empress on the board. Because we only have four pieces of removal game one, if they are able to play multiple Empress of Ice on the fourth turn of the game we will often have a hard time winning. That being said, the games where Empress does not lock us out we are a favorite to win. The most important thing when playing is to sequence our pump cards around their possible copies of Transmogrifade.

Post reserves against Empress we want our copies of Gale Force to clean out multiple Empresses as well as our fourth copy of Dark Heart of Nulzann. We want to trim our pump cards like Blitz and the second Aspect since they are fairly poor against Transmogrifade.

The Redlings matchup is the harder one for the Wild Ruby Sockets deck. They apply fast pressure and tick down Lazgar’s faster than any other deck in the format. Our goal post reserves is to trim some of our more clunky top end such as Animus of Nulzann in favor of being more interactive with Cremate.

Gameplay Videos

If you want to see some videos of the Wild-Ruby Sockets deck in action, check out my stream archive below.

Wrapping Up

If you are looking for a proactive deck with some explosive draws that is also capable of grinding out control decks, then this Wild-Ruby Sockets deck might just be 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 Hoogland

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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