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Diamond Cup Deckbuilding: Project Buffalo

Titania’s Majesty and Crocosaur. When set 3 originally released, there was a lot of hype for Wild-based decks because of these cards. The Diamond Cup this time around is also set-3-only constructed so looking back to the last Diamond Cup can give us some ideas of what to expect this time around. When we look back at the results from the prior Diamond Cup, we can see that the hype was justified; 5 of the 8 top decks were Ruby/Wild decks based on these two cards. Titania’s Majesty would have the dubious honor of becoming the first card in Hex to become banned in PVP play thanks to its dominant results in this and other events. Crocosaur, on the other hand, has continued to see play in multiple archetypes ranging from RW Ramp to WS Control as well as a few fringe decks. Naturally, it makes sense that we should take a look at this deck again to see how the deck might look now that its best card has been banned.

First off let’s show TheMotivation’s top 8 deck for a base line of comparison:

Motivated to Ramp

Champion: Cressida

Troops (33)

4x Ashwood Soloist
3x Lithe Lyricist
2x Pupil of Creation
2x Periwinkle
3x Ageless Troubador
2x Ashwood Blademaster
4x Eternal Sage
2x Balthasar
4x Crocosaur
1x Syyn, Etherdrake Nomad
2x Heart of the Wrathwood
4x Walking Calamity

Actions (4)

4x Titania’s Majesty (Ruby of Destruction)

Resources (23)

12x Wild Shard
7x Ruby Shard
4x Feralroot Acorn

Reserves (15)

3x Stinkhorn Soup
4x Highlands Black Belt
2x Lullaby
4x Skydancer
2x Ashwood Blademaster

This take on the Ruby/Wild deck had a mix of acceleration from elves while also having a few fatties that can take advantage of the damage gem on Titania’s Majesty. TheMotivation played a few Ashwood Blademasters to transform excess resources into extra damage. In the reserves he played a few Skydancers to help out with blocking and the Stinkhorn Soup tech; if you use a Stinkhorn Soup on Eternal Sage and play a Ruby Shard it will deal 1 point of lethal damage to all opposing troops. There are a few cards in the format that prevent damage (Eye of Lixil, Shard Ward, Starshield, Lullaby, Gilded Lyre), but of these cards the only card one can save a troop from this interaction is Starshield.

Of course, Hex was a good deal different during the last Diamond Cup. Aside from the Titania banning we also had the core rules changes that affected starting champion health. While it is still possible to play Cressida, I think a lot of RW players are going to be better off with the other champion options. Alyndra is a great choice if you are heavy on ramp and want to make sure you have something large to do once you hit a large number of resources. Sagebrush is a fine choice if you decide to play midrange or aggro. Benvolio is a pretty good champion option although I am not sure he is the best for the R/W pairing in particular. I usually prefer Benvolio when my curve stops at 4/5 so that I don’t have to take a chance of drawing a card and being unable to play it.

Now that Titania’s Majesty is banned, we obviously have to make some serious changes to the deck. Aside from Titania’s Majesty itself, we don’t want to play 4 copies of Walking Calamity. Calamity is just too slow and difficult to play in a lot of matchups if your plan is to play fair and ramp up to 10 resources. Let’s examine some of the potential alternatives and how they might fit into the deck now.

Carnasaurus: As long as your opponent is playing X/2 troops this should be a consideration. It also has great synergy with your best card (Crocosaur) to gain extra health in the mid game.

Fiery Indignation: The deck plays enough 5-drops that you should be able to get the larger effect most of the time. The real question is whether this does enough. There are a number of important troops with 6+ defense (Windsinger, Syyn, Crocosaur, Heart of the Wrathwood) that this still might not kill enough things you need it to kill.

Tempestuous Bladedancer, Emberleaf Duelist, Rotroot Enchanter, Merry Minstrels, Emberleaf Wardancer: all of these elves are playable if you decide to go heavier on the elf synergies in the deck. While Bladedancer is the best of the bunch all, of the others can serve a role depending on the direction you decide to go.

