Hello there, gentle reader. My name is Zoochz. I’m gonna write about some Hex constructed.
“Wait, who’s this guy?” you mumble to yourself. I’m a relative newcomer to Hex: Shards of Fate but a traveled and experienced tournament player of other games. I spent a long time on the Magic: the Gathering Pro Tour, was at one time the winningest tournament player in Duelyst (a Final Fantasy Tactics meets Hearthstone CCG), et cetera.
I’m here to talk to you about my recent run at this past season’s Cosmic Crown Showdown where I went undefeated in the Swiss portion of the event. Without further ado, here’s the list I played:
There are some obvious departures between my list and previous stock Mono Ruby Angus lists that I had seen around the web. I’m here today to talk about some of these changes, provide commentary on next steps, and hopefully offer up some sage advice for those looking to pick up the deck themselves.
My initial introduction to the Mono Ruby archetype was from Jeff Hoogland’s crash course in the Hex metagame article. As a relatively new player with almost no cards outside of the latest set, a low-cost burn deck seemed like the ideal place to start building a constructed deck. I had opened up a few Matriarchs; it seemed like fate.
Unlike almost every single other Angus deck out there prior to this point, my deck does not run Ragefire. At first, it’s absence was a budgetary sacrifice. After all, I didn’t want to invest in a relatively expensive card that was doomed to rotate in a matter of months.
After thinking about what I was missing out on though, I’ve come to the conclusion that Ragefire just isn’t a very good card at all in Mono Ruby Angus.
Games with this deck generally end quickly. Ideally you’re ending the game on turn 4 or 5. If you end up going much past that, you’re likely in a bit of trouble, especially in games 2 and 3. That means, on average, you’re seeing around 12 cards. This in turn means if you’re seeing a Ragefire it’s extremely likely that you’re only seeing a single one. Two resource for two damage is… not a very good return on investment, especially considering Ragefire is a Basic Action.
Even if you are lucky enough to see a second one, that’s still just a total of 6 damage for 4 resources. That’s still not a good deal; it’s just a pair of Crackling Bolts that don’t give you any charges. You really need to be casting three or more Ragefires to really justify their inclusion. With literally zero card draw, that’s just not that likely.
I’m sure someone out there has to the time to statistically analyze the likelihood of drawing varying amounts of Ragefires in any given game given the deck’s limited card draw.
I’ve seen a few Mono Ruby lists that are not running this card and I cannot wrap my head around why.
First and foremost, Boltspasm is a one-drop which this type of deck sorely needs. Mono Ruby wins games through tempo more often than not, and the best way to that is through starting the beats early. Without Boltspasm, your only other first turn plays are Baby Yeti or Burn, neither of which are as good as a 3/1.
Moreover, Boltspasm actually turns out to be incredibly potent. The current metagame actually has relatively few answers to this troop—or any turn 1-resource troop for that matter—particularly when Angus is on the play. Indeed, the most common “removal action” is probably Howling Brave, and so more often than not a T1 ‘Spasm will net you at least 3 damage on the play and often much more.
Finally, Boltspasm has the added benefit of overtaxing removal. You opponent doesn’t want to take 3 damage! He’ll often use his Carnosaurus/Rot Cask/Repel on this if he can. This often helps pave the way for beefier threats like Matriarach or Momma Yeti to connect. And hey, if he does want to save his removal for later, I’m happy to take 3-point chunks out of his life total.
Only 3 Matriarchs?
This, I admit, was originally also a budgetary concession. I conveniently opened 3 Matriarch early on via drafting and did not want to spring for the fourth before jumping into constructed. Things ended up working out okay with just the three. Now that I’ve stumbled upon a fourth, I’m not actually sure what to cut for it or whether I want a fourth at all.
Like all of the other cards in the deck that cost 3 or more resources, she’s cumbersome. Casting her generally takes your entire turn, which means that you’d better be able to connect with her to make her a worthwhile play. If you’re spending 3 resources and your opponent answers her, you’d better have additional pressure on board to be able to capitalize on that resource parity.
Matriarch is best in the matches that go long. Getting a free Burn to the Ground is often going to be enough to finish things off. And there are very few cards that I want to late game more than a Matriarch. This leads me to think that the fourth copy deserves a place in the reserves, where games often unsurprisingly do go long. This segues nicely into…
What’s up with the reserves?
My reserves are basically 50% standard fare, 50% unconventional. The Emberspire Witches, Reginald’s Ripostes and Mind Pyres are all fairly common for Mono Ruby decks. I won’t dwell on them much. I very rarely leave Witches in the reserves; everyone has healthgain, I want to preemptively address that. Ripostes, I’ve found, are really only good in the mirror. Every time I try to be tricksy and bring one in against Blood decks or Banks control, it never really works out. Mind Pyre is obviously against the decks that draw a lot or which won’t have answers to a Constant. It’s slow, so I generally only bring it in against decks like Bank Control or Wintermoon.
Blamsmith was my super secret tech that worked out marvelously. It did everything I wanted to in post-reserves matchups. Against aggressive decks, giving it Swiftstrike meant it could hold the fort really well in the early or late game. Against decks with obnoxious blockers, creating a Valor often meant I was able to push one of my dudes through a troublesome blocker.
And when you Scrounge, oh boy! That’s a 5/5 for two resources that dares your opponent to kill it. Scrounging isn’t all that uncommon; after all, I’m playing more troops than most and people tend to want to kill them on sight. I’ll note briefly that, with a Valor, Blamsmith conveniently becomes a 6/6, getting it nicely out of Crocosaur range.
If you’re wondering which gem to use in a particular matchup, a quick way to figure out is to ask yourself how good a Swiftstriking 2/2 is. If it is great against them, go with that. Otherwise, choose Valor.
Crackling Magma is a random piece of tech that every so often is incredibly good. Against Diamond-heavy aggro decks for example, you can sometimes kill 2 or 3 X/1s that might otherwise be problematic. Beyond that matchup, I usually hesitate to bring them in unless their deck seems particularly susceptible to the effect, e.g. a Shin’hare deck that spams tons of annoying 1/1s and Battle Hoppers. Magma usually sits on the bench, but it shines when it’s useful.
Scorch probably needs to go. I have brought it in a total of zero times. It was intended to be an answer to the mirror, specifically decks that ran Boltspasm, but it’s never really be worth it. I’m not sure what I want as these cards, but I also haven’t felt myself needing too many additional effects. If there’s a particularly potent anti-Crypt artifact, that’s probably what I’d look at in order to deal with Wintermoon shenanigans.
I really don’t know what changes I would make, if any, to this list. The main deck in particular has been stellar, and the sideboard has largely been great as well. Other than the aforementioned Scorch change, I’d probably keep things relatively the same.
My biggest concern is the uptick in potential mirror matches that I expect. In the past week Mono Ruby Angus accounted for the vast majority matches played according to Hextournament.com. Heck, it had more than the second and third most popular champions combined. Finding a way to trump the mirror seems like a priority for now, at least until folks start to overtune their decks toward beating the burn deck.
I didn’t get to everything I wanted to say today, but my piece was getting to that point where I likely had to the wind things down before it got way too wordy. If you are looking to check out some game play, you can check out a short video series I did on YouTube, embedded below.
Thanks for reading! Who knows, maybe writing on Hex will be a regular endeavor so keep your eyes peeled for potential future Zoochz Hex content!