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Machines building machines. How perverse.

Ruby/Sapphire Robot Aggro is a highly aggressive deck that utilizes cheap and synergistic cards to win the game before the opponent is able to stabilize. To accomplish this task the deck leverages two key components: firstly we have the beaters—big bulky troops which can swiftly overwhelm your opponent. The catch is that in order for these beaters to be functional they require a certain critical mass of dwarf and/or robot troops. This requirement is overcome by using the second category: the enabler—extremely cheap troops which can flood the board quickly. Due to being inexpensive enablers are usually rather weak cards, yet some of them come with upsides which minimize those disadvantages. It is also worth mentioning that every troop in the deck is either a robot or a dwarf and therefore will always perform duty as an “enabler.”

Besides the tribal synergy this deck also offers an artifact sub-theme. There are three cards—namely Gearsmith, War Machinist and Construct Foreman—which specifically derive utility from artifacts. This is rather fortunate since the deck consists of 29 artifacts, which as a by-product makes it hard for blood decks from time to time because their primary removal, Murder, does not hit any valuable targets.

 

The Beater

To be able to close out the game as soon as possible is essential for this kind of deck, since it sacrifices its late game for a strong early game. Consequently it is necessary to get through blockers, which can be achieved by troops with evasion. Tectonic Megahulk and War Hulk are tough for the opponent to block, because they both have crush which diminishes the usefulness of the opposing blocker. Pterobot and Hornet Bot can even ignore most blockers entirely with flight.

Electroid is a troop that requires three other troops to be on the battlefield in order to attack or block. Even though this seems like a harsh condition, it is possible to overcome it by turn two. In order to do so one has to create three bodies while only having access to two resources. That can be achieved in one of the following four scenarios:

  • The first is activating Bertram Cragraven‘s charge power on turn two by playing a Charge Bot. This way it is possible to create two troops while only consuming one resource.
  • The second scenario also creates two bodies with only one resource by finding a one-cost artifact troop with Gearsmith. This troop then can be played for free, since its cost will be reduced to zero by the ability of Gearsmith.
  • Next is Technical Genius which will use up all resources for the turn, but in return reduces the price of one-cost artifact troops to zero. Having two of those zero-cost troops in hand again brings the body count up to three.
  • Lastly, transforming a Hex Geode with Construct Foreman will create another body from nothingness for the reasonable price of one resource.

Some of the other beaters in this deck, namely Hornet Bot and War Hulk, are not troops the turn they enter the battlefield. They come in the form of artifacts called Construction Plans. It is then necessary to turn them into troops by exhausting dwarfs and/or robots. Sometimes this can actually be an upside, since not being a troop lets them dodge board wipes like Extinction or Heat Wave. Also, counters can be placed on Construction Plans at quick speed, which means they can be turned into creatures at the end of the opponent’s turn and therefore also dodge basic-speed removal like Crackling Bolt or Zared Venomscorn‘s champion ability. Last but not least Construction Plans can negate Filk Ape‘s ability, provided there are enough ready troops present to turn the Construction Plans back into a troop. Filk Ape’s ability will trigger at the end of turn and revert all troops, turning all Hornet Bots and War Hulks back into Construction Plans—but those Construction Plans can then immediately exhaust dwarves and robots to turn back into troops before the turn ends, since after Filk Ape’s ability resolves both players receive priority.

The only feasible way for this deck to bring Tectonic Megahulk to the battlefield is by tunneling it. Normally it would take fifteen turns for it to surface, yet that requirement can be lowered by having troops on the table. Noteworthy is that once the tunneling timer is reduced it stays that way even if the card moves from one zone to another. That means that a card which bounces troops like Time Ripple and Buccaneer has limited effect against Megahulk; if the tunneling timer is equal to or lower than the number of tunneling counters on an underground card, the underground card surfaces immediately when tunneled. The take-away? A Megahulk with tunneling 0 is as good as a 2-cost Megahulk with speed. Lastly, as with Construction Plans, Tectonic Megahulk is capable of dodging board wipes as long as he is underground.

As with Tectonic Megahulk it is seldom realistic to cast Pterobot for its base resource cost. Luckily its static ability falls in line with the game plan of the deck, since it becomes cheaper as more troops are present on the battlefield. Yet a low resource cost is not always a boon, since it also can become a legal target for Succulent Cluckodon and Rot Caster. Nevertheless, Pterobot is one of the best beaters this deck has to offer, especially since his high toughness allows him to block or even attack into troops like Angel of Dawn and Vampire King.

Construct Foreman has the ability to turn any artifact into a War Bot, a 3/3 robot with the resource cost of four. The ideal target for this ability would be a Worker Bot or a Hex Geode, since they both are not of great use otherwise currently. Having the possibility to attack on turn two with a newly transformed War Bot makes the latter one much more appealing. Moreover transforming a Hex Geode generates an additional body, while transforming a Worker Bot just changes an already existent troop. However from time to time it can be necessary to turn other artifacts depending on the situation. It is also worth mentioning that Construct Foreman can transform opposing artifacts as well—which particularly comes in handy when the opponent controls pesky troops like Jank Bot or Eternal Guardian. Getting rid of those is crucial, since their abilities can spiral out of control quickly.