Sylvan Performer: This deck plays enough 5+ cost cards that this is good enough to play even without going heavy on elf synergy if you decide the deck needs some card advantage.

Storm Drummer: A good choice if you decide to go more midrange with large efficient troops and Carnasaurus rather than going the elf route.

Boomsmith: If you decide to with Stinkhorn Soup then I could see this card making it into the 75 as well.

Playing with Fire: With our count of 5+ cost troops this should trigger plenty of times. Probably best if you expect to play against decks with Spiritbound Spy.

Staggering Blast: This limited all-star is a great way to break up a stalled board. While I would not want to maindeck this card, I think it is a strong choice for the mirror as a way to push through all of the ground-pounders and/or kill any plants and small elves.

Tribal Warfare: This card seems best if you decide to go with Alyndra as your champion. While it is certainly possible that elf Warfare can get the job done on some boards, this card is even more dangerous if you can wage some Dinosaur Warfare with Crocosaur, Carnasaurus, and Gigantasaur.

Yancy, Tinkerer of Terror: I probably would not play this unless I was playing Soloist and I expected to play against a lot of interrupts (which, in this set, only exist as Suffocate.) As a turn 2 and 3 play to create Murdertron, your Yancy can wreak a lot of havoc against slow control decks.

Duplicitous Duke: Here is a card that is already fringe playable in standard constructed. I would love to see the Duke get some play and there are plenty of good interactions for him. Most of the time Periwinkle does this job better, but if you want to copy small troops with enters-play effects or if you want Periwinkle #5-8, Duke can imitate her reasonably.

Scorn of Oberon: A nice flexible card that is mostly there to help deal with problematic artifacts and occasionally nets you a 2-for-1 with the other abilities.

Most of the other cards that I would consider for the R/W deck are already in TM’s original decklist from last year. Of course, I know some people are coming in here looking for a suggested deck list on what to play this weekend. If I were playing in the tournament, here is where I would start my testing and tweak some of the choices based on how things played out:

Project Buffalo

Champion: Mightsinger Alyndra

Troops (36)

4x Ashwood Soloist
3x Pupil of Creation
2x Carnasaurus
4x Lithe Lyricist
3x Periwinkle
3x Ashwood Blademaster
2x Ageless Troubador
4x Crocosaur
4x Eternal Sage
4x Tempestuous Bladedancer
3x Balthasar

Resources (24)

13x Wild Shard
7x Ruby Shard
4x Feralroot Acorn

Reserves (15)

1x Pupil of Creation
2x Stinkhorn Soup
2x Carnasaurus
2x Highlands Blackbelt
2x Staggering Blast
2x Tribal Warfare
2x Heart of the Wrathwood
2x Scorn of Oberon

This deck is similar to the RW deck that TheMotivation played last time around with a few tweaks. With Mightsinger Alyndra, we have a higher starting health total and always have something to do with 7 resources if we flood. Tempestuous Bladedancer is the speedy, easier-to-play threat that replaces Walking Calamity. For the rest of the spots I have added in 1 Balthasar for a bit more mid-game power along with a few more cheap elves that help the ramp plan. I also would play a couple of Carnasaurus main to break serve in the mirror or against aggro even though it is a dead card in some other matchups. In reserves, Pupil Creation is one of our best cards against slow control decks while a number of the other cards are experimental and I would adjust depending on how well they performed.

Don’t sleep on Ruby Wild. Even though Titania is banned and Cressida was nerfed, this shard pairing still has a lot of power to offer! If you do decide to go rogue I would at least suggest playing against this deck a bit to make sure you have a plan on beating it. Good luck and have fun with this spicy Wild brew in the Diamond Cup!

Hex Kickstarter backer. Contributor to 2 Turns Ahead Podcast. Invitational Qualifier. Shoutcaster for the Cup of Fate tournament series. Player formerly known as JuzamJedi.

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