Deck Spotlight: Amethyst/Steel Aggro – SCGCon Hartford’s Winner

Even as we march towards the release of Into the Inklands it doesn't mean there is not room for decks to sneak into playability in the last few weeks of the Rise of the Floodborn metagame.  The one deck that really caught my eye was the winning list from the SCGCon Hartford $5k, piloted by Robert Serpe.  Robert had an impressive 7-0-2 record in Swiss and swept through the Top Eight, only losing a few games on the day!

Here is the list that Robert ran:

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He mentioned in a post-event interview that he would look to change one Hercules - True Hero for another card, but the choice of that card is up in the air.  Various damage based options were mentioned such as another Let the Storm Rage On or a Smash

This list is a bit different from other Amethyst/Steel lists that saw success during this metagame.  Most other decks in this combination may have had similar cards, any lists are going to run Beast - Tragic Hero and the Madam Mim/Merlin packages (cause they are broken and need to be dealt with by Ravensburger, but that is a discussion for another time.. ). Those lists typically ran more card draw packages with Blue Fairy - Rewarding Good Deeds and AOE like Grab Your Sword. These lists operated like faster and more efficient mid-range control lists, but wound up struggling to out-speed the control elements of Amethyst/Ruby to consistently finish out the game (having problems with Ursula and friends in the late game).

Challenging the Status Quo

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Even compared to similar Bodyguard based lists, albeit this has a smaller quantity of them, it chose to play Hercules over The Prince - Never Gives Up which had been a staple in those types of lists with its three Willpower, Resist 1, and most importantly two Lore.  This list continues to put the emphasis on the smaller drops, especially Maleficent - Biding her Time to do a lot of the heavy lifting with the three drop Bodyguard slot ensuring it can trade with the format’s biggest threats of the Madam Mim variety.

This deck plays low to the ground in order to go “under” the Amethyst/Ruby control lists and above Amber/Amethyst aggressive lists, which were the top decks played at SCGCon Houston.  Richard used his vast knowledge of the metagame to make a version of a popular deck that was amazing into the field.  It establishes a high lore, must-deal-with board backed up by consistent card draw and aggression.  It has powerful mid-game characters that establish board presence with card draw so you are never light on threats, and forces the control deck to answer you at all stages of the game, especially when you are on the play. You are typically gaining 4-6 Lore with your one drop Maleficent on turn one and she is not worthless in the mid game: often gaining Lore and only to be bounced back to your hand to be replayed ready, so she cannot be challenged.

Confuse the Competition

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This is not a “play Madam Mim - Snake on turn two” every time type of deck. You are often simply flooding the board with additional one drops.  The Snakes, and to a lesser extent Foxes, are being used more as reset buttons for your higher value targets, specifically Maleficent and Pinocchio.  The one Arthur - Wizard's Apprentice has a similar role and I love this as a one-of!  You never really want two in play, but if you get the one it can really help you close out games no matter when it is played.  

Befuddle is one of the best cards in this list and can really slow down the opposing bounce packages, or help you in the mid to late game to perform that same duty as Snake. Oftentimes Amethyst/Ruby players are playing a one-drop into Snake, and if you can Befuddle it on turn two or three, while you continue to quest, you are not only shutting down their ability to challenge and have anything on board (forcing them on later turns to jump through multiple hoops to reestablish a challenger) but staying way ahead on tempo.  It is great to see what was typically used as an early game control tool during The First Chapter meta, now find a home in aggressive to mid-range lists.  I think this is a key piece of deckbuilding technology (“tech”) that can really be used in future deck design. 

Closing it Out

There are the typical close out elements of any Amethyst deck in Goats with the Bounce package, but this complements it with the consistent card drawing power of Beast - Tragic Hero. You don't care if your threats like this are handled through damage, you just want them to gain Lore as they can and cause your opponent to bother with them as you continue to flood the board with high value threats.

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The deck is not without its weaknesses, and if you expect a lot of Amber/Steel to show up, you may be in for a rough time.  Sapphire/Steel may be a closer matchup for you, as they spend a lot of time without really pressuring the board and need a good series of turns to shut you down, so you can out tempo them in the early game if they choose to just get to Fishbone Quill on three and ramp from there instead of matching you card for card in the early game.  They may be packing Grab Your Sword but are slow to get it online, as they rarely have early Shift targets.  They are a mid-range deck designed to compete with control and other mid-range decks, so your goal is to go faster and more efficient than them. Against aggressive lists, you become the control deck, using your Foxes and other removal tools to control the board.  It is only against the consistent and constant pressure and AoE that the Amber/Steel lists can put out where you really have issues.

Conclusion

I found this Amethyst/Steel deck and its pilot to be a fascinating case study in understanding the Winner’s Metagame. Richard correctly pointed out 60-75% of the decks he expected to show up at the specific tournament and built something that directly targeted the competition. It was not a list full of versatile answers, but instead targeted direct answers and direct threats to the meta. This is something we can all learn from going into a new metagame, but especially when one is firmly established.

AUStarwars
AUStarwars

Scott Landis is a 30-year Trading Card Game professional, and former writer for the World of Warcraft TCG and Transformers TCG among others.  Currently he is an owner of The Forbidden Mountain, a Lorcana YouTube Page and TCG player Store. You can follow them on YouTube and please use their TCGplayer Store (same cost as the marketplace). You can also find them on Facebook and Twitter.

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