The Enabler

The first enabler, the Worker Bot, is not actually included in the deck as a card but rather enters the battlefield via the charge power of our champion Bertram Cragraven. This is rather fortunate, since that grants us consistent access to an enabling troop. Moreover this robot is basically a free one, since he has to be paid for with charges instead of resources. All that easily negates the fact that this little guy is defensive, which means he cannot attack. It is also worth mentioning that charges can be generated not only by Ruby and Sapphire Shards but also by Charge Bot and sometimes even by Hex Geode. Especially interesting is Charge Bot in this regard, since he is capable of shortening the time frame in which Bertram Cragraven’s ability can be activated for the first time.

In a deck that is entirely built around synergies one often has to sacrifice card advantage to be able to keep up the pressure on the opponent; thankfully, Gearsmith helps in this regard. Not only does he generate card advantage, but he also provides a choice of up to three artifacts to draw. Unfortunately this “card draw” is conditional on having artifacts in the top three cards of your deck, yet this condition is easily met with the number of artifacts available and is therefore marginalized to some extent. In addition to the cantrip effect he also accelerates resources in a way by reducing the cost of the “drawn” card.

Artifacts in the deck can also be utilized to inflict direct damage when played while War Machinist is on the board. Not only does this mean that there is now a faster clock on the opponent but also that attacking is no longer the only means of winning. The latter becomes especially relevant when the opponent has managed to mount a stable defense against your early pressure.

The remaining two enablers are Technical Genius and Mimeobot, which unfortunately are the weakest links in the current iteration of the deck. Technical Genius’ static ability will rarely be beneficial, since the troop demands an investment first—and due to the dilution of the deck with dwarves it is not unlikely to not even have an artifact in hand when he hits the board. Sadly the deck requires a certain amount of enablers to function properly and we’re currently only playing with two sets of cards. On the bright side, playing one artifact while he is on the table already amortizes his initial cost. However he needs to remain a singleton, since having more than one in hand is a huge setback and therefore harmful. The problem with Mimeobot is basically the lack of a useful ability; even though this unit has a triggered ability it is almost entirely irrelevant in this deck, meaning that Mimeobot is just a 1/1 artifact troop with the robot subtype for the cost of one resource. The reason to include it is the same as it is for Technical Genius—some troops simply have to fill the void for now. One can make the argument that it would be better to include Cavern Guard instead but I believe this is up to personal preference; even though a 0/4 body is way less susceptible to removal, Mimeobot does not require a Sapphire Threshold, is an artifact and has one more attack.

Resources and Threshold

Playing an aggressive deck means the game plan revolves around getting ahead in the early stages of the game, therefore it is important to be able to keep up the pace at which threats are played. Cards like Shard of Innovation and Shards of Fate do not produce a temporary resource and as a result slow down the process. At the current state of the game one is basically forced into playing basic Ruby and Sapphire Shards in order to be aggressive. On top of that, every part of a synergy-based deck has to fulfil a certain role and shards simply don’t—at least not in this deck. The balance between having the required resources to play your deck and drawing unnecessary resources when you need gas is crucial to a successful aggro deck. Considering the resource curve—which consists of 27 one-drops, nine two-drops and four Pterobots—18 shards seems like an appropriate number. Having an even split of nine Ruby and nine Sapphire Shards is appropriate, since the deck is composed of eight cards requiring one Ruby threshold and five cards plus a charge power requiring one Sapphire threshold.

Despite not needing more than one Ruby and one Sapphire Threshold, this deck can suffer from consistency issues. It is therefore desirable to have some sort of fixing. Hex Geode does a nice job in that regard, since it provides Threshold fixing on turn one without having to sacrifice a temporary resource unlike Shard of Innovation and Shards of Fate. Unfortunately it is a rather weak card on its own and even though it is an artifact, the synergy it provides is still not advantageous enough to justify having more then two in the deck. You want to be able to draw one of them on a regular basis, but ending up with multiples in hand is usually a liability.

 

So with all that said, the deck comes together fairly easily:

Kaldheim’s Robots

Champion: Bertram Cragraven

Troops (13)

4x Construct Foreman
4x Gearsmith
4x War Machinist
1x Technical Genius

Artifact Troops (19)

4x Electroid
3x Mimeobot
4x Charge Bot
4x Pterobot
4x Tectonic Megahulk

Artifacts (10)

4x Construction Plans: Hornet Bot
4x Construction Plans: War Hulk
2x Hex Geode

Resources (18)

9x Ruby Shard
9x Sapphire Shard

Kaldheim reached the Top 8 in the first season of FiveShards' Ruby Cup as well as in the HexTechs Open: Nulzann. His tournament success secured him both a spot in the Top 16 in the first season of FiveShards' Cup of Fate and also in the final standings of the HexTechs Open Series.

2 Comments on Machines building machines. How perverse.

  1. I knew this deck was special the first time I faced a variation of it early in season three of the Rock League. Bravo that you’ve taken it so far in competitive play. I deserves to be known as the Kaldheim dwarf/robot deck.

  2. I dont like mimeobots and Technical Genius. I much prefer Research Librarian in place of those four cards. It can provide some very cheap card draw, and, if left unaswered, gives the deck much needed mid-game reach.

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