It’s that time of the season to grind. Grind, grind, grind that top 64 Cosmic rank to earn your place in the Cosmic Crown Showdown. Now grinding is not always where honor shines. Sometimes we must do what’s necessary to make it to the top. That’s why we’re talking about the Blood/Ruby Ivan Slagpot Redlings today.
Redlings is one of the more efficient constructed decks to use on the ladder in the current meta. This efficiency rides largely on the back of its powerful two drop and synergies with Lazgar’s Vengeance. Much of the list is fairly set in stone, but I find the variations interesting. This is the current list I am favoring.
Underworld Crusader socketed with Minor Blood Orb of Frenzy
The exact number of each troop varies a fair bit from list to list, but the most contentious slots are Mortartrike Driver and Commander PROMPT. Especially recently, lists have been favoring a single Matriarch of Flames over the pair of trikes. The extra slot gained is usually given to a third Cremate or Graven Geist. I tend to favor Trike over Matriarch because it most commonly plays out slightly more powerful than Matriarch. It swings the turn you play it as a 3/3, then a 5/3, etc. Matriarch typically only swings as a 3/3 and maybe a 4/4.
However, Matriarch has a few advantages. First, it’s floor is higher than Trike. It almost never happens, but a lonesome Trike is just a 1/3. That’s about as bad a card can be for three resources. Matriarch also has a higher ceiling. If you manage to hit five Ruby threshold, creating a Burn to the Ground each turn is no small game. Lastly, Matriarch is a Necrotic for the allegiance on Sepulchra Crypt Dust. All that said, I find Trike consistently a tick higher on the power curve more consistently. The choice largely comes down to personal preference.
The more interesting decision is our four drop. The adoption of a four drop in Redlings is actually relatively new and didn’t start with Commander PROMPT. The original four drop was Zanya Bloodfist, an oft overlooked Legendary from Herofall. Given how easily Redlings triggers Assault, she can often come down as a Mama Yeti or better in this deck. That said, she suffers from a fair bit of inconsistency. A fully buffed Zanya is often game winning. A top decked Zanya, however, is miserable. Coupled with the fact we are already running Lazgar’s Vengeance, Zanya can lead to some awkward draws.
On the other hand (and I’m sure to no one’s surprise), Commander PROMPT is nearly always a powerful turn four play or top deck. He clearly synergizes well with our aggressive strategy, which includes not just Dreadlings, but a strong curve often starting with a one drop. Commander PROMPT also helps our troops trade better on defense if necessary. I’m curious to see if the top end of the deck continues to evolve, but I feel it may have found a keeper with Commander PROMPT.
I find the Reserves of Redlings fascinating. It is a very tight list (as many Crusader lists are), so it can be difficult to find meaningful cards to Reserve. I think the deck has found some good ones though. The addition I was most excited to see is Haunting Cry. Haunting Cry gives the deck a way to go long against control decks. Without it, we are left to relying on an unstoppable opening – not something you want to do in a tournament setting where consistency is rewarded. I’m not sold on needing the full four copies, but I’m confident at this point that Haunting Cry adds a much needed dimension to our 75.
The other important inclusions, in my opinion, are Gemborn Prowler and Reginald’s Riposte. The remaining cards can be adjusted based on which decks you expect to be popular or personal preference. Prowler is a Blood Reserve staple, giving you significant game against the myriad of Socket decks which wax and wane in popularity. Socket decks are one of the few decks which can race us, so having access to a card as powerful as Gemborn Prowler is beneficial. I could be convinced to even pack four of the card in our Reserves. Reginald’s Riposte serves the all critical role of stealing our opponents’ Lazgar’s Vengeance. Mirrors in particular are often decided by who has the most Lazgar’s Vengeances, and there’s no better way to swing that sub-game than to steal them from your adversary.
Riposte frequently creates an insurmountable tempo play when against other Lazgar’s Vengeance decks. I will note that I don’t care much for Riposte in other match ups. There are few to no other board clears in the format currently, so it’s rare for Riposte to stop any more than a one for one against control. This is often negative tempo for us in a match up where we need to win fast. Essentially, we don’t have time to hold up two resources to Riposte a Herofall.
This highlights an important aspect of Redlings – we rarely win by being reactive. Lazgar’s Vengeance is the only card I’ve found powerful enough to warrant a purely reactive response. Gemborn Prowler gets a pass for its sheer efficiency in a specific match up. A card like Noxious Glory, however, is horribly awkward even in the match ups you want it. Redlings needs to play threats each turn or it’s not going to win. I have had few more awkward experiences with the deck than those games where I have a Noxious Glory, a Deathseeker, and a Rustbucket Distractor and have to wonder how a 2/1 is going to carry the game for me after I clear a pair of Tribunal Magistrates. It can work out, but I’ve found it to be inconsistent. Due to this, I’m willing to bet the Redlings’ Reserves could use a fair bit of an overhaul. Our current reactive cards serve a purpose, but I’m not sure that purpose wouldn’t be better served with more proactive solutions. Perhaps we could try a few Underworld troops like Death’s Head Rider or Merciless Culler to spruce up removal in the right match ups while still bringing a body.
Redlings often gets a bad rap for being a powerful and popular aggressive deck, but it is an important deck to understand in the current meta. It is also an excellent deck to grind out those last few Cosmic ranks before the next Cosmic Crown Showdown.
Be sure to tune in to my stream tonight at 3:30 PM PST. I will be piloting today’s Primordial Brew on the Constructed Ladder. As always, there will be some combination of Primal Pack and free Draft, Sealed, and Evolving Gauntlet code giveaways.
See you on the ladder,
Varranis is an analyst for professional gaming organization Fade 2 Karma. He has played countless TCGs over the last eighteen years and brings a unique lens to HEX theory crafting and deck building based on his historical experience. Varranis has numerous tournament wins and top finishes to his name across several popular TCGs and has coached and supported players in world championship level events.