Aggression! Rage! Ruby, in both current sets, has been about aggro, direct damage, and quick removal. However, the exact shape of Ruby in the meta has been changing somewhat over time. After Gore Feast fell out of the meta, Ruby returned as part of the Diamond/Ruby midrange deck. Later, we saw Ruby win the Fate Cup with dwarf/robot aggro and that deck has been quite popular.
Below are the cards that we believe are essential in Ruby before the release of Armies of Myth:
Ruby has some of the more frightening troops currently available; if you don’t have an answer to them, bad things can happen. The aggressive nature of these troops fit the theme of Ruby quite well.
A 3/3 for 3 is already great value, but when you take his speed inspire he becomes a dangerous threat. Lord Alexander puts a lot of pressure on the opponent to field an answer immediately, as the following turn can be quite frightening. Lord Alexander was mostly played in the Gore Feast decks throughout Shards & Destiny. With Armies of Myth delivering a slew of new relatively bomby troops we recommend that you keep an eye on this lord of all things fast.
It feels like Goremaster came and went pretty quickly in the regular constructed scene, but his power shouldn’t be underestimated. He pairs well with a number of Ruby & Wild cards (Boulder Toss / Crackling Sprout) and given the right set of cards can offer a very abrupt boom-you’re-dead combo style interaction. One issue with Goremaster is that he offers quite a bit of room for your opponent to react, but if nothing else he can still be quite power in some of the more unusual constructed formats that tend to crop up here and there.
Another card that became popular during the Age of the Gore Feast! The inspires from Cerulean Mirror Knight, Lord Alexander, and Cerulean Mentalist compliment Royal Falconer quite well. When the meta shifts again, Royal Falconer will be right around the corner waiting… stalking…. hunting….
Zakiir has been showing up quite recently as a win condition in mid-range decks, especially in Diamond/Ruby. In addition to getting a 5/5 flyer which can already be somewhat daunting, you are also getting one of five random cards at the start of each turn. Initially players might shy away from the word random, but when pretty much every option is great the randomness isn’t such a blight. If you are able to naturally play Zakiir from your hand then you’re already going to have the necessary resources to play any of the gifts he gives you on the following turn. Three of the five have a high likelihood of putting you dramatically ahead in the match if not ending the game that turn, while the other two are still totally acceptable and nothing to scoff at. If Zakiir lives to see the beginning of your next turn, usually you’re walking away with a win.
Actions / Constants
Whether you want removal, direct damage, or Gore Feast (yes, it deserves its own category) you are more than likely to see at least one of these cards when playing against Ruby.
We’re lumping the three of these cards together because of their relative similarity. They all have the option of either doing damage directly to your opponent or instead to one of their many minions. On the other hand they all have their own niche. Burn is the cheapest and is also the only one which can be played as a quick action—this means you’re going to be able to eke out a little bit of mileage out of your otherwise unspent resources. Crackling Bolt is more expensive but it also packs the largest initial punch while also getting you one charge closer towards unleashing your champion’s true power. Finally, we have Ragefire which strangely enough has seen less play than the other two and this might have even been a good reason to consider it a sleeper but ultimately we wanted to keep the three of these cards together. Where the other two offer reliable early game options, Ragefire’s potential for insane damage through the use of escalation should not be ignored. The final thing here for us to really stress is something that makes these types of cards particularly unique: that they aren’t necessarily competing with one another. The more cards like this that are released the more and more likely we are to see a deck that ignores the opponent’s board state entirely and just tries to go for the health total as quickly as possible.
Attack! Attack again! As mentioned quite a couple of times in this article, Gore Feast is one of the strongest Ruby cards. Gore Feast was once one of the most hated cards because of its unexpected lethal kills. Players are often afraid of attacking in because Gore Feast in response to an open board can result in quite a lot of damage. Recently, Gore Feast has died down in popularity because of the strength of Diamond/Ruby; however, it’s very likely just waiting for the right time to re-emerge. Due to this card’s versatility and raw power, we expect it to pop up once again with Armies of Myth.
Heat Wave is one of the best ways to stop wide aggression. We have seen Heat Wave take a stand in response to Gore Feast, and it’s risen in popularity again due to the strength of R/S robot aggro in the Cup of Fate. Most of the time you will expect Heat Wave to be in your reserves, but on rare occasions it’ll make the main-deck cut.
These are cards which might have seen marginal play in constructed but have some sort of powerful potential that could be unlocked in the future. Keep an eye out for these!
*insert maniacal laughter here* Psychotic Anarchist had some potential during the early tournaments in Set 2. He offers the opportunity for you to get in some rapid damage early while also refilling your hand of cheap threats. If the meta were to slow down considerably the Anarchist might have an opening to leave your opponents playing catch up. However, there is a major additional downside of playing Psychotic Anarchist against Diamond variations: it gives your opponent an extra chance to get a free Angel of Dawn and swing with it against you immediately on the following turn. If Angel of Dawn were to retreat from the meta, Psychotic Anarchist’s aggression would be something to consider. We still believe in anarchy!
Jags is a card that has been on our radar for quite some time. He has shown up a couple of times in tournaments, mainly being seen in experimental decks like Jank Feast. As of yet, no one has made Jags truly shine, but it doesn’t mean he’s not a strong card—his inspire is just waiting for its chance to be abused. One thing to mention is that we feel like his potential might lie in just being a miser (single copy) in the deck, where the deck works perfectly fine without him but when you do happen to find him he leads to some sort of degenerate play.
Where many of the cards we’ve mentioned here have some role in making Ruby as explosive or aggressive as possible, Emberspire Witch offers the option to protect that strength. Health gain can certainly mitigate some of Ruby’s early game power in effect giving your opponent the time to stabilize. The witch can keep you a step ahead of any opponent hoping to follow the health gain plan. Not to mention Emberspire Witch also stops any future combo shenanigans from cards like Paladin of the Necropolis.
Being a 6-cost might be a downside, but we are expecting Ruby to have more resource ramp potential in Armies of Myth. So far all we have is Scraptech Brawler, but more is definitely coming. The Ruby elves (Ashwood) have ramp-esque features. For example, the Ashwood Soloist generates a temporary resource when it attacks. Combine this with the ramp of Wild and we can see Army of the Arcane Cinders being quite powerful next set.
Piecetinker’s Final Say: At the moment, Ruby is in a powerful state. The cards currently in Ruby have longevity that will easily last through Set 3. Ruby is currently flexibile in that it can be played in a control setting (removal) or aggression (fast and strong troops). We see this in Diamond/Ruby control and Gore Feast decks, respectively. Ruby is one of my favorite shards and I can not wait to see what the future holds for it!
Funktion’s Final Say: I really like where ruby is right now. It has a decent number of fairly diverse win conditions and also offers some pretty efficient raw damage. Honestly, I am extremely excited to see what the future holds in terms of direct damage based actions. Burn/Crackling Bolt already set the bar pretty high and Armies of Myth is more than likely to have at least one more similar card. Overall it feels like we haven’t seen as many Ruby troops see play as we have with other shards and it will also be interesting to see if that changes in the near future.